THE ONE WORK

 

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The One Work: A Journey Towards The Self
By Anne Gage (now Anne Baring)

Vincent Stuart, London 1961

"In the autumn the wind blows leaf after leaf to the
ground, until at last a tree stands naked, stark,
waiting for the new life of spring."

 

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The One Work:
- A Journey Towards The Self

The One Work, published in 1961 by Vincent Stuart Ltd., London (now out of print but available in unbound form from the author) is the story of a personal quest to discover the underlying meaning of Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity and their essentially identical message: the reunion of the conscious human self with the divine ground of being. I explore this theme in the course of two journeys to India and the Far East which brought me in contact with the rich spiritual heritage of the eastern traditions and their embodiment in the magnificent sculptures and paintings that reflect them.

Borobodur - Java

I visited the great shrines of India - Arunachala and Ajanta and, further East - the temples of Angkor, Borobodur, Burma and Bali as well as those of Japan. These journeys later opened my eyes to the deeper meaning and message of the Christian myth and the essential teaching of the inner mystical path shared by all religious traditions.

The book begins...

In the autumn the wind blows leaf after leaf to the
ground, until at last a tree stands naked, stark,
waiting for the new life of spring.
----- Perhaps it is the same with all processes.
----- Is there One in me who, like the tree, discards experience after experience, search after search, life after life until at last we meet face to face? Do I work or does it work or do we both work for the same end - that meeting?
----- Nothing can be discarded until its purpose is fulfilled. No tree can put forth green leaves until the dead ones are gone. Can I experience the Resurrection before I have discarded the dead leaves, the outworn garments, the old wineskin of self?
----- If I have come from unity into the illusion of separateness, is there no way back into unity through discarding of self and finding of Self? In the end, for the thrifty-minded, nothing is lost because both are one, the lower, the outer emanating from and returning to the higher, the inner.
----- While I do not know this, I impede the Return. I am fallen, exiled, asleep. I lie as dead upon the streets of Egypt.
----- 'Rise and awake,' You say, 'and perform the Twelve Labours of Hercules.'
----- 'Rise and awake, that the waters of the sea may allow you to come into the Promised Land.'
----- And I say, 'Where is the guarantee that this is truth? I cannot risk myself in such a venture. Why cast me into anguish and misery when I am content as I am? How do I know I can trust You?'
----- Can I trust the sun and the moon? In the day there is no moonlight but I know the moon is there and at night there is no sun but I know we will meet at dawn.
----- A poet has written:

Chaque âme a sa mission sur terre
Celle qui me revient est de me souvenir
Et c'est pourquoi je pars en guerre
à grand bruit et fracas - contre l'oubli.
-----From the Provençal of Philadelphia de Gerde

-----Who will explain to me the meaning of this poem? What is my soul's mission? When will I remember it? Why must I go to war and how do I overcome forgetfulness?
----- Years ago I read these words and only now I understand them. Who shall not understand them if he is obsessed with the question of who and what and why he is? Everyman stands somewhere along the path of self-discovery, whether he is Christian, Muslim, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist, Communist or simply man. Each has perpetually to choose and on the nature of his choice depends his progress towards or away from Himself.
----- It is as simple as that. I am alone in the desert and have to find my way by the stars and learn to protect myself against the heat of the day and the cold of the night.
----- I live in an age of extraordinary revelation and extraordinary violence. If I lie asleep. I am its victim. If I awake, I may learn how to restore the stolen fire to heaven. if I am to use fire, I must know what fire is and who I am, so that fire does not use me.
----- If this is the time of the world's choice and the Lords of Flame wait, praying that we may rise one note in the scale of being, could I forget my promise to seek Them? Ancient I am, but still too young to remember more than fragments of my Divine Origin and these, scattered by the winds of other men's doubt, are memories only; yet enough for me to apprehend the Presence of One Who calls to me across the bridge of my becoming...



Reviews of The One Work

-----The fundamental teaching of Buddhism could hardly be more clearly and concisely ----------expressed.

F.C.Happold, 'Mysticism; A Study and an Anthology'-----

-----The One Work - An intense mystical experience seems to most people incomplete without some form of record. Even Pascal felt obliged to sew a cryptic message into his garments. Miss Gage has read so deeply in the literature of mysticism as to have reproduced, throughout these pages, a testimony much like a poem in the gnostic tradition.                                                                                                     British Book News 1962

-----
        
I have just finished reading this remarkable book. I know nothing of the author, but she has left me in no fit state to write anything which I shall be likely to approve in the cold light of tomorrow morning. At the moment, I cannot even make a guess as to the impression this - work - I can call it no less - is likely to make on a sober and sophisticated person unmoved by anything this side of the theorems of Stokes and of Green.
----- It is an expensive and time-consuming occupation to scour India in quest of - perhaps the Self, perhaps Higher Beings, or perhaps just India with its ancient monuments. The book is very moving. One has the impression of a deeply religious nature that has now found within itself something that renders further search unnecessary.
----- I do not trust myself to say more than this: there must be many who, like myself, feel very alien to Indian religious thought - at least as it is usually put over - perhaps one should say to Indian gnosticism, and especially to Indian words and expressions, since one does not know the language or the country: it is to the attention of such that I would bring this book with its poetry, its beautiful photographs, beautiful writing, and a youthful enthusiasm and intelligence that help one to take it all in one's stride.

Cosmos: Institute for the Study of Mental Images 1961

----- Deriving its title from the remark of a Buddhist monk to the author that "There is only one work - to find the Self", this book presents a refreshing record of the spiritual quest of a young woman from the West.
----- Anne Gage has stirrings of the soul from her very infancy. She turned East as the West could hold no candle for her search. Her first encounter was with the Buddhist monks in Bangkok who admitted her into their Meditation exercises which she describes with enthusiasm. The insight she gained there into the practical dynamics of spiritual life was deepened during her visit to India where she found 'a climate of revelation'. Arunachala beckoned to her with the 'feeling of ancientness - as if the place were as old as the earth itself'. The talented author then describes her visits to other notable centres in India, Cambodia, Java, Bali and notes their impact on her sensitive mind and soul. Her reactions to the art, music, dance, temple architecture, her study of the mores of the people of these ancient lands, as set down in these pages will be an eye-opener to many to the profundities that underlie the diverse manifestations of the Life-Spirit in the East.
----- It is most gratifying to follow the author in her interpretation and reconciliation of the teachings of the major religions of the world, notably, Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity. Each gives her the clue to the meaning of the other. She sums up the fundamentals of Indian Yoga philosophy with clarity and brilliance in a few pages in Part Five. A genuine work, a lamp that will light many others.     
M. P. Pandit

-----
        
If a book could be said to have been written to measure for the majority of "Voice" readers, it would be this delightful work by Miss Anne Gage, who takes her readers over the greater part of the world with her in her physical and spiritual journeys in search of her- and our - true selfhood. Her prose is that of a poet and her descriptions of the countries to which she travels are so vivid that the reader feels himself to be actually living among the people whose religion she describes. The reading of such a book is at once a geographical and spiritual adventure and does much to confirm the faith of those who believe in the unity of all things and the universality of Truth.                                                                                                    Voice 1961
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