The Gospel of Thomas: A Guidebook for Spiritual Practice

The Gospel of Thomas: A Guidebook for Spiritual Practice

By Ron Miller
Woodstock, VT: Skylight Paths Publishing, 2004, 130 pages.

Those in search of the historical side of Jesus have come to see him in many different ways. Indeed, President George W. Bush is not the only person to consider Jesus Christ a philosopher. Some seekers compare Jesus to the Cynics, contemporaries of Socrates and Plato, who also lived simple lives and used wise sayings and questions to challenge their listeners to look at things more deeply.

The Gospel of Thomas is one of thirteen books discovered in northern Egypt in 1945 that make up the Nag Hammadi Gnostic Library. Followers of these texts were called Gnostics-from the Check gnosis for "knowledge"- by their critics because they claimed to have a higher knowledge than other philosophical schools or religious groups.

The Gospe1 of Thomas: Guidebook for Spiritual Practice, and the statements attributed to Jesus, resonate with the growing number of people who are exploring the difference between their strict religious programming as youngsters and their personal spiritual experiences as adults.

For Ron Miller, the Gospel of Thomas is a powerful book "that could actually change our way of thinking." His goal of the translation of these sayings put into daily practice is "to become Jesus' twin ... by manifesting in our lives the same Christ consciousness revealed in the person we know as Jesus of Nazareth." This path to open to everyone and does not lead not to membership in any group, but to the kingdom that is within and without.

These 114 gnomic statements beg for patient, reflective tending in order to bear their nourishing fruit. Consider saying 5, Jesus said, "Know what is in front of your face, what is hidden from you will be disclosed to you. For there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed." Perhaps Jesus is challenging us to recognize that the entire spiritual realm is hidden in the physical realm in front of us, waiting to be revealed when we are ready to receive its revelation. Furthermore, even our most concealed thoughts and beliefs will manifest in some form in our daily lives.

Or saying 105, "Whoever knows the Father and the Mother will be called the child of a whore," Like a Zen slap, this saying startles us in order to take us closer to the truth hidden at the heart of the Gospel of Thomas. The first step is to realize that, like Jesus, our twin, we are not an offspring of our human parents. These sayings help us know our true identity, while meditation enables us to become who we truly are.

Miller gathers the sayings topically and thematically into chapters and connects them with sinews of pleasing narrative. The teachings and techniques of several traditions are included in his suggestions for meditation. He ends each chapter with a short list of questions to encourage reflection and facilitate insight into our personal life. The Gospel of Thomas: Guidebook for Spiritual Practice is a helpful source to begin meditation on the Gospel of Thomas.


September/October 2005