The sound of creaking leather rhythmically ground its way into my ears, and I thought – or so my mind belied me – that its croaking was that obtrusion which awoke me. I was there upon a steed that was lazily sauntering me down a narrow trail, and I – as my horse seemed to be now – was slowly nodding into a reluctant slumber.
I, in my present state of peculiar consciousness, could not recall my particular errand, but felt me secure for the moment in the warm and humid air which clung about me. Feign did I realize that the air, itself, was a suffocant tempter and an agent of charring flames which I slowly was drifting to.
But forgive me – in my hasty joltings to awareness, I have failed to introduce myself. Steed’s name is Flesh, and he it is which ever carries me. Lazy he is at most times, and reluctant to what benefits me. To find me on the right course, I must forcefully and diligently smite the beast, and goad him to move beyond us; not as though she generally had any specific ill-will, but as an animal she knew and sought but her natural earthly passions. Though reluctant, she is a powerful beast, and can be much rewarding to right purposes in her labors, should I but manage to keep the mastery of her. Yet, she is also quite the willful creature, and yearns the consistency of her own course – there is always trouble should she be allowed to prevail.
And of the central portion, what shall I say? I cannot pass along this ground without my steed, for without her I have no substance and should sink immediately into the earth, which would swallow me as an open grave supposing that gravity have her way. I am centrally called Psyche, and am composed of an odd assortment of the mind. Many presume me to be all of intellect, but every emotional response is of me, too. I am the conscious and unconscious soul – and so as I find myself walking the winding trail, I find me in a true state, yet perhaps not concretely real in the literal sense of physical things where my steed is principal.
Have I lost you? Let me tell you, then, who I really am (or most certainly am not, if you go by stationary lines of thought). I am neither the body, nor the soul, but a third being which once was dead yet was then made alive. I am as a balloon which tends upward to the Sun, which draws all things of the light unto itself, and from which (as an origin) all things of light have come. Does that make no logical sense? To you, perhaps, but I am not now speaking from the plain of existence my lesser selves know, and am not constrained by the physics of a temporal plain.
Oh, but perhaps, I should continue with my narrative and let you come to know me just as you will. For I am as you are… only alive, and not dead, for I have received the seed-deposit. Or perhaps you, too, are living? Though it is not your natural state; you surely have a steed, and a psyche all your own, and yet you are dead if these are all you know.
The air in the place is not safe – it is not as the air that the True me breathes, this air was warm and sulfuric, it passed in through the nostrils of my steed and permeated the thoughts and feelings of my mind. To the shrewd its danger is intrinsic, but in the feelings its danger is mute, so the soul is compelled to struggle upon itself, and that which wins out will be followed. Presently, I had let me passively succumb to it, and was realizing again the danger, wakening slowly back to the awareness of eternal foresight.
Steed had followed the course of a certain growing weed, which was in flavor much to her liking. I, being symbiotic with my steed could taste the weed as she munched away at it. It was indeed sweet to the pallet; even enough – to the detriment of my soul – that part of me desired to let her remain consuming the plants, though I knew them to be rudimentary to the plight we were coming into, not to mention bad for our health in general.
Yet so it is that just as the body is inseparable from the soul (the only division point between the twain being death), so also the intellect is inseparable from her sister whose name is emotion. When working correctly, these two are a wonderful check-and-balance within the psyche the one both nourishing, and also simultaneously exercising the other. But as polarized nemeses, this pair will inevitably find one stronger than the other, and the stronger will always oppress the weaker – such is the perpetual state of the dead, and even many living are afflicted with this as an illness if they dwell too much in the dust, allowing their beast to lead them.
Yet now as I came to some state of awareness, and could begin to lift my eyes for to establish my bearings, I could see that my steed had taken us – nay, was taking us still – down a steep incline. The path of the weeds that she followed (which we were enjoying by flavor) was gradually guiding us toward some great drop-off. That drop-off could not yet been tangibly viewed but the eyes of my spirit, that seed which hovered above the trees though being stationed within me, did bring word back into my consciousness the danger of great fall.
Between us and the drop were brambles and bushes, through which mine natural vision could not see – only the eyes of eternal life did make me aware from above. And this is the proposed, and intended state of our guidance from the day man was created, for ‘The light of the body is the eye…’ but, perhaps, in our state of death, we assumed the eye of our Steed, or Psyche sufficient.
Now my steed began to become aware of our peril, for our spirit’s view lightened me clear through, even down to my body – just as He declared it would. (Would that my eye were single – and I used it only for my direction, without being temporally distracted by the flesh and psyche! For then, surely my wholeness would be ever full of light! But alack for this body of death and the temporal mastery of the soul – surely in its conceit it believes, and applies itself the highest form of self!)
