.

37. ‘The Religion of Progress’

You confront me no more. And in the desert of your absence I can and will resist your spell. In my mind I now know clearly that you were a lying phantom; though in my heart I still furtively watch for your return.

What is it that our species, unguided and a law unto itself, can best make of itself, here in this little world under the sky? Surely there is no other worth-while aim for men than to make their kind as fully human as possible, and less brutish. This has been the direction of progress ever since men were men. This is the aim, disguised as God's will, that has haunted the prophets. Now at last, and stripped of fantasy, it grows clear in all honest minds.

And you, fictitious daimon, who have spoken within me, what more can you demand of men than that they should become fully human?

For indeed man is a creature of great promise, though still half-brute, and very frail; and minute among the stars. And the lives of all the men that have ever lived, all the folk-wanderings and the wide-spread civilizations, have been only a brief and scattered ferment upon the skin of one little planet, one little mote among the immensities. All empires, all brilliant cities and republics, all proud long-lasting cultures, have flourished and died within this mere film of life-supporting lands and seas, between our planet's rocky bulk and the void.

Upstart man, last-born of all earth's creatures, most gifted and most self-tormented, may prove also the most short-lived of all terrestrial species. For we are poised in that dread moment of man's history, between the infancy and the adolescence of our species, when man gains power either to destroy himse1f or set his course firmly toward fulfilment. If only he can avoid self-slaughter now, the earth may be his kindly home and school, for aeons to come, for a future (they say) four thousand times longer than the little span since our first human ancestors. In so vast a future, man may conceive goals that lie at present far beyond the farthest reach of our still infantile conceiving.

Surely, then, it is very clear what mankind should be doing with itself. Surely you, fictitious deity but authentic voice of humanity within me, can exact no more of us than that we should live to make man fully man.

But you remain silent, and my heart is airless.

Then let me live wholly with my mind.

Today, though potentially human, we are still half-brute, dragged down by circumstance and our own folly. Most men in all the continents live out their lives in hunger, disease, excess of toil, and brutish poverty of mind. Only a few are favoured to grow up uncrippled by adversity. And of those few, far fewer have any breadth or depth of awareness, any insight into the strange experience of being human, any conception of mankind's promise or instant plight. Most of us, nay all of us, are but beasts, and crippled beasts, in whom a little human awareness sometimes precariously flickers.

Surely, then, no man who is not a fool or a pervert can for a moment doubt what mankind should be doing with itself.

Every day men and women swarm into the factories to perform by rote their allotted tasks; or from dawn to dusk they fret the soil with primitive tools, or with their ruthless machines they rape it and exact from it excessive bearing. And everywhere the machines mechanize our souls. In the evening men and women, young and old, swarm into the cinemas with toil-dulled minds for luscious fantasies of self-glory and of sex; or for the same barbaric pleasures they stay at home with the radio. What else is to be expected of them, poor starved unkindled beings?

Two things, then, we must somehow do, we who by the luck of circumstance are stung by an inkling of what might be. We must earnestly strive to alleviate the present misery and blindness of our fellow men; and we must little by little prepare the way for the happier, more awakened and more human kind that man's new dangerous powers make possible.

Still are you silent within me? Your silence perplexes me and condemns. Yet what more reasonable purpose can man possibly conceive? Or is it mere arrogance to propose for men any goal beyond the alleviation of present suffering and the satisfaction of present and insistent hungers?

And for the rest? For the endless vista of the future centuries?

Surely we who have seen must have the courage of our pi vision. We must persuade men of man's high destiny.

Mankind shall be at last unified in loyalty to man. Wars shall at last be as unthinkable as between friends. Disease shall be abolished. All men and women shall have bodies that are wholesome, hardy and lovely. There shall no longer be mental cripples. None shall any more be crazy for vengeance or for power. All shall be willing and thankful citizens of the well-knit human world. All shall be eager to fulfil themselves in partnership with their fellows in the great common human adventure of developing the human spirit, each serving with l his special skill.

Man's little earth will become a city and a garden. The deserts will bear fruit, the arctic lands will be made mild, hospitable and populous. The peoples, each one preserving its distinctive temper and style, will all contribute to the single though various symphony of human life. All men and women in all lands, all glad free citizens of the human world, will rejoice at last in the brilliant and the solemn music that is man, and the appreciation and justification of the music shall be registered by no remote God but in the listening hearts of men themselves.

The adventure, which today is concerned only to save our world from ruin, shall in that happier age flower into strange new glories. New horizons will open before men's marvelling eyes. New desperate problems will be posed by new conditions. New kinds of experience will continually confront men with new hopes and fears, new agonies and joys, new challenges to be met by the creative prowess that is man.

The distempers and terrors of infancy will be outgrown, the fevers and passions of youth will be lived through; and man, mature at last, adult in mind and heart, will tame the very stars to serve his human purpose.

And when at last, through frost or fire, this little earth is wrecked, man may perhaps already be far afield, humanizing his whole galaxy, or crowning the whole Cosmos with human glory.

Daimon, great human daimon, you remain silent. Why do you not confirm within me that man's destiny is to give meaning to all existence? Surely it is for man, if not from this planet alone, and in this terrestrial species, then from remote myriads of other earth-like worlds, to fulfil the Cosmos by illuminating it with full awareness before the inevitable and cosmical death.

Daimon, your silence is ever a presence and a menace. The mere memory of your voice convicts me of impious pride in man.

The Opening of the Eyes Contents

.

38. ‘The Urgency of Revolution’

My past delusion has indeed spell-bound me. I am drawn back to it like a dog to his vomit. There must be no more of it.

But neither must I any longer distract myself with dreams of man's high cosmical destiny. Those also are delusion, conceived by the mind that has been nurtured in comfort and protected from tyranny, the mind that has had leisure to bemuse itself.

Not your voice, fictitious daimon, nor yet the voice of the Church, but only the voice of the comrades, can speak to me with authority.

Those dreams have enticed me from man's actual struggle, here and now. They have persuaded me that my comfortable office is to be far-seeing, and that I need not fight but only preach; that I must cling always to my raft of security, so as to preserve a liberal and a balanced mind, intent ever on the ideal, and not upon the battle; so that I may bear witness to the way of reasonableness and mercy, while others bear the brunt.

But today one grim fact makes nonsense of all my dreams, whether of deity or of Man's far future. Tyranny is triumphant.

Tyranny is triumphant; and alone the comrades, whom I chose to reject, are enlisted against it.

Today the dead hand of the past constricts and crushes the throbbing heart of the present. The few, with their new powers of persuasion and compulsion, control the helpless, but the newly awakening many. They dam the river of history. They resist the forward march of mankind. They plot to rob men of their human birthright, to turn them into willing slaves, to stereotype all men to be efficient cogs in the world-wide machine.

Yes, the tyrants plot thus; and yet surely most of them do not know what it is they are plotting. They regard themselves as good citizens and saviours of mankind. They are indeed instruments of evil, but for the most part quite unwittingly. They are after all our brothers though spellbound by power.

But to say even this for them, so the comrades affirm, is to weaken our resolution, is treason to the cause. Witting or unwitting, the rulers are the enemies of the Revolution. We, who see the pattern of history, must have the courage of our vision. We must not excuse the enemy; we must destroy him.

In such a moment as ours, so declare the comrades, those who love peace must fight for peace, against those who plot war as a means to strengthen tyranny. Those who love the arts of peace must now put them aside, or use them only as weapons to win the condition in which alone true art can flourish. Those who love freedom must accept stern discipline for the cause of freedom. Those who love the free flowering of personality, and the subtle, the playful or grave, clash and harmony of full-blown persons, must condemn themselves to be crippled as persons, by becoming sheer instruments of the Revolution. Those who love their beloveds must willingly sacrifice them, that in a future time all beloveds may live more fully. Those who love above all things love itself must for love's own sake team to hate. For we must hate and smash the enemies of the Revolution through which alone love can come into its own.

But my heart rebels, my mind is in confusion. If we do not love our enemies, if we do not even try to love the enemies of the Revolution, shall we not poison the hard-won tradition of humane living? Shall we not poison and deform the Revolution?

