“Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”
We ought to thank the Hebrew Pharisees that they provoked Christ to say such a great truth - otherwise He would not say it. People who are extreme formalists, who filtrate the mosquito but devour the camel; who are specialists and virtuosos in finding and pointing out other people’s mistakes – the Pharisees could not explain to themselves how come that Sabbath may be infringed. According to their comprehension, after the law of Moses, the Sabbath had to be spent in rest and inactivity. The Hebrews understood the rest peculiarly, namely, in the same way that Bulgarians understand the Sunday. A Bulgarian would drive his oxen into the cattle-shed, leave the plough under the garner, dress himself well, put his fur cap on, and go to the tavern where still with his entering he would shout out: “Bring here half a kilo of wine, it is Sunday today – we should work six days, and on the seventh we shall eat and make merry”. The Hebrews held similar views of the Sabbath, too. And Christ lays them bare, making a comparison: “If your sheep”, he says to them, “falls into a pit on the Sabbath, you will lift it out, won’t you; and certainly not out of love for the sheep, but so that your interest does not be impaired. But when you have to do good to a person who needs help, then you raise a big question that his hand should not be recovered on the Sabbath.” Christ adds something more: “Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep”, that is, how much higher a reasonable being stands than an unreasonable one. If you cook for your stomach four or five hours a day in order to feast it, because it constantly bleats, and you say: “Let me not torment it, let me feed it a little” – then, when it concerns the reasonable being, the human being – that his very thought and heart be elevated, why do you say: “This cannot be done on Saturday, there is time for this, let it wait”? Christ stipulates two conditions, saying: “I must take care of the reasonable just as you take care of your sheep; I have come to Earth to liberate these reasonable beings and lift them out of the pit just as you lift your sheep out of the pit.”
The hand of that person was numb. Do you know what it means, the hand being numb? His will was paralysed, and Christ says: “I want to restore his will, so that he can act freely and apply his thought and his feeling; because he is sent to Earth in order to work. Whether this will be on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday, whenever, I will accomplish My mission.” And such work, which does not break the Divine law, can be done by anyone, because rest is meant only for the body and not for the Spirit. Only the lazy ones rest on Earth, and they rest every day, while the industrious ones say: “When Christ comes back to us, we will then take a rest.” A real Christian should comprehend work in this way.
There is one basic principle which we must have in mind; there are certain laws which we have to understand; and not only understand them but also apply them in our life. Without this application, every teaching, every religion, whatever it may be, is fruitless. It is not enough for a plant only to sprout and grow up, develop, blossom, set fruit, but this fruit must also ripen – the purpose of this plant is achieved only when the fruit becomes ripe. Therefore, according to the same law, one may be born, may grow up and develop, set fruit; but if the fruit in him does not ripen, his life is sterile. Christ untied the hand of the man – He restored his will.
If you go further reading this chapter, you will notice that to Jesus were brought a demon-possessed person, a blind one and a mute one, and He healed them as well. These things are connected. Who are the demon-possessed, the blind and the mute one? You might say that these things used to happen only at the time of Christ, but they happen nowadays, too. I will stop for a while and give an example through which I will explain the meaning that Christ has put into these words. There is a story about King Solomon, in which it is said that Solomon summoned a proficient prince of the spirits to help him in building the temple. However, after helping him build the temple, this prince wished to get hold of his throne as well. When Solomon learned about this, he caught this spirit, shut him in a pitcher, closed it with his own seal and cast it in the sea. After this prince stayed some ten years in the sea, he promised to give the most beautiful woman in the world to the one who opens the pitcher and lets him out – but no one opened it. A hundred years passed, and he made a promise again: to give not only the prettiest woman, but also the best children to the one who opens the pitcher – again no one appeared. Another hundred, two hundred, three hundred years passed – again a promise: he would give not only the most beautiful women and the best kids to the one who gets him out, but he would make him the most educated person – no one showed up for this luck, either. He made another promise: he would not only give all things promised earlier to the person who delivers him, but he would also make him a king of the Earth – again no one appeared. After five hundred years, he said: “Whoever frees me from now on, I will kill him.” Some time passed, and a fisherman went fishing, cast his net, caught the pitcher and pulled it out. He thought that a rich treasure must be in it, and began to unseal it, and when he unstopped it, a black smoke started to come out of it, and after some time, the figure of the prince appeared, and he said:
“I have promised to kill the one who gets me out of the pitcher; I had promised this and that earlier, but no one came up; you have no one to blame but yourself now, such is your destiny.”
