The Poisoned Water

A Parable For Our Time

"Spiritual life is like living water that springs up from the very depths of your own spiritual experience. In spiritual life, everyone has to drink from his or her own well."
Bernard of Clairvaux

     Once upon a time a band of sages--having gained an understanding of what was happening in the two realms--warned the people of their land that evil rulers were poisoning all the wells, streams, lakes, and underground reservoirs, and that soon the poisoned water would take effect, driving all those who drank it to utter madness. The small group of sages were called Perennialists.

     The people of the land dismissed the Perennialists' warnings as the rantings of madmen, and not only did nothing to stop the poisoning of their water supplies, but helped the evil rulers to poison their water even more rapidly and effectively.

      The Perennialist sages collected uncontaminated water and went to a secure place where they stored it. They also discovered hidden springs and set up a system to collect fresh rainwater from the heavens as well. They waited for the common, stored water to change the character of the people.

     Observing their nation's people going progressivley, though invisibly, mad from the poisoned water, the Perennialist sages found that people were thinking and talking in an entirely different way from before. Yet the people had no awareness of how they were changing, no memory of what had happened, no recollection of having been warned.

      When the Perennialist sages tried to talk to the people, they realized that the people thought that the Perennialists were mad, and the people showed hostility or indifference, not understanding.

     A few beginning students of the Perennialists (aspirants) at first drank none of the new water, but finally made the decision to drink the poisoned water because they could not bear the loneliness of living, behaving and thinking in a different way from everyone else. This group of students drank the poisoned water and became like the rest of the people. They forgot all about the Perennialist store of special water and the Perennialists themselves. The people of the land looked upon this group of students as madmen who had miraculously been restored to sanity.

     The small band of Perennialist sages continues to live within the land, appearing to the madness-stricken people as similar to them. The Perennialists make available to selected initiates (tested students) the experience and knowledge of pure water, of how to receive fresh water supplies, and how this water brings about a total re-transformation in their personality, behavior, and being.

"Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again. But whoever drinks the water I will give him will never be thirsty again. For my gift will become a spring in the person himself, welling up into eternal life."

A Perennialist Teacher