That winter-spring day, February 16, 1980, was stormy and turbulent, and we wondered who would be able to make it to the Wheelwright Center to hear from Alan that afternoon. Ninety people came, from all over the country. Most had known Alan for years, had heard his “studies” (lectures) many times. The talk he gave that afternoon was to some of his most initiated apprentices and friends. It was a personal statement, with many aspects, different parts to which each of us felt great connection. Not all of it was entirely understandable. It never was. It didn’t matter. What had happened over the years of knowing Alan was that he had changed our lives, had made us into gardeners, of every strain and variety for life.
This piece is nearly a literal transcription of the tape of his talk. We chose to edit and interpret very sparingly to preserve the directness of what Alan actually said that day to those in the room. After talking about the garden, Alan went on to tell three narratives: Rosmarinus and Lavandula, The Nightingale, and The Merchant and the Seer. He often included such stories and fables in his lectures; and his long experience in the theatre brought them to life each time.
– Transcript –
Thank you, Paul. Thank you each of you. Greetings and gratitude. Endless, endless gratitude for all this that has been brought about. To those who have worked and achieved it and managed it, much, much gratitude. And to Richard Baker-roshi, much gratitude that we may have the conference here, for the whole of this meeting. Also, please, gratitude from me personally, that as you may or may not know, Richard has given me domicile here and that I may live here for the time being and have everything that I could want, and am indeed utterly comfortable. Much, Much gratitude.
So going back to Santa Cruz where Paul Lee and Page Smith and Freya Von Moltke introduced us all. And this astonishing star commenced to shine. And here we are. And it’s held together. Page always said it required a lunatic. Perhaps. He should know. I felt that I had to give thanks for all that’s been achieved. A tremendous amount of focus and work and labor. However, I feel it not only my duty but I feel the requirement that this hour, from myself, with us, must evolve around the vision of this project. The administration is obvious, it’s all happened. As Paul said when I gave him a list of the things that I suggested, he said, “That’s all done.” Therefore if you will agree and permit me I will focus on the vision of the project. It will be in a strange way, as it always happens, as you know, that I beg you to excuse, I am not an educator. I find that I have to begin with Paracelsus, because there is literally none other in words that has achieved it. So I am talking now, you understand, about the vision that is the garden. Now that garden hasn’t happened, you realize. We came from it. I can’t refer you to that. We all can only refer ourselves to that. But the garden has again to be reached. And that’s what all of this refers to. The garden. That there’s any sense of it today at all is questionable.
“The star angels are transmitters and flowers become symbols of their communication. The closer our communion with the angels the greater will be our sense of the mystery of the plant kingdom and the deeper our realization of the spiritual ministry of the world of flowers.”
That was said by one of the greatest, one of the huge geniuses of the time, Theophrastus von Hohenheim who called himself in the end Paracelsus. I beg to talk with you. Let us say we are in the environment then of the garden, somewhere, all of us right now; the mystery of birth; the mystery of seed; coming out of invisibility into visible life. And the whole atmosphere that permits this to come about. The atmosphere – atmos phere in which we and all the birds and animals that we have names for, that float and fly and swim in the air, in the water, in the elements, in which they are capable and permitted to live, to reflect. It is delicate. Delicate beyond all degrees. It’s utterly delicate this atmosphere. It is cosmic. It is, of course, directed by rulers upon rulers upon rulers.
You must look for instance, upon the rings inside a tree to understand the strata that go down through the earth into the center. They are all connected with each other. Likewise is the atmosphere taking place all the time. And this atmosphere is not a mass. It is again all in strata. And it’s very very slight this atmosphere we live in. What are we doing with it? 1 What I beg you in the name of all are we doing with it? Do we in any sense comprehend it? Are we destroying it? Are we wickedly destroying it? On purpose? Or ignorance? Do you realize that the sun is the leader of these planets? And that at dawn, every day, this little bit of strata, of cloud, is only a breath. That sun arises. You must not think of it as heat or as light. For it is not. That sun is energy, and that energy is part of the total flow of energy. Every time the dawn comes in this area, there is a leadership. And that leadership demands that the emanation of this earth come out and meet it, which it cannot resist because the sun is the leader. And the whole of this earth deep down flows out to meet that greeting and marries. It is only through what you call the area of discontinuity on the surface of the earth, that that marriage becomes obvious to us and produces this exquisite matter that we call atmosphere in which we are allowed to live. In response to that marriage, it is delicate, as the sun first calls and the powers of the earth begin to rise. And so great is that strength of the sun, the strength of the great law of creation, that it would indeed throw this earth into atoms in space if it were not for the fact that the earth belongs to the planet, is participle of the sun and is able, because the sun makes the earth revolve by continually drawing, makes the earth form a magnetic strata that holds part of its personality back.
