The Second Day
by Jack Courtis
Lastly, there was one also who would, needs out of hand, persuade us that he saw the servitors who attended. He would still have pursued his contention had not one of those invisible waiters reached him so handsome a cuff upon his lying muzzle that not only he, but many more who were by him, became as mute as mice, yet it best of all pleased me, that those of whom I had any esteem, were very quiet in their business, and made no loud cry of it, but acknowledged themselves to be misunderstanding men, to whom the mysteries of nature were too high, and they themselves much too small. In this tumult I had almost cursed the day wherein I came hither. Only with anguish could I behold that those lewd vain people were above at the board, while I sat in so sorry a place. I could not rest in quiet as one of those rascals was scornfully reproaching me for a motley fool. Now I thought not that there was yet one gate behind, through which we must pass, but imagined I was during the whole marriage, to continue in this scorn, contempt and indignity, which yet I had at no time deserved, either of the Lord Bridegroom or the Bride. And therefore (in my opinion) he should have done well to sort out some other fool to his marriage than me. Behold, to such impatience doth the iniquity of this world reduce simple hearts. But this really was one part of my lameness, whereof (as is before mentioned) I dreamed. And truly this clamor the longer it lasted, the more it increased. For there were already those who boasted of false and imaginary visions, and would persuade us of palpably lying dreams.
This process of self-doubt is yet another subtle test. It is very easy for us to fail unless we exercise strict discipline on our thoughts, words and actions.
Now there sat by me a very fine quiet man, who often discoursed of excellent matters. At length he said, "Behold my brother, if any one should now come who were willing to instruct these blockish people in the right way, would he be heard?" "No, verily," replied I. "This world," said he, "is now resolved (whatever comes on it) to be cheated, and cannot abide to give ear to those who intend its good. Sees thou also that some cocks-comb, with what whimsical figures and foolish conceits he allures others to him. There one makes mouths at the people with unheard-of words of Mystery. Yet believe me in this, the time is now coming when those shameful wizards shall be plucked off and all the world shall know what vagabond impostors were concealed behind them. Then perhaps that will be valued which at present is not esteemed." Whilst he was thus speaking, the clamor continued and grew louder by the moment.
We each have access to "a very fine quiet man". It is our conscience and through it, our true nature, our Divine Spark. Do we listen when it speaks?
Of a sudden there began in the hall such excellent and stately music, as all the days of my life I never heard the like; whereupon every one held his peace, and attended what would become of it. Now there were in this music all sorts of stringed instruments imaginable, which sounded together in such harmony, that I forgot myself, and sat so unmovable, that those who sat by me were amazed at me, and this lasted near half an hour, wherein none of us spoke one word. For as soon as ever anyone was about to open his mouth, he got an unexpected blow. From whence it came, he knew it not. Methought since we were not permitted to see the musicians, I should have been glad to view only all the instruments they made use of. After half an hour this music ceased unexpectedly, and we could neither see nor hear anything further. Presently after, before the door of the hall began a great noise sounding and beating of trumpets, shalms and kettle-drums, also master-like, as if the emperor of Rome had been entering; whereupon the door opened of itself, and then the noise of the trumpets was so loud, that we were hardly able to endure it. Meanwhile (to my thinking) many thousand small tapers came into the hall, all which of themselves marched in so very exact an order as altogether amazed us, until at last the two aforementioned pages with bright torches, lighting in a most beautiful Virgin, all drawn on a gloriously gilded triumphant self-moving throne, entered the hall.
The music literally strikes the audience speechless. There is a time when we must listen and be silent. It is part of the process. If we do not understand, we shall be forced to be silent. The pages (little children of Tiferet), yet again create the 2 pillars of fire on either side of the feminine figure. On her throne, she reminds us of Isis and the mysteries of Love; as well as the High Priestess of the Tarot
It seemed to me she was the very same who before on the way kindled, and put out the lights, and that these her attendants were the very same whom she formerly placed at the trees. She was not now as before in sky-colour, but arrayed in a snow-white glittering robe, which sparked of pure gold, and cast such a lustre that we dared not steadily look upon it. Both the pages were after the same manner habited (albeit somewhat more slightly). As soon as they were come into the middle of the hall, and were descended from the throne, all the small tapers made obeisance before her. Whereupon we all stood up from our benches, yet everyone stayed in his own place. Now she having to us, and we again to her, showed all respect and reverence, in a most pleasant tone she began thus to speak:
The Virgin and the pages flanking her are the living Tree of Life. The whiteness of her robe reminds us of the intense bright light of Keter, the source from which all life pours out.
The King my Lord most gracious,
Who now is not very far from us,
As also his most lovely Bride,
To him in troth and honour tied;
Already, with great joy inbued,
Have your arrival hither viewed;
And do to every one, and all
Promise their grace in special;
And from their very hearts desire,
You may it at the same acquire;
That so their future nuptial joy
May mixed be with none’s annoy.
Note that the Virgin is not the Bride. If the King personifies Chakhmah on the Tree and the Bride is Binah, who then is the Virgin? Perhaps she is the manifestation of that which exists behind, what kabalists call, the 3 Veils of Negative Existence. She is truly mysterious because she is the source of power behind the Tree. That is why she announces the Bride and King.
Hereupon with all her small tapers she again courteously bowed, and presently after began thus:
In the invitation writ, you know
That no man called was hereto
Who of God’s rarest gifts good store
Had not received long before,
Adorned with all requisites,
As in such cases it befits.
