Knowledge of ourselves teaches us whence we come, where we are and whither we are going. We come from God and we are in exile; and it is because our potency of affection tends towards God that we are aware of this state of exile.
JAN VAN RUYSBROECK
LIKE THE story of the prodigal son in the Bible, in India we tell a simple story of a prince who is kidnapped by robbers when he is very young. He forgets all about the palace, even about his father and mother. He just grows up as a bandit, learning to master the bow and arrow, ambush passersby, and disappear without getting caught. Then one day the king’s spiritual teacher happens by. Many years have passed; the little child is a grown man, rough and cocksure. But the teacher recognizes him, and with great love embraces him, and calls him “your royal highness.” The young man, outraged, pushes him away. But the teacher’s faith is unshaken. He begins to tell the young man stories about his childhood, how life used to be in the palace. Gradually the prince begins to remember. Finally, memory clears. He draws himself up: “Now I recall,” he says slowly, as if awakening from a dream. “I’m not a bandit. I simply forgot who I was.” Truly a prince, he goes home to his father and mother. We are all children of God, but we’ve forgotten who we are.
– Eknath Easwaran