The Narrow Gate
Jesus once said, "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." (Matthew 7:13,14). Let us consider these words for a moment in the light of spiritual consciousness.
First of all, let us consider what Jesus meant by the word destruction. In fundamentalist religious circles, this word has most often been interpreted to mean hellfire-and-brimstone. But in light of spiritual consciousness, destruction simply means a missed opportunity. It means that we have failed to lay hold of abundant spiritual life in this incarnation and must therefore repeat another cycle of human birth and death. It is tantamount therefore to pushing the replay button in regards to our spiritual aspirations and putting off the realization off eternal life indefinitely.
The fact that the gate to this outworking is wide speaks of the broad influence of the culture of man - an influence that invariably supports the replay button scenario. In other words, the culture of man would have us procrastinate spiritual realization, even if it means coming back for future incarnations and thereby remaining enslaved to the cycle of births and deaths. The degree to which we are inwardly aligned with man's culture is the degree to which we will follow the sound of its piping. And since we tend to find this sound both seductive and irresistible, most people will end up taking this road. From the cradle to the grave their ears will itch for the sound of the cultural piping of man. Then when the death of the body calls, they will experience the destruction of yet another opportunity for full spiritual realization.
But it is not only that the path to full spiritual realization is maligned by man's culture. There is something more at work here that turns people away. It is the fact that the gate is small and the road narrow. Something about this imagery does not sit well with us. It is not that the gate is too small for us to fit through; it is the fact that most of us have accumulated a good deal of excess baggage on our cradle-to-grave journey and have become sorely attached to carrying our baggage with us wherever we go. Thus it is our baggage that won't allow us to fit through the narrow gate. If we were willing to lay this baggage down and release our attachment to it, every one of us could enter the kingdom of God through the narrow gate. We would, as Isaiah said, "Enter Zion with singing and with everlasting joy crowning our heads." (Isaiah 35:10).
The question then becomes: what is the nature of this baggage that we carry with us and become so attached to? Is it comprised of material possessions such as houses, cars, clothing or gadgetries? Is it literally the kind of stuff we pack into suitcases when we go on vacation? No, of course not. The baggage that will not allow us to fit through the narrow gate that leads to eternal life is the baggage of false temporal ideas about ourselves and God. It is the stuff of wrong belief and spiritual deception.
When we know God aright and perceive ourselves clearly and in accordance with the truth of our created mandate, we carry no excess baggage whatsoever. Rather, we move through life lightly and without any sense of tightness or ill-fit. We soar above the earthly plane like a bird, without a lot of cares or suitcases full of problems to weigh us down. But when we do not see God and ourselves clearly, we carry around heavy, ill-fitting mental ideologies wherever we go. Thus we do not even think of trying to go through the narrow door. Rather we expect that at least for this incarnation we must take the broad path of identifying ourselves with man's culture. In this way we come to put our trust in man instead of God. We may not necessarily lose all hope because we hope in man. But at some point we come to realize that man cannot save us and we recognize that we have made a pretty big mistake.
What does it mean to not see ourselves clearly? This is a crucial spiritual dilemma. It involves taking on false identities as we go through life, each one of which acts like an anchor, keeping us stuck and bound to the earthly plane. Willingly we take on these identities, and only begrudgingly and with great suffering do we relinquish them. And yet, relinquish them we must, if we hope to enter eternal life through the narrow gate.
When we see ourselves as anything other than spiritual consciousness, we have taken on a false identity and anchored ourselves to the earthly plane. For example, suppose we embark upon a career path that we find both prosperous and fulfilling on a human scale. The tendency would then be for us to identify ourselves with that career - to see ourselves as a doctor, lawyer, or business tycoon. Some people even change and add titles to their names when this happens, becoming doctor so-and-so or reverend Smith, etc. But in truth, our birth name itself is a false identity. Therefore when we add to it, we only add to the illusion, thereby adding weight and bulk to ourselves that will not allow us to enter the narrow gate.
The same could be said of the person who values family life to such a degree that he comes to see himself primarily as a son to his parents, a husband to his wife, a father to his children, etc. These roles, while certainly honorable in a strictly human sense, can easily cause us to lose sight of who we truly are. We can come to depend on them to give meaning and substance to our lives. Therefore we become attached to them and suffer when we must relinquish them.
Attachment to any falsehood about ourselves is sure therefore to keep us earth bound and of wide girth. Then rather than suffer the relinquishing of these false identities we throw in our lot with the culture of man where these identities are not only acceptable but also often lauded. When this happens, our false ideas about ourselves swell even more and our attachment to both them and the world that lauds them becomes very strong indeed. In taking this path, we virtually guarantee that we will miss the realization of the kingdom of God in this incarnation. For this reason Jesus also once said 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 God." (Luke 18:25). It was not pecuniary riches of which he spoke in this passage. Rather it was the illusory richness of false human identities fleshing out one's self image and their acceptance and praise in the sight of the world.
In a similar vein when Jesus spoke of the blessed estate of the "poor in spirit" in his Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3), he was not referring to those who had no money. Rather he was talking about those who, for one reason or another, were not inclined to see and build themselves up falsely but rather went through life as streamlined unadorned men and women, taking to themselves no identity other than their inner spiritual consciousness. These are looked upon by the culture of man as being poor indeed, with lives that have no substance or fleshing out and therefore no girth.
Wide is the gate and broad is the road that lead to friendship with this world. Adopting worldly values will flesh out our human persona in this incarnation and give us a sense of fullness and layering. The more layers we add to our personality, the more intriguing we will be to the world culture. And the more intriguing the world culture finds us to be, the more it loves us and showers with its gifts, thereby increasing our girth ten-fold - a condition that will never allow us to enter the kingdom of heaven through the narrow gate.
But if our values are spiritual and godly, we will resist the world's attempts to increase our girth and will instead keep ourselves streamlined and fit. We will keep the lamps of our spiritual consciousness burning brightly, so that when the bride groom comes and opens the narrow gate we can enter at any time.
In any human incarnation the road that leads to eternal life and the breaking of the cycle of births and deaths will be narrow, and the gate to enter will be small. This is the nature of our universe and the reality of life on the earthly plane. It has never been any different throughout this age of Adam. And so, relatively few have been able to enter. But at any given time we can make the choice to stop adding girth to ourselves and slim down to where we readily fit through the door. We can stop adding bulky false identities to our essential being. We can lift anchor on the ones that are presently weighing us down. We can reject the worldly value system that deceives us into trying to increase the layering of false identities so that we will be more intriguing and desirable. None of this is too hard for us. The gate may be narrow, but it is still very much open. Thus the choice to do what it takes to be able to enter is up to us.