True Spirituality

Some people said to Jesus, "Come, let us pray and fast today." Jesus replied, "What sin have I committed, or how have I been undone? Rather, when the bridegroom leaves the bridal chamber, then let people fast and pray." Gospel of Thomas 104

This brings to mind another couple of sayings in the Gospel of Thomas, Sayings 6 and  14:

His disciples asked him and said to him, "Do you want us to fast? How should we pray? Should we give to charity? What diet should we observe?"  Jesus said, "Don't lie, and don't do what you hate, because all things are disclosed before heaven. After all, there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed, and there is nothing covered up that will remain undisclosed." Saying 6

"Jesus said to them, "If you fast, you will bring sin upon yourselves, and if you pray, you will be condemned, and if you give to charity, you will harm your spirits." Saying 14

However I do not believe Jesus was against prayer, as he prays in saying 74.  So what is happening here in these  sayings.  I think we get a clue when we read the commentary of similar things in the mainstream gospels.  There you see Jesus condemning prayer, fasting, and giving charity to be seen by others.  In other words, Jesus condemns putting on a religious show ie the spirit of hypocrisy.  In Saying 104, I think he builds on this teaching. It seems Jesus shuns the idea of religious obligations and rituals as not a necessary element of  being a spiritual person.  The essence of spirituality has to be heartfelt and true.  If one practices or stays with a religion out of a sense of religious obligation or fear of the wrath of God, then that person is a liar and a hypocrite.  Spirituality should be as a bride and groom on their wedding night.  Yes there will be times of sorrow and loneliness but like spouses who have grown together over time know, you can still feel an intimacy and depth... and it is not out of a sense of obligation nor to put on a show.  One need only to look at the Sufi poets to see how their relationship with God is like a very lively marriage.  This to me is the essence of true spirituality.


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