Monthly Archives: November, 2005

Thomas 88 and 108 lc

(88) Jesus said: The angels come to you, and the prophets, and they shall give you what belongs to you; and you also, give what is in your hands, and say to yourselves: On what day do they come and take what is theirs?”

(Matt 10:8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.)

(These two passages illustrate vividly the difference between Thomas and Matthew.)

Your angel and the prophets have given you spiritual treasures; as you share more and more of their vision, you come to realize who and what you are. But like love you must give it in order to keep it.

Who are ‘they’? the ones to whom we have given the treasure of life while they stare uncomprehendingly? It is theirs, but they must ‘take it’.
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(I08) Jesus said: He who shall drink from my mouth shall become like me; I myself will become he, and the hidden thing shall be revealed to him.

(John 6:53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.)

Both of these verses point to our union with Christ.

The hidden thing is the secret we’ve heard so much about; it’s indescribable; to reveal the secret is nonsensical to anyone except those who ‘drink from his mouth’ or ‘drink his blood’.

(John 7:37 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.
7:38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water .)

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Saying 98 / C

(98) Jesus said: The kingdom of the Father is like a man who wanted to kill a great man. He drew the sword in his house and drove it into the wall, that he might know that his hand would be strong. Then he slew the great man.

I picked this one because it’s so odd – I don’t understand what it’s supposed to mean, but here are some thoughrts …

* this reminds me of places in the canonical gospels where Jesus discusses the cost of discipleship … a dangerous and difficult undertaking must be seen for what it is and adequately prepared for … Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down and decide whether with ten thousand troops he can successfully oppose another king advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops? – Luke 14:31

* Some commentators suggest that this is a story of an underdog who wishes to kill a bully, or a zealot who wishes to overturn Roman rule.

* Whatever the implied meaning, the fact that Jesus chose an example of a murder seems totally against the grain for one who asked people to forgive their enemies and turn the other cheek. It’s possible he did this for shock value … as in Luke 14:26 – “If any one comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. …. But my personal opinion is that the saying is likely not authentic.

What Grandeur!

Logion 84

Yeshua said:
When you see
your true likeness,
you rejoice.
But when you see your icons,
those that were before you existed,
that never die and never manifest,
what grandeur!

The above translation is a bit different from the one Larry posted. Most striking is “How much will you bear,” has become, “What grandeur!” a seemingly different exclamation.

When Jesus says, “When you see your true likeness you rejoice,” my first inclination was to the early biblical passage that states, “God made man in his own image.” So, I wonder, is this true likeness the image of God? And/or, could this “true likeness” simply be our true self, sans ego, reputation, career, personality, relationships, yada yada…, but just fundamentally who we are underneath all of our labels and usual descriptions. I sense that it would be so freeing to just be able to be who we are without expectation of role and responsibility, something most of us likely only get an occasional glimpse of, and that occurs when we are lost to the world through an experience of something such as serious illness, deep meditation, or quiet solitude.

But when you see your icons…” must be referring to something primordial, something that exists always, neither arising nor passing away, something unborn and undying… Again this primordial expression would be the image of God, the Absolute, the Source – that manifestation known by a thousand names, or no name at all. This is often referred to as “Your original face,” the face of God. So yes, “What grandeur!”

However, could it be that it is the grandeur that is already, everywhere present? Could this image, say it is the image of Light, be like our ordinary light, yet, because it is light, we cannot see the preexisting light that is always and ever present? Perhaps it is also that which we call the Light within, that indescribable quality of love and warmth and purity in the heart of each of us. What if we could “see” that? How much could we bear of this grandeur?

belated anniversary greetings

I was browsing the archives and realized that we’ve been at this for a year now. Our inaugural blog posting was November 10th 2004.

It doesn’t seem that long. I just wanted to thank you all for making it something truly amazing.

The Last "Strange Sayings"

84) Jesus said: When you see your likeness, you rejoice; but when you see your images which came into being before you — they neither die nor are made manifest — how much will you bear?

(88) Jesus said: The angels come to you, and the prophets, and they shall give you what belongs to you; and you also, give what is in your hands, and say to yourselves: On what day do they come and take what is theirs?

(92) Jesus said: Seek, and ye shall find ; but those things concerning which ye asked me in those days, I did not tell you then. Now I wish to tell them, and ye seek not after them.

(98) Jesus said: The kingdom of the Father is like a man who wanted to kill a great man. He drew the sword in his house and drove it into the wall, that he might know that his hand would be strong. Then he slew the great man.

(I08) Jesus said: He who shall drink from my mouth shall become like me; I myself will become he, and the hidden thing shall be revealed to him.

okay lets be pragmatists for a moment/logion 60

60. They saw a Samaritan carrying a lamb going into Judaea. He said to his disciples: Why does he carry the lamb? They said to him: That he may kill it and eat it. He said to them: So long as it is alive he will not eat it, but if he kill it and it become a corpse. They said: Otherwise he will not be able to do it. He said to them: You also, seek for yourselves a place within for rest, lest you become a corpse and be eaten.

So I read Larry’s comments about the symbolism of the lamb and then went to the Gospel of Thomas website to check out translation issues and scholarly stuff. And basically everyone is vexed about the arcane symbolism of the lamb.

And maybe its important to know.

