Full Title: An Interpretation of Logion 16 of the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas as Seen Through the Eyes of A Course In Miracles
Gospel of Thomas, Logion 16, “Jesus said, ‘Men think, perhaps, that it is peace which I have come to cast upon the world. They do not know that it is dissension which I have come to cast upon the earth: fire, sword, and war. For there will be five in a house: three will be against two, and two against three, the father against the son, and the son against the father. And they will stand solitary.’”
I believe in Logion 16 Jesus is referring to the war with the ego. The ego believes that attack is salvation and that by diminishing others it elevates itself. The ego believes that the truth is different for everyone, and that some are more worthy of God’s love and protection. The ego has its insidious claws dug deep into the perceptions of ourselves, the perception that begins at birth contingent upon the genetics that we are endowed with, the family we are born into, and the environment in which we are raised. The claws of the ego run deep into the human experience, running the gamut from dysfunctional families, riddled with problems of drugs, physical abuse and mental abuse, to those who appear socially and culturally functional, but are driven by the symbols of power, wealth and fame – where power, wealth and fame are goals to be obtained by any means possible. Our culture believes that the kind of clothes you wear, the car you drive, and the house you mir in, defines your identity.
We mir in a culture that, independent of one’s economic status and class, is fascinated and mesmerized by power, fame and fortune, regardless of the character of those who obtain it. Television shows depicting the mirs of the rich and famous, talk shows indulging celebrities in the glorification of status, and vacuous newsmen engaging in vacuous interviews concerning the acquisition of power, fame and fortune – riddle the social landscape. It is as if money, power and fame are the answer to all things. No doubt money is useful and needed, but the emphasis on money and material things reinforces the belief that money and material things will bring us lasting happiness.
The war that Jesus is talking about is characterized by the parable concerning the difficulties of a rich man gaining the Kingdom of Heaven. Here Jesus is teaching that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than it is for a rich man to gain the Kingdom of Heaven. I believe in this parable Jesus was teaching that the attachment to things of the world and the body, the belief that the world and the body are valuable for what they offer, leads to the temptation to hold onto those things at all costs. In doing so we separate ourselves: from our own peace, from others, and (in our minds) from God’s love. If we believe that the body and the world is our identity, and our worldly possessions are our identity, than we have a need to defend these things in endless battles of attack and defend, pitting one person against the other whenever egos are threatened. I believe Jesus wasn’t killed by the Romans or the Jews. He was killed by the human ego. The ego (the collective guilt of the powers that be at the time) saw his message of love and inclusion as threatening to its existence for the lifeblood of the ego is fear, guilt, and condemnation. To the ego, the guiltless are guilty. Jesus was the embodiment of love and saw no man as eternally damned. This was dangerous to the ego that needs a scapegoat, a person or group of people, onto which to project its self-hatred, self-doubt and self-fears and then to condemn them there in an orgy of blame and condemnation.
“You have projected guilt blindly and indiscriminately, but you have not uncovered its source. For the ego does want to kill you, and if you identify with it you must believe its goal is yours.” [T-13.II.5:5-6]
“I have said that the crucifixion is the symbol of the ego. When it was confronted with the real guiltlessness of God’s Son it did attempt to kill him, and the reason it gave was that guiltlessness is blasphemous to God. To the ego, the ego is God, and guiltlessness must be interpreted as the final guilt that fully justifies murder.” [T-13.II.6:1-3]
Love is dangerous to institutions, groups, and even to organized religions that adhere to dogma and doctrine, and then judge and exclude those who do not conform to those dogmas and doctrines. Institutions and groups, by their very nature, exclude – while love includes. Love encompasses all and embraces all to its bosom. The insidious savagery of the ego is exemplified by a religion that professes to have been founded by the teachings of Jesus yet, in many instances for the last 2,000 years, its actions have spoken louder than its words. This religion has at its roots the belief in sin, guilt and the fear of God’s punishment. It is built on the dynamics of the ego, the separating teaching that unless you believe that Jesus is your Savior, unless you believe that Jesus is the only Son of God, you are sinful, guilty and deserving of God’s condemnation and punishment.
