Mary said to Jesus, Whom are your disciples like? He said, They are like children who have settled in a field which is not theirs. When the owners of the field come, they will say, Let us have back our field. They (will) undress in their presence in order to let them have back their field and to give it back to them. Therefore I say, if the owner of a house knows that the thief is coming, he will begin his vigil before he comes and will not let him dig through into his house of his domain to carry away his goods. You, then, be on your guard against the world. Arm yourselves with great strength lest the robbers find a way to come to you, for the difficulty which you expect will (surely) materialize. Let there be among you a man of understanding. When the grain ripened, he came quickly with his sickle in his hand and reaped it. Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear. (21)
Mary said to Jesus, Whom are your disciples like? He said, They are like children who have settled in a field which is not theirs. Saint Peter addressed the Christians in general, calling them “strangers and pilgrims” (I Peter 2:11), and Saint Paul said that the holy men and women of old “confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Hebrews 11:13). They were following the words of Jesus recorded here. The true disciples of Jesus know that nothing of this earth is theirs and never will be, for they are “children of the kingdom” of God Consciousness alone (Matthew 13:38). Their home is infinity, in God. As the hymn says:
Let us sing a sweet song of the home of the soul,
The glorious place of our rest;
It is not far away in the heavens untold,
But deep in the Infinite breast.
When the owners of the field come, they will say, Let us have back our field. They (will) undress in their presence in order to let them have back their field and to give it back to them. In commenting on the previous verse I spoke of the world as being a field, but our bodies are also fields, as indicated in the thirteenth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita entitled “The Field and Its Knower.” The first verse encapsulates what follows, saying: “This body is called the Field, and he who knows this is called the Knower of the Field–so say the knowers of these things.” And he does not identify with it, knowing that he is merely a witness, an immaterial spirit-consciousness.
Who, then, owns the field? God, obviously, but the owners spoken of here are those whom God has placed in charge of the creation and its evolution. They are the Elohim, the Creator Mothers, whom the first verse of Genesis tells us created heaven and earth and later said: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Genesis 1:26). Supervising our evolution which involves a series of earthly births, when the store of karma runs out for a life they come and demand that we give the body-field back to them for recycling in the universe and in preparation for our next embodiment. So we divest ourselves of the present bodies. As the Gita says: “As a man casts off his worn-out clothes and then clothes himself in others which are new, so the embodied casts off worn-out bodies and then enters into others which are new” (Bhagavad Gita 2:22). Unfortunately some who are attached to the body or fear death resist and battle the surrender of their fields, but eventually they must relinquish the body and find that they are immortal.
Therefore I say, if the owner of a house knows that the thief is coming, he will begin his vigil before he comes and will not let him dig through into his house of his domain to carry away his goods. You, then, be on your guard against the world. Arm yourselves with great strength lest the robbers find a way to come to you, for the difficulty which you expect will (surely) materialize. These words imply that it is the world–both materiality and material experience–which deceives us into identifying with our material constitution, our field, who is the thief against whom we must guard ourselves. This can only be done by viewing the world with the correct perspective while cultivating spiritual consciousness in place of earthly consciousness.
When Jesus tells us: “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:20), he is not speaking of some astral world where we can reap positive karma, but the kingdom of heaven, the limitless spirit-consciousness into which we must seek to be freed, escaping forever the bondage of birth and death in this or any other world, material, astral, or causal. In other words, we lay up the treasure of spiritual realization in the infinite Life that is God. Divinity becomes our treasure-house so in time we may enter into perfect union with it. If we accumulate earthly treasure, death will snatch it from us sooner or later and we will become impoverished, but if our treasure is in the heaven of Spirit we shall never lose it.
There are many robbers who seek to plunder our spirit and its powers, so Jesus says we must exert great strength against them. Sometimes we combat them face-to-face and hand-to-hand. Who are the robbers? Anything that dims or takes from us our spiritual consciousness and imposes material consciousness on us.
Troubles will come, but Jesus assures us: “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). And so shall we overcome if we heed his counsels.
Let there be among you a man of understanding. When the grain ripened, he came quickly with his sickle in his hand and reaped it. Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear. “So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; and should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come” (Mark 4:26-29).
Spiritual vigilance is being urged upon us here, as in the previous verse. Spiritual heedlessness takes many forms. There are people who actually engage in spiritual practice, but for some reason do it in a rote way without examining its effects or evincing any kind of spiritual aspiration or ambition. They are rather like a friend of mine in India who worked in a bank and every payday took her salary in cash and never counted it or even knew what the amount was supposed to be. (She did not know how many pice were in a rupee, either.)
The wise spiritual aspirant must be on the constant lookout for spiritual results and opportunities for spiritual advancement, which includes increasing his spiritual practices and disciplines. Consider how vigilant and ready a good farmer or gardener must be, for they are dealing with living things that are subject to many elements that may be detrimental or beneficial. The wise farmers and gardeners must be deeply involved in their cultivation, watching for developments and acting accordingly. Our eye must always be on the exit, ready as soon as we are able to move up to the next higher level of consciousness and evolution. Those who dawdle and dally on the way may, like Little Red Riding Hood, end up in the wolf’s stomach.
“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matthew 11:15).
Read the next section in The Gospel of Thomas for Yogis: How to Enter the Kingdom