There’s something about a rebel that tugs at our imagination. When we see someone who’s willing to set themselves apart from the crowd we feel their sense of freedom. But we also know every rebel has paid some price for their revolt. Some rebels advertise their status with the clothes they wear, others with the actions they take. Some rebel against moral codes, others against the constraints of polite society. Still others rebel in a very quiet way. They may not be noticed by anyone even though their rebellion is the greatest of all. Who are these quiet rebels and what are they rebelling against?
It was this sort of rebellion Jesus was talking about when he said, “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7:13-14). Since these verses are often used to encourage Christians to strictly comply with religious laws and moral codes, you may be wondering what rebellion has to do with these gates and paths. But instead of keeping us within narrow confines, Jesus was talking about breaking free. He was encouraging his followers to liberate themselves from religious rules, not live with more constraints.
A gate or a door allows us pass from one place to another. For that reason, the gate and the door are often used as symbols of transition. The gate is a portal, but before anyone goes through it, they must make the choice whether or not they want to do that. In this case, Jesus said the gate and narrow roadway it leads to are hard to find, so desire for it and the effort to find it have taken place first.
Remember, Jesus also said, “Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knocks, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8) Since we would have to knock before the door would be opened, that knock also demonstrates our desire and choice to find the door and then go through it. Before we can go through a gate or doorway, or walk on either the wide or narrow roadway, a choice is made. However, the wide gate is so easy to get through; we might find ourselves going through it without even realizing it. This may not seem like a choice, but just thoughtlessly ‘going along’ is still a choice that puts the majority on the wide road and keeps them there.
Jesus says the wide roadway leads to destruction and the narrow to life. We could take his words at face value and start thinking in terms of punishment or reward, but Jesus taught using symbolic language and these words carry a deeper meaning than literal life and death. Let’s imagine that you’re planning a long drive and need to choose between two routes. One route is a direct and speedy six lane freeway drive, the other a two lane highway that slowly winds its way through several small towns and many speed limit changes. The freeway accommodates far more cars and offers many easily reached amenities along the way. This freeway takes so little effort in comparison to the highway, we could think of it as ‘the path of least resistance.’
In our world, allowing ourselves to be carried along by whatever society dictates corresponds to the freeway. We like what is popular, do what is expected and ‘fit in’ with all the other travelers on the road. Being part of the group traveling the main route gives us confidence that our route choice is correct. Within this conformity, we’re allowed our personal preferences, opinions and tiny rebellions as long as we remain within the ‘white lines’ that define the roadway. In quantum terms, this world is an illusion, a projected virtual reality, but those on the wide road are certain it is real. It is founded on a dualistic thought system that sees everything in terms of separate forms. This includes its gods, who live outside their creation. This thought system encourages us to seek specialness, but only within specific boundaries. As long as we continue to buy into separation and seek specialness, we’re on the wide path.
The narrow gate and road are taken by the few who are courageous enough to see the universe in an entirely different way. Instead of accepting what the eyes see, they trade the perception offered by the senses for spiritual vision. They ‘see’ a universe of interconnected, indivisible oneness where no form exists. They understand that everything in existence is the Divine; that all things are permeated by life and consciousness. They see this life as a dream, an illusion, projected by consciousness that refused to accept oneness. They realize they made the choice to walk on the wide road of separation and specialness, but now they choose to leave it and enter the narrow gate of oneness.
It is not that the wide gate actually leads to destruction. If that were the case, no one would enter it. Nothing in Divine oneness can die, but we can ‘destroy’ our awareness of our true Self by forgetting who we are and continuing to project the self. In our dream we walk the wide road of separation and specialness over and over in one lifetime after another, always moving but never arriving. But the ‘destruction’ of the Self is not literal, and we can remember who we actually are anytime we want to. The narrow gate symbolizes life because when we enter it, our dreaming stops and we ‘wake up’ to the Self. We live again as who we truly are.
All rebels pay a price for their rebellion, and that is why Jesus said the narrow road was hard. Since it’s impossible to walk both roads at the same time, moving from the wide to the narrow road means letting go of the belief system that’s kept us on the wide road. This is a simple process, but it becomes easy or difficult depending on how attached we are to the ease and complacency of the wide road. Only the wide road accommodates cruise control, the two lane highway doesn’t. As we uncover our social conditioning, attachments, aversions and preconceived notions, we go through numerous twists and turns. We need to keep our eyes on the self and watch closely to see whatever detours it’s trying to make. If we do, we will find that we’ve traded something valueless for something of infinite value. Instead of taking us over level ground leading nowhere, the narrow road will take us to the highest peak where everything finally becomes clear.
Lee and Steven Hager are the authors of several books featuring the synergy of science, spirituality and gnosis.
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