The Gospel of Thomas



How can we find the unity behind male and female ...
... behind right and wrong ...
... behind every pair of opposites?
Jesus said: "When you make the two One,
you will become Sons of Man." (logion 106)

Logion 4 The man old in days will not hesitate

Here we are again invited to effect the reversion to the original state, to the primordial androgynous being of which the little child offers us the most adequate possible image. .......... We cannot revert to the One - and they will be One - without transcending duality. This repeated invitation to “make the two One” (logia 11, 22, 30, 106) is here underlined by the figure seven. The symbolism of numbers is a science to be used with discrimination; however we can, in accord with the ancients, see in the number seven the symbol of human totality, at once male and female. The child of seven days is thus doubly qualified to show us the place of Life, which is also the place of the Light, the place where Jesus abides (log. 24) and which his disciples ask to know about.

Why does Jesus address his appeal to the old man when we lament the want of any genuine initiatory teaching for the young? Because one can only envisage returning to the home of the Kingdom if one has left it. In other words the evolving being must be able to prove himself, to mark out his “territory”, to gauge himself under challenge, before he initiates a process of liberation. Which assumes that he has been able to satisfy his taste for risk in a climate providing some security: conditions which rarely come together, whence so many false starts on the road to spiritual realisation. The evolving being cannot first structure himself and then realise himself spiritually unless the old man, who must serve as reference, has found the place of Life, the place of the Light where Jesus is. And then all becomes clear, because there is Light at the centre of a man of Light, and he illumines the whole world (log. 24).


Logion 11 This heaven will pass away

The present logion - as indeed most of the logia in the Thomas Gospel - is incomprehensible in the Judeo-Christian religious context. The repeated question What will you do? challenges the duality in which Christianity has mired itself and makes man fully responsible for his fate. By contrast the logion is enlightened by other Gnostic texts prolonging a tradition which has become alien to the Christian Church and contested by her.

We must revert to the One from which we come, and the whole of creation with us. And by creation we must understand not only the phenomenal world such as our sky, but equally the world of the angels which also emanates from the One: This heaven will pass away, and that which is above it will pass away. Those who have reintegrated with the One during their life on earth, namely have refound their original condition, those do not die. We read in the Philip Gospel: .......... Truth is a devourer of Life. That is why none of those who nourish themselves on the Truth can die. Jesus is come from that Place and has brought nourishment from there, and to those who want it he has given Life, so that they do not die (N.H. II.3 66.16-20 and 73.22-24).

The heresiologists portray the Gnostics to us as inflexible dualists who scorn the world and its works. The texts we now have allow us to reestablish historical truth and to say there is no discontinuity between the world of plurality and the world of Oneness, because Oneness purifies Matter, just as Light banishes darkness, just as Life engulfs death (N.H. I.2 24). In other words, he who dies will be dissolved at his origin by that which is indissoluble (N.H. II.3.35.14-23). Whether or not we make the two One, the All does not fail - and the form is not forsaken - because it brings all back to itself.


Logion 75 There are many standing at the door

The term monakhos is without doubt the master-word of the Gospel of Thomas............

The monakhos is he who has made the two One or is engaged on an irreversible path which leads him to the One. In him, contradictions, oppositions, divisions are abolished or on the way to being abolished; the mind is reduced to its function as servant; the ego no longer impedes the acquisition of knowledge, that is to say direct experience. The marriage place, or the nuptial chamber, is the inner Kingdom where takes place the alchemy during which ignorance is removed, giving way to evidence that objects exist only at the level of illusion. The marriage place is where the illusion of duality ceases; but it ceases not by the fusion of two entities, since the One is alone, it ceases through the intuitive knowledge that nothing exists except Him, and that I am no other than Him. The Treatise on Unity is very clear on this subject: If you say through ignorance that you are other than Him, then you are of coarse spirit. Meister Eckhart is also explicit: For those who know , it is a matter of knowing, for those who have a crude spirit, it is a matter of faith. ........... Faith is the belief of dualists; it is that of the multitude: There are many standing at the door….


Logion 62 I tell my mysteries to those who are worthy of my mysteries

Jesus tells his mysteries to those who are worthy of his mysteries. Thomas was found to be worthy of knowing the mysteries of his Master (log. 13). On the other hand, Thomas judged that the disciples were not fit to receive the words which Jesus had said to him in secret.

To be worthy means to be at the level of initiation which enables what Jesus says to us to be interpreted. During the initiation there is given to us, by successive revelations, both knowledge of ourselves and knowledge of the Father: When you Know your selves, then you will be Known (log. 3.9-10). In the Thomas Gospel, knowledge of the Father is obtained by us through the Son. It is the Son who introduces us into the kingdom of the Father, who reveals to us that which is hidden (log. 108). He reveals it to us in his words, but only if we do not cease from seeking (log. 2), or in other words, if we drink from his mouth (log. 108). Osmosis leads to identifying. There is no longer either subject or object. The mind has fallen silent. In the words of the east, the Self has laid siege to the Ego. This path, which demands the liberation of the Ego, is distressing, even suicidal: and very few are they who agree to pay the price: I found them all drunk (log. 28.4).

The more precious the thing debased, the greater the injury: If I tell you one of the sayings that he said to me, you will take up stones and throw them against me; and fire will come forth from the stones and burn you up (log. 13.22-26). Jesus maintains secrecy with the sole object of preventing the un-worthy from seeking to acquire a power of self-assertion, hence a dangerous power. The instruction he gives is addressed to all those who are engaged in the adventure of the Kingdom: Give not what is pure to dogs lest they cast it on the dung-heap. Throw not pearls to swine lest they pollute them (log.93).

To make the two One, is to abolish the subject-object distinction. Now the left hand cannot know what the right hand is doing except by means of the mind. If the mind is reduced to silence, duality is suppressed; there is nothing but simple, non-judgmental attention to the sign from the right hand. Through this example Jesus teaches us how we must receive his mysteries.