Thursday, December 25, 2014

The laborers in the vineyard, part II

Today, we Christians celebrate the birth of Christ.

May God be with you, regardless of your faith.

Yesterday, in our discussion of Matthew 20, we left off where the householder was organizing his laborers.

There is an organization to the kingdom of heaven, to our inner spiritual state; and the effort that that takes — which is what this parable is, among other things, about — has a hierarchy. More effort and more laborers need to be recruited as the inner work progresses. The work, moreover, takes place in the vineyard — that is, a place where grapes (fruit) will eventually be harvested, and wine (as opposed to water) will ultimately result. Other parables also refer to fruit and fecundity, which is a principal characteristic of the kingdom of heaven — the capacity of the inner soul to give birth to an endless bounty and abundance.

In any event, as the householder adds to his workforce, he does so at specific times: the third hour, the sixth hour, and then even the eleventh hour. Here, I take exception with translations that attempt to say that the times were specific, such as noon, 3 PM, and 5 PM, because there is a symbolic and esoteric meaning to these particular times.

The third hour represents the first shock on the enneagram, Gurdjieff's conscious labor; and the sixth hour is the second shock, intentional suffering. At both of these points, in an understanding of the enneagram, a new and additional kind of shock is required, work from outside the system, so to speak, and that's precisely represented here. Interestingly, the shock— the additional workers — comes from those who were standing idle in the marketplace, that is, parts of ourselves capable of work, in the midst of life, who are not occupied in the midst of very active transactions.

In this sense, the parable reminds us that we have to remember ourselves in the midst of the marketplace and recruit the inner parts that can do work to help in the overall effort. One has to do this at the appropriate moments, when the shocks are necessary. This indicates that within the inner teaching which we seek to bring to ourselves, we have to remain active and conscious and use those parts of ourselves which are capable but unoccupied.

At about the 11th hour — that is, metaphorically speaking, the last minute — there are other parts that still haven't participated. Remember, all of the laborers here represent quite ordinary parts of ourselves, not parts that are privy to secret esoteric teachings — just those parts of ourselves which are sitting around in us, so to speak, doing nothing. This point takes a great deal of pondering, but I think readership will find that to be worth it, since almost any part of ourselves is worth intense scrutiny in light of this teaching.

The householder says to those parts that are idle in the 11th hour, go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.

 He says, whatsoever is right. In other words, Christ tells us that what will take place with these laborer's wages is, in fact, fair, it is right. The point is specific enough to obviate any arguments about what takes place later not being correct.

 In the evening, the end of the day (representing the full cycle of the enneagram, or the inner process whereby a higher energy is received within) all of the laborers receive a penny. Now, let's remember, these are common laborers — that is, it is all of the ordinary parts, each of which has sacrificed something in order to earn their wage.

The laborers who were hired earlier in the day — the first, in this case, you will note that the second and third wave are not even mentioned — don't think this is fair. And of course, it isn't, taken from the ordinary point of view, which is why there is so much argument about this parable.

Tomorrow, we will discuss exactly why it is so, from an inner point of view, and why it is entirely fair.


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