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Challenging the Master

Chapters 43 and 44 of the Gospel of Thomas for Awakening

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His disciples said to him, Who are you, that you should say these things to us? [Jesus said to them,] You do not realize who I am from what I say to you, but you have become like the Judeans, for they (either) love the tree and hate its fruit (or) love the fruit and hate the tree. (43)

Jesus said, Whoever blasphemes against the Father will be forgiven, and whoever blasphemes against the Son will be forgiven, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven either on earth or in heaven. (44)

His disciples said to him, Who are you, that you should say these things to us? In the eleventh chapter of the Bhagavad Gita the great warrior-yogi Arjuna apologizes to Krishna the great Master for having been disrespectful to him on occasions. It is not rare for disciples to lapse into ignorance and either ignore, disrespect or even challenge their teachers. This is really an expected thing, because on the path to enlightenment the ego begins to rebel, sensing its approaching death. Of course disrespect places the disciple in grave danger, for many disciples follow it up with abandoning the teacher and spiritual life. I have heard of some very terrible instances, and myself have witnessed some. So it is no small or light thing, and Jesus has some pungent words in response.

You do not realize who I am from what I say to you. Here is the heart of the matter. Over and over the great masters have told us that truth is never a matter of words, but direct realization. And that realization comes only to those who cultivate higher consciousness (which includes insight and understanding) through meditation and yogic discipline. Those who do not will not understand what they are being taught, and might as well not be trying. In the same way, without inner awakening no one can realize who or what the great masters really are. Every master or saint I have ever met was both regarded and disregarded by the people around them. This revealed who had an inner life of meditation and who did not. Just living with a holy person does absolutely nothing for those who are not cultivating their own holiness.

But you have become like the Judeans, for they [either] love the tree and hate its fruit [or] love the fruit and hate the tree. That is, they love wrongdoing but hate the painful consequences and want to avoid them while still doing wrong, or they like the idea of becoming masters themselves with all the blessings and advantages that brings, but they detest the disciplines, sacrifices and struggles that are required for attaining liberation and perfection. So they seek to get around what cannot be gotten around. Or they seek to be thought holy while still remaining unholy. (This last is the most popular strategy.) Jesus’ disciples were in state of contradiction so they defied him and were searching a way around him, too.

Paramhansa Yogananda observed this around his exalted master, Swami Sri Yukteswar. He tells about it in the twelfth chapter of Autobiography of a Yogi: “Students came, and generally went. Those who craved a path of oily sympathy and comfortable recognitions did not find it at the hermitage. Master offered shelter and shepherding for the aeons, but many disciples miserly demanded ego-balm as well. They departed, preferring life’s countless humiliations before any humility. Master’s blazing rays, the open penetrating sunshine of his wisdom, were too powerful for their spiritual sickness. They sought some lesser teacher who, shading them with flattery, permitted the fitful sleep of ignorance.”

Whoever blasphemes against the Father will be forgiven, and whoever blasphemes against the Son will be forgiven, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven either on earth or in heaven. God as a Person, as Consciousness both transcendent (Father) and immanent (Son), is always merciful and forgiving, always ready to help those who ask in sincerity, whatever their past errors. But God as Power, as the Holy Spirit, the necessary deifying power inherent in the universe, cannot be defied, contradicted or ignored without incurring suffering and loss. This is the law of karma.

We all must return to the Absolute, but as long as we ignore and defy the irrevocable laws we will wander and suffer for lifetimes. It is not a matter of punishment, but of simple realities. If a child is warned not to touch a flame but does so, he will be burned and suffer–and will continue suffering every time he touches fire. The one who warned him is not punishing him, he is experiencing the natural consequence of his action. And in the case of spiritual life, if we go contrary to the ways of the deifying Holy Spirit the result will be disastrous. Our transgression can never be forgiven in the sense of one day no longer mattering.