The fisherman thought: “Why did I have to unseal this pitcher!” but after some time he said to the prince:
“I don’t believe that you have come out of the pitcher – you must first prove to me that you have come out of the pitcher, and then kill me.”
“I was in the pitcher.”
“You were not in the pitcher.”
“I was in the pitcher.”
“You were not.”
The spirit began to go back into the pitcher, and when he entirely got into it, then the fisherman immediately stopped up the pitcher and said:
“If you promise the first things to me, I will let you out.”
Such is life: you come to this world – it is a sea; you cast your net, catch some fish and you win. When you have these favourable conditions to catch fish, you are not there; when there come conditions of suffering, disasters, then you cast your net, and you pull out the pitcher with the evil spirit. You will notice a contrast in this tale – although being a tale, it shows that every life has favourable and unfavourable conditions. We ought to understand the laws in order to make use of the favourable conditions. If we, like the fisherman, fall into unfavourable conditions, we will reap death.
Let me revert to the words of Christ, which He said when they brought to Him a demon-possessed one, another one - blind, and a mute one. The demon-possessed, the blind and the mute one are inside us. Here all of you look like Angels – how beautiful and pious you are; but once a demon gets into you, and there begins wailing and gnashing of teeth day after day. The man and children flee – the mother has run amuck; you, the reasonable ones, should stretch your hands to heal the demon-possessed by saying: “Peace to you”. You can say these words and heal the sick one just as the demon left the man at a Christ’s word. When you start feeding your horses in the stables, they begin to kick without thinking that there are children around. What should you do? You should say “Psh!” like a Bulgarian, and draw the horse by the rein. The rein – this is a law; each unreasonable being must have a rein. The reasonable being is given speech to talk. Therefore, you must heal this feeble-minded person inside yourself. This sheep is affected with staggers, it is rabid – you have to cure it. It is blind; people say: “But we are not blind”; I believe that probably you are not blind, but there are many who are. People asked a woman who could not read, and she said: “Son, I am blind, blind!” Can’t you open the eyes of this woman – open them. Teachers are people who open the eyes of the blind; they are wonder workers – send your son to them, and in ten or fifteen years they will send him back with his eyes open. You also have to punch the ears of the deaf one, so that he can hear and comprehend. It is easy and possible for a human being, because he has reason. Therefore Christ says: “How much higher a man stands than a sheep!”
What does the life of a sheep lie in? It has to graze in order to cover its back with some wool and give milk; and sometimes, to bleat at you. You would say - what is the reasonable thing in this bleating. Some present-day people are like sheep, they are constantly bleating: a brother complains of his brother, servants complain of their masters, and masters complain of their servants – three hundred and sixty-five days of the year, they sing one and the same song. Is not such a life constant bleating? Christ says: “How much higher a man stands than a sheep, because a man can think.” His hand must be untied, the demon-possessed inside him must be healed, his blindness must be removed, and his hearing must be recovered – this is what Christ wants to say with these words. He says to the Pharisees: “You do not understand the fundamental Divine law, and I know why you want people with tied hands – your interests dictate you to have invalid people; you say of the blind one: “He’d better be blind, so that he cannot see our crimes”; of the deaf one you say: “It is in our interest that he is ignorant”. And if there are people who do not like enlightenment, it happens because of certain practical considerations. However, Christ maintains the opposite – He says that the hands of the crippled ones must be untied, and that the demon-possessed, blind and deaf-and-dumb ones must be healed. He wants intelligent people who understand and do God’s Will.
The Bulgarian word “muzh”1 has a deep content; it derives from the Sanskrit word “manas” which means “a being that thinks”; therefore people say “Be a man2!”, that is, a being that thinks, reasons, that has the will to do what is Good – this is what “to be a man3” means. And be sure in this law that one cannot have will unless he does Good. Some people say: “I have will”. If I let a wheel from top of Vitosha4, it will roll down, but it cannot roll up towards the peak; a river runs with a rush down from a mountain peak, but it cannot run up – in the same way, most people roll and go down. And only the one, who can climb up the mountain, only such a person has will – he can remove and overcome certain obstacles and contradictions. And Christ addresses Himself to the Hebrews saying: “You should not be sheep; you should not be like creatures, who roll only downwards, like rivers and stones do; but you must be humans who ascend up towards God; that is, to implement His will” – this is what He wanted to tell them. They understood Him. In present life people also constantly descend, roll down from Vitosha, and ask themselves, why they are unhappy. Everyone, who rolls downwards, is unhappy; one is happy when he begins to ascend. One is unhappy until he begins to think and reason; once he begins to think and reason, he becomes happy, and the things which earlier used to be impossible in life, start being possible.