Yet the comrades, who speak with the authority of their dedicated lives, and with the support of so much history, and with so great a fervour of righteous anger against age-long oppression, are not easily answered.

I am lost. I am without guidance. You, daimon within me, fictitious though you be, you mature and trusted voice of humanity within me, clarify, I implore you, the perplexity of my mind and heart.

The comrades insistently call me. Their contempt for my hesitation and squeamishness, undermines me. They are so very sure. They are so impressively confident that everything, even the most precious things in human life today, must give way to the Revolution.

In such a moment as this, they declare, there must be no evasion of the challenge, no toying with the fantasy of an absolute and sacred Way, no dreaming of deity or of eternity, no star-gazing at man's far future, no escape into mere scholarship or art or domesticity, no sickly revulsion from ruthless measures, no blind addiction to gentleness and truthfulness when the cause demands harshness and lies. There must be one thing only, victory for the Revolution. There must be total, whole-hearted, single-minded, soul-sacrificing loyalty to the Revolution for the liberation of mankind. The millions of the oppressed workers in Europe and America, the hundreds of millions of Asia's starving populations, and Africa's teeming slaves cry out to us for help.

Thus, and with terrible cogency, the comrades appeal to all true-hearted men.

And I, cowed by my own good fortune and my own futility, cognizant of the world's dire need and of the formidable virtue of the comrades, dwell upon the brink of assent.

Yet, while I gather strength to join them, I remember, though I cannot recapture, your quiet presence.

I pray to you for light.

The Opening of the Eyes Contents

.

39. ‘Man is the Measure’

Pernicious phantom! Lest your spell again bind me, I must remind myself of the plain truth about mankind.

We are not creatures of any God, made in a God's image. We are indeed animals, social and cunning animals, no more. And the world that made us what we are implants in us as our rational goal the fulfilling of our needs as hunger-driven animals. Not God but the world, impinging on our hungers and our percipience, generates in us the rational will to co-operate for communal happiness. Our freedom lies only in foreseeing and hastening the historically determined process of man's liberation from the tyranny of circumstance.

But today, let me never forget it, fools and knaves with power resist this natural process. And in resisting it they may well destroy mankind.

What can matter, then, but the overthrow of their blind tyranny. For the Revolution's sake, child must inform against parent, brother against sister. Friend must turn against friend, j lover against beloved. For the Revolution's sake, old loyalties must be betrayed, old enmities forgotten. The innocent must be accused, the guilty shielded, facts denied, fictions maintained. For the Revolution, confession may be extracted under torture, and false confession under refinement of torture. If need be, beloveds must be tormented in the presence of their lovers. The erring, the deviating comrade may need to be torturingly remade by modern techniques of physical and psychical moulding. The pain of his correction will be well recompensed by the bliss of his return into communion with the Party, which alone is the instrument of mankind's advancement in our day. Corrected, he will thankfully, joyfully confess his error, and resign his self-proud conscience and intelligence into the keeping of the Party. For he will recognize once more in mind and heart that he is but a fallible and aberrant individual, and that the Party is the very mind and heart of humanity. He will remember thankfully that the Party is great and wise, and wholly concerned with man's liberation and fulfilling.

What if torture alone can save him? Torture is indeed abominable to creatures conditioned to gentleness; but it may sometimes be a necessary surgery. Sometimes we must indeed be cruel to be kind. If the torture of one man is abominable, still more abominable is the torture of millions by the tyranny. To put a stop to a great and lasting torture a little brief torture will be necessary.

There must be no absolutes; save only the absolute duty of overthrowing the tyranny; and after the Revolution, the duty of endlessly expanding man's power. This is the whole criterion of what is to be called good; as also of what is to be called true; and beautiful. Right acts are those which serve the extant need of mankind. True ideas and beautiful structures of imagination are those which are socially useful in each particular moment of history. Man is indeed the measure of all things. And today man's need is the worldwide Revolution.

Yes! But my desolate heart enquires, is there no measure for man; no law for the Revolution save that it shall increase man's pleasure? No criterion for all man's future saw the endless advancement of man's power?

Of the far future, so the comrades declare, we cannot judge. Thus there was a time for belief in the one God who is love, against belief in tribal gods; and there is a time for disbelief in any God whatever. But there is never a time, so they insist, for ideas that may encourage tyrants to believe in their divine right to exploit the people.

True! True!

Yet my memory of your presence cries out within me. Surely every time is a time to keep the mind and heart alert for the subtler tones of all experience, both of the world and of the self. For action, surely, should be dictated by the world and the self as they really are, and by no superficial phantoms of them, however convenient to the Revolution.

Confidently the comrades declare that such alertness is a mere sophistication and a mere distraction from the insistent claims of the Revolution.

Good art, they say, is art which at the moment the people need. There was a time for Shakespeare, and there is a time for Maiakowski. But there is never a time for art which is a mere spice for the palates of the over-privileged when they have fulfilled their historical function and are merely resisting the Revolution.

Absolute rightness, absolute truth, absolute beauty are but meaningless notions used by the tyrants (so the comrades declare) to distract attention from what is right or true or beautiful in relation to the present dire need of suffering and distraught mankind.

Thus the arts must be disciplined for the Revolution. The Party alone, and no mere individual taste, can assess the work of art. Music must please the toiling masses or sting them to action. Pictures must be universally intelligible, must have significance for the untrained vision. Poetry and all writing must express the actual needs and struggles and triumphs of the workers, or of the partisans of the new world.

Science, man's supreme intellectual achievement and ultimate liberator, must be wholly directed for human betterment. But the subtle sciences that the privileged have created are shot through and through with the mentality of privilege seeking to bemuse the unprivileged. They are convenient for tyrants, but they must be refashioned for the people. Subtilized beyond the plain man's grasp, they have become a sacred lore by which a modem priesthood cows the people. The simple truth in them has been overlaid by superstition. They must be purged.

Thus with impressive confidence and bold argument the comrades demand a remaking of all human culture. The new world, they say, needs a new culture; and to minds conditioned to the old world the new culture needs must seem perverse.

True! It has always been so. In every age the new idea, the new way of life, appears to minds set upon the old way to be perverse.

Yes! But in every age the triumphing idea, the new way of life, already manifests to the seeing eye the first symptoms of perversion. And very soon it becomes not the Way at all but a side-tracking and a blind alley. And the idea that inspires the comrades and captures their hearts and imaginations, is perhaps already hardening into a dogma.

In all this perplexity there is after all no guidance for me save your remembered and unforgettable voice. Silent within me, you still control me. I have declared you an illusion; yet you remain after all more real even than the comrades.

Most real phantom! I dare not, I cannot, I will not, ever again turn from you.

The Opening of the Eyes Contents

.

40. ‘Vision persists’

If you have abandoned me, I deserved it; for I did not trust. you. Now, without you, I must grope back to recapture some- thing of the sanity that came to me when your presence quickened me.

Unfaithful to you, I went awhoring after strange Gods that men had made. I listened too respectfully to churchmen, scientists, and the comrades. All had truth to give me; but all, being my fellow men, wrapped up their treasure in tissues of mere human sophistication, so that the jewel itself was lost in the coverings. I too have lost my jewel in man-made coverings.

It is not long since you were present to me, since I could be sure of your guidance; but how far I have strayed! Both within and without you were manifest to me. You were my heart's heart and the dark-bright heart of the world. But now my heart is heartless, and the world meaningless.

Possessed by you no more, I can but cling, though without conviction, though merely by habit, to our common tradition of the Way. Stumblingly, gropingly, I move step by step upon it, doubting its sanctity. In the time when you held me, each step was clear, each painful step was joy.

Even now, recollecting your presence, I can conceive in my mind, but not apprehend in my heart, something of your features, something of the dark-bright unity.

Never must I forget my lost vision of you; that vision which seemingly the brave, the dedicated comrades have never known.

Now, before it is too late, I must earnestly review in that remembered light the whole ambiguous gospel of the comrades.

The Opening of the Eyes Contents

.

