"To be, or not to be: that in the question."
That was indeed the question when I arose one morning, and knew that the event of the Crisis would that day decide whether or not I had Eternal Life, whether I was for the Spirit, or the Second Death.
I arose and went forth into the wilderness of the mountains, accompanied only by a pet animal, somewhat resembling a fawn, which went with me everywhere. In a woodland mountain
meadow I traced with my staff the symbol △, and it instantly became crimson fire, which leaped and rose and fell, unbroken, continuously. I was inside, the pet animal grazed on the meadow. After making the symbol △, the Good Being introduced to my knowledge by Mol Lang was with me, and it spake much to me, and I to It. It said.
"Lo! Thy time cometh when I △ must leave thee, although I △ would do for thee, but it is so that no being can endure for another the fierce Trial, neither help them in its midst. Yet I △ say unto thee, I △ believe thou wilt win, for have I not known thee, lo! many ages? But now is that Trial come for thee, when thy past, in all days and lives thou hast ever had, shall rise tip and thou shalt be judged thereby, whether thou shalt become perfect, and thy name be Phylos , or whether thou shalt fail, and have again all the bitterness of life to go through during ages to come. The Father saith through the Spirit, 'Every idle word that men speak, they shall give an account thereof.' How much more then of their actions?"
I listened mutely, for what record was against me? It might be evil, or good, or, worse, that lukewarmness which the Spirit will not entertain, but rather heat or coldness of nature.
"Fear not," said Ovias, △ "for not in vain hast thou lived. Neither expect a record written concerning thee. For know this that the principles inculcated by the Christ-Spirit which overshone Buddha and all the mightiest of the Earth, incarnating in each, and Itself being Son of God, not they, until by union of It they became Sons of God--know that if thou hast made these principles both warp and woof of thy character, thou hast no need to fear. For this sort of fabric is strong, and was that which Jesus meant when He said, and says ever, Timeless One that He is, "Lo, I am with you always even until the end of the world." Not one individual act shall be brought forth to accuse thee, but each, all and every greatest thought, and least, and word or deed, in all thy many incarnations--these have formed thy character. Is
that character, then, woven of the woof provided by Christ, and shown forth in the Divine personality of Jesus, and illuminating Buddha, and Zoroaster, Moses, Manu and other Salvators? If that be the cloth, then indeed shalt thou prevail, though no one sustain thine arm. But if not that weaving, lo! thou shalt fail, and not even I △ could save thee. I △ go. Be thou brave, and may the Comforter be in thee. Peace."
All that day I stood there, and was not weary. Night came About the midnight hour my pet cried out in terror, and came leaping toward me. As it came I warded it from the △ flame, and it stood outside, trembling. But I saw nothing to alarm it, save Mol Lang, approaching over the level around me. He hesitated not, but seemed about to cross the line of fire, as he could, but mindful of my perilous position I said:
"Stop! If thou art Mol Lang, then come. But if only a tempting shape, woe unto thee if thou shalt cross that line, for △ It shall punish thee as only an immortal can punish."
He came not; instead he ceased to appear as Mol Lang, and was another sort. This tempter said:
"If thou art proof against me, who so seemed thy loved preceptor that thou really knew not, then thou art conqueror over death and sin. I have no power over thee, and thou art free to enter eternal life, wherein shall no more incarnations occur. I go."
This Shape withdrew, but the Voice in my soul whispered:
"Beware yet awhile."
I stayed on unmolested until I caught myself napping, and knowing this to be the fatigue of the flesh, I regretted that I had not met the Trial in astral form.
"Not so," whispered the Voice, "all thine elements, both physical and psychic, must attend thee here."
But again I dozed, and quickly aroused myself, for the scene all about me was changed. The mountain meadow was gone, and in place of night seemed day. I gazed, seemingly, on a scene where all the races of men and immortals were gathered under the sweep of my prescient eye. I seemed to be taken
over this realm, and a fair, godlike being in appearance was my guide. Yet in caution, I sheathed myself from head to foot in the △ flame as in an armor, at which my guide smiled, but said nothing. He took me with the speed of thought, so that we seemed to go from star to star, now crossing vast interstellar spaces, now come on fresh realms. All these realms were inhabited by creatures of human shape, or at least they had human attributes. Before me they all bowed and worshipped, for my guide said to them: "See thy master." Otherwise they were all engaged in pursuit of pleasure. The multiplex passions of man on Earth were indulged without fear of penalty. My fair guide said:
"These are souls in whom I created certain passions and appetites, and shall I punish them for indulging, without stint, traits I have given? Now, tell me, why should all creation not have free license to get pleasure as it may? My creatures do. There is no sort of restraint placed by me on their free pursuit of carnal things, lusts, appetites. See, they are happy! For a time I am giving thee control of them. Through indulgence of their passions they beget a sort of vital magnetism, and as their present ruler, it thrills thee like new wine."
