November 30, 2005

Thomas 88 and 108 lc

(88) Jesus said: The angels come to you, and the prophets, and they shall give you what belongs to you; and you also, give what is in your hands, and say to yourselves: On what day do they come and take what is theirs?"

(Matt 10:8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.)

(These two passages illustrate vividly the difference between Thomas and Matthew.)

Your angel and the prophets have given you spiritual treasures; as you share more and more of their vision, you come to realize who and what you are. But like love you must give it in order to keep it.

Who are 'they'? the ones to whom we have given the treasure of life while they stare uncomprehendingly? It is theirs, but they must 'take it'.
----------------------------

(I08) Jesus said: He who shall drink from my mouth shall become like me; I myself will become he, and the hidden thing shall be revealed to him.

(John 6:53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.)

Both of these verses point to our union with Christ.

The hidden thing is the secret we've heard so much about; it's indescribable; to reveal the secret is nonsensical to anyone except those who 'drink from his mouth' or 'drink his blood'.

(John 7:37 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.
7:38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water .)

November 29, 2005

Saying 98 / C

(98) Jesus said: The kingdom of the Father is like a man who wanted to kill a great man. He drew the sword in his house and drove it into the wall, that he might know that his hand would be strong. Then he slew the great man.

I picked this one because it's so odd - I don't understand what it's supposed to mean, but here are some thoughrts ...

* this reminds me of places in the canonical gospels where Jesus discusses the cost of discipleship ... a dangerous and difficult undertaking must be seen for what it is and adequately prepared for ... Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down and decide whether with ten thousand troops he can successfully oppose another king advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops? - Luke 14:31

* Some commentators suggest that this is a story of an underdog who wishes to kill a bully, or a zealot who wishes to overturn Roman rule.

* Whatever the implied meaning, the fact that Jesus chose an example of a murder seems totally against the grain for one who asked people to forgive their enemies and turn the other cheek. It's possible he did this for shock value ... as in Luke 14:26 - "If any one comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. .... But my personal opinion is that the saying is likely not authentic.

November 28, 2005

What Grandeur!

Logion 84

Yeshua said:
When you see
your true likeness,
you rejoice.
But when you see your icons,
those that were before you existed,
that never die and never manifest,
what grandeur!


The above translation is a bit different from the one Larry posted. Most striking is “How much will you bear,” has become, “What grandeur!” a seemingly different exclamation.

When Jesus says, “When you see your true likeness you rejoice,” my first inclination was to the early biblical passage that states, “God made man in his own image.” So, I wonder, is this true likeness the image of God? And/or, could this “true likeness” simply be our true self, sans ego, reputation, career, personality, relationships, yada yada…, but just fundamentally who we are underneath all of our labels and usual descriptions. I sense that it would be so freeing to just be able to be who we are without expectation of role and responsibility, something most of us likely only get an occasional glimpse of, and that occurs when we are lost to the world through an experience of something such as serious illness, deep meditation, or quiet solitude.

But when you see your icons…” must be referring to something primordial, something that exists always, neither arising nor passing away, something unborn and undying… Again this primordial expression would be the image of God, the Absolute, the Source – that manifestation known by a thousand names, or no name at all. This is often referred to as “Your original face,” the face of God. So yes, “What grandeur!”

However, could it be that it is the grandeur that is already, everywhere present? Could this image, say it is the image of Light, be like our ordinary light, yet, because it is light, we cannot see the preexisting light that is always and ever present? Perhaps it is also that which we call the Light within, that indescribable quality of love and warmth and purity in the heart of each of us. What if we could “see” that? How much could we bear of this grandeur?

belated anniversary greetings

I was browsing the archives and realized that we've been at this for a year now. Our inaugural blog posting was November 10th 2004.

It doesn't seem that long. I just wanted to thank you all for making it something truly amazing.

The Last "Strange Sayings"

84) Jesus said: When you see your likeness, you rejoice; but when you see your images which came into being before you -- they neither die nor are made manifest -- how much will you bear?

(88) Jesus said: The angels come to you, and the prophets, and they shall give you what belongs to you; and you also, give what is in your hands, and say to yourselves: On what day do they come and take what is theirs?

(92) Jesus said: Seek, and ye shall find ; but those things concerning which ye asked me in those days, I did not tell you then. Now I wish to tell them, and ye seek not after them.

(98) Jesus said: The kingdom of the Father is like a man who wanted to kill a great man. He drew the sword in his house and drove it into the wall, that he might know that his hand would be strong. Then he slew the great man.

