Gospel of Thomas

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Whoever
 
Reply Tue 23 Jun, 2009 04:50 am
@KaseiJin,
KaseiJin;71324 wrote:

Any seeming relation to other religious belief-systems would more likely than not, simply be patternizing/associative overlay--unless we were to trace back from peripheral systems to Zoroastrianism, maybe, and find connections to that by the several (rather than among themselves)?

Why can't we just read the words and make the comparison? There's no need for patternizing and associative overlay. In Thomas, if I remember right, Jesus says 'Sin, as such, does not exist.' This is consistent with the perennial philosophy, including Christian Gnosticism, while being inconsistent with most others. To my mind, if there is a seeming relation with other scriptures and religions on points as crucial as this then it's likely to be a real one.
 
KaseiJin
 
Reply Tue 23 Jun, 2009 07:07 am
@kochun,
The reason why we can't just read the words and make the comparison, or, worded more properly, the reason why it is doing injustice to any ancient religious belief-system text to remove it from the contextual setting and aim of the original hand, is because in far most cases, especially for Jewish and early Christian works, the context, intended-to-be-understood communication is quite fixed by the direct and immediate audience for which the text had been intended.

In otherwords, simply because some line, passage or allusion to an idea appears today, to match one of a totally different ancient text (especially when extremely divided by culture, time, and religious belief-system), does not automatically mean there is any large degree of similarity unless the contextual settings match well enough. Also, some degree of seemingly similarity between 'universal-like' statements in various teachings will not automatically draw connections between them, but rather more likely that the teaching is an element of nature that the teachings had been drawn up from.

I have the English translation of Thomas (The Nag Hammadi Library in English, 3rd Ed. (Brill 1988)) and the only place I can even find the word 'sin' is at 104b:

[indent]Jesus said, "What is the sin that I have committed, or wherein have I been defeated? But when teh bridegroom leaves the bridal chamber, then let them fast and pray."[/indent]
 
Whoever
 
Reply Tue 23 Jun, 2009 07:59 am
@kochun,
Of course your view is possible. The question arises, however, as to how, if the writers of the texts did in fact agree with each other, we would ever be able to know this.

If two people say the same thing would there there never be any justification for concluding that they agreed with each other? Taken to its conclusion, your view entails that it is pointless for a person to read the scriptures today, since we would have no hope of finding the correct interpretation.

I certainly agree we should be wary. But when Muhammed says 'Die before your death,' and in Thomas Jesus says 'Blessed is he whose end is before his beginning,' I think it would be perverse to assume they were not conveying the same message, even if we weren't in the audience at the time.

I haven't tracked down that Jesus quote yet. In checking for it though I came across these two mentions of Thomas and thought them worth posting. The first is from the website listed. The second I can't place. It's significance is that Thomas and the Gospel of the Nazirenes carry the same message, so a large degree of congruence between Thomas and Buddhist doctrine is indicated, and some historical reason to give Thomas an interpretation by which they are congruent. Whether this is the correct interpretation is for you to judge.


In the late 19th century, several fragments of a Greek version of the "Gospel of Thomas" were discovered among the Oxyrhynchys Papyri. These fragments contained text common to all four Gospels and was considered a possible contender for the elusive Gospel of "Q". Then in 1945 a complete copy of the Gospel of Thomas was found in Egypt with the discovery of the Nag Hammadi Library. Most of its content can be found, sometimes word for word, in the Gospels of the New Testament, but the text is not considered canonical by the church.

The Gospel of Thomas proclaims a unique and very different message from the current "accepted" New Testament Gospels. In contrast to the way in which he is now portrayed, Jesus in the Gospel of Thomas performs no physical miracles, reveals no fulfillment of prophecy, announces no apocalyptic kingdom, and dies for no one's sins. Instead, Jesus provides insight and wisdom and offers a way of salvation through the understandings of his teachings and words. The readers of the Gospel of Thomas are invited to discover within themselves the way of salvation, by interpreting the cryptic and enigmatic "hidden sayings" of the living Jesus.
[RIGHT]
http://www.thenazareneway.com/The%20Gospel%20of%20Thomas.htm

[/RIGHT]
In 1870, an Aramaic manuscript entitled "The Gospel of the Nazirenes" was discovered, translated and published. This ancient scripture, hidden away for centuries in a Tibetan monastery, seems in virtually every respect identical to the work by the same title, that was known and widely quoted from in the first century by the church. Many of the most revered early church fathers, as well as a surprising number of scholars today, have boldly declared that the legendary Gospel of the Nazirenes, later to be known as "The Gospel of the Holy Twelve," is nothing less than the long-lost original Gospel which, legend holds, was collectively written by the actual 12 apostles in the period immediately following Christ's death, and upon which all of the Biblical synoptic Gospels are based.
 
xris
 
Reply Tue 23 Jun, 2009 08:10 am
@Whoever,
Before Paul got his hands on the gospels and corrupted them and the message.Sacrifice, miracles are a necessity for religion,it is essentialy pagan.We see a reason for its exclusion in the simplicity,the glimpse of the real jesus, not the invented Christ of Paul.
 
KaseiJin
 
Reply Tue 23 Jun, 2009 08:18 am
@kochun,
I'll have to get back here, but the first website is not an academically based website, and therefore has allowed a bit of slack to leak in. The Thomas document is not a gospel genre, so cannot be compared. The second quote appears amiss. The gospel of the Hebrews? The gospel of the Nazarenes? There may be some confusion.

