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The Fasting and Sabbath of the Spirit

Chapter 27 of the Gospel of Thomas for Awakening

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Jesus said, If you do not fast as regards the world, you will not find the kingdom. If you do not observe the Sabbath as a Sabbath, you will not see the father. (27)

If you do not fast as regards the world, you will not find the kingdom. Nancy Johnson renders this: “Unless you abstain from the world, you will not find the kingdom.” The world is outside, the kingdom is inside; our various levels or bodies are outside but our true Self, the spirit, is inside. Therefore it only follows that the more we are involved in the world the less we will know and live in the spirit. “For the fashion [schema: order] of this world passeth away” (I Corinthians 7:3). “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (I John 2:16-17). Since the world passes away, but spirit alone remains forever, the choice between the world and the spirit should be easy, but few make the right choice. It takes many lives for us to get the idea.

One of Yogananda’s disciples moved to a new house that had an alley running behind it where people put out their garbage for collection on Fridays. The first Friday he was there, he saw his dog in the neighbor’s garbage. He went to investigate and found the dog greedily eating a huge amount of bacon grease. (In those days it was common for people to drain off meat grease in a container and then discard it in the garbage.) The dog ate all the grease and spent the entire weekend sick with dry heaves–a distressful and painful result. But the next week the dog ate the bacon grease again, and again spent the weekend sick. This happened for a total of twenty-three weeks before the dog quit eating the grease. His owner would tell this to people and laugh and say: “This world is nothing but ‘bacon grease,’ and people have no more sense than my dog. From life to life they keep eating the ‘grease’ and getting sick.” Then looking pointedly at them he would ask: “And when are you going to quit the bacon grease?”

If you do not observe the Sabbath as a Sabbath, you will not see the father. Saint Paul wrote: “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest” (Hebrews 4:9-11). The word rather oddly translated “rest” is actually Sabbatismos–Sabbath–which means the seventh day.

Every human being has seven levels of consciousness which correspond to the seven chakras of the yoga system. These levels are symbolized in various ways in the Bible: the seven days of creation, the seven days of holy week, the seven “churches” and the seven “seals” of Revelation. The opening of these seals in Revelation represents the opening of the different levels of consciousness from the lowest to the highest, from the first to the seventh. Saint John tells us about the opening of the seals. The first six produced a great deal of cataclysmic phenomena, but “when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven” (Revelation 8:1). The evolutionary journey was completed and the yogi entered into the sabbath-rest of silence. As Buddha said: “Birth is exhausted [that is, the karma that produces birth is dissolved, has ceased to exist], the holy life has been lived out, what can be done is done, of this there is no more beyond.” Perfection having been reentered, nothing remains to be done or not done. This was understood even in the Old Testament: “The Lord is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him” (Habakkuk 2:20). “Be silent, O all flesh, before the Lord: for he is raised up out of his holy habitation” (Zechariah 2:13).

The transcendent Father dwells in the seventh level of cosmic existence, beyond all else. The Son and the Holy Spirit manifest and evolve the other six levels that lead to the seventh. To know God we must ascend to that. Those who do so shall see the Father with the single eye of perfect enlightenment (Matthew 6:22).

Read the next section in The Gospel of Thomas for Yogis: How Jesus Saw the World

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