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Posts tagged ‘Gnostic Gospels’

Gnosis: A Return to Our Roots

(Preface: As much as I’ve tried to shorten this post, no part of it could be omitted without a loss to its impact and meaning, as well as the spirit of the authors of the excerpts. I think you will agree after reading it.)

GNOSIS is the experience and knowledge of spiritual truths. In essence and in practice during the Early Christian era, it was the experience of knowing God within.  The experience of Spirit. Of Divinity. 

According to the Gnostic Gospels, which included the gospels of Thomas and Philip, Jesus had given “secret knowledge” to some of his apostles of the way to ascend the “Tree of Life” and come to know Spirit as one’s Self.  The Gospel of Mary Magdalene, in which she describes her personal ascension up to the “crown” of this tree that Jesus said had its roots in her body, does not belong to the collection of thirteen Gnostic Gospels that were discovered at Nag Hammadi, Egypt, in 1945. The Gospel of Mary was discovered earlier in 1896, also in upper Egypt. It stands alone as a testament to the true experience of Gnosis. 

The Son of Humanity

I will conclude this series with a passage from The Gospel of Mary Magdalene by Jean-Yves Leloup, followed by the author’s commentary. It begins with a question posed by the apostle Peter about the nature of matter:

[ . . . ]What is matter? Will it last forever? 

The Teacher answered: “All that is born, all that is created, all the elements of nature are interwoven and united with each other. All that is composed shall be decomposed; everything returns to its roots; matter returns to the origins of matter. Those who have ears, let them hear.”

Peter said to him: “Since you have become the interpreter of the elements and the events of the world, tell us: What is the sin of the world?”

 The Teacher answered: “There is no sin. It is you who make sin exist, when you act according to the habits of your corrupted nature; this is where sin lies. This is why the Good has come into your midst. It acts together with the elements of your nature so as to reunite it with its roots.”

 Then he continued: “This is why you become sick, and why you die: it is the result of your actions; what you do takes you further away. Those who have ears, let them hear.

I will let the author give his commentary on this passage first, because he offers such profound insight into the dishonest human condition and into the path the “Son of Humanity”set before us for our return to our “roots” in Source. 

Lack calls for fullness. Thirst calls for the Source. The Good has come into our midst because the nature of matter involves lack. Humans as we know them are beings who feel a lack of Being. The process of corruption begins with their own identification with this lack. They then confuse themselves with the matter of which their bodies are composed, which ultimately leads to an experience of their own vanity and emptiness. Thus they may finally become open to that which can fill them.

The Original Sin of Adam was a fall from identity with Spirit to identity with form that left us with a feeling of profound lack which gave rise to a deep desire and longing for redemption, ironically creating a void for a Savior to fill. “Blessed fault of Adam, that gave us such a Redeemer,” the traditional chant for the Easter Vigil says. “What is it that transforms matter, adama, a lump of clay, into Adam, the true human being capable of this essence of desire,” the author asks. What can we do now to make room in our hearts for Spirit to come and fill the emptiness there?

Meister Eckhart, a Christian whose metaphysics was very close to the Gospel of Mary, said it more simply: “If you do nothing, truly nothing, God cannot help but come into you.” Unfortunately, in those who are full of themselves, there is no place for the Other. This is why he added, “If you leave, God can enter.”

This means that we must leave the illusion of taking ourselves to be something, some thing, an object that exists in time. We must return to our true being as Subject, living in wonder at its manifestation in those transient objects that it calls its world, its body, its emotions, its personality.

When we leave behind the illusion of belief in a permanent thing, the Good can then come into our midst. In the heart of this finally accepted impermanence shines the presence of this unborn, unmade, uncreated “Nothing that can be found in the All of which It is the cause.” This is the clear light unimpeded by the opacity of all the things with which we are identified. In the midst of the heavy, the light is revealed.

According to the Gospel of Mary, the Teacher came in order to help free us from the ignorance that is identification (corruption). For he is the very countenance, the incarnation, and the practice of this Good.