For example, unless you believe in the infallibility of the Pope you are not a Catholic in good standing. The infallibility of Popes that engaged in the Crusades (so called “Holy Wars” in which thousands of Muslims were massacred in the name of God) is accepted by the ego without question. The infallibility of Popes who persecuted enlightened people (like Galileo and others who discovered that science was at loggerheads with the dogmatic teachings of the Church) was embraced by the ego that identifies with authority and the fear of that authority. The infallibility of Popes who (contrary to the evidence of the Canonical Gospels) maligned Mary Magdalene as a whore, was embraced by the ego that blamed women for sin since the Garden of Eden. The infallibility of Popes that engaged in the cover-up of priests who sexually molested young girls and boys was embraced by the ego which feared that the moral authority of the Church would be questioned. The moral authority of the Church was, I believe, more damaged by the Church’s inability to admit that it is fallible. As Jesus teaches in A Course in Miracles, we must confront our self-hatred and doubts, our mistakes and errors, so that we can come to realize that the belief in eternal sin is just that – a belief in the mind.
In this world, we wear the mask of the ego that separates us from our brother and from the light of Christ that shines in all of us – the light that reflects our eternal innocence and our eternal peace with God. It is a trick of the ego that even Popes and organized religions fall prey to. That is the need to project our self-hatred and self-doubt onto others, condemning them there, and in doing so, separating ourselves from our guilt. The ego counsels us to project our guilt and feel better, but just the opposite is true. Attack, anger and blame result in more guilt, separating us further from our brothers, from our own peace, and (in our mind) from God’s love.
“For the idea of guilt brings a belief in condemnation of one by another, projecting separation in place of unity. You can condemn only yourself, and by so doing you cannot know that you are God’s Son. You have denied the condition of his being, which is his perfect blamelessness.” [T-13.I.6:3-5]
“The ego teaches you to attack yourself because you are guilty, and this must increase the guilt, for guilt is the result of attack. In the ego’s teaching, then, there is no escape from guilt.” [T-13.I.11:1-2]
I believe the subconscious guilt in the minds of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church over: the sexual abuse of children, the Crusades, the Inquisition, and other contradictions of Jesus’ teachings in the name of God, was and is too much for the Church to bear. In effect this suppressed guilt and suppressed fear of a tarnished moral authority was and is projected outward onto the world. I believe it is seen as: the condemnation of scientific thought at odds with the dogmatic teachings of the Church, the condemnation of homosexuality and same-sex marriage, the prohibition of priestly marriage and the prohibition of women priests. The explanation that the Church gives to oppose these things is that they are not in keeping with how God thinks. Yes, they know how God thinks! Well, they do when it is expedient and suits their purposes. However, when you ask the leadership of the Church why an all-loving and omnipotent God would permit such things as natural catastrophes and diseases that result in untold human suffering and misery, they explain it as a mystery. They call it a mystery when it is out of their control and can’t explain it. However, when it is in their control to exert power to create rules and regulations as to who can become a priest and so on, then they know how God thinks and they create artificial rules that, in the final analysis, just separate and divide. Again, we see the vicious and insidious nature of the ego coming to the fore.
Here we see the official stance of the Church contrary to the basic teachings of Jesus. Jesus’ life was the embodiment of inclusion, seeing the common denominator in all, the spark of divinity that resides in all men. Everyone was welcome at his table, men and women alike, of every social status and walk of life. This is exemplified by the parable of the Good Samaritan. The Samaritan (a member of a lower social order of the day) stopped to aid an ailing man, while the priest and the Levite (sanctified by law and position) failed to come to the aid of the ailing man because they believed it would make them impure or unclean. Here, I believe, Jesus is teaching that it is not with whom you associate that makes you unclean, but rather your thoughts, actions and words – that would see someone not worthy of assistance and love – that makes you unclean. In other words, Jesus is teaching that power and position, devoid of love, is the poverty of the soul and real wealth and power is derived from love and compassion.