(I08) Jesus said: He who shall drink from my mouth shall become like me; I myself will become he, and the hidden thing shall be revealed to him.

November 25, 2005

okay lets be pragmatists for a moment/logion 60

60. They saw a Samaritan carrying a lamb going into Judaea. He said to his disciples: Why does he carry the lamb? They said to him: That he may kill it and eat it. He said to them: So long as it is alive he will not eat it, but if he kill it and it become a corpse. They said: Otherwise he will not be able to do it. He said to them: You also, seek for yourselves a place within for rest, lest you become a corpse and be eaten.


So I read Larry's comments about the symbolism of the lamb and then went to the Gospel of Thomas website to check out translation issues and scholarly stuff. And basically everyone is vexed about the arcane symbolism of the lamb.

And maybe its important to know.

But it occurred to me that Jesus was/is a teacher. And he 's sending his disciples out into the world as teachers -- teachers with a teaching the world doesn't particularly want to know/hear. And then it occurred to me that none of these fine scholars who worry at the meaning of this passage in their scholarly journals were every substitute teachers, teaching grade three classes in the public school system.



In this story the payoff is this: He said to them: Find a place within yourself for rest, or you're dead - and then they'll tear you apart and eat you.

As an ex-substitute teacher -- the advice makes perfect sense. As for the secret allegorical meaning of the lamb/Lamb -- I dunno. I jest dunno.

60 The Lamb -lc

60, They saw a Samaritan carrying a lamb going into Judaea. He said to his disciples: Why does he carry the lamb? They said to him: That he may kill it and eat it. He said to them: So long as it is alive he will not eat it, but if he kill it and it become a corpse. They said: Otherwise he will not be able to do it. He said to them: You also, seek for yourselves a place within for rest, lest you become a corpse and be eaten.

Rev. 5:6 And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.

This one is hard (for me), but Leloup offers some good clues:
"The lamb symbolizes innocence, vulnerability, the gift of ourselves , and the power of love....the dead lamb is the hardened heart." Jesus suggests that we protect the lamb and not kill it.

So it's the same story we find in almost every one of the sayings, aptly expressed by Paul in Romans 12:2: be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind. Being conformed to the world is killing the lamb.

November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving, you guys! :-)

Be Passersby

Logion 42: Jesus said, "Be passersby."

This may be the shortest logion, yet it is rich for dialogue:

To me to be a passerby indicates someone who is traveling but does not stay, a casual observer, or onlooker, a person loose of association, a wanderer or itinerant person who is free in a way. Jesus says to take this stance as a passerby, perhaps, to encourage us to observe, to listen, to keep moving on, to not become static or to dwell.

Why would Jesus teach us to be passersby? Would it be because, as in the Buddhist tradition, suffering is thought to be caused by clinging and resisting change – so to understand impermanence alleviates this type of suffering?

There are many levels one could understand and adopt this teaching. One could become a traveler and not have a home. One could take on an attitude of detachment, to refuse to be defined by one’s circumstance or relationships. One could consider the spiritual journey as a path upon which we must keep moving, learning, and growing. However, to look more closely at our circumstance, we can recognize that everything already is passing by – there is little if anything that is truly permanent. Our homes, our jobs, our possessions, and our families – they are all impermanent. As is the natural world we see around us – even the mountains and the oceans. All things are always changing, never the same one moment to the next. The same is true of a dynamic spiritual journey.

William R. Schoedel translates the logion, "Jesus said: Come into being as you pass away." This translation gives a very different meaning to the logion to me. This suggests that one comes into the spiritual as you pass away from the material. One commenter on another site writes, “The admonition is to be as one who 'wears the world as a loose garment.' To be a passerby is to be one who has let go of the world and all its things--to be a person who is spiritual.” Another writes, “ The conscious personality is transient. Pass by those who regard themselves as fixed.”

So, in this logion, Jesus seems to be suggesting a certain detachment from the world and from opinions. A life style of detachment is a sort of social radicalism that rejects commonly held values. Perhaps this lack of involvement indicates an indifference, aloofness, and an impartiality of the material world in preference to the spiritual. This supports the argument that Crystal introduced regarding the difference between the dialectic and gnostic viewpoint, wherein “at the heart of (gnosticism) is the presumption that the material world is at best irrelevant and at worst evil.” On the other hand, perhaps to “Be passersby” is merely an invitation to tread lightly upon the world, to not become fixed or set in our ways, but to remain open and free to enjoy the natural and material world, encompassing all people, places, and ideas – all the riches that are bestowed.

