The Immortal Child
Sitting in the sand at the seaside where his parents had brought him for the summer holidays, a child scans the horizon haloed with mist. The entrancing song of the waves, the call of the seagulls, the warm breath of the wind, melt together to create a state of being awakening in him the echo of a distant past, still alive in every fibre of his being. Gaia recalls... Unable to understand why, a three-year-old boy sees in his mind's eye a succession of strangely-shaped beings, evoking memories buried in the inmost depths of his soul. But what is even more strange, he feels that these scaly animals emerging from a long forgotten prehistory are a part of himself. Far from scaring him, these images even seem to be very familiar and comforting, as real as the waves he half-dreamingly sees vanishing in bubbling white foam at his feet...
"But just what is going on in Gaia's mind... Do you see that, Marianne? It's been at least fifteen minutes now that he's sitting there, motionless, gazing at the sea..."
"Oh, you know, it's not the first time he's done that. Do you remember, I pointed out his attitude to you some time ago when we were in the countryside at my parents' place. He was doing exactly the same thing. Suddenly, right in the middle of his games, he stopped, sat down and started looking at the forest and far away mountains, gazing vacantly into space, like he's doing now."
Feeling he was being observed, Gaia turned his head slowly and glanced back with a smile of intelligence and complicity towards his parents who could not help smiling back at him with a slightly surprised look in their eyes and a great surge of Love in their hearts.
"What an extraordinary child we have!"exclaimed Roberto.
"Not only is he a sort of precocious contemplative thinker, but he even seems to read our thoughts! How could he know we were talking about him? Surely he couldn't hear us at this distance."
"But you've just said it yourself," replied Marianne."He read our thoughts. That's not new either. You know we can't hide anything from him."
"Yes, I have already noticed that. Do you remember how he reacted when we planned to take a week's vacation together and to ask your mother to take care of him during that time? We'd barely thought of it when he came and stood right in front of us with his beach toys and one of those imploring looks that didn't leave us much choice..."
"Yes, I remember that very well!... But in fact, all this doesn't surprises me very much. Since the moment he was born when we both felt that strange energy that overwhelmed us, right up to now, he hasn't stop surprising us with his calm and cooperative behaviour, his unusual intelligence and above all his overflowing affection for us. No really, nothing can surprise me now about this child," concluded Marianne.
During this exchange, Gaia got up and came towards his parents. Just when he had almost reached them, something even more amazing happened... A transparent form, like a being of Light, gradually materialized between Roberto, Marianne and their son who stopped short, his eyes wide open, in front of this unexpected apparition. For a few seconds, nobody moved. A sense of peace, an almost tangible silence surrounded the scene of this mysterious manifestation.
"Don't be afraid," said a soft low voice which seemed to emerge from the form circled in a halo of soothing light.
"The time has come for you to know your child's unique destiny. You have been chosen to give birth to a being who bears a Mission of the highest importance for the survival and evolution of your world. In fact, you agreed long ago to play this sensitive and vital role. For many lifetimes now, you have passed through difficult trials and known certain experiences intended to prepare you to fulfil the task at hand. At the appropriate time, you will regain the full memory of all those events. But for the time being, you have to reiterate the commitments you made to the One and accept to complete the work of Light that you undertook when Gaia was conceived."
Stupefied at first, then feeling a deep respect for the being of Light which had appeared from nowhere, Roberto and Marianne slowly stood up, while Gaia quietly watched the whole scene. Prompted by an inner force, gentle yet irresistible, they closed their eyes simultaneously, laid their hands on their chests, one over the other, and were instantly overcome by a powerful, scintillating energy which seemed to flow from each of their cells.
Without the being of Light uttering a single word, the main events of their lives passed through their minds in speeded-up motion, from their own birth and the strange circumstances that had caused them to meet and fall in love, to the extraordinary events surrounding their son's birth and childhood. Then, in a rapid succession of images, they had the vision of what was in store for Gaia and of his vital mission to the human species.
Slowly bowing their heads, Roberto and Marianne picked up the thread of their present awareness and tied it once again to the sacred commitment they had made to the One long ago. Tears of joy welled up in their eyes and rolled down their cheeks.
Yes! They still accepted, more than ever, the sacred privilege of serving... During a few moments which seemed like centuries, their consciousness merged with that of the being of Light and they knew what few humans know today: the future that Life has in store for us...
Then Roberto and Marianne felt a little hand touching them, expressing a wish to join in their joy and show that their happiness was shared. Kneeling down to their child's level, Roberto and Marianne also joined hands, and the three of them together formed a triangle of Love under the fires of the setting sun.
Three seagulls hovered over their heads... Rays of light wove a magical dance around them... Peace reigned within their hearts...
And thus they glimpsed the extraordinary destiny which Life had conceived for them. Aware of the huge responsibility which had thus been entrusted to them, but also somewhat concerned about how they would manage to carry it out, Marianne and Roberto stood up and looked for the being of Light who, a few moments before, had half-opened the door on the future of the world. Alas! To their great regret, he had disappeared and only the deserted beach and the infinite sea were left to witness to what had just happened. Closing their eyes to seek counsel in their hearts, they heard the Voice once again...
