Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Odyssey of the Rising


"Odyssey Of The Rising" is an allegory with a unique feature. Embedded links within the story take the reader directly to the interpretation of the story, section by section. These links help to quickly clarify the realities of Christian Redemption for the reader as illustrated in the story.  
     To read the interpretation, simply click on the Section Number at the end of the section where you are reading.  A new window will open revealing the interpretation.  When finished reading the interpretation, close that window and continue reading the story in the original window.  

  Odyssey of the Rising 

Every life, including yours, dear reader, involves a mystical veil.  It is a veil which hides an unseen, dimension of life.  And, in that invisible dimension, incredible things are constantly happening every day, things which can and do impact us in the most profound ways.  

Decisions are weighed in the great ethereal balances where destinies are decided – for better or worse.  Decrees of great gravity are whispered there in unheard words.  

The times and seasons of our world are carefully measured against, and matched to, the divine timetable. And, all of the dynamics of life, itself, are carefully managed there, day by day.  It all happens on the other side of that invisible veil, in that outer life-region where our physical senses entirely fail us and our primal senses are all but useless for comprehension.   

But, in fact, as you will discover, that unseen region of life is, indeed, deeply involved in our every life experience.  And, the unseen players in that region are actually the key players in this physical life-dimension.  

So, what you are about to read is how life, even your life, dear  friend, really happens - unfolding every day as a two dimensional experience, occurring in both the physical and the metaphysical dimension, simultaneously.  What I am about to share with you is the true overview of the larger human experience which includes the seen and the unseen; the familiar and the part which we so often have no awareness of, at all.  

Nevertheless, these two distinct threads, the visible and the invisible, are, indeed, the “warp and weft” from which life’s dramatic patterns are always woven.  And, unless we account for both of these dimensions, we will never be able to accurately comprehend the true and complete tapestry of life.  But, the story which follows does, indeed, provide that larger view in great detail. 

What you have somehow discovered and are presently reading, here, is the first-hand, written account of my own journey along The Path of the Rising. Many who preceded me along that path have left such diaries as this one.  And those records helped me to find and successfully navigate The Path.  So, I am very honored to help you, dear searcher, to do the same.  

And certainly, in the details, what you are reading is my personal story.  But, in the main, it is the universal human story.  So, as for me, personally, my name, or the details of who I am doesn't really matter.  Just know that I, too, was only ever but a simple "searcher," perhaps much like yourself.  I was never a man of any great reputation.  Rather, I have been privileged to  live, merely in a very contented anonymity.  

Nevertheless, I hope you will ascribe this one wondrous achievement to my credit:  I was, indeed, actually able to live to its wildly successful completion, this grandest of all adventures, which I now recount to you.  And, this is how it all unfolded...  

100.0 - The Searching Time

As far back as I can remember in my youth, I had heard of a mystical path, The Path of the Rising, which was suppose to lead to life's greatest blessings.  This was a pleasant enough tale which, early on, I more indulged than gave real credence to.  

I admit that I did, on occasion, actually wish it were true.  And, on a few, even more rare occasions, I did wish it were true for me.  

But, in those days, I was really, in the main, quite happy just to travel the more familiar road of the purely tangible, the road everyone referred to as simply, The Broad Way.  And, indeed, it was that, affording passage to multitudes of satisfied travelers every day, as it did for me.

However, as my own life experience became more and more difficult, the rose tint on my youthful view of things along that road started to fade.  And, as it did so, life's promised treasures started to seem more like "a carrot on a stick" than something actually attainable.  And, the few valuable life acquisitions which I was able to gain, while traveling that road, turned out to be laced with many complications and treacheries that I simply had not anticipated.

So, as these disappointments began to accumulate and solidify in my life, I began to long for something better, something truer.  At the time, I really didn't know what that something was.  But, I was definitely becoming more desperate to find out what it was as time went along.  

 Eventually, under the increasing weight of disappointment, stress, and disillusionment, the legend of The Path began to present itself to my mind in a different way.  Apparently, desperation can actually open doors which arrogance is loathe, even to approach.  And, I was becoming increasingly desperate.  

So, my interest in that mystical pathway, which before had seemed so much like a fairy tale, began to gain real intensity.   And the reality of The Path no longer seemed quite so much in question.  

Eventually, I found myself actually pursuing information as to how to locate The Path.  And over time, I did begin to assemble a few more trusted insights and clues from the various logs and diaries, like this one, which had been left behind by previous travelers.

The first confirmation which I formed had to do with The Myth of the Magic Milestone. Many of those earlier writings warned against a belief in this myth which held that, at the very beginning of The Path, there was a milestone which was truly magical.  And, as the story went, the only thing one had to do was scratch his or her name on that rock, and that was that.  

The idea was that you, really did not have to actually experience the full length of The Path with all of its attendant challenges.  Rather, so the myth held, after merely scratching your name on the magic milestone, one could simple return to The Broad Way and go about his or her business.  The myth taught that the great blessings of The Path would then come to you at some unspecified future time.  

 But, again, I ran across many dire cautions, warning that there was really no such thing as a "Magic Milestone."  The more convincing arguments were always that personal fulfillment actually lay in faithfully braving the challenges of The Path to travel its entire length.   So, I confirmed in my own mind, early on, that I must go the distance of The Path, come what might, and ignore that Myth of the Magic Milestone.  
                                        [Section 100.]

101.0 - The Verifying Signs

I also discovered from those writings that there would be a Unique Glow associated with the true Path. I did eventually come to see this ever-present light, and it was, indeed, very unique. 

It was not a beam of light.  It was actually a very beautiful, but also a very diffused glow.  But, it was not a glow which filled the entire sky.  It was one which filled only the immediate area just ahead of each traveler on the path.  Thus, it marked the direction of travel forward and along the true Path of the Rising.  

I also read of a Guide who would lead me on The Path.  Some writing mentioned only one Guide.  But, other sources mentioned two Guides.  

I was further informed that The Path Of The Rising is a Toll Way. This idea was actually angrily disputed by many.  But, I discovered that, indeed, this is correct.  

The toll, however, is simply a daily requirement to honestly answer one question. But, it is a challenging question which can be either very easy or quite difficult - depending on the heart-condition of the would-be traveler.

But, I can confirm that it is true.  The Path is a toll road.   I could not enter The Path without paying that toll which the Gatekeeper required.  And, each day I was required to reconfirm my answer to the Gatekeeper's question as my daily toll before I could go forward.  And, so it is for everyone who would travel The Path of the Rising. 

On any day that one fails to wholeheartedly pay this daily toll, he or she can travel no further. And while the Gatekeeper will not expel you from The Path, neither will He allow you to proceed any further along its distance until the toll is paid.

And then, many sources confirmed that there is a Tangle of Divergent Trails which radiate out in a confusing way from the beginning of the The Path of the Rising. And, I was warned not to become misled by these false trails.  The advice in the writings of many previous travelers was simply, "Follow the glow."  

And again, this information turned out to be absolutely correct. At the beginning area of The Path was a great profusion of mixed-up, offshoot pathways.  And, except for the guidance of the Glow and the advice of my Guide, they certainly would have created difficult misdirection's.  


