There is a story in the Christian Scriptures of the Father and the Prodigal Son, which has a far deeper meaning than we may at first believe. Truly, it seems as if we had lost the keys for understanding the human soul, and with them the wunderblume, or "marvel of Peru" which has within it the power not only to burst open for us the rock of selfishness, but likewise to open the door to that pathway that leads toward the portals of the gods.
Slowly but surely we have forgotten what the great Syrian initiate taught, and what his meaning was when he pointed out the great mysteries of the human heart to his disciples. We have forgotten, I say, because we have not sufficiently reflected upon his teachings. Also because we allowed that spark of intuition which He was so eager to fan into a mighty flame to become nearly extinct.
At times, however, we divine that it is our most important task to become what we actually are: children of the gods, heroes of the soul, sons of the sparkling stars. And there is a soft-whispering voice within us that never fails to bring this ancient message again and again before our inner attention, and to tell us: "Look, what thou art, O Soul! Clothe thyself with the garments of eternity, and adorn thyself with the crown of peace!" But, alas! we can hear this voice only when we forget our personality utterly and thoroughly. In those moments we see Truth like the flashing sparks of light in a dark forge.
There is a very old tradition found in all great religions and philosophies, which seems to come directly out of the heart of time. This tradition tells that once upon a time man left the abode of heaven because he aspired at self-conscious knowledge, and life after life, travelling, he took the way down into the fields of matter, and temporarily forgot his divine origin, for the bonds of ignorance, the veils of substance, became tightly fastened to his eyes.
Many were the ages that passed, so that man also forgot that he had come this way only to gather experience, and through that experience to learn what was real and what was not. However, it is said that one day after many many lives, he will once again stand before the Golden Gate, tired and with torn garments, but richer with experience and comprehension, richer with discrimination and knowledge, and richer too with wisdom, understanding, love and compassion. For then he will have become a self-conscious part of his own divinity, having found the solution to the eternal question of good and evil.
I do not know whether Jesus, the Syrian teacher, alluded to this thought or not when telling his disciples this parable of the Prodigal Son. But there is a mighty power contained in endeavoring to realize that we as souls are on a long pilgrimage, stretching far behind us, and yet stretching as far before us, bringing mankind to that point from which we proceeded as tiny god-sparks. To succeed in our goal we must burst through the rock of ignorance and selfishness, and follow the star within ourselves. Then truly we shall find ourselves in the land that leads to the dawn of Day.
(From Sunrise magazine, February 1952; copyright © 1952 Theosophical University Press)
I am a citizen, not of Athens or Greece, but of the world — Socrates