Deep learning is a term often used in AI (Artificial Intelligence) to indicate a more sophisticated level of machine learning. It teaches computers to think like the human brain. However, I’m not talking about AI today, but about SI—Spiritual Intelligence. Just as “deep learning” is to teach machines to think like humans, “deep learning” in SI can teach humans how to think like God. Paul said,
“Those who are spiritual discern all things, and they are themselves subject to no one else’s scrutiny. ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Co 2:15–16).
Would you like to be able to “discern all things,” see the world through God’s eyes, and have the mind of Christ? You have heard of the concept of WWJD (What Would Jesus Do), but it’s more important to know WWJT (What Would Jesus Think) because actions start from thoughts.
To develop the mind of Christ, we need an environment for deep learning. Deep learning is like growing Chinese bamboo.
After sowing the bamboo seeds in the ground, the farmer has to water the ground and fertilize the soil regularly without seeing any bamboo for four years. Can you imagine working on an empty farm for four years? It takes a lot of faith to believe the bamboo will eventually shoot up from the ground.
If it were me, after the first year, I still have the patience; the second year, I might begin to wonder if I planted the seeds correctly; the third year, I might wonder if the seeds are dead in the ground; the fourth year, I would want to dig into the ground to make sure the seeds are still there. I might wonder, “What if I have wasted four years of water, fertilizer, and labor for nothing?” It seems a risky business.
In the fifth year, you will suddenly see the bamboo shoots sprouting. The miracle is once they break through the ground, they will grow 90 feet tall within five weeks. All of a sudden, your farm becomes a bamboo forest. And it keeps propagating year after year. You wait for four years but will harvest for a lifetime.
Bamboo farming is a very fruitful business, but the first four years could be nerve-wracking. Because Chinese bamboo can be about 100 feet tall, they require deep and firm roots underneath. That’s what they do in the first four years, growing a deep and robust network of roots to prepare for massive growth and be able to stand against the winds.
It’s a perfect analogy for deep learning to yield the fruit of discernment, the God-like brain, or the mind of Christ. Life will be entirely different if you can discern all things because you will have less anxiety and confusion living in this fallen world. You will also know what actions to take for your future.
Today, we will learn from Jesus about what could prevent us from deep learning and how to prepare ourselves for a fruitful life based on this week’s scripture lesson. Let’s begin!
[Hi, in case we haven’t met yet, I am Sam Stone, the Lightkeeper—you are the light of the world, and I am the keeper! (No pun intended). It’s my calling to help you shine your brightest so that God is glorified in you and you are satisfied in God.]
The Scripture lesson for today is from the Gospel According to Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23. [Listen to the Word of the Lord!]
That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. 2 Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. 3 And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. 5 Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. 6 But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. 7 Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8 Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 Let anyone with ears listen!”
18 “Hear then the parable of the sower. 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. 20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. 22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. 23 But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” (Mt 13:1-9, 18-23).
[Blessed are those who delight in God’s word. Thanks be to God!]
This parable is unique because Jesus not only told us the parable but also explained it. It’s about how the message of the kingdom grows in you from a seed to a fruitful tree. Previously, Jesus also said that the kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed germinating, propagating, and bearing fruit. That means the kingdom of heaven is not a place visible to our bare eyes but a state perceivable to our minds. Jesus said,
“The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.” (Lk 17:20–21 NIV).
Since it is within you, you cannot rely on others to show it to you. You have to discern it. In this parable, Jesus indicates three obstacles that you must overcome to develop discernment and cultivate the mind of Christ.
1. Overcome Ignorance
The first metaphor in this parable is the seeds that fall on the path. Since the paths are hard grounds where seeds cannot take root, they are for the birds. Jesus explained,
“When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path.” (Mt 13:18).
The path represents people who are ignorant or don’t appreciate the word of the kingdom. I used to think ignorance was by birth as if having a low IQ. So I didn’t think we could overcome ignorance. Can we overcome ignorance at all?
I remember when I was in the 9th grade. I was sitting in the back of the class, cracking and eating sunflower seeds. The teacher became annoyed at the sound of cracking sunflower seeds. She came to my desk and asked, “Sam, stop eating. Do you know food produces ‘moha’?” Moha is a Pali (Sanscrit) term for stupidity or ignorance. In other words, he asked, “Do you know food can make you stupid?”
In Buddhism, three things can hinder enlightenment—loba, dosa, and moha (greet, anger, and ignorance). Growing up among Buddhists, I knew these three critical obstacles to enlightenment, but I didn’t know food could induce stupidity until she told me.