The concealed thought which Christ implies in these words, has a great meaning to us. When God said in the first chapter of the “Genesis”, that He made the man in His image and according to His likeness, He wanted the man to think and act as God thinks and creates, to have will; and likeness means to liken things, that is, to distinguish between Good and evil, to generate harmony. To think and act is a Divine principle which God has implanted in us. And everyone, who does not think and act as God orders him, does not have God’s image – he is a sheep. We do not say that sheep is bad, but we say that the purpose of a sheep is to pasture and to give milk and wool; while the purpose of a human is completely different – he is created to rule over all beings, to regulate the atmosphere, to regulate all other elements, to arrange the Earth. He has to become a good master, and he can become such a master only when he understands the things that God has implanted in him.
Now, people often ask:
“Are you a Christian?”
“What do you comprehend by this word?”
“Do you believe in Christ?”
“I believe that Christ has come. I believe in this just as I believe that the Russian king had once been to Bulgaria.”
“And what of that? Do you believe that your student has been to school today?”
“I believe it.”
But this faith should go a little further; I will ask the student:
“Have you been listening to what the teacher spoke today?”
“I did not.”
I will say to him:
“I have been listening to his lecture and I know more things than you do.”
And then you will say: “You have grasped the thought.”
People say: “We believe that Christ came to save the world.” All right, you keep preaching this again and again for two thousand years, but how will He save it? “He shed His blood to redeem people.” Well then, when a Bulgarian agricultural worker byes a pair of oxen from the market, what does he do with them? He puts a halter on each of the oxen, puts the yoke on their necks, takes the plough and the goad, and goes to the cornfield. You believe in Christ, but if you are in the position of a sheep and you do not settle down to work, do you serve Christ then? You believe that He has come – this is very good, but are you listening to Him? No. I advise you to go and listen to Christ speaking in His school – to understand His teaching and apply it in your life. I do not want people to throw away what they have, even in the least. What you have now is that you are still in the first forms of the school; but you have been studying nothing but the primer for thirty or forty years now, and this primer is already worn to rags. Put down your primers, take the readers! I understand if one keeps the primer one, two, or three years; but I do not understand if he reads haltingly nothing but the primer for a hundred years. Christ says: “Now take the readers”. And to those who have finished the readers, He says: “Put down your readers and take the Grammar books, Arithmetic, Physics, Chemistry, Bible classes, and go forward; this bleating has been quite enough!” – “Do you believe that Christ has come?” Something more is required from you – listen to what Christ speaks, and learn what He has brought. Only then you will come to know the profound meaning of this Life.
And when you have the ability to think, act and create, you have advantage hidden in you; you have riches, you have a mine that you ought to work out – these are your mind and your will. Now I am asking you – have you been working over your mind and your will, or you have only been bleating over your primer until now? If Christ, who is coming, makes an inspection in your houses, He will make a complete check-up of whether you have been occupied. I do not have in mind those ordinary houses you have made, but I mean the houses you are living in now, the houses with which now you have come here. Christ will see whether in these little cells, in these rooms, there is reasonable human thought and action, or there are sheep excrements. This dung is also good, but it is a sin for a person whose father has sent him to school and has given all the conditions for him to become a reasonable being, to remain outside, bleating. And when the Angels descend and then go back again to Heaven to report about people, what will they say up there? “They are still bleating down there.” This bleating will turn into speech, whenever.
