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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…

Anne Rice - Leaving Christianity but not Christ

Anne Rice, known as the author of the Vampire Chronicles posted this past Wednesday on Facebook:

For those who care, and I understand if you don't: Today I quit being a Christian. I'm out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being "Christian" or to being part of Christianity. It's simply impossible for me to "belong" to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten ...years, I've tried. I've failed. I'm an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.


and continuing on..

As I said...I quit being a Christian. I'm out. In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of ...Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.

Then on Thursday she clarified her previous statement:

My fai…

The Universal Church of Autogenes

The Gospel of Thomas Sayings

You Want To Cut Me Where?!

His disciples said to him, "Is circumcision useful or not?" He said to them, "If it were useful, their father would produce children already circumcised from their mother. Rather, the true circumcision in spirit has become profitable in every respect." Gospel of Thomas 53

One day the bishop traveled to an island where he heard a community of  three monks resided.  Having never heard of them, he went to check their theology and practice to ensure its orthodoxy.  Sure enough, they spent most of their day in contemplation, but they knew little of the doctrines of the church.  They did not even understand that the Trinity was the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  After guiding them to "right belief".  He got in his boat and began to row to the mainland.  Suddenly he sees the three monks walking on the water to him asking him what the trinity was again.  He said, what they were doing is fine, and sailed away humbled and amazed.  Religious ritual solely for the sak…