He rose to his feet and I did the same, and we crossed to the window. The Wise Companion brought the candle with him. He held it aloft and together we gazed into the night. At first I saw only darkness. But as I watched, the tiny flame began to grow brighter until it was incandescent. As the light intensified I saw the night retreat before it, shrinking gradually away, and as it did so a new landscape revealed itself. No longer the meadows and valleys as before…I perceived with my physical eyes a remote and mountainous country, a land of ice and snow, and as the dark fell back and the light advanced I flew suddenly with it. In an impossible moment I found myself in a tiny village that clung to the side of a tremendous pass in some immense mountain range. A bitter wind blew past me, yet it did not touch me. The cold could not reach my skin. The Wise Companion stood beside me, still holding the candle. The tiny flame was likewise unaffected by the blast. He gestured for me to follow him and we crossed the narrow street and passed through a low door, entering into a vast hall that surely could not have existed within such a small building. A raging fire leapt and crackled in the centre hearth place. A number of people clad in white robes sat around the room, studying manuscripts or talking quietly among themselves.
A woman with intense blue eyes came forward. She held out her hands and took my own, briefly. Thereafter she released her grip and motioned for me to step closer to the fire. The Wise Man remained where he stood, watching silently. We seated ourselves on a wooden bench close to the flames, where the heat was welcome yet did not overcome.
“You came a vast distance to be here just now,” she said, touching my hand gently. “Yet the real distances, the true gulfs to be breached, lie not in the world but in the self. The true chasms and accompanying tests of courage lie within us.” She paused. “Remember to look up indeed, as you have so recently been advised. Yet too must you gaze down into the fearful abyss that is self. When you do, beloved, you will ultimately discover not nightmares or devils but light at the very bottom. Do you suffer tension? It is because light is blocked! It is pent up by emotion – by rage and envy, jealousy and grief. Yet ever the Undying Light seeks expression! Would you be so arrogant or presumptuous as to seek to inhibit a star? Would you try to throw bonds around it and trap it, tie it down even?” She laughed. “You cannot bind a star to captivity nor stifle the fury of its process. Yet,” she continued, a trace of sadness entering her voice, “this is what everyone on Earth is trying to do. Is it therefore any wonder that there is pain everywhere? Consider,” she said, closing her eyes, “a star shining in front of you! Greater by far than the size of the Earth, or even mighty Jupiter. A star greater than the Earth’s own Sun, which is as you know modest in comparison with many. Would you cast ropes around it to hold it down as if it were a balloon? Or tie wrappings…”
“No,” I interrupted. “I wouldn’t.”
“Then seek not to imprison what lies within you,” she replied swiftly. “It will break free, it will tear loose, it will shine out! Your self may be in prison but you cannot imprison the Self! You have heard it said many times that death is inevitable, yet I tell you it is liberation that is the only true certainty when all is said and done! For death is but transition. The Light is Everlasting. You can put a million pairs of hands over your eyes and like a child pretend not to see, yet see it you shall! For I tell you truly there is nothing else to see.”
“Think, child,” she went on, “of emotion. You may weep, you may grieve, you may silently seethe and harbour loathing and great bitterness; you may resent everyone you meet and even detest your fellow man.”
I listened silently, aware of the Wise Man watching close by.
“You may constantly wrestle with emotional turmoil and find no peace; you may dread intimacy even as you seek out embrace; do you rake over the past pursuing relief from your pain; do you wear a smile day and night even as you stand guard over a thousand unresolved grievances? The list goes on seemingly forever, does it not?” She paused and took my hand once more. My heart filled with tears at her touch. “In reality, young one, it is the Light and only this that goes ever on. Your fear or perception that the emotional life is irredeemable or insurmountable is but one more dance before the face of Certainty. Tempestuousness is but a scarf of the finest silk, drifting across the face of a star. It may be glamour, yet is it scarcely a glimmer before the Fire consumes it. You have heard so much about transcending the emotional life that this in itself becomes an obstacle. Focus on Light, do you see?” She let go of my hand and held both of her hands out in front of her, palms up. Immediately, a globe of white light appeared, resting in either one.
