…As has always been said, clarity comes with the giving up of self. But what this means is that we cease to attribute selfhood to these echoes and mirror images. Otherwise we stand in a hall of mirrors, dancing hesitantly and irresolutely because we are making the images take the lead. We move in circles because we are following what we have already done. We have lost touch with our original identity, which is not the system of images but the great self-moving gesture of this as yet unremembered moment. The gift of remembering and binding time creates the illusion that the past stands to the present as agent to act, mover to moved. Living thus from the past, with echoes taking the lead, we are not truly here, and are always a little late for the feast. Yet could anything be more obvious than that the past follows from the present like the wake of a ship, and that if we are to be alive at all, here is the place to be?
Evening at last closes a day that seemed to have been going on since the world began. At the high end of the garden, above a clearing, there stands against the mountain wall a semicircle of trees, immensely tall and dense with foliage, suggesting the entrance grove to some ancient temple. It is from here that the deep blue-green transparency of twilight comes down, silencing the birds and hushing our own conversation. We have been watching the sunset, sitting in a row upon the ridgepole of the great barn whose roof of redwood tiles, warped and cracked, sweeps clear to the ground. Below, to the west, lies an open sward where two white goats are munching the grass, and beyond this is Robert’s house where lights in the kitchen show that Beryl is preparing dinner. Time to go in, and leave the garden to the awakening stars.
Again music—harpsichords and a string orchestra, and Bach in his most exultant mood. I lie down to listen, and close my eyes. All day, in wave after wave and from all directions of the mind’s compass, there has repeatedly come upon me the sense of my original identity as one with the very fountain of the universe. I have seen, too, that the fountain is its own source and motive, and that its spirit is an unbounded playfulness which is the many-dimensioned dance of life. There is no problem left, but who will believe it? Will I believe it myself when I return to normal consciousness? Yet I can see at the moment that this does not matter. The play is hide-and-seek or lost-and-found, and it is all part of the play that one can get very lost indeed. How far, then, can one go in getting found?
As if in answer to my question there appears before my closed eyes a vision in symbolic form of what Eliot has called “the still point of the turning world.” I find myself looking down at the floor of a vast courtyard, as if from a window high upon the wall, and the floor and the walls are entirely surfaced with ceramic tiles displaying densely involved arabesques in gold, purple, and blue. The scene might be the inner court of some Persian palace, were it not of such immense proportions and its colors of such preternatural transparency. In the center of the floor there is a great sunken arena, shaped like a combination of star and rose, and bordered with a strip of tiles that suggest the finest inlay work in vermilion, gold, and obsidian.
Within this arena some kind of ritual is being performed in time with the music. At first its mood is stately and royal, as if there were officers and courtiers in rich armor and many-colored cloaks dancing before their king. As I watch, the mood changes. The courtiers become angels with wings of golden fire, and in the center of the arena there appears a pool of dazzling flame. Looking into the pool I see, just for a moment, a face which reminds me of the Christos Pantocrator of Byzantine mosaics, and I feel that the angels are drawing back with wings over their faces in a motion of reverent dread. But the face dissolves. The pool of flame grows brighter and brighter, and I notice that the winged beings are drawing back with a gesture, not of dread, but of tenderness—for the flame knows no anger. Its warmth and radiance—”tongues of flame infolded”—are an efflorescence of love so endearing that I feel I have seen the heart of all hearts…