November 23, 2005

Saying #28 / C

28, Jesus said: I stood in the midst of the world, and I appeared to them in the flesh. I found them all drunk, I found none among them thirsting; and my soul was afflicted for the sons of men, for they are blind in their heart and they do not see. For empty came they into the world, seeking also to depart empty from the world. But now they are drunk. When they have thrown off their wine, then will they repent.

Some points that struck me ...

I appeared to them in the flesh ...... this is a strangely un-gnostic thing to say, as elsewhere in Thomas, the flesh is said to be bad.

I found them all drunk ..... this part is very gnostic, though, according to Funk and Hoover. They write: "... the spiritual state of humanity, according to numerous gnostic texts, is stupefied with passion and drunkeness, blind to any spiritual understanding. The savior comes to awaken such persons to their true origins. This complex, accordingly, is a summary version of gnostic redeemer myths that depict the human condition and the possibility for salvation."

Some commentators think that many of the sayings of Thomas were originally not gnostic, but were revised at a later date to gnostic standards - or some see it the other way round. Perhaps this saying is an example of the combined gnostic and non-gnostic elements.

As I read the saying, a sort of off-subject thing also came to mind ... Dionysos. When people are drunk, they are in an altered state of consciousness - one which makes it hard to perceive reality as it truly is ... Dionysos is almost the opposite to Jesus ... he is the god of forgetfulness in wine, while Jesus wants to wake people up. Like the gnostics, the Orphics both identified the soul as separate from the body, and gave a reason for it being present in the body: it is being punished. Mystery cults :-).

November 21, 2005

An Aside ...

I hope you guys don't mind if I post this quote on Gnosticism - it seems relevant to our Thomas discussions. This is from an Interview with John Dominic Crossan in the Journal of Philosophy and Scripture ...

"JDC: My criticism of Gnosticism would be this: one of the most fundamental decisions we have to make, going back to dear old Plato, is whether the human being is a dialectic, in the same sense as before, of body and spirit, or if somehow that spirit or soul is only temporarily, possibly even unfortunately, joined to what is either a flea bag hotel or a magnificent palace called the body. But in either case the soul is only temporarily embodied until it goes home to its true spiritual abode. I think that this is the most radical question in Western philosophy. Whichever way you come down on this question, everything else will follow. If you think that human beings are actually incarcerated, entombed spirits, that we're simply renting bodies out, then everything else will follow. But if you think along with the Bible that somehow or other the body/soul amalgam is a dialectic, that you can distinguish but not separate them, then everything else will follow differently. So Gnosticism seems to be a perfectly good, linear descendent of Platonism (I'm not certain though what Plato himself would have said), but at the heart of it is the presumption that the material world is at best irrelevant and at worst evil. Those seem to be the fundamental options. You have to pick your position from there."

Here's a link to the whole interview - link

More Strange Sayings

28, Jesus said: I stood in the midst of the world, and I appeared to them in the flesh. I found them all drunk, I found none among them thirsting; and my soul was afflicted for the sons of men, for they are blind in their heart and they do not see. For empty came they into the world, seeking also to depart empty from the world. But now they are drunk. When they have thrown off their wine, then will they repent. (cf John 6:35)

42, Jesus said: Become passers-by. (cf John 13:1)

(43) His disciples said to him: Who art thou, that thou shouldst say these things to us? Jesus said to them From what I say unto you, you do not understand who I am, but you have become as the Jews; for they love the tree and hate its fruit, and they love the fruit and hate the tree. (cf John 8:25)

60, They saw a Samaritan carrying a lamb going into Judaea. He said to his disciples: Why does he carry the lamb? They said to him: That he may kill it and eat it. He said to them: So long as it is alive he will not eat it, but if he kill it and it become a corpse. They said: Otherwise he will not be able to do it. He said to them: You also, seek for yourselves a place within for rest, lest you become a corpse and be eaten. (cf Rev. 5:6)

(73-4) Jesus said: The harvest indeed is great, but the labourers are few; but pray the Lord, that he send forth labourers into the harvest. He said: Lord, there are many about the well, but no one in the well.

