The Dream of the Ridiculous Man - by Fyodor-Dostoyevski
For centuries many have pondered over the Bible.. looking for secret codes.. or hidden messages.
This short story is a True Revelation.. because it actually explains - precisely - what that hidden message really is..
When one reads beneath all the symbolism.. metaphors.. myths and riddles.. this is what we discover... a very simple.. self-evident revelation... Something so obvious.. that we know it's true.
“Look! This is what we have investigated. So is it. Hear it, and you know it for yourself." - Job5:27
Chapter One - The Truth
Well, they call me a madman now, but I don't mind, you see, I love them, especially when they're laughing at me. I'd like to share the joke with them, I would; I'd laugh at myself too. If only they didn't make me feel so sad. What is it that makes me sad? Well, you see, they don't know the truth, and I do.
I used to get upset about appearing ridiculous. In fact, I didn't just appear ridiculous.... I was, and I always have been. Actually, I think I've known it since the moment I was born. I went to school, then to university, but, the more I learnt...the more I realized how ridiculous I was.... and the more I studied, the more obvious it became to me. So, the entire outcome of my education amounted to proving that I was absurd.
Meanwhile life was teaching me the same thing. Year by year I became more aware of it in every possible way, but I kept it to myself, the fact that I knew. Yet, as I reached manhood, I began to face things more calmly. I think it was because it was dawning on me more clearly everyday that it didn't matter, that I didn't matter, that nothing mattered.
It was then that I stopped worrying about my fellow human-beings. In fact, I stopped noticing them altogether. I walked down the street bumping into people. It wasn't that I was lost in thought; I'd long since given up thought. There was nothing worth thinking about, and nothing that I could do that could make any difference. No, it was simply that I'd stopped caring. Do you see?
But that was before I learnt the truth..
Chapter Two - The Little Girl
It all happened in November; on the third of November to be precise, and since that day every moment of my life has been printed indelibly on my mind.
It was a terrible night, dreadful weather, pouring rain, cold, relentless.. piercing through. The sort of rain which has a distinct animosity towards people. The city where I live is a pretty depressing place at the best of times, but that night, it was the gloomiest hole on earth.
At eleven o clock the rain suddenly stopped and gave way to a horrible dampness, a freezing cold damp, piercing through. It made a sort of steam rise up from the gutters in the pavements.
I glanced up at the sky; it was pitch black. I could make out the tall wisps of clouds, and between them. fathomless, dark chasms. In the depths of one of those pits I noticed a tiny star. It sparkled, lonely, beautiful. I gazed at it for a long while. I was transfixed by it, because that tiny star had given me an idea; I would kill myself that night.
Oh, I had decided to kill myself long before that, at least two months before. In fact, despite my financial predicament, I had splashed out on a revolver. I had taken it home and loaded it immediately. So, you see, each night, for two months, I had returned to my rooms with the firm intention of shooting myself. It was just a question of finding the perfect moment; and now that tiny star had given me the clue. It had to be that night.
Now, you ask , why did that tiny star clinch the matter?
I have no idea.
There I stood staring up at the sky, when suddenly this little girl grabbed hold of my arm. She must have been about eight, and all she had on, in this cold, was a thin cotton dress, badly torn. She was soaked to the skin. But I particularly remember her broken sandals. I remember them even now; they struck me particularly. She seemed terrified by something. She clutched hold of my elbow, and she was crying out: "mama, my mama!".
Well, I turned and walked away and said nothing. She came after me, tugging at my coat, making that odd sound, that strangulated sound, the final moment of despair.
I know that sound.
She was choking on her words, but it was quiet clear that her mother lay dying somewhere nearby; or some other disaster had befallen the woman, and the girl had run into the street to find help. I didn't go; on the contrary, I tried to get rid of her. I told her to call the police. She grabbed hold of my hand; I shook it away. She ran after me. That was when I turned and stamped my foot and I screamed at her; and all she did was to cry out: "Sir! Please! - please!" Then she stopped; she left me, and she ran across the road. I think somebody must have been turning the corner and she ran from me to him.
Chapter Three - The Dream
I arrived home. I went straight to my room. I sat down at my table. I opened the drawer and I took out my revolver. I looked at it. I lifted it. I pressed the barrel against my lips. It was very cold. My breath hung in the air. Very carefully I pulled back the catch, and as I did so I remember asking myself: "Is this it?" ;and replying with the utmost certainty: " Oh yes, this it!"
