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Showing posts from 2010

Happy Holidays

I hope everyone has a Happy Yule/Christmas!  The Gospel of Thomas says that there is light within the person of light.  Let your light shine like the star of Bethlehem in the old old story.  That this world may be a better place.

Winter Solstice

Tuesday is the night of the Winter Solstice and a Lunar Eclipse. The last time this has happened was 456 years ago.

Over the past few months I have grown in my appreciation of the solstices and equinoxes. They seem almost to be natural holidays. My friend Shilo have talked of ways to bring a celebration of these days into our lives. (Hi Shilo!)

The Winter Solstice is the longest night of the year. Winter is a time of introspection for me as is. Perhaps being cooped up in the house more leads to that. Knowing the year is wrapping up, I reflect on it. Have I grown? Was I a good person? Have I made the world a better place?

So the winter solstice reminds me of the times of darkness in my life. It reminds me of the times in my life where I have experienced intense suffering. It carries a promise. The promise is that even when suffering feels endless or I see my same faults creep up again and again, that it will pass. Everything changes. The light of gnosis and grace will shin…

Yippee!

Today marks the end of my work year. I will go back to work in January. I hope to make the most of the time by working on those jobs I have neglected at other times. Also catch up on a bit of reading.

Winter

This is one of my favorite times of the year. Along with Fall, Winter just utterly and completely inspires me and leaves me in awe. I can step out and touch a tree and fill the Spirit in all things living in and as the tree. I can feel it in the coldness on my cheeks from the winds. Winter for me is a hallowed time. Next Tuesday is the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year. Take a moment to thank the universe for the dark times but also for getting through them often transformed. Pray for those still going through them. Make this season sacred.
Jesus said, "How miserable is the body that depends on a body, and how miserable is the soul that depends on these two." Gospel of Thomas 87

Katy Perry-Firework and the Gospel of Thomas

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"When you know yourselves, then you will be known, and you will understand that you are children of the Father of LIFE. But if you do not know yourselves, then you live in poverty, and you are the poverty." Gospel of Thomas 3

Advent

The first Sunday of Advent was yesterday.  I love Advent.  It is one of those times that is often neglected, but can be truly beautiful and powerful.  It is a time of waiting, a time of watching.   To sit and do nothing else but look at/wait on the Lord.  Where can I see God?  The Gospel of Thomas says the light is within all people and all things.  For me that means I see God in the children, the trees, my family and loved ones...and if I look closely and do not neglect to look...I can see God in the sick, the sorrowful, and the hurting.  God can come in any form, and Advent reminds me to be aware and to serve God in whatever disguise God takes.

Thomasine Order of the Way

On Friday, November 19, 2010, Sister Shilo and I took final vows within the Thomasine Order of the Way aka the Thomasine Friars(link to the side of this blog).  These vows were witnessed by Bishop Mansell Gilmore.  These final vows have brought together the exploring of what it means to be a Thomasine in a vital lifestyle.  I am so thankful for this.  This is the culmination of my own private vows that more and more sought expression in community.How I am living out these vows is in ministry in my own local church.  Server, Lector, Acolyte, Contemplative Prayer Group leader.  But yet this is not enough...I also serve in offering free tutoring to kids in poverty, run a community garden in a low income neighborhood, and try to live like a twin of Jesus (failing often).  Pray for me that I may fulfill my vows daily.

I Need A Hole To Crawl In

Jesus said, "The foxes have their dens and the birds have their nests, but people have no place to lay down and rest." Gospel of Thomas 86

In the mainstream Gospels, this saying is about Jesus and that he was homeless.  But the Gospel of Thomas traces this saying not about Jesus so much as about us.  Humanity has nowhere to rest. Our rest is not in this world.  Our rest can only be found in the divine, in the spiritual.  A life without the spiritual is one clinging to attachments and not to anything eternal.

Adam....Where is Your Leaf?

Jesus said, "Adam came from immense power and wealth, but he wasn't worthy of you. If he was worthy, he wouldn't have tasted death." Gospel of Thomas 85

Adam came from God, and yet he chose to fall into ignorance.  The death is the blindness of the soul to that of the spirit.  He forgot where he came from, and who he was.  The practice of this way is not easy.  It is much easier to fall into ignorance again and again.  What a challenge to keep this fire going day and night.  Only those who pursue this gnosis will taste of it.  One need not convert to my religion or any particular religion to know this gnosis.  However one must do the work and be met by grace that changes everything about you.  The fruit of this is compassion.

Looking in God's Mirror

Jesus said, "When you see your likeness, you are thrilled. But when you see the image of you that came into being before you were born and that does not die nor become visible, how much you will have to deal with!"   Gospel of Thomas 84

Jesus here speaks of an us that existed before we were born.  This Self does not die either.  I believe Jesus is speaking about the Self (capital S) also known as the Spirit.  This is not to be confused with the soul -which is made up of the mind, will, and emotions.  The mind, will, and emotions are transient.  They change and develop.  They will pass away.  But there is something beyond that.  The challenge of Jesus in the Gospel of Thomas is to use the soul...to align the soul with the spirit.  Use your mind, will and emotions to direct itself to the Spirit of Life within.  This is our true self...our true image.  And when we see that...when we truly see that light within we will be forever changed.  Nothing will ever be the same again.  In…

Hiding

I see you Beloved...
hiding in the laughter of a child.
in the prick of a thorn on the skin
in the stranger walking by on the street.
Do not hide yourself any longer.
I know you are there...
Though I only glimpse your light...
Even this is enough
Though having tasted
I want more.
Do not hide.

I Found God in that Rock Over Yonder!

