CHAPTER XXXVI

THE PILGRIM DESIRES TO FLEE FROM THE WORLD

THE PILGRIM FLEES THE WORLD. Being unable to look upon it any longer or to bear the pain in my heart, I fled, desiring to seek refuge in some desert, or rather, if it were possible, to escape from the world altogether. But my guides set out after me and catching up with me, demanded to know where I was fleeing. Wishing to repulse them by silence, I answered not a word. But when they obstinately importuned me, determined not to let me go, I exclaimed: "I already clearly perceive that it is useless to expect better things in the world. My hope is dead. Woe is me!" "Are you never to recover your sense, even after witnessing such examples as you have seen?" they retorted. "I choose rather to die a thousand times, " I answered, "than to remain here where such things occur and to look upon wrong, fraud, lie, guile, cruelty. Therefore, I prefer death to life; I go to see the lot of the dead whom I observe being borne out."

2 MR. DELUSION DISAPPEARED. Mr. Ubiquitous at once consented, saying that it was well to see and understand even that, but my other companion did not advise it, in fact, opposed it. I paid no attention to him and tearing myself away, went on. He remained behind and left me."

3 THE PILGRIM SEES THE DYING AND THE DECEASED. Thereupon, looking around, I observed the manner of the dying, of whom there were plenty about me. I saw a sorry spectacle, for every one gave up his spirit and terror, lamentations, fear and trembling, not knowing what would become of him afterwards nor where he would find himself after leaving the world. I likewise feared it, but nevertheless desiring to understand it a littlebetter, I walked between the rows of biers until I reached the end of the world and of light; there the friends of the deceased closed their eyes and blindly hurled their dead into the abyss. Casting off the glasses of delusion and rubbing my eyes, I leaned out as far as I could. There I saw nothing but frightful darkness and gloom of which neither the bottom nor the end could be fathomed by the human mind, and in which nothing but worms, frogs, serpents, scorpions, pus and stench were found; besides, a smell of brimstone and pitch, overpowering the body and the soul, issued thence, in a word, horror unspeakable!

4 THE PILGRIM FAINTED, TERRIFIED. All my innermost parts were paralysed, and trembling all over and terror-stricken, I fell fainting to the ground. "Oh, thrice miserable, wretched, unhappy men!" I cried out in anguish, "is this your ultimate glory? Is this the conclusion of so many of your splendid deeds? Is this the goal of your learning and the manifold wisdom with which you are so puffed up? Is this the desired peace and rest after your innumerable labors and struggles? Is this the immortality which you forever promise yourselves? Oh, that I had never been born! That I had never passed through the gate of life, if ather all the futilities of the world I am to become a prey to this darkness and horror! Oh, God, God, my God! If Thou exist, O God, have pity upon me, a wretched man!"

Chapter 37 ||| Labyrinth index page



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