You see, it’s just like falling in love with someone. And in the first place it is a slow growth. And then as it comes toward ten and eleven o’clock and the first birth has taken place, you have now got floration. And by noon when the sun is at its most demanding of this marriage, the whole earth is exhausted and all the flowers and plants are going “huff huff” and people are saying, “Oh, my gosh,isn’t it hot today!” And they are longing for a rest under the shade of the trees. And so this great leadership passes on to the next issue and the next. And it lets go. And so the ego of the earth, gradually, by the evening, the very opposite to dawn, is able to restore its personality. In order that it may be ready for the marriage again in the next cycle that is to come. And so by midnight, the whole of the forces of the earth have restored themselves in readiness for this nuptial marriage. And adoration that the sun, will come and take place. And this is what produces this atmosphere.
This is carried out, as you see, in what we call the revolution of the earth: twenty-four hours. And then the months which is the revolution of the moon: twenty-seven days. And so on into the year. All the planet controls that create the atmosphere, all of those planet controls play their part but are not static and are never the same. Therefore you cannot consider a calendar or a watch. For no year is another year. No month is another month. No week is another week. Not even a moment is reiterated. There is never a static nor a complete reiteration. All birth is new. From the invisible into the visible. What we look upon as the vast controlling forces we put into four quarters and nominate them the seasons. And we imagine that spring, summer, autumn and winter come regularly throughout the year down on the calendar and we say it is spring. Well, of course, that is not so. The spring is entering and the spring is exiting. As one says to all the gardeners you only water the bed in order that it should dry. And then when you’ve watered it, you long that it would dry and when it’s dry, why you have to water it again. Now this matter concerning spring, summer, autumn and winter then is what one is here alluding to most enormously. It is part of the great mystery. It is the mystery that connects the garden with Arthur and the Round Table and with Parsifal. Parsifal is really the perfect epitome of the true gardener. And the translation of Parsifal, as you know, is pure fool. The only one who can find the way back to the garden must be a pure fool. You see great simplicity, utter, utter enormous, beyond, beyond simplicity. Childishness, Laughable childishness!
Now these four seasons then are so obviously the four archangels – Michael, Gabriel, Raphael and Uriel. And they all play their part and give their gifts. And hand them to the next2. And they are directed by the fifth archangel, of whom we will not speak. Those four archangels then are all the time flooding the world with gifts. Michael comes after Uriel to protect. Uriel has so defaced the earth, humanity, by its voluptuous giving, has so overwhelmed the whole earth with voluptuous gifts that man has gone utterly into the Luciferic and left the Ahrimanic and forgotten about it. As though it did not exist.
“Within the infant rind of this weak flower, poison hath residence and medicine power.”
In everything the two. And so with this incredible gift that goes on of crops, of ripening, of blossoming, of fruition. The very height of all the four, led by the One. This has overwhelmed and the Luciferic has gained control, so to speak, and it takes the entry of Michael downwards now. Uriel right up into the Luciferic. And now it takes the iron sword and the mounting to go and attack Drago. Those great pumpkins that crawl on the ground who have now emancipated and the whole dangers that have all been forgotten, and that the whole of birth would be restricted and stopped because of this negligence.
