I felt puzzled after hearing the story. Is it me who is experiencing or is it my shadow? Will what I think I am now also disappear, and be replaced what I now think is my shadow, as in the story the blacksmith told? Am I who is thinking and feeling now actually the shadow of my previous shadow? Yet, if there is a shadow there must be a light. I am but a shadow of the shadow of the Shadowless one. Something else from the story stuck in my mind,” in that anteroom I came to know my true nature.” What is the anteroom? Somewhere in the back of my mind I remember something about the anteroom. But before I could continue my musings, the Blacksmith started to speak again and in his hand he held a small vial.
“You are but the shadow of the shadow, yet you also cast a shadow. When the Creator created this world, and the sun, he also created shadows. The shadow is there with or without light, when you strike off the light it doesn’t mean the shadow is not there. The shadow is there to help you in this world. Because of this, you can evoke it or make it your friend. The Master mystical warriors learn how to develop their shadow. If you want to become a master, you have to learn how to bring it to life consciously, so it can come to your fighting aid. Have you not often wished that you can be in more than one place in the same time, or be more than one person? In reality you are already, but you are not aware of it. How do you know that I am not your shadow? The masters know how to make the shadow come alive so that it will speak like you, look like you, but not be you. The shadow may be used to assist you when fighting, so that there are two of you. It is said that if the shadow gets a punch in, the injury is incurable. But first you must get to know your shadow, because if you do not, your shadow will be your master and use cunning means to control you. Do not be surprised if it was your shadow who tricked you into coming here. Your shadows know which door the key belongs to.“
All of us felt bewildered hearing the blacksmith’s words and more than one glanced at their shadows apprehensively. I tried not to obviously look at my shadow but could not help but look at it from the corner of my eyes. How could a shadow possibly come alive and aid you? It is just fairytale stuff!
“To get to know your shadow you must enter the underworld of your being, where you will encounter the guardian of the gateway before you can proceed. It will be different for each of you, and it will be your first real test. But many have failed the first test.”
For the first time I noticed that behind the blacksmith stood what looked like a stone sarcophagus. The stone was well worn with no rough edges as if it had been worn away by countless hands. It was plain and unadorned and I could not help but wonder what it was.
“Before you begin your journey, you must first purify yourselves of the past. Be prepared to leave behind everything that you have any attachment to, even your names. “
We followed the blacksmith back down to river with its dark waters. The flames from the braziers reflecting on the surface of the water like molten lava.
“ You will leave all your belongings and clothes here , except your keys, as you prepare to jump into the waters. Know that just as you leave your clothes and belongings behind, just so you leave your old lives behind. This outer action is joined to the inner action; the outer person is dead, and the inner person will be conceived in the living waters.”
As I hit the water I found myself instead standing on a ledge, looking down into what appeared to be a volcanic lake. All around the edge of the lake stood black hooded figures holding flaming torches. Looked down into the blackness of the lake’s depths, and I knew that within was a monstrous serpent. I had to jump into the lake for my initiation, but I was very afraid. If I did not jump all my training would have been in vain. What did I fear most? So I jumped. From deep below I could feel the surges of something huge moving through the water, up towards me. My fear grew as I could feel it coming closer, until it felt as if my heart would burst with fear.
To be continued …