THE SHORT WAY AND THE LONG WAY
The One Ring in Tolkien’s LORD OF THE RINGS was all-powerful and at the same time it was all-consuming. Many have seen the One Ring as Tolkien’s metaphor for the nuclear bomb. After all, it was written in stages between 1937 and 1949. The Second World War, 1939 through to 1945, was a war as vast in scale as that fought between Sauron and the various peoples of Middle Earth. At the same time, the Second World War can be seen as much of a spiritual war between good and evil as can the great war of Middle Earth. In the Second World War, the all-consuming and all-powerful; nuclear bomb was not thrown into the fire as was Sauron’s ring. The forces of good, it might be argued, used it to bring the war to an end, just as Boromir and his father Denethor II yearned to gain the ring and turn it on Sauron. The great war of Middle Earth would then have been easily won, but at a cost, ultimately, to all that was good and wholesome in the lands of men, hobbits, elves, and dwarves. I believe that Tolkien argued against such an interpretation, and I suppose he, if anyone, would have known. But who can tell what the subconscious can be up to as we pursue our conscious everyday matters? Wasn’t it one of the Beatles who said that life is what happens to us as we try to get on with something else?
It might also be possible to see the One Ring as a narcotic. Certainly, the long – the very long – life journey of Gollum could easily be described as the life journey of a serious drug user. He becomes almost ghostlike through his long overly-stretched years, and his craving for the One Ring, for his ‘fix’, is undoubtedly all-consuming as he attempts to beg, cheat or steal in order to once again slip that ring on his finger. And of course, rather like the immediate consumption of overly rich food by concentration camp prisoners after their liberation, it killed him.
Linking the two strings to this story – namely that of drugs, and that of the spiritual quest – is what I want to talk about here. When we embark on our own spiritual quests towards enhanced consciousness, perhaps even enhanced powers, and of course enlightenment, we can take the quick way or the slow and I would argue the only properly effective way. We can rapidly enhance our psychic abilities by the use of mind-changing drugs, or we can take the initially much more difficult path of enhancing our psychic abilities through long-drawn-out inner work.
With the former, we race towards our goal, but lose control of our selves in the process, so that what we actually achieve is a nightmare awareness of the goal that taunts us and teases us and ultimately denies us ‘entry’, though we might seem to be close. And this must always be so, because without discernment, without proper human judgement, the ultimate powers we might have been seeking will be deadly to all whom we approach, if it doesn’t kill us off first. The dream becomes a nightmare, even becomes everyone’s nightmare.
With the latter, we retain human control by maintaining our humanity. We retain our senses as our senses expand. We retain our moral compass, which becomes ever more vital as our psychic and mental abilities become ever more powerful. The choice is ours.
A new poem that Richard Dell is working on, looks at exactly this issue.
ONE RULE TO RULE THEM ALL
Drugs. They can open us up into a greater awareness of the cosmos. They can unlock the doors to the Godhead. They can enable us to speak; but it can never be our voice; it can never be our spirit. Because there is no control. It is the negation of discernment, and discernment must be the first, the last, the only rule for all who embark upon the quest.
Hear this now, my friend, hear this our very first rule,
And know this, my dear friend, it is your only tool.
It is alpha and omega, steeped in your past.
It is first and last, by which your future is cast.
Who will you choose, my dear friend; or what will you choose,
As your guide in this journey, this deepest of quests?
Your quest for deep knowledge, for deep awareness too,
Your quest for high power. Over none but yourself?
Or power over all? That only you will rue?
Choose me, my dear friend, and you will choose a hard way.
The long way, the winding and most tortuous way.
But you'll choose this: the first, last and the only rule.
And that is what I do yearn for you to obey.
Or, my dear friend, choose the easy way. The quick way,
The smooth and silky, chemical-down-your throat way.
The fast-track way, that will have you break the first rule,
That will preclude you from applying the last rule,
That will mean you'll not understand the only rule.
That will mean, in the end, that you, friend, are a fool.
So ask now, my dear friend. Ask now afore you start,
Ask now before the temptation consumes your heart
And hurtles you fast down shadowed false-Godhead ways,
'Till you speak with another's dark voice that is crazed,
And power-driven, soul-shriven, just a wild shout:
Until too late you know: there is no way out
I hear you ask, dear friend, and so I touch your hands
You have touched my soul, for you have asked in the end.
The omega and alpha we cannot end,
The first, last and the only rule is this, my friend:
It is discernment, good judgement, our only key.
The whispers of the Godhead you can one day be.
It will be this moment when you make that first choice.
Then it's what you hear, and what we'll hear in your voice
Through the long days of your struggles and mental droughts,
Through all the long nights of your spiritual doubts.
Discernment, discernment: is the rule to be free.
Discernment, discernment: is our quest's only key.