81, Jesus said: He who has become rich, let him become king, and he who has power let him deny it. (cf I Cor 4:8)

November 18, 2005

13 - The Bubbling Spring

(13) Jesus said to his disciples: Make a comparison to me, and tell me whom I am like. Simon Peter said to him: Thou art like a righteous angel. Matthew said to him: Thou art like a wise man of understanding. Thomas said to him: Master, my mouth will no wise suffer that I say whom thou art like. Jesus said: I am not thy master, because thou hast drunk, thou hast become drunk from the bubbling spring which I have measured out. And he took him, went aside, and spoke to him three words. Now when Thomas came to his companions, they asked him: What did Jesus say unto thee? Thomas said to them: If I tell you one of the words which he said to me, you will take up stones and throw them at me; and a fire will come out of the stones and burn you up."

To most of us this must appear very esoteric; however there are several references to the bubbling spring in the Bible:
Jeremiah 2:13,
Song of Solomon 4:15,
John 4:10-13,
John 7:38 (later versions say 'out of his heart'),
Revelation 7:17

I believe Thomas is more biblically oriented than most of us give him credit for.

Re "you will take up stones and throw them at me; and a fire will come out of the stones and burn you up" likely Thomas understood that those who got the straight message would be persecuted (like Steven), but would emerge victorious in the end.

November 17, 2005

eating the dead

(7) Jesus said: Blessed is the lion which the man shall eat, and the lion become man; and cursed is the man whom the lion shall eat, and the lion become man.

(11) Jesus said: This heaven shall pass away, and that which above it shall pass away; and they that are dead are not alive and they that live shall not die. In the days when you were eating that which is dead, you were making it alive. When you come in the light, what will you do? On the day when you were one, you became two. But when you have become two, what will you do?


I think we've had these two before in different contexts. But what strikes me today -- after having lurked in the shadows for so long -- is a common thread. What we eat becomes us.

Larry notes the parallel with IPeter 5:8: Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour.
(NRSV). That may be valid (if so I would include Genesis 4:7: If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it." (NRSV) which doesn't mention lions but is I think what Peter had in mind.

I'm slower to leap into allegory than Larry (I get there but more circuitously) and I want to stay with the image of our food becoming us. The lion becomes man when the man eats the lion. The man becomes lion when the lion eats the man. When we eat the dead the dead become alive.

And the blessing rests on that which becomes the higher when it is consumed.

I'm not altogether sure where Thomas wants us to take this. But the central rite of the canonically based churches is the rite of Eucharist wherein we eat Jesus' flesh and drink his blood and so become the church the body of Christ on earth.

The end of the project seems to be apotheosis -- or to use a term more comforting to at least some Christians -- divinization.

November 15, 2005

Gone Fishing

Logion 8 Yeshua said: Man is like a wise fisherman, who cast his net into the sea and drew it up from the sea full of small fish. Among them the wise fisherman found a large good fish. He threw down all the small fish into the sea; he chose the large fish without trouble. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

When Jesus said that “a human being is like a wise fisherman,” this is the beginning of parable. So what do wise fishermen do? They cast lines or nets, catch fish, and empty their nets, keeping the larger fish and returning the smaller fish back to the sea. This is similar to the way my mind works in meditation. I realize this when I am very quiet, and watch my own thoughts. My mind starts floating wide – like a net out in the water, catching thoughts. When I pull in my thoughts, I realize I have many small and useless thoughts – which are mere distractions. But there are some thoughts that are big. Big as in thoughts about God. This is the only really important thought. Upon focusing on this thought, the smaller thoughts drift away, dissipating like small fish going back into the water.

These teachings in the manner of a parable provide each of us with a message that speaks to us individually. Thus, if you have ears to hear this, hear it for you. What does the parable spark in you?

November 14, 2005

Just a note ...

I came across a blog that I think you guys might be interested in ...

Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean blog

... there are some posts on non-canonical gospels, including Thomas. One page I'm reading now - http://www.misericordia.edu/users/davies/thomas/arnal.htm - is about Thomas ... whether it relies on the other gospels, when it was written, and whether it is indeed gnostic. Pretty interesting :-)

A Quaker wiki? / Z

This is semi-off topic, but semi-on topic; I hope this is ok to post. This was partly sparked by Meredith telling me that you all previously worked on James and John, and me thinking how great it would be if there were an organized page on those posts, rather than having to page through the archives.

My question: I'm wondering whether anyone is interested in starting or working on some sort of Quaker wiki. I'm assuming everyone is somewhat familiar with wikis.

Below I've written some things I think one could be used for. I actually have already gotten one set up here on a free wiki-hosting site; the question is whether it'd be best to use that one (currently it's pretty much empty of any content), or start a different one. I can give my take on the pros and cons if people are interested.

