The Labyrinth of the World and the Paradise of the Heart (1901)/Chapter 6



(Fate, the Gate of Life.)

And we go downward by a dark winding staircase, and behold, before the door there was a wide hall full of young folk, and on the right side there sat a fierce-looking, old man,[1] who in his hand held a large copper urn, and I saw that all those who came through the gate of life stepped up to him, and each one put his hand into the urn and drew from it a tablet on which something was written. Then each one of them went down one of the streets, some running and shouting for joy, while others crept along slowly, looked around them, groaned and lamented.

(The Callings are distributed.)

2. And I step near and looked at the tablets of some of them, and I see that one had drawn the word: Rule! another: Serve! another: Command! another: Obey! another: Write! another: Plough! yet another: Learn! another: Dig! another: Judge! another: Fight! and so forth. Impudence says to me: "Here vocations and work are distributed, and according to this distribution each one has to fulfil his task in the world. He, however, who apportions the lots is called Fate, and from him must everyone who enters the world receive his instructions."

(The Pilgrim begs first to be allowed to behold Everything.)

3. Meanwhile, Falsehood nudged me at the other side, thus indicating that I also should stretch forth my hand. I begged not to be obliged to choose any one lot directly without first examining it, and entrust myself blindly to fortune. But I was told that without the knowledge and the permission of the lord regent, Fate, this could not be. Then stepping up to him, I modestly brought forward my request, saying that I had arrived with the intention of seeing everything for myself, and then only choosing what pleased me.

(The Pilgrim receives the Permission.)

He answered: "Oh, son, thou seest that others do not thus; what is given or offered them they take. However, as thou desirest this, it is well." Then he wrote on a scrap of paper: "Speculare" (that is, "look around you," or "inquire"), gave it me, and left me.

  1. "Ad eandem portam vir quidam senex astabat, aliquid quasi innuens virorum turbac nobis haud intelligentibus quid id esset. . . . Hic autem senex quem stantem videtis et habentem altera manu chartam . . . is angelus est qui præcepta dat ei qui tendit ad hunc mundum. . . . Et etiam ostendit viam quam si sucedat salvus in ea evadit."— "Tabula Cebetis," Edition of Leyden, 1640.