Dialogues of Nodin and William - Masters #15
(PD) Karl Blechen - The Capuchin Convent at Amalfi
Copyright ©2013-2019 - updated May 11, 2019
William: Nodin, may I ask you of the small stone temple that is well-hidden in the hills south of the village? I had heard of the temple most all of my life, but I have not yet seen it with my own eyes, and I am curious of what the manner of life might be for the individuals who live there.
Nodin: The temple is a private place, a haven from society for masters.
William: Masters? Why have I not heard of this before? No one in the village has ever mentioned masters; is the temple’s purpose a secret?
Nodin: The purpose is not a secret, not as you might interpret what is implied as being secret, but rather the purpose is simply to allow the opportunity for a few individuals to live their lives honestly, to live without the negative turmoil of society.
William: I am aware that you purposefully avoid giving a fullness of answer until the individual is ready to receive the fullness, and I suspect that you are avoiding telling me of the details that might better explain the purpose of the temple and the individuals who live there, but can you not tell me more? Is there a purpose or a need to keep a knowledge of the temple hidden from the public?
Nodin: Knowledge, yes, your choice of words touched upon the very key; knowledge. But it is not a knowledge to be desired, but rather a desire to hold one’s self a distance from knowledge.
William: Please forgive me for my confusion Nodin, but I am not understanding what you are pointing to: are you saying that the temple’s purpose, the individuals’ goal, is to avoid knowledge?
William: Ah, perhaps I might understand a portion of what you are saying: the individuals have chosen a spiritual goal, one of bettering the personality traits rather than learning knowledge?
Nodin: In part, you are correct, in part, you have missed the primary reasoning.
William: My long pause since your last words has not been from my understanding, but rather my pause has been of one that waited to hear what else you might say. If it is best for us to not speak of the temple’s purpose, then I am agreed that we should not speak of it, but if the topic is acceptable, then I would like to learn more if you are willing.
Nodin: Of all religions, philosophies, and governments, which one has given humanity peace?
William: None, for it is obvious that wars and violence continue, and so I must conclude that no religion or philosophy has given us peace, nor has any government.
Nodin: Of all religions, philosophies, and governments, which one has created a paradise planet?
William: Again, none; the rivers are all polluted, the soil is tainted with chemicals, the oceans are floating dump-grounds, the air is often unfit to breathe, and the planet is dying as we speak.
Nodin: Of all religions, philosophies, and governments, which one has promoted and established an intellectually creative environment for mankind?
William: The same; none.
Nodin: Of all religions and philosophies, as well as governments, if all have failed to better mankind, then is the fault that of the religions, philosophies, and governments, or the fault of something else?
William: It is my opinion that the fault resides in man himself, and not in a religion or philosophy, nor in the government that is formed in the likeness of those who carve it. It does not matter what ideology a man may claim membership, it is still his own character that determines how he will behave.
Nodin: Very well-stated, and so then, do you not have the answer for the temple’s purpose?
William: Then, I am reasoning that the people at the temple might be of the goal to better their spirits, their personality traits, rather than follow a religion, philosophy, or system of politics?
Nodin: That is, in part, correct, and in part incomplete.
William: It is the incomplete part that continues to evade my thoughts; my mind is as blank, and no thought lights on what might be incomplete.
Nodin: Think it through; if all ideologies have failed, and the fault has been with man, and not with the ideologies, then what should the choice be?
William: It appears that the choice should be one of the individual choosing quality traits, regardless of the religion or philosophy held.
Nodin: And yet, though your answer is correct, it is incomplete: do not stop reasoning upon having landed upon a single conclusion, but rather continue, and discover what might be nested deep within.
William: Very well then; if quality personal traits become the goal, then, well, the person is to aim for and practice achieving the traits. I am humored at myself for recognizing that my analysis is so shallow and yet I cannot perceive the reason why it is shallow, for I would have to hold a depth of knowledge before I could then recognize why my knowledge is shallow.
Nodin: William, you have committed the very error that the temple knows to avoid; you sought an answer within knowledge.
William: My long pause is within the reflections of what I have learned before, and yes, I believe that I may understand what you are pointing to, that the firsthand experience is the item of importance, and the worded knowledge of an item is as immaterial.
Nodin: Very good, and so then, what is the purpose of the temple?
William: Oh but Nodin, my rapid breathing and watered eyes surely describe the amazement within me, that the temple’s purpose is to allow an environment for individuals to experience and become of quality traits, and if my theory is correct, then I am in awe, as well as does my heart cry with a longing that wishes with a hurting sorrow that I too might reside at the temple.
Nodin: And if the temple’s purpose is ideal, then why am I myself not there?
William: That is a most excellent and disturbing question Nodin, and my heart’s yearning for the temple’s serenity has been stunted with the curiosity of what could possibly be wrong with the temple’s goals.
Nodin: But William, on what reasoning do you assume that the problem is that of the temple’s?
