The Gospel of St. Andrew of Lusitania

Trans. Mark V. Zieg

All Hallow's Eve, 1990 C.E.

Introduction by the Translator

The following uncorroborated account has been met with great skepticism since its recent discovery in the forgotten tombs below Lisbon, especially by the more traditional Shiite factions. However, scientific analysis has confirmed that the paper and materials were that of mid-Renaissance Portugal, and philologists have verified that the dialect used matches that of the lower literate classes of that age. Hopefully, this new translation will encounter greater distribution among the theologically elite and bring out new insights regarding its veracity and historical significance. Whenever possible, all dialog has been updated into modern idiom to aid in comprehension and eliminate temporal prejudice. So without further discussion, let me heartily exhort you to examine this fascinating and insightful document.

In service, I am

Mark V. Zieg Translator October 31, 1990

Outline of Contents

Outline of Contents
Chapter One
(In which we learn of St. Andrew; his life; his doubt about mystical vs. prophetic belief; his division between exemplary and emissary action; his uncertainty of his own relation to God; his visitation by God; and his Quest.)
Chapter Two
(In which St. Andrew meets with Muhammad; Andrew visits the Ka'ba, and sees that prophesy is good; Andrew views the last sermon, and sees that being an emissary is good; and Andrew receives his Humility.)
Chapter Three
(In which St. Andrew again speaks with God; he receives the warning that prophecy can be misinterpreted, that emissaries can be intolerant; his Plea; and Andrew's return to the Quest.)
Chapter Four
(In which St. Andrew meets with the Buddha; the Sermon of the Bodhi Tree; Andrew and the Mendicants; Andrew and the Prince; and Andrew receives his Enlightenment.)
Chapter Five
(In which St. Andrew has his final discourse with God; the End of the Quest.)
Chapter Six
(In which we are told of the Death of St. Andrew.)

1 In the land of Lusitania, which is known to the outside world as Portugal, there once lived a man named Andrew. A simple man, he spent his life farming his modest garden outside his small house. On Wednesdays during the growing season he would take his slight harvest in to the nearest village for trade or sale, and during the cold time he would rest and read beside his fireplace. The one day of the week which would never vary throughout his life was the Sabbath, for Andrew was extremely religious. A devout Christian, he would track through miles of mud or snow to attend services and accept the Blood and Flesh of his Lord Jesus. Christ was at all times the center and focus of his existence: Andrew did all things through God, and through God all things came to Andrew.

However, for all of his love and faith in God, in his later years Andrew began to experience a feeling of discontent. He read the words that touched his heart, but felt a great emptiness growing within his breast. The visions of the prophets, which had always soothed his doubts about worlds beyond his ken, began to seem cramped within his vision. He feared that in their talk of future generations and battles between nations unborn, they lost sight of the present world men were caught in. Likewise, the apostles of Christ, especially his beloved John, sometimes grew so entangled in their lovely fables and stories that they grew hard to understand and relate to. He loved to hear their beautiful songs, but he sometimes troubled that as they grew so close to God's mystery, they moved away from men and thus were lost to the world. These apparent faults within the literal Word of God grew in his mind until the very roots of his faith began to split and tremble.

He was also worried about the path his life had taken. He was a plain man, not given to overly elegant words or speech, and had never been much of an emissary in spreading the Word. Although he was a faithful member of his village church, and was always willing to help those in need, he rarely ventured far beyond his own land. This bothered him because he knew that God wanted man to "go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation" (Mark 16:15). On the other hand, many of the greatest Saints of the Church had led extremely normal lives, and exemplified the Glory of God by perfectly living out the tenets of their faith. This too he wanted to do, but he agonized over his own imperfections, and despaired of ever being a worthy example of God's love and grace. So, torn between being a vessel and a port, he remained in his little garden apart from the world and cried out for guidance.

