Thomas Gospel and Zen Mind

Tho-Go and Ze-Mi

The Two in One

to the children and the friends of zen

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Moreover, to meditate is an illusory thought,

          Not to meditate is illusory, too.

          It is the same, whether or not you meditate.

          Discrimination of  “the two” is the

source of all wrong views.

          From the ultimate viewpoint there is no

                     view whatsoever.

          This is the nature of Mind.

          The teaching of observation of

          The Dharma-nature is illustrated through

                     the simile of space.

          You, Drang Srin Mo, should look into the

                     meaning of beyond-thoughts;

          You should enter the non-distracted realm

                     in meditation;

          You should act naturally and spontaneously,

          Ever conscious of the Essence.

                               The Hundred Thousand Songs of Milarepa,

                               Challenge from a Wise Demoness, Garma C.C. Chang, p.53

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Homo Deus

En lieu of a Preface

Above title of Harari’s 2018 bestselling analysis of sapiens endeavors in the 21st century renders a detailed picture of the megalomania dominating the believes of the present age: on the one hand a revived pursuit of longevity facilitated by scientific breakthroughs in biomedicine is fueling hundreds of start-ups to the tune of billions of dollars; on the other there is an even bigger effort in optimizing the capabilities of artificial intelligence, thus paving the way for the age of robots, which is being seen as the possible apotheosis of human evolution (even by such sympathetic people as Stephen Hawking).

Yet, wo aber Gefahr ist da waechst das Rettende auch*: another bestselling work of our times is Ian McGilchrist’s book, The Master and His Emissary (Yale, 2009), a brilliantly written neuroscientific as well as philosophic study, which shows that in the age of AI we are blatantly neglecting and suppressing the role of the right brain hemisphere which is responsible for what we simply may call the intuitive, creative, artistic or in short the spiritual. A reversal of this trend to neglect that part in our brain which makes us actually what we are may well save humanity from doom….

The Homo Deus ends with a couple of questions, which the author hopes the reader will remember long after he has forgotten the rest of the book. The most important among those appears to be this one: “What do you think is more important, knowledge or consciousness?” (Homo Deus, final page) – Harari is a vipassana practitioner and as such must be aware of the trappings of ideologies rooted in the belief that truth can be known and possessed. One may own a dictionary or an i-phone with unlimited storage capability – but these ‘possessions’ give mere access to knowledge, and thus potentially power, but they hardly give an idea about what consciousness is, let alone real access to it. Therefore, knowledge is computable as consciousness defies computing; correctness is to be knowledgeable; truthfulness is to be conscious. Yet, all these musings are merely encircling the meaning – and I would say – being of consciousness. To have true understanding of it one is to become what one is seeking – and that requires an opening up and bringing forth of that what is in you, but which is of a radically different character from all what can be known the intelligent way….  

The mystery of this consciousness thing, or to be precise, no-thing, has been and is the target of pursuit in all great traditions of unorthodoxy: as for the East this is Daoism as embodied in the Daodejing or Zen-buddhism as reflected f.e. in the Wu-Men-Guan (Jap. Mumonkan) or the Songs of Milarepa; for the Middle East it’s Sufism and for the West – arisen from the (Middle?) East again – we have the Gnostics and among those the gnostic Gospels, of which again the Thomas Gospel is the most poignant one. – The commentary to the latter following herewith concentrates upon slightly more than half of the original sayings, namely those which deal with our subject matter in a most direct, at times utterly striking way; – which is why we call  it TG & Zen-Mind:  Zen is the practice of discarding the adopted and opening up to the hidden obvious – and that’s the main focus of TG as well: “…. Split a log, and I am there; lift a stone, and you’ll find me there.”(77)

Tom Amatt, Basel, December 2020

*Hoelderlin: But, where there is danger, remedy grows as well.


Thomas Gospel and Zen Mind

A Selection of Some Fundamental Sayings by Yeshua of Galilea (orig. Aramaic for Jesus adopted here as used by Jean-Yves Leloup) with commentary.

Translation of TG by Mark M. Mattison, 2015 in most parts and occasionally by Leloup, 1986 (rendered in English by Joseph Rowe, 2005 – when deviating from his translation the original French is shown) unless otherwise indicated. In Mattison’s A New Translation for Spiritual Seekers, the terms “Father” and “Kingdom of Heaven” are neutralized as “Source” and “Ultimate Reality”, which we have adopted.  Also, we use capital initials with a number of words, which carry a different meaning beyond regular usage, as for example in Movement and Rest; last not least italics are used in the translation when deviating from both Mattison and Leloup.

Part I

The TG, comprising 114 Logoi in total, seems to emphasize selected central aspects of the teaching in different sections and forming 5 parts of equal length that way. In Part I a synopsis of the whole is given, both in terms of the what and the how:  

Logion 1

And he said, “Whoever discovers the meaning of these Sayings won’t taste death.”

