"I am the true vine...
"I am the true vine" (John 15:1) is one of several I am sayings featured in John's gospel. Many people interpret these sayings as Jesus making certain claims about himself... He, Jesus of Nazareth, is the true vine. He, Jesus of Nazareth, is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). And, by the way, "No one comes to the father except through me" (John 14:6 continued).
It feels to me that, when Jesus spoke in those terms, he was speaking of his innermost Identity, his eternal Self, or Spirit. We might call it the Christ Self, at one with God. It is the Self beyond birth and death; unlimited by time and space and eternally present: "Before Abraham was born, I am" (John 8:58).
Jesus identified with his eternal Self. But the Christ Self isn’t limited to the person of Jesus, because the Christ Self has no limits. Jesus’ True Self is our True Self as well.
Seen in that light, how might we interpret his words about the True Vine?
To “remain” in the Christ Self is to abide in it. We might experience a state of “I am” awareness from time to time. Last week, a meditation facilitated by Eckhart Tolle helped to still my thinking mind and expand my identity beyond the small, temporal, self of Peter Parr - so that I spent an hour or so in the kingdom of heaven. But what if those excursions into Oneness became not the exceptions, but the norm? That would be remaining in the vine.
“No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Christ-consciousness.” (Interpretation of John 15:4)
“I [True Self] am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me [in a state of awareness of your True Self] and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
The fruit being referred to here is of the Spirit. In Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he writes of the fruits of the spirit as being "love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23).
A similar list appears in A Course in Miracles, where characteristics of God's teachers are listed as trust, honesty, tolerance, gentleness, joy, defencelessness, generosity, patience, faithfulness and open-mindedness (Manual for Teachers, Section 4).
We’re all branches in the same vine, so these are the fruit we each will bear - but only if we abide in the Vine so that Christ’s is the vision with which we see; His the one mind with which we think.
Peter Parr: Quaker, writer and former member of the British minigolf team. (Actually those are all just roles I play. Words can't describe who any of us really are.)