How though they cannot well conceit
That any man’s so desperate,
Under conditions so hard,
Here to intrude without regard;
Unless he have been first of all,
Prepared for this nuptial;
And therefore in good hopes do dwell
That with all you it will be well.
Yet men are grown so bold, and rude,
Not weighing their ineptitude,
As still to thrust themselves in place
Whereto none of them called was.
No cocks-comb here himself may sell,
No rascal in with others steal;
For they resolved without all let
A marriage pure to celebrate.
So then the artists for to weigh
Scales shall be fixed the ensuing day;
Whereby each one may lightly find
What he hath left at home behind.
If here be any of that rout
Who have good cause themselves to doubt,
Let him pack quickly hence aside;
For that in case he longer bide,
Of grace forlorn and quite undone
Near time he must the gauntlet run.
If any now his conscience gall,
He shall tonight be left in hall
And be again released by morn,
Yet so he hither never return.
If any man have confidence,
He with his waiter may go hence,
Who shall him to his chamber light
Where he may rest in peace tonight;
And there with praise await the scale
Or else his sleep may chance to fail.
The others here may take it well,
For who aims above the possible,
It were better he hence had passed,
But of you all we will hope the best.
Now comes the last warning. There will be a test of worthiness, a severe judgement. If we are not certain of our spiritual state, we should not proceed. The Virgin’s warning should be read several times.
As soon as she had done speaking, she again made reverence, and sprung cheerfully into her throne, after which the trumpets began again to sound, which yet was not of force to take from many their grievous sighs. So they again conducted her invisibly away, but the most part of the small tapers remained in the room, and still one of them accompanied each of us. Note that we are all accompanied by a small taper, a symbol of the Divine Spark that is our true being.
In such perturbation, it is not possible to express what pensive thoughts and gestures were among us, yet for the most part we were resolved to await the scale. If things sorted out not well, we would depart (as they hoped) in peace. I had soon cast up my reckoning. My conscience convinced me of all ignorance and unworthiness, I purposed to stay with the rest in the hall, and chose much rather to content myself with the meal I had already taken, than to run the risk of a future repulse. Now after that every one by his small taper had severally been conducted into a chamber (each as I since understood into a peculiar one), there stayed nine of us, and among the rest, he also who discoursed with me at the table.
After self-reflection upon their unworthiness 9 candidates are placed in separate chambers and left only with their true selves (their tapers), for further self-examination. Why 9? Of the 10 sefirot on the Tree of Life, only 1, Malkhut, is in the level of reality we describe as here and now. The rest are on higher levels that we normally do not perceive. They are like chambers that we normally do not access. Yet, we must go into these dark chambers, accompanied only by the taper of our Divine nature. It is in the darkness that this light shines forth.
But although our small tapers left us not, yet soon after within an hour’s time one of the aforementioned pages came in, and bringing a great bundle of cords with him, first demanded of us whether we had concluded to stay there, which when we had with sighs affirmed, he bound each of us in a several place, and so went away with our small tapers, and left us poor wretches in darkness. Then some first began to perceive the imminent danger, and I myself could not refrain from tears. For although we were not forbidden to speak, yet anguish and affliction suffered none of us to utter one word. For the cords were so wonderfully made, yet none could cut them, much less get them off his feet. Yet this comforted me, that still the future gain, of many an one, who had now betaken himself to rest, would prove very little to his satisfaction. But we by only one night’s penance might expiate all our presumption; until at length in my sorrowful thoughts I fell asleep, during which I had a dream.
The next phase of the inner journey, is the Dark Night of the Soul, when we feel utterly abandoned and alone. Even our awareness of our Divine light is taken away from us. There is loss and desolation. We must lose everything, even hope. And yet, CRC has a dream. Which is the image, which the reality?
Now although there be no great matter in it, yet I esteem it not impertinent to recount it. I was upon an high mountain and saw before me a great and large valley. In this valley were gathered together an unspeakable multitude of people, each of which had at his head a thread, by which he was hanged up towards heaven. Now one hung high, while another low, and some stood even quite upon the earth. But in the air there flew up and down an ancient man, who had in his hand a pair of shears, wherewith here he cut one’s thread, and there another’s. Now he that was nigh the earth was so much the readier, and fell without noise, but when it happened to one of the high ones, the falling caused the earth to quake. To some it came to pass that their thread was so stretched, that they came to the earth before the thread was cut. I took pleasure in this tumbling, and it brought joy to my heart, when he who had over-exalted himself in the air, of his marriage, got so shameful a fall, that it carried even some of his neighbours along with him. In like manner it also rejoiced me that he who had all this while kept himself near the earth, could come down so fine and gently, that even his next men perceived it not. But being now in my highest fit of jollity, I was unawares jogged by one of my fellow captives, upon which I was awaked, and was very much discontented with him. Howbeit, I considered my dream, and recounted it to my brother, who lay by me on the other side, who was not dissatisfied with it, but hoped some comfort might thereby be pretended. In such discourse we spent the remaining part of the night, and with longing expected the day.
The high mountain is a high level of consciousness. The threads by which we are hung up to heaven, are our own opinions of our self-importance. The "ancient man" is the guardian who knows our true worth and cuts us down. We do not do it ourselves because we are dreaming within an illusion. We must awaken to who we truly are. CRC is awakened and continues to reflect on his condition. Remember, he is still in the chamber but now he has recovered hope. The dawn always comes after the Dark Night.