“Light is formidable,” she went on. “Immutable, inevitable. The source of all power and healing, such is its nature. You may seek to ask me what is Light – but what is not Light? I advised you just now to gaze down into self, thereby to discover Light. Do not discover Light by seeing it, however, but rather by being it. If you yet regard the discovery of Light as a matter of vision of any kind, you are yet deluded. It is not physical vision, nor yet cosmic or spiritual – it is question of embodying Light, of becoming it by the act of realising that this is what you are: Perfect Divine Light.”
The globes in her hands grew brighter.
“You witness here Light under apparent limitation, constraint or even duress,” the woman said quietly. “Two tiny globes that I hold in my hands. Yet look truly! You must come to understand that Light is limitless; that what I hold here yet fills the universe concurrently. There is no limit; there are no bonds; there is no constraint; there is only this One Expression. I hold Infinity in my hand, Eternity in my grasp, all Power below my thumb.” She raised her right hand slightly and the ball of light rose a short distance and began to revolve slowly. “Yet I do not work with it,” she added, “rather, I play. I do not grasp it firmly; I hold it lightly as if it were the most fragile flower.” She looked intently at me. “Finish working with Light, and only then will you be ready to play, beloved one.” She paused. The fire crackled behind us. The woman lowered her hands and the globes dissolved and disappeared.
“So, emotion and Divine Light,” she mused. “What then is the connection between the two?”
I hesitated. “Light is everywhere, all pervading,” I suggested. “So emotions are Light too, I suppose.”
She nodded and smiled. “Emotion is but one form of Light. As you learn to reveal and demonstrate the One Light, so do you purify all your lights, so that ultimately all are raised toward incandescence. Therefore cease your brooding and shine as brightly as you can! Admit your glamour and it shall disperse! Laugh, I tell you truly, at the notion that anything can dispute the force of a star! You are so serious, so troubled, so burdened – oh! There is such a long way to the Light, I shall never get there; I am such a beleaguered disciple, so heavy is the toil! Maybe in a few more millennia I will be allowed my first glimpse of the goal!” she smiled broadly. “Such thinking is for children. Wrestling with your problems only begets more problems. What problems are there when a glamour or a block is but a rag burning up in the light of a star?”
“You have heard it said that we enter now into the Age of Light, an epoch long foretold, an era like never before. So must it be. We have spoken much about Light today. Indeed,” she continued, “so should it be every day. Yet do not forsake your awareness of darkness. For very truly we have undergone a very long night and the night yet lingers. Do not merely adopt a glad smile and gaze fondly into the Sun! Do not believe that all will be well, merely by believing that all will be well.” She touched my hand gently but her gaze was strong. “The darkness yet lingers, young one, in every corner of the Earth. In every blind eye turned, in every callous heart, in every greedy desire, in every hateful thought. The darkness lingers – it cowers, but it has not yet dispersed. It will take time. The love of power yet contests the power of love. The selfish impulse yet drives so many. So many take so much, so few give without demand or expectation. Grasp those few precious years! Take all you can for yourself! Compete and conquer! Show no mercy!” Her eyes filled with sadness and compassion. “Even as humanity struggles, the Earth would seem filled with naught but greedy children who fly aghast from the prospect of real maturity. Some hearts are as black as ever a night can be! Even as the tender tendrils of Light seek them out, so they cling to the Lightless wastes of selfish dreams and sour longings. Acknowledge the Light of their Souls, yet do not overlook the discord! Do not fall prey to the belief that all is yet well, that everyone reaches for Light! For some despise the prospect of sunrise on Earth, knowing in their hearts that it must finally banish the shadow.” She leaned closer. “Some,” she whispered, “love the shadow, treasure the darkness and yet cultivate a hatred of every living thing. They wallow in sin. When they cross your path, acknowledge them – pray for them – do your utmost to forgive! But do not embrace them and believe all is well. For this would be yet more ignorance – and I tell you the time for ignorance is over.”
