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Robert Sheppard’s thriller novel, Spiritus Mundi, is an unforgettable read and epic journey bringing to life the sexual and spiritual lives of struggling global idealists overcoming despair, nuclear terrorism, espionage and a threatened World War…

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Smashwords — Spiritus Mundi – Book II: The Romance — A book by Robert Sheppard

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Robert Sheppard’s thriller novel, Spiritus Mundi, is an unforgettable read and epic journey bringing to life the sexual and spiritual lives of struggling global idealists overcoming despair, nuclear terrorism, espionage and a threatened World War…

Robert Sheppard‘s insight:

Spiritus Mundi–Book II: The Romance is now Available on Smashwords!—-Check It Out Now!

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The Supreme Leader & The Three Messiahs: A Tale from the Islamic Renaissance, Reformation and Enlightenment (Islamic Spring)

 

Related Links and Websites: Spiritus Mundi, Novel by Robert Sheppard

For Introduction and Overview of the Novel and Movie: https://spiritusmundinovel.wordpress.com/

For Author’s Blog: https://robertalexandersheppard.wordpress.com/

To Read a Sample Chapter from Spiritus Mundi: https://spiritusmundisamplechapters.wordpress.com/

To Read Fantasy, Myth and Magical Realism Excerpts from Spiritus Mundi: https://spiritusmundifantasymythandmagicalrealism.wordpress.com/

To Read Sexual Excerpts from Spiritus Mundi: The Varieties of Sexul Experience: https://spiritusmundivarietiesofsexualexperience.wordpress.com/

To Read Spy, Espionage and Counter-terrorism Thriller Excerpts from Spiritus Mundi: http://spiritusmundispyespionagecounterterrorism.wordpress.com/

To Read Geopolitical and World War Three Excerpts from Spiritus Mundi: https://spiritusmundigeopoliticalworldwar3.wordpress.com/

To Read Spiritual and Religious Excerpts from Spiritus Mundi: https://spiritusmundionspiritualityandreligion.wordpress.com/

To Read about the Global Campaign for a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly in Spiritus Mundi: https://spiritusmundiunitednationsparliamentaryassembly.wordpress.com/

To Read Poetry from Spiritus Mundihttps://spiritusmundipoetry.wordpress.com/

For Discussions on World Literature and Literary Criticism in Spiritus Mundi: http://worldliteratureandliterarycriticism.wordpress.com/

For Discussions of World History and World Civilization in Spiritus Mundi: https://worldhistoryandcivilizationspiritusmundi.wordpress.com/

To Read the Blog of Eva Strong from Spiritus Mundi: https://evasblogfromspiritusmundi.wordpress.com/

To Read the Blog of Andreas Sarkozy from Spiritus Mundi: http://andreasblogfromspiritusmundi.wordpress.com/

To Read the Blog of Robert Sartorius from Spiritus Mundi: http://sartoriusblogfromspiritusmundi.wordpress.com/

 

Background Note: The following excerpt, “The Supreme Leader and the Three Messiahs” is one section of the novel, Spiritus Mundi , by Robert Sheppard. In this scene the leaders of the Campaign for a  United Nations Parliamentary Assembly, including Robert Sartorius and Mohammad ala Rushdie have been taken captive by a terrorist conspiracy and are being held, along with former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton as human shields to prevent a retaliatory nuclear strike in response to the detonation of a nuclear bomb in Jerusalem. Mohammad ala Rushdie, who is also a writer and a novice in a Sufi Order, is invited to read the story he has written while in captivity to the Supreme Leader of Iran, which proves to contain a Neo-Dostoyevskian message for him and the Islamic Renaissance, Reformation and Englightenment unfolding around them:

VI.       Qom                The Supreme Leader & The Three Messiahs

                        Finally, after many days of captivity Sartorius and the band of companions were again blindfolded and led through a maze of corridors, elevators, stairs and hallways to they knew not where. When they were released from their blindfolds they found themselves in the presence of a small party of men dining at a large ornate table in an underground room. Around the walls stood several armed guards at attention. Colonel Moussavi of the Quds Force gave him a profuse apology and regretted the measures taken for security reasons. Also present were Mustafa and Khlorinda. Colonel Moussavi explained that he and Mustafa had attended the same seminary or madresseh, attached to the Haghani School in Qom under the leadership of the Ayatollah Yazdi and supported by the Supreme Leader as well, and that many of the higher officers and ministers of government, Revolutionary Guards and the military were graduates of that school, which had become one of the main centers in which promising young men found patrons, mentors and sponsors who might place them in the highest ranks of the Islamic Revolution. Some regarded the Haghani School as a kind of insider’s Ecole Nationale d’Administration of the Military-Industrial-Theological Complex of the Islamic Revolution or perhaps an Islamic Oxbridge “Old Boy’s Network.” Others more addicted to conspiracy theories saw a sinister and undemocratic hand of the Haghani school behind many of the power plays behind the scenes, and others suspected it of a touch of even more sinister and suicidal addiction to a deranged theology of ushering in a Final Apocalypse. Others attributed the influence of the Haghani School in Iran, the Siloviki in Russia and the Taizi Dang, or Princeling Party in China to a conspiracy at a higher degree of cryptocracy, namely a shadowy elite, the alleged Axis of Synarchy, which was supposed to be behind all three phenomena. The Axis of Synarchy, according to this theory, soucht to preserve the dominance of a cryptocratic elite in the name of a “harmonious society” as it was expressed in China, and most particularly one which would forever counter the thread of bourgiouse individualism and the associated threat of “Anarchy.” Though Colonel Moussavi acknowledged his fathering of the philosophy of Islamic Synarchy in several books and his participation in the Synarchist International which included many of the Siloviki and TaiziDang members who had written or spoken in a similar philosophical vein, he dismissed the allegations of a sinister arch-conspiracy as the ravings of deranged and paranoid sociopaths. Synarchists professed the organic unity of society and the necessary submission of all of its parts to the common will determined, as in Plato’s Republic by an all-powerful elite; they advocated a corparatist government in the name of a harmonious integration of all social classes, legitimating in passing the existence and role of the dominant elites and the dominant social heirarchy, achieving thereby social peace and order. Colonel Moussavi said he was proud to be in the vanguard of the synarchist philosophical movement and praised Mousafa’s dedication to the ideals and the practical struggle for global synarchism.  After graduation from the Haghani School Mustafa had gone back to his country and then on to study at Cambridge. Colonel Moussavi had entered the elite Quds force and with the help of his mentors was advanced quickly into its senior officer ranks, eventually becoming an aide-de-camp to the Imam himself.  They entreated them to sit and have a cordial dinner. At the head of the table and set a ceremonial distance from the others was a man of medium stature dressed as an Imam and with a long white beard and turban headdress. Mustafa presented him with a heavy dignity as the Supreme Leader.

            To Sartorius’ mind the Imam gazing at him from the opposite end of the long and thickly solid table was a massive stillness, an immobility. He was living stone. His great gnarled hands, granite-gray, rested heavily on the wings of his high-backed chair. His head, looking too large for the body beneath, lolled ponderously on the surprisingly scrawny neck that could just be glimpsed through the grey-black wisps of beard. The Imam’s eyes were clouded; his lips did not move. His visage seemed pure force, an elemental being—he seeming to move without motion, act without doing, speak without uttering a sound.

            The Supreme Leader was known for his aloofness and stern demeanor. He was said to have had variously inspired admiration, awe, and fear from those around him. His practice of moving through the halls of the madresehs and later the halls of government never smiling at anybody or anything; his practice of ignoring his audience while he taught, lectured or commanded contributed to his charisma. In newspapers and eyewitness accounts of those who met with him face to face he was often described as “slim,” but athletic and “heavily boned.” He was known for his punctuality. He was regularly so punctual that if he doesn’t turn up for lunch at exactly ten past everyone will get worried and a crisis of state will be feared, because his work is regulated in such a way that he turned up for lunch at exactly that time every day. He goes to bed exactly on time. He eats exactly on time. And he wakes up exactly on time. He changes his frock every time he comes back from the mosque. Though casual observers might see him as an old man frail with age, he had prided himself his long life long with the physical strength of his body, and for a man now in his nineties he looked and moved thirty years younger than his true age, though in any case still bearing the hallowed gravitas of his cumulative years crowned with his glorious white hair,beard and grizzled face.

            The Supreme Leader adhered to traditional beliefs of Islamic cleanliness holding that non-Muslims – like urine, excrement, blood, wine, sweat, etc. – were one of eleven impure things contact with which required major ritual washing or Ghuslbefore prayer or salah. He is reported to have refused to eat or drink in a restaurant unless he knew for sure the waiter was a Muslim. Sartorius noted that at the dinner table he maintained his distance from the foreign guests, though later he became more cordial, apologizing personally for the inconvenience they were suffering, assuring them of their safety and eventual safe return home as far as it was within his power, Inshallah,  and deeply regretting the necessity which detained them. Towards the end of the dinner he listened with evident interest and gentleness as Mustafa introduced the guests and related aspects of their background. Through an interpreter he asked occasional questions of his guests and showed a refined appreciation of their talents and characteristics. He was genuinely respectful to Sartorius’ accomplishments as a scholar, and he told him that he regretted that the responsibilities of office gave him so little time for his studies, research and writing, as well as his spiritual inquiries, which he felt as his real calling—-his present position of national leadership he regretted out loud as “an accidental vocation” which the state of the world unhappily forced on him, alien to his true one. In the unexpected mixed company Sartorius and his colleagues were unsure of the rules of engagement and confined themselves to a polite interchange until they could be more sure of the ground on which they stood or how they might raise the question of their own plight.  

            The Imam, it was generally believed, had shown by his uncanny sweep to power, that he knew how to act in ways which others could not begin to understand. His timing was extraordinary, and his insight into the motivation of others, those around him as well as his enemies, could not be explained as ordinary knowledge. This emergent belief in the Supreme Leader as a divinely guided figure was carefully fostered by the clerics who supported him and spoke up for him in front of the people, but the charisma which gave rise to the intentional propaganda was observed and credited to him as palpably real even by his opponents and enemies.

On the return of the Imam from exile at the beginning of the Islamic Revolution tears of joy were shed and huge quantities of sweets and fruits were consumed as millions of people jumped for joy, shouting  ‘I’ve seen the Imam in the moon.’ The event was celebrated in thousands of mosques with mullahs reminding the faithful that a sure sign of the coming of the Mahdi was that the sun would rise in the West.  The Imam, representing the sun, at that time was in France and his face was shining in the moon like a sun. People were ready to swear on the Qur’an that they had seen the Imam’s face in the moon. Even the Tudeh Party, the party of Scientific Socialism, shared in the enthusiasm. Its paper Navid wrote: ‘Our toiling masses, fighting against world-devouring imperialism headed by the blood-sucking United States, have seen the face of their beloved Imam and leader, the Breaker of Idols, in the moon. A few pipsqueaks cannot deny what a whole nation has seen with its own eyes.’

Even many secularists who firmly disapproved of his policies were said to feel the power of his “messianic” appeal. Comparing him to a father figure who retains the enduring loyalty even of children he disapproves of, journalists wrote of the defenses of the Imam they heard in the most unlikely settings. A whiskey-drinking professor told an American journalist that the Imam brought pride back to Iranians. A women’s rights activist in Iran, a Nobel Prize nominee, said that the Imam was not the problem; it was his conservative allies and unprincipled underlings who had directed him wrongly. A nationalist war veteran, who held Iran’s ruling clerics in contempt, carried with him a picture of ‘The Imam’ and hung a larger one from the mirror of his automobile. Another journalist told the story of a wealthy Iranian woman, who following bitter criticism of the regime in which she tells him she wants her son to leave the country and repeatedly made the point that life had been better under the Shah, turns “ashen faced” and speechless upon hearing the rumor, later proved false, that the Imam might be dying, pronouncing ‘this is terrible for my country.’