And now Christ, wishing to make this sheep be reasonable (because it has the conditions to be so), places these two principles, one next to the other, and says that this wool of the sheep ought to be spun, and fabric must be made out of it. Everyone can shear sheep, but wool has to be produced. And if this wool is not sheared on time, it will fall out, like the leaves of a tree. The wool must be stowed, processed, and fabric ought to be woven out of it – our thoughts and desires must turn into actions, and then the naked people will be able to get dressed. When, exactly, did man get naked in Eden? When he became stupid, when he became a sheep and began to bleat, when his hand became crippled, when his wife succumbed and left the chaste life for the veneer of things; and when he himself followed this lead, so they both indulged in loose-living. Then they became stupid, lost their eyesight and their right reasoning. Now Christ says: “I came to Earth precisely for this human, who is made in the image of God and according to His likeness – in order to untie the hands of this human, so that he can implement God’s law”. You, who have shepherded the swine of this world until now, and who have been forbidden even the carobs; what else do you expect, may be the song of singers: “Lord, rest the soul of Thy servant”? Among the swine or the carobs of this world should the Lord rest your soul? No, take your stick, take your bag and set out – towards your Father’s home, towards your Father’s school, which the Lord has prepared for you. Christ advises to you to lay aside the primer and the reader, and take the grammar-book – it is a useful science, it teaches us how to speak and read correctly, where to put the different letters.5
Right thought, right reasoning, right way of feeling, right acting is required from all. May our life be beautiful and good – both in form and content (as it is said two thousand years ago: “Be perfect, just as your Father in Heaven is perfect”) – here is the slogan for the New life to which we should aspire. It is a Divine law, but a slightly bigger effort is demanded from us in this respect. And I commend worldly people in one aspect: look at a lady who is getting prepared for going to a dancing-party or a ball, or to the theatre; see how much she exerts herself in the room in which she dresses – she keeps turning hither and thither a full hour; she surveys her face, nose, hands – everything must be in good shape. I commend her; but you, the Christians – how many times have you ever sat before your mirror to examine and correct your character? You say: “I can do without a mirror”. You need a mirror; follow the example of this worldly lady. I stand up for the mirror, only the mirror of the heart and mind – when you look at yourself in it, everything ought to be in good condition; only then you should appear before the Lord. Do you think that the Lord will accept you in Heaven as you are now? No. Worldly people understand this much better, and therefore Christ says: “The sons of this century are cleverer”. We should not condemn then, and besides this we should learn a very good lesson from them – I recommend worldly people in every aspect, because they give excellent examples in comprehension and energy, and in preparation. If we could follow their example by applying it in the Spiritual world, we would be standing higher than we are now. You say: “Their matters are foolish; we do not need this; we do not need that.” Well then, what do you need – the Heaven? But Heaven wants no foolish people. If you cannot construct a stone house, then how could you construct a character that requires very big efforts? You do not have a thousand levs6 to build a house, but you want to construct a magnificent character! And when the Lord tells you to take no heed of worldly affairs, He implies this: when you have built one, two, three houses, He says: “This is enough, you are a specialist; now I want from you to construct the house of your heart; and when you learn how to construct the house of your heart, then construct the house of your mind.” The same law must go by analogy from below upwards. Hence, Christ says: “How much higher a man stands than a sheep – a man who thinks and is able to develop his character, than a sheep that constantly bleats and pastures.”
Contemporary world demands: “Bread, bread!” – this call is heard from all sides. – “We need also sheep, because they give us wool.” But if the whole Earth was filled only with sheep, there would be no harmony at all. I have in mind that the reasonable element in us has to prevail over the unreasonable one – the human must be substituted for the animal. Altercation is heard everywhere: “He is an animal.” It is not bad for a human to be an animal, but there is something higher than animals. It is a matter of course for a sheep to be an animal, but not for a human. In the Scripture it is also said: living soul and life-giving Spirit. The one who wishes to teach, ennoble, save humanity and its disciples, who are summoned to this field, let him assist Christ – for He wants intelligent people to help Him – people who now well how to construct according to all rules of Divine science; people in whose minds the welfare of the Kingdom of God stands on the first place. Such people are needed now, who cannot be tempted, nor deluded by external ostensible look of things. I admit that some priests do not perform their duties properly, but I do not condemn them – this is their conception, while I have to take to what my duty is. If we constantly stay at one place and condemn them, but we are negligent of our own duties, what could be the use of this? There would be no use at all; it would be as the case of that teacher who has not taught his students the lesson, and therefore he wants to punish them.
Let us pass into the stage of reasonable living, which aims at improving of all nations and the entire humanity. We should consider the human soul, the home, the society, the nation, the humanity – Christ comprises all these categories; all of this composes one whole. The home is a bigger individual; the society is bigger than the home; the nation is still bigger then society, and humanity – still bigger than the nation. Therefore, from little things we aspire to the bigger ones; that is, from animal manifestation we aspire to reasonable manifestation. By laying this thought before you: “How much higher a man stands than a sheep”, Christ regards man as more capable of constructing and building up his own Life.
The first thing for you to do after going back home, is to start with healing the demon-possessed; the second thing to do is to open the eyes of your blind one; the third thing is to unstop the ears of your deaf one; the fourth is to untie the hand of the one with a tied hand – to set your mind into operation. This is a serious task – you have rules, so you will make the resolution. Of course, a day, two or three days might pass, but if you persist, you will resolve it. And when solving it, the results will point out how you should work. If a teacher always solved the problems of a student, the latter would never learn to calculate. The teacher gives one, two, three, four, five problems, and says: “Next time you shall bring me these problems solved.” And the whole world around us is all problems which the Lord has submitted to us for solution.
