Jesus said, When you see one who was not born of woman, prostrate yourselves on your faces and worship him. That one is your father. (15)
Everyone who has read the Gospels is very familiar with the injunction: “Call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven” (Matthew 23:9). I grew up with this verse being used as a stone to throw at Catholics for calling a priest “Father” while the stone-throwers proceeded to write in their biological father’s name on all kinds of forms and applications. Bigotry is its own justification.
However that might be, when we turn to the East and even the yoga world this mandate goes out the window in a welter of adulation and titles. One time at a spiritual conference in Northern India I heard a shameless and (literally) criminal guru even more shamelessly being introduced with a string of inflated titles that went on for a long time before his name was even reached. A friend of mine came across several lines of adulatory appellations in reference to a contemporary super-guru who claimed to be the only legitimate guru presently on the earth. “Why don’t they just call him ‘God’?” he demanded in disgust. “It would be easier to spell and shorter to say!” Of course a lot of “avatars” are presently racing around India and the world. What to do about it? Nothing. Let them and their followers have their fun. And let us consider what real masters have taught–such as this verse from the Gospel of Thomas.
Since only God is our Father (and Mother), only God, or someone who is totally one with God and knows that God is his Self, can be called (or considered) Father in the spiritual sense. Jesus obviously has no problem with calling God Father, but this verse is obviously referring to human beings, or at least those in human form.
He is quite simple in his exposition. “One who was not born of woman” is Father. “Woman” has two levels of meaning in this: 1) humanity and 2) the cosmos–relativity itself. So a “Father” can have no identity with either limited humanity or the human body. That is, he knows himself as neither the body nor even human. Further, he does not in any way consider himself to be an entity separate from God, however exalted that status might be. He sees and knows only the Absolute. Even his individual Self he knows only in its eternal relation to God. Creation (Prakriti) has ceased to exist for him and only the consciousness of Spirit (Purusha) prevails. Nothing about him has been born from anything but the Infinite.
When we do meet such a one, they are worthy of reverence and even worship to some extent. (It should be pointed out here that such a Father may be in female form.)
The big question is Who? Who is such a divinized being? Naturally everyone is going to insist their guru or other kind of religious potentate is such a one, and there is no reasoning with them. I could give my list, but what value is that? The problem lies in the subjectivity that has to come into such opinions.
The best thing is not to care, but to keep on making sure we ourselves become such a one in the future.
Read the next section in The Gospel of Thomas for Yogis: Divine Discord