When Mohammad was introduced to the Grand Imam by Mustafa and Colonel Moussavi they took care to point out his spiritual strivings in the Sufi order as well as his work with the Committee for a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly. They also mentioned that Mohammad wrote poetry and short stories. At this the Imam was enthusiastically interested, inquiring after his taste in poets and what the subject matter of his stories might be. They discovered they both took a delight in Hafiz and in Rumi and the Imam revealed a little known fact about himself, that he was himself a closet poet and had dreamed in his youth of becoming a writer. He informed Mohammad that after dinner many evenings he convened a kind of literary salon in his private chambers to listen to poets and writers read their poetry and stories, and that he would be honored if he would join Miss Khlorindah, who was this evening to recite some of her poems and sing songs she had written, in honouring him with one or more of his works. Mohammad said that he was delighted to find that His Eminence the Imam was an appreciative enthusiast over literature, but he warned him that he might not find his works to his liking, as he could not approve the repression of the freedom of conscience and expression that he observed to reign in this country, amoung many others,with regard to writers and thinkers, and that he might find his views on the free development of the human spirit beyond the pale of orthodoxy.  

To Mohammad’s surprise, and to the surprise of all present, including Colonel Moussavi and the other aides who were used to his daily manners, the Imam laughed, which he was seldom observed to do, and spoke sharply but with a certain equanimity: “Yes, we are reactionaries, and you are enlightened intellectuals: You intellectuals do not want us to go back 1400 years. You, who want freedom, freedom for everything, the freedom of parties, you who want all the freedoms—- you intellectuals, freedoms of lifestyle, of action, of ideas and expression:  freedom that will corrupt our youth, freedom that will pave the way for the oppressor, freedom that will drag our nation to the bottom……You are young and imagine that this is something new on earth, but we who are old have lived through the twenties and forties and it is all an old story. What is the saying—There is nothing new under the sun. Perhaps it is only after your forties and fifties that you will wake up and separate cant from reality, and then, Inshallah, you will join me in breaking the teeth of those intellectual fops mouthing their saccharine cant. Yes, I invite you to join our literary party and I grant you amnesty in advance for anything you might say—-don’t imagine I haven’t heard it all before or that I am going to have a heart attack of surprise or conscience over it. But I like to hear from young men of spirit and honesty, even if they renounce me. It keeps my mind young though my body may be old. So come tonight and bring your manuscript and read it aloud for me, after I listen to Miss Khlorindah’s poems and songs you shall have my literary ear.  Colonel Moussavi will make the arrangements. Now, if you will be so kind as to excuse me, I must go to my rooms and take a post-prandial nap prior to receiving you. When one is past ninety unfortunately one must conserve one’s energy more than in younger years.”

When Mohammad entered the private quarters of the Supreme Leader attached to the deeply buried command facilities of the underground complex in which they found themselves, he was escorted to a sitting room in which were assembled a small company of about a dozen.  Khlorindah was already reciting some of her poems as he entered, seated on a large easy-chair opposite the Imam, who made himself comfortable stretched out on a low ottoman beneath a hanging Persian carpet in purples and scarlet featuring a pericope of Islamic calligraphy. Her dark limpid eyes invited absorption as the haunting verses tumbled from her lips. Mohammad sat himself in a corner of the room and took in the company as they responded to her voice with nods and occasional sighs of enthusiasm or delight. Then she moved to the other end of the room where was seated a musician in a jellaba with a gaspa flute. As the flute began to flutter from note to haunting note she began to sing Rai tunes, raising the emotional pitch of the gathering, then setting it softly back to earth with a note of melancholy and huzun.

After the song ended Khlorindah bowed modestly to the enthusiastic applause of the small company and set herself down in an empty chair next to Mohammad. Then Colonel Moussavi rose and introduced Mohammad, informing them that the Imam had invited him to share his manuscript of his new short story which he had recently completed, and that Mohammad had been so kind and gracious as to accept the invitation to read it aloud for their enjoyment and enlightenment. Then he escorted Mohammad from the corner of the room to the seat of honour in front of the Imam’s ottoman. Mohammad bowed before the Imam before seating himself and taking his manuscript from the small carrying case he had been given.

               “Quite impossible, as you see, to start without an introduction,” laughed Mohammad. “Well, then, I mean to place the event described in the poem in the intermediate future—-several decades at least beyond our present——Already the Islamic Revolution has progressed and the bulk of the Middle-East has been long united into a United Islamic Republic under the leadership of the Supreme Leader who now functions as a kind of Caliph of the entire region, a leader of the faithful. I call it a poem, or a Parable, though it is composed in prose rather than verse. I haven’t fixed on a final title for it yet, but most likely is The Parable of the Three Messiahs. In any case the idea is that it takes place after the Islamic Revolution has attained its aim and the whole region is united under the guidance of the Supreme Leader and administered through the ulama—-the assemblies and institutions of the clerics, ayatollahs, mullahs and Shariah courts which follow his guidance and command. In such a day there arrives visiting on earth the Mahdi, “The Guided One” who the Westerners compare to their concept of the Messiah and of the Second Coming of Christ as foretold in their Book of Revelations.  On this visit the Mahdi has emerged momentarily from his occultation as the 12th Imam and has come to walk again in the world of men, partially to relieve the loneliness of the occultation and partially for a kind of reconnaissance in preparation for the distant Yahm al-Quiyamah or “Day of the Resurrection,” the day of Advent and of the final Revelation being still not yet immanent. ‘Of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven but Allah only’ mused the Mahdi, but he had, nevertheless, a longing to again stretch his legs upon the firm soil of the earth, so missed in his occultation while the ummah waited their centuries in expectation of his final return. No, this once, before those prophesized apocalyptic events the Mahdi wished to walk amoung men unknown to learn incognito the truths of their lives, like the nocturnal perambulations of the Caliph Haroun al-Rashid in the Alf Layla Wa Layla, the Thousand and One Nights, naked of the burden and enforced separation imposed by his exalted position—he wished for a renewed communion with earthly life.  Thus he walked on the streets of Teheran, capital of the newly formed United Islamic Republic stretching from India to Egypt, taking in the sights of children at play skipping rope, mothers shopping for vegetables and young men eagerly awaiting trysts in dark gardens with their veiled beloveds. He was joined in his walk through this living genre painting by two companions cloaked in similar incognito, Jesus Christ–foretold in the Koran (43:61) to accompany the Mahdi in the last days of the apocalyptic advent, and by the Maitreya, their Eastern cousin Messiah of the final days. Thus, arm in arm and savouring the piebald beauty of the sights of the things of this world the Three Messiahs strolled through the streets of Teheran. They made their way through the mazes of streets until they came to the center of the city, where they witnessed over one hundred heretics and adulteresses being burned or stoned to death around the Azadi Tower, and witnessed a chief offender amoung them being cast to the ground enveloped in the flames of his gasoline-soaked frock, from atop the top of the spire of the Milad Tower.

               As the Mahdi walked through the thronging crowds gathered to witness these events, try as they might to guard their anonymity, all—yea, how strange, all—-all recognize Him at once! The population rushes towards Him as if propelled by some irresistible force; it surrounds, throngs, and presses around, it follows Him…. Silently, and with a smile, compassionate and merciful as that of Allah himself upon His lips, He crosses the dense crowd, and moves softly on, followed by his two silent companions walking behind him. Compassion and Mercy burn in His heart, and warm rays of Light, Wisdom and Power beam forth from His eyes, and pour down their waves upon the swarming multitudes of the rabble assembled around, making their hearts vibrate with returning love. He extends His hands over their heads, blesses them, and from mere contact with Him, aye, even with the hem of His garments, a healing power goes forth. An old man, blind from his birth, cries, ‘Lord, heal me, that I may see Thee!’ and the scales falling off the closed eyes, the blind man beholds Him…The crowd weeps for joy, and kisses the ground upon which He treads. Children strew flowers along His path and sing to Him,

‘Allahu Akbar!’ It is He, it is Himself, they say to each other, the Mahdi, it must be He, it can be none other but He! Passing through the thronged Bazaar he pauses at the portal of the old Imam Khomeyni Mosque, just as a wee white coffin is carried in, with tears and great lamentations. The lid is off, and in the coffin lies the body of a fair-child, seven years old, the only child of an eminent citizen of the city. The little corpse lies buried in flowers. ‘He will raise the child to life!’ confidently shouts the crowd to the weeping mother. The officiating mullah who had come to meet the funeral procession, looks perplexed, and frowns. A loud cry is suddenly heard, and the bereaved mother prostrates herself at His feet. ‘If it be Thou, then bring back my child to life!’ she cries beseechingly. The procession halts, and the little coffin is gently lowered at his feet. Divine compassion beams forth from His eyes, and as He looks at the girl-child, then he looks behind to his companions. The three of them lay hands upon the tiny corpse.  His lips are heard to whisper once more, ‘Allahu Akbar’ ——and straightway the damsel arose. The child rises in her coffin. Her little hands still hold the nosegay of white roses which after death was placed in them, and, looking round with large astonished black eyes she smiles sweetly …. The crowd is violently excited. A terrible commotion rages among them, the populace shouts and loudly weeps, when suddenly, the massive main door of the great mosque opens and there appears the Supreme Leader himself………..He is a tall, gaunt-looking old man of nearly four-score years and ten, with a stern, withered face, and deeply sunken eyes, from the cavity of which glitter two fiery sparks. He has laid aside his gorgeous Imam’s robes in which he had appeared before the people at the executions of the enemies of the Islamic Revolution that morning, and is now clad in his old, rough mullah’s frock. His sullen assistants and bodyguards of the ‘Revolutionary Guards Quds Force’ are following at a distance. He pauses before the crowd and observes. He has seen all. He has witnessed the placing of the little coffin at His feet, the calling back to life. And now, his dark, grim face has grown still darker; his bushy grey eyebrows nearly meet, and his sunken eye flashes with sinister light. Slowly raising his finger, he commands his minions to arrest Him….

              Such is his power over the well-disciplined, submissive and now trembling people, that the thick crowds immediately give way, and scattering before the Revolutionary Guards, amid dead silence and without one breath of protest, allowing them to lay their sacriligious hands upon the three Strangers and lead the Mahdi away with his two companion Messiahs…. That same populace, like one man, now bows its head to the ground before the Imam, who blesses it and slowly moves onward. The Revolutionary Guards conduct their prisoners into a police van which takes them away to the looming mass of Evin Prison; then pulling them from the vehicle and pushing them into a narrow, gloomy, vaulted prison-cell. They lock them in and retire….

               The day wanes, and night–a dark, hot breathless Iranian late-summer night–creeps out and settles upon the city of Teheran. The air smells of laurels and orange blossoms. In the looming darkness behind the immensely thick walls of Evin prison the iron door of their cell is suddenly thrown open, and the Supreme Leader, holding a dark lantern, slowly stalks into the dungeon. He is alone, and, as the heavy door closes behind him, he pauses at the threshold, and, for a minute or two, silently and gloomily scrutinizes the three Faces before him. At last approaching with measured steps, he sets his lantern down upon the table and addresses Him in these words:

               “‘It is Thou! … Thou!’ … Receiving no reply, he rapidly continues: ‘Nay, answer not;  be silent! … And what couldst Thou say? … I know but too well Thy answer…. Besides, Thou hast no right to add one syllable to that which was already uttered byAllah’s Messenger and the Twelve Immams before Thee…. Why shouldst Thou now return, to impede us in our work? For Thou hast come but for that only, and Thou knowest it well. But art Thou as well aware of what awaits Thee in the morning? I do not know, nor do I care to know who thou mayest be: be it Thou or only thine subversive image, to-morrow I will condemn and throw Thee aflame from the Milad spire and stone your companions to death before the Azadi Tower, as the most wicked of all the heretics; and that same people, who to-day were kissing Thy feet, to-morrow at one bend of my finger, will rush to add fuel to burn your broken bones and limbs to spent ashes. Wert Thou aware of this when you came?’ he adds, speaking as if in solemn thought, and never for one instant taking his piercing glance off the meek Face before him nor those of His two Brothers beside Him….”

               “I can hardly realize the situation described in your fantastic fable–what is all

this, Mohammad?” suddenly interrupted Khlorindah, who had remained silently listening to her brother guest at the Imam’s literary salon. “Is this an extravagant fancy, some perversion of faith or some mistake of the old man, your future Supreme Leader?” she asked incredulously.

               “Let it be the the latter, if you like,” laughed Muhammad, “since modern realism has so perverted your taste that you feel unable to realize anything from the world of fancy…. Let it be a flawed psychological ideosyncracy. Again, the future Supreme Leader is ninety years old, and he might have easily gone mad with his one idee fixe of power; or, it might have as well been a delirious vision, called forth by his fancy inflamed by his own impending inevitable death of which he is only too acutely well aware, overheated by the mass executions of the hundred un-Islamic heretics of that forenoon……. But what matters for the poem which?  The question is, that the old man has to open his heart; that he must give out his thought at last; and that the hour has come when he does speak it out, and says loudly that which for ninety years he has kept secret within his own breast.”

