Khalid Lateef : The Author is Regional President of Iqbal Research Institute Lahore, (Indian Administered Jammu and Kashmir Branch) located at Trehgam, District Kupwara. He is an Independent researcher of Iqbaliyaat, Hebrew Bible, and Comparative Study of Religions and Iqbal Study in reference with Reunification of Science, History, Archaeology, and Humanities. He can be reached at:

The Gospel of Thomas and Christianity in India: Today I shall write some of the assertions on the birth of Christianity and its sects following different apostles. From the very beginning there were two Christianities. One was the Christianity we know today that developed in the Mediterranean world over the centuries. It accommodated itself to the current religious beliefs -especially those of the Roman emperors – and even absorbed and conformed itself to them to such an extent that after three centuries it became the state religion of the Empire presided over by the unbaptized and blatantly unchristian “Saint” Constantine. He was only the first in a series of “vicars of Christ” (this expression originated with the Byzantine emperors, not the Bishop of Rome) who ruled over the Church as well as the state, and who, despite their often shockingly violent and immoral lives were declared saints of the state servant-church. Today this Christianity is divided into thousands of warring and warlike sects, a multi-headed monster.
The other Christianity was the religion learned by Jesus from his Essene family and during his “lost years” in other countries, then brought by him back to the “West,” to Israel. Rejected and martyred for teaching that religion, after his resurrection he returned to India and lived twenty or more years at peace in the Himalayas. The Apostle Thomas eventually followed him to India. After some years Saint Thomas went to Ephesus to be present at the death of the Virgin Mary, then journeyed on to Israel and persuaded a large number of the Qumran Essenes to come with him into Cherapadha (the present-day Kerala) to practice the religion Jesus had taught (virtually in vain) to the Israelites. They agreed and did so, linking up with a vast number of Brahmins who had emigrated from Kashmir after becoming disciples of both Jesus and Saint Thomas. It is this Christianity that is found in the Gospel of Thomas.
In December of 1945, an Egyptian farmer near Nag Hammadi unearthed in his field more than fifty ancient Christian books, written in the Coptic (ancient Egyptian) language. Among them was the book now known as The Gospel of Thomas. Portions of three Greek copies of the Gospel of Thomas had been found about half a century before in Oxyrhynchus, Egypt. They are known as Oxyrhynchus Papyrus 1 (Oxy P 1), probably written not much later than the year 200; Oxy P 654, which can be dated to the middle or end of the third century; and Oxy P 655, dated not later than A. D. 250. The complete (Nag Hammadi) version in Coptic can be dated to about 340 A.D. The Coptic version is believed to be a translation of the Greek version.
According to the Pistis Sophia (Codex Askewianus), after his resurrection Jesus instructed Philip, Matthew, and Thomas to set down his words in writing. While Saint Thomas was in Israel visiting the Qumran community, Saint Matthew gave him a copy of his Gospel, and perhaps at that time Saint Thomas gave Saint Matthew a copy of his record of Jesus’ sayings which became copied and circulated among those of gnostic inclination. Since the Nag Hammadi discovery we now possess Saint Thomas’ complete Gospel. The translation I will mostly use in this commentary is that of Thomas O. Lambdin.
These are the secret sayings which the living Jesus spoke and which Didymos Judas Thomas wrote down. This is the sentence before the Gospel of Thomas actually begins.
Everyone loves secrets, especially children – and those whose brains but not their hearts have matured. Religion is riddled with “secrets,” “secret knowledge,” “secret practices,” “secret fraternities,” “secret books,” and suchlike, all creating an atmosphere reminiscent of old Flash Gordon serials and the Wizard of Oz. With many it is a passion to be of the elite and know the secrets the commoners know not; to seek and find what only the special few can access; to possess secret knowledge that gives secret power…
But Jesus, like Buddha, made it clear that he had no secret teachings, saying: “There is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops” (Matthew 10:26, 27).]
In my search for the real teachings of Christ, I came across a number of secret Christian esoteric associations, all with secret knowledge and secret practices. The interesting thing was that although those groups did possess power and methods that produced an effect, in the final analysis they were ineffectual, and in some cases actually ran counter to the result desired. And in no instance was there the slightest justification for anything they knew or did being kept secret. Jesus certainly knew best, and acted accordingly.
There are no secrets in Christianity: “Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple…; and in secret have I said nothing” (John 18:20).
“No man, when he hath lighted a candle, covereth it with a vessel, or putteth it under a bed; but setteth it on a candlestick, that they which enter in may see the light. For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither anything hid, that shall not be known and come abroad.…No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light” (Luke 11:16, 17, 33).
“Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not” (Matthew 24:26).
