On the tenth day, the High Priest said: "The image before which you stand today is called the Wheel of Life. It represents the great reversal of all things. He who lives today is dead tomorrow, he who dies today lives tomorrow. He who is rich today is poor tomorrow, he who is poor today is rich tomorrow. Everything lives, rolls, rises and falls.
Do you see the fluttering ribbons on the wheel? They point you to the furious speed with which the wheel of life rolls through ages and eternities. A thousand years are like a day.
The Sphinx, calmly and mysteriously enthroned on clouds above the wheel of life, tells us that in higher worlds mysterious beings are still watching and guiding our destinies. The mysterious signs on the wheel itself indicate that there is much in our life that we cannot yet understand. The explanation, however, awaits us when we have attained strength and maturity.
Then we will be able to visit with full consciousness and complete memory those worlds in which we now dwell during the time from a death to a new birth, resting and working, reaping and enjoying or mourning and suffering, - but since we are now still in our undeveloped state, we cannot remember what we have experienced and seen.
Look at the Sphinx. It reveals to us the nature of those who guide the wheel of life. She also shows us the qualities that we have to cultivate within ourselves. Like us, she consists of four parts. Four parts that are shouting to us Knowledge, Will, Dare, Silence. Knowledge, will and ability, daring and silence are the divine in the essence of man. Knowing and wanting, grasping and silently striving higher is a trait that is also common to the gods, which has become their nature as a result of practice.
The human head of the Sphinx tells us: knowledge. The leaders of the destinies of nations and individuals know what their goal is. We, too, want to know. From two sources we humans draw our knowledge. First, from books and from the oral teaching of those who are more advanced than we are, and second, there are voices, that sound to us from the other world, either thoughts, ideas that come to us while meditating, or direct communications from our guides.
The bull body of the Sphinx tells us: work, creation, ability, strength. But strength is where there is will. Our will is the source of our strength. Therefore, we must not only strengthen our will, but also beware of coming under the influence of another person's will; we would hand over to him the source of our strength, the strongest component of our personality.
So the bull body of the Sphinx tells us: will and power. The leaders of mankind have not only insight and wisdom, but also will and power to lead mankind to the highest realms. They accomplish what they want. They do not rest in their work. And we, too, are called by them to want and realize the highest, the most beautiful, the most lovely in us.
The paws of the lion say: seize, dare, hold. The leaders can intervene when needed. But we, after recognizing the need for a step and wanting it, must dare to take it.
The eagle wings are a symbol for the ascending of the spirits. Gods and men on the way to deification soar in blissful rounds to ever purer spiritualized heights, wanting the good and silent about experiences made and beauty seen.
Then you see two figures on the wheel. On the left the good god, Hermanibus - the dog's head indicates loyalty - and on the right Typhon, the evil god, the winged serpent. Hermanibus rides up the wheel and Typhon rides down. In the position of these two gods, which signify good and evil, lies life's highest rule of wisdom. The good always leads upwards - to perfection; the evil always leads downwards to inner and also outer degradation, finally to destruction. It is not immediately visible. The time when everything becomes visible often occurs later, after the death of man.
But the revelation of what we are is inevitable. Therefore, O Pilgrim, on the way to the glorious light, love, seek and practice the good and hate, avoid and refrain from evil. You weave with the good golden threads into the robe that you will wear one day. Do not be deceived by the satisfaction that evil gives for the moment. Shame and honor will be revealed.
And now go and come to the shrine tonight after sunset: the hour of your initiation is approaching."
The young priest spent the day praying and fasting. He asked for wisdom to always choose the right thing, for strength to always do the good and avoid the evil. He lay for a long time worshipping on his knees before the supreme God, of whose existence and nature he knew some things and reverently suspected others. He sat absorbed in meditation in the holy position, upright, his hands on his knees. Then the sun sank and for a while colored the sands of the desert with purple and gold. When evening came, the young priest left the garden. The palm trees towered into the endless darkness. The water of the ponds barely shone. Everywhere shadows and mysteries.
In the sanctuary, the High Priest received him. It seemed to the young man as if a light pillar of cloud was standing next to him. Could it be an illusion?
Silently, the High Priest led the young man through high halls. Huge columns, whose capitals represented the sacred symbol of the lotus flower, supported entablatures that disappeared into the heights, into the darkness. In a small vaulted sanctuary behind an altar stood a resting bed. "Lie down." Silently, the young priest stretched out on the bed. The High Priest raised his right hand, "Sleep!" The young man's senses faded. He did not lose consciousness completely, but he felt dizzy. It was a new state, he was not awake - but he was not asleep either. He saw clouds and fine, subtle, like veiled figures around him.
He also saw the High Priest and next to him, calm, dignified and radiant, his guide. The feeling of vertigo grew stronger. He saw the guide's words. "The wheel of life turns." He saw these words more than he heard them.
The rotations became faster and faster. And suddenly he had the feeling as if something was splitting inside him. One part remained on the camp bed, that which breathed, and one part hovered over the body that rested on the bed, it was that which thought, but it saw, heard and felt - everywhere - it was very peculiar, it was as if he were all vision, hearing, feeling. He was also astonished to find that he was not what was on the bed, but only something that had been in it. He was also surprised to see now the inside of the other, it seemed to him as if he was looking through it, through the chief priest and his guide.