               “And his prisoners, does the Mahdi never reply, nor his companion Messiahs? Do they keep silent, looking at him, without saying a word?” asked Khlorindah, incredulously, the gap in verisimilitude exasperating her patience in following the story.

               “Of course; and it could not well be otherwise,” again retorted Mohammad. The Supreme Leader begins from his very first words by telling the Mahdi and his companions that He has no right to add one syllable to that which has been said before. Clearly whatever has been needed to say or do has been accomplished in the past centuries ago and there is no need for any living deeds or words to follow; it is only for the living to follow the words already written and yield wholly to the authority of the keepers of the words and not any more for the words to follow the living.  All has been given over to the book and the interpreters of the book, the ulema of which he is the unquestioned and authoritative head.  To make the situation clear at once, the above preliminary monologue is intended to convey to the reader the very fundamental idea which underlies Velayat-e Fiqh–as well as I can convey it;  his words mean, in short: ‘Everything was given over by Allah to the Book of the Past, its Law and its Keepers, the ulama and their Supreme Leader and everything now rests with him alone; Thou the living spirit hast no business to return and thus hinder us in our work.’ In this sense the ulama and the mullahs not only talk but write likewise.

               “‘Hast thou the right to divulge to us a single one of the mysteries of that world whence Thou comest?’ enquires of Him my old Supreme Leader, and forthwith answers for Him. ‘Nay, Thou has no such right. For, that would be adding to that which was already

said by Thee before; hence depriving people of that freedom for which Thou hast so stoutly stood up while yet on earth…..Anything new that Thou would now proclaim would have to be regarded as an attempt to interfere with that freedom of choice—the choice of accepting or rejecting in toto, a fait accompli, the Book and the Faith—–as it would come as a new and a miraculous revelation superceding the old revelation of fourteen hundred years ago, when your Messenger Razul didst re-echo and reaffirm the companion Messenger on your right hand, so repeatedly telling the people: “The truth shall make you free.”

               Behold then, Thy “free” people now!’ adds the old man with somber irony. ‘Yea!… it has cost us dearly.’ he continues, sternly looking at his victim. ‘But we have at last accomplished our task, and–in Allah’s name…. For fourteen long centuries we had to

toil and suffer owing to that “freedom”: but now we have prevailed and our work is done, and well and strongly it is done…..Believest not Thou it is so very strong? … And why should Thou look at me so meekly as if I were not worthy even of Thy indignation?… Know then, that now, and only now, Thy people feel fully sure and satisfied of their freedom; and that, only since they have themselves and of their own free will delivered that freedom unto our hands, into the hands of the ulama, by placing it submissively at our feet. But then, that is what we have done. Is it that which Thou has striven for? Is this the kind of “freedom” Thou has promised them?’”

               “Now again, I do not understand,” interrupted Khlorindah. “Does the

old man mock and laugh?”

               “Not in the least. He seriously regards it as a great service done by himself, his brother mullahs, ayatollahs, Imams, and judges to humanity, to have conquered and subjected unto their authority that freedom, and boasts that it was done but for the good of the world. ‘For only now,’ my future Supreme Leader goes on to say (speaking of the consequences of the Islamic Revolution) ‘has it become possible to us, for the first time, to give a serious thought to human happiness. Man is born a rebel, and can rebels be ever

happy?… Thou and thy Brother had been fairly warned of it, but evidently to no use, since Thou hast rejected the only means which could make mankind happy; fortunately at Thy departure Thou hast delivered the task to us…. Thou hast promised, ratifying the pledge by Thy own words, in words giving us the right to bind and unbind… and surely, Thou couldst not think of depriving us of it now!’”

               “But what can he mean by the words, ‘Thou has been fairly

warned’?” asked Khlorindah.

               “These words give the key to what the old Iman has to say for his

justification… But listen——-”‘The terrible and wise spirit, the spirit of self-annihilation

and non-being,’ goes on the Imam, my future Supreme Leader,  ‘the great spirit of

negation conversed with Thy Brother Messiah in the wilderness, and we are told that he “tempted” Him… Was it so? And if it were so, then it is impossible to utter anything more truthful than what is contained in his three offers, which Thou, Brother Messiah,  didst reject, and which are usually called “Temptations.” Yea; if ever there was on earth a genuine striking wonder produced, it was on that day of Thy Brother Messiah’s three temptations, and it is precisely in these three short sentences that the marvelous miracle is contained. If it were possible that they should vanish and disappear for ever, without leaving any trace, from the record and from the memory of man, and that it should become necessary again to devise, invent, and make them reappear in Thy history once more, thinkest Thou that all the world’s sages, all the legislators, initiates, philosophers and thinkers, if called upon to frame three questions which should, like these, besides answering the magnitude of the event, express in three short sentences the whole future history of this our world and of mankind–dost Thou believe, I ask Thee, that all their combined efforts could ever create anything equal in power and depth of thought to the three propositions offered Thee by the powerful and all-wise spirit in the wilderness? Judging of them by their marvelous aptness alone, one can at once perceive that they emanated not from a finite, terrestrial intellect, but indeed, from the Eternal and the Absolute. In these three offers we find, blended into one and foretold to us, the complete subsequent history of man; we are shown three images, so to say, uniting in them all the future axiomatic, insoluble problems and contradictions of human nature, the world over. In those days, the wondrous wisdom contained in them was not made so apparent as it is now, for futurity remained still veiled; but now, when fourteen centuries have elapsed since the departure of the great Messenger who prophesized the Mahdi’s return with the return of the Christ at his right hand, we see that everything in these three questions is so marvelously foreseen and foretold, that to add to, or to take away from, the prophecy one jot, would be absolutely impossible!

               “‘Decide then thyself.’ sternly proceeded the Inquisitor, ‘which of ye two parties  was right, that of the Tempter or that of the Messiahs: Thou who didst reject, or he who offered? Remember the subtle meaning of question the first, which runs thus: ‘Wouldst Thou go into the world empty-handed?’ Would Thou venture thither with Thy vague and undefined promise of freedom, which men, dull and unruly as they are by nature, are unable somuch as to understand, which they avoid and fear?–for never was there anything more unbearable to the human race than personal freedom! Dost Thou see these stones in the desolate and glaring wilderness? Command that these stones be made bread–and mankind will run after Thee, obedient and grateful like a herd of cattle. But even then it will be ever diffident and trembling, lest Thou should take away Thy hand, and they lose thereby their bread! Thou didst refuse to accept the offer for fear of depriving men of their free choice; for where is there freedom of choice where men are bribed with bread? ‘Man shall not live by bread alone’– was Thy Brother Messiah’s answer.

               Oh, never, never, will they learn to feed themselves without our help! No science will ever give them bread so long as they remain free, so long as they refuse to lay that freedom at our feet, and say: “Enslave, but feed us!—Feed our bellies and our brains—Take away this cruel necessity to think and weigh and freely choose the good over evil only by the anguished guidance of the clouded heart and mind.” That day must come when men will understand that freedom and daily bread enough to satisfy all are unthinkable and can never be had together, as men will never be able to fairly divide the two among themselves. And they will also learn that they can never be free, for they are weak, vicious, miserable nonentities born wicked and rebellious. Thou hast promised to them the bread of life, the bread of heaven; but I ask Thee again, can that bread ever equal in the sight of the weak and the vicious, the ever ungrateful human race, their daily bread on earth? And even supposing that thousands and tens of thousands follow Thee in the name of, and for the sake of, Thy heavenly bread, what will become of the millions and hundreds of millions of human beings to weak to scorn the earthly for the sake of Thy heavenly bread? Or is it but those tens of thousands chosen among the great and the mighty, that are so dear to Thee, while the remaining millions, innumerable as the grains of sand in the seas, the weak and the loving, have to be used as material cannon fodder for the former? No, no! In our sight and for our purpose the weak and the lowly are the more dear to us. True, they are vicious and rebellious, but we will force them into obedience, and it is they who will admire us the most. They will regard us as gods, and feel grateful to those who have consented to lead the masses and bear their burden of freedom by ruling over them–so terrible will that freedom at last appear to men! Then we will tell them that it is in obedience to Allah’s will and in His name that we rule over them. We will deceive them once more and lie to them once again—for never, never more will we allow Thee and thy Brothers of the Living Spirit to come among us. In this deception we will find our suffering, for we must needs lie eternally, and never cease to lie! “Such is the secret meaning of “Temptation” the first, and that is what Thy Brother Messiah didst reject in the wilderness for the sake of that freedom which Thou didst prize above all. Meanwhile Thy Tempter’s offer contained another great world-mystery. By accepting the “bread,” Thou wouldst have satisfied and answered a universal craving, a ceaseless longing alive in the heart of every individual human being, lurking in the breast of collective mankind, that most perplexing problem–”whom or what shall we worship?” There exists no greater or more painful anxiety for a man who has freed himself from all religious bias, than how he

shall soonest find a new object or idea to worship. But man seeks to bow before that only which is recognized by the greater majority, if not by all his fellow-men, as having a right to be worshipped; whose rights are so unquestionable that men agree unanimously to bow down to it. For the chief concern of these miserable creatures is not to find and worship the idol of their own choice, but to discover that which all others will believe in, and consent to bow down to in a mass. It is that instinctive need of having a worship in common that is the chief suffering of every man, the chief concern of mankind from the beginning of times. It is for that universality of religious worship that people destroyed each other by sword. Creating gods unto themselves, they forwith began appealing to each other: “Abandon your deities, come and bow down to ours, or death to ye and your idols!” And so will they do till the end of this world; they will do so even then, when all the gods themselves have disappeared, for then men will prostrate themselves before and worship some idea. Thou didst know, Thou couldst not be ignorant of, that mysterious fundamental principle in human nature, and still thou hast rejected the only absolute banner offered Thee, to which all the nations would remain true, and before which all would have bowed–the banner of earthly bread, rejected in the name of freedom and of “bread and mannah in the kingdom of Allah”! Behold, then, what Thou hast done furthermore for that “freedom’s” sake! I repeat to Thee, man has no greater anxiety in life than to find some one to whom he can make over that gift of freedom with which the unfortunate creature is born. But he alone will prove capable of silencing and quieting their consciences, that shall succeed in possessing himself of the freedom of men. With “daily bread” an irresistible power was offered Thee: show a man “bread” and he will follow Thee, for what can he resist less than the attraction of bread? But if, at the same time, another succeed in possessing himself of his conscience–oh! then even Thy bread will be forgotten, and man will follow him who seduced his conscience. So far Thou wert right. For the mystery of the human being does not solely rest in the desire to live, but in the problem–for what should one live at all? Without a clear perception of his reasons for living, man will never consent to live, and will rather destroy himself than tarry on earth, though he be surrounded with bread. This is the truth. But what has happened? Instead of getting hold of man’s freedom, Thou has enlarged it still more! Hast Thou again forgotten that to man rest and even death are preferable to a free choice between the knowledge of Good and Evil? Nothing seems more seductive in his eyes than freedom of conscience, and nothing proves more painful. And behold! Instead of laying a firm foundation whereon to rest once for all man’s conscience, Thou hast chosen to stir up in him all that is abnormal, mysterious, and indefinite, all that is beyond human strength, and has acted as if Thou never hadst any love for him, and yet Thou wert He who came to “Lay Forth His life for Salvation of His friends!” Thou hast burdened man’s soul with anxieties hitherto unknown to him. Thirsting for human love freely given, seeking to enable man, seduced and charmed by Thee, to follow Thy path of his own free-will, instead of the old and wise law of chastisement which held him in subjection, Thou hast given him the right henceforth to choose and freely decide what is good and bad for him, guided but by Allah’s image in his heart. But hast Thou never dreamt of the probability, nay, of the certainty, of that same man one day rejected finally, and controverting even Allah’s image and Thy truth, once he would find himself laden with such a terrible burden as freedom of choice? That a time would surely come when men would exclaim that Truth and Light cannot be in Thee, for no one could have left them in a greater perplexity and mental suffering than Thou has done, lading them with so many cares and insoluble problems. Thus, it is Thyself who hast laid the foundation for the destruction of Thine own kingdom and no one but Thou is to be blamed for it.

