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Jackline Spasova-Bobeva

1914_10_05 THE PHARISEE AND THE TAX COLLECTOR

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from The Blossoming of the Human Soul

 

 

THE PHARISEE AND THE TAX COLLECTOR

 

“Two men went up to the temple to pray,

one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.”

Luke 18:10

 

You will probably ask: is it so strange that two people - a Pharisee and a tax collector - both entered the temple. Truly, there is nothing strange for those who understand the nature of life, but for those who do not, everything is strange. For the first everything makes sense and for the second everything is nonsense.

 

I will take these two types of people, the Pharisee and the tax collector, as subject of today’s lecture. These two persons are prominent representatives of a very old culture. Let us compare their distinctive features one by one so that you could clearly understand their life styles and their state of mind.

 

The word “Pharisee” originates from the Hebrew word parash, which means “to divide.” In Arabic, there is also a word pharsi, which derives from the same root and means “something flawless.” To know a language pharsi implies a very good knowledge of this language. In this chapter of the Bible, Christ is presenting two distinctive types of people.

 

A talented artist who is aware of the science of man would paint these two types with all their distinguishing features and this flawless painting would be worth to be exposed in every home as a model. What are the most apparent features of the Pharisee and of the tax collector? It is not enough to say, “He is a Pharisee” or “He is a tax collector” because we need to know the external characteristics of their faces and hands, the structure of their bodies and heads. After that, we need to find out what characterizes the state of their mind and soul. Only in this way we could clarify the idea embedded in the text and benefit from it. Christ was a great master of art. He gave the major distinctive features of these two prototypes and with them, I am going to describe the Pharisee and the tax collector.

 

You may ask, “How can you describe a person with only a few words that have been said about him?” It is a science and can be described. There are scientists who have researched in comparative anatomy, who have studied the structure of animals. If you give them even the smallest part of an ancient animal, they are able to describe the size, the structure of all bones, the place of its muscles and tendons; and in this way, they can recreate the extinct form. If you give an expert botanist only one leaf of a plant, he is able to describe the whole tree. Using the same method, I will try to describe in approximation the Pharisee and the tax collector, showing you what they look like.

 

Yet you will ask me, “What do these two persons, who have lived two thousand years ago, have in common with us?” Two main prototypes of people live in the world: tax collectors and Pharisees. Many other types have derived from them, but they remain the primary ones. You may belong either to the one kind or the other, no matter whether you are a priest or not, a person of high status or not, a scholar or not, a philosopher or not, a man or a woman. These two characters are intertwined and stand out in the life of everyone. They will remain forever the two distinctive prototypes in the entire human history. One of Christ’s greatest accomplishments in reality is that He has succeeded with very few words to express and present them so clearly and distinctly.

 

The Pharisee’s appearance is decent at first sight. He is a nice-looking person, well-built, slender, tall, about 175–180 centimeters, which is more than average. His hands and fingers are rather long. His thumb is long and symmetrical, a sign of well-developed opinions, of will power and intelligence. The index finger is equal to the ring finger, which indicates that whenever an idea comes to him, he will carry it through to the end. His digestive system is in good condition. Lacking the weakness of a glutton or a wine drinker, he is sensible when it comes to eating and drinking. His taste is refined. His waistline is on the slim side. As to age, he has lived for four decades, entering into the fifth; in other words, he has turned forty-five. His shoulders are slightly rounded, his face is a bit elongated and pear shaped, which indicates a developed nervous system. His lower jaw is properly formed, with an elongated and pointed chin, showing a person whose mind is quick and bright. His mouth is an average size; his lips are neither thick nor thin. The ends of his lips point slightly up, with a smile of contempt as if saying, “Look at all these people - they are such a crowd.” But he never expresses his inner contempt. His eyes are ash-gray. His eyebrows are arched, slightly bent like the branches of an old tree, showing a person who has lived long and is much experienced in life. His high forehead is well-shaped. The area above the nose is protruding slightly which is a sign for a strong individuality and an observing practical mind. The area of the temples is average; his ears are normal and closely adjoining the head, which is an indication for material order. His beard is slightly thin and reddish, a sign of impulsiveness and persistence. His head is round, measuring around 56–60 centimeters in circumference around the ears and with well developed and raised parietal bones, a sign of a person with great self-control, superiority complex, pride, vanity, and who is hard to please. He possesses religious inclinations, but one-sided; he shows compassion, but only toward himself and those close to him. His face is slightly pale, white, with a Greek-Roman type of nose. He is a person with an aesthetic taste, but lacking an aptitude for poetry and love for nature, as well as for the sublime and ideal. He is a person of strong faith, but only in his own mind; of great hope, but only in his own power. He is religious, but his belief system reflects his own selfishness as he honors and worships only himself. If we enter his temple, we will find in the most prominent place not the image of Jesus Christ but his own portrait. In the place of the Virgin Mary, John the Baptist, and the other Saints, we will find his grandparents and ancestors, to whom he burns incense and offers prayers saying, “Our family is famous and great.” He is an intelligent person, who gathers knowledge from life; he knows the Hebrew Kabala as well as the principles of the civilization of his time. Should he have lived in our times; he would have been a prominent writer, philosopher, artist, statesman, or a religious leader.

