"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."
We often think of temptation as the possibility of something inherently evil or wrong, but this limited definition of temptation sidesteps the true nature of temptation. When we are on a path towards a difficult or elusive destination there are often distractions along the way. There are often easier answers and roads that can divert us on our journey. The danger of temptation is in its subtlety, not in its obviousness.
The journey of life is not a straight line. It branches out in all directions, provides an infinite number of paths and possibilities, and dares us to make our selections. Sometimes a path is easier, or promises greater reward, although the choice conflicts with our principles, our beliefs and our sense of what is right for us and those around us. Some paths offer quick rewards, gratification and ease of travel.
The defining principles of my faith are ones I believe the Nazarene would have been in agreement with as they echo his teachings and those of many of the great prophets and spiritual leaders of the world's religions. To give everything you can to everyone you know, is a passage through the narrow gate. It is easier to seek to accumulate what you can for yourself to provide for greater security and comfort for the self and those you call your own. To give away what you do not truly need for your journey through this life is more difficult. The greatest temptations are those that lead away from the path of giving. Whether we amass material possessions or wealth through ways accepted by society or by unacceptable ways, such as theft, the end result is the same. Such security and comfort puts us on an island where we no longer need to rely on our brothers and sisters to sustain us on the journey and they cannot rely on us.
The narrow gate finds us on a journey defined by the principles of the Kingdom of Heaven, a place where there is no want and no suffering on anyone's account because instead of people working for their own survival and security, they cast aside selfishness and live and work for the sake of their brothers and sisters. Each uses his or her gifts for the betterment of others instead of the glorification of the self. They do not fight or argue to put their point of view before that of another because they understand there is no reason to. Each within his or her own vision has no fear of what they think or feel because they are provided for just as they provide for others. It is an inversion of how most of us are taught to live here in samsara.
The three sacred laws will guide you to truth
Give all that you can to all that you know,
Hold nothing back for yourself or your kin.
Know that your brother is right in himself,
For you are not right until you accept him as twin.
And once you have followed and basked in these things
The third sacred covenant at last will be reached
Convergence will come; it will be all that you seek
Together none higher and none lower than thee
The left is the right and below is above
This knowledge I give is all you will need
One day you will see it, this much I do know
The road few have traveled at last will take all
For it is not attained until all understand
Convergence II, 21: 1-14
I believe the same road the Nazarene describes in the passage from Matthew on the narrow gate is echoed in Anastasia's instruction in this passage from my own theology. The methods and means for travelling the path are the same and the destination is the same. Both involve sacrifice and for many it may seem that denying oneself pleasures, rewards and a sense of security in this lifetime makes little sense. This feeling comes from a sense of trading one master for another and simplifying matters into a sense of delay of rewards. This misses the mark.
We are trained to think in terms of being rewarded for hard work and good behavior. This reduces us to the level of animals, where treats are given for learning tricks and following instructions. We forget that this life's system of rewards and punishments are little more than a pat on the head for catching a stick or a smack on the ass for pissing on the carpet. There is more than that, but for the well-trained human who performs the required labor and tricks under the eyes of the collective reality, it is hard to see beyond the feeding dish.
The narrow path asks us to look beyond the feeding dish, not to fear it becoming empty, but to believe it will always be filled with enough to satisfy and sustain us. It asks us not to overfill our dish, but if it should be not to gorge ourselves on the bounty but to take only what we need and give what remains to our brothers and sisters whose dishes have gone empty. It is by this method that we all remain filled, for the spirit is within us all, it is not generated by a distant master who simply rewards us with greater wealth and glory than the masters who take our reigns here in samsara. Together we hold the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. Or we remain trapped forever in samsara with the shrouds of chaos to keep us warm and eternally unfulfilled.
We can be reborn into the heaven dynamic by working to create it here, or we can continue on the wide and well travelled path seeking earthly rewards, riches and self-glorification. We have options. We have choice. Wwe steer the spirit within. Drive on.
Excerpted from my unwritten book, No, I'm Not a Methodist
Everything is funny to me
And I am always wrong