41. ‘Rejection of the Comrades’

If one must reject the comrades, it is not because they work for a world-wide revolution. For in the world today revolution, a painful social change, is the only hope. But what sort of revolution do the comrades desire, and by what methods do they work for it? They demand only a remaking of society. They cannot see that without your commanding presence in the hearts and minds of leaders, the remaking will be false.

Rightly they contend that what is good in the long view may often seem bad in the short view; but wrongly they suppose that what is needed in the long view is merely to break the tyranny and organize mankind for prosperity. They cannot i see that equally in the long view and in the short view and at all times mankind's first need is an unswerving custom of charity, and of love even of enemies. They argue that in political and social action, no such custom exists; and that since the enemies of the Revolution do not shrink from cruelty and lies, the servants of the Revolution needs must sometimes meet them with their own weapons, and use even those weapons with the utmost skill and resolution and ruthlessness. They cannot see that what our world needs most today, as much even as the revolution, is mutual trust, even between enemies. But it is not merely a question of social need and policy. Unless they can find in their hearts and manifest in their conduct at positive love even for social malefactors and all enemies of the Revolution, the comrades are false guides. To hate evil deeds, and take resolute action against them, is right; but to hate men and women is always wrong.

Tyrants have indeed oppressed the workers and the coloured peoples, and tyrants must indeed be overthrown. Hungry Asia and martyred Africa, waking and indignant, are now on the move to break the power of the white oppressors. It is natural that they should turn to the comrades for inspiration and leadership. But if the comrades encourage them to reject not only the West's evil institutions, but also mankind's groping tradition of the Way, which both East and West have in the past conceived, then they are false guides indeed.

The comrades have still to learn that devotion and heroism in the struggle for power are not the whole of virtue. They must clarify their own hearts before they can conceive the Revolution rightly. They must be ready to risk for the Revolution even defeat rather than that they should betray its spirit. To be true revolutionaries, they must be saints, or at the very least guided by saints. It is a hard, an almost impossible task; but it is the only way for the leaders of mankind today.

If ever the leaders of the Revolution work with cruelty or lies, they harm the Revolution. If for the sake of quick successes, they stoop to those methods which no doubt their enemies have often practised, then they poison the Revolution. Firm they must indeed be, and subtle they must indeed be; but also they must be so outstanding in charity and honesty that even their enemies can trust them. Unless their charity and honesty are manifest to all men, they are inadequate leaders.

Common men may often fall short in charity and honesty; but if leaders flagrantly do so, the frail tissue of community must begin to disintegrate. Without that tissue which frailly knits all men together, no man can trust his neighbour, nor any comrade trust his comrade. Men need assurance that even in the gravest emergency they will at least be treated always as men, never as vermin. On the other hand, men must recognize as a sacred duty that even in the heat of struggle for the Revolution they must treat even the enemies of the Revolution as brothers, though as brothers opposed to them in a family feud

Charity and honesty must be absolute; not in the sense that we must never inflict pain and never conceal the truth, but rather in the sense that, if ever we must violate them we must j dare to do so only with a clear recognition of the enormity of the act, and only for the sake of a deeper charity or honesty.

There must be no rigidly absolute precepts. To hold absolutely even to the commandment 'Thou shalt not kill' is to set up a rule as an idol. In Our grim age simple killing is not necessarily a violation of the accepted moral custom. And so, killing there will surely be. To refuse it may be to sacrifice the cause for an ideal still beyond the reach of most men's hearts. But if killing and the threat of killing is sometimes obligatory, let the killing itself be forbearing. If we kill men, we kill our brothers, not mere vermin. Massacre and torture do grossly violate the accepted code. If the leaders of the world-revolution ever stoop within reach of these, they stand condemned as false leaders, no matter how great the end at stake. And no man who is intelligently loyal to the spirit of the Revolution will ever condescend to any method which can succeed only by destroying the integrity and self-respect of the person. Never will he favour those modem techniques of psychical and physical pressure by which tyrants transform responsible human beings into obedient beasts or tools.

But alas! Without your felt presence in our hearts how can we maintain our difficult loyalty to the Way at those times when violation of it seems urgent for the cause?

Daimon, for the Way's sake and for the Revolution's own sake, I pray you possess us fully.

The Opening of the Eyes Contents

.

42. ‘Cosmical Terror’

Once more your presence, but your terrible, your angry presence surprises me.

Your voice of scorn shatters my consoling faith in your ultimate gentleness. Can it indeed be you that are crying out in my heart, 'Fool and coward! Once more you project man's need for love upon the heavens, lightly conceiving that I, within you and beyond the galaxies, am universal love. Fool! If I am the God of Love, I am equally the God of Wrath. If I am God at all I am also Satan. Consider that Beelzebub, Ahriman, Juggernaut, Moloch and all fiendly gods are pale symbols of the Horror that is I. Whatever is terrible and whatever loathsome, that is I. If I am the frail and elegant flower of gentleness, I am equally, nay more truly, the tough root that revels in ordure. If I am the benign sunny weather, I am equally the hurricane, the thunder, the white fury of the lightning. I am the typhoon that flings great ships upon the inland rocks. I am the earthquake that crumbles whole cities, and the eruption of nether fire that overwhelms them. I am the deadly cold of the Arctic and of the abysses between the galaxies. I am the ice-cold heart of the cosmos.

'I make lovely things for the lust of wrecking them. Joy I make that I may turn it to grief. I crush robins and chaffinches on the roads; and on battlefields I trample the wounded under the corrugated tread of tanks. I am the creeping gangrene that destroys the flesh while the mind is still aware. I, I tortured your dear friend, and crushed out her songfulness. I enjoy the flavour of Buchenwald and of Hiroshima. My delight is to compel a lover to watch the beloved become living carrion, or disintegrate into idiocy. They serve me well who devise new ecstasies of torture. And it is I, I who torture the myriad worlds, and destroy worlds in their prime as a man may crush a fly. And in the end I shall destroy the stars as a housewife shovels living vermin into the fire.

'My sport is to turn all man's noblest ventures to evil. When he won new physical powers, and expected to build the New Jerusalem, I contrived, through his meanness, that he should build only factories and slums, warships and tanks. And now, with his newest, mightiest power of all, he is creating not the New Atlantis of science and culture, but a world of mindless robots, if not a world of death.'

Daimon! This raging voice within me cannot, cannot be yours. It raves, it is inhuman. Yet its tones are yours; and it speaks to me in the depth of my own heart.

I hear it again. 'My dearest triumph of all,' it is saying, 'is to wring from my creatures not only fear and loathing but also heart-felt abject worship. As the rabbit awaits the stoat, so they must accept me. Knowing that I shall destroy them, they must cringingly adore.'

True! It is hideously true. I myself, though hopeless of mercy or reward, I myself who loathe the horror that is acceptable to you, and loathe you for accepting it, cannot but irrationally adore.

But surely this is madness. To suppose that the universe is the toy of a mere fiend is after all but childish nightmare.

At once you answer me, 'Equally, then it is ludicrous to suppose it the work of a loving God. But if you are after all too knowing to accept such myths, either of divinity or of devilishness, then you must perforce think of me as the cold, the humanly indifferent heart of all things; and this, because it is even more alien to man than any fiend, you may find less tolerable to the unregenerate human mentality even than Moloch.

Yet even so, since you are not wholly sunk in the stupor of mere worldliness, you needs must worship me, whatever blank inhuman mystery my presence manifests.'

The Opening of the Eyes Contents

.

43. ‘Loathing and Attraction’

Terror and loathing are all my feeling for you. Yet you obsess me. I cannot escape from you.

Your beauty is a mere glint on your foulness; but it wins me. Your very foulness itself speaks to me; but in a strange language, and with some high significance that I cannot grasp. Your tenderness is a lure merely, set by your cruelty; yet your very cruelty hints at s9me dark meaning which I have not the wit to grasp.

I loathe equally your savage inhumanity and your super-human aloofness; and yet, loathing you, I know that, if I could wake from this nightmare, I should indeed see your bright and your dark as a single glory.

But now your depth and your height equally appal me. I cannot span them, or see their unity, or come to terms with them.

At least, never again will I judge you; for you transcend all my dimensions, all my norms.

I loathe you still; yet painfully I yearn toward you.

