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Fishing Wisely

Chapter 8 of the Gospel of Thomas for Awakening

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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)

The man

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.

Give heed

“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

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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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