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Parables for the Seeker
In this season of light and renewal, we reach out to our friends, family, and community, giving and
receiving gifts, cards, and good wishes, celebrating our connectedness to something greater than
ourselves. In our celebration of this year’s end and the beginning of the next, I sought out what the
great spiritual teachers have said about attaining higher consciousness.
In the New Testament, Gospel of Matthew, Jesus speaks in parables in his teachings about how to seek
the Kingdom of God. Jesus tells his followers “who hath ears to hear, let him hear.” (Matthew 13: 9 ).
That phrase has always resonated with me. It reminds me that, if I listen with my heart, my inner self
allows the preoccupations of everyday human existence to fade to background noise. Then the hum of
life and love and beauty fills me with energy and joy as I become aware of the presence of Spirit. And
opportunities arise to honor that.
Later in that chapter Jesus says something even deeper, “For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and
he shall have more abundance; but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath
not.” (Matthew 13: 11). One interpretation suggests that he is saying some people have and some have
not. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. A perpetual human conundrum that we have yet to
But perhaps this is a parable about raising one’s consciousness rather than a comment on solving social
inequities. I think back to an experience I had when I was living in Baltimore in the late 1970’s. One
early summer evening, I went with friends from my spiritual community to a sacred ceremony at
Georgetown University in Washington, DC. It was a Buddhist ceremony, called the passing of the Black
Hat, enacted with the 16 th Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje who was the spiritual head of the Karma
Kagyu lineage, of the Vajrayana or Diamond path of Tibetan Buddhism. It was essentially a healing
ceremony to transmit enlightenment and love and light to the world, with Americans being the main
target audience at the time.
I’d asked a friend in DC to meet there as I had an extra ticket, thinking she might be open to this form of
spirituality. She showed up on schedule, and as we entered the sold-out event in a large auditorium we
exchanged our personal news. When the chanting and drumming began amidst a display of brilliant
prayer flags I was immediately immersed, absorbing the majestic event. My friend was immersed too,
but in a different fashion. In fact, she disappeared. I was too caught up in what was going on to be too
concerned about her, thinking perhaps she was dealing with something.
After the ceremony, we all went out to the grassy courtyard. I saw my friend at a distance by another
building, clearly engaged with some other students. I went over to her and asked if she was okay. She
was fine. Basically, she left because she found the ceremony tedious, and she had noted a few fraternity
parties on campus and decided to go meet some guys and have some fun.
Whatever, it was fine with me. I couldn’t predict how my friend responded to different situations and
traditions. But as I thought about that afterward, the realization dawned on me that the path one
chooses regarding one’s consciousness is varied. Was that what Jesus meant when he said some have
and some have not? Maybe he was talking about the cultivation of spiritual consciousness. Hadn’t my
mentors and teachers always noted that as well?
I thought about my old friend from DC as I sent her a holiday card. We’ve been friends since college. But
she is who she is and I am who I am. Her actions that evening taught me that how we process higher
consciousness or transpersonal experiences is very personal. The opportunities for enlightenment are
always open for those who seek them out. The pathway one chooses to follow, however, depends on
the person. And that freedom to choose is our birthright.