Sunday, 16 December 2018

"What Seek Ye?"

In the Gospel of St John these are the first words Jesus speaks. He says them to the two disciples sent to him by John the Baptist who has revealed him to them as the Messiah. The original Greek is "Ti zeteite" and can be translated as "What are you looking for?" or "What do you want?".

It's extraordinary how much is contained in these two words, and it shows once again the profound wisdom that is to be found in the Gospels. For these are always the first words any spiritual teacher must ask of a would-be disciple. What do you want?  What do you want of life? What do you want of me? What is it you seek that you have not found? Clearly anyone who approaches a spiritual teacher is looking for something. By being asked this question we are thrown back on ourself. What am I looking for? On that answer depends the chance of being accepted by the teacher for a true teacher only wants honest disciples who are real seekers.

The disciples respond almost comically. It's as though they are thrown off balance by the question. Or is it because they see in Jesus something so glorious that they cannot think straight? Anyway, they ask him where he lives! But this, in a way, is the right response. Where you live in an esoteric sense is what you are. Your true home is the externalisation of your true being. So the disciples are asking who Jesus is. His reply is wonderfully simple.  "Come and see," he says. So they do, and the rest is history.

Likewise we too, as spiritual aspirants, must ask ourselves what we are looking for, and we must be absolutely honest with our response. First of all, are we serious? Is this the most important thing in our lives to the extent that we are prepared to sacrifice many other things, or even all other things, for it? You might think that is an extreme case, valid only for the saints and martyrs, but, to some extent, it must also apply to the most humble of us if we really wish to get anywhere. And then, what do we seek? God of course, one presumes, but why? Because we want to get something from the deal? Higher consciousness, bliss, spiritual power, great knowledge? Or because there is an unsatisfied longing within us like that of a lover whose beloved has disappeared? An emptiness inside that cries out to be filled, coupled with a strong desire to dedicate ourself to and serve something real?

Jesus looked at these disciples and saw that their search was true. It was not based on the desire of the ego but that of the heart. So he accepted them. He saw that, unlike the rich young man he encountered later on, they were prepared to take up the cross and follow him wherever that journey led, and that was because what they sought mattered more to them than they did themselves. They asked where he lived because they knew that was where they wanted to be. 


edwin faust said...

Wonderful reflection, William. So few of us are fully committed to finding the truth of God. Even when we fancy ourselves true disciples, we find so many things pulling us away, toward the world and its preoccupations, that we are often only dimly, or even not at all, aware of their power over us. "What do you want?" is the key question at every moment of decision and action during every day. Thanks for reminding me.

William Wildblood said...

Thanks edwin. It's good to go right back to basics sometimes and strip away all the fancy stuff and ask ourselves who we are and what we want. Desire has a bad reputation according to some spiritual approaches but real desire is a form of love and without it we won't get anywhere.