Jesus said, "Images are able to be seen by people, but the light within them is hidden in the image of the Father's light. He will be disclosed, but his image is hidden by his light."  Gospel of Thomas 83

The world we see hides the light of God.  Some argue that this light is trapped in matter...others say it fills matter.  In my opinion, that is just theological bickering, such as how many angels can fit on the head of a pin.  I simply don't care.  I tend to be an optimist and thus lean toward a more panentheistic stance, but if it is the latter it will not shatter my beliefs or theological systems.  But rather it is interesting what is said here.  God's light is within the images of things.  The flowers, the birds, the pleasant things, the unpleasant things.  We can see that light.  In fact, I think we are challenged to see that light.  We will not see the fullness of God for that would be too much to comprehend or bear but we can see that light.  Take time toda…

Flaming Jesus!

Jesus said, "Anyone who is near me is near the fire, and whoever is far from me is far from the kingdom."  Gospel of Thomas 82

Here Jesus speaks very much akin to a type of Guru or Eastern Teacher.  Once one takes Jesus (or Isa as he is called in the east) as ones teacher...one seeks to become like that teacher.  Thus that is why you have verses in the New Testament about counting the cost first...you even have such sayings in the Gospel of Thomas.  If you choose to become a disciple or student of Jesus, you agree to wear his yoke.  His way is not a totally do it yourself way... This is no different from Buddha, Krishna, or even the traditional role of a rabbi in Judaism (see this link for some great info:  Covered in the Dust of Your Rabbi: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DswAPdgfRMs ) 

To come near the teacher is to come near to God...to come near to the fire.  I believe this is why Jesus has us become his twin.  Jesus the messenger of God, the awakened one wants to guide an…

Power Over/Internal Power

Jesus said, "Let one who has become wealthy reign, and let one who has power renounce that power."   Gospel of Thomas 81

It is hard to fathom that my meditation on the saying of Jesus is on the downward slope.  81 sayings and only 33 to go.  And through these meditations, I am aware of an interior deepening within me.  The GoT has become a life spring to my spirit, even as I go back and meditate on a passage, every time it deepens.  This saying deals with power and wealth...and yet I believe the power and wealth that a disciple of Jesus should seek is not that of this world.  It is not a power over others.  Rather it is a type of internal strength...and power within.  One who has become wealthy in this power...through meditation, contemplation, and other spiritual practices..they will reign as they have learned to truly see things as they are.  Those who has learned to reign through the ways of the world, they are called to humility and even a renouncing of the power over.  I…

This Sack of Meat

Jesus said, "Whoever has come to know the world has found a corpse, and whoever has found this corpse, of that one the world is not worthy." Gospel of Thomas 80

This saying is problematic for many people.  Many people assume that Jesus is speaking of the physical world.  I don't accept this as he says in another saying that split a piece of wood or lift a rock and Jesus is there.  I think that the world is filled with the light of God.  So how do I interpret this?  I believe that Jesus  is speaking the systems of the world.  The systems that oppress, neglect, and hold power over others.  Jesus is calling his students out of these systems.  He shows a new way of living...of power within rather than power over.  Of a kingdom of lovers, rather than lords and masters.

Breast Feeding and Other Matters of Spirit

A woman in the crowd said to Jesus, "How blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts that fed you." Jesus replied, "Blessed instead are those who have heard the word of the Father and have truly kept it. For there will be days when you will say, 'Blessed are the womb that has not conceived and the breasts that have not given milk.'" Gospel of Thomas 79

In this saying, Jesus puts down any specialness about himself or his mother.  Instead, he suggests that those who hear God are the ones who are blessed.  How do we hear God?  How do we have ears to hear that still small voice?  I believe the best way to know yourself and to hear God is through meditation and contemplation.  It is only in silence that the voice of God can be heard.  It is only in meditation that we learn to observe the mind and lay aside distraction after distraction like peeling away layers of an onion. When we have done the work then over time we come to know ourselves and God for we ar…

Wisdom Teacher, Guru, Dharma Teacher

A strange shift in my consciousness has occurred in my meditation on the Gospel of Thomas.  I am now better able to appreciate Jesus.  I am able to see him as wisdom teacher, a guru, or dharma master.  Like the Buddha, he attained realization of who he was, where he came from and what the nature of reality is.  We don't know when exactly when it happened, however stories grew around it...was it at his birth?  Was he born awakened?  Perhaps at age 12 or 13?  His immersion in the sacred river Jordan?  His time in the wilderness?  We really do not know, and yet we know he awakened.  His dharma or teaching is similar to that of the gurus of India or the Buddha and his students.  Yet it is distinctly his.  He takes students/disciples and seeks to teach them the way to awaken to this knowledge (gnosis).  Many of them are slow at realizing.  Like the Buddha he rejects some of the ways of his birth religion.  He is no longer bound by it.  He has transcended it...he will use what is helpfu…

Meditation

Well I survived my first week of increasing the intensiveness of my spiritual practice.  I have started getting up at 5am, perform a simple puja and sit in meditation for 30 minutes.  After that I do spiritual reading.   Then after I get home from work, I sit for another 30 minutes.   Then one more set of puja and meditating for 30 minutes before bed.  My mind is the most focused at 5am.  My sleepiest time seems to be the afternoon meditation.   

I know it takes 21-22 days to form a habit.  Two more weeks to go!

