The Candle of Vision

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The Candle of Vision

By by AE (George William Russell)


I HAVE spoken of a training of the will, but have not indicated the spring of power in our being, nor dilated on those moments when we feel a Titanic energy lurks within us ready to our summons as the familiar spirit to the call of the enchanter. If we have not power we are nothing and must remain outcasts of the Heavens. We must be perfect as the Father is perfect. If in the being of the Ancient of Days there is power, as there is wisdom and beauty, we must liken ourselves to that being, partake, as our nature will permit, of its power, or we can never enter it. The Kingdom is taken by violence. The easier life becomes in our civilisations. the remoter we are from nature, the more does power ebb away from most of us. It ebbs away for all but those who never relax the will but sustain it hour by hour. We even grow to dread the powerful person because we feel how phantasmal before power are beauty and wisdom, and indeed there is no true beauty or wisdom which is not allied with strength. For one who cultivates will in himself there are thousands who cultivate the intellect or follow after beauty, arid that is because the intellect can walk easily on the level places, while at first every exercise of the will is laborious as the lift is to the climber of a precipice. Few are those who come to that fullness of power where the will becomes a fountain within them perpetually springing up self-fed, and who feel like the mountain lovers who know that it is easier to tread on the hilltops than to walk on the low and level roads. Because in our ordered life power is continually ebbing away from us, nature, which abhors a vacuum in our being, is perpetually breaking up our civilisations by wars or internal conflicts, so that stripped of our case, in battle, through struggle and sacrifice, we may grow into power again

and this must continue until we tread the royal road, and cultivate power in our being as we cultivate beauty or intellect. Those who have in themselves the highest power, who are miracle-workers, the Buddhas and the Christs, are also the teachers of peace, and they may well be so having themselves attained mastery of the Fire.

It is because it is so laborious to cultivate the will we find in literature endless analysts of passion and thought, but rarely do we find one writing as if he felt the powers leaping up in his body as the thronged thoughts leap up in the brain. I was never able to recognise that harmony of powers spoken of by the ancients as inhabiting the house of the body, lurking in nerve-centre or plexus, or distinguish their functions, but I began to feel, after long efforts at concentration and mastery of the will, the beginning of an awakening of the fires, and at times there came partial perception of the relation of these forces to centres in the psychic body. I could feel them in myself; and sometimes see them, or the vibration or light of them, about others who were seekers with myself for this knowledge; so that the body of a powerful person would appear to be throwing out light in radiation from head or heart, or plumes of fire would rise above the head jetting from fountains within, apparitions like wings of fire, plumes or feathers of flame, or dragon-like crests, many-coloured. Once at the apex of intensest meditation I awoke that fire in myself of which the ancients have written, and it ran up like lightning along the spinal cord, and my body rocked with the power of it, and I seemed to myself to be standing in a fountain of flame, and there were fiery pulsations as of wings about my head, and a musical sound not unlike the clashing of cymbals with every pulsation; and if I had remembered the ancient wisdom I might have opened that eye which searches infinitude. But I remembered only, in a half terror of the power I had awakened, the danger of misdirection of the energy, for such was the sensation of power that I seemed to myself to have opened the seal of a cosmic fountain, so I remained contemplative and was not the resolute guider of the fire. And indeed this rousing of the fire is full of peril; and woe to him who awakens it before he has purified his being into selflessness, for it will turn downward and vitalise his darker passions and awaken strange frenzies and inextinguishable desires. The turning earthward of that heaven-born power is the sin. against the Holy Breath, for that fire which leaps upon us in the ecstasy of contemplation of Deity is the Holy Breath, the power which can carry us from Earth to Heaven. It is normally known to man only in procreation, but its higher and mightier uses are unknown to him. Even though in our scriptures it is said of it that it gives to this man vision or the discerning of spirits, and to that poetry or eloquence, and to another healing and magical powers, it remains for most a myth of the theologians, and is not mentioned by any of our psychologists though it is the fountain out of which is born all other powers in the body and is the sustainer of all our faculties. Normally I found this power in myself, not leaping up Titanically as if it would storm the heavens, but a steady light in the brain, "the candle upon the forehead," and it was revealed in ecstasy of thought or power in speech, and in a continuous welling up from within myself of intellectual energy, vision or imagination. It is the afflatus of the poet or musician. As an ancient scripture says of it, "The Illuminator is the inspirer of the poet, the jeweller, the chiseller and all who work in the arts." It is the Promethean fire, and only by mastery of this power will man be able to ascend to the ancestral Paradise. Again and again I would warn all who read of the danger of awakening it, and again and again I would say that without this power we are as nothing. We shall never scale the Heavens, and religions, be they ever so holy, will never open the gates to us, unless we are able mightily to open them for ourselves and enter as the strong spirit who cannot be denied. This power might cry of itself to us:

My kinsmen are they, beauty, wisdom, love;
But without me are none may dare to climb
To the Ancestral Light that glows above
           Its mirrored lights in Time.

King have I been and foe in ages past.
None may escape me. I am foe until
There shall be for the spirit forged at last
           The high unshakable will.

Fear, I will rend you. Love, I make you strong.
Wed with my might the beautiful and wise.
We shall go forth at last, a Titan throng,
           To storm His Paradise.



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