How can I any longer support this torture of twi-mindedness? Give me at least unawareness of you. Give me oblivion. Let me at last escape into annihilation.

The Opening of the Eyes Contents

.

44. ‘Illumination’

What is this vertigo, this falling?

Are you upon me again?

Surely your presence, your very presence confronts me at last. It envelops me. It transforms me. It devours me.

The very tissues of my being are dissolving in you. I was a murky droplet, but I have fallen into the ocean of your clarity. I am a minute clarity dispersed within your infinite clarity.

I can remember the little thing that was I. From a great height, and a great depth also, I can scrutinize the little thing that was I. It persistently cherished itself. It had no peace.

Surely I have escaped at last from the littleness of that insect.

Now, surely, I am fully awake to you, and I shall not again lose you. I perceive at last with clarity the inconceivable unity of the world's bright and dark. And perceiving it, I perceive you, who are also my own heart's heart.

I accept you thankfully. I adore you. I adore you with laughter. For I laugh with you at my blind terror, which is the terror of all beings in all worlds. I laugh without heartlessness to any sufferers; for if my torment is transfigured, so also is theirs, could they but know it. You, my heart's heart, you dark-bright heart of the universe, you have transfigured all torment; for me and for all beings in all worlds.

We are indeed tormented, but in a nightmare only. The reality is deeper than our nightmare.

Not that our torment is unreal. It is actual and terrible and eternal. It is a crimson gash across the face of your cosmos. It is hideous; yet a part of beauty.

For us, as little individuals, there is no escaping from the torment, save in escaping from ourselves; no waking from our littleness, save by waking to you, and becoming no longer ourselves but ourselves in you.

The torment of our nightmare is eternally your torment; but in you it is acceptable, because you perceive it always as the dark within the unity of the dark-bright.

Strange nightmare of individuality, with its meaningless confusion of black horror and tinsel joys!

But in the waking, the confusion takes form. 'And its form, one might say, is right, is good, is beautiful. Yet to say this is to belie it, since goodness, rightness, beauty, are human concepts only, conceived of the bright alone, not of the unity of the bright and the dark.

Now that I am awake, now that I am no longer only my mean frightened self but a minute clarity within your infinite clarity, I have the peace. Henceforth neither pain nor fear nor joy nor hope, neither self-concern nor yet self-loathing, neither hate nor moral anger, neither compassion nor even love itself can any more enslave me. I shall stoop gladly to them, and drink deeply of them, but never again can they bind me.

For henceforth I am yours wholly. Whatever happens to me or to any beloved, or to the whole human race, or to the host of worlds, is within the dark-bright's unity; and so, acceptable.

Let me indeed be yours always! Possess me, I pray you, so I; strongly that I shall never again fall from you, never sink back into the nightmare that was formerly I!

You do indeed, I know well, possess me always, for you possesses me eternally. The moment of illumination is the eternal moment. But in the sequence of my life also, I implore you, possess me always. Permit me every day, every hour, every moment to have clear vision of you, and to be wholly loyal to you in every little act and word.

For joy is to be yours wholly, and with full awareness, and to be your vessel.

Yet well I know that even this prayer is disloyal to you. For if you should leave me again, it is because I am not yet fit for you. And even our unfitness is within your glory.

The Opening of the Eyes Contents

.

45. ‘Rebuke and Heart-searching’

You are speaking in my mind, quietly, warningly.

'Beware,' you tell me, 'beware lest you deceive yourself with wishful imagining. Do not slip into the belief that you have at last found mystical union with your longed-for God. Be content that through me you have at last seen more clearly and have welcomed, though you have not found union with, the dark-bright which is the heart of all things.'

Dreadfully I listen to you; and already my ecstasy becomes unclear, and shorn of glamour.

You are demanding of me, 'Can you in all sincerity declare that you did indeed escape from your individual self-hood into a loftier sphere? If it were so in fact, you would be henceforth another being. You would be fearless, wholly generous, wise beyond all human wisdom; and your peace would be unshakable. But it is not so. You will soon find that you are the same timorous, the self-concerned, the ignorant and easily subverted creature that you were. All that is changed is that with your new and clearer vision you will henceforth try perhaps a little harder to behave decently. No! You were not transported into glory, you were not transformed. Simply, through the impact of new vision you escaped for a while from your self-concern and fear, and rose to a more generous interest and a purer will. Through the quickening touch of my presence you found not union but worship.'

You have spoken hard words. Let me for a while silently and with deep heart-searching consider my state.

But already you speak again. 'Consider that through lack of candour you have misused the language of the saints, wishing to magnify and colour your own lowly ecstasy. Confess that even in your moment of clearest awareness you have lied to yourself. Out of self-cherishing and spiritual lust you have been dishonest. You cannot rise to the high ecstasy that the great saints have claimed. Even if you could, their language and their modes of thought are foreign to your age. Bear witness otherwise, or not at all.'

I have no answer. I am bewildered and ashamed. Did I indeed, priding myself that I had risen beyond individuality to the sphere of pure spirit, allow self-love to snare me after all?

True! The charge is true. How could I so deceive myself?

And yet it is not true, wholly. Even under your scrutiny, and even though I admit in shame your charge, yet I stand by my words, by the truth in them which my self-pride distorted. Can I perhaps say truly that though indeed I was not transported into glory, yet glory did in a manner open up before me and engulf me? Though indeed I was not for even a moment removed from this familiar sphere, nor freed from petty selfhood, yet the vision struck" home deeply, and I am changed. Something momentous did indeed happen to me. But alas I had neither the wit nor the language to describe it. And so, slovenly, I misused the language of the saints.

Let me now speak more clearly, more humbly. It became evident to me that the 'I', which in its own awareness was indeed not transported to a loftier sphere, was all the while, though unawares, inherent in that sphere. I saw nothing new; but familiar things were seen more clearly and in due proportion; and I among them. What I said was indeed crudely, falsely said; but I had to say it. That crude saying was indeed a stage, I feel, toward clearer sight.

Can it be that 'I', the essential 'I' within me, is not identical with 'me' at all? For I, I am the innermost heart of me, and that surely is you; though you with your celestial and eternal amplitude cramped within the little emptiness, the mere pin-hole that is 'me', an individual answering to a certain name. That mere pinhole can never, I know, so enlarge itself as to accommodate your immensity. And so its yearning for you is tragic, and its fated death is absolute. Yet I, I have indeed eternal union with you, being a little clarity within your infinite clarity.

Discovering this, I had indeed a bewilderment, and a vertigo as of falling; a falling into nothingness and a leap into eternity. At the point (so it seemed) of death absolute I found absolute peace.

Or shall I more faithfully say, I saw with certainty that you, my heart's deep heart, who are not 'me' at all, have peace, absolute and eternal?

Even to say this is not to say what is true, though there is truth behind it. Whatever I say, when said, turns out to be untrue.

Then help me, help me, I implore you, to press forward toward clearer awareness and truer saying. Henceforth I will live solely to make both the vision and the telling clear.

The Opening of the Eyes Contents

.

46. ‘Desertion of the World’

The saints of the East and of the West have taught that for union with you a man must centre his whole life upon you. ' His will, they say, must be one-pointed. He must never let himself desire anything but you, who are the all-inclusive point, the all-spanning instant, the heart and comprehensive unity of all things. He must surrender everything gladly for your sake. He must constantly discipline himself under a rule. He must thrash and tame the unruly flesh and spur the spirit. Only if the body is starved and chaste and broken can the soul wake. So, and confidently, the saints declare.

Must I then for your sake turn away from all the loveliness of the world; the beckoning, the quickening loveliness? Surely to withhold salutation from anything that is lovely is to withhold worship from you.

But your skilled servants declare that the loveliness of the world belies you, like a distorting mirror; and that you are all the while standing beside me. Then indeed I must wrench my gaze from the world, and turn it directly on you.

Strengthen me, I pray you, to turn away from the world's loveliness. Strengthen me to break the flesh into cowed submission, and to train the spirit for the true life of the spirit, and for full illumination.

The pleasures that delighted me, that seemed to speak to me of you, I must henceforth reject. Innocent though they seem, they may confuse clear vision. I will eat sparingly, and only for support. Wine I must forgo. The delight of love-making, most seductive, most obscuring phantom, I utterly renounce.

