Chapter 26: Pearls Before Swine

Down the Rabbit HoleUndoubtedly, the story of Jesus is as heroic as it is tragic. Tragedy is associated with suffering and loss and infiltrates the various dimensions of Jesus’ life. Tragedy is an inspiration for great art and poetry as the Greeks knew quite well. It awakens in us a certain passion. Divinity somehow shines through the tragedy that is human life. Every human story is in some respects tragic, marked by unfulfilled potential and desire, and by suffering, ageing and death. Jesus is presented in the Gospels as being fully aware that his life or his ministry was his poem, his song. On a cross, hanging between heaven and earth, Jesus the ultimate artist became the ultimate masterpiece. He became the savior and the saved, the redeemer and the redeemed. His story inspires us to temper any self-serving show of greatness, of our talents on the world stage, and to put our gifts in service of a greater cause, through our actions, not out of effort or superior moral judgment but naturally, out of existential necessity. The entire story of Jesus can really be called The Drama of the Bodhisattva. That is to say, the story of Jesus is not only about transcending the world and dualities but also going about it in such a way that life becomes a masterful and playful work of art. Once awakened to his divine identity, the sage or Bodhisattva ALWAYS comes back to the world freely to partake in The Drama. In that respect, Creation has no beginning and no end because it continuously recreates the divine playground, or the stage, for these sublime Dramas to take place. In the Gospel of Thomas in passage #42 Jesus says: "Be passersby." We are not to just sit idly by and watch from our windows, locked up in our homes, our jobs or our mundane lives. We should not be afraid to risk ourselves, forgo numbing security and partake in this great, divine procession.

In Matthew 7:6, Jesus says: "Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn against you." This passage relates to the idea that this experiential wisdom or perception is hidden from the worldly, and the sage would appear to be a fool if he were to plainly talk about it. The subtle quality of this wisdom is like a magnificent work of art created from clouds or mist. It is delicate and subtle and easily disappears into thin air when the breath of scholarship and theology tries to speak in order to grasp it. The kingdom of the Father cannot simply be explained through words and cannot be revealed to those who are living out of the center of their world-self. To those who are on the outside peering in, the perception is shrouded in secrecy and looks not to be readily available. On many occasions in the Gospels, we see Jesus talking “privately” or “secretly” to his disciples, revealing certain things that are not privy to others. Mark 4:10 states: “And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. And he said to them, ‘To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables…’” And again in Mark 4:33: “ With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it. He did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything.”

The early Catholic or Orthodox Church criticized and condemned the Gnostic Christians for claiming to possess this certain secret knowledge of God. In fact, the Gnostics were describing in certain language the nature of the knowledge of Christ, a process or perception, which is not something that can or must be achieved exclusively through the Church or any other established organization. That is to say, this intuitive knowledge is not readily available to everyone, but only to those who let go of themselves and make a leap of faith. The initiation into this “secret sect” is the sage’s journey, which I have been attempting to describe in this paper. It is not something that an authority or a deity doles out or withholds. But this is precisely the view of an orthodox believer. From the orthodox leaders’ viewpoint, this “secret” knowledge suggests some information that leads to power. They interpret it in terms of their own experience with authority, namely the power to teach a doctrine according to their own interpretation, put forth a moral agenda, and influence the congregation. The psychologist Karlfried Graf Durckheim speaks of this idea in this way: "… the initiate is someone who not only possesses secret knowledge, but has been transformed by experience, exercise, and trial, and has entered a superhuman dimension of Being… The event it denotes [initiation into this experience] is so shattering, and so utterly beyond our normal limits, that all its implications are necessarily shrouded in secrecy and hidden from those who have no right to approach it… Initiation in the full sense is an experience that very few people can have, but many are called to the way that leads to it."10

This is one of the reasons for Jesus' frequent use of parables. Generally in discussions, people express their opinions and agree or disagree with each other. Hardly ever do people approach discussions as a way to discover together, to explore. If such a thing should happen, all parties would be changed not by the information that has been uncovered but by the process of exploration and discovery itself. Usually one side affirms or negates the opinions of the other. If the two sides agree, then nothing has changed. Both are still the same and have not progressed in any way. If one negates the argument of the other, still nothing is accomplished. There is only resistance and disagreement. We are in a state of paralysis and cannot move any further. No real progress is made. Now, looking at Mark 15:2-5 we read: "And Pilate asked him, 'Are you the King of the Jews?' And he answered him, 'You have said so.' And the chief priests accused him of many things. And Pilate again asked him, 'Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.' But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed." Jesus does not answer because neither an affirmative nor a negative response to Pilate's question speaks the truth. Pilate is asking a question that is within a certain paradigm, but Jesus' answer, if he were to give it, lies outside of that paradigm. Therefore, Jesus remains silent and that silence itself is pregnant with possibilities or other questions. In fact, it "amazes" Pilate. This silence ignites a certain curiosity that goes past intellect to deeper realms of the mind.

We see then that there is a danger in speaking plainly and openly, which applies to both the listener and the speaker. The danger is that, if the speaker were to articulate in plain language, the words may only penetrate the listener's linear intellect and may mislead him entirely according to his own limited and intellectual interpretation or understanding. That is to say that the listener may be robbed of the experience, of the awe that the words intend to evoke, by the mind’s limitations. Symbols and metaphors travel past the surface consciousness of the listener and tap into the vast subconscious. The danger to the speaker is of course misunderstanding, ridicule, and even violence on the listener's part. Jesus was put to death for speaking out though in subtle language. Most of us have had an encounter where we attempted to express some valued, intimate, and personal experience to someone else, only to be completely misunderstood and perhaps even dismissed or devalued, intentionally or not. For the sage, this experience or perception that is so subtle represents his gold, his gift or "his pearls." Jesus tells us to not put them out innocently in plain sight, not to reveal them in plain words but rather to live them and to let the light of our lives mightily beam their radiance.

10 Karlfried Graf Durckheim - Absolute Living, p. 74

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