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[gthomas] No.50 [Was 97]

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  • Cliff Hammond
    ... the ... [...] ... Markan ... treasure ... would ... keep ... over ... Yes! The part of the shock that I like is the empty jar. This is completely
    Message 1 of 3 , Dec 31, 1998
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      > 97 Jesus said, the [Father's] kingdom is like a woman who
      > was carrying a [jar] full of meal. While she was walking
      > along [a] distant road, the handle of the jar broke and
      the
      > meal spilled behind her [along] the road. She didn't know
      > it; she hadn't noticed a problem. When she reached her
      > house, she put the jar down and discovered that it was
      > empty.
      [...]
      Thoughts:

      >As usual in Thomas the Kingdom is like a person. The
      >woman is not "at fault" here. Repeatedly (in a rather
      Markan
      >reiterative fashion) we hear that she did not know what was
      >happening.
      >She didn't break the jar, it just broke.
      > She didn't know it;
      > she hadn't noticed a problem.
      > When she reached her
      > house, she put the jar down and discovered that it was
      > empty.

      >It's an event of discovery though, like the pearl and
      treasure
      >and fish. Instead of "Oh, wow!" I suppose the reaction
      would
      >be "Oh, damn!" Instead of "get rid of everything else and
      keep
      >what you discover" the response has to be "go do it all
      over
      >again." But the common element remains the shock of
      >discovery. So the kingdom is like a person who has that
      >sort of shock of discovery experience.

      Yes! The part of the shock that I like is the empty jar.
      This is completely deconstructionist. Emptiness is empty.
      The jar is the jar. In other words, no judgement is
      applied, no text is discovered, no concept is found, no
      genie in the bottle. Empty! This is the kingdom of
      heaven. It is childlike without preconceived notions or
      social constructs; it simply is totally in the moment.
      There is nothing to analyze; there is absolute *being* with,
      in, and through the Father and "in the shadow of his wings."

      The function of a jar is served as much by its emptiness as
      by the clay that serves as the container.

      I want to add to this discussion of the Eastern elements in
      GThomas, for those who would require scholarship of an
      a-priori epistemological methodology, that these teachings
      seem to me to lead more to the experiential level of truth.
      If we say, "Yea, so what. The jar is empty," we miss a
      chance to *experience* the Kingdom of God. Of course, we are
      always free to *think* about the Kingdom of God, if we
      choose.

      Here is another of the sayings in GThomas that strikes me as
      being very experiential in a Taoist way. "Motion and rest"
      is a very, very elegant way of expressing life in the
      Kingdom of God (cf. also the writings of Zen Buddhist master
      Dogen Zenji). Notice how the prescribed experience of
      "motion and rest" are stripped of any secondarily applied
      constructions that might attempt to define it away from a
      naked experince into a more liniar, cerebral object, a
      mental object that can then be related to extant
      categories. In fact, the lesson here deals with the nature
      of living within the Kingdom not some second hand
      reductionistic description of the wallpaper and bricks of
      "My Father's mansion." And true to the Gnostic nature of
      GThomas we are encouraged to experience first hand, in the
      moment, the Kingdom of Heaven rather than dream in
      conceptual terms of some distant constructed illusion. Thus
      we are given by GThomas a fresh and stunning "finger
      pointing at the moon." When the moon itself is recognized,
      we no longer need the finger. [But Grondin, my new
      cyber-friend, you can have the finger].

      50 Jesus said, "If they say to you, 'Where have you come
      from?' say to them, 'We have come from the light, from the
      place where the light came into being by itself, established
      [itself], and appeared in their image.' If they say to you,
      'Is it you?' say, 'We are its children, and we are the
      chosen of the living Father.' If they ask you, 'What is the
      evidence of your Father in you?' say to them, 'It is motion
      and rest.'"

      -Gospel of Thomas
      <http://home.epix.net/~miser17/Thomas.html>
      _______________________________________________________________________________

      http://www.angelfire.com/tx/cliffhammond/IntroPage.html
      mailto:wycliffe@...