“These Sayings” Move and Rest in the Logos as described in Genesis 1:1; Buddhists would say in the Unborn – that’s why we adopted the heading ‘Logion’ (i.e., Out of the Logos) as introduced by Leloup.

Logion 2

Yeshua said, “Whoever seeks shouldn’t stop until they find. When they find, they’ll be disturbed. When they’re disturbed, they’ll be amazed and Move All. Moving All, they’ll Rest in Sovereignty.

The meaning of this “reign” and “rest” indicates a very different type of “reigning”  or “resting” from what is normally understood. To come to grips with this we are using Logion 50 as a basis, where Yeshua explains: “…. When they ask you: ‘What’s the sign of your Source in you?’, then say: ‘It’s Movement and Rest.’’

Aristotle’s ‘motionless mover’ may come to mind….

While Logion 1 proclaims: “Whoever will discover the meaning of these sayings won’t taste death.”, Logion 2 describes what such discovery entails.

Logion 3

Yeshua said, “If your leaders tell you, ‘Look, Ultimate Reality is in heaven’, then the birds of heaven will precede you. If they tell you, ‘It’s in the see’, then the fish will precede you. Rather, Ultimate Reality is within you and outside of you.

“When you know yourselves, then you’ll be known, and you’ll realize that you are children of the living Source. But if you don’t know yourselves, then you live in poverty, and you are the poverty.”

(C.f. Logion 111)`

Emphasis is to be put on “…. within you and outside of you. ….”; no discrimination of the two, they rather form one dynamic entity: know your self inside and you will be known from outside.

Logion 4

Yeshua said, “The older person won’t hesitate to ask a seven days old child about the place of Life, and they will Live, because many who are first will be last, and they’ll become One.”

While Logion 3 describes that you should not look for the Ultimate in the sky or in the sea, but “within yourself”, Logion 4 relates this Yourself  to Life and the One, which is beyond the firsts and lasts in time/space and therefore seemingly reversing the rules applicable therein, thus setting the stage for what all and everything is about….

Logion 5

“Know what’s in front of your face and what’s hidden from you will be revealed to you, because there’s nothing hidden that won’t be revealed, and nothing buried that won’t be raised.”

“…. Rather, Ultimate Reality is within you and outside of you” (3). Whereas the view of the spiritual seeker is generally turned inwards, Yeshua is reversing this, or better, balancing this tendency in a fundamental way: you may Know from what is in front of you as well as from what is within you. True Knowledge reveals Oneness, which is encompassing all that what is in front and behind, within and without and therefore what is hidden becomes revealed within omnipresence and thus, what is buried will be raised in light.

This can be understood as an elaboration on Logion 2 and what happens when the Seeking are Finding “… they’ll be amazed and Move All; and Moving All they’ll Repose in Sovereignty”, in absolute awareness; awareness in identification with and commandment of All the One , inside matching outside.

Logion 10

“I’ve cast Fire on the world, and look, I’m watching over it until it blazes.”

This again draws the attention towards ‘what is in front’ of us (5), the world – but as permeated by the eternal energy of the spiritual force; behold, it is Blazing.

Logion 11

Yeshua said: “This heaven will disappear and the one above it will disappear too. Those who are dead aren’t alive and those who are Living won’t die. In the days when you ate what was dead you made it alive. When you’re in the light, what will you do? The day when you were One you became divided. But when you are divided, what will you do?”

Leloup renders this as follows, in a more interpretative way:

“This sky will pass away

And the one above it will also pass away.

The dead have no life

And the Living have no death.

On days when you ate what was dead

You made that into something alive(vous en faisiez de vivant).

When you are in the light, what will you do?

When you were One, you created the Two (le deux!).

But now, that you are Two, what will you do?

“When you make the Two in One, you will become Children of Mensch”(106) in which state “the Living have no death”, duality will pass away and with it those who are trapped in it: “… and the dead have no life.” Perhaps better …. and what is dead has no life. – Nevertheless, it is asked, ‘when you are in the light, what will  you do?’ The question seems mysterious and rhetoric at the same time and is meant to remedy the ignorance of the disciples. And that’s why, directly, Yeshua turns back to the present stage of being: but now, since you are divided, that you became Two, what will you do?! – It seems like a wink with the fence pole; and the plainness of the question could trigger the awakening shock….

The finishing lines of DaoDe- Jing, I come to mind:

These two arise out of the Same but differ in name; Sameness is Mystery. Mystery’s Mystery: all Wonder’s Door.  

(此两者,同出而异名,同谓之玄。玄之又玄,衆妙之门.)

Logion 13

Yehsua asked his disciples: “If you were to compare me to someone, who would you say I’m like?”