And the Lord did answer his cry. In the cold season of life, when Andrew's eyes had gone dim to the light and his limbs ached with each new day, the Lord came to his servant in a dream. "Andrew, Andrew," whispered the Lord. Andrew, having waited for this moment all of his life, and remembering the ancient Scriptures (Samuel 3:4), gave the time-honored response: "Speak, Lord, for thy servant hears." "Andrew, I have felt your fears, and your questions," said the Lord. Now Andrew wept in his sleep, because he knew that he had failed his God. "Forgive me, my Father! For I am weak, and tired, and have not the faith of a proper mouse!" And the Lord did smile, and gently rebuked his disciple, saying "Nay, my son, for you did but follow the urgings of your heart, and it is in your heart that I am always found." Andrew grew calm at this, for he saw that his doubts were forgiven. "Andrew, I have taken pity on your fears, and before you come home to me would show you the answers that will sooth your soul. Will you come with me on a journey, and see the truth of all that you would know?" At this, Andrew grew afraid, for he was not yet ready to die, even in the arms of his Savior. But the Lord did rock him as a babe, reassuring him that "No, your time on this world is not yet past. Just for a night will your spirit reside with me, as I take you on a passage that few have seen." Andrew was ashamed of his fear, and while his voice trembled in his ears, he responded, "Yes, Lord, I will come." And the Lord did gather up his spirit as Andrew slept, and took him forth on a quest that would bring peace to his child's troubled heart.

2 Now Andrew did indeed sleep within his dream, and he knew naught of what transpired between his last acceptance and his reawakening. However, when the Lord again opened Andrew's eyes, he saw that he was in a different place. His house and bed were nowhere to be seen, and the gentle hills and trees of his province were replaced by a wasted span of desert sand. "Lord!" he cried, "is this Hell?" and he was again afraid. The Lord said, "No, you look upon your own world, at a time and distance far removed from your home. This is a land called Arabia, in a time called 627 C.E." And Andrew was confused, but knew better than to question the Lord of Hosts.

Then a great gust of wind swept over the sands, bringing with it the sounds of a far-away battle. The Lord explained, "You hear the clash of two mighty factions, as an older culture is replaced by a new one; like the dust of the wind do the champions of change sweep all before them." And Andrew's awareness (for he had, as he saw, no physical body about him; this did not trouble him, for he took comfort in the presence of the Lord) moved then across the dune sea toward the conflict. And arriving swiftly at the battle, he saw that the defenders of a town ("Medina," whispered the Lord in his mind) were rallied behind a well-dug ditch. Across the ditch many men on horses sallied back and forth, but made little progress against the jeers of their opponents. And upon the walls of the city he saw a great man clothed all in white shouting out orders to his soldiers. Towards this man the Lord did take him, and Andrew saw that beneath his sun-darkened brow burned two eyes alit with a holy fire. "Lord," Andrew murmured, "is this man a saint?" Andrew felt his spirit lightened as the Lord was taken with a fit of holy humor, then heard his God's response: "A saint he is not, although many follow him as one. It is he who seeks to convert his people to My worship, and bring them out of their dark age. He has a different perspective of Me than do you, for he does not recognize the man Jesus as my Son. However, he worships the God of Abraham and of Isaac, and will perform much good within his life." Andrew did not have time to consider this, that a man might follow God without believing in Jesus the Christ, because suddenly the scene around them shifted, and they were again in another place.

Now Andrew looked about and saw that he stood before a huge black cube, at least ten cubits to a side. Approaching the only visible door strode the same man he had seen atop the wall of Medina, now leading a troop of well-ordered soldiers. The man paid obeisance to the structure, kissing reverently a black stone set within one corner, then passed within. Moments later he emerged, bearing an armload of small statues and idols. Lifting these high over his head, he cried out that all around could hear him, "Pay heed, as the false icons of a past age crumble beneath my heel as other gods fall before Allah!" Then he threw the objects onto the cobbled floor and crushed them under his boot. He then passed in and out of the building, each time carrying a god-image and destroying it in a like manner. "Master, why does he do this?" Andrew wondered, for he saw that many of the city people gathered around were saddened, and many seemed angry. "He is destroying the false idols of the old religion, because they were used as replacements for Me. In this, he is like Moses, who broke the golden calf on the slopes of Mount Sinai." Then Andrew was impressed and felt humbled to be in the presence of such a holy man.

Now one last time did the world suddenly tilt about them, and Andrew saw that they stood at the base of a huge mountain, and far above him stood an old man, preaching confidently to a crowd gathered before him. Andrew was surprised to note that he could hear the words as if he stood next to the charismatic leader. He listened, wide-eyed, as the man preached of the ultimate submission to God, of the complete surrendur of prideful will to Allah. The man spoke of the holy vision he had received from the Angel Gabriel, and Andrew wondered briefly why he had never heard of this great seer, for clearly he was one chosen by God. Then a sudden suspicion grew in his mind, and the Lord said, "Yes, this is the same man who directed the battle and entered the Ka'ba; although he does not know it, he will soon come home to rest with me." "What, then, will happen to all of these people?" Andrew wondered, for he saw2 that they followed the man as a child does his father. Then the Lord did sigh, and said, "They will elect a new leader, one not quite so close to Me as this one; and when he is gone, a new leader will spring up; and another; and so on. In time much of this man's wisdom will be lost and twisted, his words of love and tolerance bent into messages of hatred and contention. Such is the way of man, that he will always turn away from God and wage war upon himself." Andrew grew very cold, for he understood that God was rebuking him. But God again was merciful with his servant and blessed him, and once more filled him with the peace from Above.

