Sunday, July 26, 2020

The Mustard Seed

Much like creation stories, many religions have mustard seed stories:

Christian - Matthew 13:31-32
Jesus put before the crowds another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that
someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is
the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its

Buddhist - Kisa Gotami and the Mustard Seed as retold in song by Nick Cave (story starts 9:55)

Kisa had a baby but the baby died
Goes to the villagers says my baby’s sick
The villagers shake their heads and say to her
Better bury your baby in the forest quick

Kisa went to the mountain to ask the Buddha
My baby’s sick! Buddha said, don’t cry
Go to each house and collect a mustard seed
But only from a house where no one has died

Kisa went to each house in the village
My baby’s getting sicker, poor Kisa cried
But Kisa never collected one mustard seed
Because in every house someone who died

Kisa sat down in the old village square
She hugged her baby and she cried and cried
She said everybody is always losing somebody
Then walked into the forest and buried her child +

Indian Upanishad - Chandogya 3.14.2-3  - “He who consists of mind, whose body is life-breath, whose form is light, whose conception is truth, whose soul is space, containing all works, containing all desires, containing all odors, containing all tastes, encompassing this whole world . . . this Soul of mine within the heart is smaller than a grain of rice, or a barley-corn, or a mustard-seed, or a grain of millet, or the kernel of a grain of millet. This Soul of mine is greater than the earth, greater than the atmosphere, greater than the sky, greater than these worlds.” *

Muslim - Muhammed "He will not enter hell, who hath faith equal to a single grain of mustard seed in his heart; and he will not enter Paradise, who hath pride equal to a single grain of mustard seed in his heart." *

As I listened to my Christian version this morning, and the commentary on it, I took some notes:
This may be about patience, waiting, trust, compassion, hope, abundance from small things, and allowing God to work in the ordinary.  What if we are the mustard seed? The kingdom of heaven is not something to be hoped for, but something to be lived now. The kingdom of heaven is invasive, much like a mustard seed is a weed, it disrupts.

I see these teachings from my church reflected in each one of these stories or quotes from different faiths, two of which deeply inform yoga and yoga philosophy. I’ll leave the exploration to you.




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