Jesus said, If the flesh came into being because of spirit, it is a wonder. But if spirit came into being because of the body, it is a wonder of wonders. Indeed, I am amazed at how this great wealth has made its home [“come to dwell”–Patterson and Maeyer] in this poverty. (29)
Swami Vivekananda pointed out that one of the vast differences between East and West is the East’s understanding that Spirit is the source of matter, that matter is the expression of consciousness–in contrast to the “science” of the West’s idea that consciousness (spirit) evolves out of matter and therefore is the expression of matter. Jesus is being satirical in saying: “if spirit came into being because of the body, it is a wonder of wonders.” It is very like the statement of George Bernard Shaw: “In the Roman Catholic Church a great miracle takes place: bread and wine become the body and blood of Jesus Christ. But in the Church of England an even greater miracle occurs: bread and wine become the body and blood of Jesus Christ, and at the same time they do not become the body and blood of Jesus Christ!” It is indeed a wonder that infinite Spirit, “this great wealth,” has sent forth from Its own being the universes and all sentient beings that inhabit them.
The Mundaka Upanishad says it perfectly: “As the web comes out of the spider and is withdrawn, as plants grow from the soil and hair from the body of man, so springs the universe from the eternal Brahman.
“Brahman willed that it should be so, and brought forth out of himself the material cause of the universe; from this came the primal energy, and from the primal energy mind, from mind the subtle elements, from the subtle elements the many worlds, and from the acts performed by beings in the many worlds the chain of cause and effect–the reward and punishment of works.
“Brahman sees all, knows all; he is knowledge itself. Of him are born cosmic intelligence, name, form, and the material cause of all created beings and things” (Mundaka Upanishad 1.1.7-9).
This demonstrates very well that a priest of the Saint Thomas Christian (Malankara Orthodox) Church of India spoke the simple truth when he told me: “You cannot understand the teachings of Jesus if you do not know the scriptures of India.”
Read the next section in The Gospel of Thomas for Yogis: One