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The Prodigal Son

By November 6, 2013April 23rd, 2020Articles, Read

Many of us are drawn into spiritual seeking not to achieve those lofty goals of ‘liberation’ or ‘enlightenment’, but out of a deep feeling of disconnection, a yearning to truly meet others beyond the superficial, to rediscover the deep love that we feel we’ve lost.

As we journey along ‘the path’ we hear the message that the separate ‘me’ we believe ourself to be—the supposed thinker, do-er and chooser—is simply that, a belief, a grand delusion. But the full gravity of that message has such radical implications, is so utterly devastating to our current world view, that it often remains purely conceptual and not our lived reality. However willing, however open we are to the possibility that we are much more than we imagine ourself to be, rather than risk falling into the unknown we can’t help but cling to our familiar repertoire of self images—even the ‘I’m useless’, ‘I’m guilty’, ‘I’m scum’ beliefs seem preferable to that sense of total abandonment.

And so we hang in there, adding a few more spiritual books and videos to the pile (and certainly not a novel or a hollywood blockbuster!) wondering which sentence will deliver the magic silver bullet that will end all the yearning. We turn the next page and there it is again, “’you’ are not the author of your life!” But it still feels as if, without the supposed ‘me’ in charge, our world will surely fall apart and we’ll end up in some kind of terrible danger; how exactly that danger looks is uncertain, for it lurks like a terrifying monster that is always just out of sight, but we can feel its grisly presence.

We inquire and seek, seek and inquire with ever increasing intensity until the frequency may reach fever pitch. Perhaps we wish we’d never started in the first place and could call the whole thing off, but we can’t! Our thoughts become a boxing match between ‘me’ and ‘myself’: ‘I’m almost there’, ‘there is only here’; ‘I’ve finally got it!’, ‘there’s nothing to get’; ‘argh I’ve lost it!’, ‘there’s nothing to lose’ . . . on and on it goes, round after round, until we finally fall to the floor with exhaustion.

In the still aftermath of our frenzied seeking, our utter failure to get ‘there’ becomes our blessing.

With nowhere left to look and nothing left to hold, the essence of that terrifying/relieving message finally starts to dawn. As we fall into our fears, as we expose our deep sense of vulnerability, it’s not that the seeker becomes a finder but the very notion of a ‘me’ that seeks falls apart.

We are like the prodigal son who, having separated from his father, loses everything. Feeling empty, hungry and full of sorrow, he finally comes to his senses and returns once more to his father’s land to beg for forgiveness. And in the joyous re-union that follows, ‘we’ are embraced by the ‘father’, into whose infinite arms we merge.

Our essential nature is revealed: we never were truly separated from the Father/God/Awareness/Presence/Being, we are THAT within and out of which all arises and dissolves, including this unique character we imagined ourself to exclusively be, along with all its gifts and foibles.

We are a living paradox that thought could never understand: time within the timeless, dimensions within the dimensionless, form within the formless, individuality within the indivisible—the ultimate game of dressing up.

With every step along the journey we were already home; being each step, the journey and the traveller. Our emptiness overflows with the fullness of life—we are the wind in the trees, the splash of rain in a puddle, the movement of the breath, the beat of the heart, an opening door and a welcoming smile, a cosy room on a cold winter’s day, a cup of tea and a biscuit, the taste and texture of biscuit on the tongue, the warmth of the cup in the hand. Where is the edge of that sensation? Where do I this aware presence end and that sensation begin?! Every situation, every experience, every single perception is singing out, “Hello! Here You are! This is You, You being this-right-now. Hello!”

As those old mis-beliefs begin to melt away, that deep, divine Love that seemed lost is rediscovered. Not love as a blissful feeling that comes and goes, not my love for you or your love for me, but Love that recognises itself in all that is—in each and every facet of this glorious, exhilarating, gut wrenching, heart breaking, vertigo inducing, roller-coaster ride of being alive.

No matter how expressive our language, however precise our choice of vocabulary, however talented we are at spilling the contents of our heart onto the page, it’s never that.

Inexpressible, incomprehensible, unavoidable—“ . . . ”