Jesus said, Whoever does not hate his father and his mother cannot become a disciple to me. And whoever does not hate his brothers and sisters and take up his cross in my way will not be worthy of me. (55)
There can be a great deal of confusion in understanding passages in the Bible that contain the world “hate.” Even though the Gospel of Thomas is only found in Coptic and fragmentary Greek texts, I believe a look at the Greek word translated “hate” in the New Testament will assist us.
The word in Greek is miseo, which has various shades of meaning. Certainly what we mean by hate is part of the meaning, but whenever it involves an opinion or judgment about a person or situation, especially a comparison, then it changes entirely to an expression of relative valuation or regard. It can mean to think less of something, but it also can mean to completely disregard something, for something to be as nothing in a person’s opinion.
In Luke we find this: “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26). What Jesus is saying here is that in spiritual life everything must be secondary to that life. If there is conflict or even competition with it then we must ensure that everything beside spiritual life is nothing to us, even nonexistent. It may take an intense act of will if there is deep attachment to whatever rivals our spiritual pursuit, but it must be done.
Jesus is the perfect example: he totally disregarded his life and laid it down for the salvation of mankind. Instead of disregarding others, he disregarded himself, sacrificing himself willingly so that others might gain conscious, eternal life in freedom of spirit.
Since a great deal in the Gospels is symbolic, we can also think of father, mother, brothers and sisters as the elements that make up or influence our personal, ego-centered life, that they symbolize anything to which an attachment may arise that will distract or even draw us away from our spiritual aspirations. Such an ideal is essential for our success in divine attainment.
Read the next article in the Gospel of Thomas for Yogis: True Understanding