               And Thou, cousin Maitreya, you came so many incarnations ago as the Buddha, the Great Liberator of mankind from endless Suffering as the plaything of Desire and Illusion. You also promised to set him free from his suffering into a Nirvana of immutable Truth. But if Man was so unequal to the burden of Freedom, and its choice between good and evil, then how much more was he incapable of lifting the weight of Illusionless Truth! Thou didst counsel ‘Abandon all Desire,’ for it is the engine and root of all suffering and the Mother of Illusion. But thoughtest Thou that weak and needful man was capable of renouncing his dearest dreams and desires without renouncing life itself? If you did Thou hast erred most egregiously and fruitlessly compounded the unbearable burden upon fragile man and woman, extinguishing the root of their every happiness and consolation! Thou hast compounded his suffering and unhappiness by taking away even the illusory joys of his delusions. Thou hadst promised that the Truth should set him free, but what man could be strong enough to live without Illusion? Nay! Man lives only by, for and through his illusions—–Truth is Death! Death to the Truth! Long live Life—Long live Delusion! Wilst you also come back to hinder our work? Wilst Thou burden suffering man and woman with the unbearable choice between truths and illusions—insufferably beyond their strength? Nay! Give the Children their Fairy Tales and their God in Heaven and their Myths to live by! Take your Truth and your Freedom from Desire and Delusion away back to your Nothingness!—-the Human Heart can bear none of them!

               “‘Meantime, every chance of success was offered Thee which but Thou Three so coarsely rejected. There are three Powers, three unique Forces upon earth, capable of conquering for ever by charming the conscience of these weak rebels—-Men—-for their own good; and these Forces are: Miracle, Mystery and Authority. Thou hast rejected all the three, and thus wert the first to set them an example. When the terrible and all-wise spirit placed Thy Brother Messiah on a pinnacle of the temple and said unto Him, “If Thou be the son of God, cast Thyself down, for it is written, He shall give His angels charge concerning Thee: and in their hands they shall bear Thee up, lest at any time Thou dash Thy foot against a stone!”–for thus Thy faith in Allah should have been made evident, Thou didst refuse to accept his suggestion and didst not follow it. Oh, undoubtedly, Thou didst act in this with all the magnificent pride of a god, but then Men–that weak and rebel race–are they also gods, to understand Thy refusal? Of course, Thou didst well know that by taking one single step forward, by making the slightest motion to throw Thyself down, Thou wouldst have tempted “the Lord Thy God,” lost suddenly all faith in Him, and dashed Thyself to atoms against that same earth which Thou camest to save, and thus wouldst have allowed the wise spirit which tempted Thee to triumph and rejoice. But, then, how many such as Thee are to be found on this globe, I ask Thee? Couldst Thou ever for a moment imagine that men would have the same strength to resist such a temptation? Is human nature calculated to reject miracle, and trust, during the most terrible moments in life, when the most momentous, painful and perplexing problems struggle within man’s soul, to the free decisions of his heart for the true solution? Oh, Thou knewest well that that action of Thine would remain recorded in books for ages to come, reaching to the confines of the globe, and Thy hope was, that following Thy example, man would remain true to his God, without needing any miracle to keep his faith alive! But Thou knewest not, it seems, that no sooner would man reject miracle than he would reject God likewise or worship the miracles of a science that could pretend to rival and surpass your higher miracles, for he seeketh less God than “a sign” from Him. And thus, as it is beyond the power of man to remain without miracles, so, rather than live without, he will create for himself new wonders of his own making; and he will bow to and worship the soothsayer’s miracles, the old witch’s sorcery and Tarot, were he a rebel, a heretic, and an atheist a hundred times over. Thy Brother Messiah’s refusal to come down from the cross when people, mocking and wagging their heads were saying to Thee–”Save Thyself if Thou be the son of God, and we will believe in Thee,” was due to the same determination–not to enslave man through miracle, but to obtain faith in Thee freely and apart from any miraculous influence. Thou thirstest for free and uninfluenced love, and refusest the passionate adoration of the slave, the forced harlot or prostitute before a Potency which would have subjected their will unfreely once and for ever. Thou judgest of men too highly here, again, for though rebels they be, they are born slaves and nothing more. Behold, and judge of them once more, now that fourteen centuries have elapsed since the last Messenger, Razul Allah. Look at them, whom Thou didst try to elevate unto Thee! I swear man is weaker and lower than Thou hast ever imagined him to be! Can he ever do that which Thou art said to have accomplished? By valuing him so highly Thou hast acted as if there were no love for him in Thine heart, for Thou hast demanded of him more than he could ever give–Thou, who lovest him more than Thyself! Hadst Thou esteemed him less, less wouldst Thou have demanded of him, and that would have been more like love, for his burden would have been made thereby lighter. Man is weak and cowardly. What matters it, if he now riots and rebels throughout the world against our will and power, and prides himself upon that rebellion?  It is but the petty pride and vanity of a school-boy. It is the rioting of little children, getting up a mutiny in the class-room and driving their schoolmaster out of it.—You have seen the movie “If?”—But it will not last long, and when the day of their triumph is over, they will have to pay dearly for it. They will destroy the temples and raze them to the ground, flooding the earth with blood. But the foolish children will have to learn some day that, rebels though they be and riotous from nature, they are too weak to maintain the spirit of mutiny for any length of time. Suffused with idiotic tears, they will confess that He who created them rebellious and free undoubtedly did so but to mock them. They will pronounce these words in despair, and such blasphemous utterances will but add to their misery–for human nature cannot endure blasphemy, and takes her own revenge in the end. “‘And thus, after all Thou has suffered for mankind and its freedom, the present fate of men may be summed up in three words: Unrest, Confusion, Misery! Thy great Brother Prophet John records in his vision, that he saw, during the first resurrection of the chosen servants of God–”the number of them which were sealed” in their foreheads, “twelve thousand” of every tribe. But were they, indeed, as many? Then they must have been gods, not men. They had shared holy Martyrdom for long years, suffered scores of years’ hunger and thirst in dreary wildernesses and deserts, feeding upon locusts and roots–and of these children of free love for Thee, and self-sacrifice in Thy name, Thou mayest well feel proud. But remember that these are but a few thousands–of gods, not men; and how about all others? And why should the weakest be held guilty for not being able to endure what the strongest have

endured? Why should a soul incapable of containing such terrible gifts be punished for its weakness? Didst Thou really come to, and for, the “elect” alone? If so, then the mystery will remain for ever mysterious to our finite minds. And if a mystery, then were we right to proclaim it as one, and preach it, teaching them that neither their freely given love to Thee nor freedom of conscience were essential, but only that incomprehensible mystery

which they must blindly obey even against the dictates of their conscience. Thus did we. We corrected and improved Thy teaching and based it upon “Miracle, Mystery, and Authority.” And men rejoiced at finding themselves led once more like a herd of cattle, and at finding their hearts at last delivered of the terrible burden laid upon them by Thee, which caused them so much suffering. Tell me, were we right in doing as we did? Did not we show our great love for humanity, by realizing in such a humble spirit its helplessness, by so mercifully lightening its great burden, and by permitting and remitting for its weak nature every Sin, every baseless Illusion, provided it be committed with our Authorization? For what, then, hast Thou come again to trouble us in our work and set the free spirit in contention with the fixed word and authority of the written Book and the ulama and Caliphate its keepers? And why lookest Thou at me so penetratingly with Thy meek eyes, and in such a silence? Rather shouldst Thou feel wroth, for I need not Thy love, I reject it, and love Thee not, myself. Why should I conceal the truth from Thee? I know but too well with whom I am now talking! What I had to say was known to Thee before, I read it in Thine eye. How should I conceal from Thee our secret? If perchance Thou wouldst hear it from my own lips, then listen: We are not with Thee, but with him, and that is our secret! For centuries have we abandoned Thee to follow him, yes—eight centuries. Twelve of occlusion, Fourteen hundred years now since we accepted from him the gift rejected by Thy Brother with indignation—the Caliphate, the power of Caesar, universal Dominion; that last gift which he offered Thee from the high mountain when, showing all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them, he saith unto Thee:”All these things will I give Thee, if Thou will fall down and worship me!” We took Byzantium from him and the glaive of Caesar, and declared ourselves, Ulama and Caliph, alone the kings of this earth, its sole kings, though our work is not yet fully accomplished. But who is to blame for it? Our work is but in its incipient stage, but it is nevertheless started. We may have long to wait until its culmination, and mankind have to suffer much, but we shall reach the goal some day, and become sole Caesars, Caliphs, Universal Imams and Ulama, and then will be the time to think of universal happiness for men.

               “‘Thou couldst accept the glaive of Caesar, and of the Caliphate and of Alexander and Qin Shihuangdi and of the Great Khan Thyself; why didst Thou reject the offer? By accepting from the powerful spirit his third offer Thou wouldst have realized every aspiration man seeketh for himself on earth; man would have found a constant object for worship; one to deliver his conscience up to, and one that should unite all together into one common and harmonious ant-hill; for an innate necessity for universal union constitutes the third and final affliction of mankind. Humanity as a whole has ever aspired to unite itself universally. Many were, the great nations with great histories, but the greater they were, the more unhappy they felt, as they felt the stronger necessity of a universal union among men. Great conquerors, like Timoor and Tchengis-Khan, Alexander, Ashoka, Napoleon and Qin Shi Huangdi passed like a cyclone upon the face of the earth in their efforts to conquer the universe, but even they, albeit unconsciously, expressed the same aspiration towards universal and common union. In accepting the kingdom of the world and Caesar’s purple, one would found a universal kingdom and secure to mankind eternal peace. And who can rule mankind better than those who have possessed themselves of man’s conscience, and hold in their hand man’s daily bread? Having accepted Caesar’s glaive and purple, we had, of course, but to deny Thee and the subversions of thy Brothers of the Spirit, to henceforth follow him alone. Oh, centuries of intellectual riot and rebellious free thought are yet before us, and their science will end by anthropophagy, for having begun to build their Babylonian tower without our help they will have to end by and by in cannibalism. But it is precisely at that time that the Beast will crawl up to us in full submission, and lick the soles of our feet, and sprinkle them with tears of blood and we shall sit upon the scarlet-colored Beast, and lifting up high the golden cup “full of abomination and filthiness,” shall show written upon it the word “Mystery!” But it is only then that men will see the beginning of a kingdom of peace and happiness. Thou art proud of Thine own elect, but Thou has none other but these elect, but a thin aristocracy of the spirit, and we–we will give rest to all. But that is not the end. Many are those among thine elect and the laborers of Thy Vineyard, who, tired of waiting for Thy coming, already have carried and will yet carry, the great fervor of their hearts and their spiritual strength into another field, and will end by lifting up against Thee Thine own banner of Freedom and of Truth.  But it is Thyself Thou hast to thank. Under our rule and sway all will be happy, and will neither rebel nor destroy each other as they did while under Thy free banner. Oh, we will take good care to prove to them that they will become absolutely free only when they have abjured their freedom in our favor and submit to us absolutely. Thinkest Thou we shall be right or still lying?They will convince themselves of our rightness, for they will see what a depth of degrading slavery and strife that liberty of Thine has led them into. Liberty, Freedom of Thought. Truth, Conscience, and Science will lead them into such impassable chasms, place them face to face before such wonders and insoluble mysteries, that some of them——-more rebellious and ferocious than the rest—-will destroy themselves; others—-rebellious but weak—-will destroy each other; while the remainder, weak, helpless and miserable, will crawl back to our feet and cry: “‘Yes; right were ye, oh Mullahs of Allah; ye alone are in possession of His mystery, and we return to you, praying that ye save us from ourselves!” Receiving their bread from us, they will clearly see that we take the bread from them, the bread made by their own hands, but to give it back to them in equal shares and that without any miracle; and having ascertained that, though we have not changed stones into bread, yet bread they have, while every other bread turned verily in their own hands into stones, they will be only to glad to have it so. Until that day, they will never be happy. And who is it that helped the most to blind them, tell me? Who separated the flock and scattered it over ways unknown if it be not Thee and Thy Brother Liberators of the Spirit? But we will gather the sheep once more and subject them to our will for ever. We will prove to them their own weakness and make them humble again, whilst with Thee they have learnt but pride, for Thou hast made more of them than they ever were worth. We will give them that quiet, humble happiness, which alone benefits such weak, foolish creatures as they are, and having once had proved to them their weakness, they will become timid and obedient, and gather around us as chickens around their hen. They will wonder at and feel a superstitious admiration for us, and feel proud to be led by men so powerful and wise that a handful of them can subject a flock a thousand millions strong. Gradually men will begin to fear us. They will nervously dread our slightest anger, their intellects will weaken, their eyes become as easily accessible to tears as those of children and women; but we will teach them an easy transition from grief and tears to laughter, childish joy and mirthful song. Yes; we will make them work like slaves, but during their recreation hours they shall have an innocent child-like life, full of play and merry laughter. We will even permit them sin, for, weak and helpless, they will feel the more love for us for permitting them to indulge in it. We will tell them that every kind of sin will be remitted to them, so long as it is done with our permission and for the glory of our Faith; that we take all these sins upon ourselves, for we so love the world, that we are even willing to sacrifice our souls for its satisfaction. And, appearing before them in the light of their scapegoats and redeemers, we shall be adored the more for it. They will have no secrets from us. It will rest with us to permit them to live with their wives and concubines, or to forbid them, to have children or remain childless, either way depending on the degree of their obedience to us; and they will submit most joyfully to us the most agonizing secrets of their souls–all, all will they lay down at our feet, and we will authorize and remit them all in Thy name, and they will believeus and accept our mediation with rapture, as it will deliver them from their greatest anxiety and torture–that of having to decide freely for themselves, and separate the wheat of Truth from the chaff of Illusion. And all will be happy, all except the one or two hundred thousands of their rulers. For it is but we, we the keepers of the great Mystery who will be miserable. We shall bear the burden of their freedom upon ourselves, and if we meet Allah in heaven we will take our chances as Martyrs that the great love of mankind which we have consummated shall deliver us in the final judgment from the weight of any of our possible sins. There will be thousands of millions of happy infants, and one hundred thousand martyrs who have taken upon themselves the curses of freedom, the knowledge of good and evil, the discernment of illusion and truth. Peaceable will be their end, and peacefully will they die, in Thy name, to find behind the portals of the grave–but death. But we will keep the secret inviolate, and deceive them for their own good with the mirage of life eternal in Thy kingdom. For, were there really anything like life beyond the grave, surely it would never fall to the lot of such as they! People tell us and prophesy of Thy coming and triumphing with Thy Brother Messiahs once more on earth; of Thy appearing with the army of Thy Elect, with Thy proud and mighty ones; but we will answer Thee that they have saved but themselves while we have saved all. We are also threatened with the great disgrace which awaits the whore, Babylon the great, The Western Bitch gone in the teeth,  the “Mother of Harlots”–who sits upon the Beast, holding in her hands the Mystery, the word written upon her forehead; and we are told that the weak ones, the lambs shall rebel against her and shall make her desolate and naked. But then will I arise, and point out to Thee the thousands of millions of happy infants free from any sin. And we who have taken their sins upon us, for their own good, shall stand before Thee and say: “Judge us if Thou canst and darest!” Know then that I fear Thee not. Know that I too have lived in the dreary wilderness, where I fed upon locusts and roots, that I too have blessed freedom with which thou hast blessed men, and that I too have once prepared to join the ranks of Thy elect, the proud and the mighty, and that I too have sat under Thy Bodhi Tree separating Truth from Illusion with a mind purged of desire. But I awoke from my delusion and refused since then to serve insanity. I returned to join the legion of those who corrected Thy mistakes. I left the proud and returned to the really humble, and for their own happiness. What I now tell thee will come to pass, and our kingdom shall be built, I tell Thee not later than to-morrow Thou shalt see that obedient flock which at one simple motion of my hand will rush to add stones to Thy stoning and upon your pyre, on which I will burn Thee for having dared to come and trouble us in our work. For, if there ever was one who deserved more than any of the others our condemnation–it is Thee! To-morrow I will Martyr Thee. Inshallah!”