3 Now the light died before Andrew's eyes, and he felt himself pass into a place that was not, a space between the times and countries of man. Coming closer to understanding God's purpose, he saw that this was a holding-place, a resting site within their larger journey. Then the Lord spoke to him, saying, "Andrew my son, you have seen that which few eyes have glimpsed, the birth of a faith that will sweep the land and turn the fate of the world. Are your questions now put to rest?"

Andrew considered all that he had seen, and tried to find the answers his soul sought. "The man with the fiery eyes, he was a prophet?" The Lord answered, "He is Muhammad, called by his people the Seal of Prophecy for the holy visions he received through Me." Andrew shuddered at this, for he had heard of the great devil Mahound and knew of the evils his followers had brought to Lusitania. "And did your visions teach him to fight the wars he levied, and spread his faith through blood and rapine?" Now the Lord was silent, and Andrew grew afraid that he had offended his God; but he knew that God tested even his most devout servants, even such heroic figures of faith as Job of Uz, so he persisted in his chain of thought. "I think that you sent to Muhammad a gift of love, intending that his people learn from it how to live in harmony and grow in your worship. Somehow over time, they changed your Word, if not the text then the meaning, and twisted it to hurt or persecute others."

Andrew finished his dangerous surmise and lay waiting, certain that the Lord would punish him for his blasphemy. But the expected bolt did not come, and he felt the Lord's compassion flow around him, holding him gently in His embrace. "You have indeed seen with rare eyes, and understood much where men of greater learning have failed. The gifts of prophecy I give are perilous, because they often serve the Enemy as well as Myself. However, it is only through these rare glimpses of the Infinite that man has any hope of opening himself to the Divine. Prophetic revelation can reveal the truth of God, if heard with open heart and mind; but it can also bring hatred and damnation, if taken through ears deadened by cries of pain and heart clogged with years of bloodshed. I am well pleased that you saw the difference."

Andrew was swept up in a tidal sensation of well-being with the Universe, so much that he brought forth the second point that had burdened his mind. "Then Muhammad and his followers were wrong in seeking to carry Your message across the world, for the truth you showed the Arabian Prophet is not necessarily the truth you intended for the Iberian farmer!" The Lord did agreed with Andrew, adding that "It is good to be a missionary for your faith, so long as your faith is pure. But even those who begin their mission with love in their hearts are soon worn down by the cares of the world. Then their hearts harden against the needs of the men they visit, and they are left with nothing but the message they started with. Many also hold an over-zealous belief that converting new souls to their cause will help end their own bepuzzlement. One path to Godliness lies in bringing the Word of God to new ears, but you will soon falter from the path if the Word becomes empty on your own tongue."

"But, Lord," Andrew cried, "how then shall I live? For even as You grant me this vision, I know that I misunderstand the greater half of all that you say! And were You to give me the understanding to comprehend Your Glory, I could never pass on that wisdom without using words, words which would some day turn to poison on an innocent's lips! And still do I fear to leave my home, no longer for my own comfort or safety, but because if I try to spread Your love among all of the world's peoples, I will most surely fail! O, I am weak, Lord! I have looked upon the foulness of infidels and felt the power of Satan overtake me! I wished them to burn, Father, and so shall I burn in the pits of Hell!" Andrew dropped his face into his hands and wept bitterly, for he knew that he could never serve the Lord.

Then the Lord was stern with him, demanding, "Andrew! Do you love Me?" "Yes, Lord, you know that I do!" sobbed the suffering Andrew. "Then rise up and serve Me, for my plan is not yet complete." Again Andrew was ashamed of his weakness before the Lord, but he dried his tears and cleared his mind of thoughts of unworthiness. "One more vision would I show you, that you may fully understand the paradox that is My love and your life. Will you come with Me, and watch as yet a second religion unfolds before your eyes?" Now Andrew was accordingly grateful for his Lord's kindness, and knelt before Him, praising Him and all his deeds. And the Lord again let the darkness that permeates the spaces between the worlds of men pass over His servant's eyes, and carried him at His breast through the corridors of time and space.

