Gospel of Thomas, Saying two

Saturday, May 11, 2019

3 a.m. Very well, shall we continue? Saying two, from the Gospel of Thomas:

Jesus said: The seeker should not stop until he finds. When he does find, he will be disturbed. After having been disturbed, he will be astonished. Then he will reign over everything.

Clear enough, surely?

Not so much. I suspect there is more here than what is obvious.

Always true. Well, summarize your understanding of it.

Finding new truths is obviously going to disturb what we thought we are, what we thought we knew. Rita and I certainly experienced that, in the months during which we did weekly sessions. After the upheaval comes new arrangement of thought. But from there, the question of reigning over everything suggests to me greater command over our possibilities, but clearly this is too vague to be the whole meaning, and may not any of it be right.

So, let’s have your take on it, please.

You glided over the very first statement, which is the admonition, and dealt only with the predicted results. Now, remember as we go along, the question we are examining is how Jesus taught that (and in what ways) the 3D both is and is not the point of human existence. Keep this in mind as we go along and it will stitch together what otherwise will tend to fly off in separate directions.

So, he begins by saying that the task demands perseverance. That perseverance will meet its reward. If you do not stop, you will not be like Sisyphus, performing an unending but unrewarded labor. Instead, you will get what you seek.

However, what you seek will not merely confirm what you already know, or think you know. It will disturb you, in various sense of the word “disturb.” So, don’t be surprised or dismayed when what must happen (discovery disturbing your givens) does happen. Then, when you get past the stage of being disturbed – and this, you see, takes for granted that you do not cease to seek because your initial efforts disturb what was comfortable – after disturbance comes astonishment. That is, you perceive a new way to understand: Looking at the same world, you see it differently. Looking at your well-known life, you realize that you didn’t really know it at all.

Now, before we consider the final statement, let us look at this as it pertains to your place in the 3D, or, if you prefer, the 3D’s place in you. What does living in the 3D world enable, or obstruct, or require?

I suppose sequential living in a limited environment enables us to concentrate and persistently pursue something.

Less than you might think. In many ways 3D is a difficult atmosphere for consecutive thought. Given that your external environment changes continually, you must adjust. And given that the externals are reflections of the internal, you must learn to incorporate it conceptually before you can take advantage of it.

I’d better paraphrase that, to be sure I (and others) get right what I think it means. As long as we consider the external world to be unconnected, or only somewhat connected, to the inner world, we will not be able to turn it to our advantage. We will look at it as distraction or obstacle. But once we learn to read it as indicator of our inner state, it becomes an assistance.

We do not pretend that Jesus taught this in this way or in this concept, even. But we are here engaged in using this record for you, today, and so that in itself requires a certain translation.

You seek. For a long time you do not find. Then you begin to find, and it only disorders your ideas, it does not add to them or clarify them. Then – if you persist in your seeking – the kaleidoscope is tapped and suddenly you understand, you have a new universe. (This of course is not meant to say that you ever reach the ultimate in knowledge or power. But periodically in the search for truth – if the search is persisted in; if the seeker is willing to have its mental world again destroyed if need be – one again reaches plateaus of clarity that enable the consolidation of what has been experienced to date.

Yes, this seems to have been my experience, at least, and Rita’s.

And thus the seeker who perseveres comes to the point of reigning over everything (though that is perhaps not the best translation). What can that mean?

Would you give us your better translation?

Let us say, then he attains command over himself, over all that he is, 3D and non-3D.

Quite a different statement.

Different nuance, more. It is implied in the other statement, but “reign over everything” seems to imply commanding others and commanding nature, which is and is not true, and is in either case misleading.

I had thought we could proceed to another saying, but I see that I am too tired to begin another. And perhaps you are not finished with this one?

Again, how is Jesus talking about putting the center of your life in the center? Always, revert to his statement that he came so that you might live more abundantly.