And finally, I was told that I should look for two large Crystal Trees as the most distinctive features which marked The Path's beginning.  I was informed that one would be living and one would be dead.                   
                                     [Section 101.]

102.0 -The Nature of The Path

Early in my search for The Path of the Rising, I began to notice just how very many roads, trails, and pathways actually did intersect with The Broad Way, again, the main road on which I was then traveling.  And, these many alternate routes ran off in every conceivable direction.  

And, most all of these paths looked promising in one way or another.  As I mentioned earlier, many were labeled with attractive names like "Easy Street" and "Short Cut Road " and "New Way." And, many of them did offer pleasant vistas and easy walking. 

And, that was for good reason. It was because, in fact, none of these paths actually involved an incline.  They were all paths which took travelers across the flat lands or into the low lands.  

So, these byways simply did not involve the challenges inherent to traveling uphill toward the higher elevations.  And, I saw many choosing these easier routes for that very reason. Nevertheless, I continued to hold out and watch for a path which would take me to those elevated regions - more difficult, though it might be. And, as it turned out, I was absolutely right to do so.

But, it is true. The Path of the Rising is more demanding than those non-elevated pathways.  And, for that reason, certainly, not all who start The Path, actually finish it.  I met people who simply stopped along the way, refusing to go on, in the face of that daily challenge. 

There were many on The Path who simply lollygagged around in small circles, pretending to move forward when someone was watching, but not actually going anywhere.  And, there were a great many who made no pretense at all about simply settling into some spot along The Path as their permanent location.  These had no plans to actually leave The Path.  But, neither did they have any plans to travel any further.  

And, there were also many people who did, indeed, turn back and leave The Path, entirely.  But, in all of these cases, the consequence of forsaking their journey was the same.  

None of those who stopped or turned back ever realized the fulfillment and blessings which The Path of the Rising offers to the faithful.  For these who became faint of heart, The Path of the Rising became nothing more than just another place to experience the daily disappointments flowing out of their own apathetic lack of investment.  

So, while The Path Of The Rising is open to all, yet, to be sure, it is, indeed, a rather demanding endeavor.  And, it only ever relinquishes its progressive joys and ultimate fulfillment to those who are willing to wholeheartedly embrace its elevated, and elevating, challenges.

                                          [Section 102.]

103.0 - The Day of Decision

Perhaps because I was becoming ever more alert to it, in the last year or so that I traveled The Broad Way, I encountered much information regarding The Path. Some of that information was in first-hand written form, as I've mentioned.  And, some of it was essentially just second-hand gossip and goofy chatter.  

And, some of what I read and heard described The Path in very positive terms, while other sources were very negative in their view of The Path. And, a great deal of what I heard was non-fact-based and completely outlandish.

Most of the actual talking sources were only repeating fairly unreliable, secondhand information - what they had heard from other talkers.  Some, however, had, indeed, carefully read those extant written accounts of actual travelers.  And still other talkers had actually walked The Path for a while; and then, for various reasons, they had chosen to return to The Broad Way.

So, after encountering all of this information, good and not so  good, the only things I felt I knew for sure were those more carefully confirmed clues which I mentioned earlier. These all came from broadly and long-circulated written accounts of some reputation for correctness, which again, had been left by actual travelers of The Path.

But, even with these more substantial clues, The Path eluded me for a while. I just couldn’t seemed to find it. Until one day, a day when my desperation seemed absolutely overwhelming - I saw it.

Suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, there it was, right in front of me. I knew instantly that this truly was The Path of the Rising. So, that day, with a true and unwavering resolve, I very happily left The Broad Way, and never looked back.  And, that day was the day that my life changed forever.
The Path, itself, was actually more narrow than I had always pictured it.  But, just as I had heard, there they were, The Great Crystal Trees, at the very beginning of The Path. And they were
quite huge.

Actually, they were the biggest trees I had ever seen. And, one was obviously alive and thriving. And, one was very definitely very dead.

And, there also was, indeed, a Gatekeeper waiting to collect the required toll to enter and travel The Path.  And, when the Gatekeeper turned His attention to me, it seemed as though He was looking right into my soul.  Nevertheless, His face was kind and friendly looking.  Yet still, He was an imposing figure.  

I unwittingly approached Him with some underlying level of caution and stopped just in front of Him.  Now, I realized, as I looked upward at a significant angle to make eye contact with Him - it wasn't his continence, but His sheer size, which commanded respect.   

The Gatekeeper then asked me The Toll Question.  He said, "Will you commit with all your heart to humble yourself and trust the Guide to lead you on The Path of the Rising?"  

Without hesitation, I said, "yes, absolutely." 

He immediately gestured for me to move forward onto The Path. He fell in step beside me; and, as we walked those first few steps, it was then that I noticed the arching glow up ahead over The Path, exactly as I had heard.

As we moved forward, the Gatekeeper began to speak to me of where we were going. He told me that we would, indeed, be joined very shortly by the Guide who would initiate my journey on The Path. I felt very relieved to know that I would not have to negotiate The Path alone.  

And then, the Gatekeeper began to speak to me about my introduction to, as He called Him, The Gentle Guide.  The Gatekeeper always prepares everyone, not only for the beauty and significance of that meeting, but for the shock of it, as well. It is, indeed, both a magnificent and a somewhat bewildering encounter.

Speaking of The Gentle Guide, the Gatekeeper went on to say, "When you meet Him, you will easily notice his scars. And, those scars, and His eyes, will clearly convey the deep pain which He has suffered.  

Nevertheless, His pervasive love and the gentleness of His nature profoundly touch all who meet Him.  And, those things will touch you as He welcomes you with a life-changing embrace.  He greets  each traveler who chooses to travel The Path of the Rising in this same way."

And, the Gatekeeper was right.  In the Guide's warm and loving  embrace, something very profound happened to me which I will never forget. I was instantly relieved of the dark emotional heaviness that I had been unwittingly carrying around - apparently for most of my life. 

Yet, until the moment of that embrace, I was actually unaware of the great weight of that darkness. But, in that wonderful moment, I felt that heaviness simply fall away.

Instantly, it was replaced by a new and invigorating warmth flowing through me. I felt myself wonderfully refreshed within.  I felt myself starting to become excited again about the possibilities of life. 

In that cleansing embrace, I truly found a new lightness of heart. And, in that lightness, I found a renewed sense of joy for life itself.

And in those same early moments of my meeting with The Gentle Guide, a powerful appetite also awakened within in me.  Suddenly, I wanted to know. 

I wanted to know Him, this wonderful Gentle Guide, more deeply.  And, I wanted to know where I was going and what I was supposed to do with this opportunity which was so obviously a glorious new morning for my life.  

And, I now found myself absolutely alive with eagerness to experience The Path.  I don’t think I had ever before felt such a pressing sense of destiny and purpose.  And, it was under the influence of this eagerness to press forward into this new beginning, that the two great crystal trees, started to imposed themselves on the foreground of my consciousness and my curiosity.  

                                       [Section 103.0]

104.0 -The Two Great Trees

 It was obvious that those trees were not ordinary. And, when I spoke of them to the Guide, He began to explain. And, as He did so, we made our way over to the living tree which stood on the right shoulder of The Path. He referred to it as the Life Tree and to the other as the Death Tree.  

