John St. John


The Tenth Day

Now that the perfume of the incense is clearly away, one may most potently perceive the Invoked Perfume of the Ceremony Itself. And this mystical perfume of Adonai is like pure Musk, but infinitely subtilised — far stronger, and at the same time far more delicate.

(P.S. — Doubt has arisen about this perfume, as to whether there was not a commonplace cause. On the balance of the evidence, carefully considered, one would pronounce for the mystic theory.)

One should add a curious omen. On sitting down for the great struggle (11.14) John St. John found a nail upon the floor, at his feet. Now a nail is Vau in Hebrew, and the Tarot Trump corresponding to Vau is the Hierophant or Initiator — whereby is O. M. greatly comforted.

So poor a thing hath he become!

Even as a little child groping feebly for the breast of its mother, so gropeth Thy little child after Thee, O thou Self- Glittering One!

He hath read through Days VIII. and IX.

… He is too tired to understand what he reads. He will, despite of all, do a little Pranayama, and then sleep, ever willing Adonai.

For Pranayama with its intense physical strain is a great medicine for the mind. Even as the long trail of the desert and the life with the winds and the stars, the daily march and its strife with heat, thirst, fatigue, cure all the ills of the soul, so does Pranayama clear away the phantoms that Mayan, dread maker of Illusion, hath cumbered it withal.

10 Breath-Cycles; calm, perfect, without the least effort; enough to go to sleep upon.

He will read through the Ritual once, and then sleep. (The Pranayama precipitated a short attack of diarrhoea, started by the chill of the Ceremony.)

He slept from 1.45 (approximately) till now. The morn is cold and damp; rain has fallen.

John St. John is horribly tired; the "control" is worn to a thread. He takes five minutes to make up his mind to go through with it, five more to wash and write this up. And he has a million excuses for not doing Pranayama.

15 Breath-cycles, steady and easy enough.

The brain is cool and lucid; but no energy is in it. At least no Sammaváyamo. And at present the Superscription on John St. John's Cross is


Marvellous and manifold as are his results, he hath renounced them and esteemeth them as dross…. This is right, John St. John! yet how is it that there is place for the great hunchbacked devil to whisper in thine ear the doubt: Is there in truth any mystic path at all? Is it all disappointment and illusion?

And the "Poor Thing" John St. John moves off shivering and sad, like a sot who has tried to get credit at a tavern and is turned away — and that on Christmas Eve!

There is no money in his purse, no steam in his boilers — that's what's the matter with John St. John. It is clear enough, what happened yesterday. He failed at the four Pylons in turn; in the morning Fear stopped him at that of Horus and so on; while in the evening he either failed at the Pylon of Thoth, i.e., was obsessed by the necessity (alleged) of recording his results, or failed to overcome the duality of Thoth. Otherwise, even if he comprehended the base, he certainly failed at the apex of the Pyramid.

In any case, he cannot blame the Ceremony, which is most potent; one or two small details may need correction, but no more.

Here then he is down at the bottom of the hill again, a Rosicrucian Sisyphus with the Stone of the Philosophers! An Ixion bound to the Wheel of Destiny and of the Samsara, unable to reach the centre, where is Rest.

He must add to the entry 1.13 that the "telephone-cross" voices came as he composed himself to sleep, in the Will to Adonai.

This time he detached a body of cavalry to chase them to oblivion. Perhaps an unwise division of his forces; yet he was so justly indignant at the eternal illusions that he may be excused.

Excused! To whom? Thou must succeed or fail! O Batsman, with thy frail fortress of Three-in-One, the Umpire cries "Out"; and thou explainest to thy friends in the pavilion. But thy friends have heard that story before, and thy explanation will not appear in the score. Mr. J. St. John, b. Maya, o, they will read in the local newspaper. There is no getting away from that!

Failure! Failure! Failure!

Now then let me (7.35) take the position of the Hanged Man and invoke Adonai.

Probably sleep returned shortly. Not a good night, through dreamless, so far as memory serves.

The rain comes wearily down, not chasing the dryness, but soddening the streets.

The rain of autumn, not the rain of spring!

So is it in this soul, Lord Adonai. The thought of Thee is heavy and uneasy, flabby and loose, like an old fat woman stupid-drunk in her slum; which was as a young maiden in a field of lilies, arrow-straight, sun-strong, moon-pure, a form all litheness and eagerness, dancing, dancing for her own excess of life.

Adonai! Adonai!

Rose, dressed, etc., reflecting on the Path. Blinder than ever!

The brain is in revolt; it has been compressed too long. Yet it is impossible to rest. It is too late. The Irresistible God, whose name is Destiny, has been invoked, and He hath answered. The matter is in His hands; He must end it, either with that mighty spiritual Experience which I have sought, or else with black madness, or with death. By the Body of God, swear thou that death would come — welcome, welcome, welcome! And to Thee, and from Thee, O thou great god Destiny, there is no appeal. Thou turnest not one hair's breadth from Thy path appointed.

