I leaned from the low-hung crescent moon and grasping the west-pointing horn of it, looked down. Against the other horn reclined, motionless, a Shining One who looked at me, but I was unafraid.
Below me the hills and valleys were thick with humans, and the moon swung low that I might see what they did.
“Who are they?” I asked the Shining One. For I was unafraid. And the Shining One made answer: “They are the Sons of God and the Daughters of God.”
I looked again, and saw that they beat and trampled each other. Sometimes they seemed not to know that the fellow-creature they pushed from their path fell under their feet. But sometimes they looked as he fell and kicked him brutally.
And I said to the Shining One, “Are they ALL the Sons and Daughters of God?” And the Shining One said: “ALL”.
As I leaned and watched them, it grew clear to me that each was frantically seeking something, and that it was because they sought what they sought with such singleness of purpose that they were so inhuman to all who hindered them.
And I said to the Shining One: “What do they seek?” And the Shining One made answer: “Happiness.” “Are they all seeking Happiness?” “All”. “Have any of them found it?” “None of those have found it.” “Do they ever thin k they have found it?” ”Sometimes they think they have found it.”
My eyes filled, for at that moment I caught a glimpse of a woman with a babe at her breast, and I saw the babe torn from her and the woman cast into a deep pit by a man with his eyes fixed on a shining lump that he believed to be (or perchance to contain, I know not) Happiness. And I turned to the Shining One, my eyes blinded.
”Will they ever find it?” And He said, “They will find it.” “All of them?” “All of them.” “Those who are trampled?” “Those who are trampled.” “And those who trample?” “And those who trample.”
I looked again, a long time, at what they were doing on the hills and in the valleys, and again my eyes went blind with tears, and I sobbed out to the Shining One: “Is it God’s will, or the work of the Devil, that men seek Happiness?” “It is God’s will.” “And it looks so like the work of the Devil!”
The Shining One smiled inscrutably. “It does look like the work of the Devil.”
When I had looked a little longer, I cried out, protesting: “Why has He put them down there to seek Happiness and to cause each other such immeasurable misery?” Again the Smiling One smiled inscrutably: “They are learning.” “What are they learning?” “They are learning Life. And they are learning Love.”
I said nothing. One man in the herd below held me breathless, fascinated. He walked proudly, and others ran and laid the bound, struggling bodies of living men before him that he might tread upon them and never touch foot to earth. But suddenly a Whirlwind seized him and tore his purple from him and set him down, naked among strangers. And they fell upon him and maltreated him sorely. I clapped my hands.
“Good! Good!” I cried exultantly. “He got what he deserved.”
Then I looked up suddenly, and saw again the inscrutable smile of the Shining One. And the Shining One spoke quietly.
“They all get what they deserve.” “And no worse?” “And no worse.” “And no better?” “And no better. How can there be any better? They each deserve whatever shall teach them the true way to Happiness.”
I was silenced. And still the people went on seeking, and trampling each other in their eagerness to find. And I perceived what I had not fully grasped before, that the whirlwind caught them up from time to time and set them down elsewhere to continue the Search.
And I said to the Shining One: “Does the whirlwind always set them down again on these hills and in these valleys?” And the Shining One made answer: “Not always on these hills or in these valleys.” “Where then?” “Look above you.”
And I looked up. Above me stretched the Milky Way and gleamed the stars. And I breathed “Oh” and fell silent, awed by what was given to me to comprehend. Below me they still trampled each other. And I asked the Shining One.
“But no matter where the Whirlwind sets them down, they go on seeking Happiness?” “They go on seeking happiness.” “And the Whirlwind make no mistakes?” “The Whirlwind makes no mistakes.” “It puts them sooner or later, where they will get what they deserve?” “It puts them sooner or later, where they will get what they deserve.”
Then the load crushing my heart lightened, and I found I could look at the brutal cruelties that went on below me with pity for the cruel. And the longer I looked the stronger the compassion grew.
And I said to the Shining One: “They act like men goaded.” “They are goaded.” “What goads them?” “The name of the goad is Desire.”
Then, when I had looked a little longer, I cried out passionately: “Desire is an evil thing.” But the face of the Shining One grew stern and his voice rang out, dismaying me.
“Desire is not an evil thing.”
I trembled and Thought withdrew herself into the innermost chamber of my heart, until at last I said: “It is Desire that nerves men on to learn the lessons God has set.” “It is Desire that nerves them.” “The lessons of Life and Love?” “The lessons of Life and Love!”
Then I could no longer see that they were cruel. I could only see that they were learning. I watched them with deep love and compassion, as one by one the Whirlwind carried them out of sight.