TAT FOUNDATION

The TAT Forum: a spiritual magazine of essays, poems and humor.

TAT Forum
January 2004

Essays, poems, opinions and humor on seeking
and finding answers to your deepest life-questions

 

This month's contents:

Peace of Mind Despite Success (part 2) by Richard Rose | On Learning to Listen by Bob Fergeson | Poems by Shawn Nevins | The Door in the Wall by H.G. Wells | The Waking Dream by Brian Kay | Humor

Sign up for e-mail alerts that will let you know when new issues are published.

Want to meet some of the Forum authors in person? Interested in meeting other Forum readers? Watch for more information about TAT's meeting schedule and programs.

View video clips of the TAT spring conference DVDs or listen to free audio recordings.


Peace of Mind Despite Success
by Richard Rose

~ From a 1984 talk in Akron, Ohio—Part 2
(continued from the December 2003 TAT Forum)

Last month we had the first part of the talk by this title given in Irwin, PA. This month we'll begin serializing the talk by this title given the same year in Akron, OH. The first parts of the two talks are different, reflecting how Rose always tailored his talks to the audience.

letter W We have a few other things we do in the TAT Society. We're always trying to move with the times and come up with any invention which will lead us closer to that rare group of people who understand what we're doing, and who understand the philosophy.

In the last ten years we've settled on a farm down there [the Rose family farm]—we've got a country retreat of about 160 acres—and just recently also we've acquired property for a women's ashram. We segregate the women from the men so that the one won't distract the other. In fact, we're thinking about turning the women's ashram into a baby colony. We're going to make one of the requirements for the women there that they have to be pregnant or have a young child. [Jokingly:] We're going to get some followers for this movement one way or the other. So maybe we'll do like the old missionaries—get a school started if we can't educate them any other way.

Basically what I'm trying to say is we are here to help people. And there are many layers and levels of helping people. The hardest thing that you can try to do is to think you can convince somebody of your line of thinking if they haven't already thought about it. The most you can do is find people who think pretty much the same as yourself and inspire them to remember that they knew it before.

Now, of course in saying that, I also believe that all information in the world today is in everybody's head here tonight. All the information that has ever been known in any department, whether it is electronic science, chemistry, or whatever—that is in everybody's head. And there is a manner of tapping it, there's a manner of getting to that information.

In other words, if you concentrate on things long enough, your head opens up to the information that was there all the time. And I say this because of the evidence of some people like savant idiots, if you've read of those recently, of people who are really like mongoloid idiots that suddenly come out with information that is wisdom. (In Issue 12 of the TAT Journal, we have an article on the savant-idiot.)

For instance, they had one on TV, a fellow who could play classical music on the piano like a virtual genius, and that's about all he could do. He was the equivalent of an imbecile or a mongoloid idiot. Another fellow seemed to look very normal, but there was something wrong with him. But he could tell you any date of any year—you just name it, and he would give you the day of the week. And they'd check him mathematically and he'd be right. They had him in front of the TV camera, and in just a few minutes he'd come up with the answer. For instance they'd say, "In April 28, 1432, what day of the week did it fall on?" And he'd tell them within three or four minutes.

And how he did it, no one could understand. But the wisdom—both these people, when they asked them, "How'd you do this?"—both of them said, "God."

So I am never disappointed when only a few people show up. Because your hope is always to find people somewhat in the same stage of savant idiocy as yourself. And then you can communicate. And you're very lucky if you do, and you're much more lucky if you get a good-sized crowd.

What I'd like for you to do, when I run out of wind, is to start asking questions. Because one of the things in communication is—I'm talking to people with all different backgrounds. As the old farmer said, "Many paths lead to the barn." So nobody has a priority with a singular path. Although I have a singular system, you might say, that encompasses a lot. But all systems are somewhat singular.

I take issue with some systems, especially if they're led by charlatans or people who are ripping off millions of dollars. I'm not happy with that; I don't think it's necessary to get at that in looking for wisdom. Regardless, all things basically fill some sort of need. Although some of them we don't need.

Also about TAT—TAT is not the issue here tonight. The issue here tonight is basically truth. The truth about peace of mind, the truth about success, doing things, being mobile, and yet at the same time not trying to set the world on fire necessarily—until you know who's trying to set the world on fire.

*

Well, this goes back, as Gary said [in the introduction] twelve years ago, in 1972, I wrote a book. And the book was basically a tremendous attempt—I thought at the time; it was very difficult, being that I had never written very much before—a tremendous attempt to describe the absolute nature of man with relative terms.

And in the process of doing this, in the process of meditations that I had gone through for years before that, I had come up with certain psychological realizations, if you want to call them that. Because, basically, if you want to know the truth, you have to know yourself. The first thing you have to know is yourself.

Because the misconception of who is thinking about the truth can lead you on a tangent—which most people are on. And of course I find out—when people attend a lecture, most expect to come to get some goodies while still clinging to all the previous baggage they have accumulated down through the years. And this baggage could easily be erroneous.

We go about pleasing each other. I met a man in Pittsburgh who came to a lecture—we had a very poor showing, but this man was a gem. He came up to me [after the lecture] and he said, "I was doing the same thing you're doing. You're doing it a bit differently than I did. I had enthusiastic meetings. I never stayed up behind the podium. I went down and jumped around among the audience and kept them excited and made them all feel good and whooped it up, and they thought they were going places. I never said anything negative. I followed all these little things that you're supposed to do to keep everything positive, and reinforced people."

And he said, "Five years ago I had two hundred people here in this same room you're talking in. And I lost them all. And during your talk I found out why: You used the words 'the Law of the Ladder.' I tried to please everybody. I had a big turnout, but I had no substance. You don't seem to care about a big turnout, but you've got substance, and you're still alive after twelve years, your group is still alive."

zodiac But he was going back in. He was telling me he was going to start a restaurant near Irwin, PA, and they were going to paint the Zodiac and things on the walls to make people meditate while they're eating.

We get to the thing that everyone in this life, everyone sitting in this room, is dissatisfied and will be dissatisfied until the time they die—and by the time they get down to die, they'll be a tremendous lot more dissatisfied. And why is that? Because of a lack of clear thinking. And because of a gestaltic thing—states of mind, I call them.