And it requires Michael to restore with his sword, descending into the earth to protect again and to bring this deep protection down to the depths of the earth that all may be restored for the entry of Gabriel. For the resuscitation of Mary, the ocean. The conception. Of rebirth. That leads into Raphael which is ascendancy. Resuscitation. The whole rebirth of spring. The prima vera. The opening out again of the coming of life. So that you have gone down, along, up, and into the Luciferic. Those four archangels handing and doing the duty from one to the other. Giving everything in this world, everything that everybody has ever needed and ever will need. The whole plant world which is governed by these four is in complete obedience to those four archangels. And therefore the whole of that plant world is an angelic force in utter obedience to that and is the coverer of this exquisite raiment, within the atmosphere, on the skin of the earth.
To cover it – with – oh! How delicious! What incredible wonder! Where we enter with the conductor. The director. The great purpose, the great destiny of mankind, to look after the earth. To build a garden. To comprehend its flow and to direct, that it shall magnify it and out of that magnification shall resuscitate his own “image.” Out of the spiritual image of the invisible back into the visible into the invisible gaining all the time access into what we cannot comprehend, what is out of comprehension. You will never understand the garden. It is a mystery. It is secret. Where every time you come to a corner and a crossroads you will find it is secret. These plants and this plant world, this vast angelic force, of such exquisiteness, respond utterly, completely, to the direction of the gardener.
Out of all the weeds, as we would call them, the exquisite weeds, that we’ve known of for so short a time. For how little do we know in any history! What have we got for information? We’ve hardly got history that goes back sensibly for more than three hundred years. That out of all that we would call the weeds you must realize that there is no static. The weeds that we know are not the weeds that they knew; that we know not of. For you understand here in Europe, in the west, the lobelia is a little edging plant of great charm and the cardinale only grows so high. But in the forest of the Ruinzore, where the chimpanzees nest and build their hammocks in it and sing themselves to sleep, it is a great palm tree eighty feet high. And so we must not think that we comprehend the history of the plants because we don’t at all. All those weeds that are our recent environment, all of the crabapples, the hard sour pears, the little plums, the damsons and the things that go into berries, what has happened? The gardener, and I am talking about the gardener, the one who is led with a spiritual vision in the invisible world first, has as Paracelsus would have said, put his hand into paradise with his eyes closed and brought down through seed this invisible mystery. Through seed he has brought down the plants from the invisible. I say paradise. Do you comprehend? And suddenly in the garden a lactuca, a leek, a beautiful turnip. Mmmm! and the wild one, blah! Transformation. Transformation. And to use another word that a great professor like Paul Lee would use would be metamorphosis. You see this is most important now and the word, the very word he uses is so important and this is where a stupid like me trips up so badly and indeed it makes himself look silly. But you see metamorphosis is almost the root of what we are talking about. Everything is change. Therefore, you must realize that now we are talking about turning weeds into plants. And you’ve got beautiful lettuce, wonderful apples, delicious pears. All come out of image. It is a metamorphosis. And that metamorphosis will go on differently and will occur again and again. So out of what we call a pear today or an apple today heaven knows in a thousand years what that metamorphosis, what another metamorphosis is going to bring out of image!
Therefore you see how right Goethe was when he said that all seed is the utmost of idee and the least metamorphosis, and that all of the plant or tree is the least idee and the utmost endless of metamorphosis. Now, I express to you this matter that has become calumnious and the only thing that anybody can think of, looking at an emporium and learning about in the commercial world is that you have got to live. This is nonsense. To eat is merely a metamorphosis. You put something in the hole in your face and before that it drops down on the kitchen table. Mary comes rushing out with a sauce pan and collects it and does tricks down there, beats it up and does numerous things and the result is energy. You go to a concert and the music is full of idee and elevee. And you have food. You go to the ocean and you breathe in and you have ozone. And you breathe in enormously and you have food. You see color, you listen to sound, you listen to a bird and you have food. It is metamorphosis. They’re all foods. Only in this world today, to children, through parents and through education, is food something that comes in a frozen sealed truck and you drop it down the hole in your face and there it is. Do you perceive that I can only use one word? It is a sacramental matter. The whole of food, all food that we eat is sacrament. And therefore the growing of it is also a sacrament. And that you cannot eat such food or any food unless you are concerned with the sacrament of growing it. It is part of the whole flow of the comprehension. You cannot conceive of the digestion of such things if you have no connection with it. And that when you realize it comes from the very essence of the garden you see how imperative this is. That without the connection between the human it does not, it does not fulfill. It is not food and loses its spiritual value. Therefore, the whole attitude today of an emporium, of a food shop, is that you should buy anything you want at any time of the year. It doesn’t matter whether it’s dawn or day, it’s open. And you can buy anything in there in some form or other. Generally in packets or frozen or tins or what they call fresh. What is this calumny? What is this refute? If you are given the greatest present in the world, do you unwrap it and throw it on the floor? Or do you take it and freeze it? You see we don’t believe. We don’t believe in the four archangels.
