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FREE Chapters -- Chapter Three

Master and the Green-Eyed Hope

By Johanna Kern
© 2010-2012

Chapter Three

Closing the Eyes of Perception

          The painting I had made was very simple: out of a cloudy, red and dark blue background, figures were coming to life. They were drawn with a golden line, like a thread in a fabric, that created a design of contours and shapes. Several men and women, each outlined and joined with the others by the “thread”.
          I looked at the finished painting and smiled. It reminded me of all the recent events when I had learned that there was a connection between the people I met and myself. I realized that if I had erased that line, “pulled out the golden thread” from the “fabric” of the background – there wouldn’t be much left of the painting at all. Just the red and dark blue clumps of color that had clotted here and there, seemingly with no purpose at all.
          I hung the painting in the living room and kept observing it for several days, so that it would “tell me” what kind of a frame it wanted to have. I had always felt that paintings, in a way,
“chose” their own frames. But this one seemed hopelessly indecisive.
          Oh, well, - I thought. I actually quite liked it being frameless, sort of limitless.

          The next morning I was sitting in my plush armchair, surprised at the silence. The renovations were finished, and I realized that it felt almost surreal. The noise had become so much a part of everyday reality that now it was somehow missing. The building seemed too quiet, almost lifeless, without the “Santa Claus brigade” drilling through the old shabbiness, and nailing down the new comforts.

          I closed my eyes, and my thoughts quickly ran to the Temple. Rhami-yata had told me not to come back there for a while. Not until I integrated the initiation “within my soul”, as he put it. Whatever he meant by that, I felt he was right. I needed some time off. I needed to slow down, to process what he had taught me.
          Over the past few days, I had taken long refreshing walks, and worked on the painting at nights. I had also spent numerous hours talking on the phone with my close friends. That helped me to slowly get used to my new circumstances.
          I didn’t have many friends. I had always preferred a few solid friendships to many casual ones. And so there were only two women with whom I could share my secrets, my feelings and thoughts. They were also the only ones, except for John, who knew of my meeting with the Master, and the teachings he had been giving to me. Basia and Miss Stella, similar to John, were encouraging me to continue the adventure.
          “The mysterious Master came to you with his ancient wisdom,” said Basia on the phone, the other night. “Everyone else, in your place, would be ecstatic! Can you even imagine what things he can teach you? Look, your life has already changed.”
          Well, in a way she was right. Basia, who was my oldest friend on this continent, was my age and a mother like myself. We had met a couple of years before, and the meeting was purely accidental.
          I had read an ad in a local newspaper, announcing auditions for a play to be staged by a new Polish theatre company. It sounded promising, and I had happily rushed to the advertised location on the required day.
          There was a large group of people standing outside the building, and apparently waiting their turn. I had noticed a nice, cheerful woman among them. She wasn’t tall, with a mop of short and wavy blond hair, sparkly blue eyes, and a sort of “boyish”, playful attitude.
          “You think there’ll be enough parts for all of us?” I asked her.
          “Oh, I’m sure you’ll get one,” she said. “I’m not an actress, and I don’t need a role. Just wanted to find out if they need any singers, that’s all.”
          I almost laughed at her answer, thinking that her confidence was adorable. I considered myself a good and experienced performer. And that woman had just told me that I had no reason to be concerned since she had no intentions of taking away my role! I definitely liked her.
          “Then I guess we’ll be friends,” I smiled widely.
          I was right. We “clicked” from the very first moment. I found out that Basia was a school teacher. She was also a voice instructor, and she was giving piano lessons. And she had a beautiful voice.
          The play was a musical comedy, and I got the lead role. No, they didn’t need any additional singers, but Basia’s optimistic, joyful personality had never let her feel anything but happy and enthusiastic – no matter whether she got to be the star, or the viewer.
          She had cheered me at the premiere, and I had heard her powerful voice in the audience. She had become a devoted friend, and a huge fan, who full-heartedly supported my artistic career for many years to come.

          “You know, Basia,” I sighed into the receiver that night, “you’re right about one thing: the whole story with Rhami-yata is a mind-blowing experience. The kind of an adventure that is worth living or dying for. Even Miss Stella wants me to continue and find out more about the Master.”
          “You’re must be kidding me!”
          “I certainly am not. She said that it’s too early to tell whether it’s a real mystical experience or the Devil’s work – as she put it.”
          “Oh, my God... You see! Even she doesn’t see anything wrong with that.”
          “No, Basia. It’s not that she approves of it. It’s only that she doesn’t condemn it yet.”

