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Finding the Sacred: A parable [View All]

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TechBear_Seattle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-17-08 02:31 AM
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Finding the Sacred: A parable
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In college many years ago, I took a few religious studies classes to balance out my math major and physics minor. These classes were taught through the philosophy department (most public universities that have such classes teach them as sociology or even political science), which meant that the assignments tended towards the philosophical.

This is a piece I wrote for one of those classes, rediscovered while going through some old boxes this weekend. Let me know what you think.

Finding the Sacred
Copyright 1993 by Gregory Gadow
All rights reserved

When they had finished setting the universe, the Great Ones gathered up what remained of the Sacred and decided that this primordial substance of creation should be made available to the mortal beings. But not just to anyone, they agreed. It should be given only to those who prove themselves worthy of its power. We should appoint a Guardian who will decide who can use it. So, who will guard the Sacred?

I will, said Cthonos, Lord of the Depths. It should be kept in the hidden places, where only the brave shall find it. He placed the Sacred deep below the surface of the earth, in a cavern that was difficult and dangerous to reach. Mortal beings who found this cavern were taught the magic of the Sacred and returned to bring healing and blessings to their people. Soon, though, the journey became special in and of itself, and knowledge of the Sacred was forgotten. Mortal beings travelled to many caverns because they thought this was what the Great Ones wished. So Cthonos returned the Sacred to the Great Ones and the question was asked, Who will guard the Sacred?

I will, said Folia, the Budding Maiden. It should be kept in the boughs of the great trees where it will speak through the leaves, and only those who stop and listen shall hear it. She placed the Sacred high in the branches of a mighty oak, and when the wind blew, the Sacred could be heard in the rustling of the leaves. Mortal beings that rested beneath the tree and listened to the voice of the Sacred could draw upon its power. Soon, though, the tree itself came to be venerated, and knowledge of the Sacred was forgotten. Mortal beings began to venerate many trees and to plant holy groves because they thought such things were what the Great Ones wished. So Folia returned the Sacred to the Great Ones and the question was asked, Who will guard the Sacred?

I will, said Meishou, the Craftsman. It should be dressed in finery and placed in a great hall for everyone to see, but only those with the wisdom to reach out for it shall be able to draw on its power. He crafted an image of precious metal and gems and placed the Sacred within it; then he built a great hall and placed the image within it. Mortal beings came from far and near to stand within the hall and learn of the Sacred. Soon, though, the hall itself came to be a place of ceremony and ritual, and knowledge of the Sacred was forgotten. Other images were fashioned by mortal beings and these were placed within their own halls because they thought this was what the Great Ones wished. So Meishou returned the Sacred to the Great Ones and the question was asked, Who will guard the Sacred?

I will, said Seren, the Teller of Tales. It should be placed among the stars and those with the patience to study the movement of the planets shall gain its knowledge. She arranged the stars to form heroes and beasts out of legend, and directed the planets to dance from one constellation to another. Mortal beings gazed up, and those who were patient learned many things over the course of months and years. Soon, though, this information came to be used for personal gain, and knowledge of the Sacred was forgotten. Stargazers hid what they had come to know except when it was to their profit because they thought this was what the Great Ones wished. So Seren returned the Sacred to the Great Ones and the question was asked, Who will guard the Sacred?

I will, said Haqaq, the Lawgiver. It should be placed within the rules by which mortal beings direct their actions so that those who follow these rules shall be blessed. He translated the Sacred into words, carved these words onto tablets and called upon all mortal beings to memorize the words and keep them in their hearts. They did so, and many found blessings. Soon, though, leaders among the mortal beings hid the tablets and replaced the words of the Sacred with rules of their own making because they thought this was what the Great Ones wished. So Haqaq returned the Sacred to the Great Ones and the question was asked, Who will guard the Sacred?

The Great Ones looked at one another. All who had taken up this task had failed, and no one wanted to be next. Finally, one of them spoke.

I will, said Istani, the Trickster. There was a moment of stunned silence, then a nervous chuckle. That chuckle spawn a few giggles, and soon the whole assembly of Great Ones was laughing at the very thought. You? they said. What will you do? Place the Sacred in a cream pie so it can be revealed to the one who gets it in the face? Shape it into a turd and send it from punch bowl to punch bowl?

All fine ideas, he said. But no. Unless someone else is willing to step up, however....

Grudgingly, they gave him the Sacred. Istani spread it around, a little bit here, a little bit there, always into things that make life worth living: the beauty of a sunset, the satisfaction of a job well done, the pleasure of mutual love expressed in mutual pleasure. Some of the Sacred he put into acts of kindness, some went into the laughter of children, and some was sprinkled into simple, everyday words like Please and Thank you. Mortal beings sought out the Sacred in all these things but focused on none, for the full power of the Sacred would be available only to those who assembled it themselves out of lifes experiences. While there are some mortal beings who want very much to forget where it can be found, knolwedge of the Sacred remains strong. If we are willing to put together the little bits of the Sacred we find around us, we will be worthy of its power.

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