We don’t believe in the four seasons at all. Even with faith and trust. We have none. We’ve lost it all. Whatever we can touch is the only thing that we can have any belief in. The whole word sacrifice, to be completely prepared to give your life because you know that something is beyond your comprehension. And that it is IT – RIGHT. It’s a huge matter. This is what we are talking about. The garden. These secret matters that concern all children that are born, that are given none of this any more, they are not allowed to come within the precinct of its comprehension. They’re not allowed to. They have got to go and be shut inside the emporium door. Got to! It is this and I am not being negative. I have no intention of being negative and banging down the doors or the roof of the emporium. This would avail nothing. The fact that people would have become terrified of poisons in the food means nothing. It will not correct the issue. The correction to this issue is obedience. Obedience! Not obedience as a duty. That doesn’t work either. Obedience for the adoration of it. As the bees adore the performance as they have for millions and millions of years with their Queen. And they would not refute it although they only live for six weeks – and bring in honey ad lib that they never even eat of.
You see I am having to talk around and around and I’m not really getting to any particular point. But I am revealing to some degree mysteries and secrets. It is within the garden and all its secrets and its mysteries. The mystery of the birth of seed. The mystery of the performance of the four archangels. You cannot dare to log them into dates and say the sun shone today and it was hot today and all of that. You can. It is part of a game. That’s all right. But you must also be aware of the mystery and live in it. And that there sits in that mystery the true educative. It’s in the invisible. You cannot have a paid minister in a position to hold in the hand and give it to the children. It is too priestly. This garden is full of paths that lead to this as in the story of the two herbs, which I am sure you all know but I will tell it to you again if I may.
Rosmarinus and Lavandula
In the days when man lived in balance he was watched over and guided by the stars. And at a certain period it was observed that man was beginning to use his reason and intellect. And therefore two stars were ordered to descend to earth to enlighten man. It so happened that those two stars arrived on earth at the very moment that the Archangel raised his sword and drove Adam and Eve out of the garden. And these two stars in the endeavor to fulfill their orders attempted to follow. And the Archangel raised his sword again and said,
“None may follow these two where they must travel in the land of darkness.” And the one star raised a medallion and said.
“I represent the King of fishes and am strength.” And the other raised a medallion and said, “I am the Queen of Crops and I represent comfort.”
And when the Archangel recognized his two brothers he lowered his sword and permitted them to pass in the form of two herbs – Rosmarinus for strength and Lavandula for comfort, later to become known as male and female. And in this form they traveled beside Adam and Eve throughout all the lands of darkness showing them always, when they required it, the paths that led back to where they had come from.
The matter concerning the secrets of the garden, these beyond childishness, that induced me to mention Parsifal, the pure fool, brings me again to ask if I may tell you, very quickly, the old Oriental story, of the emperor, a story known as The Nightingale. May I?
A long time ago there was an Emperor of the Orient who lived in a magnificent palace in a beautiful park set in wonderful gardens, beside which a great river flowed with trees overhanging. And the palace was beautifully kept, and beautifully built, and all the grounds of the gardens were exquisitely laid out and kept. And his whole dominion was enormous and stretched far and wide. And it was beautifully and perfectly governed, and lived in great happiness and prosperity.
Now the reason for this happiness and prosperity was truly not the emperor. Neither was it the magnificent palace; nor, indeed, was it the park; nor the wonderful garden; nor the river that flowed so beautifully and wide. Nor even the people who were so obedient and diligent in their work in the whole empire. It was a nightingale.
