FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT PARABLES
TOYS. A child Had arranged on the polished floor Its toys, neatly and with care. The drum, The bugles, The cannons, The soldiers, And an officer with much gold - - Undoubtedly a field-marshal - - The long train With its polished engine, A tiny airplane, A big automobile, These were on one side.
On the other, A doll with curly hair, Dressed in the latest fashion, Its bare knees showing, Black polished shoes With silk stockings. A little further away, Men in long coats and top hats. A bag With a string To bind them all.
The child had gone.
Then up sprang a man In long coat, with his hat in hand: "I represent God, And all of you listen. I have discovered Heaven and Hell. All who obey Go to Heaven and to the paradise of Gods, But those who disobey To Hell and to great sorrows.
I know who is fit and worthy of Heaven, I alone can give spiritual distinctions and spiritual titles, I alone can make a man happy or unhappy, I alone can introduce God to you, I alone know the path to Him, I am the priest of God."
"I am the protector, the ruler And the dispenser of life, I, with my friends the merchants, Decide to wage wars, to kill and to slaughter, To protect you, my friends, from your enemies. Our country is above all. Woe to all who do not kill, Who do not wear uniform, Who are unpatriotic - -which I decide. God is on our side, He waves the only flag - -our flag - -" Roared the man with the sword and many ribbons.
Then a large fat man spoke quietly: "You two may say what you please, I hold the monies. I am the dispenser of all things, Of temporal power, Of cruelty and kindness, Of progress and evolution, Without me nothing shall be decided. I am a man of great wealth, Thy wealth shalt be the only God, I have finished."
Then the man whom nobody noticed, Spoke: "I can destroy all your Gods, Your theories and your wealth, Without me you can do nothing. You cannot talk to me of God When I am hungry,
Feed me and I will listen to your Gods. You cannot make me Into cannon fodder. pay me and excite me And I shall fight. You are rich because of me, I toil for you, suffer for you, Go hungry for you and die for you, I am your food and your comfort, Your love and your destroyer, I am going to strip you of all these, Now I strike."
Then the lady with bare knees - - "I am laughing Because each of you thinks You are the most important. Glorying in your own importance Where would you all be without me? Still in that Heaven or Hell Of which you spoke, O friend with the long coat. I am your sister, your mother, Your wife and your love. I am on the stage of your bestial amusement, I bear children - -the agony of it - -for your pleasure, I dress showing just enough For your pleasure, I paint and make a fool of myself For your pleasure, I covet your glances and long for your love, I desire children without you, I seek freedom in spite of you, I struggle to be free of your desires, To show my equality, I do things that astonish you, I shall usurp all your places, Your honors, your glories. You worship me, You desecrate me. I am a woman But your master."
Then all began to talk, Advancing this complicated theory and that complicated theory, This solution and that solution, Class against class, Wealth against poverty, Hungry against the well-fed.
A roar and utter chaos. The child came back, Gathered up its toys, Knocking down one or two In its hurry. Then it went out, Laughing. II
There is a mountain, far beyond the plains and hills, whose great summit overlooks the dark valley and the open seas. Neither cloud nor deep mists ever hide its calm face. It is above the shadows of day and night. From the vast plain, no man can behold it. Some have seen it but there be few that have reached its feet. One in many thousand years gathers his strength and gains that abode of eternity. I speak of that mountain top, serene, infinite, beyond thought. I shout for joy!
One day, a man beheld through the opening of a cloud, the calm face of the mountain. He stopped every passer-by, that would stay to give an answer, and inquired of the way that would lead him beyond the mists. Some said take this path, and others said take that path. After many days of confusion and toil, he arrived among the hills. A man, full in years, wise in the ways of the hills, said,"I know the way. You cannot reach the mountain, O friend, unless you are strengthened by the power that comes from the adoration of the image in yonder shrine." Many days passed in peaceful worship. Tired of worship, he asked of men that seemed great with under- standing.