 

Why did Christ choose this type? What is wrong with his praying? The Pharisee’s prayer reflects a philosophy that has outlived its time; that is a prayer of someone living only in the past, thus missing the present and the future. He is in love with his own portrait like a youngster; wherever he goes, he sees only that. How odd it is to fall in love with one’s own image!

 

Once I observed a Bulgarian writer. He was sitting in a prominent public place, with a mirror near him. He began to smoke a cigarette, turning his head and looking into the mirror as if saying to himself, “I am handsome and make such a good impression on people.” Again he smoked and looked at himself in the mirror. Should this mirror be destroyed one day, his happiness will be destroyed as well. The Pharisee is like that type of a person who has fallen in love with oneself. And when he turns toward God, pay attention how interesting his words are, “Lord, I thank You that I am not like the others, but more than them.”[1] Yet, his philosophy is wrong because God has created all human beings equal. “I am not like the others.” Who are you then? An angel? You are not an angel; you are made of the same dust and the blood in your veins is the same as in others. Therefore, the Pharisee lies both to himself and to God. This is the first lie he uses. And the Lord says to him, “You do not speak the Truth.”

 

The Pharisee’s statements are negative. He is not comparing himself with the beings who are superior to him, like Angels but rather with the inferior types, like criminals and thus he is concluding that he is not like them. Let us assume that I compare myself to the other beings and say, “Thank You, Lord, that I am not like these oxen, donkeys, dogs, lizards, snakes.” What comparison can I make with them? It is a tendency that can be found in all humans. Years ago in Bulgaria, it was fashionable among the college and university students, while studying the biographies of the great writers, for example, Shakespeare, to adopt their weaknesses since they lacked their positive qualities. Students would say, “Let us see if we have these shortcomings as well” and when they find them in themselves, they would say, “We are also ge niuses like Shakespeare.” Studying the character of Schiller[2], they looked for any eccentric side of him and when they found it in themselves, they would say, “We are also like Schiller.” Studying a big number of great people in this way, they would say, “We are great people indeed.” Yes, you are great, but in a negative way - great people, who are missing something. I prefer someone who is nothing because if he has nothing to receive, he has nothing to give.

 

So the Pharisee makes a comparison and says: “Thank You, Lord that I am not like that one who is a robber.” The Lord replies to him, “If I put you in his place, who would you be?” Once an angel looking down from Heaven saw one person sinning, so he turned to the Lord and said to Him, “How can You tolerate this inferior being? If I were in Your place, I would have rid the Earth of him.” God sent the angel to incarnate on the Earth and placed him in the same situation; the angel erred twice as the person he has judged before. Therefore, one shall not judge people for their deeds from his own position because in their place he would have made errors as well.

 

Many people come to me stating, “We are not so bad, we are well brought up because we come from prominent families.” I do not doubt your words and within my soul I deeply believe in what you tell me. We all come from prominent families, I accept that. However, your and my ancestors did not posses such noble character as we think; many of them were goodfor-nothing people, criminals, evil-doers, scoundrels. You and I carry with us the testimony that God has written about them. Outwardly things may look of proper decency, but from within, they lack the essential value. Our forefathers have not been as pure as assumed and it is seen from those inherited negative tendencies that we manifest at least twice a day. If your grandfather and grandmother, father and mother were as pure and good as angels, where had these negative tendencies and deeds come from in your life? If you pour some bitter substance or poison in a liquid, it will manifest itself and will be noticed. Therefore, it will become evident that in the good content something bad has been added.