We get into states of mind. And states of mind sometimes we borrow from our parents and borrow from our school teachers, educators. We borrow from the newspapers and what the movies tell us, tell the young people: "This is the pretzel you have to be, to be socially acceptable."

So everybody's trying to twist themselves into a pretzel, which they think will bring them popularity and success. Sometimes it isn't that. Sometimes they want to also inject all their private little wishful thinking systems and their desires into the picture as well. And invariably they get rebuffed.

We narrow this down to one word, this system of selfish thinking—the word ego. And the biggest part of the difficulty is the individual egos, which God knows where they start. Possibly when the person's a child the parents encourage them to have that ego. They flatter the child, tell it that it is superior to other people, to other children, that the family is superior. I don't think there's a family that hasn't got that idea across to their children, that they're exceptional children.

Well, this writing [The Albigen Papers], in the point of trying to get an image across—the picture across—of the reality that I discovered, I realized that I had to eliminate—brush aside—all of the erroneous thinking that a person can have. Meaning—we're approaching now a true psychology, a pure psychology. Because what happened to me was that my head was empty. It was empty of my egos. And in order to arrive at that, I had to drop every ego that I had, every idea of even my personal self, my survival, and I passed through death and became nothing. And I would have believed that I was nothing except for the fact that I remembered that I was aware of everything that was happening.

So in this view of psychology I wrote the book. And the book has a tremendous lot in it that you can use—it doesn't matter what you want to do with your life. I think everybody should function. The function is totally unimportant, but it is very important that you function. Because without motion we get inertia, and inertia leads to the undertaker rapidly.

So you have the choice of keeping some sort of program going, to keep the vehicle going, until you come across that which you think is very valuable to do. Then you'll have a vehicle and the locomotion necessary to do it—although a lot of it will be rooted in the ego of the importance of life.

You're not important in that respect. The thing that I found that is most important in life is that sometime in your life you find out who you are. I would like for you to think about that. Because I know a lot of you right now are thinking that it doesn't matter, that you can accept what's here. But what is here? In Pittsburgh one time I said to the people in the group, "You don't know who you are." And this guy put his hand up. He said, "I want to correct you. I know who I am—I'm the guy that's sitting in front of you."

But he didn't realize that possibly he wasn't sitting in front of me. The fellow that he thought was sitting in front of me, he may ten years later discover that that man was totally false, that there was an absolutely different personality, a different being, than who he thought he was. And that's the point I was trying to get across to him. Not that there wasn't a body sitting there. There was a body there, but his interpretation and definition of that body was something else.

In the process of writing this [book], I broke the mind down into the functions that it performs. Now I got into psychology books when I was seventeen years old, and that was fifty years ago. For fifty years I've never found anything of substance in the psychology books. Because they're looking at the mind with ink blots. They're looking at the mind with electroencephalographs, biofeedback, electronic equipment. Or patterns establishing normal curves. And chemical tinkering. "Give the guy a hypo, and see how he reacts—mark it down on a piece of paper, and then we'll get a science built out of this chemotherapy."

Some of this could very well be damaging to the vehicle that the man may need later on to pursue some real definition of himself. In fact—I'm not speaking idly, I know some people who had slight nervous breakdowns and were pumped full of Stelazine and got hooked on it for the rest of their life. And then they got more helpless, and more weird, until they became bed-patients, just from having a simple nervous breakdown—which a lot of people used to have in the old days, and they came out of it and functioned. But today when they get through with you, with the chemicals, you may not be able to do anything.

And this is because of a lack of knowledge of the mind. The behavioristic psychologists are correct in one respect, in that we are a body, first. We cannot deny that the body is there. The thing that you can deny, of course, is that we are more than just conditioned reflexes. We are conditioned reflexes until we're able to somehow reach a point in which we witness, and then influence, our conditioning. Or stop it. That is the point.

The fallacy in the whole thing of behaviorism is that we are robots. And I heartily agree with this—most people are robots. But the fallacy is that there's going to be a magical robot who is going to program all these other people. His philosophy has to be robotic. Where is it coming from?

goats It starts with the man who wanted to be funded by some federal agency—and that's all the wisdom there is in it. Because what they're saying I one-hundred-percent agree with: We are robots. You watch the animals in the barnyard, and then go in and watch the people in the house, and you'll see them going through the same systems. Except that we place more importance on what we're doing.

But I'm quite sure when the two goats are making love they have a tremendous lot of importance on that, too. We never bother to ask them, that's all. We think that they're just stupid animals, that they have no cognizance. But the motions are quite the same. The psychological attitudes of people and animals are very much the same. We work with compulsion; we battle right down like the old billy goat to the very hour of death pursuing the next hundred dollars, thousand dollars, million dollars on the stock market. We just don't give up, that's all. But it's the same thrust. Where one is eating leaves off the trees, we're putting nuts away for the winter. And that becomes a science—putting nuts away for the winter.

I found out that the human mind has basically very few attributes which we could call its own. We are plastic—we are born of plastic type protoplasm or neuroprotoplasm—but there is something programmed in it. And this is where the idea of the automaton comes in—meaning that it's manipulated by something else. And it's manipulated by whoever created the first blueprint.

This blueprint has in it two things which I consider very significant. One of them is curiosity, and the other is desire. These are not ours.

The reason a boy goes to college and becomes a philosopher, becomes a theologian, is not that he's born of God, or that Jesus inspired him. It's because he's curious. There's nothing wrong with being curious, and if he wants to get curious about God, he may become a theologian. But he won't become a theologian by going to a theological school. He has to respond to his native curiosity and in turn get milk from thorns. The thorns are his own stupidity and the fact that he refuses to accept the fact that he's programmed.

Curiosity is our leeway. You can turn that curiosity into wisdom if you wish.

And of course desire—we have desire because without the desire we wouldn't eat. We have to have the desire to get that first drink of milk or that first blade of grass and continue from that time until we die, eating the milk or the grass or whatever. And from it comes all sorts of egos—you know, having a better place to eat the food in, houses, restaurants, etc. Wealth, vehicles, and all that sort of thing—that's all from desire.

This, too, incidentally, can become sort of a catalyst—the alchemical formula for turning lead into gold. The desire can become a catalyst to create more energy, to channel more energy into the business of what curiosity takes us into.

So what does it mean? First of all, you channel the curiosity. You say, "I'm no longer curious about what the guy next door is doing, I'm curious about what's going on inside me. How did I get here?"