William: But Nodin, it appears that if a problem were not the cause of the temple’s, then the problem would reside within your own self, and please forgive me for my puzzled lack of understanding, but, I do not understand what the reason might be that you are not at the temple. Might it be that you have already learned and achieved what the individuals at the temple hope to learn and achieve?
Nodin: Having tasted a leaf of parsley, can we replace the leaf to make the plant whole again? No, once we have tasted of society, we are no longer innocent, we have tainted ourselves, and there can be no returning to the innocence as before. I, William, am tainted, I am unworthy of stepping within the temple’s gates, and yes, my heart, like yours, longs with a hurting sorrow, but mine is not only for a yearning to live at the temple, but rather mine is also for the knowing that I can now never again experience the beauty that once was.
William: Please forgive me Nodin if I have misinterpreted your words, but it seems to me that your tone of emotions describe to me that you were once at the temple; am I correct, or should I refrain from asking such a personal question, and if the topic is dear to you, please ignore my curiosity, and allow my words to drop without a reply.
Nodin: There was a time, now it seems to have been as a dream, a full thirty years ago, yes, I had approached near to my goals, and I had become most of what I sought, but within me was raised a desire to become a teacher, and in my ignorance I assumed that I would be a better teacher if I first understood the reasoning of why other people chose their choices, and so I entered into the lifestyles of others’, and having done so, yes, I now know the knowledge to teach, but I have also discovered that the knowledge itself now prevents me from returning to the innocence of before, and I am saddened by my grievous error.
William: Please forgive me for my question, but I do not understand: knowledge prevents an innocence?
Nodin: The thoughts of yesterday became the foundation of the thoughts of today, as today’s thoughts become the foundation of all that we will think in the future. Each moment’s thought is within emotion, with all emotions influencing the other, and in our old age our spirits become the song of our life; if the life had been of turmoil, then so has the spirit, and since society is itself a perpetual turmoil, then our having lived within society has permanently and forever tainted the spirit. Do you not see William? There is no return, there can be no escape from our mistakes, once we have tasted fire, forever will our very natures be based upon a knowledge of fire, and forever we will never be allowed to return to the serenity of an innocence of not knowing fire.
William: But if that is so, then what…
Nodin: Stop; please become silent. The time of questions is no more; in recent days I remembered, relived an extended moment of a beauty that I once knew, and having tasted what once was, I can now observe and recognize what no longer exists, and why it no longer exists, and I am ashamed of myself; I traded beauty and innocence for knowledge, and in my great ignorance my naïve goal of being of a service to mankind has backfired, now numbing the spirit and becoming of no value to anyone; no one, no one at all.
William: But you have been of a value to me.
Nodin: Have I? Or have I been a hindrance? Why did I not direct you to a beautiful young woman’s door when you first knocked at mine? At least with an attractive wife you might experience a joy, but within knowledge there can be no joy, and the more knowledge that exists, the greater is the sorrow.
William: But we could still choose quality traits, and strive for self-betterment.
Nodin: You are not yet aware of the necessary environment, one as what the temple creates, one where individuals strive throughout their lives to attain quality traits, and not for themselves, but so that the traits and environment might be handed down to the next generation and the next, and having developed through several generations it then becomes possible for masters to be born: masters are not born and developed within the turmoil and taintedness of society.
William: That is true, society prevents its own salvation.
Nodin: Birds do not give birth to cattle, as mice do not give birth to fish. A married couple, of average talents and average efforts, should not expect to give birth to a child of prodigious talents; the soil in which grows the seed, as well as the seed itself, determines what will grow. The temple, it is for masters, and the masters will never be known to society, for the masters must remain secluded, protected from society, else the masters become tainted.
William: I am reminded of the skeptics, who claim that masters do not exist, nor that can any master talent exist, because the skeptics themselves have not had a master demonstrate to the skeptics that the masters exist. The skeptics, wallowing within society’s greatest filthiness, even I, who am as nothing, even I would not distress my spirit with the thought of it somehow being important to prove one’s self to the most inferior of humans, the skeptics, and having said that, I now realize how simply possessing the knowledge of skeptics has darkened my soul, and I too am very displeased, and with a growing wish that I would never have learned of man.
Nodin: For those of us who might have had a drop of usefulness, upon our mingling with society, the drop becomes dirtied and of no usefulness. The temple is to remain private, secluded, hidden from prying eyes.
William: To me it appears that your goal of becoming a teacher has been achieved, and that your warning is a valid one, one that can be useful to society or to individuals who themselves might have considered choosing knowledge rather than quality traits, and to me, I thank you for your efforts, and though I myself cannot change my past, I can still choose a better future.
Nodin: The only judge of one’s worthiness is one’s own self, and my judge is harsh.
William: As has mine become, as mine has also become.
Nodin: Come, let us go sit quietly under the trees near the temple, and be happy for those who will never know that we exist.