 

To conclude, we call the people confessing the Pharisee’s philosophy, conservatives or belonging to the conservative party: these are people who have a high opinion of themselves. It is not bad for someone to have a high opinion of oneself, as long as it is merited and without any addition of bitterness. Nitrogen is the greatest conservator and regulator in Nature, as it stops any combustion and suffocates any life. Nitrogen is the oldest and most balanced element in Nature. However, if it was the only substance in Nature, everything would have been dead. In spite of that, the organic world should be very thankful to nitrogen.
The Pharisee addresses God not to help him to smooth out some of his own flaws - not at all. He is only thankful that he is not like the others: like the traducer, robber, murderer, and adulterer. Just as a scribe and philosopher, he should address the reasons that cause blasphemy, robbery, murder, and adultery. According to Christ’s Teaching, when we meet people who are seemingly inferior to us, we should not judge them, but learn a lesson. We should find the reasons for their coming to such a low state and if we have taken on their habits, it is better to try to get rid of them. Because He Who has laid out the Great Laws of Life is saying, “Judge not, that you be not judged.”[3] There is a deep meaning in these words and that one who has comprehended them has come close to the Great Law of human wellbeing. Modern zoologists have given many valuable works to the world, but no one has yet studied the profound reasons of animal creation. For example, why do some animals have horns, while others do not have? Why do some animals crawl, while others walk on four legs? Why are some animals carnivorous, while others are herbivorous? Why are animals deprived of human intelligence? There are profound and essential reasons for this. It did not happen by chance as some people think. When humankind comes to understand these profound reasons, it will come to the great philosophy upon which the future social order can be constructed, presenting “the dawn of the New Culture.”

 

The modern civilization as a whole is based upon the concepts of the Pharisee, so it is a Pharisaic civilization. This is a civilization in which people are distinguished by form, by appearances, and by social status and it was born in the distant past of Egypt, India, Babylon, China, Persia, Judea, Greece, and Rome. At present, it is in Europe as well, attired in the beautiful Christian garment. I do not say that it has a bad foundation, but I do say that its form should have certain content in it. Without content, the form remains just an empty shell in which only parasites can thrive. People say, “He has lovely eyes.” So what? “They are really beautiful.” What makes them beautiful? “Well, they are bright and lovely.” What is it that makes them lovely? Someone’s nose is beautiful, well shaped. Where does the beauty lie? His mouth is beautiful, well-formed. In what respect? People have concepts of certain things that cannot be explained, namely that certain powers are hidden in the eyes: in the black or in the blue eyes, in the ash-gray, greenish or brown eyes. If someone with black eyes is looking at you, a certain thought will come to you; if a person with brown eyes is looking at you, it will bring a certain mood to you, and so on. People with blue eyes are usually self-composed and calm. They are like the sky: clear but serene, distant. Such people are not for this planet. They have deep faith and were born before time. Probably they are the people who are yet to come. I speak of those blue eyes that are an expression of Heaven. Legend says that Christ had such eyes.

 

People praise someone, “His mouth is as beautiful as a rose.” What indicates the human mouth? It is the expression of the human heart and indicates whether this person is kind or hard-hearted. It also indicates how intense and sincere one is. You can notice that those who are gluttons have thicker lips than most people - it is a physiological law. More blood flows there, that is why their lips are quite thick and reddish. When such people taste their food, they say, “Oh, this is good.” And their faces light up with a delicate, barely noticeable smile, which speaks of the disposition of their souls.

 

If we consider someone’s beautiful nose, it is an expression of the human intelligence and mind. The type of nose -  straight or curved, Roman or Greek - has a profound meaning. The outer appearance of the human face is very important; it also gives an implication about the inner life of a person. If we examine a human face and notice something asymmetric in it; for example, if the eyebrows are slightly different - one is more developed, while the other is more protruding - it is a sign of some imbalance in that person. If you draw a straight line, you may see also for yourself whether your nose is in the right place. The nose is like a barometer, indicating the state of your mind. When engineers drive a steam engine, they look at a gauge that shows the atmospheric pressure in the steam boiler. According to its indication they add more coal to produce more steam or if it is in excess, they let the steam out. Have you ever considered to make an effort and as engineers do - to check the condition of your steam engine, in other words, your heart? For this purpose God has given you the nose. Go in front of the mirror, ask your mind and it will inform you about the state of your heart.