4 When they arrived at their destination, Andrew first felt a great dampness in the air, then found his gaze captured by, of all things, a vast, spreading tree. Beneath the tree sat a lone figure, clad only in a saffron robe. His scalp was free of hair or garmet, and his cheeks were bare. Andrew eagerly peered into the man's eyes to see if they, too, held a glint of eternal fire, and thus show the man to be close to God. To his surprise, he saw that they were not only plain and calm, but almost devoid of life. They stared dispassionately ahead, their flat gaze reflecting only the leaves and grass before them, revealing no inner light at all. "Master," he wondered, "is this man asleep?" "No," his Guide replied. "He is experiencing dhyana, the meditatitive trance that will lead him to the mystic joy of sambodhi." And Andrew saw that the man was indeed awake, but content in his thought and disinterested in his surroundings. Then a rustling arose in the brushes around Andrew, and he watched as many silent figures emerged from the grove and seated themselves before the silent one. Each wore the same coarse-woven orange robe, and bore expressions of placid indifference. Without raising his head or in any other way acknowledging the entrance of his followers, the Enlightened One began to speak.

He spoke of the misery that was life. This, he said, came from the bonds of trishna, the desires that brought agony and grief. The path to Nirvana lay in setting aside those thirsts, recognizing that the demands of the skandhas are fleeting and illusionary. Within the realm of samsara there would be no reprise from dukkah; but through strict discipline and meditation, an arahat could eliminate his karmic debt and eventually lose his atman in the universal Brahman. "There is no disappearing of the true Dhamma until a false Dhamma arises in the world. When the false Dhamma arises, he makes the true Dhamma to disappear." (Samyutta-nikaya II, 224) Sensing Andrew's growing confusion, the Lord explained: "The Dhamma is the Law, or That Which Is True. Siddhartha, now called Tathagata or the Buddha, is telling his disciples that Truth can only be covered by Illusion; but when Illusion appears, all that is True is obscured. This is the way of My Enemy, whom Siddhartha calls Mara. The Buddha was once overcome by sorrow at the brevity and harshness of man's time on Earth, and now seeks to protect himself and his followers from that sorrow by removing their spirits from the bonds of the world." Andrew furrowed his brow at this, for he did not understand how any man could turn away from the omnipotent God. In answer, God revealed that He had not yet sent the Son of Man into the world to teach of His Grace, so the Buddha was forgiven in making his own attempt at finding peace. Andrew still questioned how these men in their homespun ocher mantles could find everlasting peace save through forgiveness by God, but before he could articulate his objection, the world again spun about him.

Now Andrew saw the man, recognizable more by his implacable eyes than through a difference in his features or garb, seated in the same strange position on a street-corner. He held a simple begging-bowl, and passers-by would drop change or small articles into his outstretched dish. Andrew wished then that he had a corporeal body, for he made a point to always give alms to the poor (especially when in the company of the Lord.) The Buddha and his disciples, Andrew noted with sadness, all seemed quite gaunt despite the heavy flow of coins into their coffers. The Lord came to his aid, saying "The Buddha and his followers eat lightly of choice, rather than necessity, My son. To them, taking pleasure in any sensual delight only keeps them further from the detatchment they feel is crucial to finding Me." Andrew thought of this, and of his own expansive waistline and plump vegetables back at home, and added another sin to be confessed next Sabbath. Then he felt the darkness again enclose him and bear him swiftly away.

Now Andrew was astonished at the granduer he was surrounded by. Looking around in astonishment, he saw plates and tableware of precious metal and jems; stunning tapestries hanging from the walls; and an exquitely designed domed ceiling portraying a battle, evidently between gods of a pagan pantheon. Running down the length of the hall was a fabulous table, laden with rich foods and wines. And Andrew was outraged to see none other than the beggar from the streets, the Buddha, sitting calmly at the right hand of a Prince! "Lord," he sputtered in his rage, "that man is a fraud! To solicit alms like a beggar, foodstuffs which could be given to those truely in need...!" Gently did the Lord remonstrate his distressed servant: "Nay, for if you but look at his plate, you see it is clean of victuals or nourishment. Siddhartha is here at the invitation of a mighty ruler, who wishes to share in the Buddha's quest for peace." Andrew did look, and saw that it was true. Far from being involved in the entertainment going on about the hall, the Buddha looked to be as passive and expressionless as ever. In fact, he was quietly speaking to the potentate and his retainers, each of whom bore an intense frown of concentration. "Are they then going to renounce all of this majesty and follow the Buddha back to his grove?" Andrew asked. The Lord shook his head, saying "Only a few will ever leave this place, and of those few will ever come to understand the Buddha's teaching. However, it is for those few that he came, and he will not leave without them." As Andrew cast a last look the Buddha and his newest converts, he again felt a great emptiness well up around him and carry him through darkness to realms unknown and unknowable.

