“The Gates of Gold”
The Path, May, 1888
When the strong man has crossed the threshold he speaks no more to those at the other (this) side. And even the words he utters when he is outside are so full of mystery, so veiled and profound, that only those who follow in his steps can see the light within them.—Through the Gates of Gold, p. 19.
He fails to speak when he has crossed, because, if he did, they would neither hear nor understand him. All the language he can use when on this side is language based upon experience gained outside the Gates, and when he uses that language, it calls up in the minds of his hearers only the ideas corresponding to the plane they are on and experience they have undergone; for if he speaks of that kind of idea and experience which he has found on the other side, his hearers do not know what is beneath his words, and therefore his utterances seem profound. They are not veiled and profound because he wishes to be a mystic whose words no one can expound, but solely because of the necessities of the case. He is willing and anxious to tell all who wish to know, but cannot convey what he desires, and he is sometimes accused of being unnecessarily vague and misleading.
But there are some who pretend to have passed through these Gates and who utter mere nothings, mere juggles of words that cannot be understood because there is nothing behind them rooted in experience. Then the question arises, “How are we to distinguish between these two?”
There are two ways.
1. By having an immense erudition, a profound knowledge of the various and numberless utterances of those known masters throughout the ages whose words are full of power. But this is obviously an immense and difficult task, one which involves years devoted to reading and a rarely-found retentiveness of memory. So it cannot be the one most useful to us. It is the path of mere book-knowledge.
2. The other mode is by testing those utterances by our intuition. There is scarcely any one who has not got an internal voice—a silent monitor—who, so to say, strikes within us the bell that corresponds to truth, just as a piano’s wires each report the vibrations peculiar to it, but not due to striking the wire itself. It is just as if we had within us a series of wires whose vibrations are all true, but which will not be vibrated except by those words and propositions which are in themselves true. So that false and pretending individual who speaks in veiled language only mere nothingness will never vibrate within us those wires which correspond to truth. But when one who has been to and through those Gates speaks ordinary words really veiling grand ideas, then all the invisible wires within immediately vibrate in unison. The inner monitor has struck them, and we feel that he has said what is true, and whether we understand him or not we feel the power of the vibration and the value of the words we have heard.
Many persons are inclined to doubt the existence in themselves of this intuition, who in fact possess it. It is a common heritage of man, and only needs unselfish effort to develop it. Many selfish men have it in their selfish lives; many a great financier and manager has it and exercises it. This is merely its lowest use and expression.
By constantly referring mentally all propositions to it and thus giving it an opportunity for growth, it will grow and speak soon with no uncertain tones. This is what is meant in old Hindu books by the expression, “a knowledge of the real meaning of sacred books.” It ought to be cultivated because it is one of the first steps in knowing ourselves and understanding others.
In this civilization especially we are inclined to look outside instead of inside ourselves. Nearly all our progress is material and thus superficial. Spirit is neglected or forgotten, while that which is not spirit is enshrined as such. The intuitions of the little child are stifled until at last they are almost lost, leaving the many at the mercy of judgments based upon exterior reason. How, then, can one who has been near the Golden Gates—much more he who passed through them—be other than silent in surroundings where the golden refulgence is unknown or denied. Obliged to use the words of his fellow travellers, he gives them a meaning unknown to them, or detaches them from their accustomed relation. Hence he is sometimes vague, often misleading, seldom properly understood. But not lost are any of these words, for they sound through the ages, and in future eras they will turn themselves into sentences of gold in the hearts of disciples yet to come.