THE BEGINNING

the secret

THE SECRET

The Beginning
Conversation on the beach
Santo Spirito
Southern night
The island of rock
The sea journey
Epilogue




 

 

To all the world’s seekers !

THE BEGINNING

 

The tangible accumulated light of the southern sun had intoxicated the eyes of the three wanderers to such an extent that they at first stood as though blinded, perceiving only profound darkness in the unlit room of the rural osteria.
But inside, the visitors had already been recognised as distinguished travellers. It came as an abrupt shock to them when suddenly, from the back of the room, they were confronted by the burlesque pathos of grumbling cascades of sound from the barrel organ, popular in the region.
At the same time a large, stocky figure emerged from the gloom, offering them both hands in greeting. They noticed that the figure was uttering what seemed like words of welcome and appeared rather proud of the noisy reception he had prepared for the travellers. However, every word of the melodious language spoken in these parts disappeared in a storm of frenzied jingling, clattering timbals and booming drums.
Slowly the guests were able to gesture to their corpulent opposite number, in whom they recognised the “padrone” of the inn, to put an end to the wild noise. Understanding what they were gesturing he disappeared into the darkness with a lumbering gait, and the hubbub suddenly broke off in the middle.
In the unexpected silence they could hear the old man issuing orders and the distinct voice of a young lad responding obediently.
Soon the eyes of the travellers, becoming more and more accustomed to the darkness, could make out the innocent perpetrator of the cacophony. Eleven or twelve years old, with a shock of curly black hair and still hot from the enthusiastic rotation of the wheel of the tumultuous instrument’s wheel, he was busy blowing away the crumbs left by guests after an earlier meal on the green cloth covering the nearest table.
Now it was at last possible to communicate to the padrone, who attended to them with ponderous grandezza, their wish for simple, traditional refreshment. It did not take long before the three men were seated on primitive wicker chairs around the green table, sprinkled with countless traces of spilt wine and olive oil. In front of them was the long-necked raffia covered bottle; its excellent contents already filled the small water glasses with an inky dark Chianti.
Cheese, olives and white bread, together on three stoneware plates greyed with age, constituted the meal they had sought.
Having prepared these pleasures the padrone and his small son disappeared discretely into an unknown hideaway to the side. They ate and drank. Eventually they felt moved to continue the conversation they had broken off when entering the room.
The sweet smelling aroma of oriental cigarettes already filled the low vaults; thin slithers of bluish white smoke played around the tall, raffia covered neck of the Chianti bottle.
Thus the atmosphere was fully suited to certain dreamy observations.
They soon came to feel that this was a better place to speak about all those mysterious things which they had been unable clarify outside in the mercilessly clear sunlight.

 

 

 
THE BEGINNING
 
 

 

*

“I stand by what I said,” the oldest of the three men began, “even if I lack personal experience in this field, not having seen such things myself. Renowned scholars from nearly all the cultured nations provide enough evidence to suppose that there must be something in all these phenomena which seem to us modern men like ghost scenes from ancient fairy tales.
I can’t believe that sober experimenters, investigating these phenomena with the help of very sensitive instruments – not to mention photographical equipment – should all have fallen for crude deception!”
The youngest, a man of thirty plus years, replied with a hint of unease:
“I’m sure you’re right. But as I was saying to you before, for me all scientific evidence is superfluous, however important it may be for you, for once in my life I happened to have an opportunity to experience all those things you were telling us about, based on reports you had studied; – indeed, your account lacks things which would have been even more astonishing to hear and which I have personally experienced!”

*

“If I didn’t know you to be the sort of person who has both feet firmly planted on our dear joyful earth,” the third man, tough and stocky in stature like a solid simple Italian rural priest, now interjected, “I would really be forced into thinking, my young friend, that you’d been a victim of dangerous hallucinations!
I must confess, I don’t understand how someone like you, completely devoid of any head in the clouds dreaming, should in all seriousness take at face value those ghostly phenomena with which our dear old librarian here likes to regale us. You now go as far as to maintain that you are not unfamiliar with such things!
We just don’t know where we are with you!
At one time you make out that you’re a twentieth century man, judging rationally even the most urgent real problems. At other times you’d think that you had a fakir from the Indian jungle in front of you, ignorant of the world; or a monk returned from a medieval monastic cell, – though, in other ways, you really have nothing in common with the other-worldliness escapism of such men!” –

