One day Joshua the Master brought his students to the courtyard of his house to hear their questions and to teach them:
John the Student asked the Master: "Why do the nations lord it over us"?
The Master said, "You see what is before your eyes, but you do not really see. You think that your sins have turned the eyes of heaven away from you and that is why you are oppressed. But I say to you, don't curse the stone that falls on your foot or the storms that toss you about and do not rail against yourselves. For you cannot curse that which you did not make and you cannot bind the winds that block your passage. God has made them his servants to turn you from the world which has made you drunken. So let your souls learn patience when the hot coals of testing touch your lips and do not say, God is displeased with us so we will rise up against Caesar by our own power. If you fight evil with evil you will always be a servant of evil but if you in goodness seek your true Home, the Kingdom will bring forth to you wholeness, peace and security in abundance."
Then Flavius the soldier asked the Master: "Lord, we know that we should always seek the ways of peace, but what if we have no choice but to fight?"
The Master said, "If you fight for Caesar then honor him with your service, for He that commands all gave you to him. If, however, an evildoer seeks to do violence toward you or your loved ones you must protect yourself and them for His Name's sake and for the sake of those who were given to you but do not seek out troubles, for you will always have them and you do not need more heaped upon your backs. Many will hate you as they are jealous of you and many will love you because they know me and Him that sent me. For nothing is done beyond the view of the Holy One. You are not truly your own and nothing you have is truly yours and what you are or what you don't have has not been withheld from you."
A Priest then asked the Master: "When will we see Him who comes in Glory with the Great City?"
The Master said, "You look for signs of things you cannot see and for things you do not understand, for the Kingdom of Heaven comes as a tender breeze and not with fire and great wind and waters as you have been taught by the fathers. You see, that which is great is as the least. If you could but perceive with true sight, you would see that the tree and the seed are one and that the great heavens are as the smallest grain of dust. Consider the ant. It is but the least of God's creatures and yet what wonders lie under its hill! So why do all of you weary yourself with doubt? Do you not see the Hand of Glory in what He has fashioned, in all the earth, in you and in your children? Do you not see the Eye of God in face of your beloved? So it is with the Kingdom. It is above though below, it is inside though outside and is great beyond great and small beyond small."
Ariana the fishwife then asked: "Lord, teach us of death and resurrection."
The Master said, "I can tell you what it is and what it is not, but only partly. There are many things that can't be explained, for the words of the world are as a baby's cry is to fluent speech and yet its mother hears the cry and comforts it. I can tell you though that the World to Come is like an ocean that knows no depth, width or length. It can be likened to a fisherman when he casts his nets into it there appears an innumerable number of great fishes, so heavy in fact that he cannot number them all or fit them into his boat. It can also be likened to a tree that brings forth its fruit, or a caterpillar with its many legs that after wrapping itself in its burial cloth seeks no more the things of the earth but is transformed and only seeks that which is above it. A barren tree may provide shade from the hot sun but it cannot reproduce itself or feed anything. The caterpillar's legs stick to the earth but after its change can do so much more than just eat. It is not as described by your teachers though, for they make you attach yourselves to them by fear and for their love of money. You may listen to them and ponder their words, but keep your mind and heart saved up for the Lord only and he will bless you with the understanding of mysteries."
Then Hannan, one of the Sons of Levi asked: "What of the Law, then. Should we keep it as it was given to us By God through Moses, our Father?"
He then said to them, "Although the tablets of the Law were written through the Divine Hand, I have not the power to make you keep the Law, for I have not come as an enforcer of it but to help make it clearer to you. You yourselves know in your hearts what you should do and what is good. What you lack is the understanding of it. For what good is the Law if even the tiniest commandment is broken and your heart accuses you? If however, you keep even the smallest of them with true intention it is as if you have kept them all. Even so, if you see your neighbor breaking the Law or even condemning it do not rush to correct or judge him but befriend him. For to judge another is to judge yourself and be condemned because you too have broken it. Rather if you see your neighbor stumble, be ready to help him onto his feet for on a day when you think you have attained blamelessness you will stumble greatly and your neighbor, remembering your kindness to him will then help you. Do not think my brothers that because you have Moses you likewise have all Truth. For God can make even a dead tree prophesy so that Heaven is opened to all. That which has been written by the prophets and set onto scrolls are the words of life but the parchment it is written on will someday become dust that swirls in the wind. That knowledge which you think you have stored up for the World to Come can be destroyed by a night's sleep and the towers of wisdom you have built will eventually be torn down to make way for new ones. Therefore, keep the Law but remember who you really are for that which is of the earth is earthly but that which comes from the Holy One will always remain. Seek therefore the Incorruptible for it is of the Breath and that Breath will save your souls."
Nataniel, another student asked the Master, "Lord, are you the one promised by the Prophets, or is there another?"
The Master said, "Nataniel, in your heart you seek a man to worship, one that can be called God on earth as the heathens would believe in but I tell you, do not long for some one to save you as it is ignorance of the imagination. For though it is not impossible for Him to do this, He would rather you were all blasphemers than to say to one another, "Look, the Messiah is over here or look, he's there!" God is The One with the Secret Name and Secret Body who is always within you and without you for though you are all Sons and Daughters of the Lord you cannot name or capture Him to do with Him as you would. This is the essence of carnality and is the profanity for which the nations are punished. Those who seek men will be blinded and will lose their footing and fall into a ditch but those who forsake idols will know Life and will be called, the Chosen."
Shaul the storekeeper asked: "The Prophets tell us that sin must flourish with holiness and that His Servant must be spat upon and scourged and marked as a criminal in order to save us all from death. Is that time upon us now with your coming?"
