Posts Tagged ‘Kingdom of Heaven’

The kingdom of this world

February 2, 2011
kingdom of this world - Ken Crane

kingdom of this world - Ken Crane

An old hermit was once invited to visit the court of the most powerful king of those times.

– I envy such a saintly man, who is content with so little – said the ruler.

– I envy Your Majesty, who is content with even less than I – responded the hermit.

– How can you say such a thing, when this entire country belongs to me? – said the offended king.

– For precisely that reason. I have the music of the celestial spheres, I have the rivers and mountains of the whole world, I have the moon and the sun, because I have God in my soul.

“Your Majesty, on the other hand, has only this kingdom.”

Posted by Paulo Coelho on his blog.

Reading this story, which I have heard before, reminded me of the following from the Gospel of Thomas (3):

Jesus said, If your leaders say to you, ‘Look, the (Father’s) Kingdom is in the sky!’ Then the birds will be there before you are. If they say that the Kingdom is in the sea, then the fish will be there before you are. Rather, the Kingdom is within you and it is outside you.

When you know yourselves, then you will be known. And you will understand that you are the children of the living Father. But if you do not know yourselves, then you live in poverty, and you are that poverty.

The Gospel of Thomas is a mystical gospel. It was found as part of the Nag Hammadi find. Most of the sayings are to be found in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, but Thomas is thought to be an earlier gospel.

Textual analysis of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke show they were drawing upon an earlier source. Germans called this Quelle, meaning source, usually referred to as Q. The Gospel of Thomas is a possible candidate for Q.

It is known that the Nag Hammadi library was concealed in the 4th century AD, which coincides with the Council of Nicaea’s proclamation of the unity of the faith and officialisation of the doctrine. Any deviation was then deemed to be heretical. Heretical texts were destroyed. For the first 500 years of Christianity, rival exponents of what they believed to be orthodoxy slaughtered each other. In reaction to the standardisation of the religion, the texts were obviously hidden and protected until such time as they could be safely brought back to the surface. No-one could have imagined that they would remain buried for 1,600 years! But maybe it is fortunate for us that they did. Would they have survived had they surfaced earlier?

One is to reflect upon the sayings, seek and ye shall find. Whoever finds the correct interpretation of these sayings will reach immortality. Cf Buddhism, what is the sound of one hand clapping?

The Gospel of Thomas
– Jesus Wars

Gospel of Thomas

November 24, 2009
Fragments of a Codex found by a farmer at Nag Hammadi in Egypt in 1945

Fragments of a Codex found by a farmer at Nag Hammadi in Egypt in 1945

‘These are the hidden sayings that the living Jesus spoke and that Didymus Judas Thomas wrote down.’ — Gospel of Thomas

‘The disciple is not above his master, but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.’ — Luke 6:40

‘When somebody wants something, the whole Universe conspires in their favour. The warrior of light knows this.’ — Paulo Coelho

The Gospel of Thomas was found as part of the Nag Hammadi find in Egypt in 1945. Fragments had previously been found in monasteries in the Middle East. It had also been postulated that an earlier gospel upon which later gospels drew, codenamed Q, existed. Whilst not necessarily that document, Gospel of Thomas contains much of what was predicted for Q.

For many people, their first awareness of the material known as the Nag Hammadi find was the mention in The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown.

Gospel of Thomas is radically different to the other gospels in that it is mystical, it also differs in that it is stripped of narrative and explanation, merely being the sayings attributed to Jesus, but in this raw form it has more power.

The sayings are closer to koans in Zen Buddhism, similar in form to many of the thoughts of Paulo Coelho or what is found in his Manual of the Warrior of Light. There appears to be a Far Eastern influence, though this is unproven.

As with Zen koans, the reader is to meditate upon the saying. From one person to another the interpretation may differ, there is no one answer, it is the act of meditation that matters.

As we see with

What is the sound of one hand clapping?

There is no ‘correct’ answer, the purpose is to force the mind into different pathways.

There are 114 sayings in the Gospel of Thomas. The first two sayings

And he said: Whoever finds the correct interpretation of these sayings will never die.

Jesus said: The seeker should not stop until he finds. When he does find, he will be disturbed. After having been disturbed, he will be astonished. Then he will reign over everything.

Seek and ye shall find. The sayings are hidden, that is waiting for their hidden meaning to be discovered, he who discovers finds enlightenment, discovers the inner truth.

The Kingdom of Heaven is not something we may attain in the afterlife, it is in the here and now, it is a state of mind, it is all around us and has been since the beginning of time.

Jesus said: If your leaders say to you: ‘Look! The Kingdom is in the sky!’ Then the birds will be there before you. If they say that the Kingdom is in the sea, then the fish will be there before you are. Rather, the Kingdom is within you and it is outside of you.

Unlike the Gospels Mathew, Mark, Luke and John, Thomas offers no explanation. It is for the reader to interpret and thus lies the path to immortality.

It is often stated that the Gospel of Thomas is an gnostic text. It is not. The confusion arises because it was found within a cache of gnostic texts.

Thoughts from a weekend conversation with my lovely friend Sian.

Top story The Religion Daily (Wednesday 27 April 2011).

Also see

The Gospel of Thomas

The Gospel of Thomas Collection

How to Know God

God is

Crossing the transition zone

Manual of the Warrior of Light