The Parable of the Sower Explained.
Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the wayside.
But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.
He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.
But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
The idea that Christ spoke so much about sowing seed in parables is no surprise when one considers the idea that the soul is a tree which grows roots in the body and then reaches towards heaven. We see how absolutely these parables are connected to this idea when we see Christ mentioned the man who hath not root in himself.
Like many comments Christ makes, it's tempting to believe that the statement is allegorical. From an esoteric point of view, however, he means it quite literally. The man literally does not have the roots that grow down into being, and so he is not durable. It's like a plant which has been pulled up by the roots; some of the cells continue to photosynthesize, and it remains green for a while, but it has no durability, because there are no roots. One must develop the roots within the body and have the sensation of self — the sensation of one's individuality, as Gurdjieff called it— in order for any inner work to be durable.
In this parable, we can see four different stages of work. In the first one, nothing whatsoever takes place. The lack of understanding here is not a lack of intellectual understanding — it is a lack of inner understanding, that is, a certain kind of spiritual understanding of the soul. The word of the kingdom is the inner truth that arrives through what Gurdjieff called conscience. This is, perhaps, one of the only uncontaminated sources whereby a man can receive the seed of truth; without conscience, we see, the wicked one takes the inner truth. While this deserves extensive contemplation, I believe readers can see exactly what is gotten at here — and it is decidedly an inner process.
In the second stage of work, a man does not have roots — there is an intellectual understanding of the ideas (hence the joy) but it does not sink deep into being where the seed can plant itself fruitfully in the heart. Unplanted, it does not grow; it can't extend its roots to provide the nourishment that would sustain it.
When Christ says when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, by-and-by he is offended, what He means is that when the arrival of this seed, this awakening of conscience, takes place within a human being, it causes troubling inner conflicts. Let us be clear: the tribulation and persecution He refers to is an inner process, whereby a human being struggles to reconcile what conscience and a higher principle indubitably tell him is true, and the corrupted nature of his own personal preferences, desires, and selfishness. The person who is offended is the one who dominates; that is, personality. Because there is no root, no real food for the seed of truth, personality becomes offended and crushes it. We can liken this to the process of rationalization in our ordinary being, which is a mirror of the greater process that takes place in the struggle between spiritual forces and temporal forces in our spiritual Being.
Inevitably, the Word— the seed of truth— creates these conflicts. Only with roots that create a durable connection to sensation, sustaining the action of conscience, can the truth grow in us. Perhaps this gives readers another clue as to why Jeanne de Salzmann placed so much emphasis on sensation. We can see here that it plays a much greater role than we suspect. It may seem like a mechanical force in some ways, if we connect to it; but it is a very conscious one, and it nurtures in ways that are not apparent to the ordinary mind.
Tomorrow I'll discuss the other two stages of inner work as outlined in this parable.