Jesus' Revolutionary Vision
“Unlike the Buddha, or Krishna, or any of the Eastern sages whose wisdom of transcendental knowledge left fundamentally intact the status quo of a world often characterized as illusory, the Jesus we see in the Gospel of Thomas saw and knew this world as the constant epiphany of the divine kingdom and knew too that a wholly new world could be created by divine beings, once they had seen this and allowed themselves to be transformed and empowered as he was, by divine wisdom, ecstasy, and energy. What Jesus woke up to and proceeded to enact with the fiercest and most gloriously imaginable intensity was this new life of “Kingdom-consciousness,” not as a guru claiming unique status and truth—the Gospel of Thomas makes this very clear—but as a sign of what is possible for all human beings who dare to awaken to the potential splendor of their inner truth and the responsibilities for total transformation of the world that it then inspires within them.” Stevan L. Davies
The Gospel of Thomas
Stevan L. Davies (Author)
“The Gospel of Thomas really is, I believe, the clearest guide we have to the vision of the world's supreme mystical revolutionary, the teacher known as Jesus. To those who learn to unpack its sometimes cryptic sayings, the Gospel of Thomas offers a naked and dazzlingly subversive representation of Jesus' defining and most radical discovery: that the living Kingdom of God burns is us and surrounds us in the glory at all moments, and the vast and passionate love-consciousness—what you might call 'Kingdom-consciousness'—can help birth it into reality. This discovery is the spiritual equivalent of Albert Einstein's and J. Robert Oppenheimer's uncovering of the potential of nuclear fission; it makes available to all humanity a wholly new level of sacred power. By fusing together a vision of God's divine world with a knowledge of how this divine world could emerge into and transfigure the human one, the Gospel of Thomas makes clear that Jesus discovered the alchemical secret of transformation that could have permanently altered world history, had it been implemented with the passion and on the scale that Jesus knew was possible. Its betrayal by the churches erected in Jesus' name has been an unmitigated disaster, one major reason for our contemporary disaster.
Unlike the Buddha, or Krishna, or any of the Eastern sages whose wisdom of transcendental knowledge left fundamentally intact the status quo of a world often characterized as illusory, the Jesus we see in the Gospel of Thomas saw and knew this world as the constant epiphany of the divine kingdom and knew too that a wholly new world could be created by divine beings, once they had seen this and allowed themselves to be transformed and empowered as he was, by divine wisdom, ecstasy, and energy. What Jesus woke up to and proceeded to enact with the fiercest and most gloriously imaginable intensity was this new life of 'Kingdom-consciousness,' not as a guru claiming unique status and truth—the Gospel of Thomas makes this very clear—but as a sign of what is possible for all human beings who dare to awaken to the potential splendor of their inner truth and the responsibilities for total transformation of the world that it then inspires within them.
Jesus' full revolutionary vision in all its outrageousness, grandeur, and radical passion is to be discovered in a close reading of the Gospel of Thomas. The greatest of the sayings are like the equations of physicists Werner Heisenberg or Niels Bohr—complex but intensely lucid expositions in mystical and yogic terms of the laws and potential of a new reality, an endlessly dynamic and fecund reality created by our illusory perceptions and their sterile hunger for separation, division, and stasis.
What I have discovered on my own journey into the increasingly challenging understanding of 'Kingdom-consciousness' is that as I continue to uncover and develop in my own depths the 'fire' that Jesus speaks of in the Gospel of Thomas, reading the sayings by the brilliant light of this 'fire' becomes even more astonishing. The sayings expand in radiance, significance, and reach as I expand my own awareness of divinity and of the powers available to all those who dare to risk transformation.
What I have to offer here is a linked reading of seven of the sayings that have most inspired me. Through this linked reading, I hope to open up to seekers everywhere the full glory, as far as I understand it now, of what Jesus is trying to communicate through the Gospel of Thomas, not just to Christians but to the whole of humanity. Let us begin with saying 2:
Jesus said: The seeker should not stop until he finds. When he does find, he will be disturbed. After having been disturbed, he will be astonished. Then he will reign over everything.
This saying suggests that the Jesus who is speaking in the Gospel if Thomas is not presenting himself as a Messiah with a unique realization and a unique status of mediator. This Jesus—for me, the authentic Jesus—is like the Buddha, a human being who was awakened to the full glory of his inner divinity and so knows the secret of every human being and hungers to reveal it to change the world. The life to which Jesus is inviting everyone is not one of endless seeking, but of finding—finding the truth and power of human divinity by risking everything to uncover them.
