His disciples questioned him and said to him, Do you want us to fast? How shall we pray? Shall we give alms? What diet shall we observe? Jesus said, Do not tell lies, and do not do what you hate, for all things are plain in the sight of heaven. For nothing hidden will not become manifest, and nothing covered will remain without being uncovered. (6)
“What would Jesus do?” has become a faddish saying in the past few years, although the books In His Steps and What Would Jesus Do? were written over a hundred years ago. Actually the question is irrelevant, because neither you nor I are Jesus. The relevant question is: What should I do? For as Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita: “Better is one’s swadharma, though deficient, than the swadharma of another well performed. Better is death in one’s own swadharma. The swadharma of another brings danger (Bhagavad Gita 3:35).
His disciples questioned him and said to him, “Do you want us to fast? How shall we pray? Shall we give alms? What diet shall we observe?” The disciples of Jesus apparently had an opinion regarding what was incumbent on all seekers of truth, and therefore asked the foregoing. As was so often the case with Jesus, he refused to go along with the matters set before him by others and insisted on telling them what the real questions were. And then he gave them the answers.
Here we see that the disciples were interested in fasting, praying, almsgiving, and dietary discipline–all of which have value and are enjoined by all viable religious traditions. But of themselves they mean very little. The disciples had not yet understood the basics, the foundation without which any superstructure would be doomed to collapse.
Do not tell lies. There are many ways to lie: by words, by silence, and by actions. What Jesus is telling the disciples is Live Truthfully, that is: live the truth, be embodiments of the truth. And what is the truth? God. So Jesus is telling the disciples to live God–to manifest the divinity that is inherent in them and in all beings. Later Saint Paul would write about the necessity to be numbered among those “who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For… ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit” (Romans 8:4-6, 9). It is not a matter of being “bad” or “good” but of being truthful. To live as a material being is to live a lie; to live as a spiritual being is to live the truth. And that is truly “life and peace.” “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit,” for “he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit” with the Divine (Galatians 5:16; I Corinthians 6:17).
Do not do what you hate. Hypocrisy is also a form of lying in life, therefore Jesus tells the disciples to not do what they hate–what they have an aversion to. He is not speaking of indulging the childish, egoic whim that functions solely on the level of “I like it” or “I don’t like it,” but rather of the developing spiritual and intuitive sense of right and wrong–the conscience of the spirit.
No outer authority should determine our actions. We alone must live our life. Does that mean we should not listen to holy books or spiritual teachers? No, but it does mean that our own inner certainty must determine whether or not we follow the counsels of those “authorities.” There are mindless slaves who do whatever they are told and quote scriptures and teachers like parrots to justify their zombie existence. But those with awakened consciousness realize that ultimately it is their decision as to whether they follow external advice or not. “God says to do it, so I shall,” is actually a statement of personal will–at least when made rightly. When Jesus said: “Not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42), he was making a supreme act of will.
There is no place here for “surrender” or suchlike, though it is a favorite in cult religion. God is not our enemy, God is our essential Being. Wherefore Krishna says: “I am the same to all beings. There is no one who is disliked or dear to me. But they who worship me with devotion are in me, and I am also in them” (Bhagavad Gita 9:29).
For all things are plain in the sight of heaven. For nothing hidden will not become manifest, and nothing covered will remain without being uncovered. There are two “heavens,” one outer and one inner. The outer heaven is the infinite expanse of Divine Being, and the inner heaven is the highest level of our own individual being, where the finite and the Infinite touch and are one. Neither of them can be fooled by our egos. At the beginning of the film Almost An Angel the main character is in the hospital and has what seems to be an out of the body experience. He meets God (played by Charlton Heston) and comments on how much He looks like Charlton Heston. Then he says: “You’re God; I can’t lie to You, can I?” To which God dryly replies: “You can try.”
The wise do not try.
Read the next section in The Gospel of Thomas for Yogis: Eat Or Be Eaten