Thursday, May 31, 2007

the teacher. (extract The Blue Lotus)

I spoke often with the teacher. When evening came and the light would fall we sat by the hearth in the cabin.
If before I asked thoughtlessly, now I asked with care. The teacher, himself had said the question is more important than the answer.
"Student pay attention to the question," he said. "It is the thought put into the question that solicits the better answer."
I no longer asked him to speak of the Blue Lotus. Instead I asked that he tell of his journeying in the mountains.

Then he would speak of his days when first a wanderer. His eyes would warm and he would tell of the Palace. Of setting off one morning through its great doors. How he sat first before his Master. In a room with walls hung with tapestries of fine worked silk. Where a fountain rose in the courtyard. The sound of its water ever running. His Master sat before him and spoke softly.
"Cherished friend you leave us now. Go wisely. Bring with you all you have learned. Hold fast all you have found in this Palace. The Blue Lotus will always be with you. You carry its mantle. Therefore its words are your words. Live simply, think greatly."
My teacher rose and left. Telling how he walked through the marble hallways. Of the lawns and gardens. The great groves of swaying pine under which he had often sat. That morning he went through the gate, the gate through which all seekers must eventually walk; blue-shining, its glazed tiles sparkling in the sunlight.

Or I would ask him tell of the masters that are said to wander the mountains, that are said to visit the coastal cities or cross the sea. Then he would speak of coming to the Palace, of the prophet that came from the west, of the masters who have lived long, who have bodies that die and yet never die. Masters, it is said, whose bodies are light.
"Those are the Masters, who choose to stay," he would add. "They embody the secret of the Blue Lotus. They are the living breath of the white spring blossom."

In those dark winter nights he asked often of my thinking. Delving into each answer I gave. Some nights I slept, thinking his silence to contain reprimand. For I would feel myself to pour my heart out at his feet. Then he would rise and say he should sleep. I would be left staring into the dying flames of the fire as though an empty vessel.

One night as the flames leaped high and the snow fell thickly he spoke of my reason in searching. Holding me in his gaze, he asked when first I heard of the Blue Lotus, how first I found in me the longing to know its wisdom.
I recounted my meeting with him by the well, my hearing of stories and reports from strangers. Yet he persisted. I recalled my dreams, my love of poetry, the discussions and knowledge of the Vizier's court. He was not satisfied. Then, leaning forward, he struck me gently on the heart. Speaking low, yet with the force of a thousand drums, he said, 'look within'. In my mind I saw myself as though in a dream. I stood in a grove; a boy. The pines of Amrihiza swayed about me. The sun burned in an evening sky. The clouds were violet and gold-lined. Before me stood a messenger. A fiery being of light. I saw that I listened. I heard what I heard. 'You have come to find your wisdom. It is time to journey home. For you have been long without the fold. You must travel east. You have come to understand a great mystery.'
The teacher lifted his hand and I knew I had always been travelling. For in the dream I saw I was both boy and man. The man was of light as was the messenger. I looked into my teacher's eyes and understood that before the boy came the man. The man was the light-body, the soul body of the boy. It was into this body I would grow. Into this body I would flower. The man was the fruit of the tree of the soul.
Indeed I had come to travel. I had come to find my mystery. This messenger had appeared to remind me. He had implanted the seed of my longing within.

That night the teacher explained a secret to me. Such longings are often planted deep in memory. The pointers along a pathway are not of coincidence. It is not a happening that somehow turns the seeker from one pathway to another. In the soul is the seed that looks for its flowering. It is a r woman's or man's own soul that brings them to their pathway. Parading their pathway before them in the form of events that speak to their inner longing. Yet such is the world that many have forgotten their soul. Some confuse it. They mistake the mask for the actor. The actor for the role. And yet others already deny its existence.
My teacher spoke often of the need for strength.
"The way of many is appeasement," he would say. "Yet can one appease darkness? If a man or woman knows a thing to be incorrect should they remain in its presence. If you should see the goal ahead, should you turn from the path upon which you walk. One step away is one step back. A thousand steps away is a thousand steps back. A seeker must learn strength and perseverance. A seeker must learn to consider. Careful consideration is the root of wisdom. A seeker cannot be wise until he or she has learned to consider all before them. To drift is to miss the opportunity for learning. The seeker who does not also consider the wrong path, the way of darkness has not learned to discriminate. This seeker does not recognise and know how to interrogate wrong-doing. For if a false messenger is to come, will it come and claim to be a messenger of dark. No! It will claim to be a messenger of light. It will attempt to weave about it an aura of greatness. Wisdom and careful consideration are needed to separate the true from the false."

Often the teacher set me a test. He would try my will or ask of me some difficult task. He would not answer a question and then observe me plunged into doubt. He would negate all I knew and say to me that learning was of no value.
"Words,"' he would say, "are useless, let us do away with them. Thoughts are of no meaning, let us cease to think." If I protested he would walk from me.

Soon I learned I was expected to refute these sayings. I was expected to search within me for an answer. That I was to use my learning, all he had taught me against him. This he considered correct.
When I would ask him to explain, he would say to me.
"I will not always be here. If you should need to have me as support then you will be tied to me as a child is to its mother. What should you do if challenged and unable to answer. You cannot demand my counsel always. Your pathway is to find your mystery. I will make you ready to be its servant. In this I am your teacher. Yet no teacher is greater than the teaching. The teacher who ferments unnecessary dependence in his students is not a true teacher. The true teacher is but a mouth for the teaching. When you feel the power of your own wisdom within you, then my work is done. When the teaching is as a sun within your body then you will be the instrument of your own shining."

In those winter days I learned endurance. Evenings in the cabin were warm. We sat often by the fire. Yet days we walked in the mountains. There was work to be done.
The teacher tended his goats and sheep. When the snows fell life was harsh for them. If the snows were deep they were unable to find food. Then some died.
Though we had stock-piled wood for the winter, still we gathered brushwood from the forest floor. We walked on the slopes nearby. Looking down upon the lake, its pale sheen, its ice coated edges. I would be wrapped about in the sheepskin coat or one of those worn by the shepherds of the foothills and steppe. On those walks I learned to breath deep and keep my body heat, to endure as the teacher endured.

The teacher showed me the things of the winter. Showed me the beauty of the frosted pattern by the lake's edge. Woke me and bade me rise early to see the mist frozen about the bare branches of the larch and birches on the slopes. I saw too the great power of winter sunset in the mountains. When the thin and frozen air turned the golden disc into crimson fire. Falling through the turquoise as though being swallowed by the mountains themselves. As though the earth upon which we stood was a cave, a womb into which the light sank in order to be reborn. A method through which the sun's great energy fused itself with retreated life.

Copyright (C) Peter Millington 2007