 

When you look at your eyes in the mirror, you may see the condition of your soul. Only the eyes never lie and cannot be hypocritical. For this reason, when a person intends to lie, sometimes this person closes eyes or hides them with hand. Children know that their mother giving a look at them will guess whether they are lying, that is why they put their hands over their eyes.

 

Christ, looking at the praying Pharisee told him, “Your soul is muddled, your forefathers did not live a pure life as you presume.” You think that you do not resemble the others, but you have been exactly like them in the past and even now you are not too far from their level.” It is not so important how we interpret this fact, in compliance with which teaching: of the Hindu philosophers about reincarnation or the Egyptian sages about transmigration; the Kabala and esoteric science regarding emanation and perfection of the spirit or the modern science referring to heredity. These teachings and theories are only guidelines for us to comprehend certain things better so that the phenomena of the human life may become clearer and more understandable to us. However, the primary principle of all things remains always the same, no matter how we explain and interpret its manifestation. The Great Law of Cause and Effect, of actions and consequences, never lies. It always reveals the Absolute Truth.

 

It is all written in the Book of Life: whether you are good or bad, whether you speak the truth or not; help your neighbor or not, self-sacrifice for your nation, work for the benefit of humankind, serve God with Love or not - it is all written in the Book of Life.

 

If you harass and take advantage of your neighbors, commit treason against your nation, impede the progress of humankind, if you are disloyal to God - this is also written in the Book. God mercilessly writes His testimony about any of the human actions on different parts of the body: forehead, nose, mouth, face, head, arms, fingers, and all other parts -  every bone gives evidence for or against us.

 

We can read the history of the human life every single day. The life stories of all our ancestors are also recorded from the very beginning. Some of them were noted to be terrible criminals, thieves, and robbers. Looking through the Book of Life and following the lines of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Solomon, and many others we will find detailed records of their actions. We may find out about Abraham that he was a righteous person, very bright, with a generous heart, strong faith, noble spirit and that he was acquainted with the profound wisdom of the Divine Ordinances for the bright future of the humankind. If we look at Jacob, we find out that at the beginning he was a deceitful and a selfish double-dealer, who used lies and fraud to steal his brother’s birthright. He changed to better only after he had turned 33 and after 14 years of work in exchange for his uncle Laban’s daughters, Leah and Rachel. Only then did the transformation occur to Jacob. As to David, we know that he was a brave man, resolute, with a naturally excellent and poetic mind, but he was fond of beautiful women. Since the moment he took Uriah’s wife by deceit, his trials had begun. The courageous prophet Nathan did not hesitate to expose this straight to his face showing him the bad effect that the karmic Law would leave for him in the Book of Life for the future generations. About Solomon, it is said that he had an excellent philosophical mind and compassion, but excessively strong emotions and passions, great vanity, and weak willpower. He was a veracious eater and drinker and enjoyed the company of women.

 

Christ knows all this. He knows also how His own ancestors lived and when people called him “Merciful Teacher,” He objected, “Why are you calling me merciful? Merciful is only One, God.”[4] He implies, “The family of my descent is not as noble as you think. God has a different way of evaluating, which you cannot grasp. He requires Absolute Purity in every way. Many of this descent did not live in a way that was pleasing to the true God, Whose Will I fulfill.” That is why Christ turned to the Pharisee and told him, “You are deceiving yourself, as well as other people and God. Many of your ancestors have committed crimes; hence you do not have the right to say, ‘I am not like these people.’ And because you lack humility in your soul, your prayer is not received and you cannot be excused. You, Pharisees, have misinterpreted God’s Law by using hypocrisy as a cover. Stop presenting yourselves in the way you are not because God is not a human being who can be misled by your appearance. He judges you according to what He sees in your heart.”

