Jesus said: The Kingdom of the Father is like a woman who was carrying a jar full of grain. As she walked along a handle of her jar broke off and grain trickled out, but she didn’t notice. When she arrived in her house, she put the jar down and found it empty.
This is the inverse aspect, I’d say. If we lose our awareness – if we let it lapse, regardless of our good intentions – we may wind up with nothing. The woman in this saying is not described as careless or as in any way to blame for her misfortune except that she did not notice. And I can testify first-hand how easy it is to set out to hold one’s intent on something and wake up after a while to discover that one had fallen asleep and had lost any results that might have accrued if one had been able to remain awake and alert.
Saying 98 begins on a different tack.
Jesus said: The Kingdom of the Father is like a man who intended to kill a powerful man. He drew out his sword in his own house and stabbed it into the wall to test his strength. Then he killed the powerful man.
Saying 98 means nothing to me offhand. How much of the setup is relevant? Is it meaningful that it took place “in his own house,” and that he stabbed the wall?
The point is that the kingdom is like the man, not (at least, not as translated) like the situation. How can the kingdom be like a man? That’s the point to concentrate on.
The man intended to kill a powerful man, so he tested his own strength by stabbing his sword into a wall; then succeeded in killing the powerful man. If this were a dream, what might it be saying to us? What is the equivalent test?
I get that it is exerting his will as strongly as he could, against an immovable object, and then, having reassured himself apparently that his strength would be sufficient, he successfully exerted it against a living opponent. But it still seems sort of strange, as an example.
Look at it carefully, remembering what Jesus was always doing, and remembering that these sayings were recorded to be discussed, that the meaning as originally explained would not be lost. And, remember the purport of the previous saying.
That was the woman who lost what she had because it trickled away unnoticed by her.
So what is this about?
Firm determined focused intent, I guess.
Correct. And there are implications to be noticed. It was within his own walls that he tested his strength. He “drew out his sword” – that is, he unsheathed his weapon – and plunged it as hard as he could into the wall. That is to say, he exerted the full force of his will against an inert opponent to that force, to measure it. Then, having done that, he proceeded to kill the powerful opponent, which of course would have been a kill-or-be-killed situation, once he began. The story says nothing of the ins and outs of the situation, much less of the right and wrong of it. The story concerns not interpersonal relations but the mustering and testing and employment of force for a specific object that is life-or-death.
But could it really be as simple as that? An admonition to try with all one’s might?
To do so in private, and ahead of time, to weigh one’s chances. Yes.
Huh. Well, it does make sense of it, but it still seems a little strange.
Notice it is not the action but the man that the kingdom is like. This is what really ought to attract your attention.
Yes. Why? Or rather, what is the nuance?
It is the kingdom, not one possessing the kingdom.
Yes, I got the distinction, but the penny hasn’t dropped into the slot yet.
How can the kingdom be like a man testing his strength? Wouldn’t you expect that to describe someone aspiring to the kingdom?
Yes, now you mention it.
The kingdom itself is compared to a man testing his strength while unobserved.
Well now, that’s a very interesting way of putting it. In other sayings, the kingdom has been described as being of great value, with this and that characteristic. This time it is pointed out that it has an active side; it is preparation for more, not merely an end in itself, however desirable.
And that is the distinction to be carefully considered.
It changes our focus, doesn’t it?
It can, if you are paying attention.
It goes along with my thoughts on Gurdjieff’s system – big surprise! To acquire the kingdom is to acquire the pearl of great price – but it is not a static acquisition, not an end so much as a staging-place for further efforts.
That is correct. We again remind you, you – we – everyone – exist among vast impersonal forces which both shape us and buffet us and take some modification from our reactions to them. But that is all we can say about that at this time. Care to try another saying?
His disciples told him: Your mother and your brothers are standing outside. He responded: These here who do the will of my Father are my brothers and my mother. These are the ones who will enter the Kingdom of my Father.
Sort of familiar from the synoptic gospels. It can be hard to really concentrate on ones like this that we have heard before: It is too easy to think we understand, because we recognize.
Well, spell out your understanding.
In context, I’d say we are seeing a reminder that the kingdom has rewards, but it also exerts conditions. That is, not in this case conditions as to who can or can’t enter, but conditions upon those who are living within it.
Very subtle. Continue.
You have to be willing to recognize that external ties cannot compare to the ties of those who share the higher consciousness. It doesn’t mean “Look down on those who aren’t at this level of consciousness,” but it does mean, “Your loyalty is to the kingdom – to your acquired state of awareness with its obligations and satisfactions both, rather than to any previous ties.”
There you go. It is not a matter of blind obedience – “doing the will of the father” – but of discernment combined with willingness to be led. Blind trust is not the same thing as blind obedience. The first is desirable, the second not.
You might spell that out for us.
This is a conceptual pitfall that has snared many and led either to abdication of the intellect or to rejection of the possibility of higher consciousness.
Blind trust means having faith that all is well; that your connection is solid; that you are not adrift upon the ocean without compass or means of steering.
That is, we are not up the creek without a paddle.
Yes. Blind obedience is close to Psychic’s Disease, in that it may incline you to think, “I’m being prompted to do this; it must be the right thing to do.” Or, even worse – much worse – “I am told by authority, so it must be right.”
I think the distinction has not yet been made clear. How do the two play out in practice?
When you, Frank, come to the practice of ILC with us, you come in blind trust. You expect, you confide (that is, you have confidence) that the process will work, that the sources will be helpful. But you do not come in blind obedience – nor, of course, should you. If we tell you to do things – well, we just don’t, because you’d balk. But if we suggest things, you consider the suggestion, assent to it or not, and put it into practice or not. This has its frustrating aspects for you and for us, but it is a healthy relationship. You use your judgment.
Okay, I see it. And by implication you are saying (what we all know) that you can’t come into the kingdom merely by following rules or hitch-hiking on someone’s presumed authority.
You say “what we all know,” but if everybody knew it, you’d be living in a different world, and so, at a remove, would we. Nice work, and this is a time we can pause.
It’s been nearly an hour anyway. Okay, our thanks as always. Till next time.