Well, surely this is a big how-to. What we know at any given time may be considered a plateau. We can’t get higher up the mountain, so to speak, unless we search. But if we do search, and persist in searching, we will find. But the process comes in stages, the first of which is disturbance of what we thought we knew, the second of which is a sudden realignment. The ultimate reward of the seeking is greater self-command, though as stated it seems to imply an ultimate self-command.

Yes, you will find as you go along that there is a tendency to silently edit the meaning of these sayings to fit an unstated consistency you impose. So, here, you think, “This is a gradual process, so each new enlightenment, each new improvement in command over self, is relative, not ultimate.” The problem with this very reasonable assumption is that it is not true. What it is, is your natural attempt to make sense of a thing at its own level, in its own context. But that isn’t how wisdom teachings work. They are both spark and scaffolding. Don’t invest too much time, effort, or emotional investment in producing consistent statements that will only have to be modified later anyway.

However, that is the gist of it. More is implied and perhaps was spoken, but the written reminder is enough. Sincerity and perseverance will allow you to penetrate the enigma that your life is. That’s a promise. The process of gradual, or, say, successive enlightenment is one of confusion followed by a new clarity. That is a description of process. Your new standing-place will give you – or, let’s say, will produce – a new you, with expanded capabilities (and, though it is unspoken here) new responsibilities. That’s also description, also promise.

Well, this again is very interesting. Thank you and see you next time.

 

4 thoughts on “Gospel of Thomas, Saying two

  1. The abundance of life – that certainly is true by my experience. Life keeps unfolding new aspects as I keep myself moving. Still waiting for command over anything, even myself. Seeing more of myself, though, that keeps happening: thinking about those gonostic-bashing churchmen I caught myself in the act of being attached to dislike. Things that obstruct seeing reality are attachment to liking and disliking. Liking too much is easy to catch, attachment to dislike is not so easy. Somehow having one’s mental world destroyed repeatedly has brought about a sort of trust in the process. Pieces of inner and outer life have periods of movement, and those bring out new life.

    A fine journey into a very important text, and in excellent company – thank you Frank and you all!

  2. I’m enjoying the discussion on the Gospel of Thomas. I like taking each saying and working through it to better understand its truth. I haven’t read the gospels this way. I’m so used to reading them as narrative that this throws me off. It’s like each phrase was probably the subject of a long teaching, and that’s the way it was supposed to be done.

    I’m with Kristiina. Having one’s mental world repeatedly destroyed was indeed distressing at first. I’ve since discovered that it has gotten easier for me as I’m trusting the process. My curiosity has since taken over. What new things are we going to discuss next?

    I often wonder what it would be like to live in a timeline where Christianity did not become the official religion of the Roman Empire, and all the various strains of thought were not suppressed. I’m sure that timeline exists. Gnosticism had its beginning long before Christianity, and it wasn’t the only contender for orthodoxy among early Christian thought. But Constantine’s acceptance of his mother’s religion changed the game. The church no longer was outlaw. It could set up buildings for worship. And it could use more permanent materials beside papyrus to copy its sacred texts upon. Until this time, the bishops had no real muscle for weeding out the errant strains of Christianity.

    As Christianity was now the official religion of the Roman Empire, Constantine required the bishops overseeing the various Christian churches to settle upon their beliefs and determine what was orthodox and what was not. This they did over several years of meeting, discussing, and arguing over what they believed and what they did not, and what texts would be included in the canon. It was during this time that Christian Gnosticism, among others, finally became outlawed.

  3. “Then he will reign over everything.” “ … then he attains command over himself, over all that he is, 3D and non-3D.”

    ‘My’ guidance chimed in here to suggest that ‘myself’ is everything, so these two sentences are not at odds. Everything I can know, everything I can deal with … if I’m aware of it, it’s me (I’m it, we are one, etc.). The delight of these ‘conversations’ is how they help ‘me’ grow in awareness of more ‘me.’
    Jim

  4. This whole conversation reminds me of Jungian Depth Psychology especially Thomas. Excellent posting! Thank you, it is very timely with regard to my own search and discovery.

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