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The Labors of Hercules - The Myth
Hercules the Disciple - The Myth

He stood before his Teacher. Dimly he understood that a crisis was upon him, leading to change of speech, of attitude and plan. The Teacher looked him o'er and liked him well.
"Your name?," he asked and waited for an answer.
"Herakles", the answer came, "or Hercules. They tell me that it means Hera's rare glory, the radiance and effulgence of the soul. What is the soul, O Teacher? Tell me truth."
"That soul of yours, you shall discover as you do your task, and find and use the nature which is yours. Who are your parents? Tell me this, my son."
"My father is divine. I know him not, except that, in myself, I know I am his son. My mother is an earthly one. I know her well and she has made me what you see. Likewise, O Teacher of my life, I am also one of twins. There is another one, like unto me. I also know him well, yet know him not. One is of earth, thus earthly; the other is a son of God."
"What of your training, Hercules, my son? What can you do and how have you been taught?"
"In all accomplishments I am proficient; I am well taught, well trained, well guided and well known. All books I know, all arts and sciences as well; the labors of the open field are known to me, besides the skill of those who can afford to travel and know men. I know myself as one who thinks, and feels and lives.
"One thing, O Teacher, I must tell to you and thus deceive you not. The fact is not so long ago I slew all those who taught me in the past. I killed my teachers, and in my search for liberty, I now stand free. I seek to know myself, within myself and through myself."
"My son, that was a deed of wisdom, and now you can stand [15] free. Proceed to labor now, remembering as you do, that at the final turning of the wheel will come the mystery of death. Forget this not. What is your age, my son?"
"I had turned eighteen summers when I slew the lion, and hence I wear its skin. Again at twenty-one, I met my bride. Today I stand before you trebly free - free from my early teachers, free from the fear of fear, and free indeed from all desire."
"Boast not, my son, but prove to me the nature of this freedom which you sense. Again in Leo, will you meet the lion. What will you do? Again in Gemini, the teachers whom you slew will cross your path. Have you indeed left them behind? What will you do? Again in Scorpio, will you wrestle with desire. Will you stand free, or will the serpent meet you with his wiles and pull you down to earth? What will you do? Prepare to prove your words and liberty. Boast not, my son, but prove to me your freedom and your deep desire to serve."

The Teacher sat in silence and Hercules withdrew and faced the first great Gate. Then the Presiding One, who sat within the Council Chamber of the Lord, spoke to the Teacher and bade him call the gods to witness the endeavor and start the new disciple on the Way. The Teacher called. The gods replied. They came and gave to Hercules their gifts and many words of sage advice, knowing the tasks ahead and the perils of the Way.

Minerva handed him a robe, woven by herself, a robe that fitted well, of beauty rare and fine. He put it on, with triumph and with pride; exulting in his youth He had to prove himself,

A golden breastplate Vulcan forged for Hercules, to guard his heart, the source of life and strength. This golden gift was girded on, and, shielded thus, the new disciple felt secure. He had yet to prove his strength.

Neptune arrived with horses twain and handed them, in leash, to Hercules. Straight from the place of waters came they, of beauty rare and proven strength. And Hercules was pleased, for he had yet to prove his power to ride the horses twain.

With graceful speech and brilliant wit came Mercury, carrying [16] a sword of rare design, which he proffered, in a silver sheath, to Hercules. He strapped it on the thigh of Hercules, bidding him keep it sharp and bright. "It must divide and cut," said Mercury, "and with precision and acquired skill must move." And Hercules, with joyous words, tendered his thanks. He had yet to prove his boasted skill.

With blaring trumpets and the rush of stamping feet the chariot of the Sun God flashed. Apollo came and with his light and charm cheered Hercules, giving him a bow, a bow of light. Through nine wide open Gates must the disciple pass before he had acquired sufficient skill to draw that bow. It took him all that time to prove himself the Archer. Yet when the gift was proffered, Hercules took it, confident of power, a power as yet unproven.

And thus he stood equipped. The gods stood round his Teacher, and watched his antics and his joy. He played before the gods, and showed his prowess, boasting of his strength. Suddenly he paused and pondered long; then gave the horses to a friend to hold, the sword to still another and the bow unto a third. Then, running, disappeared into the nearby wood.

The gods awaited his return, wondering and puzzled over his strange conduct. Back from the wood he came, bearing aloft a club of wood, cut from a stalwart living tree.

"This is mine own," he cried, "none gave it to me. This I can use with power. O gods, watch my high deeds."

And then, and only then, the Teacher said: "Go forth to labor."

The Tibetan (Djwhal Khul)

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