From his own harrowing experience, Jesus knows that finding cannot be without suffering; to find out the truth and power of your inner divinity is to be 'disturbed'; disturbed by the gap between your human shadow and its dark games, the abyss of light within; disturbed by the price that any authentic transformation cannot help but demand; disturbed by the grandeur you are beginning to glimpse of your real royal nature with all its burden of responsibility and solitude. Jesus knows too, however, that if you risk this disturbance and surrender to the unfolding of your divine nature, extraordinary visions will be awoken in you—visions that will astound you and drag you into what the Sufi mystics call the 'kingdom of bewilderment' that 'placeless place' where everything you have imagined to be true about yourself or about humanity is rubbed by the splendor of what you discover. And from this increasingly astonishing self-discovery, tremendous powers to influence and transform reality will be born in you. Just as unprecedented energy is unleashed by the splitting of an atom, so through the 'splitting' of human identity to reveal the divine identity within it, a huge new transforming power is born, a ruling power, the power that great saints and sages have displayed through gifts of healing, miracles, and undaunted stamina of sacred passion and sacrifice. The seeker who becomes a finder and ruler makes a leap in evolutionary development from human being, unconscious of the Divine hidden within him or her, to an empowered divine being, capable in and under the Divine of flooding reality with the glory of the Kingdom. To reveal this secret, live it out, and release it in all its radical power, to make 'finders' and rulers of us all, is why the Jesus of the Gospel of Thomas lived and preached and died.
This empowering vision of saying 2 leads naturally, as in the text itself, to the challenge of saying 3.
Jesus said: If your leaders say to you 'Look! The Kingdom is in the sky!' Then the birds will be there before you are. If they say that the Kingdom is in the sea, then the fish will be there before you are. Rather the Kingdom is within you and it is outside of you. When you understand yourselves you will be understood.... If you do not know yourselves, then you exist in poverty and you are that poverty.
The savage, gorgeous radicalism of this saying should not be underestimated: Jesus is, consciously and with the most subversive imaginable scorn, mocking all versions of the spiritual journey that place the ultimate experience beyond this world, in some transcendent 'otherwhere.' All the patriarchal religions and mystical transmission systems—including those conceived in Jesus' honor—subtly devalue the immanent in favor of the transcendent. This addition to transcendence with its rhetoric of 'the world as an illusion' keeps intact the status quo in all its misery, horror, and injustice.
In saying 8, Jesus makes fiercely clear what daring to know the truth of yourself will demand and cost: nothing less than a total commitment to the Divine and a total reversal of the ordinary values of the untransformed world.
And he said: The man is like a thoughtful fisherman who threw his net into the sea and pulled it out full of little fish. Among all the little fish, that thoughtful fisherman found one fine large fish that would be beneficial to him and, throwing all the little fish back into the sea, he easily chose to keep the large one. Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear.
Superficially heard, that saying seems fairly obvious. It seems to be saying that 'Kingdom-consciousness' is life's ultimate treasure and all lesser things should be given up for it. Dig deeper and you will see that the saying reveals just what this giving up of lesser things will entail. It is, after all, crazy for a fisherman trying to earn a living to throw back all the 'little fish': it reverses all comfortable laws of commerce or livelihood. And this is precisely Jesus' point—one he makes relentlessly throughout the Gospel of Thomas. If you really want to become a mystical revolutionary, dedicating your life to seeing and enacting 'Kingdom-consciousness,' you are going to have to surrender all conventional ways of being, acting, or living, and all conventional games of status or power. You are going to have to risk the divine madness that is the true sanity of the fisherman, who so clearly sees and knows the ultimate value of 'the large fine fish' that he is willing to throw back all the 'little fish' and risk poverty and the contempt of his world to stay true to that divine reality that overturns and potentially transforms all worldly realities. The way of life that Jesus advocates throughout the Gospel of Thomas is in the starkest imaginable contrast to the conservative, prosperity-conscious, family-centered, rule-ridden ethos so often promulgated in his name. For the Jesus of the Gospel of Thomas, only a life of wandering poverty, abandonment to the winds of God, and resolute refusal of the false securities of dogma, authority, or worldly or conventional religious rules of conduct and purity can bring you to the state of utter authenticity and surrender that birth to the Kingdom in you and make you a revolutionary agent of its birth in reality.