Now as my steed became aware of the danger, she began to hesitate in her appetites. The light which beamed through me and down into my body did fill me utterly with shame for that which I gave Steed leave to do. The flavor did bitter in her mouth as eternal foresight came to her; our awareness that we had left the fold of righteousness left us naked to impending danger. Having left the fold – even were we not judged unto punishment for wandering and in danger of the Shepherd’s rod – we had left the place of protection under the Shepherd’s care and were found without head-covering. Steed abandoned her meat but was now flighty, becoming sporadic, and her behavior unpredictable as the sense of my guilt filled her throughout, and washed the sweet flavor of sin from her mouth.
We knew better than to continue onward, which was quite good because now we could feel the pull of gravity upon us to such a degree that it seemed a wonder we had traveled as near the brink as we had without having toppled heretofore! The full brunt of our weight was resting on the left two legs of my steed, and the higher ground on our right made us the more tedious.
Now the levels of consciousness were ascending to me, and I realized that I had not just awaken from slumber – nay, I had more relatively fallen asleep, for was I not now in the land of Truth far above? Or was such merely the dream I was waking from? That is, what state I had been in before was something like sleep in that it was of a different degree of consciousness, but this place I was now in was must be less real though it was the face of the very real danger. This was an apparent dream, for my flesh is no mare, and my mind is no rider, yet there I be, now below the ground of the realm of Truth!
If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
As those whose mind tangibly realizes they are dreaming yet in the midst of a nightmare commonly do, I sought to shake me from my slumber, and alert myself back to that higher degree. Yet, mine escape would not be so easy – for as I thus exercised myself, the steed below me stumbled, and nearly was I cast headlong to the abyss, where Appolyon reigned. Yes – the serpent; I must have been bitten by one of those at my feet, for its venom has brought me into this slumber. And now I began to topple to a realm yet lower than this; thus as the steed, I cast mine hind-hoofs downward to stop me, and feeling the flesh rending coarseness of the chasm’s brambles did leap forward with those hind-hoofs as forcefully as possible.
And all was too late; plummeting now in an endless cyclone of death – and yet mine own mortality would not excuse me mine obligations in the plane of the living: not dead, but dying; alive but not living.
Is this limbo?
And now did I find myself clinging to the edge of a great rock wall. Now I adjure you to be not persuaded away from the bizarrity of my narrative, for I tell you solemnly that though peculiar, these events are no less real than the reality and consciousness of your own person as you go about your waking life. Neither can I speak of these things as though they were truly a mere dream – for this is neither so; but the soul is a funny place, a place in which decisions are made for the eternal reward of man. Yet neither do the things of the mind become apparent but by the actions of those exercised under them, and so judgment comes upon our deeds first, but also upon the secrets of our hearts. Your own soul is the very gateway to hell; it openeth from beneath to allow all manner of earth-realm and lower up even as searing lava to change the course of thy being. Give thyself not to the deceitfulness of sin.
The humid air still clung about me, and now my form was not separated as steed and rider, and as is usual with man I was made the less aware of the distinctions between each part of me. No, but I was clinging for dear life to the face of the great cliff, and feeling all of powerless to go upward no matter the degree of energy that I exerted. Below me was the abyss – a burning, scorching place of loathing and darkness… or merely a perpetual fall, loss and death – the dread of all nightmares. Above me was helpless impossibility. Reaching an hand upward, I grasped a small outcropping, only to find it crumble away from the stone surface in my hand! No, no, no… this could not be! I closed mine eyes – those of my consciousness, and centered myself to see through the eye above – if, indeed, I were still living…
Ah yes! Sweet salvation! For the drop was not eternal, even if it may be long-lasting. My sorrow could only endure until my body perished! Once I died in flesh, my eternal substance would be the full dwelling of my consciousness – or perhaps more accurately: my awareness of the temporal realm having been removed from me in death, my consciousness would cease from the distraction of the natural world and in that state of rest find full awareness of the spiritual realm, for in me: to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.
Let this also be instruction to the learned, for it is commanded of us that we let the peace of Christ rule (that is to have dominion, as a king, in the sovereign settling of judgments) in our hearts. Eternal life is to know God, and His Christ.
Yes, in that moment I realized that though terror, pain, and affliction may surround me, that yet its grip on me can only be as temporary, and it cannot drag me down to eternal death. Though a man be ill-treated, abused, imprisoned even tortured of men from the time of his birth right through to a ripe old age in the flesh, and though such abuse seem eternal, yet at Christ’s right hand there are pleasures forevermore, and abundance of rewards. So fear’s grip on me was loosened, for I could see it as but a temporal terror, and therein was my solace – for I was undeniably saved.
Thus I found me upon the cross – yea, upon the lowest tier of Noah’s ark, and within the outer court of the temple; I was amidst the unclean beasts, and the gentiles – for such was I as an unclean beast. As it is written:
in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonor. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.
For I had failed to look at the seed; I had failed to hear the song of the river which flowed from the throne – as though I could fathom that which I perceived even in the realm of Truth using my own intellect. But, though I had sinned, yet coming back to the place of my rest, I found Truly:
He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.