A Theosophical Short Story
About Guidance Beyond Delusion
John Garrigues
Imri, following the path, entered the fog of bewilderment. This is always a place where two roads meet. One road seemed the most inviting. It stretched away, smooth and fair, mounting evenly to brilliant skies, and at the summit line he could vision, glorified, Imri jeweled with light, beacon of guidance for the multitudes of men.
This was the reflection of the Imri of dreams cast upon the screen of time, and was caused by the light of the Soul being broken and scattered by the myriads of desires in the heart. Imri did not know this. Full of zeal to be of service to all souls his gaze was turned outward, thinking other souls separate from himself. The traitors of delusion that ensnare the steps of men were known to him. He had watched them snare others and was constantly warning against them, pointing all men to the path of the One Self. But since there is no separateness at all, these traitors of delusion were also in the heart of Imri, making merry in the fire of Imri’s devotion. This Imri did not know. Only those who are awake in the Self know this. To those who dream, the dream path is the real. Fair and full to them is the dream path, while the path of the real seems like a troubled dream.
Imri spoke to his preceptor, whose steps were moderated to his own: “This is the path.” And Imri turned to the left.
When Imri had so chosen and entered the path, the Guru walked behind him. After a time this was observed by Imri.
“Master, how is this? In the beginning, when first I found you, it was you who walked before. Then, I remember, for a time we walked side by side. Now, though the way is fair and broad, your steps lag and it is I who lead.”
“This path is of thy choosing, not mine. I but go with thee a little way.”
“Is not this the path of the Self?”
“All paths are the Path of the Self”, replied the preceptor. “The Self in each chooses its own path. There is no other way”.
Imri was troubled, and reproved his preceptor. “I do not understand you. These are dark sayings. You, who are my preceptor, should enlighten me. I desire only to learn.”
“This is the path of learning”, answered the Guru, not answering Imri’s reproach.
Imri was vexed in his heart, thinking the Guru was devoid of sympathy, or weary of journeying, or perhaps had misunderstood him. He said to himself that those who are devoid of sympathy grow weary, and that weariness and lack of sympathy make one misunderstand. He felt forgiveness for the preceptor. Vexation left his heart and he turned sympathetically to the Guru to speak kindly words.
But the preceptor seemed a great way off. So Imri waited till his preceptor should draw, near again. But though he waited a space the Guru seemed no nearer. Vexation again rose in the heart of Imri, calling attention to the delay in the journey, and suggesting that it would be better to proceed, so as to prepare shelter at the day’s end for the preceptor. Imri felt a glow of satisfaction in this thought, and resumed his march.
When night came, Imri looked once more at the summit of the dream self. It stood crowned and radiant, but higher in the heavens than at starting, and while he gazed, farther than ever away. He had marched all day with full vigor and this seemed strange, for the way had been level and fair.
He made haste to prepare shelter for the night, thinking extenuations for his preceptor, and pondering the questions to be asked in the evening’s repose. But when the darkness spread the curtains of the night, the preceptor was not yet come.
Then Imri feared that misfortune had come upon his preceptor. Instant anxiety for his welfare opened the gate of memory. Imri searched in thought over the day’s path; then sped him over their past wanderings to the time of his first meeting with the Guru. His heart warmed in the immediate memorial presence of benefaction received. From the fire of his gratitude the traitors of delusion fled in haste.
Imri rose and retraced his steps out of gratitude to the preceptor, to find him and aid him to shelter. In all this Imri had no thought other than gratitude. Though desire still lay hid in his heart, Imri did not know this, and therefore did not dream that he had strayed from the Path through wrong choosing. In dreams the path of the dream is the true path. The real is the path of waking. Nevertheless the path of waking lies through dream. How could it be other than this, if the life of men is a dream? Imri did not know that the ladder to waking from dreams lies in gratitude. He felt only gratitude, not knowing where it leads and not thinking.
Shukra, the star of evening, lighted his path. Before this star set, Imri found the preceptor. Imri thought that the Guru had hastened his steps finding him quickly. This was not true, for the preceptor had not moved. Only Imri had marched long and returned. Without moving is the journey on the path for those who have found the Path. Long is the journey of those who search for the Path. Desire had taken Imri on the day’s march. Gratitude had cut with a sword the return. Imri found the guru again through gratitude.
“I thought I had lost you, my Master. Where have you been in the day? We must hasten our steps to the shelter I have prepared for you and for me. Let me help you the rest of the way.”
“Look”, said the preceptor, smiling tenderly.
Imri felt a great lassitude, from relief at finding the preceptor, and from his long march. He looked where the guru was looking, over the path he had followed and from which he had returned. Beneath the gaze of the preceptor all things were clear in the darkness of the night, and clear in the languor of Imri.
Imri saw that the path he had followed was the myriad path of the desires hid in the heart, made golden by the light of the soul. The far summit of his dreams was the egotism of the head, desiring eminence. The multitudes for whom he had seemed as a beacon of guidance were other men following dreams like himself. Each one of the multitude saw himself as Imri had seen himself. Each aspired to the path, and each saw himself leader of men.
Then humility was in the heart of Imri, and the sorrow of all souls was his, for he saw that the path he had followed led ever downward and that most men walk that way, following their dreams, thinking their dreams the path.
“Look further”, said the Guru, speaking kindly.
Imri saw a strange thing.
Constantly, at each step that they took, there sprang up before each man of the multitude two paths, one broad and full and fair seeming, pointing straight ahead in the line of their desire; the other, mounting steep and abrupt, seemed to end, or be swallowed in darkness. Few gave even one glance at the steep path. Most entered at once the fair way, which seemed straight, but which turned to the left.
“Master, teach me the meaning of this symbol. Why do all choose the smooth road, and none try the rugged path.”
“Dreams are born of the desires which are hid in the heart. All seek to enter the path, but they follow the voice of desire which is golden and sweet and enticing, luring men on. The path is the service of soul. When men aspire to enter the path, desire dreams an easy path.”
“Why do not the Masters and Gurus restrain them, and show them the path of duty?”
“It is the Master in the heart of each, which offers at each step that men take, the steep path you have seen.”
“Can not men see the true path?”
“They see, but they do not consider because of the desires hid in the heart.”
“Why do not the Masters speak, showing the true path?”
“In their dreams, desire, clothed in the light of their souls seems to them the Master, and the voice of the Guru seems but a dream hard and unfeeling.”
“Can nothing be done to awaken these souls wrapped in the images of desire?”
“In their dreams they choose always the road that seems fair and smooth. But the myriad desires bruise their feet. Then they consider and listen.”
“Ah”, said Imri, “even as I was bruised and came to thee, my Preceptor in the beginning.”
“I was with you always”, answered the Guru, “for whatever the path taken by mankind, that path is mine.”
The Maya of Imri” was published in the associated websites on 13 September 2019. It is part of the volume “From the Book of Images”, by Dhan Gargya, The Cunningham Press, Los Angeles, California, 1947, 192 pp., see pp. 29-33. Dhan Gargya is a pseudonym used by John Garrigues.
The same story can be found, with no indication as to the name of the author, in the April 1917 edition of “Theosophy” magazine, Los Angeles. 
See the article “Life and Writings of John Garrigues”. Click to read other texts by John Garrigues.