The Contemplative Companion for Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The disciples had forgotten to bring bread,
and they had only one loaf with them in the boat.
Jesus enjoined them, ‘Watch out,
guard against the leaven of the Pharisees
and the leaven of Herod.’ – Mark 8. 14 – 15

The leaven of the Pharisees and Herod is mostly political. “Political leaven” has been around forever. Every culture and institution has it. Political leaven does the same predictable things. It raises human anxiety and imagination, and often fuels conflict and crowds. Such leaven is ordinarily temporary, rarely enduring. Jesus’ advice: guard your heart and mind from its influence in and over you.

Forgetfulness is a part of the dilemma for human begins. We forget our own bread. That is, the influences that raise wisdom and love, and nurture community in a deepening conscious wholeness. In the absence of our such bread, we often turn to “political bread” as a distraction and as an entertainment. We think we need to be informed and stay informed no matter what. But ingesting such political leaven never satisfies, and often gives emotional indigestion. On large scales, this become social upheaval, and crowd-based reactivity.

Is this a call to be A-political? Not really. It is a reminder to notice how you feel amidst watching and partaking in the “political leaven” of the cultural moment and return to the deeper Presence whose “food” is not of this world. And certainly don’t build your life upon that external political leaven since it is always rising and falling based on whose baking it.

Jesus provides a few ideas as remedies: Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s. The corollary to that is: Render unto yourself what is yours – your Center. Your Presence. Your Peace. Your Joy. Your Love. And, be in the “leaven” but not of the “leaven.”

Be more watchful of your heart, and less watchful of the screens and shows. That is one practical practice to verify for yourself the contrast you might notice in yourself as a result of lessening your intake of political leaven, and the news that bakes it fresh every day.

© 2017 All Rights Reserved.


  1. A brilliant discernment to help us to weather the powerful political turbulence of our time, which can, quite literally, make us sick on many levels, If we are not awake and alert to the insidious power of the leaven of confrontation,worry, tit for tat arguments and duality thinking in our lives, it will manipulate us into losing our peace and becoming part of the problem .Thank-you for the insights!
    Marian in South Africa


  2. Thank you Peter, wise words. I have been drawn to reading way too many Facebook feeds ever since the election. Good reminder to check in with how reading the feeds leads to my unrest and anxiety.


  3. Yes! This is so inspiring. It’s been so challenging the past few months to not let politics consume my thoughts. It threatens to raise my anxiety and separate me from His peace. I so appreciate your reminder to be watchful of our Center.


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