Jesus rebukes those who seek access to God elsewhere


Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas
"According to Thomas, Jesus rebukes those who seek access to God elsewhere, even—perhaps especially—those who seek it by trying to"follow Jesus"himself. When certain disciples plead with Jesus to"show us the place where you are, since it is necessary for us to seek it," he does not bother to answer so misguided a question and redirects the disciples away from themselves toward the light hidden within each person: athere is light within a person of light, and it lights up the whole universe; If it does not shine, there is darkness.' In other words, one either discovers the light within that illuminates 'the whole universe' or lives in darkness, within and without."

Beyond Belief
The Secret Gospel of Thomas

by Elaine Pagels
published 2003 by Random House, New York

Elaine Pagels, professor of religion at Princeton University, became famous—well, at least well known—with the publication of her book, The Gnostic Gospels, in 1979. She has written several other books as well on the history of Christianity, establishing her as the foremost popular scholar in the field.

Beyond Belief, published in 2003 by Random House, is a sort of sequel to The Secret Gospels, in that it incorporates the new scholarship that has come to light since that book was published. Since Ms. Pagels' infant son was diagnosed with fatal pulmonary hypertension, her pursuit of knowledge about who Jesus really was has become a question of personal urgency for her. This need is reflected in the text and transforms the book into much more than a scholarly treatise for the curious. She wants to know what Christ meant to his followers before doctrine and dogmas, in other words, before Christianity was invented by the Church.

The discovery of the Gospel of Thomas, along with other early Christian texts, offers revealing clues. Pagels compares Thomas's gospel (which claims to give Jesus' secret teaching, and indicates an affinity with the Kabbalah) with the canonic texts to show how the early Church chose to include some gospels and exclude others from the collection we know as the New Testament—and why. During the time of persecution of Christians, the church fathers constructed the canon, creed and hierarchy, suppressing many of its spiritual resources in the process, in order to avoid conflict with Roman law and religion.

A prime example is the label of heresy attached to the Gospel of Thomas, and its subsequent suppression. If a copy hadn't been found by accident (or destiny?) in the caves of Nag Hammadi, along with many other documents during the middle of the twentieth century, we'd have never even known of its existence. Such secret writings had been denounced by Irenaeus, bishop of Lyon (c.180) as"An abyss of madness, and blasphemy against Christ."Pagels had therefore expected to find madness and blasphemy in these texts, but when she first studied them in Harvard graduate school she found the contrary in sayings such as this from Thomas."Jesus said: If you bring forth what is within you, what you will bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you. Pagels found that."..the strength of this saying is that it does not tell us what to believe but challenges us to discover what lies hidden within ourselves; and, with a shock of recognition, I realized that this perspective seemed to me to be self- evidently true."

However, certain church leaders from the second through the fourth centuries rejected many of these sources of revelation and constructed instead the New Testament gospel canon of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, which has defined Christianity to this day. The Gospel of John is of special importance in church dogma, and its basic tenets seem to be in direct opposition to Thomas. John says that he writes"so that you may believe, and believing may have life in [Jesus'] name."Thomas's gospel, however, encourages us not so much to believe in Jesus, as John demands, as to seek to know God through one's own, divinely given capacity, since all are created in the image of God."For Christians of later generations, the Gospel of John helped provide a foundation for a unified church, which Thomas, with its emphasis on each person's search for God, did not."

According to Pagels, John is the only evangelist who actually states that Jesus is God incarnated. But not only Pagels says so. In one of his commentaries on John, Origen—a church father, (c.240) - writes that while the other gospels describe Jesus as human," none of them clearly spoke of his divinity, as John does."One may object that the other three, synoptic ("seeing together") gospels call Jesus"son of God", and this is virtually the same thing. But such titles (son of God, messiah) in Jesus' time designated human, not divine roles. When translated into English fifteen centuries later, these were capitalized—a linguistic convention that does not occur in the original Greek. When all four gospels, together with Paul's letters, were united in the New Testament (c. 160 to 360) most Christians had come to read all four through John's lens, that Jesus is"Lord and God."

Pagels feels that if the Gospel of Thomas were included in the New Testament instead of that of John, or even if it were included along with John, the development of Christianity would have been quite different. Whereas Mark, Matthew and Luke identify Jesus as God's human agent, John and Thomas characterize him as God's own light in human form. Both claim to reveal, at least to a certain extent, Jesus'"secret teachings", and assume that their readers are already familiar with the synoptic gospels.