"Dear sister, dear brother, go in Peace. I will always be at your side to protect and guide you on your Way. So it has been since the birth of your child... So it will be until the Event takes place. Everywhere, you will find signs, help and assistance, to support you in your task of educating Gaia... All the circumstances of his existence will conspire to ensure that his Initiation to the mysteries of Life and ancient wisdom meet the needs of his Mission. In every place, in every situation, you will only have to close your eyes and listen to your soul... And then you will know what has to be done."
Overcome with infinite gratitude, surrounded with Light, and with tears of joy in their eyes, Marianne and Roberto breathed deeply the pure salt air, giving thanks to the Most High for what they had just experienced and for what was in store for them. As for Gaia, he had gone back to play in the sand with his toys, like any other child his age, his soul at Peace and his heart overflowing with Love for the two beings who had given birth to him.
Billions of years have passed... But what do billions of years mean when time does not exist?... What does time mean, except the illusion of a past and a future when in fact everything is, always, in every bit of the Present. Only the eternal Now has a meaning in the illusory passage of time... Suns have been born, others have cooled down. Galaxies have whirled and spun, stunned with Light on their infinite journey from nothingness to nothingness...
Planets have taken shape by the thousands, the millions, the billions, then by the quintillions... In all colors, in all sizes, in all possible arrangements of gaseous, liquid or solid matter, they have clad themselves... The overflowing, prolific profusion of worlds created by Life now goes beyond all understanding. Everywhere, Life has blossomed... Everywhere!...
In the smallest ecological niche, under every stone, in every drop of water, the fantastic ballet of molecules, orchestrated by the magic wand of Life, this universal, beneficial, marvelous Force has bred myriads of amino acids, proteins, and other compounds with an inexhaustible variety of properties... The alchemy of Life has thus launched its prodigious expansion. Single cells, groups of cells in the most heterogeneous forms, invertebrates, then vertebrates have begun to teem, swim, crawl, walk, fly... On an infinity of worlds, they have multiplied, they have proliferated, they have adapted themselves until they cover the ground and the waters with a blanket of Life, tightly weaved, interconnected, interdependent...
The heart of the Universe has begun to beat... The galaxies have begun to breathe... Consciousness was then able to take flight towards the heights of Intelligence and Knowledge.
A few years later, a little boy with large clear eyes of an indefinable color, unusual blond hair and a radiant beauty, is searching for something essential, vital, supremely important to him. And to him alone... He is trying to find the reason for his existence on the planet he has been taught to call Earth.
"What did I come onto this planet to do? Who am I?... What is the answer to this enigma that comes to my mind again and again?... Mum and Dad did not want to help me solve this problem. They say that nobody else but I can answer it. I would really like to talk about this with someone else, but I don't see who discuss this with. All my friends seem to take so little interest in this sort of thing. All that matters to them is television and their childish games. Why am I so different from the others?... What have I done to deserve it?..."The more he thought about this, the less he could understand.
He could spend hours sitting under a tree, or lying on his bed, continuously turning over all these questions in his mind. He took only a superficial interest in the games he nevertheless played with his friends. The hours he spent at school seemed interminable to him, even though his parents had sent him to the best school in the area. His teachers had nothing but praise for his academic results and behaviour, but he rarely found a topic or a teacher that aroused his curiosity and stimulated his imagination.
The fact was, little of what he learned appeared to be of any use to him. Everything was so theoretical, so abstract, so superficial. Only one course touched on a subject that was close to his heart, and, even then, only in such an indirect and confused way. Indeed, although his parents did not practice the established religion of the area, he had insisted on attending classes given by a monk whose keen intelligence and wide-ranging culture he appreciated. In fact, by some fortunate coincidence, it seemed that this person had appeared in his life exactly at the right time, offering him the signposts he needed on his inner journey to find a solution to his apparently insoluble problem.
One evening, after finishing a fascinating illustrated book he was reading on the life of Jesus, he decided to meet Mr. Gustav, his religion teacher, after class to ask certain questions which were vitally important to him...
"Tell me, Mr. Gustav, I would like to ask you some questions. Do you have a few minutes to talk about this now?"
"Of course my boy. Anything you want! What would you like to ask me?"
"Well... Yesterday evening, I read the story of Jesus' life and something struck me in this story, something that has nothing to do with the teaching he left us, but rather, how can I say it, the fact that so little is told about his youth and the teaching he himself received so that he could fulfil his Mission..."
"Yes, I too have noticed this lack of detail about most of the life of Christ. But what exactly do you want to ask me?"
"Well... It may sound strange, but I also feel that I have something very important to accomplish and that..."
"Oh, but you know, my boy, we all have something very important to achieve in our lifetime, and depending on our ability to love and our desire to serve others, opportunities to accomplish great things are granted to us more often than we may think. We all have a mission to fulfil in our lives..."
"Ah! That's just it! As you say, I feel I have a mission to fulfil and that I have to prepare myself for it, like sort of preparing yourself before an exam. Unfortunately, I don't know what to do to prepare myself and who I can ask for help. All that I learn here at school is very interesting but it seems to me it's not really what I have to learn now. I apologize for saying that, but I always have the impression that I'm wasting my time at school and that there's something much more important that is not being taught."
"Hmm! Yes I see... I think I'm beginning to understand your problem son."
"Yes! You think you can help me! Oh, tell me, what do I have to do?... You're the first person who..."
"Hold on!... Just a minute, young man. Not so fast. I didn't say that I could help you."
"Oh, heck! It's always the same. Nobody wants to help me."
