THE PROGRESS OF ERNEST
Mar 03, 2006 04:44 PM
by W.Dallas TenBroeck
3/3/2006 12:42 PM
May I interject ?
Here we are exo- eso- tericing again. Gets nowhere (to me).
A friend provided reference to an allegory, part of which runs:
THE PROGRESS OF ERNEST
"A year had gone by when one day the stranger whom he had
met twice before sought him out.
"You have allowed yourself to be deluded," the stranger said with
grave directness. "You must free yourself once and forever from
these entanglements if you hope to ever share in the work pursued
by the "Brothers of the Silence."
The "Brothers of the Silence," Ernest exclaimed bitterly. "It is
because I sought them that I am where I am now."
"No, it is because you sought them in the wrong way."
"Tell me, then, do they exist?"
"Yes. I am one of them."
"Then why did you not set me right?"
"Because each member must earn his own entrance."
"I may be misled again."
"Why? The test is a very simple one. The Brothers do not work
for self-interest, but for the good of humanity. That is the
beginning and the end of their mission. Yet each one has a task
of his own to perform, and each must find it by searching his own
heart. Use your clearest judgment, your highest ideals, and the
best of your faculties, for the work deserves all. In a year, I
will seek you again."
The year went by. Ernest had cut himself free from his old
associations and joined the army that was fighting on the
frontier. He had fought bravely, for the words of his unknown
guide remained with him, and the thought that in serving his
country he was surely doing the work of the Brothers gave him
He had a hope too that his probation might at last be
done, for had he not won distinction as a soldier and more than
once saved the field from disaster? All the land was ringing with
his praise. He waited impatiently for the day when his friend
had promised to return. It came.
"Have I won entrance yet," Ernest demanded confidently. He
could hardly credit the gravely spoken answer.
"Why? Is not the work I have done good?"
"It is good work and deserves a reward. You will have it, but
you have not won entrance to the Brotherhood. That does not come
to those who seek it for themselves, even though they seek it by
the path of service.
There may be selfish ambition even in self-sacrifice, and the
Brothers, remember always, are not concerned with the
advancement of themselves, but with the good of the whole.
Yet, take courage for another trial!"
He was inexperienced, and measures that he designed for good
sometimes proved so ill advised that their effect was worse than
the old were. When the end of the year came, he looked back at
the great things he had planned and the small things he had
It seemed to him that his work had been all a failure. He stood
with downcast eyes when the stranger who had grown his watchful
friend found him again.
"What of the year past," the Brother asked, his voice kinder than
"You know," said Ernest moodily. "At least you know what I have
done. You cannot know what I meant to do."
"Why have you failed?"
"Because of my own ignorance, largely," he said at last. "I did
not know how to deal with the conditions I had to meet. I see it
"Then do you see, too, why you have not yet gained entrance to
the Brotherhood," he asked gently. "In their work, a mistake may
be fatal. Well-intentioned effort is not enough. It must be
"Yes, I see" Ernest said patiently. "Well, I will study and
His friend smiled as though well content.
With a mind disciplined and strengthened by the work of
the last ardent years, he applied himself to assimilating the
knowledge that is stored in the wise books of the world. He
studied with humility, for his errors had revealed to him his own
lack of wisdom, and he worked with ardor, for he felt that a
greater undertaking awaited him when he should be fit. In the
outside world, the old throbbing life beat on, and ever and anon
calls came to him to join in it as before. Some upbraided him
with indifference in thus shutting himself apart, but he knew the
scope of the task before him and followed it without pause or
One morning, when the first rays of the sun put out the light of
his lamp, he lifted his eyes from his books and remembered that
the year of study he had set for himself had gone by. What had
he gained? He now had new ideas of life in many ways, new ideals,
firmer judgment, and deeper reverence for the men who in the past
had thought their way into the deep places of nature. It was
strange that so few should come to share it! Strange that the
world should go on and men live and die as though this legacy of
wisdom from the greatest of earth's sons had been forgotten of
"Knowledge stored away and unused is like grain sealed in a
granary," said his friend, who, unseen, had come to stand beside
him. "The millions on the plain outside may starve for lack of
it, and the grain itself will mildew -- if it be not unsealed."
"I understand," said Ernest with a smile. "That, then, shall be
my further task."
He shut up his books, left his room, and returned to the world,
this time as a teacher.
Here a disappointment awaited him at the outset, for the people,
busy with their own interests and quite content with their own
ideas, were not as eager to listen as he to teach.