Despite their similarities, John and Thomas point the secret teachings in sharply different directions. John claims that we can experience God only through the divine light embodied in Jesus, while Thomas says that the divine light embodied in Jesus is already shared by humanity since we are all made"In the image of God." Thomas thus expresses what would become a central theme of Jewish, and later Christian, mysticism a thousand years later: that the"Image of God" is hidden within everyone, and it is a question of recognizing this and finding it through one's own efforts.

At one point in her description of the dispute among the early Christians about who Jesus really was, Pagels quotes Mark: ...he asked his disciples," Who do people say that I am?"And they told him," John the Baptist; and others say Elijah; and others, one of the prophets."And he asked them," But who do you say that I am?"Peter answered him," You are the messiah."In view of this passage, it has always seemed contradictory to me the contention that Christianity — and Judaism—do not embrace the idea of reincarnation, even reject it, when these first Jewish Christians seem to act as though it were common knowledge.

The synoptic gospels claim that Jesus' teaching predicted the coming of the kingdom of God some time in the future, an interpretation still adhered to by many Christians. However, both John and Thomas say something different, the latter very specifically: Jesus said, If those who lead you say to you, 'Look, the kingdom is in the sky', then the birds of the sky will get there before you....If they say to you, 'It is in the sea,' then the fish will get there before you. And His disciples said to him, 'When will the resurrection of the dead come, and when will the new world come?' He said to them, 'What you look forward to has already come, but you do not recognize it.'

Though the Gospel of Luke includes an alternative version of the same idea (."..the kingdom of God is within you"), Luke later retreats from this position and concludes with the apocalyptic warning that the Son of Man is not a divine presence in us all but a terrifying judge.

A century ago Leo Tolstoy, in his monumental The Kingdom of God is within you, urged Christians to give up coercion and violence in order to realize God's kingdom here and now. Thomas Merton, the twentieth century writer and Trappist monk, agreed with Tolstoy but interpreted his kingdom mystically rather then practically. We are confronted here with the Catholic church's insistence that humanity is sinful, base and unworthy by nature and that salvation from the pangs of hell is only possible through faith in Jesus and, by obvious extension, his church, and his representative on earth, the pope. But the Gospel of Thomas leaves spiritual destiny up to each individual. There Jesus treats us as equals, or at least as struggling siblings:

"According to Thomas, Jesus rebukes those who seek access to God elsewhere, even—perhaps especially—those who seek it by trying to"follow Jesus"himself. When certain disciples plead with Jesus to"show us the place where you are, since it is necessary for us to seek it," he does not bother to answer so misguided a question and redirects the disciples away from themselves toward the light hidden within each person: athere is light within a person of light, and it lights up the whole universe; If it does not shine, there is darkness.' In other words, one either discovers the light within that illuminates 'the whole universe' or lives in darkness, within and without."

Finally, after so many centuries, the heretics are having their say."

Beyond Belief
The Secret Gospel of Thomas




>
> Then a most important realization came before the inaugural
> celebration of Divine Feminine Day 13 November 2008. It was as if
> the Adi Shakti has given me this realization as a blessing to our
> pending celebrations of the Divine Feminine - after nearly 15 years
> it finally dawned on me that Kash was first shown the Light, the
> presence of God Almighty within us ......... before being shown His
> Power, the Adi Shakti, the next day!
>
> Kash, Arwinder and Lalita have all claimed that this extremely
> bright Light is always above Shri Mataji's abode. But it was Lalita
> who revealed that this Light is God Almighty:
>
> Tue Mar 15, 2005 2:59 pm
>
> A few months ago i asked my ten-year-old daughter Lalita what that
> immensely brilliant Light above the Adi Shakti in her Sahasrara is.
> She replied"God!"
>
> i remained silent for a long time to absorb the immensity of that
> single word answer.
>
>




antar jot pargat paasaaraa.
Deep within the self is the Light of God; It radiates throughout the expanse of His creation.

gur saakhee miti-aa anDhi-aaraa.
Through the Guru's Teachings, the darkness of spiritual ignorance is dispelled.

kamal bigaas sadaa sukh paa-i-aa jotee jot milaavani-aa.
The heart-lotus blossoms forth, and eternal peace is obtained, as one's light merges into the Light.

