Tuesday, January 19, 2016
A Story: The Tribe with Amnesia
Years ago when I first started to explore the many, and often conflicting, paths in spirituality, I found myself feeling anxious and overwhelmed. I wondered how I could possibly know which spiritual paths could be trusted to contain truth. So I turned to God and asked for guidance and in response, I received this story.
In the story, the ocean represents the world, life on the physical plan, and symbolizes what we know and understand with our 5 senses. It is not “wrong” or “bad.” Like the ocean, the world is a good place to “play in,” a place to experience and express ourselves, and an opportunity to grow in love and understanding. The story points out, however, that, like the salty water, the world cannot provide ultimate nourishment, and demonstrates the craziness that results when we try to make it our source or “home.” In the end, we are shown that it is only from the unseen depths of mystery, or God, as symbolized by the deep fresh water well, that true nourishment comes.
“Once upon a time there was a tribe of people stricken with amnesia trying to find a place to settle. They were very thirsty and when they came upon the ocean they celebrated. Before them stretched what seemed like an endless supply of water. Certain they would never thirst again, they decided to make the shore their home. [ Of course, we know that salt water cannot satisfy the body's thirst, but they had forgotten who they were and how to meet their needs. ] Over time they became even thirstier and their bodies began to waste away. But the more they craved water the greedier and more possessive of the ocean they became.
One day another tribe of people appeared on the shore not far from them. This filled them with fear for their need was great and they believed that without this water they would die. Desperate to keep it for themselves, they decided to drive the others away. Assuming, however, that the strangers had the same need and might fight back, they decided to first spy on them and find their weaknesses. And so they hid from view and watched.
To their amazement, the new people appeared very healthy and happy even though they did not spend their time kneeling before the ocean drinking. Instead, they swam, fished, boated, and played without a care. The people of great thirst became jealous. They began to say that that part of the ocean must be better and that they must take it to insure their own survival. However, one courageous little girl spoke up saying, “ But they don’t even drink the water - not even a sip...” Shocked, the people began to whisper, “ It’s true - they must be gods! “ Then a young man stepped forward and said, “But I have seen them drink - though not of the ocean. They drank from the gourds they brought with them...”
Suddenly a watchman broke into the clearing and cried, “ They are leaving! They have packed up their things and are moving into the woods. The elders quickly gathered together and talked quietly. Soon they turned to the group and announced, “We must follow them and find out the secret ocean that nourishes them! “ And so they followed the laughing, singing, dancing people until they came to their village.
By the time they arrived, the thirst driven people were half crazed. They charged in with weapons drawn and demanded to be given the location of the ocean that provided such life giving water. The surprised look of the healthy people quickly turned to compassion as they looked upon the dying desperadoes. A beautiful woman stepped forward and pointed to a nearby well saying, “ The well is deep and never runs dry. Take what you need and it will still be full. There is plenty for all. “
Several of the people immediately moved forward reaching for the cup, but an elder stepped between them and commanded that they stop. “It’s a trick!“ he shouted. “ How can there be an ocean in a hole in the ground? We can’t see it or touch it, we can’t smell it or taste it, - we can’t even hear the waves on the shore! They lie! They must think we are fools. Come away and let us return to our ocean. That is a source of water we can know and believe in! These evil people only wish to poison us so they can take it all for themselves! “
Again the beautiful woman stepped forward and spoke gently. “ Wait. If you cannot trust our words then trust your eyes. We are healthy and strong, but we do not drink the water of your ocean. You do and you are dying. Do you not wish to live and be happy? “ With that she went to the well, filled her cup and drank. Turning to the angry elder she offered it saying, “ Do not be afraid. Trust your own body. Drink and you will be nourished. “ Fearful, the man backed away. Then before he could stop him, his son came forward and took the cup and drank long. The people held their breath and waited in silence. Slowly the young man lowered the cup and paused. Suddenly he broke into a grin, lifted his face to the sky and raised his cup high shouting, “ It is good!!!””
This story taught me that the test of goodness for any path depended upon me going within and trusting my inner experience to recognize that which was life sustaining – that which brought unity/wholeness/healing. That I would know what was true by the deep way I would resonate with it and by the way it fed my soul bringing me greater peace, love and joy.