Possible uses it could have for this blog:
· An easy way to collaboratively create a detailed catalog of/guide to our 400+ posts
· A way to perhaps collaboratively work on an entry before posting it — either altogether, or in spontaneously arranged groups (like "Hey Zach let's co-write an entry on logion 104"). This would probably be an efficient way to develop long, detailed posts if anyone had an inkling in that direction.

Possible uses for the Quaker blogosphere in general:
· Other people could easily create similar catalogs of their posts.
· People involved in other communal blogs, like the communal blog on early Quaker texts and history I'd like to start sometime, could in the same way develop entries collaboratively before posting.
· Recurring themes in different blogs could have pages on the wiki with links to the various blog postings, rather than people having to pore through various blog archives to find posts they feel are important. Like, there could be a page called Plain dress which could include links to the many blog entries on that subject (and relieve Martin of the duty of having to keep up with them all by himself).

And (sorry to keep going on!) a few possible uses for Friends in general:
· More detailed information about things that aren't encyclopedic enough to be in Wikipedia
· A ridiculously simple way for local, regional, (and even yearly) meetings to create and update home pages. Right now, most meetings either have no webpage, or ones that are hard to find and/or not very attractive. Example: this page on my monthly meeting took about ten minutes to create, is easy for anyone in my meeting to update, and couldn't exist on Wikipedia.

(Hopefully you can see that although Wikipedia, the biggest wiki, is an encyclopedia, not all wikis have to be in that genre. For example, there is an Orthodox Christian wiki, which I think is a great idea, but I think they may be limiting themselves by being a wiki-encyclopedia on Orthodoxy, rather than a multi-purpose wiki for and about Orthodox Christianity. So I'm not just proposing a Quaker encyclopedia wiki, but a wiki that could be used for a huge number of Quaker related things, encyclopedic and not.)

What do you think?

Who's Your Daddy? / C

(15) Jesus said: When you see him who was not born of woman , throw yourselves down upon your face and worship him. He is your Father.

The first thing I thought of when reading this saying was the line from the play Macbeth ... Fear not, Macbeth; no man that's born of woman Shall e'er have power upon thee. .... In the play, of course, such a man did exist - someone who was taken from his mother's womb before he was born in the natural manner.

Who ever is born must have a beginning and an end, and is finite. Jesus was known to be born of a woman, Mary, so perhaps this saying isn't meant to be about hum. Or it's possible that Thomas held the ganostic belief that the spiritual Christ was not born, but decended on Jesus when he was baptised and left before he was crucified. To say that this person not born of woman is Jesus and to also say he is the Father, is similar to Joh's gospel saying of Jesus and the Father being one ... go Trinity :-)

Strange Sayings I

Our study of Thomas has been fruitful, and we have become (somewhat) versed in the writer's thought forms and values. We come now to some (perhaps) more difficult sayings to interpret and hopefully find positive meaning in.

I tagged 21 sayings as 'strange', perhaps without strong associations with the other gospels and sort of like riddles (to me at least); here are the first five of those:

(7) Jesus said: Blessed is the lion which the man shall eat, and the lion become man; and cursed is the man whom the lion shall eat, and the lion become man. (cf I Peter 5:8)

(8) And he said: Man is like a wise fisherman, who cast his net into the sea and drew it up from the sea full of small fish. Among them the wise fisherman found a large good fish. He threw down all the small fish into the sea; he chose the large fish without trouble. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

(11) Jesus said: This heaven shall pass away, and that which above it shall pass away; and they that are dead are not alive and they that live shall not die. In the days when you were eating that which is dead, you were making it alive. When you come in the light, what will you do? On the day when you were one, you became two. But when you have become two, what will you do?

(13) Jesus said to his disciples: Make a comparison to me, and tell me whom I am like. Simon Peter said to him: Thou art like a righteous angel. Matthew said to him: Thou art like a wise man of understanding. Thomas said to him: Master, my mouth will no wise suffer that I say whom thou art like. Jesus said: I am not thy master, because thou hast drunk, thou hast become drunk from the bubbling spring which I have measured out. And he took him, went aside, and spoke to him three words. Now when Thomas came to his companions, they asked him: What did Jesus say unto thee? Thomas said to them: If I tell you one of the words which he said to me, you will take up stones and throw them at me; and a fire will come out of the stones and burn you up.

(15) Jesus said: When you see him who was not born of woman , throw yourselves down upon your face and worship him. He is your Father.

