The Wandering Eye
By Bryan Kinnavan (William Quan Judge)
This is not a tale in which I fable a mythical and impossible
monster such as the Head of Rahu, which the common people of India
swallows the moon at every eclipse. Rahu is but a tale that for the
embodies the fact that the shadow of the earth eats up the white disk,
but I tell you of a veritable human eye; a wanderer, a seeker, a
an eye that searched you out and held you, like the bird fascinated by
the serpent, while it sought within your nature for what it never
eye as this is sometimes spoken of now by various people, but they see it on the psychic plane, in the astral light, and it is not to be seen or felt in the light of day moving about like other objects.
This wandering eye I write of was always on the strange but sacred Island where so many things took place long ages ago. Ah! yes, it is still the sacred Island, now obscured and its power overthrown--some think forever. But its real power will be spiritual and though the minds of men today know not the spirit, caring only for temporal glory, the old virtue of the Island will once again return. What weird and ghostly shapes still flit around her shores; what strange. Low, level whisperings sweep across her mountains; how at the evening's edge just parted from the day, her fairies suddenly remembering their human rulers-- now sunk to men who partly fear them--gather for a moment about the spots where mystery is buried, and then sighing speed away. It was here the wandering eye was first seen..
By day if had simply a gray color, piercing, steady, and always bent on finding out some certain thing, from which it could not be diverted; at night it glowed with a light of its own, and could be seen moving over the Island, now quickly, now slowly, as it settled to look for that which it did not find.
The people had a fear of this eye, although they were then accustomed to all sorts of magical occurrences now unknown to most Western men. At first those who felt themselves annoyed by it used to destroy or catch it, but never succeeded, because the moment they made the attempt the eye would disappear. It never manifested resentment, but seemed filled with a definite purpose and bent towards a well-settled end. Even those who had essayed to do away with it were surprised to find no threatening in its depths when, in the darkness of the night, it floated up by their bedsides and looked them over again.
If any one else save myself know of the occasion when this marvelous wanderer first started. To whom it had belonged, I never heard. I was bound to secrecy and could not reveal it.
In the same old temple and tower to which I have previously referred, [ A CURIOUS TALE, and THE SERPENT'S BLOOD ( two tales by Bryan Kinnavan -- Judge ] there was an old man who had always been on terms of great intimacy with me. He was a disputer and a doubter, yet terribly in earnest and anxious to know the truths of nature, but he continually raised the question: "If I could only know the truth; that is all I wish to know."
Then whenever I suggested solutions received from my teachers, he would wander away to his eternal doubts. The story was whispered about the temple that he had entered life in that state of mind, and was known to the superior as one who, in a preceding life, had raised doubts and impossibilities merely for the sake of hearing solutions without desire to prove anything, and had vowed, after many years of profitless discussion, to seek for truth alone.
But the Karma accumulated by the lifelong habit had not been exhausted, and in the incarnation when I met him, although sincere and earnest, he was hampered by the pernicious habit of the previous life. Hence the solutions he sought were always near but ever missed.
But towards the close of the life of which I am speaking he obtained a certainty that by peculiar practices he could concentrate in his eye not only the sight but also the other forces, and willfully set about the task against my strong protest.
Gradually his eyes assumed a most extraordinary and piercing expression which was heightened whenever he indulged in discussion. He was hugging the one certainty to his breast, and still suffering from the old Karma of doubt. So he fell sick, and being old came near to death. One night I visited him at his request, and on reaching his side I found him approaching dissolution. We were alone. He spoke freely but very sadly, for, as death drew near, he saw more clearly, and as the hours fled but his eyes grew more extraordinarily piercing than ever, with a pleading, questioning expression.
"Ah," he said, "I have erred again; but it is just Karma. I have succeeded in but one thing, and that ever will delay me."
"What is that?" I asked.
The expression of his eyes seemed to embrace futurity as he told me that his peculiar practice would compel him for a long period to remain chained to his strongest eye--the right one--until the force of the energy expended in learning that one feat was fully exhausted. I saw death slowly creeping over his features, and when I thought him dead he suddenly gained strength to make me promise not to reveal the secret--and expired.
As he passed away, it was growing dark. After his body had become cold, there in the darkness I saw a human eye glowing and gazing at me. It was his, for I recognized the expression. All his peculiarities and modes of thought seemed fastened into it, sweeping out over you from it. Then it turned from me, soon disappearing. His body was buried; none save myself and our superiors knew of these things. But for many years afterwards the wandering eye was seen in every part of the Island, ever seeking, ever asking, and never waiting for the answer.
(Wm. Q. Judge)
PATH, May 1889
Reprinted from a group of such stories published originally by M. Wm. Q. Judge in his magazine THE PATH. They were reprinted in the ULT edition of LETTERS THAT HAVE HELPED ME [ pp. 207 -- 248 ] in 1946 (50 years after Mr. Judge's death in 1896).