The Good is the manifestation of the famous triad of the ancient philosophers: goodness, truth, and beauty. The Good in this sense does not have evil as its opposite, for it means the unity of these three, the One that embraces the multiplicity of all qualities through which it is expressed.

What does goodness become when separated from light, consciousness, and truth? A softness that is the gateway to hypocrisy and compromise.

What does truth become when separated from goodness, love, and beauty? A hardness that is the gateway to fanaticism and persecution.

What does beauty become when separated from truth and goodness? Art for art’s sake, an aestheticism that is the gateway to a brilliance that clarifies nothing.

Beyond the realm of opposites, the Good is the One, the doorway to Being. This Being can only manifest in a heart, body, and mind that have been emptied of all illusion, meaning all inflation and presumption; for it cannot fit into the straitjacket that they offer.

“This is why the Good has come into your midst. It acts together with the elements of your nature so as to reunite it with its roots. “

The radiance of Presence has come to us, and “we have seen its glory,” or its kavod, as the Hebrews called it — the glory of the Son, “full of grace and truth,” which is also that of the Father, or Source.” [The author’s footnote: “The Metaphor of Mother could just as well be used for the Source.”]

By planting the seeds of his knowledge (the sperma Theou, in Greek) in the elements of our nature, the Teacher restores us to our own true heritage and ushers us back to endless resonance with our uncreated Source, the “Father whom none has ever seen, and none can know,” but who is revealed to us through the monogenetic Son, the Good that unites the ancient philosopher’s triad. This invites us to live a life of glory, a life of love and consciousness, just as he did.

This reunion with our roots is not a mere event in time, but an ever-renewed relation with the Source engendering us in every instant. It is our ignorance that creates our distance from it, and this distance involves all sorts of sickness and suffering. By an ever-new act of knowledge that is both metanoia (in Greek, passing beyond the known, beyond the mind and memories of which we are composed) and teshuva (Hebrew for the act of return, a turning about of our consciousness from our externalized, objectified being toward our inner Being), [the literal meaning of the word “repent”] we act from the deepest heart of our lack, from the intimate space of our desire of desires. This is the space where we receive the inspiration of the Teacher and his teaching.

 Then he continued:

 “This is why you become sick, and why you die: it is the result of your actions;  what you do takes you further away.  Those who have ears, let them hear.”

Having spoken of matter and its impermanence, and of attachment and identification with this impermanence, the Teacher now shows the consequences of ignorance and attachment.

Sickness, suffering, and death are the consequences of our acts. There is no one to blame for this, and it is vain to complain and expostulate about the evil nature of matter, the world, and humanity. There is no room here for hatred of the world, for it has been clearly stated that there is no sin, no evil. Evil and sin arise from the blamer in ourselves.

(The “blamer” in Hebrew is the shatan, which means “obstacle.” In Greek the word is diabolos, which means “divider.”  I find this most interesting and revealing of what is actually happening in ourselves as we point a finger of blame away from ourselves.  

Attunement with Source

In a word, the Teacher came to offer attunement to the Body of Humanity through the open hearts and resonant substance of his disciples in order to reunite the flesh Body of Humanity with its roots in Source by drawing forth the Spirit of Love, the Father, from within them.  His own incarnation as the “Son of Humanity” set a precedent for the whole of Mankind. 

But he didn’t do it alone. Mary Magdalene, who brought the Divine Feminine into their shared mission of redemption, was his companion. Together they restored the sacred union between Man and Woman and their union with the Father.  They shared the ultimate Attunement with Love.

The revelation of Love, the Father within, through Humanity was his expressed purpose for incarnating. He was on fire with this purpose, as was his companion. It is our purpose as well.  This excerpt from a talk given by Lord Martin Exeter, who was my spiritual mentor for twenty years, speaks passionately to this purpose: 

Until God’s Love comes into the individual and sets the individual on fire, the physical substance of his body, the substance of his whole outer being, remains subject to the destructive burning of the fire. It is only as he is actually set on fire, while he is living here on earth, that there may be a purification and transmutation into a state of being in attunement with the core of Being – which is God’s Love – so that the form is not destroyed. We can recognize these basic principles. Only as there is lust, so that the individual lets himself be set on fire by God’s Love, can he be consumed by God’s Love instead of destroyed by God’s Love. Being consumed by God’s Love there is no loss, because every level of Being is supposed to be the means by which there may be a manifest revelation of God’s Love, and this level where we are was so designed by God not to be destroyed by God’s Love but, being consumed by God’s Love, to reveal it….