As my guide said, the sight and sensing of all this license did thrill me ecstatically, and was affecting me with a delirious, carnal joy. I put it away and refused to feel. Whereat the beautiful Being said:
"Oh! thou art blind! Behold, thou shalt have these realms for thine, and have absolute authority, so thy word shall be life or death to these people, if thou wilt. Here, too, into this eternal joy, thou mayest bring Phyris, and lo! forever thou shalt with her do thy will, and hers, and no penalty be exacted. Wilt thou take this gift of supremacy? It is free; I ask no return for it all. Only take it."
Oh! where was my knowledge, gained from the many lives, and from the Voice? Gone! Gone, else I had known at once not to accept the alluring gift. I was offered all this free, thereby violating the divine law, which never allows something for nothing. But I gathered my △ armor about me,
lest this Being, who seemed so fair and good, were not so, and if not good, its touch might be fatal. Then I said:
"It must be that thou art arrayed in the livery of heaven to serve Satan better. Demon, thou offerest that which subordinates all other beings in these realms to my will. This realm is governed by pleasure, passion, appetite, lust, all selfish; and no penalty set upon wild license. These carnalities would conquer me, too, if I accepted-me, who am otherwise about to become immortal, more than Man, karmaless. These are selfish. Pleasure so gotten is the essence of selfishness. Truly, thou must be creator of it all, since it is selfish. It is thine. It could be mine? Yea, but only because over me thou wouldst reign. I am not now thy subject; nor will I be. Only the Unknown God is my Master. Get thee hence, behind me!"
The scene slowly faded, like mist in the sunlight. There came a lull, and I hoped the battle was over, for I was weary. But I stood on the meadow again, with the △ fire leaping, quivering in crimson pulses around the lines. Nothing could break that guardian flame, for it was a symbol of the perfect state of being of another, but non-human, race. Only perfection could avail against it. Perfection of good might; so, too, perfection of evil might; but the latter had not yet come against it. I even doubted the existence of any perfection of evil. What offer, after all, had been made but of the things which were mine by reason of the divine Sonship? God giveth his children control over each other for good, and for evil also, through mental influence. What more absolute sovereignty is there than love, exercised as He hath ordained. None. While I reflected, a soft and lovely vision came, and lo, Phyris stood before me.
"Art thou Phyris?" I asked.
"Could any but Phyris disregard the △ flame about thee?" she replied, penetrating the barrier, and sinking by my side. This seemed truth, for Ovias △ was perfect being of Its own condition. Only perfection can stand with perfection.
At last I heard her sigh softly, sadly. Her eyes brimmed with tears.
"Why this sorrow, Phyris?"
"Phylos, thou enquirest? I reply. Because of my confession to make. I, too, am on trial as thyself. A sad story of sin is mine. Woe is me if thou shouldst spurn me for it." She hesitated.
"Speak," I answered, apprehensively.
"This, then. In a far Poseid day, when I had a personality called Anzimee, and thou hadst one called Zailm, thou knowst the day? Aye, and with sorrow e'en yet! When thou hadst gone in thy vailx, fugitive from memory of Lolix, I sorrowed intensely. And I knew not thine abode then. When thou returned not, crazed, I went to Mainin the Incalix. He marveled at my frenzy; then said:
"'Lovest thou Zailm, Rainu?'
"'As my own soul, Incalix.'
"'I marvel thereat. But never mind. Aid thee to find him? What if I love thee, I who am a vowed celibate? What if, in my ability, I say Zailm shall no more come back?'
"Then, Phylos, I begged for thee as for my own life! I implored his mercy. At last the stern lines of his face relaxed, and he kindly said: 'I would not keep thee apart; I was but testing thy love for him. Yet my aid must receive compensation. Not money, nor jewels, nor power; these have I in abundance. One only thing in thy gift will I have; listen: in other days, when I came to knowledge of Nature's deeper secrets, I was curious to experiment, and I sought the aid, all confident of my power to subdue my servant, of the host of Satan, one demon. But my power I overestimated, and I was subdued, a victim. So one day coming my soul is forfeit to Lucifer to pay my debt and its ever growing size. One only way can I avert this, by delivering another, although less experienced soul, in place of mine. Ere this night a maiden and her lover will seek me at the hour of worship, that I may solemnize their marriage already long published. But I shall be gone,
purposely. Thou wilt be there, and except thee, only those two. Now, they are weak, but have never sinned.
