A Voyage of Discovery
A reader's tale of the search for Truth
Guest article by Jack Samuel
Introduction by Occult Mysteries
This allegorical tale needs little introduction for it speaks for itself in accents as poetical as they are profound. Within it, the author has concealed a number of important occult truths which will not be lost on the knowledgeable occultists and mystics among our readers. But even those with no occult knowledge may profit from this enchanting story which is filled with beauty, wonder, comfort, and some surprising twists and turns!
Our customary afterword deals with another, equally magical voyage to be found in the Poet Shelley's metaphysical drama, Prometheus Unbound, which we discussed in our article about the hidden truths in this inspired poem.
AS I SIT ON THE BEACH IN THE DAPPLED SHADE of a palm tree, I suddenly become aware of a brilliant light, sparkling at the water's edge. Curious, I put down my book and gaze toward the shore, wondering why I haven't noticed this before. Strange colours hold me spellbound as they dance to the music of the rolling waves. The sweet sound of Nature is all around me. Birds sing in the treetops, a gentle breeze whispers among the leaves and waves lap upon the shore.
Fascinated by the unfolding spectacle, I continue to read, but my eyes always come back to the light in the sea. Eventually, curiosity gets the better of me and I decide to investigate. This is a welcome distraction, for my latest acquisition, entitled, Life, the Universe and Everything by Professor I. Knowitall, is boring me to tears. Having struggled through the prologue, I decide enough is enough and throw it over my shoulder, not caring where it falls. This is a pity, for it lands neatly atop a huge, groaning pile of other discarded volumes; each stacked one on top of the other. It is one book too many. It is the last.
Rumbling like a volcano, my mountainous library topples over, and riding a wave of useless literature, I emerge from the Shade into the warming rays of a Golden Sun. Lighter than a feather, I walk slowly down a white sandy beach to the ocean beyond. Glancing over my shoulder I notice something quite remarkable.
I have left no footprints in the sand!
I look to the sea. The light seems brighter now. Entranced, I take a few tentative steps into the shallows and peering down, I'm amazed to see a large, grey, barnacle-encrusted oyster lying, slightly open, on the seabed. Undoubtedly, this is the source of the strange light, for out of the narrow opening, glorious iridescent hues radiate in all directions. For a few moments I gaze, mesmerized, by a myriad of colour, wondering how something so beautiful emanates from something so ordinary. The ocean's cool waters lap gently around my feet and very soon a great calmness engulfs me. I want to know more.
Kneeling down, I reach for the oyster lying just below the surface. And yet, for some strange reason, I cannot grasp it.
"Beautiful, isn't it?" a voice whispers in my ear.
Somewhat startled I look up. A small boat has mysteriously appeared at my side. "Would you like the oyster?" says the voice, "For it hides a Great Wonder." A hooded figure in a white robe sits at the prow, his face hidden deep in shadow under the cowl. Only his mouth is visible.
"Why, yes," I reply, "If only I could reach it. It always seems to be just beyond my grasp."
"Oh? Perhaps I can help," he laughs. "Here, let me try."
Rolling up his sleeves, the mysterious visitor reaches into the water and picks up the oyster with ease, holding it carefully in the palm of his hand. At once the shell springs open, revealing a large, glittering pearl in all its glory. I shade my eyes, so brightly it shines. The mysterious figure smiles and places the exquisite shell into my shaking hands. To my utter dismay the oyster snaps shut, its light extinguished, that glorious pearl now captive within the grey barnacle-encrusted shell. I offer it back, but the hooded figure holds up his hands.
"The gem is yours," he tells me. "It always has been, besides, I have one of my own." As if by magic a beautiful pearl appears, shining brightly in the middle of his outstretched hand. "Your pearl!" I cry, "It has no shell. Will mine be like yours?"
"In time," The man says, smiling warmly. "You still have a long way to go before your oyster opens wide. Ages may pass. But it will be worth the wait. Here, I have attached the shell to a silver chain. Keep it safe around your neck, close to your heart." My mysterious, hooded friend places the chain over my head.
"So, my dear friend, are you ready? For I have much to tell and you have much to learn."
"Who are you?" I ask, bemused, admiring my chain, "Do you have a name? And why are you here?"
"Who I am is of no importance," the figure replies, "But what I have to say is! Why I am here? Well, firstly because you asked for my help and secondly, and more importantly, I am here because you are ready."
"Ready?" I ask, "Ready for what?"
"The Truth," he replies, "Come aboard, my friend, it is quite safe." The hooded man smiles and offers me his hand, "Come, let us begin our journey. We will call it our Voyage of Discovery."
I need no further urging, and take my rightful place in the middle behind my hooded friend, and we head out to sea. Strangely, although I cannot see anything, I feel someone else is aboard; an invisible but palpable presence sits in the stern, for on occasion the boat rocks, deviating from its bearing. I need to stop this from happening and concentrating on the task ahead, we are quickly back on course. "By what force does the craft move?" I ask my guide, as we drift steadily away from the shore, "As far as I can see there is no engine, sail or oars.
