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of the Masters:
by Robert B. McNeal
When our department was downsized, the layoffs were a lot rougher on Ferguson than on me. He had a wife, a newborn baby and a major mortgage. Nobody ever worked harder at trying to find a new job, but things just kept getting worse and worse for him. After they had to sell the house, I wasnt surprised when Helen left him. That was nearly a year ago. The last I heard was that Ferguson got a job on a merchant ship bound for South America. Thats why I was so surprised to hear his voice on the phone.
Bob, Im back in town and Id love to get together.
Ferguson? Is that really you?
Yes, old man. And if youre thinking Im like Lazarus resurrected from the grave, youd not be far from the truth.
Ferguson confessed that, when he sailed off to Brazil, he honestly didnt care whether he would live or die. He just knew he had to go away, and the job as a cook on the merchant ship just seemed to jump out at him. As it turned out, that whim was the first step toward his transformation.
Ive never known anyone to change so dramatically in such a short time. Even before the layoffs, Ferguson was a bit of a wimp. He did his job as well as anyone, but he was never what youd call dynamic or even particularly outgoing. But the man who now spoke to me on the telephone seemed more like the C.E.O. of a Fortune 500 corporation than a laid-off lower-middle-manager.
When he asked how things were going for me, I didnt pull any punches. Well, I said, Im not quite as bad off as you were, but Id be a liar if I said I was okay.
My friend, he assured me, you have nothing more to fear. Can I take you out for dinner tonight? I promise to tell you the most amazing, magical story youve ever heard.
He said hed pick he up at 7:30. For the next several hours I thought of little else but what had happened to my friend. What had caused him to change from being a near-suicidal loser to a dynamo of energy who would even make Tony Robbins envious? And what was the story he was going to tell me? Did I dare to hope that he might have tapped into some money-making scheme that he wanted to share with me? Maybe new software for day-trading on the stock market? Could it be a business opportunity he wanted me to invest in? I hoped it wasnt some phony MLM scam. But no, it had to be something more substantial.
When the phone rang at 7:20, I had a premonition that something was wrong. Ferguson couldnt have been more apologetic. He said he was terribly sorry to have to disappoint me, but something totally unexpected had come up that he had to deal with immediately. We postponed our meeting until lunch the next day.
That evening had to be one of the longest, most painful nights of my life. I sat dumbly, staring at the television, pressing the remotes channel button through endless inane sit-coms, formulaic nature documentaries, mindless sporting events, hyper-dramatic game shows and absurd commercials. It seemed like a minor victory when I finally pushed the power button off and the screen went black.
Somehow I managed to sleep for a few hours, but Fergusons cryptic conversation was on my mind long before I rolled out of bed the next morning.
It was almost anticlimactic when his car pulled to a stop in front of my door that noon, until I recognized the hood ornament of one of Europes more expensive automobiles. Yes, that really was Ferguson getting out and ringing my bell.
He seemed genuinely glad to see me, despite my awkwardness and disbelief. How could a nerd in a white polyester short-sleeved shirt with a plastic pocket protector have metamorphosized into this suave gentleman in a hand-tailored Italian designer jacket?
I can barely remember what restaurant he took me to, let alone what kind of food I consumed, but I shall never forget the spellbinding story my friend told me.
Ferguson didnt have much money when his merchant ship docked in Sao Paolo, but for some reason he decided to splurge and have dinner at a night club that featured live blues performers. Hed had several beers by the time the spotlight on stage focused on a black man wailing Trouble in Mind.
Im gonna lay my
Down on some lonesome
Gonna let the 2:19
along and pacify my troubled mind.
Amen, brother, Ferguson muttered, not realizing someone at the next table had overheard.
Until, that is, the soft voice of a woman said to him, Are you really so troubled?
Ferguson looked up into the most remarkable green eyes hed ever seen. Her age was indeterminable--somewhere between 30 and 50, but that didnt matter. He was mesmerized. He probably would have done anything she asked him to do. So when she asked him why he was so troubled, he struggled to answer honestly.
I wish I knew, he said, but maybe if I knew the answer Id be clever enough to figure a way out. He laughed weakly.
She touched his wrist lightly with one finger. He noticed her nails were manicured but short, with clear polish. Practical. Have you ever heard of ancient mystery schools? she asked.
Vaguely, he said. Werent they the inspiration for societies like the Rosicrucians and the Masons?