          Miss Stella was almost seventy years old. Both Basia and I dearly respected the dark-eyed feisty and wiry woman, who rarely parted with her Bible and her strong opinions. She was a true church devotee and a loner. She didn’t like people very much. Never married, Miss Stella had shut herself in her own reality.
          She had been my neighbor for a while, after my husband and I had rented an apartment in a house when we first came to Toronto. She had lived upstairs from us, and she had a very old cat whom our son Matthew had totally loved.
          I had tried to engage her in casual neighborly conversations, but she finally had told me that “talking nonsense and wasting time” was not her cup of tea. When I had respectfully withdrawn myself, she had started to pay unexpected visits, whenever she pleased. I had admired her strong will and unprecedented manner.
          Quite a character - I had thought. Straight out of a Chekhov story, or Alexandre Dumas novel!
          For whatever reason, Miss Stella opened up to me. I had become the only person she had ever truly let in her life. I had loved her, with her angular, crusty character. Behind the hard shell, had lived a creature soft like creamy butter and the tapioca desserts that she had enjoyed preparing for me.

          Now the two women, and John, were my only allies in the experience that had turned my life upside down. They didn’t seem to share my concerns that I might’ve been “abducted by evil forces” or losing my mind. On the contrary, they thought my story was worth pursuing. Was I to believe them? Or, rather, did I have a choice?
          I got up from the armchair and looked out the window. The morning was grey and cold. There wasn’t any change in the weather yet, even though it was already March.
          I remembered how it used to be in Poland, and then in West Germany, where we had lived for a few years before coming to Canada. Once March had begun over there, one could feel the difference right away. There had been a strong promise of spring coming in the air. But not here. No, the winter still ruled in Toronto, and it wasn’t going to be over any time soon.
          Things have gone too far to reverse them – I thought. I can only walk forward from now on. There is no way back. I’ve started a new life adventure, and its course is entirely unpredictable.

          “That’s how it’s always been done, “ the Master told me one day. “Each of you is unique. Each of you can access the Truth in your own way. And in your own time.”

          Apparently, it was my time to forget all I thought I had known. And learn everything from scratch. I also knew that I had to make another step on my journey.

          I put on a light winter jacket and my running shoes. It was good to have a short jog before seeing Rhami-yata. I decided to meet with him, even though he hadn’t invited me back to the Temple yet. But I didn’t want to wait any longer. There were important things I wanted to share with him.

          I ran around the block a few times, keeping my mouth shut to protect the throat from the piercing cold. I was “puffing” through my nose like a medalist racehorse, doing its rounds in front of the cheering crowd. Mmm, it was good to be me that morning. Running in circles, loving the freezing air which painted my cheeks red. Yes, life seemed to be just perfect, even with the great unknown hanging above my head.


          I quickly fell into trance, drifting somewhere in another realm, and arriving in the ancient world. That’s where I wanted to be and that’s where I ended up. Although this time, I found myself in a different place at the Temple, and it was disorienting at first.
Determined, I walked through the Temple, looking for the Chamber of Seven Powers. It was the first time that I was here on my own.
There were many narrow, wavy corridors leading in various directions. They all looked the same. Made of white stone, with no windows at all, and sufficiently lit by oil cressets, standing on four feet tall pedestals. There were at least two doors in each corridor, and they too looked exactly the same. Heavy carved oak doors, ornamented with bronze. The Temple seemed to make it easy for its visitors to get lost in the labyrinth of uniform features and hopelessly endless combinations of possibilities.
I was surprised to find my way around so easily, and to be able to recognize the surroundings, as if I strangely remembered where to turn, where to go.
After taking a few turns to the left, then right, and then left again, I walked ahead for what seemed to be a whole mile. I entered the Chamber of Seven Powers feeling confident, and even more determined than before.

          Rhami-yata was ahead of me, already waiting and sitting on the floor in the middle of the chamber, just beside the burning cresset.
          I sat down in front of him, looking him in the eye.
“I’m here,” I said. He only nodded. “I know you didn’t call me, but I’m here, and I’m not going anywhere,” I repeated with a daring expression on my face.
          “Mm hmm…,” he said.
          “I will sit here, until you talk with me, Father.”
           It was the first time I called him that instead of addressing him as the “Master”, or saying his name.
           He didn’t seem to mind, or want to correct me. Apparently it was OK with the Master that I called him as one would call an ordinary Catholic priest. I wasn’t sure if it was just a slip of my tongue, or maybe it was something else. Perhaps my subconscious needed to have someone in my life whom I could call that name?