I'll explain later, but you seem to have missed my point, and shot way over board. My apologies for not being able to do it now. The Quran source and the Thomas source are culturally related. The Tripika source, or the Rig Veda source would not be. KJ
 
LWSleeth
 
Reply Tue 23 Jun, 2009 11:43 am
@kochun,
[SIZE="3"]I think this issue is as much about the sort of understanding one is after as much as any other concern. In forum discussions I've noticed there are typically several types of approaches to understanding. One is the uninformed approach where someone just reasons with what he has in his head, and often the information he does have is indiscriminately gleaned from any and all sources, trustworthy or not. A second type is just the opposite, where the obsession with detail overrides any other consideration. This participant, if you let him, will distract everyone into debating over minutia, the more intricately complex the better, to the point that no overall understanding is ever focused on. There are a few minor discussion types too, like those who just want to rant, glorify their egos, accentuate controversy, etc.

But a third important type is the discussion participant who wants to understand by making sure the important (i.e., relevant) facts are as correct as possible, yet who is really after an overall understanding. This person is more interested in discovering what reality actually is (or was) than being right, or venting their obsessions on the group (like detail intellectualism or religious abhorrence or unrelenting skepticism, etc.) What this has to do with Thomas is that there are competing approaches taking place in this thread, but I think any real understanding will only come from working towards the whole-view . . . at least, that is all I am going to work towards myself.

That said, I believe it is extremely difficult to understand Thomas without understanding Jesus; and it is impossible to understand Jesus without understanding the conscious experience he was having. To study his words without knowing what state of consciousness he was directing students toward will result in interpretations based on what we are familiar with. But if what Jesus was teaching was something we have no experience with in "normal" life, then our interpretations will simply reflect what we know, and will be completely missing what we don't know.

This whole discussion has to start with Jesus, and whatever it was he was doing, but it also must take into account the state of normal human consciousness. Elaine Pagels in her book "Beyond Belief" brilliantly lays out the case for two interpretations of Jesus that evolved right off the bat. I'd sum it up as 1) those who interpreted Jesus more outwardly, and those who interpreted Jesus more inwardly. (There was a third trend too, the kind of interpretations that gave some Gnostics a bad name, that of virtually abandoning Jesus' teachings except in lip service, and then combining the faintest of intuitions with unrestrained imagination to invent wild cosmologies, etc.).

But in the main trends, all attempt to follow Jesus and realize what he was teaching, and it was clearly the "outer" interpreters who won out and created most of what the Christian religion is today. An interesting question is, what does the outer team winning mean? I say, it reflects the normal state of human consciousness, which is intensely "outward" in its orientation. So what happens with someone like Jesus (and all the other great teachers) is that only the relative few grasp the inward way, while the vast majority "translate" the teaching into an "outer" version. What is an "outer" translation? Ways we can behave, think, and believe.

An "inner" translation, however, is something entirely different, which is why, for example, some of the inner types scoffed at the Jesus followers who thought the resurrection was literally an outer event rather than what happens when we arise from a deadened existence inside. Examples are found in Gospels as well that show outward translation occurring, as when Jesus is talking about being reborn and a man questions how someone can climb back in the womb for another birth.

If mainstream religion is mainly the work of outer translators, then who are the inner translators? These have been labeled "mystics" by the outer guys because their take on things "mystifies" outer understanding. Even today many outer translators ridicule anything they can't convert to an idea, belief or behavior, so you can see why when the inner proponents claim what Jesus taught was a new kind of conscious experience the outer experts roll their eyes in scorn. While the inner expert might judge words attributed to Jesus based on the inner experience it triggers, outer experts are meeting for a "Jesus Seminar" and voting on it.

Thomas was clearly an inner translator, and that is why his writings didn't make it into canon. (You might wonder how something like Revelation made it in since it seems mystical, but it is another beast altogether. The person who wrote Revelation likely fasted to make himself hallucinate, and then did a prophesy-curse kind of thing, well-known in the Middle East at the time, unleashing his malevolent supernatural appeal at Rome for destroying Israel in 69 CE.)

The big question remains, what was Jesus teaching: inner or outer? Well, I say he was teaching inner, and inner only. The fact that he stood out as special to those who trusted him shows just how unusual, rare and powerful the genuinely enlightened inner teacher is. We have had millions of outer teachers, they are a dime a dozen; a new "outer" way in the end is behaviorism and belief systems, which hasn't proven very effective thus far in enlightening us . . . so who needs more of that? But what Jesus was able to demonstrate to a relative few was what can be achieved inwardly; and since in this path when the inner is right, the outer automatically follows, there is little need to teach much outer anyway.[/SIZE]
 
Whoever
 
Reply Tue 23 Jun, 2009 01:41 pm
@kochun,
Hi Les

Well said. To my mind all these ways of approaching the issues would be valid, just as long the objective is getting to the bottom of the issue and not simply to avoid them. Of course, a difficulty of appealing to the inner vision of Jesus is that it is possible to say he didn't have one. Then all we can do appeal to his sayings. Then we start having to decide which of them are authentic, then we have to decide what they mean, then we have to decide whether they are systematic, then... well, here we all are. Did you go through a phase of believing all 'religious' people to be nutcases, or did you manage to miss this bit out?
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Tue 23 Jun, 2009 02:31 pm
@Whoever,
KaseiJin;71324 wrote:
A good argument has been put forward which demonstrates quite well why it would be wrong to the view the document as being primarily a Gnostic work


As I recall, Thomas is not taken to be a Gnostic work, but a work popular among Gnostics.

KaseiJin;71324 wrote:
It did not seem to have the familiarity that some of the other exemplar copies seem to have had, and I wouldn't be so quick to agree that it had been penned earlier than the basic work attributed to John, although would not doubt at all, that parts of its core exemplar had been derived from a much earlier source--just as the synoptic gospels.