"Their natures incline to error. All I ask of thee is that when they ask for me, tell thou them I am gone, but say, 'Thou art come to be wed?' then smile and say, again, 'Only the simple folk publish their matings; the wise are never wedded, yet are wedded in verity.' Say no more. If they take that mild hint, they will sin, and lose their souls, but I, the great Incalix, shall be saved. I will in any event bring thee Zailm again, for perchance thy hint will not be acted upon.'
"Mainin ceased speaking. I recoiled in horror. Yet even as I was about to refuse, he said, 'Remember, only thou canst save Zailm.'
"I thought him a fiend. Then I thought, it is but natural for him to wish to save his own soul, even at another's cost. And oh! I so desired the return of my Zailm! Tearfully Bobbing, my soul whispering the wrong of it, but my heart pleading me to be blind for that once to wrong or right, I yielded and said, 'Even as thou requirest, so will I do.'
"I did so. But false to Incal, Mainin was false to me, and he brought not Zailm back. When Rai Gwauxln told me of Zailm's death, I, too, died of shame and a broken heart. The man and woman took my hint, and died after years of well-concealed, direful crime. But I Phylos? In my consent to Mainin's will, I sold my soul to the Arch Fiend, Mainin's master. So my life is forfeit unless I can be helped. Forfeit, much though I know, and hard as I have striven to do right and atone, all in vain! Yet, my twin soul, thou art able to save me. If thou savest me not, then shall the Eternal Law cause me to die the second death. My soul will be annihilated, my Spirit, which was unable to unite with my soul, shall go back to the Source, our Father. And then, being a soul, but thy Spirit also my Spirit, thou must also perish. Save thyself then as well as me."
"How?" I queried, soul-sick to the depths, and suffering such intensity of misery as almost of itself to cut off my life. Sick, because I felt Phyris, my other self, my pure angel, to be
in mortal danger, herself in a fatal mire, and threatened with soul death. And because she was, I was also, for our Spirit was the same.
"How?" I again queried, whispered.
"Thus! The man whom, as Anzimee, I led astray, hath incarnated several times since then, each time worse and worse, until now, a man on Earth, he is about to confront a temptation which, if he fall, will aim his course ever henceforth for evil, and final death of his soul. If he yield not now, he may or may not at last escape, but the delay will put him beyond use to us, and we shall surely die, whether he does or not. Aye! we shall if thou actest not now. If his soul is now made forfeit, we shall surely escape; so saith Mainin, who is blasted and in outer darkness, yet owneth me; 'tis an only, though slender hope. O Phylos, think! think!! On the one hand eternal life, brightness, and a chance to atone for all our sins, perhaps even rescue this man at last, but on the other, death, blasting into outer darkness and eternal demonhood."
In the calm night she stood before me and besought me to act for her, her hands clasped, her eyes streaming, her agony fearful to see. Act for her whom I loved better than life, and for myself; save our lives that all might be well. How? By using my occult power to whisper to a man, already sin-sodden, on a distant planet, a man who might not conquer his temper even though I withheld my influence. Do what? Influence him to sign his name as Governor of a great state to a denial of pardon to two men about to die for murder. Yet they were innocent. I knew it; the Governor knew it, because he had already sinned horribly in using his office, money and power to weave a net of circumstantial evidence which would hang his two enemies for a murder committed by his own hand. He would, in an hour more, sign or not sign the fateful paper, for at the last his courage was faltering. All I needed to do was to occultly encourage him. Already so sinful, was it likely he ever would turn from evil ways to good? Barely possible. But I was to psychologize him to pass this opportunity and complete his double murder, in order to save Phyris,
whom I so loved, whose Spirit was my Spirit, whose soul's destruction meant my soul's destruction also. It was so easy to do!
All crimes are easy. But while the agony of despair numbed me, a ray of hope came, and the question arose, would this act save us? Had not God said, "Thou shalt not kill"; and would not the double murder be on me as much as on the Governor? Then I arose, and said, calmly,--Oh! how frightfully, despairingly calm!