She nodded. And where do you reckon this knowledge came from?
Well, the ancient Egyptians knew a lot about, you know, pyramid power. And their high priests... or maybe Im just thinking about old mummy movies.
Have you ever heard of the Book of the Dead?
Yes, the Egyptian Book of the Dead. I remember it from university. And theres also a Tibetan Book of the Dead too, isnt there?
Very good, she encouraged him. Now, what else do you know about Tibet and ancient mystery schools?
I saw a TV documentary once that was talking about ancient legends. I think theres a myth that when Jesus was growing up, he lived for a while in a monastery in Tibet -- the Himalayas anyway -- and thats where he learned so much about...
Do you believe that Western society can benefit from learning ancient teachings from places like Tibet?
Yes, Ferguson said. Yes I do.
That was when the woman introduced herself. She told him her name, but she asked him to call her Sister. She said she belonged to a group called the Great White Brotherhood, which was not exactly a very descriptive name, as it included both women and men of all the worlds different races. The group was going to be meeting in Peru. Much to Fergusons amazement, she asked him if he would like to go with her.
To Peru? he asked.
Theres a plane from Sao Paolo to Lima tomorrow morning at 10. She signaled for the waiter to bring the bill. She signed her name across the bottom, handed it back to him, and then whispered something to him in Portuguese. In a few minutes the waiter returned and handed her a stack of cash. She gave 25 reals to the waiter and handed the rest of the money to Ferguson. This is 225 reals, she said--almost $100. That should cover your cab fare to the airport tomorrow. Do you want to go?
To Lima with you? Yes, Ferguson said.
She handed him what looked like a business card. If Im not there, show this at the airport ticket counter tomorrow morning.
And then, without another word, she was up and out the door. Ferguson looked at the card. Engraved in a simple script was her name along with a few words in Spanish or Portuguese. Ferguson couldnt tell which. Either way, he didnt understand what it said.
Ferguson felt as if he were waking up from a strange dream. Gradually he became aware once again of his surroundings; the night club and the musician, still playing and singing the blues on the small stage. Only it wasnt a dream. He had nearly $100 in Brazilian reals in his pocket!
Sister was right about the flight to Lima. When Ferguson got to the airport counter the next morning, he saw it was scheduled to depart at 10:00. He placed his passport on the counter. Id like a ticket for Lima, he said.
Sorry, señor. All seats are booked. Would you like to be on the list for standby?
He took Sisters card from his pocket and handed it to the clerk.
She paused. One moment, please. She typed a few keystrokes on her computer. Actually, sir, we do have a seat in Business Class if that will suit you.
Yes, Ferguson smiled. Business Class will suit me just fine.
He didnt notice Sister on the plane. Ferguson thought she might be in First Class, in another section of the plane he couldnt see. Nevertheless, he reveled in the luxurious service. A glass of champagne when he sat down. A hot washcloth to clean his hands. An incredibly spacious seat with plenty of leg-room. Hot hors doeuvres and a choice of gourmet brunches with vintage French wines. When the pastry cart arrived with dessert, he was too full to take any.
At the Lima airport, when Ferguson collected his duffel bag and passed through Peruvian customs, he saw a uniformed chauffer holding a sheet of paper with his name on it.
Yes, thats me.
Come with me, por favor. Sister has arranged for your hotel. She regrets she will not see you until later. May I take your luggage?
The chauffer led Ferguson to a shiny new Town Car and opened the door for him to stretch out in the back seat. He rode in air-conditioned comfort through the smog-choked streets of Lima to the suburb of Miraflores. It was a five-star hotel, where a small suite was ready for him, complete with a basket of fresh fruit on the coffee table. Next to it was an envelope with his name on it. He opened it and read:
matters require my immediate attention.
Should you wish to
continue our discussion of metaphysical matters, please meet me in two
days at the Hotel Pachamama in Urubamba, Peru.
Otherwise, feel free
to manifest your own destiny.
Either way, youll
find the contents of your room safe to be useful.
The combination is
your birthday, represented with five digits.
Peace be with you,
Ferguson found the room safe in a cedar-lined closet alongside the mini-bar. His birthday was August 25, 1965. He punched in 82565 on the keypad, and the metal door unlatched. How could she have known? he wondered.
Inside the safe was a brown envelope. He tore it open and found fifty $100 bills.
