I was charmed by the map to discover the Eight Portals of the Path; the steps to be overcome on the road to light. Although I imagined that such knowledge was only available to closed initiatic and esoteric circles, in fact, it has long been available to all mankind in an easily accessible book. For two thousand years, this knowledge has pulsated in a simple and humble way, loving to the extreme, in the Master’s way, waiting for everyone in one of the most beautiful and profound texts ever written: the Sermon on the Mount. The Beatitudes, where the eight portals are listed, is a small passage contained in the opening of the Sermon that, in turn, is part of the Book of Matthew, one of the four Scriptures that make up the renovating part of the Bible. However, “reading eyes” are necessary to immerse yourself in all the possibilities of consciential expansion offered by those words. The Sermon on the Mount, especially the Beatitudes, cannot be read in its literalness, in the narrow limits of vocabularies, but in its intimacy, with the proximity of the soul and its refined lenses, so that it can expand the frontiers of perception about who I am and who I can become, in the same measure I understand the importance of others in my life. When I understand that difficulties exist to stimulate my evolutionary process, I am able to align in the light the opposites that inhabit me, so that I can reach fullness, composed by the immaterial riches of freedom, dignity, peace, happiness, and unconditional love. Greater wealth that I will not find anywhere in the world except within myself; unique and imperishable heritage that I will be able to take in my luggage to the Highlands. The Path of Light is not a road that travels around the world, it is a journey that takes you into the universe. Not that this makes it less easy. When initiated, it reveals the immeasurable power contained in the wisdom of discovering that “I always have everything I need”. This is sacred for it is liberating. On the other hand, the world is the desert that I help transform into a garden according to the virtues that flourish at the core of my being through the choices I make.
The Elder, as we affectionately called the oldest monk of the Order, had revealed to me the First Portal, the portal of lucidity, and the virtues that are inherent to it, without which we will not be able to cross it to go on to the next stage . The Second Portal is coded as follows: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
I had read and reread it several times, reflected and meditated, unable to find the key to open that door. I started looking for the Elder everywhere in the monastery for help. I wandered unsuccessfully through the corridors, rooms, library, cafeteria, and gardens. Each person I ran into gave me a different answer regarding where he could be. When I got there, he was gone. I was continuing my pilgrimage to the Elder, when I was intercepted by Lucca, the monk responsible for the famous chocolates manufactured in the monastery and the Order’s livelihood, since donations are not accepted. He informed me that a couple had come to us for help. Their daughter had died in an automobile accident, which left them disoriented and enveloped in a lot of pain. I told him I was busy and asked him to transfer the service to another monk, as we call all members of the brotherhood. Lucca explained that he couldn’t do that, because it was the Elder who had appointed me to talk to the girl’s parents. As dean and pedagogical advisor of the Order, the guidelines of the Elder could only be changed by himself. I argued that the Elder had always been flexible and generous with our suggestions. It wasn’t rare for him to change them according to our requests. Lucca agreed with me, but pointed out that the decision couldn’t be his, only the Elder’s. Upset, I went to the room where the couple waited.
As I expected, I found the father and mother, wounded. I realized that this conversation would take time. I disguised my impatience to be with them. I wanted to finish as soon as possible to get back to my studies. I was there, but my heart was not. I introduced myself politely to the parents as good manners recommend, offered my condolences formally, and sat down beside them. When we started to talk, we were interrupted by the Elder’s arrival, with his slow but steady steps, with the proper support of his cane. Without saying a word, he gave them a long, strong hug. The monk’s eyes shone differently; it was pure and sincere goodness. The room’s environment was transformed immediately. He said to his parents: “I have already faced a storm similar to this one and I know it is not easy. But I know it is possible to survive and learn to sail better.” The mother, sobbing, hugged the Elder again for a long time. Solidarity brought them together. The Elder had made it clear that he was in no hurry and that he would have all the necessary serenity. It had become clear that the monk was there for love and this, in addition to being clearly noticeable, made a huge difference. Then he said sweetly: “I would like to know more about your daughter. Can you tell me?”
For over an hour we listened to the parents, with tears in their eyes, talking about the daughter who had left, about the living memories that pulsated and the longing that tore their souls apart. Then, very delicately, the Elder offered the Order’s view of death, not as an end, but as a change in the direction of a journey that must continue to other spheres of life, in the continuity of evolutionary education. Death seen not as a loss, but as a wise and loving transformation. He also said that missing somebody should be seen as something good, as it is the testimony of love, a pure and imperishable treasure. However, he knew that at that moment his words would suffer natural resistance due to the physical and material conditioning that we usually have in relation to life. But he also knew that the good seed is not lost, it just waits patiently for the fertilization of the soil to germinate. Those parents needed, as in most cases, to vent their sufferings so as not to burst into pain. That is why he let them speak; therefore, he heard them without the slightest hint of haste. From time to time the monk would interweave the parents’ narrative with a good word, in the exact spice between sweetness and firmness, to warm their hearts on the one hand and, on the other, to feed their hope for life. In the darkness of the moment, he offered them, in drops, the other side of life. The face of light.
