In the gnostic Gospel of Thomas Jesus said, “I am not your master … He who will drink from my mouth will become like me. I myself shall become he, and the things that are hidden will be revealed to him.” Jesus didn’t set himself apart from his companions and he held nothing back. In The Apocryphon of James, Jesus encouraged his followers to “Become better than I.” and In the Secret Book of James Jesus emphasized that point when he told his followers, “Be eager to be saved without being urged. Rather be fervent on your own and, if possible, outdo even me.” In a gnostic text called Pseudo-Cyprian, Jesus said, “Thus you see me in yourselves, as one of you sees yourself in water or in a mirror.” Jesus had awakened to his true identity and he wanted all his followers to recognize that this goal was also well within their reach.
There are several gnostic writings attributed to Thomas because the name meant ‘twin.’ Although some scholars believe this meant Jesus had a literal twin brother, most recognize that the name was used to symbolize the fact that we could all attain Jesus’ understanding, thus becoming his ‘spiritual twin.’ In the Gospel of Thomas Jesus said:
“. . .while you are still in the world, listen to me and I shall reveal to you what you have thought about in your heart. Since it is said that you are my twin and true friend, examine yourself and understand who you are, how you exist, and how you will come to be. Since you are to be called my brother, it is not fitting for you to be ignorant of yourself.”
The spiritual ‘twinship’ that Jesus was referring to went far past a state of spiritual understanding. Jesus’ awareness included the fact that we are all of Divine origin. He understood that this world is an illusion, an experiment in separation and specialness, but our true identity lies within Divine Oneness. His message was directed not at improving this illusory world, but in waking up to Reality. Of course this was shocking information for his contemporaries who were focused on finding a godlike warrior king that would save them from their oppressors. Since they wanted to improve life in this world, they were not interested in the message of an enlightened human who was encouraging them to put their spiritual interests first. As a result, his message was rearranged, altered and misinterpreted to fit the desired outcome, and the vast majority of Christians still wait for the warrior king who never was and never will be.
Why are we afraid to follow Jesus’ advice and accept his challenge to “outdo even me?” The reasons are many, but in the end they all boil down to fear. We turn masters into Gods so we can convince ourselves we’re unworthy of becoming their ‘spiritual twin’ (or arrogant to think we even can). But there is another deeper fear behind this deception. To reach mastery (which is really only mastery over ourselves, not others) we must look within ourselves. And there is nothing that’s more frightening to the little deluded self that keeps us locked in illusion than looking within.
In The Dialogue of the Savior Jesus’ disciples asked him to reveal the source of his teaching. Knowing he differed from his disciples only in their level of understanding he answered, “Light the lamp within you … Knock on yourself as upon a door and walk upon yourself as on a straight road.” When we do, we will understand and live Jesus’ words in the Gospel of Thomas, “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 all things.”
The choice is ours. We can be followers and gain some erroneous second-hand information. Or, we can go where most fear to tread, look inside, take responsibility and experience the Divine for ourselves. Yes, we might be troubled by what we see momentarily, but that will quickly change to astonishment, and we will, like Jesus, “conquer the world.” (John 16:33)