"I didn't say that either. In fact, I am willing actually to help you, but not the way you'd like. You see, there's something very important for you to understand now."
Gaia calmed down and sat down at the foot of the tree towards which they had been walking as they conversed, and Mr. Gustav, pleased to see a little more serenity in his young pupil, sat down beside him and closed his eyes for a few seconds before continuing.
"I understand your frustrations and preoccupations very well. I myself went through something similar when I was young, although at a much later age than you. You're really different from the others and I have often noticed the profoundness and relevance of your comments in class and, to be honest, they took me quite by surprise."
Smiling shyly, Gaia hastened to say...
"Oh, you know, I don't say these things to get your attention but because that's what I really think. Also I have to tell you that of all the subjects at school, yours is the most interesting, even though the lack of interest and discipline of the other pupils makes your task quite difficult."
Mr. Gustav, who in turn was somewhat embarrassed by the look of sincere appreciation in Gaia's face, yet pleased deep down to find someone who could share his passion for the spiritual aspect of life, asked Gaia in his gentlest voice:
"When you make such accurate comments in class and ask questions that go straight to the heart of the matter, where do you get them from? Where does all this wisdom come from?"
"Hmm... It comes to me just like that by itself, I only have to follow the thoughts that spontaneously come to my mind in response to a subject or an observation and let myself be guided by a deep feeling... of rightness, I'd say. It's as if someone or something inside me prompts me, showing me an image, a vision that makes everything clear to me, all at once, in a fraction of a second."
"You see, this kind of natural gift which you have of being able to feel immediately what's right and to follow your train of thought with confidence, without getting lost in wild imaginings and irrelevancies, is a faculty we all possess, but is used by very few. To do this you must have a certain independence of mind and above all, not be afraid of being taken for an eccentric or even for a fool sometimes. You know, our whole culture is geared to the acquisition of knowledge and the mastery of the vast body of learning accumulated by generations of thinkers who have not been afraid to stand out of the crowd or pass for eccentrics. Unfortunately, very little of what is taught today involves the faculties of imagination and intuition. You've surely already made the same observations."
"Oh yes, Mr. Gustav! You're right. I have already noticed what you say, but I had never thought about it with such clarity. But now that we are talking about it, it makes me realize that everything we know about the world around us, about the universe where we live, is based on what others have thought before us. Very little of what we learn in books, at school and even in everyday life, comes from direct and personal experience. I'm not the one who decided what's true in all the things I know today or what's good for me, in all the things I do. It's because I was willing to believe it all that I've accepted everything that I've been told. It's really amazing that I didn't realize this until now!..."
"Hmm! Yes... I must admit that what you're saying now, never occurred to me! You are a truly perspicacious young man... Hmm! But since you seem to be such a good observer of the things of this world, could you tell me what prevents you from discovering by yourself what you have to do now to be prepared for your... mission? Don't you have all that you need within you to solve any problem?"
"I... I think you're right. What you're trying to tell me is that it's useless to look outside yourself for something that can only be found within..."
"That's exactly what I wanted to hear from you, my dear Gaia..." exclaimed Mr. Gustav exultantly to his young pupil lost in thought. Those were the last words they exchanged. After a few moments of silence punctuated by the chirping of crickets and the flight of a multicoloured butterfly, Gaia sprang up, looked right into Mr. Gustav's eyes and, after thanking him with a wide grin, left with a spring in his step towards the pond where he was in the habit of going after school to meditate and think about his day. Choosing a quiet place in the shade, he closed his eyes and mulled over what he had just realized.
Lost in his thoughts, he did not notice the time passing. Soon, dusk filled the sky with a thousand shimmering hues and a star-studded night followed the last embers of the day. It was gradually becoming clear in his mind that the time had come for him to leave behind the life he had known until now and to set off to explore for himself the countless aspects of this vast world he had only been able to glimpse through his reading and the illusory picture box that was the family television. Confident that he would be able to convince his parents of the importance of what he had decided to undertake, he headed resolutely towards the house which he was soon to leave. His arrival did not pass unnoticed by his parents, who had been worried for quite some time about his absence, their son never having missed a meal without letting them know about his comings and goings.
"Dad, mum," said he, after calling them to the living room," I've just taken a decision that's going to change my whole life."
He recounted the conversation he had had with Mr. Gustav and the new awareness that had resulted, as well as the long meditation that had followed near the pond.
"So I came to the conclusion that I have to stop going to school and set off to discover the world where I live and the people in it. I feel deeply that this is the only way to discover who I really am and what I have to achieve on this planet."
Flabbergasted by this announcement which was unexpected to say the least, Roberto and Marianne looked at each other in astonishment and, doing their best to remain calm, stared for a few seconds at this so intelligent young boy who never ceased to surprise them and fill them with delight.
"Gaia," said his father gently," you know how much your mother and I love you and care for you. How can you ask us such a thing?... You're barely ten years old and already you want to leave us!... Is there something we have neglected in your education? Haven't we given you all our affection? And how do you think a young child like you can go out on the road and manage all right? How will you find shelter and protect yourself from the harsh climate? Where do you want to go?..."
"And besides," added Marianne still in the grip of surprise," who will teach you all you need to know to find a job or a profession later on? Who will protect you if someone wants to harm you? Who will look after you if you hurt yourself or get into trouble?"
