Teaching Story: The Sincere Aspirant by Ed Hirsch

Teaching Story: The Sincere Aspirant  by Ed Hirsch   (IP blog?)

The story goes that a man had a powerful and illuminating opening into the Divine and felt called to share his inspiration with others. After fasting and fervently praying for how best to go about this, he received the illumination he needed. He gathered the people together and gave inspiring sermons on Divine Law based on readings from the Old Testament. All seemed well, and yet by the end of the week, he found that the people were lying, cheating, stealing, and sleeping around. Alarmed but undaunted, he returned to his prayers with increased devotion. Next week, after receiving Divine Grace, he gathered the people and gave sermons on Divine Love based on readings from the New Testament. To his surprise and chagrin, he found by the end of the week that the people continued lying, cheating, stealing, and sleeping around. Frustrated but not willing to give up, he returned all the more diligently to his prayers. “What must I do, O Lord?” he cried. Surrendering his own will, he again gathered the people. This time, he gave even more inspiring sermons, this time on submission to the Divine, based on readings from the Koran. But by the end of the week, he found that the people were still lying, cheating, stealing, and sleeping around. Now almost driven to distraction and despair, he returned to his prayers. “O Lord, I cannot bear this, show me the Way!” This time, after a tremendous revelation, he gave up his own lying, cheating, stealing, and sleeping around, and lo and behold, the people changed their ways.

Commentary: This can be read in two ways: On a more common level, it turns out that the man, who had been so focused on the errors of others, was committing those very same errors. On a subtler level, the man, who had been so focused on the obvious errors of other people, discovered that he himself was committing those very same errors but just in more subtle ways. By both readings, the message is that self-transformation has the greatest impact on others.

Ed Hirsch conducts free, drop-in weekly groups in The Practice of Presence at a local Ashland residence. Contact him at presenceofone@yahoo.com for information.

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