Whilst facilitating a workshop called “The Christ Within” last weekend in the town of Turku (Finland), I came across a book called Becoming Like God: Kabbalah and Our Ultimate Destiny by Michael Berg.
In the front matter of this book (page 13 and 14) the following story was conveyed:
Once a group of souls descended to this world on a long ladder. Reaching the bottom rung, they sighed, dropped into the world, and became human beings. They sighed, knowing that their birth into this world meant separating from God.
As their days on Earth went by, they repeatedly jumped into the air to grab the bottom rung of the ladder, in a vain attempt to climb back to heaven. Some jumped a few times, then gave up and settled into human existence. Others jumped hundreds, even thousands of times, but they too failed to reach the ladder.
One person, however, was different. He began jumping, kept jumping, then, unlike the others, never stopped jumping. Finally God picked him up and brought him back to heaven.
The ending of this story was quite different from the ending I was anticipating. I felt I knew how it was going to end, and yet it ended in a way I was not at all satisfied with. It ends in a way which I think is misleading and incomplete.
Here is the ending I had in mind:
One Man, however, was different. He observed all the other people jumping in the vain attempts to reach this ladder alone. After considering the situation clearly within his heart, this Man went onto his hands and knees below the ladder and then called upon another Man standing nearby. At first the other Man thought the Man on the ground was praying, but something far greater was underway. The Man on the ground instructed the other to get beside him on his hands and knees too. He called many more people, instructing a few more to get down beside him and the others on the ground, and then instructing others to climb on top and do the same on the backs of the first group. In this way they together created a tall pyramid shaped stack of people all supporting each other to get higher. Eventually it was possible for one man to climb up this stack of people and reach the bottom rung of the ladder. This Man then affixed himself to the ladder by interlocking his legs into it. He dangled down and joined hands with another Man. That Man then joined legs with yet another, who joined hands with another, and so on. In this way they formed a chain of people bridging the ladder to the Earth.
All the other people on the Earth were then able to climb up this chain of people, reach the ladder, and continue climbing to Heaven. One of the last people to climb up was of course the Man at the bottom who first got onto his hands and knees and had instructed the others to do the same. Through this one magnificent act of intelligent co-operation they were all able to ascend back to their supreme source, and in the process they discovered a great secret: God works through Man. Man is an extension of God and not something separate and apart from God whom God can come and rescue. Mankind must join hearts and work together in order to return to Heaven.
Of the two endings to this story, which do you feel in your heart is the more accurate and life-giving of the two? Which one do you resonate with most? I know I was not able to relate to the original ending at all. I wonder if the rest of the book Becoming Like God has these sorts of discordant themes running through it? If you’ve read it, feel free to let me know your impressions.