The disciples said to the master, “tell us what the Kingdom of Heaven is like.” He said to them, “it is like a mustard seed; smaller than all seeds, but when it falls on the tilled earth, it produces a large tree and becomes shelter for all the birds of Heaven.
This parable demonstrates a great paradox. The tiny mustard seed contains the mustard tree, which can grow up to about 25′ high. The shell of the seed represents the line between the unmanifest (consciousness) and the manifest (the world or universe). If the seed falls onto a concrete path it will simply die away, but in the correct (tilled) ground it will develop and grow into a magnificent tree. This aptly describes the human journey. We all start off as seeds in the womb, and as we go through all the stages of life we seek the relevant tilled earth (guru, mentor, teacher etc.) in order that we may grow.
The mother is the first nurturer of the seed; the first bigger tree in which we take shelter. At this stage the seed disappears and dies and is reborn as a sprouting plant. Then there are various stages, where as the plant steadily grows, teachers come and go. These teachers can be in the form of school teachers, peers, partners, friends and even enemies. Then in the same way that the seed must die in order to know itself as the tree, we ourselves have to die (eradicate the ego) in order to be reborn in all our glory (realise the Self)
At some stage the growing plant might decide that it wants to delve deeper and gain greater meaning to its existence, and it will seek shelter in the form of a guru; a Buddha tree, a Jesus tree, a Lao Tzu tree or a Krishna tree. The master, in the form of whichever tree the seeker has chosen to take shelter in, will then nurture the growing plant until it becomes a magnificent tree in its own right.
At this point the newly emerged magnificent tree realises that all along it was itself the very Buddha, Jesus, Lao Tzu or Krishna tree in which it sought shelter, that all the time the tiny mustard seed and the magnificent, fully grown tree were One and the same.
This is the great paradox that is the parable of the mustard seed.