The Lost Tomb’s Wisdom in the Youths’ Guide

lost tomb's wisdomSitting on one of my book shelves is a tiny 3×5 inch book from 1833 entitled The Youths’ Guide.  It contains selections gathered from the letters of Lord Chesterfield to his son and additions from other eminent authors. The book is a wealth of knowledge; and the writer hoped those who read the treasures found within the book would consider the wisdom it holds as they each set out on their own journeys.  I don’t ever find myself too old to take it down and learn from its interesting collection of words.

I recently picked it up, and read from a section embracing Ancient Advice. Right before this, however, I had just chatted with a dear friend about keeping journals.  And so when I realized the wisdom I was reading was taken from an even older journal, I was doubly intrigued.

The section’s wisdom was noted to be from Sir John Malcolm’s (1769-1833) Sketches of Persia; published in 1827.  I’ve since had to get a copy of this book. 🙂  It’s a wonderful account of a man’s travels through the East and includes lots of entertaining and adventurous tales.  Stories to learn from.

I love one part where Malcolm is riding and conversing with his Persian guide.  They are on their way to see Persepolis and other fantastic ruins of the area.  In his journal he writes of his guide’s inability to understand the allure of his mission (and of the others riding along) to see these places.  His surprise towards such a pursuit is expressed in his question to Malcolm; “What can be the use,” said he, “of travelling so far and running so many risks to look at ruined houses and palaces, when they might stay so comfortably at home?”  

Malcolm’s writes his answer, I replied, with some feeling of contempt for my friend’s love of quiet, “if the state of a man’s circumstances, or that of his country, does not find work, he must find it for himself, or go to sleep and be good for nothing.  Antiquaries”, I continued, “to whose praiseworthy researches you allude, by directing, through their labors and talents, our attention to the great names and magnificent monuments of former days, aid in improving the sentiments and taste of a nation.  Besides, though, no antiquary myself, I must ever admire a study which carries man beyond self. I love those elevating thoughts that lead me to dwell with delight on the past, and to look forward with happy anticipations to the future.  We are told by some that such feelings are mere allusions, and the cold practical philosopher may, on the ground of their inutility, desire to remove them from men’s minds, to make way for his own machinery; but he could as soon argue me out of my existence as take from me the internal proof which such feelings convey, both as to my origin and destination.”

Then I had to laugh while reading (as I’m sure Malcolm did while writing), because Malcolm states one of the guides behind him remarked ‘There goes a Goor-kher (wild ass)’ and galloped in pursuit of it; and he continues to say, “I galloped also leaving unfinished one of the finest speeches about the past and the future that was ever commenced.” 

So it goes unfinished here as well….to be continued at another possible time by others, maybe.

ancient wisdomNonetheless, yes, as the title of this article suggests, I’m supposed to be sharing the story from Sketches of Persia which had captured the attention of the writer of The Youth’s Guide, and prompted him to include in his book some snippets of wisdom from it.  It is the story of the lost tomb.  (How the mind can journey too.  I love it!  But back on track.)

During Malcolm’s travels, he heard much on the famed Persian, Harun al-Rashid (Haroon-oor-Rasheed).  Harun is made legendary by the tales of the Arabian Nights, and his wisdom is often shared through various stories. These stories are given to the youth of Persia for study and Malcolm shares in his journal one told to him. He says he writes on Harun’s visit to the Tomb of Noosheerwan in order to provide an example of how knowledge is departed, and what is valued most in the country.

The story begins by Harun al-Rashid and company coming upon the hidden tomb.  It describes a curtain of gold hanging before it; and when Harun touches it, the curtain falls to pieces.  Venturing forward, gold and other fine jewels are seen to line the walls of the tomb.  Their brightness is noticed to chase away darkness.  The body of the departed Noosheerwan is then seen as he sits on a throne surrounded by immense treasure.  Noosheerwan looks to be full of life still, but, when Harun touches the mighty Ruler’s garments, these too, fall to pieces and turn to dust.