          My father had been killed when I was eighteen months old. I didn’t remember him at all. It had been always just my mother and I, left on our own. I never had said “father” to anyone before. Except for a priest, of course.

          “There is no pressure to follow any rules, Hermenethre,” he paused. “And I don’t expect you to be something other than your true self.”
          Now I felt stupid and ungrateful. I bit my lip and lowered my eyes.
          “You and only you make all the choices,” he added in his peaceful voice.
          “I’m sorry for breaking the rules”, I said. “I… will come back when you let me.” I wanted to get up.
           “No need to leave. In this Temple intention is all that is,” he stopped me. “We’ll talk about the meaning and power of intention later, another time,” he added, quickly answering my silent question.
          “Thank you,” I nodded.
         We were quiet for a brief moment.
          “Father,” I said, and stopped again.
          He wasn’t saying anything, but looked at me carefully.
          I sighed. “I... there is something important I have to ask you.”
          “Yes?” he said.
          I took a big breath. “I want to know what your plans are.”
          He raised his eyebrows. “My plans?”
          “Yes. Your plans. What is it that you want with me? What am I being prepared for? What is the purpose of it all?”
          He smiled. “And what do you think that purpose might be, Hermenethre?”
          I shrugged my shoulders. “I have no clue. I only know what I wouldn’t want to happen.”
          He nodded. “Very good. Why don’t you tell me that.”
          “You see, my friends seem to think that our meetings are some sort of... visions and such, and that you might be teaching me very important stuff. And I....”
          “And you don’t want your life to become a story you wouldn’t fully enjoy,” he finished my thought.
          “Yes!” I exclaimed with relief. “I only hope, Rhami-yata, that you are not preparing me to be some... spiritual teacher or guru of any sort, or anything like that.”
           I saw a slight confusion in his eyes. “Have I ever given you any impression that that was something I would like you to be?” he asked.
          “No, you haven’t,” I admitted. “I just want to make sure, that what you want for me and what I want for me is exactly the same.”
          He nodded. “And what is it that you want for yourself?”
          “I want to take my artistic career to another level. I want to become a filmmaker and direct movies. And guess what happened? I found out that Ryerson University is only an eight minute walk away from my home! And they have one of the best film schools there, you see. I want to enroll. ”
          “Then we are on the same page,” smiled the Master. “Because that is exactly what I want for you too.”
          “Really? I don’t have to... I can be a filmmaker?”
          “You can be anything you want to be. It is you who decides your life, and makes all the choices.”
          “Then, it is OK to be your student, and yet have the life I want to live?”
          “You will always have full support, Hermenethre. My own, and the Temple’s. Remember that.”
          “Thank you,” I whispered.
           “And are you ready for the next lesson, dear child?”
          “Yes.” I was still smiling happily. “I am.” Then I changed my mind. “No. Wait a minute.” I got up quickly.
          Rhami-yata was observing me. Calm, as usual. He wasn’t the type you could easily surprise in any way.
          I let out a long sigh, and then walked to the Statues.
          “I wanted to thank you,” I whispered. “For creating such a wonderful world, Rhami-yata, and all of this,” I pointed around. “I don’t have the wisdom or knowledge to know or perceive you the way I would like to. But I do sense your endless power, and your enormous Love. And I’m grateful, from the bottom of my heart.”
          I walked back and sat down again. “I just needed to let out some stuff, you know,” I explained.
          “Oh, then the morning jog wasn’t enough for you?” said the Master, playfully.
          “Hold on! How do you...? How did you know I was jogging?”
          “And were you?” he smiled.