…The body of Truth is lust, that all-consuming hunger and thirst, that depth of feeling, that longing, that which springs from the intensity of aloneness, an opening of the heart to God without reservation, without holding back anything, in a surge, a constant surge of passionate lust. And until we do open ourselves so, we cannot know the reality of God’s Love as it is; we can only know it as a painful fire, whereas in fact God’s Love, received into the true body, is the resurrection and the life of the body.

I think this well encapsulates who Mary Magdalene was and the pivotal role she played with her Beloved Lord that made Jesus’ mission on earth at all possible. She gave him her all, an open heart through which he could enter and plant the seed of Love in the Body of Humanity.  She was the true founder of Christianity — “The Woman at the Heart of Christianity,” as Cynthia Bourgeault identifies her in the subtitle of her profound book, The Meaning of Mary Magdalene.  

There is much more that I could share from the pages of these three books However, I feel complete in this series. If you feel inspired, and in the least bit inclined, to obtain copies of these thought-provoking books, I certainly encourage you to do so. Until my next post,

Be love. Be loved.

Anthony

All of the books and many more are available at Amazon.com/books 

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The “Jesus of Faith’ vs the “Jesus of History” part 4:2 “Kingdom-Consciousness”

“When you understand yourselves you will be understood …. If you do not know yourselves, then you exist in poverty and you are that poverty.”

This blog series is dedicated to all my Christian brothers and sisters.

Continuing from where we left off in the previous post, I will share further excerpts from Andrew Harvey’s Foreword in The Gospel Of Thomas — Annotated & Explained by Stevan Davies. The author is commenting on this saying by Jesus in the Gospel of Thomas:

“Jesus said: ‘The seeker should not stop until he finds. When he does find, he will be disturbed. After having been disturbed, he will be astonished. Then he will reign over everything.’ “

From his own harrowing experience, Jesus knows that finding cannot be without suffering; to find out the truth and power of your inner divinity is to be “disturbed”: disturbed by the gap between your human shadow and its dark games, the abyss of light within; disturbed by the price that any authentic transformation cannot help but demand; disturbed by the grandeur you are beginning to glimpse of your real royal nature with all its burden of responsibility and solitude.

Jesus knows too, how­ever, that if you risk this disturbance and surrender to the unfolding of your divine nature, extraordinary visions will be awoken in you–visions that will astound you and drag you into what the Sufi mystics call the “kingdom of bewilderment” that “placeless place” where everything you have imagined to be true about yourself or about humanity is rubbed by the splendor of what you discover. And from this increasingly astonishing self-discovery, tremendous powers to influence and transform reality will be born in you. Just as unprecedented energy is unleashed by the splitting of an atom, so through the “splitting” of human identity to reveal the divine identity within it, a huge new transforming power is born, a ruling power, the power that great saints and sages have displayed through gifts of healing, miracles, and undaunted stamina of sacred passion and sacrifice.

The seeker that becomes a finder and ruler makes a leap in evolutionary development from human being, unconscious of the Divine hidden within him or her, to an empowered divine human being, capable in and under the Divine of flooding reality with the glory of the Kingdom. To reveal this secret, live it out, and release it in all its radical power, to make “finders” and rulers of us all, is why the Jesus of the Gospel of Thomas lived and preached and died.

It’s a giant leap from the saying “I’m only human” to “I am divine.” One is left with no excuse for one’s goof-ups and shortcomings. Assuming one’s divine identity does not mean that one will no longer make “mistakes” or experience shortcomings. These are seen as lessons in the school of Life rather than mistakes. One learns and grows from them.

