Contemporary Christian faiths present salvation as either a firm belief in Jesus Christ and/or the completion of sacraments. Faith in the existence of Jesus does not in itself bring us into a state of grace, nor does the completion of sacraments. These facts are logical. This kind of faith, and involvement in rituals, reflects the archaic needs and attributes of the primal human. They are behaviours that console, but they do not provide a consistent connection to the thing our soul originated from. Understanding the truth is crucial. Through this understanding comes inner peace.
In the middle of January 2015 Pope Francis visited the Philippines. On this visit, a twelve-year-old girl gave a speech and asked the Pope: ‘why does God allow children to suffer?’ This question and the girl’s tears visibly moved the Pope, but he had no real answer for the child. This illustrates the problem with the current Christian orthodoxy. God has been made into a patriarchal figurehead. A majority of Christians believe that this god makes conscious decisions about the events in their everyday lives. This is evident in the numerous times we see sportspeople, musicians, and actors receive a commendation and proceed to thank God for their talents. God does not make one person talented above another. These talents, or attributes, are acquired through good genes, hard work, and being in the right place at the right time. We should ask ourselves: what does this kind of rhetoric and thinking do to a young person, who does not have any of these talents or opportunities? Is the god of these talented people favouring them, just as he favours children who live in a healthy, happy environment? This kind of fictitious, patriarchal god comes to us from humanity’s primal heritage, where these prehistoric groups were reliant on an alpha-male for guidance and protection. Is this the kind of father Jesus spoke of? The answer is a resounding no. In response to the child’s question, we would point out that our world is as it is because of the way we have evolved—from a creature that is fallible. The decisions humans made have given us a world that is overpopulated and an environment that is being eroded. Most people in our world are materialistic and make decisions favouring economic growth, rather than ethical approaches to community, environment, and business affairs. Believing that a supreme godhead will solve all these issues is a false perception and a very dangerous one. It is the root cause of much of the world’s problems at the infancy of the twenty-first century. 77th Pearl: The Perpetual Tree reveals a logical solution: we must understand what Jesus truly meant in His teachings. This truth permits us to separate religion from global affairs and allows science to work with matters that relate to the material world. It means we use the logic of science to make decisions pertaining to our physical existence, which will give us a world that is free of self-imposed suffering. If this means looking at population control, for example, then we need to consider it as a result of the reality in which our bodies exist. The world of the Spirit is completely different to the world we experience with our limited physical senses. This universe has been inspired by another realm/dimension, but it is not controlled by it. Ultimately, this is the answer to the child’s question.
In 1945, at a place called Nag Hammadi, in Upper Egypt, an Arab peasant discovered fifty-two texts in an earthenware jar. Among those texts was the Gospel of Thomas. This gospel is set out in 114 sayings that are considered the secret sayings of Jesus. While some of these sayings appear in the New Testament Gospels, they are presented here in their unedited form. Since the time of Jesus, people have tried to comprehend the sayings, in particular, those that were omitted from the canonical gospels. In 77th Pearl: The Perpetual Tree, all the sayings are explored in relation to each other and to pertinent New Testament Gospels. The sayings reveal truths, which lift the mystical teachings of Jesus into a logical reality, at times reflecting what scientists are discovering in the early part of the twenty-first century.
The New Testament Gospels are referred to as the Synoptic Gospels, meaning that they have a common view. These Synoptic Gospels refer to the three New Testament Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke and are considered synoptic because of their similarity. With the inclusion of the fourth Gospel of John we have the canonical gospels. In 77th Pearl: The Perpetual Tree, the Gospel of Mark is often referred to in comparison to Thomas, as it is known to be the first of the three Synoptic Gospels written. The other Synoptic Gospels are considered elaborations on Mark. Biblical scholars have suggested that there is another source and it becomes apparent that this is indeed the Gospel of Thomas. It is the cryptic nature of significant portions of the Gospel of Thomas that categorised it as a heretical text to the early Church authorities. Christian apologists argue that the sayings, which are not in the New Testament, are words a typical rabbi, in the time of Jesus, would not have spoken. 77th Pearl: The Perpetual Tree concurs with this point of view. Jesus was a man that had an entirely new message, a message that was ahead of its time. In the New Testament, we see the disciples of Jesus ask Him why He speaks to them in strange riddles, yet all we find in these accounts is a narrative interwoven with fantastic feats, which are supposed to prove His divinity. In the New Testament, there is nothing about these strange riddles and mysteries that explains what we are, or our deep connection to the Father/Source. These things, which they considered strange and difficult to fathom, were omitted. The cryptic sayings were meant for the twenty-first century and beyond. In a sense, these words, revealed through 77th Pearl: The Perpetual Tree, are the second coming.
While the Gospel of Thomas we now know was discovered in 1945, it did in fact exist at the time of the New Testament Gospels. Bishop Irenaeus of Lyon c.180. made references to the Gospel of Thomas in scathing letters, written against the Gnostic’s who held it in high regard. Due to the texts being deemed heretical, orthodox believers sought to destroy them. This is why some prudent Gnostic’s had the foresight to hide the documents.
The popularity of atheism and agnosticism is symptomatic of how the mainstream religions do not bridge the gap between the realities of life and the belief in a deity. A deity that is supposed to provide protection and guidance. Often we see that suffering and death can happen to any individual, group, or community. Sceptics rightly ask: why does a god, who created humans, allow them to suffer from diseases and natural disasters? The Gospel of Thomas answers these perplexing questions by revealing what we are and why we are in this place. If Christian readers are sceptical towards the authenticity of the Gospel of Thomas, as compared to other texts, then they should ask themselves—is the message speaking to the soul or is it speaking from a man?