               Mohammad paused. He had entered into the situation and had spoken with great animation, but now he suddenly burst out laughing.

               “But all that is absurd!” suddenly exclaimed Khlorindah, who had hitherto listened perplexed and agitated but in profound silence. “Your poem is a glorification of Allah, not an accusation, as you, perhaps, meant it to be. And who will believe you when you speak so of ‘freedom’ and of ‘truth’? Is it thus that we Muslims must understand it? It is but the perverters of the word of Allah that you condemn not his faithful servants gathered around us; it can only be the unthinking fanatics and men of violent hearts and not our reflective true leaders that you have been exposing! Your future Supreme Leader is an impossible character not like our actual Supreme Leader before us.  What are these sins they are taking upon themselves? Who are those keepers of mystery who took upon themselves a curse for the good of mankind? Who ever met them? We all know the false mullahs who only manipulate, plot and scheme for their own personal power, and no one has a good word to say in their favor; but when were they ever truly as you depict them? Never, never! The false mullahs are merely a hypocrite army making ready for their future temporal kingdom, with a mitred emperor–a false Caliph at their head. That is their ideal and object, without any mystery or elevated suffering. The most prosaic thirsting for power, for the sake of the mean and earthly pleasures of life, a desire to enslave their fellow-men, something like our ancient feudal system of serfs, with themselves at the head as owning proprietors—that is all that they can be accused of. They may not believe in God, that is also possible, but your suffering future Supreme Leader is simply—an absurd fancy!”

               “Hold, hold!” interrupted Mohammad, smiling. “Do not be so excited. An absurd fancy, you say; be it so! Of course, it is a fancy. But stop. I ask you, why should the mullahs

of your imagination live but for the attainment of ‘mean material pleasures or for personal power?’ Why should there not be found among them one single genuine martyr suffering under a great and holy idea and loving humanity with all his heart? Now let us suppose that among all these mullahs thirsting and hungering but after ‘mean material pleasures or personal power’ there may be one, just one like my old future Supreme Leader, who had himself fed upon roots in the wilderness, had gone through the deepest personal spiritual aspirations and searching, been tempted in his faith and suffered the tortures of damnation while trying to conquer flesh, in order to become free and perfect, but who had never ceased to love humanity, and who one day prophetically beheld the truth; who saw as plain as he could see that the bulk of humanity could never be happy under the old system, that it was not for them that the great Idealists, the Razul Messengers of Allah, had come and died and dreamt of His Universal Harmony. Having realized that truth, he returned into the world and joined–intelligent and practical people. Is this so impossible?”

               “Joined whom? What intelligent and practical people?” exclaimed Khlorindah quite excited. “Why should they be more intelligent than other men, and what secrets and mysteries can they have? They have neither. Atheism and infidelity is all the secret they have. Your Surpreme Leader does not believe in God Allah, and that is all the Mystery there is in it!”

               “It may be so. You have guessed rightly there. And it is so, and that is his whole secret; but is this not the acutest sufferings for such a man as he, who killed all his young life in asceticism in the desert, having flogged, lacerated, torn and and tested and subdued his body to the spirit in Ashura, and yet could not cure himself of his love towards his fellowmen? Toward the end of his life he becomes convinced that it is only by following the advice of the great and terrible spirit that the fate of these millions of weak rebels, these ‘half-finished samples of humanity created in mockery’ can be made tolerable.  And once convinced of it, he sees as clearly that to achieve that object, one must follow blindly the guidance of the wise spirit, the fearful spirit of death, negation and destruction, hence accept a system of lies and deception and lead humanity consciously this time toward death and destruction; and moreover, be deceiving them all the while in order to prevent them from realizing where they are being led, and so force the miserable blind men to feel happy, at least while here on earth. And note this: a wholesale deception in the name of Him, in whose idea the old man had so passionately, so fervently, believed during nearly his whole life of orthodox faith! Is this no suffering? And were such a solitary exception found amidst, and at the head of, that army ‘that thirsts for power but for the sake of the mean pleasures of life,’ think you one such man would not suffice to bring on a tragedy? Moreover, one single man like my Supreme Leader as a principal leader, would prove sufficient to discover the real guiding idea of the Ulamic system with all its armies of mullahs, judges and unquestionable texts and rules freed up from the burden of any contact with the Living Spirit; the greatest and chiefest conviction that the solitary type described in my poem has at no time ever disappeared from among the chief leaders of that movement. Who knows but that that terrible old man, loving humanity so stubbornly and in such an original way, exists even in our days in the shape of a whole host of such solitary exceptions, whose existence is not due to mere chance, but to a well-defined association born of mutual consent, to a secret league, organized several centuries back, in order to

guard the Mystery from the indiscreet eyes of the miserable and weak people, and only in view of their own happiness? And so it is; it cannot be otherwise. I suspect that even the Falasifiyah or Masons or Buddhists or Bahai or even Marxists have some such Mystery underlying the basis of their organization, and that it is just the reason why the clerics hate them so—orthodox mullahs dreading to find in them rivals, competition, the dismemberment of the unity of the idea, for the realization of which one flock and one Shepherd are needed. However, in defending my idea, I look like an author whose production is unable to stand criticism. Enough of this. I let my work speak for itself or speak not at all.”

               “You are, perhaps, a Faylasuf yourself!” exclaimed Khlorindah. “You do

not believe in God but in Reason like the Falsafas,” she added, with a note of profound sadness in her voice.

               “Not at all” he riposted, “I am more a mystic than a mere rationalist, but I am a freethinker in both directions. I insist that the Living Spirit and its eternal explorations and deeper conjunctions not be extinguished or aborted by false restraints.”

               “It sounds more like obscurantist youthful Romanticism,” chided the Imam, “…..I enjoy your imaginative spirit, and I respect your manly courage which but few would have before me under such circumstances. Your kind of Romanticism is something I would criticize a sixteen year-old for being without, but chide a thirty-year old for not having outgrown. I applaud you for it here….but do not expect me to authorize its publication for the masses.”

                But suddenly realizing that her brother guest artist was looking at her with mockery Khorindah felt compelled to react. “How do you mean then to bring your poem to a close?” she unexpectedly enquired, casting her eyes downward, “or does it break off here?”

               “My intention is to end it with the following scene:  Having disburdened his heart, the Supreme Leader waits for some time to hear his three prisoners speak in Their turn. He asks for their reply. Their unbroken silence weighs upon him. He has seen that his captives have been attentively listening to him all this time, not without understanding, with their eyes fixed penetratingly and softly on the face of their jailer, and evidently purposefully bent upon not replying to him. The old man longs to hear the Mahdi’s voice, and those of his Brother Messiahs of the Spirit. He longs to hear Them reply; better words of bitterness, condemnation and scorn than Their silence. Suddenly The Mahdi rises; slowly and silently approaching the Inquisitor, He bends towards him and softly kisses the bloodless, four-score and-ten- year-old lips. Christ and the Maitreya follow him and kiss him in turn. That is all the answer. The Supreme Leader shudders. There is a convulsive twitch at the corner of his mouth. He goes to the door, opens it, and addressing the three he intones, ‘Go,’ he says, ‘go, and return no more… do not come again… never, never!’ —-and lets Them out into the dark night. The prisoners vanish into the Teheran evening, leaving behind only a pervading lingering scent of Night-blooming Jasmines.”

               “And the old man?” asks Khlorindah.

               “The kiss burns his heart, but the old man remains firm in his

own ideas and unbelief.” Mohammad replies.

               “And you, together with him? You too!” despairingly exclaimed Khlorindah, while Mohammad burst into a still louder fit of laughter

               “I am faithful to Allah in my own fashion” replied Mohammad.

               “And do you renounce me then?” asked the Imam chidingly.

               Mohammad rose from his chair and mad no reply but kissed the Imam on his bloodless, four-score and ten year old lips.

               “That is plagiarism,” chided the Imam.

                Mohammad bowed silently in reply, exiting.

