by Michael Maciel
Matthew 19:21 – Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
In order to interpret this story of the Young Rich Man mystically, we have to take it out of the context of space and time, which means bringing it into the context of you/me—here—now. All of the characters in this story are different elements of ourselves.
So, we have to ask, what part of me is rich and what part of me is poor? And what are our “great possessions”?
The theme of the entire chapter is possessions. But at the mystical level of interpretation, it’s talking about inner possessions, not outer.
It starts out with Jesus debunking the idea that wives are the possessions of their husbands by explaining that men and women were created equal. But because of the “hardness of their hearts,” the rules regarding property had to be applied. They had no “feel” for the truth. In Jungian terms, a spouse is one’s anima or animus (the sacred marriage). We cannot “divorce” ourselves from our inner feminine or inner masculine.
Likewise, children, too, were (and still are) considered possessions. But as Kahlil Gibran says, “Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.” Here, “Life itself” is the Christ.
Children are continually learning. In Buddhist terms, they have “beginner’s mind.” They have yet to form an ego and so they possess nothing.
These first two sections of Chapter 19 are prologue to the Rich Young Man (you and me) whose possessions are possessions of the mind, the axiomatic presuppositions (the commandments) by which and through which we live our lives.
In order to enter the kingdom of heaven—to come into the realization that it “is spread upon the earth but men do not see it” (Gospel of Thomas)—we have to convert our axiomatic presuppositions into their raw energy (cash) and use that energy to pierce the veil of matter—the world of illusion—and see the reality of God everywhere, which is the mystical experience.
Like Socrates, we have to say, “I know nothing” and then use that as a lever to pry open that which appears so that we can get at that which is.
Be sure to check out The Urban Mystic, my page on Substack.