Thomasine Vedanta -Jesus as Guru and Liberator

It goes without saying that the Gospel of Thomas presents Jesus in a way than is presented in modern Christianity.  For me this took a couple of years to finally realize that the Gospel of Thomas is not Christian..not any modern sense, nor really in any form throughout most of "Christian" history.  The Gospel of Thomas (GoT) is a text of the sayings of Jesus.  But the Jesus it presents is a wisdom teacher...more in line with Eastern Masters as found in Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism.  I believe the GoT can best be applied and lived today with an understanding of Vedanta.  

Vedanta is derived from the teachings in the Upanishads.  In the Upanishads you find the core teachings of the guru or the teacher of the way of liberation, the soul, God, and meditation.  These teachings are also found in the Gospel of Thomas. 

For a practitioner of the Thomasine Vedanta, the Guru is Jesus or Issa as proponents of the belief that Jesus was in India during part of his life.  I like to use Issa to help those with baggage from traditional Christianity not have as many hang ups.  Issa or Jesus becomes the Master to guide the student to liberation.  The Guru becomes a window wherewith one may see God.  And if the student achieves liberation and awakens...he is seen as the equal of the teacher, even if the student does not act as if they are equals.  You see this in the Gospel of Thomas.  In the GoT saying 13, you find this scene:

Jesus said to his disciples, "Compare me to someone and tell me whom I am like."   Simon Peter said to him, "You are like a righteous angel."   Matthew said to him, "You are like a wise philosopher."  Thomas said to him, "Master, my mouth is wholly incapable of saying whom you are like."   Jesus said, "I am not your master. Because you have drunk, you have become intoxicated from the bubbling spring which I have measured out."   And he took him and withdrew and told him three things. When Thomas returned to his companions, they asked him, "What did Jesus say to you?"   Thomas said to them, "If I tell you one of the things which he told me, you will pick up stones and throw them at me; a fire will come out of the stones and burn you up."

Jesus tells Thomas..I am not your master.  You find in saying 108:  Jesus said, "He who will drink from my mouth will become like me. I myself shall become he, and the things that are hidden will be revealed to him."

Jesus, like enlightened masters in the east, is teaching a way of liberation.  In a later Thomasine book you see hints at what liberation is from: 
"Watch and pray that you may not be born in the flesh, but that you may leave the bitter bondage of this life." (Book of Thomas the Contender 9:5)

and find a similar hint in the Gospel of Thomas:
"When you see your likeness, you are happy. But when you see your images that came into being before and that neither die nor become visible, how much you will bear!" (Gospel of Thomas, 84)

and you see it developed and explained even further in another Gnostic text:
"This soul needs to follow another soul in whom the Spirit of life dwells, because she is saved through the Spirit. Then she will never be thrust into flesh again." (Secret Book of John 14:20)

The liberation Jesus is offering is liberation from something and to something.  We are liberated from the bondage of rebirth...constantly being thrust back into this body.  But liberation is not simply to run from the idea of rebirth.  Liberation is the realization that we are children of God.  There is that of God within us.  We are children of royalty so to speak..and yet we live in squalor..not us alone but all the cosmos.  We are called to be achieve the realization that we are light and are one with all other lights, seeking to return to the Source of Light.  Again I find this teaching in harmony with the teaching of Vedanta, and its teachings of atman and Brahman.  

In the Gospel of Thomas you also find something that is later developed in other Thomasine and other Gnostic writings.  That God is both masculine and feminine.   In saying 101 he speaks of his mother giving him birth, but his True Mother giving him life.

It is things like this and so much more that convinces me that the Gospel of Thomas is a Vedantic text and that Jesus was a teacher of Vedanta.  His teachings are best found in the Gospel of Thomas.  With this teaching, I have found great joy and peace.  In my next entry, I will talk about the ways of one who follows Thomasine Vedanta. 


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