C   Copyright Robert Sheppard  2011  All Rights Reserved

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Spiritual Passages from Spiritus Mundi, a Novel by Robert Sheppard

Introducing Spiritus Mundi, a Novel by Robert Sheppard

Author’s E-mail:   rsheppard99_2000@yahoo.com

 

Related Links and Websites:  Spiritus Mundi, Novel by Robert Sheppard

For Introduction and Overview of the Novel:  http://spiritusmundinovel.wordpress.com/

For Author’s Blog:  https://robertalexandersheppard.wordpress.com/

To Read a Sample Chapter from Spiritus Mundi: https://spiritusmundisamplechapters.wordpress.com/

To Read Fantasy, Myth and Magical Realism Excerpts from Spiritus Mundi: https://spiritusmundifantasymythandmagicalrealism.wordpress.com/

To Read Sexual Excerpts from Spiritus Mundi: The Varieties of Sexul Experience:  https://spiritusmundivarietiesofsexualexperience.wordpress.com/

To Read Spy, Espionage and Counter-terrorism Thriller Excerpts from Spiritus Mundi:   http://spiritusmundispyespionagecounterterrorism.wordpress.com/

To Read Geopolitical and World War Three Excerpts from Spiritus Mundi: https://spiritusmundigeopoliticalworldwar3.wordpress.com/

To Read Spiritual and Religious Excerpts from Spiritus Mundihttps://spiritusmundionspiritualityandreligion.wordpress.com/

To Read about the Global Campaign for a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly in Spiritus Mundihttps://spiritusmundiunitednationsparliamentaryassembly.wordpress.com/

To Read Poetry from Spiritus Mundihttps://spiritusmundipoetry.wordpress.com/

For Discussions on World Literature and Literary Criticism in Spiritus Mundi:   http://worldliteratureandliterarycriticism.wordpress.com/

For Discussions of World History and World Civilization in Spiritus Mundi:  https://worldhistoryandcivilizationspiritusmundi.wordpress.com/

To Read the Blog of Eva Strong from Spiritus  Mundi: https://evasblogfromspiritusmundi.wordpress.com/

To Read the Blog of Andreas Sarkozy from Spiritus Mundi: http://andreasblogfromspiritusmundi.wordpress.com/

To Read the Blog of Robert Sartorius from Spiritus Mundi: http://sartoriusblogfromspiritusmundi.wordpress.com/

XX.              Spiritus Mundi                                 (London/Jerusalem)

1

Jack Sartorius rode in the long black limo seated nestled in its plush black leather alongside Etienne Dearlove as they made their way from Winfield House, the residence of the United States Ambassador in London, to Heathrow Airport. Etienne drew a silver cigar case from his overcoat pocket and made a gesture of offer to Jack as he opened it. Jack drew a fine Cuban Montecristo Number Two and Etienne a Montecristo Number Four and they talked over old times as well as the plans for the opening of the inaugural session of the United Nations Parliamentary Assembly in New York in a few days time. Etienne was just celebrating his first anniversary as the new “C,” or head of MI6, British Intelligence and he saw quite a bit of Jack, now Jack Sartorius again and no longer Jack McKinsey, who had been recently appointed to succeed Joel Barlow as the CIA Station Chief in London, and he was only getting used to the sedate and courtly courtesies of the higher fringes of the diplomatic world.

“Are you going to see Isis in Jerusalem?” Etienne asked, exhaling the smooth and thick gray smoke against the partition window separating them from the driver and armed bodyguard in the front seat.

“Yes, I am going with her to visit the site of their new Spiritus Mundi Inter-faith Temple which is under construction in the old detonation zone, and then in a day or two she and I and Mohammad Ala Rushdie and Ami Giyalon are going to follow you up to New York for the inaugural ceremony of the new UN Parliamentary Assembly—-I’m going to give a little speech in honour of my father.” he replied.

“So you haven’t seen too much of her since the great events?” Etienne asked.

“Off and on. But since her religious conversion we have never resumed our former relationship, though we are close friends of course, and we have gone in our different directions.” he replied.

“Yes—-it’s ‘Mother Isis’ now and she has been steady at her spiritual and humanitarian work these past years. We all cannot help but recalling how extraordinarily she led and inspired the spiritual movement that followed on through the crisis following the detonation, and how the roiling mobs of those hundred of thousands turned to her in their moment of panic and confusion. And the unceasing effort of her face to face ministering to the sick and dying radiation victims and the displaced and homeless these last years and her show inner strength—that rising to the challenge is beyond doubt. Rumour has it that she may be up for a Nobel Peace Prize this year or next—-her work is patent to everyone following the detonation and poor Osiris’ shooting—perhaps another Mother Teresa, they all say.  She might have had it already if she didn’t have to carry the cross of working off and burying her previous media image—-the cynics still suspect its all another media stunt—-but from what I understand she is quite sincere.”

“Yes, quite sincere—-she was always deeply religious you know, even quite traditional if you really knew her—-even when when the world would have least suspected it—–just marching to another drummer, you know—still shaped by her original Jesuit upbringing—–and the grief of Osiris’ death and the utter devastation of everything around her just brought on somehow this profound change in her heart and life.” he reflected.

“Ah, here we are—-I’ll get off here at my official plane and the driver will take you on to yours—Oh—there’s Yoriko getting out of the other car—she’s flying over with me for the New York events——business and pleasure.” chirped Etienne as he got out and placed a respectably conventional-looking kiss on the side of her cheek, then waved with her to Jack as his car rolled slowly across the tarmac.

An hour later Jack settled into his first-class cabin seat aboard the El Al airliner headed for Ben Gurion airport, outside Jerusalem. He closed his eyes and reclined the seat backward to rest for a quarter hour until the coffee service interrupted him, and then sipping an expresso he took out his iPad, touching and expanding his fingerspans across its screen-surface as he gleaned and magnified the latest news. One article on the wire services showed a picture of “Mother Isis” plugging the release of her new book—-“Spiritus Mundi: A World Reborn” co-written by her colleagues of the The Global Spiritual Progressive Alliance, Mohammad ala Rushdie and Ami Giyalon, the proceeds of which were to be 100% completely dedicated, the article related, to the construction of the new and imposing Spiritus Mundi Ecumenical Temple on the site of the detonation in Jerusalem, co-sponsored with the Order of the Brethern of Shared Life, Mother Isis’ religious order chartered recently under her guidance by the Pope, a Sufi Order under the guidance of Mohammad ala Rushdie, and a coalition of Reformed and Progressive Jews headed by Ami Giyalon. The Temple would serve on completion as an inter-faith house of worship for universal and ecumenical spirituality, and as the permanent home and headquarters of their Global Spiritual Progressive Alliance movement and organization, it said. Jack followed the link and application to download the new book onto his iPad. Calling it up it presented payment options, all of which were to be 100% dedicated to the Spiritus Mundi Inter-faith Temple. Options included a VIP 1000 British pound donation, a 100 pound donation, a 10 pound donation, and an option to receive the E-Book free with registration of the purchaser’s name as a volunteer, pledging 24 hours of work as a volunteer for the Global Spiritual Progressive Alliance. Jack clicked on the 100 pound option, and in a few moments the cover of the book appeared on his iPad’s screen, showing Mother Isis, Mohammad and Ami hand in hand before the artist’s conception of the imposing finished structure of the Spiritus Mundi Inter-faith Temple, materializing in a hypermodernesque dome crafted in the imaginative style of Frank Ghery. Jack flipped his forefinger across the corner of the iPad’s screen, opening the book and turning its first pages:

Foreword

This book is inspired by and dedicated to the common life of the human soul and spirit in all of its varied manifestations, in the belief that modern life and the crisis of mankind requires a spiritual re-birth and a universal spiritual communion embracing all peoples, all faiths, and all varieties of religious and spiritual experience if humanity on this earth is to survive, live in peace, and to prosper inwardly and outwardly. It affirms the common spiritual life and the common spiritual aspirations of all peoples issuing from our common collective unconscious and manifesting itself in our most various faiths, traditions, beliefs and historical associations.

The proceeds of the sale of this book are dedicated in their entirety to the work of the construction of the Spiritus Mundi Inter-Faith Ecumenical Temple on Ground-Zero—the site of the recent horrific nuclear detonation and tragic events in Jerusalem, to the work of the Order of the Brethern of the Common Life, who minister daily to the needs of the injured victims of that blast, including the maintainance of hospices and hospitals for the treatment of its radiation sickness sufferers and the provision of interim housing and decontamination in the disaster area, and to the work of the Global Spiritual Progressive Alliance, whose work in global spiritual regeneration is directed to the end that such a tragedy may not be in vain, and must not happen again.

To this end the contributing authors of this volume, Mother Isis, Mohammad ala Rusdie and Ami Giyalon, coming respectively from the great religious faiths and traditions of Christianity, Islam and Judaism, and Jennie Zheng and Pari Kasiwar representing the mixed Buddhist/Hindu/Confucian/Taoist spiritual heritage of the East, offer their spiritual guidance for the benefit of those who may gain inspiration from their intense spiritual experience, especially in the wake of the recent tragedy in Jerusalem, in the hope that their common spirituality may serve to heal the wounds that have issued from it, but more importantly make a contribution to the ongoing spiritual evolution of the modern world which we must all by necessity, co-habit together.

The varieties of spiritual and religious experience are manifold and diverse. In the Biblical tradition the story of Martha and Mary of Bethany in their encounter with Jesus, underlines that religious service may be either inwardly directed or outwardly directed, and religious or spiritual devotion may embrace people who are both actives and contemplatives. While such divisions are never absolute or categorical, we might say that the spiritual counsel of Mother Isis reflected in her writings herein, embraces more of active tradition of spiritual work, while that of our brother Sufi adept, Mohammad ala Rushdie, embraces more of the contemplative or mystical tradition of spiritual work and inspiration. Our brother Ami Giyalon, additionally, lends special strength to the ethical aspects of our common spiritual work. Jennie Zheng and Pari Kasiwar lends both their heritages of Eastern Spirituality and the Emersonian and Whitmanesque spirituality of Nature and their American heritage.

Our common hope is that the Global Spiritual Progressive Alliance, and the Spiritus Mundi Interfaith Temple now under construction at Ground-Zero will provide a “large tent” that will embrace all of the traditions and manifestations of global spirituality and religious experience issuing from our common and shared collective unconscious, including the social activist, the mystical and contemplative, the traditions of saintliness and of spiritual community, of both religious and non-religious spirituality, and of the individual and the communal.  Indeed we have faith that the spiritual life and heritage of mankind is large, deep and broad enough to include not only the three Abrahamic faiths represented by several authors of this book but the common spiritual heritage of mankind embracing Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism and even the more secular forms of spirituality: the human imagination in all forms, human love in all forms, humanism, Enlightenment, Confucianism, art, World Literature, music, science, reason and philosophy——even atheism, Existentialism and materialist Communism—which we have perfect faith are not devoid of the ever onward evolving forms and energies of human spirituality. Like the Infinite, its center is everywhere and its circumference nowhere, and its nation is humanity, firmly rooted in the human mind and the human heart and the common love and compassion of all sentient beings in our common universe. Our Global Spiritual Progressive Alliance and our Spiritus Mundi Temple embrace all these forms of the human spirit and its spirituality, and the Spiritus Mundi Temple is also a Temple of Reason and a Temple of Science as well as a Temple of Art and Imagination, all forms issuing from the common collective unsconscious of and genius of humanity and manifesting themselves in its onward spiritual life, and therein we have perfect faith that we are justified, as modern genetic scientists observe of our very DNA that it is everywhere 99.9% the same and only at very most 0.1 % in difference, and thus there is every justification for emphasizing our commonality and the universal civilization build thereon, rather than dwelling on the infinitesimal zone of difference and discord. And thus we hope in this way that the clash of civilizations will give way to the common clasp and embrace of our universal spiritual civilization, and that the sick soul and divided self of the modern world and its suffering peoples may thereby in some measure be brought to healing, and returned to its wholeness, its wholesomness, and its spiritual health.

The Authors.

Jack flipped forward, flicking his forefinger across the corner of his iPad until he care to the first page of the one-third portion of the book authored by Isis:

 

                        MOTHER ISIS: THOUGHTS HELPFUL IN THE LIFE OF THE SOUL

                                               

                                                 Imitating Christ and Despising the Vanities on Earth

“He who follows me walks not in darkness.” Says the Lord. By these words Christ advised us to imitate His life and habits, if we wish to be truly enlightened and free from all blindness of heart. Let our chief effort, therefore, be to study the life of Jesus Christ, and in the challenges of our own lives, to raise in our own minds the question of what Jesus would have done in similar circumstances, and to rise to that challenge accordingly in our own lives.

The teaching of Christ is more excellent than that of all the advice of the philosophers and saints, and he who has His spirit will find in it a hidden strength. Now, there are many who hear the Gospel often but care little for it because they have not the spirit of Christ within them. Yet whoever wishes to understand fully the words of Christ must try to pattern his whole life on that of Christ, embracing all of its aspects, not only his heroic suffering for humanity’s sake, but also his daily love and joy, and his joyful embrace of the inner and the outer, the bodily, intellectual, moral and spiritual life of his full humanity, as well as his divine mission beyond. Cherish and imitate Christ, not only in his willing suffering on the Cross, but also in to joy and passion of his love and life, for heroes and saints reveal themselves to us not merely in the sublimity of how they die, but even moreso in the greatness of how they live.