I often wonder how people can take it for granted that they're here. That's all they need to know—the fact that they're here. It doesn't bother them. Somebody says, "Oooohh, Jesus told me to tell you that you came from upstairs." And then I find this guy chasing my wife or stealing my money. And I don't know whether he's inspired by Jesus or not. I see some of them make millions of dollars, and I wonder if their real Jesus isn't the money.

So, anyhow, if we can channel these programs, then that's the only time that the robot has any meaning. He has no meaning—I don't care how great a scientist he is, how much wealth the man has acquired, or anything else—he may cast a long shadow, but that will not mean anything because he won't know who's casting the shadow.

*

The second thing is that we have basically nothing more than a sensory system. We start off with nothing but a sensory system. You watch your children: they're like monkeys—they basically repeat, imitate, in their process of learning. The whole thing for eight solid years is nothing more than rote, repeating what the teacher says, repeating what the parents say, imitating the parents' actions to get what they want, etc. Although they're very cute—these little people are very cute—they are doing nothing but the same things a monkey would do. And too many adults clear up to the time they're ninety years of age don't do anything but what a monkey would do.

But the thing is that somewhere along the line we discover that some of this energy, salvaged from our desire, if held in check can develop a thing called intuition. Now we take another step.

The intuition will lead us in discriminating the data that comes in from our curiosity. We will know which books to read, which ones are phony, which speakers are phony, which movements are hollow. And when we hear something or read something, a bell will ring in our head. That's basically what intuition is. And from that, then, you get closer and closer until the mind develops certain powers.

As we get closer, it gets tremendously abstract. Gary mentioned direct-mind science. I've given some demonstrations down at the farm a few different times on direct-mind functioning. At this stage, as far as a direct-mind ability, you become like the savant idiot: You go directly to what knowledge you wish, and it's yours.

And this is demonstrable. This is what we did at one chautauqua—demonstrating that you can get yourself into a frame of mind—it can be like the Oracle of Delphi, in which you'll see the future, or you will twist the space-time illusion into another illusion, and solid things will result. And the mind itself—you can feel it. Two minds can enter into these experiments. You can tell what the other person is thinking.

~ Continued in the February TAT Forum.

© 1984 Richard Rose. All Rights Reserved.


On Learning to Listen
by Bob Fergeson

"It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." ~ Shakespeare

Paracelsus Paracelsus was known to be able to look at anything, an herb, plant or mineral, and divine its essence, and thus its purpose and use. A direct knowing, given by the Universal Intelligence, to one who had ears to hear. How might we tap into this direct insight of the universe? Most of us are trapped with only a very limited "knowing" which is basically the description of opinions derived from an arbitrary point of observation; a fixed pattern, based only on the recalled past. This "knowing" or ego/mind, is only capable of knowing itself, much less the essence of an herb, plant, or our Source. This ego is derived from the experience of a character in a story, who is basically unconscious; a scripted, unwitting idiot telling a tale, ultimately signifying nothing. To know directly, as Paracelsus, we would have to leave our story-drama and its trap, and become something wider, deeper. We are capable of hearing more than the mind's obsessive chattering about our personal character's recalled experiences. We may begin to wake up, and feel as Arthur Dent in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: "Did I do anything wrong today, or has the world always been like this and I've been too wrapped up in myself to notice?"

Only something which has no vested interest in the drama can look outside of the character in its tale, and see the universal reality behind the dream of life. This is a very scary proposition; it threatens the very system of the drama, for we derive our identity from our character and story-line, each defining the other. The drama is seldom questioned, for this can only happen by stepping outside of it; a paradox. We refuse to listen to the voice of the silence within, because that would imply we don't know it all already. How can we learn to turn to this inner listening, to hear the voice of intuition, of insight?

Spending time alone is one way. We take a break from the distractions of our electronic age with its cell phones, computers, TV's, etc., plus the well-meaning but distracting voices of our friends and family. This can give us time to learn to appreciate silence, and to listen. Perhaps we'll reacquaint ourselves with a long lost companion deep within: our own heart. Time spent alone removes the relentless pressure imposed on us by society to conform to its standards, and allows our mind to clear and become quiet. Another pressure is the ego's defense against its main fear, the unknown. This also requires much time and energy, and blocks out anything that doesn't fit the story line. Nothing from the higher power within is allowed to get through. Another way is to spend time with those who value listening within, and have found their connection to the inner voice. These fellow-seekers can save us time and energy, having been down the long road to their inner self and thus able to help us along our path as well. The higher energy fields of these companions will give the inner self a taste of its own potential. Their inner calm and quiet are a stark contrast to the tale of sound and fury we have been dreaming so hard, without question.

The world of dreams is similar to this drama we call our life. When in a dream, we take it for real, and the experiences of the dream as telling us a true "knowing" about the dream-world. But when interpreted upon awakening, we see it as only a story of our character's mind, and this "knowing" as being simply a description of this mind that made the dream-world. The individual pattern or view-point is what's known. Nothing is objectively known about the so-called things, inhabitants, or possible reality of the dream.

To find the reality behind the dream, and possibly behind the dream character, we must find something higher. This universal intelligence is constantly speaking to us, always trying to get our attention. This voice of insight or intuition is drowned out by the voices of the characters in our drama. Look bravely at the plots of the dramas in life you've seen. They all end the same, and nothing is gained. Death conquers all, and the story with all its sound and fury, endlessly repeats. Question the character you've been lost in, and the drama of your own so-called life and its significance. Search fearlessly to find the nameless Something behind the play; the calm, clear reality beyond the dream, where nothing is done, nobody's there to do it, and all is perfect in silence.

~ See Bob's web sites, The Mystic Missal, NostalgiaWest, and The Listening Attention.


Poems by Shawn Nevins

Close your eyes
to what you were.
Relax.
Let the shimmering strands of self
part in a dream-like breeze of not-caring.
The answer is here.
Home is here.
Waiting.

*

Look through the crowd
into the heart of the matter.
Leaning this way and that,
ambitions are slowly toppling this forest.
The way to Golgotha
is through these painful ruins.

*

Dead trees don't sway in the breeze.
God's calling is like a breeze—
a language we feel beneath our thoughts.
What lesson is this?

*

Though it doesn't matter,
I am thankful
for this splendid, eternal moment
that passes.
This container cannot hold such beauty....

