Nine Deadly Sins with Coffee, part 29 – The Killing of Teachers


Somewhat disappointed in myself for last week’s late arrival, I am here early, to give me time to chat to Rose. That darling lady, who runs the tea room, has watched and supported our craziness for some time.

Craziness? I don’t really think so … though, when I get off that train in London each Monday, and stiffen back into my world – what I now think of, in a dramatic reversal of attitude, as my other world – I feel I’m entering the real craziness; and that this gentle, if often dramatic probing of life and truth is the reality …

I’ve changed in all sorts of ways, some of which I haven’t told John about. I want him to notice, and I’m sure he does, but, I’ve toned down my formal dress and made plainer most of my accessories. In this there is a slight emulation of his simplicity – though I know that, in his former business world, he would have shared the crisp uniforms of indulgent excess … He’s never asked me to do this, but it’s a kind of respect for the transition he must have gone through when he walked away to do ‘his thing’ as he often puts, it; smiling mischievously at me.

Looking at the time, I finish my friendly conversation with Rose and pick up our coffees from the counter. I refuse her kindly offer of help, and take them to the small table in the sea-facing corner – the place of our meetings. He arrives as I put down the steaming mugs.

“Morning Alexandra,” he says, softly. Giving me a peck on the cheek.

“Morning John.” My smile is a beam. Life is good.

He launches straight in, “Hercules–Heracles, we decided, didn’t we? How are you getting on with him?”

I consider my response carefully. I’ve been doing my homework and it’s thrown up more questions than answers. “Twelve …” I let it hang in the air. I know it’s important.

“Ah yes,” he says, not mockingly. “Twelve – a fascinating number … four times three, and three times four.” He sips his coffee, watching me; and then, when I say nothing, he does one of his time-stopping things: he picks up three small packets of sugar from the bowl in the middle of the table, tears the heads off two of them in an exaggerated gesture, and smooths out the deliberately spilled contents across the inset glass top of our small, round table. The remaining packet he keeps in his left hand as he sips his coffee.

I can’t see her, but I know that, behind me, Rose is planning his slow death …

“Show me twelve …” he says, flickering his eyes at me, snake-like. For a second, I wonder how many other nieces in the world are treated like this? I stare at the surface of white sugar. What does he want?  Do I write the numerals 12 in the crystals?  No, he wants something deeper than that. I hold my chin in my hands, staring the sugar, while doing my best to empty my mind, letting the moment speak; enabling something that is already there to reveal itself … within that calmed now, it does, and with a smile, I draw a near-perfect circle in the white sugar.

I look up and he nods.  “How many now?”

“Not twelve …” I’m teasing him; and enjoying it. “But it could be twelve – or as many as you want there to be … the circle is infinitely pliable, after all.”

“Good answer,” he says, nodding down at the sugar. “A cycle of perfection and completeness, then, no matter how big its circumference?”

“Like the year – having twelve months and then beginning again …”

“With the four seasons?” he asks, reasonably.

Something tells me to draw a equal-armed cross in the circle. I do so, dividing it into four quadrants. “Spring, summer, autumn, winter …” I say.

John leans forward to hover his hand anti-clockwise over the newly quartered circle. “And who else might work here?” he asks.

I look down at the symbol I have drawn. I imagine it divided into the full twelve, with the quadrants superimposed as they are. Something pulls me to the answer.

“Why … astrologers, I suppose? They share the use of a seasonal circle, don’t they?”

“They do indeed,” he replies , then adds. “In a greater and a lesser sense,”

“Greater and lesser?”

“The twelve periods of the year, which we know as the signs of the zodiac; and the long ages of the evolution of life on Earth, which is known as the precession of the equinoxes, which takes twenty-six thousand years to transit the whole zodiac and just over two thousand years to transit each of the signs.”

“The Dawning of the Age of Aquarius …” I hear myself saying, smiling at a memory of a song from my uncle’s own youth that he used to sing to me as a child.

“Indeed,” he says, also smiling,”Though, in truth and mathematics, it has yet to dawn.”

“We’re still in the great age of Capricorn?” I ask, keen to show off my pub quiz sequence of the signs.

“Almost …” he fights a kindly smile. “Remember that the greater cycle goes backwards, so, if Aquarius is next, then we are in the age of …?”

“Oh, I see – so that would be Pisces?”


“The age of the fish,” I add, grasping at some of the deeper pub facts.

“And the fish was one of the key symbols of?”

Suddenly it hits, me … This is not just an intellectual exercise. What he’s starting to describe is the happening of events on a vast scale, something like the wave that we discussed so long ago, that provides great energy and superhuman challenges … and the effects are repeated, at smaller and smaller scales as the same laws empower and challenge the evolution of more and more detailed forms of consciousness.

I cannot help say the word he’s expecting, “Christ …”

“Christ, a figure that some would call The Saviour of the Age … an age that is now coming to an end.”

I think of a single vast circle, containing within it many other circles which share the same sectors – the same seasons of energy and challenge as deeper evolution is urged forward. I think of all the circles centred on the same point in the middle, of a rippling outwards to form the ‘space’ within which it all happens, and then a return home to the centre, each circle playing its essential part, each circle as important as any of the others, despite its apparent ‘smallness’. He watches, perfectly still …

“So you lead with twelve … and Heracles?” He lets the silence be the question. Into that perfect space comes the sentiment for which I’ve been fishing.

“So the twelve labours are the generic – the cosmically derived – labours we must all face on the way to a higher level of consciousness?”

His reply is tinged with humility, “It is my belief that they were constructed that way … but the only way to test that is to bring them to life – your life …”

I sit back to think, and finish my coffee. While I am doing this, he leans slightly forward and asks, “What did Hercules do to deserve his labours?”

There are many answers, depending on the bias of the historian involved, but they all agree on one thing.

“He killed people close to him …”

He leans closer, and whispers, “In one very wise version, he killed his teachers …” He lets it hang in the air.

“Killed his teachers?” I sit there, mute. The thought of killing one’s teacher is appalling … and then I see, between the stark words, that there is another meaning to this. I want to share it with him, but he’s stood up and gone to fetch a pan, brush and wiping cloth from Rose, who is grinning at the counter, pleased at his seeming contrition.

When he comes back, I’m ready. In his hand, alongside the cleaning tools, is the remaining bag of sugar. I take it from him and look deeply into his kind eyes.

“Independence,” I say. “My journey and only mine …”

Matching his earlier violence, I rip the head off the sugar and pour it onto the drawn circle, scattering my symbolic atoms into the space of creation, freeing them from all conditioning patterns.

He says nothing, just bends to plant a kiss on the top of my head, then hands me the pan and brush.

“Your first labour, then …”


Nine Deadly Sins with Coffee is usually published on Thursdays.

All images and text ©International copyright, The Silent Eye School of Consciousness, 2015.

Steve Tanham is a director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness; a place of companionship, sharing and the search for the real in life, using the loving techniques and insights of esoteric psychology. He retired from a life as an IT entrepreneur to establish the School in 2012, and, having persuaded Sue Vincent to . . .

Read more (500 words)

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