How plausibly, how charmingly it lied about you!

But it lied, and it must go.

The lust of the eye, which has always enthralled me, I must henceforth reject. The meticulous observation of form and colour, I now forswear as a childish joy. The visual is such a minor, such a distracting feature of you. How little of you is revealed in the appearances of. trees and hills and the fortuitous patterns of clouds; how little even in the exquisite and meaningful forms of human faces and limbs! Women may be lovely; but what their beauty darkly reflects is in you directly, dazzlingly manifest.

Love also I must reject, that lying illusion of communion.

Must it be so? How can I bring myself to abandon even that impassioned friendship, how avoid the beloved's eyes? Surely to renounce love, and to abandon the beloved is to betray you in your very citadel.

But no! Henceforth you alone are to be adored. The love of I persons is a Trojan love, subversive to your citadel. It shall not deceive me.

Nor must I any more go a-flirting with the arts, nor pay attention to those most significant of sensuous forms that artists alone create; the exciting visions that painters present to us, the involutions of sound that musicians deploy. Even the most far-echoing symbols are human figments only, and what they signify is a distraction from your native presence.

So at least your stern servants affirm; but how can I persuade myself that Da Vinci, Shakespeare and Bach are false guides to you?

Yet no! In their creations you do not nakedly confront me. Your voice is an echo, merely. Then let them go!

I must abandon also, it seems, all the imposing adventures of rational thinking, through which in seeking you we fatally lose you. Science, myopically intent upon the physical, has no eye for you. Philosophy's meticulous doubting has overlaid you with a tangle of split hairs.

Yet surely those trusted guides have led me far. Without them should I not be an ignorant child in a great chaos? They may not reveal you, but at least they have broken many a false image of you.

No! Let them go! All human wisdom: is now exposed as mere childish babbling. Its truths are fantasy, incredible to the mind that your illumination has rendered adult.

I shall also, and with little regret, resign all part in the confused affairs of this sick world. And I easily forswear ambition. Though disguised as obligation to be socially effective, to pull one's weight, to contribute in some measure to the welfare of mankind, its motive I now recognize as self-display. Even if sometimes I have been moved by more generous motives, the upshot has generally been futile or even disastrous. Not by such meddling by ignorant and half-awakened persons is mankind to be saved, but only by a reorientating of many hearts toward you. And so, those who have at least glimpsed you must above all clarify their perception of you, so that there may be at least a few in the world whose sanctity may be a light to all men.

So at least your dedicated servants declare. But I fear, I tremble, lest in abandoning the world for you I find only blankness and idiocy.

But no, but no! My whole need is for you. Only in seeking you can I be truly myself. Though the world in its blindness destroy itself, my concern is wholly with you.

The time has come. Renouncing all distraction, I now dedicate myself. I will not any longer meddle in the mad world's corruption. I will keep myself clean for you. With wholesome disgust I spurn the world, I spurn the flesh, I spurn beauty, I spurn love. Above all I spurn the subtle lure that snares the comrades, the call of brotherhood in the Revolution, and in mankind's seeming progress! There can be no progress but the lonely climbing of each solitary soul toward you.

I will be always alone with you. Even in a crowd and even in the crisis of action, I will be alone with you.

If for salvation's sake I must in some way serve my fellow men, my contribution shall be whatever flowerets of wisdom you find me fit to conceive, under your guidance.

Now, I pray you, speak again in my heart. Now at last, I dare implore you, smile indulgently in my heart.

I listen, but you are silent. I gaze expectantly for you, but you remain withdrawn.

The Opening of the Eyes Contents

.

47. ‘Exposure of Spiritual Lust’

Again your voice! But it dismays me; it cuts into me with steel.

I am hearing you say, 'Self-loving still, you care only that I the individual who bears your name should find the ultimate joy. You seek the experience of salvation for pleasure's sake J alone, though for spiritual pleasure. Your one-pointedness of will is centred not on me but on the delight of union. You would surrender common pleasures, but only for a more exquisite pleasure. You are concerned not with that which in its own right claims you but only with the hoped-for ecstasy of bliss eternal. Continuing so, you will stray farther and farther from the Way. Believing yourself at last far advanced upon it, you will be unable to conceive that to recover it you must humbly retrace your steps even to the very beginning. Beware, beware lest you be lost utterly.'

Dread surgeon, I shrink and tremble under your knife. Your dissection exposes the malignant tumour next my heart.

Yet I dare plead with you. Surely it cannot be sheer self-love that impels me to seek union with you. May I not claim in addition a more generous motive? Not for me alone, but for mankind, the one hope lies with you. Surely in directing my gaze wholly upon you I shall indeed best serve my kind.

You correct me. 'True it is that mankind's need today is to recover awareness of me, so that men may keep their feet more surely upon the Way. But the bliss of fully conscious union with me, if it is possible for any man, is for the elect alone. What does it matter that you, a certain named individual, should find salvation rather than some other? As for you, neither by capacity nor by training are you fit for salvation. If you seriously will to fulfil your office, you must not yearn for an office that is beyond you; still less should you falsely persuade yourself that you have in fact achieved it. Let the saints believe that. they are blest with union. You cannot know, and in your dark day very few can know, whether in any valid sense at all even the great saints themselves were indeed transported, or whether their whole message is parable. But what your sick world needs is not that here and there some eccentric solitary, or some band of seekers, should achieve the full flower of illumination. It needs, and desperately, that the many ordinary human persons should have a glimmer of the light, and live accordingly. Then let those who are blessed with some frail spark cherish it indeed, but gladly forgo its full and lovely flowering, so that their lowly gleam may contribute to the common glow.'

I dare plead again. Surely, for mankind's saving, at least a few must be wholly given to the search for union with you, forsaking the world; if only that their one-pointed will may be an example to all men. And surely if there are to be at least a few triumphant saints, there must also be many who, striving, fail. Even if my fate is to be only among these, I am content.

Scorn rings in your answer. 'You plead falsely. You are still snared by self-love. Unwittingly you are seeking excuses for escape from your sick world's plight. In some less dangerous moment of man's history it might be as you say; but your lot has fallen in a desperate time. Conceive that in your day mankind is in delirium and in danger of self-destruction. Only the light can save it; only such light as can be accepted in the harassed and impoverished hearts of common men and women. Conceive, then, that you are a little organ of mankind; and cease to be a self-cherishing aspirant toward divinity.'

I am humbled, I am prostrate.

Yet must I not, for the strengthening of my weak vision; and so for effective service, discipline myself, and forswear all distractions?

You seem to answer, 'Discipline you surely need; but for the world's sake, not your own desired salvation. Here at least you may learn from the comrades, who know well, in their way, that salvation is not for any lone individual but for the community. Discipline yourself not to reject the world but to be more sensitive and serviceable to it. Discipline yourself that you may become more objectively aware of the world's variety and subtlety, and more capable of right response to it. Do not turn from the world's beauties; rather welcome them, and reverently savour them. So, they will enrich you for service. Saints may forswear the flesh, the arts, intellect, and love of persons. They may even disown all social claims. Their vision dictates to them. But their way is not for you. If you forswear the flesh, you will be poisoned by the festering hungers of the flesh. Do not scorn even the simple joys that food and drink afford. Conceive that, when you take them into your body, you partake of me. Every meal may be a sacrament, every drink an act of worship. Not relish but gluttony is an outrage to me. And as for sex, each caress can be mindful of me; and copulation itself should be a gay symbol of communion. If you forswear love of persons, it will not be for love of me but for mere self-love. And if you forswear the arts, consider that in abandoning them, in seeking me without the sacrament of their sensuous rightness and their far-reaching symbols, you turn blind and deaf to me, and coarse of spirit. So, you cripple yourself for service. Equally, if you forswear intellectual scrutiny, you will constantly belie me in stupid blindness to the world's subtlety. And if you disown all social claims, you will be false to your own gleam of light, and you will fall headlong from the Way. You have contracted a vulgar itch for spiritual superiority. Forget it! Attend to other and more interesting matters than your lust for salvation. Do not suppose that, because a little of the truth has been given you, therefore you are chosen, and important. Do not arrogantly reject the world.'

