And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray; and when the evening was come, he was there alone. — Matthew, xiv, 23
Climbing with the agility of young manhood the Master was soon out of sight of the disciples. Finding a path here and a way there he arrived at a high and secluded spot and disposed himself to meditation and prayer. From the mouth of the shallow cave where he sat his thought reached out over the countryside and gathered in the wise and the foolish, the young and the old, the rich and the poor: he became them, he was the multitude of them, and the aching futility of their unwisdom, the chains which bound them to illusion, were an agony to his soul. "Father!" he whispered, "behold them! Reach down, I pray, and teach me how to guide them to freedom." A luminous silence filled the place, and within that silence was a Voice heard by the Master alone.
Then, as though all the legions of darkness were bent upon overwhelming the solitary figure, descended a raging tempest of lightning, wind and rain. But not a fold of the Master's robe nor a hair on his head was moved. In perfect peace and in the midst of a glowing light he communed with the Highest and was comforted in that he saw clearly at least the next step on his path of helpfulness.
It is not lawful to know all that took place there; but as the Master thought to rise and return to his disciples, feeling their urgent need of him, there came from the surrounding gloom into the peace of his presence three small furred creatures which nestled in complete confidence at his feet. "Yes, you too will receive help as I succeed in helping human kind," he said. Looking into the darkness from which they came, the Master saw light reflected in the eyes of a preying creature. He tossed a small stone in that direction and the eyes disappeared.
Then the Master gathered loose stones that lay about in profusion, making a guardian wall around the trusting creatures where they rested. Leaving but a small passage for egress, he placed therein outward-pointing thorns from nearby bushes so that the tiny furred things might emerge in the morning, but so that no unbidden thing might enter. Over the whole he placed several large flat stones. As he worked, the thorns pierced his hands and he murmured sadly: "Indeed it is my destiny to appear as a king amongst men; but in this world my crown is of thorns."
As he moved down the mountain, the radiant light surrounding him parted the storm. Invisible presences lent wings to his feet, so that stone or bush were as a smooth path in his going.
The disciples had obeyed the Master's orders, obtained a boat and set out for the other shore. But they had made little progress and were being beaten back by the storm. Indeed they were in danger of foundering, and in their extremity were crying out: "Master, save us or we perish!"
Then they saw him coming, and the waves were as green grass beneath his feet. They were a pitiful sight, drenched and bedraggled, weary with the struggle to keep the boat afloat. But now a greater danger seized them! From fear at the Master's approach as though on dry land, and looking to them like a luminous spirit, they for the most part fell to violent and uncontrollable trembling. He paused, and pleaded gently with them: "It is I, be not afraid. Must I indeed heal my own disciples also, as though they too were afflicted with a palsy?"
The Master's gentle raillery reassured them, and he stepped aboard the boat and resumed his familiar appearance for their greater peace of mind. But with the divesting of the radiance in which he had approached, the tempest again pressed in upon them with violence. "Peace! Be still," said the Master; and the storm retired and sank like the troubled memory of a dream upon waking. A warm breeze sprang up and sent them on their way comforted but awestruck with wonder as to what manner of man this was.
"I would sleep," said the Master, "for I am weary. But first let us go over the events of the day and glean their lesson. What said the multitude when so few were able to feed so many?"
"They made little comment, Master. They were hungry and the dusk was upon them; they received thankfully and were comforted," answered the disciples. "That was as it should be," said the Master.
"But what gained ye from it?"
"We were amazed; it was indeed a miracle," they answered.
"Is that all?" said the Master sadly. "Well, perhaps more will develop within you as you ponder these things. But this I would point out: it was not a miracle; it was completely within the great Nature in which we live. The earth, the sun and rain multiply much more from scattered seed, and ye eat and do not pause to wonder. We live by the grace of myriads of toiling beings who give generously, and ask naught in return. I but gained their aid, because I and my Father are one. Search for the Father in Heaven within your own hearts, and learn to look within the outer event for the inner meaning.
"The loaves and fishes, shared with others, did not grow less; but for you was the lesson that truth from the lips of your Teacher, being shared with others at the right time and place, never grows less. And if ye, being faithful, and preserving the truth free from error, redeem all mankind, there will yet be the twelve baskets of remainders to carry on to ages yet to come. To the multitudes I speak in parables, but to you it is given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven. I will tell you more of the meaning of the baskets of remainders and of the number twelve. . . .
"And now of the great storm that beset you. Know that until the raging of the tempests of circumstance can no longer break your inner calm, and until no temptation to doubt can invade the sanctity of the temple of your inner being, your Father in Heaven will not be able to visit you and teach you therein. Learn, my beloved disciples, always to look for the lesson within the event; so shall ye grow wise and be able to carry on my work.
"Now we approach the other shore of the lake, and ye may dry your wet clothing and rest. I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now."
(From Sunrise magazine, November 1953; copyright © 1953 Theosophical University Press)
From within, or from behind, a light shines through us upon things and makes us aware that we are nothing but the light is all. A man is the facade of a temple wherein all wisdom and all good abide. — Emerson