*

Since the man with the white beard, who had in the meantime lit up a Virginia cigarette and was exhaling thick clouds of smoke, evidently preferred to listen than speak at this point, the younger man resumed:
“I fully understand that a lot about me appears contradictory to you. But I do not think there is any reason for a man who knows life as well as you to deprive himself of a clear perspective regarding the supernatural just because he has decided once and for all that such things cannot exist!
Why don’t you try to get to the root of such things yourself or at least seek to convince yourself that others have obtained infallible evidence?!
It seems to me that such biased scepticism fits badly with the rest of your character. You have told me often enough that only experience counts with regard to knowledge, as far as you’re concerned!”

*

The other answered him:
“Yes. If we were talking here about experiences which can be checked at any time!
But the strangest preparations are needed for all those things you call ‘experience’, and afterwards you never know whether you’ve been duped!
Anyway, deep down I am repelled by this whole area of experience!
What’s the best that comes of it?! –
Suppose that you and our honoured friend’s experts really haven’t been deceived. You would surely have to concede to me that all these reported phenomena were extraordinarily stupid and more or less worthless in practice!
What’s the point, to name but one example, of a dancing table which occasionally can also tap out complete sermons on an alphabet?
I’d much rather have a table like this one here that is rooted to the spot. It seems to me appropriate to the nature of a table that it stands still rather than dances!
If I want to hear pious sermons, there are better opportunities every Sunday. If the preacher is no good, at least I know who I’m dealing with!
As far as I’m concerned there may well be self-conscious powers which condescend to make tables dance at will or tap out revelations. – But I won’t stand for the intrusion of these powers in my well-rounded defined environment. If it should ever occur to them to want to disturb my life without being asked, then I am convinced that I will master them!
I’d rather play blind man’s buff with children than summon up such riffraff, if they actually exist!
And what about the rest of these phenomena?
According to the stories, some poor fellow or half-hysterical woman – your so-called ‘mediums’ – sit there through half the night before a pile of writing paper, scarcely in control of their senses, marvelling at what their hand writes down automatically as messages from the ‘world of spirits’ or even as a supposed ‘divine revelation’. –
Seen by the light of day the whole concoction is an exemplary collection of platitudes or, if it comes to it, a ragbag of all sorts of religious tracts and badly digested philosophical gobbets.
I have to say that no punishment in hell conceived by the ancients can appear as awful as the thought that anyone who had lived a half-decent life and closed his eyes for eternity could thus be exploited in the afterlife by some of the living eager to acquire these messages!
It actually becomes blasphemous when this stuff is passed on as divine revelation and clouds people’s brains!
To hell, where he belongs, to a ‘god’ who has nothing better to say and needs such deluded people to communicate it!

But what appears to impress you most: these physical tricks and the materialising of human forms, these carry the least weight for me; for I have, as a physicist, something to say here. If I am prepared to accept that there are no errors in observation and that your ‘mediums’ are not cheating, then at best I find myself confronted with messages from a still undiscovered part of the physical world, but in no way am I dealing with the ‘realm of spirits’!
Even if I can’t understand how a reasonable person with healthy senses can take this pseudo-spiritual brouhaha seriously, this does not mean in the slightest that I deny the observed phenomena.
I only reject the explanation of these phenomena as witnesses to the existence of a spiritual world. I can’t comprehend how anyone with any kind of critical faculty does not notice what it is about!
Really, I am no longer beholden to any religious dogma. But faced with the conceptual confusion caused by the apparently ‘provable’ afterlife of your occult phenomena, the religious stories which surrounded my childhood with poetry and a heavenly glow seem full of the purest wisdom!
What barren superstition is nowadays exchanged for the essential pious faith of the ancients! – –
If I am not preoccupied with occult phenomena, my young friend, this is truly not due to ignorance but because all this stuff is really too stupid and because I have got better things to do than investigate the revelations of this sort of ‘spirits’!
I carry within myself too high an idea of the human spirit to consider it able to sink so lowly, as would be necessary for these theories to hold water and that with any such occult phenomena we are dealing with the spirits of men who have formerly lived on earth.
Not being a theologian I cannot make anything of the formulae by which people think they can analyse the godhead like a chemical preparation, yet: I think I feel ‘God’ within me. It therefore strikes me as the most horrible blasphemy to regard these voices murmuring from the nocturnal domains of nature as ‘divine revelations’ and to enlist the Bible and the holy scriptures of other peoples as ‘proof’; or when people seek to compare religious genius, inasmuch as it exhibits itself in grand figures of men, with ‘mediums’ and somnambulists!
All this is too absurd for me. Since I foresee no spiritual profit at all for humanity, even if every house were to be investigated for occult phenomena, – rather the opposite, knowing that immeasurable damage would be caused by it, – I believe it would be better to leave such things well alone. There are still enough things to investigate in nature, and our own soul remains a book with seven seals even for the cleverest! – –
Perhaps, dear friends, you can now understand me better!? –”