The Same Message

He who has known that all beings have become one with his own self, and she that has seen the oneness of existence, what sorrow and what delusion can overwhelm such a one?  Isa Upanishad

When you know yourselves, then you will be known, and you will understand that you are children of the living Father. But if you do not know yourselves, then you live in poverty, and you are the poverty."  Gospel of Thomas 2

Vedanta and the Gospel of Thomas

I am convinced that the Gospel of Thomas is a wisdom text.  More and more as I meditate on the words of the text, I see how Jesus speaks in the role of a an enlightened man.  He challenges his disciples to know themselves and through knowing themselves they come to know God who is within them and all things.  For Jesus the guru, the kingdom is not in some heaven out there but rather is found within.  I spent three years with a guru, and recognize the teachings really are the same.  Jesus may very well have had contact with those from the east.  He could have traveled there with his family as a child.  Whatever the case, I am firmly convinced that Jesus spoke as a spiritual master for the liberation of those who followed his teaching.  He came from God, and called us as an elder brother to help us know the life and saving knowledge of God he himself knew.

Thomasine Universalism

One of the things I love about the modern Thomasine path is that it is truly universalist.  It does not try to set up a religion but allows the individual to follow the religion of his or her choice (or not to be religious as well).  The primary message is that we came from the light.  We are all sons and daughters of God.  In knowing ourselves, we will begin to know God.  This worlds systems are corrupt and dehumanizing, so protect your brother or sister like the pupil of your eye.  Belief in the divinity of Jesus or any of the stories told about him (his miracles, virgin birth, sacrifice etc.) are not required and yet allowed if one so believes in these things.  So by all means there could be Jewish Thomasines, Quaker Thomasines, Muslim Thomasines, Neo-Pagan Thomasines, Christian Thomasines...  The Gospel of Thomas, in my humble opinion is a truly universalist text!

My Personal Conclusion

I had really been wrestling with something that will be of little interest to those of you who are not Thomasines.  In many ways it is a completely minor matter and not at all central to the message of the Gospel of Thomas, but has been something that haunted me.  The matter is the issue of who is Jesus in the Gospel of Thomas.  Is he just a man?  a prophet or messenger of God?  Is he Divine?  Like a sticker that gets under the skin it has brought my attention back to it again and again.  My personal bias is that I WANTED to be a Oneness Thomasine.  I believed and still do that believe in One God allows for some common ground with other faiths that also affirm one God.  However I would come across sayings that made Jesus sound divine.  They would speak of his pre-existence, himself as the light, and with an authority that almost seemed divine.  At other times he speaks as a human, reminding them there will be a time when he is not going to be around, that he too is surrendered to the …

Oneness/Trinitarian Thomasines

I wanted to post here a couple more types of Thomasines. However they could fall within either the monachos or the ecclesial spectrum. Keep in mind that regardless of these differences in the descriptions I use (monachos/ecclesial/oneness/trinitarian) that they are one family. The differences do not keep them from wonderful discussions and recognizing each others as brothers and sisters in the faith. In fact, by the end of this post, I think you will see the differences are very minor and minuscule indeed.


Oneness Thomasines are strict monotheists. They believe in one God in the way their Jewish and Muslim brothers and sisters do. God is not divided into a trinity but is simply one God. This God could be called Father or Mother but in reality these are just terms of affection. They believe Jesus was a man, perhaps a messenger, perhaps a prophet but still a man who awakened...much like the Buddha. They follow Jesus as their spiritual teacher and seek to live by his words in the Gospel o…

Hey Buddy, Got a Dime?

Jesus said, "Why did you come out to the countryside? Did you think you would see a reed shaken by the wind? Perhaps to see a person dressed in soft clothes, like the rulers and the ones in authority? They are dressed in soft clothes, and yet they cannot understand truth." Gospel of Thomas 78

This saying is very similar to the one said in the mainstream gospels though in them Jesus was talking about John the Baptist.  However in this gospel it is implied that Jesus may have been speaking about himself.  In this saying Jesus is reminding us that the wrapper does not tell us the deliciousness of the candy.  There are folks with shiny suits, nice cars and beautiful looks who will make you feel like a million bucks and perfectly validated who are poison to the soul.  There are those who are the rejects of the world that may have realized the truth and if we are not careful, may ignore in favor of the bright shiny lights.

Hey! That Rock is My Dad!

Jesus said, "I am the light that is above all things. I am the all: from me all came forth, and to me all attained. Split a piece of wood; I am there. Lift up the stone, and you will find me there."  Gospel of Thomas 77

This saying became famous due it being quoted repeatedly in the movie Stigmata.   There are two possible interpretations on this (and probably many more but I only know these two).  For some ecclesia Thomasines they would point to this as part of their understanding of a high Christology.  They would see Jesus speaking as divine.   I personally would argue more from the monachos (Oneness) Thomasines.  Jesus is speaking from his recognition of union with God.  We are all sparks of God.  We came from God, and are his children.  However we share the nature of our Father.  And thus are called back to merge back into the All which is God.  Jesus was one person who realized this.  Thomas was too, thus was Jesus twin.  We all too are called to the same thing.  This r…

Buy Your Stuff Here!

Jesus said, "The Kingdom of the Father is like a store owner who had a supply of merchandise and found a pearl. That merchant was wise; he sold his merchandise and bought the single pearl for himself. So you also, seek God's treasure that does not fail, that endures, where no moth comes to eat and no worm destroys." Gospel of Thomas 76

There is a spark of God in you and me.  In fact, that is one of the things I love about being a Thomasine.  There is no separation between me an other people.  I can honor and see that same Holy Spirit within us all.  However Jesus, our elder brother on this journey, reminds us that this pearl is hidden and must be uncovered.  This is done by contemplation, knowing yourself and loving your brother or sister like the pupil of your eye.  These three are not really separate things at all.  In contemplation and meditation we sit with God....basking in the light of our loving Father.  From this light we are better able to know ourselves, as the …

Listening at the Bridal Chamber Door!