This empowering vision of saying 2 leads naturally, as in the text itself, to the challenge of saying 3:

“Jesus said: If your leaders say to you” Look! The Kingdom is in the sky!” Then the birds will be there before you are. If they say that the Kingdom is in the sea, then the fish will be there before you are. Rather the Kingdom is within you and it is outside of you. When you understand yourselves you will be understood …. If you do not know yourselves, then you exist in poverty and you are that poverty.”

The savage, gorgeous radicalism of this saying should not be under­estimated; Jesus is, consciously and with the most subversive imaginable scorn, mocking all versions of the spiritual journey that place the ultimate experience beyond this world, in some transcendent “otherwhere.” All the patriarchal religions and mystical transmission systems–including those conceived in Jesus’ honor–subtly devalue the immanent in favor of the transcendent. . . .

The Jesus of Thomas is a “mystical revolutionary” who goes against all convention, religious dogmas decreed in his name, and the sociopolitical structures that maintain the status quo.

From what I have said, it should now be clear why in saying 10 Jesus announces, “I have thrown fire on the world. Look! I watch it until it blazes.” The “fire” that Jesus has thrown–and is constantly throwing on the world–is the fire of a revolutionary transcendent and immanent knowledge and love that menaces all the world’s political, social, economic, and religious hierarchies and elite, and all their self-serving justifications for keeping a vicious and unjust set of structures in place. The Jesus of Thomas is not the tender, often ethereal victim, or the suffering servant; he is the most fiery-eyed of revolutionaries, a being who knows he has discovered the nuclear secret of a new, potentially all-transforming power of love-in-action, and he is committed to seeing that its unleashing upon the world and transfiguration of the fire of its truth and laws take place.

In saying 71, he announces cryptically, “I will destroy this house”; scholars have taken him to mean that either he will bring down the Tem­ple with all its elite and hierarchy and business policies throughout a revelation of a direct egalitarian vision of human divinity, or that he is pledged to destroying the House of Herod that is currently “defiling” the house of David. These are entirely too limiting and local interpretations of the enterprise of Jesus. The Jesus of Thomas is not a peacemaker; he is an incendiary of love, a pyromaniac of divine passion, announcing the laws of a transformed world and of the enormous struggles, sacrifices, and sufferings, both internal and external, necessary to engender it.

As he pro­claims in saying 16, “People think, perhaps, that I have come to throw peace upon the world. They don’t know that I have come to throw disagreement upon the world, and fire, and sword, and struggle.”

Jesus has far too mordant an understanding of ruthlessness and cor­ruption not to realize that only divine violence can end human violence­– only a sacred violence of utter abandon to God and utter commitment to transformation can dissolve the human violence that keeps the world sunk in degradation. Not only does Jesus know this, but he faces its necessity and lives it out in the extremity of his own life; he is fully aware that his knowledge of the laws of the birth of the Kingdom threatened all previous human accommodations to the way of the world; after his very first public sermon, the Gospel of Matthew tells us, occasional attempts on his life were made.

Unlike many of the gurus and so-called teachers of our time, whose vague transcendental waffling further drugs an already comatose culture and leaves every aspect of the status quo intact, Jesus’ vision of the new way was rooted not only in visionary ecstasy but in an utterly illusionless and ruthless analysis of power in all of its aspects. This is what made him–and makes him–dangerous, perpetually scandalous, and what makes the Gospel of Thomas a fiery challenge, not only to less incendiary versions of his own message, but to all philosophers who do not propose a complex mystical revolution on every level.

Jesus risked such an almost alienating fervor and uncompromising urgency of address not merely because he understood that the Kingdom could not be birthed by any less absolute passion, but because he knew too, from the majesty and astonishment of his own experience, that empowerment on a scale as yet undreamed of awaited any being radical enough to accept and risk the terms of transformation he was proposing. Anyone who reads the Gospel of Thomas with an open mind and awakened heart will realize that what Jesus was trying to create was not an eth­ical or sociopolitical revolution alone; he was attempting to birth a fully divine human race, a race of beings as radically alive and aware as he was himself.

In saying 108, he makes this clear: “Jesus said: He who drinks from my mouth will become like I am, and I will become he. And the hid­den things will be revealed to him.”

