The One True Shape:
Who has it?
Once upon a time, there was a teacher. This teacher taught people how to live and care for each other and their planet. He taught them to be responsible, and compassionate. He taught them to spend less and less time being self-centered and more and more time doing compassionate things and being compassionate people. He told them that their Creator loved each one of them, and wanted a deeper relationship with everyone.
He had a small problem, though. The teacher was trying to teach people something that they couldn't easily understand. Some focused on all the things that were not perfect on their planet, and used the existence of these things to prove the teacher was wrong. Poverty, famine, drought, greed, crime, and unequal distribution of wealth was what some could not forget. How could a loving Creator allow these?
The teacher wanted to give them a taste of deeper truths. He wanted them to work together with their Creator to get even deeper truths. He often used analogies to explain truth to them. One of his previously unrecorded analogies is this story. He decided to teach them multiple truths about "Truth" by describing a beautiful shape to them, but only in terms that they were ready to understand.
Here He chose to use a physical shape to symbolize truth because the culture they were from did not easily make three dimensional drawings. They held such a high esteem for truth, and it was impossible in their eyes to accurately draw a three dimensional picture on a two dimensional piece of paper. Thus, to avoid inaccuracy and confusion, they banned any attempts at three dimensional drawings.
He would ignore the ban, and suffered for it. Those that listened to him drew two dimensional views of it, and they were convinced that they were getting the truth, the whole truth (as they allowed) and nothing but the truth. He did tell them that 'the Truth will set you free'.
One group heard Him describing a drawing of a square. This fit their culture well, and it became quite popular. They easily grasped the concepts of 'everything has a time and a place', and 'to everything there is a purpose'. They liked structure and order and security and consistency. The also believed that they had to take the message they understood to the four corners of the world. They became evangelistic, adventurous and militant. They loved what they had heard the One Great Teacher say to them.
Another group heard Him describing a drawing of a circle. This was a group that understood doing things smoothly, with as little strive as possible. The liked working as teams, and to have a symbol that made sense to them was wonderful. They saw the unity of all people, the common brotherhood of all mankind. They knew that everyone is a child of God, and should be treated as such. They were very peaceful, and compliant. They were excellent servants and workers even to those that despised them. They loved what they had heard the One Great Teacher say to them.
Yet another group heard Him describing a drawing of a triangle as tall as it was wide. They understood how life is not just one thing, or one sided. They knew that there was more to life and society than one sees. Like air, the unseen is important and vital. They focused on the trilogy of body, soul and spirit. They focused on a three-fold nature of the Creator. They believed in the meaning of past, present and future. They grasped prophecy, already fulfilled prophecy and prophecy yet unfulfilled. They loved what they had heard the One Great Teacher say to them.
In each case, each group believed that they had been given the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. They forgot their own limitations on understanding three dimensional objects in a two dimensional world.
While they heard the message that they were each special in their Creator's eyes, they took that message to mean that they 'as a group' were special in their Creator's eyes, not so much as individuals. Almost naturally, they each took it upon themselves to believe that there was nothing of truth outside of what they had. They would only listen to themselves. (For further comment on the dangers of listening to those you agree with, go to my commentary on "Spiritual Incest".)
They formed cliques against each other, and separated themselves. Where once they were pleased to let everyone know that they all had the same teacher, they now referred to themselves as belonging to the 'four-corners', the 'perfect circle' or the 'three-sided stars'.
To their credit, they found good things in what they had been given. The first group recognized the need to be truthful to "the four corners of the world". The second group saw the continuity, unity and even eternity of life. The third saw that life is part material, part emotional and part spiritual.
However, many of them focused on what kept them apart. Since they all knew that there was only "One True Shape", and that they all had different shapes, they came to the 'natural' conclusion that only their shape was true. After all, hadn't the One Great Teacher entrusted it to them for a purpose! They assumed that they had understood the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, as God helped them. They never established harmony with each other, and truth be told, some of the most passionate violence in history was amongst them. They purged the world of each other, or at least tried.
It stayed that way for many years, even decades. One would think that the One Great Teacher would have been disappointed with what was left behind. But they didn't really know what was happening.
Yet, over the years, there were others who claimed to have seen the "Great One" as he became to be know, in a vision. In this vision they each believed they had been given yet a new design.
They believed they saw a circle, with the top half lit and the bottom half dark. They focused on the struggle between good and evil, and how good will overcome evil, and how good is better than evil. They also realized that they had important roles in making sure that good overcame evil, and, despite sharing the 'circle' with the very peaceful group, they became evangelistic, adventurous and militant.
Yet another such group, in looking closer at the 'triangle' original document, stated that it was revealed to them that the triangle actually had the outline of what looked like a tree in it. It must be an evergreen, being wider at the bottom and gradually getting thinner as it goes up. Thus, they became known as "The Tree Lovers". Since trees grow, this meant to them that growth was a major part of life, and should be a major focus for all. They focused on spiritual growth and protecting the environment. Since they had grown beyond all the others, in that they were the only ones that understood this shape, they became self-righteous faster than most of the other groups.
Then, another radical group came forward. They had also gotten 'better' translations of the original 'square' document to reveal something extraordinary. There was also a shape within the shape. It almost looked like, well, you decide what it looks like. They became known as "The Mysterious Ones". They focused on the mysteries of life, the unanswerable questions, the ironies of life and death, disease and health, and pain and joy. Because no one understood them, they withdrew from society and tried to live in their own communities, apart from others.
Did these three groups realize what they had in common with each other? Yes, their persecution by the original three. Because each of them had "warped" what the original had, they were looked down upon, disgraced and rejected. So, what was their response? To persecute back, to condemn and to believe in their own purity and the lower state of the others!
Of course, many took this diversity to splinter even more. Some even took the existence of so many groups as proof that the Great One either never was great or never really existed! How could the TRUTH come in so many flavors? Since that was not logical, it was only logical to them that there was no absolute Truth, only relative truths. Most focused on what made them different from each other. The 'Tree Lovers', for instance, started to really focus on all forms of life and preservation of the planet while ignoring divine issues. The 'Mysterious Ones' started to court mystery and intrigue above all other virtues while ignoring compassion and humility.
It also seemed that the more energy came into these three new groups, the more energy the older groups gathered to spread the fight that had only the three originals in the ring to include the new-comers. Since this increase in fighting was changing daily, the local media took it upon themselves to decide that everyone needed to know every nuance of every little battle, and they kindled the flame. Even though they were also followers of the One Great Teacher, they ignored His warnings about gossip, and His reminders about 'love one another, even your enemies.
No, not all fell into this fight, this foolishness, just the vocal ones. There were those that did not join in the fray, but they were easy to overlook and dismiss.
And so it stayed for many decades, nay, many centuries.