Jesus said, "There are many standing at the door, but those who are alone will enter the bridal suite." Gospel of Thomas 75

Our union is not with another person, a church, or organization.  It is not with a religion.  Our union which is offered freely to any who want it, is with the Beloved.  With God.  The Beloved waits in the bridal chamber for us.  The one who has attained the ability to seek and love the Beloved will be ready to shed off the clothes of the ego and enter the revelation of union and Oneness.

Like saying 74, (see previous post), there are those standing around.  But apparently there are very few who will fetch the water or enter the bridal chamber.  May we have the grace to receive this.
Jesus said, "God, there are many around the drinking trough, but there is no water in the well."  Gospel of Thomas 74

What is interesting about this saying is that it is an example of Jesus praying.  This is one of those sayings that can be meditated on daily for a month and one may only scratch the surface of meaning.  There are many around the drinking trough.  So many are spiritually thirsty, both in and outside organized religion.  I have belonged to churches who simply want to be a bit of a social club or committed to a certain social justice issues but does little or nothing for those who want to go deeper into spiritual matters.  I ask myself...what is the point?  My compassion and passion for social justice stems from a living relationship with God.  Otherwise I would burn out quickly.  There are also people who dig shallow wells here and there, looking into a multitude of religions and spiritualities, but they don't stay long, finding reasons to move on.  They di…

Let's Race To The Fields!

Jesus said, "The crop is huge but there are so few who will work, so plead with the one in charge of harvesting to dispatch the workers to the fields." Gospel of Thomas 73 

I remember when I was first learning to try to live the message of the Gospel of Thomas, that I asked person after person what it meant.  I read commentary after commentary.  I felt like a man dying of thirst in the desert.  The next stage was where I would venture interpretations of the scriptures but then quickly seek validation for it through books and others more learned for myself.  Sadly, the Gospel of Thomas is not so well known to have many teachers or guides.  Even fewer are those who make the GoT their primary scripture.  I believe that its message is life changing and many people would find their lives a better place if they would know of it.  The GoT does not condemn ANY person.  Each person is a son or daughter of God.  We are called to do the work to realize and live that.  The kingdom of Go…

The In-Between Places

A man spoke to Jesus saying, "Tell my brothers to divide my father's possessions with me."
He said to the man, "Sir, who designated me to be a divider?"
He turned to his followers and said to them, "I'm not a divider, am I?"  Gospel of Thomas 72

This is one of the most comical sayings in the Gospel of Thomas.  Jesus whose whole message is becoming one and union, is being asked to divide and be judge.  Jesus points out that this is not why he has come.  In a very real way he is shirking the idea of himself as messiah.  In Judaism the Messiah would be a king like David who would rule the nation of Israel, free them from oppressors and rule with justice.  Jesus however seeks not this role but that of a teacher...a guide.  To follow Jesus in the Gospel of Thomas is to enter those in-between places...where things are not easy spoken or explained.  The disciples of this rabbi don't fit fully here nor there.  The original Jewish disciples seemed to no…

Burning Down the House!

Jesus said, "I will destroy this house, and no one will be able to build it."  Gospel of Thomas 71

The gospels in the New Testament have this saying in conjunction to the Temple and as a foreshadowing of Jesus crucifixion and resurrection.  Yet I want to throw out another idea...one of many which could be made from meditating on this saying.  We came into this world unprogrammed.  As a baby or young child, we did not care what brand our clothes were, what color our friends were, or anything like that.  But as we grow older, we learn to distinguish this from that....I want this and I do not want that.  We buy into the worldly system that makes our lives and often the lives of others a living hell.  We are idiots buying into the commercialization of brand names and wanting more and more and more.  What if the spiritual life is tearing down that buildup of brainwashing we are participants in?  What if the house we destroy is our buying into a system that dehumanizes us, those ar…

Thomas Gospel Dervishes, sung by Catherine Braslavsky

Catherine Braslavsky group in concert at the Satellit' Café, broadcast on French TV 3/08. Music by Joseph Rowe, words of Yeshua from the Gospel of Thomas:


"Split the wood, I am there; turn over a stone, and you will find me."

The Curse of the Shiny Things!

Jesus said, "If you bring forth what is deep within you, what you draw up will free you. If you do not recognize that within you, what you do not have within you destroy you."  Gospel of Thomas 70

There is an old tale I heard that to distract a fairy from cursing you, offer it something shiny.  It is the way of so many of us to chase after the latest shiny thing, to totally involve ourselves with it and then when another shiny comes our way, we chase after it.  Thus we dig all these shallow wells, instead of digging deep within, and from that place honor the thing that distract us.  Instead we uproot ourselves, shed our previous distraction only to play that game again and again.  When I left my fundamentalist past, I spent years on years doing this.  I would explore a religion like a shiny thing.  I would follow that religions structures, prayers, rituals, read their books etc.  I would appear like an enthusiastic convert so to speak....only it would last for a short while..…

Ecclesial Thomasine Approaches and Monakos Thomasine Approaches

Looking at my previous post I was trying to explain the different approaches that people come to with the Gospel of Thomas.  Granted, the Gospel of Thomas (GoT) has something for everyone.  Gnostics love it, Christian Contemplatives/Mystics love it, and many others as well. But in my experience there are two type of approaches to the Gospel of Thomas.   The Ecclesial Thomasines would fit in with the mainstream church.  They may hold several if not all the same traditional beliefs of orthodox Christianity, but have a mystic bent which is why they follow the GoT.  The GoT does not mention the virgin birth, crucifixion, baptism, eucharist etc. one way or another.  So Ecclesial Thomasines can affirm the creed in good faith and still read the GoT as applicable to their life as a Christian.  They may not be entirely orthodox but they can fit in the church well enough to be active in it. 