November 11, 2005

Of Circles and Chakras

I've been in a spiritual funk for...well, I don't know how to measure it. After Sept. 11, 2001, fear and uncertainty drove me to examine my religion. I was a biblical illiterate and it was time to change that.

For three years I took a fundamentalist Bible study that taught me much and brought me much joy. And yet, I didn't feel authentically me when I was there. I felt I was playing a part. Also, I was tired of trying to find time to do the homework while being home full-time with two young children.

And, of course, I met Larry. Without intending to, I think, he showed me the narrowness of my view. This was both thrilling and terrifying for me, but I knew it was time for me to leave the comfortable confines of the Bible study I had been taking. This blog was born at the same time and it filled the void. I was also active in a Bible study at my church, an Episcopal parish. So my religious background is liberal Protestant. I took a non-denominational but conservative Bible study for three years. I was a bit in conflict with myself. Also, I was becoming a homeschooler and my take on homeschooling is about freedom from the confines of institutional schooling. A collision with my religion was inevitable. How can I reject the confines of school without questioning the confines of church?

Very recently, through my homeschooling friends, I have been invited to join a Women's Circle. Its a spiritual discussion group (for more on Women's Circles, you can read this; however, we're just a group of friends, we aren't affliated with any other group) I attended one session, quit, and have just rejoined the Circle. Why did I quit? A lot of it was logistical (I don't like driving at night), but I think there were shades of fear. I was afraid of leaving the confines of conventional religion. I'm afraid of going to hell. Yes, even though from a fundamentalist perspective, I'm on an express train to hell anyway (being a liberal Protestant whose sect consecrated a gay bishop), the further away I get, the more I worry. It makes no sense.

It made no sense until our Circle discussed chakras. I don't know how familiar you are with them, I am not very familiar. But I took an on-line test and found out that my 6th Chakra, the Third Eye is underactive. From the website:

6 - Third Eye chakra
The Third Eye chakra is about insight and visualisation. When it is open, you have a good intuition. You may tend to fantasize.

If it is under-active, you're not very good at thinking for yourself, and you may tend to rely on authorities. You may be rigid in your thinking, relying on beliefs too much. You might even get confused easily.


I thought that was very astute -- I have known for some time that I rely too much on authorities and I'm frequently saying that I'm confused.

The practices to open this Third Eye involve meditation and I don't know that I'll be doing them, but right now, I am meditating on the idea that I'm too attached to the authority of church doctrine and that it is holding me back.

November 09, 2005

107 The 90 and 9

107, Jesus said: The kingdom is like a shepherd who had hundred sheep. One of them, the biggest, went astray. He left the ninety-nine and sought after the one till he found it. When he had laboured, he said to the sheep: I love thee more than the ninety-nine.

This one seems like a copy of Matthew 18:12 "How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?", except for the last line.

It might suggest once more that love is an activity more than a feeling. Not much activity required for those in the fold, but 'going into the mountains'? Sounds like real work; call it love.

Love "Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things" (1st Corinthians 13:7). Love isn't about feeling.

Where I'm At and Another Gathering

I am the ghost of bloggers past....

Hello, my dear friends. I don't know why I kept falling away, but I always come back. I'd like to respond to Larry's post about Another Gathering. I don't feel resistant to Thomas, I'm just not terribly interested in the Bible right now, which is why I'm not around much. I enjoy commenting on other members' posts, but I don't have much to say on this topic.

However, I am spiritually seeking. I feel as if I'm shifting and changing and I'd really like to talk about that here with you, if that would be acceptable to others. I know when we first began this blog -- one year ago! -- Larry talked about sharing our journeys. I would like to do that -- not to take away from the on-going discussion, but sort of as sidebar chatter and for the opportunity to read your comments.

What say you?

November 08, 2005

Kill the Buddha

98, Jesus said: The kingdom of the Father is like a man who wanted to kill a great man. He drew the sword in his house and drove it into the wall, that he might know that his hand would be strong. Then he slew the great man.

I was just looking over these passages, and this one kind of lit up for me. When I first read it, I was offended, put off by the murderous language. On this reading, however, I saw it totally differently.

I was reminded of the famous old saying in Buddhism, “If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.”

The historical Buddha, Shakyamuni, on attaining enlightenment, is said to have realized that all beings, just as they are, are Buddhas. So in essence, Buddha is not going to be found outside of your self. The slogan suggests slaying the notion that you could ever meet the true Buddha along the road.

