(St Matthew 25; 15 – 23)
we shall receive his commendation. If we do not, then like the servant who made no effort to utilize the one talent he had received (verses 24 – 30)
we shall be condemned.
Having previously considered the story of every man, and in particular the fact that each “receives from God his allotted part”, Verse Three continues the theme, telling us that “His place in Heaven is preserved for him as Peace slowly develops within him”. This is particularly significant, for it is as we are able to accept the “allotted part in the struggle of earthly life” and work within the limitations imposed thereby that we gradually become more useful servants of the King. Nor is this all, for hand in hand with this improvement in our spiritual standing there also develops within us an inner and spiritual Peace. This is both effect and cause to our spiritual progress. It begins as the result of our using the talents and opportunities that have been allotted to us in life to the best of our abilities in God’s Service, but that in turn enhances our abilities as His servants, which in turn makes us more and more confident that His Will for us is something better than the best we could possible wish for ourselves. St Paul refers to this when in 1 Corinthians 2; 9 he says “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him”
The other point in Verse Three is of equal importance, for note, we are not told that his place in Heaven is CREATED as Peace develops within him. Rather, we are told that it is PRESERVED – meaning that it has always been there and continues to be preserved no matter long it takes for him to be ready to fill it. That this will take many lives is clear, for we are told that the symptom of his spiritual growth, Peace, develops only slowly.
Slow growth is sure growth and although we may at times sped rapidly along the Path whilst at others we stumble and fall, yet is our overall progress one of gradual spiritual growth. As a result of this gradual spiritual growth “the tender-hearted soul of the spiritual man travels through this world to become gloriously pure”.
Again this verse contains a number of important points. The soul of such a man is “tender-hearted” – in other words largely influenced by love, for without love, he is following only one of the Two Divine Laws, the Law of Karma, and he will never achieve his goal by that means alone.
However, when such a man is directed by love, he “travels through this world” for life after life, and as he does so, he grows steadily in spiritual stature until at length he achieves the goal. This goal is “to become gloriously pure” – to settle past karma and to develop spiritual qualities that will enable him to pass beyond he cycle of life, death and rebirth that for so many lives has bound him to the wheel of re-incarnation, and advance into those higher spiritual realms, which in his “gloriously pure” state, become his natural home.
The Higher Self of the spiritual Man is that part of the human spirit that is most attuned to the Divine, so what is the “trouble” that deceives it? Clearly it may represent many things, temptation trials and testing, but most importantly it is the way in which the Tempter seeks to mislead him about the means of achieving the Goal.
Verse Five makes the point that even if he is deceived, and fails in some way, “the Source of Life shall increase him through the Twin Laws”. In other words, as long as his heart is in the right place, as long as he genuinely loves God and desires to do His Will, the Twin Laws of God ensure that he will increase in spiritual stature, despite, and at times, even through his many failures.
This is emphasized further in Verse Six, where we are told that “the Higher Self that keeps the Twin Laws shall increase progressively in the Pleasant land of the Spirit”. As long as the Higher Self continues to operate within the twin laws, the two borders of the Path, it will continue to increase, and furthermore, the more it grows, the more it can grow. This, of course applies in many different situations, but it is especially true of the Spiritual Path, where the good karma earned when an opportunity is well used, yields further opportunities for progress, and they, still greater ones, till at length either the spirit achieves perfection or it fails to respond appropriately to one or more of them, and as a result suffers a fall.
“The Pleasant land of the Spirit” clearly refers to the highest part of the Spirit Plane, and indicates that a spirit that is consciously trying to tread the Path will pass to that state after death, and furthermore that even there he will continue to make progress.
Verse Seven supports this point, for “the Source of Life shall increase the man who finds God”, but it is important to note that this increase will occur mainly in the Spirit Realms. The reason for this is that whilst on earth much of our time is of necessity taken up with catering for the needs of our physical bodies, whilst in the Spirit Realms we are free to spend our whole time working towards spiritual goals. Life on earth is an essential part of our testing, but it is easier to learn about spiritual things on the Astral or Spirit Planes
Verse Seven concludes; “In the land of the spirit he shall increase and continue to increase progressively till he rules his physical existence and begins to rule over the Twin Laws in the Spirit Realm”. In other words once he has learned the lessons of earth, he can begin to utilize the Twin Laws to assist his further progress, rather than working against them as has often been the case until then.