          I didn’t respond. What was I to say? Forbid him to spy on me or, perhaps, watch over me – whatever it was he was doing? No, it didn’t make any sense to oppose him, or insist on anything at that point. Once again, I was reminded that he did have power over me, and he could affect my life in any way he wanted. After all, he was the Highest Priest of this Temple.
He wouldn’t be given such a rank - I concluded - if he hadn’t fully deserved it. And yet, despite all his powers, he is the kindest, most patient and loving teacher one could ever dream of. And now, he even lets me be a filmmaker.
          “I’m ready for your teaching,” I said with great respect.
          “The Fourth Power that creates the world is Passing”.
          “I don’t understand,” I replied instantly.
          “Passing is born of Parting and, at the same time, it creates Parting.”
          “I still don’t understand,” I admitted. “Especially since what I know about passing, is that what passes away, stops existing.”
          “You are talking about physical death, Daughter,” he said, “which you perceive as the end of existence. While I am talking about something else.”
           I did notice that when he called me “Daughter”, it sounded a bit different this time. Somewhat... warmer than before. I liked that. “All right. I’ll do my best to see the difference,” I said.
          “Matter and Spirit are only an Illusion,” he started his explanation again. “And those who die their physical death, are still dwelling in the Illusion of Matter and Spirit. Their Souls are not yet liberated, even though their bodies are dead. ”
“Hold on. If death doesn’t help me to liberate my Soul, then what does?”
          “The fourth Power creating the world, Passing, is the doorway to true liberation. When someone truly Passes away from Matter and Spirit,” he continued, “he or she is then able to truly exist in oneness with the Highest Vibration.”
I was quiet. He wants me to die, not only physically but also spiritually, - I thought - and seek some vague promised land. He calls God the Highest Vibration, and wants me to commit spiritual suicide to join that God! So this is it. He’s now shown me his true colors. He may be an ancient psychopath, as far as I know, looking for his next victim.
“All right,” I said slowly. “You’ve got me confused. Are you telling me that physical death is not good enough to join God, that spiritual death is required too?”
“Oh, no, Hermenethre. That’s not what I said. That is what you came up with in your mind.”
“Really? Then why don’t you say it all again in a way that I can get it?”
“Then why don’t you try to get it, instead of being stuck in your old concepts of death and Soul?”
“You’re right,” I admitted. “I still seem to be affected by my old beliefs.”
“Close the eyes of your perception,” he said.“Do not try to see what you believe should be there.”
“Yes,” I said and closed my eyes. I imagined myself being empty inside. Not remembering anything and open to everything.
“Nothing can truly exist, while being in Illusion,” I heard the Master say, “whether dead or alive. When a person dies, their body is disposed of, like an old coat. Now they either get a new coat, some call it reincarnation, or continue walking around without a coat, as Souls in the spiritual world. Yet they are still dwelling in the Illusion.”
I nodded. “I think I’m beginning to understand. They are sort of asleep and, in a way, not quite aware. Right?”
“Yes. That’s right. Now, I want you to recall the moment when, during your first initiation, you had no sense of your own presence, or material and spiritual worlds. You had only the feeling of being one with all. There was no separation between you and that oneness. You, as the person you are, stopped existing. Do you remember that? ”
“Oh my God, I got it!” I exclaimed happily and opened my eyes.
“Indeed you did,” he confirmed.
           “Passing is the Fourth Power that creates the world,” I said. “ Passing away from Matter and Spirit is the same as truly waking up from the Illusion. It marks the beginning of our true existence, and is only a transition, a step in the whole process of creation. What is non-existing in the Illusion, is existing in oneness with the Highest Vibration. Only such existence is real. Beyond Matter and Spirit.”
           “Yes,” said Rhami-yata. “Passing is the Fourth Power creating the world.”