Divinized  Human Beings

It is in saying 13, however, that the fullest vision of how Jesus wished to empower others is given:

“Jesus asked his disciples: Make a comparison; what am I like? Simon Peter replied: You are like a righteous messenger. Matthew replied: You are like an intelligent lover of wisdom. Thomas replied: Teacher, I cannot possibly say what you are like. Jesus said to Thomas: I am not your teacher; you have drunk from and become intoxicated from the bubbling water that I poured out. Jesus took Thomas and they with­drew. Jesus said three things to him. When Thomas returned to the other disciples, they asked him: What did Jesus tell you? Thomas replied: If I tell you even one of the sayings that he told me, you would pick up stones and throw them at me, and fire would come out of those stones and burn you up.”

This is one of the most permanently astonishing of all of the sayings of Thomas, and nothing like it is found in any of the synoptic gospels. What makes saying 13 so clear is that what Jesus most wanted was to set others on fire with the same fire that he himself had ignited with Thomas, so that they, like him, could be divinized. Thomas is the one disciple in the saying who does not have a tidy and dead category through which to express his understanding of Jesus. Thomas has become a “finder” and so is bewildered and astonished: “Teacher, I cannot possi­bly say what you are like.” One last block remains to Thomas’s true understanding of Jesus and who and what he is. Thomas’s own reverence of Jesus as “teacher,” a reverence, however beautiful and justified, that acts as a subtle distancing force from the full outrageousness of the truth. That full outrageousness Jesus proceeds with his usual nakedness to uncover: “I am not your teacher, you have drunk from and become intox­icated from the bubbling water that I have poured out.” Jesus recognizes that Thomas has allowed himself not merely to try to follow him, but has risked everything by getting drunk from the “bubbling water” of divine knowledge and divine passion that Jesus has poured out for him, and in so doing, he has become like Jesus himself, one with him and one with his fiery source.

The next saying is my favorite as it speaks to the state of transmutation of consciousness to the state of Oneness. It also speaks of the Healing Field which holds the patterns of perfect design for the body temple.

“Jesus saw infants being suckled. He said to his disciples: These infants taking milk are like those who enter the Kingdom. His disciples asked him: If we are infants will we enter the Kingdom? Jesus responded: When you make the two into one, and when you make the inside like the outside and the outside like the inside, and the upper like the lower and the lower like the upper, and thus make the male and the female the same, so that the male isn’t male and the female isn’t female. When you make an eye to replace an eye, and a hand to replace a hand, and a foot to replace a foot, and an image to replace an image, then you will enter the Kingdom.”

Imaging is an essential aspect of creativity, as well as healing. One is functioning in the kingdom of heaven when working with one’s consciousness in holding an image of perfection of form. “As above, so below. As below, so above.” The alchemy of holistic healing is what Jesus worked with in his “miracles.”

There are four interlinked truths about saying 22 that I would like to unravel here, for they each illustrate another aspect of Jesus’ vision of “Kingdom-consciousness” and, taken together, provide the fullest guide­line we have to its implementation and power.

First, we see” Kingdom-consciousness” in the child, born from a mar­riage of opposites–of transcendence and immanence, heart and mind, soul and body, masculine and feminine. The freedom and mastery of this Divine Child consciousness transcends all known categories, prepares a wholly new birth in every dimension, and brings the seeker into unity with the One in all its aspects and potential.

Second, we see the agency of this transformation in the motherhood of God, the Divine Feminine. This is quite clear from the image of infants sucking at the breast, through which Jesus is trying to make us aware of how important is the embodied Godhead, the Mother aspect of God, and how important it is to the kind of transformation he wants. Only those who have awoken to the kingdom within and without as the embodied God­head will be able to view life and Creation and all the workings of the uni­verse with the kind of abandon and trust that will allow them to be fed directly by God, with all the powers of vision and action they need. Without a restoration to the Christian mysticism of Jesus’ own full celebration of the Divine Feminine, the “Kingdom-consciousness” cannot and will not be born.

