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On Camels and Needles
“Assuredly, I say to you that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of Heaven.” From the Gospel of St. Matthew.
It’s one of the most quoted, and misunderstood, passages in the Bible. Clearly suggesting that material belongings must be disregarded (physically and/or psychologically) in order to enter the realm of eternal peace.
But that’s not the moral.
Prior to that utterance, Jesus purportedly said to his interlocutor, “Sell your possessions, give to the poor, and then you will have treasure in Heaven.”
To which the wealthy man dejectedly trudged away.
So was Jesus actually proposing the giving up of worldly goods? Yes, and no.
What he most certainly did not intend, as with many of his parables, was a literal interpretation. In fact, when subsequently asked who could possibly relinquish everything they own, he answered with no one. “With man this is impossible.”
A “rich man” is anyone holding a belief that the world has something to offer. Whether that be increased financial status, improved bodily health, or more satisfying relationships - they all reinforce a view that one’s situation may be enhanced or diminished through external affairs.
With such a mindset the source of true riches will never be sought.
Thus the “selling of possessions” is an allusion to forsaking the idea that the world has value. And his use of the word poor contrasts an entrenched, fate-based point of view. Hence “giving to the poor” suggests focusing one’s attention on the sole agent of experiential change: the mind.
By shifting from a name and body identity and returning awareness to the mind, we are able to deeply comprehend this counsel. From which we instantly meet with all the “treasure in Heaven.”
As we read in A Course in Miracles
It takes great learning both to realize and to accept the fact that the world has nothing to give. But there is a way of finding [eternal joy] right here and now. (M-13.2; T-28.IV.2)
Back to Jesus’ exhortation as related by Matthew: it makes no difference what assets we amass or surrender. The only thing we need abdicate is the mistaken belief in material value. Which we do by offering a “little willingness” to see the world differently.
At which point we easily slip through the needle’s eye and into the loving embrace of heaven’s heart.
Join me in Thursday’s class where we’ll explore how we can make such a transcendental shift in awareness and experience glorious peace. I look forward to seeing you then.