And, He said that, together, the trees really formed a single monument, here, at the entrance to The Path.  He explained that they were to serve as a sobering reminder of what is truly the most elemental choice that the human heart must make:  Enduring Life or Eternal Death.  

The trunk and limbs of both trees actually did appear to be crystal, tinted with various colors. The Life Tree had a light golden tint to its sparkling crystal trunk and limbs.  And, its polished crystal leaves were absolutely dazzling,  tinted with with shades of green ranging from chartreuse to emerald green.   

The Death Tree, on the other hand, had no leaves at all.  And, the tints of its dulled crystal trunk and limbs ranged in browns and grays. 

In the case of both trees, however, the tints were always light enough that you could still see through the crystal.  And, that crystal composition was the only real similarity between the two trees.  They were starkly different in every other way - each one truly living up to its name in shape and general appearance.

The crystal of the living tree was sparkling clean, and bright, and thus, still very transparent.  The leafy canopy of this tree was lush and very full.  But, the most arresting feature, of course, was that you could see right through its trunk, and limbs, and leaves.

The Life Tree overhung the beginning of The Path and gave a wonderfully refreshing shade, due to the tinting of its canopy.  And, it was obvious when we moved in beneath the tree that many travelers had found rest here. The exposed parts of its huge roots at the base of the trunk were actually worn down a bit in places by the many travelers who had leaned against and sat on them.

As the Gentle Guide and I talked, as I did the same. When I leaned back into a fork of two of those  massive crystal roots and rested my arms on the top of them, it was a perfectly comfortable fit.  It was as though this great tree was cradling me and I was embracing it.  This was, indeed, a completely renewing moment in so many ways.

   105.0 - The Death Tree 
The Death Tree, on the other hand, stood well off, on the left side of The Path, one could easily see that it was absolutely dead. Its great crystal limbs were dingy, smudged, twisted, and gnarly.  And, they had not the first leaf.  The tree looked like agony, itself.

The ground around the Death Tree was also completely blighted. It seemed odd to see such a sight in the otherwise beautiful surroundings of The Path's beginning. When I asked The Guide about it, He said , "It is, what it is: death in the midst of all of this life.  But, you will move past its tragedy soon enough. The Path will take you quickly away from the tree's ugliness."

But just then, my attention was arrested by another amazing thing regarding the trees. I suddenly noticed a very subtle interior movement within both of them.  This moving inner essence appeared to be a kind of effervescent current. Its tiny bubbles were flowing from the exposed portion of the roots at the base, up to the highest reaches of the trees.   

I somewhat understood this phenomenon in the Life Tree. One would expect a life essence in a living tree. But, I was completely surprised and baffled to see this animation in the Death Tree. So again, I turned with my question to The Guide. He said, "In some sense, death is every bit as animated as life. "

I must have looked even more puzzled, because I was. So, He went on to say, "Death, like life, seeks to perpetuate itself. And, like life, it has the means to do so. 

"That is what you see moving within the tree. Death has an inner dynamic essence that constantly works to sustain and recreate death, and to expand the existence of death in reality, precisely as life does. So, there is a death dynamic, just as there is a life dynamic.

"Thus, what you see flowing through both the Life Tree and the Death Tree are those inner forces of renewal and self preservation. In both trees, those forces are constantly perpetuating new expressions of their respective essence in reality.  From the living essence, springs new and living limbs on the Life Tree. And, from the death essence, springs more death in the form of additional dead limbs on the Death Tree."

I stood there wanting to form another question. It was absolutely demanding to be asked. But, for the life of me, I could not make it form in my mind.

After a moment, the Gentle Guide said, "The answer to your question is -curiosity. Some people are drawn to the Death Tree by a careless sense of curiosity. Then, when they come too near it, something deadly happens. Their perception of the Death Tree changes. They start to see it as a very pleasant and desirable thing.  

And, that delusion then causes them to actually embrace the tree.  And, when they do, they become trapped by its sticky exterior surface.  And then, over time, the very caustic chemicals in that sticky exterior simply dissolves them away in a very long and painful death process.  

And, in this way, they are then simply absorbed into the death essence which you see moving within the tree.  And that’s how death perpetuates itself. It feeds opportunistically on careless, unguarded lives.

I asked the Guide if I could not somehow go and cut down the Death Tree and be done with it. He then explained, "The tree, itself,  is not really the problem. It is the essence within the tree which is the real problem. So, even if you could managed to somehow fell the tree's massive trunk, that dynamic death essence remaining within its roots would only flow up to give rise to another.

"The real problem is, indeed, that essence within, not the outer structure. And to destroy that essence requires a power vastly superior to your own."

So, I asked, "Well then, could you not do it?"

He smiled and said, "I already have."

Again, I must have looked puzzled, so he continued, "I have kept it from touching you.  And, for now, that is sufficient. Later, I will take a more decisive and permanent action. But, for now, I think it sufficient to simply keep you safe from the Death Tree's ravages."  

I offered my profound appreciation.

                                          [Section 105.]

106.0 - The Journey Begins

After our discussion of the great trees, The Gentle Guide initiated our journey up The Path.  We traveled for days. And everyday, we talked of the nature of this new life which I had now begun to live.  And, we talked of what yet lay ahead. And, our conversations were profoundly meaningful to me. One can only describe those days with the Gentle Guide as life changing. I began to understand everything differently.

But, after a time, one late afternoon, we came to the brow of a small hill on the forward edge of The Great Wilderness through which The Path passed.   Due to our present high vantage point, I could see that this wilderness area lay like a great depression in the earth. And, I could see that The Path roughly bisected it all the way to the far horizon where The Path again became quickly elevated and continued to rise.

As we stood on the brow of that hill overlooking that wilderness, I also noticed that there were many people, some just sitting in the lush green grass, and others listlessly milling around. They all seemed fretful and often preoccupied. 

                                       [Section 106.]

107.0 - The Hand-off

As we stood on that small hill looking at The Wilderness below, the Gentle Guide turned to me and said, "This is the place. This is where we will make the transfer."

My question must have been in my expression, because He answered it without hesitation. He said, "The Strong Guide is a little farther up The Path. He will take you the rest of the way."

He encouraged me to embrace the remainder of the The Path with all of my heart, and to be tenaciously faithful. He told me not to worry, that the Strong Guide would be my all-sufficient resource for the rest of the journey.  He encouraged me to simply trust Him, implicitly.

                                        [Section 107.]

108.0 - The Sister Winds

We talked far into the evening of that transition night. In those discussions, the Gentle Guide spoke to me of the strange winds that I would encounter in that wilderness which lay just beyond the small hill that we had stood upon earlier in the day.

The Path Of The Rising has sometimes been referred to as, "The Trail Of Twins." The reason is because there are several significant "two’s" that help shape the day to day reality along The Path.

Among these duality's is this phenomenon that has come to be known as, The Sister Winds.  These two winds blow simultaneously, not as opposing but as quartering winds.  That is, they blow in approximately the same direction, but still at a distinct angle to each other.

