It was one of those mornings when every conversation, across three continents has seemed to lead to the same place. The scraps of paper upon which I’ve been writing notes are strewn across the desk, and it is just as well I can deal with some of these letters online, given the half formed thoughts scrawled over them, for they would tell a strange story taken out of context.
I was talking with a friend, as you do, comparing notes over coffee and a few thousand miles. He described his own spiritual tradition as ‘walking in Beauty’. That, I thought, was a wonderful way to describe any path. Yet it came to my mind that if I had to describe as simply the path that has drawn me, the path we seek to share with the School, I would have to say that we ‘walk in Love’.
For me there is little difference in essence between the two. They are, perhaps, facets of the same thing seen through a different lens. As with many concepts, the words carry some powerful personal emotions. Beauty looks different to each of us, though there may be common points between observers where all will recognise something that goes beyond time, culture and the rest of the conditioning filters that superimpose themselves upon our eyes. Not everyone will see beauty in the barren rocks and treeless landscape of the high moors, but most will see it in the trusting smile of a child.
Love, too, covers a huge emotional landscape. Again, there is the common ground that seems to speak to the heart of humanity and again it is stretched across the extremes from the nurturing and caring to the catabolic. It may not, at first glance look like Love when it strips us bare and leaves us naked in the desert, in a seeming act of cruelty, but which is, ultimately, a great gift of Love for in that vast emptiness we may find the core of Being.
With the Silent Eye, we have had to find a way to carry the student beyond these filters, beyond thought and logic, beyond the personal emotions that may be associated with a particular word, system or concept towards something more universal. We seek to speak to a deeper level, leading the intellect to the heart and the emotions with the mind. So what else would we do in a modern Mystery School than fall back upon probably the oldest way we know? The power of stories.
Storytellers have told of the magic of music across all ages and cultures. The bards of old carried wisdom and knowledge in their tales from fireside to fireside. Many of these tales still linger in our cultures and societies, and the roots of myth and legend weave through our lives no matter where we live.
If you think back to childhood, your own childhood, there will be great swathes of time you do not remember. There will be snapshots of memory here and there, but most will have merged into the mists. Yet if I were to ask you what was your favourite story as a child, ask you to tell me about it, I’d be willing to bet that you could. And in that retelling you would see the mental pictures you saw as a child. It would recall time, places, people, emotions… and it may even remind you of what you learned from it. But then again, it might not, as children absorb the lessons so simply from a story… they do not analyse every word, wanting to know why the writer chose this phrase or that… they just embrace the magic of the moment.
The landscapes thus created in the mind are given life by the child’s belief and become real on their own plane. To the child there is truth in Aslan, or King Arthur and Camelot, or dragons and griffins. And I think something of that reality remains with us as we grow up. Regardless of the dawning awareness of historical accuracy, fiction or fantasy, there is a hidden place within us that still believes in that childlike truth for it marks us at a very deep level. And in that place, they are still real for us.
Stories bring the world to life in a very special way for a child. I know a huge number of adults to whom the back of a wardrobe is still a magical place… and I count myself among them. From folk tales to fantasy, through science fiction and film there is something in the essence of a story that reaches beyond logic to a subtler level of meaning and which speaks to us more deeply than conscious understanding. Stories engage the imagination in a way few other things can and this opens a whole new world of possibilities.
In the School we use a family of archetypal figures to tap into the unconscious understanding of the Beyond. They accompany the student on a symbolic journey into the Self on a quest for a truth we cannot give, but only find, each of us, for ourselves. The symbols of the journey are an expression of the essence of something higher and finer and we use the tools of fantasy so that the student does not become fixated on the symbols themselves, trapped behind the walls such limited vision can build. “The pointing finger and the moon”…
So in April we will delve into the mysterious realms of legend, heading back to a time when Arthur was King in a reality one step removed from our own, yet which finds its echo in every life, every day.