Similarly, in Luke 17:21 - nor will people say, 'Here it is,' or 'There it is,' because the kingdom of God is within you.

The scripture above says the Kingdom of God is like a man who wanted to kill a great man. He drew his sword inside his house. I wonder if "inside his house" means within himself. It could be that the great man to be killed is not your true self, but the great false self. This scripture alludes to the way that this is achieved is by striking down the walls. This takes great strength, and great courage. Getting the large false ego out of the way, slaying it so to speak, makes one open to the true self, and allows the kingdom of God within you to be more fully expressed. So, this scripture seems to be saying, kill or put away what you think is so great about yourself, become humble in order to see the kingdom of God.

new member

Zach has been given the freedom of the meeting. A link to his blog appears in the sidebar.

Welcome Zach.

On what day will the Kingdom come?

Logion 113

His disciples said to him: On what day will the kingdom come? : It cometh not with observation. They will not say: Lo, here! or: Lo, there! But the kingdom of the Father is spread out upon the earth, and men do not see it.

Main Point: When the disciples ask when will the kingdom come, or when will God come, Jesus tells the disciples it will not come by watching and waiting for it. There will not be one who sees it first over there, or over there, for it is already everywhere. Yet people just do not see it.

New Light: “People just do not see it.” I smile wondering what it would be like if everyone could just see “it,” if all could just know that this kingdom is right here everywhere, right now.

Problems: Implicit in the notion that God is already everywhere is the difficult realization that God is also in suffering. How readily we see God in the sunrise, or in a mother’s delicate embrace of her infant, but how we push away the notion that God could be present in an untimely accidental death, or in war, or any natural or human tragedy.

True to my experience: For most of my life, I could “not see it.” So yes, this is true to my experience. But several experiences, particularly in suffering, I began to see the gentleness, the power, and the magic and mystery of God. Maybe the reason for this was that in suffering it seems that my heart was very soft, looking everywhere for comfort. Finding this comfort, and feeling the love and beauty of the kingdom right in front of and within me was the most amazing experience of my life. For many, I realize, the opposite happens, and in suffering one’s heart becomes hard, closed, angry and bitterly shuts down. Perhaps it is in the clinging to the notion that God represents only beauty, love and goodness, and pushing away any suffering and calling it evil, that it is so difficult for us to see God in all things. This duality, of good and evil, God and non-God, seems to be an invention of ours.

November 07, 2005

Saying 49 / C

49, Jesus said: Blessed are the solitary and the elect, for you shall find the kingdom; for you came forth thence, and shall go there again.

To me, this is one of Thomas' most Gnostic sayings. There are three elements that srruck me ...

(1) blessed are the solitary - there is a tradition of solitary mysticism in christianity, but for the most part, there is an emphasis on community ... For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. - Matthew 18:20.

(2) blessed are the elect - the idea that only certain people are worthy or capable of being "saved" is both exclusionary and elitist.

(3) Commentators (The Jesus Seminar) Funk and Hoover write ..... Thomas 49 depicts Thomas Christians as those who have come into the world from another realm, to which they will one day return. This is a central tenet of the mythology of gnosticism.

On the whole, to me at least, this saying is sort of disconcerting, though I suspect it's meant to be comforting, and will be so to the other more gnostically inclined members of the blog :-)


- Blake's The Ladder

The Kingdom of God -Sayings


Here are 5 sayings that seem to bear on the kingdom of
heaven:

49, Jesus said: Blessed are the solitary and the elect,
for you shall find the kingdom; for you came forth
thence, and shall go there again.

57, Jesus said: The kingdom of the Father is like a man
who had [good] seed. His enemy came by night, he sowed a weed among the good seed. The man did not allow them to pull up the weed. He said to them: Lest perhaps you go to pull up the weed, and pull up the wheat with it. For on the day of harvest the weeds will be manifest; they will be pulled up and burned.

98, Jesus said: The kingdom of the Father is like a man
who wanted to kill a great man. He drew the sword in
his house and drove it into the wall, that he might
know that his hand would be strong. Then he slew the
great man.

107, Jesus said: The kingdom is like a shepherd who had hundred sheep. One of them, the biggest, went astray. He left the ninety-nine and sought after the one till he found it. When he had laboured, he said to the sheep: I love thee more than the ninety-nine.

113 His disciples said to him: On what day will the
kingdom come? : It cometh not with observation. They will not say: Lo, here! or: Lo, there! But the kingdom of the Father is spread out upon the earth, and men do not see it.

request to join

WE have a request to join our blog.

