Parable of the Two Spoons

Two Wooden SpoonsA holy man was having a conversation with the Lord one day and said, “Lord, I would like to know what Heaven and Hell are like. “The Lord led the holy man to two doors.

He opened one of the doors and the holy man looked in. In the middle of the room was a large round table. In the middle of the table was a large pot of stew which smelled delicious and made the holy man's mouth water.

The people sitting around the table were thin and sickly. They appeared to be famished. They were holding spoons with very long handles and each found it possible to reach into the pot of stew and take a spoonful, but because the handle was longer than their arms, they could not get the spoons back into their mouths. The holy man shuddered at the sight of their misery and suffering. The Lord said, “You have seen Hell.”

They went to the next room and opened the door. It was exactly the same as the first one. There was the large round table with the large pot of stew which made the holy man's mouth water. The people were equipped with the same long-handled spoons, but here the people were well nourished and plump, laughing and talking.

The holy man said, “I don't understand.” “It is simple” said the Lord, “it requires but one skill. You see, they have learned to feed each other. While the greedy think only of themselves.”

The author of this spiritual story is unknown and greatly appreciated. If you know who wrote this, or can provide a source that I can cite then please contact me and let me know!

What Is the Spiritual Meaning / Moral of The Parable of the Two Long Spoons?

At its core, the allegory of the two long-handled spoons illuminates the duality of human experience: the potential for both desolation and fulfillment, both anguish and bliss, residing within the same circumstances. The depiction of two seemingly identical scenes, one evoking despair and the other radiating joy, resonates deeply with the profound significance of our choices and perspectives in shaping our reality.

The vivid imagery of a large pot of stew symbolizes the abundance that surrounds us, the richness of life's offerings—tempting, tantalizing, and filled with promise. Yet, it is how we approach and engage with this abundance that defines our spiritual journey. The long-handled spoons, extending far beyond the grasp of those in both rooms, mirror our individual limitations and struggles to attain fulfillment solely through self-serving actions.

In the first room, Hell manifests not as a fiery abyss but as a haunting reflection of a self-centered existence. The people, gaunt and famished, struggle in isolation, consumed by their insatiable hunger. They possess the means to partake in the nourishment before them but are entrapped by their inability to cooperate, to extend aid beyond their own needs. It portrays the agony of an existence steeped in selfishness, where the pursuit of personal gain leads only to an endless cycle of want and deprivation.

Conversely, the scene in the second room, depicting a state akin to Heaven, radiates with the warmth of shared joy and communal harmony. The people, despite facing the same circumstances, thrive in their plenitude. Their laughter reverberates, their spirits buoyant as they partake in the same feast. What distinguishes this realm from its sorrowful counterpart is not a change in circumstance but a profound shift in consciousness—a realization that true fulfillment lies not in solitary indulgence but in the act of giving, in nurturing others as much as oneself.

The Lord's simple yet profound revelation unveils the essence of spiritual growth and enlightenment. It is the awakening to the transformative power of selflessness—the understanding that our greatest fulfillment emerges not from the pursuit of individual gain but from the interconnectedness and interdependence that bind us all. In sharing, in extending our hands to feed one another, lies the key to transcending the confines of our personal desires and forging a path to spiritual abundance.

The allegory of the long handled sp0ons, beyond its surface imagery, implores us to introspect and evaluate our own lives. It challenges us to examine the ways in which we engage with the world around us, urging us to transcend the barriers of self-interest and embrace the profound beauty of altruism. For in the act of selflessly giving, we unlock the gates to a higher realm—a realm not confined by material wealth or fleeting desires but enriched by the immeasurable treasures of compassion, empathy, and interconnectedness.

Ultimately, the parable of the long sppons whispers to the depths of our souls, reminding us that Heaven and Hell reside not in distant realms but within the choices we make and the way we treat one another. It is a poignant call to embrace the transformative power of selfless love, for therein lies the true essence of spiritual fulfillment and the gateway to a celestial realm found within the realm of the human heart.

Personal Reflection Questions

Spiritual stories are an opportunity to reflect on your own life. Here are 10 questions you can use to go deeper with the teachings in this story:

  1. Reflect on the vivid imagery of the large round table with a pot of stew that evokes both desire and suffering. How does this scene resonate with your own perceptions of longing, fulfillment, and the consequences of self-centered actions?
  2. Consider the contrast between the thin, sickly individuals in the first room and the well-nourished, laughing people in the second room. In what ways does this duality reflect the impact of selflessness and compassion on one's overall well-being and the collective harmony of a community?
  3. Explore the symbolism of the long-handled spoons that the people in both rooms possess. How does the length of the spoon handles symbolize the challenge of self-serving actions and the potential for abundance when individuals prioritize helping each other?
  4. Imagine yourself in the position of the holy man witnessing the scenes in both rooms. How does this experience prompt you to reflect on your own values, actions, and the interconnectedness of personal happiness with the well-being of others?
  5. Ponder the concept of Hell as depicted in the first room. How does the inability of individuals to feed themselves, despite the abundance before them, relate to the consequences of selfishness and the isolation it can create?
  6. Delve into the scene in the second room where people are joyfully feeding each other. How does this image resonate with your understanding of the power of compassion, collaboration, and the shared pursuit of well-being?
  7. Reflect on the simplicity of the one skill required in the second room – the ability to feed each other. In what ways does this simplicity contrast with the complexities often associated with personal success and happiness?
  8. Consider the Lord's statement, “While the greedy think only of themselves.” How does this perspective align with your own observations of the impact of greed on individuals and communities, and what lessons might it hold for cultivating a more harmonious life?
  9. Explore the emotional response of the holy man, who shuddered at the sight of suffering in the first room. How does this visceral reaction connect with your own emotions when confronted with the consequences of selfishness or lack of empathy in the world?
  10. Think about the overall message of the story and its relevance to your own life. What insights into the dynamics of selflessness, compassion, and the pursuit of true fulfillment would you take away from this narrative as you navigate your own spiritual and interpersonal journey?

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