*

While he was speaking a growing expression of surprised joy could be seen on the countenance of the younger man. Meanwhile, the older man tilted his head thoughtfully to one side and made it clear that he was looking for counter arguments during this exposition, to prevent his own opinion from merely being brushed aside.
Hardly had the last word died away he began his riposte by saying that:
This view could certainly be understood, although there were perhaps all sorts of objections that could be made, everything he had mentioned referred only to so-called ‘spiritualism’, while – what his friend evidently did not know, – was that the real scientific occultist confronted all these phenomena merely as an observer and, as far as he was serious, dismissed any let’s say hypothesis called on by the other side by way of explanation.
Phenomena had been observed with somnambulists by different, renowned academics, in which even the most trusting and gullible of ‘spiritualists’ never considered the influence of ‘spirits’.
He continued his train of thought by saying:
“As far as I’m concerned, you are completely right where the ‘spirits’ of the dead are concerned, or the ‘divine revelations’ which people believe they have received, but – shouldn’t it be possible, even very probable, that occultism is called upon to provide evidence for the existence of the soul during this life on earth?!
For example, somnambulists have been questioned in their deep sleep. It emerged that one could penetrate to more and more concealed regions of the inner being. During this process a higher entity, later another even higher one spoke through the somnambulist. Thus the impression was given: the more external consciousness is darkened, the more clearly something else which is imperceptible in normal daily life reveals itself.
Thus proof is, as it were, fully produced that there exists something spiritual which outlasts earthly life!”