"It is your Desire for the Truth that carries us along," the man replies, "The stronger that Desire, the faster and further we travel. See, your Island has already disappeared."
"Oh my," I gasp, gazing at the vast ocean. "And where are we now?"
"We are sailing on the Sea of Knowledge," he replies, gazing over the side, "beneath us lie the Pearls of Wisdom and Truth. Some are plain to see, but countless more lie hidden from your eyes. All are there for the taking. Please do not worry. Even if you collect just one, you will have achieved a very great thing indeed."
Peering into the crystal waters I'm astonished to see an infinite number of lights, pin points twinkling like stars in the gloomy depths. Alarmingly, dark reefs and dense, green seaweed bar my way.
"Roll up those sleeves my friend, and begin," my guide softly commands.
"But they seem so far down," I cry, stretching out my arm. "How on earth can I reach them?....Oh, well that was easy!"
A small, iridescent pearl now lies in my palm.
"Ah! Well done," the man says, "You see, my friend, if you have the Will, plus a little Guidance, things are not as difficult as they first appear. Keep going." We sail on.
As the Pearls are collected, knowledge flows into me. Colours flash before my eyes and celestial sounds ring bright in my ears. Many questions are answered. How Worlds are made. The Nature of Man, the Nature of the Soul; this is so much better than any book! Pleased with my efforts I hold out my hand. A dozen, shining Pearls lie there, glittering in the Light of the Sun.
"Now, place that hand upon your Heart."
I do as my mysterious friend instructs and the Pearls vanish.
"You now hold the Wisdom in your Heart, where it will stay forever," he adds with the warmest of smiles, "It is etched into your very Being and will never be forgotten. Come, let us continue our good work." And so we carry on.
Stretching away into infinity, the calm waters make collecting easy. Only a breath of wind, and not a cloud can be seen in an azure blue sky. Even so, not all Pearls can be taken from the Sea. Many remain where they lie and many more, my guide explains, are hidden from my sight.
"One day, when you truly understand, you will uncover them," he says." And you can always return and look again, but you cannot gather them all at once. What is missed today may well be found tomorrow. Do not be downhearted. Although small, your handful of Pearls is more than enough to start our journey with. Why, if we collected them all, our boat would sink! Then where would we be? Congratulations, the first part is complete and your endeavours have reaped their reward."
Reaching inside his robe my mysterious friend produces a small, exquisite, Golden Key, which he places in my hand.
"You have now gained the Wisdom to unlock many a Great Mystery!" he tells me, "What is hidden can now be revealed."
Changing direction, our little boat speeds up. The hooded figure nods his approval. We press on; collecting another dozen, sparkling Pearls and I feel more Wisdom and Truth flow into my Heart. The second part is now complete. Another Key is handed over. Suddenly, a vast tract of land appears on the horizon. "Look, my friend, do you see them?" My hooded companion points to a wide, seemingly infinite white, sandy beach. A great number of identical palms hug the shoreline and beneath each tree sits a solitary figure. Men, women, their heads bowed, all reading, devouring anything they can get their hands on. Some are completely surrounded, hidden from view by a mountain of books (or are they bricks?). "Look there!" I cry, "Beneath the waves, that glorious light! Do they not see the Pearls of Wisdom?"
"Alas, my friend, those poor creatures see nothing!"
My eyes fall upon a man. Many books lie open before him. The one he is reading, just begun. Suddenly his face lights up and he stabs an eager finger at the page. Something has roused his interest. Quickly, he drops the book and picks up another, frantically thumbing through its pristine pages. The light in his face grows dim and the book slips from his nerveless fingers. And so he picks up another and another and then another. A breeze arises, flicking the pages over and over, back and forth, flapping like the wings of many butterflies. And then I realise. The man has become a butterfly, flitting, unguided, from book to book in his desperate quest for the truth.
We drift slowly along the shore, gazing in astonishment at the people on the beach. Some balance on one leg as they read, while others chant strange mantras, their heads bowed as if weighed down with lead. Not once do they look up from the books that absorb all their attention.
"So many books!" I cry. "Can Wisdom ever be found among their pages?"
"Yes, of course," replied my hooded friend smilingly. "There are many great manuscripts in the world and now you have the Key you can unlock that Wisdom. What confuses at first will become clear in the end. Come, we must leave these men and women to their fruitless task. Sadly, they look no further than their material world. And yet a day will come when they will raise their heads. Let us hope it is soon." The little boat sails on and the land is soon gone.
We are now approaching a solitary island where sits a man deep in thought. His face, free from worry, shines like the sun. An old book lies open in his lap. Occasionally he stands and walks to the shore. Each time he places something in the sea and returns to sit cross-legged under a magnificent fig tree.
