A commentary on the Gospel of Thomas
Jesus said, Many times have you desired to hear these words which I am saying to you, and you have no one else to hear them from. There will be days when you will look for me and will not find me. (Gospel of Thomas 38) [Nancy Johnson: “When you have no other to listen to, days will come when you shall search, but never find me.”]
We all come into this world with a destiny that is known to us on the subconscious level, and which often trickles up on the conscious level.
Recently I was at a spiritual center and a man asked me how I became a monk. When I told him I had received an intuition about being a monk when I was four years old, he laughed and told me that when he was six he saw a photograph of Rocky Marciano in a stack of old newspapers and instantly knew that he was going to become a boxer–and did so very successfully.
This destiny is what the Bhagavad Gita calls swadharma: the path each person is meant to follow to further their evolutionary development. For me it was monastic life and for him it was the boxing ring. Though seemingly poles apart, for each of us it was the same: destiny.
This being so, we often feel impulses from deep within that are messages from the higher mind pointing us to our intended future. That is why Jesus tells the disciples that previously they had desired to hear the teachings he was then giving them. Actually, the wisdom he imparted was already within them in seed form awaiting to be awakened.
The highest learning is really a remembering of what we have always known but forgotten when coming into this material world. We are not convinced of truth, we recognize it. The only purpose of a true spiritual teacher or teaching is the enabling of us to open our spiritual awareness and, as Jesus said: “Every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old” (Matthew 13:52).
No other teacher
There is no place in spiritual life for false modesty and displays of humility that mask one of the worst forms of spiritual pride: the desire to be thought humble and without ego. Therefore Jesus tells them quite plainly that he alone can teach them that which their souls have been longing for. At the age of twelve he had proven that the spiritual authorities in Israel had nothing to teach him, and had gone to India where over the course of more than a dozen years he learned the wisdom he had returned to teach them and any who would listen.
We can wander for lifetimes in confusion and dead-end byways if we do not find an enlightened teacher who can not only tell us the truth, but can show us to way to know those truths for ourselves by teaching us the way to open the inner omniscience possessed by each one of us in potential form. This inner power is the “image and likeness” of God (Genesis 1:26) that is the very nature of every sentient being. Jesus was such a teacher as were and are all the enlightened masters throughout the ages. Krishna, Buddha, Jesus and others of their status still are guiding disciples to the Light that is their true Self.
Looking in vain
Yet we must understand and experience the real, ever-present nature and presence of those great master-teachers. Those who were used to only being with the physical embodiment of Jesus, and had not opened their own spiritual sight and become aware of his inner being along with theirs, after his departure from them looked for him in vain and lamented that they had lost the source of their needed guidance.
The same thing happened in the twentieth century with the disciples of Ramana Maharshi in India. He kept telling them through the years that they must not obsess and depend on his physical presence, but gain their own inner realization, otherwise they would be desolated at his death and be without a guide. And it happened just as he said. Fortunately some of them then got busy and found guidance and wisdom within, but others simply formed a personality cult and kept on obsessing on his past, physical embodiment and blinded themselves to his abiding spiritual presence. As he had told someone: “They think I am leaving [dying], but where would I go?” He knew himself as the omnipresent Inner Reality which they also were.
Buddha said: “Only turn around and lo! the Other Shore.” It is the same with the great masters. If we will turn within and call we shall surely find them, or they will send us external assistance in the form of their true disciples who are themselves progressing to equal their beloved masters.
The message is clear: the inner search is everything.