But how can I not reject the world? Are not most men grossly insensitive, stupid, selfish, cruel? .And is not the world's way their way, and not at all the difficult Way that you demand of us?

Your answer again shames me. 'I am the heart of all things, or so you have told yourself; and the heart of all men. Rejecting the world, you reject your fellows, and you reject me. If you dare to scorn men for their blindness and harshness, you yourself, in your tawdry pride, betray me far more than they, in their blindness. Equally if you reject the beauties that the world offers you, you reject me.'

Daimon, I will never again fall into spiritual pride; I will never again condemn my fellows. Nor will I ever again turn from the world's beauties to seek you; but how can I not distinguish between their misleading and elusive significance of you and the stark revelation of you that I dare call your very presence?

Quietly you answer, 'Conceive, if it helps you, that I and my cosmos are one, indissolubly. I am not simply its remote creator; nor am I a rarified and choice essence pervading it yet distinct from it. Conceive that every single thing, of all the myriad things that my cosmos comprises, is wholly I. There is nothing in any man, there is nothing in any electron, that is other than I. And the whole of me is in each thing. But indeed there is very much in me that each finite thing must fail to manifest. Thus, though I wholly am in each thing, some things are indeed more patently significant of me than other things. If you must conceive inadequate thoughts of me at all, conceive poetically that I am at once the root and the flower of the cosmos. As the individual spirit is in a way the delicate flower of the body's organization, so I am the flower of the cosmos. But I, who am eternally the far future flower, am also eternally the ancient root, or the vital seed and rich soil from which in time's beginning the cosmos springs. Or conceive, if you will, that I, the divine lover, created my cosmos to grow up to be my beloved mate, equal but adorable. Yet conceive also, if you can, that the cosmos, my equal and beloved mate, is also both my mother and my daughter. For the cosmos bears me in its womb, and will give me birth; but also I, I conceived and bore the cosmos. In all these ways you must think of me, if you would think of me not too falsely. But you must remember always that all human thoughts about me, even those that figure me poetically, fantastically belie me. However you think of me, do not through spiritual lust turn away from my cosmos to look for some other sphere where there is no flesh but only spirit. For what you call spirit is nothing whatever but the spirit or temper or essential form of this fair flesh, my cosmos, and that spirit I am. Turning your course away from the cosmos, you will find no promised land but desert; and there you will wither into eternal death.'

To your warning and your teaching within me I have no fitting reply but silence.

The Opening of the Eyes Contents

.

48. ‘Incursions from the Unknown’

You have warned me that I must not turn from the world and seek you in some other sphere of pure spirit. Yes, my place is indeed here and now.

Yet how can I not look questioningly beyond this world, being already rather old and tired, and soon perhaps to die?

If indeed this world were certainly all, then even to life's last moment one should be wholly intent upon that one and familiar reality; and upon the frail flower of this world, which is you. But this world is not certainly all. Another world does seemingly, though intermittently, disturb the flat coherence of this world that science knows.

The glassy ceiling of this pond wherein we all are minnows is startlingly, though rarely and randomly, shocked and rippled from above. Raindrops from some unimaginable sky pucker the smoothness of our ceiling. Cat's-paws of celestial wind softly stroke it. And now and then it is pricked by skimming swallows, glimpsed even from within the pond. Rumour declares that these winged disturbers are disembodied spirits of dead minnows, freed from the limitations of pond- bound flesh. Above, they stoop and soar in the great air, enjoying the unwatered light that is you.

You interrupt my reverie, saying, 'Do not let yourself be dragged too far at the heels of uncurbed fancy. Tell yourself more simply the thoughts that are teasing you.'

Rebuked, I seek for plain expression.

At all times in man's history there have been echoes and rumours of another world. Dreams and visions seemed to tell of it; or, by foretelling terrestrial events, they seemingly betrayed a supernatural origin. And it has often seemed that in waking life thoughts may strangely leak from mind to mind. And illness, danger or death, occurring far away, may suddenly be known to absent lovers or friends. The sites of murders and suicides may retain, it seems, phantoms of those agonies. The living, in dream or trance, may speak with the voices and the characters of dead persons, revealing facts known to no one but the one who has died. Moreover in all countries and ages the great saints have spoken in strange accord of their access to loftier spheres. One might call them flying fish that leap through our world's ceiling and glide for a while in the lower levels of heaven. Soon, they plunge back, but trailing clouds of glory.

Again you are prompting me. Quietly in my mind you are saying, 'Now tell yourself clearly how those who are loyal to my light should receive these seeming intimations of an unknown sphere.'

The answer comes uneasily. In the time when the dawning temper of science was rebelling in men against slovenly wishful thinking, those whose loyalty to you was conceived mainly as loyalty to science faithfully scorned and meticulously explained away all those awkward happenings. They were all illusions, we said, that no self-respecting intelligence need seriously consider. The cause of all those surface ripples, we said, though still unclear, must be sought wholly within the world that science had mapped. At that time such dogged scepticism was indeed fitting for all those whose loyalty to you lay chiefly in intellectual integrity.

But now today, and under the sharp gaze of science itself, strange facts are recorded. To deny all leakage from mind to mind is to reject, we are told, overwhelming evidence, and to violate the scientific temper itself. Even the possibility that by sheer will men may influence events beyond their normal reach, is no longer to be ridiculed. If in a thousand throws of the dice, the numbers that are willed turn up far more often than chance alone permits, what but the willing can have been the cause? Strangest of all, events still future, which for science do not yet exist, may seemingly make themselves known to us before they occur.

In the light of such strange facts, scientifically attested, it seems that we have sometimes access to some sphere beyond time and space, wherein events future and present and past have contact with each other, and where individual minds, no matter how remote their bodies in space or time, directly influence each other. It begins to seem not wholly impossible 1 that thoughts and desires happening today may influence events tomorrow, or events yesterday, even events far future or events in the remote past. Or it may be that our own contemporary events are themselves in part determined directly by minds located near the beginning or the end of time.

Thus seemingly the scientific temper itself is being forced to conceive that the intricate universe of our extant science is but a province within an ampler, stranger universe. And so we are surely compelled to take seriously once more the thought that this world of time and space is but the threshold to another world. We, who formerly out of very loyalty to you rejected all wild rumours of the unseen reality, must now, it seems, out of chastened loyalty to you earnestly attend to those who claim access to that sphere, assuring us that all souls are destined to pass over to it. We may well surmise that this human world itself can have no health unless it is constantly transfused with influences from that other. The minnows in their little world of water depend, though unwittingly, on air from above, transfused throughout their water. And must not we, submerged in time and space, draw breath from the unseen? And so, should not our chief concern at all times be to be fully attentive to you in our minds and hearts, and to discipline ourselves to reject all those lures that this world sets for us?

In the question's very asking I hear your answer. You are saying, 'Indeed you must be attentive to my promptings in your minds and hearts, and attentive also to all those singular points in your experienced world wherein, you believe, the unseen impinges on the seen. And if you have the wit, you must try to conceive their meaning. But never forget that your office is here and now, and that even the rare flying-fish cannot be birds. If there are snares of worldliness, there are subtler snares of other-worldliness. Conceive that the ampler world, if such there be, is all of a piece with your world of time and space, that it makes with yours a single cosmos.

Conceive that your world is no mere threshold, but the necessary foundation of the whole cosmos. Whether you as individuals survive or not into that ampler world, that world itself is indeed no other, no separate world but rather the spirit inherent in this fair cosmical body of galaxies and boundless space and temporal aeons. Without that cosmical body the cosmical spirit could have no being. And whether you as individuals survive or not, the groping struggle of your kind to become, generation by generation, a kind more aware and more responsive, and more creative on your starlet, has relevance even to the loftiest spheres of all. And equally, in each generation the blundering and inconstant spiritual aspiration of each single individual has relevance; even as the action of each nerve-fibre is relevant to the well-being of the whole body, and to its life as mind and as spirit.'

The Opening of the Eyes Contents

.

49. ‘Individuality and the Whole’

Great daimon, your voice in my mind transforms my mind.