Having prepared himself for this quite natural reaction, Gaia, without losing his composure, said to his parents: "You remember what happened at the beach one summer when I was three... You recall the being of Light, saying that he would continually be beside us to protect and guide us... Has doubt crept into your minds?..."
Utterly taken aback by so much composure and by the aura of wisdom and Peace emanating from their child, Marianne and Roberto could not say another word. They got up gravely and stood with Gaia between them, realizing that what was expected of them now was without a doubt the most difficult thing that had ever been asked of them: to detach themselves from the being to whom they had given all their love...
At that very moment, they heard the Voice which, since the appearance of the being of Light seven years before, had been guiding them step by step in bringing up Gaia.
"We have placed all our trust in you and, today, more than ever, we can appreciate how right we were in our choice. Yes, Gaia!... You are right in saying that help and protection will be granted to you all along the journey of initiation you are about to undertake. So it is for every human being who consents to follow the Way shown by his heart.
As long as you are driven by such determination, all the circumstances surrounding your life will conspire to bring you everything you need so that the Light within you may mature. Likewise, your material needs will be adequately met so that nothing may hinder your progression towards more and more Light. However, be careful not to break this link of trust and Love with the forces guiding you, otherwise we will be unable to do anything to help you. You alone are the master of your destiny.
It is you, Gaia, who through your deeds, your words and, above all, your thoughts, determines what your present and future life will be. If you let doubt creep into your heart and spoil what is most precious in you, all help will be taken away until once again you earn by your own efforts the respect of the beings that surround you.
Nothing could be more important for you than cultivating, throughout your journey, this link with the Light dwelling within you. This will be your safest guide in every situation. This will be your bulwark against every danger. Go and remain in the Light. Life goes with you..."
After hearing and meditating upon these words, whose every vibration, every intonation, were pregnant with a meaning that transcended the words themselves and touched every sensitive fibre of the soul in a symphony of Love and joy, Gaia, Marianne and Roberto resolved to wait until the next day to consider the practical aspects concerning the journey Gaia was about to set off on.
Throughout that night, Gaia slept fitfully. Something in him refused to let go of the little world of comfort and security he had known till then. And the next morning, he had barely awaken when he had to face his first test.
Was it possible that this was the last time he would sleep in his cozy bed and that, from now on, he would live each day in uncertainty? Would he ever again see his father and mother he loved so much? And dear Mr. Gustav, whose mischievous smile always held some pleasant surprise for him, would he ever again find such an understanding and wise person to share his reflections on life?...
Yes, he had certainly got himself into a strange situation indeed. For a moment, he seriously considered giving up the whole idea, but he was immediately overcome by an oppressive feeling and, in a flash, the words of the being of Light came back to his mind...
A shudder went through his body. No! He couldn't do that! There was no going back now. It was too late. He knew he had to hold his head high, take his courage in both hands and set off on the most risky adventure he had ever dared to imagine... To discover the world he lived in!
He stood up and put on his clothes, thinking quickly about what he was going to bring with him. Since he could hardly carry heavy loads, he had to limit himself to the bare necessities. Meanwhile, his parents had taken a decision which had eased their fears a little. They too had had a hard time trying to sleep and had tortured themselves thinking of what was in store for their beloved son. Meeting again in the living-room after breakfast, they suggested the following to Gaia. One of them would accompany him on his journey and that way would make sure he was well and safe. But it would be Gaia who would decide where to go and how.
The offer was tempting and Gaia came very close to accepting it. But something deep inside told him that this was not his initial intention and that it would spoil the game. He had no choice but to go alone and trust his lucky star to guide and protect him. It was the only way to prepare himself for the mission he knew he was to accomplish one day.
The die was cast. He would go alone, with Providence as sole support. Nevertheless, he promised his parents that he would write regularly to keep them informed about his wanderings so that they would not worry. It was with a great deal of emotion that they parted on the doorstep a few minutes later.
After a last wave goodbye, Gaia set off on the long road which would lead him, he was sure of it, to find himself. But his heart was at peace because, as he said to himself, in any journey, the first step is the most difficult, the rest being but a logical progression following from this first move. He headed at first towards the school where the other pupils were already in class.
It is from quite a different perspective that he considered for a last time this cold and impersonal building where he would have spent many more long years, subjected to a teaching that was not for him. He had something else to do now in his life, and a great weight was lifted from him when he left, perhaps forever, the village which had seen him grow up.
Since it was almost the end of spring, he was hardly worried about where he would spend the night. He had warm clothes, a good sleeping bag, and enough provisions to last a few days; then he would see. All that mattered to him was to open his ears and eyes wide and feel through every pore of his skin the universe flooded with exhilarating fragrances that was all around him. He had no precise plan for his destination or his itinerary. He had chosen to let himself be guided by what would appear on his way and he surrendered in complete trust to the fortunes of discovery.
Suddenly everything seemed so beautiful, so strongly imbued with nobility and majesty. Every bird song that reached his ears, every sparkle of sunlight glinting on the foliage, every pebble he stepped on, appeared to him worthy of the utmost attention and admiration. The whole of Nature offered herself to him in a never-ending celebration and the only thing that mattered was the present moment.
Thus he walked, slowly, all day long, going his own sweet way, enjoying the scenery and savoring every second as if it was continually the first instant of his life... As evening was falling, he looked around for a place to spend the night. His gaze fell on an old abandoned barn at the end of a lane overgrown with grass and bordered with an old fence half crumbling under the weight of the years. Delighted with his find, he cautiously approached the building, all his senses alert, and cast a timid look inside. Seeing nothing threatening, he strode inside and discovered a perfect haven for the night.
