Four Mystery Plays
The Soul's Probation (Written 1911)
The same meditation-chamber as in Scene 2. Maria, Ahriman.
So Benedictus spun a cunning web
Of thought, whose pattern thou hast followed out,
And now thou art fast bound in error's toils.
Thornasius too and e'en Capesius
Are victims of this same illusion's spell.
For at the same time as thine eyes beheld
This long-past earthly life — so too did theirs.
Henceforward 'tis in that time thou dost seek
To find the causes of thy present life;
But only error can be error's fruit
If thou art ready to allow thyself
To make the path of duty here and now
Depend upon such vain imaginings.
That Benedictus took from thine own brain,
And placed these visions in an earlier age,
Thine own self's knowledge can quite clearly prove.
Thou sawst people of this present time
But little changed from those of former days.
Woman thou sawst as woman, man as man,
And all their attributes were similar;
Thou canst not therefore any longer doubt
That what thou didst transfer to time's dim past
By spirit-vision, far from being truth
Was but the vain delusion of thy soul.
In thee I see the sire of all deceit
Yet know I too thou oft dost speak the truth.
And any one who chose to set aside
All counsel that might reach him through thy words
To utmost error soon would fall a prey.
And as illusion wears the mask of truth
The better to ensnare the souls of men,
So 'tis but easy for a man to yield
Thereto, by trying like a coward to slink
Past every place where error might be hid.
More than illusion finds the soul in thee
For in the Spirit of Deceit doth live
The force that gives mankind discernment true.
I therefore shall oppose thee without fear.
Thou hast attacked that portion of my soul
Which must at all times keep the most alert,
If I weigh all the evidence which thou
In clever calculation hast advanced,
'Twould seem that only pictures from my brain
Have been transferred into an earthly past.
Yet would I ask thee if thy wisdom can
Unlock the door of every earthly age?
No beings live in any spirit-realm
Which set themselves to thwart me when I seek
Admission into any earthly age.
The lofty Powers of Fate have chosen well
In setting thee to be their enemy.
Thou dost encourage all thou wouldst restrain.
Thou bringest freedom to the souls of men
When thou dost penetrate to their soul-depths.
From thee originate the powers of thought
Whence knowledge springs with all its vain deceits
But which can also guide man to the truth.
In Spirit-land there is but one domain
Where may be forged the sword that bids thee flee
As soon as thou dost set thine eyes thereon.
It is a realm in which the souls of men
Do gather knowledge through their reason's powers,
Which knowledge they will afterwards transmute
To Spirit-wisdom. If I have the strength
To forge the word of truth into that sword,
That very moment thou must flee from hence.
So hearken well, thou sire of all deceit;
If truth triumphant I proclaim to thee: —
In earthly evolution there are times
In which the ancient forces slowly die,
And dying, see the growth of newer ones.
At such a cyclic point my friends and I
Did find ourselves drawn close by spirit-bonds
Whilst seeking out our former lives on earth.
True Spirit-men were working at that time,
United in a brotherhood of souls
Whose aims were sought in mysticism's realm.
Now, at such seasons certain tendencies
Are carefully implanted in men's souls,
Which need a long time for full ripening.
In their next life on earth such men as these
Must show strong traces of their previous life.
At these times, many men will be reborn
In their succeeding lives as men — so too
Women as women often re-appear.
At that time also is the interval
Shorter than usual 'twixt two earthly lives.
To understand aright these cyclic points
Thou lackest power, and therefore canst not yet
Survey their growth with eyes from error free.
Call but to mind the time when last we met
In temples of that Spirit-brotherhood
Then thou spak'st words of flattery, intent
To work upon my vanity of soul.
I recollect this time; and draw therefrom
The strength how to oppose myself to thee.
(Ahriman withdraws with reluctant mien. Thunder.)
Defeated he has had to leave the spot
Which Benedictus hath so often blessed.
But unto me hath been made manifest
How lightly souls may into error fall
Who give themselves unto the Spirit-voice
Without due heed, and shun the safer ways.
The Enemy indeed hath mighty power
Life's contradictions to accentuate
And thus rob souls of their security.
He must fall silent when the Light appears
That from the fount of Wisdom issuing
Doth bring full clearness to our spirit-sight.
Curtain, while Maria is still in the room