"Yea," said one,"I know the way. But if you would gain the fulfillment of your desire, carry this on you. It will uphold you in your weariness." He gave him the symbol of his struggle. Another cried,"Yea, I know the way. But many days of contempla- tion must be passed in the seclusion of a sanctuary, with my picture of eternity." "I know the way," said another,"But you must perform these rites, understand these hidden laws, you must enter the association of the elect and hold fast to the knowledge that we shall give you." "Be loud in the song of praise of the reflection that you seek," said another. "Come, follow me, obeying all things I say. I know the way," cried another. In the long last, the calm face of the mountain was utterly forgotten. Now he wanders from hill to hill, crying aloud,"Yes, I know the way, but...."
There is a mountain far beyond the plains and hills whose summit overlooks the dark valley and the open seas. Neither cloud nor deep mists ever hide its calm face. It is above the shadows of day and night. One in many thousand years gathers his strength and gains that abode of eternity. I speak of that mountain top, serene, infinite, beyond thought. I shout for joy!
In my garden there is life and death, the laughter of many flowers and the cry of falling petals. A dead tree and a green tree look on each other. It is mid-summer and the shadows are dancing save about the dead tree. The song of waters shall not set it a-dancing, nor the rain bring forth the hidden leaves. Ah, it is so bare, so empty! Who shall nourish it, who shall caress it with life? The far skies look down on the dead and the living. Through the long suffering winter, lies concealed a seed of lovely promise. Cold winds, tearing gales, noisy storms, hold back the loveliness of the seed. Dark days and sunless hours deny the glory of the seed. With the soft breeze from the warm south the hidden seed awakens to life. The song of the birds over the blue skies calls the still seed to life. The scent of warm rain awakens deep memories of the seed to life. Through the burden of heavy earth, life breaks forth and rejoices. It grew by the dusty road-side among the lazy stones. With its single flower, it danced the day long. A boy, on his homeward way, uproots it and throws it away. Creation lies in the path of careless love. IV
THE MAN AND THE MOON
I would like to tell a story. Once upon a time there was a man who desired to understand the beauty of the moon and the softness of its rays and the causes of these things. So he went forth and gazed into the skies. Between him and the moon there was a lovely tree with a delicate branch and tender leaves. Forgetting the moon, he began to examine the delicate branch and the tender leaves and was lost in the thought of such delicacy, and when he looked up again, the moon had set. The understanding of life is more essential than the mere superficial knowledge of the machinery of life, though one must be acquainted with this also.
Once upon a time, when there was great understanding and in the world full rejoicing, there lived a gentle woman, full of years. One day, she found herself in a temple, before the altar made by the human hand. She was crying bitterly to heaven and none was there to comfort her. Till in the long last, a friend of God took notice of her and asked the reason for her tears. "God must have forgotten me. My husband is gracious and well. My children are full and strong. Many servants are there to care for us. All things are well with me and mine own. God has forgotten us." The friend of God replied, "God never forgets His children." When she came home, she found her son dead. She never cried. "God remembers me and mine own."
The mountains look on the town and the town looks upon the sea. It was the time of many flowers and calm blue skies. In a big house, where the trees gathered around there lived a man, rich in the possession of things. He had visited the capitals of many lands in search of a cure. He was lame, scarcely able to walk. A stranger from the distant and sunny lands, came by chance to the town that looks upon the sea. The lame man and the distant stranger passed by, touching each other in a narrow lane. The lame man was healed, and the town whispered in amazement. On the next day, the man made whole was taken to prison for some immorality.
