Rosicrucian Writings Online
The Rejected Gift
By Raymund Andrea, F.R.C.
Grand Master of AMORC of
[From The Rosicrucian Digest January 1948]
WHEN he was thirty years of age, Zarathustra left his home and went into the mountain, where for ten years he lived in solitude and did not weary of it. Then a change came over his heart, and one morning at dawn he went before the sun and addressed it: "Thou great star! What wouldst be thy happiness if thou hadst not those for whom thou shinest!" Then followed those pregnant words which one of the Old Testament prophets might have spoken: "Lo! I am weary of my wisdom, like the bee that hath gathered too much honey; I need hands outstretched to take it."
Why is it that men, a chosen few, write words like these? I imagine that a well-informed literary critic might answer: As the musician, or the artist, so here the poet chants a mournful number under the influence of the poetic mood, but with a veiled glance at his own exaltation and value. It is a typical academic answer, but no man who says this will be in danger of writing like that. We might expect him to give a similar answer to the Old Testament prophet, when the fire of the Spirit wrung this strophe from him: "Therefore I am full of the fury of the Lord; I am weary with holding in: I will pour it out upon the children abroad, and upon the assembly of young men together." There is little difference between the two utterances, although one came from a blasphemer of religion, as judged by the canon of orthodoxy, and the other, from one of the most inspired writers of the Bible.
There is yet a third utterance, expressing the same pent-up emotion of the poet's heart, that of the psalmist where he says: "I was dumb with silence, I held my peace, even from good; and my sorrow was stirred. My heart was hot within me, while I was musing the fire burned: then spake I with my tongue." There is a superlative beauty and pathos in the compulsatory poetic ejaculations of the heart; and no matter what their source, they are indexes to the mystical truth I unfold here. The wind bloweth where it listeth; and the spirit of inspiration will choose its own vehicle to enlighten and guide all who may read.
I place the words of the prophet and the psalmist alongside those of Zarathustra because all three admit of the same mystical interpretation. Zarathustra had remained for ten years in his mountain retreat in solitary study and contemplation--then "he went before the sun and addressed it." The period of solitary retirement had done its work. It had not failed him; it had accumulated that fullness of wisdom which no longer permitted him to rest in peace and enjoy it alone. It sought to break the bounds of personal possession and utter itself to the world. He no longer had any pleasure in ruminating what he had found of wisdom during his lengthy meditation. Like the prophet, he was "weary of holding in": like the psalmist, "while he was musing the fire burned." The words of all three are almost identical in declaring what they felt urged to do. Yet, noble and discursive as are the utterances of prophet and psalmist, I feel that the words of Zarathustra have a luminous simplicity which excels both: "I need hands outstretched to take it." The former two tell us what they could do; the latter realizes a dire personal need and sends forth a heartfelt petition to the great light of the world for it. Read into the meaning behind the words: "I have found in the silence great wisdom; it has become an intolerable burden to me; I petition the rising sun that some may accept and share it with me."
"There is here, below," said Hugo, "a pontiff, and it is genius." That is why men, a chosen few, write words like these. Genius is not of the body, nor primarily of the mind, but of the soul. The soul in these men is in the ascendant and has access to the sphere of mystical impression. They have the right of way to the presence of God, and they utter the accents of the divine world because they must. They cannot live to themselves. No matter how long the season of preparation may be--and it is sometimes very long--the time comes when the mounting fire of the heart meets the descending fire of God, the veil of the temple is rent in twain, a crisis of emotion awakens the heart; the voice of the silence breaks the spell of solitary musing and aspiration, and the humble suppliant consecrates his soul upon the altar of service. This happens in perfection to the chosen few--to the mystic, the poet, and the prophet; and if we had not the records of their musings, novitiates and utterances, we should be poor indeed. But we have these enshrined in the literature of culture of many centuries. They have been the guide of aspirants in every generation and will ever be so. The tragedy of recent years, and of today, was and is, that there have been and are so few who have answered that petition of Zarathustra: "I need hands outstretched to take it." The voices of the world have been so loud and insistent, the desires of personality so dominant and clamorous, that the innate inspiration of the soul has been smothered, or prostituted to material and purely mental ideals. All the while, the mystics have been with us; their researches and experience have been proclaimed and published; and the works and findings of their predecessors have been cited and adduced as testimony in support of their own experience--apparently to little purpose. Yet the hope of the immediate future, from the real evolutionary point of view, lies mainly with those of mystical vision, with free, independent, forward-looking individuals, unbound by creed or dogma, unmindful of churchly religion, but possessed of a burning faith in the soul and possibilities of man.
The Hope of Zarathustra
Zarathustra had sought and attained this freedom of soul in solitude; then he came down and looked for those who would accept it and would help to free men from their servitude. The mystics have done this consistently; but the self-sufficient lordly ones of the world and their followers have turned from them and from that which they most needed. The wars of our time are evidence of it. Instead of retiring to the mountain solitude of the inner life, rulers, statesmen, and people, of narrow and materialistic aims, have pushed this inglorious world at last to the edge of the precipice of disaster; and what they might have learned in the silence and with humility from mystic, prophet, and poet of vision, an iron and knowing fate decrees that the fall and ruin of the idols of men from continent to continent alone shall teach them.