When we first start to assay the Path, often we are like young men, strong and eager for the fray. We rush to seize the opportunities for progress, even when they involve sacrifice or suffering, At times, we are even willing to accept boredom, humiliation and poverty, so strongly do we desire to advance on the Path, but as time goes by “the strength of the Man of Faith is broken in pieces on the winding road, as is vigour in physical existence.” Just as a man on earth gets weaker as he ages, so will our faith tend to weaken over time, for truly the road is long and winding.
This race that we have begun is no sprinting event, but a marathon – a race in which brief flashes of brilliance are of much less value than persistence and a dogged determination to go on no matter what betide.
In the spiritual life, the spirit who makes the most progress is the one who continues to strive after the goal he has glimpsed, despite physical tiredness, suffering or worldly distractions, for we can be assured that the length of the Path will tire us, its winding nature will ensure that the goals is not always clearly in sight, and that, right to the end, the Adversary will constantly strive to lure as away after material advantages. We may be weary with the struggle, but as long as our mind remains fixed in its will to follow the Path, we will triumph, for although “the strength of the Man of Faith is broken, his soul rejects the snares of earth”.
It is the latter phrase that is the more significant. These “snares of earth” are the temptations that beset us – the opportunities to return to the ways of the world, whether it be by the pursuit of worldly wealth or aggrandisement, or even the feeding of our own egos by a desire for recognition, but as long as we remain true to our ideals, we will reject them. Not that we shall always do so without cost to ourselves – far from it, for surrendering the things of the physical world will always be hard, but how else would we become worthy of the prize?
This is what Verse Ten means when it says that “Weary and crushed, they are supplanted by the Higher Self.” Although the Man of Faith is weary and crushed, his desire for material things is also eliminated.
Note that it is the Higher Self that “supplants” the things of this world – that is to say they are replaced in significance by spiritual values.
Again in Verse Eleven, we are back to the theme of triumphing over the Twin Laws and the efforts we have just been considering are among the most significant of the ways in which we may achieve this. Perfection is achieved, by desiring to do God’s Will, not just by giving up our own. For if we give up our own, without following His, how are we any more spiritual for the effort?
On the other hand, the link with the Divine Life that is forged by a desire to do God’s Will, significantly increases “the power of one who triumphs over the Twin Laws, for he shall grow in the Spirit Realms”.
Many spiritual teachers emphasise the need for self-control, the conquest of self and the overcoming of individual faults, but whilst these things are important, they are not the main point of the struggle. For unless we replace them within our hearts with positive virtues, their place will remain empty and just as “nature abhors a vacuum”, so in the spiritual world, an empty place has to be constantly guarded, lest it be re-filled with either the same undesirable characteristic that has been expelled, or another like it.
Instead of merely expelling our faults, we have to replace them with virtues, for only thus will we have truly overcome those weaknesses.We are told that “one who subdues his earthly faults is still held within the Twin Laws” emphasising that even if we have overcome a fault, its karmic effects may still attach to us, so that we still find ourselves constantly under spiritual attack. Again the only cure is to replace the fault with its contrary virtue.
Until then such a man “suffers sorrow and stress till he subdues his earthly desires on the winding road”. The karma of failing to do subdue our worldly desires brings sorrow and stress, rather than physical suffering, but until materialism is completely eradicated it will remain, and such trials will continue, it may be for many yeas, for remember, there is a long and winding road ahead. Faith and materialism are completely opposed to one another, if his faith is to triumph, the Man of faith will utterly destroy material desires, or as Verse Fourteen puts it, he “vigorously breaks in pieces the dust of earth.”
The last part of this phrase may seem to be almost a contradiction in terms, but it indicates, not only that we must shatter our material desires, but also that we should continue to reduce their importance to us, even when they no bigger than grains of dust.
The word “vigorously”, is also significant, indicating that if we do not attack this problem with vigour, we will not succeed. A merely half-hearted attempt to give up the things of this world will rarely work, for in such cases, as fast as we eliminate one aspect of the problem, another will present itself.
Finally we are reminded that as long as we make the maximum effort we will succeed, and that every step we take along the Path brings us further opportunities for progress, for “one who increasingly follows the Twin Laws shall increase progressively”.
