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Hinduism Philosophy
Introduction to the Gospel of Thomas


21. Mary said to Jesus, "What are your disciples like?" He said, "They are like little children living in a field that is not theirs. When the owners of the field come, they will say, 'Give us back our field.' They take off their clothes in front of them in order to give it back to them, and they return their field to them. For this reason I say, if the owners of a house know that a thief is coming, they will be on guard before the thief arrives and will not let the thief break into their house (their domain) and steal their possessions. As for you, then, be on guard against the world. Prepare yourselves with great strength, so the robbers can't find a way to get to you, for the trouble you expect will come. Let there be among you a person who understands. When the crop ripened, he came quickly carrying a sickle and harvested it. Anyone here with two good ears had better listen!"

Interpretation :

Disciples live with an understanding, a set of concepts (living in a field) that is not yet theirs, as it is still based on hearsay, ideas explained by the teacher, rather than understood through direct experience. The ego (the owners), who also owns every one of these concepts (the field), will soon start claiming them back, turning the story to its own advantage. Till then the disciples are only wearing these concepts as parts of their ego, their public image (as clothes). In again surrendering to the ego, the concepts obtained from the teachings also have to be given back to the ego, repudiated (take off their clothes). Thus, the ego is the thief that will always try to steal away our true understanding (our possessions). So, one must ever be on guard against the illusion of form (the world) and exercise mind control (prepare with great strength), because the ego will counter-attack when given an opportunity (the trouble you expect will come). Jesus then expresses his hope that one of his disciples really understands this. He must not delay in fully embracing the truth (harvest it when it is ripe), hear what there is to hear, now.

37. His disciples said, "When will you appear to us, and when will we see you?" Jesus said, "When you strip without being ashamed, and you take your clothes and put them under your feet like little children and trample them, then [you] will see the son of the living one and you will not be afraid."

Interpretation :

The self (the son of the living one) can be seen only if one can accept oneself fully, without shame. Only then will it be possible to remove the concepts and attachments that constitute the ego (take off your clothes), renounce them (put them under your feet) and destroy them (trample them). Then one can see oneself as the self, as the son of the supreme, the only truly living One and be truly fearless (will not be afraid). Accepting the ego as a natural phenomenon, it can be shed, rendered powerless, subdued. There is no shame in being caught by illusion or Maya, because without it the play of life or Leela could not have been possible.

47. Jesus said, "A person cannot mount two horses or bend two bows. And a slave cannot serve two masters, otherwise that slave will honor the one and offend the other. Nobody drinks aged wine and immediately wants to drink young wine. Young wine is not poured into old wineskins, or they might break, and aged wine is not poured into a new wineskin, or it might spoil. An old patch is not sewn onto a new garment, since it would create a tear."

Interpretation :

Make your choice, serve either the ego or the self, cause you can't do both (mount two horses, bend two bows, serve two masters). Also, don't mix the old ways of the ego (aged wine) and the new spiritual ways and practices that lead to the self (young wine). It neither makes sense to absorb the knowledge of the self without releasing the attachments of the ego (pour young wine in old wineskins), nor to soil the new understanding by reviving old concepts (pour aged wine in a new wineskin, sew an old patch on a new garment). You have to let go.

60. He saw a Samaritan carrying a lamb and going to Judea . He said to his disciples, "that person ... around the lamb." They said to him, "So that he may kill it and eat it." He said to them, "He will not eat it while it is alive, but only after he has killed it and it has become a carcass." They said, "Otherwise he can't do it." He said to them, "So also with you, seek for yourselves a place for rest, or you might become a carcass and be eaten.

Interpretation :

To enjoy the self (eat the lamb), first the ego must be killed by seeing it as an illusion, as a dead object (a carcass). One must stick to calmness (a place for rest), so that one stays ever close to the self. If not, identification with the ego is likely to increase (you might become a carcass) and you will be attached to something which is entirely perishable (you might be eaten) and will fear death.

69. Jesus said, "Congratulations to those who have been persecuted in their hearts: they are the ones who have truly come to know the Father. Congratulations to those who go hungry, so the stomach of the one in want may be filled."

Interpretation :

When one starts to understand the truth of the Supreme (know the Father), then a struggle inside starts between the ego and our understanding of the self (persecuted in their hearts). That is a good sign (congratulations). Yet one should not dwell on this feeling of separation from the divine. By fasting from the world and our attachments (go hungry), we can direct our attention towards the self who has been lacking attention (fill the stomach of the one in want). At that stage, this is the best approach (congratulations).

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About this page

Peter MarchandThis introduction to the Thomas Gospel was written by Peter Marchand, who also wrote these books : "The Yoga of the Nine Emotions" and "The Yoga of Truth". Also browse our yoga video section for online classes by Peter Marchand.
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