Both originate somewhere in the beginning regions of The Path, and blow constantly toward the upper end. So, the traveler who moves up The Path is actually helped by these winds as they push him or her forward in their journey.

The Gentle Guide explained that this phenomenon is most noticeable in the upcoming wilderness region of The Path. He warned that, in this region, these winds can become very strong, exerting a really powerful force on the traveler. 

But again, He was quick to point out that these Sister Winds are never really the traveler’s enemy. They always blow on his or her back, helping travelers go forward in their journey.
Entering The Wilderness

The next morning, when I awoke, the Gentle Guide was already gone. So, with great sorrow and a great deal of apprehension, I started up The Path through that foreboding wilderness, in search of the Strong Guide.

As I entered The Wilderness, it became clear that the Gentle Guide
had not exaggerated regarding The Sister Winds. They were very strong, often pushing me faster and farther than I really intended to go. At times it was a great struggle to keep my footing. And occasionally blowing sand irritated my skin.

The Great Wilderness was a hard and intimidating place. Its landscape was jagged and visually threatening.  It was such a contrast to the serenity that I had known on that early segment of The Path with the Gentle Guide. Tension and anxiety were now the constant emotional atmosphere of this place.

There are many unusual things along The Path Of The Rising, but few more unusual than what I call the "elasticity" of its normal, everyday reality.  And, it was in this wilderness that I first experienced this "stretchy" nature of reality. It presented itself as additional elements of various sorts which would just suddenly flicker into view like some intrusive impact from another reality. 

But eventually, I came to understand that these intrusive elements did not actually involve another reality, but simply the much larger, all-encompassing part of my everyday reality. What I was seeing were things which were always in place and real, but normally remained unseen in that larger, invisible dimension of reality.  

And, these encounters were always quite an experience. I had never known anything like this. You are just going along, and suddenly there is this flash-in from that larger, "super reality." 

These events were disconcerting at first, to say the least. However, I did discover many things from these brief encounters with that mysterious, larger reality, things which I had no idea of before. 

For instance, I discovered that all human beings have a dual identity. We all have one of us which exists in the visible reality; and, another of us which exists in that invisible dimension of reality.  

I found this out because, on one surprising day, as I walked along The Path, I actually saw that, normally invisibleOther Me.  He simply stepped from that invisible realm, to squarely block my way forward on The Path.

 [Section 108.]

109.0 - The Evil Twin Revealed

Though I am not sure exactly how long I had been traveling when I encountered the Other Me, I know that I was a few days into my search for the Strong Guide. As I traveled that day, I noticed clouds beginning to gather over The Path. They were dark and ominous, and the air was becoming especially heavy.

Suddenly, there was a flash or flicker of some kind, like something swishing past my face very quickly. And then, as if from nowhere, there he suddenly stood, right in front of me.  It was my alter ego, the me which normally only exists in that invisible dimension of reality.

But, there was absolutely no doubt as to who I was seeing. Except for the disagreeable scowl on his face, he was the precise image of me.

I was confused, and a lot bewildered, to say the least.  I had no idea what was happening. 

My first instinct was to run backwards. So, I did.  I just turned and burned as hard as I could go.  I ran for what I would estimate to be roughly a quarter of a mile.

By the end of that sprint, I was completely out of breath and exhausted. So, I stopped and bent over, hands on my knees, and checked behind me. But, when I looked, there he was about 10 feet away. He was just standing there, still scowling, but calm and completely relaxed.  

I stared for a moment. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. He was not even breathing hard. So, I now realized the futility of my flight effort.

After another few seconds of quickly weighing my options, I decided the best one might be to simply speak to him and see what might happen. So, I gave him a profound, "Hello." 

To my amazement, he spoke back. But, not with a warm greeting. Instead, in an obviously threatening voice he returned a very abrasive sentiment.

Very abruptly, and with intense harshness, he said, "I have no intention of cooperating with this nonsense journey that you have dragged us into. I was perfectly happy traveling The Broad Way, and I want to go back."

I said with indignant emphasis, "Excuse me?"

Continuing in that abrasive tone, he said , "Look, you may be confused about what's going on here and what lies ahead, but I am not. I have no intention, whatsoever, of pursuing this Path Of The Rising with you. I don’t want to rise. I don't want to be stretched and challenged.  And, I don't want to be put out.  

"I just want to do what I want to do. So, just forget this silliness. I like that easier life of the base plane; and, it is to there that I intend to return."

I was indeed confused; but, his arrogant tone was grating. So, I said, "You do whatever you want to, Mister, but I’m going on."

He shot back in the most condescending voice, "You really don’t get it, do you?"

I could tell that He actually did know something that I didn’t. And, it really galled me. So, I said, as sarcastically as possible, "Well, suppose you just enlighten me."

He said, " Bottom line, you can see this grand Path Of The Rising, but, I fully intend to see that you can't successfully walk it. I am telling you, this is as far as we go!  I am not going to continue to endure this harsh wilderness. So, I don't need any guides, strong or otherwise. And, neither do you, because, both of us are done wasting time looking for some mystical state of bliss at the end of some ethereal rainbow."

For a second, I just stood there, not quite believing what I was hearing. I must have looked incensed and dumbfounded at the same time. That was certainly how I felt. And, in this moment of my  seething, he found the opportunity to continue.

He said, "I can tell you don’t really know what’s happening here. But that’s OK. All you really need to know is this. Between the two of us, I am, by far, the stronger. 

"And, that simple fact means that I'm the real decision maker here. And, I’ve made my decision. We are done with this silly path.  So, get used to it."

At that point, my searing intellect recognized an opportunity to deal a death blow to all of his arguments. Instantly, I formed the statement that would humble him forever. I said, "You are nuts."

At that point, his scowl disappeared for the first time. A devilish grin now crossed his face. He said, "You think so? Go ahead then, walk up The Path."

Now, it was my turn to smile. I said not a word. I just started toward him, confident that I was going to go forward in spite of him. I knew before I ever reached his position, however, that I would have to physically move him out of my way to succeed.

So, I prepared myself. I picked up my pace significantly and, just before impact, I lowered my shoulder toward him.  He made no preparation of any kind to oppose that impact. And, I quickly discovered why. 

When I hit him, it was like running into an Oak tree. My body weight and momentum seemingly had absolutely no effect on him. But, I fell back in an aching, disheveled heap. He laughed out loud.

I was stunned, both physically and emotionally. It is one thing to be defeated. But, it was doubly bad to be defeated by this guy's heartless arrogance.

After rubbing my shoulder for a moment, I stood again to my feet. I couldn't deny that a lot of the fight had gone out of me at the point of that very hard impact - but not all.  I realized now that I really was invested in what I was doing.  And, there was still a very viable determination inside me to get it done in spite of this guy. 

So, I started again. I got up, looked him in the eye, and said with a resolve that surprised even me, "I’m going!" Again, he just smiled that superior, knowing smile.

This time, I moved more slowly toward him. He still stood rock solid in the absolute center of The Path. As I came nose to nose with him, we stared (more like glared) for a moment at each other. Then, I stepped aside to go around him and continue.

