(18) The disciples said to Jesus: Tell us how our end shall be. Jesus said: Have you then discovered the beginning, that you seek after the end? For where the beginning is, there shall the end be. Blessed is he who shall stand in the beginning, and he shall know the end and shall not taste of death.
Main Point: The disciples really want to know what is to happen to them upon their death – the vast unknown at the end of their lives. But Jesus kind of muses with them that this implies they know the beginning, and now just want to know what the ending wil be. But rather than tell them what their end is to be, he tells them that if they know the beginning then they shall also know the end. There is no end, no death when you stand in the beginnig. A riddle?
New Light: This reminds me of Thich Nhat Hahn’s explanation of the horizontal and vertical axis. The horizontal axis is the element of time, of birth and old age and death, of all the minutiae of our lives of this happening and that. But in the vertical axis, time does not exist. On the vertical axis, which is the ultimate dimension, the beginning and the end are one, and consciousness is all. Your little self does not exist, you are you only your wholeness. This is difficult to describe – it takes a change of concept to grasp. In the vertical dimension, which pierces all-time and all coming and going, there is no death.
Implications: There are many instances here and elsewhere in the scriptures where Jesus is promising that one “who knows will not taste death.” It seems that even in this brief sentence, there is much to be interpreted. What is it to “know?” What is it to taste death? What is death? I also wonder, since it is repeated so often, that this teaching is designed to assuage a concern about death, – the most common fear of humans seems to be the prospect of their own death. I wonder if changing the conceptual framework in this way accomplishes this? For me, yes. I really do not fear death. Sure, I would try to save my life if I was drowning or falling, I wear my seat belt and drive carefully. But about death itself, I do not tremble. I envision only a vast peacefulness.