The Labyrinth of the World and the Paradise of the Heart (1901)/Chapter 41



(New Bridles and Spectacles.)

"Meanwhile, to strengthen thee in this, and that thou mayest truly understand the joy to which I have now called thee, I will send thee among my other servants, who have already forsaken the world and given themselves up to me, that thou mayest behold their ways." "And where, O my Lord," quoth I, "shall I find them?" He answered: "They dwell in the world dispersed among the others, but the world knows them not. But that thou mayest know them, and also that thou mayest be safe from the deceits of this world, in which, till I call thee to me, thou wilt dwell, I will, in place of the glasses and bridle which thou borest before, lay on thee my yoke (which is obedience to me), that thou mayest henceforth follow none but me. And I will give thee also these spectacles. If thou gazest through them carefully, thou wilt be enabled to see better both the vanities of the world and the delights of my chosen." (Now the outward border of these spectacles was the Word of God, and the glass within it was the Holy Ghost.) "Go now," He said: "go to that spot that thou didst pass by before, and thou wilt behold things that, without these aids, thou couldst not have beheld."

(The True Christians in the midst of the Pretended Ones, and wherein they differ.)

2. And now, remembering where I had gone astray before, I arise and go forth eagerly and in haste; thus, though the tumult of the world surrounded me, I now no longer perceived it. I then enter a church that was named "Christianity," and then, seeing in its innermost part, that was the chancel, what seemed a curtain or screen, I immediately approach it, heeding not those sectarians who were wrangling in the aisles. Then only I duly understand what this spot was—to wit, "Praxis Christianismi"[1]; that is, "the truth of Christianity." Now, this screen was two-fold; the outer screen, that appeared but indistinctly, was of dark colour, and was named "Contemptus Mundi"—contempt of the world; the second innermost one was "Amor Christi"—the love of Christ. By these two screens, as I saw, this spot was separated and divided from the others. He, however, who has passed through the innermost portal incontinent becomes somewhat different from other men; he is full of bliss, joy, and peace.

(There are but few True Christians, and wherefore?)

3. Then I, standing yet outside and gazing, witness a wondrous and astounding thing: many thousands of men passed by the sanctuary, but did not enter it. Whether they saw it not, or merely heeded it not, or whether, viewed from outside, it appeared evil to them, I know not. I saw also that many who were learned in Scripture—priests, bishops, and others who thought highly of their holiness—went around the sanctuary; some, indeed, looked in, but did not enter; and this appeared mournful to me. I saw also that when one came somewhat nearer, a light flashed on him through a crevice, or a sweet fragrance was wafted towards him, so that he could but seek how to arrive at this spot. But even of those who began to seek the door and look around them, many turned back when the flash of the world again struck them.

(The Necessity of New Birth.)

4. But the truest reason why so few arrived there was, as I saw when stepping close to the screen, the very severe examination which they underwent there. For he who desired to enter there had to forsake all his goods, his eyes and ears, his mind and heart; for it was said that he who would be wise before God must become simple of mind; he who wished to know God must forget everything else; he who wished to possess God must desert everything else. Therefore, some who would not forsake their goods and their learning, contending that such things are helpful to heaven, remained outside and entered not. I saw also that they not only examined the garments of those that were admitted, whether somewhat of earthly vanity was not hidden therein, but they also (a thing unusual elsewhere) took asunder their heads and hearts, that nothing unclean to God might defile His dwelling. This could not, indeed, be done without pain, but by means of heavenly medicine it was done so successfully that it increased rather than diminished the vital power; for in the place of the blood that streamed forth in consequence of the pricking and cutting, a fire was kindled in their limbs which transformed a man into a different one. Then such a man wondered within his mind why he had hitherto loaded himself with such useless burdens, such as the things the world calls wisdom, glory, pleasure, riches; and verily they are but burdens. Here I beheld how the lame skipped, the stammerers spoke eloquently, dull men confounded philosophers, those who had nothing declared that they possessed everything.

(The Church is the Contrary of the World.)

5. Seeing this from the entrance, I now went farther beyond the screen and viewed all things—first those that were common to all, then those that belonged to the divers callings—with unspeakable delight. I see here that everything was contrary to the ways of the world. In the world I beheld everywhere blindness and darkness, here clear light; in the world deceit, here truth; in the world everything was full of disorders, here there was the purest order; in the world I had seen struggling; in the world care and grief, here joy; in the world want, here abundance; in the world slavery and bondage, here freedom; in the world everything was hard and heavy, here everything was easy; in the world there were dangers everywhere, here there was sheer safety. Of this will I narrate somewhat more fully.

  1. I have here, as elsewhere, transcribed Komensky's Latin quotations verbatim, and given his own translation.