This question hinges on one's opinion of Thomas' date. If you are in the 'early camp', Thomas was most certainly written prior to John. If you are among the more conservative 'late camp', then the notion that Thomas pre-dates John would seem absurd.

LWSleeth;71413 wrote:

The big question remains, what was Jesus teaching: inner or outer? Well, I say he was teaching inner, and inner only.
The fact that he stood out as special to those who trusted him shows just how unusual, rare and powerful the genuinely enlightened inner teacher is. We have had millions of outer teachers, they are a dime a dozen; a new "outer" way in the end is behaviorism and belief systems, which hasn't proven very effective thus far in enlightening us . . . so who needs more of that? But what Jesus was able to demonstrate to a relative few was what can be achieved inwardly; and since in this path when the inner is right, the outer automatically follows, there is little need to teach much outer anyway.


This is all fine, but I do not see an argument supporting the notion that Jesus only taught 'inner' teachings and did not give outer teachings. Clearly, Jesus' message relied upon his esoteric teachings; however, that Jesus gave esoteric teachings does not preclude exoteric teachings.

Jesus has always been interesting to me because of his apparent ability to teach on both levels: to simultaneously give eso and exoteric teaching. His parables are wonderful examples: they have outer, apparent meaning with spiritual value, yet they also contain deeper, inner meaning with far more spiritual value for those who are willing to commit the necessary time of reflection and meditation.
 
LWSleeth
 
Reply Tue 23 Jun, 2009 04:19 pm
@Whoever,
Whoever;71446 wrote:
Of course, a difficulty of appealing to the inner vision of Jesus is that it is possible to say he didn't have one.


Yes, people can say anything they want, and do. I have an undergraduate degree in religious studies (specializing in mysticism), and have sat through classes employing exegesis as the method of study. Not only was I privy to all the disputes among scholars over every single line in the Bible, but I heard plenty of it from classmates.

In these classes were all varieties of religious belief, but they were mostly Christians. I myself have never been religious (almost . . . see below). My interest was in the so-called "mystical" experience, and I was interested because I'd just started meditating and had had some very powerful experiences myself. I wanted to understand the history of the practice of union/samadhi, which is what I was practicing (and still do).

I mention all this to point out how few people I have run into who interpret Jesus inwardly, and as a result, how few people agree on what he was about. All those classes, and in a great many forums I've participated in over the years, the majority have disagreed with each other over various details.

in contrast, almost every person I've encountered who was relating to all this inwardly has agreed more than disagreed. In fact, whatever disagreement there's been has usually been because of concepts they accepted about Jesus from this culture, not from any personal experience they've had. Also, study the famous practitioners of inwardness and you again find amazing agreement despite centuries and miles of separation between them.

Why would there be more agreement between the inner interpreters than outer interpreters? Because the inner interpreter is trying to feel it, not trying to analyze it to death. Once felt, everything falls into place.


Whoever;71446 wrote:
Then all we can do appeal to his sayings. Then we start having to decide which of them are authentic, then we have to decide what they mean, then we have to decide whether they are systematic, then... well, here we all are.


Well, I have done all that, rather extensively. I think I've forgotten more than most people know. I forgot it (the details anyway) because after all that study it made little difference to my experience of Jesus. And relevant to this thread, of all that I've read of him, no Gospel better conveys that feeling than the Gospel of Thomas. I can still feel Jesus, and I truly love him even though I am not a Christian. But I love others too, like the Buddha, and Mohammed, and Nanak, and Kabir, and the list goes on (but especially Jesus for some reason . . . Smile )


Whoever;71446 wrote:
Did you go through a phase of believing all 'religious' people to be nutcases, or did you manage to miss this bit out?


My family was extremely religious, so when I was 11 I got "saved" in a Baptist church because I thought it would make me a "good boy." When it didn't work, I figured I was so bad even God couldn't help me :devilish: I then ran into a precocious friend who snuck me a book by an atheist, and I became an atheist instantly (the perfect solution to my failure at religion).

Years later, when I was taught samadhi meditation, I was still at least a strong agnostic. It's only been the very powerful experiences of union that have gradually changed my mind (plus I realized I'd become an atheist from disliking religion, which has nothing to do with if there is a God or not).

---------- Post added at 03:34 PM ---------- Previous post was at 03:19 PM ----------

Didymos Thomas;71470 wrote:
AThis is all fine, but I do not see an argument supporting the notion that Jesus only taught 'inner' teachings and did not give outer teachings. Clearly, Jesus' message relied upon his esoteric teachings; however, that Jesus gave esoteric teachings does not preclude exoteric teachings.

Jesus has always been interesting to me because of his apparent ability to teach on both levels: to simultaneously give eso and exoteric teaching. His parables are wonderful examples: they have outer, apparent meaning with spiritual value, yet they also contain deeper, inner meaning with far more spiritual value for those who are willing to commit the necessary time of reflection and meditation.


[SIZE="3"]We've disagreed along these lines this in the past, so I wouldn't expect us to agree now. However, everything Jesus says is, to me, only about how to proceed inwardly. The fact that there is always some sort of outer correspondence simply illustrates my assertion that outer follows inner, not that Jesus was teaching anything about dealing with the outer world. True, people who aren't interested in the inner way may still benefit from his words, but that doesn't mean Jesus actually intended to teach both inwardly and outwardly (as I've defined "inward" and "outward" interpretation above).

You give me any parable you want, and I'll show you how it is far more applicable inwardly than outwardly. I'll start off with a couple:

Jesus said, "The kingdom of heaven is like leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened . . ." and, ". . . it is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs."

