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In the dream story of a land of four rivers, which may be deemed the rivers of our life, we find gates with gate keepers along the way to protect the lands beyond, and to protect also the travelers from the demands of these lands for higher levels of achievements in living that are demands measured in growing up in the grace of our humanity.
The story of the dialog is fiction of course. It is situated in a dream in Venezuela in the background of an emergency conference to rescue the world.
Sometimes our dinner conversations were on subjects that demanded the deepest possible thought, and sometimes the subjects were met with a science fiction type approach that bordered on tall dreaming about a world that was still being build. At times it was also centered on actual dreams. Caracas had been a wonderful place for dreaming.
I don't know whether this dreaming was caused by the thin mountain air, or the fact that our hotel was often surrounded by clouds during the night, or whether it was due to the total quietness of sleeping high above the city on a mountain ridge, cradled on scientifically advanced mattresses, as the hotel boasted in its advertisements.
Often, elaborate fantasies emerged in my dreams, sometimes with a clarity that was more forceful than a movie or a stage play. The majority of my dreams, of course, were directly connected with the conference, and some were centered on Antonovna.
One of the most extraordinary of these dreams had all the 'trimmings' of an oriental mythology. I found myself in a mansion. I was alone. The rooms were brightly lit, but they were empty. I walked from room to room in a dazed bewilderment, searching for someone, or a way out. The rooms were large, elegant, endlessly interconnected, furnished in the finest tradition of a bygone age. The place was deadly silent, except for my footsteps on the carpets.
On the ground floor of the mansion was a solarium. The solarium was much more grandiose than that of our hotel. The solarium in my dream had a courtyard at its center, with a fountain. From there, a wide marble walkway led to a door that opened to a garden. The garden was like a miniature park, filled with a profusion of flowering tropical plants, flooded with sunlight. A sweet odor of blossoms filled the air.
The courtyard of the solarium was laid out in geometric patterns, composed of various shades of marble. I noticed a grouping of garden furniture in the middle of the courtyard that matched the color of the surrounding blossoms and blended with the white marble platform on which it stood. That's when I became aware of a girl on a recliner, sunning herself. Actually she noticed me first.
"I'm your cousin Veronica," she introduced herself. She spoke in a friendly, carefree manner, and with the most wonderful smile. She hadn't expected me. She had been sun tanning in the nude. Hastily she dressed. She had the most perfect figure, like a Greek goddess, gently pointed breasts, erect nipples, all of which she hurried to hide.
"Come with me," she asked, and with the same smile as before, she reached out her hand. She opened a pair of brass doors at the end of a narrow walkway that let to a different garden than the one I had seen before. This one was a wide-open garden from where we had a view across the world. Our mansion was built on a high hill. It seemed as though the whole Earth lay before us.
"Come!" she urged me, "I will show you the temple."
I followed without a comment.
At the edge of the garden stood a white marble structure. It featured a domed marble roof, supported by four pillars, which together formed four gates. I marveled at the exquisite appearance of the structure. I stepped inside.
"Come," I gently urged her, please follow me.
"No! I can't follow you. In life's temple one is always alone. In truth there is no separation, we are at one with the whole of humanity. No one exists in isolation, but this must be learned," she said.
I urged her again, to come.
She shook her head. "As individuals we are alone with ourselves. We must be alone. This is the mark of our autonomy."
"Then I don't want to be in this temple," I replied. "I want to be with you."
The moment I had spoken, I realized that the gates were suddenly closed.
"You can't escape life," she said.
I noticed that the gates led to the North, South, East, and West. The garden of life was much larger now. At its center stood the greatest temple to love ever built, the great Taj Mahal. But I couldn't reach it. I was imprisoned in my own temple. I tried every gate. Every single gate was firmly closed.
"The four gates lead to four rivers," Veronica said.
"What good are the rivers if the gates won't open?" I asked.
Veronica had stopped answering now. She had turned and was walking back to the mansion.
I cried, but when I came to the gate to the North, it opened, and immediately I was on a river. Its name was Pison. The name had been inscribed into the gate. I suddenly found myself in a boat that moved silently against the flow of the river. The boat looked like a discarded river patrol vessel from the Vietnam War. Indeed, this type of boat was totally appropriate for the country that I crossed which had the appearance of being a most inhospitable place. Its shores were dark, eerie, cold. The echo of dying birds vibrated through the forest. There was no laughter, no human voice, no sunshine, no life. Oh how I longed for Veronica in this desert of desolation! Her presence would have felt so rich, her love so exciting, her warmth so beautiful. "The forest has a strange name" I heard a voice say within. "It is the forest of the marriage of human beings - the murderer of its brothers, the Adam dream of a woman taken from man."
At one point far down the river I came upon a massive iron draw gate that blocked my way. The structure was linked to a gatehouse built on a rock on shore. The draw gate had a sign on its beam, like a giant bumper sticker. "The love of the good and beautiful, and their immortality," was written on the sign.
A gatekeeper came out of the gatehouse to the side of the river, and welcomed me. He looked at me with a deeply insightful look and shook his head. He seemed disappointed. He had a pen in his hand to enter my name in a ledger that he carried. He thumbed through the pages. He opened another section, divided by index markers, and thumbed through the pages again. Eventually he shook his head and closed the book of the ledger. "This river leads into the great unknown, that is unknown to you," he explained. "I cannot let you pass. According to law, the land beyond is accessible only to much more complete individuals. You are not qualified. It is too dangerous for people who are empty inside to enter this land, people such as you, with hearts choked up with too much knowledge that is but false wisdom, who embrace deadly illusions. You would be tempted to kill the inhabitants of the land, since you don't know what is good and beautiful and enduring. Turn back! Turn back! If I let you pass you will not be able to survive the active defenses of the people of the land beyond, who must protect what is most precious, which has been entrusted into their stewardship for endless development. Turn back my friend! Turn back! You don't belong there, not yet, anyway."
I nodded reluctantly, but before turning back, I gained a glimpse of the inhabitants of this land; men, women, not walking in pairs. I saw in their gestures their universal embrace of each other; their heads raised up with the pride of a divinely royal person; their eyes radiating with a satisfaction that I had rarely seen; their smiles telling of a deep inner peace. I longed to be with them. I was certain that I saw Veronica there.
from my novel: Endless Horizons
The video presents Chapter 7 - Rivers of Life.
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