But it occurred to me that Jesus was/is a teacher. And he ‘s sending his disciples out into the world as teachers — teachers with a teaching the world doesn’t particularly want to know/hear. And then it occurred to me that none of these fine scholars who worry at the meaning of this passage in their scholarly journals were every substitute teachers, teaching grade three classes in the public school system.

In this story the payoff is this: He said to them: Find a place within yourself for rest, or you’re dead – and then they’ll tear you apart and eat you.

As an ex-substitute teacher — the advice makes perfect sense. As for the secret allegorical meaning of the lamb/Lamb — I dunno. I jest dunno.

60 The Lamb -lc

60, They saw a Samaritan carrying a lamb going into Judaea. He said to his disciples: Why does he carry the lamb? They said to him: That he may kill it and eat it. He said to them: So long as it is alive he will not eat it, but if he kill it and it become a corpse. They said: Otherwise he will not be able to do it. He said to them: You also, seek for yourselves a place within for rest, lest you become a corpse and be eaten.

Rev. 5:6 And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.

This one is hard (for me), but Leloup offers some good clues:
“The lamb symbolizes innocence, vulnerability, the gift of ourselves , and the power of love….the dead lamb is the hardened heart.” Jesus suggests that we protect the lamb and not kill it.

So it’s the same story we find in almost every one of the sayings, aptly expressed by Paul in Romans 12:2: be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind. Being conformed to the world is killing the lamb.

Happy Thanksgiving, you guys! :-)

Be Passersby

Logion 42: Jesus said, “Be passersby.”

This may be the shortest logion, yet it is rich for dialogue:

To me to be a passerby indicates someone who is traveling but does not stay, a casual observer, or onlooker, a person loose of association, a wanderer or itinerant person who is free in a way. Jesus says to take this stance as a passerby, perhaps, to encourage us to observe, to listen, to keep moving on, to not become static or to dwell.

Why would Jesus teach us to be passersby? Would it be because, as in the Buddhist tradition, suffering is thought to be caused by clinging and resisting change – so to understand impermanence alleviates this type of suffering?

There are many levels one could understand and adopt this teaching. One could become a traveler and not have a home. One could take on an attitude of detachment, to refuse to be defined by one’s circumstance or relationships. One could consider the spiritual journey as a path upon which we must keep moving, learning, and growing. However, to look more closely at our circumstance, we can recognize that everything already is passing by – there is little if anything that is truly permanent. Our homes, our jobs, our possessions, and our families – they are all impermanent. As is the natural world we see around us – even the mountains and the oceans. All things are always changing, never the same one moment to the next. The same is true of a dynamic spiritual journey.

William R. Schoedel translates the logion, “Jesus said: Come into being as you pass away.” This translation gives a very different meaning to the logion to me. This suggests that one comes into the spiritual as you pass away from the material. One commenter on another site writes, “The admonition is to be as one who ‘wears the world as a loose garment.’ To be a passerby is to be one who has let go of the world and all its things–to be a person who is spiritual.” Another writes, “ The conscious personality is transient. Pass by those who regard themselves as fixed.”

So, in this logion, Jesus seems to be suggesting a certain detachment from the world and from opinions. A life style of detachment is a sort of social radicalism that rejects commonly held values. Perhaps this lack of involvement indicates an indifference, aloofness, and an impartiality of the material world in preference to the spiritual. This supports the argument that Crystal introduced regarding the difference between the dialectic and gnostic viewpoint, wherein “at the heart of (gnosticism) is the presumption that the material world is at best irrelevant and at worst evil.” On the other hand, perhaps to “Be passersby” is merely an invitation to tread lightly upon the world, to not become fixed or set in our ways, but to remain open and free to enjoy the natural and material world, encompassing all people, places, and ideas – all the riches that are bestowed.

Saying #28 / C

28, Jesus said: I stood in the midst of the world, and I appeared to them in the flesh. I found them all drunk, I found none among them thirsting; and my soul was afflicted for the sons of men, for they are blind in their heart and they do not see. For empty came they into the world, seeking also to depart empty from the world. But now they are drunk. When they have thrown off their wine, then will they repent.

Some points that struck me …

I appeared to them in the flesh …… this is a strangely un-gnostic thing to say, as elsewhere in Thomas, the flesh is said to be bad.

I found them all drunk ….. this part is very gnostic, though, according to Funk and Hoover. They write: “… the spiritual state of humanity, according to numerous gnostic texts, is stupefied with passion and drunkeness, blind to any spiritual understanding. The savior comes to awaken such persons to their true origins. This complex, accordingly, is a summary version of gnostic redeemer myths that depict the human condition and the possibility for salvation.”

Some commentators think that many of the sayings of Thomas were originally not gnostic, but were revised at a later date to gnostic standards – or some see it the other way round. Perhaps this saying is an example of the combined gnostic and non-gnostic elements.

As I read the saying, a sort of off-subject thing also came to mind … Dionysos. When people are drunk, they are in an altered state of consciousness – one which makes it hard to perceive reality as it truly is … Dionysos is almost the opposite to Jesus … he is the god of forgetfulness in wine, while Jesus wants to wake people up. Like the gnostics, the Orphics both identified the soul as separate from the body, and gave a reason for it being present in the body: it is being punished. Mystery cults :-).