And then I remembered the little girl. Well, I was in a dilemma, as you can imagine. She had created a problem. If I were going to kill myself in a few minutes, then why should I be bothered with her? Why bother with anything in the whole world? And yet I felt pity. She had touched me. She appeared to need me; as if I mattered.
Why did I scream at her.? How could such a tiny voice challenge all the conclusions that I had come to; question all my arguments?
All these things went round and round in my head; I just sat there, staring at my gun, turning these questions over and over in my mind.
That little girl saved my life, because then, something that's never happened to me before; I fell asleep in my chair.
Oh, they all laugh at me now; and say it was just a dream. A dream was it? Is that what it was, just a dream? It makes no difference dream or not to me, because to me. it revealed the truth. Oh, my dream revealed to me a different reality, a new life, glorious, and perfect.
In my dream I picked up the gun and pointed it straight at my heart. My heart, not my head, as I had intended to do. I had planned to shot myself in my right temple, but strangely, I pointed it at my heart.
I waited one moment... two... suddenly the room began to sway. Quickly I pulled the trigger and everything went out; then, total blackness all around me.
I was lying on something hard. I was flat on my back, stretched out. I was moving, being jolted. I was being carried. Everywhere people where walking, talking; and I was stuck in my coffin with the lid shut fast.
Suddenly it struck me. I was dead, quiet dead; there was no doubt about that, and they were piling soil into my grave.
Everyone had left and I was alone... totally alone.
Chapter Four - The Visitor
I don't know how long I lay there, an hour perhaps, a day, maybe several days. Suddenly, a drop of water, seeping through the lid of the coffin, dropped onto my left eye-lid. One minute later another drop, another minute, another drop, and so on, and so on. Regular drops at timed intervals.
It made me furious; indignation welled up inside me, and I screamed out to Him, the one who I assumed was responsible for my fate: "Whoever you are, and if you are, and if there is some great mind behind this then reveal your plan! But if you are punishing me because of my stupid little suicide, then let me tell you that no torture you can devise will compare with the contempt I shall feel for you; even though you may have suffered billions of years of silent martyrdom."
I made my position clear. Then again I kept quiet.
The deep silence lasted nearly a minute, and another drop fell, but, somehow, I knew that from now on everything would change; and that was when my tomb was ripped open. I was lifted out of my grave by some strange being.
Suddenly, I could see! I could see!
He swept me up onto his shoulders. I felt dazed, angry, because I didn't believe in an after-life, but here my believes were being confounded.
With great wings we flew up into the sky, into deep darkness. I've never, never, seen such darkness......
Although, of course, this journey had a purpose. It was for my benefit entirely. That's what made me so afraid, because something told me that I could not escape the pain that lay ahead of me, nor the love that carried me towards it.
Suddenly, I was overcome by such a familiar feeling, so stirring. I saw our sun. Oh, I knew it couldn't be our sun, but my whole being cried out that it was a sun exactly like ours, a twin, a duplicate. I was filled with longing, with extasy, because if this was a sun like ours, then where was the earth?
My companion pointed to a star twinkling in the darkness, lonely, beautiful. Twinkling in the deep darkness, like an emerald.
We were heading straight towards it. . .
Chapter Five - The Ascension - Heaven
I don't know how it happen exactly. I was hardly aware, but suddenly I found myself on this other earth, in the bright sunlight, on a day as lovely as paradise.
My companion had gone.
I couldn't believe it! Everything, all around me was exactly like our earth, only somehow brighter, richer, and somehow more real. The sea lapped the shore, loving it, caressing it, so it seemed. The trees, in all their glory, waved to me with thousands of shimmering leaves. The birds, beating the air with their soft wings, settled on my shoulders and hands with out fear.
And then, I came to know the people of this other earth. Slowly they emerged from the forest. They came towards me, pressed around me, and embraced me. And, oh, how beautiful were these children of the sun - their own sun, that is! I'd never ever seen such beauty in human beings on our earth. Only, perhaps, in very young children would it be possible to find a remote suggestion of that beauty.
The eyes of these happy people were radiant and their faces were intelligent, expressing the serenity of those who have supremely fulfilled themselves. But there was also simple, childlike joy in their faces and voices. When I looked into their eyes I understood everything! This earth hadn't been desecrated by the Fall of Man; its inhabitants still lived in an earthly paradise. Only here paradise extended over the entire earth.
