The Parable of the Sower
This parable reveals to us the importance of building a strong consciousness of truth, one that is open and receptive and is strong in faith, trust, and strength. The parable is recorded in the Gospels of Mark, Matthew, and Luke. Mark’s Gospel was the first to be written. Matthew and Luke used Mark as the basis for their telling of the parable. There are some differences but they are not great. For example Mark states that the good ground produced 30, 60, 100. Matthew says 100, 60, 30. And Luke just says 100.
As a general rule parables have only one specific point. In the case of this parable it seems that the interpretation is along allegorical lines which means that all the items in the parable have a meaning.
In Mark we have a key to understanding the parable and I would like to bring this out now so that we can keep it in mind as we study the parable. The verse is Mark 4:35 where Jesus says, “For he that hath to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken away even that which he hath.” This seems like an unjust principle but when we understand this parable we will see that it is very just and we would not want it any other way.
What is it that one must have to have more abundance of every good thing? It certainly is not money. Yet if one has this something he will have an abundance of money. That which we must have is “consciousness.” It must be a spiritually developed consciousness. If we all had the consciousness of life there would be no death. If we had the consciousness of abundance there would be no poverty. If we had the consciousness of oneness with God there would be no insecurity or unhappiness.
Now for the parable. Jesus said a Sower went forth to sow his seed. As he sowed them some fell along the hard pathway where many people had walked and packed down the soil. At that time the farmers did sow the seed before plowing the soil. Since the seed could not take root they were exposed on top of the soil and the birds would come along and have a feast. Some fell on rocky ground. The top soil was loose enough for the seed to take root and they did. They grew rapidly. But when the sun came out they withered away because they had no depth of roots. Then some of the seed fell among thorns. As they tried to grow they were choked out by the thorns. Finally, some seed fell on good ground and produced, some thirtyfold, some sixtyfold, and some one hundredfold.
Jesus gave this parable to a large group of people and it surely must have given them something to think about. Later when he was alone with his disciples, the disciples asked Jesus to interpret the parable and he did so.
The soil represents our consciousness. We may have a little of each type. It may also be that we have overcome some of each type. The first type is symbolized by the pathway, the hard packed soil. This represents the one who is totally unreceptive to truth. This is the unfortunate lot of the masses today. Most people are not aware of the true teaching of Jesus Christ even though they may claim to be Christians. They may hear the word of truth but they do not understand it. As Jesus said, “they have ears to hear but cannot hear.” When someone seeks to tell them about truth they are confused and often defensive and always rejecting. Many are so wrapped up in their religious theories that God cannot even inspire them with the truth. It makes no difference whether they are good people. If they hold fast to what is false they are in this type of soil consciousness represented by the pathway. Even if they intellectually want to accept the ideas of truth that come to their consciousness they will not do it and the words of truth will be passed on to someone else. As an example of this we have the individual who hears the word of truth. This individual that I am thinking about came to church and liked the truth teaching but it got no further than that. When his friends in another church he had attended got after him he went back. He was afraid to make the break. The past was too firmly implanted in his consciousness. It may take him several incarnations of life on planet earth before he will begin to get free.
Remember now what Jesus said. If we have the consciousness we will gain. If we do not, we will lose what we have. This is the pattern of life now. A child is born and grows to maturity and then downhill it goes. The individual begins to lose because consciousness is not fully developed.
The next type of soil was the rocky ground. Jesus said this soil represents those who hear the word of truth and are happy to hear it. It is the beginning truth student who has the beginner’s luck type of manifestations and thinks the truth is great and that it will help him become rich and successful and solve all his problems. However, when the pressures of life, the times when we need to apply the truth come along, this type of individual gives in. He is not able to stick to his belief for he has no depth of consciousness. The pressures of living are too much for him. I experienced this in my beginning studies. I thought the prosperity teaching was great and I really worked at it in the beginning. In the beginning I was making what I thought was reasonable progress. But then all of a sudden the challenges were too great. I did not have the consciousness to meet them and I fell flat on my face. I threw away all my Unity books and blamed the teaching. The problem was not in the teaching, the problem was in me — I did not have the developed consciousness.
Many in their enthusiasm for truth get carried away. When challenges come along we find that their zeal for truth is short-lived. They seek the quick, fast demonstrations. They try to demonstrate things in their life from the mental level. They have not learned as yet that the quick and easy appearing way often turns out to be the hard and difficult way. These individuals burn themselves out running to and fro seeking some truth teacher that is going to give them the secret. And there are many teachers who encourage this by claiming to have the secret to prosperity, health, and other good things. But these individuals endure only for a short while. They have very little holding power. When persecution comes along because of the word of truth that they are trying to live by, they give in and give up. They are not strong. They haven’t developed any depth of consciousness. Persecution as Jesus speaks of it in this parable could be the many trials and tribulations we may have to face or are facing. It could be illness or financial problems. It may even be from our own family and friends or from what seem to be enemies. They just haven’t learned to stand on principle and they wither under pressure.
