What’s within me includes both wounds and gifts. And the saying applies to both.
If I don’t bring my wounds forth, into the light of awareness, it will destroy me. They will continue to operate in me, and influence how I perceive and act in the world. And if I do – if I bring awareness, love, kindness, gentle curiosity to my wounds – it will save me. The wounds are not only OK, but become gifts.
If I bring my gifts forth, if I develop and apply them, they will save me. They will benefit me and others. (If done with kindness and skill.) If I don’t bring my gifts forth, it may destroy me. It may remain as a gnawing discomfort in me.
In both cases, not bringing it forth tends to come from unquestioned fear. Continuing to not bring it forth means I am reinforcing those unquestioned fears. So those fears may be among the first I bring forth. I can bring them into awareness, meet them with kindness and love, and question the stories creating the fears.
I should also mention that the labels “wounds” and “gifts” are used in a conventional sense here, and it’s worth questioning these labels. Can I find a particular wound, or wounds in general? Can I find a particular gift, or gifts in general? When I look, can I find it outside of my own images, words, and sensations? And are those it?
(2) Jesus said, “Let him who seeks continue seeking until he finds. When he finds, he will become troubled. When he becomes troubled, he will be astonished, and he will rule over the All.”
– Gospel of Thomas
That’s my experience with inquiry. I seek until I find. I may become troubled because it doesn’t fit into what’s familiar to me. I am astonished. And through finding truth and more clarity, there is a “ruling over the all” – at least in the sense of freedom from the confines of the earlier belief.
(114) Simon Peter said to him, “Let Mary leave us, for women are not worthy of life.”
Jesus said, “I myself shall lead her in order to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males. For every woman who will make herself male will enter the kingdom of heaven.”
– Gospel of Thomas
It’s of course possible to find a theological or metaphorical explanation for this. For instance, female may refer to the human self and male may refer to Spirit, so Jesus is talking about the human self aligning with Spirit or reality.
And it’s also possible that Jesus, as I sometimes do, responded with sarcasm to an obviously narrow minded statement.
(66) Jesus said, “Show me the stone which the builders have rejected. That one is the cornerstone.”
– Gospel of Thomas (Lambdin translation)
It can be fun to explore pointers from a more nondual context and inquiry.
I also notice a tendency to go to what’s already quite familiar to me. How would it be to stay with it as an inquiry and see what I find? How would it be to gather examples of how it’s true for me?
What’s coming up first for me here, with this verse from the Gospel of Thomas, is that what I may initially discard in myself and see as worthless or even problematic, often turns out to be the most valuable in hindsight, or when I have digested it more, found some resolution, or inquired into my thoughts around it.
I inquired into the simple label of a “dark night” and found a long list of genuine examples of how it’s a brilliant day, and the label doesn’t quite fit anymore. Someone who appeared as a bully to me in my childhood was equally or more a friend, and the bullying label doesn’t fit anymore. What appears as pain is revealed as something else, here too the label doesn’t fit anymore. The more challenging a situation appears, the more basic beliefs I am invited to inquire into in order to find clarity, peace and freedom. And all that’s required is simple, real and honest answers and examples to the turnarounds.
But I have said that whoever among you becomes a child will recognize the kingdom and will become greater than John.
– Gospel of Thomas, Verse 48
He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
– Mark 18:2-4
What does it mean to become like a child?
It can mean a certain orientation of receptivity, curiosity and sincerity in our relationship with God, ourselves and practice, all within a context of don’t know. Shifting into this, and then noticing that these are already here, they are a natural expression of what we are. (When not clouded over by beliefs in images and stories.)
It can also mean to ask questions that seem silly and naive, to leave no stone unturned, to question that which seems most obviously a given and true – and especially those stories I at first don’t even recognize as a story.
Whoever has come to understand the world has found (only) a corpse, and whoever has found a corpse is superior to the world.
– Gospel of Thomas, verse 56.
If all I know about is the world, content of experience, I have only found a corpse. It is already dead. Transient. Born and dies. (The world itself, and my knowledge about it.)
If I recognize it as a corpse, I have moved beyond it just a little. There is a chance of relating to it in a more realistic way. To get my priorities straigthened out. Also, if the world – including this body and all content of experience including the doer and observer – is all transient, am I that which comes and goes? What is it that does not come and go? What is it that content of experience happens within and as?
Let him who seeks continue seeking until he finds. When he finds, he will become troubled. When he becomes troubled, he will be astonished, and he will rule over the All.
– Gospel of Thomas, verse 2.
First, we seek God or truth in whatever way we go about it. Prayer. Inquiry. Service.
Then, we get troubled. Especially if we realize that the inevitable outcome of the process – if its runs its full course – is the death of (identification with) everything we thought we were, and can think we are.