From what I have said, it should now be clear why in saying 10 Jesus announces, 'I have thrown fire on the world. Look! I watch it until it blazes.' The 'fire' that Jesus has thrown—and is constantly throwing on the world—is the fire of a revolutionary transcendent and immanent knowledge and love that menaces all the world's political, social, economic, and religious hierarchies and elite, and all their self-serving justifications for keeping a vicious and unjust set of structures in place. The Jesus of Thomas is not the tender, often ethereal victim, or the suffering servant; he is the most fiery-eyed of revolutionaries, a being who knows he has discovered the nuclear secret of a new, potentially all-transforming power of love-in-action, and he is committed to seeing that its unleashing upon the world and transfiguration of the fire of its truth and laws take place. In saying 71, he announces cryptically, 'I will destroy this house'; scholars have taken him to mean that either he will bring down the Temple with all its elite and hierarchy and business policies throughout a revelation of a direct egalitarian vision of human divinity, or that he is pledged to destroying the House of Herod that is currently 'defiling' the house of David. These are entirely too limiting and local interpretations of the enterprise of Jesus. The Jesus of Thomas is not a peacemaker; he is an incendiary of love, a pyromaniac of divine passion, announcing the laws of a transformed world and of the enormous struggles, sacrifices, and sufferings, both internal and external, necessary to engender it. As he proclaims in saying 16,' People think, perhaps, that I have come to throw peace upon the world. They don't know that I have come to throw disagreement upon the world, and fire, and sword, and struggle.'
Jesus has far too mordant an understanding of ruthlessness and corruption not to realize that only divine violence can end human violence—only a sacred violence of utter abandon to God and utter commitment to transformation can dissolve the human violence that keeps the world sunk in degradation. Not only does Jesus know this, but he faces its necessity and lives it out in the extremity of his own life; he is fully aware that his knowledge of the laws of the birth of the Kingdom threatened all previous human accommodations to the way of the world; after his very first public sermon, the Gospel of Matthew tells us, occasional attempts on his life were made. Unlike many of the gurus and so-called teachers of our time, whose vague transcendental waffling further drugs an already comatose culture and leaves every aspect of the status quo intact, Jesus' vision of the new way was rooted not only in visionary ecstasy but in an utterly illusionless and ruthless analysis of power in all its aspects. This is what made him—and makes him—dangerous, perpetually scandalous, and what makes the Gospel of Thomas a fiery challenge, not only to less incendiary versions of his own message, but to all philosophers who do not propose a complex mystical revolution on every level.
Jesus risked such an almost alienating fervor and uncompromising urgency of address not merely because he understood that the Kingdom could not be birthed by any less absolute passion, but because he knew too, from the majesty and astonishment of his own experience, that empowerment on a scale as yet undreamt of awaited any being radical enough to accept and risk the terms of transformation he was proposing. Anyone who reads the Gospel of Thomas with an open mind and awakened heart will realize that what Jesus was trying to create was not an ethical or sophisticated revolution alone; he was attempting to birth a fully divine human race, a race of beings as radically alive and aware as he was himself. In saying 108, he makes this clear: 'Jesus said: He who drinks from my mouth will become like I am, and I will become he. And the hidden things will be revealed to him.'"
The Gospel of Thomas
Stevan L. Davies, Shambhala Library (December 2004) pp. ix-xx
Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi “But in the West we still are very much attached to the nonsense of Christianity. It has nothing to do with Christ, believe Me, and this fanaticism which is lingering still in your mind must be given up, otherwise you do not do any justice to Christ. That by no chance means you take to another religion like Hinduism or any other nonsensical Jainism, or anything. The essence, the Tattwa, of Christianity is Christ. And it is so thickly clouded by all these nonsensical things that you really have to drop this word 'Christianity' from your vocabulary completely, and from your mind. Otherwise you can never go to the essence. It is a fact; take it from Me.
And even now the attention of all the people is on what Christ said, or Mother Mary has said it, and which has come through these horrible people to us. So to learn about other Deities and other great Incarnations, we neutralize. We must try to neutralize too much attention by learning about other Deities, say, Shri Ganesha. If you talk about Shri Ganesha, He is the essence of Christ, and Christ is the manifestation of Shri Ganesha's Powers. So, if you go to the essence of most things, you see, that is better. Then, of course, Christ is there but we must see in Him, as He is, which very few people has seen before. But now in Sahaja Yoga you should see Him as He was. He was the holiest of the Holy. You accept that position.”
Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi
Christmas Eve Talk, Pune, India — December 24, 1982
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