Monday, November 28, 2011

The Parable of the Spoons

One night, a man had a dream. He found himself in a room, completely sealed off from the outside world.  There were no doors or windows and no way to escape.  After several hours of walking around the room, a door appeared that he hadn't noticed before; on it was an inscription that read, "For the Damned."  The man hesitated, but seeing no other escape, he walked through the door.

On the other side of the door was a bright, well-lit and ornately decorated room, centered around a long, lavishly appointed banquet table. On the table were hearty meats, savory vegetables, exquisite delicacies, and mouthwatering desserts, elaborately prepared and presented for the table guests.  Several people were seated around the table, but none were eating.  As the man looked closer, he saw that each of the people were tied to their chairs, with one hand tied behind the seat back. The other hand was free, but it held a spoon too long to be of any use to its owner.  The man saw the people load their spoons and turn them back towards themselves, but there was no way for them to hold the spoon in such a way as to feed themselves.  He watched in horror as the people, pale and emaciated, starved to death in agony.

He ran from the banquet hall back into the room in which he originally found himself. On the other side of the room, he noticed another door, upon which he read, "For the Saved." He walked through the door and thought for a moment he'd walked through the first door again.  The room looked identical, with the same embellishments, decorations, and elaborately spread banquet table. The guests at the table were again tied to their chairs, with one free hand holding a spoon that was far too long for them to eat from.  However, the guests were happy and well-fed, each one laughing and talking jocularly with the others. As the man looked closer he noticed a critical difference between the rooms: while the inhabitants of the first had been unable to feed themselves with their spoons, the guests of the second realized that they instead could feed their neighbors with their spoons and be fed in kind.  In serving each other, the saved found life and happiness.

The man realized that Heaven and Hell offered the same circumstances; the difference laid in the way that people treated each other.

Taken from Hindu and Judaic allegories

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