         Simon Peter said: “You are like a just angel.”

         Matthew said: “You are like a wise philosopher.”

         Thomas told him: “Teacher, I’m completely unable to say whom you’re like.”

         “I’m not your teacher”, Yeshua said. “Because you have drunk, you have become completely intoxicated by the bubbling spring I’ve measured out.”

He took him aside and told him three things. When Thomas returned to his companions, they asked him, ”What did Yeshua say to you?”

         “If I tell you one of the things, he said to me”, Thomas told them, “you’ll pick up stones and cast them at me, and fire will come out of the stones and burn you up.”

Angel or prophet, philosopher or wise teacher – that’s what a good disciple can understand and accept, that’s how he or she sees the venerated master in the world. Not so Thomas. After Yeshua told him three things he returns and speaks like the master himself, who, when everyone still could hear what he was saying, summoned Thomas with words, starting: “I am not your teacher.”

The three things Thomas is told were blasphemy, reason ‘to break the stick over him’ and have him stoned if the chief Rabbi would hear it – since the position, the identity through which  Thomas speaks, after being summoned, clearly is the same as that of Yeshua’s himself- and thus, he is able to pronounce: “…, you’ll pick up stones and cast them at me, and fire will come out of the stones and burn you up.” (c.f. Logion 19)

What is revealed here is no less than the fact that Thomas has become the  only truly confidant of Yeshua’s….

Only “three things” made this difference, were able to awaken that Thomas, who in the first place was able to grasp that the reality of Yeshua is fundamentally different from all what is known to the teachers and scholars of the world.

It could be understood that this account of what sounds like an initiation of Thomas, sets this disciple fundamentally apart from all others.

Logion 14

Yeshua told them: “If you fast, you’ll bring guilt upon yourselves; and if you pray you’ll be condemned; and if you make donations you’ll harm your spirit.

If they welcome you when you enter any land and go around in the countryside, heal those who are sick among them and eat whatever they give you, because it’s not what goes into your mouth what will defile you; what comes out of your mouth is what defiles you.”

And there come the next ‘three things’, though on a more mundane level even if radically negating the mundane perception of what makes a good saint or religious person: it casts the traditional understanding of spiritual endeavor and religious zeal as the contrary to what it is commonly held to be, namely a meritorious and admirable practice which sets the saint, seeker or just devout person apart and above the commoner. – NO, forget it, accept what is there and what is sick there, heal! Eat what you are given, regardless how impure – but be pure in what you think or say; because that’s what makes the difference, the difference for good!

Don’t try to improve by castigating your body, don’t try to save your soul by praying for a better one, don’t imagine to be able to help saving your soul by giving riches – stop deceiving yourself and others by pretense of flying high, since it will lead nowhere but to the contrary of what you wish. In short, leave the corrupted tracks, be straight, be One.   

Use what you have been given – the disciples had become/were to become healers with Yeshua’s blessing – and do not stray in mind. ‘See what is in front of your face….’(5)

Unmasking of pretentious behavior and etiquette, a radical, even revolutionary  call to the Real – how ever to grasp it – is the original and ultimate thrust in Zen: “When you meet the Buddha – kill him.” (Dogen Zenji) “To meditate is superficial; and not to meditate is superficial alike. It does not matter whether you meditate or not.” (Milarepa)

Logion 16

Yeshua said: “Many people think that I’ve come to cast peace on the world, and they do not know that I’ve come to cast division on earth: fire, sword and war. Where there are five in a house there will be three against two and two against three, father against son and son against father. But they’ll stand up – rise to themselves – and be One.

All the same, from bad to worse: not only are your prayers in vain, but fire, sword and war are looming; and that not only at your doorstep, but even inside your house! Father against son, son against father, daughter against and against and against – all too familiar tragedy…. But….then….what …. happy end? – Can’t be, he’s taking us for a ride…. – Or?

The translation of the final sentence is ‘interpretative’; already in Mattison’s text, who renders the last word “monakhos” with “One”: “… And they’ll stand up and be one.” The literal meaning is: “… And they’ll stand up and be alone/in simplicity.” (c.f. Leloup’s commentary to Logion 16)  Be that as it may, we are following Mathison since his wording makes sense – or say, is revealing – in the context of the whole gospel:

Logion 17

Yeshua said: I’ll give you what no eye has ever seen, no ear has ever heard, no hand has ever touched, and no human mind has ever thought.

_________________

Logion 18

The disciples asked Yeshua, “Tell us about our end. How will it come?”

Yeshua asked, “Have you discovered the beginning so that you can look for the end? Because the end will be where the beginning is. Blessed is the one who will Stand Up in the beginning. They’ll know the end, and won’t taste death.”

