The text known variously as The Adumbrations of the Prophet or Adumbrations: Being the Discourse of Malkion the Prophet unto Hrestol the Perfected One, is a brief 45-verse tractate. It is part of a very ancient tradition among the various schools of the Malkioni, a discourse between a master and a student intended to reveal technical or religio-philosophical instruction. Widely circulated in Loskalm, and occasionally turning up In Lunar scriptoriums, the text is outlawed throughout much of the Malkioni world. It is, clearly, a Hrestoli text, but it also purports to have been copied from a chapter of the lost Abiding Book, a claim few serious Third Age scholars take seriously. More likely a product of New Hrestolism, it attempts to show how Hrestol was led to his First Age reformations by the "clear teachings" of the prophet Malkion. It is a curious document, but one that is useful in elucidating the more unique aspects of Hrestolism.
Aaaaaaand it is also nonsense.
Recently I was re-reading Poimandres, one of the better known bits of the Hermetica. Just a few weeks earlier I had been reading about one of the Vedanta schools, Achintya-Bheda-Abheda. Without going too deeply down the rabbit-hole of Indian philosophy, the Achintya took up the middle ground between the monist Advaita schools (the individual soul and the Supreme Person are the same) and the dualist Dvaita schools (the Supreme Person is separate and distinct from the individual soul). The Achintya, whose name was popularized in the 1996 Kula Shaker hit "Tattva," held that the answer is beyond human comprehension (achintya means "difference," bheda means "knowable," abheda means "unknowable," so essentially "difference is neither knowable or unknowable"). What struck me though was their basic argument was that the difference between the soul and the Supreme Person was a difference of quantity, not nature. And that got me thinking about Hrestolism.
So enjoy this bit of fluff. I tricked to stick as closely to Poimandres as I could, but a few Indianisms snuck in there as well. Let me know what you think.
ADUMBRATIONS: BEING THE DISCOURSE OF MALKION THE PROPHET UNTO HRESTOL THE PERFECTED ONE
1. Once I lay in a state of such perfect contemplation that I was neither awake nor sleeping. My senses were tamed, my mind turned inward, alert yet inactive, receptive without producing thought. I waited as the dawn awaits the light.
2. And it seemed to me that a presence, unbounded by dimension, unencumbered by definition, filled the empty space of my being. I could neither see nor hear it. It was invisible to my senses and beyond the capacity of my understanding. Yet my heart knew it was there, and leapt in my breast. This organ was like a mirror reflecting this invisible, infinite light.
3. Then, in this incomprehensible vastness there formed a focus, a center, a presence. A voice. "What do you want to hear and see; what do you wish to learn from your understanding?"
4. "Who are you?" I asked.
5. "I am the First to receive the Word. I am the Son of Aerlit and the Father of the Law. I speak for that which is beyond speech. Through me the infinite passes and all must pass to attain infinity. I am Malkion."
6. "Oh Prophet, master, teach me. I wish to learn the workings of things, and in knowing to know the mind of the Invisible God!"
7. "Then be attentive. Keep in mind all that I reveal to you. For my words are subtle, and easy to mistake. Already have then been misunderstood. You must behold them in a clear light."
8. "I hear, master, and I listen."
9. And it seemed that he did not speak and yet showed me. I did not see, but I understood. For from the infinite and the undefined came thoughts, hanging like bright jewels upon a perfect thread. Black and empty was the first, like a hole that eats the light. Then silver-blue and clear came the next, deep and yet reflective. Green and verdant was the following one, with a solidity those before it had lacked. Then the darkness was lit by a great blaze, as the next form radiated warmth and heat in all directions. Then the last, dark gray and flashing, howling, raging, restless. It shook the forms that had preceded it, and I thought the thread they hung upon might break.
10. "Have you understood this I have shown you?"
11. "In your patience I shall come to know it."
12. "They are the First Thoughts of the First, formless, shapeless substances yet each with a nature unique to themselves. None is like the other, yet they, like the Mind from whence they sprang, have no definition."
13. "I see the truth of it, master. I beg you go on."
14. Then, from the Mind of the First there came thoughts that were like sounds, because as each rang out there was an immediate echo. Yet the echo was the opposite of the sound it mirrored, inverse and averse. Each clashed with its echo, and in this exchange the earlier thoughts--the ones I first beheld like jewels--could now be defined. They each reacted to these vibrating notes and their echoes, they came alive and were capable of change.
15. "Has your understanding yet opened to you?"
16. "It becomes more clear. Pray continue your instruction."