What container?
I am dripping wet
with the Presence of my Self.

*

Lying here I see
the empty, blue sky
is my heart.
Distance dissolved,
I pour out of my self
into everywhere.

*

Once, this shell held life.
Now, empty of its former self,
its colors and curves
give voice
to a boundless ocean inside and out.

*

Today may be the fifth of January,
I don't really know.
The moss of this winter-grey tree
reminds me I need to breathe.
A stream trickles again in my ear
and I stir, reborn.
A thought rises, almost finishes,
but I am pulled again into this valley,
like a scent, all around you.

*

This valley overflows with Silence—
the unceasing undertone of life.
Where does this hand find words
to write of itself?
What was that little man doing?
I've forgotten what meant so much to him.


The Door in the Wall
by H.G. Wells

One confidential evening, not three months ago, Lionel Wallace told me this story of the Door in the Wall. And at the time I thought that so far as he was concerned it was a true story.

He told it me with such a direct simplicity of conviction that I could not do otherwise than believe in him. But in the morning, in my own flat, I woke to a different atmosphere, and as I lay in bed and recalled the things he had told me, stripped of the glamour of his earnest slow voice, denuded of the focussed shaded table light, the shadowy atmosphere that wrapped about him and the pleasant bright things, the dessert and glasses and napery of the dinner we had shared, making them for the time a bright little world quite cut off from every-day realities, I saw it all as frankly incredible. "He was mystifying!" I said, and then: "How well he did it!. . . . . It isn't quite the thing I should have expected him, of all people, to do well."

Afterwards, as I sat up in bed and sipped my morning tea, I found myself trying to account for the flavour of reality that perplexed me in his impossible reminiscences, by supposing they did in some way suggest, present, convey—I hardly know which word to use—experiences it was otherwise impossible to tell.

Well, I don't resort to that explanation now. I have got over my intervening doubts. I believe now, as I believed at the moment of telling, that Wallace did to the very best of his ability strip the truth of his secret for me. But whether he himself saw, or only thought he saw, whether he himself was the possessor of an inestimable privilege, or the victim of a fantastic dream, I cannot pretend to guess. Even the facts of his death, which ended my doubts forever, throw no light on that. That much the reader must judge for himself.

I forget now what chance comment or criticism of mine moved so reticent a man to confide in me. He was, I think, defending himself against an imputation of slackness and unreliability I had made in relation to a great public movement in which he had disappointed me. But he plunged suddenly. "I have" he said, "a preoccupation—"

"I know," he went on, after a pause that he devoted to the study of his cigar ash, "I have been negligent. The fact is—it isn't a case of ghosts or apparitions—but—it's an odd thing to tell of, Redmond—I am haunted. I am haunted by something—that rather takes the light out of things, that fills me with longings . . . . ."

He paused, checked by that English shyness that so often overcomes us when we would speak of moving or grave or beautiful things. "You were at Saint Athelstan's all through," he said, and for a moment that seemed to me quite irrelevant. "Well"—and he paused. Then very haltingly at first, but afterwards more easily, he began to tell of the thing that was hidden in his life, the haunting memory of a beauty and a happiness that filled his heart with insatiable longings that made all the interests and spectacle of worldly life seem dull and tedious and vain to him. Now that I have the clue to it, the thing seems written visibly in his face. I have a photograph in which that look of detachment has been caught and intensified. It reminds me of what a woman once said of him—a woman who had loved him greatly. "Suddenly," she said, "the interest goes out of him. He forgets you. He doesn't care a rap for you—under his very nose . . . . ."

Yet the interest was not always out of him, and when he was holding his attention to a thing Wallace could contrive to be an extremely successful man. His career, indeed, is set with successes. He left me behind him long ago; he soared up over my head, and cut a figure in the world that I couldn't cut—anyhow. He was still a year short of forty, and they say now that he would have been in office and very probably in the new Cabinet if he had lived. At school he always beat me without effort—as it were by nature. We were at school together at Saint Athelstan's College in West Kensington for almost all our school time. He came into the school as my co-equal, but he left far above me, in a blaze of scholarships and brilliant performance. Yet I think I made a fair average running. And it was at school I heard first of the Door in the Wall—that I was to hear of a second time only a month before his death.

To him at least the Door in the Wall was a real door leading through a real wall to immortal realities. Of that I am now quite assured.

And it came into his life early, when he was a little fellow between five and six. I remember how, as he sat making his confession to me with a slow gravity, he reasoned and reckoned the date of it. "There was," he said, "a crimson Virginia creeper in it—all one bright uniform crimson in a clear amber sunshine against a white wall. That came into the impression somehow, though I don't clearly remember how, and there were horse-chestnut leaves upon the clean pavement outside the green door. They were blotched yellow and green, you know, not brown nor dirty, so that they must have been new fallen. I take it that means October. I look out for horse-chestnut leaves every year, and I ought to know.

"If I'm right in that, I was about five years and four months old."

He was, he said, rather a precocious little boy—he learned to talk at an abnormally early age, and he was so sane and "old-fashioned," as people say, that he was permitted an amount of initiative that most children scarcely attain by seven or eight. His mother died when he was born, and he was under the less vigilant and authoritative care of a nursery governess. His father was a stern, preoccupied lawyer, who gave him little attention, and expected great things of him. For all his brightness he found life a little grey and dull I think. And one day he wandered.

doorway He could not recall the particular neglect that enabled him to get away, nor the course he took among the West Kensington roads. All that had faded among the incurable blurs of memory. But the white wall and the green door stood out quite distinctly.

As his memory of that remote childish experience ran, he did at the very first sight of that door experience a peculiar emotion, an attraction, a desire to get to the door and open it and walk in.

And at the same time he had the clearest conviction that either it was unwise or it was wrong of him—he could not tell which—to yield to this attraction. He insisted upon it as a curious thing that he knew from the very beginning—unless memory has played him the queerest trick—that the door was unfastened, and that he could go in as he chose.

I seem to see the figure of that little boy, drawn and repelled. And it was very clear in his mind, too, though why it should be so was never explained, that his father would be very angry if he went through that door.

