"The Art of Following": An Allegory
March 1, 2018
Here is a story that came to me for our class on attunement during Inner Renewal Week.
A teacher gives each of his students a map and tells them, “This map leads to a great treasure. Each of your maps is different, but they’ll all lead you to the same prize.”
Then he adds, “But follow only the one I’ve given you. Don’t look at anyone else’s map.”
With eager anticipation, they set out as a group on their journey. At first the way is easy, along a familiar road. They talk and laugh along the way, enjoying the fellowship and the promise of treasure.
After a while, some of the students grow bored with the unvarying landscape, and decide to take what looks like a shortcut. Some of these are never seen again. After some time the others are observed returning, looking tired and disappointed. These wanderers find that they must return to the point where they departed from their map.
Still another group become impatient with the plodding route given to them and think, “It looks like my neighbor has a better, easier path. I’ll take a peek at his map and follow that.” But when they begin to follow the other’s way, it leads them to a dead end, or to the precipice of a high cliff. They, too, must retrace their steps back to where they diverged.
But there is a third group who think, “I will follow the path that my teacher gave me, although it seems slow and the landscape unchanging.”
The impatient ones looking for a quicker way begin to taunt them: “Can’t you think for yourself? Our teacher doesn’t even have a GPS! His ways are antiquated!”
“Never mind,” the patient ones reply. “I will follow the way given to me. Our teacher has the best GPS—“God’s PoleStar.”
As the students continue toward the treasure, the lines on their map become fainter, until they are almost invisible. The countryside is now unfamiliar and strange. They grow uneasy.
Some say, “I’ve come so far, but I don’t know how to proceed. I’ll stay here, and perhaps in time guidance will come.”
Others ask directions from strangers they meet along the road, and depart back to familiar territory.
But a small group inwardly call to their teacher, “I have made you polestar of my life. Though my way is dark, and my stars are gone, let me find my way through your mercy.” The lines on their map mysteriously begin to reappear, and now are traced in gold.
Finally, as this handful of students grow closer to the end of their quest, a dark cloud envelops them. To their shock, their map is now completely blank!
“Teacher,” they cry in distress, “I am lost and afraid. Why have you abandoned me so close to the treasure?”
In the darkness they hear his voice say, “To those who think me near, I will be near. Go within and feel my guidance.”
In inner stillness, the students see a beautiful golden light within their forehead. In it appears a radiant blue field with a silvery-white star in the middle, beckoning them forward.
They realize that this last stage of their journey isn’t traveled by outer pathways, but through the inner landscape of consciousness. The faithful few allow their map to fall from their hands, and hear their teacher’s voice saying, “Surrender to me all that you are, or know, or have.”
With devotion and trust, they surrender completely, and realize that the treasure they were seeking was never outside of them. It was always within, waiting for that moment of total self-offering to their teacher, their divine friend, their guru.
Hand in hand, guru and disciple move forward through the silvery star to the inner treasure they were seeking: their eternal home in the kingdom of God.
In divine friendship,
You may also enjoy reading a parable written by Nayaswamis Jyotish and Devi: "Life Is a Pilgrimage: The Goal Is to Find God."