My body was numb again, when I woke up from trance. I felt peaceful and accomplished. I got to learn about the Fourth Power, and honor it in the ancient Temple. I also got to come to an agreement with Rhami-yata. I could be a filmmaker, a fisherman, or a cowboy for all he cared! Nobody would ask me to change my life and forget what I truly enjoyed. Yippee!

My pen moved quickly as I filled up the pages of my notebook. I suddenly noticed that the first letters in the names of the Powers that I’d learned about thus far, were beginning to form a sort of a pattern:
                                                        L for Law
                                                        P for Progress
                                                        P for Parting
                                                        P for Passing

          Yes, in my world of symbols, a new symbol was coming into existence.
What is it? - I thought. Some kind of a rune?
I couldn’t figure it out. There it was, another unsolved puzzle. As if I already hadn’t had an overload of them in my recently mysterious life.


That night, I had a strange dream. I dreamed that I was sitting in my plush armchair, in the living room, and it was late afternoon. There was soft music in the background, and the tunes made me a bit sleepy.
Suddenly, a tall slender woman entered the room. She might have been a few years older than me, and her outfit was rather surprising. She was wearing a full length medieval gown, white, with long sleeves. Her long blond hair almost reached the floor and it was decorated with fresh daisies.
She walked straight up to me, and I felt tremendous cold. As if the temperature in the room had dropped. I had noticed that the woman’s face was tense, and there was something in her blue eyes that made me alert. The woman reached to me, trying to touch me. With an unexplainable impulse, I quickly got up, avoiding her stretched arm. I moved behind the armchair. Now, having the furniture between her and myself, I felt a bit more comfortable.
“Who are you?” I asked.
          She laughed. Her laughter was harsh and throaty. I couldn’t help thinking that it sounded staged, almost theatrical.
“Are you afraid of me?” she asked in a throaty fake voice.
“Not a all. Not even a bit,” I said. “Are you going to tell me who you are?”
Her eyes narrowed, and she again reached to me.
          I moved back a bit, avoiding her touch. “You’ve got to stop that, lady, right now. I will not let you touch me. Stop trying."
          She let out a long hiss through her teeth.
          “And don’t try to scare me. Either you tell, right now, who you are and what you want from me, or I’ll make you leave.”
          Now she looked at me in a weird manner, sort of crossing her eyes, as if she were trying to pierce me with them.
          “Ridiculous,” I sighed with resignation. “That’s the door,” I pointed with my finger. “And I want you behind it.”
          “Please don’t do that,” she said in a softer, almost normal voice. “I need your help.”
Her face was different now. The tense, theatrical expression was gone, and she looked rather sad. Almost as if she were in pain. Yes, she did look like someone who needed help.
“All right,” I said after a pause. “Back off two steps, and don’t move until I let you. You understand?”
“Yes.” She did as I told her.
I slowly moved and sat down in my armchair. I crossed my legs, putting the left one on top.
“You can speak now,” I said.
“I’m a Demon!” she spat almost instantly, and again there was the tense expression on her face. This time I believed her, and my heart jumped a bit. Yet instinctively I knew it was better not to show any fear. I only nodded, without blinking my eye.
“I’ve been here for many, many years,” she added.
“Where is ‘here’?” I asked in a peaceful voice.
She sighed. “I don’t know. I keep moving, travelling from place to place. Forests, villages, towns. People’s homes. Everything keeps changing, always.”
“You mean you’ve been hanging around since medieval times?”
          “What are ‘medieval times’?” she asked.
“Right, you wouldn’t know. I got it,” I nodded. “I mean the times where people were dressing like you.”
She looked down at her long gown. “I don’t know, I don’t understand. I just don’t remember,” she sounded hopeless.
“Well, what do you remember?”
“Fear. There was always fear. And cold. There was always cold.”
“I see.”
“I’ve been condemned,” she said. “I’m a wandering Demon. I have been condemned for eternity.”
“Oh, no,” I replied. “No, no. Hold on a minute. Who condemned you?”
“They did.”
I nodded. All was now clear to me. That poor woman must have been condemned by the Church in medieval times. And her Soul had been wandering in the Illusion for centuries. Believing that she had been denied the rewards of Heaven, the poor woman had assumed the “role” of a Demon. That helped her somehow to deal with her tremendous fear of Hell. Because as a Demon, she felt strong, undefeated and safe.
          Poor woman – I thought. She’s been suffering like that for hundreds of years!
“Listen,” I said, “whatever gave you the idea that I can help you? It’s not how it works.”
“You don’t want to help me?” I saw panic in her eyes.
“Oh, no. It’s not that I don’t want to. I simply don’t think it’s up to me.”
She shook her head. “I know you can help me. Please, I have nowhere to go.”
          “Oh, boy,” I sighed. “Let me think.”
She was quiet, looking at me like a helpless puppy, as I was processing the whole thing in my head.
What am I to do with her? - I thought. Nobody trained me how to deal with Demons, for God’s sake!
“You know,” I said after a pause, “there is one thing we can do. But you have to listen to me carefully and do as I say.”
          “Yes, yes. I will.”
“All right. What I am going to tell you is the Truth. Do you trust me?”
“That’s why I came here. I want to hear the Truth.”
“Oh, boy,” I sighed again. “Listen, what I am going to share with you is my Truth. It is what I believe in. Do you understand?”
“I think I do. You are going to tell me what is true for you.”
“You’re an intelligent woman, I like that,” I said happily. “Let me tell you then, that the place where you have been wandering for so long, is an Illusion.”
“An Illusion?” she asked.
“Yes. It doesn’t exist.”
And then I shared with her what I learned about Passing from Rhami-yata. She listened very carefully as I was explaining to her, in the most simple way, what I knew about the difference between Illusion and Truth. Then I reminded her about God’s Love, and my Demon guest burst out in tears. I assured her that she had been the one who condemned herself. No matter what she had done, it was not up to the Church to cast her out from God’s Love. Nobody had such power.
When she asked me what to do, to free herself from the Illusion, I suggested that first she needed to forgive herself for whatever she still felt guilty about. And to recognize that her condemnation had “expired”, a long time ago.
“Then you let yourself melt into oneness with the Highest Vibration. And trust. That’s all.”
“Thank you,” she said. “I will do everything just the way you told me. Yet, there is one more thing I want from you.”
“I want you to forgive me.”
“But I have nothing against you,” I said. “It is you who needs to forgive yourself.”
“I know. I understood everything you were saying. But I do need someone to forgive me, so that it would feel more real to me.”
I nodded. “Yes, I totally get you. That’s how we humans, are wired. We always want to be accepted by others, don’t we? Of course I forgive you, dear beautiful Soul. And I also forgive you on behalf on the entire humanity, if I may.” I smiled warmly.
More tears sprang from her eyes, and she threw herself down, trying to kiss my left foot. Instinctively, I quickly pulled back, and her lips landed only slightly on my big toe.
“You shouldn’t touch me!” I exclaimed. “You are still a Demon!”
“I’m sorry,” she said. “I only wanted to thank you.”
“Yes, I know. But there was no need. Why don’t you go now, and take care of yourself.”
The woman left. And I didn’t have any other dreams that night.

