Tuesday, July 23, 2019
12:50 a.m. Back to Thomas, after a brief hiatus. Saying 100:
They showed Jesus a gold coin and said: Caesar’s agents demand that we pay his taxes. He replied: Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s. Give to God what is God’s. And give me what is mine.
This one is familiar to Christians, but I think it will repay a closer look once we remember that Jesus was always talking about life more abundantly. Saying 99 distinguished between those “who do the will of my Father” and everyone else, saying that the former are his brothers and his mother, and will enter the kingdom of the father. This one says to distinguish between the things of the world, the things of the non-3D world, and – his: “Give me what is mine.” So, guys, what about it? What did he mean, give him what is his? What is that?
This becomes clearer if seen in connection not only with the previous but with the following saying.
Saying 101 a. Jesus said: Anyone who doesn’t hate his father and his mother as I do cannot be a disciple of mine. And anyone who doesn’t love his father and mother as I do cannot be a disciple of mine.
There is a way of hating and a way of loving and this is not two ways but one way. You see?
I can almost see the connection.
Include Saying 101 b.
101 b. My mother has … but true she gave me life.
Although strangely elided – and the notes say nothing of why – it seems to carry on the theme of “On the one hand, on the other hand.”
Taken together this is just what these sayings amount to. It is not as it seems, not “Do this in society, this in private,” nor “Do this in one context, this in another,” but “Recognize that true internal consistency means distinguishing between things in ways that are not always going to be obvious to others.”
I don’t think we quite got that into words. Try again?
When your being – your consciousness, call it, though that is somewhat misleading – comes into focus, you will see that certain things that are compounded (or confounded) in ordinary life are actually quite different, and other things that seem different are in fact closely related. This extends to the things of life (circumstances, call it) and to one’s position in life (one’s family) and to one’s attitude toward life in its manifestations.
Proceed to Saying 102.
- Jesus said: Woe to the Pharisees. Like a dog dozing in a food trough for cattle, they neither eat nor do they let the cattle eat.
Seems simple enough. The Pharisees – the keepers of the rule, we might say, the definers of conduct – are in what they are, not necessarily in intent – obstacles to others at no advantage to themselves. The dog in the manger need not intend to be an obstruction. His very being there will be enough.
So is this one merely an injunction against literalism, or is there more?
It says, you can’t defer to authority of any kind in matters of conscience or in matters of consciousness. Equally, be careful not to become an obstacle for others.
I don’t know that I’ve thought of that last in this context, nor that I’ve ever seen anyone else say it.
Well, what good is it to denounce others, when you are trying to teach by example, except in order to say, “Don’t be that way”?
Oh, I see it now, I just hadn’t beforehand. How may we wind up as obstacles to others?
One easy way would be by claiming authority. “God spoke to me and said thus and so. This must be obeyed.” Or, “The only way to read this is as meaning X and such.”
I agree, but as a practical problem, what when a prophet comes back with a message, as when they say, “Thus saith the Lord”?
It still isn’t true for you until your own soul assents. You cannot delegate your conscience. Of course as a practical matter, people do, all the time, but Jesus wasn’t speaking for, or to, the unawakened; he was setting his disciples a higher standard that they could live to, if they remained aware and were willing to adhere to. It wasn’t an easier way – “My yoke is easy” wasn’t referring to this day-by-day maintenance of a state of awakeness, of remaining in connection – but it could be done, and was the proper way to proceed.
So now consider the next saying in this context.
Saying 103. Jesus said: Blessed is one who know where (or when) bandits are going to attack, so that he can prepare, assemble his forces, and arm himself before the bandits enter.
That sounds like another call to continued vigilance.
Very good. And not exactly against others, yet not exactly against only impersonal forces such as sleep.
No, I get that. If we exist among forces of all types, of all values and agendas, it is well that we realize that we may be attacked in various ways, from various sides, by various points of view, call them.
Yet not fall into paranoia or fear or dualism, any of which will at one time or another seem to be the only reasonable response.
Difficult chalk-line to walk.
It can be. That’s why blind faith is a better guide than blind obedience, for one thing. Proceed.
Saying 104. They said to Jesus: Come, let’s pray today; let’s fast. Jesus responded: What sin have I committed? How have I been overcome? Rather, when the groom leaves the bridal suite, then they should fast and pray.
I could read this as saying, “All these practices are good when appropriate but not when not appropriate. Don’t be so literal.”
You can imagine how well this will go over with literalists.
Yes. Instead of a settled routine of duties and rituals, one lives in an uncharted field of possibilities among which one chooses by a process invisible perhaps to others.
Not everybody would come to that conclusion, but it is perfectly acceptable in context. Don’t rely upon authority without considering circumstances; don’t substitute your own whim or sloth for what is appropriate. Jesus was not legislating for society, for in practice, society has to have rules, often quite inflexible ones, in order to function – to maintain its dynamic stability, in effect. He was – need we say it yet again? – showing the way toward life more abundant, and that way can only be seized one person at a time, although social and religious arrangements can aid or hinder in what they allow or enjoin.
So 105 says, expect to be maligned by those who don’t understand?
Saying 105. Jesus said: One who knows his father and his mother will be called the son of a whore.
More by those who uphold a certain idea of things and are unable to see the reality behind appearance, and the strict morality behind the lack of a conventional moral code.
Shall we proceed to 106?
It would be better to come to that one fresh, lest you be tempted to skimp.
Okay. Our thanks for all this, as always.