These people laughed happily, thronged round me, and lavished kindness upon me. They took me to their homes. Each one of them was anxious to make me happy. They didn't ask any questions, appearing to know everything already. They were in a hurry to remove the signs of suffering from my features.
I couldn't see how they could know so much, when there was no indication that they had any knowledge of the achievements of our modern science. I soon realised that their knowledge fed upon much different revelations than ours; and that their aspirations were quite different. They didn't want anything and were absolutely serene; they didn't strive to find the meaning of life, because their own lives were full of meaning. They enjoyed life, and their knowledge was far more profound and deeper than our science. It was mysterious, and I knew I would never be able to enter the depths of that wisdom.
For example, they pointed at their trees, and I couldn't comprehend the intensity of the love with which they saw them; it was as if they were communicating with beings like themselves. In fact, I don't think I'd be wrong in saying that they talked to them! Yes - they'd found the language of the plants, and I'm sure they could understand them. These people were like that with all nature. The animals lived in peace with them, loved them; they were subdued, as it were, by love. All of nature was in harmony with them. There was no need to attack anyone... Oh, how could the people from our earth ever understand this?
The people pointed out stars to me and spoke to me about them. I couldn't understand what they said, but I'm certain that they had some sort of communication with the stars, a live, direct knowledge of them rather than a rational, scientific understanding.
Those people never tried to make me understand them. They loved me anyway. And I knew they'd never understand me; that's why I hardly ever mentioned our earth to them.
They were as playful and gay as children. They strolled through their beautiful woods and meadows singing their sweet songs, gathering honey and the fragrant fruit of their forests, and sipping the milk of the friendly, loving animals. Obtaining food and clothing required little effort.
They knew love and begot children, but I never detected among them those outbursts of cruel sensuality that are so common on our earth, and which is almost the sole source of our sins.
They rejoiced in their new-born children as new sharers of their bliss. They never had any quarrels and were never jealous of one another; they didn't even understand what jealousy meant. Their children were the children of all, for they were all one family.
Illness was almost completely unknown among them, although death existed, but their old people died peacefully, as though falling asleep, surrounded by people taking leave of them, blessing those staying behind. Smiling at them and receiving their bright smiles in return. I never witnessed any sorrow or tears on these occasions, only love that reached the point of rapture, a sort of calm, contemplative rapture of fulfillment.
One might have thought they maintained contact with their people after death, that the earthly link wasn't severed by it. They seemed puzzled when I asked them about eternal life, for apparently it was beyond all possible doubt to them.
They didn't have any temples; instead they had a sort of tangible, live, and constant communication with the Universal Whole.
They had no faith, but had instead a firm knowledge that when their earthly happiness was filled to the limit, there would come for the living and the dead a day of even closer communion with the Universal Whole. They waited for that day with joy, but without impatience, without longing, as though they had a foreknowledge of it that they shared with one another, in their hearts.
In the evenings, before retiring, they formed magnificent, harmonious choirs, and in their songs they conveyed all the impressions that the departing day had given them, praising it and bidding it farewell. They praised nature, earth, sea, and forests.
They composed songs about one another and in them showered childlike praise upon their friends. Their songs were very simple, but they came straight from the heart and penetrated other hearts. And it wasn't only their songs - they really spent their whole lives admiring one another, as though they were in love with one another.
Some of their rapturous and solemn songs were completely beyond my understanding. Even when I understood the words, I couldn't grasp their entire meaning. It was beyond my brainpower. But my heart seemed to soak it in.
Yes, as they gazed at me with their eyes so full of love, I felt I was becoming as pure and as truthful as they were, and that it didn't matter whether I understood them or not. A feeling of the fullness of life seized me by the throat, and I adored them in silence.
Chapter Six - The Fall of Mankind - Hell
And now, I'm going to tell you about that truth which, up to now, I've refused to reveal.
The truth is that... I ended up by corrupting them all!
Yes, in the end, I corrupted the lot of them!
How I managed to do it, I can't say; I don't remember too clearly. My dream flashed through aeons, leaving in me only a general impression of the whole.
All I know is that I caused their fall from grace. Like a sinister trichina, like a plague germ contaminating whole kingdoms, I contaminated with my person that entire happy, sinless planet.
I spread contamination into that world. They came to understand shame, and made a virtue of it. The people learned from me how to lie. They came to love lying, to appreciate the beauty of lies. Then came jealousy, and jealousy begot cruelty.
