Do not give what is holy to dogs; and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under foot and turn and maul you. In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets. Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.
The spiritual path is narrow at first, Meister Eckhart said, and then it broadens out to include everything. ‘The more the soul is collected, the narrower she is, and the narrower, the wider.’
Mde Guyon, the 18th-century French mystic made the same point: “How very narrow is the gate which leads to a life in God! How little one must be to pass through it, it being nothing else but death to self! But when we have passed through it, what enlargement do we find! David said (Psalm 18:19), ‘He brought me forth into a large place.’ And it was through humiliation and abasement that he was brought there.”
Think of a jet of water. It is because of the restriction that it has power. When there’s no restriction there’s ultimately just stagnant water. Thank God for our limitations, restrictions, disabilities…! When we see a person who has total freedom and no restrictions we often see just stagnation. People who win the lottery, or suddenly shed some restriction, are often seen to fall to pieces as persons. Total freedom has to be hard-earned if it is not to destroy us. Only a spiritually mature person can live with it.
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