The Sower

By Rev. Duke Tufty
The Sower

Throughout the ages, the great thinkers, philosophers, and spiritual masters have talked about a higher realm of awareness within us—a state of mind, a way of thinking, a type of perception—where we experience the ultimate sense of well-being. The Buddhists call this higher realm of awareness Nirvana. They describe it as being like a gentle breeze that finds all things worthy of caress. The Hindus consider this awareness a mystical union with Brahman, their chief God. The Zoroastrians call it paradise, and they say the loveliest becomes lovelier.

Jesus referred to it as the Kingdom of Heaven, and he said it is accessible to every person—here and now. His entire ministry was based on the Kingdom of Heaven. Every parable is a Kingdom of Heaven parable. He had discovered an awareness within him that greatly enriched the living experience, and his only goal, his primary objective, was to teach others to do the same. Jesus didn't see himself as the exception, but as an example.

He said, "What I have done you can do also." The Kingdom of Heaven is within you.

The Gospels were originally written in Greek, in which the word kingdom means realm. The word heaven means a process of rising up to higher levels of happiness and empowerment. So the Kingdom of Heaven translates as a higher realm of awareness within us, characterized by greater degrees of happiness and empowerment.

The 30 parables of the New Testament are put forth in a particular sequence so they become like stepping-stones on a secret pathway that leads to a deeper state of well-being and personal evolution.

But shortly after embarking on his ministry; after teaching the first three parables, Jesus realized something was wrong. The people weren't catching on; they weren't getting it.

So the fourth parable was his response to the problem. It is the parable of the sower, and is often called the key that unlocks the deeper level of meaning in all the other parables.

In the parable, Jesus tells of a farmer who went out to plant seeds so he could harvest a bountiful crop. As he scattered the seeds, some fell on the road and the birds swept down and ate them up. Some fell on a flat rock and they had no place to put down roots. Some fell in the weeds and as they came up, the weeds suffocated them and crowded them out.

And some fell on good earth and produced a bountiful crop.

We are like the farmer in the parable. Instead of creating a field full of crops, we are creating our lives. The seeds represent our potential. We have the potential to become more, to live better, to be happier, to love more. And just as the seeds need to be planted in good soil, nurtured and tended to in order to grow, our potential is totally dependent on the thoughts we think. Positive thoughts nurture our potential, and we get positive results.

So here lies the problem in the parable of the sower. Some seeds fall on the roadside and the birds take them away. Some seeds fall on a rock and they can't take root. And some seeds land in the weeds and the sprouts get smothered out. Seventy-five percent of the farmer's efforts are wasted because he is not paying attention, he is not focused, he is not truly committed to what he is doing.

And so it is with us at times. We hear the good news about the potential we have to change our lives in many positive ways, but we don't really set our intention, our unwavering intention to commit to that process, so what we hear is like the seeds carried off by the birds. Or we allow the negative attitudes of the past to continue and dominate, so new thoughts can't take root, like the seeds that landed on the rock. Or we let the attitudes of others smother out the new thoughts and they can't grow, like the seeds that landed in the weeds. …

The parable of the sower tells us three things. First, if we truly want our lives to change for the better, if we want to express a greater degree of our potential, we have to commit 100 percent of our time, energy and focus. Second, we have to become aware when old, negative, defeating ways of thinking surface and do what psychologists call a pattern interrupt. We interrupt the pattern of negative thinking by putting our attention back on our intention. And third, we need to spend our time in a positive environment with positive people, doing positive things.

To some this might seem like a lot of work. You might even wonder if it is worth the effort. But in truth, it is much, much harder to live in an unsatisfactory way, with a low sense of well-being or an unsettling notion that there is more to life than what we are experiencing.

Nothing brings intensity, satisfaction, meaning, pleasure, passion, and fulfillment like your life becoming more than it has ever been.

Jesus' message in this parable is simple and to the point. If we want to make positive changes in our lives, we have to set our intention and be determined that is what is going to happen. The power is ours.

Rev. Duke Tufty was ordained a Unity minister in 1989 and has been the senior minister and CEO of Unity Temple on the Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri for more than 20 years. Duke also served as chairman of the Board of Unity School of Christianity from 2001 to 2010. This article is excerpted from Sacred Secrets.