For every day the court was held, and all of the cases of the empire were brought up, and all the requests, and the problems, and the troubles that had to be ironed out, and they were many. Many, indeed, and diverse, and very problematic (as one might say, today). And so the emperor would sit with great caution, and attend. And it became a practice of his never to answer that day, never to give his decision; but to attend, and to await. And when the court was over, and eventually the long day came to an end, he would go to his great apartment, and he would enter and close the door. And he would go through the room to the great casements of the windows that looked out over the gardens, and the park and the river, and all its trees. And he would open these casements, go out onto the balcony, lean on the balustrade (as the daylight waned and went; and the evening evened out) and he would wait, and wait, and wait. And suddenly, on a certain bough in a certain tree, the nightingale would begin to trill. And the emperor would listen. And the trill, and the trill, and the trill would go on. And then suddenly, this exquisite scale would run up into the treble, and disappear into the stars. And silence. And then the trill, and the trill, and the trill, and the trill, and suddenly these notes, one after the other… in octaves, in thirds, in fifths flying into the air in exquisiteness, in harmony with the stars, and the garden. And the emperor would feel a great quietude come upon him, and eventually, the nightingale would cease. And the emperor would nod, and go backwards through the casements, and close the great windows; and lie back upon his huge couch. And sleep would come upon him with superb and wonderful dreams, and rest.
So that in the morning when he awoke, all his mind was clear. He was utterly washed inside and rested. And the answers to all the questions of the day before were perfectly clear and precise. And he brought them, and gave them. And so proceeded these matters from day to day. And the nightingale was, indeed, a great secret.
Now it so happened that within the court, of course, there was a grand vizier (like a prime minister). Now this grand vizier was, of course, a man of great mental ability. He thought a great deal; and he thought very quickly indeed. And he had a great connivance of the brain. He was actually the most astute man in the entire empire, and was, therefore, chosen as the grand vizier.
Now, of course, the grand vizier knew perfectly well that something extraordinary went on, because the emperor did not come to give answers at the time when he obviously should. And he disapproved of this. And although it was not his right to overrule it, he utterly disapproved of it. And what’s more, he very often thought that other answers should be given which were much more to the point, and much more deliberate to the correct answers.
And after a time he began to feel that really something must be done about it. And so, he connived in his brain…found out exactly what was the root of the matter; and suddenly, he got a connivance.
Now he had a great friend at court who was a superb mechanic. And so, one day, he called him and he whispered in his ear; and they nodded their heads together; and the connivance passed from one to the other; and it was built; and they laughed; and they clapped their hands; and they giggled; and they became quite ecstatic. Now, of course, every year a huge celebration took place over the three days at which the emperor gave his annual announcements. They decided that here was the right date to augment their matter.
And so it was on this occasion during the festivities of the year that a great many people came from over the horizon to hear what was said. And the moment that the emperor sat upon the throne and got ready to deliver this speech, the grand vizier turned to the mechanic, and took from him, and placed upon the emperor’s lap, a parcel covered with a cloth. This, of course, was very infradig. And the emperor did not know quite what to do, since it had never happened before. But before anything else could take place, the grand vizier whipped the cloth from off the cage, which it was, and there was a bird cage. And in the bird cage was a little bowl of food, a little bowl of water, and a droppings board; and across the middle, a perch… and on the perch, a stuffed toy nightingale. There was utter silence throughout the court.
A rather large frown was spreading on the emperor’s countenance. And at that moment, to alleviate, the mechanic stepped forward with a key, and at the back of the cage inserted the key, and went … quack, quack, quack. And the bird’s tail began to go up and down, and the little beak began to open, and suddenly there was a trill… and it stopped. And then the tail, and then the beak, and then the trill. And suddenly there was a whole series of notes … astonishingly good. And again the trill, and again the trill, and it just began another cadence of notes, when there was a – quack. Whereupon the mechanic ran forward, did a few adjustments, and inserted the key, and wound it up.
