Jesus said, Why do you wash the outside of the cup? Do you not realize that he who made the inside is the same one who made the outside? (89)
It seems to be the curse of religion on this earth that no matter how abstract, metaphysical or spiritual the teachings of a great master may be, his supposed disciples set about immediately (usually even before his death) creating a completely external religion that neglects, conceals and even destroys inner, spiritual understanding and makes impossible a truly spiritual way of life that tends toward transcendence of the world.
Although he could certainly say the same thing to contemporary Christians, Jesus was addressing the Pharisees who were obsessed with ritual purity, interested only in outer purity while contentedly filled inwardly with impurity to such a degree that they even sought and obtained the death of Jesus while scrupulously maintaining their ritual purity. “Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the passover.… Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye him, and judge him according to your law. The Jews [Judeans] therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death:… Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him.… When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him. The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.… When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha. And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar. Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away. And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: where they crucified him” (John 18:28, 31; 19:4, 6, 7, 13-18). Here we see the ultimate madness of externalized, exoteric religion.
Everything in relative existence is dual on many levels. Most basic is the fact that everything is twofold, possessing an interior and an exterior. Therefore any spiritual system that is going to lead us to higher consciousness must deal with both aspects of our being. Otherwise it will be ineffectual and ultimately hypocritical and spiritually destructive to those who adhere to it.
Jesus’ words make it clear that true spiritual life is one of continual purification. Enlightenment is an inherent characteristic of every sentient being, but that inner light is buried beneath the debris of karma and the ignorance that spawns karma. We must continually purify all our levels of existence, inner and outer, until all that blocks the light of the spirit is removed and our eternal nature shines forth unhindered. This reveals that evolution is a process of refining and clearing our consciousness as well as all our bodies, gross and subtle. The only process that directly and fully purifies the consciousness is yoga. It is not a matter of choice but of necessity: each person must in time become a yogi and persevere. Then certainly we will be received “into everlasting habitations” as Jesus promised in the previous verse.
Read the next article in the Gospel of Thomas for Yogis: The Yoke of Christ