They began talking in different languages. As the bacteria spread they began talking of honour, fraternity, independence, and what's mine and what's yours, and the more depraved they became, the more they applauded these ideas.
Slavery made its first appearance, even the voluntary slavery in which the weak submitted to the strong of their own free will; if only in order to gain their support to oppress those who were even weaker than themselves.
Very soon, blood was shed for the very first time. The people were shocked, frightened; they began to separate. They formed alliances, movements, unions, parties.
Recriminations and accusations began. They became all violently opposed towards one another...
And, as they became criminals, they invented the idea of justice. They began drawing up huge codes of law; and to maintain their law they erected scaffolds; and the notion that they had once been so happy made them laugh; and they called it a dream.
Religions began to emerge, worshipping the nonbeing, and self annihilation, for the sake of eternal repose in nothingness.
Saints came to those people and preached to them about their pride, their loss of a sense of proportion. The saints were laughed at and stoned. Their blood splattered the doors of the temples.
Bitterly disillusioned, the people threw themselves into sensuality at any cost, resorting to violence to satisfy their appetites.
A strange thing was, that while they no longer believed in their lost bliss, dismissing it as a dream, and yet they longed so much to become happy and innocent once more. Like small children, they begun to worship their desires.
Countless temples were built, in which they defiled their own desires; and proceeded to worship them, and prayed to this idea. Even though that were so sure their wishes could never come true, they worshiped them with tears in their eyes.
And then, great leaders appeared - claiming to know how to bring everyone together again. How to build a world based on unity and freedom.
Freedom for everyone to love himself far more than everybody else!
Great wars were fought for this idea.
And so it went on, systems, creeds, speeches, declarations, on and on, books, orators and governments, on and on the illusion of peace went, intellect, reason, self preservation. Everything that would force mankind to unite; everyone would serve the great idea.
Meanwhile the wise exterminated the unwise, in case they should get in the way of the idea's final and absolute triumph.
At last, finally, they were worn out with their meaningless existence. Suffering lined their faces. They proclaimed suffering to be beautiful, so they praised suffering in their songs.
I wandered among them, crying, pleading, I held up my arms to them in despair, accusing, hating myself. I had done it I said. I was responsible. I had infected them with contamination, corruption, vice, and lies.
I begged them to crucify me. I taught them how to make a cross. I longed to be martyred at their hands. I wanted my blood to be drained, every drop. Oh! for the torments that they were suffering!
But they just laughed at me and called me a madman and a fool. Finally they warned me that I was becoming dangerous and that they would lock me up in a madhouse if I didn't shut up.
And that's when I came to my senses. . .
Chapter Seven - The New Dawn - Faith
It was already morning, but before dawn, about 5 o clock, I woke up in my chair. There was deep silence all around me. I saw my revolver lying in front of me, loaded, ready. I pushed it away: "No!", I exclaimed. Give me life!
I was elated! I was on fire with hope; and I wanted to live! To shout. yes, to shout out. To tell everybody.
You know what? Do you want to know what? To tell them the truth, for I have seen it with my own eyes; and the living image has taken over me forever.
Oh, granted, I don't know how to build paradise on earth. I've no idea; but that doesn't matter. Instead I'll go on. I'll go ahead. I'll speak out; for I have seen the truth; and I know that mankind could be happy and beautiful. I refuse to believe that wickedness is our natural state, since I've seen the truth with my own eyes...
Oh, but how the mockers fail to appreciate that! They're so proud of themselves! Just a dream they say. They dismiss it all as a dream.
But what is a dream? Isn't our own life just a dream?
Well, I'll go on. I'll go further.
Alright, what if paradise is never achieved? What if it never happens? What then?
Then I'll still go ahead. I'll admit what I did; and what I must do.
Accept responsibility for my actions, conceal nothing; and then, it could be done so easily, in a single day, in a single hour, it could be done.
Surely we could love each other as we love ourselves...
That's the main thing, isn't it?
That's it, nothing else...
Absolutely nothing else is necessary...
Do that and the way forward is clear, isn't it?
Well.... isn't it?
Alright, so its nothing but an old truth, repeated, said billions of times; but why hasn't it taken root then?
If only we all wanted it!
Then everything could begin again.
Oh yes, and when I find the little girl, and I shall find her.
Then I can begin.
"The Kingdom of Heaven is spread upon the surface of the Earth.. but men do not see it." - Gospel of Thomas