 

Let’s look now at the other type, the tax collector. You have here a person of average height, slightly overweight, with rather short legs, thick arms, slightly thick and tapered fingers, and a round face. His digestive system is well developed, as he loves to overeat and also to drink. “I have a long way to go. Therefore, I need enough food.” This is how he philosophizes and that is why he has become a tax collector. He will beg a little here, he will take and steal some there, until he fills up his bag. He justifies his actions saying, “You are doing just like me; I beg your pardon, you may consider it theft, but I need it. If you do not want to give it to me, I will take it by force or steal it.” As I said, the tax collector has a round face with thick eyebrows and his chin is wide in the base, which indicates that whatever he undertakes he will finish it successfully. He is between 40 and 45 years of age. His beard has black bushy hair; the same is for the mustache and that is a sign of a great vigor. His nose is well-built, slightly short, thick, wide at the ends, which is a sign of a good respiratory system. A person of feelings, impulsive like a child, he can always express his joy; after having half a liter of wine, he can jump and be joyous; when he gets sober, he begins to cry about his wife being ill. His temporal bones are strongly developed. His ears are quite large, almost like Tolstoy’s, or like in someone who steals and takes. However, the tax collector is a person who also gives, saying, “My father and mother have been stealing as well; so let me give something, help people and may God forgive our sins.” He has brown or reddish brown eyes indicating natural tenderness and good nature awaiting their time to be manifested. His head is well developed, similar to the head of Socrates. The tax collector has perfectly developed home and social feelings: including the strong religious sense and compassionate attitude of mercy. He has also a right concept of life, excellent unsophisticated mind and cultivated conscience highlighting his mistakes, which he is not ashamed to confess before God, others, and before himself too. He lacks any pretentious ideas about his status. He is religious and in his belief system he has placed not his own image but the image of the Good God. He has always believed that this Good God will guide him to the Light. He has more trust in God than in himself. He has the right philosophy; he does not compare himself to the lesser ones like the thieves and scoundrels, but he says, “Lord, when I look at You, at the Angels and Saints, I think: who am I in comparison? I need to rise up to become like You. I am a sinner and with my ancestors we are good for nothing, I eat and drink like a pig and have become like a pig. Forgive me that I cannot make use of the bounties, which You gave to me.”

 

And what did Christ say? “Those who have a sublime ideal and are aware of their own mistakes will surpass the Pharisee one day.” How can this happen? Rich people rely on their rents or incomes. They do not need to work, but only discuss politics and social life. Those who get up early in the morning and work for ten hours daily, though they may experience failure after failure in their lives, they are persistent, so in time they acquire knowledge and become acknowledged.

 

Now, I am sorry to say, but both types are represented among you. Since Christ has pointed at these two opposite prototypes, I advise you: Adopt the good aspects of both. Attain simultaneously the Pharisee’s and the tax collector ’s noble features of character. Thus create a third type of a Christian or the New human being. This is what I have in mind.

 

You say, “How can I be a Pharisee? I do not think that I have done much wrong in my life. You offend me.” I will tell you a truth. When misfortune comes into your life, you say, “Why, Lord, is this misfortune? There are some others who are much greater sinners than me.” Are you not a person who argues with the Lord like the Pharisee then? The Lord will tell you, “You are very pious, but do you know how many scandalous things your ancestors have committed and at one time you were a partner with them? See, here is a bill you signed many years ago, which is due to be paid.” “But I do not remember.” “It does not matter; as it is recorded in My Book, so there is no lie.”

 

When you experience misfortune and say, “Thanks. It is nothing. It could have been worse,” then you are like the tax collector. And Christ will say to you, “You will go to the home of My Father.”

 

Sometimes you judge the Pharisee to be insincere. But do you know that you, who are judging the Pharisee, are the modern Pharisees? Learn a lesson from the Pharisee. You should not take his negative traits, but if you have them, eradicate them not to get into the path of a negative lifestyle. What your grandfather and grandmother, your mother and father had will be of no use to you.

 

You remember the story of the geese guided toward the town. They complained to a traveler meeting them from their guide, “This man is treating us like a flock! Does he not know that our ancestors once freed Rome? What a shame, what a scandal!” “But what are your own achievements?” asked the traveler. “None.” “Well, then you deserve to be cooked in a pot.”

 

Your grandfather and father were distinguished people of noble character, but who are you? If you do not have a noble character, acquire it. Your grandfather and father may have left you some capital, but you could waste it or lose it all.