Immediately, it is said, Harun took his own rich robes to replace the ones he unintentionally destroyed.  He also replaced the curtain of gold with something richer than before and when he was finished, it was noted the tomb and the King looked to be untouched.  All except Noosheerwan’s ears which had become white. (my thought: what? Interesting. Is there some allegorical meaning here? :))

Noted too were the following words seen written on the throne; and this is what Harun cherished most and carried in his mind out with him:
“This world remains not; the man who thinks least of it is the wisest.”
“Enjoy this world before thou becomest its prey.”
“Bestow the same favor on those below thee, as thou desirest to receive from those above thee.”
“If thou shouldst conquer the whole world, death will at last conquer thee.”

There were also words written on a ruby ring on the finger of Noosheerwan which were remembered;
“Avoid cruelty, study good, and never be precipitate in action.” 
“If thou shouldst live for a hundred years, never for one moment forget death.”
“Value above all things the society of the wise.” 

Then seen around the right arm of Noosheerwan was a clasp of gold which was engraved with a prophecy of betrayal towards a visitor of the tomb on a certain date (which coincided with Harun’s visit) and a prophecy of honor shown towards the King and his Tomb from this visitor; to which then a note on where other riches could be discovered (and taken) is given.

Harun was directed by the clasp to look under the throne.  There, beneath the throne, was said to be a palm sized ruby with instructions on where to find a concealed treasure, and the words, “These I give to the caliph (Harun) in return for the good he has done me; let him take them and be happy.”

The tale goes on about how the prophecies written on Noosheerwan’s right arm’s golden clasp came true; how Harun was betrayed by one of his own, and how he honored the King and the Tomb, and then discovered the riches to be given to him.  It is in this treasure’s hoard that the golden crown of five sides was discovered (the one mentioned in the Youth’s Guide).

It is also said in the Sketches of Persia, that after coming down from the mountain where the tomb stood, Harun ordered that the road to it be made inaccessible for any future curiosity.  Assumingly, the tomb remains lost yet today.

Harun al-Rashid valued the inscriptions more than all the treasure and ordered them to be written down so that “the faithful may eat of the fruit of wisdom.”

And so it is that these words have been passed down and were found in the Sketches of Persia and in the Youth’s Guide…..and now in this article. It’s amazing how these tales continue to fascinate through all ages. They never lose their lure or their timeless and priceless wisdom.

I also find the thoughts of men exploring and sharing their experiences an exceptional study.  I hope to continue with other articles of writings in journals.  There is treasure to be found in them!

But for now, I end with some of the words given on the five sided Golden Crown (The lost tomb’s wisdom in the Youths’ Guide):

First side:
“Consider the end before you begin; and before you advance, provide a retreat.”
“Give not unnecessary pain to any man, but study the happiness of all.”
 “Ground not your dignity upon your power to hurt others.”

Second side:
“Take counsel before you commence any measure, and never trust its execution to the inexperienced.”
“Sacrifice your property for your life, and your life for your belief.”
“Spend your time in establishing a good name, and if you desire fortune, learn contentment.”

Third side:
“Grieve not for that which is broken, stolen, burnt, or lost.”

Fourth side:
Keep thyself at a distance from those who are incorrigible in bad habits, and hold no intercourse with that man who is insensible to kindness.”

Fifth side:
“Make it a habit to be happy, and avoid being out of temper, or thy life will pass in misery.” 
“Plant a young tree, or you cannot expect to cut down an old one.” 
“Never let your expenses exceed your income”


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31 Responses

  1. HaywardG says:

    Thank you Jenny, a very warm and touching article!

    “Enjoy this world before thou becomest its prey.” Made me think of the first Maranatha/Flamel drawing of Time with his scythe aiming at the feet of Mercury. Saturn/Chronos is time in its exalted sense, yet earth in the mundane.

  2. Nate Beck says:

    Wow! This is great. Now I want to get John Malcolm’s book for myself. I love his answer to his Persian guide about the purpose behind traveling to see the places of the ancient past. Malcolm’s answer is similar to the one I would give if asked why I research ancient mysteries and the Bible.

    The words of wisdom from the Tomb story are worth taking heed to. The contemplation of life and death and righteous conduct is the main theme of so many other things I research, such as Freemasonry, Rennes-le-Chateau and alchemy. Also makes me think of the Shepherds of Arcadia painting by Nicolas Poussin.

