I am engaged in a very strenuous weeding of a wild portion of my backyard, overrun with invasive weeds--honeysuckle, Virginia Creeper, blackberries and those pretty shiny but thorny vines known as common greenbriar. Let me tell you, this is no task for the faint of heart, and I have been at it all summer with mattock and pickax and the most protective gardening gloves I can find! These vines send out strong runners under the surface of the soil and I have pulled some of them up half-way across the yard. I walk daily over the places I have cleared already and pluck up the new growth from the roots I have missed.
Among other things, this exercise is an amazing study of life and its determination to continue, the powerful desire and intelligence that keeps arising as new plant growth from deep and firmly entrenched roots. No matter how deeply I have dug and wrenched these roots out of the ground, still they survive to send up more green, more sprouts of life!
During this process verse 108 (from The Gnostic Bible) has sent its own roots and runners through my mind in contemplation:
Jesus pulled out the root of the whole place
while others did it only partially.
As for us, let each one dig down after the root of evil
that is within us
and pluck it out of our heart from the root.
It will be uprooted if we recognize it.
But if we are ignorant of it, it takes root in us
and produces fruit in our heart. It masters us.
We are its slaves. It takes us captive
to make us do what we do not want;
and what we do want we do not do.
It is powerful because we have not recognized it.
While it exists it is active.
In the process of becoming we are constantly pulling out these roots as they send growth above the surface and are recognized. What reveals these roots that are hidden is their effect, the patterns that appear in thought, speech and action. It seems an endless task, and one that requires constant vigilance. The continuous expansion of the heart mentioned in last week's discourse comes to mind here. We hear in teachings that illumination is never-ending, that there is no arrival point. So how does this root get completely pulled out? Or is the wording, "Jesus pulled the root out of the whole place," referring to something else? Is it speaking of embracing the continuous process, never giving up or resting on "our attainments," which we often hear is the way to get stuck on the journey of illumination?
Removing "the root out of the whole place" brought to mind how simple it would be to rid my yard of weeds by removing the soil in which they grow so perniciously. Removing the medium in which they grow would give nothing for the roots to cling to. In emptiness there is no place for that which is not wanted to grow. In contemplation this passage from Philippians came to mind:
4 Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.
5 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
6 who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
7 but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
8 he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross. (Philippians 2)
What I am hearing here is that, in recognizing and realizing his transcendence, Yeshua walked in complete self-negation as God's slave, devoted entirely to fulfilling God's Will--the liberation of all beings. He taught all who would listen of the things of Heaven, and walked as God with us, Emmanuel.
The Three Roots of our Lineage seem to point the way to pulling out the root of evil within us. (This is an intriguing contemplation in itself while I weed with one of my favorite tools, a three-tined mattock...) Remembering our transcendence, remembering who we truly are in God, is the truth and light that we are called to walk in our lives, so that we may walk as a sign of hope for others. This recognition is what we are to realize here, what we are to become and embody in ever-increasing gradations. It sounds like the fullness that is realized in emptiness, in self-negation.
If I keep mind on the things of Heaven then I am more likely to recognize the appearance of what arises from the root of evil in my heart. Still, I can't do any of this myself. It is a co-labor of love with the Shekinah who goes before me. It feels more like a continual choosing to allow the Shekinah to go before me, a constant cooperation with Mother Spirit through desire for the fulfillment of God's Will, through the desire to become God's obedient slave, rather than a slave to evil.
Inside each of us is a Person of Light who knows how to serve, how to live and how to lay down one life and take up another in service to the Holy One. As this Person comes forward, the root of evil loses ground in our hearts. The more the Holy Soul takes up our person and life, the less ground is available for the root of evil to grow and flourish. It is a constant movement, like a flickering between light and dark, nothing and something, no-doer and doer.
It seems that, in non-dual Gnostic Awareness, the back-and-forth flickering are parts of the same movement, the Being and Becoming of our teachings that are actually one. Embracing this awareness of One that appears as two opposites, seems as the emptiness of the slave of God, the Whole Person aware of the struggle that is no struggle, not caught up in the idea that the struggle is a problem.
Perhaps this contemplation has become as convoluted as the roots I have been pulling up in the yard, but I offer it in the hope that Mother may inspire discussion of this powerful verse.
May many beings realize their transcendence this day!