The forgoing statements are surely sufficient to establish that Jesus had no secret teachings, whatever may be said at the present day. Why, then, this statement about “secret sayings which the living Jesus spoke?” Actually they were not secret, but unknown because they had become
shunted aside by those who were intent on making Christianity in their own and the emperor’s image. (It is my speculation that the great library of Alexandria was not burned to destroy “pagan” books abhorred by the official Christians, but to destroy early Christian books no longer compatible with their new state Christianity.) Those that still believed the original teachings of Jesus were forced to keep them secret to escape banishment from the empire, imprisonment, or even death. So the copyist prefaced the book with this sentence, obviously not from Saint Thomas.
One English translation out of many – Grondin’s – renders the expression “hidden words.” The Greek work kruptos (from which we get the words crypt and cryptic) means something that is concealed or hidden because it is inside – inward. The sayings of Jesus are secret as far as the outer world is considered because their understanding is a matter of personal, private experience that by its nature remains hidden. And let us not forget another Greek word, mystikos, which also means inward and hidden. So we could validly say that these words of Jesus about to be given us are Mystical Sayings.
And he said, whosoever finds the interpretation of these sayings will not experience death.
Ironically, in the Bible the only verse that approximates this is a quotation from Jesus’ enemies: “Thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death” (John 8:52).
What is death? Perhaps the best brief definition comes from Vine’s Expository Dictionary, where life is defined as “conscious existence in communion with God,” and death as “conscious existence in separation from God.” Since it is impossible for even an atomic particle to be separated from the infinite, omnipresent God, obviously what is meant is that life is consciousness of union with God and death is loss of that consciousness-the illusion of separation from God. Neither of these have anything to do with the condition-life or death-of the body. Rather, life and death are states of consciousness.
Our Findings
Jesus said that death will not be experienced by “whoever finds the interpretation of these sayings.” This immediately brings to mind the well-known statement of Jesus: “Seek, and ye shall find” (Matthew 7:7).
The Greek text uses the word zeteo, which means to earnestly desire and work toward something-it is practical as well as theoretical, and even has the minor meaning of needing what is sought. The important word, of course, is heurisko, which not only means to find, but has the secondary ideas of both perceiving and possessing the object of the search. So to find the meaning of Jesus’ mystical sayings is to inwardly perceive the reality of their meaning and to attain the state of consciousness on which they are based. It is like a rabbi who was an expert in interpreting the Jerusalem Talmud. When asked how he understood it so well, he replied:
“Because I know That from which the Jerusalem Talmud was given.” Instead of “finds” the Patterson and Maeyer translation of these introductory words has “discovers” and Johnson’s has “uncovers.” Both of these bear out the interpretation that Jesus is telling us to gain the states of awareness which are embodied in these sayings.
The Self Communion of Indian Shiva: Jesus said: Let him who seeks continue seeking until he finds. When he finds, he will become troubled. When he becomes troubled, he will be astonished, and he will rule over the All.
Let him who seeks continue seeking until he finds. For some reason, in reading over the above verse there popped into my mind a memory of the old Dragnet television show. During one episode a woman whose son had become a dangerous criminal whined to Sergeant Friday: “God knows I tried.” With his usual dry aplomb Friday retorted: “Yeah, but how hard did you try?” That question applies to these words of Jesus.
It is not mere seeking that ends in finding, but effective and prolonged seeking. Jesus is being a bit like Humpty Dumpty in Alice in Wonderland when he told Alice: “Begin at the beginning, and when you come to the end, stop.” Just keep going until you reach the goal. Very simple and often very hard to do. to the end, stop.” Just keep going until you reach the goal. Very simple and often very hard to do.
Yet we must grasp this necessary fact of spiritual life: “He that endureth to the end shall be saved” (Matthew 10:22). Sri Ramakrishna told the parable of a man at the edge of a forest who was told by a monk: “Go forward.” So he did. And although every so often he found increasingly
valuable things, he recalled the words “Go forward” and kept going on until he discovered abundant wealth. We, too, have to keep going forward, further and further, “from glory to glory” (II Corinthians 3:18), until we reach the supreme goal-for that alone is what we should be seeking. We must never stop the search. It has been said that the desire for God is the way to God. Those who slacken or stop have slacked or stopped in their desire for God. Where, then, is the possibility of finding?
When he finds, he will become troubled. Johnson has “bewildered” rather than “troubled,” and Patterson and Maeyer have “disturbed.” But others concur with Lambdin in rendering it “troubled.”
We read in the book of Acts that Saint Paul and his companions were once described by their religious enemies as “these that have turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:26). We have lived for entire creation cycles in complete delusion. Only now, after more years than human mathematicians can calculate, has a glimmer of reality entered into our purview.
