In the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas, the Master takes Thomas to one side and gives him some secret teaching. Thomas demonstrates his worthiness to receive this knowledge by refusing to be drawn into a comparison between Christ and anyone else.
”Master, my mouth will absolutely not permit me to say you resemble any one.” Then Jesus said, ‘I am not your master. Because you have drunk..from the bubbling spring I have made to gush out, (and so) he took him aside…” logia 13
When the other disciples ask what Christ said to him Thomas refuses to tell them, not out of preciousness but out of fear…
”If I tell you one of the logia that he said to me you will take up stones and throw them against me” ibid
So, we don’t get to find out what these teachings are, nor why they would provoke reasonable and even saintly men to violence, but we might find some meaningful extrapolation in the Apocryphon of John, which was also found at Nag Hammadi, and which also describes a set of secret teachings to the author who likewise demonstrated that he had ‘the ears to hear’..
”I said, “Lord, how does the soul become smaller and return back into the nature of its mother?”
Then he rejoiced when I asked this, and he said to me, “Truly you are blessed, for you have understood! That soul is made to follow another who has the Spirit of Life in it. It is saved by that (other) one. Then it is not cast into another flesh.” Apocryphon of John logia 23.
we are to save one another.
now that’s something you might get stoned for….
John went one further than telling everyone he could find, he wrote the whole thing down. The Gnostics considered what he had to say so significant, so pivotal to spiritual life, that it was the most copied work found at nag Hammadi.
The Apocryphon is not simply non-canonical. It is the Watergate tape of the fourth century. Just having a copy meant instant death.
John pens a very different Genesis and Yahwewh doesn’t feature all that much. In the beginning was the Monad, out of which emerged Barbello, a mother who begat Sophia, another goddess, who only then made….
..she created it without her partner. And it was not patterned after the likeness of its Mother, for it had a different form… It was different, a model of a lion-faced serpent. His eyes were like flashing fires of lightning. She cast him out from her, outside of those places so that none among the immortals might see him, for she had created him in ignorance.
She surrounded him with a luminous cloud. And she placed a throne in the midst of the cloud in order that no one might see him and named him Yaltabaoth. This is the Chief Ruler, the one who got a great power from his Mother.
And he was stupefied in his Madness… for he said, ‘I am God and no other God exists except me,” logia 12.
looking about for a hefty rock yet?
Sophia begins to reconsider what she has done as Yaltabaoth/Yahweh severs diplomatic ties with her and she repents ‘with great weeping’.
So she confesses what she has done to the Monad who helps her trick Yaltabaoth into breathing some of his power into Adam and thus depleating himself. Eve is created by Sophia as Yaltabaoth tries to reverse what he has done.
It is she who aids the whole creation by toiling with him, guiding him by correction toward his fullness, and teaching him..logia 19
Thereafter, Yaltabaoth’s purpose is one of revenge and subjugation..
‘let us therefore cast them out lest they eat if the fruit and become as one of us.” Genesis 3;22
His intent is..
”to deceive the human race, keeping them in ignorance of their true nature, and is the primary means by which Yaltabaoth keeps humanity in subjugation. It is the source of all earthly evil and confusion, and causes people to die “not having found truth and without knowing the God of truth”. Derived from Wisse’s translation.
Yaltabaoth is thorough. He doesn’t stop at expulsion. He sends angels down to seduce humanity…
And the angels changed their own likenesses into the likeness of each one’s mate, filling them with the spirit of darkness…
They brought gold, silver, a gift, and copper and… they beguiled the human beings who had followed them into great troubles by leading them astray into much error and thus the whole creation became enslaved forever.” logia 25
So you can see why the Church might want to destroy this book and anyone who read it. But if these secrets shown to a deserving John are in any way similar to the secrets taught to a deserving Thomas, why might they provoke Jesus’ own disciples to stone wielding violence?
The answer has to do with the way Consciousness develops and the impact this has on self-construct.
Generally speaking we think of Consciousness as an incremental thing, increases by successive stages, building upon what has gone before, the gradual addition of more or less compatible information to an already established and solid storehouse of knowledge.
But Consciousness doesn’t work like that.
‘Perhaps men think I have come to cast peace upon the world and they do not realise that I have come to cast divisions upon the earth, fire, sword, strife… Thomas. logia 16.
The reason for this is that Consciousness, rather than comfortingly adding to our storehouse, sometimes burns it down. What we come to know often negates what was before. Our self-constructs can feel threatened in the process because who we are is inextricably bound up with what we know or think we know.
If what you know is turned on its head then who you are will feel profoundly challenged. Rather than supporting received wisdoms, new experiences can question all our sacred cows, but its an upset without which there is no real consciousness at all.
”Conflict is the birth of consciousness.” Esther Harding.
So Thomas’ concern that the others would stone him if he told them the truth has to do with his recognition that self-preservation sometimes wins over the thirst for knowledge, a tussle he has just had himself.. What is being asked about is not just game changing but paradigm shifting and therefor destructive to the security of Tried and True.
be careful what you wish for…..
A good example was in yesterday’s news. A white police officer in Hastings Police dept, Michigan, took a DNA test and discovered that he was 18% black. He told his white colleagues in the department who began to rag him about it to such an extent that he finally sued the department for racial discrimination.
The officer’s whole self construct, his job, his relationships, his priviledged role in society was overturned all at once. He was forced into the shoes of his dark brother and compelled across a threshold that would question his core beliefs.
This happens whenever anyone faces their shadow. You don’t just pop it in you knapsack. It displaces you.
Even worse is the second of life’s great transitions. The shift from shiny persona to a complicated and not so marvellous ego is a breeze next to the one of having ego-consciousness become consciousness-of-an-ego; i.e. having a position outside it .. which begs all kinds of questions about our relationship with our Maker.
”I am the vine which he
doth plant and cherish most
the fruit which grows from me
Is God the holy ghost.” Angelus Silesius.
This is very different from being the helpless pawn of an omnipotent God. It is a philosophy of salvation that is a two way street..
…” for such a prayer increases the light of the star.” Jung Seven Sermons.
This is symbolically represented in John’s Apocryphon by Yalbadaoth depleating himself by breathing life into Adam.
”As the human ego depends on God for creativity, so God depends on the ego for its nourishment in the form of trust, confidence and the acceptance of archetypal intentionality.” S. Hoeller.
The paradigm shift offered us by John is as radicle as Galileo’s revelation that the earth revolved sun rather than the other way around. And not just for all the differences in the story. Nor even for the mutual dependence inferred. It turns on its head the generally accepted idea amongst ordinary modern people that we contain a soul, that we are partially divine, as though we could omnipotently house that which transcends us.
No, the soul contains the body. It’s the other way around. Which means that eternal life after death can be happily preceeded by eternal life in the meantime….