Discover the beginning

Lock in, lock in

          Stand up, stand up before

The dust of time

Settles on the mountain

                                         t.a.

‘God is a Circle’ is the title of a cycle of works by contemporary Belgian artist Lore Vanelslande**. To enter the Circle, you have to lock into it, i.e., ‘discover it’s beginning’ – and the beginning is ‘where the end will be’. … This Circle is exactly the contrary of the ‘Wheel of Samsara’ – and yet, at the end of the day, it shall be One (cf. Logion 16). However, by then, “… those who are dead won’t be alive and those who are Living will not die.” (11) Before that, in the presence of Now (Vanelslande), discover the Beginning!  ….

Logion 19

Yeshua said, “Blessed is the one who Is before existing (Leloup). If you become my disciples and listen to my message, these stones will become your servants; because there are five trees in paradise, which don’t change in summer or winter, and their leaves don’t fall. Whoever knows them won’t taste death.”

Those who are able to ‘listen’ – listen in the transformative sense of becoming aware, live up, embody – open up to, in, and with the Unborn and Immanent, form part of it and thus Are before existing ….*

Utter transformation engulfs the one who grasps the meaning of “the message”, which is unifying the inside with the outside, thus putting the one to the service of the other in the process. And this because in the Middle and all Four Directions there is Paradise before existing. Whoever knows that…. **

*This state of mind is described by Milarepa throughout his songs in multiple episodes, the most outspoken one telling about it in Mahamudra: “… To realize that the un-clinging, illuminated mind is unborn and immanent, is the consummation sign of the state of One-Pointedness.” C. C. Chang, page 98

**Tantra Buddhism recognizes five realms and corresponding embodiments of Buddha’s, those of the Middle and the Four Directions.

Logion 21

Mary asked Yeshua, “Whom are your disciples like?”

“They’re like children living in a field which is not theirs,” he said. “When the owners of the field come, they’ll say, ‘Give our field back to us’. They’ll strip naked in front of them to let them have it and give them their field.

So I say that if the owners of the house realize that the bandits are coming, they’ll watch out beforehand and won’t let the bandit break into the house of their domain and steal their possessions. You, then, watch out for the world! Prepare to defend yourself so that the bandits don’t attack you, because what you’re expecting will come. May there be a wise person among you!

When the fruit ripened, the reaper came quickly, sickle in hand, and harvested it. Anyone who has ears to hear should hear.!”

Little children run naked or if they don’t, they’ll gladly strip naked if they’re given the opportunity, a sign of their immanent innocence (c.f., 37). They do not believe ‘to own’ anything, they rather are what they are with what they are with. That’s why “the older person won’t hesitate to ask a seven days old child about the place of life.”(4) So, when time is ripe and the reaper comes, sickle in hand, they will be gladly there to contribute to the harvest what they have  grown and return the field which they know they do not own.

But beware, to keep as well as to achieve the childlike purity of mind requires protection as much as it requires largesse of heart – or the thieves will come and break into your domain and take away your priceless treasure. And yes, the governors of the world are mighty clever to find any weak spot in your fortifications – so, may there be a wise guy among us who sees it all through.

It should be worthwhile noting, that while Yeshua asked his disciples what he is like – and two men answered (apart from the author, Thomas himself) – the question, what are the disciples are like, is returned by a woman, Mary. And in a way the subject is continued later on by another woman, Magdalena. And these four, Simon Peter and Mathew on the one hand with Mary and Magdalena on the other are the only disciples mentioned by name in the Thomas Gospel, thus showing a fair balance between male and female – something highly unusual at the time in history.

Logion 22

Yeshua saw some little children nursing. “These nursing children”, he told his disciples, “can be compared to those who enter Ultimate Reality.”

         They asked him, “Then we will enter Ultimate Reality as little children?”

“When you make the Two in One”, Yeshua told them, “and make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner, and the upper like the lower, and so make the male and the female a single One so that the male won’t be male nor the female female, when you make eyes in the place of the eye, a hand in the place of the hand, a foot in the place of the foot, and an image in the place of the image; then you’ll enter Ultimate Reality.”

Within the last four logoi the utter difference of meaning beyond meaning is being encircled. Finally wrapped up in the comparison of the attainment of Ultimate Being with a nursing child. But will we be little infants then? – No, and yes: in that purity and bliss of becoming, ‘being nursed’, we can be compared to them, yes; but in reach, in effect, we will be something utterly different– we will heal, heal all divisions in the Two in One, unifying that what is suffering in duality – unspeakable but not unspoken of, creation and becoming of the ununderstandably Real, making hands in the place of the Hand…..  

Or, again quoting Hakuin Ekaku (1686-1769): ‘Clapping two hands hear the sound of the One Hand’- that is, hands in place of the Hand….