The third truth that saying 22 reveals is the order of the transfor­mations that have to be undergone by every seeker if the” Kingdom­-consciousness” is to be realized. The first recognition–when you make the two into one–describes the first major inner revelation of the divine consciousness, that of the impotence of all dualistic concepts to begin to describe Reality. This is followed by the opening of the heart center
(known as the heart-chakra in Hinduism, Sufism, and Buddhism), which dissolves all distinction of inner and outer in a living vision of all things burning in divine light. This in turn leads to the collapse of all previously useful categories of high and low, sacred and profane, through the reve­llation of presence in all things, events, actions, and possibilities–what in Hinduism and Buddhism is known as the Tantric revelation of Nirvana as Samaras, of the world of appearance as being essentially one with Absolute Reality and saturated at all moments with divinity.

The combination of an experience of all three linked revelations leads to the alchemical fusion within the seeker of masculine and feminine, and so to the mutual trans­formation of the” masculine” powers of will, order, logic, and strength, by the “feminine” powers of compassion, sensitivity, and reverence for all life. That engenders a new kind of being, the Divine Child or Sacred Androgyne who, like the Divine itself, is beyond category and able to use transformed feminine and masculine powers in whatever combination is called for in the actual situation. Such a being” reigns” over reality in the name of and with some of the actual miraculous powers of the Divine itself.

Such passionate words resonate at deep levels in the heart, where spiritual things are spiritually discerned and understood. I will share the fourth interlinked truth in my Easter Sunday post. As we move into the Easter Season, my focus will be on the passion, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus as Michael Baigent presents these events in his book. Until my next post, then,

Be love. Be loved.

Anthony

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The “Jesus of History” Vs the “Jesus of Faith” part 4:1 – The Kingdom of Heaven

“Jesus said: ‘The seeker should not stop until he finds. When he does find, he will be disturbed. After having been disturbed, he will be astonished. Then he will reign over everything.’ (The Gospel of Thomas)

The Gospel of Thomas, a product of Egyptian Christianity, was one of the collections of codices found at Nag Hammadi in 1945, now popularly called the “Gnostic Gospels.” Gnostic Christianity was considered heretical since the second century. Thomas, however, was not a Gnostic. Harvard Professor Helmut Koester, along with many other scholars, feel strongly that this gospel should be included in the canon of the new Testament. It isn’t for one reason only: it exposes the deception of Christianity which bought into the Egyptian tradition that heaven–the “Far-World”–was a place to visit while we live and eventually go to when you die. Thomas proclaims in his Gospel the revolutionary teaching of Jesus that “The kingdom of heaven is within you and outside of you.” In other words, it is not somewhere up there but right here on earth, and one does not need the Church with its creeds and dogmas to get there.

In his provocative book The Jesus Papers–Exposing the Greatest Cover-Up in History, Michael Baigent presents the Gospel of Thomas as the contrast to Zealot Christianity that it is.

. . . it is clear that its information comes from a hidden tradition that was passed only to a special few; as its opening sentence states, “These are the secret sayings which the living Jesus spoke and which Didymus Judas Thomas wrote down. . . . It gives fresh information about the “kingdom”–or “the Kingdom of the Father.” Jesus’ disciples ask “When will the new world come?” Jesus replies “What you look forward to has already come, but you do not recognize it. . . . The Kingdom of the Father is spread out upon the earth and men do not see it.”

In the Gospel of Mary of Magdala, another text found at Nag Hammadi, Jesus is recorded to have issued “a warning against looking for physical evidence of the kingdom of heaven. . . . The translator, Professor Karen King of the Harvard University Divinity School, has used a nonstandard expression to replace ‘Son of Man’–she uses ‘child of humanity,’ which is probably a better phrase, avoiding, as it does, the sectarian and dogmatic baggage; for similar reasons she replaces ‘kingdom’ with ‘Realm’ . . . .  ‘Be on your guard,’ says Jesus, ‘so that no one deceives you by saying “Look over here!” or “Look over there!” For the child of true Humanity exists within you. Follow it! Those who search for it will find it. Go then, preach the good news about the Realm.'”