    Hayward, I like how you connect one of the lines of wisdom with one of the illustrations from the legend of Nicolas Flamel as well. Maybe the meaning of life is how to conquer Death before you actually die? This definitely falls in line with the teachings of Christ as well.

    Wonderful article Jenny.

  3. JC1117 says:

    I agree. Another great article, Jenny. There are a lot of priceless gems to be found in there. Nate posed an interesting question as well about “conquering” death. What’s the point of it all? Did we all evolve from apes and life is merely survival of the fittest? Or is there something more, and the Meek really will inherit the Earth? I believe the ladder.

  4. Mark says:

    From a metaphorical perspective, a tomb represents the understanding for some darkened, enclosed (sealed) place, which is associated with the understanding for death and “mortal imprisonment.” Resurrection is more of a metaphorical reference to freedom (from mortal imprisonment) & is often associated with the idea that a tomb is “opened up.”

    This is similar to the understanding for “into paradise I go” (Et en Arcadia ego) … freedom from mortal imprisonment (death). When we see the wooden staffs in the Sheppards hands, as they stand next to the tomb, we reason Sheppards are “supposed” to have staffs, but a wooden staff can also be used for the purpose of opening up a tomb.

    A temple (palace) can represent the understanding for a building as a reference to a “dwelling place for a ruler (King), or the area of the skull where the ears are located. The ruler.(King) can represent the understanding for the hands. The robe can represent the understanding for the garment (glove) which the King wears. The color white is often associated with the understanding for purity. If you understand these facts & read it again, it will begin to make a lot more sense.

  5. Lia says:

    Many thanks Jenny for an excellent article. I enjoyed the wisdom of kindness and contentment shared. Blessings to you for the hours of work you pour into an excellent blog. Always thought provoking and positive. You matter!!

  6. Jenny/Sixer says:

    You guys are all too special….thank you…..I feel we are all journeying together and am glad for it! 🙂

    While writing this article, I too thought much on Et in Arcadia Ego…and Maranatha….interesting….!

    And JC1117, I do believe there is something more. just what? Makes me wonder more… it.

  7. HaywardG says:

    The tomb is the measure of the world of fixed creation. In the Macrocosmic sense, it is symbolized by the four fixed elements: The Lion, the Eagle, the Man, and the Bull. In the Microcosm, it is Earth, the physical realm, symbolized by the square or cube. Equally important to the Tomb is what the tomb contains. Inside a tomb would be a skeleton. Bones are what remain after Earthly life has past. Those of an alchemical persuasion might see this as sign that something correspondent remains also on another plane, or in another sphere. What this is, is the goal to seek out.

  8. Mark says:

    Excellent observations, Hayword! I’ve never thought of it that way, but everything you said made perfect sense.

  9. HaywardG says:

    Hi Mark, Thank you! I believe the thoughts you wrote are true also.

    The general idea is that the Alchemists believe(d) that physical creation is the lowest level form of the divine descending. This applies to the mundane to even the cosmic. Thus, trapped within the tomb of matter- the spark of divinity is found within. One only has to plumb deep into the vault to find the forgotten name (as our incidentary condition of mind and bodily existence we are born with causes a certain lack of memory, a type of spiritual amnesia).

  10. astree says:

    Thank-you, Jenny, for another great article. I have to admit, I am a bit jealous of you, for possession of that book; what a great treasure in itself. (I’ll have to review the wisdoms you listed and see if I need to work on that jealousy part, lol )

    As has already been noted in the comments, the tomb often represents a hidden store of treasure and knowledge. While reading your article, two such stores were brought to mind. The first, the den of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, was protected by a secret passcode, “Open Sesame” (reminding of Jesus’ comment on having the faith of a mustard seed, and the Kingdom likened to a mustard seed, Matthew 13:31).

    The second place brought to mind is the Tomb of Rosenkreutz, directly mentioned in the Maranatha puzzle. To use the first Marnatha Companion book’s explanation, the Tomb is said to be a place of timelessness, which contains a compendium of all knowledge in the universe. Interesting, as relates to your tomb story, Rosenkreutz himself is said to have traveled to the Middle East in search of knowledge before returning to Europe.