Between the loose planks, the wind whistled on a plaintive tone, bringing to his nostrils a smell of old hay which aroused memories of summers spent at his grandmother's home in the countryside, playing with his cousins in the bales of hay piled up to the roof in the neighbors' barn.
Remembering then that he had once slept in the hay, he said to himself that this would be a very comfortable place to sleep. Besides, his legs that had carried him the whole day long soon reminded him that he scarcely had any other choice, and he lay down with relief in a corner to rest a little before eating the food he had brought with him. The moment he stretched himself out he felt something moving under him.
He sprang up, in time to see a small field mouse scurrying away; it had also sought refuge in the straw. Having recovered from his fright, he gathered a few armfuls of hay, with which he made a makeshift bed in the middle of the barn, in an open space. This way he would avoid any other unpleasant surprises. Dozing off after his meal, he was just about to fall asleep when he felt a presence in the dark. Waking up with a start, he did not dare move so much as a little finger, expecting this time to be clawed or still worse! His imagination was running at full speed and he really believed that his last hour had come when he felt soft fur rubbing his hand and a rough little tongue beginning to lick his thumb.
A few seconds later he heard a loud purr, which was enough to reassure him about the "terrible" threat he had just faced. A large cat, which had probably chosen the barn as a hunting ground, had quite simply made, in its own way, the customary introductions in such circumstances. Laughing to himself at his vivid imagination Gaia cuddled the cat and started to stroke its head, reproaching it quietly for having caused him such a fright. But deep down, he had nothing against the cat, and even, on second thought, was very grateful that, in this way, it had given him a lesson he would not forget for a while. For he had just understood something very important...
"Fear," he said to himself, "is nothing other than the fruit of my imagination. A short while ago, when the mouse made me jump, I didn't have time to be afraid. I simply had a natural defense reaction, an instinct etched in each of my cells and inherited from a distant past. Whereas now, I was so scared that I could well have made a dangerous move, had I not been frozen by fear. I could even have passed the night needlessly trembling with anguish if, for instance, the gentle cat had been afraid of me and had run away. There's no point in filling my mind with fears created by my wandering imagination. I have to absolutely cultivate faith in the universe around me and control right from the start any attempt by my imagination to exaggerate or distort what I may perceive. In fact, to have perfect self-control means not even beginning to panic or shivering with fear. My faith must be total, unshakeable!..."
And with these thoughts, he slipped into a peaceful and deep sleep. The next morning, from the first light of dawn, he set off again on his journey after performing his ablutions in the stream running alongside the field where the disused barn was. Again, Nature and her infinite charms threw him into a state of wonder close to ecstasy. Following the example of the flocks of birds whose morning song was filling the undergrowth with melodies and warbling of all kinds, Gaia began to hum a lively tune that welled up from the depths of his soul, to proclaim for all the world to hear his joy in living, walking and breathing on this Earth of abundance and harmony.
Words expressing the freedom he had won and the happiness filling his heart spontaneously burst forth on his lips, like a flower exuding its fragrance to the glory of the Creator.
"Peace and Joy and Love found again,
Why did it take me so long to see.
All is so simple when you think of it,
You just open your heart to happiness.
Here and now, always and forever,
I'm free to go wherever I think best,
No fears, nor worries for tomorrow,
The light in my heart shines on my way.
Sometimes, there are doubts coming and disturbing my Peace,
But not for very long, for deep within me lives
An immortal, eternal, boundless being."
With the weight of fear lifted from his heart, singing and dancing on the country roads, Gaia went thus on his merry way towards countless discoveries and many other learning experiences, without the slightest idea of what was yet to come that day on his way. If he had known what was about to happen, perhaps he would have somewhat tempered his enthusiasm. The afternoon was drawing to an end when an ominous shadow slowly began to spread a blanket of darkness over the entire countryside. An unusually violent storm was approaching at full speed.
Preceded by a low rumbling of thunder, a sky in fury, streaked with blinding lightning, swooped down on Gaia like an eagle on its prey. Gaia had already observed such a phenomenon before, but from a safe place, through the windows of his family's house. This time however, it was quite different. He was in the middle of the field, far from any shelter, and his courage and determination to remain calm and confident in any circumstances were his only protection against the oppressive anguish he felt growing in him as the thunderstorm was growing near. The first big drops of rain were already falling on him when a furious gust of wind suddenly plunged him right into the heart of the storm.
Lightning struck near him once, twice, three times, each time a little closer. Then he had the impression that the whole of Nature was unleashing her power around him to put him to the test and assess the steadfastness of his courage. He decided to take his clothes off, since they were soaked anyway, and lay down on the grass until the storm had passed. The more the storm raged around him, the more calm and confident he felt.
Soon, after the lightning had decreased in frequency and the rain in strength, a little boy who had freed himself entirely from his fear could be seen standing right in the middle of the field and dancing for joy as if he had just won the greatest victory of his life.
And this was indeed a victory, a victory over fear. From now on, Gaia knew he would be able to face the greatest difficulties and meet the greatest challenges without being paralyzed and half-crazed by fear. He had just freed himself from one of the worst scourges afflicting humanity. Soon afterwards, when the rain had stopped, he picked up his things and set off again towards a vast, silent forest which stretched out before him, as far as the eye could see, well beyond the horizon. It was quite a different universe he would now have to learn to tame and know. He took a narrow, barely distinguishable path that vanished in dense groves and brambles at the forest's edge.
