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“Neither is new wine put into old wineskins; if it is, the skins burst, and the wine is spilled, and the skins are destroyed; but new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved” (Matthew 9:17).
In spiritual literature, wine is often associated with life. New, unfermented wine is expansive and requires a container that accommodates the fermentation process. In this case, the old wineskin represents the self-image. It’s that “old dog” that is no longer interested in learning new tricks. With this illustration, Jesus is talking about something more than adding to our repertoire of tricks. He’s talking about a literal infusion of the energy of life, a conscious connection with the living Source of our being.
This is not as foreign a concept as it may sound. Most of us are operating from a surface-based, superficial understanding of ourselves. Jesus is suggesting the need to let go of who we think we are so that which we truly are may emerge. He’s saying, make room for you. Paul said the same thing in a slightly different way: “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind…” (Romans 12:2).
When I think of renewal in this sense, I envision a pool of water with an inlet and an outlet, a continual flow which keeps the pool fresh, free of stagnation. In our times of quiet, we practice letting go of states of consciousness that stagnate into fear, self-doubt, or some form of pessimism that robs us of our spiritual esteem. The new wine of inspiration flows into a fresh wineskin of consciousness that is flexible and responsive to transforming ideas and a purposeful sense of direction.
With your quest for spiritual understanding don’t forget the letting go of the old wineskins part. It really is true that the thing you seek is already present. It is you at your most pristine, spiritual level.