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Impossible Duality

Chapter 47 of the Gospel of Thomas for Awakening

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Jesus said, It is impossible for a man to mount two horses or to stretch two bows [at the same time]. And it is impossible for a servant to serve two masters; otherwise, he will honor the one and treat the other contemptuously.
No man drinks old wine and immediately desires to drink new wine. And new wine is not put into old wineskins, lest they burst; nor is old wine put into a new wineskin, lest it spoil it. An old patch is not sewn onto a new garment, because a tear would result. (47)


In all spiritual traditions throughout the world we find the teaching that there are two paths a person can walk: that which leads upward and that which leads downward, that which leads beyond this world and that which leads further into it. Obviously we cannot walk both paths at the same time. Those who hop from one to another continually will not get anywhere, nor will those who seek to somehow be in the middle. When the scale is in perfect balance it reads Zero. In Revelation we read: “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:15, 16). That is what God thinks of the much vaunted via media. He wants nothing to do with it. We should feel the same.

“Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word” (I Kings 18:21). Unfortunately it has become the order of the day to dilly-dally and shilly-shally. Commitment seems to strike terror in the hearts of many people. Self-definition is absolutely shunned. Just today a friend sent us an email in which he said: “Everyone is content with the everyday littles.” I would say that almost everyone is an everyday little by choice.

Those of us who want to accomplish something spiritually must make our choice and commit ourselves to it. We cannot be like Pilate who did not want to condemn Jesus but was too cowardly to release him. “When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.… and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified” (Matthew 27:24, 26). So he did condemn Jesus. In the same way if we do not commit to spiritual life we choose the life of ego and ignorance. We honor that which opposes truth and dishonor that which leads to–and is–the truth. That which is not positively good is positively evil. This world is indeed made up of black and white–gray is just not seeing the reality of something.

“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:13, 14).

Old versus the new

The craze for the new and the contempt for the old grips the modern world. When Jesus speaks of old and new he is referring to the original divine order, including spiritual awareness as contrasted with the present confusion and disorder that both produces and is rooted in spiritual unconsciousness and indifference. Those who taste of the spiritual will lose all taste for the crassly material. Nor will they try to accommodate themselves to the times by altering and conforming the spiritual to the material, for that only leads to loss of the spiritual. The old and the new cannot coexist; by their nature they cancel one another. Those who pretend to be both are deceivers who mask the truth of their condition. Form without content, wells without water–such they are.

As with the matter of servant and master, there is no reconciliation, no timesharing arrangement. We are either building our life on the rock or on the sand (Matthew 7:24-27). It is impossible to do both simultaneously. Tragically there are those who really do not know which they are, blinded by both their ignorance and the words of those who “compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, make him twofold more the child of hell than themselves” (Matthew 23:15). But when all is said and done, the choice is ours.

“Choose you this day whom ye will serve” (Joshua 24:15). To not choose is also a choice, as Pilate well knew.

Read the next article in the Gospel of Thomas for Yogis: Peace That Moves Mountains

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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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