Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him, they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them. (For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders; and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles.) So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” He said to them, “Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written,
‘This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.’ You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.”
Then he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must surely die.’ But you say that if anyone tells father or mother, ‘Whatever support you might have had from me is Corban’ (that is, an offering to God)—then you no longer permit doing anything for a father or mother, thus making void the word of God through your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many things like this.”
Then he called the crowd again and said to them, “Listen to me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.”
When he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about the parable. He said to them, “Then do you also fail to understand? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile, since it enters, not the heart but the stomach, and goes out into the sewer?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, “It is what comes out of a person that defiles. For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” (Mark 7:1-23)
There are some who consider the emotions and things of the heart to be unreliable. Jesus is calling attention to a very specific aspect of human behavior and intention. The heart in some spiritual traditions is not seen as separate from the mind, such that, to use an analogy, there is one “organ” of perception and expression that we might call the “heart- mind.” The heart-mind can be understood as the functioning of the fourth, fifth, and sixth energy centers of the body functioning together. If the ego is very strong it can mask the expression of love and the life force with lower expressions of insecurity and fear. Each item Jesus expresses has a corresponding insecurity or fear:
- Fornication: inappropriate intimacy, insecurity about one’s personal value
- Theft: insecurity about one’s ability to earn sustenance, and fear that there is insufficient abundance in the world
- Murder: insecurity and fear of the power that resides in another person
- Adultery: lack of trust with an intimate partner due to one’s insecurity
- Avarice: fear of lack, resulting in greed, insecurity of one’s own value in comparison with another, wanting to overcome this insecurity
- Wickedness: misuse of one’s ability in order to feed one’s insecurity, not trusting in a just reward for one’s labor or effort, and the desire to use immoral means
- Deceit: insecurity about one’s image, value, self-worth, and the desire to overcome that insufficiency through lies
- Licentiousness: lack of restraint with self-gratification, the need to increase one’s experience or consumption to fill emptiness inside of one’s being
- Envy: fear that what one has is not enough, and therefore wanting what belongs to another
- Slander: bearing false witness concerning another out of one’s insecurity and lack of self-worth
- Pride: placing inordinate value in oneself at the expense of others due to insecurity
- Folly: foolish behavior or actions that seek attention due to low self-esteem, or those actions expressed out of greed, pride, licentiousness, rather than creating value out of one’s effort
The evil that comes of these things is separation from your true essence, your true identity and being. When your identity and being are in alignment with God, through an application of the ideal to your life circumstances, there is no insecurity about your value and no confusion about the source of life. Your circumstances are seen as perfect for the development of your true purpose. In your circumstances, no matter what they are, exist the greatest opportunity for growth and spiritual development. To seek another circumstance, to inappropriately seek resources beyond what have been given or earned, expresses a lack of trust in the design of creation. The effort to control or manipulate, or bypass universal law, is to judge those laws as unfair or lacking equity.
This behavior, as it is described above, can come from ignorance of spiritual reality. Jesus, in the moment he explains the problem to the disciples, is trying to take their understanding beyond common ignorance. If these things—avarice, licentiousness, fornication, theft, deceit—come from the heart, or the heart-mind, then they have been joined to the love that resides in the person. The fears associated with these behaviors are inappropriately valued, and the being “loves” the feelings, emotions, and the power that displace the ideal. It is a universal law that one becomes what one loves, and that inappropriate love corrupts the being, making the being impure. Eventually, if the corruption of the person continues without some effort to realign the values, the control and manipulation result in the creation of hell within the person.
Feeding the body as an act of nourishment, where the intention is sound and good, cannot defile the person. There is no impurity in the act because the intention is clear and without the attachment of improper value. Jesus correctly calls attention to the intention and inner condition, in contrast to the religious authorities who embrace the letter of the Levitical code.
Jesus attempts to show those around him how lower energy level concerns like insecurity can influence the higher energy centers in the being. The insecurities and fears are associated with spiritual levels one and two, the first karma sheath, and the lower energy centers. At higher spiritual levels there is the possibility of moving through the second sheath of karma. The ideal, when it is properly used in meditation and prayer, is like a mirror to the higher consciousness in the being. Once the veils are pierced or set aside, the ideal faces directly the higher expressions of consciousness in the person. Like attracts like, and the power of the higher consciousness helps express the powers latent in the being, powers that help align consciousness and awareness in the being. The alignment leads to an opening of the channel that connects higher forms of consciousness with the expression found in material dimensions.