The Quest
Mary Ellen Walters

Theosophia, March-April, 1946.


The Soul of Man arose at dawn and gazed tenderly upon the gentle contours of his beloved, Earth. "Sleep sweetly, thou delightful, sensuous bride. Wait in thy abandoned slumber for none else but me and dream of no other countenance but mine. This day I go in search of that which will quench the thirst and satisfy the hunger of both thee and me, for we are one." And so saying he caressed her and went softly from the fragrance of her presence, casting but one lingering look backward over his shoulder. Then facing to the East he set his feet upon the pathway to the rising sun, and warmed by its rays, he cast aside his raiment, walking naked and unashamed where all might see.


And that night he slept beside a still pond at the edge of a forest, and waking with the first light of the new day he perceived lettered at its edge, "Thou seekest the beginning and the end and all that they enfold, and thou canst find them at thy feet within this pool. Look well, oh Soul of Man, that thou mayst know the answer." And he looked deep into the clear waters and seeing only himself, sighed and resumed his journey.


And on the second day his way led through the forest, which was desire, where he wandered as one lost until he came upon a bird of Paradise preening its brilliant plumage, and the bird spoke to him saying, "Whither goest thou, oh Soul of Man?" And he replied, "I am a seeker after the fruits of the Tree of Knowledge, whereby I shall know myself, and so knowing shall know all things." And the bird yearned toward him beseeching, "Linger yet a wile with me for I shall sing to thee and give thee bliss." But the Soul of Man passed on, restless and alone, hungering after the fruits and thirsting for the juices thereof.


And thus ended the second day with the quest for food and drink still unfulfilled, and in the agony of his hunger the Soul of Man stumbled and fell and lay despairing until sleep descended once again to those dark continents of night with star-swept shores. And the angels came upon him where he lay, speaking to him in the language of dreams. "Thy sufferings are real, yet unreal. For in thy long travail which is as but an instant, thou must encounter both good and evil. Yet knowest thou that there is neither." And he awakened greater in understanding.


And it came to pass that on the third day his way led directly into the sun itself, and fear walked by his side. Yet there was no turning back, for those who seek the fruit of knowledge are consecrated to the search forever-more. Thus Man entered into the white radiance and came forth purified, having become allied with the forces of nature. And lo! on the other side grew the Tree of Knowledge, bathed in the essence of the sun and stretching its heavy-laden branches into the infinity of the cosmos. And its blossoms shone like lights, sending forth their over-powering fragrance into the universe. And about its great trunk lay coiled a serpent who rose up regarding Man, saying,


"Since thou seekest, thou hast found. But be thou aware that the fruit grows only upon the topmost branches. Therefore must thou be straight and strong and tall to attain the fulfillment of thy purest desires." And Man put forth his hand and strove to reach the lowest ripening cluster, but to no avail. And the serpent laid its head upon his shoulder hissing, "Reach a little higher, Man, for how else art thou to become God-like?" And the Soul of Man stretched himself to his utmost, until the tips of his fingers touched the first fruit, yet could not pluck it from the bough. And the serpent recoiled, sighing, "Thou must go forth again and grow still taller, Man, for the fruits of the tree are reserved for those of mighty stature. Yet tarry here a while beneath the tree and rest thyself before the outward journey must commence."


And the Soul of Man lay down and slept within its shade and arose refreshed, having become as a child again, and strengthened, for the quest was not in vain. Verily, what is knowledge but the finding of the way, and reaching it, to reach again yet higher?

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