As I made that angular motion, he leaned forward and shoved me - hard. I went sprawling off on the shoulder of the path. But, this time I didn’t stay down. I sprang to my feet and broke into a hard run, faking and side-stepping him to get around, as I moved on down the path as best I could.

But again, I became exhausted with the exertion, even sooner than before. I crumpled to the ground to catch my breath. When I looked up, there he was again. He was back in front of me, grinning confidently. And again, he was not the least bit winded. He said, "I can do this as long as we need to."

I smiled a pretentious smile back at him and said, "Well, whatever it takes." And so, we continued the contest all the rest of that day. I was able to move down the Path, but not far. And, I was off The Path more than I was on it. And, I was absolutely depleted by the end of the day.

He, on the other hand, seemed unaffected by the exertion. By the end of the day, I knew that one thing he had said was absolutely true. He was, by far, the stronger of the two of us.

That night, as I curled up on the ground near a large rock, still warm from the day, I remembered the encouragement of the Gentle Guide.  It burned in my heart.  The memory of His gentle voice and his words rekindled the fire in my heart, if not my body, to still find a way to experience The Path and know the personal elevation and fulfillment that it offered. 

But, at this point, that opposition from that other me seemed very daunting. And, it was for that reason that sleep did not come easy that night, even though I was completely exhausted, physically.  And there was no escaping the dread of having to confront him all over again tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day, for who knows how long. 

The next morning, I dragged myself up and started in again. I struggled with my evil counterpart through out the day, trying to make progress. But, in fact, on this day, after all the posturing and pushing, when I took stock of my progress at the end of the day, I had actually lost some ground.

And so it went, day after long day, in this baron, emotionally and otherwise, wilderness. Every morning, there he stood, with that hideous smile, ready to oppose my every puny effort. And, at the end of most every day, for all my struggling, still, I would be without substantial progress.

The nights of this time were filled with anguish, and the days with exhaustion. Often, in frustration and agony of soul, I cried out for help, just hoping someone, and most especially the Strong Guide, might come to my aid. 

And then, finally, one glorious  morning, He actually did.  On that morning I arose to see - not my hideous alter ego - but, my Grand Hope. And when I saw Him, there was absolutely no doubt that I was looking at my .Strong Guide. 

                                       [Section 109.]

110.0 - The Rescue

It was the brightest morning I think I have ever seen. 
And, He was standing in the very middle of The Path where its guiding glow formed an arch over Him.  And,  In this scene, it was as if He was the very source of all of the light in the Universe.

He stood with the stance of a bold warrior. His feet were far apart and His hands were clinched into fists, one resting on each hip, as though He were ready for anything. He was at once imposing, scary - and so very inspiring.

As I drew closer, I could see His face more clearly. Then, I froze. It was the face of the Gentle Guide, but it was not now nearly so fragile or sorrowful looking. 

Rather, now His face was the very archetype of strength and confidence.  And, His eyes absolutely sparkled with excitement. 

I will never forget His first words to me, nor the perfect confidence with which He spoke them. He said, "Come on, Pilgrim. We have a journey to take. I have been watching you and you have truly been faithful in your devotion. Now, I will take you the rest of the way."

Then, for apparently no reason, other than He felt like it, He let out a hoot. "Whoo!" He shouted with a huge, out-loud excitement as he pointed His index finger straight at me. 

I jumped involuntarily at the unexpected volume of His exclamation. But, He never missed a beat. With the same booming voice projecting from His now glistening smile, He continued to thunder, "But know this, Pilgrim. I’ll do my part, but I won’t do yours! This journey is for you, not for me.

"So, you must learn the lessons of The Path as we go. You must become wise to its ways. I will expect you to toughen to the journey and learn to survive. And, I will expect you to be a better man at the end of this journey than you were at its beginning.

"I will lead, but you must follow with true faith. I will teach, but you must learn. I will be your all sufficient resource, but you must make good use of what I give you. I will protect you, but not from the things you need to experience. Are we clear, Pilgrim?"

I was so stunned, for a second, that I just stood there. I felt like a young boy on the first day of school. The contrast between the Gentle Guide and this very exuberant and expectant Strong Guide could not have been more stark. It was only after a long, is-He-actually-talkin’-to-me kind of pause that I was able to say with my own pitiful, little voice, "I understand."

Then, He did something that truly astounded me. He started by saying, "Come on then. Don’t just stand there. Come join me."

So, I took a few steps forward and stood next to Him. Then, He said, more quietly now, but still smiling broadly, "Come closer." So, I took one step sideways toward Him.

Then, He said again, "Come closer." So, I took a baby sidestep toward Him. This put me very much in His personal space and vice-versa.

Then, He did that thing that so astounded me. He took a step toward me. The next thing I know, we were literally mingled together - my being actually mixing with His being. 

And, in that instant, we were somehow systemically linked. And, that connection remained, even when I stumbled back a couple of steps out of shock.

And certainly, I was, indeed, startled at first. But, at exactly the same time that this mingling occurred, there also came this profound peace within me. 

I had never known such peace. It was as if all things in my universe were suddenly made right.  It seemed I could actually feel discord and confusion exiting my heart.  This peace was absolutely a sensual serenity which seemingly expunged all of my ambiguity from on some profound level of my inner being.

And, beyond this wonderful peace, there was also a renewing energy flowing through this ethereal connection to the Strong Guide. I was empowered in a way that made me to clearly understand that I was now very different than I was just a moment ago.

And, it truly did prove to be so.  From that very morning, my defeat at the hands of my alter ego ended.  From that day, my evil twin was never again able to seriously threaten my consistent progress on The Path.  

I thought at first, the Strong Guide had somehow stripped him of his power. But, what I came to understand was that what my Strong Guide had really done was increase my power through my mystical connection to Him. So, through His shared strength, I became even much more than my evil twin's equal.  

I did, after this, sometimes again encounter the "other me" on The Path. It was usually in the more difficult places when I was in the throes of struggling with the steeper grades of The Path. But, now these meetings were quite different. He was now much more the puny beggar than the haughty demander, that he had been before.

Oh, he would still try to bluff me, or tempt me.  Sometimes he would offer me some deceptive deal in an effort to gain my cooperation with his schemes and preferences. But, he could no longer intimidate me, for I was more than a match for him through my connection to the strength of the Strong Guide.

And, the longer I walked in the immersing presence of my powerful Guide, the less impact of any kind that these encounters had on me. And certainly, after the Strong Guide came on the scene, my evil twin was never again able to seriously threaten my intention to fully experience and ultimately complete The Path of the Rising.  

I left that Wilderness Area of The Path on that wonderful bright morning of my deliverance and began a new leg of my journey - now in league with my very strong Guide.  And, He became my daily confidence and my sufficiency from that very first morning. I think I can truly say that I never again had much confidence in my own abilities after I joined Him.   

It just became clear that my success on The Path was always and only possible through His mighty power and companionship. And the longer we walked together, the more that reality came to be confirmed.  And, as those confirmations accrued in my heart with time, the richer our companionship became.

[Section 110.]

111.0/112.0 - The Green Meadows Region

It was on the day that I joined the Strong Guide that I first saw the beautiful Green Meadows Area of The Path for the first time. And, as I traversed this area with Him, my whole existence changed dramatically. 