He had to put his clothes back on, for clouds of mosquitoes and black flies had swarmed on him as soon as he entered the wood. Far from panicking at their ceaseless attacks, he quickly understood that instead of seeing them as enemies and trying to keep them off by waving his arms like a windmill, he only had to accept their presence as normal and calmly continue on his way. Of course, he was bitten a few times, but this was the tribute that had to be paid to gain admittance to the forest realm.
Soon, with the passing hours, a profound change occurred in him. Sitting near a stream at nightfall, he realized that he increasingly perceived the forest as an ally. Closing his eyes to feel its magnetic presence all around him, he suddenly let down all his barriers and released the inner tension which kept him constantly on the defensive, although in a very subtle and almost imperceptible way. For the first time in his life, he no longer felt the need to stay constantly on the alert, on the look-out, ready to react to any threat or attack.
Realizing how much this deeply rooted instinct could alter his perception of things, virtually without knowing it, all of a sudden Gaia felt free of the weight of this legacy of unconscious fears that, like the meshes of an invisible net, made him a captive of his own fantasies. A butterfly, which seemed to glow in the twilight, appeared between the majestic trunks which surrounded him on all sides like the pillars of a cathedral.
Fascinated by what he saw, he began to speak to the butterfly, calling it with all his Love and inviting it to come to rest on his open hand. What a surprise he got when he saw it fly straight to him and settle on his shoulders, where it was easy for him to observe it at leisure. Its eyes sparkled in the soft light and its antennae seemed to tell him, in butterfly language, how much his presence was appreciated.
Hearing a twig crackling behind him, Gaia slowly turned his head and was startled to see a small hare, with quivering ears and erect body, standing nearby, observing him intently.
Gaia was filled with delight. Not daring to move suddenly for fear of scaring the hare away, Gaia called to it softly, holding out his arms. And once again, the magic of his aura of Love and goodness emanating from his heart did its work and the hare came straight to him. Gaia tenderly took it in his arms and, stroking its soft fur, talked to it as he would to an intelligent being.
"Dear little hare, you're very sweet, you know... What's your name? Do you have a name or should I just call you 'dear little hare'? My name is Gaia. That's the name my parents gave me. It seems that it's a predestined name, that it's this name and no other they had to give me... But tell me, do you live alone in this big forest?... Of course, you can't answer my question."
"Perhaps I should answer on his behalf," said a small fluted voice suddenly, from a spot just above his head.
Gaia looked up quickly and had the most unexpected and delightful surprise of his life. A little being with diaphanous wings was floating motionless just a few inches from his face. It looked for all the world like a tiny fairy with a luminous, perfectly proportioned face and long slender fingers, dressed in a short white robe with ample folds where droplets of dew sparkled and glittered with a life of their own.
Staring wide-eyed with astonishment, Gaia, who thought he was dreaming at the sight of this graceful being which he believed existed only as a myth taken straight out of a fairy tale, was shaken head to foot by a great shudder of wonder that transported him into another universe, one of magic and enchantment... Small chuckles burst forth all around him. Suddenly, all the forest seemed alive with small legendary beings, gnomes, elves, sylphs, water sprites.
They came from everywhere at once and they all seemed to be having a great deal of fun, while observing him out of the corner of their eye. He thought to himself that he must look funny sitting there lost in wonder, and he slowly stood up, and looked around, astounded by this extraordinary scene. Suddenly, all the little people froze and a great supernatural silence enveloped Gaia, whilst he felt a great Presence approaching. A soft glow filtered through the leaves, sending a whirlpool of iridescent light splashing on the whole fascinated audience.
A being of indescribable magnificence emerged from the treetops and stood majestically in front of Gaia who was utterly amazed. Getting his breath back and recovering his presence of mind, he slowly approached the being who exuded an indefinable sense of Peace, serene splendor and immense wisdom.
A Voice - but was it really sounds that he was hearing or rather a vibration he felt through his whole being? - a Voice imbued with majesty, nobility and authority, rose from the being and all listened with the deepest respect.
"Be at Peace, Gaia, for you came here with only your Love of Nature as a shield and your faith in Life as a guide... Everything you perceive at this moment, is perceived with the eyes of the soul. Only beings whose intentions are pure can observe what you see. Only hearts that have freed themselves from fear are able to withstand without faltering the vision before you. You have been tested in various ways since you left your native village, and your exemplary behavior has earned you the privilege, granted to very few humans until now, of contemplating a new aspect of the world you live in.
Know that these beings whose existence you have discovered today existed on Earth well before the emergence of the human species in the evolutionary plan of this planet. It is through their invisible action that Life laid the groundwork for the appearance and growth of all the life forms dwelling on this world. Their gigantic task is still going on today on every continent, in every ocean, and in a multitude of ways. It is thanks to their tireless work that this planet you call Earth has become a jewel of Harmony, overflowing with vitality and radiant with beauty.
For countless millennia, adapting to all the climatic and geological upheavals that the lands and seas of this world have known, myriads of species have proliferated, proclaiming the glory of the One, who is the origin of visible and invisible universes, created and non-created, past and to come."
