Living a Thomasine Life

I do not know if I will ever post this for public consumption.  It really is not meant for the casual reader but rather serves as a type of spiritual reflection of mine...a type of taking inventory of my beliefs and practices as a Thomasine.  In the past I have written of different types of Thomasines-the monachos and the ecclesial.  The monachos are those who read the Gospel of Thomas as a guide only for individuals, perhaps believing even there was no presbyters or ministers in the Thomasine community, but rather only individual Thomasines.  The ecclesial Thomasines hold that there was some type of organization and leadership in the Thomasine community.  There may have been rituals and ministers.  They often seek that in some form today, perhaps in study groups, Christian churches, or the like.  I have also looked at the Trinitiarian and Oneness Thomasines..those that hold a divine Jesus and those that hold to a purely human Jesus.  

Looking at categories, I find that I am in the middle on both of these.  I do think that the original Thomasines had a local community or ecclesia which met to study, share, and such.  I think that if they celebrated the Eucharist it would resemble how it is described in the Didache which does not speak of body and blood with the crucifixion.  Even more so looking at the Gospel of Thomas saying 27 about the keeping of the Sabbath rest, I think the Thomasines may have celebrated a type of Sabbath...perhaps the Sabbath bread and wine being a type of eucharist that could be celebrated alone or in community.  So alone or in community.... I lean toward being an eccleisal Thomasine to be honest, though I see that one must practice alone as well!  I love community.  What I would not do to have a local community to study with, to debate, pray, and worship with!

I also fall somewhere in the middle with the Trinitiarian and Oneness ideas within the Gospel of Thomas.  I believe that God is one.  In that way I am a strict monotheist.  This Good God can be seen as masculine (the Father) and feminine (the Holy Spirit/Sophia) but really God is beyond these..these terms help us relate to God in personal ways.  Almost as if God is like the Taoist symbol of yin/yang....God being the whole with the father and mother being faces of the one God.  At the point of their touching proceeds the man Jesus. Jesus was a man.  He came from the light and identified with the Light in a unique way. He was sent from God as a messenger, liberator, wisdom teacher, sage, and savior.  It was his words and life that embodied the message from God.  I believe that this is the way to God.  In a way Jesus is the living example God gave us.  If we want gnosis then Jesus provided the way...become his twin.  Know God and self as he knows God and self.  Thomas did this.   So while rejecting the traditional understanding of the Trinity, I also see Jesus as having a unique calling.  So while being a Oneness/Unitarian/Strict Monotheist, I can affirm the uniqueness of Jesus in the Gospel of Thomas and in the Thomasines' life.

The Gospel of Thomas turns rituals and such on their head.  Circumcision is seen as useless, as does other ritual acts such as fasting..yet as one continually reads the Gospel of Thomas you see that Jesus is not rejecting all rituals and such.  He is rejecting ones that do not guide one to that living knowledge of God.  Being circumcised (or in more current practice baptized) as a baby is not useful as if you needed that you would be born with that done.  How does it help a baby's spiritual life when they are not even conscious of the inner meaning of such acts?  In my understanding, any ritual to be considered truly spiritual, must be done, not out of obligation or religious requirement but rather towards the mystical revelation knowledge of God, self and the kingdom of God hidden in this temporal world.

One ritual act is mentioned - the Sabbath.  "If you do not fast from the world, you will not find the kingdom.  If you do not keep the Sabbath as a sabbath, you will never see the Father."  Gospel of Thomas 27  I have become convinced that the Thomasine community of old celebrated a type of Sabbath.  Their fasts were not with bread and water but rather from the ways of the world.  One way of doing this was through the practice of the Sabbath.  On the sabbath, you rest.  It is one day when you allow the world to rest.  On any other day you buy and sell, you use the world.  On the sabbath, you return to the beginning when God rested on the seventh day.  Now don't get me wrong, I do not think Jesus is commanding one to celebrate the sabbath, but rather offering an outline of things like ritual and liturgy....that any "religious" act must be done solely for the purpose of knowing God.  While I have chosen to keep the Sabbath, and I believe the Thomasines did the same... I do not see it as a commandment but rather a guideline to be sure on spiritual practices.

Originally I thought the Gospel of Thomas way was very easy..that everyone got it without the least bit of effort on their part.  I am not convinced this is so.  I think this path is an intense path, that requires a lot of work.  In my opinion this is the same work of the Hindu and Buddhist meditators, the passionate Hasidic Jews or any person trying to do the spiritual work of centering God in one's life and allowing everything else flow from that.  I do not see the Thomasine religion as the only way. It is my way to be sure. But I see that no matter what religion you choose, that only the most dedicated will achieve what I call gnosis, but others may call divine union, moksha, liberation, or enlightenment.  It is not enough to simply read and go on your way.  It is not enough to float from religion to religion never staying put and establishing roots.  It is not enough to argue and debate theology.  It takes a lot of work and a living revelation of God that you may know the Kingdom of God here and now.

Comments

  1. It's difficult, isn't it, to have a path that sets one so apart that we fail to have a ready community. Yet, here we are, doing what we do, learning what we learn.

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  2. Yes it is, Fay! What I wouldn't do for a living breathing local community of dedicated Thomasines! Is that too much to ask? hahah!

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  3. The online 'world' is the community we are allowed to have at least right now, it seems. It allows us to have our say, stretch our verbal wings, and have the freedom we need to allow ourselves to grow. I truly enjoy watching and feeling this growth from other gnostics. It is uplifting. Meaningful. Allows me to know that I am not alone.

    Thank you for sharing your journey with us!

    The Gospel of Thomas is a curious maze. It touches on every aspect of gnosticism and reads like a cornerstone of a massive domed heaven. And yet you have to discern the pebbles and grains which make up that conglomerate cornerstone. It's a process. We lean in and examine, we back up and try to see the forest without getting depressed, then we learn to peer INWARD and see it for what it truly is: a release mechanism from literalism. Amen.

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