This is what it's like to receive the teacher's initiating inner experience. Just as the parable describes the way leaven continues to expand lifting all the flour (or dough) with it, so the teacher's initiating experience continues to expand the "hidden" light within the student; and like a mustard seed, though the initiating seed of inner experience is small (subtle), its growth potential is great.[/SIZE]
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Tue 23 Jun, 2009 05:05 pm
@LWSleeth,
LWSleeth;71511 wrote:

The fact that there is always some sort of outer correspondence simply illustrates my assertion that outer follows inner, not that Jesus was teaching anything about dealing with the outer world. True, people who aren't interested in the inner way may still benefit from his words, but that doesn't mean Jesus actually intended to teach both inwardly and outwardly (as I've defined "inward" and "outward" interpretation above).


I still so no reason to presume that simply because a particular teaching has inner significance said teaching does not have outer significance, much less any reason to suppose that Jesus was not witty enough to notice the two levels upon which his teachings work.

Why would you and I be able to notice the outward significance of a given teaching and not the man who gave the teaching?

I have no doubt that Jesus was more concerned with inner progress (as I agree with you that outward follows the inner), but to say he did not intend for his teachings to be applicable on two levels when the teachings are in fact applicable on those two levels is a leap that seems quite strange to make.

[/SIZE]
LWSleeth;71511 wrote:
You give me any parable you want, and I'll show you how it is far more applicable inwardly than outwardly.


You misunderstand me. I agree that any given parable is more significant as inward teaching, but that is not the point I am making.

The point I am making is that Jesus was rather brilliant in his ability to give teaching that works on both levels, therefore making his teachings relevant to a larger audience.

[/SIZE]My only assumption about Jesus' intentions is that Jesus want to help other people. Because his teachings work on two levels, making them immediately relevant to the larger audience, it stands to reason that Jesus intended his teachings to work on both levels. Unless there is any particular reason why Jesus would give teachings that work on two levels and expect people to ignore the most obvious significance of the teaching (the outer), it is only reasonable to assume that he intended the teachings to work on both levels.

Just as Theravada Buddhism is extreme in their assertion that there are no esoteric teachings in Buddhism, so is this assertion that Jesus had no exoteric intention in his teaching.
 
LWSleeth
 
Reply Tue 23 Jun, 2009 07:20 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas;71529 wrote:
I still so no reason to presume that simply because a particular teaching has inner significance said teaching does not have outer significance, much less any reason to suppose that Jesus was not witty enough to notice the two levels upon which his teachings work. Why would you and I be able to notice the outward significance of a given teaching and not the man who gave the teaching?


Yes, but I didn't say that. I made what I admit is a bold claim, that Jesus cared nothing about outer teaching. My theory is that he could be confident it was purely good to give only inward instruction because he knew better than anyone that outer follows inner.


Didymos Thomas;71529 wrote:
The point I am making is that Jesus was rather brilliant in his ability to give teaching that works on both levels, therefore making his teachings relevant to a larger audience.


Except, I say he wasn't being brilliant communicatively, he was trusting the inner way. Why else would he say "let those who have ears hear"? That sounds like he was being a fisher for hardcore devotees, not trying to give broadly helpful spiritual pronouncements.

Further, it was Paul who made it available to a larger audience, Jesus himself said he'd come for the Jews (ostensibly because he seemed to know 69 AD and other persecutions were coming).


Didymos Thomas;71529 wrote:
My only assumption about Jesus' intentions is that Jesus want to help other people. Because his teachings work on two levels, making them immediately relevant to the larger audience, it stands to reason that Jesus intended his teachings to work on both levels. Unless there is any particular reason why Jesus would give teachings that work on two levels and expect people to ignore the most obvious significance of the teaching (the outer), it is only reasonable to assume that he intended the teachings to work on both levels.


Why does it stand to reason? It is a mistake to evaluate the mission of Jesus based on our short-sighted perspectives. What if Jesus had an assignment? For example, looking ahead 2000 years, and seeing the influence the West would have on world politics, economics, etc., the bloody, cruel ways of Rome would have been horrible qualities to have moved into the future.

The Christians who stood up in the arena, for instance, are known to have softened the hearts of some of the brutes who attended Christian tortures for a good time on Sunday afternoon at the Coliseum. Eventually the devotion of so many who sacrificed themselves (as Jesus did), won over the wife of Constantine, and the rest is history. What would Western culture be like today without that service from so many?

So Jesus might have been looking for a few good devotees, and caring nothing about how many others might have been able to take something for personal growth.


Didymos Thomas;71529 wrote:
Just as Theravada Buddhism is extreme in their assertion that there are no esoteric teachings in Buddhism, so is this assertion that Jesus had no exoteric intention in his teaching.


That's not the best counterexample for me. Theravada Buddhism, at least in the early years, was a wonderful example of devotion to the original teachings of the master. Every year that goes by after a teacher's death, every time it gets "expanded," the teaching gets diluted. If it weren't for the devoted few who keep the original thing alive, we'd never know the Buddha taught meditation (and even with that, most people have no clue that's what he was all about). If you doubt that assessment, just look at all the threads here that talk about "Buddhism" rather than the inner experience of the Buddha himself. Talk about clueless.
 
xris
 
Reply Wed 24 Jun, 2009 02:23 am
@LWSleeth,
Thanks for your input again LW.your insight is amazing.My feelings but with education.Some say i rant on about paul but i feel he directed christianity away from its real purpose, turned it from a message of hope into a world power,full of corruption.Thomas gives us more of a true meaning to Christs message.
They neve did baptise me at the baptist church,i asked too many questions.
 