Guru Granth Sahib, p.126




"The most magnetic of all religious symbols is the light, the light that radiates everywhere within and without — the light that never was on land or sea. Great mystics have realised the Peerless One in the form of Light. Moses saw the burning bush and received the word of God. The Upanishad seers saw It as Jothi Aham — the Splendour in the self.

In many a Devaram and Tiruvacagam, and the lyrics of Tayumanavar and Ramalinga Swamigal, we have allusions to light as the symbol of the formless God; and Light also indicates goals and the radiance of Wisdom, as well as the illumination of Supreme Awareness.

Gleaming as the earth and all the spheres
Oh Thou expanse of matchless Effulgence!
In radiant forms of Light art Thou beheld
Oh Formless One!

Tiruvacagam 22.8.9.

Hinduism Today




"As Jesus talks with his three chosen disciples, Matthew asks him to show him the"place of life," which is, he says, the"pure light." Jesus answers," Every one [of you] who has known himself has seen it."53 Here again, he deflects the question, pointing the disciple instead toward his own self-discovery."

Elaine Pagels, The Gnostic Gospels
Random House, New York, 1989, p. 131.
(53. Dialogue of the Savior 132.15 — 16, in NHL 233.)




In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
The same was in the beginning with God.
All things were made by Him;
And without Him was not anything made that was made.
In Him was life; and the life was the Light of men.
And the Light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehend it not.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
The same came for a witness,
To bear witness to the Light that all men through him might believe.
He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness to that Light.
That was the true Light,
Which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.

John 1:1-10




"The Bible is seen to be full of terms about light. Lossky tells us that"for the mystical theology of the eastern Church these are not metaphors, rhetorical figures but words expressing a real aspect of godliness." "The godly light does not have an abstract and allegorical meaning. It is a data of the mystical experience."The author then referred to"Gnostics", the highest level of godly knowledge [that] is an experience (a living) of the noncreated light, where the experience itself is the light: in lumine tuo videbimus lumen (in Your Light we shall see light.)"

Eternal, endless, existing beyond time and space, it appeared in the theophanies of the Old Testament as the Glory of God. The Glory is"The Uncreated Light, His Eternal Kingdom."Being bestowed to the Christians by the Holy Spirit, the energies appear no longer as external causes but as grace, as inner light."Makarius the Egyptian wrote: "It is ... the enlightenment of the holy souls, the steadiness of the heavenly powers" (Spiritual Homilies V.8.)

"The godly light appears here, in this world, in time. It is disclosed in the history but it is not of this world; it is eternal, it means going out from the historical existence: 'the secret of the eight day', the secret of the true knowledge, the fulfillment of the Gnosis ... It is exactly the beginning of parousia in the holy souls, the beginning of the revealing at the end of times, when God will be disclosed to everyone in this distant Light."

Dan Costian, Bible Enlightened
Computex Graphics, 1995, p.415




"This universal symbol of Light is surely one of the best symbols Man has found to express the delicate balance that almost all cultures have tried to maintain, with varying success, between a merely this- worldly or atheistic attitude and a totally otherworldly or transcendent attitude. There must be some link between the world of Men and the world of the Gods, between the material and the spiritual, the immanent and the transcendent. If this link is of a substantial nature, pantheism is unavoidable. If the link is exclusively epistemic, as Indian and many other scholasticisms tend to affirm, the reality of this world will ultimately vanish. The symbol of Light avoids these two pitfalls by allowing for a specific sharing in its nature by both worlds or even by the"three worlds."

This is the supreme light spoken of in the Rig Veda and in the Brahmanas; it is mentioned also in the Chandogya Upanishad and in the well-known prayer of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad: "Lead me from darkness to light!"It is also the refulgent light of the golden vessel stationed in the dwelling place of the Divine: "The impregnable stronghold of the Gods has eight circles and nine gates. It contains a golden vessel, turned toward heaven and suffused with light."This light is neither exclusively divine nor exclusively human, neither merely material nor merely spiritual, neither from this side only nor from the other. It is precisely this fact that"links the two shores."This light is cosmic as well as transcosmic."

