Friday, August 12, 2005
A Story from Mystical Horizons
There was a man who wished to become a mystic. He had wanted to do this as long as he could remember.
He had searched for many years in order to find a spiritual guide. Finally, all his efforts were rewarded when, almost miraculously, events unfolded in such a way that he came to know about a spiritual guide who, recently, had moved into the region to
which the seeker, himself, due to a variety of circumstances, had just migrated.
When he learned of the fortuitous turn of events, he became very excited. Immediately, he began making plans for traveling to the spiritual teacher’s home town.
He waited for the right set of circumstances to arise – circumstances that included having a number of free days strung together so he would have time to make the necessary journey, establish contact with the teacher, and, hopefully, spend a few days learning from that person, before returning home. Soon, he saw his opportunity take shape, and, as a result, he activated his plan.
The physical portion of the trip was uneventful. He arrived in the small town, booked a place to stay, deposited his bags in the room, and got a bite of food at a nearby restaurant.
Afterwards, he made a few inquiries about the teacher and discovered that the gentleman spent an hour, or so, in the town square just about the same time, every afternoon. People described the spiritual guide as being very friendly and approachable.
The seeker decided to start visiting the square the very next day. Perhaps, with a little luck, he would be able to meet with the teacher in fairly short order.
The afternoon of the following day slowly rolled around. The visitor went to the square, which was just a short walk from the hotel where he was staying, and began looking for the spiritual guide.
By carefully observing what went on in the square, he was able to identify the person he had traveled to see. When the latter individual was alone for a moment, the seeker made his move and went over to the bench where the teacher was seated.
He introduced himself, and just as he had been informed on the previous day, the man was both very friendly and quite approachable. A discussion ensued which, eventually, the seeker was able to steer to the topic of mysticism.
The two had an animated discussion on this subject for a short while. In fact, the discussion, went so well that the seeker had the courage to say: “I would like to step onto the mystical path. I understand there is an initiation process surrounding this entry into mysticism, and I am wondering if you would initiate me.”
The teacher remained friendly but said: “No, I’m sorry, that is not possible.” As soon as he said this, he began talking about issues other than mysticism.
The seeker tried, several times, to move the discussion back to matters of spirituality. Although the spiritual guide remained very affable, nevertheless, on each occasion the teacher was able to deftly deflect the seeker’s attempts to return to the topic of the mystical path in another, non-mystical direction.
Finally, the teacher looked at his watch, apologized for having to leave, and, proceeded to rise. He warmly shook the seeker’s hand and, then, he walked off, wishing the seeker well as he did so.
The man remained on the bench, watching the teacher disappear around a street corner leading away from the square. He was puzzled.
Things had not gone at all the way he had envisioned. Consequently, he began to replay the entire discussion in his mind’s eye, trying to figure out where the problem might lie.
After giving the matter much thought while sitting on the bench, walking around town, eating supper, and lying down on his bed in the hotel, he had not been able to come up with anything that had happened during the discussion which might account for why his overture to obtain initiation had been rebuffed.
The man, however, did develop a few hypotheses concerning the situation. He would test these possibilities the next day.
The night and morning came and went. Afternoon had begun.
The seeker went to the town square and saw the teacher sitting on the same bench as the previous day. After a few people stopped and talked with the guide, a time came when the teacher was sitting by himself.
The seeker again approached the teacher and asked the latter if it was okay for him to sit and talk. The teacher’s face lighted up, and he invited the visitor to sit down.
The teacher was polite, entertaining, and friendly, giving absolutely no indication of there being any ill-will present toward the seeker. The two engaged in an amiable discussion of sports, politics, and a few other topics.
During the ensuing discussion, the seeker worked certain ideas into the exchange in order to test his theories of what might be the problem. When none of his hypotheses proved tenable, he decided to, once again, broach the subject of initiation.
He asked to be initiated into the mystical way. The teacher responded in precisely the same way as on the first day they met: “No, I’m sorry, that is not possible”, and like yesterday, he continued to talk in a warm and friendly matter about other subjects until the time for his departure arrived.
This time the guide walked away in a different direction, but the seeker was left in the same predicament. What was going on? Why wasn’t it possible for the initiation to take place?
The seeker was not only disappointed but he was a little annoyed and angry with the events of the past two days. Tomorrow, he decided, if the chance arose, he would confront the teacher in a direct fashion and try to discover why the request for initiation seemed to be falling on deaf ears.
He spent a restless night, tossing and turning. The clocks seemed to be involved in the possible conspiracy for they moved in a way that suggested they were resisting bringing the afternoon on in a timely fashion.
The afternoon, however, did finally take place. The seeker went to the square, found the teacher sitting alone, and quickly reached the bench.
The teacher looked up, saw the man approach and smiled in a very inviting and charming manner. The seeker asked if it was okay to sit with the teacher for a little while, and the teacher warmly assented to the request.
Choosing to avoid dancing about with small talk, the seeker said: “I don’t wish to be offensive or rude, but several times over the last two days, I have asked you to initiate me into the mystical way, and on each occasion, you have said ‘no’. Why?”
The teacher briefly gazed at the man and, then, turned his head away, surveying the rest of the square as he did. Very gently he said: “If you were willing to trust me to be your guide, don’t you feel you might trust my judgment that, at least at the present time, you are not ready for the mystical path?”
The words were rather unexpected and had a point -- a sharp one. The seeker thought about what had been said and, then, replied: “But I have wanted to be initiated for such a long time. I’m willing to do anything to prove my sincerity. I’m just asking for a chance to show you that I really am serious about my request.”
The guide weighed the remarks of the man. The teacher briefly studied the man, looked away, and returned his gaze to the seeker.
The mystic said: “OK, I’ll tell you what I am prepared to do. I am going to give you a task, and if you complete that task, I will initiate you.”
The seeker first was very happy, but a certain wariness swept across his face. He asked: “Is the task illegal, immoral, impossible, or beyond my ability?”
The teacher laughed and shook his head, indicating that the answer to all of the man’s concerns was ‘no’. He added: “The task, actually, is fairly simple and straightforward, but I don’t believe you will complete it.”
“Then, tell me what I have to do,” responded the seeker, “and, I will do my best to accomplish whatever task you might assign to me.”
The teacher said: “I want you to take off your shirt, go over to that variety store at the edge of the square, buy: a medium-size basket, some candy to put in the basket, a baseball cap, and various materials for making a sign to hang around your neck. When you have done all that, I would like you to return here and compose a sign which says: ‘If you will knock the cap from my head, I will give you a piece of candy.’ Upon completing the sign and using some string to suspend it around your neck, I want you to walk around the square with your basket full of candy, and wherever you find people, you should stop in front of them so they can read the sign and, if they choose, do what they must to get their piece of candy. And, you should do this until all the candy is gone. Moreover, from beginning to end, you cannot explain why you are doing what you are doing to anyone.”
After the nature of the task was outlined, the seeker protested: “I couldn’t possibly do this. I mean, what would people think of me? I would become a laughing stock of the town, not just now, but for some time to come. Please, give me some task other than this.”
The teacher looked at the man, his gaze fixed on the eyes of the would-be seeker. In a very loving and kind way, the guide said: “You see, I told you would not be able to do this. You’re still too preoccupied with what people think of you rather than being primarily concerned with what Divinity wishes from you.”
If you would like to order a copy of Mystical Horizons, just click here: Mystical Horizons