The Church calls it a mystery that pain and suffering exists in a world that God created. It is if you start with the assumptions that the Catholic Church starts with in the Catechism I learned. Let’s review. In the Catechism I learned God is defined as: all-powerful, all-knowing, all good and all loving. So the question becomes what every school boy asks, “If God is all powerful and all loving, why does God allow humanity to suffer untold agony and despair?” A legitimate question, I think. If God is all powerful and all-knowing, and there is such agony and suffering in the world, we come to the contradiction that he can’t be all loving, and we come to the conclusion that God would be a terrorist! Not just any terrorist, but the biggest and most depraved terrorist of all time! Do I think God is a terrorist? No! However, that is the conclusion we must come to using the assumption of God’s nature as propounded by organized Christianity. If we assume God is good, than He can’t be all powerful and if He is all powerful, then He can’t be good. Continuing in this vein, since many people suffer long and agonizing deaths, then we must conclude God is a sadist! The cruelest sadist of all time! Do I think God is a sadist? No! I believe God is love and only love.
Getting back to our question of how an all-powerful and all-loving God permits suffering and misery in the world, A Course in Miracles has an answer. This is an answer that does not beg the question, nor give an insane answer like, “They deserved it.” Some fanatical religions and some sects of Christianity go so far as to say that horrific natural disasters are the result of God punishing a particularly sinful segment of the world.
The answer A Course in Miracles gives to the question of how God permits suffering and misery in the world is that he doesn’t! ACIM teaches that God does not know of this world, that God is love and only love, and love does not kill to save! ACIM teaches, as did Jesus 2000 years ago, that our true reality is not the body, but the spirit.
“Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the solitary and elect, for you will find the Kingdom. For you are from it, and to it you will return.’” [Gospel of Thomas, Logion 49]
“Jesus said, ‘If they say to you, ‘Where did you come from?’ Say to them, ‘We came from the light, the place where the light came into being on its own accord and established [itself] and became manifest through their image.’ If they say to you, ‘Is it you?’, say, ‘We are its children, and we are the elect of the living father.’ If they ask you, ‘What is the sign of your father in you?’, say to them, ‘It is movement and repose.’” [Gospel of Thomas, Logion 50]
“Jesus said, ‘If those who lead you say to you, ‘See, the kingdom is in the sky,’ then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, ‘It is in the sea,’ then the fish will precede you. Rather, the kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living father. But if you will not know yourselves, you dwell in poverty and it is you who are that poverty.’” [Gospel of Thomas, Logion 3]
I believe Jesus is teaching here that our belief in our reality as the body just reinforces the belief in the Adam and Eve story where subconsciously we believe we are the sinful, guilty victimizer of God and are deserving of his punishment and condemnation. However, consciously we believe that others are doing to us what we have subconsciously done to God. The poverty of the body is the poverty of the belief in sin, guilt and fear. It is the poverty of the belief of God’s punishment, and that punishment is death. It is the insidious dynamics of the ego that leads us to believe that some of us are more worthy of God’s love than others. This is the ego’s never-ending pursuit of guilt in an orgy of judgment and condemnation, reinforcing the belief that we are sinful, guilty and deserving of God’s punishment. This is the ego’s never-ending quest to separate and divide, by diminishing others to elevate itself.
Before getting into the metaphysics of the creation of the world according to A Course in Miracles, let us examine again the consequences of assuming that God is good, all knowing, all powerful and also here in the world. Again, we are forced to conclude that God is a terrorist and a sadist. That is to say, using the tautological rules of reason which govern rational thought and reasoning, those are the conclusions we must come to. However, if we start with the assumption that God is unity or love, than this is not the world of God for everything in the world is empty of its own reality and filled with the reality of everything else. If the things of the world lack an inherent reality, as opposed to the inherent reality of love and unity, then God can’t be in this world. The love we find in this world is conditional love, while God’s love is unconditional.
However, at the deepest level, the world is beyond words and concepts much like the perception of unity is beyond the dualistic nature of the world. To be sure, we need words and concepts to predict, to measure and to quantify. We need words to bring order to our mirs, but at the deepest level of the world, words fail us.