5 However, this time Andrew was surprised to find he recognized the place; he was returned to the Void, where he and the Lord had briefly sojourned before passing back into ancient India. "My son," began the Lord, "What have you learned from your second vision?" As before, Andrew spent some time in careful consideration of his answer, for he recognized that God likely had a specific lesson in mind. "The man Siddhartha," he slowly decided, "was not a prophet, for he received no visions or revelations." Taking God's silence for encouragement, he went on: "Nor was he an emissary, because he taught from his central grove, or at the invitation of others; he didn't carry his teaching into foreign countries like Muhammad, or write letters like St. Paul." Now he floundered, because although he knew what the Buddha wasn't, he couldn't decide what he was. Benevolently, the Lord completed his thought for him. "You are right; Siddhartha was neither prophet nor emissary. He took his teachings from his own mysticism, and taught them not by being a missionary but by perfectly exemplifing their precepts." Excitedly, Andrew broke in: "Yes! Rather than spreading out to the world, he let the world come to him! Living perfectly his doctrine of peace and harmony, he was like Jesus when he...." Then Andrew suddenly fell silent, realizing that he may have stepped too far with that comparision. But God congratulated him, saying "Exactly. My Son taught in the manner of the Buddha, through example; and My Word was then spread through my Apostles, such as Paul, who traveled the roads and seas of the world like Muhammad." Now Andrew was amazed, for he saw that the Lord had indeed presented him with answers to the questions that had previously plagued him. "So both prophecy and mysticism, being an emissary and being an example, are important! If you take all of your wisdom from prophecy, you run the risk of misinterpreting Your Word; but if you look only to your self for answers, you are forever cut off from Your Grace and Understanding. By the same token, if you are reckless in spreading the Word and forget to first live by it, you may still gain converts, but not necessarily to the religion you intended; however, if you spend too much time working at achieving total self-perfection, you can become so wrapped up in your own search that you leave the spiritually needy behind. Each is necessary, none are sufficient!" Panting but exhilarated, Andrew came stumbling to a halt, and waited patiently for a response of approval. It came. "You have done well indeed," said the Lord. "Have you any more doubts as to how you shall live the remainder of your days?" "No, my God!" Andrew beamed. Then he lay down and wept, praising God with sweet Hosannas and Hallelujahs. So weeping, he did not notice as the Lord breathed on him a final time and he returned to the sleep within a dream.

6 When Andrew, now having earned the title of Saint although he would not be canonized for another sixty years, awoke the following morning, he immediately went in to town and began sharing the Word. He did not waste his time with wondering if his dream had been nothing but a nighttime fable, or if it were something more; it did not matter to Andrew. All who knew him were amazed at the energy he displayed in walking first daily into the village, then on to further outlying posts, and finally all the way down the trade highways into the cities along the coast, always carrying with him and preaching the Word of God. Nor did he stop with his new-found missionary work: in all ways he became a living example of the Christian doctrine. Many were the stories told about Good Saint Andrew as he stopped on the road to help a sick leper, or bring food to a starving family. And many were the folks who first scoffed at his words, but then were impressed by his selfless actions. Life held all new meaning for Andrew, and his only sorrow was that it would not last longer. For hardly three years passed from the memorable night in which he traveled through Time and Space with the Lord before he was taken with fever and had to stop one night in a roadside hostel. The local leeches and faith-healers he refused, asking only to speak with an ordained priest before he died. The priest was called for, and when he arrived, he bent low over the ailing Andrew to hear his last, whispered words. On hearing them, he shook his head and never told a soul what they contained, because they sounded like no Gospel he had ever heard, and he had no desire to harm the reputation of this beautiful, dying man. Then Andrew gave all those present a strange smile, as if he was already familiar with the place he was headed, and was not afraid. Then he closed his eyes for the last time, and died.

"When the sun of suffering has set, there comes this peace, Lord of the quiet stars, this peace of creation, this place the mandala spins gray. The fool saith in his mind that his thoughts are only thoughts..." -- Saraha (98-99)