    The Maranatha puzzle introduction explains that a great universal secret has been hidden for ages in stories, myths, and legends. I’d venture that the many den / tomb stories contain elements of that secret, including the Lost Tomb of Wisdom, only limited by the writers’ explicit (conscious) knowledge of the secret and their judgment of how deeply to hide it.

    “Spiritual amnesia” – great phrase, Hayward!

    Be Well,

  11. astree says:


    B. e silent
    U. nderstand
    D. o accordingly

    There is a hidden hand moving across that page.

    I do miss Duncan’s interaction.

    • Jenny/Sixer says:

      Astree,……I hadn’t noticed the first letters of ‘BURD…en(N)’. You amaze me how you catch things like that…lol…and I think you are exactly right…

      But awesome news for ALL, and it seems like it is the time to mention it…

      I’ve chatted with Duncan recently and it is very possible we/anyone will have the opportunity to participate in a ‘Questions with Duncan’ in the near future….. (similar to how Questions with Forrest is done)

      I feel very honored to be able to offer a small outlet for some of Duncan’s impressive research and his sharing of it…….The Maranatha puzzle touched on much but was only a beginning…!

      more later….but if anyone has questions you would like to ask, please feel free to send them to me through the contact form above.

      So exciting…just fantastic!

  12. ivyarbor says:

    Interesting! I’ll have to take heed to that and research! Have a great day! 🙂

  13. astree says:

    That great, news, Jenny. Thank-you.

    The hidden hand is yours, too 🙂

  14. Mark says:

    A toast to the “mystery hand” & to that “divine spark” of wisdom which banishes “spiritual amnesia!” ha ha!

  15. haywardG says:

    Silence – stillness, the semblance of no-thing
    Obedience- following the order prescribed
    Poverty- releasing from attachment to the unnecessary

    Looking forward to Questions with Mr. Burden!

  16. Nate Beck says:

    If Mr. Burden does start corresponding with us, I just hope that he does NOT receive the same kind of hostile responses and attitudes that he received during the Maranatha Puzzle competition.

    We all have a chance here to learn something, but I feel we must be respectful, patient and kind; even to those we may have bad feelings for.

    Wisdom will not award or bless the hateful.

  17. Mark says:

    Extremely impressed … Hayward! Not that I didn’t understand poverty & silence already, but J never thought of poverty in that way. Deep … yet true!

    & I agree with Nate. But I get this feeling he’s not expecting that type of reaction. Be interesting to see how he answers some of the questions.

  18. astree says:


    This one works a little better – (reading up to down, and left to right)

    B.E. silent
    U.N. derstand

    R. emember
    D. o accordingly

  19. astree says:


    Just looking at the contrast between the advice given, starting at the top of the page, and what our modern society is becoming.

  20. Nate Beck says:

    Lovely anagram ideas Astree. I’m sure Duncan would appreciate that.

    I think we should do this with our own names as well, and then stick with the positive ideas we create from those anagrams and develop them as part of our regular character!

  21. astree says:

    Neat idea, I’ll give it a try.


  22. haywardg says:

    HI Jenny-

    Here’s one question I have for Duncan-

    Duncan has spoken of the “Key” in the 1st Maranatha book being related to a “Lock” which was meant to be found in the 2nd book which was never published. My question: Is the Lock something that evolves out of the Key itself or is it something that exists completely separate from it?

  23. Nate Beck says:

    Good question Hayward,

    I’m pretty confident that once we know what the “Horse of God” reference is really referring to, we’ll know where to look.

    Personally, like many others, I think the “Lock” is something into which the Key neatly fits and that also allows the tilt of the Hexagram to be straightened in some form. A Key has to “turn” once it’s in the lock after all.

  24. Maria Rigel says:

    The five-sided golden crown could refer to a pentagram. Also, it’s interesting that 12 maxims fit in it, like the signs of the Zodiac.

  25. Maria Rigel says:

    This story has all the signs of having esoteric meanings. I can’t tease them all out at this point, but I expect I’ll soon be able to.

    One maxim that sounds like it has esoteric meaning is “Plant a young tree, or you cannot expect to cut down an old one.” The meaning is that when you follow the path, you can’t expect to cut down the path that led you where you are for other people (the old tree). You are meant to leave the path clear for others to follow, and start your own (the young tree you plant).

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