 

If we examine the religious views in life, there exist religious Pharisees: “I belong to the Eastern Orthodox Church,” “I am from the Evangelist Church,” “I am from the Catholic Church,” or “I am a freethinker.” I am glad that you are Orthodox, Evangelical, Catholic, or free thinking, but do you have the noble characteristics of Jesus? “I do not have them.” Then, you are neither Orthodox nor Evangelical, you are none of them. Attain the noble characteristics of Jesus and you may become one of them. “But I am a free thinker.” Do you have the noble characteristics of the honest free-thinking people? By the phrase “free thinker,” I understand someone who is a friend of the Truth. If you are not, then you are a first-class liar.

 

Often people say, “You are a great person.” People of today gather together by threes and fours and begin to boast of their social status and achievements. They praise the author, “We read your work with delight.” But as soon as he leaves, they state, “He is a first-class idiot.” When the second leaves, they criticize him too. Then the third leaves, he is also such and such according to the rest. When only one remains, naturally he will not say anything bad about himself. Do not be fooled by people’s talk about you because it could hold many unpleasant things. No one speaks the truth. Your enemies will tell you, “You are a scoundrel, liar, good-for-nothing person. They are closer to the truth than someone who flatters you, saying, “You have nobleness.” You may be good but not that good; do not think that you are great. Sometimes you walk with your head up, swinging your arms and cane, as if you have solved a great problem like Archimedes. You think that there is no one like you. If you are a tax collector, you are telling yourself, “I will rule the world.” Christ says, “Listen, years ago your ancestors ruled and I remember to be written in My Book that they had committed crimes. It is quite possible for you to go in that direction too. Do not be so certain of yourself.”

 

Therefore, in whatever situation we may find ourselves, we should have God, the Lord, as the only ideal. In this world we will encounter many painful experiences. We may meet a friend who loves us and will tell us certain things that are true. I do not say that we should suspect everyone to be a liar, no. But if a hundred people praise you, perhaps only three among them will tell you the truth in a proper way. The rest will tell you the truth either in a harsh way or by flattery, these are two extremes. Truth is not to be found there, but in the middle path by taking the good characteristics of the Pharisee: his excellent mind, his concepts and tidiness; and from the tax collector by taking his compassion, profound religiousness, inner awareness of the mistakes and aspiration to set right his life.

 

The tax collectors and Pharisees are to be found in the families as well: for example a Pharisee husband and a tax collector wife. The husband is coming from a high prominent lineage, he is wealthy, slender, handsome, “a man of nobleness,” as people call him. The wife comes from a simple family, her father and grandfather were uneducated simple people. The husband looking at her likes to ask, “Do you know what social status I have taken you from?” And she cowers a little. There is nothing she can do in this situation, but to cower and cook.

 

Every time when the Pharisee’s finger indicates she did not cook well makes her cry while hearing his words, “I do not want such a simple, unlearned woman. I do not want such a tax collector in my home.” Elsewhere, the wife is the Pharisee while the husband is the tax collector. The wife comes from a wealthy family; her father helped her husband to prosper in life and at one time he was his apprentice. “Do you realize how fortunate you are that I have taken you? You do not know how to dress, how to put your tie, or how to blow your nose.” These Pharisees can be very detailed when they begin criticizing.

 

Now both of them need to set right their lives. When Christ says that the tax collector is more justified than the Pharisee, He means that the tax collector is not completely right as well, but in his thoughts about life and the Divine Order he has a better understanding than the Pharisee. He wants to imply that the tax collector one day will stand higher than the Pharisee. If you do not wish to humble yourselves, the Lord will humble you because He humbles the proud and uplifts the humble. Pride and humility are synonyms for these two types of people, the Pharisee and the tax collector.

 

You do not know what is in store for you in the future; all your noble qualities and all your ancestors may not be able to help you. Some years ago in England (in London I think), one of the richest and most prominent Englishman went down to his subterranean vault to take a look at his treasures and by chance he closed the door behind him with his key remaining outside. After examining all his wealth and enjoying it, he wanted to go out, but realized that he was locked in. He stayed for one, two, three days. He was surrounded by gold and enormous wealth, but what of this, when he could neither go out, nor call for help. Finally, he died, leaving the following note behind him, “If only there had been someone to give me a piece of bread, I would have given him half of all my wealth.”

 

If it happens one day that you are locked up in the subterranean vault of your noble ancestors like that rich man, just a little piece of bread can save you. That is why Christ says, “The bread can save you, but it is not true for all these material things which you are striving for.”[5]

 

Do you know that many people pass away like this - locked up in themselves? Some desperate people commit suicide. Who are these people? They are not the tax collectors but the Pharisees. Poets, artists, and politicians say, “The world does not value us and cannot appreciate our works, our writings, our paintings.” That is why they commit suicide. Always those Pharisees, who are noble thinkers with the finely formed faces and red beards, commit suicide.