“Likewise,” she continued, “do not look too long into the Sun and forget to gaze within yourself. I too pray that you be blinded by Light – yet not to such an extent that you neglect those shadows of your own. For you, like all, cast a long shadow and it must be purified under Law. You would tremble and quail, in truth, if I revealed its full extent to you in this moment. Yet, as we aspire to Grace, so must our own dark be burned up behind us…our rages and fume, furies and longings, our judgements and shame and eventually our little secret selfish self in totality.” She smiled. “You are a long way from this, as are all who climb the secret stair. So often do they misjudge and overrate their progress, like naive children. Yet your aim is high; your sight is true; your conviction is strong. But know that the spiritual way is not merely a secret path but a towering one. How else may you reach a very high place? You are not climbing a tree – you are climbing out of the very world itself! Oh! – the way is long!”
“From this moment on,” she told me, “know that the path forward lies not merely in simple aspiration to Light but in full confession of darkness.” She smiled again, warmly. “You have not the greed in you that I see in so many, and your desire for harmlessness serves you well. Many have prospered by your company and long have you carried good intention. But from hereon I advise you that the weight and the gravity of Heaven will begin to bear upon you with increased force. It will demand much, yet too will it speed you through the fires of advancement. It will test you in every way, to prove your power, to measure your strength and remake you time and again so you will stand ready for realisation. Try not to complain, seek not to protest. Shoulder the burden, child, and help carry the weight. For I do not refer to earthly gravity, but to the Demands of Heaven!”
She passed her hand across my brow and suddenly a small candle materialised in my right hand. It burned with a modest but steady flame.
“Now, we have spoken much of darkness,” she said, “but such talk must inevitably return us to Light. I give you this Eternal Candle as a symbol of the flame that burns within you, and the Light that you give. Study well! It does not burn down or diminish in any way! There is no wind in the world capable of extinguishing it, not the cold chill of autumn, the blasts of winter, neither the tempest nor even the hurricane. You are correct in your assessment: it is a modest flame.” She paused. “Yet can any flame be called modest that cannot be put out by any force in the world? I could stand this little candle in the valley of shadow, yet still could I see it, and it would guide me home. Therefore its modesty is its greatness, for one small radiant light that calls no attention to itself may stand in seemingly impenetrable night and call the lost and weary to safety. Concern yourself less with your own advancement and more with the fate of others. For those who are greedy and ambitious to progress fall by the wayside. You cannot lay claim to anything that is spiritual and call it your own. You cannot climb to the top of this mountain and say ‘Now it is mine!’ There is no personal success on this road. There must be selflessness and consideration for others and no more thought of ‘where am I up to, what is my standing, am I more or less advanced than so-and-so?’ It is irrelevant. How is your brother – is he well? That should be your first and only thought.”
“On the question of power,” she continued, “much of the testing you shall undergo shall be in preparation for its coming. There is so often the temptation for its misuse as the little self relishes what it is inclined to view as its newfound status and importance. Harm is the chief result. Consequently you will not be given Force until you are ready, until you are meek and mild enough to wield it with Grace. We would have you be a beacon, not a lightning bolt. We would have you electrify, not electrocute. You must teach without lecturing, shine without condescension, illuminate without blinding, reveal shadow without judgement, impel but never compel, see truly but always with all the compassion at your disposal. Remember kindness, for this is more vital than all these former things. Better to have kindness than all the knowledge, insight and wisdom on Earth.” She raised her voice slightly. “But remember! – kindness alone is not enough. Would that it were! No, you must raise your voice as I raise mine – you must speak out; your words and instruction must carry conviction; your actions must carry force! And Light must stand behind all of this! Learn not merely to see Light or even to become it, but to discharge it! Give Light and give again! Think not therefore of power – think instead of abnegating your throne so as to invite and summon Grace! For Grace is power, and Grace is enough! Grace – Perfect Love – lifts mountains, irrigates deserts, abates the flood and calms the inferno. Yet more, Perfect Love halts the tide of darkness and terrifies evil. Let us all then be filled with Grace, that we may build the New Earth on foundations of Love, Power and Beauty.”
