Monday, April 30, 2007


I would walk through the city. Early. Shortly after dawn. When the streets were still fresh and quiet. If the sun shone, its first light catching the glass of the buildings I would go east. Towards the shore of the lake. For though the city was great, it seemed too it was small and ended always at the lake. Where the wharves were. Where the water was clear and the sailed masts of the ships rose. I liked to feel the wood beneath my bare feet, feel the dawn breeze upon my face. I liked to hear the lap of the water, watch the waves as they washed onto the shore.

On one such morning, as I sat at the end of a long pier, I saw Sanya walk towards me.
I knew there were times he left the star-chamber and came to the lake. The fragrance of the pines, the clearness of the water he enjoyed. He liked to walk over the small smooth stones at the lake's edge.

He came to me that morning quietly. His white robe was wrapped about him for there was still a chill on the morning air. I looked up and there he stood above me. His long, silver hair shining in the early light.
"Wise-one," I said, "you come to me this morning."
He smiled.
"I come to you. I walked through the city. Sometimes the lake shore calls to me."
He sat.

The waves rose and fell beneath the pier. We were some way from the ships. They were moored southward.
"Tell me of your wisdom," I said.
He placed his hands before him. In contemplation. Then he spoke.

"This morning I have seen a woman as I came through Eratrin. She walked slowly. As though deep in thought. I stopped to observe her. It was in one of the parks. There was a long, winding pathway, tree-lined. A small lake lay, fiery, under the rising sun.
"She went and sat upon the grass. It was surely damp for the sun had barely risen. She was wrapped about in the colourful robes the water-carriers of the south wear. Yet her expression and manner were of one who has spent much time in learning or contemplation.
"I observed her as she sat. Her expression indicated she carried some secret trouble. Her manner was heavy and sorrowful.
"The sun rose, its light coming through the tall, quiet-standing trees. As it did she stood and bowed and suddenly a smile crossed her face. It swept across her as a hand caressing a loved one. A smile of release and joy. Then she turned and walked back the way she had come.
"I could not know of course what it was that troubled her. Or if whatever answer she sought had come with the increase of the sun through the trees or from within her.
"I was reminded of when I was a young man. Not yet a wise-one. Still to cross the threshold between desiring to know and knowing. Quick to judge. Quick to divide those who stand in light from those who stand in darkness. Thinking I knew all there was to know of seeking and wisdom.
"Often my teacher would reprimand me. He would speak of those whose light is not visible. There are those, he would say, who carry a hidden pain. Those who must veil their light until a particular aspect of their darkness is overcome. This is how he would explain it.

"You have pain. It is your burden. It is a thorn in your side. Each day this pain troubles you. To others, observers, this burden, this pain is not obvious. For you do not parade it.
"It is a cunning pain. Each time you attempt to overcome it, it hides. Like a small animal going underground. Or a snake. It is difficult to grasp.
"How does the hunter catch the animal. How does the snake-catcher catch the snake?
"They set a trap and retreat. Then wait. They lure the snake out, perhaps with food. Perhaps with the charm of the flute.
"You who are carrying your pain cannot do this. Your pain is not graspable. You cannot catch consciousness. Neither can you seize a feeling. Pain in the self cannot be approached like this.
"Your pain is like mercury. If you were to seize it, to take it forcefully, it would run and break. Into tiny drops. It would become many smaller pains.
"What must you do?
"When the gold-maker makes gold, first it must be heated. It needs to be purified. The gold-maker takes the un-purified gold and puts it in fire. Intense fire. The gold found in the earth is pure only in essence. Such is the self.
"To remove your pain, you must heat the self in fire. Or your life which is your self's dream.
"What is the fire you heat your self in? Perhaps it is the fire of the universe. From which all fire comes. It could be the fire of unbounded mind. Mind that is as still and clear as a mountain lake. Or perhaps it is the fire of love. A love you must endure for. A love that tests the very fabric of your being. Again it could be simply the fire of service, the fire of a difficult path of right-action.
"The life that is put in this fire is the self striving to become gold. It is the person unfolding.
"The impurities in the gold are the pain in the self. They are the impurities caused by the self's tangle in living.
"You cannot overcome your pain directly for it is bonded to your being. It is mixed with your self as darkness with light. Impurity with purity.
"A life is purified by bringing all parts of into consciousness. In immersing your self in the universal fire, in love, in right-action. You open the source of your life and bring your pain into sight. Until it can be seen. Until it can no longer stand the fire. So it must burn and fall away."

Sanya looked long at me.
"Do not think a life put in the fire of overcoming pain is an easy life. Do not think that many you see upon the thoroughfares of the city do not carry this pain within them. When you see a person choose a way that is not expected of them ask yourself can you see the purities or impurities of their self. Can you see their pain? Can you see the fire purifying their life?
"If you must judge perhaps it is your pain you cannot see.
"Perhaps your self has not yet unfolded. If you ridicule such an action perhaps it is because you lack the courage to stand in the fire.
"For some the purity or impurity of their self is all. Overcoming their pain is their pathway.

I sighed. Sanya placed his hand upon my shoulder. I heard the water lap about the wooden beams of the pier.
"Let me show you, he said, "a man who is purifying his self in the fire of the universe. Let me show you a man whose love is strong and can but unfold. Can but rise as the sun rises. Can but fall as the wave falls. Tell me what you see!"

I looked out over the lake. Its waves caught the morning sun. The ships pulled gently at their moorings. An image came into my mind.
"Wise-one I see myself in the world of dreams. There is a woman. She is dark skinned. She sits on a throne of coral. Her crown is the sun and moon. Over a field of stars she walks.
I wait on her as I wait on the dawn I know will come."

Copyright (C) Peter Millington

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