Why did Jesus curse the fig tree after finding it empty, knowing that it was not the season for figs? Does this parable have a spiritual symbolism?
—Sukhmandeep Singh, India
The parables of the Christian bible challenge us to dive deep into spirit as the surface meaning is often obscure. Yogananda did comment on this parable in the context of one of his lessons on prosperity. The life force that animates us and every particle of creation is God flowing through us. Jesus Christ, an avatar, having achieved oneness with God, had the ability to control and direct this life force and at times he would demonstrate this to teach. The message always was that we must never forget that our life depends God energy flowing though us.
In the parable you refer to, Christ comes upon the fig tree when filled with leaves ‘for the time of figs was not yet’. It was then that he cursed the tree ‘and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter forever. And the disciples heard it’. When he and the disciples returned from Jerusalem they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. His disciple Peter pointed out that the fig tree had withered away. Jesus responded “Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” (Mark 11:22-24)
When we completely deny that flow of divine energy through us and think we can live by our own power alone, we wither and die from the roots. Jesus demonstrated with the fig tree what happens when life force is withdrawn. We constrict that life force flowing in us by our doubts, by our claims that we are ‘in control’, by focusing on our worldly, egoic desires.
Yogananda gave us the spiritual practice of energization exercises in which we learn to increase the flow of divine life force into the body and direct it into our body parts. With this technique we tune into that same power that Jesus used to withdraw the life force from the fig tree. In this case we use that power to flood our body with life force and keep that channel wide open.
In the context of prosperity all abundance must be understood as a flow of divine energy which is an infinite resource we only need to be open to. Remember the prodigal son left his father to go out on his own. When he did so he become destitute. When he returned to the father he was welcomed back and showered with abundance.
In the Festival of Light, a ceremony we do every Sunday which written by our founder Swami Kriyananda who was a direct disciple of Yogananda, it says ‘The divine light, returning anew to earth, has given us power, as the Holy Bible proclaims, “to become the sons of God.”’
This parable teaches us from whence our power comes; it comes from God. Our purpose, as children of God, is to learn to be ever more open, ever more attuned to God’s infinite energy flowing through until we know in every particle of our being that we are sustained by and one with God. We then are instruments for this infinite energy bearing fruit that is shared with all.