And the result? It has seemed to disrupt – if not actually shatter – our life! Look at how people agonize over a very little spiritual insight. In the West it is to the point of absurdity and often insanity. I am not speaking of theory and speculation – westerners love such mind-games. I am speaking of the sledgehammer impact a few grains of practical truth – for that is what reality is – has on everyone’s life. It is easy to forget, so maybe you may not recall what it was like the first time reality “struck” in your life. But if you will sit and look backwards you will see that every advance in true knowledge has necessitated a real struggle and perhaps even pain in bringing your life into conformity to it. If not, it still lies ahead for you.
Spiritual history is filled with accounts of people who when given a vision of the truth of things were devastated and disoriented. For never again could they go back to where they were the moment before the lightning struck. ”Many have foolishly wished it had not taken place.
When Sri Ramakrishna opened the consciousness of Naren (the future Swami Vivekananda), his reaction was to weep bitterly and ask: “What have you done to me?” Such is the power of ignorance over our hearts.” Like long-caged birds we fear freedom. Many people become upset and even angry when something occurs to open their understanding and make them see more clearly than they did before. What should be a cause for rejoicing becomes a matter of regret and complaint – such is the extent of our spiritual insanity.
It takes great courage to face truth and rise to the level it requires. Before reaching the human form, consciousness evolves blindly, automatically. But humans are on a different plateau, and although they may be forcibly faced with higher reality, they have to agree to it and move up on their own volition. In time they must come to consciously and willfully evolve themselves through the cultivation of inner life. They must become yogis (I mean this in the broadest sense, for every valid religion has produced ways to cultivate higher spiritual consciousness.) Without yoga, spiritual life can be nothing but haphazard, however sincere and devoted the seeker may be.
Even men and women of great wisdom have trembled and shrunk back at the dawning of higher vision, for such vision means a death of much that has heretofore flourished in the twilight world of half-knowledge – much that we have fostered and increased through ages, identifying with it and dominated by it. It is excruciatingly painful to acknowledge that our wisdom has been folly, our living has been death, and our faith has really been only superstition.
When he becomes troubled, he will be astonished. But when the leap is made, when the truth has been not only seen but assimilated into our consciousness, great wonder will arise within us. Lambdin uses the term “astonished,” but others prefer “marvel,” “amazed,” and “wonder.” It is
said in India that Shiva, the divine yogi, usually sits in profound samadhi in total communion with his Self. But occasionally he emerges from that state and dances in bliss, exclaiming: “O! Who I am! Who I am!”
To enter into hitherto unknown and undreamed-of dimensions of consciousness is a delight and blessedness unthought of by those yet to open those doors of the spirit. Just as the hem of Jesus’ garment flowed healing virtue (Matthew 9:20; 14:36), so even the borders of the inner kingdom flow with a glory impossible to describe-but very easy to experience. I well remember the joyful awe that I lived and breathed daily when, after finding the path of yoga I began moving toward the dawning Light. It was something I could never have imagined possible, something undreamed of by the murky religion in which I had been brought up. At last I had found the real gospel (good news) of “Christ in you the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). Light had come to me from the East, just as it had to Jesus, and earlier to the Essenes through Moses and Aaron.
Yes, if we can hold firm and bravely move on into the new territories opened by the inner sight, we will be astonished from day to day. Expanding awareness terrifies and panics the ego, but it rejoices the spirit. Many turn back to the ego’s realm, but others hasten on into the world of freedom in spirit. Perseverance becomes no longer a trial, but a happy anticipation. “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). However, the order of things is never changed: first comes the troubling and then the wonder. We cannot have the second without the first. And he will rule over the All. Jesus is not speaking to us of some kind of abstract intellectual delight or marvel, but of something eminently practical. “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34). The kingdom of God, the kingdom of heaven, is the limitless expanse of that infinite Consciousness that is God. Those who persevere to the end shall enter into the essential life of God, for “the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even for ever and ever” (Daniel 7:18). “And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him” (Daniel 7:27).
Jesus spoke of this attainment when he told Saint John: “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne” (Revelation 3:21). The identical status which Jesus attained shall be attained by all who seek, find, become troubled, and become astonished. They, too, shall rule over all.
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God…Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:5, 6, 9-11). That this shall be said of each one of us is indicated by the words of Jesus: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do” (John 14:12). The Kingdom shall be our kingdom, the Power shall be our power, and the Glory shall be our glory.
How do Christians try to seek Almighties Kingdom realistically. 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.
Who are Spiritual leaders? The first problem the seeker encounters in spiritual life is lack of spiritual guidance. The second – and usually even worse-problem is when he gets spiritual guidance. This is no joke. If “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31), what is it to fall into the hands of incompetent or dishonest spiritual teachers and “gurus”?