I experienced renewed excitement for the journey which seemed new every morning. And, The Path came alive with the presence of the Strong Guide. There was great joy, and confidence, and fulfillment in His constant companionship.

Before I knew the Strong Guide, everything seemed so tentative. But after, He came there was a deep and unwavering sense that I actually belonged on The Path. And, every day, there was not only this ambient joy of the journey, but also an exhilarating teaching / learning process which was almost constant.  

It was also in the area of The Green Meadows where I became aware that I was actually changing in my core. And, it was good. It was very good.  As I overcame the daily 
challenges of The Path in the strength of the Strong Guide's shared vibrancy. I felt a constantly lessening insecurity, and an ever enlarging excitement for what lay ahead.

Learning actually became the basic fabric of my day, and the desire to discover became my driving force. I had never really known such fullness of life until these days with the Strong Guide among the green meadows of The Path. Almost constantly, I was learning new and amazing things both from the Strong Guide and from The Path, itself.

But, Not Without Him

We enjoyed many wonderful days in this Green Meadows region. There were seemingly endless high meadows that called to me as we traveled, and the Strong Guide seemed happy to allow me the time to experience all of them.  I wandered through and often lay in the lush green grass during these side explorations.  I smelled countless varieties of beautiful flowers. And, the beautiful vistas changed with each new meadow.  

I tried to drink in every detail of every one these pristine meadows and to store it all away in my memory.  These were such fulfilling times, involving both calm solitude and soaring excitement, that I just wanted to preserve every memory of it all in my heart.  

But, one day stands apart during this wonderful period of our travels.  It was a day when I made a very serious mistake.  One that I was never to repeat again.

It all went down like this.  The Gatekeeper had just left that morning.  I had gladly paid my toll for the day.  But then, it happened. I forgot to renew my connection with the Strong Guide before we began the days journey. 

That renewal process was typically just a part of our normal morning routine before we began traveling for the day.  The Strong Guide and I would talk for a while, but our final topic was always the same.  I would ask Him to renew that mystical connection between us.  

He would always do it instantly.  That easy outcome to my request was never really in question.  But, He always waited for me to mention this desire.  So, on this day, when I became distracted and forgot, He said nothing.  

As we journeyed, I ventured excitedly ahead, seeing a beautiful mountain meadow that I wanted to explore. And that's when everything "went south."

As I stepped into the field, I was attacked by a great swarm of stinging insects. No sooner would I swat one, than another, or two, would sting me. And, with each sting, I could feel myself weaken.

Then, from nowhere, my evil twin returned. There he stood again, motioning to me as he said, "Come with me, and I will show you a place of safety and a way of escape."

In the distraction of fighting off those painful stings, I almost reacted before I thought. But, I hesitated. Then, I realized I was alone. A panicked voice screamed in my head, "My Guide, where is my Strong Guide?"

I cried out for the Strong Guide's help, and immediately He joined me. And, just as instantly, the insects and the other me vanished. I slumped to the ground, exhausted by the furious fracas which had just taken place.

The Strong Guide said quietly, "We’ll stay here for a while until your strength returns. I looked at Him and asked, "Why did you not remind me?"

He answered my question with another very telling one, "Did you forget my early instructions?"

Then, his words came rushing back to my mind, with their own kind of sting to my mind:  "But know this, Pilgrim," I so clearly remembered Him saying, "I’ll do my part, but I won’t do yours! This journey is for you, not for me. So, you must learn the lessons of The Path. You must become wise to its ways. I will expect you to toughen to the journey and learn to survive. I expect you to be a different man at the end of this journey than you were at the beginning.

"I will lead, but you must follow with faith and courage. I will teach, but you must learn. I will provide, but you must make good use of what I give you. I will protect you, but not from the things that you need to experience. Are we clear, Pilgrim?"

I reflected on those early words for a moment and then turned to the Strong Guide.  I said something to the effect of - " 'Nuff said.  It was, indeed, my responsibility to seek you for this day, not yours to seek me.  It will not happen again.  Indeed, I promise you, the will never happen again!"

"Take heart my son," He said smiling. "You have learned another lesson of The Path. I am proud of you for that. And, who knows? Maybe someday you will even learn how to learn in a less painful way."

Deep Communion

And, so it went on the Path Of The Rising. Always we moved forward and upward, sometimes laughing, sometimes weeping. Many times, I was exhausted by the journey. Many times, I was energized and inspired by it. 

But, whatever the case with all of that, still, the journey was always a "we" proposition.  And, somewhere along the way, the Strong Guide became the richest and deepest and best friend that I have ever known.

There were other travelers who occasionally joined us in the journey. Sometimes we overtook them. Sometimes they over took us. And I always enjoyed their companionship when we would share the journey for a while. 

But, His companionship was different from theirs. The companionship of my Strong Guide was immeasurably more intimate than theirs. It was so much so that, as the days passed, I came to be able to feel His heart, and thus,to anticipate Him, His thoughts, His wishes etc.

And, His care for me was always, every moment, at the highest level. Yet, it never smothered me. It never kept me from exploring the possibilities of who He was, or who I was, or the realities of The Path. Oh, He was protective, and in that interest, sometimes a bit restrictive, but only from harm, never from the good.

He actually became the central joy of my life. It eventually came to be that I would sooner stop breathing, than be outside His benevolent, fulfilling presence. After a while, it seemed He actually was the breath of my life.

And I know that the other travelers that we encountered on The Path also enjoyed this intimacy with the Strong Guide. Unlike ordinary human beings, He was able to be in more than one place at once. So, He was as vital in their lives, as mine. But still, it always seemed I was His favorite. In my heart of hearts, I knew that wasn’t true; but, it did seem that way all the time.

Tricky, He's Very Tricky

One day, as we walked The Path, only He and I were there, as was often the case. It had been a quiet, mostly uneventful day, and we were both just walking along quietly. Then He said, "Look up ahead. What do you see?"

I looked up The Path. A short distance ahead, it took an abrupt, upward incline. But, immediately before that steep rise in angle, there were two deep chasms cutting across and interrupting The Path, one after the other. These chasms were separated by a narrow land mass between them; and two bridges, one over each chasm, provided passage across each. So, I described that scene to Him.

Then He asked, "Do you think the first bridge to be necessary?"

I said, "Yes, I cannot reach the second without the first."

Then He asked, "Then do you think the second, necessary?"

I said, "Yes, the first will do me no good without the second. I cannot reach the other side without the second bridge."

He walked on without saying another word. I waited for a long time, until it became clear that He had no intention of volunteering any more information. 

He had used this teaching tactic before, but somehow, it never failed to catch me off-guard - as it did this time.  So finally, realizing that He was doing it again, I asked, "What in the world did those questions have to do with anything?"

He laughed out loud. He said, "My son, for now, it is enough that you know that life sometimes requires two bridges, and not just one." Then He snapped His head around to bring His smiling eyes into contact with mine.

When He saw the dumbfounded look on my face, He started laughing, with way too much enjoyment.  He then turned toward me as He walked, pointed His finger at what I assumed was the stupefied expression on my face,  and allowed  His laugh to taper into a broad, "gotcha" smile. (So much for astute lectures.) 

