And he said, The man is like a wise fisherman who cast his net into the sea and drew it up from the sea full of small fish. Among them the wise fisherman found a fine large fish. He threw all the small fish back into the sea and chose the large fish without difficulty. Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear. (8)
By just saying “the man” Jesus is being very oriental, for in the East it is considered an absolute that no one is really a human being until he has attained the state of consciousness that befits the human level of evolution. That is why in some texts there is insistence that all human beings, or everyone or the whole world. engages in praise and worship of God. Those who do not are simply not human in the evolutionary sense, though they are certainly moving toward that point, and not to be despised or discounted.
In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus is quoted as saying “the kingdom of heaven” rather than “the man,” but when we consider it, a human being is a kingdom of heaven, albeit an unrealized and unmanifested heaven.
The wise fisherman
A wise fisherman is someone who casts the net of his consciousness into the sea of the cosmos and correctly evaluates whatever he draws up into it. Being wise, he seeks for “that one thing, which when known, all else is known” (Mundaka Upanishad 1.1.3). To get to that he must not be satisfied with anything less than the One. This is extremely difficult, for to our presently small minds so many things appear to be tremendous, yet they are really very small. Since they fill the scope of our limited awareness we may think they are infinite, but they are nothing in comparison to the Real which we seek. This is the great pitfall of many yogis. It is so easy to settle for so much less than is our destiny, to become satisfied with only the shadow of that which we seek. We, too, like a wise fisherman, have to keep tossing the small fry back into the sea until only the big fish of Divine Consciousness remains.
Sri Ramakrishna spoke of how in a deep pool there sometimes would be found one huge fish, a legendary fish that so many anglers tried to hook. But, being old and clever, the fish would elude the hook but get the bait. The fish, he said, was like Brahman itself: elusive, but worth the patient wait and the development of the skill needed to draw it to us.
“Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear,” because only those who toss the small fish back into the sea really choose the large fish we are after. Many try to hold on to both, but end up with only the small things. We must hold to the One to the exclusion of all else. It is really easy to do (“without difficulty”) if we let go of all the fish, not keeping hold of the tiniest minnow or even a fish egg! Those who find it hard are holding on to something other than the One.
Read the next section in The Gospel of Thomas for Yogis: The Inner Field