But I am uneasy. Surely the individual is no mere organ, whether of society or of the species or of the cosmos. Surely individuals alone are aware, and alone your concrete instruments, and society an abstraction. If I conceive the individual as a cell in a great brain, even in a cosmical brain, do I not gravely misconceive him?

You seem to answer, 'It is true that in your temporal sphere individuals are indeed separate, and my sole instruments. If you conceive societies or nations or the human race as super- individuals, you fall into gross error; but might it not be that in higher spheres the little individuals themselves are unified in communion? The instruments of an orchestra are separate instruments, and the whole orchestra is not another instrument comprising them as its parts; but the music itself is indeed one. The cells of a brain are separate cells, each behaving according to the principles of its nature as an individual cell; but the mind is one, and all the cells have part in it. Without gross error you may conceive that in your sphere, of time and space, all individuals in all worlds and ages play out their separate themes with little or no insight into the music's unity and significance; but that, in so doing, they themselves, in the more lucid sphere, are more than mere unwitting instruments, are rather the players of those instruments, executing with greater or less intelligence and insight the music that the musician wills.

'Your thinking would not, indeed, be utterly false were you to go further, and conceive that, in the highest sphere of all, the host of individuals throughout the cosmos of time and space are each of them fully awake as the one supreme individual. That individual, you may conceive, is in eternity the creative source of the whole cosmical music, executing it concretely in time and space, and in eternity relishing it. But if you conceive it so, conceive also that in your conception there must fatally be far less truth than falsity. Remember always that the minnows in their pond can never, as minnows, climb into the sky. And above all remember that if in the sphere of time and space you abandon your fellows and give up all in search of eternity, you abandon your part in the orchestra, you forfeit your own reality, and your participation in eternity. You become actually nothing more than what your cruder scientists declare that each one of you fatally is, a minute and ephemeral clot of mere matter.'

Thus seemingly you have answered me; but your theme is indeed far beyond me, and it is certain that I must have gravely misheard you and misinterpreted,

Again are you speaking? You are saying, 'At least conceive this one thing clearly: to be true to my light you must be at once wholly orientated to the eternal, yet also wholly engaged in action in your native sphere of time and space, in your actual world of men and women and of mankind's age-long total struggle toward the light,'

But make clearer to me, I pray you, how it is possible for attention to be given wholly to the temporal world, yet at the same time to be directed with one-pointed concentration upon eternity? Is it, as I have heard said, that the awakened being is capable of two kinds of attention, one for the temporal world, and the other for eternity? 'Conceive,' you seem to say, 'that in attending to me and to eternity you need not, must not withdraw attention from the world. Rather you must attend more deeply to the world, in all its multitudinous aspects; and in doing this, you will wake to the other attention, which in attending to the whole, finds the eternal, and so far from weakening your attention to the world, greatly intensifies it. When you look earnestly at a picture or listen earnestly to music, your attention wanders hither and thither among the details; but every detail is transfused with the whole, so that the more deeply you attend to any detail, the more you are attending not merely to it as an isolated fact but to the whole, It is so, but more so when you attend to the eternal in the temporal; more so because the unity of the cosmos as a temporal and eternal whole is far more close knit than the unity of any work of art.'

The task is difficult, and seems indeed impossible; but your command is clearly heard, and to disobey is death.

The Opening of the Eyes Contents

.

50. ‘Protest for Mundane Happiness’

The pond-bound minnow cannot, you say, ever as minnow climb the sky. Yet in effect you urge me to transcend my minnowhood.

Minnow I surely am. If, to leave this pond I must be wholly remade for breathing the heady air, I should no longer be 'I' at all. I should be some other being, distinct from me, and of no concern to me. What should the deaf instrument care though in some subtler sphere the player hears and contributes to the music?

Pond-life can be sweet, how sweet! The minnow needs only to feel the water caressing its flanks, to gulp down food, to be vaguely aware, perhaps, of its fellows, and sometimes to be sexy.

And I, human minnow, desire no more than fine weather, I adequate appeasement for the flesh, and for the mind's calmer i hungers. Give me this perceivable world to watch and hear I and touch and smell and taste; give me work that demands all my skill but does not break me; give me the clash of friendly minds; give me the continued presence of my few beloveds; and at last let death come quietly as sleep.

Give me these only. I need no more.

Take back the celestial gift that you offer me. Disturb me no more with your voice.

I much prefer walking in the park with a sweet companion. We can watch the ducks and the children, and talk about ourselves.

The Opening of the Eyes Contents

.

51. ‘Fatal Involvement’

Your voice is again upon me. 'It is not much, is it, that you ask for your happiness, nothing, in fact, but the full satisfaction of all your most cherished little human desires.’

I am abashed, while you continue, 'Not even the ideal fulfilment of all your personal wants could really give you happiness. It would soon bore you. Besides, you are once , more deceiving yourself. You can never again be content with the simple pleasures of the individual person. Minnow, indeed ' you are, and not even a flying fish; but because sometimes those bold adventurers into heaven have plunged home near you, the celestial effervescence that they trail has entered your gills, and you are sometimes a little drunk with it. You can never again be an entirely sober minnow. Henceforth the bemused creature must inevitably perceive all the pond's familiar beauties as symbols echoing celestial beauty. Henceforth the mere deaf instrument must for ever be teased by phantoms of the music that it cannot hear. Thus it must henceforth be that in walking in the park with a sweet companion, you walk with me; and in loving her, you are loving, through her, inevitably me.'

It is true. And alas, through loving you I fatally love not one nor two but every potential sweet companion whom I meet. For each one of them is you.

Are you saying, 'If you love them all strictly as symbols of celestial beauty, you cannot love too many. But if so, you must be far nearer sainthood than your behaviour declares.'

Dare I believe, great daimon, that your answer conceals a smile?

But now gravely you speak. 'Consider! With heaven's air in your gills you can never again have the peace of minnowhood. For henceforth you see me not solely in the beauties which you crave for your private enrichment but also in the fulfilling of every person whom you encounter. Egoist though you remain, there is no peace for you save in transcending egoism. In virtue not merely of your animal gregariousness but of my breath in you., you are fatally involved with all your fellows, and you see all of them as manifestations and instruments of me. There is no happiness for you, still less salvation, apart from your kind's happiness. And your kind has strayed far from happiness, and farther from salvation.'

While you confront me or speak to me, I can accept and even welcome my involvement with my kind in this sick world. For though as minnow I am doomed to suffer with my kind, the torment that in its blindness it imposes on itself, I have the peace that floods me from your dark-bright presence.

But without you I soon itch again for happiness, and the world's threatening presence closes in on me.

The Opening of the Eyes Contents

.

52. ‘World Tragedy’

No sooner are you withdrawn from me, than I become again a frightened minnow.

This pond is no ornamental water in a rich man's park, where the choice fishes are protected both from poachers raiding from above and from pikes within the water. It is a savage arena where every creature is against every other. Each hungry fish competes with its fellows for the limited food. Hunger, fear and pain pervade the whole pond.

And if we are indeed instruments in your orchestra, then the unhea1ing instruments are tortured by the unseen players. Trumpets scream from the blast that tears them. Strings quiver and wail under the bows. And the players, or the divine conductor, can delight in all this misery!

The main source of our trouble is very clear. In our fatal selfishness we are careless of each other. And on every level of our being we are selfish, from lusts physical to lusts of friendship and of love; and even to lust spiritual. For you have indeed shown me that in seeking you we may be moved only by spiritual greed; and so, neglectful equally of our fellow mortals and of you.

Further, maltreated by our fellows, we nurse grievances, and we lust for vengeance. Thus we still further torture each other; and under torture we grow still more vindictive. It is indeed a vicious circle.

By nature, and in conditions not too frustrating, we can be a little friendly. But by unaided nature we can never rise to that heroic friendliness which alone can break the vicious circle of our frustration and our vengefulness. To that height we can never rise, save when you strongly possess us. And this you so rarely choose to do. Why, oh why do you elect so few of us, too few by far to save the world from our folly and our baseness? Even those who earnestly seek you are few; but those whom you enlighten fully with your presence are far fewer, and rare as the gold-grains in the river sand. Your creatures torment each other through blindness to you. Surely it need not be so, if you were to reveal yourself to all men, or even to many.

