Spiritual teachings say that we are supposed to “find our way home again”: that is, we must seek spiritual Truth and become enlightened. But if we started at “home”, what was the point of sending us “down here” just so we can find our way back to where we started??
Perhaps one of the best explanations was given by Christ in his Parable of the Prodigal Son:
A father had two sons. The elder of these remained always at home, never disobedient or unruly, faithfully working in his father’s fields and vineyards. The younger son, however, took his inheritance early and went far away from his father’s home, where he squandered all he had and wasted his life with riotous living. Eventually he hit bottom, and awoke to find himself penniless, hungry, a hired hand who fed another man’s pigs for a living. He saw that he had sinned against his father and against heaven, and he immediately determined to return home, admit his failures and shortcomings, and beg his father to take him on as a lowly servant, rather than remaining where he was and perishing of hunger. So he headed home. But while still far off his father saw him, was filled with joy and compassion, and ran to him and kissed him. When the young son admitted his unworthiness, his father ordered servants to bring him the finest robes and to prepare a great feast, “For this my son was dead, and is alive again! He was lost, and is found.” But when the elder son returned home from the fields and saw what was happening, he was very angry and complained bitterly to his father, “This boy, who now returns, wasted everything you gave him on harlots and debauchery. But all these years I have worked for you faithfully, never transgressing, and you have never celebrated with a feast for me!”
The ‘father’ in this story represents God. The elder son represents a child of God who never ventures out into material life. As a result, he has never experienced struggle, failure or sorrow, and he has never experienced triumph, passion or joy. He is ‘good’, he is innocent, but he can never change or learn or evolve. He has no future, he has no potential, his soul was finished as soon as it began, and as such he is of limited interest and limited use to his father. The younger son goes off into life and falls asleep to his father’s world. He is ‘bad’ and he quickly loses his innocence, he squanders everything and cavorts with harlots, he drinks in all the diverse experiences of earthly life, he feels and laughs and suffers and cries. But when he awakens he possesses an inner strength, wisdom, and maturity that can only be acquired through one’s own conscious efforts and one’s own voluntary suffering. He now contains evolutionary possibilities that his innocent brother will never know, qualities that are highly treasured by his father. This son was ‘dead’: his soul had descended into the world of illusion. But now, grown strong with the wisdom of experience, his soul has returned home to God and is ‘alive’ again. There is far greater joy in heaven for this accomplishment than for the bland, static existence of his older brother.
Refusing the full experience of this world of sense, pain, and pleasure, is to reject the plan of God. Spiritual evolution cannot take place until involution is complete, and every bit of life has been experienced.