The Divinity Within

41g1RobIEPL._AC_US160_Kate Atkinson’s novel A God in Ruins is a complex story of family, war, faith, and regret taking place in England before, during, and after World War II. Near the end of the book, one of the characters goes to a retreat center in Bali where she hears her son relate this ancient story:

There is a Hindu legend that tells us that there was once a time when all men were gods, but they abused their divinity. Brahma, the god of creation, concluded that people had lost their right to their divinity and decided to take it away from them.  Wanting to hide it somewhere where they wouldn’t be able to find it, he called a council of all the gods to advise him. Some suggested that he bury it deep in the earth, others that they sink it in the ocean, others still suggested it be placed on top of the highest mountain, but Brahma said that mankind was ingenious and would dig down far into the earth, trawl the deepest oceans and climb every mountain in an effort to find it again.

The gods were on the point of giving up when Brahma said, "I know where we will hide man's divinity, we will hide it inside him.  He will search the whole world but never look inside and find what is already within."

While I don't like Brahma's dim view of man's capacity to grow, I do like the reminder this story offers us, which appears not just in Hinduism, but in Sufism, Buddhism, and even Christianity too.  All of the great wisdom traditions urge us to look within and hone our innate capacities for wisdom, intelligence, intuition, and creativity.  Find your path, and let it lead you to the highest expression of yourself.