“The Two in One” is a central Buddhist term, which together with “The Simultaneously Born” forms the basis of Esoteric as well as Zen Buddhistic ontology. It’s comprehension and realization form the pinnacle of transformative understanding as perhaps best explained and illustrated some eleven hundred years after Yeshua by Milarepa, the great Tibetan practitioner who refused to join any specific school or clerical denomination like Yeshua himself didn’t. The term defies direct explanation but through negative circumscription: “Discrimination of the two is the source of all evil….”. A beautiful example can be found in Milarepa’s song in illustration of the different experiences, both real and false, of the four stages of Mahamudra, the all-encompassing path of Buddhistic practice (C.C. Chang, p. 98):

          I bow down at the feet of the supreme Guru.

          To cling to the actuality of mind is the cause of Samsara;

          To realize that non-clinging and illuminating Self-awareness

          Is unborn and immanent,

          Is the consummation sign of the Stage of One-Pointedness.

          If one talks about the Two-In-One

          But still meditates on (outer) form,

          If one acknowledges the truth of Karma

          But still commits wrong-doing,

          One is actually meditating with blindness and passion!

          Things as such are never found

          In the true Stage of One-Pointedness.

          …

Logion 23

Yeshua said, “I’ll choose you, one out of a thousand and two out of ten thousand; and they’ll stand as a single One.”

After Logion 22, this is the most arcane as well as the positively most poignant pronouncement of the whole gospel: instead of any more reasoning or exemplification, pure reassurance is given.

The One defies counting, and the more you count, the more it defies it. Myriad of lives spent – what is One? A Single One? – You.

Rather than being an elitist statement about ‘the very few’ who will be chosen among the ‘poor multitude of souls’ – a notion which only the most superficial reading allows – ,Logion 23 deals with the recurring base theme of the gospel, but from the opposite end than in most cases: who seeks will find; … know as you will be known; make the two Two-One. This statement, ‘you will be chosen out of a thousand, out of ten thousand’ may give faith to those who otherwise could feel lost in face of the  task laid before them, an enormously challenging task with which they are to endure much loneliness, within themselves and within a worldly multitude of non-comprehension, ‘full of bandits’ to fend off.


Part II

With the foregoing we have reached the end of the Gospel’s first section, which deals with the spiritual challenge of human life in an intimate and most direct sense. The second part is going to deal with the same challenge, but in most cases with a view from the societal plane in focus. Most of the Logoi involved are well known from the New Testament. We only render a selection which links this societal view with the view ‘inside ourselves’, the focus of the first part and the underlying basis of the whole:

Logion 24

“Show us the place where you are” his disciples said, “because we need to look for it.”

“Anyone who has ears to hear should hear” he told them. “Light exists within people of light and they light up the whole world. If they don’t shine, there is darkness.”

‘Shall we climb mountains or cross the seas to come to find the destination?’ – The sage doesn’t need crossing the threshold of his hut to know the universe. (Laozi, 47: 不出户知天下)

The disciples naiveté who want directions pointed out to the place where their Master can be located physically is challenged again and  again: if you have ears you should hear they are being exhorted – and become a person of light with those who are lighting up the world. This ‘direction’ cannot be pointed to literally with the tip of a finger even less shown on a map. To get the message cross to the dumb, sleeping mind the finger might even get cut off; as in one of the more muscular Zen-stories…. (Mumonkan, Gutei’s Finger)

Logion 29

Yeshua said, “If the flesh came into being because of spirit, that’s amazing. If spirit came into existence because of the body, that’s really amazing! But I’m amazed how such great wealth has been placed in this poverty.”

A reference to philosophers and pharisees regarding the impossibility to deduce logically what came first, spirit or matter. One way or another, it is amazing that there is something. But the real amazement is of a different kind, it’s the realization of great treasure in and beyond this poverty and pain of self-indulging, worldly sophistications and suffering; or even the treasure and beauty in and beyond the suffering in the animal world as pointed out by Paul already. And last not least, the treasure and beauty all around us, withering and decay notwithstanding.

 Logion 37

“When will you appear to us” his disciples said “When will we see you?”

“When you strip naked without being ashamed” Yeshua said, “and throw your clothes onto the ground and stamp on them as little children would, then you’ll see the Son of the Living One and won’t be afraid.”

By now the disciples have got an inkling of that very different form of being their master is telling them about – they wonder how they might be able to really see him. Thus he tells them, when you are able to let go of your cloth and adopt to nakedness’ immediacy stomping in joy on what you have left behind – when you have cut through your attachments and exalt in what You are…. You’ll see Me.

Logion 42

Yeshua said, “Be passersby.”

Life is passing and does not stand still. If you want to live, stand up to it, to the beginning in ending  (18)…. Or, en route, as the well known saying of medieval mystic Angelus Silesius has it: Wandrer, Wandrer bleib nur ja nicht stehn, du musst von einem Licht fort in das andre gehn.