In the chapter I have read, Christ has laid many tasks. I dwelt upon one of them, and the others are much heavier – according to the complex rule of three. Now I am giving you the problem only with the four simple operations – addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Once you get into the complex rule of three, the matters there are slightly more difficult, but you can solve this problem very well with the four simple operations. Some of you say: “We cannot add”. You will learn – two apples and two more apples make four. You do not know what kind of people to add to yourself – a man does not know what kind of a woman he should add to himself. Then, subtraction comes: a man marries a woman but does not like her and wants to abandon her – he does not know how to subtract. It is not the time to subtract now. His children multiply and he wants to turn them out, because they were not clever – but he has to teach them. What a great law is concealed in these four rules – to know how to add, how to subtract and so on! It is a deep science which has been standing before people for thousands of years. We have learnt only the mechanical aspect of calculation. When we come to be added to the saints, to the Angels, when we are added to God, then we will learn genuine addition. A grosh7 and one more grosh make two groshes; but what if in the addition there are plus and minus? Someone says:
“I can add.”
“But how can you add – with plus or with minus?”
“I have”, this person says, ”minus two thousand leva.”
“How long do you have to wok to pay them off?”
“I have plus two thousand leva.”
“Ah, you are a rich person, you have enough and you can do good to other people.”
This is the fundamental law of Christ. You will add and subtract this sheep; this sheep will give you the elements. If you visit a shepherd, he will teach you the basic law of addition and subtraction – when he curdles the milk in order to make cheese, he will add a part of it, while he will subtract out another part8. If he knows how to subtract the useless part, he will gain; if he does not know how to do this, he will lose. And you, if you know how to curdle your milk, how to add a part of it and subtract another part, then when it comes to making the balance of your account, you will say: “Now we have a profit”. If you have a loss, it shows that you have not made use of that reasonable principle of Christ, but you have been a sheep which all the time has only been pasturing and bleating.
When a sheep sees a wolf, it stamps its foot, wishing to tell the wolf: “You ought to get off from here; don’t you know that I am pasturing?” But the wolf pounces and eats the sheep – so the sheep is that much clever. And you, when seeing the devil, do not stamp your foot against him, for he does not get scared; he gets scared only by people who have mind and will - whose hands are untied. Therefore Christ came to untie the hands of humans and give them strength to struggle with the wolf – with the devil. Wolfs, too, have the right to walk around the world and exercise their teeth, but we also have the right to use our mind and our will against them. They have the right to eat, but we also have the right to pull out their teeth; they have the right to exercise their claws, but we also have the right to cut their claws off. Eradicate the teeth of this devil and extract his claws. And when you make the devil a sheep – to give you wool and milk, do not be afraid; may be in the next step you will make him an ox, may be you will halter him and get him to plough.
And Christ says in another task, that the spirit, which went out of the man, was very restless, and if it happens to come back, he will be seven times wickeder than he used to be. All those foolish people become seven times wickeder as well. Hence, Christ says: “I came to save the reasonable human” – He came not for the sake of animals, but for the sake of humans. So, exactly this salvation of the profound Christian teaching, we have to apply in our life; we should be a model with our hearts and minds; our home should be a perfect garden – this is the task of our life. Therefore, you set to work, and let everyone work inside himself.
When a friend comes to visit a Bulgarian, the host takes him and shows him what he has in his farm, how his matters are arranged; and his friend praises him and is delighted. Some day, the Lord from Heaven will come, where will you take Him round? Your loft and your barn are demolished; the church and the school, too. If He finds everything here well arranged and in good order, He will say: “Here is one who has worked reasonably”. This is the thought which Christ represents before you this morning: “How much higher a man stands than a sheep”.
11 October 1914, Sofia
1 „muzh” [mәζ] – meaning “man”, “male person”
2 Here “man” is used in the meaning of “male person”, as a part of a common Bulgarian expression
3 Here “man” is used in the meaning of “human being”
4 Vitosha – a mountain to the South of Sofia
5 Here, instead of “different letters” in the Bulgarian text there is a short list of special letters of the Bulgarian alphabet
6 “lev” is the Bulgarian currency
7 A “grosh” is an old Bulgarian coin which was equal to 20 % of the lev. Groshes were used in the period after the Liberation of Bulgaria from the Turkish yoke (1878)
8 This is a pun: in Bulgarian we have the same word for “subtract” and “take out”=”extract”, and another identical word for “add” and “gather”. Thus, the sentence may sound also: “…– when he curdles the milk in order to make cheese, he will gather a part of it, while he will take out another part”