The other type of Thomasine is what I am calling Monakos Thomasines.  Monakos means single or one.  They…

The Powerless Presence of God

I was reading a fantastic book called The Orthodox Heretic by Peter Rollins where I come across this quote which is very powerful.  The author is not by any means a Thomasine Christian but he nailed the Thomasine view of God right on the head.  Listen to this quote:

"However the message of Jesus introduces us to a different way of approaching God - not as a violent power imposed from above, but rather as a powerless presence entering our world from below.  This powerless God still instigates a revolution against the powers of this world.  However, this revolution is not won through brute strength but through weakness."

God in the Gospel of Thomas does not seem active like in other books of the Bible.  The Gospel of Thomas does not claim God as healing, damning, or making demands.  And yet God's presence is within all people and things.  This loving, living presence of God does not need to make laws demanding obedience but rather changes through loving, not through brute fo…

Persecuting Yourself

Jesus said, "How blessed are those who have been persecuted within their hearts: those who have experienced this are the ones who have truly come to know the Father. Blessed are those who go hungry, so the stomach of the one in want may be filled."
Gospel of Thomas 69

Another amazing saying!  Here Jesus is not speaking of persecution coming from without, but rather about persecution from within.  This is the mark of true spiritual maturity.  So many claim to be spiritual but really have no internal discipline.  They like to profess to be spiritual, when in fact they have no regular spiritual practice.  I know for me, in trying to sit in contemplative prayer, my mind and body will try to find a million excuses why I am too tired, too antsy, too anything and thus should not, sit.  It will rationalize why this sitting will not be useful.  Like a child throwing a tantrum, it does not want to calm.  It may only be in the final moments of my sitting that I am simply at rest with Go…

Who the #$%^& is Jesus?

People sometimes forget that there are many views of Jesus...interpretations of his life, teachings and death.  I know in my Baptist past, we did not really emphasize Jesus life but rather his death.  It was viewed as an appeasement to an angry God who demanded full payment for our sins.  It was viewed in legal terms. 
There are those who view it as a ransom from Satan. 

How does the Gospel of Thomas view the life and death of Jesus?  I would point out first that the Gospel of Thomas is not a narrative and contains no narrative on his death.  It focuses primarily on his sayings. 

I am slowly being persuaded that the Gospel of Thomas while very possibly the earliest gospel (parts at least) was not meant to be thought of in a vacuum.  I am finding myself slowly (oh so very slowly) agreeing with the scholars who suggest that the Thomasines may have been a Christian community of contemplatives...whether as some form of ascetics (a religious order before its time?) or a religious community…

Hooray for you! Now Get Out!

Jesus said, "Accolades to you when you are despised and persecuted; and no place will be found, wherever you have been persecuted."  Gospel of Thomas 68

Those who follow the way of Jesus...and I mean those who truly live it-love the outcast.  They love those rejected by society, the downtrodden, those who smell, or who may not know social etiquette.  They speak truth to power for justice and that light within all humanity.  Martin Luther King did it.  So did Oscar Romero, Malcolm X, Dorothy Day, Mother Teresa, Gandhi, Marcus Garvey and so many others throughout history.  And yet they knew what it was to be rejected, to be despised at times.  They had fans who would turn on them at the drop of a hat....just like Jesus.  May we have the grace to stand for that of good in all people, and for the sake of the truth of all people, even if we stand alone.  Even if it hurts.

Freaking Know It All!

Jesus said, "Those who know all, but are lacking in themselves, are utterly lacking."
Gospel of Thomas 67

When I was younger, I considered folks who claimed to be Christian but could not quote chapter and verse in the Bible as spiritually immature.  I am ashamed to admit this but it is true.  I did.  My legalism was so ingrained that I was completely blind to my spiritual immaturity.  A person may not be able to quote the Bible but have a deeper spiritual life that I may ever have.  How utterly stupid of me to equate this knowledge to maturity.  How blind I was to my own spiritual immaturity.  I was utterly lacking.  I walked in darkness and ignorance while thinking I was in the light.

Hated and Wanted!

Jesus said, "Show me the stone that the builders did not want: that is the keystone."
Gospel of Thomas 66

The message of Jesus is countercultural.  Sadly much of Christianity has tamed his words.  Jesus does not put a lot of stock in tradition, traditional family values, consumerism, or religiosity with all that it entails.  He goes for the broken, the outcasts, and the ones that do not fit in with a good and normal society.  He rejects materialistic consumerism, and a worldview that reduces humanity to cattle.  He sees in us the very light and life of God. In all of us, from the best to the worst.  It is in this flesh, in our frailty that the Lord dwells.  And to truly let that light shine means that like Jesus we may be rejected, ridiculed and such.  To see with different eyes than the larger society is not always easy...but to see the light in the indiviuals is.  Take it one day at a time and with each person honor that of God within them

Naughty Farmers!

Jesus said, "A person had a vineyard and allowed some farmers to rent from him, so they could work the land and the owner could receive a portion of its crop from them. He sent his servant so the farmers would give him the vineyard's crop. The farmers seized him, beat him, and almost killing him, and the servant returned and told his master. His master said, 'Perhaps he didn't know them.' He sent another servant, and the farmers beat that one as well. Then the master sent his son and said, 'Perhaps they'll show my son some respect.' Because the farmers knew that he was the heir to the vineyard, they grabbed him and killed him. Anyone here with two ears had better listen!"  Gospel of Thomas 65

I had to sit with this passage since my last post over a week or two ago. Who is the vineyard keeper?  Who is the son?  The servants?  The naughty farmers?  Perhaps they are all us.  The vineyard keeper is the Holy Spirit within us.  She is the light inside us…

What Do You Need? A Personalized Invitation?

