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The Labors of Hercules - Labor III - Part 1
Chastened, yet full of questioning relief, Hercules continued with his search and wandered far. The year, spent prone upon the altar, had taught him much. He went with greater wisdom on his way.
Suddenly, he halted in his steps. A cry of deep distress smote on his ear. Some vultures circling o'er a distant rock caught his attention; then again the cry broke forth. Should he proceed upon his way, or should he seek the one who seemed in need and thus retard his steps? He pondered on the problem of delay; a year had now been lost; he felt the need for haste. Again a cry broke forth and Hercules, with rapid steps, sped to [58] his brother's help. He found Prometheus chained upon a rock, suffering dire agonies of pain, caused by the vultures plucking at his liver, thus slowly killing him. He broke the binding chain and freed Prometheus, chasing the vultures to their distant lair, and tending the sick man until he had recovered from his wounds. Then, with much loss of time, he again started to make his way.
The Teacher, watching from afar, spoke to his seeking pupil these clear words, the first words spoken to him since he entered on his search:
"The fourth stage on the way unto the sacred tree is passed. There has been no delay. The rule upon the chosen Path which hastens all success is, 'Learn to serve'."
The Presiding One, within the Council Chamber of the Lord, remarked:
"He has done well. Continue with the tests."

Upon all ways the search went on, and north and south and east and west, the sacred tree was sought, but was not found. There came a day when, worn with fear and travelling, he heard a rumor from a passing pilgrim on the way that, near a distant mountain, the tree was to be found, the first true statement given him as yet. Therefore he turned his feet to the high mountains of the east and, on a bright and sunny day, he saw the object of his search and hastened then his steps.
"Now I shall touch the sacred tree," he shouted in his joy, "surmount the guarding dragon; see the fair maidens of wide fame; and pluck the apples."
But again, he was arrested by a sense of deep distress. Atlas confronted him, staggering 'neath the load of worlds upon his back. His face was lined with suffering; his limbs were bowed with pain; his eyes were closed with agony; he asked no help; he saw not Hercules but stood bowed down with pain, with the weight of worlds. Hercules. trembling, watched and gauged the measure of the load and pain. He forgot about his search. [58] The sacred tree and apples faded from mind; he only sought to aid the giant and that without delay; forward he rushed and eagerly removed the load, lifting it off the shoulders of his brother onto his own back, shouldering the burden of the worlds himself. He closed his eyes, bracing himself with effort, and lo! the load rolled off, and he stood free, and likewise Atlas.
Before him stood the giant and in his hand he held the golden apples, offering them, with love, to Hercules. The search was o'er.
The sisters three held still more golden apples, and pressed them likewise into his hands, and Aegle, that fair maid who is the glory of the setting sun, said unto him, placing an apple in his hand,
"The Way to us is always marked by service. Deeds of love are signposts on the Way." Then Erytheia, who keeps the gate which all must pass before they stand alone before the great Presiding One, gave him an apple and upon its side, inscribed in light, was writ the golden word of Service. "Remember this," she said, "forget it not."
And lastly Hesperis came, the wonder of the evening star, and said to him with clarity and love, "Go forth and serve, and tread the way, from henceforth and for aye, of all world servers."
"Then I give back these apples for those who follow on," said Hercules, and returned from whence he came.

Before the Teacher then he stood and rendered due account of all that had transpired. To him the Teacher gave the word of cheer and then with pointing finger indicated the fourth Gate and said to him:
"Pass through that Gate. Capture the doe and enter once again the Holy Place." [60]

The Tibetan (Djwhal Khul)

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