(Posted on September14, 2013 by David McMillin)
[NOTE: While serving as mentor for an online version of “A Search For God” study group and working on the Destiny of the Soul lesson, a class member commented on a segment of the video overview about the atheist perspective of after-life and also her understanding of the parable of the prodigal son. Here is my reply to her observations. – David McMillin]
Yes, I do the voice-over narrations for all my videos. There are many apparent motivations for not believing in God (remembering that there are many concepts of God, some of which are a bit strange). But most of it can be boiled down to rebellion of one form or other. And it seems to me that many avowed atheists are primarily rejecting certain theological constructions (concepts of God) that they find repulsive. When it comes to living love, applying an ideal, relating to God within and without, etc there often seems to be obvious soul growth, or at least the potential for same. Certainly, no room for judgment either way. We are all siblings in the family of God. Which brings us to the parable of the prodigal son and his obedient brother.
The rebellion in the parable of the prodigal son is pretty obvious. And as you have noted, it doesn’t seem very fair that he should seem to have gotten preferential treatment over his obedient brother who stayed at home. That’s a hard teaching. In that sense, the outcome in this parable is somewhat similar to the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30). Another hard teaching!
Like most good parables there are many layers to this one, including some sense of paradox or apparent contradiction. There seems to be a premium set on the use of will, even rebellious or misdirected will. Will is a gift of the Creator – that attribute of the soul that provides the possibility of individuality for the soul. Thus the soul may know itself to be itself, yet one with the Whole. There is a deep psychological truth in this dynamic that is the basis for all healthy relationships, including the soul’s relationship to its Source. The prodigal son seems to have attained this level of relationship through his adventure, pigsty and all.
The prodigal son was certainly willful in his choices at the beginning of the parable. The turning point in the story seems to be a realization – "when he came to himself he said …" There is a shift in consciousness and a new choice is made and acted upon. He just wanted to restore a relationship to his father, even if that meant simply being a servant in his father’s presence. There was a "thy will be done" moment when he bottomed out.
With regard to the Destiny of the Soul, the gist seems to be that every soul is precious and makes it back home, back to the Source, regardless of the path that is taken. The key is to make the choice to return to consciousness of Oneness with the Source. That is what the readings call "Christ Consciousness" (and also universal consciousness, divine consciousness, etc). That is the Destiny of the Soul. The universe appears designed to assist us in making it back, even considering the extreme rebelliousness of some souls.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences with this exercise. Your awareness of the multiple perspectives, including the lesson to be learned by the obedient sibling that had to wrestle with bitterness, is very special and part of the broader story that is sometimes overlooked. Glad to hear that are able to see how this powerful story is relevant to your spiritual journey. Blessings, Dave