The Publican and the Pharisee
When reflecting a little about the diverse circumstances of life, it is worthwhile to seriously comprehend the foundations we depend upon.
One person depends upon his position, another on money, a different one on his prestige, that other person on his past, someone else on this or that particular academic degree, etc.
The most curious thing about this matter is that all of us, whether rich or poor, need everybody else and live off everybody else, even if we are filled with pride and vanity.
Let us think for a moment on what could be taken away from us. What would our fate be in a revolution of blood and liquor? What would be left of the foundations that we depend upon? Woe to us! We believe ourselves to be very strong, yet we are horribly weak!
The “I” that in itself feels to be the foundation that we depend upon must be dissolved if indeed we wish for authentic bliss.
Such an “I” underestimates people, feels he is better than the whole world, more perfect in everything, wealthier, more intelligent, more experienced in life, etc.
It is very opportune to quote the parable of Jesus the great Kabir, about the two men who went up into the temple to pray. He spoke this parable to those who felt secure in their self-righteousness and who despised others.
Jesus the Christ stated:
Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a Publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this Publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the Publican standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, ‘God be merciful to me, a sinner.’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. - Luke 18: 10-14
To begin to realize our own nothingness and the misery in which we find ourselves is absolutely impossible as long as that concept of “more” exists in us.
Examples: I am more just than that one, wiser than that fellow, more virtuous than the other fellow, richer, more experienced in the things of life, more chaste, more responsible in my duties, etc.
It is not possible to go through the eye of a needle as long as we are “rich,” as long as that complex of “more” exists within us.
It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. - Matthew 19: 24
What makes us feel rich is the feeling that “my school is the best and my neighbor’s school is worthless”; that “my Religion is the only authentic one and that all others religions are false and perverse”; that “such a fellow’s spouse is a lousy spouse and that mine is a saint”; that “my friend Robert is a drunkard, yet, I am wise and abstemious, etc.” That is the reason why we are all the “camels” of the biblical parable in relation to the Esoteric Work.
It is urgent to observe ourselves from moment to moment with the purpose of clearly knowing the foundations we depend upon.
When we discover that which offends us the most at any given moment, when someone bothers us by dint of one thing or another, we then discover the foundations we psychologically depend upon.
Such foundations constitute, according to the Christian Gospel, “the sands upon which we built our house.”
It is necessary to carefully notice when and how much one despises others, perhaps one feels to be superior because one’s academic degree or one’s social position, or because of one’s acquired experience or money, etc.
It is terrible to feel oneself rich, to feel superior to this or that fellow because of this reason or another. People like this cannot enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.
It is worthwhile to discover what flatters us, what satisfies our vanity. This will show us the foundations we depend upon.
Nevertheless, such a type of observation must not be something merely theoretical. We must be practical and observe ourselves closely in a direct way from instant to instant.
When one begins to comprehend his own misery and nothingness, when one abandons the delirium of grandeur, when one discovers the foolishness of so many academic degrees, honors and vain superiorities over our fellowmen, then it is an unmistakable sign that one is beginning to change.
If one clings to that which says, “my house,” “my money,” “my properties,” “my job,” “my virtues,” “my intellectual capacities,” “my artistic capacities,” “my knowledge,” “my prestige,” etc., then one cannot change.
So, clinging to “mine” or to “my” is more than enough in order to prevent recognition of our nothingness and interior misery.
One is astonished in front of the spectacle of a fire or a shipwreck. At such a moment desperate people often seize many things that are ludicrous, things of no importance.
Wretched people! They feel themselves in those objects; they lean on silly objects; they become attached to objects which do not have the least bit of importance.
To feel that one exists through external things, and to lay our foundations upon those things is equivalent to being in a state of total unconsciousness.
The sentiment of the “Seity” (the real Being) is only possible by dissolving all those “I’s” which we carry within our interior. Before this annihilation, such a sentiment becomes more than impossible.
Unfortunately, the adorers of the “I” do not accept this. They believe themselves to be Gods. They believe that they already possess those “glorious bodies” that Paul of Tarsus spoke about. They assume that the “I” is divine. Nobody can erase those absurdities from their minds.
One does not know what to do with such people. The Doctrine is explained to them, yet they do not understand it. They always hold fast to the sands upon which they built their house. They are always engrossed within their dogmas, within their whims, within their foolishness.
If those people were to observe themselves seriously, they would then verify by themselves the Doctrine of the Many. They would discover within themselves all the multiplicity of persons or “I’s” which live within our interior.
How can the real feeling of our true Being be experienced within ourselves, when instead, those “I’s” are feeling for us and thinking for us?
The most critical part of all this tragedy is that we think that we are thinking, that we feel that we are feeling, when, indeed it is someone else who in a given moment thinks through our tormented mind and feels through our afflicted heart.
Oh, how wretched we are, how many times do we believe we are loving, when what is happening is that another person filled with lust is utilizing the heart center.
How wretched we are; we confuse animal passion for love! Nevertheless, it is someone else within ourselves, within our personality, who goes through these confusions.
All of us think that we will never pronounce those words of the Pharisee in the biblical parable, “God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are,” etc.
Nevertheless, and even if this might appear incredible, this is the way we behave daily. The butcher in the market says, “I am not like the rest of the butchers that sell bad quality meat and exploit people.”
The vendor of textiles in the store exclaims, “I am not like the rest of the merchants that know how to steal when measuring and who have grown rich.”
The milk vendor affirms, “I am not like the rest of the milk vendors that put water in their milk. I like to be honest.”
The mistress of the house comments to her visitor the following, “I am not like such a lady who flirts with other men. I am, thanks to God, a decent person, since I am faithful to my husband.”
Conclusion: Others are scoundrels, unjust, adulterers, thieves and perverse persons; yet each one of us is a humble lamb, “a saint with a golden halo,” who is worthy to be shown as a golden masterpiece inside any temple.
How foolish we are! We often think that we never do all the foolishness and perversities that we see others do; this is why we arrive at the conclusion that we are magnificent persons. Unfortunately, we do not see the foolishness and wretched things we do.
Unusual moments exist in life when our mind rests without worries of any kind, when the mind is calm, when the mind is in silence. Then, the new arrives.
In such instants, it is possible to see the bases, the foundations we depend upon.
When the mind is in profound interior restfulness, we can verify for ourselves the crude reality of the sand of life, upon which we built our house. (Read Matthew 7, Verses 24-29; the parable that talks about the two foundations).