Part Four: Awaken Unity
I consider the Gospel of Thomas to be the most important teaching of Jesus we have today.It's a gospel that should have been in the Bible, but we weren't ready for it seventeen centuries ago. Are we ready for this now?
For many who have suffered religious abuse or have come to terms with the literalism of fundamentalist Christianity, the Bible can become a difficult source of wisdom and spiritual sustenance. In the same way, the distortion and abuse of Jesus and his teachings can cause some to have trouble connecting with Jesus.after dismantling. Because many are unfamiliar with it, the Gospel of Thomas can be a way to hear and find Jesus again.
You give the Gospel of ThomasIt is one of 52 texts discovered at Nag Hamadi in 1945 and represents some of the earliest Christian teachings. Many of the Nag Hamadi codices were originally classified as Gnostic, a category that placed them outside of mainstream Christian thought. But more recent scholars, including Elaine Pagels, who wrote a famous book over thirty years agothe Gnostic GospelsI doubt now if there ever was a Gnostic category at all. Thomas is by no means a Gnostic.
It's very likely that heGospel according to Thomasit was written before the four gospels of the New Testament.Stevan L Davies, Physician. He is an influential author of 18 scholarly books and a professor of religious studies. He argues that the apparent independence of the order of the sayings in Thomas from that of their parallels in the first three gospels shows that Thomas was evidently not dependent on the canonical gospels and probably preceded them.
Years ago when I was at Broadway Church in Kansas City, I printed copies of the Gospel of Thomas and gave them to the congregation. I suggested that you put this in your Bible right before Matthew because it was written before the four gospels that are already in your New Testament.
The Gospel of Thomas differs greatly in tone and structure from the four canonical gospels. Unlike the gospels in our Bibles, it is notNarrativeaccount of the life of Jesus; instead it consists of114Sayings attributed to Jesus.
Scholars consider the Gospel of Thomas to be one of the most important texts to understandUrchristentumoutside ofNew Testament. A central theme of the Gospel of Thomas is that salvation comes through a mystical understanding and experience of Jesus' words rather than believing in doctrines or doing sacraments. Sounds like gospel for CIE!
There are several scholarly translations. I use the standard accepted by Thomas Lambdin unless otherwise noted. Here is a link to the entire Gospel of Lambdin Thomas. You can print out a copy to put in your Bible!
Thomas is a unique gospel of unity
In Thomas, Jesus indicates that all is composed of a single and indivisible reality of which we are all parts. This idea of the inherent UNITY of all things is found throughout human history. The first reference to the concept is found in the "Upanishads," written by seers who had retired to the forest to live a contemplative life. These scriptures want us to be in a state of being where, deep down in our being, we feel that place of connection between the small and the large. The Upanishads want us to understand and be there in the place of connection between the breath and the cosmos, the main aim of the Upanishads.
We live with the wrong perception that things exist separately. This is a more modern perception of how humans perceive the world.Although, as we saw in part 3Even current science shows us that understanding is not the fundamental nature of things.
As the famous poet William Blake said: "Find a whole universe in a single grain of sand." And Meister Eckhart affirmed: "If you don't see God everywhere, you see God nowhere."
This is the message of the Upanishads and the Gospel of Thomas!
Who wrote parts of the Gospel of John and the entire Gospel of Thomas?
While most scholars believe that the historical Jesus inspired the gospels of John and Thomas, I do not. My point is that the deeper parts of John and most of Thomas were shown to the writers of the Living Jesus as mystical revelations after he physically departed from earth, represented metaphorically at his "ascension." It was given to a writer or writers in channeled revelations such as the Book of Revelation. Since contemporary biblical scholars tend not to partake in mystical Christianity, they do not even remotely consider this point of view. I can't find a single scholar to support this. So be careful, to be theologically honest, I seem to be alone in this understanding.
Apparently the authors of Thomas did not understand much of what they wrote. It has no coherent order and nothing is connected to anything else. But it was also misunderstood in the year 367 d. C., when the powerful Bishop of Alexandria, Athanasius, issued a decree condemning the use of "unorthodox" Christian documents, that is, those not then on the official list. In response, according to the most widely held account, the bold monks of the monastery of St. Pachomius in Upper Egypt smuggled out a group of forbidden codices and finally buried them in a ceramic jar in the fertile soil on the banks of the Nile. . . These were the 52 texts found by Egyptian peasants in 1945. And finally, some of us are ready for it today. Thank you, thank you, heroic "heretic" monks!
SEVEN PROVERBS OF UNITY FROM THE GOSPEL OF THOMAS
In Thomas, Jesus offers a kingdom of heaven, which is the unity we can discover within ourselves before death. No matter how difficult our life may be, we can bring the peace of the kingdom of God into our hearts in the present moment.
It's an idea echoed by the modern Christian leader Richard Rohr:“Unity is right here, right now, in the present. Union with God sets us free. The possibility of freedom, of a whole new world, is already here.”
1. Make the two one
Jesus said to them: “If you make two one into one, and if you make the inside outside and the outside inside and the top below, and if you make the male and the female and the outside the same, so that the male does not is male, nor is the female female; and when you make an eye for an eye, and a hand for a hand, and a foot for a foot, and a picture for a picture; then you will enter the kingdom.” (Proverbs 22)
Sound crazy? metaphysical words? William James, the "Father of American Psychology," a leading thinker of the late 19th century and one of the most influential philosophers in the United States, wrote:
“Our normal waking consciousness, rational consciousness as we call it, is nothing more than a special kind of consciousness, while all around, separated by gossamer partitions, lie quite different potential forms of consciousness. We can go through life without realizing its existence; but give the required stimulus, and with one touch they are all there in their entirety. No description of the universe in its entirety can be definitive if these other forms of consciousness are completely ignored."
