Jesus said, Why have you come out into the desert? To see a reed shaken by the wind? And to see a man clothed in fine garments like your kings and your great men? Upon them are the fine garments, and they are unable to discern the truth. (78)
In the Gospels of Matthew and Luke words similar to these are in reference to John the Baptist. However they could just as well be applied to Jesus himself.
The idea is not difficult to perceive. There is form and there is content. The outer appearance that pleases and attracts is almost always without any value, without any authentic spiritual content. In our modern world almost everything has become a matter of packaging. So much so that many people cannot see beyond the external appearance and remain enamored of valueless things that appear valuable. In religion this abnormality has become the norm. That which appeals to a barren mind will almost certainly itself be barren.
But Jesus implies a very important principle. A worthy spiritual teacher is one that can discern truth–and therefore falsehood as well. Consequently we should give little attention to how any teacher looks, and no attention at all to what their followers say about them. We must scrutinize them and see if truth is known to them and imparted by them. But to do that, we must ourselves be capable of discerning the truth. And if that is true, then why not learn from ourselves? If it really does take one to know one, then all those who follow an incarnation of God (avatara) must themselves be incarnations of God.
What is the solution to this dilemma? We should not be seeking others, we should be seeking ourselves. That is, we should be yogis intent on the realization of the Self. As the light of the Self becomes visible to the yogi, so also do those who know the Self. By investigating inner realities it is possible to begin perceiving the reality of what is outside as well.
Therefore the answer to all problems is to become swayamprakash–self-illuminated. Otherwise, what good can any external factor be for us? We are the problem and we are the solution, not something outside us.
“Therefore, become a yogi” (Bhagavad Gita 6:46).
Read the next article in the Gospel of Thomas for Yogis: True Blessedness