The Woman caught committing adultery
The Bhagavad Gita comments: ‘The firmness by which a dull man does not give up sleep, fear, grief, depression and lust … that firmness is of darkness’. They are referring to something which is consciously held to and protected … not simply an ability to understand … but there’s a firmness … with which he won’t give up … even fear and grief and depression and ignorance … people hold to them. This is the doctrine of neurosis in these days … but it was well known to the Gita. There’s a firmness and that firmness is of darkness.
Now, finally, one of the exercises in the parables. This is one which again has never been explained … and we could try it now . The yogic method of meditating on such a thing.. It’s to listen to the story carefully, then to think about the meaning, and then finally to close the eyes … and the second time of reading I’ll read the sentences one by one … and then we’re expected to live through the events of the story vividly feeling ourselves to be the characters … all the separate characters involved. I’ll read the story first then make one or two of the comments which scholarship has told us about, then explain the riddle which has never been explained by any scholars … and then we can try the meditation. This was an incident in the temple. It comes in different places in the gospels. And they went each to his home and Jesus to the Mount of Olives.
At daybreak he appeared again in the temple and all the people gathered round him. He had taken his seat and was engaged in teaching them when the Doctors of the Law and Pharisees brought in a woman detected in adultery. Making her stand out in the middle, they said to him … ‘Master, this woman was caught in the very act of adultery. In the law, Moses has laid down that such women are to be stoned. What do you say about it?’ They put the question as a test, hoping to frame a charge against Him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. When they continued to press their question He sat up straight and said … ‘That one of you who is faultless shall throw the first stone’. Then, once again, he bent down and wrote on the ground. When they heard what he said, one by one they went away, the eldest first. And Jesus was left alone with the woman still standing there. Jesus again sat up and said to her ‘Where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ ‘No one, sir’ she said. Jesus replied ‘No more do I. You may go. Do not sin again’.
Well the scholarship tells us a little bit. She must have been engaged to be married and caught in the act of adultery, that was the only case in which the death was to be by stoning. The charge had to be established, in Deuteronomy 19.15. The charge had to be established on the evidence of two or three witnesses. The witnesses had to be of good character. And then, in another verse of Deuteronomy, the two witnesses should throw the first stones. The witnesses had to be of good character. One reason was … if the charge and the evidence turned out false and the judge had acted on it the witnesses, and he , suffered the penalty for false witness without mercy. Well, this is all that scholarship can tell us. But what it can’t tell us is what he wrote on the ground. This is the only passage in which Christ is said to have written. There is clearly something missing in the parable. They put the question as a test. S he should be stoned … what do you say? Jesus bent down , He would have been sitting on a stone bench, bent down and wrote on the ground with his finger.
There was dust on the floor of the temple. And they pressed the question … and he sat up and said ‘That one of you who is faultless shall throw the first stone’. Then, once again, he bent down and wrote on the ground … One by one they went away … the eldest first. So we need then, in the meditation on this, to discover what he wrote … and why they went away, the eldest first. We’re expected , when meditating on the story, to live through with each character … somebody who’s been caught … and now is brought before somebody who she probably feels is like Habakkuk , a ruthless judge saying ‘we must stamp out this evil’ … made to stand in the middle while they try to force the Prophet to give judgement in accordance with the Law of Moses. The people who brought her, good men some of them- the Pharisees were very brave and very conscientious people- but they did have this pride in their own righteousness, some of them. Then Jesus bends down and writes on the ground … then they press the question and he sits up and looks at them … and he quotes Deuteronomy … ‘The witnesses, who must be without fault, shall throw the first stone’. Then again he bends down and writes … and then they go away.
And finally he says to her ‘I don’t condemn you but don’t sin again. Well then, if you’d like, to sit still and live through the story as it were . Even from the first sentence … Jesus with no home … they all went to their homes but he went to the Mount of Olives and spent the night in the open. And they went each to his own home and Jesus to the Mount of Olives. At daybreak He appeared again in the temple and all the people gathered round him. He had taken his seat and was engaged in teaching them when the Doctors of the Law and the Pharisees brought in a woman detected in adultery, making her stand out in the middle . They said to Him ‘Master, this woman was caught in the very act of adultery. In the law, Moses has laid down that such women are to be stoned, what do you say about it?’ They put the question as a test, hoping to frame a charge against Him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. Then they continued to press their question. He sat up straight and said…
Meditation on the gospel story of the woman caught committing adultery is given in more detail on pages 142/144 of Realisation of The Supreme Self.
© Trevor Leggett
Posts in this series are:
Part 1: Christianity and Yoga
Part 2: The Gospel to the Hebrews
Part 3: You see me in yourselves as in a clear mirror
Part 4: The parable contains a riddle
Part 5: The Woman caught committing adultery