Some scholars have labelled the Gospel of Thomas a Gnostic text but 77th Pearl: The Perpetual Tree does not support this premise. The Gospel of Thomas is free of Gnostic mythology; therefore, it is not from this early Christian splinter group. The Gospel of Thomas was the springboard for Gnostic Christianity, because it challenges the reader to search for the truth. Gnostics took this to mean that they were required to find hidden messages in the sayings, to unlock the various gates leading to heaven. What we discover is that the Gnostics went too far—creating numerous, complex myths, which supposedly explained our predicament in this world and how to escape from it. These myths prove to be derived from observations of human characteristics and frailties, not unlike how the Ancient Greeks attributed human weaknesses to the plethora of gods they created.
77th Pearl: The Perpetual Tree reveals knowledge hidden in cryptic sayings for millennia. It does not reconcile ancient beliefs rooted in the Old Testament with scientific fact. It also does not support Intelligent Design, which is negated in the saying of Thomas 97. What it does do is recognise what science has consistently proven—that we are flesh and bone. We exist in a world governed by physical laws of cause and effect, all of which are external layers of the source of all things—the one Jesus refers to as His ‘father’. In these sayings, the disparity between the physical world and the realm of the Spirit is an ongoing theme. Who created this world and why is not the primary concern. Its physical make-up and evolution has, for the most part, been proven by science and accepted by the Catholic Church. However, this leaves us with many questions. These questions are ones that antiquated faiths, rooted in myths and legends, are incapable of answering. Jesus foresaw this when He warned that His teachings could not be placed into old wineskins (the context of the Old Testament). Jesus was the new wine, which would be spoiled by this action.
The author discovered The Gospel of Thomas when he befriended a progressive young Catholic priest in the early 1990’s. Inquisitive conversations often took place, which centred on the contradictions in Church teachings and the Old and New Testaments. One day, the young priest gave the author a book called ‘The Gnostic Gospels’ by Elaine Pagels. In this text, he found references to the ‘Gospel of Thomas’ and these first few insights opened his eyes to a truth. For the first time he felt a deep spiritual connection, for the first time he felt whole.
A visit, in 2002, to the Vatican Basilica in Rome cemented in the author a desire to know the truth. During this visit to the Vatican he saw three altars, each presumably containing the body of a Pope. The bodies were in glass coffins, dressed in fine white robes inlaid with gold threads and jewels. The feet of the bodies were adorned with gold shoes encrusted in gems. The faces were covered in a gold mask also covered in gems. A strong smell of what seemed to be formaldehyde surrounded the coffins. As he stood in this place, which was supposed to represent the centre of Christianity, the author felt an incredible sadness and absence of Spirit. In his mind, he could see Jesus entering that space and overturning those altars in disgust at what His representatives had done in His name. This was a crucial first step toward 77th Pearl:The Perpetual Tree.
The traditional relationship with the God of the Abraham lineage is lacking something essential. This relationship fails to answer the eternal question that humans have grappled with since, presumably, we came down from the trees—what is the meaning of life and what does it mean to live? The information we have had access to in the past has been tainted. The contradictions we encounter in the knowledge presented to us, through the religions sharing the Abrahamic heritage, lack logic. It is also damaging our potential to reconcile our human condition, as a reality, apart from the spiritual. This attitude has prevented humans from approaching difficult issues arising from globalisation, which has created conflict. Yet, the irony is that we must think of ourselves as one to move forward. The Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are the three-sided grain, which has entered the oyster (this realm/world) to form apearl. The light that reflects off this pearl has made the revelations in the Gospel of Thomas shine through the fog, which are the physical barriers in this world.
Humans, who are searching for the truth, know that there is an intimate relationship shared with the source of all things—the one Jesus refers to as His father. This relationship is one that has been forgotten, primarily because our physical existence steals us away from the Light we cannot see. The thing that one cannot point to when we refer to the ‘self’, is the thing that shares a kinship with Jesus. Within the Gospel of Thomas, there are threads that appear which link the sayings in the gospel—a prominent one is that Jesus is our brother.
The symbol on the front of this text represents the perfect human—one that is neither male nor female and both of these at the same time. This symbol speaks of the disparity between our knowledge of relationships, based on physical manifestations, and how Jesus really wants us to see ourselves. This thing is Spirit and it cannot be defined by the parameters of this world. The vessel on top of the symbol represents the search for knowledge and truth.
Each of the sayings follows with a commentary by the author. 77th Pearl: The Perpetual Tree is written in such a way that the reader does not necessarily have to follow a linear progression, and may go to any commentary, following the threads that have been uncovered. The reader will find certain concepts repeated. This has been a conscious decision by the author in order to excise past teachings that, like a cancer, have pervaded the human psyche. It is also the nature of the sayings in this gospel that they share common threads, which is an essential part of its coding (as are certain numbers). The author has made an effort to recontextualise these threads, so as to give new ways of seeing the same thing. In the commentaries, some crucial words have been given emphasis through italics.
The English translation of the Gospel of Thomas used here is by Stephen Patterson and Marvin Meyer: The Nag Hammadi Library. Some of the sayings have words missing due to the fragile nature of the material they were originally written upon. In such cases the scholars have indicated missing words with “[…]” or brackets with the most likely word.
Each of the sayings and commentaries are separated by the symbol of the perfect human.
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