Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Roots and parables, part IV: the parable of the weeds

Angkor, Cambodia
The Parable of the Weeds, Matthew 13:24-30

 Christ explains this parable to his disciples in Matthew 13:36-43, but it doesn't read correctly to me. It's too apocalyptic, and contains an element of bombast, fire and brimstone, that obscures the  delicate and beautiful nuances of the story.  It is an outward explanation of an inward parable.

I'm offering, therefore, my own interpretation of it below.

Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. 

But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? 

He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? 

But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.

Readers may wonder why I have put a link to the word tares in the above passage; it ought to be followed, so that one can understand tares represent a vetch, which is actually an edible crop which would, in biblical times, have been understood as a last resort for consumption in times of starvation.

The use of the word is absolutely intentional; the enemy comes and sows seed not just for some casual weed, but for an actual food in the wheat crop—only it is a bitter food, traditionally reserved for desperation, and for the abject poor.

The idea here is that the enemy (representing the oppositional inner part of ourselves manifested in ego) continuously sows seed for an inferior kind of food that competes with the sacred food of heaven.  This takes place while we are asleep. That is, while engaged in inner work, it is inevitable that this kind of food will continually be mixed with the sacred food needed for development of the soul. It happens in every moment when we are sleeping, that is, not making a conscious effort to align ourselves with higher forces.

We're not saints; all of us are going to have tares in our field. Here, readers may recall that Gurdjieff cited wheat as a food that is sacred all over the universe; certainly, in this passage, it plays an equivalent role, because it is likened to the word of God, that is, the good word that feeds us well from within.

In the second passage, we see that the both the servants and the householder— who are engaged together in the act of the cultivation of the good seed, the seed of inner Being — recognize the difference. This is a form of seeing. In fact, it exactly represents the action of seeing how one is within without interfering, which is so roundly emphasized in The Reality of Being. The servants see what is wrong; yet the master instructs them not to touch anything.

This is notable; it is precisely and exactly the same as the instruction that de Salzmann gives that we must see ourselves without trying to change anything. several things can be understood from this passage. First of all, even the lowest kinds of interactivity are a food, albeit a poor one. Secondly, in inner work, we learn to discriminate between them and understand that some of them come from lower levels. Third, we understand that we are to allow these things to exist side-by-side within us with the work of our truthfulness and our inner effort, because if we try to root them, it may well damage the roots we are growing in our proper crop.

Now, this may seem paradoxical; after all, shouldn't one get the weeds out so that the crop will grow healthy? Apparently not — under conditions of inner work, at the time of harvest, it becomes possible to distinguish clearly between the higher and the lower works, the parts of us that bear the fruit of personality and the parts of us that bear the fruit of heaven, and then to discriminate — to make a choice — and discard that which is worthless. But, take note, this can only be done at the time of maturity — else, the activity may be damaging.

 One last note. The person attending the field isn't a wise man, a priest, or any other kind of special authority. He or she is a householder. That is, he is Gurdjieff's obyvatel, an ordinary person who does nothing more than attempt to meet his responsibilities. This is the person in charge of attending the field which is likened to the kingdom of heaven: an ordinary human being.

These may seem to be subtle points. They do, however, show how extraordinarily sophisticated Christ's parables were, and how deeply entwined they are with the esoteric teachings that Gurdjieff passed on. It is part of a comprehensive and ancient works; and the understandings of it are always consistent, if they are understood properly. Take note that despite how well concealed these esoteric aspects of Christ's teaching are, they came down to us through over 2000 years and find expression in an exactly correct manner in Jeanne de Salzmann's understandings and notes.

It is worth thinking about, isn't it?

Hosanna.

1 comment:

  1. yes, totally. The only 'comment' I would have is about your ref to 'Gurdjieff's obyvatel, an ordinary person' - I don't we ever see one of them in G's work...or in the mansion in Paris dedicated to his work...
    There simply are not any ordinary householders to be seen - and neither are you one.

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