Jesus said, "A man was having a dinner party. When he had prepared the dinner, he sent his servant to invite the guests. The servant went to the first and said her, 'My master invites you.' She said, 'Some business owners owe me some money; I meet with them tonight. I have to go and handle things. Please excuse me from dinner.' The servant went to another and said him, 'My master has invited you.' The man said to the servant, 'I just purchased a house, and I have also been called away for the day. I do not have time.' The servant went to another and said to that one, 'My master invites you.' That one said to the servant, 'My friend is getting married, and I have to arrange the banquet. I won't be able to come. Please excuse me from dinner.' The servant went to another and said to that one, 'My master invites you.' He said to the servant, 'I have bought an estate, and I am on my way to collect rent. I will not be able…

CAIR '9/11 Happened to Us All' PSA, Firefighter (60-Second)

CAIR '9/11 Happened to Us All' PSA, Medical Responder (30-Second)

Two Approaches to Thomasine Christianity

There are two approaches to Thomasine Christianity.  They are completely inter-related and yet can hold some very different beliefs. 

The First Approach is what I will call personal/individualistic Thomasine Christianity.  Those who adhere to this understanding look upon the early Thomasines as only revering the Gospel of Thomas.  These ancient Thomasines may have known more of the story of Jesus but in any case these things are not essential to them and no Thomasine is not required to believe in them.  Those who follow the Gospel of Thomas often practice solo.  They often do not view Jesus as divine, or if somehow divine....only in as much as we all are divine.  Ritual (such as baptism, eucharist etc) is not emphasized and is sometimes even shunned.  Jesus is seen as a messenger, or spiritual guide who has awakened to spiritual insight or gnosis.  His words are what can help one awaken, not the details of his life.  This path is largely individualistic in that the Gospel of Thomas mu…

Woohoo! I Struck It Rich!

Jesus said, "There was a rich man who had loads of money. He said, 'I will invest my money so that I may sow, reap, plant, and fill all my storehouses with produce, lacking in absolutely nothing.' He was thought these things in his heart, but that very night he died. If you have ears to hear, then listen!" Gospel of Thomas 63

This saying makes me think of how much we are blessed with in this country.  I just saw a report that pointed out that the lower income give a higher percentage of their income to charity than the wealthier people.  This brings to mind the story of the widows mite who only gives a penny, yet Jesus says she has given more than all the others.  What makes us so stingy?  What makes us so giving?  I would venture a guess....fear and trust.  Those who fear lack, fear the future, fear this or that hold on to their money tightly.  Those who are already at the bottom, know they can and will survive do not cling to their money so tightly.  Yet it is here …

Jesus Telling Secrets!

Jesus said, "I divulge my mysteries to those who are worthy of these mysteries. Gospel of Thomas 62

Have you ever had a powerful experience of some sort?  Perhaps a new relationship, a spiritual experience, or even awe at looking at the stars, and you knew you could not share it with certain people because they would not "grok" the experience or worse yet, may make fun of it?  Jesus has a teaching to share, but not everyone can bear it.  Unlike mainstream Christianity, Jesus' teaching is not for everyone (you find the same teaching in the New Testament gospels..they are just explained away).  Jesus is the guru that has known God so intimately, so profoundly that one cannot help but see God when one looks at him. His words become the loving guidance from God for those with ears to hear.  Jesus takes students then and now, and guides them through this life with all its joys and woes to the kingdom of God hidden within us and all around us.  Nothing less than full enlig…

What are YOU Doing Here?

Jesus said, "Two will lay and rest on a couch; one will die, one will live." Salome said, "Who are you sir? You have climbed onto my couch and eaten from my table as if you are sent here from someone." Jesus said to her, "I am the one who comes from what is whole. I was granted from the things of my Father." "I am your student." "For this reason I say, if one is whole, one will be filled with light, but if one is divided, one will be filled with darkness." Gospel of Thomas 61

Jesus, in the Gospel of Thomas, puts a lot of emphasis on becoming one, being whole, and standing alone as one.  In reflecting on this passage, I am aware of all the different "me's" running around.  There is the spouse, the worker, the friend, the son, and so many others.  And yet there is in reality only one me.  The one in this present moment.  Who is he?  Who is this one that does not change hats depending on the circumstances?  This is my Spirit.…

The Gospel of Thomas and other Paths

One of the things I love about the Thomasine journey is that it is not an exclusive path.  Jesus does not make any claims of  "my way or the highway" statements that some folks choose to hit others over the head with to try and coerce them into conversion into their way.  I used to be one of them.  The Jesus I follow, as found in the Gospel of Thomas, is pretty universal.  You can find Life in your own heart, within and without you...in all things.  One needs only to seek to see.  It is not about having the correct beliefs, or the best practices.  I wanted to point out some sayings that followers of other paths may find joy in.  I offer it humbly as my gift and blessing for you.  Follow your path with joy and love, whatever it is!

Pantheists: Jesus said, "If your leaders say to you, 'Look, God's kingdom is in the sky,' then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, 'It is in the sea,' then the fish will precede you. Rather, the kingdo…

Who Was Jesus?

I have been thinking on this question of who Jesus is in the Gospel of Thomas.
One saying jumped out at me:

Jesus said to his students, "Compare me to something and tell me what I am like."
Simon Peter said to him, "You are like a righteous prophet."
Matthew said to him, "You are like a wise philosopher."
Thomas said to him, "Rabbi, my mouth is utterly unable to say what you are like."
Jesus said, "I am not your rabbi. Because you have drunk, you have become intoxicated from the bubbling spring-the spring that I myself, have tended."
Jesus took Thomas away from the others, and spoke three sayings to him. When Thomas came back to his friends they asked him, "What did Jesus say to you?"
Thomas said to them, "If I tell you one of the sayings he spoke to me, you will pick up rocks and stone me, and fire will come from the rocks and devour you." Saying 13

As I meditate on this saying, I think it says it all. Jesus was a ri…

Eat This Carcass!