By this time the crowd (and of course, they had been feasting, you understand) was very, very happy (as they were meant to be) became rather over-ecstatic and a little delirious. And as a result were not content with two or three such wind-ups, but required it to go on. The emperor’s frown had spread over his countenance, and he was not pleased. And he rose and placed the cage upon the throne, and retired to his chamber.
In the meantime the winding-up of the mechanic and the grand vizier were very cleverly timed. And all the connivance of it was carried out most explicitly, so that the whole crowd of people, and all of the principal couriers were enjoying themselves thoroughly. They were taking sips of glasses of wine and gargling in their throats, and doing nightingale gargles. And all trying to sing like nightingales. And there was general upheaval and laughter, and it was really very over-hilarious. And this went on, and disrupted the proceedings.
Later that evening, the emperor went to the casements, threw them open, went out on the balcony, and leant on the balustrade. And waited, and waited, and waited. But the nightingale had known; and the great river had known; and the arms of the trees spreading over the river causing its great depths of the shadows had known. In the movement of the air between the trees and the river, the nightingale travelled down the great river to a new land where there was a home; where she could sing; where she was required. A long, long way away.
And eventually the emperor left the balustrade, closed the windows, and fell back upon the great bed, and did not sleep. He was confused. Sleep did not come to him, nor gentle or sweet dreams. And in the morning when he did awake, he was not clear, and he had not got the proper answers to the questions. And the grand vizier was thoroughly able to supply them … and this was very much the intention of his connivance.
And so, between them, the grand vizier and the mechanic, and all the others that joined suit, found it very much to their purpose to direct the State in its proper courses as they felt. And very soon there was theft, and burglary, and immorality, and selfishness, and willfulness, and discord … and still the emperor could not find the answers. And this built and grew, and it grew over months and months. And it seemed interminable. And the emperor became exhausted, and violently upset. And eventually war was declared out of it.
And now the emperor was very ill and knew that he was dying. And he retired to his chamber and all the court knew that they would have to elect a new emperor.
And the emperor went to the great casements, and desperately threw them open, and leant upon the balcony. And prayed and prayed to the nightingale. But the nightingale had heard. The nightingale knew of this prayer that was coming, and had flown back with the spring winds up the river, and was in the tree in the bough. And then the emperor leant upon the balustrade, and waited, and waited; hopelessly; suddenly the trill was there. And the trill flew right through him. And the trill came again. And then the notes, the notes of the octave, and the trill, and the song; and he almost burst with happiness, and a huge flow of life seemed to evolve and wash through him. And long did the nightingale sing happily, and richly, and exquisitely its secret mystic notes. And eventually it ceased. And the emperor went back through the casements and closed them quietly. And fell back upon the bed and slept most exquisitely; and awoke with a new life.
And when the grand vizier and the courtiers came in expecting to have to elect a new emperor, the emperor rose and met him, and face to face, exclaimed, “You know what you have done; now go and put it right.” And the grand vizier went, for he knew. And the emperor attended to the court; he listened to the people… and he listened to the nightingale every night. And he was filled with the magic of the secret, and was able to give the answers. And again the State became a great empire of beauty, and happiness, and prosperity.
(After Alan concluded the story of The Nightingale, he went on to say:) The time is getting late. I have another narrative but it is terrible. It is a terrible one, it is the opposite. Would you rather not have it? It is The Merchant and the Seer. Some of you know it; would you recommend that I tell it or not?
Well, you see Monsieurs and Madames, what are we doing with the gifts of the Archangels that are not only gifts of giving but are forgiving with it? For no matter what we do today with gas, with motor cars, with poisons, with even poisoning the Archangels’ weeds which are their raiment. Because we cannot comprehend them in any way at all through vision. I cannot but tell this story to prove the calumny therefore.