That which "John St. John" means (else is it a blank name) is that which he must be — and what is that? The issue is with Thee — cannot one wait with fortitude, whether it be for the King's Banqueting-House or for the Headsman and the Block?

Breakfast — croissant, sandwich, 2 coffees. Concentrating off the Work as well as possible.
Arrived at Brenner's studio. The rest has produced one luminous idea: why not end it all with destruction? Say a great ritual of Geburah, curses, curses, curses! John St. John ought not to have forgotten how to curse. In his early days at Wastdale Head people would travel miles to hear him!

Curse all the Gods and all the demons — all those things in short which go to make up John St. John. For that — as he now knows — is the Name of the great Enemy, the Dweller upon the Threshold. It was that mighty spirit whose formless horror beat him back, for it was he!

So now to return to concentration and the Will toward Adonai.

One thing is well; the vow of "interpreting every phenomenon as a particular dealing of God with my soul" is keeping itself.

Whatever impression reaches the consciousness is turned by it into a symbol or a simile of the Work.

The pose over; recited Ritual, now known by heart; then willed Adonai; hopelessly unconcentrated.

… To interpret this Record aright, it must, however, be understood that the "Standard of Living" goes up at an incredible rate. The same achievement would, say five days ago, have been entered as "High degree of concentration; unhoped-for success."

The phenomena which to-day one dismisses with annoyed contempt are the same which John St. John worked four years continuously to attain, and when attained seemed almost to outstrip the possible of glory. The flood of the Chittam is again being heaped up by the dam of Discipline. There is less headache, and more sense of being on the Path — that is the only way one finds of expressing it.

Worse and worse; though pose even better held.

In despair returned to a simple practice, the holding of the mind to a single imagined object; in this case the Triangle surmounted by the Cross. It seems quite easy to do nowadays; why shouldn't it lead to the Result? It used to be supposed to do so.

Might be worth trying anyway; things can hardly be worse than they are.

Or, one might go over to the Hammam, and have a long bath and sleep — but who can tell whether it would refresh, or merely destroy the whole edifice built up so laboriously in these ten days?

At Panthéon. ½ dozen Marennes, Rognons Brochette, Lait chaud.

John St. John is aching all over, cannot get comfortable anyhow; is hungry, and has no appetite; thirsty, and loathes the thought of drinking!

He must do something — something pretty drastic, or he will find himself in serious trouble of body and mind, the shadows of his soul, that is sick unto death. For "where are now their gods?" Where is the Lord, the Lord Adonai?

The beast feels decidedly better; but whether he is more concentrated one may doubt. Honestly, he is now so blind that he cannot tell!

Perhaps a "café, cognac, et cigare" may tune him up to the point of either going back to work, or across Paris to the Hammam. He will make the experiment, reading through his proofs the while.

One good thing; the Chittam is moving slowly. The waiters all hurry him — what a contrast to last night!

Proofs read through again. John St. John feels far from well.
A stroll down the Boul' Mich' and a visit to M—'s studio improve matters a good deal.
The cure continued. No worry about the Work, but an effort to put it altogether out of the mind.

A café c18egrave;me, forty minutes at the Academie Marcelle — a gruelling bout without gloves — and J. St. J. is at the Luxembourg to look at the pretty pictures.

The proof of the pudding, observes the most mystic of discourses (surely!), is in the Eating.

One might justly object to any Results of this Ten days' strain. But if abundant health and new capacity to do great work be the after-effect, who then will dare to cast a stone?

Not that it matters a turnip-top to the Adept himself. But others may be deterred from entering the Path by the foolish talk of the ignorant, and thus may flowers be lost that should go to make the fadeless wreath of Adonai. Ah, Lord, pluck me up utterly by the root, and set that which Thou pluckest as a flower upon thy brow!

Walked back to the Dôme to drink a citron pressé through the lovely gardens, sad with their fallen leaves. Reflecting on what Dr. Henry Maudsley once wrote to him about mysticism "Like other bad habits (he might have said 'Like all living beings') it grows by what it fees on." Most important, then, to use the constant critical check on all one's work. The devotion to Adonai might itself fall under suspicion, where it not for the definition of Adonai.

Adonai is that thought which informs and strengthens and purifies, supreme sanity in supreme genius. Anything that is not that is not Adonai.

Hence the refusal of all other Results, however glorious; for they are all relative, partial, impure. Anicca, Dukkha, Anatta: Change, sorrow, Unsubstantiality; these are their characteristics, however much they may appear to be Atman, Sat, Chit, Ananda, Soul, Being, Knowledge, Bliss.

