Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The Samaritan Woman in John 4:1-26

In a way the parable of the Samaritan woman in John 4:1-26 embodies the essence of what this list is all about. For the water of the fathers (in time) of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, etc. (see Genesis) makes us thirst again and again, while the waters of the spirit can quench our thirst once and for all, but since we all don't know any better we go to Jacob's well to get the water that makes us thirst and we don't see Jesus, who is asking us to drink, but in reality is offering us the water of the spirit.

One way of looking at this is that the faiths of the fathers are in fact the pseudo-religions which the sonship establishes to justify and rationalize its beliefs and make the world real, and cause(!) its adventures in the world of time and space, and both Judaism and Christianity serve that same purpose. A good way of hiding that purpose is to emphasize the differences between the two, while any true spirituality will ultimately acknowledge that truth is one and that all paths must lead there in the end--for if they didn't truth would not be true.

A true spiritual path, like the Course, offers us the way out, which subconsciously we do not really want, and just like the Samaritan woman we go back to the well we know in search of more of the water that makes us thirst again (guilt!). It is the juice on which the illusion runs, which is transmitted from generation to generation and to a large degree the books of the Pentateuch, if not the entire Old Testament are the story of the sonship wandering in the world of time and space.

Here is what J. W. Kaiser writes about the parable (in "De Mysterien van Jezus in ons leven," p. 150, translation RFvV):
However the episode with the Samaritan woman contains a deeper reference to the real Israel. Not to the ten tribes which formed the Kingdom of Israel were constantly at odds with the Kingdom of Judea (including Benjamin). Not to the British Israel Movement, with their artful thought processes, in which so many idealists have been caught up. But Israel as: Man caught up in Time. Israel "fallen" into the discernment of opposites, Israel as Man yielding to the temptations of Space, Israel as Man bound to the Wheel, who imagines himself to be waiting (Semer!), but still only knows the happenings in time as reality, and thus constantly makes his children drink from that Source which makes them thirst again. Israel the Happenings in Time, which lives on in the Twelve kinds of Children, as the archetypes of the so-called Zodiac, the slide positive of earthly relativity. To save this Israel is to lead the Twelve "tribes" back to the House of the Father, to Eternity.

Written 25 years prior to the Course, this commentary shows us not only how much was always there for those with ears to hear and eyes to see, but it reminds us that the problem at all times is our willingness to listen. However, thankfully the Course is a lot more explicit, and perhaps makes it harder not to listen.

What the parable of the Samaritan woman does not capture, is the attraction to guilt. It does show her wanting, looking for the water that makes us thirst again, but it doesn't give expression to the ego's attraction to guilt, as the Course does so well in the section by that name(T-19.IV.A.i), and throughout, and which really makes us say "No!" to the water that Jezus has to offer for most of our life, before we finally begin looking for "another way." An interesting detail also is how she feels inferior to Jesus, and we might now realize that the notion of a Samaritan being inferior to a Jew is only a parabolic expression for the inferiority we feel with respect to Jesus if we identify with the ego.

The parable reflects the ultimate moment when our heart finally recognizes that we are not truly married to any of our specialness partners, which we've merely used to shut Jesus out of our lives. Seeing the truth of that and following Jesus represents accepting the Atonement for ourselves. Along the way it also clarifies how the (ego) God we worship, is a figment of our imagination, and the real God is spirit (v. 23)
Thankfully, as the Course puts it, the outcome is as certain as God. (T-2.III.3:10) So while some have doubtlessly always found their way home with the scant information contained in parables like this, the Course gives us the tools to really clear away the obstacles that keep us from accepting the love we truly are. And to stay within the parable, we learn with the Course that the way to Jesus is to forgive ourselves for telling him off when he offers us the water that won't make us thirst again, until like the Samaritan woman, we can accept it and follow his teaching in our life, but first we need to be willing to see and acknowledge that the things of time have not healed us, before Jesus can. A passage in the section Self-concept versus Self makes an interesting corollary to the parable, in which Jesus finally says to us (in verse 26): "I that speak to you am he." (The Messiah). In the Course it is stated as follows:

7 I do not know the thing I am, and therefore do not know what I am doing, where I am, or how to look upon the world or on myself.

8 Yet in this learning is salvation born. 9 And What you are will tell you of Itself.
unquote (T-31.V.17:7-9)

Copyright, (c) 2005, Rogier F. van Vlissingen. All rights reserved.
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