The dwarf walked ahead and led me toward the base of the mysterious mountain. Occasionally, he turned and looked back to see whether I was following him.
He was less than three feet tall, apparently a hunchback and he was wearing a brown robe such as that worn by a member of a holy order. He had an unusually large head, very large feet, and a gray beard which was all that kept him from looking like a child. He carried a staff which he used to pick his way up the mountain.
We approached the mountain which seemed to be impassable. But as we drew near, I noticed an opening, like a cave or tunnel in the cliff-like side of the mountain. The dwarf went into the opening, looked back at me, and then plunged forward.
Slowly we became engulfed by the mountain. The blackness became denser until I was walking strictly on faith in following my little guide whom I could see (or could I?) It became increasingly difficult for me to follow the dwarf. Across my consciousness flashed the realization that were in total darkness.
Yet there was a light that was emanating from my guide.
What was it? Was it possible that this strange, deformed little being had reached that wondrous stage of illumination -- an illumination that was really visible, physically so?
I spoke to him and he stopped to say, "Have no fear, I will take you to my Master. But follow closely for there are chasms and deep crevices about us."
His simple words seemed to speak volumes. I had been preparing myself for the ninth initiation in a mystical order to which I belong. I now became conscious of something which I had failed to recognize in all my studying, reading and exercises.
I had failed to have faith in the simple wisdoms about which I had read and to follow simple instructions. And so I assured my little guide that I would follow him very closely.
As we walked on, the cavern grew more spacious. I felt the hesitancy within me become greater with each step.
At last, my little guide stopped and said, "Master said for you to be careful as you crossed this crevice in the tunnel floor. It is only about four feet wide; so I'm sure you can jump it. But watch closely; I want you to see.
He took me by the hand and led me to the edge of the crevice. I looked down and saw what seemed like the blackness of eternal night. Fear struck into my heart.
He let go of my hand and leaped across the chasm.
"See? I will stand by the edge over here so you'll know where you're jumping to."
I stepped back and was about to spring when what seemed like a force of a thousand pounds or more began to weight me down.
Was I going to let this mere little slit in the earth keep me from going on this adventure? I asked him, "Is there no other way around?"
He said, "No, one must pass over this little abyss or he cannot enter the mountain." And, again, this brought a revelation to me; for surely this was what I had heard about -- the "Passing of the Great Abyss" and the awesomeness it struck to the heart of the aspirant.
I said to myself, trying not to show lack of faith and strength, "I hope his Master will help me, if I am to reach him."
I stepped back thinking, "Well, at least I'll try it . . . I will not be conquered."
As my foot started to leave the ground, it was as if a mighty gust, a great wind, increased my strength tenfold and I lightly leaped over the chasm.
I must have leaped more than six feet, and the dwarf, beaming all over, clapped his hands. He almost seemed to light up, but I felt this was my imagination. We turned and went on our way, and the going down the long rock corridor was smooth and easy walking.
In about three to five minutes we reached a bend in the corridor. Ahead of us was the end of the cavern on the other side of the mountain. As we stepped into the opening, I voiced an exclamation of joy. The dwarf looked at me and smiled.
Before me was a great valley surrounded by mountains of inaccessible height. Nature and art had combined to produce the magnificent beauty of this natural amphitheater. The valley was covered with short grass and maple trees, with forests of other trees on all sides. There were several small lakes immediately in front of me, but still a few minutes walk away. And under the overhang of the towering peaks rose a huge and beautiful building.
The stillness which surrounded us was almost complete, broken only by noise of a waterfall at the other end of the lake. All about was a fluid tranquillity. I was in another world, separate and apart from the one I had just left.
The building was a massive monastery, rectangular in form, made of stone with high walls and a dome. It was built as if a temple was in its midst.
As we walked across the valley floor toward the building, I beheld a man with startling black hair, a man of noble bearing and imposing appearance, walking toward us. He was clad in a yellow robe, and he walked with youthful step. When the dwarf saw him, he ran toward him, prostrated himself, then ran away.
As the Master approached, he greeted me by name as if he had known me for many years. I was astonished, to say the least. He seemed to be about thirty-five years old, and his appearance was that which draws one toward him. His nature was kindly, his look benevolent. His gaze seemed to pierce my whole being and read my innermost thoughts. Surely, this must be the Master of which the dwarf had spoken.
"Yes," answered the Master, showing that he had been reading my thoughts, "you've fallen into the hands of Adepts, whom you've been thinking so much about lately and whom you've been desiring so many times to meet and come to know. For we are the Brothers of the Golden Cross."
I scrutinized this man closely. Somehow he did not seem to be a stranger; there was something familiar about him. Perhaps I had met him at night, for I had been instructed that people travel in the astral body during these sleeping periods. I felt very much at home with him, and the place seemed to have familiar memories, though I tried in vain to find out where I had met this man.
But again, the Master of this Holy Order, for such he proved to be, answered the unspoken question, "You are right; we are not strangers. For I have been in your presence and stood by your side, although you did not see me with your physical eyes.
"I saw that you were truly striving and so I had directed a flow of ideas in your brain which you elaborated on and wrote down. And you have, moreover, visited this place when you were out of animal body, and when you were asleep.
"Many times you have come to visit me with a Brother, but when your Soul and Self returned to the house of flesh and blood, it was not yet ready to recollect the events through which it had passed. Therefore, you did not remember your transcendental experiences in the morning. You only remember through impressions through the avenue of your external senses. The memory of the Spirit awakens when we gain a spiritual state of consciousness."