But the main consideration was one of expediency. Has not John St. John possibly been stuffing himself both with Methods and Results?

Certainly this morning was more like the engorgement of the stomach with too much food than like the headache after a bout of drunkenness.

A less grave fault, by far; it is easy and absurd to get a kind of hysterical ecstasy over religion, love, or wine. A German will take off his hat and dance and jodel to the sunrise — and nothing comes of it! Darwin studies Nature with more reverence and enthusiasm, but without antics — and out comes the Law of Evolution. So it is written "By their fruits ye shall know them." But about this question of spiritual overfeeding — what did Darwin do when he got to the stage (as he did, be sure! many a time) when he wished every pigeon in the world at the devil! Now this wish has never really arisen in John St. John; however bad he feels, he always feels that Attainment is the only possible way out of it. This is the good Karma of his ten years' constant striving.

Well, in the upshot, he will get back to Work at once, and hope that his few hours in the world may prove a true strategic movement to the rear, and not a euphemism for rout!

There are further serious considerations to be made concerning Adonai. This title for the Unknown Thought was adopted by O. M. in November, 19—, in Upper Burma, on the occasion of his passing through the ordeal and receiving the grade which should be really attributed to Daath (on account of its nature, the Mastery of the Reason), though it is commonly called 7° = 4. It appeared to him at that period that so much talk and time were wasted on discussing the nature of the Attainment — a discussion foredoomed to failure, in the absence of all Knowledge, and in view of the Self-Contradictory Nature of the Reasoning Faculty, as applied to Metaphysics — that it would be wiser to drop the whole question, and concentrate on a simple Magical Progress.

The Next Step for humanity in general was then "the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel."

One thing at a time.

But here he finds himself discussing and disputing with himself the nature of that Knowledge.

Better far act as hitherto, and aspire simply and directly, as one person to another, careless of the critical objections (quite insuperable, of course) to this or any other conception.

For as this experience transcends reason, it is fruitless to argue about it.

Adonai, I invoke Thee!

Simpler, then, to go back to the Egoistic diction, only remembering always that by "I" is meant John St. John, or O. M., or Adonai according to the context.

Having read some of the Books to induct myself again into the Work.

Therefore will I kindle the holy Incense, and turn myself again to the One Thought.

All this time in Hanged Man position, and thinking of everything else.

As bad as it was on the very first day!

More waste time aimlessly watching a poker game. Walked down to Café de Versailles. Dinner. Hors d'Œuvre, Escargots, Cassoulet de Castelnaudry, Glace, ½ Evian. Am quite washed-out. I have not even the courage of despair. There is not enough left in me to despair.

I don't care.

One gleam of light illumines the dark path — I can't enjoy my dinner. The snails, as I prong them forth, are such ugly, slimy, greasy black horrors — oh! so like my soul! … Ugh!

I write a letter to F—r and sign myself with a broken pentagram.

It makes me think of a "busted flush." …

But through all the sunlight peeps: e.g., These six snails were my six inferior souls; the seventh, the real soul, cannot be eaten by the devourer.

How's that for high?

Possibly a rousing mantra would fix things up; say the Old Favorite:

Aum Tat Sat Aum

and give the Hindus a chance.

We can but try.

So I begin at once.

This is past all bearing. Another hour wasted chatting to Nina and H—. The mantra hardly remembered at all. I have gone to bed, and shall take things in hand seriously, if it kills me.
9.53. Since 9.17 have done Pranayama, though allowing myself some irregularities in the way of occasional omission of a Kambhakham.

'Tis very hard to stick to it. I find myself, at the end of above sentence, automatically crawling into bed. No John!

Have been trying to extract some sense from that extraordinary treatise on mysticism, "Konx Om Pax."

Another failure, but an excusable one.

I will now beseech Adonai as best I may to give me back my lost powers.

For I am no more even a magician! So lost am I in the illusions that I have made in the Search for Adonai, that I am become the vilest of them all!

A strange and unpleasant experience. My thought suddenly transmuted itself into a muscular cry, so that my legs gave a violent jerk. This I expect is at bottom the explanation of the Bhuchari-Siddhi. A very bad form of uncontrolled thought. I was on the edge of sleep; it woke me.

The fact is, all is over! I am done! I have tried for the Great Initiation and I have failed: I am swept away into strange hells.

Lord Adonai! let the fires be informing; let them "balance, assain assoil."

I suppose this rash attempt will end in Locomotor Ataxia or G. P. I.

Let it! I'm going on.

The first power to return is the power to suffer.

The shame of it! The torture of it!

I slept in patches as a man sleeps that is deadly ill. I am only afraid of failing to wake for the End of the day.

God! what a day!

…I dare not trust my will to keep me awake; so I rise, wash, and will walk about till time to get into my Asana.

Thirst! Oh how I thirst!

I had not thought that there could be such suffering.

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