It was this thought which so changed my life when I found myself convulsed with the tragic loss of my husband Osiris, a prey to his own mental deterioration and the forces he unleashed but could not control, and as I found myself caught up in the greater tragedy of the nuclear detonation here in Jerusalem, the spiritual navel of the world—so caught up in lovelessness and hate and so in need of physical and spiritual healing. For many days I was paralyzed in shock, yet fantastically I found millions screaming to me for guidance. I saw the unreality of everything around me that had motivated my life: fame, money, self-love and aggrandizement, consumer luxuries and the narcotic drug of media attention. I saw as from the book of Ecclesiastes how empty of reality it all was and how soon to disappear into nothingness—all vanity, a vanity of vanities.  Some say humility is to see oneself as one is. I was forced to do so, and to pray for help and guidance in my inadequacies. But arising from my mental shock I tried to imagine what it was like for Christ in this city and what he might have done had he been me in my circumstances of the present world. I knew Osiris had followed a distortion of Christ’s image in madness and delusion, in the disease of his mind seeking to become the god he never was and never could be. I tried to atone for this madness by recovering my Christ’s love and his sanity and his feeling for the suffering of others around him. I knew the madness of the media-magnification of my small self gave me some extraordinary capacity to help others that an ordinary person might not have. I resolved to follow Christ in my heart and act in his essential sanity and love to do my small part without delusion to aid those in need. For the last years we have opened hospices for those sick and dying from radiation poisioning, and we have established the Order of the Brethern of the Common Life to minister to the needs of the poor, and displaced and victimized throughout the world.

Now they call me “Mother Isis,” and while silly in some respects I take it as a badge of honor—-I am proud to help and minister to those in need—and the world needs a mother’s love, though I am so far unworthy and incapable of supplying it as might be needed. In any case it is more than I was before, my empty tabloid self, and may I be forgiven the shortcomings of my past.

Therefore I say to you all: “The eye is not satisfied with seeing nor the ear filled with hearing. (Ecclesiastes 1:8)” Try, moreover, to turn your hearts from the love of things visible and bring yourself to things invisible. Turn away from the fictive desires of consumer brands, money and media acclaim which disappear in their unreality, and join in the spiritual community of hearts and minds making efforts towards a better world in the small but real steps of their own lives and relationships to others and to God. Turn your hearts, in emulation of the heart and spirit of Christ, towards the realer things of life, both visible and invisible.

Strengthen me by the grace of Your holy spirit, O God. Give me the power to be strengthened inwardly and to empty my heart of all vain care and anxiety, and of all the vanities and cancers of self-love, so that I may not be drawn away by so many false and empty desires, whether for precious things or for mean ones, whether for vainglory or the idolatry of self. Let me look upon everything as passing, and upon myself as soon to pass away with them, because there is nothing lasting under the sun, where all is vanity and affliction of spirit. Allow me to find useful work, in service of You, God the Great Workmaster, and guide me to my Calling in and through You. Keep yourself Strangers and Pilgrims in this world. (1 Peter 2:4) Lay the axe to the root and conquer self.

Thanks be to You from Whom all things come, whenever it is well with me. In Your sight I am vanity and nothingness, a weak, unstable woman. In what therefore, can I glory, and how can I wish to be highly regarded? It is because I am nothing, or only an infinitesimal part of You, who are everything. All that I have been before you came into me was but utterly vain. Indeed the greatest vanity is the evil plague of self-glory, because it draws one away from true glory and robs one of heavenly grace and purpose. For when a man or woman is pleased with themselves overmuch, they displease You; when they pant after human praise and acclaim and applause they are deprived of true virtue. But it is true glory and holy exultation to glory in You and emulate your virtue, not in mere and flawed self, and to rejoice in Your name rather in one’s own.

Do not cast me out forever nor blot me out of the Book of Life! O Lord it is true. I have lived blindly and disordered in mind and heart—I have sinned and fallen short. How is a man the better for being thought better by men? The deceiver deceives the deceitful; the vain man deceives the vain; the blind deceives the blind; the blind and weak deceives the weak as often as he extols them, and in truth his foolish praise shames them the more. For as the good St. Francis tells us, whatever anyone is in Your sight, that he is and nothing more. Let Your truth teach me. I ask that it be with me as You say. Let it guard me and keep me safe to the end. Let it free me from all evil affection and badly ordered love, and I shall walk with You in the great freedom of the heart.

A man or a woman must fight long and bravely against themselves before they learn to master themselves fully and direct all their affections towards God. This is the great victory, the victory over Self. To find oneself one must truly lose oneself, even defeat oneself in a greater victory. Realize that you must lead a dying life; the more that a man dies to himself the more he begins to live unto God. The perfect victory is to triumph over self. For him who does this violence to himself, that holds himself in subjection, that sensuality and self-glory obey reason and reason obeys the spirit of God in all matters, is truly his own conqueror and the master of the world. Therefore lay the axe bravely to the root—tear out and destroy any hidden unruly love of self or earthly goods or illusions.  Christ invokes us not to flee from suffering, neither in ourselves or in others, but to embrace it, and to compassionate it, and to purify ourselves in it. He calls to all who wish to follow him saying: “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”

Jack continued to run his thumb and forefinger over the iPad screen, scrolling forward through the pages of Isis’ writing, his fingertips stopping here and there to browse her words:

The Wonderful Effect of Divine Love                                            

“O God, You Who are the truth, make me one with You in love everlasting. I am often wearied by the many things I hear and read, but in You is all that I long for. My Lord God, my holy Lover, when You come into my heart, all that is within me will rejoice. You are my glory and the exultation of my heart. You are my hope and refuge in the day of my tribulation. But because my love is as yet weak and my virtue imperfect, I must be strengthened and comforted by You. Visit me often, therefore and infuse in me Your holy discipline. Free me from evil passions and clense my heart of all disorderly affection so that, healed and purified within, I may be fit to love, strong to suffer and firm to persevere.

My God, my love, You are all mine and I am all Yours. Give me an increase of love, that I may learn to taste with the inward lips of my heart how sweet it is to love, how sweet to be dissolved in love and bathe in it. Let me be rapt in love. Let me rise above self in great fervor and wonder. Let my soul exhaust itself in praising You, rejoicing out of our love. Let me love You more than myself, and let me not love myself except for Your sake. In You let me love all those who truly love You, as the law of love, which shines forth from You, commands.”

And:

Isis Unveiled: My Spouse and Pure Lover, Jesus Christ

 

“Who, O most beloved Spouse, Jesus Christ, most pure Lover, Lord of all creation, who shall give me the wings of true liberty that I may fly to rest in You? When shall freedom be fully given me to see how sweet You are, O Lord, my God? When shall I recollect myself entirely in You, so that because of Your love I may feel, not myself but You alone above all sense and measure, in a manner known to none? But now I often lament and grieve over my unhappiness, for many evils befall me in this vale of miseries, often disturbing my mind, making me sad in my depressions and overshadowing me, often hindering and distracting me, alluring and entangling me so that I neither have free access to You nor enjoy the secret embraces which are ever ready for blessed souls. Let my sighs and the desolations of my heart move You.

O Jesus, Splendor of eternal glory, Consolation of the pilgrim soul, with You my lips utter no sound and to You my silence speaks. How long will my Lord delay His Coming? Let Him come to His poor servant and make him happy. Let Him put forth His hand and take this miserable creature from her anguish. Come, O come and come again! Come, for without You there will be no happy day or hour, because You are my happiness and without You my table is empty. I am wretched, as it were imprisoned and weighted down with fetters, until You fill me with the light of Your Presence, restore me to liberty, and show me a friendly and loving countenance. Let others seek instead of You whatever they will, but nothing pleases me or will please me but You, my God, my Hope, my everlasting Salvation and Deliverance. I will not be silent, I will not cease praying until Your grace returns to me and You speak inwardly to me, saying ‘Behold, I am her. Lo, I have come unto you because you have called Me. Your tears and the desire of your inmost soul, your humility and contrition of heart have inclined Me and brought Me to you.’ Lord I have called You, and have desired You, and have been ready to spurn all things for Your sake. Love me O Lord with the deepest Love!”

My Thoughts On Death

Very soon life here will end. I have seen my husband Osiris die bleeding in my arms. Since then I have seen thousands die, many in my own arms, and some in agony. My mother and father have left me and this world behind. Today we live; tomorrow we die and are quickly forgotten; consider, then what may be in store for you elsewhere.

Therefore, in every deed and every thought, act as though you were to die this very day. If you had a good conscience you would not fear death very much. It is better to avoid sinfulness and shortcoming than to fear death. If you are not prepared today, how will you prepare tomorrow? Tomorrow is an uncertain day; how do you know you will have a tomorrow?

What good would a long or longer life do you when we waste so much of what life we have? A long life does not always benefit us, but on the contrary, frequently adds to our shortcomings. Would that in this world we had lived well throughout one single day! Therefore do not worry yourself and your diet and your doctor with pleadings for longer life. Instead resolve to live well, and to live well now with what span of life God is pleased to give us. Blessed is he or she who keeps the moment of death ever before their eyes and prepares for it well every day.

If you have seen a man die, remember that you too must go the same way. In the morning consider that you may not live until evening; and when evening comes do not dare to promise yourself the dawn. Many die suddenly and unexpectedly. The present is therefore very precious; these are the days of your salvation; now is the acceptable time for all that must be done; tomorrow may never come. Try to live now in such a manner that at the moment of death you may be glad rather than fearful. Death is the end of everyone and the life of men and women passes quickly away like a shadow. Therefore keep yourself as a stranger here on earth; you are a pilgrim passing through, so keep your heart free and raise it up to God; try to make this place a better place than you found it and feel at ease in your passing through and onwards, for you have no lasting home here but only elsewhere in God. Love your fellow travelers, struggling onwards on their life’s journeys, just as you are on yours…………

Then Jack scrolled down to the next section of the book, written by his friend Mohammad ala Rushdie:

                                                            A DANCE IN THE CLOUD OF UNKNOWING

By Mohammad ala Rushdie

Dancing in the Darkness: Towards a Oneness with God, Allah

It is not learning that makes a man holy and just, but a virtuous life makes him pleasing to God, Allah, and a loving heart that seeks to be at one with his own. For how would it profit us to know the whole Koran or Bible by heart and the principles of all the philosophers if we live without grace and the love of God, Allah? Vanity of vanities and all is vanity, except to love God, Allah and serve Him alone. Every man naturally desires knowledge; but what good is knowledge without a love of God? Indeed a humble peasant who knows God in his heart is better than a proud intellectual who neglects his soul to study the course of the mind and the stars. He who knows himself well becomes mean in his own eyes and is not happy when praised by unspiritual men.

If I knew all things and secrets of the world and had not charity in my heart, what would it profit me before God? Shun too great a desire for knowledge, for in it there is much fretting and delusion. Intellectuals like to appear learned and to be called wise. Yet there are many things the knowledge of which does little or no good for the soul and lend themselves to an empty pride, and he who concerns himself about other things than those which lead to salvation is unwise. The more you know and the better you understand, ther more responsibility you bear and the more severely you will be judged, unless you life is also the more holy. Do not be proud, therefore, because of your learning or skill. Rather fear whether you have lived worthily in respect to the gifts or the talents given you.

Every perfection in this life has some imperfection mixed with it and no learning of ours is without some darkness. Humble knowledge of self is a sure path to God, Allah than the ardent pursuit of learning. Not that learning is to be considered evil, or knowledge, which is good in itself and so ordained by God; but a clean conscience and virtuous life ought to be preferred. Likewise we ought to read simple and devout books as willingly as learned and profound ones. Many often err and accomplish little or nothing because they try to become learned rather than living well. A man is raised up from earth by two wings: simplicity and purity. There must be simplicity in his intentions and purity in his desires. Simplicity leads to God, and purity embraces and enjoys Him.

God, Allah invokes us to love our fellow man and our fellow woman. But a love of solitude and silence is another part of our love for man and God. First keep peace with yourself; then you will be able to bring peace to others. A love of solitude is to travel by a lonely path that will, at length return us to humanity, just as the evaporation of a drop of water and its ascent to the heavens will end in its return to the eternal sea. No man appears safely before the public eye who has not withdrawn from it into exploration of his own inwardness. No man is safe in speaking unless he knows how to be silent. Very many of the great saints and prophets avoided the company of men whenever possible, and this is no sin against God or against humanity. “As often as I have been amoung men…” relates one sage, “…I have returned less a man.”

