I was in a place of complete darkness. It was a place I knew well and yet I was visiting it with my awareness for the first time. I opened my inner eye of awareness and saw a set of Chinese boxes, made of dark, dark wood with one packed inside the other.
I was where I had always been: in the outermost box, hemmed in on both sides, but I did not care. I had just enough for my needs. I could manage this for a lifetime. I had no connection with the outside world, for this was a prison. I was on a life sentence. I was resigned to never being let out or escaping, in fact I had long since given up on the possibility of escaping. I settled for what I had. I was content. I was alone.
Yet somewhere, faintly sounding in the back of my mind, I heard a child cry out. Something deep in my heart awoke and responded to that cry.
I began to listen carefully to that tiny little voice. It seemed to be coming from the other side of the wall. My listening drew me inwards, to wonder about what was on the other side of the dark, inner wall of my prison. I realised that in the place where I was all I had ever managed to do was to walk in circles.
But if I stopped walking round and made a hole in the wall, what would I find there? I made a very tiny hole in the wall and dared to look through. It was very dark there, and it was filled with fear. I feared that I was stepping into a void; that I would vanish from the world and never find that little voice.
The voice sounded a little louder and in my heart I knew the child was lost and alone in the dark. I felt very sad that this lonely little child had no friend to comfort him.
So I stepped into the dark and fearful place to be near to and comfort the child, but I did not know where I was or what to do. I felt helpless and sad that the child was lonely in his box and I in mine. I realised then that I did not wish to be alone.
I walked round in that new space which was much smaller than my former prison, and very soon I came back to where I had started walking. Round and round I walked, many, many times, but there was no way out. The child was still crying and alone and I grieved for that child and also felt sad to be alone.
I began to wonder how this thing had come about: that I was sad and alone and grieving for a little child who cried out endlessly in the dark but no one came? I wondered who the child was, and why I had always been alone.
I wondered if the child and I could be friends. I wanted to shout out, but I had no voice.
I was left in silence with only the sound of the child's cry to guide me. Then I realised that the silence was all around me. The child's cry had stopped, for he had given up in despair. I tried desperately to call out and found an unaccustomed voice of my own. I cried out in a whispery tone: "Where are you? Why will you not talk to me? I want to be your friend! "
There was silence. There in my dark wooden prison I felt more alone than ever. The silence of that child's cry spoke to me of the death of hope and my heart broke open at last. The pain was terrible. I was racked with it, and clutched at my own body as I knew the pain of true desire at last. And out of that desire came rage and power, that I would have what I wanted! I took my rage and power and smashed the wooden walls of my prison until they lay about me like matchwood.
I stepped towards the centre into the silence where the child had been. There was no sign of the child. He was gone. The wind blew gently around me and I knew freedom, but there was no one there, only myself, staring into the space at the centre of the ruins of my wooden prison.
So I piled up all the wood and made it into a great beacon and lit with the new fire of life that was burning in me. The flames leapt high and the light of the beacon shone out over all the land.
In a distant place where he had been waiting all these long years, a child saw the light I had made and came home.