Jesus said, The kingdom of the father is like a certain man who wanted to kill a powerful man. In his own house he drew his sword and stuck it into the wall in order to find out whether his hand could carry through. Then he slew the powerful man. (98)
Brill: The kingdom of the Father is like a man who wanted to kill a great man. He drew the sword in his house and drove it into the wall, that he might know that his hand would be strong. Then he slew the great man.
In the Gospel of Luke we find this parallel passage: “Which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace” (Luke 14:28-32).
It is as good to know what we cannot do as it is to accurately know what we can do. I have not seen this principle honored much throughout my life. Quite the opposite is true: it is considered right to boast and swagger and believe that nothing is impossible for a person. As a child I encountered this, and as an adult was astounded when I saw the contempt that would be shown toward anyone who dared to say that their abilities were limited. Childish egotism apparently is favored by most people as a substitute for ability and success.
However that may be, Jesus does not hold the majority view. So he tells us that in spiritual life we must be tested and proved–mostly by ourselves–just like the man in this parable. He put himself to the test and when he succeeded he went out and destroyed his enemy. In spiritual life we must be strong and endurant to overcome those forces within and without that hinder us from raising our consciousness and mastering life rather than being mastered by it.
Spiritual ambition is of no consequence whatsoever if there are no inner resources to support it. Therefore the spiritual aspirant must consider well the obstacles and opposition he must overcome and make himself strong and capable for the struggle. Cultivation of his inner resources through spiritual disciplines and meditation is essential for success. Only those sufficiently disciplined and adept in yoga–those who have first set their own house in order–can hope to be victorious in what is a very real battle against the giants of ignorance and illusion.
Read the next article in the Gospel of Thomas for Yogis: The Spiritual Family