*

The youngest of the three now hastened to answer and spoke:
“I find myself in a strange position with regard to the things we are discussing in finding support from both of you. Yet I am aware that I need to explain myself to you more clearly than I have thus far, if we want to avoid continually talking at cross purposes!
Firstly I’d like to cast more light on the afore mentioned experiments with somnambulists. If, in so doing, I show a certain familiarity with things which most people consider beyond proof, experience and explanation, I ask you to accept this for the time being until later time will allow me to talk of the source of my knowledge. Then I can tell you both something that would certainly remain concealed from you, had you not found the opportunity to hear it from someone who has personal experience. –
As far as somnambulists are concerned, I must also describe myself as knowledgeable in this area, I emphatically reject the view that believes we’re standing here at the gateway to spiritual mystery!
It only goes to show that people do not have the slightest idea of what spirit is in reality, that they do not have any experience of the spirit at all if they believe they can encounter essential spirit in the utterances of a somnambulist bound by deepest sleep! – –
I agree completely with all that has been said before about the inadequacies of occult phenomena; you were obviously mistaken in thinking that I am for my part engaged in working with these manifestations, whether actively or just as an observer.
For someone who has undergone the spiritual training granted to me, the mysteries of occultism have lost all their attraction! Their secret and inexplicable aura has been completely removed during this training! – –
If, despite this, I place importance on recognising the actuality of the phenomena of occultism, this is because one runs the risk without this knowledge of being at some time most fatefully duped, and precisely at the point one least expects it. –
I am pleased our conversation took this unexpected turn, because earlier on, conclusions reached through sober thinking were expressed which correspond almost completely with my own spiritual experiences, – or at any rate can be easily brought into line with the outcome of my experience.
Now I can, as it were, speak to you openly and need hardly fear the possibility of misunderstanding…
As far as those somnambulists are concerned from whose lips people hope to learn more precise details about the soul and spirituality of man, the experiments carried out on them differ in nothing essential from a ‘spiritualist’ séance, unless you see scientific trappings here as significant! –
They are the same invisible physical entities and powers endowed with consciousness which carry out their nonsense here, as soon as earthly man provides an opportunity. – –
The somnambulist in his deep sleep is nothing other than the temporary prey of these dark forces, acting truly ‘beyond good and evil’, just the same as the so-called ‘medium’ in his state of ‘trance’! – – –
A vision of true spiritual worlds is never achieved: when viewed with darkened earthly sensual consciousness! –
Ecstasy, rapture, ‘trance’ and somnambulism are nothing other than states of physical arousal. During this arousal, the more the dominant power passes to physical complexes which by nature can only work beneficially under tight constraint, the deeper becomes the somnambulist state and the more impenetrable the partition wall which divides the actual consciousness of I from functions of the brain. Finally lemuroid beings from the invisible, but in no way ‘spiritual’ world, subject the uncontrolled physical organism to their will.!
On every occasion you will then hear from the mouth of the somnambulist or the ecstatic whatever is of interest to the experimenter, or whatever will impress the community of the faithful. They will use noble pathos or trivial platitudes appropriate to the dominant trends of belief, or even have recourse to obscenities. – –
Whatever speaks through the poor benighted person in such states has no other purpose than making itself as impressively conspicuous as possible and cunningly is often chosen the mask which can ensure the highest level of human interest. – – –
The ecstatic also experiences the same state as the so-called ‘mediums’, with the only difference that in his case the the consciousness of I does not lose all contact with the functions of the brain and only physical external sensation becomes imperceptible.
The ‘spiritual’ worlds which he thinks he sees are nothing other than the constructions of his vivid imagination and become tangible and real for him through the oscillations of frayed nerves! – –
Therefore we must keep a strict demarcation between all such methods of awakening physical, abnormal sensations, which are then interpreted as a ‘spiritual’ experience, and the true experience of the spirit which always takes place when physical consciousness is completely unclouded, indeed it is even heightened! – –

So-called ‘occultism’ is certainly not a recent discovery!
Occult phenomena have been known to all peoples and ages.
Unless under the sort of guidance which would be certain to master the phenomena, any person entering this dark territory would be led a merry dance! – –
Such a person is generally lost for ever to the experience of the essential spirit.
The thing which holds him fast, does not willingly let him go again; and when it must let him go, since he has gradually been sucked completely dry and is no longer of any use, all his strength through which he could raise himself up again, has long since been taken away from him. –
You were very much mistaken if you two, dear friends, have believed till now that I pay homage to ‘occultism’ and to the research into all the phenomena we have discussed so far, which renowned academics from different countries are currently engaged in!
In the past I also only had to acquaint myself with this area of expression of human life because my Guru required it of me.”

*

“What is that you said: ‘my Guru’? – ” the physicist interrupted the speaker, who had let the word, so familiar to him, slip out when visibly off his guard.
“I confess,” answered the younger man, “that I’m not familiar with Sanskrit. But the one I call ‘Guru’ once told me that in his homeland teachers of spiritual development and awakening are so named.
Guru means something like spiritual ‘father’ or ‘fatherly teacher’.

He called me ‘Chela’. Although this generally might signify nothing more than ‘pupil’, he explained to me that only few receive this honorary title; you have to be your teacher’s pupil in a quite particular way to qualify properly as his admitted ‘Chela’.
He himself was a master of the ‘White Lodge’.”

*

“So a freemason?” interjected the oldest of the three.
“No, not at all,” replied the younger man.
“Freemasonry – if you’re not just referring to the word but mean the thing itself – could justifiably have been derived from the ‘White Lodge’. But the spiritual community where my Guru originated has nothing to do with Freemasonry. Moreover, the ‘White Lodge’ is only an external description of this community; its members call themselves ‘Luminaries of the First Light’. –
No-one can come to them who has not been predestined before his own birth. But those closest to them spiritually, without actually belonging to them, are designated as ‘admitted Chelas’ by them.
They are people who have to undertake a particularly intensive spiritual training because of their psychological and physical inheritance which obliges them to carry out many a thing to which others are not obliged.
Let me tell you more about it for as you now know, you have such a Chela before you. –
I think much of what has distanced me from you at times can now be explained by this statement! –’’

