The story of the prodigal son is reasonably well known, but for those arriving late, it is the story of a child who ‘knows better’ and heads off into the world, only to squander his share of the family fortune. He finds himself destitute and needing to return to his father, who accepts him back into the family, with open arms.
This story appears in the Christian Bible (Luke 15:11–32) but was also told some six hundred years before by Siddhartha (Saddharmapundarika Sutra 4).
This allegory talks about our own movement away from divinity (the father), our descent into destitution and our path of return. The message from both masters is that humanity is lost.
Interestingly, Hermes Trismegistus (Thoth to some) also implied that humanity is lost but this message came some 10,000 years before Yeshua.
“…Man fell in love with his own shadow and desired to descend into it… Nature, beholding the descent, wrapped herself about the Man whom she loved, and the two were mingled. For this reason, earthly man is composite. Within him is the Sky Man, immortal and beautiful; without is Nature, mortal and destructible. Thus, suffering is the result of the Immortal Man’s falling in love with His shadow and giving up Reality to dwell in the darkness of illusion;…” (Poimandres, The Vision of Hermes)
It seems there is an common themes among many great teachers of the Ageless Wisdom. It also seems that this wisdom is truely ageless, rather and ancient, because its message is as relevant today as ever before.
Humanity has fallen in love with our own shadow (our individuality) and given up the reality of our inner ‘Sky Man’ (our essence); to dwell in the darkness of illusion. Hermes, Yeshua and the Buddha all suggest that the denial of this inner essence is a sure path to ruin.
Looking at the levels of corruption in sport, business and the media, the rates of domestic violence around the world, the fact that the world’s population of people with diabetes would be the fifth largest nation on earth, the sexual abuse of children by various religious institution and the 40+ million people trapped in slavery. Without even considering the wars being waged, it is not too hard to agree with this sentiment.
Much like the prodigal son, we have all taken a journey away from our essence to experience life in the shadows and no amount of colourful lights, delicious foods, dream holidays and plethora of entertainment options can hide the fact that we are much poorer for the experience. A world of shadows bathed in light seems like a contradiction, and indeed it is, yet that is the world we face, super stars, super models, new technology, slick shopping malls, the allure of the ‘west’ sold to developing countries, all bright shinny lights hiding the shadows that dwell just below its bright facade. In the words of Shakespeare ‘the whole world is a stage’, which mean we are all caught in the lights and there is a darkened theatre watching on.
Regardless of how long we stay away from that essence or how much we either bask or wallow in our destitution, at some point, we will make the return journey home. Each in their own time will take this walk of humility, cleaning up the mess that was left behind. Truth will always be Truth, and while hearing Truth can be hard, love can never judge, so while there is some much needed humility there is no shame.
But more telling than the fact of our inevitable return is the fact that across the centuries, eras and epochs, this message has been delivered. There are always people living amongst us that have already made this return journey. These people choose not to clock out and wait in the lounge for others to get it. They return as masters of the illusion to present a possible path for us to consider. Some masters are well known such as, Siddhartha, Mohamed, Yeshua, Patinjali, Pythagoras, and Davinci. Some are less well known making a significant contribution to their local community, some were not masters but were sufficiently advanced to teach from their own lived experience, so that others might also start the journey home.
They all remind us that the reality of life can be vastly different to the life that we called normal. They raise the uncomfortable Truth that there is a cavernous difference between what is common in society and what is normal. In the words of Hermes, over 12000 years ago, there lies a home within us all that is “immortal and beautiful”.
What changes would we see in our lives, in the world, if our normal was a home that is immortal and beautiful?
If it were not for the Ageless wisdom and its linage of teachers throughout time, the world would indeed be a far harsher place. They sit behind our greatest steps towards civility and harmony. They lay out the sign posts for all to see and they all point to the fact that the answer is within and that we are each responsible for our own return.
This is the journey that we are all on. We can deny it, we can ignore it, we can fight it, but we cannot change it. It is for us all to work out HOW we reclaim that new type of normal for ourselves, not just to improve our own lives but to lay out a sign post for the next person. Love is not interested in leaving anyone behind, but Love also allows people their own space and time.