There is a little town, sheltered in the shadow of a great mountain. There are many people in that town and only one street with numer- ous shops. The shop of gay and bright coloured flowers, to which people came with laughter in their hearts - The shop where they sell clothes, a delight to the vanity of the people who come out of it - The shop where they sell toys; grave men and little children enter in. Outside the large shop where food is sold, a beggar waits. There is a gloomy house which undertakes to rid the people of their dead. How prosperous are they that live within! - A house where they sell God; where they teach the people fear, and then the way to overcome their fear. In that house there are many dark corridors in which worshippers lose themselves. A man, in gorgeous robes, tells of the beauty of an unknown Deity. There is a well-built house where they keep in perfect order the dead creations of the past. One day when there many joyous shadows, and the people were delighted with his visit, for there came few strangers to that town.
They feasted him in honour and the town rejoiced. They showed him their shops, their house of gloom and the gilded building where God was kept for sale. In the street there is a procession of mourners for the dead. The people looked to the stranger for a passing word of comfort, but behold, he laughs. For he is in love with Life and death passes him by. They understood him not but hurried him out of their gates. The stranger climbs to the mountain top, which overlooks that crowded town.
There was, once on a time, a man whose heart rejoiced in Life. He loved Life and therefore he loved all things. He was a friend to the meanest and to the greatest. For is not Life as the waters which satisfy the thirst of the wise and the foolish? Now this man was greatly sought after for his understanding in wisdom. One day, when the skies were blue and the sun was warm, the ants came out of their deep nests and wandered on the face of the land, so that the pathway was moving with them. In his far-seeing wisdom the lover of Life saw a man drowning in the smiling, blue lake. He hastened on the pathway, to save him from the dancing waters, thereby crushing many ants. The people were troubled, for said they, "How can this man be a true lover of Life when he destroys? How foolish we are to look to him for love." He wanders lonely among the mountains. Ah, how little they love!
THE MASTER SINGER OF LIFE
On the banks of a soft running river There was a village full of people but empty of life. Oh, the sorrow of it!
Many were the tall temples with graven images, Gods moulded after the thought of man, Proud priests, soft of voice, loud in chants, Grave talkers of philosophy, under the cool trees; The cry of burden, the fear of sorrow, Complicated laws of religion, Morality made for others, The strong maintained by the weak. The naked and the clothed walked on the same narrow street, All in strife one against another, Their Gods, their laws and their love.
They called the village the world.
On a fair day, at the meeting of four roads, A man cried, "Listen, O people, There is a corruption, and a strife; The song of your life is impure. The Master Singer of Life Comes to this ancient village; Harken to the harmony of his song."
The jasmine opens its heart to the dark night.
"I am the Master Singer of Life, I have suffered long, I know. Keep pure the song in thy heart, Simple is the way. Be rid of the complexities of Gods, of religions and of beliefs therein. Bind not thy life with rites, with the desire after comfort. Be a lamp unto thyself. Thou shalt not then cast a shadow across the face of another. Life cannot be held in the bondage of fear. Be free, then there shall be the miracle of order. Love life, then there shall be no loneliness. Ah, listen to the voice of my love; I have suffered long, I know. I am free, eternally happy,; I am the Master Singer of Life."
Softly falls the rain on the burning land. A few listened and greatly rejoiced. putting aside all things They freed life of all bondage.
"Yea," cried the people, "But how shall we reconcile the beauty of our Gods with thy song? In what manner shall we fit thy sayings into the temples of our creation? Thou art the bringer of confusion. We shall have none of thee, Thou sayest things that we know not, What thou sayest is of the Devil, Away, away."
The Master Singer of Life went on his way, And the people struggled with the problem of reconcilliation.
Once upon a time - which is the way in which all true stories begin - there was a world in which all the people were sick and sad, and yet all of them were seeking to be released from their suffering and to find happiness. In search of this happiness they prayed, they worshipped, they loved and they hated, they married and made wars. They begot children as miserable as themselves and yet they taught those children that happiness was their right and their eventual goal.
Then one day in the midst of this suffering world there rose a whisper, which grew into a shout, that a Great Teacher was coming who, because of his love for the world and because of his wisdom, would bring to those who were suffering, comfort in their sorrow, and would show all the people in the world how they might find the lasting happiness which all were seeking.