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    • Mike Grondin
      ... No such discussion is going on that I m aware of, Cliff, except perhaps in your own mind. And those who would require scholarship ... includes, of
      Message 2 of 3 , Dec 31, 1998
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        Zen Buddhist sub-master Cliff Hammand writes:
        >I want to add to this discussion of the Eastern elements in
        >GThomas, for those who would require scholarship of an
        >a-priori epistemological methodology, that these teachings
        >seem to me to lead more to the experiential level of truth.

        No such discussion is going on that I'm aware of, Cliff, except perhaps in
        your own mind. And "those who would require scholarship ..." includes, of
        course, just about everyone on this list. Makes me wonder why you bother to
        write in, since writing requires the use of exactly those mental facilities
        that you downgrade and claim to disdain. Might I suggest that you meditate
        on this seeming contradiction, and send us experiential mind-waves
        containing your (non-conceptual) "thoughts"?

        Unfortunately, as the saying goes, "even a blind pig finds an acorn once in
        a while" (does that count as a "koan", Cliff, or does it make too much
        sense?) At any rate, honesty requires that criticism be balanced with
        mention of that which is found to be worthwhile. In this case, Cliff has
        inadvertantly stumbled onto something of import:

        >Yes! The part of the shock that I like is the empty jar.
        >(crap omitted) ... Empty! This is the kingdom of heaven.

        Line 586 of GThom (which includes the end of #97 and the beginning of #98)
        says (see my literal line-by-line translation):

        > empty. Said-Jesus: The-kingdom of-the-Father

        Bearing in mind that the Coptic word for 'is' is sometimes omitted, one
        could string together the beginning of #98 with the end of #97 to make:

        > "Said Jesus: The kingdom of the Father [is] empty."

        While this might give Cliff some comfort, I have so far been unable to find
        any principle to justify this kind of syntactic manipulation of the text
        (other than the saying "where the beginning is, there the end will be", so
        this must continue to be viewed as simply an accidental curiosity.

        Best to all,
        Mike

        ------------------------------------
        Resources for the Study of NH Codex2
        http://www.geocities.com/athens/9068

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      • Terry Davis
        ... Regarding your interpretation of this parable, there is another possibility. This parable reminds me of the foolish virgins who consumed their lamp oil
        Message 3 of 3 , Jan 1, 1999
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          At 06:56 PM 12/31/98 -0600, you wrote:
          >> 97 Jesus said, the [Father's] kingdom is like a woman who
          >> was carrying a [jar] full of meal. While she was walking
          >> along [a] distant road, the handle of the jar broke and
          >the
          >> meal spilled behind her [along] the road. She didn't know
          >> it; she hadn't noticed a problem. When she reached her
          >> house, she put the jar down and discovered that it was
          >> empty.

          Regarding your interpretation of this parable, there is another
          possibility. This parable reminds me of the "foolish virgins" who consumed
          their lamp oil waiting for the groom, rather than conserving it until the
          groom arrived. I don't think that in either case there is necessarily the
          idea of fault or blame, but simply unawareness of a scarce resource. So it
          is that we go through life using up our spiritual energy on material
          matters, worrying about money, status, what we will wear and what we will
          eat. Jesus encourages us to depend on God for these things, and thus
          conserve our energy, for there is enough trouble in a single day. There
          seems to be a implicit warning here that at the end of the journey, our
          inner strength must be enough to take the next step. My father was
          exhausted with life and consumed by the world at his death, yet I still
          believe that his strength of character was enough to take him forward ---
          he had never "sold out" to the world, just endured it to the best of his
          ability.
          While the simplicity of Zen and the Eastern religions is delightful and
          attractive, we still have a job to do in this world rather than just
          existing here experiencing bliss, enlightenment, and the like. The
          spiritual search is great and of great importance, but we are the Father's
          physical eyes, ears, and hands on this earth.
          As the Man said, the Kingdom of Heaven is spread throughout the earth, but
          no one sees it.
          Conserve your grain, do your job, and help others.
          Lord help me to discover what my purpose is on this earth and to fulfill
          it. I am only a sojourner here, as was my father.

          Thanks for the opportunity to contribute to this group,

          Terry Davis



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