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How to Enter the Kingdom

kingdom cloudsA Commentary on the Gospel of Thomas

Jesus saw infants being suckled. He said to his disciples, These infants being suckled are like those who enter the kingdom. They said to him, Shall we then, as children, enter the kingdom?

Jesus said to them, When you make the two one, and when you make the inside like the outside and the outside like the inside, and the above like the below, and when you make the male and the female one and the same, so that the male not be male nor the female female; and when you fashion eyes in the place of an eye, and a hand in place of a hand, and a foot in place of a foot, and a likeness in place of a likeness; then will you enter the kingdom. (Gospel of Thomas 22)

  • When you make the two one.

There never has been anything–or any state–but the One. But through that mirage-power we call Maya we are immersed in the experience of duality, and from that springs all our troubles. Only when the experience of irrevocable unity is established in us will we know freedom from fear and suffering.

We are seeing and living defectively, constantly agitated by subject-object. All the philosophy in the world cannot remove an atom of our dilemma.

However, it can help us to disbelieve in the duality and learn from dual experience, like someone watching a training film or doing creative visualization. For our present state of dual consciousness is not a curse or even an obstacle. It is our mistaken reaction to it that causes the problems.

I said philosophy would not help, and it will not. We must have the means to “make the two one.” Believing in unity and affirming it over and over gets us nowhere.

We must turn our perception of two into the perception of One. Since our experience of duality is an inner condition, we must employ inner correction. Going within we must remove the cataracts of misperception and clear our spirit vision.

Meditation is the sole way to accomplish this, for an interior remedy is needed for an interior malady. Once the mistaken “two” has disappeared and the true One appeared, we are cured of our age-long delusion and the ignorance accruing from it.

  • When you make the inside like the outside and the outside like the inside, and the above like the below.

Part of our present trouble is inconsistency and conflict within our own complex being. “Inside” and “outside” must also be turned into a single thing along with “above” and “below,” for these distinctions are fundamentally erroneous.

Like Humpty Dumpty we are fragmented (or seem to be), but unlike him the forces of the King can put us back together. We need only cooperate and apply. Again, none of this is philosophical but eminently practical. Those who do not know the way to reintegration assume it is impossible, but those who learn the way and apply it succeed, however others may doubt.

  • When you make the male and the female one and the same, so that the male not be male nor the female female.

Brill translates this: “When you make the male and the female into a single one, that the male be not male and the female female.” And Brown: “If you establish the male with the female as a single unity so that the man will not be masculine and the woman not be feminine.”

This has two basic meanings. First, we must become like the angels, transcending the condition of “man” and “woman.”

When Sri Ramakrishna said that the entire world was caught in the net of “woman and gold” he was speaking to men. But when speaking to women he said: “man and gold.” That is, to think that we are one thing and someone else another, is a delusion.

We are not bodies, the seat of “gender,” but spirits without body, without form. At no time are we male or female, however our present costume may be put together as we muddle through the drama of one more life on the revolving stage of this world.

Plants, insects, animals and unevolved human beings “must have their mate,” but it is not so with those who have set their sights on God-realization.

“And Jesus answering said unto them, The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage: but they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection” (Luke 20:34-36).

Strange, I never heard a sermon or read a commentary on these words!!! They are true, nevertheless. Male-female interaction must be abandoned by those who seek union with God. The deluded and the enslaved may not like what I am writing, but it is not written for them.

The second meaning is that the polarities of positive (male) and female (negative) within our own makeup must be transcended, and we must move beyond that duality as well, because it ties us into constant rebirth. No matter how religious or spiritual we think we are, until the state of Unity is gained we will keep circling on the wheel of birth and death–even in the higher worlds beyond this one.

Taoism speaks of how we sometimes act “feminine” and sometimes “masculine” according to the situation and our personal conditionings. There is even a skillful way of doing so–but only while living in duality. Before we can enter Unity that dualism must be erased permanently.

Otherwise we get what I heard Ma Anandamayi call (in English) “a roundtrip ticket” when she spoke to two university students about the wisdom of avoiding marriage and taking up the monastic life.

  • When you fashion eyes in the place of an eye, and a hand in place of a hand, and a foot in place of a foot, and a likeness in place of a likeness; then will you enter the kingdom.

Brill: “When you make eyes in the place of an eye, and a hand in place of a hand, and a foot in place of a foot, an image in place of an image, then shall you enter [the kingdom].”

This either means supplying what is lacking in our inner and outer being and makeup, or replacing what is defective or deficient with better, spiritual faculties and powers, becoming no longer “flesh” but spirit. This is reflected in the ordination prayers of the Byzantine Orthodox Church in which the bishop says: “The grace divine, which always healeth that which is infirm, and completeth (supplieth) that which is wanting, elevateth through the laying-on of hands” him who is thus ordained.

So Jesus is saying that we will enter the kingdom when we have the power to renew or supply that which we need for entry into Christhood and “put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him” (Colossians 3:10; see II Corinthians 4:16 and Ephesians 4:23). As Saint Paul further said: “Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind ([nous or buddhi], that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2).

The word anakainoo means to bring to maturity and thus make new; to impart new strength and capacity; to be changed from one mode of life (consciousness) to another. It is a total recreation. The most significant thing about this is that Jesus says we are to effect the renewal-recreation ourselves. Otherwise the kingdom will remained closed to us.

This is a call to a higher life which is undreamed of by most religion. But that does not hinder Christ from calling us toward it.

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