"Master," I said, "I consider this one of life's happiest moments. Is there any possibility that I be permitted to remain in some lower group of entry into this Order? I know that I am not yet worthy to be a part of the Order itself, which is far exalted above my state of consciousness."
"We shall permit you to stay for a while and you will have ample time to see how we live," the Master answered. "But permanently remaining here, at the present time, is an impossibility as there are too many of the lower and animal elements which you are still fostering and still form a part of you. They could not resist the destructive effects of the pure and spiritual air which this place has.
"You have not yet a sufficient amount of higher spiritual elements in your body to render them strong and firm. You would soon weaken your physical body and waste away and you would become miserable instead of happy and would probably die before your time was complete."
"Master, then I hope at least to learn some of the mysteries of the great spiritual powers you possess. For it is said that those of your elevation are able to transmute one material into another or to transmute base metal into gold."
"You must remember," said the Master, "that all the high teachings are extremely simple, but because of their simplicity, they are difficult to understand, for you are used to thinking in allegory, not in pure simple truth.
"Such things as transmuting metals into gold are not more wonderful than the ordinary phenomena of Nature which, if we have developed the power of observation, we will note happening around us every day of our life.
"In order to understand these 'mysteries', as you call them, one must have an open mind without prejudice or conception which would hinder him from seeing the truth. You need not be surprised about them any more than seeing the moon revolve around the earth or watching the growth of a tree. They are merely the products of the creative power of the primordial force which is called Will and which the Word of God carried with it when He called the world into existence. The Will may manifest itself in various ways.
"It manifests on seven planes of existence as mechanical force or as spiritual power, but it is always the same primordial force of will acting through the instrumentality of the organism of man, who directs as his intelligence is motivated by the Spirit of God."
"Then, Master, all one has to do is learn to use the principle of will more thoroughly?"
"Not so," said the Master; "let me explain.
"The Will is a universal power which holds the worlds in space and causes the revolution of the planets, pervades and penetrates everything. You have no strength to add to it; it is already strong enough to accomplish everything possible.
"It is the Will of God which manifests through the Word. You are only an instrument through which this universal power may act and manifest itself. You may experience the ultimate of its strength if you do not attempt to oppose it.
"One of the greatest mistakes that man makes is to imagine that he has a will of his own, whose characteristics and action are different from that of the Universal Will. Then you are merely perverting an insignificant part of the latter and are opposed to the great original Power. The more a man believes he has a will of his own and tries to use it that way, the more he opposes the universal reality of the Will of God, and the more he is over- whelmed and brings on his own destruction.
"Your will can only act powerfully if it remains identical with the Universal Spirit. Your will, in fact, is strongest if you have no will of your own but remain in all things obedient to the original creative pattern."
"But, Master, how can we accomplish anything at all then if we can do nothing through the power of our own will? It is therefore useless that we attempt to do anything, but we should wait until Nature performs it without our aid."
He replied: "We can accomplish nothing useful by attempting any will of our own, but we may employ our reason and intelligence to guide and conduct the already existent Universal Will in Nature. Thus we can learn to use and accomplish in a few moments many things which would require unconscious Nature a greater period of time to do.
"Let us take an example. The miller who employs the water of a river to keep his mill in motion to grind the wheat does not create the water, nor does he try to make the river turn upward toward the source. He merely harnesses the river into a certain channel and uses the already existing current in an intelligent manner to accomplish his purpose.
"The Adept acts in the same way by guiding the existing power in accordance with the laws of Nature. For man's intelligence is the only thing he may properly call his own. The highest intelligence, or the Universal Truth (sometimes called the Mind of God, the Akasha, which is the highest intelligence to which we may aspire) only comes from the Self or is intuitionally conducted therefrom."
The Master then turned and said, "Do you see yonder cloud which has settled on top of the mountain? It will remain there until some current of air blows it away or until there is a change of temperature which causes it to rise or fall. If we disperse it, we do it by causing the universal forces to act upon the dense matter. We do not act against the laws of Nature, but the forces are guided by our intelligence."
While speaking, he extended his hand toward the mountain to a cloud which was floating there, and it seemed as if life had been infused into its dense mass. It began to whirl as a vortex and tumble. Finally, it rose like a column of smoke up to the top of the mountain; then it went even higher, causing the mountain to look as if it had a volcanic cloud of smoke around its crest. And then it collected again far above the top, forming a little silvery cloud through which the sunshine streamed.
At this unusual manifestation of life -- a cloud -- the Adept said, "Life is universally everywhere. It is identical with the Will and it is not a product of man nor can it be monopolized by him.
"Man receives a certain amount of it at the time he enters the world. Nature supplies him with it and lends it to him, and he must return it to her when he leaves the world through the breakdown of his body composition, unless he attains the illumination of Christ and has a body of light. Otherwise, the flesh body must be dissolved into its lower forms and the energy is returned to earth."
As we talked, we slowly approached the building and I examined its exterior in detail. It was two stories high, but it seemed lofty, built in a quadrangle and surrounded by oak and maple trees and large gardens. Seven white marble steps led to the main portal, at the sides of which were two massive pillars of granite. And, over the door, in golden letters, there was this inscription:
YOU WHO ENTER HERE LEAVE ALL EVIL THOUGHTS BEHIND.