"Lo, then. If we shall both die into outer darkness, yet will I never do this thing. Thou, who art more precious than mine own life, must not ask this! Saith not our Father: 'Whoso shall do evil, of him will be exacted the penalty, of some thirty, some sixty, some an hundredfold'? And if I, we, shall consign a soul to darkness, thinkest thou, oh! my spirit mate, we shall not the more surely go thither ourselves? Then, although these words seal thy death, and mine, yet will I refuse to sin. I will not do thy will. I have not erred so but that I can put fort h my hand and, by the aid of the Christ-Spirit, cut off the progress of thy sin, and thou mayest go back to the time, place, where thy soul was ere thine error, and recarnify on Earth so often as needful to expunge and atone this sinful act. And I will await thee where my soul is now progressed, during the years, though they be tens of thousands, until pure, thou mayest rejoin me. I will guide thee, so that thou wilt sin no more during expiation. Aye, except that I must stay to so guide, I would go again into the life of Earth with thee; but I must stay that my light be clear. All this will I do, or if vicarious atonement were a possibility in the Universe, I would go for thee, and let thee stay. But condemn the man on Earth, and ourselves with him, no! I can not so sin."
With a convulsive shudder, and a despair in her starry eyes that smote me so that I cried aloud to God in my agony, Phyris said in a mournful wail, as of a lost soul:
"O Phylos, think well; for it might be that thou art hedged about with that sort of righteousness that maketh the Angels
to weep and the Fiend to smile!"
"Phyris, beloved, I have spoken! I alter not."
She moved away with her hands covering her agonized face, sobbing in her intensity of despair. When she came to the △ fire she said:
"Phylos, I could enter. My power is fled, and I can not go out; put it aside."
I looked from where I lay almost dying in my pain of an immortal hurt, and found that I too was too weak to lower the barrier. Then I looked within my being, and I saw that no more was the Light of the Spirit within me, but gone forth. And then I knew what that awful appeal of Jesus of Nazareth meant, that He, too, in the fearful strain of his Human trial of the Crisis had beheld the Spirit in Him wane, when He cried out: "Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabacthani." Like Him I cried out to the Father, and in that instant the Light returned, and with a roll as of mighty thunder the darkness broke, and the night which had been around me fled, so I saw that the sun was high in the heavens, and I alone had been in a local gloom. The △ flame paled, and "Phyris" knelt before me and implored mercy. Then I knew that Phyris, had not been near. I knew that God the Father was entered in me to dwell forever, and that the perfection of evil had failed in its last, most subtle, horrible and insidious attack, its last attempt to open the door to downwardness for me. My strength out of all the lives had withstood, and, all fainting, I was come unto Christ. All the weary way of woe I had journeyed, atoning as I came. And now my karma I had blotted out, and in me was Life Everlasting. Gloria in Excelsis! Laus Deo! The song I heard was the song of the starry hosts of God.
Then the Voice spoke: "Thy trial is over; I am well pleased. It is written in sacred Scripture, 'Ye must be born again, of water and of the Spirit.' Even so hast thou been born now. Of water, which is the world of matter. And of the Spirit, which is I entered in. But the death of the carnal body, and rebirth in the new, is but night after day, and day after night. To these successive days and nights of the soul, that Scripture
refers not. Thou hast been born in the Earth many times, and each time thy carnal body hath died. But the rebirth was not that rebirth of the waters and of me. Those incarnations did but prepare thee out of the waters of materiality for Me. But now thou art born of that and of Me, and become a Son of Light, and at one with the All-Father, and like unto the Nazarene. Carry thou My Word unto all men, that all may come likewise unto Me who will, even as thou, following the first Man who came unto Me, have thyself also come."
Now when I saw Phyris come, I knew that it was she in verity. She, too, had had her Trial, and equal temptations had been offered her, and been withstood, ninety centuries of years before, however. How say ye: "I thought twin souls must fight the final fight together, and now you say nine thousand years were between?" Behold, friend, time is but measure of energy exerted. We wrought the same work, so were together. Is Paul more saved than the latest regenerated soul? Yet Paul knew Jesus Christ near two thousand years earlier. It had seemed to us both that the Great Crisis had occupied centuries. Unto us, as we stood clasping each other, came a glorious vision, and the Voice spoke, saying:
"Behold. Look back over the mighty past. And when thou hast so done, look on Earth, and see how there to effect the work of giving the people of Earth thy life history. That shall take but a moment for thee, but that moment shall seem years to thine agents on Earth. Then again, look; I am thy Voice and thy Spirit. Thy souls shall unite. Behold, thou shalt presently hereafter have no more two bodies, but one only, and it thy Spirit body. Mine, for without Me thou art nothing. Peace is thine forevermore."
Friend, thou mayest have trouble in understanding this strange union. Yet, ponder it deeply, for it is to be thy experience some day if thou art true to thy Savior and follow Him, drinking of the cup which He drank, and triumphing at the Critical Ordeal.
End of Book Second.