In my journey to find my true self hidden deep within me, I came across this parable that explained a lot of my problems with shame. Here’s the parable:

There once was a man who was sentenced to die. He was blindfolded and put in a pitched black cave. The cave was 100 yards by 100 yards. He was told that there was a way out and if he could find it, he’ll be a free man.

After a rock was secured at the entrance of the cave, the prisoner was allowed to take the blindfold off and roam freely in the darkness. He was fed bread and water for thirty-days and nothing thereafter. The bread and water were lowered down from a small hole in the roof in the south end of the cave. The ceiling was about 18 feet high. The opening was about one foot in diameter. The prisoner could see a faint light above but no light into the cave.

As the prisoner roamed and crawled around the cave, he bumped into rocks. Some were rather large. He thought that if he could build a mount of rocks and dirt high enough, he could reach the opening and enlarge it enough to crawl through and escape. Since he was five feet, nine inches tall and his reach was another two feet, the mount had to be at least ten feet high.

So, the prisoner spent his waking hours picking up rocks and digging up dirt. At the end of two weeks, he had built a mound of about six feet. He thought that if he could duplicate that in the next two weeks, he could make it before his food run out. But as he had already used up most of the rocks in the cave, he had to dig harder and harder. He had to do the digging with his bare hands. After a month had passed, the mound was nine and one-half feet high and he could almost reach the opening if he jumped. He was exhausted and extremely weak.

One day just as he thought he could touch the opening, he fell. He was simply too weak to get up and in two days he died. His captors came to get his body. They rolled away the huge rock that covered the entrance. As the lights flooded into the cave, it illuminated on opening in the wall of the cave about three feet in circumference.

It was the opening to a tunnel that led to the other side of the mountain. This was the passage to freedom the prisoner had been told about. It was in the south wall directly under the opening in the ceiling. All the prisoner had to do was crawl about two hundred feet and he would have found freedom. He had so completely focused on the light that it never occurred to him to look for freedom in the darkness. Liberation was there all the time, right next to the mound he was building, but it was in the darkness.

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