The hotel concierge helped Ferguson arrange a flight from Lima to Cuzco, a train ticket from Cuzco to Urubamba and a room for the following night at the Hotel Pachamama.
His flight didnt leave until 9:00 the next morning, so he bought a local guide book and toured the sights of Lima.
At the Gold Museum on Avenida Alonso de Molina he saw fabulous treasures from Perus Inca past. A dazzling array of statues, ceremonial knives, earrings, breast-plates, crowns and necklaces--all skillfully crafted from pure gold.
This vast treasure was somehow left behind by the Spanish Conquistadors when they plundered Peru in the 1500s, sending shiploads of gold back to their European masters.
Cuzco, Ferguson read in the guide book, was the ancient Inca capitol of Peru. Urubamba, about 50 km northwest, was known as the Sacred Valley.
The Pachamama Hotel in Urubamba was nowhere near as deluxe as the one in Miraflores had been, but nevertheless it was comparable to a mid-range hotel in any major city in the U.S.A. Frankly, it was far more posh than Ferguson had been accustomed to before he met Sister and began sharing her excessive generosity. Whatever kind of business she was involved in, he thought, she must be exceptionally wealthy. He hoped she wasnt mixed up in anything illegal, but that seemed unlikely. She seemed to operate utterly in the open, with absolutely no kind of the furtiveness youd expect from a criminal. More likely she was high up in the government. But, of course, that didnt jibe with her preoccupation with ancient mystery schools and the Great White Brotherhood.
After Ferguson checked in, he went out for a short walk around the town. When he returned to the hotel, the desk clerk waved to him, You have a message, señor.
He read the note: Sister will pick you up at 11:00 this morning. Bring all your belongings.
A few minutes after Ferguson brought his bag down to the lobby, a white mini-van pulled up to the front door. Sister was sitting in the right front seat. The native driver got out, picked up Fergusons duffel, and slid open the back door for him to get in.
Sister shook his hand. Im glad you decided to stay, she said. Buckle in. Its a half hour ride to the farm were going to.
As they drove through the countryside, Sister explained that they were going to a place called Hope Farm. It belonged to the Great White Brotherhood, of which she was a member.
The farm was small, with a few horses, goats, chickens and llamas, along with about five acres of vegetables. Part of its main function was a home for orphan children and homeless elderly people.
Cities can be very cruel places, she said. Especially for the very young and the very old. But every living being is blessed with divine spirit.
You may think I have special powers, but you, and Pepe, she patted the drivers shoulder, and all the people you will meet at the farm-- we all have the same potential for unlimited success.
We take a few of the ones the city has discarded and give meaning to their lives. At the moment we have three seniors--two women and one man--and nine children ranging in age from five to fourteen.
Do you have any experience working on a farm? Sister asked.
No, sorry. Ferguson said. Im a city boy. Computers are my specialty. But I have worked in restaurants, so Id be happy to help out in the kitchen if they could use an extra hand.
Thank you, thats very generous, she said. But that wont be necessary. The reason I asked is that were having trouble with one of the horses, and I thought you might help, but we can put your time to much better use than washing dishes. I want you to meet Jorge Louis. He is quite a remarkable man--very wise--and Im sure youll be amazed... Have you ever seen a space alien?
Then ask Jorge Louis to show you the one in his library!
As Pepe piloted the mini-van along the Urubamba Valley, Sister told Ferguson that she would be in meetings with the Great White Brotherhood for several hours each day for the next two days, but she would make herself available for one hour each evening after dinner to teach him the secrets of unlimited success.
There would be four lessons in all, and the first would come from Jorge Louis, who had been her teacher. Sister would teach him the last three lessons.
At Hope Farm Ferguson was surprised when a uniformed guard, with an automatic pistol in a holster on his belt, opened a gate for them to drive through.
A young man, probably one of the oldest orphans, picked up Fergusons bag and showed him to a bunk bed in the mens dormitory. After the deluxe hotels he had been staying in, these spartan accommodations seemed especially strange.
It was in the large dining hall that Ferguson met Jorge Louis. He was a short, stocky man with a full head of snow white hair. Ferguson guessed he was in his mid 60s.
After a simple, vegetarian lunch, Jorge Louis told Ferguson about Hope Farm, amplifying on many of the things Sister had already said. Then his brown eyes seemed to glow with a fierce intensity when he asked Ferguson, Do you know why Sister has chosen you to learn our ancient, powerful skills?