          “I’ve been kissed by a Demon,” I announced to my bathroom mirror in the morning.
I wonder what that means? - I thought. Oh, damn it! I completely forgot! Miss Stella is coming over for breakfast!
Yes, Miss Stella wanted to visit that day. She’d insisted on checking out how I had settled in my new place.

I ran out of my apartment, only half dressed under my winter coat. I needed to get some groceries, and fast, before her arrival.
When I reached the flight of stairs, I lost my balance and tripped. I fell downstairs before I even realized what was happening.
Still in shock, I collected myself and sat down on the landing. I seemed to be alright. Nothing broken, I hoped. But I did feel a throbbing pain in my left big toe. I quickly pulled off my boot and sock and watched my toenail turning blue, literally in front of my eyes.
Holy shit! - I thought. That’s the last thing I need before Miss Stella’s visit. And then I realized, that I had injured myself in the same place where the woman from my dream had kissed me.
“The Demon’s kiss,” I whispered in disbelief.
I got up and limped back to my apartment. There was no way I could go to the store anymore.
I checked the fridge and the kitchen cupboards. There weren’t much there to prepare a decent breakfast for my guest. Only some oatmeal, and a couple of bagels.
At least I still have some butter and cream cheese – I thought. But what if she wants some eggs? I sighed. It’s a disaster!
I knew that Miss Stella would never forgive me if she felt I wasn’t properly receiving her. She was easily offended by even tiny, meaningless things. And not being prepared for her visit definitely wasn’t a small thing.

At ten am my doorbell rang.
          “I am here,” said Miss Stella’s voice on the intercom.
She was perfectly punctual. Her style exactly, no surprise there. I pressed the button and let her in.
She entered my apartment holding an umbrella and a package in a plastic bag under her arm. She wouldn’t let me take either of them away from her and asked to be led to the kitchen.
“What’s wrong with you?” she noticed my limp.
“Oh, it’s nothing serious, really. But it’s a long story, Miss Stella. I’ll tell you later.”
She looked at me carefully, and then put her package on the kitchen counter.
“Homemade,” she said with pride.
I gently opened the plastic bag and looked inside. Miss Stella nodded her head, with encouragement. There was a large container inside, and I took of the lid.
“Pierogies!” I exclaimed happily. “Mmm, they still feel warm. Did you make them this morning, Miss Stella?”
“Of course I did,” she said. “Otherwise they wouldn’t be fresh. But I made the stuffing last night. Wild mushrooms and sauerkraut.”
“Oh, this is so nice of you. Thank you. You know, Miss Stella,” I looked at her shrewdly, “perhaps we should eat them right away? They are still warm.”
“What nonsense is that?” she replied. “Who would eat pierogies for breakfast?”
I sighed with resignation. The trick didn’t work.“And what would you like?”
“Hot tea with lemon and a buttered croissant would be ideal.”
“Sounds great, Miss Stella,” I said, happy that she didn’t request any eggs. “I’m afraid I didn’t get any croissants, but I do have a couple of bagels.”
“They will do,” she nodded, and I loved her a lot at that moment.
“Would you also like some cream cheese with them?”
“I hate cream cheese.” She pronounced the word “hate” with such pleasure one could think it was her favorite word. “Some strawberry jam would be lovely,” she added.
“But there is a jar of strawberry jam, Miss Stella!” I exclaimed with such happiness that she looked at me very puzzled.