KaseiJin
 
Reply Wed 24 Jun, 2009 03:34 am
@Didymos Thomas,
Yes, DT, I may not have worded that as carefully as I should have. While it can be seen as a work used by (and by extension popular among, maybe) Gnostics since it was in the gnostic codex II of Nag Hammadi, it would be wrong to see it as not being a used text by other early non-gnostic or 'pre-gnostic' groups; since the Oxyrhynchus fragments of Thomas (Oxy. 1, 654, and 655) have no relation to gnostic texts. However, as I have read, when it was first published, some took it to be a gnostic work simply for that reason, and have later been shown wrong.



Didymos Thomas;71470 wrote:

This question hinges on one's opinion of Thomas' date. If you are in the 'early camp', Thomas was most certainly written prior to John. If you are among the more conservative 'late camp', then the notion that Thomas pre-dates John would seem absurd.


Here, I am only going by what James Robinson (who published The Facsimile Edition of the Nag Hammadi Codies and has done much work on the Q source) is saying, and that is that the Greek fragments are usually ascribed to the third century, but should be dated to late second century, and the Nag Hammadi is ascribed to the first half of the fourth century. John is mentioned in the Muratorian (c. 170) fragment, and both P52, 90 (John) are ascribed to the second century.

However, from what we do have, I am not moved to so quickly agree that the text, as a whole, as we have in that Coptic form was that exact same whole throughout the development of texts. Because it is a sayings genre, it is just as easy to see it as the result (much like the gospel narratives) of a growing complilation of sayings texts that were composed or spread around. Just as we can state that there is a proto-Mark, we have room, at least, to state that any sayings texts could be proto-Thomas. I do agree, as with most dating procedures, that there is no certainty.

If you do have some material on that you'd be interested in sharing, I'd love to look into it.


There will always be the problem of reading more into a passage of text of a religious-belief system, than can be strained from it--after considering a number of factors. For Thomas, it is only a sayings text with no additional body of explication, so it is easy to read much into it.

We must not forget to factor in a few things, however. Anyway we look at it, Yeshua was a Jewish male, brought up in a certain cultural environment within a rather specific span of time. We do not have any written material from that person, and a time gap with some additional hands and information it, so the validity of which we can even claim that any specific statement accredited to Yeshua, rather in Thomas, Infant Thomas, Mark, Luke, Matthew, and or John, can be shown to be a verbatim expression of that historical person.

It would thus be a very futile exercise to attempt to try to postulate on Yeshua's states of consciousness content, or what he had really had in mind with his activity, or what connection he may have exactly had with one John who is said to have been religiously active--or any number of others the Josephus mentions from around that era.
 
Whoever
 
Reply Wed 24 Jun, 2009 04:56 am
@LWSleeth,
LWSleeth;71511 wrote:
I mention all this to point out how few people I have run into who interpret Jesus inwardly, and as a result, how few people agree on what he was about. All those classes, and in a great many forums I've participated in over the years, the majority have disagreed with each other over various details.

In contrast, almost every person I've encountered who was relating to all this inwardly has agreed more than disagreed.

Yes. I'd say the level of agreement between such people is among the strongest reasons for wondering if they're right.

Quote:
I think I've forgotten more than most people know. I forgot it (the details anyway) because after all that study it made little difference to my experience of Jesus. And relevant to this thread, of all that I've read of him, no Gospel better conveys that feeling than the Gospel of Thomas. I can still feel Jesus, and I truly love him even though I am not a Christian. But I love others too, like the Buddha, and Mohammed, and Nanak, and Kabir, and the list goes on (but especially Jesus for some reason . . . Smile )

How interesting. Especially Jesus... More and more I find myself agreeing.

It is a very minor issue, but I would side with Didymos as regards the exoteric teachings. It is remarkable how Jesus (or whoever it was) manages to talk about both worlds with the same words. There is also the idea from psychology that sometimes, in order to change our mental habits, it is best to start with changing our behaviour. In therapy this approach is often more effective than a direct assault on beliefs and attitudes, just as it often is in sports psychology. As you know, this approach is very often used by spiritual teachers. Only in hindsight would it all come down to the esoteric message. That would be my view anyway.

---------- Post added at 12:00 PM ---------- Previous post was at 11:56 AM ----------

KaseiJin;71650 wrote:
It would thus be a very futile exercise to attempt to try to postulate on Yeshua's states of consciousness content, or what he had really had in mind with his activity.

I expect we'd all agree. What Les is suggesting is that we do not have to speculate.
 
LWSleeth
 
Reply Wed 24 Jun, 2009 11:02 am
@xris,
xris;71642 wrote:
Thanks for your input again LW.your insight is amazing.My feelings but with education.


[SIZE="3"]You are welcome, and thanks for the appreciation. Smile [/SIZE]


xris;71642 wrote:
Some say i rant on about paul but i feel he directed christianity away from its real purpose, turned it from a message of hope into a world power,full of corruption.Thomas gives us more of a true meaning to Christs message.


[SIZE="3"]I might disagree with your take on Paul a bit because I don't think the world would have discovered much about Jesus if it weren't for him. He did set up the basis for turning the experience Jesus revealed into a religion, but I don't think he could have been so successful if he hadn't brought some of the feeling of Jesus with him as he spread the word. I hate to think how Europe would have developed without the morality that monotheistic religion brought to the far more violent tribal mores (Clovis, for example).

