Is it possible to understand the Bible rationally? – part 1

La parabola dei talenti

Is it possible to understand the Bible rationally? – part 1

Contemporary people who are no longer satisfied with the everyday rivalry with others and the constant pursuit of newer and newer achievements begin to look for guidelines that help to find the right, new way of life.

At the beginning, they often look for them in various traditional texts that mention a different world or a different way of life. The Bible is a well-known collection of such texts. Unfortunately, attempts to literally understand the stories contained therein usually lead astray because of the apparent contradictions, ambiguities and inconsistencies they contain. That is why there have been so many different attempts to read the Bible in other ways, including efforts to find a special key to decode secret information it might contain.

Could an ordinary modern person, who does not know any secret code, find in the Bible a natural inspiration to start a new life path? We try to prove that it is possible by using only ordinary rational thinking and basic knowledge supported by esoteric sensitivity.

We do so with the example of two very famous parables of the talents and the wedding at Cana in Galilee. Quite often they are taken almost literally, and some inconvenient parts of them are simply ignored. We intend to show that they do not have to be ignored at all and that, in fact, they are the key to a rational interpretation of these texts.

It should be added here that the role of these parables is multidimensional and multilayered and cannot be limited to the explanations given below. The explanations we offer are merely to show that some parts of the Bible can be understood in a fairly natural and inspiring way that is not necessarily literal.

We apply a certain way of thinking that uses analogy (it could be called associative or contextual thinking). Its purpose is not to study reality and draw analytical conclusions in order to reach some absolute form of truth, e.g., historical truth concerning events described in the Bible. Instead, it is supposed to stimulate the inner knowledge (which could be called the knowledge of the soul) present in every human being.

We give examples of such associations that could help the seeking person to integrate these parables into his/her image of the meaning of human existence. Such an image should eventually lead to a proper perception of faith in one’s mind, which is a call from The Unknowable Father[1]. This call is explained to us by the Son with the help of our soul. We perceive this explanation as the knowledge of the heart.

The call contains an idea to be realized by a human being, which is usually felt as an urge to seek for the true purpose of existence and is difficult to depict with precision. Mindful focus on this striving is sometimes called unequivocal orientation and symbolized by the unicorn’s horn.

Let us begin with the seemingly easier parable of the talents from the Gospel according to St. Matthew (25:14–30). We recall it below in a short and simplified form.

A man gave a portion of his fortune to three servants before going on a journey. One of them got five talents, the other two, and the third one. The first two doubled the wealth they received, and the third hid his talent so as not to lose it. Upon his return, the master of these servants rewarded the two who had multiplied what they had received from him and punished the third servant for indolence and lack of cleverness.

It is quite rightly believed that the story praises all kinds of initiative, whether concerning earthly matters (two talents symbolize a soul focused on struggling in the dialectical world, with its opposing values ​​of good and evil) or spiritual (five talents designate a pentagram, which is a symbol of the soul striving for contact with the Spirit); and it rebukes passivity and timidity.

Let us add that in many European languages ​​there is a word with the same or very similar spelling and with a similar sound, which has the same meaning as the English word talent and also means an innate predisposition, an aptitude. Therefore, it is often believed that this story encourages the recognition and development of one’s own abilities.

If we are primarily interested in our own spiritual possibilities, then the above parable can be understood as a reminder of the need to immediately enter the path of inner development; a call not to wait for a more convenient time and not to hide one’s own spiritual talent, but to try to multiply it now. However, the question is: how to do it effectively?

Recall that talent (Latin talentum, from Greek tálanton – weight) was the largest unit of measure of mass and money, used in Assyria, Babylonia, ancient Greece and Palestine, mainly to weigh gold or silver. Thus, the servants in the parable received their portion of fortune measured in the largest units understood by the people of the time.

It is believed that one talent corresponded to approximately 34 kilograms. It can therefore be assumed that it was a significant amount of gold – symbolizing the energies of the spirit – or silver – symbolizing the strength of the soul. Thus, the association arises that the talents in the parable signify powerful impulses from the soul and spirit levels that encourage more conscious contact with these levels. They are interpreted by our personality as a strong need to search for the right purpose of life.

The servants received these enormous energy resources in a form that allowed them to communicate with others – in very large units commonly used for exchange. The two multiplied them through some kind of such exchange and were rewarded. Thus, they demonstrated the ability to accept existing social conventions and skillfully use them for higher purposes. The third, on the other hand, was rebuked and punished because he was afraid of such activity or did not want to work in the existing reality. Here, one talent can mean focusing only on yourself and the avoidance of closer connection with other people, because it can cause various inconveniences, or the social rules are simply too annoying.

More precisely, the five talents mean a situation where, under the influence of received inspirations, we are able to act on the level of the soul together with others and according to the prevailing rules, which leads to the appropriate level of satisfaction. This reminds us of a well-known principle (Mt. 22, 21): Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s [2].

Two talents symbolize the state in which we work together with others, but the effects of our activity are basically limited to the level of the ordinary world and its problems. But even this seemingly ordinary toil will be rewarded and multiplied if it is conducted under the influence of the forces emanating from these other dimensions of the soul and spirit.

While one talent corresponds to a situation where, under the influence of received impulses, someone withdraws into himself and avoids cooperation with others, out of fear that they will hinder his internal development. Such people try to seek contact with spiritual energies on their own, as if only on their own behalf. Then the received energies are distorted over time, which leads to the consequences described in the parable of talents, that is, to the loss of inspiration obtained.

Where can the proper exchange of spiritual energies be made? Certainly, contact with a spiritual school greatly facilitates such work, because it is a place where people striving for authentic internal transformation concentrate.

Go to Part 2

[1] According to Max Heindel: In the Western Wisdom Teaching we speak of the highest Initiate of the Saturn Period as The Father (…) “whom no man has seen at any time,” but who is revealed in “The Light of the World”, the Son, who is the highest Initiate of the Sun Period. (Max Heindel, Freemasonry and Catholicism, The Rosicrucian Fellowship, 11th edition, p. 7)

The beings who were humans during the Saturn period are called the Lords of Mind. The people from the Sun period are now known as Archangels. For the sake of completeness, let us add that the highest initiate of the human beings of the Moon period is called the Holy Spirit (or Jehovah); these beings are now known as Angels. (cf. Freemasonry and Catholicism, pp. 7-8)

[2] King James Bible.

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Date: November 27, 2020
Author: Janusz Brzdęk (Poland)
Photo: A.N. Freeimages CCO

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