12/03/2009

The Village of Isthisall



In the village of Isthisall, in a hut under an apple tree, lived a peasant named John Wanderer. One night in a dream, he met an old woman who called him to a Great Adventure. He was delighted, as any of us would be, for we all secretly believe that a Great Adventure awaits us, if only the Call would come.

It's an old story, our story. A maiden has been captured by a dragon, who keeps her in a castle tower. There's a treasure in the dragon's cave, which you must pass by before you may enter the castle. The hero is called to free the maiden. The hero, of course, is you. And when you defeat the dragon, you possess the treasure and marry the maiden.


Now in John's dream, the crone gave him three talismans: secret tools of success for the Great Adventure. A magic shield of invisibility? A light saber? Winged sandals for flight? No, the tools in this story are even more powerful. They are our talismans too. John stuffed them in the belt under his tunic, but they were so light he soon forgot they were there! Perhaps your talismans are also stuffed in your shirt, so light you have forgotten them.

John set out on his journey. He began his journey with great enthusiasm. But as he grew more weary, hour after hour, day after day, he began to forget. He forgot the dream. He forgot the goal of his journey. He forgot the talismans in his tunic. And then one morning, as he took to the dusty road, he couldn't even remember the journey. From then on, he no longer called it a journey. He called it work.

These are the Three Great Forgettings. First we forget the Call. Then we forget the Destination. Finally, we even forget that we are on a Journey. Life becomes mere work.

Walking, walking, walking, John knew not whence or why.
One evening at sundown, he found himself in a lonely wood. Searching for a resting place, he spotted the flickering light of a campfire deep in the forest. He abandoned the road and plunged into the pathless wilderness until he came to the fire, where he found an old woman stirring a pot of stew in front of her hut.

She invited him to stay and rest. She fed him a bowlful
of herbs and mushrooms from her steaming pot. As he ate, he confessed his weary story. "I do not know where I am going, or why I walk this road. I do not know who called me to this journey. But I think I know you, old lady." He peered keenly at her wrinkled fire-lit face. "Haven't I seen you before?"

"It isn't me you should be looking at," she laughed. "Look inside your shirt!" Looking, he discovered the three ancient talismans, whereupon he remembered her. "The old woman in my dream!" he sighed.

"These talismans will help you remember," she instructed him. "Whenever you begin to forget, use them."

Perhaps you thought these talismans would be magical weapons for a battle against the Evil One? No, they are much more powerful than that! They are tools for remembering.
Through the use of the talismans, John remembered his Call, his Journey, the Dragon, the Maiden, and the Treasure. Then he slept peacefully, for he had a purpose.

At dawn, the old woman led him to the edge of the forest and pointed the way.
"There," she whispered, "is the goal of your journey. In that village across the meadow, by the old apple tree, you will find the dragon's lair, the castle, and the treasure you have been seeking."

"It cannot be!" he answered. "For that is no castle, but my own cottage under the apple tree in the village of Isthisall. No dragon lives there, nor any maiden. I must have traveled in a circle!"

"Is that so?" asked the crone.


On this bright morning, John ended his journey where it began. In fact, he was quite happy to come home, and so pleased to see his little cottage that it felt like a castle. He knelt down and kissed the ground. There he noticed a glittering jewel in the dust. "I have never looked here!" he exclaimed. He dug a little deeper, right at his own doorstep, and found other jewels. He uncovered a casket full of Treasure.


"You are not poor," said the Maiden who stood in the doorway, "and you never were."


John could not lift his face up to gaze at her, for he
was humbled. "Who are you, lovely lady?" he whispered. But he already knew. The light of remembrance was dawning. In her voice, he recognized his own soul, so long banished in exile.

For the rest of their days, John and the maiden dwelt in the village of Isthisall, which turned out to be a very magical place. But I'm sorry to say there is no final battle with a dragon in this story. For when remembrance dawns, the dragon simply vanishes. It was only the dragon of ignorance, dwelling in the shadow of doubt.

I hope that you will find something wonderful at your doorstep, just as John the Wanderer did; for treasure is your birthright. Every life is a life of abundance and adventure. And if you want to complete your journey right here, before you travel anywhere, remember the three talismans you received when you were born. You have been carrying them with you all along.

May I remind you what they are now? Your Breath, your Heart, and the Present Moment.

Whenever you find yourself in the gloom of forgetfulness, on the dusty road of work,
which is an endless circle leading from the past to the future, plunge into pathless wilderness of the Present Moment. Set your wandering mind on this Breath and let it lead you to the burning fire of your Heart. Soon you will enter a mansion, possess unspeakable treasures, and meet the Beloved, who is always waiting for you here, in the Kingdom of Isthisall.

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