                                  [Section 111./112.]

 113.0 - The Golden Goose

Then, there was another day when we were just walking in quiet and occasional conversation. We were mostly observing the sights and sounds of The Path, one of our favorite pastimes. 

The Strong Guide clearly enjoyed these quiet, conversational times with me, but only for so long. Then, invariably, He would stir something up - usually at my expense. And so it was this day - again.

He said in an obviously pretentious and high sounding tone, "Dear traveler of The Path, if I offered you endless solutions to your problems or an endless supply of wisdom which would you pick? And, I would love to hear your reasoning on this question."

After some thought, I said, "Well, I guess, if I took the solutions, all of my problems would be effortlessly resolved, because I would always have the solution that I needed. However, if I took the endless supply of wisdom, I would still have to labor through the thought process of devising the solution. So, I guess I would just ‘cut to the chase’ and take the solutions. Then, no work would be required on my part."

"Then let me ask you another question," He continued. Would you prefer to have the proverbial goose that laid the golden egg, or the golden eggs which she lays?"

"That one is easy," I replied. "I would rather have the goose. She is the source of the golden eggs."

"My child," He said, again beaming, "Do you not realize that you have just answered essentially the same question with opposing answers?"

I said, "No, I do not realize that.  How so?"

"He said, "Life is not just composed of problems requiring solutions. It is also composed of deeply hidden beauties that deserve to be discovered. It is composed of dramatic life rhythms to be profitably understood to gain their invaluable life-lessons. 

"Life is composed of goodness to be known and secrets to be revealed. And, all of these things, and many more, require wisdom not solutions.  For these are not problems, they are hidden treasures to be sought out, well understood, appreciated, and deeply enjoyed.

"On the other hand, though you have all the solutions to life's problems, yet you cannot solve the ‘problem of - Problems.’ This is true because, though you have endless solutions, so also are the ever occurring problems in life. Therefore, each day is like the last, always requiring more solutions for the newly arising problems.

"With wisdom, however, each day is richer than the last. Each day, wisdom continues to build on itself.  So, with wisdom comes the discovery of new beauty - leading to more and more very profitable life lessons, leading to more, revelations of goodness, leading to more and more of the same.  

And, with wisdom, neither do solutions go wanting, either. When you have wisdom, solutions are always discoverable.  So, wisdom is really the more versatile and valuable commodity.  Wisdom is really the 'goose' in both cases."

The Strong Guide knew I would need some time to mentally digest all of this. So, quietness came again as we continued to walk and I pondered what He had said. 

He would always allow me the time to digest. In fact, there was often a telling smile that indicated His real pleasure in watching me do so. 

                                                      [Section 113.]

114.0 - Joy In Serving

As we moved up The Path Of The Rising day by day, many things started to become more clear to me - the expectations of the Strong Guide being one of them. Specifically, I began to understand my role as his servant, and not just His companion and protectorate. And, I began to derive a great deal of joy in doing the things that He instructed me to do in service to Him.

So each day, He would direct me in various things, and I simply followed his directions to accomplish the good things that He wished done. For example, in the evenings, I would build the fire and do other things that I knew served and pleased Him.

Sometimes, when we would encounter other travelers along The Path. He would tell me, "Cover her so that she is warm," or "Feed him so that he is nourished." So, I would do that as a simple act of obedience. And in those expressions of service, I found His appreciation and approval. And, I also found a sense of deep personal fulfillment.

                                         [Section 114.]

115.0 - The Day I Truly Understood Love

Every seventh day we would rest from our journey on The Path. These were wonderful days, and I came to look forward to them with a real anticipation.

On one such day, I had been sleeping in the tall green grass under a beautiful shade tree. It was so nice to stretch out in the perfect peace of a do-nothing day and just rest. 

But, when I awoke, the Strong Guide was waiting for me. I could tell that He was anxious for an exchange of thought with me. So, I smiled at him in silence for a long moment. And, then I said smiling, "What?"

He smiled back and asked, "Young traveler, do you love me?"

I answered, "You know I do."

He shot back with a smile, "How do I know?"

I said, "Because I tell you on a regular basis."

Then He asked, "Is there any other way that I could know?"

I said, "Well, I suppose you could know by what I do."

He exploded in excitement as he jumped to his feet and bounded toward me. I almost jumped out of my skin, I was so surprised. Then He yelled, "Now you’ve got it child!  Never forget that love is always more - what you do, than it is - what you feel."

I was awake now for sure. And, I think it is safe to say, I will never forget that point.

Then, He brought up another thought on the same subject. He asked, "Child, do you understand my love?" Bracing myself against what might be his next reaction, I said, "I’m not sure."

He said, "Look up and tell me what you see."

I looked up, though I’m not sure why. I knew what I would see. I saw it ever single day on The Path. Nevertheless, I said, "I see the sky, and the sun, and some clouds."

He beamed. He said, "That is how I love you. All of those things are distinctly different, but they exist together, at the same time, all the time. My love for you is that way also.

My love for you is always based in three different motives, all at the same time. I love you because I love you. I love you because I am the Strong Guide. And, I love you because you love me.  In other words, I love you based in who you are. I love you based in who I am. And, I love you because of what you do. And I love you in all three ways at the very same time."

                                                       [Section 115.]

Growing Up Strong

As we traveled in the region of The Green Pastures, I definitely noticed a new strength and confidence. It seemed to grow in me daily. I came to know that this new vitality that I was experiencing was much more than just the daily life lessons and the joy of the journey. I came to know that this new vitality was literally rooted in my connection to the vitality of the Strong Guide.

It came to be obvious to me that, as I merged with Him each day it did not serve merely to protect and guide me. Beyond that, He was literally sharing His life essence with me in love. And, day by day that love changed me for the better; and it did, indeed, also make me strong. 

                                                        [Section 116.] 

The Sad Path

Sometimes, when we walked on The Path, I would catch a glimpse of another path which was always off to our left, but at times, very near our own. That path also had many travelers on it - it very obviously carried more traffic than The Path of the Rising.

When we would come to a high place, I could notice that the other path ran, in a meandering way, more or less parallel to our own path. However, I could never find a place where the two paths actually intersected. I asked the Strong Guide about the other path.

He said it was The Path of the False Hope. He told me that its origin lay back where The Path Of The Rising entered The Wilderness. He said, "The people on that path are some of those listless, sad, and preoccupied people which you noticed back there."

He continued, "they were sad and listless because of their fear of The Wilderness. It made them realize the real investment which is  involved in taking this True Path. That wilderness through which this True Path required them to travel through was simply too demanding and too frightening for them."

His face saddened as He continued. "So, they embraced The Path Of The False Hope. It leads around the wilderness. They chose that path rather than risk entering that Wilderness in pursuit of me."

He paused and then continued, "They see that False Path as a better, easier way. And, they entirely believe it to be the right path. But, it is not. Up ahead, it veers off sharply in the wrong direction and turns steeply downward."

I asked Him if we could warn them the next time our paths came close together. He said, "Yes, we can do that. Try it when you see them again."