Jesus noticed a Samaritan man carrying a lamb on his way to Judea. He said to his disciples, "that person ... around the lamb." They replied to Jesus, "So that he may kill it and eat it." He said to them, "He won't eat it while it is living, but only after he has killed it and it has become a carcass." They said, "Otherwise he can't do it." He said to them, "So also with you, seek for yourselves a place for repose, or you might become a carcass and be eaten." Gospel of Thomas 60

There are several sayings like this in the Gospel of Thomas.  They all speak to being consumed, and what we are consumed by.  We become what we are consumed by.  You also find comments on being alive as opposed to being dead.  It is easy to lay down one's spiritual practice.  I know meditating every day is not easy for me.  But after I am done, I am so glad I did.  Even if my mind wandered the whole time (which happens more often than I would like t…

Do the Dead See The Living?

Jesus said, "Look to the living one for as long as you live, otherwise what happens when you die and then try to see the living one, and you won't be able to see."  Gospel of Thomas 59

For those of us brought up in orthodox Christian homes, your mind may read living one and interpret it as Jesus.  But upon reading the larger message of the Gospel of Thomas, I do not believe that this was what Jesus meant.  The living one...is that of God within you.  Buddhists call it the Buddha Nature.  Hindus call it the Atman.  Upon reading this I am reminded of the first two sayings in the Dhammapada, the sayings of the Buddha: 
All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts. If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him, as the wheel follows the foot of the ox that draws the carriage.  All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts…

Prayer for Victims of the Flooding

Loving God,
We live in a world of intense beauty, but it also is filled with pain.  Comfort the victims of this flood, strengthen them, provide for them.  Allow them to find peace amidst this tragedy, in a peace only you can give.  We are your hands, your eyes, your feet. Help those of us who are willing, to reach out and do our small part in easing the suffering of those victimized by the flood.  Help us, Lord.

Amen

Working for a Living

Jesus said, "How blessed is the person who has done the work and has found life."  Gospel of Thomas 58

The spiritual life, in my experience, is not always easy.  It does not always follow straight lines.  In fact, it is often messy.  The spiritual life is settling on a way of spiritual maturation and digging deep like digging a well.  The fresh water is found deep.  Somewhere between my Christian past and where I am now as a Thomasine, I started digging many wells.  I would explore this spirituality, that path, this religion.  But I never dug very deep.  There were insights to be gained to be sure, but the path was all about me and what I wanted, so no internal sacrifice nor peeling away the layers of the ego was done.  The spiritual life can be tough work.  It requires facing life unflintchingly.  Like an onion, layer after layer of the false self is laid aside.  I would venture a guess that it is a lifelong process.  It is quite an adventure!

3, 2, 1 And we are live!

I do not know if you noticed but I have put the radio station for the Universal Church of Autogenes on this blog and my personal blog.  I recorded my first program on the the Thomasine Tradition and liturgy last night.(Pardon my nervousness on there!)  Bishop Mani and Fr. Bryan also have some great programs on there.  If you get a moment, give us a listen!

Mamma, Those Aren't Carrots in that Garden!

Jesus said, "The kingdom of the Father is like a farmer who planted excellent seeds. His enemy came during the night and planted weeds among the good seed. The farmer didn't let his farmhands pull up the weeds, but said to them, 'No, otherwise you mightpull up the weeds and accidentally pull up the wheat along with them.' When the wheat is mature and ready to harvest, the weeds will be obvious, and can be pulled up and burned."  Gospel of Thomas 57

Wow!  This saying marks the halfway point in my commentary on the Gospel of Thomas.

The New Testament authors use this saying of Jesus to apply to people.  You are one of the saved...you are one of the damned...and the day of judgement will reveal that.  The Gospel of Thomas does not speak of the day of judgement nor of hell.  Rather this saying in the Gospel of Thomas, the way I interpret it, is speaking to an individual.  We are the field. The Farmer is the Divine who has put the spark of light from the Divine's ow…

Thomasine Liturgy (Rite I)

The Thomasine Liturgy (Rite I)
The Thomasine liturgy is different from those in the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, or Anglican traditions. It has a decidedly Vedantic flavor, as Thomas was martyred in India, coupled with this gospel sharing strong similarities to Hindu Vedanta and Buddhism.


The altar is set up low to the ground or coffee table height. The altar may be covered with a white cloth. On the altar should be set up icons or images of Jesus and the Holy Spirit/Sophia. The Father is represented by a candle. The candle should be unlit until the beginning of the liturgy. Unlit incense, a bell, and Eucharistic wine and bread (if priest is present)will also be on the altar.

People sit in silence for a few seconds. The leader lights the candle and says:

Jesus said, "If they say to you, 'Where did you come from?', say to them, 'We came from the light, and the place where the light came into being by itself and established itself and became manifest through their ima…

Is the World A Dead Body?

Jesus said, "Whoever has known the world has discovered a carcass, a dead body, and whoever has discovered a carcass, of that person the world is not worthy."  Gospel of Thomas 56

When I read this saying the first time, I hated it.  It personified the dualist viewpoint present in some strands of Gnosticism that I hate..that the world is a prison, and not worth anything but to be escaped from.  However, I do not believe that this saying is rejecting the cosmos.  I do believe however that two things are being condemned by Jesus:  the corrupt systems of the world, and the view of the world apart from God. 

