The word "parables" refers to any short fictitious story that illustrates a moral attitude or religious principle. All traditions are rich with them. But when they think of parables, many people think specifically of the Jesus teachings about the nature of the kingdom of God. The translator Stephen Mitchell says in his book, The Gospel According to Jesus, that when Jesus spoke of the kingdom of God, he meant a state in which we live "as if we were floating in the womb of the universe, that we are being taken care of, always, at every moment."
Similarly, Brother David Sterndl-Rast wrote that Jesus meant, "'God's saving power made manifest.' Thus the kingdom has come wherever that manifestation takes place – in our hearts, in our relationships, wherever we are given the strength to overcome alienation (…from our true selves)." So the parables that Jesus tells are meant to give us a feeling that helps us recognize when we enter that powerful healing space in consciousness. Jesus said frequently that the kingdom of God is within.
One way to access that kingdom within your own consciousness is to meditate on parables. Something that will enrich your enjoyment and understanding is to know that parables are like dreams. Every character in the story represents an aspect of the self.
There is a very well worn story called the Parable of the Prodigal Son. There was a man who had two sons. The younger requested, and received, his inheritance early. He left and blew it all in "riotous living." Flat broke and desperate, he was reduced to slopping pigs for a farmer somewhere (to the Jewish audience that first heard this story, this was a very low bottom). At his lowest point, the young man remembered who he was and decided to go to his father, apologize for wasting his inheritance, and offer to be a his father's servant.
However, the prodigal's father seemed not to even hear this offer. When the son was "yet a long way" away from home, his father saw him coming. Rejoicing, he put his own ring on his young son's finger and instructed his older, dutiful son to prepare a feast for his brother. The son did as instructed, but would not go in and join the celebration. When he learned of the elder son's resentment, the father reminded him that, since he always lived there, all that the father had was his all along.
The prodigal son parable shows us three characters that live in the kingdom of God, though they are all at different stage of awareness. There is the fully awake father, who is unafraid to let go of his money and his son, and who is still unafraid to love his son upon his return. There is the prodigal himself, who awakens to his own identity, and who remembers that he need not live his life in remorse and self-recrimination. Finally, the kingdom of God is even in the resentful elder brother, who reaches out to his father from his judgment and hurt, and his honesty is rewarded by the reminder that he, too, has access to all the father has.
Through this and all parables, enlightened ones through the ages give us an important teaching. No matter what role we play, whether dutiful or prodigal, we are children of an abundant universe. Abundance and love are ours, whether we realize it or not. All we need do is remember who we are, and be willing to serve and to celebrate.
Amy Biddle has been a lifetime student and teacher of spiritual principles. Spiritual Healing Secrets is a fast-growing resource for anyone who wants to improve her or himself, or simply to learn practical spiritual principles. Let Amy help you improve your life! Discover the secrets at http://www.spiritual-healing-secrets.com .
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