Great work, great teaching has pinnacles, a lightening’s brevity and penetrating force. This command is an outstanding example….

Logion 43

„Who are you to say such things to us”, the disciples asked him.

“You don’t realize who I am from what I say to you, but you have become like those Judeans who either love the tree but hate the fruit or love the fruit but hate the tree.”

By now the poor disciples are completely dumbfolded. ‘For god’s sake, who is this guy?’, they ask with some desperation. Yeshua gets a bit desperate in return himself and answers with a second reference to the ‘hen or egg’ dilemma (cf 29) , which confronts casuistic dissections of ‘those Judeans’, whose minds only can grasp one-sided half-truths and necessarily turn against the other half – while the acceptance of both makes the only remedy to prepare for true recognition – beyond dualistic appodicition of worldly ideologues.

The master is scolding the disciples who cannot see the forest for the trees, cannot understand who he is for the words he speaks. But now that you are two, what will you do???! (11)

Logion 44

Yeshua said: “Whoever slanders the Source (Father) will be forgiven, and whoever slanders the Son will be forgiven; but whoever slanders the Mother (Holy Spirit, Love, Compassion) will not be forgiven, neither on earth nor in heaven.”

Confronting the helplessness and limited understanding of his followers Yeshua turns to the love and forgiveness, the Grace of the Ultimate One.

To err is human and not to see and understand the truth is no crime, even ridicule and slander of the truth and its creation out of ignorance can be excused and forgiven. But to deny the power of love, the enlightening flame of inspiration and recognition is to cut off access to life itself – and there is no place and no way to forgive this.

Logion 45

“Grapes are not harvested from thorns, nor are figs gathered from thistles, because they don’t produce fruit. A person who’s good brings good things out of their treasure, and a person who’s evil brings evil things out of their evil treasure. They say evil things because their heart is full of evil.”

While much will be forgiven, don’t expect the right things from the wrong people. Be straight and open your eyes. ‘Most people are bad’, as the Pre-Socratics already had it. So, don’t expect light from those who shed darkness. Be prepared, be wise. – This Logion and the following encompass the subjects which Mary asked about when inquiring, “Whom are your disciples like” (21):

Logion 46

Yeshua said: “From Adam to John the Baptizer, no one’s been born who’s so much greater than John the Baptizer that they shouldn’t avert their eyes. But I say that whoever among you will become a little child will know Ultimate Reality and become greater than John.”

While the worldly powers are encroaching on your house (21b) you must prepare your defenses so as to be able to return the harvest of the field, which you don’t own. John knew that and preached accordingly. But, if you become what Yeshua is comparing you to, a little child stripping naked in front of the father who owns the field (21a) then you reach that stage, which John was there to prepare.

Part I ended with “I will choose you, one out of a thousand, two out of ten thousand…. ‘, but here, with the ending of Part II, the perspective is reversed: anyone of you, if becoming a child, will be the one – out of millions, whatever –  in the One – and Know.

Part III

Two and One revisited with  the emphasis on  Who You Are:

Logion 48

Yeshua said, “If two make peace with each other in a single house they’ll say to the mountain, ‘Go away,’ and it will.”

When and if division is healed, peace is made and that in one body, in the single house, on a single bed (61), that is, inside yourself between distraction and attraction, then a transforming empowerment will arise, ‘the wall without door’ will vanish at Their command – for:

Logion 49

Blessed are those who are One – those who are chosen, because you’ll find Ultimate Reality. You’ve come from there and will return there.”

… for They are now One.

Logion 50

Yeshua said, “If they ask you, ‘Where do you come from?’ tell them, ‘We’ve come from the Light, the place where Light came into being by Itself, established Itself and Appeared in their Image.’”

“If they ask you, ‘Is it you?’ then say, ‘We are Its Children, and we’re chosen by our living Source.’”

“If they ask you, ‘What’s the sign of your Source in you?’ then say, ‘It’s Movement and Rest.’”

So, here I, Yeshua, am going to tell you, disciples, where You who are One, come from, who You are and what signifies You:

The Image of Appearance is the Image of Reality permeating outer reality as the real Face, face in the place of a Face.(22) Ultimate Light is your Source and You are It’s Children.

What signifies You is Movement and Rest, the Breath of Life: In – Movement; Out – Rest.

Logion 51

“When will the dead have rest,” his disciples asked him, “and when will the new world come?”

“What you’re looking for has already come,” but you, he told them “you don’t know it.”

After being told the Ultimate, the disciples are lost and ask in again in their naïve fashion when, where, how all this is to come about, death is done with giving the dead final rest. They are lingering in front of ‘the wall’, unable to grasp Reality beyond it. Reality which has already come, but which is not known to them, at least not to their majority.