Wallace described all these moments of hesitation to me with the utmost particularity. He went right past the door, and then, with his hands in his pockets, and making an infantile attempt to whistle, strolled right along beyond the end of the wall. There he recalls a number of mean, dirty shops, and particularly that of a plumber and decorator, with a dusty disorder of earthenware pipes, sheet lead ball taps, pattern books of wall paper, and tins of enamel. He stood pretending to examine these things, and coveting, passionately desiring the green door.

Then, he said, he had a gust of emotion. He made a run for it, lest hesitation should grip him again, he went plump with outstretched hand through the green door and let it slam behind him. And so, in a trice, he came into the garden that has haunted all his life.

It was very difficult for Wallace to give me his full sense of that garden into which he came.

There was something in the very air of it that exhilarated, that gave one a sense of lightness and good happening and well being; there was something in the sight of it that made all its colour clean and perfect and subtly luminous. In the instant of coming into it one was exquisitely glad—as only in rare moments and when one is young and joyful one can be glad in this world. And everything was beautiful there . . . . .

Wallace mused before he went on telling me. "You see," he said, with the doubtful inflection of a man who pauses at incredible things, "there were two great panthers there . . . Yes, spotted panthers. And I was not afraid. There was a long wide path with marble-edged flower borders on either side, and these two huge velvety beasts were playing there with a ball. One looked up and came towards me, a little curious as it seemed. It came right up to me, rubbed its soft round ear very gently against the small hand I held out and purred. It was, I tell you, an enchanted garden. I know. And the size? Oh! it stretched far and wide, this way and that. I believe there were hills far away. Heaven knows where West Kensington had suddenly got to. And somehow it was just like coming home.

Florida panther "You know, in the very moment the door swung to behind me, I forgot the road with its fallen chestnut leaves, its cabs and tradesmen's carts, I forgot the sort of gravitational pull back to the discipline and obedience of home, I forgot all hesitations and fear, forgot discretion, forgot all the intimate realities of this life. I became in a moment a very glad and wonder-happy little boy—in another world. It was a world with a different quality, a warmer, more penetrating and mellower light, with a faint clear gladness in its air, and wisps of sun-touched cloud in the blueness of its sky. And before me ran this long wide path, invitingly, with weedless beds on either side, rich with untended flowers, and these two great panthers. I put my little hands fearlessly on their soft fur, and caressed their round ears and the sensitive corners under their ears, and played with them, and it was as though they welcomed me home. There was a keen sense of home-coming in my mind, and when presently a tall, fair girl appeared in the pathway and came to meet me, smiling, and said 'Well?' to me, and lifted me, and kissed me, and put me down, and led me by the hand, there was no amazement, but only an impression of delightful rightness, of being reminded of happy things that had in some strange way been overlooked. There were broad steps, I remember, that came into view between spikes of delphinium, and up these we went to a great avenue between very old and shady dark trees. All down this avenue, you know, between the red chapped stems, were marble seats of honour and statuary, and very tame and friendly white doves . . . . .

"And along this avenue my girl-friend led me, looking down—I recall the pleasant lines, the finely-modelled chin of her sweet kind face—asking me questions in a soft, agreeable voice, and telling me things, pleasant things I know, though what they were I was never able to recall . . . And presently a little Capuchin monkey, very clean, with a fur of ruddy brown and kindly hazel eyes, came down a tree to us and ran beside me, looking up at me and grinning, and presently leapt to my shoulder. So we went on our way in great happiness . . . ."

He paused.

"Go on," I said.

"I remember little things. We passed an old man musing among laurels, I remember, and a place gay with paroquets, and came through a broad shaded colonnade to a spacious cool palace, full of pleasant fountains, full of beautiful things, full of the quality and promise of heart's desire. And there were many things and many people, some that still seem to stand out clearly and some that are a little vague, but all these people were beautiful and kind. In some way—I don't know how—it was conveyed to me that they all were kind to me, glad to have me there, and filling me with gladness by their gestures, by the touch of their hands, by the welcome and love in their eyes. Yes—"

He mused for awhile. "Playmates I found there. That was very much to me, because I was a lonely little boy. They played delightful games in a grass-covered court where there was a sun-dial set about with flowers. And as one played one loved . . . .

"But—it's odd—there's a gap in my memory. I don't remember the games we played. I never remembered. Afterwards, as a child, I spent long hours trying, even with tears, to recall the form of that happiness. I wanted to play it all over again—in my nursery—by myself. No! All I remember is the happiness and two dear playfellows who were most with me . . . . Then presently came a sombre dark woman, with a grave, pale face and dreamy eyes, a sombre woman wearing a soft long robe of pale purple, who carried a book and beckoned and took me aside with her into a gallery above a hall—though my playmates were loth to have me go, and ceased their game and stood watching as I was carried away. 'Come back to us!' they cried. 'Come back to us soon!' I looked up at her face, but she heeded them not at all. Her face was very gentle and grave. She took me to a seat in the gallery, and I stood beside her, ready to look at her book as she opened it upon her knee. The pages fell open. She pointed, and I looked, marvelling, for in the living pages of that book I saw myself; it was a story about myself, and in it were all the things that had happened to me since ever I was born . . . .

"It was wonderful to me, because the pages of that book were not pictures, you understand, but realities."

Wallace paused gravely—looked at me doubtfully.

"Go on," I said. "I understand."

enchanted garden - Waterhouse "They were realities—yes, they must have been; people moved and things came and went in them; my dear mother, whom I had near forgotten; then my father, stern and upright, the servants, the nursery, all the familiar things of home. Then the front door and the busy streets, with traffic to and fro: I looked and marvelled, and looked half doubtfully again into the woman's face and turned the pages over, skipping this and that, to see more of this book, and more, and so at last I came to myself hovering and hesitating outside the green door in the long white wall, and felt again the conflict and the fear.

"'And next?' I cried, and would have turned on, but the cool hand of the grave woman delayed me.

"'Next?' I insisted, and struggled gently with her hand, pulling up her fingers with all my childish strength, and as she yielded and the page came over she bent down upon me like a shadow and kissed my brow.

"But the page did not show the enchanted garden, nor the panthers, nor the girl who had led me by the hand, nor the playfellows who had been so loth to let me go. It showed a long grey street in West Kensington, on that chill hour of afternoon before the lamps are lit, and I was there, a wretched little figure, weeping aloud, for all that I could do to restrain myself, and I was weeping because I could not return to my dear play-fellows who had called after me, 'Come back to us! Come back to us soon!' I was there. This was no page in a book, but harsh reality; that enchanted place and the restraining hand of the grave mother at whose knee I stood had gone—whither have they gone?"

