Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Coming of the Great Master: Part 1

Here is my latest spiritual allegory.

In a quiet Village somewhere, there was once told a prophecy of the coming of a great spiritual master. The story was passed on for many generations until one day a gathering of true believers deemed that the coming was near at hand.

"What should we do?" asks a bearded man in a blue robe.

It is a good question, so the believers discuss it for many weeks in great length until an elderly fellow in a yellow robe decries, "For any great master, he should have a great house to live in."

To which the others whole-heartedly agree, and they go about collecting the money and materials to build this monument to house the greatness of the coming teacher. They search high and low for the best materials, the finest woods, the purest metals, and they bankrupt the Village twice in the process. But at last, a beautiful temple stands within the Village confines.

And the Believers congratulate each other on its stained glass, great hallways and rooms, and its massive doors. But on the inside, there are no paintings or mandalas or statues or tapestries.

Very distressed, a woman in a red robe cries out, "How can we have a master in so empty a place? We must fill it up with things worthy of him."

So the Believers seek out the finest craftsmen and most skilled seamstresses to paint, sculpt, sew, and draw many wondrous works. Soon enough, the halls are filled with splendorous paintings and statues and drapes from these great artists and crafts creators. But during this time a great famine has come upon the land. Times are now very difficult. The Believers gather daily to commiserate, saying, "We hope the master comes soon to help guide us through these difficulties."

But even amidst these difficulties, the Believers realize that there is nothing to nourish the master and no clothes for him to wear. An elderly woman in a purple robe wails, "Oh how could we be so forgetful? The master must have food to eat, wine to drink, and something to wear."

Quickly, they act to fill the pantry even though they don't know when the master will come. The Believers find many great and sumptuous meats and sweets. They find tailors to sew beautiful, ornate robes like theirs, and the great vineyards send amazing wines to quench the master's thirst. And even as the food spoils and goes uneaten or moths damage the clothes, the Believers make sure that everything is replenished during their long vigil for the great master.

At last, the Believers feel that they are ready when a man in an orange robe and a woman in a green robe both exclaim, "What if he comes at night?"

Momentarily confounded, they worry that the master will get lost in the dark and will not find his way to the great house. So they commission thousands of candles to ensure that light will always illuminate the great temple. So each night, a great light shines out on a land where harvests have dwindled and many homeless now wander. The difficult times become even harder, and the Believers pray even more ardently greatly saddened to have seen their beloved Village fall into such disarray.

Then one day they hear a knock at the door.

Excited and overwhelmed, they rush to the door, lining up in order to greet the master. But when they open it, there is only a poor girl dressed in rags.

"What do you want?" the yellow-robed man demands.

"I am looking for a place to rest," she says. "May I rest here?"

"No. This is the house of the master whom we are waiting for. You will have to look elsewhere."

"And where should I go? I am new to these parts, and it is getting cold and late."

The old man sighs. "Try blind Ethel's half-way house down the lane to the right. She may have a spare cot for one such as you."

"Thank you," the girl replies and leaves.

Meanwhile, the Believers are very discontent. "How can we have such people in our village? What would the master think?" the woman in the red robe asks.

The others shake their heads, but there is little money in the Village to address these things. And their remaining resources are focused on the temple and keeping it ready for the coming of the master.

The next day, they hear another knock at the door just as they've re-stocked the pantry to replace the spoiled food.

Quickly they line up again to greet the master, and the elderly woman in the purple robe opens the door. But once again the Believers are disappointed as it is just the girl in rags who has returned.

"You again? What do you want this time?" the elderly woman asks.

"I wanted to see if you had some bread to share with me. I smelled something delicious and thought you might have extra," the girl replies.

"No, my dear. All the food here is for the master when he comes."

"Well, if you have none to share, who might?"

The Believer wrings her hands in frustration. "Oh. I don't know. These are difficult times for everyone. Try the Farmer who lives by the Mill at the end of the lane. His family is large. They may have more food."

"Thank you." And the girl walks away.

Even more frustrated, the Believers ponder the sorry state of their Village. So much misfortune has descended upon them even as they'd spent so much time and effort preparing for the master.

"Oh this must be our lot to bear," says the man in the orange robe.

They nod in silent agreement and vow to continue to shoulder this burden.

Several days pass and once again, there is a knock at the door. The hearts of all the Believers leap. They dash to the door without lining up and fling it open. But once more, it is the same girl in rags.

"Hello again. As you can see, my clothes are nothing but rags. Do you have anything that I can wear?" she asks.

All at once they proclaim, "No! The clothes here are only for the master."

"Then is there some place where I might go to get some for free as I have no money."

The Believers grumble and pass hard looks back and forth. Seeing that the girl won't take the hint and leave, the woman in the green robe says finally, "Try the Tailor by the River."

And they slam the door shut. They hope that the third time is a charm and that they'd finally be done with her.

Sure enough, she doesn't come back, but over the coming weeks word spreads about amazing healings, bountiful crops, and beautiful clothing. Outsiders begin to come to the land again in search of these things. The marketplace fills up with food, fine garments, and tapestries.

The Believers find their faith renewed.

"Surely, it must be the master come at last," the woman in the green robe says. "Let us gather up our gifts and invite him to this great house."

So they gather up many great and beautiful gifts, collect excellent wines, and fill bags with sumptuous delicacies. They go out and search. 

Discover what the Believers find out in the conclusion in Part 2 on this link.
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