From the unreal lead me to the real, from darkness lead me to light, from death lead me to immortality.
(BRIHADARANYAKA UPANISHAD, 1:3:18).
We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.
(1 JOHN 3:14).
How may we discover the core of identity deep within us, which survives the changes of the world outside us, and grows in stature even when the material world falls from us at the moment of death? It is to this fundamental question Dr. Israel, pathologist, mystic and spiritual guide, turns in this sequel to the highly popular Summons to Life.
"I have started," writes Dr. Israel, "with a personal testimony. The reader must surely demand an autobiographical sketch from one who dares outline the path of authentic existence. I have then tried to define some words and concepts that are important in understanding the spiritual life. Finally I have described various paths towards enlightenment."
Drawing upon the great store of human understanding that has been collected in the world`s sacred scriptures, Dr Israel indicates the way to authentic life.
I WAS PROCEEDING downwards into the darkness by a constantly descending spiral staircase. Around me was a vast army of nameless people with faceless countenances and inarticulate voices. All the world was there in noiseless tumult, and yet I was completely alone. At the bottom of the staircase was a plateau crowded with people who were mere shadows and wraiths. In the centre was the pit.
The pit enveloped all who descended into it in a final darkness. We were all progressing towards it.
I was accompanying this funereal procession, orderly in its disorder, separate from it and yet integral with it. I too had to descend to the deepest depth, and yet I did not know why this had to be. Feelings of fear and resentment began to well up in me, for I did not want to leave the world thus.
Suddenly a wisp of air blew at me from a nameless face. It said; "I am the way, I am the truth and I am life; no one comes to the Father except by me."
I went my way in peace with thanksgiving.
OUR LIFE ON earth is an invitation to partake fully of the glory of the world. This glory consists, certainly, of the material riches of the earth, but there is something more in store for us. It is the discovery of the core of identity deep within us that survives the changes of the world outside us, and grows in stature, even when the material world falls from us at the moment of death. We are not fully alive until we can confirm, through the experience of our life, that inner core which is our proof of purpose, meaning, and destiny.
How this identity may be recognised and how we may grow into full persons is the theme of this book. It is also the meaning of the spiritual life.
I have started, deliberately, with a personal testimony. The reader must surely demand an autobiographical sketch from one who dares to outline the path of authentic existence. I have then tried to define some words and concepts that are important in understanding the spiritual life. Finally I have described various paths towards enlightenment, and the hazards that may follow an unwise devotion to any one system of belief or to techniques of self-development that ignore our duty to our fellow creatures.
Every experience in life is a key to deeper understanding provided we have the wisdom to be still and ask the right questions. Wisdom comes, not primarily through external authorities, but from the depths within us that experience life's vicissitudes. This wisdom can then be augmented by the great store of human understanding that has been collected in the world's sacred scriptures over the ages. We can, in turn, give of our own store to the world for the sake of those who follow after us.
This is the way to authentic life.
|PART I One Man's Path|
|PART II The Language of the Path|
|PART III Milestones on the Path|