The power with which she spoke shook me and once more I shivered.
“I pray that you,” the woman continued, “become naught but consciousness – pure consciousness of Light – and that from such consciousness may come perfect Conscience.” She turned to gaze into the fire. “This is a strong prayer,” she warned, “but may all your vehicles be made ready for the entry of the Soul and use thereby, and may you have the Grace, Wisdom, Power and Humility to accept all your trials merely as preparation for that Sacred Flame.”
She continued to study the fire. “I am always burning,” she said. “I burn for the redemption of the Earth. May you learn to burn with the same eagerness. Consume your intentions, devour your will, incinerate your selfish wishes, part with your long train of yesterdays, cease plotting to reincarnate and reincarnate. You have been told many times to get Wisdom, but I say – get Grace: the Grace to abandon selfish cares and turn to care instead for the world. Only then are you likely to taste the Holy Fires of the Universe! Only then will the illusion of space diminish.” She paused. “You may go,” she announced suddenly. “We are finished here.”
I pulled back, feeling suddenly rejected, and as I did so the hand of the Wise Man fell on my shoulder. We were back in my castle room, seated beside the table.
“You are much too hard on yourself,” my companion said, quietly. “You over-emphasise your faults and perceived lacks. You recognise the importance of recognising them – but you seldom apply the same compassion to yourself that you do so often with others. Hence do you punish and even lacerate yourself. Accept your faults and address them but remember too your virtues. Above all, do not condemn yourself. It holds you back.”
I held out my hand to reveal the modest candle. The Wise Man reached out and removed the other candle from the table. It promptly vanished and he gestured for me to replace it with my own. Together we studied it.
“It is a steady flame,” my companion observed. “A flame to be trusted. It will not gutter in the wind.”
“I hope not,” I said.
“We have been to the mountains today,” he remarked, “but now we are back on the level ground. There is Light in high places – oh yes, there is Light! – yet as you know it is in the here and now that it is most needed.” He paused. “You have heard much of Cosmic Fire, of universal principles, and high ideas. This is good. But you must take your little candle and go out on the windy plain and deal in the daily life. This is where Light is called for, modest as you may feel yours to be. I do not consider it modest to carry Light in this world.” He paused and smiled. “No – that, I think, is power of the best and greatest kind.”
I listened carefully.
“So often,” he said, “wisdom is not dispensed in great lectures or emotive speeches, but with a quiet word, a reassuring phrase. Healing is not always transmitted via hands of light, but with a smile or some small act of kindness. A life may be saved by a loving glance or even by merely sparing a thought. The world is awash in drama, but the greatest good is often to be found in quietness and simplicity. Some imagine that in order to come by Grace, one’s life must first be characterised by great and astonishing achievement – save the world and thereby save yourself. But this is seldom the case. In small daily achievements – and many of them – the goal often lies. You cannot move a mountain,” he observed, “but you can move a million tiny rocks, one at a time. Therefore do not judge this candle when you see it fails to outshine the Sun. Appreciate its steadfastness, its steadiness, its ceaseless glow, its refusal to even flicker. It is more than enough to see by – and others, perhaps many, will come to find the same.”
“How will I know when I finally get Wisdom?” I asked.
He laughed. “It could be said that the process of becoming wise,” he said, pronouncing the word with some reluctance, “is really the process of becoming wise to how little wisdom one truly possesses.”
“I certainly don’t think I possess very much,” I remarked.
“And I am not about to brand you wise for saying so,” he commented. “Wisdom is got from experience, but experience does not guarantee wisdom. So even if we could measure the breadth of our experience, which is our time on Earth, who is to say it is a fair reflection of our learning? No, concern yourself not so much with the acquisition of Wisdom – then you will not risk growing wise in your own eyes. Just do your best to help and keep doing your best. That is my advice,” he nodded, smiling wryly. “Curl a hand about your candle if you feel you must protect it from the wind, but ensure that you do not obscure it in so doing. May it join with the many others who now look bravely toward the dawn.”