What Jesus said to his disciples about those who propagate ignorance, from the Gospel of Thomas
Jesus said, The pharisees and the scribes have taken the keys of knowledge [gnosis] and hidden them. They themselves have not entered, nor have they allowed to enter those who wish to. You, however, be as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves. (Gospel of Thomas 39)
- The pharisees and the scribes have taken the keys of knowledge [gnosis] and hidden them.
Perhaps the saddest aspect of this is that they no doubt had no idea they were keys and that there even was knowledge they did not already have. Instead they no doubt thought the things they suppressed were wrong and somehow subversive to their ideas and control. Most of the time those who suppress knowledge do so because they think it is nonsense and they are making sure no one gets confused. On the other hand, there are those who know they are hiding truth, being consciously and intentionally evil. To such, Jesus said:
“Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:44).
Whatever the motives, those who seek gnosis are always portrayed by these people as enemies of God and “truth.” Considering themselves as the forces of “right,” they are are vicious toward them in both word and deed. Basically, they hide the truth beneath their lies.
- They themselves have not entered, nor have they allowed to enter those who wish to.
A real life example
Hatred and fear are the reactions of such people toward both truth and those who seek truth. I well remember as a child seeing in our local post office a huge green, black-spattered poster with the words: BEWARE THE HOXEY CANCER CURE! That was all.
A few years later a woman I knew developed an inoperable brain tumor. She went to the Hoxey Clinic in Dallas, Texas for a few weeks and returned completely free of the tumor. Fortunately, neither she nor her parents heeded the false warning actually put out by our government. During my last year in high school one of my fellow students planning to become a nurse gave a report on the Hoxey treatment, demonstrating by medical principles that it was absolutely safe and effective.
The most rabid enemies of truth are those that themselves once subscribed to it and then sold out for some reason and became its opponents. In many instances the most hysterical enemies of truth are those that simply hate the idea of people escaping from the prison they are too weak or corrupt to abandon themselves.
How we should act
- You, however, be as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves.
We do not blame these people, argue with them or declare them our enemies. We ignore their attempts at repression and march on in our chosen path, unashamed and unafraid. Yet we must be wise and full of good will to all that oppose us. Satyam Eva Jayate: Truth Alone Triumphs. The Patterson and Maeyer translation says we are to be “simple as doves.”
Wisdom is noble, but cunning and machinations are base. We must avoid such absolutely. Yet we must be fearless and straightforward at the same time, diplomatic but never conciliatory. Naturally we will be denounced as crazy, evil, negative, divisive, inflexible, stubborn, bigoted and all the things that our accusers themselves really are. That is why Jesus said,
“Whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented” (Matthew 11:16, 17).
Words from Sri Ramakrishna
In the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna we find this good advice:
“The conversation was about worldly men, who look down on those who aspire to spiritual things. The Master was talking about the great number of such people in the world, and about how to deal with them.
“MASTER (to Narendra): How do you feel about it? Worldly people say all kinds of things about the spiritually minded. But look here! When an elephant moves along the street, any number of curs and other small animals may bark and cry after it; but the elephant doesn’t even look back at them. If people speak ill of you, what will you think of them?
“NARENDRA: I shall think that dogs are barking at me.
“MASTER (Smiling): Oh, no! You mustn’t go that far, my child! (Laughter). God dwells in all beings. But you may be intimate only with good people; you must keep away from the evil-minded. God is even in the tiger; but you cannot embrace the tiger on that account. (Laughter). You may say, Why run away from a tiger, which is also a manifestation of God? The answer to that is: ‘Those who tell you to run away are also manifestations of God–and why shouldn’t you listen to them?”
We must hold firmly to our principles while doing all that is reasonable to “follow peace with all men” as Saint Paul counsels us (Hebrews 12:14), even those who claim we are they “that have turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6).
“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16).
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