The world as the powers that be, then as now keep the poor in poverty, exploits others, preserves its own power, and degrades nature, peoples, and cultures in the name of its own progress.  This same power is found in fundamentalism that looks down on those who disagree as somehow less than human.  It happens in ones day to day job all the way up to world powers trying to one …

The Prison and the Garden

“The heart is greater, more expansive, more pleasant and more illumined than the heavens; why would one narrow it with useless words? How could it be appropriate to constrict a very pleasant universe into a prison for oneself? What is the purpose of turning a universe like a fruitful garden into a tight prison, wasting time with delusions and ugly imaginings and throwing oneself into a dark universe and sleeping in ignorance all the time, wrapped up in a cocoon like a silkworm? We are of the people who turn the prison into a fruitful garden. If our prison turns into a fruitful garden, imagine what our fruitful garden might become? Just watch, and see!    Shams of Tabriz

I See You Seeing Me

The Gospel of Thomas tells us again and again to go within to find God.  God is not out there, but in and around you.  But who is God?  I believe God is love.  This loving awareness is in us, in the trees, in nature both beautiful and fierce.  When we are able to see that of the sacred within all, we fulfill the words in the Gospel of Thomas, that we can split a piece of wood or lift a stone and there God is.

Hey, You Are My Second Favorite!

Jesus said, "If anyone does not hate father and mother then they cannot be my disciple, and if a person does not hate sisters or brothers, and carry the cross as I do, won't be worthy of me." Gospel of Thomas 55

Becoming a student of Jesus is costly. His teaching is the way of life. To be his student is to follow his way, and is a marriage of sorts. This saying reminds me of the saying in Genesis -a man shall leave his father and mother and cling to his wife... Our love for the way Jesus teaches must be primary. The full revelation of gnosis does not come to the half-hearted. It is costly. One must lay down their ego, must realize that when the fullness is realized all other relationships are seen in the light of truth and compassion. The way of Jesus, the way of twinship is the way of letting go and being in the present moment, not in the way you were raised, not in the past, not in your habits and memories. It is here and now.

Hey Buddy, Got a Dime?

Blessed are those who are poor.  The kingdom of heaven is yours. Gospel of Thomas 54

Lest anyone think the Gospel of Thomas is only a gospel of inner spirituality, there are sayings like this one above.  When one has wealth and riches, how hard it is to let go of the cares of the world that one may awaken to that of God within!  The poor often have nothing and are left broken open and empty by the systems of this world...it is in this fertilizer that God like a flower can blossom!  And just like a beautiful rose worth its cost will smell wonderful, so too if gnosis is valid, good works of compassion will follow.  I truly believe that if anyone claims to have gnosis but does not care for the poor, then they probably "ain't" got it.   In having the revelation of God in you, you cannot help but to see and serve God in others.  To allow them to wade in poverty, hunger, or sickness- well that just shows where your treasure is...and it sure isn't the Kingdom way.   As it sa…

Another Way of Jesus

My second attempt at making a video.

There Are Questions...And Then There Are Questions!

These are the questions, I posited to my buddy who founded the Gospel of Thomas Association earlier today. I will list the questions first. Then the questions and my answers. When I receive his answers, with his permission, I will post them as well.

1. What does the GoT believe about God? Who is God? Compare and contrast him with the orthodox God...then the full blown Gnostic concept of God.

2. Who is Jesus? Is he God? How does one approach Jesus? As alive, dead?

3. How do you approach the orthodox 4 gospels in light of the GoT?

4. What happens when we die?

5. What would a modern Thomasine community look like? Their practices, beliefs etc.

6. What does the GoT say about salvation? Good Works? Trinity?

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1. What does the GoT believe about God? Who is God? Compare and contrast him with the orthodox God...then the full blown Gnostic concept of God.
I would say that the Gospel of Thomas presents a somewhat traditional view of God. God is light within light. God loves and…

There Are Questions...And Then There Are Questions!

These are the questions, I posited to my buddy who founded the Gospel of Thomas Association earlier today.  I will list the questions first.  Then the questions and my answers.  When I receive his answers, with his permission, I will post them as well.

1. What does the GoT believe about God? Who is God? Compare and contrast him with the orthodox God...then the full blown Gnostic concept of God.


2. Who is Jesus? Is he God? How does one approach Jesus? As alive, dead?

3. How do you approach the orthodox 4 gospels in light of the GoT?

4. What happens when we die?

5. What would a modern Thomasine community look like? Their practices, beliefs etc.

6. What does the GoT say about salvation? Good Works? Trinity?

1. What does the GoT believe about God? Who is God? Compare and contrast him with the orthodox God...then the full blown Gnostic concept of God.


I would say that the Gospel of Thomas presents a somewhat traditional view of God.  God is light within light.  God loves and cares for us...we emma…

Thomasine Questions, Gnostics and Proto-Gnostics

I have been having wonderful conversations with the founder of the Gospel of Thomas Association.  I posed a few questions to him asking for answers from a Thomasine perspective.  I have been contemplating them myself.   I will post more in a day or so.
With that we have been enjoying the discussion how scholars tend to dislike the term Gnostic as it lumps together many traditions that were not the same in early Christianity.  What they usually mean is demiurgical traditions.  The Thomasines not being a demiurgical tradition is called proto-gnostic, as it contains many of the seeds of Gnosticism but without the later things like the Demiurge, the fall of Sophia, etc.  With all these many belief-systems claiming to be Gnostic out there, from psychic Sylvia Browne's group, John Lash's incorporating aliens his gnosticism, to the Weorites views...is it any wonder that people get confused by the word Gnostic.  But without a better word to unite those who look to the Nag Hammadi texts…