The guide approached him and floated up to him. The High Priest put his cloak over the lifeless body of the young priest, and it seemed to him that his guide was taking hold of him and that he was floating up with him. To his astonishment, the vault of the sanctuary formed no obstacle. He penetrated through the stones like a bird through the clouds. It was new to him.
Then he saw his leader speak: "Your body remains in the sanctuary under the mantle of the High Priest, so that no unclean spirit can take possession of it; for many are of the spirits that wander and seek a body. They cling to life and do not aspire upward to the realms of peace and light. Often the tormented also go into the bodies of animals or into those of men who are fortresses with shattered walls, who have lost their power of resistance and self-control through debauchery or disease."
They floated higher. The city lay deep below them. The sacred stream shone like a broad silver ribbon. The young priest thought of his quiet room in the garden of the temple and wanted to see it, then was strongly drawn downward, and he would have hurried away in the direction of his house if his guide had not held him back.
"You must control your thoughts and your will here even more than in the visible world. For thoughts are entities that we give birth to, and our will is the driving force that moves us forward. Look around you."
The young priest did so and saw an endless army of misty formations, different in shape and color, following him, and he felt like a comet dragging a tail.
"You see how wise your teachers were when they taught you to pay attention to your thoughts and feelings. You see how your thoughts, sprouted from your brain, follow their author and father." "But who are those individuals who hover above and beside us in the distance?" "They are spirits," - said the guide. "How can I know here whether I have a spirit or a thought before me?" "Address the apparition. If it is a spirit, it will answer you, for it is a personality. But if it is a thought form, you will get no answer, for it has no spirit, but only a kind of plant life and an urge to follow its creator.
And now, don't you want to see your parents' house?" "Yes - -" "So be it." The young priest directed his will to the house of his parents and with the speed of lightning he was before it. He wanted to enter and without any difficulty penetrated through the masonry into the bedchamber. He saw his parents sleeping, but their bodies seemed empty to him. "They are not here," the guide instructed him, "they are elsewhere, in the realm of dreams. Only the shell rests and lives on the camp.
Come, let us go higher!" Carried by their will, the young priest and his guide floated up again. "You see, it is the will that moves and carries us here. Your teachers did well to give you exercises that strengthened your will, for willless spirits wander about in the haze of the earth without having the strength to rise to higher strata. But we can go up. - - Come!"
They flew. To their right, the moon grew with frantic speed. The young priest distinguished with interest the peculiar, huge mountain craters on the great disk, brightly illuminated by the sun. "A dead body," said the guide, "it was ejected from the earth, there where the Midland Sea now shines and rushes. Do not delay, we still have a long way to go."
A star, shining like a huge emerald, grew rapidly before them, dull-lit vapors enveloped it, greenish streaks of mist surrounded it. - They flew so close to it that the young priest could distinguish seas and continents, lakes and mountains on it. "How is it that I can see only the stars, but not their inhabitants?" asked the young priest. "You cannot yet enter the haze of another planet; that will be later. Also, a certain bandage has not yet been removed from your eyes. However, it will fall soon."
They flew on. They soon left the star shining like an emerald behind them. A huge blue-glowing sphere now lay in their path, orbiting four smaller moons glowing pink, yellow, green and red. The beauty of color was overwhelming, and the young priest wanted to approach this magnificent world, but his guide would not allow it.
"Higher up," he told him, "look!" Then it seemed to the young priest as if a bandage fell from his eyes and he saw innumerable spirits, which also floated up above, beside and behind them. They glowed and shimmered in the most diverse colors, but most of them shone in white light, which sometimes opalesced.
They all flew together toward the sun, which was rapidly growing larger and more powerful. A sea of light seemed to surround them and joy and jubilation trembled all around them. "What is this gathering, whither are these glorious spirits hastening?" asked the young priest. "They are purified, chastened, matured spirits who gather here for blessed joy and holy praise." In the middle of an endless expanse shone a light almost unbearable to the young priest. It seemed to him that all the spirits were striving together there.
"Who is it around whom the glorious ones all gather?" he asked. "It is a Supreme One who directs the destinies of the sun and its planets and supervises their development." "So it would not be the throne of the Supreme, Ineffable One?" "No, we are far from that." "Will we..." "Don't ask - look - listen."
In endless processions the shining blessed spirits strove towards the light; the splendor they radiated united with the rhythmically moving harmonies of their song of praise to unspeakable glory. Even the young priest could not remain silent; the blessed joy of all swept him away, and he too praised the Most High God, whose servants are so glorious.
Then his guide spoke: "Here the neophyte praises God, here no one pronounces insults, here no one causes suffering." The young priest wanted to come closer to the light, but his guide would not allow it. "You could not bear it," he said, catching hold of him. - They traveled with the swiftness of lightning through endless spaces toward the earth again.
The young priest felt it wrap around his eyes like a bandage. "Why?" he asked. "You are not to see much that is terrible and sad today. You will know it soon enough." The young priest regained consciousness, feeling as if a jolt had gone into his body, which had been lying quietly under the head priest's mantle.
He woke up. He had not dreamed. He had experienced something great, wonderful, which should never fade from his memory.