Logion 52

“Twenty-four prophets have spoken in Israel,” his disciples told him, “and they all spoke of you.”

“You’ve ignored the Living One right in front of you,” he told them, “and you’ve talked about those who are dead.”

We are at the center of the gospel, the most outspoken part of it. The disciples now try to appear knowledgeable: aren’t they talking about all the prophets, having understood, quite proudly, that Yeshua is the one all these were talking about.

But no! You didn’t get it. You are in division (60), still in darkness, and are missing the one, the One in the Light – into which all the prophets disappeared from your grasp; what you are talking about are the dead – who don’t have life. (11)

Logion 59

Yeshua said, “Look for the Living One while you’re still alive. If you die and then try to look for it you won’t be able to.”

To be alive is to be in a process. Use and accept this process to find out what it is about. It is – Movement and Rest – it does not stick and you, do not get stuck:

Be passersby (43) – blossom and whither – and recognize the beauty of the flow…. hear, the sound of the Hand, One – Single One, in the place of a Place. (22)

Logion 60

They saw a Samaritan carrying a lamb to Judea. He asked his disciples, “What do you think he is going to do with that lamb?”

“He is going to kill and eat it,” they told him.

“While it is living,” he told them, “he won’t eat it, but only after he kills it and it becomes a corpse.”

“He can’t do it any other way,” they said.

He told them: “Seek a place in Rest, do not become corpses, lest you be eaten.” (Leloup, author’s italics)

The Living One cannot be chased after running breathless. Seek a place in Rest –  and you shall find.

The quality and meaning of Rest is exposed here as in above 50, ‘what’s the sign of your Source in you? Movement  and Rest.’ It’s the breath of life eternal, breathing in and out, moving and resting in equal, open measure, spiritus sanctus.

Don’t let yourself be carried away from it, lest you be killed.

Logion 61 (Leloup)

Yeshua said, “Two will lie on a single bed, one will die, the other will live.”

Salome asked him, “Who are you, Sir.? Where do you come from, you who lie on my bed and eat at my table?”

Yeshua replied, “I come from the One who is Openness. What comes from my Father (Source) has been given to me.”

Salome answered, ‘” I’m your disciple.”

Yeshua told her, “That is why I say that when disciples are Open, they are filled with Light, when they are divided, they are filled with darkness.”

Mattison chooses a different translation for Open/Openness: Equal/Equality. “I’m the One who exists in Equality.” Both translations make sense and even better, in the context of this gospel, one might word it, ‘I’m the One who exists/comes in Oneness.’ For, “When you make the two into One”, Yeshua told them, “and make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner…. then you shall enter Ultimate Reality.” (22), i.e., become what I Am. And he told her, “That is why I say when disciples are One, they are filled with Light, when they are divided, they are filled with darkness.”

And so, two will lie on a single bed, one, the divided, will die and One, who rests in Oneness, will live. (49)

Salome, who is open/equal to and one with the master is aware of this: i am your disciple….

Logion 62

Yeshua said, “I tell my mysteries to those who are worthy of my mysteries. Don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.”

One cannot help but being struck by the modernity of this Logion in the context of the latest ‘revelations’ in neuro science and philosophy: the left hand is linked to the right brain hemisphere, which is endowed with our capacity for intuition, transcendence and, in short, deeper understanding. It should not be distracted in its openness and intuitively revealing, unifying capacity by the ever dissecting, dividing analytical right hand leaning left hemisphere…. (cf. McGilchrist, The Master and his Emissary, Yale, 2009) 

Logion 66

Yeshua said, “Show me the stone the builders rejected, that’s the cornerstone.”

To be useless in the regulating pattern of quantitative analysis frees ourselves for a different ‘construction’. And it’s key to have the left hand working without knowledge of the right. – This uselessness is an old core concept of Daoist – and that means Zen as well – thought. (see for example Zhuangzi, The Useless Tree….)

Logion 68

Yeshua said, “Blessed are you when you’re hated and harassed – and no place will be found where you’ve been harassed.”

Redemption of evil piled on grace – it makes it shine.

Part IV

In this section, which may be called the high end of teaching, the wording is stretched to break point. So as to be able to follow, the foregoing Part I to III should have been digested so to speak….

Logion 70 (Leloup)

If you bring forth that within you

Then that  will save you,

If you do not,

Then that  will kill you.

Perhaps the most powerful Logion of all; at least the most direct one. For it addresses the question of life and death straight and simple at the bottom of your heart. … What is that, that is moving us, demanding to be addressed and brought forth, lest I is going to be lost in de-sparation, ver-zwei-felung? – The One and Everything what to be human is all about….

Logion 74 (Leloup)

The Master said:

There are many who stand round the well,

but no one to go down into it.