Try to calm your busy mind and read Proverbs 22 with your spiritual eyes.
2. Jesus identified himself as the All, one with everything and everything
Jesus said, "I am the light that is over them all. I am everything. Everything emanated from me and everything spread to me. Split a piece of wood and there I am the stone and there you will find me.(77)
In Jesus' unity mysticism he here indicates that he sees no separation between himself and the creature that has carved himself out of the wood and the insect that lives under the stone. This is radical unity!
"Everything" is a term for the totality of cosmic reality andanother way of creating unity. From the rest of this gospel we know that Jesus is not the only one who is "all," but that others can also step into this awakening of his true nature.
The self-references of Jesus throughout Thomas are not exclusively to Jesus as a private individual, but to the incarnated presence of a wise man or enlightened teacher, in this case Jesus. And so are we to the extent that we have awakened to our own unity, which the New Testament calls "receiving the Holy Spirit." (John 7:39; 20:22; Acts 1:8, 2:7, 39, 33, 38; 8:15.17)
Just like Jesus, we know that deep downSohnthe universe, the ALL in human form. Our glory lies in bringing this knowledge into our consciousness.
3. Unity is everywhere
His disciples said to him, "When will the kingdom come?" Jesus said, “He will not come waiting for him. It will not be about saying "here it is" or "there it is". Rather, the kingdom of God extends to the earth and not to mansee it." (Said 113 my translation).
InThe Enlightenment Teachings of Jesus: The Gospel of ThomasRobert Wolfe says the following about these passages: “A common thread running through these passages is that Jesus was not looking up to heaven, but dreaming of his second coming and of those blessed disciples sitting on either side of his throne. He had made it his mission to transmit the experiential knowledge of one's innate divinity, the potential self-realization of one's indivisibility with the omnipresent self that universally permeates everything.
4. We can become like Jesus
Jesus said, "Whoever drinks from my mouth will be like me. (108)
To drink from the mouth of Jesus is to imbibe not only his teaching but also his very nature. As we merge into oneness with Him, we will awaken to a world previously hidden from us.
5. The Power of One
Jesus said, "If you make the two one, you will be sons of men, and if you say, 'Mountain, go away,' it will go away."(106)
The "Sons of Man" or "Son of Man" was a traditional eschatological title applied to Jesus in some early Christian circles. This means that when we move into a state of unity, we become like Jesus. The metaphorical mountain is anything that responds to our unity and conveys the love and light that actually moves mountains.
6. The big one is better than all the “small ones”
And he said: “Man is like a wise fisherman who cast his net into the sea and pulled it out of the sea full of small fish. Among them, the wise fisherman found a large and beautiful fish. He threw back all the small fish. into the sea and without difficulty chose the big fish. If you have ears to hear, listen."(8)
Why did the fisherman choose the only big fish? Has your wife placed an order? No use found for small fish? This adage seems meaningless unless we "hear" with the ears of unity. The fisherman chooses the big instead of the small, separates many. Choose to hear unity over separation, oneness over separation.
Mystics may be drawn inward, but the oneness of the divine embraces the outer world as well. Mystics are also involved in the demands of everyday life. One of Christianity's most beloved mystics, Santa Teresa de Ávila worked tirelessly to establish convents and care for their nuns. At the same time, mystical prayer led her to deeper and deeper states of inner absorption, unity and ecstasy. Mysticism does not mean withdrawing from life, but living the unified life.
7. Integrate like Jesus
"Who are you?" Jesus said to him: “It is I who come from what is integrated. That is why I say that once such a person is integrated, he will be filled with light; but such a person, once separated, will be filled with darkness.”. (Proverbs 61 Layton trans.)
Jesus lived, taught, and acted out of his undivided communion with God, and thus out of his undivided communion with all things. That is why we see his life, teaching and presence as central to the Christian journey today. Most powerfully, Jesus makes it clear that we too can become “integrated” and “full of light” as he was.
Again, if you are struggling to connect to Jesus, then open yourself to another holy spiritual teacher. The lore of the Enlightenment and today's holistic understanding show that we all need a personal connection with a spiritual teacher in some way.
I find Jesus a transformative presence in my life because:
Jesus is the personified entity.
The moral and ethical teachings of Jesus were based on mystical unity. He said that the way we treat the oppressed is the way we treat him because he was one with them.
Jesus is the primal man who ushers in the integral stage for which mankind has not yet been prepared.
Jesus was ahead of his time.
Jesus is a manifestation of the universal Christ: the oneness of God, the oneness of mankind, and the coherence of material creation, all upheld in the unanimity of all.
Jesus was clear that we are all of these by nature!
We just had to wake up deep inside for it.
Consideration . . .
1. Which of these seven sayings spoke to you the most? Because?
2. Was Jesus a guide and a loving presence for you? Have there been times in your life when you felt like you couldn't connect with Jesus?
3. Do you believe that reading sacred texts and scriptures is a path to unity? How is this happening to you?
Unit,Gospel according to Thomas