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“My people have committed two sins:
They have forsaken me, the spring of living water,
and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water” (Jeremiah 2:13).
Today it seems a growing number of people prefer to describe their interest in the Divine as a spiritual rather than a religious quest. The implication is that a fresh look at spiritual issues requires casting off dogmatic formulas of faith passed on from one generation to the next.
Some of Jesus’ contemporaries apparently thought he advocated abandoning the many formulas of Jewish orthodoxy. He corrected them when he said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17). He was calling attention to the deeper meaning, the natural law from which the ritual is born. Regardless of the presence or absence of religious trappings, every practical spiritual system must have at its core an understanding that is rooted in natural law.
Jeremiah strikes at the heart of the issue with his two sins dialogue. Of course he isn’t talking about water and cisterns. The “spring of living water” is the indwelling presence of God. The broken cistern is the self-image that we have “dug” or adopted as our identity. A cistern must be filled from outside sources such as rain or water that is hauled in. Jeremiah’s “two sins” indicate a breach in natural law, a turning away from our true inner source of life, love, power, and intelligence and looking to external sources such as people, places, and things as our means of fulfillment. This cracked cistern of the self-image can never be filled, never satisfied.
The source of our being carries the true fulfillment we seek. As we open our heart to this inner infilling, we find the satisfaction we seek. The spring of living water, the spiritual fulfillment we seek, has always been with us, a natural law that expresses from the inside out.