And many want to know, are thirsty for that knowledge; but who takes the effort to go down so as to drink? No body.

Logion 75 (Leloup)

Yeshua said:

Many are standing by the door,

but only those who are alone and simple (monakhos)

can enter the bridal chamber.

The metaphor is continued: no body is the one who is One, which is something alone and simple, off the beaten track and consumed with Ultimate Reality.

Logion 77

Yeshua said, “I’m the light that’s over everything. I am everything; it’s come from me and unfolds towards me.

“Split a log; I’m there. Lift a stone, and you’ll find me there.”

Alone and simple, yet everywhere together with everything. Loneliness redefined as Oneness.

We recall Logion 49:

Blessed are those who are One – those who are chosen, because you’ll find Ultimate Reality. You’ve come from there and will return there.”

Logion 78 (Leloup)

Yeshua said:

Why do you roam the countryside?

To see some reeds shaken by the wind?

To see some people like your kings and courtiers in elegant clothes?

They wear fine clothes, but they cannot know the truth.

Laozi comes to mind once more: “Not crossing the threshold knowing the world; not looking through windows recognizing the law. Those who roam far boarders know boarders little. That’s how the Accomplished goes nowhere and knows, sees nothing and names, does not act and accomplishes. (Laozi 47, translations by the author. 不出戶知天下;不闚牖見天道。其出彌遠,其知彌少。是以聖人不行而知,不見而名,不為而成)

Logion 80 (Leloup)

Whoever knows the world

may (t.a.) discover the true Body.

But the world is unworthy

of whoever discovers that Body.

This body is the body in place of a Body (22) the Ultimate Shape beyond recognition in the world, which is not worthy of it. It is not some body neither every body nor no body. Rather it may be described as the true Self. As such it significates the One, the main topic of the Gospel as well as of all Zen-related effort…. One of the very last three Logoi (111) states:

Yeshua said, “The heavens and the earth will roll up in front of you, and whoever lives from the Living One won’t see death.”

And then:

Doesn’t Yeshua say, “Whoever finds themselves, of them the world isn’t worthy?”

This is the only instance in which Yeshua is rendered quoting himself; and it explicitly creates the bridge between true Self, One and thus the true Body spoken of above. (3, 80, 111)

Logion 81

Yeshua said, “Whoever has become rich should become a ruler, and whoever has power should renounce it.”

And so the riddle is continued: true richness must trigger leadership of a different kind as well as power has to renounce itself to become true….

Logion 83 (Leloup)

Yeshua said:

When images become visible to people,

the Light that is in them is hidden.

In the Icon of the Light of the Source It will be manifest

and the Icon veiled by the Light.

The contractiveness of Koan in explicit wording – this is, manifest yet veiled riddle until you will awake…. The Icon is ‘image in the place of an Image.’ (22) It is and is not manifest in the sense of an Ultimate Beyond and Here, veiled and grand:

Logion 84 (Leloup)

Yeshua said:

Whenever you see your likeness

you rejoice.

But when you see your Icons,

those that were before you existed,

and that never die and never manifest,

what Grandeur!

There is, bhikkhus, a not-born, a not-brought-to-being, a not-made, a not-conditioned. If, bhikkhus, there were no not-born, not-brought-to-being, not-made, not-conditioned, no escape would be discerned from what is born, brought-to-being, made, conditioned. But since there is a not-born, a not-brought-to-being, a not-made, a not-conditioned, therefore an escape is discerned from what is born, brought-to-being, made, conditioned. (Nibbana Sutta, Parinibbana 3, transl. John D. Ireland)

Thus the Buddha spoke about Ultimate Reality, the Unborn, the Undivided, the One. Yeshua bespeaks it as something visionalized – unspeakable Grandeur….

Logion 90

Yeshua said, “Come to me because my work is easy and my requirements are light. You’ll be refreshed.”

The winding path lays in the sun – to set foot onto it is too easy…. Step forth, step in, walk the riddle.

Logion 91

They told him, “Tell us who you are, so we may trust you.”

He told them, “You read the face of the sky and the earth, but you don’t know the One right in front of you, and you don’t know how to read the present moment.”

How can that be so easy?! You are making fools of us. Who are you, how can we trust?

We are numb and dumb; the disciples make no exception, all what they have witnessed not withstanding – by contrary, the empowerment they feel by what they have seen traps them again and again in their own hubris. They do not even ask, they demand to be told explicitly who the master is lest they won’t trust him.

Lost in the face value of things, which we take all the effort in the world to analyze, we are missing out on the One thus being unable to grasp the Presence of Now. 

(The complete commentary Thomas Gospel and Zen  Mind will be available in print version to participants of our retreats. Or, if you would like to obtain a copy of this work in progress on your own, please contact me. T. A..)

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