Excerpt from Servant of the Bones, 1996
” ‘All right. Now this is what I know. Don’t ever forget it.
As long you hate, and you roast in a hell of anger, there will be a limit to what you can do. You will be at the mercy of other spirits now and men and magicians. Anger is a confusing force, and hatred is blinding. So. You cripple yourself with this, you see, and that is why I would like to discipline it out of you, but that can’t be done. “
‘But here are the lessons. Accept what your hatred and anger will allow you to accept. First and foremost, there is one God, and his name does not matter. Yahweh, Ahuramazda, Zeus, Aten, it does not matter at all. How he is worshipped, how he is served, by what ritual, it doesn’t matter at all. “
‘There is one purpose to life and one only: to bear witness to and understand as much as possible of the complexity of the world-its beauty, its mysteries, its riddles. The more you understand, the more you look, the greater is your enjoyment of life and your sense of peace. That’s all there is to it. Everything else is fun and games. If an activity is not grounded in “to love” or “to learn,” it does not have value. “
‘Thirdly, be kind. Always, if you have a choice, be kind. Remember the poor, the hungry, and the miserable. Always remember the suffering, and those who need. The greatest creative power you have on earth, whether you are an angel, a spirit, or a man or a woman or a child is to help others . . . the poor, the hungry, the oppressed. To ease pain and give joy are your finest powers. Kindness is a human miracle, so to speak. It’s unique to us humans, and our more developed angels or spirits, to be kind. “
‘Fourth, on the subject of magic. All magic of all lands and all schools is the same. Magic is an attempt to control the unseen spirits, and the spirit within the living, or to bring back the spirits of the dead which still surround the earth. That is all that magic is. Making illusions, doing tricks, bringing wealth, it’s all done through spirits, that beings without bodies who can move swiftly, unseen, steal, spy, transport, etc.
That’s all magic. The words differ from country to country, from Ephesus to Delphi, to the northern steppes. But it’s all the same. I know all magic that can be known, and I continue my search for more. To learn a new incantation teaches me a new possibility. Now listen to me!
It teaches me a new possibility, but it doesn’t increase my power, my power increases with understanding and will. All magic is the same. What I’m saying is, you can do most anything whether you know the words or not! “
‘Magicians are born for the most part, but some men become magicians . . . incantations school and direct them, but ultimately the words don’t count. To God all languages are one. To the spirits all languages are one. Incantations help the weak magician more than the strong. But you can see why, can’t you? You are very strong. You can do things without incantations. I’ve seen that today. So have you. Don’t let anyone ever convince you by any incantation that they can have power over you. A magician can have power over you, yes, but don’t ever be fooled by mere words. Confront the power if you would resist it. Rouse yourself and make an incantation of your own. Incantations frighten spirits and humans alike. Make a song of strength, a song of might, when you would have your way. Doors will open.’
“He snapped his fingers. He waited a moment, then proceeded. ” ‘Lastly, no one human ever knows what lies beyond true death. Spirits can come very close to knowing; they can see bright stairways to heaven, they can see the fruit trees of paradise, they can talk to the dead in various forms, they can glimpse the light of God, oh, that is forever happening, these glimpses and glimpses of light, but they can’t really know what lies beyond true death! No one who really escapes the earth and its earthbound spirits ever comes back. They may appear to you. They may talk to you. But you can’t make them come from beyond death. Once they are dead, it is in their hands or God’s hands whether they appear here or not. So don’t ever believe anyone who tells you he knows all about Heaven. All of the realms of the spirits and angels that will ever be known to you or to me are of the Earth, not beyond Death. You understand?’ “
‘Yes, I fear I do,’ I said. ‘But to love and to learn, why? Why is that the purpose of life? I mean how did it become so, why would one set out to do only those things with such dedication?’ “
‘You’re asking a stupid question,’ he said. ‘Doesn’t matter why it’s that way; it’s that way: the purpose of life is to love and to learn.’ He sighed. ‘Let’s imagine answering the question for others . . . why is it important to love and to learn? For a cruel, stupid man this would he a sufficient answer: “It is the safest way to live life.” For a great man this would be an answer: “It is the most rewarding and illuminating way to live life.” For a selfish, blind person, I could say, “It will bring you the greatest peace in the end if you remember the poor, the hungry, the oppressed, if you remember others, if you love, if you learn.” ‘ He shrugged. ‘To the oppressed themselves, the answer is, “It will alleviate your pain, your terrible pain.” ‘
” ‘I see,’ I said. I smiled. I felt a great rush of pleasure. A great sweet rush of pleasure.
” ‘Ah,’ he said. ‘You do understand.’ “I started to cry again. ‘Is there no simple watchword?’ I asked.
” ‘Such as what?’
” ‘It isn’t always so easy to love and to learn; one can make hideous errors, hideous mistakes, hurt others. Is there no watchword! For example … in Hebrew the word “Altashheth“-Do Not Destroy.’ I could barely speak. I was choked with tears. I began to repeat the word over and over again. I said it in one final whisper. ‘Altashheth.’
“He considered, rather solemnly, and then he said, ‘No. There is no simple watchword. We cannot sing “Altashheth” until and unless all the world sings the same song.’
” ‘No one knows. Not Medians, not Hebrews, not Egyptians, not Greeks, not warriors from the north countries, no one knows. Remember. I’ve told you all that can be known. The rest is chant and rattle and stomp and laughter. Now give me your solemn word that you will serve me and I will give you my solemn word that as long as I live you will never know pain, if it is in my power to prevent it.’
” ‘I give it,’ I said. ‘I thank you for your patience. I think in life I was kind once.’
” ‘Why do you keep crying?’ ” ‘Because I don’t like to hate or to be angry,’ I said. ‘I want to learn and to love.’
” ‘Good enough. You will love and you will learn. Now it’s night, I’m old, I’m tired. I want to read until my eyes close, as is my habit. I want you to sleep within the bones until I call you forth. Answer no call but mine. There will be none, most likely, but one never knows what demons are up to, what jealous evil angels may try. Answer only my voice. And then we will begin together. If you are called forth come to me, wake me up. I’m not worried about you really . . . With your power, you can get me everything I want in this world.’
” ‘Everything you want? But what do you want? I can’t . . .’
” ‘It’s books, mostly, son, don’t get so excited,’ he said. ‘I have no use for wealth other than the beauty you see around me, which does indeed mean I am rich, but rich enough. I want books from all lands, to be taken to places, to caves in the north, and to the Egyptian cities in the south. You can do this. I’ll tell you everything, and by the time I die, you will be strong enough to resist those masters who aren’t worthy of your strength. Now go into the bones.’
” ‘I love you, Master,’ I said.
” ‘Oh, yes, yes,’ he said with a wave of his hand, ‘and I shall love you too, and some day you’ll have to watch me die.’