He halted again, and remained for a time, staring into the fire.

"Oh! the wretchedness of that return!" he murmured.

"Well?" I said after a minute or so.

"Poor little wretch I was—brought back to this grey world again! As I realised the fulness of what had happened to me, I gave way to quite ungovernable grief. And the shame and humiliation of that public weeping and my disgraceful homecoming remain with me still. I see again the benevolent-looking old gentleman in gold spectacles who stopped and spoke to me—prodding me first with his umbrella. 'Poor little chap,' said he; 'and are you lost then?'—and me a London boy of five and more! And he must needs bring in a kindly young policeman and make a crowd of me, and so march me home. Sobbing, conspicuous and frightened, I came from the enchanted garden to the steps of my father's house.

"That is as well as I can remember my vision of that garden—the garden that haunts me still. Of course, I can convey nothing of that indescribable quality of translucent unreality, that difference from the common things of experience that hung about it all; but that—that is what happened. If it was a dream, I am sure it was a day-time and altogether extraordinary dream . . . . . . H'm!—naturally there followed a terrible questioning, by my aunt, my father, the nurse, the governess—everyone . . . . . .

"I tried to tell them, and my father gave me my first thrashing for telling lies. When afterwards I tried to tell my aunt, she punished me again for my wicked persistence. Then, as I said, everyone was forbidden to listen to me, to hear a word about it. Even my fairy tale books were taken away from me for a time—because I was 'too imaginative.' Eh? Yes, they did that! My father belonged to the old school . . . . . And my story was driven back upon myself. I whispered it to my pillow—my pillow that was often damp and salt to my whispering lips with childish tears. And I added always to my official and less fervent prayers this one heartfelt request: 'Please God I may dream of the garden. Oh! take me back to my garden! Take me back to my garden!'

enchanted garden - Stillman "I dreamt often of the garden. I may have added to it, I may have changed it; I do not know . . . . . All this you understand is an attempt to reconstruct from fragmentary memories a very early experience. Between that and the other consecutive memories of my boyhood there is a gulf. A time came when it seemed impossible I should ever speak of that wonder glimpse again."

I asked an obvious question.

"No," he said. "I don't remember that I ever attempted to find my way back to the garden in those early years. This seems odd to me now, but I think that very probably a closer watch was kept on my movements after this misadventure to prevent my going astray. No, it wasn't until you knew me that I tried for the garden again. And I believe there was a period—incredible as it seems now—when I forgot the garden altogether—when I was about eight or nine it may have been. Do you remember me as a kid at Saint Athelstan's?"

"Rather!"

"I didn't show any signs did I in those days of having a secret dream?"

He looked up with a sudden smile.

"Did you ever play North-West Passage with me? . . . . . No, of course you didn't come my way!"

"It was the sort of game," he went on, "that every imaginative child plays all day. The idea was the discovery of a North-West Passage to school. The way to school was plain enough; the game consisted in finding some way that wasn't plain, starting off ten minutes early in some almost hopeless direction, and working one's way round through unaccustomed streets to my goal. And one day I got entangled among some rather low-class streets on the other side of Campden Hill, and I began to think that for once the game would be against me and that I should get to school late. I tried rather desperately a street that seemed a cul de sac, and found a passage at the end. I hurried through that with renewed hope. 'I shall do it yet,' I said, and passed a row of frowsy little shops that were inexplicably familiar to me, and behold! there was my long white wall and the green door that led to the enchanted garden!

"The thing whacked upon me suddenly. Then, after all, that garden, that wonderful garden, wasn't a dream!" . . . .

He paused.

"I suppose my second experience with the green door marks the world of difference there is between the busy life of a schoolboy and the infinite leisure of a child. Anyhow, this second time I didn't for a moment think of going in straight away. You see . . . For one thing my mind was full of the idea of getting to school in time—set on not breaking my record for punctuality. I must surely have felt SOME little desire at least to try the door—yes, I must have felt that . . . . . But I seem to remember the attraction of the door mainly as another obstacle to my overmastering determination to get to school. I was immediately interested by this discovery I had made, of course—I went on with my mind full of it—but I went on. It didn't check me. I ran past tugging out my watch, found I had ten minutes still to spare, and then I was going downhill into familiar surroundings. I got to school, breathless, it is true, and wet with perspiration, but in time. I can remember hanging up my coat and hat . . . Went right by it and left it behind me. Odd, eh?"

He looked at me thoughtfully. "Of course, I didn't know then that it wouldn't always be there. School boys have limited imaginations. I suppose I thought it was an awfully jolly thing to have it there, to know my way back to it, but there was the school tugging at me. I expect I was a good deal distraught and inattentive that morning, recalling what I could of the beautiful strange people I should presently see again. Oddly enough I had no doubt in my mind that they would be glad to see me . . . Yes, I must have thought of the garden that morning just as a jolly sort of place to which one might resort in the interludes of a strenuous scholastic career.

"I didn't go that day at all. The next day was a half holiday, and that may have weighed with me. Perhaps, too, my state of inattention brought down impositions upon me and docked the margin of time necessary for the detour. I don't know. What I do know is that in the meantime the enchanted garden was so much upon my mind that I could not keep it to myself.

"I told—What was his name?—a ferrety-looking youngster we used to call Squiff."

"Young Hopkins," said I.

"Hopkins it was. I did not like telling him, I had a feeling that in some way it was against the rules to tell him, but I did. He was walking part of the way home with me; he was talkative, and if we had not talked about the enchanted garden we should have talked of something else, and it was intolerable to me to think about any other subject. So I blabbed.

"Well, he told my secret. The next day in the play interval I found myself surrounded by half a dozen bigger boys, half teasing and wholly curious to hear more of the enchanted garden. There was that big Fawcett—you remember him?—and Carnaby and Morley Reynolds. You weren't there by any chance? No, I think I should have remembered if you were . . . . .