But by now I know well that your will of your wretched instruments is not a symphony of joy, but some darker, fiercer, deeper, subtler music.

So, every fair thing in our world is fouled, if not at heart, then from without, pock-marked by the world's ubiquitous infection. So it happens that this not wholly base human kind, which with a little more charity might create a happy world, fails utterly.

Between best beloveds, between man and wife, parent and child, comrade and comrade, your servant Satan, or you yourself, sows discord, flagrant or concealed. Every village, every city and province, every nation, is maliciously divided against itself. Between rich and poor, masters and servants, leaders and led, employers and workers, there can be no trust, no friendliness. And now between the embattled halves of the world, with their conflicting gospels, each half-true, half-false, the final war begins.

And even if by some miracle mankind achieves a happier state, what then? Sooner or later, some unimportant astronomical event will casually destroy us. Or may you not at any moment project upon us out of your supramundane sphere some immaterial and inconceivable fiat to annihilate our universe?

And no matter what catastrophe destroys us, it will be no accident but the intended climax of your music.

And in all other worlds in all your galaxies, the upshot no doubt will be much the same. Sparks and hints of joy are everywhere turned to grief.

The Opening of the Eyes Contents

.

53. ‘The Act of Will’

Your stern voice arrests me.

'It is high time for you to make up your mind whether you will continue to wallow in gross self-pity, disguised as compassion for your kind, or whether you will be mine wholeheartedly, not merely with occasional polite protestations of worship, but in action, self-less action with your world.'

Fear silences me. I can but listen.

You seem to say, 'Have done with excusing yourself on the plea that full illumination is withheld from you. You know very well that you are unfit for it. If it were given you now, you would be blinded and paralysed. Cherish such vision as is possible to you; but do not brood upon it. Let it arm you for action.'

But alas, I know very well that I am not strong enough to serve you as you demand. Have I not tried? Have I not many times failed? I am proved a minnow, teased by moments of vision, but limited inexorably by my minnowhood. You yourself have said it. Then what real choice have I? Earnestly desiring to be wholly obedient to your dictates in my heart, I am yet continually and irresistibly controlled by lusts and fears. I am little more than an automaton. You have given me a vision of the Way, but at every turn my minnowhood distracts me from it.

Coldly your voice breaks in upon me. 'As minnow, you are indeed limited to your automatic minnow nature; but in your own heart you know that you can a little control your minnow nature. Do not be so easily hypnotized by the clever but shallow sciences of your world. They are products of the pond alone, true of pond-nature only. But the pond is not all. And you yourself can never again believe that it is all. Influences not discoverable by the intelligence limited wholly to that lowly sphere are none the less at work in it. You have no longer any excuse to cling to the fiction that you are nothing but a mechanism. You are indeed that, so long as you wilfully ignore the element in you which is of another sphere. With a sincere act of will you can, within limits, wrest the automaton from its course. Indeed, with an earnest enough act of will, and the needful understanding, you could rise to the highest sphere of all; but after a life-time and an ancestry of gross pond-habits, it is extremely unlikely that you will make so great an effort. Nothing prevents you but ignorance and laziness; but, then, how ignorant and lazy you have allowed yourself to become! What is demanded of you, however, is not that you should leap to the very apex of spiritual being, nor even that you should suddenly become a saint. What is demanded of you is only that, without any extravagant or seemingly miraculous act of waking and self-re-creating, you should make the little effort that would hold you constantly upon your lowly and preliminary stage of the Way, instead of constantly erring and bemoaning.'

Daimon, since you affirm in my heart that I can do it, then surely I can. I must. I will.

The Opening of the Eyes Contents

.

54. ‘Freedom and Necessity’

Is it indeed true, then, that we are free; that of our own will we can damn ourselves, and of our own will alone find salvation?

Are you answering in my mind? You seem to say, 'Sometimes men do well to conceive the matter so, but sometimes not. Whichever way you think of it, the thought must of course be far less true than false; since you have not the ideas or the words for true thinking in so difficult a matter. But make a great effort to think clearly, and you may hit upon some notion which, though not true, may seem plausible and contain enough of truth to be helpful.'

Earnestly I ponder I bearing in mind the two contradictory thoughts that you have given me, namely that I am a minnow, and that I can, if I truly will it, be a little more than a minnow.

Can the answer to the riddle be something like this? At every level of being there is a certain limited freedom, and the higher the level, the greater the freedom. The electron jumps when it freely chooses to jump; though conditions may incline it either to jump now, or to delay. But it has no freedom to become an elephant, or a comet, or a saint. Or should I say that it has indeed the freedom to do even this; but on the one hand it is far too ignorant even to conceive these goals, and on the other their attainment would demand so great an act of will that the probability is overwhelmingly that no electron will in fact ever choose to make the effort. On a somewhat higher plane there is more freedom. A subhuman mammal can do this or that within wide limits. But it is very unlikely to make the effort to rise to the human level. A man is much freer. If he so chooses, he can behave as a mere beast; or if he so chooses, as a man; or even, to some slight extent, as something a little more than a man. But it is extremely unlikely that, even if he has the necessary vision for it, he will make the effort which alone could securely raise him to a higher plane of experience and behaviour.

Further, if a man lets himself form strong habits of bestial behaviour, he loses much of his freedom to behave as a man. But if he forms strong habits of behaving in manners at the top reach (so to speak) of his human capacity, he will gradually discipline himself to live upon a higher plane of awareness, where he will enter upon a new range of freedom, and of responsibility. Indeed, at any time, if he were to will it both intelligently enough and earnestly enough, he would wake to the highest sphere of all, in fact he would wake to find that he was you, and always had been you. But of course he is not intelligent enough, and anyhow it is infinitely improbable that he will make so great an effort, more improbable than that an electron should make the effort to become an elephant. One might safely bet millions of millions of millions to one against such a thing happening.

Great daimon within my mind, is this myth utterly false, or is there some shadow of truth in it?

Can it be that I hear you chuckle within me, as an uncle amused by a child's crude fantasy? And are you saying, 'Divine intelligence, stooping very far from its omniscience, can indeed see that your rigmarole does clumsily signify a little of the truth. You have, in fact, achieved a not unamusing attempt to have the cake and eat it. Cherish your little sketch, if it helps you. But do not seriously believe it, for to do so would be intellectually dishonest. Remember always that you are but playing with inadequate little human words; and that, however cunningly you juggle, you will always have on your hands the incompatibility of the so-called "freedom" which you seem to know inwardly and the "necessity", so-called, which you seem to know outwardly, the exquisite orderliness which, on the lowest plane, your sciences are detecting.

'Remember, too, that a mere act of will is an abstraction. Always you perform the act of will because of some vision that comes to you from beyond yourself, but which you espouse; and in embracing it, you extend your self interest and become in a way an ampler self. The child can rise to love only when it has begun to discover someone lovable. Espousing the loved one, it enlarges its self interest. And you cannot will the Way until you have already glimpsed it.'

It is clear that we cannot will to travel on the Way till we have glimpsed it. But even when we have glimpsed it, and willed it, we may at any time be side-tracked from it by unruly impulses. How can we be so weak as to betray our own accepted ideal?

'Glimpsing it only, you have not fully accepted it, nor changed your habits of mere minnowhood. For sainthood you must open your heart for its constant possession. Using such will power as you have, you must train yourself, stage by stage, to higher power. But if you were fully possessed by the vision, no effort would be needed.

'And see! You will be well advised if, when you contemplate your own sinfulness, you think mainly of your freedom to refrain from sinning; but, when you feel tempted to condemn others for their sins, you had better think charitably that, after all, they cannot help it, being slaves to their impulses. Thus, while your concern is with your own struggle to press forward on the Way, you will cling to the half-truth that you call "freedom", and its consequence, "responsibility"; but while your concern is charity toward other sinners you will cling to the complementary half-truth, which excuses them.'

It shall be so, if you grant me strength and skill to walk that knife edge.

The Opening of the Eyes Contents