Until we take up the required disciplines and make the required effort we will never be able to progress toward liberation. There is no waiving of the needed discipline and practice or a free passage upward, because it is a matter of evolution. We have to evolve and there is only one path of evolution. “Verily I say unto thee, thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing” (Matthew 5:26), until all that is required of us to ascend to higher life has been done in toto–no shortcuts or cut rates. The choice is ours. We have God’s blessing but we lack our own. A child cannot do what is required of an adult. No external well-wisher is going to change that. Growth and its attendant change is an absolute necessity. Again, the choice is ours.

Read the next article in the Gospel of Thomas for Yogis: The Source of Good and Evil

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Chapters in The Gospel of Thomas for Awakening

  1. The Open Secrets
  2. Seeking Is More Than Just Finding
  3. Seeking the Kingdom Realistically
  4. The One Goal
  5. From the Seen to the Unseen
  6. What Jesus Wants Us To Do
  7. Eat Or Be Eaten
  8. Fishing Wisely
  9. The Inner Field
  10. Guarding the Flame
  11. What Will You Do?
  12. Who Shall Lead?
  13. The Unspeakable
  14. When Virtue is Vice
  15. Father in Heaven; Father on Earth
  16. Divine Discord
  17. The Divine Gift
  18. The Origin is the End
  19. Original Being
  20. A Mustard Seed
  21. Disciples of Jesus
  22. How to Enter the Kingdom
  23. Unity of Vision
  24. Where is Christ?
  25. Love and Protect
  26. Seeing
  27. The Fasting and Sabbath of the Spirit
  28. How Jesus Saw the World
  29. Hidden Treasure
  30. One
  31. The Power of Unbelief
  32. Spiritual Strength
  33. Speak It Out
  34. The Blind
  35. The Secret of Spiritual Security
  36. Live Carefree
  37. Unashamed Before God
  38. At the Source
  39. The Religion of Ignorance
  40. Within God
  41. Spiritual Gain and Loss
  42. Move On
  43. Challenging the Master
  44. The Source of Good and Evil
  45. Great in the Kingdom
  46. Impossible Duality
  47. Peace That Moves Mountains
  48. Back to the Source
  49. Children of the Light
  50. Here and Now
  51. Seeing Yet Blind
  52. Outer Ritual or Inner Growth?
  53. Infinite Transcendence
  54. “Hate”
  55. True Understanding
  56. Wheat and Weeds
  57. Finding Life
  58. Live and Die Not
  59. “Lest Thou Also…”
  60. Who Will Die; Who Will Live
  61. The Path of Unknowing
  62. Awakened by Death
  63. Turning Ourselves Away
  64. Gullibility
  65. The Rejected is Truly Accepted
  66. All–and Nothing
  67. The Blessings of Persecution
  68. Life or Death Lie Within
  69. Admission
  70. Not a Divider
  71. Seeking the Harvest
  72. Thirsting in Vain
  73. Who Shall Enter?
  74. Unfailing Treasure
  75. The All Speaks
  76. Well-dressed Ignoramuses
  77. True Blessedness
  78. A Duplication
  79. Balancing the Inner and the Outer
  80. Near and Far
  81. Seeing the Unseeable
  82. Seeing Your Unknown Side
  83. Our Forefather Adam
  84. Blessed Homelessness
  85. Doubly Wretched
  86. Onward and Upward
  87. Twofold Life
  88. The Yoke of Christ
  89. Knowing the Unknown
  90. Asking and Hearing
  91. Give Not…
  92. Seeking and Knocking
  93. Right Generosity
  94. The Expanding Kingdom
  95. The Fulfilled Universe
  96. Taking Stock
  97. The Spiritual Family
  98. Three Debts
  99. Father and Mother
  100. Exoteric Religion
  101. Ready for Invasion
  102. Penitential Discipline, Anyone?
  103. Daring to Know
  104. Ending Duality
  105. “I Love You More…”
  106. At the Source
  107. Finding the Hidden Treasure
  108. Having Come to the End
  109. Immortal and Above the World
  110. Body and Soul
  111. Where is the Kingdom?
  112. Male and Female?
  113. In Conclusion
  114. Glossary
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