The next day, that opportunity came. The paths came easily within hearing distance of each other. So, I called out to a group on the other path. I yelled to them that they had made a mistake, and that this was the True Path, and that the Strong Guide was here on this path.  I encouraged them to return, and be brave, and come though the Wilderness, and embrace this true path.

To my surprise, they completely ignored me and walked on in silence. So, I called out again, with more volume and more insistently. This time, they did not ignore me. Instead, they picked up rocks and started throwing them at me. I dodged, and ducked, and ran on up ahead, out of their range.

After things calmed down, I dreaded to make eye contact with the Strong Guide. I knew He would be grinning from ear to ear. Nevertheless, I also knew I had to look. So, I did.

To my surprise, He was not grinning. He was weeping. It was not an audible kind of crying. But, His eyes were red; and, the tears were flowing profusely over His beard before they dropped to the ground. Instantly, my heart sank as I looked at Him.

I just stood quietly, waiting for Him to speak. In a moment, He chose to do so. He said, "They are so close, but they reject every overture. They want to experience The Rising, but only on their own terms. So, they will miss it altogether. And look how many there are.

I asked the Strong Guide why so many would choose that path. His quiet answer, in a deeply saddened voice, was simply, "That path asks nothing significant of them. I and this true path, on the other hand, ask for a real investment of heart." Then, making eye contact, he flashed a very faint smile and said, "As you well know by now.

" Every day, " He continued, "I watch them travel so very close to The Path of the Rising; and yet, they refuse to even acknowledge it. Always, in their minds, they dismissed even the existence, much less the requirements, of this True Path. It is ever the same,‘We have a way. Don’t bother us. We know what we’re doing.’ Every day they delude themselves in the same way."

Again, He looked longingly at that group which had just rocked us, until they were out of sight. Several more times, they would come close to our path during the journey. And every time, they simply looked away in denial.

We spoke no more of The Sad Path, perhaps because there was nothing more to be said. But, I could tell that the thought of it was deeply painful to Him. He wept silently each time we neared it.

After a while, however, I did not see that path any longer. I’m sure their path veered off, just as the Strong Guide said it would.   

 [ Section 117.]

The Final Success

We traveled many days in the Green Pastures region. But eventually, I began to notice a change in the landscape surrounding The Path. The green pastures began to be intermittent now, sharing the surrounding space with beautiful, carefully cultivated, well manicured fields.

These fields were planted with all kinds of fruit bearing plants. And, the differing fields of fruit were all at different stages of ripeness all the time.

I asked the Strong Guide who planted these beautiful fields. He said the travelers of The Path did it. He also told me that I too would plant a field and care for it until it began to yield fruit. 

As we continued to travel up The Path, these beautifully cultivated fields eventually began to entirely dominate the landscape. Beautiful fruit of every sort was everywhere.  The Strong Guide referred to this area as The Fruitful Plains region of The Path.

The Strong Guide took great delight in sampling the fruit and bragging on the beauty and taste of it. In this part of our journey, it seemed that he was everyday just bubbling with joy as He beheld these vast fields.

Eventually, we came to a spot on The Path, and He stopped. He pointed to a tract beside The Path and said, "This is your field. We will cultivate it together, and you will bring forth your share of fruit."

So, for many days following, we spent our time, first planting, then cultivating and nurturing the fruit. Never in my life, had I known a more fulfilling time. I felt more useful, more complete, with every new fruit that appeared on the tender branches.

It eventually became my consuming mission to make my field bountiful. So, I joyfully gave my self to the work. And, though the work was sometimes demanding, the joy of sharing this work with the Strong Guide and my sense of personal completion always made the investment more than worth it.

Eventually, the days turned into seasons. Then, the seasons turned into years. Then, the years turned into abundance. And, always there was the companionship of the Strong Guide

We laughed together. We cried together. We worked and struggled together across those years on the Fruitful Plain. Until one day, in a quiet moment of our fellowship, the Strong Guide said, "It is done. Your journey is finished."

I was a bit stunned by His statements. I said, "What do you mean the journey is finished. We have not traveled The Path in many years. We have remained here in this same place, merely cultivating the fruit."

He said, "My son, sometimes we measure progress on The Path Of The Rising, not in miles, but in fruit. That is how you have traveled The Path these last years. You have born all of this precious fruit. 

And, as we have shared our days in this beautiful work, we have, in a real sense, become one in heart. I have stamped my image upon you - which was always the ultimate purpose of The Path."

As I thought about what the Strong Guide said for a moment, I realized that, as usual, He was right.  It had happened so gradually, that I had hardly noticed. 

But, he was right. I had been so long and so intimately involved with Him, at this point, that I could no longer tell my heart from His. I was still separate and distinct as a person, and yet, not so much any more in heart. I had truly become one in heart with Him.                                               
                                                                                  [Section 118.]

"And now," the Strong Guide continued, "you will know the Pinnacle of The Path. We shall make but one more forward and upward step, and you will be home."

And then, we did; though, I don’t remember actually moving. So, I cannot say precisely how I arrived at The Pinnacle. It was as if I went to sleep in one second and awakened in the next. But, whatever the case, The Pinnacle was breath taking.

The scene that stretched before me was a flawlessly beautiful landscape. The morning sun was warm and bright. The birds were singing. Beautiful trees, and shrubs, and bushes were scattered in clumps and groupings across what looked to be endless miles of softly rolling, green hills.

This seemingly endless botanical garden sprawled with a patchwork mosaic of living, lush, getaways and sit-a-while places which dotted the landscape. I have sense discovered that each place solicits a new mood, a different emotion, a new response from the soul, itself. Taken together this landscape was a perfectly manicured randomness for bathing the the soul in refreshing newness.

And there was a wide but shallow Crystal Stream which ran beside us and then meandered off through that sprawling  landscape. The water was perfectly clear. The bottom of the stream looked like granulated diamonds, so that the bright sunlight seemed to set the stream bed ablaze with with sparkling light which constantly flickered brightly up through the water.

When I saw it, I could not wait to get to it. Instinctively, I started moving toward this irresistible ribbon of crystal light. But, when I arrived at its edge, I froze like a child on Christmas morning, not knowing what to do first. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to touch it, or drink it, or dive headlong into it.

The Strong Guide laughed out loud as He watched me. He said with eyes blazing with joy, "Take your time, child, and do as you will. You are finally and truly home. That stream and all of this are yours forever.

"And this is but the portal area. The great city, and the Almighty, and the long reaches of this River of Life flowing from His Great Throne, are all still to be experienced, as are countless other wonders, and opportunities, and surprising new personal abilities.

"And, you will never again know pain, or tears, or death, or loss. Here, with Me, you will know only unending days of joy and peace and fulfillment. Your journey is finished - and really - truly,  just beginning, my child."

And, just like that, at the end of The Path of the Rising, I began to personally experience the fulfillment of the ancient promise of The Path.  And, I am so pleased to pass this account back down The Path by the Gatekeeper - with this loving advice.  

"Embrace The Path of the Rising, dear searcher, with all your heart, with all your mind, and with all your strength. Truly, its worth exceeds all evaluation.

"He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.’ Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fouler  and from the perilous pestilence. He shall cover you with His feathers, And under His wings you shall take refuge." - The Holy Bible

                                                                       The End