"A boy is a creature of odd feelings. I was, I really believe, in spite of my secret self-disgust, a little flattered to have the attention of these big fellows. I remember particularly a moment of pleasure caused by the praise of Crawshaw—you remember Crawshaw major, the son of Crawshaw the composer?—who said it was the best lie he had ever heard. But at the same time there was a really painful undertow of shame at telling what I felt was indeed a sacred secret. That beast Fawcett made a joke about the girl in green—"

Wallace's voice sank with the keen memory of that shame. "I pretended not to hear," he said. "Well, then Carnaby suddenly called me a young liar and disputed with me when I said the thing was true. I said I knew where to find the green door, could lead them all there in ten minutes. Carnaby became outrageously virtuous, and said I'd have to—and bear out my words or suffer. Did you ever have Carnaby twist your arm? Then perhaps you'll understand how it went with me. I swore my story was true. There was nobody in the school then to save a chap from Carnaby though Crawshaw put in a word or so. Carnaby had got his game. I grew excited and red-eared, and a little frightened, I behaved altogether like a silly little chap, and the outcome of it all was that instead of starting alone for my enchanted garden, I led the way presently—cheeks flushed, ears hot, eyes smarting, and my soul one burning misery and shame—for a party of six mocking, curious and threatening school-fellows.

"We never found the white wall and the green door . . ."

"You mean?—"

"I mean I couldn't find it. I would have found it if I could.

"And afterwards when I could go alone I couldn't find it. I never found it. I seem now to have been always looking for it through my school-boy days, but I've never come upon it again."

"Did the fellows—make it disagreeable?"

"Beastly . . . . . Carnaby held a council over me for wanton lying. I remember how I sneaked home and upstairs to hide the marks of my blubbering. But when I cried myself to sleep at last it wasn't for Carnaby, but for the garden, for the beautiful afternoon I had hoped for, for the sweet friendly women and the waiting playfellows and the game I had hoped to learn again, that beautiful forgotten game . . . . .

"I believed firmly that if I had not told—. . . . . I had bad times after that—crying at night and woolgathering by day. For two terms I slackened and had bad reports. Do you remember? Of course you would! It was you—your beating me in mathematics that brought me back to the grind again."

hearth fire For a time my friend stared silently into the red heart of the fire. Then he said: "I never saw it again until I was seventeen.

"It leapt upon me for the third time—as I was driving to Paddington on my way to Oxford and a scholarship. I had just one momentary glimpse. I was leaning over the apron of my hansom smoking a cigarette, and no doubt thinking myself no end of a man of the world, and suddenly there was the door, the wall, the dear sense of unforgettable and still attainable things.

"We clattered by—I too taken by surprise to stop my cab until we were well past and round a corner. Then I had a queer moment, a double and divergent movement of my will: I tapped the little door in the roof of the cab, and brought my arm down to pull out my watch. 'Yes, sir!' said the cabman, smartly. 'Er—well—it's nothing,' I cried. 'My mistake! We haven't much time! Go on!' and he went on . . .

"I got my scholarship. And the night after I was told of that I sat over my fire in my little upper room, my study, in my father's house, with his praise—his rare praise—and his sound counsels ringing in my ears, and I smoked my favourite pipe—the formidable bulldog of adolescence—and thought of that door in the long white wall. 'If I had stopped,' I thought, 'I should have missed my scholarship, I should have missed Oxford—muddled all the fine career before me! I begin to see things better!' I fell musing deeply, but I did not doubt then this career of mine was a thing that merited sacrifice.

"Those dear friends and that clear atmosphere seemed very sweet to me, very fine, but remote. My grip was fixing now upon the world. I saw another door opening—the door of my career."

He stared again into the fire. Its red lights picked out a stubborn strength in his face for just one flickering moment, and then it vanished again.

"Well", he said and sighed, "I have served that career. I have done—much work, much hard work. But I have dreamt of the enchanted garden a thousand dreams, and seen its door, or at least glimpsed its door, four times since then. Yes—four times. For a while this world was so bright and interesting, seemed so full of meaning and opportunity that the half-effaced charm of the garden was by comparison gentle and remote. Who wants to pat panthers on the way to dinner with pretty women and distinguished men? I came down to London from Oxford, a man of bold promise that I have done something to redeem. Something—and yet there have been disappointments . . . . .

"Twice I have been in love—I will not dwell on that—but once, as I went to someone who, I know, doubted whether I dared to come, I took a short cut at a venture through an unfrequented road near Earl's Court, and so happened on a white wall and a familiar green door. 'Odd!' said I to myself, 'but I thought this place was on Campden Hill. It's the place I never could find somehow—like counting Stonehenge—the place of that queer day dream of mine.' And I went by it intent upon my purpose. It had no appeal to me that afternoon.

"I had just a moment's impulse to try the door, three steps aside were needed at the most—though I was sure enough in my heart that it would open to me—and then I thought that doing so might delay me on the way to that appointment in which I thought my honour was involved. Afterwards I was sorry for my punctuality—I might at least have peeped in I thought, and waved a hand to those panthers, but I knew enough by this time not to seek again belatedly that which is not found by seeking. Yes, that time made me very sorry . . . . .

"Years of hard work after that and never a sight of the door. It's only recently it has come back to me. With it there has come a sense as though some thin tarnish had spread itself over my world. I began to think of it as a sorrowful and bitter thing that I should never see that door again. Perhaps I was suffering a little from overwork—perhaps it was what I've heard spoken of as the feeling of forty. I don't know. But certainly the keen brightness that makes effort easy has gone out of things recently, and that just at a time with all these new political developments—when I ought to be working. Odd, isn't it? But I do begin to find life toilsome, its rewards, as I come near them, cheap. I began a little while ago to want the garden quite badly. Yes—and I've seen it three times."

"The garden?"

"No—the door! And I haven't gone in!"

He leaned over the table to me, with an enormous sorrow in his voice as he spoke. "Thrice I have had my chance—thrice! If ever that door offers itself to me again, I swore, I will go in out of this dust and heat, out of this dry glitter of vanity, out of these toilsome futilities. I will go and never return. This time I will stay . . . . . I swore it and when the time came—I didn't go.

"Three times in one year have I passed that door and failed to enter. Three times in the last year.

"The first time was on the night of the snatch division on the Tenants' Redemption Bill, on which the Government was saved by a majority of three. You remember? No one on our side—perhaps very few on the opposite side—expected the end that night. Then the debate collapsed like eggshells. I and Hotchkiss were dining with his cousin at Brentford, we were both unpaired, and we were called up by telephone, and set off at once in his cousin's motor. We got in barely in time, and on the way we passed my wall and door—livid in the moonlight, blotched with hot yellow as the glare of our lamps lit it, but unmistakable. 'My God!' cried I. 'What?' said Hotchkiss. 'Nothing!' I answered, and the moment passed.