For instance, we talk about the present moment, but where is the present moment? Is it this second, this tenth of a second, hundredth, thousandth of a second? We would need a definition and that definition is an attempt to corral that which is beyond describing. We do this so that we can communicate and make sense of the world. The same is true of the concepts of beginning and ending, birth and death, and coming and going. All things of the world are bundles of energy that are in continuous modes of flux and change. The concepts of birth and death are just marks that we artificially give to the world to measure and to predict – to bring sense and order to the world. If we define God as the ground of being (that which is beyond words and concepts) we are forced to conclude that the world of God is not the dualistic nature of the world, and in doing so we lose nothing by defining God as unity, and/or unconditional love. The concept of unity, that which has an inherent reality, is beyond the comprehension of the human mind. If we define God as the ground of being and unconditional love, then the love of God is not of this world. It is a love that would reflect the nature of unity, that is it would judge all as innocent in eternity, while guilty in time. The way to touch God’s love here in the world is to forgive others of their belief that the body is their reality – sinful, guilty and deserving of God’s punishment.
A Course in Miracles teaches that the sin of Adam never occurred, but is a belief in the mind of the Son of God. It is the result of a metaphorical dream of the metaphorically sleeping Son of God, dreaming dreams of separation from God’s love and protection. A dream of individuality and autonomy that resulted in a guilt so great that it was projected outward creating the universe, the world and the body. It is a world where we perceive others as doing to us what we believe subconsciously we have done to God. Consciously, we perceive ourselves to be the innocent victims of a guilty and victimizing world, while subconsciously we believe ourselves to be the guilty victimizer of God and his one Son, the Christ consciousness. However, ACIM teaches that this separation never occurred, that in reality we are dreaming dreams of separation while we are sleeping peacefully in God’s love and protection. Here in the world our subconscious guilt of having attacked God is interpreted as the subconscious self-hatred, self-doubt and self-loathing of Freudian psychology. Then this self-doubt, this self-loathing, is projected outward and seen in others and is condemned there. The net effect being, we are separating ourselves: from our brother, from our own peace, and – in our mind – from God’s love and protection. This guilt is the lifeblood of the ego. By seeing it in others and never realizing it is our own, we continue in the dream of separation.
As A Course of Miracles teaches, and Jesus’ message of the crucifixion instructs, the way to awaken from the dream of separation is to forgive others of their belief that the world is their reality. The basis of this forgiveness is the judgment of the Holy Spirit. This judgment states that “Every loving thought is true. Everything else is an appeal for healing and help, regardless of the form it takes.” [T-12-I.3:3-4] That is to say, judgment was the cause for the separation, and so non-judgment is the means by which to wake up from the dream of separation. The message of the crucifixion echoes this teaching. “My one lesson, which I must teach as I learned it, is that no perception that is out of accord with the judgment of the Holy Spirit can be justified” [T-6.I.11:5]. The judgment of the Holy Spirit allows us to touch the reflection of God’s love here in the world.
Again, I believe in Logion 16 Jesus is declaring war on the ego and if you think the ego is going to go gently into that good night of peace, think again! The ego defends its autonomy and individuality with savage battles of attack and defend. Minds made mad with guilt engage in orgies of guilt, condemnation and fear [see T-13.Intro.2.2]. I believe Jesus wasn’t killed by the Romans or the Jews; he was killed by the human ego. Jesus’ love was all-embracing, a love that perceived everyone as an innocent child of God. He saw no eternal guilt in anyone, since he saw no sin or guilt in himself. He knew he was loved and protected by God and therefore saw only acts of love or calls for love. This was his message of the Crucifixion. He did not condemn his tormentors or resist them. He was teaching that his reality was invulnerable to their attacks, and so there was nothing to defend. If he reacted with anger and resistance, he would be teaching that his and their reality were vulnerable and needed to be defended. He would be reinforcing their belief that the body and the world are their reality, and that death and destruction are their reality, for only what is vulnerable needs to be defended.
