He who into the realm of truth aspires to enter, must from the limits of time and space with his spirit grow, and overstep the boundary line of illusions and perishable shadows. When consciously in him the free primeval light shall burn, the hundred doors of the labyrinth will open before him, as those of his own native home.
Harden not thyself into a stunned and deadened log, O my spirit! Let the ever-living essence percolate through thee, and the fountain of the spring eternal! For a day will come when the Lord (1) shall rise to smooth thee and to apply his ax where thy bark is hardened; and thy wounds will bleed and the chips will lie scattered around thee, that thou of a new life mightest shoot forth the twigs.
Harden not thyself into a flinty rock, O my spirit! Be as fresh clay in life's soft fingers and let the pattern of the spring work easily in thee. For a time will come when thy God shall rise to pulverize thy torpor, and roaring waves shall he send out upon thy hardened rocks, across the silvery threshold of the sea; and the sea will shatter thee and crumble thee into powder, and leave thee as a furrow of the field before the plow of God.
With nature work, my spirit, if thou wouldst be the herald of freedom! To her purposes, to her tasks, lend thy living labor. Thy home, thy workshop make from her, but not a pleasure-dwelling for thy idle visits. Burn with the rose, shine with the sun, and with the bud expand the future's wrapping petals; fly with the lark, as though thyself a lark; swell with the grain, buried in the field; sculpture the crystals with the block of salt; propel the lightnings with the storm; groan with the earth beaten by the wind and calling for the silence; help the river her icy crust to break, and when the skies are blue and still, let thy soul hear in the great ocean's hymn eternity itself.
Climb with the mist-wrapped summits of the mountains up to the roof of heaven; strive with thy pinions with the eagle's flight towards the sun; on the ledges of the rocks sparkle in rainbows and in the purity of the spray, leaping over the mountain's crest; and in the valley of brooding peace keep stillness with the boulder of the field. * * *
Then only shalt thou be free.
Be thou all in all, through the battles of life, O my spirit! For every shape be ready, for the master has merged into deep thought, and changes will he make, before which the opposing forces will vanish as the wind-blown chaff. As a breeze be thou immeasurable — as the earth be thou merciful, be as radiant as fire and as bottomless as the ocean.
Be thou all in all, through the labors of life. O my spirit! For every change be ready, and to every form of being, whether that of the day or of the night, say: It is I! For from the sunbeams even to the grave-worms, the thread of life shall not be broken; and death's spindle will carry it back again inviolate to the silvery web of the milky way, of which thou art a shuttle, and thy God — the weaver.
Vainly I flee to deserts, vainly I rear temples, while potent is the world's evil, I am one with the world's spirit; when into the gulf 'tis sinking, my lights are also paling.
'Tis useless on bright pinions to hover in spheres of splendor — I may not depart from nature.
Downward the chains will drag me, which hold the groaning spirits, though ev'n should I be groan-deaf.
Should I say: "I am not guilty," the evil snakes will issue, their slime will spit upon me.
And the storm in a foe's dwelling, and the litter upon his threshold, it is my dirt and my terror.
The sinful robe inglorious covers us all together, blood-stained and contagious.
'Tis mine, world's leprous ailment, whether on sea or mainland; I shall not escape the judgment.
As long as my brother is crooked, myself be just I shall not, nor I nor any one living.
Rust of the guilt and excrescence are staining virgin bodies, and the white lily knows it.
The footsteps foul of a murderer infect with blood my ankles, when I return from the altar.
Shame on my face is hailing for those abandoned damsels who walk the streets so openly.
And infamy on the forehead, ev'n that of a passing stranger, tarnishes in me the Angel.
Thus share we the bed of mire, the shame of souls and bodies, just as we do the life's breath.
The soul which in me is burning has stood at the flogging pillar, was touched by an executioner.
And with a secret murderer she took a hot-iron stigma; she was branded with blood-red letters.
On a block her neck she was laying, listening how a dog was howling, how soldiers their drums were beating.
None carries his guilt apart; the human kind is a plant-stalk from which upshoots the black flower. The giant reek of sinning I breathe in every movement, whether I cry or smile.
The giant root of evil tangles the human garden into deep jungle thickets.
If a pure soul I desire, I must cut with an ax in the jungle, till I move the great root of evil.
No lofty tower rises above the world sin-covered, into the heavenly azures.
The tower-men carry it with them, their souls sick and life-thirsty; they burn with a secret fire.
No cell of Thebais of desert secludes a lonely anchorite from this dread conflagration.
And only he is holy who in the common world's guilt, upon the cross is bleeding.
If from sharing common life I may not break away, it is not possible for me to avoid the sharing of the treasures; and one way have I open: to desire neither gold nor silver, but to gather such possessions, as will enrich the common life's unfading Spirit, for it is my Ego and my real Self.
In labor, in tears, and in burning heat I have to desire — peace. In the day's twilight and in the darkness of the night I have to desire — power; and through the ways of earth I have to endlessly fly: into the light, towards the sun.
Upon the golden stalk of the sunny ray of omniscience, upon the azure line which divides light from shadow and day from night — I see unfolding the Flower of Power, which will not drop its petals in any storm.
It is the dawning rose of Love and Universal Brotherhood.
Whether I shall enter the Path, or remain alone, the seed throw I into my furrow. Bloom ye with flowers, my well-tended plants, towards the spring, which it is not destined for me to see.
Whether I shall enter the Path, or remain alone, the seed throw I into my furrow. Glisten ye golden ears of harvest and give the bread, which it is not destined for me to break in sweet companionship with my brothers.
1. Higher Self. (return to text)
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