"Do you see him?" I whisper. "That man, he seems so calm, so peaceful. But what is it he returns to the ocean?"
"Ah! Can you not guess?" smiles my companion, "so few attain such Wisdom and Peace. This man has found Enlightenment and now he gives his Knowledge back to the world for others to gather."
"But see there!" I cry, "He still reads, for a book lies open in his lap."
"Yes, and it will never be closed, for it is the greatest of all—the Book of Nature. Now come, let us continue."
A few more Pearls are collected, when suddenly the weather changes for the worse and the sky darkens. A cold wind whips up the waves.
"Ah! The Clouds of Life roll in," observes the hooded figure. "Beware my friend, a storm is coming. Do not let it distract you from the task ahead."
I gaze upward. My eyes fixed on the darkening sky. I cannot look away. Gradually, the little boat slows, and then stops altogether. To my horror my hooded companion begins to disappear, fading like an early morning mist that flees in the face of the sun. Only his voice can be heard, a whisper on the gathering winds. "Ride out the storm, my friend. Rest assured, we will meet again soon." And then he is gone.
Great waves rise up, crashing violently against the sides of the vessel. Desperately I hold on, praying that our little boat doesn't sink. Amazingly, it stays afloat. O me of little faith. I should have known it would hold fast. Trying to focus, I turn my attention to my heart and bring forth the Great Light that resides there. Mercifully, the storm releases its hold and the wind dies. Thinking it is over I begin to relax.
"You've been ignoring me of late!" says a gruff, grating voice behind me. "Why is that? What can you possibly see in all this so-called Ancient Wisdom?"
Not wishing to rock the boat I turn slowly round to come face to face with an old acquaintance—or should I say adversary!
A grumpy looking man in a dark-grey overcoat scowls at me from the stern of the boat. "Well, well, will you look who's here?" I say, looking him straight in the eye, "You know, there was a time, not so very long ago, when I didn't even realise you existed. But now? Now I know who you truly are and because of that you no longer have a hold over me. Try as you may, you will never win."
"Ha! You fool!" he scoffs. "How many of those ridiculous Pearls have you collected whilst we've been talking. Not one, I'll wager."
"Me, the fool?" I laugh, holding out my hand, "See, I have six! Unbeknown to you, my blinkered friend, my hand never left the Great Sea of Knowledge. Even now it trawls these wondrous Waters and if you really want to know what I see in the Ancient Wisdom, it is simply this. The Truth! So be gone, you grey-coated buffoon and trouble me no more." Almost immediately the dark clouds roll away and the sun breaks through. Spears of Gold fly fast and true towards the cowering figure that sits in the stern. As the Great Sun's Light finds its target, Golden Ropes appear, securely binding him.
No sooner was my adversary bound than my mysterious hooded friend returned. My heart sings with Joy. "Will that foul tormentor return?" I ask, pointing to the grey-coated figure struggling to free himself in the bottom of the boat.
"Of course," he replies. "You will never be entirely rid of him in this Earthly life, but you can keep him at bay. Don't forget, he plays an important part in your life. He keeps your feet firmly on the ground and he questions everything. Why should you blindly accept everything I say? All these things help you progress. It is all about Balance and common sense, which, of course, is not so common as people imagine."
"Yes, but he is so very annoying," I sigh. "Moaning, complaining, criticising, I'm sure he only has his own interests at heart. At least I know him now."
"Look my friend," my mysterious guide says, "one day he will be gone for good. See his bonds? When you take that Glorious Path of the Sun he will never escape that which binds him and you will be free. But until that time he will remain at your side. Only that wondrous Pearl you hold close to your heart has the power to keep him at bay. Have you not noticed? The shell has already begun to open."
"Oh!" I cry. "Why yes, so it has. But how can this be?"
"You have already collected many Pearls. You are slowly gaining the Knowledge, Wisdom and Patience to defeat that grumpy, grey-coated old man. Yet there is still a long, long way to go. Many trials will test you, and more obstacles will bar your way. But you will do it." Reassured by his words I sigh deeply and close my eyes. A bird sings and a gentle breeze whispers above my head. I am back, on my island, under the palm tree. My hand reaches for the shell, but it has gone. Distraught, I cry out to the ocean. "Where is it? Surely, it cannot be lost?"
"Must I explain everything?" A familiar voice whispers in my head. "Can you not feel it? That glorious Pearl lies deep in your Heart, within the earthly shell that is your body. It has always been there, but if a pearl is to grow it must first be known and then nurtured. And there it will remain safe, slowly releasing its Light, within the oyster. It is up to you to bring forth that Light."
"So, is that what my Pearl is, a Pearl of Light?"
"Not quite, my dear friend," the voice tells me, "It is the Great Pearl of Inner Peace."
F I N I S