An even deeper silence followed these words, permeated with the entire spectrum of feelings, and evoking images and visions whose profound meaning is beyond our limited human understanding...
Since the arrival of this ineffable Life Presence, Gaia had felt surging within him an energy he had never known before, which, with slow pulsations gaining in amplitude and strength, had suffused his whole being with an intensity of awareness surpassing anything he had ever imagined.
Standing before the being of Light, he felt his body expanding and gradually taking on an ovoid shape which, like a sun, radiated Light in all directions to infinity. Simultaneously aware of what was going on within him and of what he was witnessing, he felt a Spark of Life growing deep within him, an infinitely tiny point of Light, almost nonexistent, that had been lying dormant for an eternity, he realized, waiting for the right conditions to emerge.
He felt that the Being of Light and all the other observers of the scene were also aware of what was happening and even that they all played a very specific role in the transformation taking place. Actually, he thought, it was a part of themselves that was going through this experience.
All of them... they were all part of HIM!...
Overwhelmed by this sudden flash of realization, Gaia, transcending all appearances, all illusions, ceased to exist for an eternal fraction of a second and simultaneously merged, exploded, imploded to become ONE with the Universe. He felt immense, infinite, omnipresent... And yet, he was still fully aware of his body standing straight as a tree.
Making an effort to regain his bearings, to recover his identity, to be back in the world he knew, he abruptly plunged back into the straight jacket of flesh and bones he knew so well. His eyes closed, he breathed in deeply and, for a few seconds, let the whole significance of what he had just experienced sink in. A vision, a completely new understanding had just opened before him. Nothing would ever be the same. He had crossed the threshold of a marvelous universe, inhabited by beings radiating Light, Life and Love, and he knew that never again would he feel alone, wherever he might be.
Slowly opening his eyes, he was only half surprised to find himself alone again, bathed in the soft radiance of the full moon, his only visible companions being the tall trees solemnly keeping watch around the place where a little boy had just experienced one of the greatest initiations of his life. Silence reigned in the forest, broken only by the murmur of a stream running between the moss-covered stones... Lying down on the bed of leaves he had prepared for himself, Gaia fell into a deep slumber and slept like a log.
The next morning, after washing in the stream, Gaia set out in search of some food, for he had used up his supply and he was beginning to suffer real pangs of gnawing hunger. At first he found nothing to sustain him, and before long he began to wonder how he would manage to feed himself adequately in the days and months to come. Moreover, he had gradually gone deeper into the forest and doubted whether he would be able to find his way back to civilization. But something within him, a sort of unshakeable faith born of his recent experiences, told him that soon everything was going to work out for the best. And indeed, as the sun was reaching the zenith, he saw in the distance, near a lake, a wisp of smoke rising in the sky.
Heading resolutely towards this sign of a human presence, he soon caught an appetizing whiff of grilled fish and quickened his step. Wondering whom he was going to come across, Gaia finally emerged, his heart beating fast, in a small clearing on the shore of a lake nestling in the forest like a pearl in a velvet case. The last embers of a fire glowed but there was no sign of a human presence. He drew closer cautiously, fearing a trap, but in the face of the evidence, he could only conclude that an unknown person had prepared a delicious meal of fish and had slipped away before his arrival, leaving it in a plate by the fire. After a last glance in every direction, Gaia could no longer resist and devoured with gusto the still warm fish that someone had, it seemed, left for his benefit.
When he had finished, he looked around for a while. He had the distinct feeling he was being watched from a distance... Finally, shrugging his shoulders, he said to himself that if his mysterious benefactor had chosen to act in this way, it was because he must have excellent reasons to conceal his identity. Reflecting deeply on his situation, he decided to take the time to review all that he had experienced. He felt confusedly that he now needed a specific goal. Wandering aimlessly like a vagabond would not get him anywhere. But where should he go? That was the question...
Having found a small promontory, he sat down facing the lake, closed his eyes, relaxed, stilled his mind, and asked his inner guide to show him what he should do now. Minutes, then hours slipped by. The whole of Nature seemed to be holding her breath. Soon, the sun dipped over the treetops and sank majestically behind the distant mountains, breathing a last glorious sigh of golden, saffron and crimson light.
Across the vault of the sky, the moon followed, glowing vermilion, then white, accompanied by a concert of toads and frogs which gradually rose, swelled and filled the air with their song of Love, a hymn to procreation that since time immemorial has proclaimed all Nature's passion for Life.
Gaia remembered now. He recalled that magical day, when, as a child on the beach with his parents, visions of beings from a distant past taught him a message whose true worth he was at last beginning to appreciate.
The previous night's experience of oneness with all Life shed a new light on these visions of an ancient past. Through him, he knew, all these beings were still alive today. He followed naturally from them, he was just another step in the long and patient ascent of Life towards a pinnacle of perfection beyond imagination, yet already latent within each of his cells.
Tears of joy, endless ecstasy, a nearly unbearable happiness welled up inside him... An ageless wisdom emanated from this little ten-year-old boy who was actually older, much older, than one would guess from his present appearance.
And yet, there was still so much for him to discover... Of this he was also well aware. And he had something extremely important to do in this world, now drawing to the end of the twentieth century of the Christian era... What was this Mission he had come for...
Now more than ever, he felt the goal was in sight, that only a thin diaphanous veil still concealed what he was now growing more acutely aware of. Just one Key to the enigma was still missing, of that he was convinced...