The Master said, "Sha'ul, ever since the first man and woman placed their feet upon the ground and took up the serpent's cause has The Name been trodden in the dirt as you have said. So what need is there for further sacrifice? If you discern clearly you will understand that the beginning is as the end and the end as the beginning. Close your eyes and think of what abominations have been wrought upon the blameless and the defenseless throughout time in the name of Kings, let alone in the name of our King? Can there be a smiting of God greater than that? Have you not the eyes of Truth that you cannot see this occurring again in the days of your descendants as well? I say to you that His servant has already been offered upon the altar stone from the eternal past into the eternal future and that is why the nations of the earth have been blinded and that is why your hearts have been hardened. But that which has hardened so many hearts is also that which comes to you as an open door, my friends, that you may freely come to the Waters to drink and dine at the Table of forgiveness and fullness. Otherwise the sufferings of the righteous would be for naught, for there is not one of the least of His creatures that He has not seen fall or the smallest good deed not rewarded. For the wounds both you and I bear He bears, so that the Light of the Kingdom may dawn brightly on your days and those of your children so all may be fulfilled. Do not think though that evil will always be with you, for a time is coming when the earth and the heavens will be rolled up like a scroll and His angels will separate the wheat from the chaff. The good deeds and the evil deeds will be sifted on His threshing floor and that which is of no use will be cast aside and burned up forever. All will see His wounds on that day and all will cry for Him as a mother cries over her only child's death and He will apportion each according to their intention and deeds done in their bodies, to either an evil portion or to a good portion. On that day sickness and death will cease, times will change and the heavens and the earth will be born anew."
Valentian the Exile then asked, "Well, what of charity? How much should I give to the poor?"
He replied, "God has kept you in health, Valentian! You're mighty arms could tear down the walls of theTemple! "Many are not so lucky as you. As any of you! Before you travel the paths of the poor, fill your pockets with coins so that you may have enough for all who ask of you and at the moment that you give your money, turn your mind's eye heavenward to the treasures you both will receive from Him on the Great Day. Remember this also, that charity is not just in giving away your possessions to the needy, it is also the giving away of your love to all. After money is spent it is no more but love that is spent goes on forever, therefore be generous to all and give of your joy to all."
Astapha the Hairdresser asked, "Tell us of loneliness and love."
The Master replied: "Loneliness is the state in which you were born and it is also the state in which you will fly to your heavenly abode. When the child leaves the womb it is suddenly pushed into a new world and since it has no knowledge of that world it senses strangeness and its first cry is of fear. Upon the release of the body into the next world the Soul is born into its next incarnation and likewise fear becomes the Soul's first emotion in the strangeness of its new home. You see, my friends, we all must live and die in both fear and fearlessness. Don't therefore think of your loneliness as something to avoid, for God, who is both Male and Female, is self-sufficient in Majesty and is by nature Alone, Set Apart and One. He is however, inclusive of you in His Aloneness and is well-pleased to wrap you entirely in Himself; and remember, those of you who have not loneliness and are satisfied in love, that you partake of the same cup together with your unmarried brothers and sisters, set apart from the world the same way as the Lord is from the world and are joined together in Aloneness with Him. When you are lonely, trust your Lord singularly and let your heart be filled and satisfied and when you find your love, dedicate yourselves and your children to Him as a sweet-smelling offering with thanks and faith."
Elihu, the Pharisee then said to him: "Master and Lord, I know now that you have wise words and are a Son of Heaven, but please tell us, What is Salvation and how does one attain it?"
Joshua answered him, "The man or woman that seeks Salvation must be perfect as He is perfect or it is impossible to please Him. So how does one attain perfection? It is not as in any of your occupations, when you begin knowing very little and after years of learning, know much and it is not perfection in the sense of perfecting oneself in Service of the Name. Do you not know that you have been perfected in Him already? You must, however, become as a humble child at all times in all matters great and small and not ever think of it as something to which you have attained by your own effort. This means that you execute your judgements wisely in business but never esteem yourself better than your weaker fellow for he may see something you have missed in your effort and thus may help bring you great success in your doing. So, when you ask the Father to save you, esteem your fellow and friend first and then open your child-heart and let it fly to His Heart, for He will enfold it with His Wings and will place His seal of Salvation upon it so that nothing can steal it away."
Then Elisheva the young shepherdess inquired, "Lord, teach us how to pray that we may receive answers to our petitions."
He then said, "First you must learn what true prayer is. Prayer is the enfolding of your inner heart into the Heart of Essence when you forget that you are in the body and although you may not feel his Presence, the Divine is only but a breath removed from any of you at any time. Prayer places your body and mind on the Altar of His pleasure as a sacrifice of love and praise as you offer up your joy, your pain, your lack of understanding, your hopes and your shame. Pray with this attitude, "God is my ever present help in trouble and the Rock of my Salvation, of whom shall I fear?" And do not test God by thinking He must immediately bow to your wishes for He already knows what you need and will answer you in due time in the language of the Spirit. So, do not say to yourself, "I have asked the Lord and He has said yes to this and no to that, for your imagination can create empty paths that can lead you away from Truth. He would rather when you pray, even if you are angry, that you lower your eyes and humble your face before the Throne and in patience wait for Him to bring you help, forgiveness, wisdom and deliverance."
Joshua heard many more questions from his students that day and at sunset when all were filled with the Bread he had shared with them they dispersed, each to his own home. The sun shone red in the reflections at that time upon the houses and streets of the city and they were warmed by the heat of it and by the words which he had spoken to them.
image by Kenneth Wyatt