People often ask why teachers like Jesus or Buddha didn’t just come out and say what they meant. Why did they teach in parables and riddles? Some believe such teachings are nothing more than escapist nonsense.
If the truth we need to live our lives were only historical or scientific facts, we would not need religion at all. If we were empty buckets to be filled with water or nails, life could be described in our ordinary language. But we are not looking for a meaningful description of life, we are looking for meaningful lives!
As Einstein said, our situation here upon earth is very strange. Picture the following image: Pretend that we all live in little cabins built over a great cavern. The cavern is filled with unbelievable beauty and each cabin has an entrance to the cave, but few of us even suspect that we are connected to each other, much less that we are connected to such a staggering majesty.
Our situation is actually stranger than that. We are like waves who see our isolated birth and death, but may not realize we are all expressions of a deeper ocean. Paul Tillich seems to have explored this strange land when he writes, “The most intimate motions within the depths of our souls are not completely our own. For they belong also to our friends, to humankind, to the universe and to the ground of being, the aim of our life.”
What we perceive as our own isolated self is the tip of the iceberg. Jesus has been painted standing on the outside of our door knocking to come in. In fact, we are the ones locked out of our own larger house and we do not even remember that we have the keys to get back in. We sometimes speak of spiritual masters. We do not need a master over us, but we may need help from someone who has mastered the mysteries of the vast cavern that connects us all. What a paradox, we need a guide into the deeper regions of our own mysterious souls!