17. Then came the final thoughts, and these were like shapes. And they took the first and the second thoughts and gave them form. And together these thoughts were like letters graven in stone or written on paper, for they combined in patterns that gave purpose and meaning. The darkness was lifted from my eyes and my understanding was clear. "I see now, master."
18. "The first thoughts are Essence, the second thoughts Energy, the third Shape. They are the foundation of creation. From them all nature proceeds."
19. And I saw this was so. All that lived and breathed, all that existed, all beasts and spirits and gods were but the products of these thoughts. And they were the product of the First Mind. "All things are known by these Runes, for they are of the Runes. But the Invisible God cannot be known, for he is the Mind that thought the Runes. A mind can know the thoughts it contains, but the thoughts cannot know the mind."
20. "Your comprehension is insufficient. Your logic fails. The veil has been lifted from your eyes but you screw them shut against the light."
21. "Have patience with my stupidity, master. I attend."
22. "When water is taken from a well does it cease to be water?"
23. "No, master, it does not."
24. "When one fire is kindled from another is it no longer fire?"
25. "It is still fire master."
26. "Then the son of a father. Is the child the same as the parent?"
27. I considered. "They have the same blood but they are different, master."
28. "How can this be so? if water taken from water remains water, if fire kindled from fire is fire, how can a son drawn from a father's body not also be the father?"
29. I thought upon this deeply, and at present replied. "Because the father and the son each have their own minds."
30. "Is the nature of the child's mind fundamentally different? When the child grows to manhood will it not also think, and speak, and do, and see?"
31. "Of course, master."
32. "Then I ask you again wherein the difference lies."
33. "Master, I have no answer. I kiss your feet. I beg of you to enlighten me on this point."
34. There was a sound like a sigh. "The answer is that there is no difference. Water in a well and water in a bucket are both water, but the vessel containing them is different. Fire in a hearth and fire in a lantern are both flame, but the vessel containing them is different. Mind in the father and mind in the son, but the vessels containing them are different."
35. "My ignorance has been penetrated master. I see the truth of it.
36. "Just so, Son of Froalar. The mind that informs you is the same as the mind informing your father, and his father, and his. The vessels containing this mind differ, and each accumulates different memories and experiences, but they are of the same nature. Your mind if like a torch flame lit by the torch before it. The flame is the same but it is passed from torch to torch. So then I ask you, noble talar, if all things in this world have their origins in the Runes, what pray tell me is the Rune of Mind?"
37. In an instant my delight at understanding was extinguished, as the sun is hidden by sudden cloud. Every tree, grass, flower, and shrub had its origin in the Plant Rune. Every star, every spark, every candle flame and wildfire had its origination in the Fire Rune. From whence then came the mind? "Master I..." I stammered, confounded, but reminded myself to think deeply upon my master's clear teachings. The flame of my mind was lit by my father's, and his by his father's, and so on back and back. Yet what was the origin? What was the first flame?
38. At this there was to my senses a great flash of light, yet I could not see it. There was the roar of a thousand thunders, but I could not hear it. The earth itself trembled and heaved beneath my feet, and yet never really moved at all. Revelation washed over me and transformed every fiber of my being.
39. "Mind comes from no Rune, master. It comes from that which conceived the Runes. Because of this mind is above the Runes. It masters the Runes. The Creator exists in his creation. In the omnipresence of his mind are we bound. We are of the same nature as the Invisible God, the same character, but the difference between us is of quantity, not of kind."
40. "And?" The Prophet asked me.
41. "All mind is the same mind, as all the waters of the world are the same water, be they contained in well or river, puddle or ocean. Thus there can be no real difference between men. Talari. Hrolari. Dronari. Zzaburi. These are different vessels carrying the same essence. The castes could be changed as easily as pouring water from one container to the next."
42. "You have seen the truth of it. See you to the heart?"
43. Before this teaching of Malkion's to my thought men had been bound by their castes, separated from one another. Now I perceived the universality of brotherhood. Yet as I followed the perfect logic of his clear teaching, I saw my way to its end. The misunderstanding of the Law of Malkion not only separated men from their brothers, but also from their Creator. "If the mind that informs me is of the same nature as the Maker of All, then to know my Maker I have but to know my mind. And to return to my Maker, all I need do is let go of those things that keep me separate from him."
44. "Just so."
45. "Prophet I fall before you. I touch my lips to the hem of your robe. I am no longer who I was before I heard this teaching. I will go forth armed with the New Law, and bring it to my brothers. I swear to seek only my Maker, to rend each veil that separates us until my mind, like a mirror, reflects The Mind. Oh a thousand thousand praises, First among Prophets!