“For many are called, but few are chosen.” Matthew 22:14
Because entering the kingdom is an individual act, only those who recognize the reality of the inner world and that the differentiation of personality is necessary can begin the journey.
“Enter by the narrow gate, since the road that leads to perdition is wide and spacious, and many take it; but it is a narrow gate and a hard road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matthew 7:13-14/Luke 13:24
John A. Sanford says that the wide road is the way through life that we travel unconsciously. It is the road of least resistance and mass identity. But, the narrow road (the wilderness road) requires our consciousness. We must pay close attention in order that we don’t wander off the path.
“The narrowness of the gate suggests the anxiety of this part of the process of finding the kingdom,” he says, “for narrowness and anxiety have long been associated.”
Our dreams often reflect this by showing us on a narrow way. For example, one may be traveling down a freeway and then turn off on a lesser known road. I recall having a dream in which I was trying to get to the airport but whatever road I turned onto became “narrower” as it presented some new obstacle to overcome.
Entrance into the kingdom, Sanford says, means the destruction of the old personality, with its constricted and uncreative attitudes.
“If this kingdom is to come,” he says, “this old person must die. The fortress behind which the ego has been hiding must be torn down.”
As Jesus said, “Anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 10:39
The next paradox of entering the kingdom is that it is usually only those who have recognized that they have been injured or hurt in some way in life who are most apt to come into the kingdom, Sanford says.
“Only a person who has recognized his or her own need,” he says, “even despair, is ready for the kingdom.”
This paradox is expressed in the parable of the wedding feast in which everyone is too busy with their own lives to take part in this joyous event. Finally, it is those who seem least fit for the kingdom, who are forced to enter it.
“Those who are forced by life to concede to themselves that they are psychologically crippled, maimed or blind can be compelled to enter the great feast,” Sanford says.
Yet, if we arrive at the kingdom having neglected to recognize the divine author of the feast, we banish ourselves back to the realm of the unconscious.
“At some point in our inner development, there may come a desire on our part to stop the creative process.” Sanford says, “to decide, ‘This is enough; I need go no further.’ Often there then sets in a time of darkness and confusion worse than the first. Such an experience is a sure sign that the creative process of the kingdom will not be denied—that if one turns aside the demands of the creative, and seeks to return to a life of unconscious obedience, one’s fate will be worse than that of Sodom and Gomorrah.”
Like new wine in old wineskins, the creative contents of the kingdom require a new and fresh consciousness to hold them. Too many people have tried to hold on to the old personality and find themselves disintegrating under the impact of the kingdom. For the kingdom is the “new wine,” and the new wine of consciousness requires a new wineskin to hold it.
It is during this process, more than any other time that faith is essential. When the ego is thrust into the turbulent life of the unconscious, we must commit ourselves to the inner way regardless of what comes. We must be determined to know the One who is at the center of the conflict.
“It is in this sense that the story of the calming of the storm is to be understood (Luke 8:22-25),” Sanford says.
Jesus tells his disciples, “Let us cross over to the other side of the lake.”
And thus begins the journey: crossing over the waters of the unconscious to another stage of the journey. And, as often happens, there is a terrible storm. The disciples fear that they are going to drown.
“This is the deepest fear of the ego,” Sanford says, “that it will drown in the unconscious, be overcome and extinguished.”
At this point, many abandon the journey, but it is only faith that can give us the strength to persevere through the difficulties of the storm.
Jesus awakens, rebukes the wind and rough water, and the sea become calm again.
“Who can this be,” the disciples ask, “that gives orders even to the winds and waves and they obey him?”
And so it is with the inner world as it is with the outer world: both are obedient to God. Ultimately, the power to withstand the storm of exposure to the inner world is the rock of consciousness of the Word of God.
Sanford says the ego standpoint is often represented as a house. If one puts one’s faith in things other than the consciousness of the meaning of God’s Word in the soul, the house of the ego cannot stand.
Jesus often uses the image of a house in his sayings. The same image is important in our dreams, as well. The house represents our conscious framework and the images around the house can be used as a metaphor for an outside experience. Dreaming of a house with no windows or doors, for example, may mean that there is a condition of your consciousness that does not have any outlook on life and keeps you shut in.
So, when Jesus says, “Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on a rock. Rain came down, floods rose, gales blew and hurled themselves against that house, and it did not fall: it was founded on rock.” Matthew 7:24/Luke 6:47-48
This rock is the rock of consciousness. It is spiritual consciousness and insight that form the rock of Christ on which the kingdom is founded. If we build our house on this rock, we will be able to weather the often violent entrance to the kingdom.
Next Week: The Price of Discipleship