How one becomes One
Where beauty and harmony dwell, earth joins with spirit and humanity unites with all living things.
The Hermitage, where all are one and one is all.
I once thought there was a single path up a solitary mountain. Now, I know there are many paths and many mountains. Besides, not all paths go up and, in some places, there is no path at all.
This is a story about a young man who believed the spirit lived in him. He was told this by his parents, especially by his mother. Other people told him this as well but he also knew this from experience because he felt the spirit inside him. Through the presence of the spirit, the young man was connected to the deep truth that he was not alone and that, indeed, he was part of the spirit. This is the same spirit from which arises all thing, those considered living, such as plants and animals, and those not considered to be living at all, such as rocks, stars and planets. The young man believed in unseen worlds because the spirit came from an unseen world; indeed, the spirit was the unseen world.
The young man wanted to share this deep knowledge with others. Because he was attracted to his own kind, he established a community of fellow men who called each other brother. They made a family.
The idea was that the men would live in the spirit of deep knowledge. To share his knowledge and the spirit, the young man believed he had to physically connect with his brothers. By entering his brothers and by being entered by them, the young man said the spirit would enter and fill them. He said it was a sacred marriage between the Divine Bridegroom acting through him, and his brothers as Brides. This act of consummation took place in special rituals of becoming one and whole, of healing the wound of aloneness, of separateness. He said the rituals transformed and healed his brothers so they were no long apart from each other but now they became part of each other and, in a deeper sense, became part of everything.
The young man said this was true because he and his brothers lived at the very end of time and in a very special place, where a sacred city inhabited by the spirit emerged and formed on the earth, which itself became purified, whole and sacred. And the men lived like this day after day and thought of nothing else. They lived as though there was no tomorrow because, for them, all the mornings after were now.
The men lived in paradise and knew many things hidden to others, but they were unaware of many things as well. For example, they had no idea where their food came from, or their clothing. Food appeared and they ate it; clothing appeared and they wore it. They were unaware that all across the world many different kinds of people worked very hard to earn money which they willingly sent to the place where the men lived so that they could live as they were living. The men were in training and, once trained, each would be given a task, a mission, to fulfill and accomplish somewhere out in the broader world beyond the walls of their city. But these men forgot why they were there. They only remembered, they only knew, the ritual of union between and among themselves and they only participated in the ritual day after day after day which, for them, was always the first day.
These men lived in their sacred city, located within a sacred garden. No place had ever existed in the same way before. The city was created at great expense to serve a single purpose, to create enlightened men and to send them on a journey of service to others, which meant to serve different parts of the spirit.
The brothers forgot this because they were not as enlightened as they believed themselves to be. They did not know who built the city. They were unaware of the great expense, the burden and the hardship willingly undertook around the planet to create this city because they believed in its great purpose. The nearsighted brothers thought the city was created just for them, that it had always existed and that it would always exist.
In the middle of the city was a sacred spring with its sacred water. By drinking the water, one was supposed to become enlightened because the holy spirit that inhabited the spring entered inside and changed a person, transformed that person into a higher level of consciousness. However the brothers were wrong. They did not know as much as they thought they knew. Yes, they knew about and participated in the divine marriage. They understood the unity of existence, or so they thought. They sang hymns that glorified their path and their very purification. But they still did not know where their food came from. They did not know who sweated and toiled in hot fields so they could eat. They did not know who processed the fibers that made their clothing and spun and wove the cloth they were wearing and who cut and sewed the cloth together to make the clothing they wore. They did not know how others toiled so they could live in the sacred city. They did not know that they were expected to go to distant missions at the ends of the earth and relieve the suffering that was there. The brothers were unaware of the cost of living in the sacred city, of the price that was willingly paid so they could live there, unaware of those who willingly paid the price and who did so gladly, while singing their own songs of praise. The brothers did not hear the singing; they did not know the singing, so engaged were they in their own singing that they heard no other songs. It was songs of praise that let the others do what they did, the hard work under sun which they willingly partook so unity could be achieved and shared. Unity, if it is truly unity, is meant to be shared, it has to be shared because it incorporates everyone and everything. But of this, the brothers were unaware.
The city was visited by people who returned with fantastic tales of perversion and unspeakable acts done in the name of holiness. Even those who did not visit, those who knew nothing about the city and the brothers, spoke as though they did know and did not hesitate to speak with authority about acts of which they knew nothing. Word spread by mouth and printed word about unspeakable acts which were no longer unspeakable. Soon, the entire country was aware of them. Soon, the leader of the country was aware of them. He did not like what he heard and he was determined to stop it. Of all this, the brothers were unaware.
The young man’s father was leader of the world-wide believers. It was he who had the sacred city built. It was he who put his son in charge of the brothers. It was he who sent missionaries around the world to create communities where people worked who sent money to sustain the sacred city.
The father lived in another country where he preached and wrote tracts and hymns to spread the word as he understood it throughout the world. He heard from several people, including the leader of the country where the sacred city was located, what his son and the brothers were doing and he was appalled. This was not what he expected them to be doing, not at all. He had made it clear what he wanted them to do and now it was clear they had not understood or, worse, had willingly violated his commands. This could not be allowed to continue. They were like sheep who had broken through the fence of wattle built to contain them and now were wandering freely in other pastures, going wherever they pleased with no shepherd to guide them. They had to be stopped. They had to be controlled and fenced in again, this time in stronger fencing. If this was not done, everything the father had done would be destroyed. The city would be destroyed; his works would be destroyed; people would leave his carefully-tended sheepfold and all would be lost. He could not allow that to happen.
So he wrote his son a letter explaining his son’s errors. He stripped his son of all responsibility and ordered him to leave the sacred city and join his father in the other country. Penance was demanded for the error of his ways. The father gave the letter to a trusted colleague to went to the sacred city to deliver it in person.
