Parable of the Good Shepherd
1"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber. 2But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. 3To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers." 6This figure of speech Jesus spoke to them, but they did not understand what those things were which He had been saying to them.
7So Jesus said to them again, "Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. 9I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
11"I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. 12He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. 14I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, 15even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd. 17For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. 18No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father."
19A division occurred again among the Jews because of these words. 20Many of them were saying, "He has a demon and is insane. Why do you listen to Him?" 21Others were saying, "These are not the sayings of one demon-possessed. A demon cannot open the eyes of the blind, can he?"
In my spiritual journey, one of the things that has most bothered and aggravated me has been fundamentalism of any kind. I have always felt that only by looking carefully at the nature of the mind and learning therein - can there be any possibility of transformation or spiritual awakening.
In the above passage Jesus is talking about the Christ energy. He identified completely with the inner Christ within him.
"I am the door of the sheep. 8All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. 9I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly."
I am the door of the sheep = I am the door for the humble who seek spiritual sustenance.
I am the door = I am the pure heart - the Christ within each one
The sheep represent humanity. When their heart is seen to be maturing then you have an earnest and serious human being who seeks true perception and the guiding light of the Christ-energy. When that heart awakens to its true nature with humility and reverence it comes upon the door of Christ wisdom. That door opens to the beauty and light inherent in our true nature. If we settle for anything less than that door - we settle for second best - we don't go the whole way, we compromise and we are the thieves and robbers of our own perfection.
The thief is he who has motives and expectations - who acts out of self-interest - he cannot pass through the door of unconditional love - he is that which blocks spiritual awareness in the human mind. He is represented in human nature by what the Buddhists call the "kilesas" - and the yogis call the "klesas" - that which defiles, which causes problems,which supports and sustains the ego - the mental blocks to clarity...the "sins"/misperceptions (in the language of Christianity) of ego/fear based perception - rather than the wisdom of pure perception. He is represented in religion by the ego-driven priest; the guru who wants followers and adoration; the preacher who persuades; the religious believer who believes that he and his chosen savior have a monopoly on the truth...
I feel that many Christians miss the point.
(I am inspired by the example of Jesus' life but I identify as a humanist interested in all paths to wisdom - but not identifying with any in particular. Committed to truth - not doctrine - Ramana sums up my position in this dialogue:
Q: What is death? Is it not the falling away of the body?
M: Do you not desire that in sleep? What goes wrong then?
Q: But I know I shall wake up!
M: Yes, thought again! There is the preceding thought: 'I shall wake up.' Thoughts rule one's life. Freedom from thoughts is one's true nature: Bliss. Death is a thought and nothing else. One who thinks raises problems. Let the thinker say what happens to him in death. The real "I" is silent. One should not think, "I am this, I am not that." To say "this" or "that" is wrong. They are also limitations. I AM alone is true. Silence is "I.")
They feel that in this parable Jesus is talking about himself as an entity - as the Son of God who died for our sins - and who is the savior of mankind. This line of thinking presupposes that we are all terrible beings and that Jesus is beyond comparison and beyond reproach. What I find uncomfortable about this ideal is that such people have never met Jesus and yet they have these blind convictions. They don't seem to have the subtlety of intelligence to really go carefully into what he is saying - and so they don't appreciate the beauty and subtlety of the parable. They have no real understanding of of the "Christ" energy. We are part of the Christ energy - but our egos blind us to that truth.
Love has its own intelligence. Jesus's life represents a pure example of that intelligence. In that sense he is the savior of mankind and he did die as a consequence of other's misperceptions/sins - because his mind was cleansed of all fear and limitation - he had nothing to defend (though he could have brought down legions of angels to destroy the Roman empire if he had wanted to). His destiny was to teach "love thine enemy as thyself."
His life was an example of pure defenseless - which is the essence of love. We only attack and defend when we are caught in the dualities of like and dislike, attachment and fear etc. Defenseless is born of a state free of expectations. It has totally transcended the state of lack. He died on the cross also to rise again. To show that spirit is beyond the limitations of the body. He died to show that sin(another word for misperception - in the wisdom of the Christ light there is no sense of guilt in sin - it is simply a state of mind, informed by the ego's thought system - which is incapable of seeing without the blind sights of fear and vested interest. It associates itself with the body and cannot go beyond the mind or the sense telephones - hence sin/misperception)has no foundation in truth. That we are all sinless in essence. He represented who we might rise to be through right action and right discrimination - by the undoing of all that is false within our minds.
In this parable he is saying - follow my example - rise to the heights of your own beauty and dignity...become one with the light of Christ wisdom. This is wholly different thing to bowing down and saying "oh I am not worthy" and blindly following the dogma of a hypocritical and evangelical church (I use the word "evangelical" in its modern sense). The use of the analogy of sheep by Jesus was to convey the pliability of the human mind - as well as its vulnerabilty - only a shepherd who marries the right qualities of love and wisdom can be a real shepherd and herd his sheep safely through the perils of life. Sheep will only come to know the real and lasting value of trust/surrender in such a one...though they may be fooled and taken advantage of by others...(ie we are duped by our own misperceptions - they are the thieves which constantly betray us along life's road - until - we finally come upon the door of Christ wisdom. We can only come to that door when our heart is pure and when our mind is no longer decieved by the pitfalls of the senses.
The Baghavad Gita represents another beautiful allegory on the challenges in the battle between the higher nature and worldly/bodily influences. Here the Christ wisdom is represented by Krishna - another monad representing the enlightened state -from a different culture. The challenges of the human experience are universal. Each enlightened culture has evolved its own solutions to the same challenges of the human system - and when empathy and intuition is alive in us - they all look remarkably similar - because, in essence, they are! (ie whether it be Socrates, Jesus Christ, Krishna, Ramana Maharishi or Mr J. Krishnamurti or Lao Tzu - they all point to the same ineffable source)).
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