He said, O Lord, there are many around the drinking trough, but there is nothing in the cistern. (74)
The book of Proverbs advises us: “Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well” (Proverbs 5:15). But the prophet Jeremiah laments: “My people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13).
The picture here is of many thirsting people crowding desperately around a drinking trough, but finding it dry because there is no water in the cistern itself, for the cistern is not whole or complete but is broken, so any water that might have entered the cistern will have drained away. No matter how much rainfall there may be, the cistern will be as dry as though it were in a desert. And the people will perish.
This is an apt symbol of a group of people that, however religious they might be, cannot survive spiritually because they have no inner spiritual resource upon which they can draw. There is no water of life in their souls. It is also a symbol of an individual who, having neglected to cultivate the interior life, is therefore incomplete and incapable of drawing upon any inner, spiritual reserves.
In the book of Revelation we find complete assurance that the water of life will be given to us abundantly. “I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely” (Revelation 21:6). “Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17).
The water of life is given to all of us freely–at least potentially speaking. But two things are required of us: we must actively collect the water of life and we must retain it securely. This is done by dedicated and continual spiritual practice, especially meditation.
“Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation” (Isaiah 12:3).
Read the next article in the Gospel of Thomas for Yogis: Who Shall Enter?