The people I write of flow out of my imagination but of none of them I would have said there was even a tenuous connection to a person living now or living then. Can that be true? I myself cannot believe that. For as I was telling their story I sensed a time reached when they would begin telling their own, and though I wanted one person to say one thing he would say another; and when I wanted another one to do this she would insist on doing that. So where they came from I cannot with certainty say, but they came alive in the writing; why else would I cry with them, laugh with them and fear with them?
But of one that cannot be truthfully said, the Galilean, so called outside his country, or perhaps Master or Rabbi as the case may be, depending on who would be the caller. He came to me from a deeper source. Beyond memory or imagination or experience, a transcendent place whose location can only be felt as a presence, his presence, and even this conjured up out of an ocean of silence. Who and what is this presence? It was a mystery then as it was ever a mystery and remains a mystery to this very day. But it is not a mystery to be solved, only to be known and in that knowing is its power.
He and they lived at the beginning of the first century although it could not have been known as such to them. The place was in that benighted though holy land, Jewish Palestine, blessed by God but cursed by men, which sat as a bridge between the rival empires of the East and West. Its fate was to be the trophy of the dominant military power of the day: Rome. In that ancient time they were part of a people even more ancient again by more than twice those years, Jews they were called although that was not their first appellation.
It was a tiny populace in the scheme of the world and one born out of the slave pits of Egypt. But through the love, guidance and promise of their God they were raised to a mighty nation and given the land on which they resided and from which they were fated to be cast out. Their God was just but demanding, perhaps patient even more than that, for over and over they remembered their covenant with Him and were raised up, and over and over they forgot it and were cast down; despite it all their God kept them a people, His people.
The lesson was clear but never learned -- not yet learned by any people it could be said -- when thrown into the mud and despair of the world they cry for deliverance and then, when in the lap of comfort and pleasure, they forget their Deliverer. So it was in this time of which we speak. The nation was burdened by a double oppressor, one home grown and of their own blood, and the alien other even more cruel, bred to conquest and brutality, and both stood astride a people desperately searching for salvation.
But it was a search that took many forms in that troubled time. Wandering teachers and philosophers from all climes and cultures, East and West, mystery schools from Greece and Egypt, with their gods of healing and magic and star gazing. Within this maelstrom, however, there remained always the core teaching of the Jews, the high moral and social Law given to Moses by their God and accepted in covenant by His people. And now in the generation of which we speak, after tens of suffering prior ones, a new prophet arose whose first task was to uncover and reveal anew from this holy teaching the way to deliverance, both personal and of the nation.
But, dear reader, I cannot tell you more of him than this only to commend to you the following pages in which to find him. In them you will find the people who knew him best, whose lives and fortunes were changed and elevated by his being. And may their stories enliven in you as you read of them, as they did in me as I wrote of them, their still living souls whose purpose is to guide us safely into that interior kingdom that exists to shelter and nourish us all.
First you will meet Jonathan, the aged hermitic gnome, as the solitude of his long life was shattered at its very end and his purpose for living it was finally revealed. In him resided the tale whose safe transmission from generation to generation is vital to man to find God's design and humanity's purpose on earth. We learn from him his beginnings and the nature and lives of his people in that time.
Different were their lives from those that came before, and different from any that would come after, but for one constant, their instinctive need to know and satisfy the desires of their mysterious, invisible God. Like the flower that follows the sun in its daily travels, they follow this craving in their hearts and minds though, and this is the most exquisite irony, they look away from His true residence.
Then we come to know Aaron, the boy whose adolescence and innocence -- not to speak of uncountable future lifetimes -- is fated to end, but who is still to find fulfillment in a few short days as the power of divine knowledge works its transforming magic. Thus in this centenarian and in that youth we see the complete, unfiltered transmission of the workings of time. And we see nothing is lost, not a jot nor tittle, nor thought, nor word, nor deed. Though this place where the world can be recovered cannot be known, it can be entered and so we have our stories.
Through these two will be revealed the life of Sara and her time. As a girl and woman she was remarkable for her strength and will, her strange abilities, and the qualities of her mind. Chosen to love and be loved by one she could not have, loved by one who saw he could not have her, and loved by another to whom she was joined by a stronger power for its own uses -- though benign -- she made her life her own.
And we come also to know Jacob, known not only as Sara's husband but also as a complete man of his time. He was born to the country and farm, a true son of the Judean people, but torn from these moorings and sent out to school in the sophistication of Roman Jewry. There, the seeds of his discontent were sown as the learning to which he was exposed cast an opaque veneer over the lore and tradition learned at his mother's knee.
Because of this, for many years he was unable to surrender in his heart to what his eyes could see and his mind told him. But through him we learn of the earliest expressions, teaching and deeds of the young Master whose being even in this unfinished state could not contain its manifestations. Through Jacob's travels, also, we learn of the ways of that land and others in that time, their sufferings and yearnings and the interior struggles of men and women.
Joseph comes alive too, the first disciple, the messenger of the Messenger, to whom was revealed the new guide at the Teacher's emergence from silence. Through Joseph, himself, we learn of his instant and certain surrender at the first sight of his Master, and Joseph's later steadfastness when these two and others were cast out from their cloistered enclave for disputing the accepted Rule and Teacher.
Around them circled other orbs in that divine constellation. The wise Jewish physician, Alexander, with Greek ways and name, who first understood Sara's special quality, and who saw Jacob's needs so clearly that he served as an unwitting instrument guiding his friend's destiny.
And Jason, the sagacious counselor whose stars brought him from boyhood slavery in a tiny Greek village to the scholar's home in Athens, thence to the heady center of Roman Jewish life. And then, finally, to the distant Eastern land of the Buddha where his "Greek head, Jewish soul and Buddhist heart" found realization in the message Jacob brought him though Jacob, hi
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Table of Contents
|Sara and Jacob||192|
|Jacob and Sara||210|
|Tomas the Christian||245|
|The Great March||259|