Zach Alexander aka the Quaker Anarchist has asked to join our scripture study.

I'm sympatico with the idea if all bodies here are also happy with this.

I have noticed a curious thing. We seem to be steady at four active members. Whenever someone new comes along somebody drops into lurker status. Don't know why. But there you be.

I will likely be the next lurker -- if I'm not de fact already. I don't see myself as a meaningful presence here until first week of December. Sorry folks I'm just really burnt out right now. My own blog has also suffered.

C'est la vie

Post your votes as comments here or if you'd rather not email me at kwakersaur@lycos.com.

And to those out there in lurker city. If you have changed your mind about being here let me know and I'll remove your name. If you just want to hang out without posting but retain your membership for future use that's great too. Just let me know where thee is at.

November 04, 2005

CBC News: Key day for United Church union push

Now here's an interesting sitaution.

CBC News: Key day for United Church union push

November 02, 2005

The New Birth to Oneness

4 Jesus said: The man aged in his days will not
hesitate to ask a little child of seven days about
the place of life, and he shall live. For there
are many first who shall be last, and they shall
become a single one.

Thomas joins the 'Four Gospels', all of whom remind us that we must be born again and/or that we must become 'as little children'. The baptism signifies the new birth, and when you come out of the water, you are as a little child - spiritually speaking. All five writers wanted us to understand that there are two kinds of life-- two lives in fact: the material and the spiritual.

Before he met John the Baptist, Jesus lived in the first mode, perhaps more perfectly than anyone else ever has. Coming out of the water he was someone else-- a spirit filled person. He did this to show us how to live.

The second part of the logion repeats the words of the three synoptics, with some amplification: those who hear the child "become a single one", God's answer to the prayer of Jesus in John 17.

So we go from the natural child to the spiritual child to complete oneness with God. PTL.

November 01, 2005

On the day when you are naked...

Logion 37 His disciples said: On what day wilt thou be revealed to us, and on what day shall we see thee? Jesus said: When you unclothe yourselves and are not ashamed, and take your garments and lay them beneath your feet like little children, and tread upon them, then [shall ye see] the Son of the living One, and ye shall not fear.


Main Point: In this logion, Jesus refers to becoming unclothed, naked, and unashamed, to become innocent and free from fear. Garments symbolize all that covers our essential self – all of our identifications, roles, even our personalities. To rid ourselves of this outer façade is to become exposed and vulnerable, it is also to become bare of identity. In this state of empty innocence, we are without prejudice and are thus looking with pure eyes into what is truly real. This lack of projection means that we have no experience with which to create fear.

New Light: Dropping our veils prepares us for a sacred embrace, or sacred lovemaking with the divine. This is what the mystics Kabir, Rumi, and Hafiz write about, and why their love poems have the potential to touch us so deeply – because through our own naked exposure and openness, we realize our truest lover is actually God.

Problems / Questions: Such beautiful, romantic notions. But how do we even step in this direction of becoming open, exposed, and naked in our world today? What does this even look like? Working on a psychiatric unit I saw individuals in severe psychosis who untied reason, forgot their names, went naked, and lost control of their being. It wasn’t a pretty picture. Is it suggested here that we must step on this threshold of insanity in order to see and know God? Or is true pathology clinging to this world we think of as rational and sane?

True to my Experience: I see that there is truth embedded in this logion, beautiful truth. And I see that it is poetry. In this poetic truth we are reminded that our conditioning like our outer clothing actually separates us from God. Coincidently, I wrote about this very notion just last week on my blog.

I wrote about this because I realized that I have tended to become very involved in my own little stories. Most of us build up complex narratives of who we see ourselves to be based on our experience and culture. I have clung to my narrative in ways that have caused suffering. I now grasp that the narratives I have kept are not my true, essential self. The stories I have always told about myself are not fundamentally who I am. Loosening my grip on the identity I have assumed, for example that I am my relationships or my profession, or that I am my personality characteristics or my history, allows me to be so much freer to be genuinely open to the presence of God, to even be in true love with God. This is not about losing my grasp of reality, but rather about forging ahead without all my “certain certainties,” or old beliefs and baggage.

On this journey of becoming less encumbered, I have become willing to be less identified, and willing not to know. For me it seems to be true that getting myself out of the way has allowed the gift of an ever deepening communion. I still must live and work and function in this world, but hopefully I do so skillfully, where my identity and personality is functional, where reason and intellect are my servants, but my heart is nakedly exposed to God.