Im not sure. I was pretty depressed when she met me...
She intuited, Jorge Louis continued, that you would use your new skills to help others. Do you think that is the likely scenario?
I think Id like that. Id like to help others, If I could.
Why is it, Jorge Louis said, that it is the poorest people on Earth who are the most generous--the most willing to share their meager resources with their neighbours, even with total strangers, while the richest people are--by and large--the most stingy, mean and greedy. The paradox of it all is that the universe is limitless in its bounty.
Imagine yourself on the shore of a vast ocean, Jorge Louis went on. Youve got the largest bucket you can carry. Even if you worked from sunrise until dark, you could never even begin to make a difference to the water level in the ocean. That is how much wealth--riches--money--power--anything you may desire--that the universe makes available to anyone who will apply himself to learn the natural laws.
Forgive me, Jorge Louis. I saw that Sister seems to be very wealthy, but...
But why am I living here on this small farm instead of a mansion high on a hill? The Peruvian man gave Ferguson a contended smile. Because this is precisely what makes me happiest. The village where I grew up was very poor. By comparison, this seems to me like a mansion on a hill. I am well fed, but more important, Im helping others to have richer, more fulfilling lives. And that is a reward that money cannot buy.
When lunch was over, Jorge Louis showed Ferguson around the farm. In the library, Ferguson remembered what Sister had told him. Is it true, he asked, that you know about a being who is not from the Earth?
Jorge Louis pointed to a framed, black and white photograph alongside a window. When he looked closely, Ferguson could see it was a close up of a face--a very strange face indeed. The eyes were unusually large. The nose was small with tiny nostrils, and the mouth was just a narrow slit. The grainy enlargement was probably blown up from a very small negative. It seemed hauntingly real, and at the same time was almost matter-of-fact.
I did not take the picture, Jorge Louis said. It was given to me, and I was told it is an extraterrestrial. I have no doubt it is genuine. The older man patted Fergusons shoulder. But come. Come for a walk with me. Sister has asked me to invest an hour of my time toward your education. Are you ready for your first lesson in how to manifest your own destiny?
They walked out into the bright sunlight, over a small bridge that crossed a pond, and down a winding path into a secluded rose garden.
Jorge Louis gestured for Ferguson to sit on a wooden bench. The lessons that you will receive from Sister and me can transform your life. You can change from a man that things happen to into a man who makes things happen. You can take your place among kings, presidents, film stars and famous musicians. Your every wish can be granted.
But there is one proviso. What we will be giving you are tools. You cannot develop the skills to use these tools overnight.
If you buy an exercise machine, you will only grow strong and lose weight if you use it regularly and properly.
The ancient wisdom we have to tell you has been passed down through hundreds of generations, from the greatest masters who ever walked this Earth. Along with their secrets comes the responsibility to use them wisely. If you can accept this responsibility, then you must ask me in your own words if you want me to be your teacher. Are you ready to step across the threshold?
Ferguson thought for a moment. He knew this was the watershed of his life. Was he ready to commit his life to something new. Did he have the strength to manage the ancient knowledge that could bring him unlimited wealth and power? What would he do if he had all the money he wanted? What if he could command others to do anything he wished them to do?
He studied Jorge Louis. The man was every bit as confident and in control as Sister, despite his contentment to live a simple life on this farm.
Ferguson realized that he could choose to live nearly anywhere on the planet--New Orleans, San Francisco, Paris, or whatever his heart desired.
Yes, he said. Jorge Louis, I am ready to be your student, and I will be very grateful if you will please share with me your knowledge of the ancient secrets of the masters. I give you my word I will apply the skills you and Sister will teach me to improve my own life and the lives of others, following your example.
Jorge Louis held out his brown, calloused hand and Ferguson shook it firmly.
Then let us begin, Jorge Louis said.
END OF PART ONE
Part Two of this amazing story consists of the four lessons that Jorge Louis and Sister taught Ferguson.
And now, dear reader, the author of this narrative challenges you with the same words Jorge Louis spoke to Ferguson on that fateful afternoon in Peru: Are you ready to step across the threshold?
Do you yearn to know the secrets of the ancient masters that can transform your life? Would you like step-by-step instructions for how to get anything you desire?
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