Professor Raimundo Panikkar, The Vedic Experience




"Cultivating the Awareness of the Light within

The heart and mind can find peace and harmony by contemplating the transcendental nature of the true self as supreme effulgent light

From the Yoga Sutra of PATANJALI, second century B.C.

Patanjali is often called the father of yoga because he was the first person to codify and write down yoga practices. In this meditation instruction, he is telling us to let go of all distracting sights, smells, and sounds and meditate on our spiritual nature, our luminous true self. He is telling us to look inside and experience the radiance within.

All cultures, peoples, and religious groups through all times have talked about the phenomena of light in the context of the religious or mystical experience. Those who have seen visions of holy beings typically see them surrounded by white light. People have always described going to the light, finding the light, being called by the light, dissolving in the light. We read about light in The Egyptian Book of the Dead as well as The Tibetan Book of the Dead. Men, women, and children who have had classic near-death experiences vividly describe arriving in a place of white light; they speak of themselves and others as being bathed in white light.

Prior to being described as the light of any religion, light was just light. Light is a part of the primary source material. Later, as the history of mankind developed, the concept of light became institutionalized; it was then interpreted according to cultural and religious beliefs. Pure light thus became light of God, light of truth, light of Buddha, light of Jesus, cosmic light, and ocean of light depending upon where you were born and what you were taught. Light, however, is constant. It is fundamental energy.

The New Testament, referring to John the Baptist, reads: "He came for testimony, to bear witness to the light that all might believe through him."Later Jesus says," Put your trust in the light while you have it so that you may become sons of light."...

British mystic George Fox, who founded the Quaker religion, used the term"Inner light"to describe our ability to personally experience God within ourselves. He himself had such an experience, which left him with the lifelong conviction that everyone can hear God's voice directly without mediation by priests or church ritual. This is the central tenet of the Society of Friends.

According to Buddhism, all beings are imbued with a spark of inner divine light. In describing our original Buddha-nature, we use such phrases as innate luminosity, primordial radiance, the unobscured clear natural mind, and the clear light of reality.... The Jewish mystics use similar words when they speak of the inner spark or the spark of God. The Koran, referring to man, talks about the little candle flame burning in a niche in the wall of God's temple.

Almost inevitably a spiritual search becomes a search for divine or sacred light. By cultivating our inner core, we search for this light in ourselves as well as the divine."

Lama Surya Das, Awakening to the Sacred




" "Lead me from darkness to light, from death to immortality."This famed Vedic prayer proclaims the human urge to survive, to conquer death and to know the joys of illuminated consciousness. People often pilgrimage to an isolated place in expectation of a vision, be it a jungle of fauna and foliage or cement and glass. Every person is on a vision quest. But for all souls, at the time of the great departure, mahaprasthana, a vision comes as a tunnel of light at the end of which are beings of divine nature. Many having had the near-death experience have sworn their testimony of such transforming encounters. An American woman who"died"during childbirth, but was brought back to life by quick medical action, recounted: "It was an incredible energy — a light you wouldn't believe. I almost floated in it. It was feeding my consciousness feelings of unconditional love, complete safety and complete, total perfection. And then, and then, a piece of knowledge came in — it was that I was immortal, indestructible. I cannot be hurt, cannot be lost, and that the world is perfect."Hundreds of people report similar experiences, affirming what Hinduism has always taught — that death is a blissful, light- filled transition from one state to another, as simple and natural as changing clothes, far from the morbid, even hellish alternatives some dread. A Vedic funeral hymn intones: "Where eternal luster glows, the realm in which the light divine is set, place me, Purifier, in that deathless, imperishable world. Make me immortal in that realm where movement is accordant to wish, in the third region, the third heaven of heavens, where the worlds are resplendent" (Rig Veda, Aitareya Aranyaka 6-11)."

Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, January 1997




"One has to know on this point that you have got the Light... It is such a powerful Light. You can verify it whether it is eternal or not. You have to see for yourself you have such a unique Light within you. In the history of spirituality of this world so many have got Realization — such a Light in them. How could these stupid, flimsy, useless conditionings dominate you now, when you are the carrier of Eternal Light?"

Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi
Being The Light Of Pure Compassion,
Istanbul, Turkey — November 6, 1994


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