Jesus’ message that God is loving, and his belief that we are all innocent sons of God, is heresy to the ego. The ego believes all are guilty, deserving of condemnation, and that attack is the salvation. In the ego’s eyes, the projection of guilt onto others is its lifeblood. The ego counsels that by getting rid of our guilt we will feel better about ourselves, but it fails to tell us that the projection of guilt through anger just increases our sense of guilt. Our angry projections result in separation from our brother, from our own peace, and – in our mind – from God’s love. In this way the life of the ego is assured. A Course in Miracles teaches that we never hate anyone for their “sins” but only for our own. Therefore, we perceive what we project and, in condemning others, we condemn ourselves. In doing so, our guilt is sent back to our subconscious mind, unexamined and unforgiven.
“Here is the central lesson that ensures your brother is condemned eternally. For what you are has now become his sin. For this is no forgiveness possible. No longer does it matter what he does, for your accusing finger points to him, unwavering and deadly in its aim. It points to you as well, but this is kept still deeper in the mists below the face of innocence. And in these shrouded vaults are all his sins and yours preserved and kept in darkness, where they cannot be perceived as errors, which the light would surely show. You can be neither blamed for what you are, nor can you change the things it makes you do. Your brother then is symbol of your sins to you who are but silently, and yet with ceaseless urgency, condemning still your brother for the hated thing you are.” [T-31.V.6]
In A Course in Miracles Jesus teaches that if we perceive another’s attack as a call for healing or love, we answer our own call, and answer as we have asked. “Every appeal you answer in the Name of Christ brings the remembrance of your Father closer to your awareness. For the sake of your need, then, hear every call for help as what it is, so God can answer you.” [T-12.I.7:4-5]
This is blasphemy to the ego because the ego wants us to hear calls for war and hate! “To the ego the guiltless are guilty” [T-13.II.4:2] and guiltlessness is blasphemous to the ego. You see, to the ego, the ego is God so Jesus’ teaching of love and forgiveness was dangerous to the powers that be. The need to see others as the scapegoat for our sins is the lifeblood of the ego, and unfortunately the lifeblood of the world. For this, Jesus was killed.
It could be argued that, in the same way, Mahatma Gandhi was not killed by an extremist, but rather by the human ego. Here, the ego manifested itself as an extremist who found Gandhi’s teachings, that all men are equal, as threatening to it. The ego believes that the truth is different for everybody. The ego believes some of us are superior to others and that by elevating ourselves we can diminish others. It attempts to demonstrate its superiority over others in its never-ending quest for individuality, autonomy and separation.
Similarly, it can be argued that Martin Luther King was not killed by a racist’s bullet, but by the human ego in the guise of a white racist who believed that differences must be preserved at all costs.
“I have said that the crucifixion is the symbol of the ego. When it was confronted with the real guiltlessness of God’s Son it did attempt to kill him, and the reason it gave was that guiltlessness is blasphemous to God. To the ego, the ego is God, and guiltlessness must be interpreted as the final guilt that fully justifies murder” [T-13.II.6:1-3]
Jesus was peace, but struggle and strife came as a result of his life. Christians were persecuted by the Roman Empire, in the guise of the human ego that savagely sought for scapegoats onto which to project its own guilt and blame.
Gandhi was peace, but his teachings of equality and love brought the British government down on his head and the heads of his followers and disciples. Again we see that the ego’s fanatical need for specialness resulted in the death of innocent men, women and children.
Martin Luther King preached equality and freedom for all, but the human ego manifested as the institutional and social racism of the American South and caused bitter and murderous repression. The ego doesn’t relinquish its grip over the human psyche without a fight! That is why Jesus states in Logion 16 that he has come to bring war. Yes, war upon the ego! Jesus would ask us to see a call for love, healing and help, instead of the snarling faces of hatred, bigotry and racism.