Later I discovered that this is a proven truth in all religions. That’s why every religion has a ritual of fasting because discernment develops when you are not eating. Unfortunately, today most people practice fasting ritually without knowing its spiritual implication.
Today’s medical science has also proven that food can cause brain fog. Do you know Alzheimer’s disease is now known as Type III diabetes? I have Type II diabetes caused by my undisciplined food consumption. If I don’t reverse it now, I will develop Type III diabetes sooner or later.
Jesus has told us the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. The Rich Man missed God’s message due to his undisciplined consumption of food. Jesus fasted for forty days, and he said,
“One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Mt 4:4).
When he was on the cross, Jesus asked God to forgive those who crucified him, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Not knowing what one is doing means ignorance. Ignorance can make a person murderous, even putting God on the cross.
When you read the Bible and don’t understand it, don’t ignore it and let the birds take it away. Keep those words in your heart, and let it slowly sink in. Let us commit to deep learning until we understand every word that comes from the mouth of God.
2. Overcome Anger
Then Jesus talks about those who are not ignorant but shallow. I’ve discovered that spiritual shallowness is proven by your ability to handle anger. I will explain. Jesus said,
“As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away.” (Mt 13:20-21).
Troubles and tragedies are part of this fallen world. They can push you in two directions—angry at God for not protecting you from the trouble or angry at the perpetrators and retaliate. A perfect example is when Jesus was on the cross, he didn’t lose his temper against God or against the perpetrators.
There’s a story of a man who went to the forest to cultivate spirituality like a hermit. He gave himself a new name, “Cold Ash.” One day he saw an old man resting on the roadside, and he asked, “Sir, why are you sitting on the roadside in the middle of nowhere?” The old man said, “I am getting old and feeble. I am on my way to the village down the hill but have no energy to walk.”
As a spiritual man, he showed his kindness by offering to carry the old man to the village. After a distance, the old man asked, “What’s your name? I want to thank you properly for carrying me.” The man said, “My name is Cold Ash. I used to be a hot-tempered man like a burning fire. Now, after cultivation, I am calm and peaceful. So I named myself ‘Cold Ash.’”
A moment later, the old man asked again, “What’s your name, young man?” The man thought he must be hard of hearing. So, he replied loudly, “My name is Cold Ash.” After some distance, the old man asked again. The hermit got annoyed, dropped the old man alone on the roadside, and continued his journey. (End of story.)
Do you get the message of this story? The hermit called himself Cold Ash, bragging about his spiritual attainment, but the fact that he lost his temper against the old man shows he still has a short fuse. Using Jesus’ analogy, his spiritual root is shallow. He falls apart quickly.
If you want to know your spiritual root is deep, watch how much it takes to trigger your anger. Your anger threshold reveals the depth of your spiritual root. Please don’t test me; I’m ashamed to admit that my root is still shallow, but I’m working on it.
3. Overcome Lust
Today, most people think lust is about sex. No, it’s about many things, mainly money, sex, fame, and power. The third obstacle to cultivating discernment and the mind of Christ is lust. Jesus said,
“As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing.” (Mt 13:22).
God’s word has taken root in this person, but his lust destroys him. How to overcome lust for money, sex, fame, and power? Jesus gives us a clue: environment. These seeds were sown among thorns, meaning the environment destroyed them.
If you live with greedy people, it’s hard to overcome greed. If you associate with people with sexual immorality, you can’t resist the constant lure of sex. Living among those who worship fame will make you think pursuing fame is normal. The lust for power is even more insidious.
Jesus taught us to pray, “Lead us not into temptation.” He didn’t teach us to pray, “Help us resist temptation.” You cannot resist temptation, not in the long run. That’s the Achilles’ heel of every human. The best way to overcome temptation is to stay away from the company.
Carefully choose your friends and your company. Create a thorn-free environment. That’s what church is for. Jesus created the church for us to have a nurturing environment away from the lure of the world where we can cultivate the kingdom through deep learning. Jesus ended by saying,
“But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” (Mt 13:23).
Like the bamboo farmer who sows seeds in an environment that can go deep and grow tall, we must intentionally create an environment for deep learning of the word of the kingdom to become fruitful a hundredfold, sixty, and thirty.
There we have it. To cultivate deep learning,
1. Overcome Ignorance
2. Overcome Anger
3. Overcome Lust
That’s it for today. I hope you find this message illuminating as much as I enjoy receiving it from the Head Office. Until we meet again, keep your light shining brighter and broader, and harvest the fruit of profound freedom, purpose, and happiness.