Some who claim insight into national and international Karma have laid the present century martyrdom of man at the door of the impotence of the mystical and religious forces of the nations, their lukewarmness, indifference or apathy, in not exerting themselves to outweigh in influence the impending evil which threatened mankind. I should agree that the religions of the world have failed in this respect--and those of the East have failed no less conspicuously than those of the West--and I have more than once expressed an opinion on this leadership. I should not agree that the mystics, prophets, and spiritual aspirants of the world are likewise culpable, when the church and the people generally have ignored the proffered teaching, inspiration, and guidance of the Zarathustras of the nations.
Let us be just. The Zarathustras have been merely tolerated by the state, never subsidized by it. They have been charitably tolerated as a peculiar and harmless people, instead of an influence of considerable potency and a pronounced asset to any nation. Nor is the church alone guilty of intolerance and indifference to the message of mystic and prophet. An almost incredible attitude is maintained by men of science towards both. We have been privileged to hear the broadcast opinions of advanced scientists in
Frontiers to Thought
Therefore, we in the Order are opposed by two representative bodies of belief and opinion, orthodox religion and science, who may be expected to regard us with some suspicion, discredit us with criticism, and attempt to treat us with indifference. In a word, we are beyond the pale of the charmed circle of orthodox religion and materialistic science; the latter even having the unique temerity to declare authoritatively that the case for telepathy has not been proved. Is it very surprising that civilization nearly passed out with the world war? Is he a pessimist who sees no indication of a wave of mysticism in the postwar world, when ninety per cent of the people permit this same science and religion to set the frontiers to their thought and discourage all possibility of higher and esoteric enlightenment and insight? For ourselves, we ignore their frontiers and stand in no need of the encouragement of science or religion, as these representative bodies declare and proclaim them. We have long since taken the measure of both. What value they have we recognize, but we deprecate their influence so far as mystical and esoteric advancement is concerned.
A student of mysticism is occasionally perplexed because, under the incentive of a liberating teaching such as he has received in the Order, the painful limitations of his particular religious attachment are brought into full view. A young Canadian, on service in Europe during the war, came to see me on this subject. He came of a Catholic family and had spoken, unadvisedly, to his padre about his allegiance to the Order, and asked his opinion. He was persuaded to renounce this allegiance, because the church, the padre insisted, could give him all that the Order could, and all that he needed. We may dismiss the plain falsehood of the statement. I asked him whether he really wanted the teachings of the Order and if they helped him? He declared that he did want them and could not renounce them. I therefore advised him to follow his own light and let the padre follow his, for the padre had no right or authority to decide for him.
This particular case is typical of the attitude of religion and science today, which discourages the seeking and inquiring mind from cultivating a free and expressive creative life. I do not say that they institute an open campaign of proselytism and range abroad for simple-minded converts. Grounded in tradition, as is the church, dedicated to the intellect and the five senses, as is science, they profess to have the keys of heaven and of this world, and nothing can prevail against them. But time is moving on: the undercurrents of evolution are gathering momentum; and even if we see no pronounced sign of a forward movement in the direction of higher advancement and demonstration, there is reason for thinking that the impassable frontiers set by religion and science are perceptibly fading in the mist behind us, so much so to some of us that we have long since discounted their existence. But these frontiers still loom up importantly for many, yet not convincingly as formerly. They are being unceremoniously criticized by inquiring people; and among us are the potential mystics, prophets and poets of tomorrow. The anxious voice of the church calls to them to rescue them from the old damnation: the cold, unspiritual eye of science confronts them to delay their redemption. Neither gives comfort nor promise of fulfillment to these aspiring personalities. Within those fast frontiers there is no peace for them. But for the existence of schools and fraternities of mysticism and higher culture, they would be like lost souls roaming the highways of a distracted and disillusioned world, where art, beauty, and the true poetry of the mystery of life, and the noblest in man, have been crucified afresh upon a cross of wretchedness, penury, and starvation.
For Half a Century
But the same petition goes forth: "I need outstretched hands to take it." All through the nightmares of wars of blood, wars of peace, and of the dark night of the soul, throughout the madness and degradation of it all, we have responded to that petition. We accepted the gift in faith and lighted our torch at the source of mystical truth before this century was born; and for half a century we have passed on that light to others--the handful who would take it. We came down from the mountain solitude, renouncing many excellent things we would have done for ourselves, and stood before the sun and gave what truth we knew. And it is for those who find no comfort, no guidance, no promise of fulfillment, no enlightenment or panacea for the soul, or no way of spiritual discipline, in the religion and science of today, to accept this gift which points the way to freedom of thought and creative living, and to that true psychological insight into man's soul which will enable them "to lift a little of the heavy Karma of the world."
Webmaster's Note: The above article was followed up by "'Thus Spake Zarathustra'".
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