The Merchant and the Seer
There was at one time a merchant, a youngish man, who had been good in business, and was now reduced to nothing but one camel and a small quantity of goods. And therefore being allnost destitute, decided to set out and try and do some business. So he put his goods upon the camel early in the morning and mounted and rode off into the desert, intending to cross to some town to do business. Towards the end of the day he noticed on the horizon … dust. And so he went towards it. And then he discovered he was approaching a caravansary, of which he was pleased because he would be safer. And so he speeded his camel and discovered as he came close that it was only one, only one owner with some twenty camels. When he had nearly caught up with it, he hailed the owner who appeared to be an ancient seer of gentleness and asked him if he might join him, at least for the night for security. And the seer smiled and said, “Of course, if you will And so he joined him, and eventually it came time to encamp. And just before that the merchant felt that it was right to inform the seer of what he was doing. And therefore he told him that he had but one camel left and all his misfortunes and all his losses and that he was indeed a most unfortunate man and that his business had indeed been almost a total failure. Whereupon the seer shared his meal with him, when they had placed the camels and fed them. And the merchant, seeing him extremely well off, most beautifully well off in every way, vaguely hinted that he would be most glad if there could be any assistance to his doing business. So the seer looked up and said, “Of course, if you will
The merchant gained courage and said, “Do you … oh, I see, well that is very generous and kind of you. I really hadn’t anticipated this. Ah, you mean that you would really help me possibly in the near future, to some town where I could do business with what things I’ve got?”
The seer said, “Yes, of course, if you will So, as they ate, the merchant couldn’t but feel that this was a little too easy, there was a trick somewhere going on and that was very obvious. And he was trying to find out what this trick was. So he proceeded on the same course and the merchant said,
“You must forgive me, but I go back to what I asked, and you were suggesting that you could indeed help me to find perhaps a shop in some town where I could do business with what goods I’ve got, which after all are almost negligible.”
And the seer said, “Yes, that is true, indeed, if you will.”
So the merchant said, “Then do you tell me that you actually know of a town, and somewhere, with what goods I’ve got, that I could do some business with them?”
And the seer said, “Yes, indeed.”
The merchant went on with the meal and it was nearly over. And he said, “I, I really must confess that I’m very overwhelmed by your generosity, you seem to do nothing but say yes to all my questions. Can you explain to me, I ask you, where is this town, since I have traveled this desert and know it intimately and have never met such a town, neither have I met a place where I could do good business. However, can you prove this to me in some way?”
And the seer said, “Oh yes, of course, if you will.”this desert and know it intimately and have never met such a town, neither have I met a place where I could do good business. However, can you prove this to me in some way?”
The merchant said, “You will?! You mean there is such and you will prove it to me?”
“Yes, I will do so here and now, if you will The merchant said, “Yes indeed, I will And he began to look at this seer and sum him up. And although he had twenty camels and all the goods in the world, the merchant had a scimitar, the seer had no protection whatever and obviously was a very, very, very old man. He began to sum the position up. And the seer made him rise, and he said, “Behold,” and he took a phial from his purse, and he said.
“You perceive this? If you take the second finger of your left hand and you apply this ointment to your left eye, you will see all the business in the world. But in granting you this request I must also warn you, and I warn you, that were you to apply that ointment to both eyes you would see nothing ever again.”
Of course you can imagine the merchant began to think he had met a crank. Whereupon he turned to the seer and looking him straight in the face said, “I, I would wish to prove that.”
The seer said, “I have warned you, I have warned you, if you will.”