This emphasis of the importance of progressive increases in spiritual growth especially in the Spirit Realms is continued in the next verse, where we are told that “the Source of Life shall increase him as he pays the price and brings forth fruit from affliction”.
There are, however, two other important points in this verse. The first is linked with “paying the price” – in other words, settling karma. Even whilst he is still settling past debts, that fact alone will allow the man of faith to become more receptive to spiritual power and it is as a result of that, that the Source of Life “increases him”.
The last phrase supports the one before it, for by enduring affliction to pay the price, he learns valuable lessons, patience, humility and resignation to name but a few, and such “fruits of affliction” also contribute to his increasing spiritual capacity. This, perhaps, is one of the most important lessons that the aspiring soul needs to learn, and it is usually one of the last.
It is really very hard to see suffering, sorrow and other trials as opportunities to make progress, but by the time it has reached this stage the Man of Faith is capable of doing so. Such an attitude is only one step away from perfection, – offering that suffering to God on behalf of another, just as Christ did on the Cross.
If once he has reached this stage, the spiritual man neglects “toincrease and increase progressively” this “makes a mockery of the man of faith”. In other words if, once we know that that we can increase our spirituality and continue to increase it progressively, but don’t make the effort, we thus mock the opportunity given to us and turn away from the chance to achieve the goal
Perhaps unsurprisingly this, the very last verse of the last chapter of “The Sayings of Melchizedek” finishes by predicting the final inevitable success of the Divine Spark – “the Higher Self must increase till it finds God”.
This is the Goal of all our striving, as was clearly recognised in ancient times, and because it ends on this point, it seems that the Sayings of Melchizedek were originally produced as a single set of rules.
This in turn confirms the opinion we have already expressed, that it was originally compiled as a guidebook for those who were treading the Path of Perfection. It was apparently intended to assist spiritual directors in the training of potential saints and mystics and as many of the Old Testament prophets, seem to have learned from some such system, perhaps this was its original purpose.
Let us pray that it may play a similar role today in the lives of those whose good karma allows them to be permitted to read it.
In Roman times a talent was a measure of weight, usually of gold or silver, so that in this parable a talent represents a large amount of money. It can also be seen as representing the different “talents” or abilities that God has given to each individual. A talent was equal to 3000 shekels roughly 56 kg. Thus a talent of gold would have been worth the equivalent of well over a million dollars in the early years of the 21st century.
He is paraphrasing Isaiah 64; 4. “For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him”
The adjective “gloriously” refers to the brilliantly pure white light that emanates from the perfected human spirit, just as it emanated from the Spirit Form of Christ when it was revealed during his Transfiguration. (St Mark 9; 3)
This phrase occurs several times in this chapter, and is derived from an interpretation of the word “Mizraim” (Egypt) whose literal translation refers to the duality of the twin banks of the Nile. As we know that the bulk of Egypt is desert and that it is only in the narrow strip along the banks of the River, that life flourishes, it is not inappropriate for us to see the comparatively narrow and winding River, bounded by these twin banks as a representation of the Narrow Winding Path, constricted by the Twin Laws of God
Note; it is very hard to give up the world “cold turkey” as it were. We can only do so if we find other, more spiritual values, and they become more important to us than the things of this world. Spiritual success is achieved, not by simply giving up the world, but by coming to see spiritual things as being of more value.
Note that the word is subdued, not eliminates or destroyed. I am not saying we have to eliminate all such desires completely. As long as they are subordinated to our spiritual goals, they will do little harm, and at times may even help us to relate more fully to those we are striving to lead and guide. Too many spiritual guides try to appear more spiritually-minded than they are to “set a good example” to their pupils – if they fail, their attempted deception may well cause those pupils to lose all respect, but even if they succeed those pupils will often become discouraged, seeing the task of emulating such a holy one as being too far beyond them.
By offering the good karma earned by His death on behalf of others, Christ became the “Saviour of Mankind” as all Christians acknowledge, though most do not understand the karmic mechanism involved. Put simply, when we offer our good karma on behalf of another, we thereby earn still more good karma, and if we continue to do so, the store of accumulated good karma available to help others, continues to increase progressively. Perhaps the constant emphasis on continuing to increase progressively that has dominated this last chapter, is an indication that in some way the Lost Wisdom of Melchizedek already contained a foreknowledge of the Coming of Jesus and the Salvation of Mankind that resulted therefrom.