The way I look at it is that Jesus had his mission, and Paul had his. To those cruel Romans I mentioned, for instance, Paul's influence had to be a step up from paganism. Today there are still those of us who seek what Jesus taught, and those who feel more comfortable with Paul's watered down version (my apologies in advance to those who think Paul well represents all that Jesus was about). Despite the downside of religion, I think the world is better off today because of the influence of monotheism during the development of civilizations, even if now we might be better off without it.

But for me, the really interesting question is what Jesus taught. My investigation has proceeded through the practices of union that could be found going on very soon after Jesus' death. There are interesting books around about the practice, such as Helen Waddell's small work, "The Desert Fathers," and of course the writings of the Greek Orthodox monastics in the "Philokalia." The classic "Mysticism" by Underhill looks more at the practice in Catholic monasteries; and some of the more modern works like Needleman's "Lost Christianity" examine how the tradition is still alive today.

My own book will attempt to show that Jesus taught union to a select few, those who would abandon their work and family to follow him around. I argue that those "seventy-two" Jesus sent ahead of him were just such devotees, and the rich man story or the talk to the crowd saying "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his [family]. . . even his own life . . . [part] with all your possessions . . . cannot be a follower of mine" were invitations to join his sangha-like troop. It was, I suggest, from these closest devotees that the practice was preserved for centuries, primarily in monastic life. I argue that since all practicing called themselves Christian, and since before Jesus there is no record of anyone practicing, then if Jesus didn't teach it, where did it come from?

Paul, on the other hand, was not offering any such opportunity, but rather a way for the majority to still get something from Jesus even if they weren't ready to devote their entire lives to an inner practice. In this way both categories of the faithful -- the hard core devotee and the householder -- were able to benefit from Jesus.[/SIZE]

---------- Post added at 11:09 AM ---------- Previous post was at 10:02 AM ----------

Whoever;71660 wrote:
It is a very minor issue, but I would side with Didymos as regards the exoteric teachings. . . . I expect we'd all agree. What Les is suggesting is that we do not have to speculate. [i.e., that "It would thus be a very futile exercise to attempt to try to postulate on Yeshua's states of consciousness content, or what he had really had in mind with his activity"]


[SIZE="3"]I've singled out those two comments, not to start a big debate, but to explain why I think those issues are important.

In my survey of "types" of inner teachers, there is a most unique category I refer to as creationary teachers. I won't get into much detail of the model, but it includes a certain radical focus these teachers seem to insist on from devotees. Put that idea on hold for a second, and let me address the second comment.

I understand we can never know for certain what state of consciousness another is experiencing, nor (especially far back in history) can we know for sure another's intent. However, I have (in my own work) argued that there is no other way to understand Jesus (or the Buddha, or any other of those I label "creationary") unless we understand both their state of consciousness and their intent as a teacher. In fact, it is the failure to grasp these two issues that is precisely the reason for so much disagreement about such teachers.

Was Jesus the son of God, here to offer salvation to the world? Was he a supernatural being? Watching the "Last Temptation of Christ," the intent and consciousness presented there has Jesus with no more than a preacher's state of mind, and an intent meant to create a new religion. Gibson's take in the "Passion of Christ" is has a different state of mind and intent.

If we are to get any insight into these questions, where do we look? I think we have to begin with what the closest devotees were up to; as Jesus said, "you will know him by his fruits." But to really understand I also think we have to experience what these closest devotees were experiencing, and then read Jesus with the understanding the experience gives one. Obviously, this is no small task.

Still, if you learn union, practice it, and over time allow the experience to affect conscious, then Jesus starts to be seen in a new light. For example, because the experience of union is oneness, there is a real sense of being with Jesus consciously instead of merely looking at him from the outside. Also, after working at union for over thirty years, I know what devotion it takes to keep at it (although for me, the rewards of practice are enough). A teacher like Jesus wasn't going to teach union if a person wouldn't seriously commit, and so when I read what he said I see nothing but parables about "what its like," invitations to give it a shot, and warnings about just how much one must sacrifice to practice.

Jesus' comment "let those with ears hear," is an amazing bit of information if one knows what he is saying. When a creationary teacher speaks (according to my model), he makes a feeling present, and it takes a certain openness and sensitivity from listeners to feel it. Jesus knew only those who are moved by the feeling of his message were going to be attracted to a devoted practice, no other means of attraction works. So he just put the feeling out there, through his words, and let it attract whomever could feel it.

Here we are 2000 years later, and how do we know what that feeling was by just reading it from a book? It was Jesus' living presence that manifested the feeling, and his most devoted students who kept in alive first as desert hermits and then in monasteries. Whatever feeling survives today shows up in the passion and love we can manage to pick up on from Jesus and the most devoted, but it is very difficult for most people to detect.

Scholars who try to figure out Jesus will never understand, IMHO, if they think his words and behavior alone are enough to tell us what he was about. Only by experiencing what he experienced inside can we really understand both his state of consciousness and his intent.

Getting back to why I think he only taught inwardly, it is because he understood that outer follows inner. You are correct to say that today we understand we can encourage inner development through behaving some way first; however, that is because we are so outer! If someone has fully, 100% realized inner (like Jesus), then his way of being is a demonstration of what it is like to wholly rely on, have faith in, and recommend inner. That his inner teaching has positive lessons for us to mimic behaviorally is simply due to our condition, not his condition or teachings.[/SIZE]
 
Whoever
 
Reply Wed 24 Jun, 2009 12:25 pm
@kochun,
You'll know I would agree with most of that, but I'd stick to my guns on the exoteric teachings.

Good point about Paul. I've been a devoted critic of his for quite a while, but I see that perhaps his approach was necessary. Still, it's a moot point whether we would have been better off without the imperialist dogma of the later Church. I often think not, but then again, presumably it was all for the best. Clearly paganism was useless to an aspiring Empire, while Paul's doctrine was, well, a godsend. The Chinese authorities seem recently to have woken up to this fact.