Mary Magdalene was not liked by the apostle Peter simply because she was a woman and “unworthy of the life,” as he said of her to the other disciples, some of whom were irritated by her closeness to Jesus, who favored her over the other disciples, kissing her often on the lips. Peter is recorded by Mary Magdalene as saying “Sister, we know that the Savior loved you more than all the other women. Tell us the words of the Savior that you remember, the things which you know that we don’t because we haven’t heard them.” As it turns out, Mary Magdalene had received secrete teachings from Jesus. She replies to Peter “I will teach you about what is hidden from you.” This irritated several of the disciples who began to doubt that Jesus ever said secrete words to her and not to them, that he even spoke to a woman in private without them knowing. “Are we to turn around and listen to her? Did he choose her over us?” Peter demands to know.

The disciple Levi defends Mary: “Assuredly the Savior’s knowledge of her is completely reliable. That is why he loved her more than us.” Baigent goes on to conclude that Jesus “taught secrete doctrines that concerned the passing over to the kingdom of heaven–a metaphor, as I have noted, for the concept described by the ancient Egyptians as the Far-World, or by the Greeks variously as the land of the Blessed or the Netherworld. All depict the divine world. The disciple of Jesus who understood his teaching the best was Mary Magdalene….”

It was Mary Magdalene who anointed Jesus with precious oils days before his royal entrance into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. She alone knew the significance of this ritual anointing, an important aspect of which is that it be performed “by someone who understands what is being done, and by one who can participate in recognizing the messiah–for the anointment is just the final act of a longer process, the details of which have not been recorded in the Gospels.” Baigent concludes this chapter with these words of appraisal of the Catholic Church:

No wonder the power brokers of Rome wanted to exclude knowledge of this sacred path as well as knowledge of these additional gospels. Unfortunately–for them–they could do nothing about the Gospels that later became the New Testament except to control the interpretation of them–to control the “spin.” The conceit, of course, is that some theologians with attitude presume to understand hundreds, perhaps a thousand or two years later, what the writers meant better than they did themselves. Why ever have we believed this for so long?

Although there were always scholars and commentators who saw through the spin, it is only in recent times that the manipulation and error have come so much to the fore in public. But so far, particularly in the ornate halls of the Vatican, nothing has changed. Power prefers spin to truth.

“Kingdom-Consciousness”

Andrew Harvey, series editor of Steven Davies’ 2002 release, The Gospel of Thomas – Annotated & Explained, writes eloquently and passionately about this Gospel.  He describes the character of Jesus and his revolutionary vision for the world with such authenticity that one might think he knew Jesus personally. I will share much of his foreword in two posts simply because it articulates so well the “alternative” I promised to offer at the start of this series–as well as the primary purpose of Jesus’ mission and ministry. He speaks of a “kingdom-consciousness.”

The Gospel of Thomas is, I believe, the clearest guide we  have to the vision of the world’s supreme mystical revolutionary, the teacher known as Jesus. To those who learn to unpack its sometimes cryptic sayings, the Gospel of Thomas offers a naked and dazzlingly subversive representation of Jesus’ defining and most radical discovery: that the living Kingdom of God burns in us and surrounds us in the glory at all moments, and the vast and passionate love-consciousness–what you might call “Kingdom­-consciousness” –can help birth it into reality. This discovery is the spiritual equivalent of Albert Einstein’s and J. Robert Oppenheimer’s uncovering of the potential of nuclear fission; it makes available to all humanity a wholly new level of sacred power. By fusing together a vision of God’s divine world with a knowledge of how this divine world could emerge into and transfigure the human one, the Gospel of Thomas makes clear that Jesus discovered the alchemical secret of transformation that could have permanently altered world history, had it been implemented with the passion and on the scale that Jesus knew was possible. Its betrayal by the churches erected in Jesus’ name has been an unmitigated disaster, one major rea­son for our contemporary catastrophe.

