"Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me." (Luke 12:12)After discussing the elements of greed and our identity as spiritual not material, Jesus is now teaching his students about anxiety.
To labor or spin
The term "labor or spin" comes from the Greek phrase, κοπιᾷ οὐδὲ νήθει. The word "labor" is translated from κοπιάω (kopiaō), which means to "to grow weary, tired, exhausted - with toil or burdens or grief" and "to labor with wearisome effort, to toil" according to the lexicon.
This means Jesus is not speaking of "labor" per se because a person can "labor" - or "work" - without having "burdens" "grief" or "wearisome effort."
Furthermore, the word "spin" is translated from the Greek word νήθω (nēthō), which means "to spin."
What Jesus is referring to is anxiety, because anxiety causes a person to make "wearisome effort" with "grief." And spinning relates to jostling for position out of anxiety.
We might, for example, compare this to a crowd of people who become anxious about getting into or out of a building and begin to jostle each other for position. They also sometimes panic and begin to hurt others due to their anxiety.
Jesus is posing the question that the flowers are beautiful but they do not have to maneuver and jostle in order to become beautiful. They are naturally beautiful because the Supreme Being takes care of them and they naturally grow beautiful.
In the same way, we are each being taken care of by the Supreme Being. It is not as if we've been thrown out and forgotten. God follows us through His expansion as the Holy Spirit and is constantly taking care of each of us. Whether we acknowledge it or not, the Supreme Being loves each of us unconditionally.
It is us who have abandoned Him. We have rejected our relationship with the Supreme Being and for this reason, He gave us these temporary physical bodies and this physical world to virtually get away from Him.
And while these temporary physical bodies will undoubtedly undergo the various pains, diseases, old age and death that come with the physical body, we must realize that we are not the physical body.
The root of anxiety
It is the illusion that we are these physical bodies is the root of anxiety. As we look around and see others dying, getting diseases and aging - we begin to worry about our body. This worry - based on our anxiety about the body's survival - is based on our thinking that we are this body.
But if we understand the reality of the situation - as presented by Jesus - then we have nothing to worry about. If we understand that we are spiritual children of God - not these physical bodies - then we can rise above worldly anxiety.
Just consider a person who purchases an automobile. Does the person think that the car will last forever? Certainly not. Does the person think the car will never break down, or get old, or get rusty, or get dented, or get a flat tire or run out of gas? Certainly not. It would be foolhardy for a person to think otherwise.
If a car is driven constantly, it will be lucky to last about 10 years, or maybe even 20. If it is restored it could last a few decades. But this requires constant renovation - changing the engine, the tires, the breaks, the upholstery and so on.
The bottom line is that when a person buys a car, they assume the car will not last forever. And they assume when the car breaks down they can walk away from the car.
It is the same with these physical bodies. They will not last forever. They will break down and we will have to leave them. If we accept that the body will break down in the normal course of life then we don't have to worry about the body. We can accept that the body is temporary, and it will get sick and die at some point.
And if we do not identify with this body - if we can accept that it is not me and is just a vehicle - then we can have some peace with regard to the various troubles related to the body.
This issue - troubles and suffering - in fact, is the cause for many rejecting (or continuing to reject) the existence of the Supreme Being. They say, 'if there is a God, then why is there so much suffering?'
But what they are lacking is information. The knowledge that we are the spirit-person within these temporary bodies. Just as a demolition derby driver will wreck his car up in the demolition derby and then walk away unscathed, our bodies are faced with suffering but then we leave them behind at the time of death.
One might compare the situation to a person playing a video game. A person will sit at the computer and select an icon or avatar to play with, and then click some buttons to enter the game. During the game, the icon gets beat up, blown up or crushed by opponents. Yet the person sitting at the computer continues to sit there in the chair, with no pain or scars from the video game. This is because the icon or avatar is virtual. The person playing the game is not the avatar. The person playing the video game can shut off the computer and walk away unscathed at any time - just as the spirit-person within can leave the body at the time of death.
In fact, we experience a similar thing when we dream every night. When we fall into a dream, we take on a temporary identity and get engrossed in the dream. We might dream that we are in a foreign country for example. Then in the dream, bombs are dropped on our house and everyone gets blown up. Then we get taken to a hospital and they have to amputate our leg. We are pretty upset in the dream. We are in anxiety because we lost our leg.
But then we wake up from the dream to find that we aren't in the foreign country, nor was our leg amputated. We are relieved that "it was just a dream" and not "for real."
This life is certainly more tangible than a dream but there are many similarities. Just as our dream was temporary, this physical life is temporary. Just as we are not the identity we assume in our dream, these physical bodies are not our real identity. And just as we can get hurt in our dream but not be hurt for real, our physical bodies can get hurt while we (the spirit-person within) are not hurt.
In fact, practically every clinical death case reports the patient experiences a release from their pains and suffering after their body clinically died. Once they left the body they were relieved of the anxieties related to the body - because we are not these physical bodies.
The purpose of matter
So what is the purpose of all the pain and suffering that the temporary physical body undergoes then?
This physical world is like a rehabilitation center. It is the place where those of us who have rejected our relationship with the Supreme Being go, in order to:
1) Act out our self-centered desires
2) Learn the lessons of love and relationships
3) Be given the choice to return home to our relationship with the Supreme Being or not
Yes, this is a life of choice. We are given so many choices in this lifetime. What choices will we make? These choices represent our freedom in terms of returning to our loving service relationship with God. We have that freedom. If we want to return home to our relationship with God we can. But if we want to continue our self-centered existence we can as well.
One of the learning facilities of the physical world is the law of consequences. This was described in the scriptures as, "as you sow, so shall you reap."
This is a learning facility that allows us to come to experience whatever we have caused upon others. If we hurt someone's body, our body will become hurt. If we neglect someone, we will be neglected by someone. And so on. Whatever we do comes back to us in a likewise form.
Child psychologists have determined that consequence learning is the best way to train a child - rather than arbitrary discipline. Why is that? Because the child learns the effects of what actions they took - which allows the child to make a wiser decision about their actions in the future.
This is the system the Supreme Being programmed into the physical world in order to provide us with a learning facility.
And this is why some people are born into starvation or brutality - as a consequence of actions they made in a previous lifetime.
This is why Jesus' disciples asked Jesus:
His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:2)They asked Jesus this because Jesus had taught them previously that a man can sin in a prior lifetime - and pay the consequences of those sins in this lifetime. Otherwise, they would not have asked this question.
In other words, we cause the suffering in the world. Whatever situation we are in, we caused the situation with our prior activities. We cannot blame this on anyone else. Nor can we blame God. We can only blame ourselves.
And even with regard to having a physical body - designed to experience pain, disease, old age, and death - this is also caused by us. It is our self-centeredness that causes us to fall away from the spiritual realm (the place where there is no pain, disease, old age, and death). It is us who rejected our relationship with God. So we can't blame God: We can only blame ourselves.
Jesus is inviting his students - and all of us - back home to the spiritual realm. This is the solution to all the pain and suffering of the world. Jesus wants us to decide we want to return to our loving service relationship with the Supreme Being, and leave behind all the anxieties and worries of this physical world and our temporary physical body. This is why Jesus' most important teaching was:
"‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’" (Luke 10:27)