Have you a book in the pipeline?
 
xris
 
Reply Thu 25 Jun, 2009 03:39 am
@Whoever,
Should we admirePaul for his politics or his faith.I am highly suspicious of the man,why did he create Rome as the centre and not jerusalem.Was it control of mens souls or their salvation he sought.When he died by unknown means Peter,who was encouraged to come to Rome by Paul, had been the final sacrifice the pagans needed to convert.I see in Paul a man driven by power and a tool of imperial Rome,just look at his back ground and you can see the quest.
Christianity had been growing by its own message ,that message changed with the coming of paul and instead of a common mans revolution turned into an imperialistic weapon of control.
 
KaseiJin
 
Reply Thu 25 Jun, 2009 03:50 am
@Whoever,
Whoever, it might be preferable to ascertain the text before making too many assertions about what it says. The wording about 'sin' is not in it, and that ''Blessed is he whose end is before his beginning,' is not in it either. The closest I could find (but I'll search a little more carefully tonight [if I do get that time]) is:
[INDENT]18d Blessed is he who will take his place in the beginning; he will know the end and will not experience death.
[/INDENT]This is in reply to the given request by the disciples, "Tell us how our end will be," so there is a little bit of context within which to understand it.

Whoever;71660 wrote:

I expect we'd all agree. What Les is suggesting is that we do not have to speculate.


I would like to ask you to expound on this latter thought, please. As far as I can see, and with the due respect (and only to encourage careful consideration) LWSleeth has seemingly asserted an impossibility.

If we were to look at post 26on page two, we'll see that he very much seems to be asserting that one cannot possibly know Yeshua without understanding the conscious experience he (Yeshua) was having, while also asserting that to study Yeshua's words without knowing what state of consciousness he was directing towards his students will result in a certain 'interpretation' [sic] of those words. After thinking about it, would it not be hard to attempt to understand anything at all about a man who had lived almost 2000 years ago, if there were no data upon which to even know of any such man's ever having existed?

We can find a similar type ('circular-like' (if you will) problem which may illustrate this in that same post, paragraph two. A third type of discussion participant is seen as one which 'wants to understand by making sure the important (i.e., relevent) facts are as correct as possible and further, 'is more interested in discovering what reality actually is (or was) than being right.'

My honest intent being to promote care and conscientiousness, I point this out. It might be that the word 'data' would have been better than 'fact,' because we usually consider facts as being as correct as possible by definition; yet would it not be more common to understand a discovery of what reality (held at whatever degree or level) is (or was) to be a discovery of what was right, by definition? I mean, if we assert that Yeshua was a Mosaic Law abiding Jewish male, and then we discover that he was actually, historically, a Mosaic Law abiding Jewish male, then does that not automatically (by definition) make that assertion right?

I absolutely guarantee you all that there were actual, historical tribal peoples living on the plains of the North American continent in the 18th century who knew absolutely nothing at all about any Yeshua--much less even the history of the Jewish religious belief-system. Why? Because they had had absolutely no data on that person.

The point is, if we had not (primarily) had the written documentation, we would have had no real starting point; only the line of oral tradition until some point of written document. Today, that (the written documentation) is all we have, so to attempt to learn anything at all about any matter of the life of this one Yeshua, we have to first turn to the total of written works, understand them, then go from there all the while paying close attention to contextual setting, cultural setting, anthropological and archaeological findings, and so on. It is impossible to know what exactly was in the mind of Yeshua without firstly having data on that matter.
 
Whoever
 
Reply Thu 25 Jun, 2009 06:09 am
@KaseiJin,
KaseiJin;72045 wrote:
Whoever, it might be preferable to ascertain the text before making too many assertions about what it says. The wording about 'sin' is not in it, and that ''Blessed is he whose end is before his beginning,' is not in it either. The closest I could find (but I'll search a little more carefully tonight [if I do get that time]) is:
[INDENT]18d Blessed is he who will take his place in the beginning; he will know the end and will not experience death.
[/INDENT]

I think I misrembered verse 20, which goes, "Blessed is he whose beginning is before he came into being!" This is a variant on the translation given in the complete Nag Hammadi. Thanks for pointing out the error.

[quote]I[/quote]
Quote:
would like to ask you to expound on this latter thought, please. As far as I can see, and with the due respect (and only to encourage careful consideration) LWSleeth has seemingly asserted an impossibility.

If we were to look at post 26on page two, we'll see that he very much seems to be asserting that one cannot possibly know Yeshua without understanding the conscious experience he (Yeshua) was having, while also asserting that to study Yeshua's words without knowing what state of consciousness he was directing towards his students will result in a certain 'interpretation' [sic] of those words. After thinking about it, would it not be hard to attempt to understand anything at all about a man who had lived almost 2000 years ago, if there were no data upon which to even know of any such man's ever having existed?


Yes, this is a very difficult idea. It is difficult because it asks to accept the central claim of mysticism, that reality may be known in experience. The answer to your question may be found in this remark from Holding the Lotus to the Rock, The Autobiography of Sokei-an, America's First Zen Master.

"Zen is Buddhism studied from one's own mind. The whole law is written in your mind, in your body. The key to the mystery of the cosmos is really already in your possession. You must read this first and find the law in yourself. Then you open the records of the ancients and say, "Oh, he says exactly what I think!"

This is why it is not necessary to speculate as to the message of Jesus. It is necessary for most of us, of course, at any rate for the time being, but in principle we already have this knowledge within us, and Les is thus able to refer to it directly.