Then, astonished. Astonished of what is revealed. How simple it is. Obvious. Never not here.
They showed Jesus a gold coin and said to Him, “Caesar’s men demand taxes from us.” He said to them, “Give Caesar what belongs to Caesar, give God what belongs to God, and give Me what is Mine.”
– Gospel of Thomas, verse 100, and the New Testament in Matthew 22:15-22, Mark 12:13-17, Luke 20:20-26.
This famous verse can be taken in a relatively straight-forward way.
Take care of your life in the world as a human being. Live an ordinary life and take care of the obligations that comes with the roles you are playing. Give Caesar what belongs to Caesar.
And at the same time, know what you really are. Give god what belongs to God.
It is I who am the light which is above them all. It is I who am the All. From Me did the All come forth, and unto Me did the All extend. Split a piece of wood, and I am there. Lift up the stone, and you will find Me there.
– Gospel of Thomas, verse 77.
What we are and everything is, is that which all happens within and as. When I explore anything through the sense fields, I find that the way it appears in each sense field is as ephemeral and insubstantial, as no thing appearing as something, as awakeness itself. A stone = sight, sensations, an overlay of images, and each of these are no thing appearing as something, awakeness itself.
Whoever believes that the All itself is deficient is (himself) completely deficient.
Gospel of Thomas, verse 67.
This can be seen as referring to projections.
What I see in the world says more about me than the world. In a conventional sense, it says a lot about me and little about the world. In a real sense, it says all about me and nothing about the world.
If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.
– Gospel of Thomas, verse 70.
Some simple ways of looking at this…
It can be seen as referring to the shadow. What we don’t bring into light from the shadow will destroy us. The parts of us excluded because they don’t fit our conscious self image is gold and will save us if it is recognized and owned, and will destroy us if it is not. We will be at its mercy.
It can be seen as referring to what we are. If we notice what we are, it will save us. If we don’t, it will destroy us. We will destroy ourselves through delusion, through taking stories as true.
And it can be seen as referring to living from what we are. If we notice what we are and live from it, it will save us. If we notice what we are, to some extent, and don’t live from it, it will destroy us. We are still caught up in beliefs and fears.
I certainly know both sides of each one of these through personal experience, even right now. We probably all do, if we notice.
The Gospel of Thomas is known to be more esoteric (in the sense of reflecting a mystic’s approach) and closer to Eastern philosophies than many of the other gospels, both those included in the New Testament and not.
One of the sayings in the Gospel of Thomas is…
What you do not have within you will kill you.
This seems closely related to the being eaten by time vs. eating time topic. And it is another topic that can be explored with the Big Mind process, even if what is (Big Mind, Buddha Mind, Spirit) has not yet completely awakened to its own nature.
Identification as a fragment
If there is an identification as a fragment of what is, then whatever is “other” can (and eventually will) harm me – at least in my own experience.
Identification as Witness
If there is a belief in the thought I, now referring to Witness, to pure awareness, then I find myself as a mirror for the world of phenomena. The world of phenomena, including this human self and anything else, is arising within me and I am not touched by it, I am stainless. The world of phenomena is a seamless whole, including this human self and anything else. It is absent of I and Other. There is nothing outside of me to harm me.
But there is still a belief in the thought I, which does create a sense of Other. I am pure awareness, the world of phenomena is Other. There is a subtle sense of subject and object. There is still an identification with a fragment, even if this fragment is timeless and pure awareness. There may be an experience of oneness, intimacy and no separation with all there is, yet within a context of a(n apparently) subtle I and Other. So there is still something outside of me which can harm me, and it will so I can have an opportunity to see this.
If there is stuckness here, there can be a fall from grace allowing the remaining belief in the thought I to wear down and off (the dark night of the soul). Immediate experience is out of alignment with the belief in the thought I, so existence shakes things up to allow even this belief to erode and fall away.
Absent of beliefs
When there is an absence of belief in thoughts, including the thought I, there is really no inside or outside, no subtle I remaining to create a sense of a subtle Other. It all is, as it is. Or we can say that the whole field is I, beyond any sense of subject or object. There is nothing outside to harm, and no “me” to be harmed. It is all just emptiness dancing.
Another way to look at this is in terms of projections. Whenever something is perceived as only or mostly “out there”, there is a blind projection going on, and this can and will (apparently) harm me.
There is a belief in a set of thoughts, creating an identity, and whatever does not fit into this identity is experienced as “Other”. As long as these are seen as Other, there will be a sense of struggle, a sense of war with what is, an experience of stress and even suffering.
As what is seen as Other is gradually included in I or me, there is a gradual and progressive sense of wholeness, of being at home, of being at peace with what is.