God, Allah calls men in different ways. For some, the actives, he calls on them to build the good things of this world through good works and good associations. For some, the contemplatives, he calls on them to explore the inner world. For some, the high mystics, he calls on to journey towards oneness with Himself through close encounters of the inner kind. They also serve who only sit and wait. In the mysterious economy of the spirit they shall also profit mankind.

For some, the contemplative and mystic path leads to the path of the Lover of God, Allah, who transcends self to approach a spiritual unity with God himself. This is the path of the Sufi mystic. This path is not an easy one, nay, it is even a terrible one, costing not less than everything, though yielding everything in return. Those of you who feel this desire, and feel called to this path, do not give up when you feel its arduousness, but labour at it until you heart is filled with the desire for union with God, Allah. It is in the nature of a true lover that the more he loves, the more he longs to love. Press on quickly then along this path, I beg you. Look forward now, and forget backwards, and see what you lack and not what you have: that is the easiest way to get and keep humility. Your whole life now must consist of desire, if you are to make progress on the level of perfection, until your desire is purified beyond desire and your self beyond self.

Do not give up then, but labour at it till you feel your desire and the love of your heart growing. For the first time you travel along this path you will find only a darkeness, and as it were a cloud of unknowing. You do not know what, except that you feel in your will a naked purpose towards God. Whatever you do, this darkness and this Cloud of Unknowing are between you and your God, and hold you back from seeing him clearly by the light of understanding in your reason and from experiencing him in the sweetness of love in your feelings. And so prepare to remain in this darkness as long as you can, always betting for him you love; for if you are ever to feel or see him, so far as is possible in this life, it must always be in this cloud and this darkness.

But so that you shall ot go wrong in this work of contemplation and suppose it to be other than it is, I must tell you a little more about it as I see it. This work does not demand a long time to be fully completed, as some people suppose and some schools instruct. It is the briefest of all imaginable actions. It is neither longer nor shorter than an instant—an instant, which as defined by our scientists as the smallest unit of time, it is so tiny that its small size makes it indivisible beyond our understanding. The instant is the simplest movement of the human mind, and our lives may contain innumerable such instants in the course of a single minute of actual life.

The Scriptures tell that God, Allah created man in his own image, man and woman he created us in his own image. Therefore when we seek within we find an all abiding inner correspondence of our own selves with the God of our origin. Though our intellect and mere consciousness may never fathom it, our soul is exactly adapted to his godhead by the dignity of our creation in his image and likeness. And he by himself alone, and none but he, is fully sufficient, and far more than fully, to satisfy the will and desire of our soul. And by means of this reforming grace our soul is made fully sufficient to grasp him in his entirety by love—God, Allah who is beyond the reach of all created intellectual faculties, such as those of angels and human souls. (I mean beyond the reach of their knowledge and not of their love).

Only see: all rational beings, angels and men and djinn, have within them two principal faculties, one a faculty of knowledge, and the second a faculty of love; and God their maker, is forever beyond the reach of the first of these, the intellectual faculty; but by means of the second, the loving faculty, he can be fully grasped by each individuated being, to such an extent that each single loving soul may, by virtue of love, embrace within itself him who is fully suffiecient (and beyond comparison more than fully) to fill all the soulds and angels and djinn that can ever exist. And this is the unending marvelous miracle of love, which will never be concluded for God.

When I say that we must needs approach reunion with God, Allah in darkness and in a cloud of unknowing, have no fear or trepidation. For nothing can be brighter or enlightening than this approach. For when I say ‘darkness’ I mean an absence of knowing, in the sense that everyting that you do not know, or have forgotten is dark to you; because you cannot see it with your mind’s eye it remains dark until God’s light enters your soul. As you approach nearer to God, as you may do in contemplative meditation or in the whirling dance and dancing consciousness and unconsciousness of the ‘Dervishes’ or the dancing Sufi adepts of our Order, you will find this darkness, this cloud of unknowing is above you in your upward approach to God, and similarly you must place a corresponding cloud of forgetting beneath you. This Cloud of Forgetting must take away everything of your self and of the world you have hitherto experienced. You will thus find yourself beneath the cloud of unknowing between you and God, and above the cloud of forgetting which obscures all you have known before the moment of epiphany. At this moment every thought, even every thought of the very attributes of God, Allah which you may have entertained, his compassion, his love, his omniscience, his omnipresence, will be emptied from your mind, indeed if it remained it would only separate you from God himself. Emptied out unto nothingness, you will be filled by the inner correspondence of your soul far beyond consciousness or mind, by the energies of the source and sustainer of all creation. Such a moment of union may last only the briefest of instants realizable to the human mind but the energies it sets in motion are eternal, and you will be set in motion, dancing to the music of time, which echoes the receding music of the eternal infinite.

We Sufis search for and follow The Tariqah: The Way. The Chinese call this the Dao, or Tao. The tariquah is the mystical journey that leads the Sufi away from the external reality of the world and even religion and toward the divine reality—-the only Reality—-of God, Allah. There are many paths to this reality—including the path of the calender, the dervish, the faqir-–the loss of self and the spinning into unity with God’s essence in divine dance, this dancing in the dark, this dancing in the cloud of unknowing. In the divine ecstasy of this dance there is no subject and no object, now knower and no known—all becomes one.  By discarding his own qualities and attributes through a radical act of self-annihilation the Sufi enters fully into the qualities, energies and attributes, if momentarily, of God. The Sufi is drowned in God, so that the Creator and the creation become one sublime energy. This path leads to radical ahadiyyah, or Oneness, expressing tawid, or the Oneness of God.

In the words of our great master, Ibn al-Arabi, —-humanity and the cosmos, as two separate but intimately connected constructions of the Universal Spirit, are like two mirrors reflecting one another. By employing ta’wil, al-Arabi drew from the Quran’s statement that God created humanity “from a single soul” (4:1) to mean that the universe is “as a single being.” For al-Arabi, human beings are thus “an abridgement of the great cosmic book.” and those few individuals who have fully regained and realized their essential oneness with the Divine Being are thus Sufis, or tasawwuf, also called “the Perfect Man” or “the Universal Man.” Spiritus Mundi is thus another name for this Universal Spirit, out of which both humanity and the cosmos are created, each reflecting each other as two mirrors. It is an expression of the “single soul” out of which the Creation derives and thus the essential unity of humanity and the cosmos reflecting the ultimate unity, tawid, of God himself, whither man is, communally and in his individual life and soul, in his encounter with the cosmos, ever tending towards reunion with his origin.

The performance of this work of contemplation and of spiritual union is such that its presence gives a soul the capacity to have it and to feel it; and no soul can have that capacity without it. The capacity for this work is inseperable from the work itself, so that whoever experiences the work has the capacity for it, or else he would not experience it. Do not worry, I beg of you, if this is all you know, but always press further and further forward, just so long as you keep going.

To put it more exactly, let that thing do with you whatever it pleases and lead you wherever it pleases. Let it do the working and you be the material it works upon;  just watch it, and let it be. Do not interfere with it as if to help, for fear you should spoil everything. You simply be the wood, and let it be the carpenter; you be the house and let it be the master who lives there; Be blind for the time being, and cut away the desire for knowledge, for it will hinder you more thanhelp you. It is sufficient that you feel yourself pleasingly stirred by a thing that is merged to yourself, a thing you do not know what, and you have no thoughts of anything below God, and your intention is nakedly directed towards God. In the work of divine contemplation no intermediaries are used, nor can be used. All intermediate activities depend upon it, and it depends upon no intermediaries.

I believe that on the Day of Judgment darknesss will be dispelled: God, Allah and all his gifts will be seen clearly, and, some who are now despised and unvalued as common sinners and perhaps some who now are hideous sinners will sit in glory with saints in God’s sight; while some of those who now seem very holy and are honoured by men as if they were angels, and indeed perhaps some of those who have never yet committed sins will sit in misery. From this you can see that no one should be judged by others here in this life for the good or evil that they do. Beauty may lie elsewhere. Actions may be judged as good or evil, but not our fellow men……..

Then, Jack thumbed the first page of the Third Section:

Tikkun Olam: Healing and Restoring the World

By Ami Giyalon

The recent tragedy in Jerusalem has dumfounded the world. The heart of the world gropes in darkness. I headed Shin Bet for years but in the end I gave up looking for a solution in terms of military and police measures. I think the only solution is a movement in good faith, accepting considerable risk, and a spiritual healing between the communities. I focus on the mystical Hebrew concept tikkun olam or “healing or restoring the world” which suggests humanity’s shared responsibility with the Creator to heal, repair and transform the world.  Here in Israel we are told that all of our struggle is to build a Jewish state, a Jewish homeland. But that is not what we are building. A state with many Jews in it is not a Jewish state unless it embodies an ethos of love and justice and becomes a living proof that healing and transformation is possible. Israel is not yet a Jewish state in this sense, so we will support the forces that will help it evolve in that direction. To make it possible for Jewish values of love, justice, and peace to triumph inside its own society, and to open the possibility that Israelis could rediscover the deep spiritual truths of Judaism to heal its rifts with other nations, peoples and faiths and thereby to heal and restore our suffering world is our highest calling as a people. All of this is incredibly complex and difficult but it must be done if there is to be any way forward.

     The search for a spiritual road forward for humanity is how I came to be involved in promoting the Global Progressive Spiritual Alliance in Israel and Palestine that could be a common spiritual platform for Muslims, Jews, Christians, Buddhists—even secular humanists, materialists, existentialists and communists. After the fall of Communism the aspirational left has had a big hole in their idealism—somewhat filled by the Green-Environmental movement but without the revolutionary commitment. We are all searching for a new path and I have been seeking spiritual roots for the evolution of that new Third Path, between and beyond the two materialisms of Communism and Capitalism—rooted in a common humanism and spirituality linked to a renewed harmony with nature and a responsible stewardship of humanity over the environment of the planet.

            Our spiritual progressive movement seeks to create that alternative. We are a global community of people from many faiths and traditions, called together by a common vision of healing and transforming our world. We include in this call both the outer transformation needed to achieve social justice, ecological sanity, and world peace, and the inner healing needed to foster loving relationships, a generous attitude toward the world and toward others unimpeded by the distortions of our egos, or of our magnified egos manifested as narrow nationalisms. Our movement will encourage a habit of generosity and trust, and the ability to respond to the grandeur of creation with awe, a new harmony with nature and the ecological environment on which our sustainable future depends, and a return to a revitalized wonder and radical amazement at our human experience……..

Then growing a bit tired, Jack’s thumb and forefinger flipped and scrolled te iPad to the illustrations, where he found several photographs of Isis, Mohammad, Ami, Jennie and Pari inspecting the ruins from the bomb blast, and another at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Spiritus Mundi Temple. He regarded the many photos of the ruins from the blast, one with Isis in a habit reminiscent of Mother Teresa, encaptioned “Mother Isis.” He thought the day would come when this episode, now so imposing in collective memory, is forgotten, and since mankind seeks an explanation for everything, whether it be true or false, tales and legends would be invented, containing facts to begin with, then moving gradually away from those facts, until they would become pure fantasy.

Then he scrolled down to the end section of the book, in which the final section of Jennie Zheng’s spiritual autobiography “My Xi You Ji: A Personal Journey to the West via the East, or the New Kama Sutra of the Spirit” began with:

Above praṇa, the light

Past light, the crystal

Above crystal, the Jade!

and ended with the passage from the Upanishads as read to her in bed by her lover, soul mate and spiritual partner Pari Kasiwar at their newly founded Ashram at the Dal Lake, the last thing Jack took in before his eyes closed, drowsing above the clouds:

“Sent forth by whom, impelled by whom does the mind proceed on its errand? At whose command does the breath go forth? At whose wish do we utter this speech? What power directs the eye, or the ear?

The teacher replied:  ‘It is the ear of the ear, the mind of the mind, the speech of the speech, the breath of the breath, the lingam of the lingam, and the eye of the eye…

The eye does not go thither, nor speech, nor mind. We do not know it, we do not understand it, how can one teach it. It is other than the known; it is also above the unknown………”

(Kena Upanishad I.1-4)

C Copyright Robert Sheppard 2011 All Rights Reserved

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