And in order to spread widely the glad news of the coming of the Teacher, organizations and societies were formed, and men and women went throughout the world telling of the Teacher who would come. Some prayed to him that he would come more quickly. Some performed ceremonies in order to prepare the world to receive him. Some made profound studies of forgotten times, when other great Teachers had come and taught, so that by this study they might better understand him. Some proclaimed themselves his disciples in advance, so that when he came there might be some at least to stand around him and to understand him.
Then one day he came. And he told the people of the world that he had come to bring them happiness, to heal their pain and to soothe their sorrows. He said that he himself, through much suffering and pain, had found his way to an abode of peace, to a Kingdom of eternal Joy. He told them that he had come to lead them and to guide them to that abode. But, he said, because the path leading to that Kingdom was steep and narrow, only those could follow him who were willing to set aside everything that they had accumulated in the past. He asked them to set aside their Gods, their religions, their rites and ceremonies, their books and their knowledge, their families and friends. And if they would do that, he said, he would provide them with food for the journey, he would satisfy their burning thirst with the living water he possessed, and would bring them into the Kingdom of Happiness where he himself dwelt eternally.
Then those people, who for so many years had been preparing for the Teacher, began to feel uncomfortable and troubled. For they said: "This is not the teaching we expected and for which we have been preparing. How can we renounce all this knowledge which we have so painfully acquired? Without it the world would never understand the Teacher. How can we renounce all these splendid rites and ceremonies in the performing of which we find so much happiness and power? How can we renounce our families and friends when we need them so much? What teaching is this?"
And they began to question among themselves: "Can this indeed be the Teacher whom we have been expecting? We never thought he would speak in this way and ask of us such renunciations." And those especially who had proclaimed themselves his disciples, because of their more intimate knowledge of his will, felt uncomfortable and troubled.
Then after much thought and meditation light came to them and a solution of their difficulties. And they said: "lt is true that the Teacher comes to help the world, but we know the world better than he does and so we will act as his interpreters to the world."
And so those who had knowledge said: "His call for renunciation does not apply to us because the world needs our knowledge and could not do without it, so for the sake of the world we shall go on seeking knowledge."
And those who performed rites and ceremonies said: "We have of course renounced all rites and ceremonies for our own benefit, we have passed beyond any need of them, but for the sake of the world we shall continue to perform them, otherwise the world would suffer." So they continued to build Churches and Temples and to perform rites, all to help the world, and they were too busy to listen to the Teacher.
And the only people who willingly renounced were those who gave up their homes and their families because they wanted freedom from duty and obligation. And they came to the Teacher and said: "We have left all to follow you, now find us an easy job where we can work for you and also earn a living."
Some there were, a few, who set aside all things, and sat at the feet of the Teacher, and tried to learn from him how they might feed the hungry and satisfy the thirsty. These people thought that his wisdom was likely to prove more helpful to the world than their knowledge; that his simplicity might be more easily understood than their complications; that the Teacher might know best when he said that rites and ceremonies were not necessary for the finding of the happiness he came to give; that you could renounce your family and friends in your heart while not deserting them in the flesh.
But the others reproached them for their selfishness and idleness. They said: "The world does not need the bread of the Teacher, but a particular kind of pastry for which we hold the recipe. It does not need water to quench its thirst, but the wine contained in our chalices. The words of your Teacher will not help the world, because they are too simple and the world cannot understand what they mean. We have complicated theories to solve the complicated problems of the world and the world can understand them."
So there were few of those who had most eagerly announced the coming of the Teacher who listened to the teaching he gave. There were some who said: "This is not the Teacher we expected, so we will go on preparing for the coming of the real Teacher." And the others built up walls and barriers round him so that none could get to him unless they opened the gates.
So in a few years he went away and then the same people hailed him as divinely inspired, and they built new Churches in his name and invented new and elaborate rites and ceremonies for his glory, and built a new religion upon the teaching he had not given. And the world continued to suffer and cry for help.