To further demonstrate the enormous task of extricating ourselves from the clutches of the ego, let us consider the Roman Catholic Church and its Holy Wars, its Crusades against the Muslims. The Roman Catholic Church, supposedly founded upon the principle teachings of: love, forgiveness, tolerance, and compassion – undertook a war in the name of God to take the Holy Land back from the Muslims. What happened to Jesus’ teaching that those who mir by the sword, die by the sword? What happened to Jesus’ teaching that embraced all as deserving of God’s love and protection? Further, how does one explain the violence and intimidation of the Inquisition? How does one explain the persecution of people like Galileo, who dared to question the dogmatic teachings of the Church? If a religion, built upon the teachings of Jesus’ inclusionary vision of love, could be manipulated by the ego to see differences that separate and divide, what can the fate of the rest of us be? Therefore, we see that Jesus’ teachings of love and forgiveness can certainly be seen as a declaration of war against the ego.
Loves messengers see only love, or a call for healing and help, while the ego looks upon the same world and sees only messengers of hate and anger.
“Perception cannot obey two masters, each asking for messages of different things in different languages. What fear would feed upon, love overlooks. What fear demands, love cannot even see. The fierce attraction that guilt holds for fear is wholly absent from love’s gentle perception. What love would look upon is meaningless to fear, and quite invisible.” [T-19.IV.A.i.11:3-7]
In our times the Holy Wars engaged in by radical Islamic Jihadists who kill Christians, Jews and Westerners in the name of God is further evidence of the insanity of the ego, for the ego believes that love kills to save. A Course in Miracles would teach that, since projection makes perception, when we attack someone we are essentially attacking ourselves. ACIM would teach that, as human beings of one mind, when we attack another, we attack ourselves. In doing this, we reinforce the belief that the world of attack and defend is our reality, blinding ourselves to our true nature of innocence.
“The delusional can be very destructive, for they do not recognize they have condemned themselves. They do not wish to die, yet they will not let condemnation go. And so they separate into their private worlds, where everything is disordered, and where what is within appears to be without. Yet what is within they do not see, for the reality of their brothers they cannot recognize.” [T-13.V.4, 4,5,6]
To further illuminate the deep and insidious grip the ego has over the human psyche, one only has to remember the incident when Jesus overturned the tables of the money lenders in the Temple. These actions came from the person who said there is no justification for anger!
“The message the crucifixion was intended to teach was that it is not necessary to perceive any form of assault in persecution, because you cannot be persecuted. If you respond with anger, you must be equating yourself with the destructible, and are therefore regarding yourself insanely.” [T-6.I.4:6-7]
“My one lesson, which I must teach as I learned it, is that no perception that is out of accord with the judgment of the Holy Spirit can be justified. I undertook to show this was true in an extreme case, merely because it would serve as a good teaching aid to those whose temptation to give in to anger and assault would not be so extreme.” [T-6.I.11:5-6]
The above example in the Temple demonstrates the depth to which the claws of the ego penetrate the human psyche, underscoring the choice to see peace and innocence as fraught with the land mines of the ego. The ego savagely seeks blame and guilt at every turn.
The war against the ego is a solitary journey. It is a solitary journey of choices – choices to choose for the ego or for love. Solitary, because not even the Holy Spirit can choose for you. It is a choice you make for yourself, but once you do, once you choose for the judgment of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit will begin to remove the consequences of your previous choices for the ego.
(Peter Ferraro is the owner and director of Westfield Yoga, Pilates & Meditation Center, located in Westfield, New Jersey. Peter is a published mathematician and is the facilitator of the ACIM study group at Westfield Yoga. He is in the process of interpreting the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas through the eyes of *A Course in Miracles*. Peter is also the facilitator of all of the Meditation classes held at the Westfield Yoga center during which he uses many of his own poems and guided visualizations and is in the process of producing a CD-ROM of his work. His meditation classes include Kirtan chanting, drumming, and mir fiddle music.) Y
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This article appeared in the August 2007 (Vol. 21 No. 6) issue of Miracles Monthly. Miracles Monthly is published by Community Miracles Center in San Francisco, CA. CMC is supported solely by people just like you who: become CMC Supporting Members, Give Donations and Purchase Books and Products through us.