She had the bagels, and I had the oatmeal. I noticed that she deliberately avoided the strawberry jam, although I’d put it on the table in front of her. Perhaps she was suspicious after my overenthusiastic exclamation? Did she fear that I might try to poison her or something? When she asked for the cream cheese instead, I didn’t make any comment. I only covered my laughter with loud coughing.
After we ate, Miss Stella asked for a tour around my apartment. It wasn’t really much of a tour since the place was rather small. She walked slowly, examining every detail, and holding on to her umbrella. I was wondering why she needed the umbrella at all since it wasn’t raining that day, not outside and not inside my apartment. But soon the mystery was solved.
As we walked around, Miss Stella placing each foot accurately in a calculated position and myself clumsily limping, she put her umbrella to use. She knocked on the walls here and there, with the umbrella’s handle, mumbling to herself: “Good. Solid. Not bad at all.”
After careful examination of the bedroom walls, Miss Stella turned to me and nodded with obvious satisfaction. “The place is nice. It’s clean.”
“I see.” I looked at her a bit confused. I had no idea how she had arrived at such a decision by knocking on the walls with her umbrella. But then again, nobody could ever understand Miss Stella’s logic.
We moved to the living room. Miss Stella relaxed on the couch, and I took my place in the armchair.
She asked about my limp again.
“You see, I had a strange dream last night,” I started. She didn’t interrupt me even once when I told her the entire story of my dream encounter with a Demon, including the details of what I had advised. Then I told her about the accident I had had that morning.
When I finished, Miss Stella still didn’t say a word.
“What do you think?” I finally asked, curious about her reaction.
“You really need to be careful from now on,” she said.
“What do you mean? Not to let any Demons in my living room? That is, my dreams?” I corrected myself.
Miss Stella’s large dark eyes widened even more, and she tightened her already narrow lips.
“The stairs,” she said firmly. “Be careful where you’re going. You’re too absent minded most of the time.”
And that was all. That was the entire comment she made. Then she asked me, in a rather worried voice, what I was going to do with my life. I told her about my plans for enrolling into the university and studying filmmaking.
“Hm,” she nodded. “You are a pretty woman, so I think they’ll be happy to have you as a film director.”
I opened my mouth with astonishment. Then I quickly closed it remembering that Miss Stella had always paid attention to my manners.
“Oh, Miss Stella. If only my looks could get me into the film school,” I said laughing. “But thank you anyway, for your kind support.”

I took a long bath after she left. It helped ease the pain in my toe. I was thinking of Miss Stella, and her angular character.
There are endless layers of warmth underneath her harsh manner – I thought. If only she let herself open up and let that kindness of hers reach others, she would never be alone again. And I do know that she suffers from loneliness, even though she wouldn’t admit it. What makes her so bitter and inaccessible?
“Will I become like Miss Stella, lonely and bitter, now that I will be divorced?” I asked my mirror image when I was drying my hair. “No one can be happy when they are not loved.”
That was a scary thought. Then I realized that I was talking to myself, out loud! No, I definitely didn’t want to turn into a lonely, unhappy woman. I felt a sudden urge to go to the Temple and talk with Rhami-yata about the whole thing.