*

Having revealed such strange and unknown things to his friends, he now stopped speaking. There was such an intense silence that the padrone – probably thinking his guests wanted to leave – appeared from his hiding place. When he saw his mistake he began to busy himself with superfluous industry around the barrels, positioned at the back of the room on a base of wooden beams.
Everything in the vaulted room could now be most clearly discerned, for their eyes had got used to the gloom. Even the small chink of light let in through the curtain at the door made them wince, although the sun was already low in the sky and had certainly been casting long shadows for some time …

*

“These are strange things we’re listening to here!” opined the stocky man, who at a guess was very close to fifty, interrupting the silence in his sonorous bass.
He continued:
“I must admit, I now understand a lot more about you. But some more explanation is needed for me to gain a rounded picture of everything!
You speak with incredible certainty of many things I have hitherto found quite inaccessible. But what is most appealing about it all is: – that you convince me without offering any proof!
I have the feeling it must all be as you say it is, whether you can prove it or not.
Your words carry a strange power of proof in themselves! – –
Now everything is starting to get interesting!
That such things exist in the midst of our levelled world?!
You know, my young friend, you must tell us more!
I don’t believe that either of us is destined to become a ‘Chela’ to a ‘Guru’ like the one you call your teacher. Perhaps we are both already too old for that. But before I, for my part, take leave from this planet, which has always seemed worthy of love to me, I would like – if possible here – to know something about these things. For all the phenomena of occultism taken together don’t interest me for a moment as much as this concealed ‘White Lodge’, or whatever you call the community. Moreover, there is the fact that you can meet a quite normal European who in all quietude appears to possess possibilities of knowledge of which the rest of mankind – at least nowadays and where we live – has as good as no idea. – ”

*

“I, too,” added the man with the white beard, “implore you to give us further insights, – particularly as some indications I have occasionally come across in books on the subject, seem to me, in the light of the description I have heard, stripped of their merely symbolical character!
After all, our younger companion is with us for the days we are spending together travelling and relaxing so that he will surely find the opportunity to initiate us further into the mysteries from which he gains his knowledge!

For the time being I think it advisable to think about returning home. Although the sun is now not burning down upon us, it will still take us an hour and a half to get back to the town. –
Perhaps we might listen on the way to things which may add to what we have already heard? I have a few very definite questions I am eager to ask.”

*

As the other two agreed with the suggestion of returning to the town straight away, they settled up the bill and left the dark osteria as the padrone never stopped bowing to them, bestowing blessings and expressing his wish to see them again soon.
Involuntarily they drew a deep breath when the cooler evening air touched their foreheads.
The whole countryside lay as though under an opal coloured haze; pines and cypresses stamped with force their silhouettes onto the pale golden evening sky. The nearby sea, glistening like the inside of an enormous pearl oyster, merged with the distant milky blue skies on the faintest of horizons.
At first the three wanderers walked towards a group of eucalyptus trees, the crossing point of two paths. Of these, one was a track through fields and olive groves, between the ever present wine garlands, from elm tree to elm tree or mulberry to mulberry, towards the town. The other, more pleasurable for walkers and shorter, began by pushing towards the sea before skirting the beach. Sometimes it was cobbled from ancient times, at other times it went over sand and seaweed to reach the park walls overshadowed by cypresses belonging to the first villas in the town.
As though by prior agreement they turned right to take this path and with an increasing sense of well-being each one of the three men breathed in the freshening smell of the sea.
Having reached the beach the three wanderers paused unconsciously for a moment to experience afresh the immeasurability of the satin expanse of water. –
Until now few words had been spoken. The reasons for this were the changed evening scene in the surrounding countryside, the beauty of the whole region and the southern majesty of the Italian landscape.
When they took the path onto the beach, however, the man with the white beard remembered the questions he wanted to ask his young friend about his strange revelations. They had made the afternoon hours they had spent in a rural osteria seem almost more valuable to him than finding a long lost book from ancient times. He was for ever searching in all the libraries he could get to for such treasures and secretly still believed that there was no knowledge discovered by man that had not been recorded in a book.
For the first time today he had experienced slight doubts, but they were not yet able to shake his opinion.
Perhaps the book explaining all these things had not yet reached his hands …