I have to confess that I am continually appalled at the thought of what will happen today to the soul that decides to take up meditation or find a teacher of spiritual life. Like a reverse of the radio ads for Ivory Soap that I heard as a child, the entire situation is “ninety-nine and forty-four one-hundred percent” impure.
In Chinese Buddhism they speak of the unlikelihood of a blind sea turtle surfacing directly beneath a floating log, and that is about how unlikely it is to receive competent spiritual instruction, especially in meditation. Bamboozled by the razza-matazz of the hawkers in the meditation market, people wander for decades in futility and confusion. Few find the way, particularly in the West, not that those who travel East manage much better. I do not even give thought to those who only want to learn intellectual “truth.” Their wandering and hopelessness is guaranteed by their very interest. That is why Sri Krishna tells Arjuna in the Gita (6:44) that a person who simply inquires about yoga goes beyond the scriptures.
And that Blind. “And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? Shall they not both fall into the ditch?” (Luke 6:39). The idea is clear. So also is the statement of Saint Paul that “as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Romans 8:14). And before that Isaiah: “I am the Lord thy God, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go” (Isaiah 48:17). The internal guide – our own spirit in communion with the Supreme Spirit – can and will do the needful. Looking outward for lifetimes we have only become increasingly enmeshed in ignorance. Only when we look within will we find “the way, the truth, and the life.” Remember the dictum of the Upanishadic teacher: “Thou art That” and act accordingly after finding your true “thou” through meditation and spiritual discipline.
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. The poet-saint Mirabai expressed this idea in one of her songs quoted by Yogananda in the seventh chapter of Autobiography of a Yogi:
If by bathing daily God could be realized
Sooner would I be a whale in the deep;
If by eating roots and fruits He could be known
Gladly would I choose the form of a goat;
If the counting of rosaries uncovered Him
I would say my prayers on mammoth beads;
If bowing before stone images unveiled Him
A flinty mountain I would humbly worship;
If by drinking milk the Lord could be imbibed
Many calves and children would know Him. The error of all these views cited by Jesus and Mira is that God is far away-far from us in some inaccessible hidden depths. Such a view suits opportunistic religionists very well, because it necessitates a chain of intermediaries upon whom the aspirant must be forever wholly dependent.
Rather, the kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. The divine kingdom is right at hand, not far away and unreachable or accessible only through terrible struggles. Yet, we do not see the kingdom, much less dwell within it on a conscious level. What must be done to perceive
the kingdom?
When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known. Self-knowledge is essential and imperative. These words of Jesus are a distillation of a part of the Chandogya Upanishad which was surely well-known to him. Though a bit long, I am inserting it here in the excellent version by Swami Prabhavananda in The Upanishads, Breath of the Eternal:
When Svetaketu was twelve years old, his father Uddalaka said to him, “Svetaketu, you must now go to school and study. None of our family, my child, is ignorant of Brahman.”
Thereupon Svetaketu went to a teacher and studied for twelve years. After committing to memory all the Vedas, he returned home full of pride in his learning. His father, noticing the young man’s conceit, said to him: “Svetaketu, have you asked for that knowledge by which we hear the unbearable, by which we perceive the unperceivable, by which we know the unknowable?”
“What is that knowledge, sir?” asked Svetaketu. “My child, as by knowing one lump of clay, all things made of clay are known, the difference being only in name and arising from speech, and the truth being that all are clay; as by knowing a nugget of gold, all things made of gold are known, the difference being only in name and arising from speech, and the truth being that all are gold – exactly so is that knowledge, knowing which we know all.”
“But surely those venerable teachers of mine are ignorant of this knowledge; for if they had possessed it, they would have taught it tome. Do you therefore, sir, give me that knowledge.”
“Be it so,” said Uddalaka, and continued thus:
“In the beginning there was Existence, One only, without a second. Some say that in the beginning there was nonexistence only, and that out of that the universe was born. But how could such a thing be? How could existence be born of non-existence? No, my son, in the beginning there was Existence alone – one only, without a second. He, the One, thought to himself: Let me be many, let me grow forth. Thus out of himself he projected the universe; and having projected out of himself the universe, he entered into every being. All that is has its self in him alone. Of all things he is the subtle essence. He is the truth. He is the Self.
And that, Svetaketu, THAT ART THOU.”
“Please, sir, tell me more about this Self.”
“Be it so, my child:
“As the bees make honey by gathering juices from many flowering plants and trees, and as these juices reduced to one honey do not know from what flowers they severally come, similarly, my son, all creatures, when they are merged in that one Existence.