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The moon went with me and from a carven arch filled with marble tracery rained radiance that revealed and hid. Pillars stood about me, wonderful with horses ramping forward as in the Siva Temple at Vellore. They appeared to spring from the pillars into the gloom urged by invisible riders, the effect barbarously rich and strange - motion arrested, struck dumb in a violent gesture, and behind them impenetrable darkness. I could not see the end of this hall - for the moon did not reach it, but looking up I beheld the walls fretted in great panels into the utmost splendour of sculpture, encircling the stories of the Gods amid a twining and under-weaving of leaves and flowers. It was more like a temple than a dwelling. Siva, as Nataraja the Cosmic Dancer, the Rhythm of the Universe, danced before me, flinging out his arms in the passion of creation. Kama, the Indian Eros, bore his bow strung with honey-sweet black bees that typify the heart's desire. Krishna the Beloved smiled above the herd-maidens adoring at his feet. Ganesha the Elephant-Headed, sat in massive calm, wreathing his wise trunk about him. And many more. But all these so far as I could see tended to one centre panel larger than any, representing two life-size figures of a dim beauty. At first I could scarcely distinguish one from the other in the upward-reflected light, and then, even as I stood, the moving moon revealed the two as if floating in vapor. At once I recognized the subject - I had seen it already in the ruined temple of Ranipur, though the details differed. Parvati, the Divine Daughter of the Himalaya, the Emanation of the mighty mountains, seated upon a throne, listening to a girl who played on a Pan pipe before her. The goddess sat, her chin leaned upon her hand, her shoulders slightly inclined in a pose of gentle sweetness, looking down upon the girl at her feet, absorbed in the music of the hills and lonely places. A band of jewels, richly wrought, clasped the veil on her brows, and below the bare bosom a glorious girdle clothed her with loops and strings and tassels of jewels that fell to her knees - her only garment.
The girl was a lovely image of young womanhood, the proud swell of the breast tapering to the slim waist and long limbs easily folded as she half reclined at the divine feet, her lips pressed to the pipe. Its silent music mysteriously banished fear. The sleep must be sweet indeed that would come under the guardianship of these two fair creatures - their gracious influence was dewy in the air. I resolved that I would spend the night beside them. Now with the march of the moon dim vistas of the walls beyond sprang into being. Strange mythologies - the incarnations of Vishnu the Preserver, the Pastoral of Krishna the Beautiful. I promised myself that next day I would sketch some of the loveliness about me. But the moon was passing on her way - I folded the coat I carried into a pillow and lay down at the feet of the goddess and her nymph. Then a moonlit quiet I slept in a dream of peace.
Sleep annihilates time. Was it long or short when I woke like a man floating up to the surface from tranquil deeps? That I cannot tell, but once more I possessed myself and every sense was on guard.
My hearing first. Bare feet were coming, falling softly as leaves, but unmistakable. There was a dim whispering but I could hear no word. I rose on my elbow and looked down the long hall. Nothing. The moonlight lay in pools of light and seas of shadow on the floor, and the feet drew nearer. Was I afraid? I cannot tell, but a deep expectation possessed me as the sound grew like the rustle of grasses parted in a fluttering breeze, and now a girl came swiftly up the steps, irradiate in the moonlight, and passing up the hall stood beside me. I could see her robe, her feet bare from the jungle, but her face wavered and changed and re- united like the face of a dream woman. I could not fix it for one moment, yet knew this was the messenger for whom I had waited all my life - for whom one strange experience, not to be told at present, had prepared me in early manhood. Words came, and I said:
"Is this a dream?"
"No. We meet in the Ninth Vibration. All here is true."
"Is a dream never true?"
"Sometimes it is the echo of the Ninth Vibration and therefore a harmonic of truth. You are awake now. It is the day-time that is the sleep of the soul. You are in the Lower Perception, wherein the truth behind the veil of what men call Reality is perceived."
"Can I ascend?"
"I cannot tell. That is for you, not me.
"What do I perceive tonight?"
"The Present as it is in the Eternal. Say no more. Come with me."
She stretched her hand and took mine with the assurance of a goddess, and we went up the hall where the night had been deepest between the great pillars.
Now it is very clear to me that in every land men, when the doors of perception are opened, will see what we call the Supernatural clothed in the image in which that country has accepted it. Blake, the mighty mystic, will see the Angels of the Revelation, driving their terrible way above Lambeth - it is not common nor unclean. The fisherman, plying his coracle on the Thames will behold the consecration of the great new Abbey of Westminster celebrated with mass and chant and awful lights in the dead mid-noon of night by that Apostle who is the Rock of the Church. Before him who wanders in Thessaly Pan will brush the dewy lawns and slim-girt Artemis pursue the flying hart. In the pale gold of Egyptian sands the heavy brows of Osiris crowned with the pshent will brood above the seer and the veil of Isis tremble to the lifting. For all this is the rhythm to which the souls of men are attuned and in that vibration they will see, and no other, since in this the very mountains and trees of the land are rooted. So here, where our remote ancestors worshipped the Gods of Nature, we must needs stand before the Mystic Mother of India, the divine daughter of the Himalaya.
How shall I describe the world we entered? The carvings upon the walls had taken life - they had descended. It was a gathering of the dreams men have dreamed here of the Gods, yet most real and actual. They watched in a serenity that set them apart in an atmosphere of their own - forms of indistinct majesty and august beauty, absolute, simple, and everlasting. I saw them as one sees reflections in rippled water - no more. But all faces turned to the place where now a green and flowering leafage enshrined and partly hid the living Nature Goddess, as she listened to a voice that was not dumb to me. I saw her face only in glimpses of an indescribable sweetness, but an influence came from her presence like the scent of rainy pine forests, the coolness that breathes from great rivers, the passion of Spring when she breaks on the world with a wave of flowers. Healing and life flowed from it. Understanding also. It seemed I could interpret the very silence of the trees outside into the expression of their inner life, the running of the green life-blood in their veins, the delicate trembling of their finger-tips.
My companion and I were not heeded. We stood hand in hand like children who have innocently strayed into a palace, gazing in wonderment. The august life went its way upon its own occasions, and, if we would, we might watch. Then the voice, clear and cold, proceeding, as it were, with some story begun before we had strayed into the Presence, the whole assembly listening in silence.
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The Ninth Vibration and Other Stories -by- L. Adams Beck