Unlike the Buddha, or Krishna, or any of the Eastern sages whose wis­dom of transcendent knowledge left fundamentally intact the status quo of a world often characterized as illusory, the Jesus we see in the Gospel of Thomas saw and knew this world as the constant epiphany of the divine Kingdom and knew too that a wholly new world could be created by divine beings, once they had seen this and allowed themselves to be transformed and empowered as he was, by divine wisdom, ecstasy, and energy. What Jesus woke up to and proceeded to enact with the fiercest and most gloriously imaginable intensity was this new life of “Kingdom­-consciousness,” not as a savior and not as a guru claiming unique status and truth–the Gospel of Thomas makes this very clear–but as a sign of what is possible for all human beings who dare to awaken to the potential splendor of their inner truth and the responsibilities for total transformation of the world that it then inspires within them.

Jesus’ full revolutionary vision in all its outrageousness, grandeur, and radical passion is to be discovered in a close reading of the Gospel of Thomas. The greatest of the sayings are like the equations of physicists Werner Heisenberg or Niels Bohr–complex but intensely lucid expositions in mystical and yogic terms of the laws and potential of a new reality, an endlessly dynamic and fecund reality created by our illusory perceptions and their sterile hunger for separation, division, and stasis.

What I have discovered on my own journey into the increasingly challenging understanding of “Kingdom-consciousness” is that as I continue to uncover and develop in my own depths the “fire” that Jesus speaks of in the Gospel of Thomas, reading the sayings by the brilliant light of this “fire” becomes even more astonishing. The sayings expand in radiance, significance, and reach as I expand my own awareness of divinity and of the powers available to all those who dare to risk trans­formation.

What I want to offer here is a linked reading of seven of the sayings that have most inspired me. Through this linked reading, I hope to open up to seekers everywhere the full glory, as far as I understand it now, of what Jesus is trying to communicate through the Gospel of Thomas, not just to Christians but to the whole of humanity. Let us begin with saying 2:

“Jesus said: The seeker should not stop until he finds. When he does find, he will be disturbed. After having been disturbed, he will be astonished. Then he will reign over everything.”

This saying suggests that the Jesus who is speaking in the Gospel of Thomas is not presenting himself as a Messiah with a unique realization and a unique status of mediator. This Jesus–for me, the authentic Jesus–is like the Buddha, a human being who was awakened to the full glory of his inner divinity and so knows the secret of every human being and hungers to reveal it to change the world. The life to which this Jesus is inviting everyone is not one of endless seeking, but one of finding­–finding the truth and power of human divinity by risking everything to uncover them.

From his own harrowing experience, Jesus knows that finding cannot be without suffering; to find out the truth and power of your inner divinity is to be “disturbed”: disturbed by the gap between your human shadow and its dark games, the abyss of light within; disturbed by the price that any authentic transformation cannot help but demand; disturbed by the grandeur you are beginning to glimpse of your real royal nature with all its burden of responsibility and solitude. Jesus knows too, how­ever, that if you risk this disturbance and surrender to the unfolding of your divine nature, extraordinary visions will be awoken in you–visions that will astound you and drag you into what the Sufi mystics call the “kingdom of bewilderment” that “placeless place” where everything you have imagined to be true about yourself or about humanity is rubbed by the splendor of what you discover. And from this increasingly astonishing self-discovery, tremendous powers to influence and transform reality will be born in you. Just as unprecedented energy is unleashed by the splitting of an atom, so through the “splitting” of human identity to reveal the divine identity within it, a huge new transforming power is born, a ruling power, the power that great saints and sages have displayed through gifts of healing, miracles, and undaunted stamina of sacred passion and sacrifice. The seeker that becomes a finder and ruler makes a leap in evolutionary development from human being, unconscious of the Divine hidden within him or her, to an empowered divine human being, capable in and under the Divine of flooding reality with the glory of the Kingdom. To reveal this secret, live it out, and release it in all its radical power, to make “finders” and rulers of us all, is why the Jesus of the Gospel of Thomas lived and preached and died.

I will share more of Andrew Harvey’s foreword in my next post. We are headed toward Holy Week and the Easter Season in the Christian world during which I will bring this series to its climatic conclusion with a provocative scenario of the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus, a drama that forms the very foundation of the Christian Faith. Until then,

Be love. Be loved.

Anthony

I invite you to visit my HealthLight Newsletter blog at LiftingTones.com.

 

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