I found myself in the Chamber of Seven Powers and noticed that it cost me more focus and effort to get there this time.
I looked down at my feet. They looked normal. No swollen toes, or blue toenails. My left big toe was perfectly healthy. Apparently, the Demon’s kiss was powerless here in the Temple. But I noticed that there was something unusual about my gown… My gown was red!
“I’m becoming a temptress,” I said with a smile.
Wow! The gown was indeed very alluring, made of red silk with gold embroidery. I felt seductive and beautiful.
It’s not really appropriate - I thought. After all this is a temple!
Yet I loved my new look, and I wasn’t able to get rid of that stupid, self-conscious and cheeky smile that was giving me away.
Rhami-yata quickly glanced at me before he announced, ”We’ll continue talking about Powers today.”
“Uh huh.” It was all I was able to say, still admiring the red gown.
“The Fifth Power,” he said, “is the recognition and perception of Love.”
“What love?” I was intrigued.
“The Highest Vibration is ‘made of Love’, as some would say. And indeed, pure Love is one of the aspects of the Highest Vibration. And that Love can be found in everything.”
“You mean God’s Love?” I stared at him, “But look what I’m wearing! This is a seductive gown, you know. What does that have to do with God’s Love?”
“I guess romantic love must be the only kind you have come to know in your life,” said my mighty teacher.
I thought about my childhood, my dead father, and my often angry mother. I thought about my grandparents. They had always struggled in their marriages, and their resources of tenderness had dried out. I had not observed much love in my family. Then I thought of the deep feeling I had for my son. It was natural, biological, and it seemed to be more of a default setting than a conscious thing. No, I didn’t have much experience with love, other than the seductive, romantic passion that lovers shared.
I stroked my beautiful red gown and looked at the Master.
          “What is that Fifth Power exactly?”
“It is called Perceiving. Once you are able to recognize and perceive everything as part of the Highest Vibration, you are able to perceive pure Love. Perceiving is represented by the number One in our Temple.”
“Why the number One?” I asked.
“One stands for Unity. Perceiving all with pure Love, unites and recognizes all as equal. Everything becomes one. And I do mean everything. No exceptions.”
My silly self-conscious smile was long gone. I still enjoyed my seductive red gown though. But now I didn’t think it was inappropriate to wear it. Nor did I think that romantic love was any less holy than any other kind of love.
I’d already agreed in my mind that all was one in God, the Highest Vibration as Rhami-yata called Him. Actually, I started to really like that name: “the Highest Vibration”. It seemed to be more accurate in describing the amazing nature of the mighty force that created the entire universe as I knew it.
“To recognize God in others and everything around us, is to be able to accept and welcome God,” I said slowly. “God vibrates with pure Love. To perceive pure Love in everything, is to acknowledge God, the Highest Vibration.”
“Yes,” said Rhami-yata. “That is what Perceiving is about.”
Again I stroked the red fabric, which so beautifully symbolized the lesson. I felt happiness and gratitude.
          “I love this gown.” I looked at the Master.
“Very good,” he said. “It’s a nice gown.”
I spread my arms, and a prayer sprang from my lips. I praised the Power of Perceiving, and my heart was wide open to Love.
I looked at the Statues on the left and those on the right. I felt their equal holiness. The fifth Statue on the left represented Perceiving pure Love in all Matter. And the fifth Statue on the right represented Perceiving pure Love in all Spirit. I lit the candle for the Fifth Power.
          Rhami-yata was observing me, and I smiled at him. “I know that my life will never be lonely, Father. I will try to find Love in everything. I won’t get bitter like Miss Stella. She simply suffers from the lack of Love. Just as the Demon in my dream did.”
          “I see,” said the Master.

I woke up from trance quite abruptly. The red gown was gone. Damn it. I had so much hoped I could somehow keep it. It was both holy and seductive, and the most beautiful thing I had ever worn.

I opened my notebook and recorded the day’s story on the page. I wrote down the name of the Fifth Power. Of course I noticed the “P” for “Perceiving”. Oh, yeah, definitely, the sequence of the first letters in the names of the Powers must have had some special meaning. The strange pattern continued:



          I decided to read the last lesson to Miss Stella on the phone. She listened carefully, and was quiet for a moment after I finished.
          “You know, I don’t see anything in those teachings that would be against what’s written in the Bible,” she said. “All of it is agreeable. It’s about… good. It is a good thing.”
          My jaw dropped and I wasn’t able to reply for a while. I stared at the receiver in my hand, wondering if I had actually heard what I thought I had heard.
          “So, you don’t think it’s the Devil’s work or something like that?” I finally spoke.
          “Oh, no,” said Miss Stella. “There is nothing wrong or dangerous in what you just shared. It’s all about God’s Love. It’s all good.”
          That was not quite the reaction I’d expected from her. I was prepared to have to defend Rhami-yata’s teachings from Miss Stella’s accusations of at least Satanism, if not worse. She had always categorized any free thought as blasphemy!
I also took her words as those of an authority. After all, she knew the Bible inside out and she could herself give a mass, with her eyes closed, if they let her.
          All right – I thought. My life is saved for now. 

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