 

The Pharisees in Bulgaria do not have red beards; I am speaking of the Jewish Pharisees. I would describe our Bulgarian Pharisees in another way. They look like the Jewish Pharisees, but there is something in which they differ. But as I am not describing the Bulgarian but the Jewish Pharisees, you can make your own conclusion about the Bulgarian ones and search for these types. How do you search for them? The purpose of my lecture is for you to apply these practical concepts in your life.

 

People of today profess that one needs willpower to be successful in life. The willpower has three ways of expression: first, not taking into account the rights and feelings of others; second, regarding only our own interests and those of our nation; and third, considering the interests of the society and nation, of the humankind and God. The last expression of willpower, which includes all obligations that we have toward this world, is good. When we have such willpower there is no force that could divert us from our duty. The true willpower acts for the glory of God and the humankind, for the sake of your nation and home, and for the uplifting of your character; this is willpower indeed. People say, “You should have a noble mind.” A mind that realizes its attitude to God and makes efforts to apply the sublime thoughts in Life, this is a noble mind indeed. You all have the potential for this. “But my nose is not as I want it to be.” It will develop. Look at those little birds in the nests that have no feathers yet. Observe how they are waiting for their mother and as soon as she appears, they open their beaks, saying, “Chirrrp!”, and instantly their mother pushes little worms in. Even twenty times a day, “Chirrrp!” and again they open their beaks. The more these little birds pray “chirrrp,” the more worms fall into their beaks. And soon their wings strengthen and they will finally be able to fly away.

 

You too should comply with the same Law: Open your mouth to pray. If you do not open it, you are Pharisees and Christ will tell you, “The world is not for you, the Kingdom of God is not for you, the future is not for you.” This is what Christ intends to say. There are people who do not want to open their mouths. They keep silent. It is good to be silent, but in which cases: when you are angry, when you want to offend someone, or when you are envious. But whenever you are joyous, whenever you need to say a comforting word, open your mouth and say it. Do you open your mouth and speak when you bring up your children? This is an impending issue for you. You bring up your children in a Pharisaic way: you do not permit them to touch the dishes not to soil themselves, even not to wet their hands by themselves. Their mother will wash their hands instead; their father will buy them new shoes, watches, jewelry, and so on. The father is in the position of a slave of these Pharisees. When he comes back from work in the evening, they first sulk and then say, “We want this and that, we want it right now!” and so he cowers. Why did Christ say, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!”?[6] At home with the children and in the church as well - everywhere we manifest the Pharisee’s features and why then we wonder that the Kingdom of God is not coming. On top of this, the Pharisee complains that the world is bad, that society is bad, the priests are such and such, the teachers are not good and the statesmen too, but he himself is a saint. You are just the same as those you are criticizing. Stop and let go of these things because your Mother is here with you. Whenever you say “chirrrp,” right then you will receive food.

 

You may find these things funny, but they are great truths. They seem to be small things, but we need to learn from this example. Compared to the Divine Life we are still paupers and God is constantly sending us the Mother with the worms. Greet your Mother because she brings you food. How many places had she to overfly to find at least one worm? How could we thank God Who thinks of us every day and provides us with food? Every morning we should say “chirrrp,” that is, pray to Him. Do you know what it means? It has a very deep meaning. What does this “chirrrp” mean? It you know this, you will get the words spoken by Heaven. It is a short word “chirrrp,” yet very rich in content.

 

And now you are in the temple. Christ addresses you asking about the way you are praying: is it as the Pharisee or as the tax collector; and how will you enter the world and begin working: is it as the Pharisee or as the tax collector? You are made of the same dust. Yet, Christ wants to tell us not to be like the Pharisees. My head is about ready to burst from these Pharisees. If there is something disturbing in the world it is these Pharisees. “Well, that person has such and such qualities.” I know, but what should I do? Let me clean up myself first and then others. Let me clean up my own lice and then those of others. Otherwise, if I would go to someone who has fewer lice than me, he will catch more from me. “But we should educate him.” Wait, I need to educate myself first. “But we should preach.” If I begin to preach too soon, I will mislead people. “Go out and say this and that.” What shall I say? Shall I lie to people? When you go out, you are to express the great Truth both in words and through your actions. This is what Christ means. When we begin to teach, we should do it both by words and actions.