And the merchant said, “I will And so he placed the second finger of the left hand in the ointment and he applied it to the left eye. And it was true. He saw the city, the shops and all the business in the world. Everything that he could ever, ever want. He was ecstatic. The seer went to bed and slept. And the merchant went to bed and did not sleep. He thought, he knew there was a trick somewhere. All of this must be a hallucination. And long before dawn he was ready to go. But nothing would get the seer until it was time to be under way. And then the caravansary moved froward and indeed they came to this city. And on entry there were the shops. And here the seer turned to the merchant and said, “There is your business.” And the merchant went into the shops and did huge, enormous business and made a fortune of goods. And during the day loaded them on his camel until it was weighted to the ground. And towards evening when he set towards the gates to set out, he again met the seer, also his twenty camels, all completely loaded with the most wonderful and beautiful goods. And since they were to cross the desert and now had enormous value, the merchant again asked if he might accompany the seer. Which was granted. And so they traveled for the several days, and the encampments. And on that day they came to a certain point where the seer turned to the merchant and said, “This is where I go south, and you, I understand, go north.” And the merchant agreed that this was sq. And he turned to the seer and thanked him with his heart, that he made such a fortune. And he bethought as he rode away, having said farewell, that he now had, whatever happened, enough security for life. And how happy he was. How extraordinarily fortunate this should have turned out so, how incomprehensibly fortunate that nothing could have been imagined that it could happen so. And as those thoughts passed through his mind, suddenly the view of the seer, with twenty camels against his one. His security was, well it was sound for life, providing nothing happened. Of course, anything could happen. I mean something could go wrong. But here was an old man with twenty camels. He obviously couldn’t want those twenty camels loaded with goods. I mean, he obviously had any amount of other goods elsewhere. Well! There was a trick, there was a trick, you see, all the time! Of course there was a trick and the whole trick was to get him his one camel with the goods, in order that he could set off, th4t he could get away with the twenty camels. It was simple. He had a scimitar. He was tremenddusly strong. And here was an old man with nothing.
So at the end of the two miles he drew up the camel, he turned it about and he cantered to the south. And eventually there was the seer. And as he drew up, he hailed him, and the seer pulled up his caravansary and said,
“Yes, what is your will?” And the merchant turned upon him with his hand upon the hilt of his scimitar and he said,
“I perceive it. I knew there was a trick all the time. You’re a very clever old man. You completely deceived me. You imagined, that you would let me go with one camel because it was new to me, because the whole experience was overwhelming to me. And here you are with twenty camels, you don’t want them, covered in goods, and behaving in this manner. Why don’t you give me half of them?!”
The seer looked up, and smiled, and said, “But of course, if you will.”
“Certainly, if you will, take them.”
Whereupon the merchant was full of gratitude again, but still overwhelmed, but he took the ten camels loaded, with his one, turned to the north, and having bid farewell, galloped northwards. Again, all those thoughts went through his mind. When he had realized how well off he was, he began to sum up again, that something could happen, they were only goods and that still there was a trick. This was a very clever, wily old man. There was a trick somewhere. And as he thought and thought and connived in his mind and gradually the camels slowed down, he suddenly got it. “Of course!” The camels weren’t in the matter. Of course he had the phial, the whole source of knowing where everything was. Here was the very spring of all, all the control of everything. And he was merely covering himself to get away with it. It was perfectly simple, because there was no stopping it. And that the whole trick about the ointment and the left eye, perfectly obvious that that was a trick too, that he should only see a small portion of anything. He quickly turned about the whole caravansary, galloped to the south, and went charging through the dust of the desert, and as he drew up exhausted, he hailed the seer. And the seer drew up and turned and said,
“Yes, what is it now?” And the merchant drew his scimitar and he said, “You must understand me. You’re an old man, you have no form of protection, it is a waste of time. I comprehend exactly, I see the whole issue. You’re trying to prevent me from getting at the ointment in that phial.”
And the seer looked at him and said, “I told you. I told you and I warned you.” “Will you give me the ointment?”
And the seer said, “I am warning you. I have warned you!” And the merchant grabbed at the belt and pulled the purse off, took out the ointment, placed the second finger of the left hand and wiped the left eye and the right eye, and he saw – nothing! He was blind in both eyes, and he fell down in the dust in the desert, and became a beggar.
(After the story of The Merchant and The Seer, Alan concluded the meeting:) Friends, friends, all connected in the garden. Your administration of it will come partly out of today and partly out of what you bring about. The gardeners in this garden, shall they not join the comprehension with the angels? As Paracelsus says:
The closer our communion with the angels the greater will be our sense of understanding the mystery of the plant kingdom and the spiritual ministry of the world of flowers.
Shall they not become the guardians, the guardians in that garden, who will not tell because they will not know? But who will look after the paths and the plants in that garden that will lead the directions to the children? The little young children, the decrepit old children to the paths that lead to that garden from which we are meaning. The garden which is not at present, or has not, as we know at present, been built or in existence. It is not a utility garden. And it is all in the future. Would you not create these gardens, and shall not they lead a new concept?