The Void

Chapter 3

When I fade into the deep
Some mysterious radiance showers
From the jewel-heart of sleep
Through the veil of darkened hours.

George William Russell

“Calm down” he wanted to say to the child on the pier, “it’s going to be all right, can’t you see I’m okay”.
He was standing next to his brother as the drama unfolded.

We were in his apartment, on the first floor of a beautiful Haussmann building in the 5th Arrondisement, nestled on a quiet back street, between rue Monge; les Gobelins and the avenue Port Royal.

The apartment overlooked an idyllic Parisian café where students gathered. The large room was more akin to a library than a livingroom. Books fought for space on the walls of the room. Only a grand art nouveau mirror over an old fire place broke the lines of labored shelving encircling the room.

Earlier, while he had been in the kitchen, preparing coffee, I read the book spines in an assortment of European languages. There did not seem to be any organization or cataloging. Classics were haphazardly placed next to books on history, philosophy and theology. Antique leather bounds were pressed against tattered penguin classics. Nothing seemed to be missing from the collection. As I ran my finger over the Balzacs, Brontes and Platos, I could not believe one man could read so much.

From where I stood in the living room, I could see two doors leading to bedrooms and a long corridor leading to the stairway next to the small kitchen. There was no television or other modern appliances in the apartment except for an old radio on the kitchen table. The walls leading to the kitchen had three reproductions of Albrecht Dürer etchings; The Knight Death And The Devil, The Seven Angels with Trumpets and Melancholy along with some drawings that were just as remarkable but unknown to my amateur eye.

“You like the books?” he called from the kitchen, “can you find the common tread that unites them?”

I looked bewildered and he laughed as he carried the tray with an old pot of coffee and two small cups piled next to a small antique sugar bowl and a plate of cinnamon biscuits. He looked up and told me that there was only one theme in all books worth reading.

‘Consciousness’ he announced, ‘is the subject that ties them all together. All books are the authors’ struggles to grasp the underlying unconscious impulses that make men move, breath and strive; consciousness is my life’s work’ he said.

What I knew of this man was little, other than he possessed extraordinary abilities which, for the moment, amounted to the illusion of mystical powers or maybe just an array of amazing parlor tricks. Just one week ago I met him in a pub in Dublin, and now I was here in this beautiful old apartment in the Latin Quarter of Paris.

He sat back in a chesterfield armchair, smoking a churchwarden pipe balanced in one hand and a coffee cup in the other. I was listening, with rapt attention, to the most incredible story I had ever heard.

‘What happened next?’, I asked as he relit his long stemmed pipe with an theatrical air. ‘I mean at the lake’.

‘The sensation was one of being outside a dream, but being in it at the same time’, he continued, ‘The child in the water was struggling to stay at the surface, but I was that child watching myself drowning. The whole horrific scene was happening in front of me; but I was awake and knew that it was not important’.

He smiled and placed the pipe on the old table by his side. Slow rolling waves of vague blue smoke drifted in the air and the scent of vanilla and dark tobacco filled my senses. I slid my Dictaphone closer to capture every word. He absent mindedly added a cube of sugar to his coffee, then blew the smoke away and continued his story.

‘The sensation during my near death experience was like waking up mid dream and realizing how meaningless it all was. Life was no more important to me than a half forgotten dream. A bagatelle. Things don’t matter much, and most things don’t matter at all, as a old Greek friend used to say and from this new awareness I realized just how little the daily concerns of this life simply didn’t matter at all’.

“I don’t understand” I interrupted, “You keep talking about the experience as being like a dream, how so?”

“Yes, exactly, I had a new awareness of what my life meant and my role in it. I saw how the evolution of the soul self was slowly unfolding over eons. And life itself is but a dream in the reality of each souls’ journey. Each life may only be to achieve one lesson, yet the time we are allowed to receive each lesson, or gift, is never rushed. Most lives grant us the opportunity to work on several important elements we wish to enhance or reduce, in our personality, but the teachers are patient with us. Take away the need to rush and you quickly realize that God is in no hurry. Hence the divine mercy we are given at birth, the gift of forgetfulness. At birth we must bathe in the Ameles potamos or river of unmindfulness; this water, called by the Greeks, the Lethe flowed around the cave of Hypnos and through the Underworld, where all those who drank from it experienced complete forgetfulness before birth”.

“So we can experience life without carrying the burden of what we have experienced or have done in the past…I am aware of this idea” I added.

“Yes, but that is a very simplified version, what I am going to reveal to you has never been told before, the truth about who we really are”

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