We must create the heavenly kingdom, that is the ideal one, within ourselves. The time is past for the creation of miniature worlds, refined Thelemes, based upon mutual affection and esteem; but life, well understood and well lived, in a small circle of persons who can appreciate one another, brings its own reward. Communion of spirit is the greatest and the only reality. This is why my thoughts revert so willingly to those worthy priests who were my first masters, to the honest sailors who lived only to do their duty, to little Noemi who died because she was too beautiful, to my grandfather who would not buy the national property, and to good Master Systeme, who was happy inasmuch as he had his hour of illusion. Happiness consists in devotion to a dream or to a duty; self-sacrifice is the surest means of securing repose. One of the early Buddhas who preceded Sakya-Mouni obtained the nirvana in a singular way. He saw one day a falcon chasing a little bird. “I beseech thee,” he said to the bird of prey, “leave this little creature in peace; I will give thee its weight from my own flesh.” A small pair of scales descended from the heavens, and the transaction was carried out. The little bird settled itself upon one side of the scales, and the saint placed in the other platter a good slice of his flesh, but the beam did not move. Bit by bit the whole of his body went into the scales, but still the scales were motionless. Just as the last shred of the holy man’s body touched the scale the beam fell, the little bird flew away and the saint entered into nirvana. The falcon, who had not, all said and done, made a bad bargain, gorged itself on his flesh.
The little bird represents the unconsidered trifles of beauty and innocence which our poor planet, worn out as it may be, will ever contain. The falcon represents the far larger proportion of egotism and gross appetites which make up the sum of humanity. The wise man purchases the free enjoyment of what is good and noble by making over his flesh to the greedy, who, while engrossed by this material feast, leave him and the free objects of his fancy in peace. The scales coming down from above represent fatality, which is not to be moved, and which will not accept a partial sacrifice; but from which, by a total abnegation of self, by casting it a prey, we can escape, as it then has no further hold upon us. The falcon, for its part is content when virtue, by the sacrifices which she makes, secures for it greater advantages than it could obtain by the force of its own claws. Desiring a profit from virtue, its interest is that virtue should exist; and so the wise man, by the surrender of his material privileges, attains his one aim, which is to secure free enjoyment of the ideal.