Gradually, despite the sadness that would take many days to be transmuted, the heavy atmosphere present at the beginning gave way to a noticeable lightness in the air. Then the Elder invited them to have coffee and cake with us in the monastery canteen. He joked that it was an unforgettable gastronomic experience and therefore would not accept no for an answer. Involved in so much affection and understanding, each of them wrapped themselves in one of the Elder’s arms and the three made their way to the canteen. I followed behind them. Other monks came up to us and hugged the parents lovingly. They sat down at the table. Together, we talked about various topics related to her daughter’s journey. Many stories were told, all with a message of light embedded in their content. In the end, a few times, I saw the parents smile. Although shy, they were smiles that did not exist when they arrived. When they left, something good had been sown in their hearts.
The other monks returned to their duties. We, the Elder and I, remained at the table. He turned and asked, “Do you understand the Second Portal?” Only then did I begin to link one thing to another. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted,” he reminded me. However, I told him I was unable to make all the necessary correlations between the fact I had just witnessed and the age-old lesson for perfect understanding. The Elder said: “Just as the First Portal is that of lucidity, in which to cross it is necessary to understand who we are not yet, authorized for those already stripped of vanity and pride, the Second Portal is that of kindness, only allowed to gardeners of the world. To enter it is necessary to use your own heart as a seed to germinate flowers in the desert of another heart.”
He filled my mug with coffee and joked that it was to help me think. He got up and told me to make an effort to understand. For it was an indispensable condition: “How do we get through a door if we can’t see it?”, he said before leaving.
Alone, I started the work of connecting all the dots to be able to visualize the whole. I already knew that to go through each of the portals it was necessary to sediment a group of virtues. So, I started to recall the events of that day to see what virtues emerged from the facts that I had witnessed. The girl’s parents wept and were comforted. What virtues were possible to extract from those tears? Well, weeping for those we love is like liking those who love us, it is like doing good to loved ones; there are no greater virtues in this. I couldn’t connect the fact to the lesson. I struggled to remember the suffering of those parents in an attempt to solve the riddle. In vain.
A long time had passed. I emptied the coffee mug without being able to advance in the lesson. I was about to give up when the Elder’s words came to mind: “You must use your own heart as a seed to germinate flowers in the desert of another heart.” Yes, that was it! It was necessary for my heart to promote relief and healing in the suffering of another heart. Blessed are those who mourn, not their own pains, for in this, though understandable, nothing extraordinary resides. Blessed are those who have the sensitivity to feel the suffering of others and, within the limits of their true possibilities, endeavor to alleviate it. They will receive the biggest hug, the most beautiful of all smiles.
From that point, the Second Portal began to form with incredible clarity. That day I had witnessed the manifestation of many virtues, especially by the Elder. Generosity, sweetness, solidarity, liveliness, patience, and gratitude were the virtues that were present. I remembered the attributes of each of them.
Generosity is the virtue of those who are willing to share what they do best to help others. Whether in the material or in the spiritual aspect. A hug is usually more valuable than a check. They are the ones who care about others, they are the ones who help; they are the sensitive ones. They are the sowers of love.
Solidarity is the virtue of making up for the lack of others; it is to feel the other’s pain and refuse to see it with disdain. It is the virtue of those who, because they have the heart of the world in their own hearts, do good to others as they do to themselves. Solidarity differs from generosity in the moment. While the latter is always willing to welcome the other, the former goes in search of the world’s needs to supply them even before they ask. Solidarity teaches the world that a smile is possible; they are the architects of hope.
Sweetness, gentleness, and delicacy are the virtues in which I show anyone the enormous importance they have for me and the world. They are typical virtues of those who plant flowers for the joy of beautifying the road for others to walk. They are the ones who refuse to be the cause of any pain; they deny coldness and indifference in dealing with any person. They are the bridge builders who bring all the hearts of the world together.
Liveliness is the will to move all the virtues; because it is not enough to feel, it is necessary to perform. They are the engines that propel us to embrace life.
Gratitude is the virtue of recognizing the beauty of the other. It is typical of those who look at the world through the lens of light. They are able to see the best in every thing, person, and situation. They are the ones that help us to become a good place to live.
I refilled my mug with coffee and got up. I went to the monastery balcony. I sat in an armchair to enjoy the mountains. In fact, I was delighted with the wonders that the Second Portal offered me. At that moment I could see the possibilities that were open to everyone who dared to cross it. It was the call for the improvement of the Work through intimate progress. To cross the portal is to accept the co-authorship of this challenge. Everything in you reflects on the other; the shadows and the light. It is the understanding that the other is the unknown face of the whole of which we are part of. It is looking at yourself to see beyond yourself. “Be the change you want to see in the world” is no longer an idea, but a choice. It is the awareness and the exercise of being an inseparable part of something greater. In order to cross the Second Portal, it is necessary to feel the soul of the world pulsating in your own soul. Then to cherish it.
The Second Portal does not speak of crying for its own pains, but for the pain of others. It is to feel the other in you… and envelop it with love. Only then will you be allowed to go through the door.
Honestly, by my behavior that day, I admitted that the door was still closed for me. However, I was glad to be able to see it. Generosity, sweetness, solidarity, liveliness, patience, and gratitude were the virtues that I needed to consolidate in myself if I wanted to cross the Second Portal of the Path. Now I had to fight the internal struggle so that, on any given day of endless time, I would be worthy to enter through that door. It is necessary to advance on the road in the light.
Translated by Julia Reuter e Carvalho