Quote:
I absolutely guarantee you all that there were actual, historical tribal peoples living on the plains of the North American continent in the 18th century who knew absolutely nothing at all about any Yeshua--much less even the history of the Jewish religious belief-system. Why? Because they had had absolutely no data on that person.

Okay.

Quote:
The point is, if we had not (primarily) had the written documentation, we would have had no real starting point; only the line of oral tradition until some point of written document. Today, that (the written documentation) is all we have, so to attempt to learn anything at all about any matter of the life of this one Yeshua, we have to first turn to the total of written works, understand them, then go from there all the while paying close attention to contextual setting, cultural setting, anthropological and archaeological findings, and so on. It is impossible to know what exactly was in the mind of Yeshua without firstly having data on that matter.

This seems true, but the most crucial data we would require cannot be found in a book. The Native Americans did not need a book, and Black Elk of the Dakotas tells of how astonished they all were when the discovered that the white man got his religion out of a book and argued over it like lawyers. Why not go straight to the source?

We may come close to a theoretical understanding of Jesus's message from a book, but to really know what he was talking about this would be insufficient. It is the living Jesus that the mystic is interested in, the Jesus that one meets within oneself, not the historical or mythological one. When it is said that the only way to salvation is via Jesus, this does not mean via the scriptures but via the archetype, the Jesus that resides within us all. This is why it is of no consequence to them whether Jesus was a historical figure. No old books are required for this knowledge, and without it the old books cannot be fully understood. And of course, the same would go for Lao-tsu, Buddha, Muhammed, etc. I wouldn't claim Les's knowledge, but I'm completely convinced he's right. At any rate, at a certain point everything falls into place one start going, 'Oh yes, he says exactly what I think.'

It goes without saying that this is all in my opinion.
 
KaseiJin
 
Reply Thu 25 Jun, 2009 07:38 pm
@Whoever,
Thanks for further consideration and explanation there, Whoever. Yes, (and I trust this rendering although I do not have the Coptic (and can't read that anyway) text to verify...I do have sources (people) who I can contact and get further insight, so could take that route...but it'd probably not be worth it...the translation I am using is trustworthy enough) verse 19 (please not) reads:
[INDENT]Jesus said, "Blessed is he who came into being before he came into being. If you (plural second person here) become my disciples (notice a specific audience is given) and listen to my words, these stones will minister to you. For there are five trees for you in Paradise which remain undisturbed summer and winter and whose leaves do not fall. Whoever becomes acquainted with them will not experience death."
[/INDENT]We have to accept any and all statements, passages, and pericopes firstly within the contextual setting that they immediately fall in whenever we start to work on sense. Linguistical style, idiomatic tendencies will then be considered and matches organized. Then, we have to cross-examine and reference for cultural similarities in texts within the relatively close time span of the the one we will be looking at. After these steps, the average theological and/or mythological framework developed by the all possible relevant texts and documents should be taken into consideration. Then, we can have a better chance at arriving at an intended-to-have-been-communicated sense of the statement, passage, or pericope under investigation.

Therefore, to simply take that one verse, 19 above, may not be enough to catch a sense, and thus leave it open any and whatever interpretation--which naturally gives us a far greater chance of misinterpretation. (combination and permutations) Verses 18 and 19 are a single context, and the topic is 'the end of the disciples' (probably referring to how they will die. This has to all be weighed together. Unfortunately, we only have this pericope here, so it's more up for grabs than say, verse 20 which starts off like, "The disciples said to Jesus, 'Tell us what the kingdom of heaven is like.'"

Now, regarding your further expansion of your earlier statement (and I appreciate your having done so) I would first like to acknowledge that I reason that I understand what you have said. While I yet reason that LWSleeth is attempting to put forward is an impossibility, one picture that he did paint of the situation is quite in line with reality, namely, that we will all come to the table with colored lensed glasses on. Can we, therefore, consider that and arrive at any more-balanced an understanding of what value levels the various lenses will naturally have? I would answer in the affirmative to that.

It fair to point out that coming to the table with a presupposition as grand as the one which is being attempted to propogated here, is a fault from the very get go. To claim that some concept of consciousness which has been shown to be most incorrect, is a cosmic truth of all reality on any practical level, and must be fully accepted without any further explanation or testing of it to be able to understand what a person who had died some 2000 years ago had experienced, in order to properly understand written communicative forms credited to that person, is a presupposition without hope of reality at all, on the practical level.

The quote you have provided, and I thank you for that, it is helpful in understanding, is very much true in one sense, in that everything that is, is everything that is, but is nonsense on the level of the mental activity of living organisms. That is the major problem with Mysticism.

Shamanism of course needs no book, but that fact will deduct nothing from the truthfulness of the statement that if a person has no data whatsoever of, on, or about, a particular human who had lived and died any number of years before that former person had been born, will know nothing or, on, or about, and without data of some sorts, will never be able to learn or find out anything about that particular latter person's life history, learned traits, formed memories, brain build beyond what is normal for all people, and so on. This, Whoever, is what is true.

You have very correctly pointed out, Whoever, that 'we may come close to a theoretical understanding of Jesus's message from a book, but to really know what he was talking about this would be insufficient.' However, it is a false assertion to claim that we can know by ourselves, through inward focused meditation, anything of the above paragraph's listed points. By meditation, one only experiences the inner workings of brain, and to that extent, all H.sapeins are pretty much in the same boat. Yeshua did have a brain, and it can be stated with great certainty that the chances are that it had been a normal brain, hardwired and working pretty much the way ours do today; but that's it.

The proposition put forward by LWSleeth is an impossibility.
 
 

 
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