Gathering all his energies and plunging into the depths of his being, he surrendered finally to the powerful call shining forth like a beacon in his innermost soul...
Further and further he slid, in an endless breathtaking spiral, back to the Original Source, to the Primordial Spark of Life...
He was that Spark of Life... He was the whole Universe... He was Life Itself...
The last Veil had fallen. The last Key had been found. The last Enigma had been solved... Gaia knew why his name was Gaia, why he had come, why he was immortal...
Arising from nowhere and everywhere at the same time, in a slow crescendo expanding into an apotheosis of indescribable beauty, heavenly voices broke into a joyous canticle of transcendental purity. Three words, summing up the full meaning of this marvellous song, echoed endlessly in Gaia's soul...
Light... Life... Love...
Light of the origins, eternally present
till the end of times...
Immortal Life, endless celebration
of the creative power of Light...
Infinite Love, emanating from the Life Force,
eternal beacon guiding the multitude of souls
towards the One Primordial Spark of Light...
Floating, drifting on the current of the imperishable energies of the immanent Reality which, like a bubble trapped for aeons in oblivion, had just broken through to the surface of a human consciousness, Gaia becomes what few had ever thought possible: a fully aware incarnation of a microcosmic particle of the Universal Life Consciousness, a virtual Realization of the innate potential in each human being, tangible proof of the possibility of achieving this state of total identification with Life...
All is quiet... Seated, facing the lake, Gaia slowly half-opens his eyes and see, right before him, the silver reflection of the moon leaving a trail of light on the surface of the water. Superimposed on what his eyes behold are images of what he had just experienced, like a distant echo, already scarcely audible... All that he perceives around him now takes on a new pregnant meaning, immeasurably greater than before... For the first time, his soul had fully spread the wings of his consciousness. From now on, he would have to learn to live with this new vision of things.
The irregular crackling of a fire slowly impinges on his awareness... The crackling of a fire!...
Yes! He feels a presence, a human presence, a few steps away. There is something very familiar about that presence, he senses with the heightened perception he had gained and would now have to master, he thinks as he turns to see who is there. Two silhouettes are outlined against the light of the fire that had been revived without his knowing. His face breaks into a broad grin.
His father and mother are there!... In a flash, he understands. Despite his repeated injunctions to let him set off alone on the roads to discover his destiny, his parents, listening only to their hearts, had followed him step by step, concealing their presence so that their son could live through this experience the way he had wished. So it was they who had prepared the meal of fish on which he had feasted a few hours earlier!
Without a word, he silently approaches the fire and puts his arms around his father and mother, who hug him for a long while, overjoyed to find their son safe and sound.
After expressing their joy and affection, Roberto and Marianne take a close look at their son, and it is only then that they realize how much he had changed in such a short time. An indefinable magnetic force emanates from him, and his eyes seem to gaze with an almost tangible intensity at a world which is utterly different than theirs.
"Thank you so much for following me and watching me so discreetly. I should have suspected right from the beginning that you wouldn't let me go so easily... What a joy to see you again here! And what a lot I have to tell you now that I have passed through the first steps of my Initiation to Life. Yes... now, I'm beginning to glimpse the Mission I have to fulfill in this world of Light, Life and Love... Of course, I also sense all the suffering and Darkness overshadowing this sphere of Life. But I know too that all this is part of the test we have to go through all together to reach our state of pure Light, which we lost so long ago..."
Pausing for a moment, Gaia suddenly seemed to be absorbed in a distant vision only he was able to see and understand. Nothing else around him existed anymore. A radiant smile lit up his face... An aura of Peace shined forth from his whole body... Yes! The test was coming to an end. Soon, Life would reign once again in the heart of man and throughout the world...
Gaia sat down beside his parents and began to relate in great detail all that he had experienced during these last days. And they listened almost devoutly to his account of the adventures they had witnessed while following him at a discreet distance.
"You remember when I left home three days ago? Well, first I went to take one last look at the school I dreamt of leaving for so many years and then I..."
And so Gaia told them every detail of his lone adventures, answering the questions that his father or mother sometimes asked to clarify a point, bursting out laughing with his parents at the memory of the dreadful fright caused by a mouse in the abandoned barn, but keeping a mysterious silence at times about some almost indescribable aspects of his inner experiences, and about his plans for the future...
"But you must have some idea of what you expect to do, now that you have been through all these experiences... Tell us frankly, do you intend to leave us again?... Or are you going to stay with us?..."
"It's impossible for me to answer that question now, for it's not up to me to take such a decision. Yes, of course, I will have to leave you again, but for the time being I don't know how or when. I know that my way is already laid out and that very precise plans have been made for my spiritual apprenticeship. But just as for what I experienced in the last three days, I must be kept in ignorance of the various stages I have to pass through before achieving full mastery of my body and mind. So it is for every initiation that Life brings, and nothing nor anyone can evade this sacred rule. But have no fear. Nothing can threaten my existence.
The Lifestreams sustaining me are too strong to be deflected from their way. It is the whole Universe that guides my steps, as well as yours for that matter, since your birth, and well before..."
Then his gaze pierced theirs with an unbelievable Force, radiating Love and serenity; tears welled up in their eyes and they were overcome with a powerful emotion that united them in a single blazing fire of Joy and Peace, while billions of stars and galaxies looked on that night in spring, a night they would not forget for quite a while...
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