So, once again it’s been a while since I posted. What can I say? Saving the world from yet another zombie apocalypse requires a great deal of energy. (And yes, in my reality the word ‘apocalypse’ used in this sense can have a plural). However, I have a story to share.
Many years ago, while I was attending classes with a certain esoteric organization, I made the acquaintance of a young man whose mystical point of view was somewhat different from my own. Victor was interested in the mystic arts for the purpose of acquiring wealth and power. He truly believed that his happiness would increase if only he could find the secret formula that would give him access to control over the forces of nature. He was intent on using this formula to, so to speak, “gain the world.”
Despite my efforts and the efforts of others, Victor would not be deterred from this path and commitment.
After the classes, I lost contact with him for several years. One weekend, while I was attending a conclave, I bumped into him again. He had not changed his perspective and in fact was even more convinced that mystical powers were available and they could be used to give him personal power on a material level.
He told me an interesting story.
He said that over the years he had travelled far and studied many arcane subjects. He had met many curious individuals and they had reinforced his conviction to seek material power through occult means.
“I have learned,” he said, “about a Stone of Power that can give its possessor unlimited wealth and prestige.”
“Thousands of years ago,” he said, “a powerful sorcerer carved a statue out of stone.
Using magical science he then brought the statue to life. The stone creature could work wonders and brought great prosperity to the town where the sorcerer lived.
But the simple people grew afraid of the beast among them and one night they attacked and destroyed the statue.
They crushed it into rubble and then scattered the stones throughout the world.
Through the centuries, many people had found fragments of the statue and these same people had become great in the eyes of the world. Alexander found a piece and grew powerful until he lost the stone shortly before his death. And Napoleon also had a piece of it but lost it just before his fall from power. Many other great and powerful men right up to recent times have owed their success to possession of a chunk of this ancient statue.
“And now,” he went on, “I have a lead on where a piece of this marvel has been hidden. There is a tiny island in the pacific that I’ll be going to and I am convinced that if I search for it, I will find the secret source of real mystical power.”
I tried to persuade him to give up this quest. I pointed out to him that all the possessors of the Stone came to a bad end. But he was adamant that this was a sure path to his lasting happiness. How foolish some people are, I thought. True happiness, like true mystical power, is found within each of us. If we would only look there and accept the greatness that is our inborn right, we could all be happy.
We went our separate ways and through the years I almost forgot about my wandering friend. Until one day, not too long ago, at another conclave, I met up with him again. Victor was a bit thinner, older, maybe less well dressed then when I last saw him – but he glowed with an inner power and the smile he gave me was genuine and showed he had at last found true peace.
Of course I asked him about himself. He said he now lived quietly on a farm outside the city where he passed his time in meditation and contemplation of the true mysteries of life. I asked him about the Stone. He chuckled and shook his head.
“Yes,” he said, “the Stone. So much time I wasted looking for the Stone. And yet without that search I would not have found the inner peace I now possess. “
We sat down and he told me his story.
“After the last time I saw you, I made plans to get to the island where one of the Stones had been hidden. I sold off all my possessions and charted a ship. The island itself was also hidden but my books and ancient maps showed me the way. When I got ashore, I immediately sought out the Kahuna, the island’s chief man of power.
I had learned enough of his dialect and he knew enough English for us to communicate. At first he laughed at my quest but I kept after him to show me where the Stone might be found. Eventually he agreed to help me but only if I proved myself by passing several tests and initiations. I committed myself fully to the task. The things he required me to do are not important – they were tests of my resolve if nothing else – and after more than two years of persistent effort, the great man finally showed me where the Stone was hidden.
“He took me to a vast beach covered with rocks and stones of every kind and casually waved his hand over the scene.
I became furious and almost attacked him physically for what I perceived to be his mockery of my life’s passion. He laughed and pushed me aside. ‘You are still not worthy,’ he said. And he turned to walk away. I fell to my knees before him and pleaded with him to show me the Stone.
“Maybe it was mercy or maybe, as I see it now, it was contempt for my vulgarity – either way he revealed a mystery. He said the Stone was there, in plain sight. All I had to do was reach down and pick it up and everything I ever wanted would be mine. Through my tears I begged him for more information: how would I know the true Stone from all the rest?
“He lowered his gaze in what seemed to be a sad recollection of things he had experienced regarding the Stone. ‘The Stone you seek has power in its core,’ he said in a painful whisper. ‘You will know it by the energy you feel when you hold it in your hand.’
“He turned to walk away and I stopped him again. ‘But how will I find it amidst all this debris?’
“’That is your challenge,’ he said. ‘But give up this quest and go home.’
“I shouted – ‘Never!’ and threw myself at the new task.
“At first I picked up stones randomly and held them in my hands hoping to feel the power. But there were so many and I feared I was picking up the same ones more than once and completely missing others. I then came up with my final great plan. I picked a stone up, held it for a moment, and then threw it into the sea. I didn’t care if I had to do this a million times. I didn’t care if I had to clear the whole beach. Eventually I would find the true Stone of Power and my quest would be at an end.
“I picked up a stone, held it in my hand, and then threw it into the sea. I picked up a stone, held it in my hand, and then threw it into the sea. I picked up a stone, held it in my hand, and then threw it into the sea.
“I pursued this path with mindless conviction. Hour after hour, day after day, I continued. The days turned into weeks, then months, then years – and still I persisted. The villagers, sensing I was on some mystical quest, brought me food and sheltered me during storms. And I continued.
“I cleared a quarter of the beach, and then a third – and still I went on. There was nothing in my life, nothing in my heart, nothing in my mind but the Stone. Year after year I went on – I picked up a stone, held it in my hand and then threw it into the sea.
“Then one day – one strange and terrible day – I picked up a stone, held it in my hand, and felt such immense power and energy flowing through me I thought I would disintegrate.
And then without a thought I threw the Stone into the sea.”
Victor paused and held his breath a moment before continuing. And I felt my heart break at his words.
“As I watched the Stone leave my hand and fly into the sea to forever disappear into the abyss, I collapsed on the beach.
“I awoke some weeks later in a hut in the village. The Kahuna stood over me expressionless and said, ‘Now your true journey can begin.’
“Eventually I recovered enough to leave the island and make my way home.”
I sat silently, completely unsure how to react to this story. But Victor smiled, reached out and touched my shoulder and said, “It’s the best thing that could ever have happened to me.”
He then stood up and walked away, leaving me to ponder my own journey.