"'I've made a great sacrifice,' I told the whip as I got in. 'They all have,' he said, and hurried by.

"I do not see how I could have done otherwise then. And the next occasion was as I rushed to my father's bedside to bid that stern old man farewell. Then, too, the claims of life were imperative. But the third time was different; it happened a week ago. It fills me with hot remorse to recall it. I was with Gurker and Ralphs—it's no secret now you know that I've had my talk with Gurker. We had been dining at Frobisher's, and the talk had become intimate between us. The question of my place in the reconstructed ministry lay always just over the boundary of the discussion. Yes—yes. That's all settled. It needn't be talked about yet, but there's no reason to keep a secret from you . . . . . Yes—thanks! thanks! But let me tell you my story.

"Then, on that night things were very much in the air. My position was a very delicate one. I was keenly anxious to get some definite word from Gurker, but was hampered by Ralphs' presence. I was using the best power of my brain to keep that light and careless talk not too obviously directed to the point that concerns me. I had to. Ralphs' behaviour since has more than justified my caution . . . . . Ralphs, I knew, would leave us beyond the Kensington High Street, and then I could surprise Gurker by a sudden frankness. One has sometimes to resort to these little devices. . . . . And then it was that in the margin of my field of vision I became aware once more of the white wall, the green door before us down the road.

"We passed it talking. I passed it. I can still see the shadow of Gurker's marked profile, his opera hat tilted forward over his prominent nose, the many folds of his neck wrap going before my shadow and Ralphs' as we sauntered past.

"I passed within twenty inches of the door. 'If I say good-night to them, and go in,' I asked myself, 'what will happen?' And I was all a-tingle for that word with Gurker.

"I could not answer that question in the tangle of my other problems. 'They will think me mad,' I thought. 'And suppose I vanish now!—Amazing disappearance of a prominent politician!' That weighed with me. A thousand inconceivably petty worldlinesses weighed with me in that crisis."

Then he turned on me with a sorrowful smile, and, speaking slowly; "Here I am!" he said.

"Here I am!" he repeated, "and my chance has gone from me. Three times in one year the door has been offered me—the door that goes into peace, into delight, into a beauty beyond dreaming, a kindness no man on earth can know. And I have rejected it, Redmond, and it has gone—"

"How do you know?"

"I know. I know. I am left now to work it out, to stick to the tasks that held me so strongly when my moments came. You say, I have success—this vulgar, tawdry, irksome, envied thing. I have it." He had a walnut in his big hand. "If that was my success," he said, and crushed it, and held it out for me to see.

"Let me tell you something, Redmond. This loss is destroying me. For two months, for ten weeks nearly now, I have done no work at all, except the most necessary and urgent duties. My soul is full of inappeasable regrets. At nights—when it is less likely I shall be recognised—I go out. I wander. Yes. I wonder what people would think of that if they knew. A Cabinet Minister, the responsible head of that most vital of all departments, wandering alone—grieving—sometimes near audibly lamenting—for a door, for a garden!"

I can see now his rather pallid face, and the unfamiliar sombre fire that had come into his eyes. I see him very vividly to-night. I sit recalling his words, his tones, and last evening's Westminster Gazette still lies on my sofa, containing the notice of his death. At lunch to-day the club was busy with him and the strange riddle of his fate.

They found his body very early yesterday morning in a deep excavation near East Kensington Station. It is one of two shafts that have been made in connection with an extension of the railway southward. It is protected from the intrusion of the public by a hoarding upon the high road, in which a small doorway has been cut for the convenience of some of the workmen who live in that direction. The doorway was left unfastened through a misunderstanding between two gangers, and through it he made his way . . . . .

My mind is darkened with questions and riddles.

It would seem he walked all the way from the House that night—he has frequently walked home during the past Session—and so it is I figure his dark form coming along the late and empty streets, wrapped up, intent. And then did the pale electric lights near the station cheat the rough planking into a semblance of white? Did that fatal unfastened door awaken some memory?

doorway Was there, after all, ever any green door in the wall at all?

I do not know. I have told his story as he told it to me. There are times when I believe that Wallace was no more than the victim of the coincidence between a rare but not unprecedented type of hallucination and a careless trap, but that indeed is not my profoundest belief. You may think me superstitious if you will, and foolish; but, indeed, I am more than half convinced that he had in truth, an abnormal gift, and a sense, something—I know not what—that in the guise of wall and door offered him an outlet, a secret and peculiar passage of escape into another and altogether more beautiful world. At any rate, you will say, it betrayed him in the end. But did it betray him? There you touch the inmost mystery of these dreamers, these men of vision and the imagination.

We see our world fair and common, the hoarding and the pit. By our daylight standard he walked out of security into darkness, danger and death. But did he see like that?

~ This story was first published over 100 years ago and is now in the public domain.


The Waking Dream
by Brian Kay

Once I had a dream of wealth, health, and happiness beyond all compare, and when it was attained, I still sought something that wasn't there.

Then, I dreamed of peace and joy and love without a care—I sought these things externally, and still there was despair.

Finally, it dawned on me, there was no "me" to care, and suddenly all these wishes were granted to a no-one in the middle of no-where.


Humor...

Andre Malraux once asked an old priest if he'd learned anything from sixty years of hearing confessions, and the padre said, "Yes, there's no such thing as an adult."


Reader Commentary:

(We appreciate hearing from you.)


Sign up for our e-mail alert that will let you know when new issues are published. Contact the Forum for questions, comments or submissions.

Want to help? Your donation of $5 or more will support the continuation of the Forum and other services that the TAT Foundation provides. TAT is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit educational organization and qualifies to receive tax-deductible contributions. Or, download this .pdf TAT Forum flyer and post it at coffee shops, bookstores, and other meeting places in your town, to let others know about the Forum.

 

Keep informed of TAT events and receive our free monthly Forum filled with inspiring essays, poems and images.



Email & Social Media Marketing by VerticalResponse

© 2000-2016 TAT Foundation. All rights reserved.

View Full Site Back to Top
TAT Foundation logo