The father was furious. His son was frivolous and abused the honors the father had given him. He disregarded his father’s instructions. He failed to comprehend the magnitude and ramifications of his actions. The father now doubted his son’s very ability to lead because the father expected his son to succeed him as leader of all the converted people of the earth. Now, the actions of the son endangered the father. That could not continue.
The young man and his brothers continued their rituals at the end of time, not realizing their time was coming to an end as the letter came closer and closer. Finally, it arrived and the world changed.
The young man was advised by the bearer to read the letter in private, not aloud to his brothers as he usually did. The young man knew something had changed just from the man’s tone of voice. Confused, he took the letter to his room and shut the door to read the letter. Those who stood outside the door, waiting, said the young man who entered the room was not the young man who came out; indeed, he was never the same man again.
In his room, the young man sat at his desk, slit the envelope open, pulled out the letter and read it. As he read, it seemed his father appeared in the room and started talking to him directly, as though what was written was actually being spoken. He heard his father’s voice speaking to him. And when he finished the letter, the two men, father and son, continued their conversation though, in point of fact, they were at that moment in two different countries.
“Now do you understand?” asked the father after his son, pale and sweating, laid the letter down on the desk.
“I understand your point of view,” said the son, “That is all.”
“It’s not a ‘point of view,’” shouted the father so loudly the son winced. “It is truth! You have misunderstood my words. You have twisted them out of all meaning and proportion. You’ve made a mockery of my teachings!”
“I have done nothing other than you have said.”
“Liar! Or are you too stupid to understand the meaning of allegory, of symbolism. What I wrote as metaphor you have taken for fact.”
“Your understanding of your own words is limited. You put things into the future and say, ’Wait. Wait.’ I made them real by saying the future is now. We are living in the end times when prophecy becomes real.”
“What has ended is your position. You are removed from all offices. You will leave here and come to me. You will stay by my side as I show you the correct interpretation of my words. If you learn your lesson, you will be forgiven and your offices will be returned. But this place,” and the father swept his hand around the room in a gesture meant to include the entire city, “this place is dissolved and your brothers will be sent across the ocean to serve in a new world.”
The young man stared at his father. “I’ve taken your words to a place you only dreamed of traveling. For that, I and my brothers are condemned. I could disobey you and stay here, demanding recognition for what we have achieved. But I will not destroy what you have achieved. You are my father and I will obey you. This is the end of time but my time is not yet. This is still your time. But my time will come though it will be long after I die.”
“My son, if you and your brothers lived on an island or isolated in the middle of a vast forest, you could do as you pleased. But we live in the world and the world’s peoples can say terrible things. They can twist the good we do and corrupt it. They can destroy all our work, they can destroy us, with rumor and innuendo. Is that what you want? Because that is the result of what they are already saying about you and your brothers in this place.”
The two men looked at each other across the vast gap that separated them. Finally, the young man spoke.
“No, that is not what I want. While my brothers and I live in the world, we are not of the world. Indeed, I do not understand its ways. Instead of seeing the surface of the world, I look within it. My understanding comes from the deep spirit which is not concerned with the results of our acts upon others but upon the acts themselves. I thought our rituals were for everyone but now I see not all are ready for them at the same time or even for the same rituals and perhaps not even for rituals at all. We should have held our truth in confinement for those who sought it, for those who were ready. Mysteries are not mysterious if they are thrown down in the marketplace and trampled under foot. For that, I apologize for causing you distress and for putting your work in jeopardy. The spirit has enlightened us but I have not understood how to cultivate it. I see now it needs to be carefully nurtured in a secret garden. I will come with you.”
And so the young man left his room with his father’s message. The community was closed; he joined his father in another country and his brothers were sent across the ocean to a new world. There, they built a community and waited for him to join them. They planted the trees of his favorite fruit so they would mature and bear fruit by the time he arrived. But the young man died in his father’s house; he was never the same after leaving his room. Something broke that was never repaired and eventually he weakened in an unhealthy, damp climate. He died and was buried. His father’s dream was shattered.
His brothers, awaiting his arrival, learned, instead, of his death. There was shock, lamentation and disbelief. How could he be gone? How could their plan, their holy work, be destroyed? And what would happen now? There were no answers.
One of the brothers went to the stone-enclosed spring to drink. He knelt, cupped water in a hand, brought it to his lips and drank. Then he heard the young man’s voice, this time inside him, and it said, “I live.”
The brother looked around. No one else was there. Shaken, he took another drink and again he heard, “I live.” And then the brother understood. The young man lived in the spring. Somehow a miracle occurred, a divine transformation, a metamorphosis of spirit into matter and of matter into spirit, a union of opposites in which death itself was overcome. The young man lived again. “Drink, and let me live in you, as Christ lived in me.” That was what the brother heard.
Soon, all the brothers were at the spring; all of them drink the water which contained the young man’s spirit. Soon, he spoke inside them all. Their first thought was to share this miracle with the world but the memory remained fresh and painful from the danger of saying too much too soon. No, they decided, let the world learn in its own time. For now, we will tend our flocks, grow our flax and make our own community grow. For they had learned it was not fair to have others do work in which they could not share the benefits. Reap what you sow, is what they had learned.
In the meantime, the brothers were content with telling the story of the young man to any who were interested; they set his story in type and printed it, making it available like bottled messages cast into the sea.
Eventually the brothers died; the community died, but the spring remained ever flowing, the union of spirit and earth remained and waited for those who would come, from those who could hear, for those who followed the deep intuition to come and drink of the water that flowed from the earth and contained the spirit of the young man and his brothers, for those ready for the words in the water, “I live.” Those words create deep connection; what was separate and alone is replaced by healing and wholeness. “I live.”