 

I like very much the teachers of today, who, while teaching a subject like physics or chemistry, begin right away with the experiments: oxygen can be obtained this way, something else results from that. When you enter a carpenter ’s shop, the teacher there teaches both theory and practice; when you go to a tailor ’s shop, it is the same. Christ says, “Enter and pick up your yardstick and scissors.” Some need to start with a needle and after that with scissors. What are the scissors? They represent your tongue. When you begin to cut and sew, there exists no better scissors than your tongue. However, when you begin cutting left and right without thinking, your scissors are not used properly. “Should we not speak?” You should speak, but in the right time and place. Otherwise you will cut without thinking and the cloth will be wasted.

 

I do not say all this to discourage you. I do not want to claim that you were born Pharisees, but you have the inclination of the Pharisee. Everyone has it. It is good to have it to a certain degree. But when you begin to say, “God, I thank You that I am not like others,” the Pharisee is alive in you and it is difficult to free yourselves from him. He resides in the back of your neck, in your crown, ears, head, nose, and in the inner side of your eyes. In conclusion, where is this Pharisee to be found? In all your features and actions.

 

And so, Christ is now asking us about the most proper way to offer our prayer to God. He is implying that prayer in its broadest sense is for the benefit of society. Some think that a true prayer can be offered only in church. See if your prayer, which is delivered in the church, has some connection with your family life and if so, whether it will help you. If there is such a church, you should find where it is. The teacher first teaches the students certain things. Then he gives them the opportunity to solve problems and find the connections to certain laws. It is said in the Scriptures, “You are a temple of God.”[7] If we are a temple of God, when we enter our inner sacred sanctuary before God, how should we enter? If we enter as the Pharisee, Christ will tell us, “You have not achieved your purpose.” If we enter as the tax collector and confess our mistakes, if we promise that we will correct them, we are going to succeed and hear Christ’s answer, “You are acquitted; there is a hope for you for a better future.”

 

When the teacher finds some mistakes in the student’s notebook, the student should not say, “How petty-minded my teacher is, I had only three mistakes!” The teacher may smudge it, he may cross out four to five words and the student will say then, “He ruined my notebook.” Yes, but if you want to be perfect, you are to be thankful that the teacher has pointed out these mistakes to you because otherwise these three mistakes could have become more. Just correct them, do not ignore them! Mistakes are like louses: if you leave them, in a week they can reproduce into thousands. One mistake is enough to bring someone to the pillory. Based on the same Law, one virtue can uplift you to Heaven and place you among the Angels. Under certain conditions a wrong action will pull you down, while a virtuous one will uplift you. Therefore, pay attention to each virtue and to each mistake of yours. If there is one virtue left in a person who has lived a depraved life, it can serve as a rope tossed in the stormy sea of life, which (if he grabs it) can bring him to safety. Therefore, the remaining mistake is very detrimental and can ruin a person. Similarly, the last virtue is very strong and can save a person. The last mistake or virtue can transform our life. It is a Law. That is why Christ says, “Do not be negligent.”

 

The Pharisee had more noble features than the tax collector. He was in many respects in a higher position, but he had one last mistake - pride, which had the power to pull him down. The tax collector was a big sinner, but he had one remaining virtue - humility; and he was determined to work for his salvation. For this reason God gave him His Blessing because there was hope that in the future he would evolve.

 

I ask you this morning about your current position: are you with your last mistake or with your last virtue? If you are with your last mistake, I feel sorry for you: be aware that you are at a dangerous place in life. If you are with your last virtue, you are at a safe place and I congratulate you: you are on a solid rock. Hold on to this last virtue and Christ will walk with you.

 

Lecture of the Master, held on October 5, 1914, Sofia.

 

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1. See also Luke 18:11, “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men - extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.’”

2. Friedrich Schiller (1759–1805) was a German poet, philosopher, historian, and

dramatist.

3. See also Matthew 7:1–3.

4. See also Hebrews 8:12, “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”

5. See also John 6:35, “And Jesus said to them, I am the Bread of Life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.”

6. See Luke 11:44.

7. See also 1Corinthians 3:16, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”

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