The first test would be to see whether Alexandra would be there, at all; the second would be whether she would launch a stream of invective at me, slapping down her written ‘resignation’ and thumping it for final punctuation in very British style.

My first latte was half cold by the time I drank it. No show … I felt sad.

I collected my things, lowering my head to pick up the battered leather folder I sometimes carried to these meetings. As my leg straightened to push me back to a standing position, the hand landed on my shoulder, spinning me around and back into the old wooden chair, which somehow managed to stay vertical, though not unmoved.

“I …”

“No!”, the familiar voice said. But with an interesting overtone.

“I …” I said, attempting once again to explain how glad I was to see her.

The hand that had assaulted me, flashed towards me, again, but this time with a gentler manoeuvre: she pulled up my chin with her long fingers and placed a finger over my lips, symbolically sealing them.

“Not one word,” she said. “Not till I’ve had my say.”

She sat down. In what could only have been a pre-arranged move, Rose came over with two coffees. She looked down at the delight in my eyes and returned it with a withering look that spoke of an indulgence not earned.

Alexandra took out a sealed letter from her back handbag and slapped it down in front of me.

“Open it!”

Pleased at the determination of her response, I sliced open the pristine white legal envelope with my thumb nail and spread out the single sheet of paper next to my coffee.

She had taken my image, scanned it in, and added some things. It was a clever response – exactly what I had been looking for; but, beyond that, it was a response from the heart.

“You weren’t trying to get rid of me – it was a test; a kind of first level graduation?”

Playing by her rules, for now, I remained mute and nodded.

“One circle, but an inside and an outside, “she said, “For all my cleverness, I was on the outside?”

Again, I nodded.

“Good,” she finally breathed out and sipped some of her coffee. “So, to be on the inside is not a matter of ‘joining’ some secret body; it’s a state of mind and … heart.”

This time I didn’t need to nod; the smile said it all.

I broke my silence. “Gurdjieff called it the circle of conscious humanity; it’s not that we need to ‘join’ anything, just to wake up to our true state and realise that the world is not what it had seemed.”

“And exploring that state is the next step – my next step if I get it right?”

“Yes,” I said happily. “And you have got it right … The next stage is different, but it builds on what you’ve already done.”

“Will we still use the enneagram?” Alexandra asked.

“The enneagram is really like a compass,” I said, taking my own coffee and letting the words find themselves, or as my best friends would say, getting the hell out of the way . . . “It comes into and drops out of our quest, but it’s never far away. It’s only a symbol; a glyph, don’t forget that. The real journey is fluid and formless and takes place, as you have seen, within.” I paused to let that sink in, then continued. “The real value of the enneagram is that its structure allows the incorporation of some major insights into the psyche – insights that were not easily expressible in the past; though there were those great minds who could …”

She was silent for several minutes. Then, ‘So what happens next?”

“Next, we use something different as a basis for exploration of the human spiritual journey, but we look for clues in the language of what we have already learned.”

She looked wistfully at her coffee. It feels like we’ve come a long way … It would all have been Greek to me a year ago!’

Greek to me,” I said. “That’s interesting …. done much Greek?”

“Language?” she shook her head. “Nothing beyond the basic tourist stuff, but I always loved the myths …”

“Which ones did you like best?”

“The Labours of Hercules. They were the most mysterious … and the most odd.”

“Would you like to revisit them and see if they contain anything of spiritual value?”

“Love too …”

“Time for us both to do some homework, then.” I added, looking at my watch. “And for you to be on your way to London.”

I watched her go, glad we were still working together and smiling at her choice of subject matter. It was going to be an interesting time … in the back of my mind the figure of Apollo was smiling.


Nine Deadly Sins with Coffee is usually published on Thursdays.

All images and text ©International copyright, The Silent Eye School of Consciousness, 2015.

Steve Tanham is a founding director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness; a place of companionship, sharing and the search for the real in life, using the loving techniques and insights of esoteric psychology. He retired from a life as an IT entrepreneur to establish the School in 2012, and, having persuaded Sue Vincent to . . .

Read more (500 words)

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