from the book "The Rose Immortal"
by A. Bothwell Gosse
"Only the bird of the morning knoweth the worth of the book of the rose; for not everyone who readeth the page understandeth the meaning." HAFIZ.
THE "Rose on the head" points to the Path, that path which finally leads to the rose enshrined, for ever in the heart; the reflection in each fragment of humanity of the Rose of the World. Narrow is the way and straight is the gate leading to this inmost sanctuary, and it is reached by going within. That is why it is so difficult to find, and when found so hard to follow, so full of hindrances and obstacles. The without, the external attracts us, while we fain would turn within to the internal. Like Mr. Facing-both-ways the position is impossible; one way or the other must be relinquished, to choose either will bring peace, because with definite choice the struggle ends, but between the two kinds of peace, there is no comparison, one is temporal and the other leads to life everlasting.
The external belongs to the three dimensional world of form, the internal belongs to another plane. Between them is a boundary, all exoteric teachings lead up to this boundary where the true Path begins. When this line is reached and overpassed all outward forms seem secondary, for the goal, although far off, is clearly seen. Form belongs to the physical and is no longer necessary when that is transcended. The rites and ceremonies of various religions are external aids only, and being realized as such, become matters of indifference. They are merely the signposts pointing out the way, the gateways in the barrier between the unreal and the real, and are no longer needed when the gate is entered and the frontier crossed. In this unknown land man's spirituality asserts itself, he enters into his own kingdom, into the empire of the spirit; reality is touched for the first time, and with it comes the realization of the nearness of the Master.
Companionship with others who have embarked on the same high endeavour keeps the holy fire alight in the heart and, where possible, association with those who are further advanced or who have already attained the goal, is a great stimulation to spiritual growth. In a very literal sense is it good for the novice to be with the disciple, and for the disciple to sit at the feet of the Master! Saadi, who was a great mystic, expresses this subtle influence very beautifully: "One day a piece of scented clay was handed to me. I addressed it thus, 'Art thou ambergris or musk, for I am charmed with thy delicate perfume?' It replied, 'I was but a worthless piece of clay, but for a while I associated with the Rose and so partook of the sweetness of my companion.'"
But there is no vicarious attainment; hard work in character-building alone ensures progress, so, pressing on towards the goal of his high calling, the postulant now replaces exoteric observances by an inner ritual of prayer, contemplation, meditation and above all devotion. Valuable indeed are the first, for the practice of them gives one-pointedness and steadiness to the mind and thus makes it an efficient instrument. The fire of devotion burns up the dross of self; in loving he gives himself, so love alone frees him from himself. "Only in its love has the heart its life; only in its love has the soul its felicity" ; and the sole end of meditation is to love evermore perfectly. Therefore by devotion, meditation and contemplation the pilgrim on the Path abstracts himself from the external, frees himself from space and time and so passes into the centre of his own being, where, offered upon the altar of his heart, his adoration and oblations of praise continuously ascend to the throne of the Most High.
In this secret realm within himself take place those mystic experiences of the soul which are caned initiations.
From the outer court of this temple of the heart, receding ever further within, veil after veil is Penetrated, until the shrine is reached, where is consummated the final ineffable mystery of the union of the spirit with the Supreme. To adore Him, to commune with Him in spirit, to approach near to Him in this life is the supreme object of the devotee; more even than the object, it is the destiny of the aspirant and to this alone he consecrates his life. To attain union with God, that is the goal of the mysteries of the Sacred Heart, the mysteries of the Rose.