Some laughed and some doubted, and of all that heard,
few heeded, but the burden of speech was laid upon him and he
dared not keep silence. Sometimes the children listened, and in
their earnest eyes, he read a reassurance that the coming years
might see the fruit from the seed he planted. Sometimes a youth
who reminded him of what he had been in earlier years came,
listened, and went away with a new purpose. Sometimes old eyes,
ready to close wearily upon a world that had yielded many cares
and little content, brightened with a gleam of comprehension as
he spoke. "Ah, that then was the meaning of the riddle!"
When the year had gone by the results seemed meager.
"I had hoped to bring to all men the truths I had found," he said
to the friend who came as before, "but they do not heed them."
"They will in time, and your efforts will bring the time nearer,"
was the serene answer. "One who works for humanity must never
lose faith in the ultimate triumph of good. Yet he may not cease
to work as though the salvation of all rested with him alone."
"Am I fitted yet to do the work of the Brothers," Ernest asked
after a pause.
The other gave him a kindly look.
"One task remains. I leave you to find it."
Six years had gone by since, an eager boy, he left his home in
the mountains, and a yearning came into his man's heart to rest
again in the high, pure solitudes where he had dreamed as a
All places are alike to him who holds himself ready for service,
so he turned toward the mountains. Steadfast and tranquil as
of old, the white peaks lifted themselves above the
purple mists as he had always seen them in memory. The dawn
softened but could not melt them; the sunset illumined but could
not stain them. Down the gorge as of old, the mountain torrent
tumbled in foamy wrath, and the little village beside it was no
older than on the day he had turned his back upon it to seek the
He went to the pass above where the bridge was to have been. The
hewn timbers lay heaped on either bank just as he had left them,
only that a creeping vine with gay blossoms had twined about the
beams that were gray with the weather and green with moss. His
unfinished work reproached him, and with a blush for the
impatient boy that he had been, he set himself to complete it.
Since the villagers were busy as of old, he worked alone.
Through fair weather and foul, he kept to the task, planting the
foundations deep and making each part strong and true. The
summer went by while the work was yet unfinished. The winter
fettered the wild stream, and on the ice, he crossed from shore
to shore, still carrying the work forward. The spring came, and
he had finished. When the freshets came down from the ice fields
above, the bridge stood firm and unshaken above the whirlpool.
In the absorption of his work, he had forgotten what day it was
until all at once he saw the stranger of that old spring morning
standing on the bank, the guide and friend of all the years
"You found the task."
"It was yours. No other could do it."
They stood in silence a moment gazing at it, and then the Brother
"Do you see now how the way has led through all the years? First,
steadfastness came, for without that no effort can avail.
Then was clearness of vision, to prove all things and hold to the
good. Then came the conquering of passion, and the devotion of
all faculties to the service of man and the training of self to
the end that others may be enlightened.
Lastly, to crown all, the simple duty that lay at your hand at the
"Is it done," asked Ernest, doubtingly? "Am I worthy to become
one of you?"
The smile of the other was an illumination.
"You ARE one of us."
By: By Lily A. Long
[From THE PATH, May 1892, pages 40-43 and
June 1892, pages 82-86.]
Sent: Friday, March 03, 2006 11:59 AM
Subject: Re:correction/clarificaltion re planar travel
Gerald, but in keeping with my attempts to turn over some sort of
somewhat newer leaf, I had invibile quotes on my "oobs." I was exoterizing.
Haven't I often enough commented on what I mean by "just being"? I'm
tending to think (just exoterically thinking/speaking) that "just being"
might be seen as an introduction of sorts re "planar travel."
Eg, take those last three sentences. As I tend to see it, in the context of
"just being," the words "what I mean by," eg, could be rather misleading for
some people (inasmuchasif my words are interpreted as if I'm referring to
exoterics as a "key to meaning" rather than "esoterics that can't be
interpreted, basically"), so ... but in keeping with my attempts not to seem
even crazier than I might already seem, I didn't put any quotes on "what I
mean by," among other things. Also, for the same reason, I didn't put any
quotes on "might lead to," among other things. And, for the same reason, I
didn't put any quotes on "introduction of sorts," eg. But if my exoterics
re "just being" and "planar travel," among other things, aren't getting
across ... "what can I say" ...
Not that my "selective" and logically inconsistent use of quotes might not
have led some readers around some bends, but I keep telling myself that this
is an esoteric/y kind of list, after all. And since I seem to keep on
thinking that some words and phrases might be keyer than others, in some
sense, I guess I might keep on thinking that some quotes might alert or help
introduce some readers towards some sort of "more esoteric understanding or
version" (one that might be seen as sort of "represented by words," but not
of the words). While I might be short on planar experiences, in general,
myself, or in some particular sense, maybe (depending on whatever criteria
...), at least I'm admitting (unlike some people ...) that my offerings on
this list are meant in a basically speculative sense (because I feel that
the EST and Theosophy is all about getting beyond "initial/logical
assumptions" and conventional worldviews).
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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