The third type of soil was the soil with the thorns growing with the seed. Jesus said this soil represents those who hear the word of truth but use it selfishly to get things of the world. They are so materially minded that their greed chokes out the truth. Jesus refers to this as the “deceitfulness of riches.” There is nothing wrong with having wealth but we should not let it deceive us. Money and the things of the world cannot make us totally happy. We may have some exciting and sensory pleasurable experiences but that will be all. In his Gospel Mark refers to this type of individual as “lusting after things.” The word of truth cannot grow in this type of consciousness. We must be willing to put aside all self-seeking. The individual may go to God with a list of things that he wants God to do for him. He may even practice all types of mental gymnastics trying to demonstrate something in his life. When Spirit speaks to him and tries to tell him that his personal plans will only lead to disaster, he refuses to give them up. Spirit seeks to reveal to him another plan, the good seed down by the Sower within him, God, but to no avail. So the seed of selfishness and greed choke out the true seed of truth. For example a person may need prosperity. He tries to demonstrate it on the mental level with the imagination and other mental tools. He tries to find ways of getting more. Then one day in a time of meditation the Spirit says, “Give and you shall receive.” This is too much for him. He says to Spirit that he does not have enough to give but when he gets rich then he will give. But Spirit says again, “Give and you shall receive.” This is the way it is but the human ego may take a long time to realize it and accept it. And this applies to those who study truth. We cannot use giving as a means just to get wealth. All our efforts must be unselfish. We must truly take God into our lives and let Him lead us.
Then we have the good ground. This represents those who hear the word of truth, accept it unselfishly and begin to bear fruit. In the good ground there are variations, 30, 60, 100. This means that the good ground can be further developed. But we should not fail to realize that what seems to be negative and pessimistic to the human ego is that consciousness develops slowly. That is why a daily regimen of study and prayer are so essential. In the Course in Miracles it states that it took millions of years for the descent in consciousness to take place. It also states that it will take millions of years to get back to the high consciousness represented by Jesus Christ. Yes, we have been around many times and there may be many more times. If we have tendencies to reject this thought we might want to reflect back and see if our tendency toward rejection is due to the hard pathway soil, the rocky ground, or the thorns. Many look for the superficially easy way. But there is none. The easy way is the learned way, it is the way of humility, the willingness to be taught. It seems unjust to say that one who has not will continue to lose, but it is true and it is just. Would it be just for someone who is lazy and unwilling to work or study or pray to get the blessings? No, it would not. Would it be just for the one who does make the effort to get nothing or for God to take from him and give to the one who has nothing? Each person has his own possibilities and God does not have to do this. Yet in our worldly society we are trying to do just that. The Communists think they can distribute everything in the world equally and that cannot be done. We have to have the consciousness and there is no way around it. We must seek principle or truth and we must seek our oneness with God. It is this that will make our consciousness productive in an abundant way.
How do we get that good soil consciousness? First we have to become a constructive thinker. This is much more than just being a positive thinker. Positive thinking is working on the mental level trying to demonstrate things. Constructive thinking is more than that. Constructive thinking is positive but it is the type of thinking that says to the indwelling Spirit, “Not my will but thine be done.” On the positive thinking level, the mental level, the individual has the mental attitude of wanting God to do his will. Principles must come first. Our efforts to apply principle must come before our personal plans, opinions, or desires. It must surely come before any advantages and gains. One will never truly become prosperous until he is willing to give with no thought of return and he must do this first, that is, he must give first and then he will receive. The wonderful thing about this is that he will be blessed far beyond what he was asking.
Secondly we must clean up our emotions. We must get rid of doubt, fear, greed, and selfishness. We must overcome timidity and we must cease our human tendency to depreciate ourselves. We must become strong emotionally and not let the human ego with all of its desires and passions influence us. Remember, consciousness is the sum total of all that we think and feel. It includes this life and the many lives we have had before this one. We must learn to think constructively about everybody and everything and the same applies to our feeling.
Third, we must have a total self honesty. We must be honest in our dealings with others. Instead of seeking to take advantage of them, we must seek to give advantage. To do this we must seek to do more, give more, and be more of service. Many hold back and this restricts the growth of consciousness.
In this day and age we have our thoughts and feelings challenged every day. We are bombarded by radio, television, books, newspapers with all types and kinds of ideas. Most of them are negative. Many of these communications play down the great truths revealed to us in the Bible. Just stop and consider for a moment the immorality that is vividly portrayed in color on TV in the many soap operas. Everybody seems to be trying to take advantage of someone. There is lying, stealing, and the driving of fast hard bargains to gain personal ends. It is a good thing that most people in our world do not live on such a low level. Yet it is glamorized on television as a way of life and a way to seek the fulfillment of selfish ends.
The Apostle Paul gave us some good advice for developing consciousness when he said, “ Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report: if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Phil. 4:8) Don’t think of all the tragedies, murders, the immoral things that human beings do. They call that news but it is bad news. The word “Gospel” means “good news.” The Gospels convey to us the good news of Jesus Christ. According to the bad news the world is going to pot. But according to the good news it is getting better in spite of the bad news. It would be greater and more advantageous if the news people would write about and tell about the many good things that go on. There are things being done in this world that most people know very little or nothing about. We should try following Emmet Fox’s suggestion of trying to go at least seven days without thinking negatives. This is in his pamphlet, “A Seven Day Mental Diet.”
Building consciousness is not easy but we expect it to be. The “easy” comes after the consciousness is developed. It is like trying to learn to swim. The beginner thrashes around in the water and often burns himself out trying to stay afloat. The one who has learned can stay on top of the surface with little or no effort. That is the way it is in our study of truth. The student thrashes around on the mental level just trying to make demonstrations and eventually he sinks, he loses what he has. The easy way often turns out to be the hard way.
Charles Fillmore gives us a statement that will help us follow the easy way. He says, “I FAIRLY SIZZLE WITH ZEAL AND ENTHUSIASM AND SPRING FORTH WITH A MIGHTY FAITH TO DO THE THINGS THAT OUGHT TO BE DONE BY ME.” We might add some words of Jesus. “Do this and you shall live.”
© 1985, Jim Lewis
All rights reserved by the author.
Reprinted with permission.