Welcome to the website of

Bruce Fraser MacDonald, PhD

A Message of Hope for Troubled Times

Email: TheThomasBook@gmail.com

 

SAMPLE CHAPTERS FROM 
THE THOMAS BOOK

 

 

 

SAMPLE CHAPTERS FROM 
THE THOMAS BOOK

Samples taken from all chapters of Parts One and Two

Part One:The Quest
          Sample text & comments

[My comments are in bold italics after each quotation from The Thomas Book.]

Selection from Chapter One: 
Near Death and the Lost Gospel

     When I came back from the dead in the summer of 1966, I knew there was something terribly wrong with the Gospel stories in the Bible. I didn’t know what the problem was, but I knew with­out a doubt that something had been badly distorted in the retell­ing of the events of Jesus’ life and death. I also knew that part of the reason I came back to life was to solve this mystery.

            But it wasn’t just the Gospels. My experience of death propelled me on a spiritual quest to understand in greater depth the life to which I had returned. If I could die and return to life, the world was much larger than I had ever imagined. There was a vast spiri­tual potential I wanted to explore.

            In death I had entered the sacred mystery central to all human spiritual quests. The mystery is that death is not death — it is merely a shift of consciousness, like birth. In birth we make a body for ourselves; we continue making the body from day to day during our life; and then in death we leave it behind to continue our life in a different state of awareness.
Jesus is central to this story. It is, after all, a Gospel in the tradi­tion of the four canonical Gospels in the Bible. His experience and teaching about death and resurrection came sharply into focus for me when I realized that I had also died and risen, fulfilling his words that “Unless a seed fall into the earth and die, it will not attain eternal life.”

            In death I had planted the seed. The rest of my life involved tending, pruning and watering the young plant until it grew strong. This book about my “Jesus quest” is part of the harvest from that seed planted in a Near Death Experience (NDE) in 1966. Later I refer to this as a “Death Experience,” because I believe I actually went through the whole process of dying before coming back to life. I was, therefore, not merely “near” death.

            [So starts the first chapter:  and from here I describe in detail the Near Death Experience which changed everything and which led to the writing of this book.  As far as I can tell, this is one of the most complete accounts in the NDE research literature of what it is actually like to die.  Not only did I die:  I also had to re-activate the “dead” body to which I returned after talking with Jesus, Elijah and Moses in the “time landscape” between life and the world of Spirit.

            The rest of this chapter is an account of the quest which resulted in The Thomas Book and on many discoveries about the nature of spiritual consciousness and its potential.  I discovered how dramatically reincarnation can affect our present life.  As I meditated regularly in the early 1980’s, I began to see the life of the first century through the eyes of Judas Thomas, one of Jesus’ disciples. I also began to hear the “Still, Small Voice” speak in my inner ear.  The combination of hearing Jesus speak his teachings and my ability to see life through the eyes of Thomas, resulted in a Gospel which many people have found has a profound effect on them. It is the closest you can get to actually going back in time, except in this case my mind was able to bridge the centuries and portray events and words from what appears to be the “past” but which exists in the ever present “now” of spiritual consciousness.  It seems that the Near Death Experience opened my awareness into spiritual realms in 1966 and meditation was able to keep it open so that I could write this Gospel.  I have been able to keep the doors open since and regularly communicate with Jesus and with Thomas.  In fact, Thomas – and then some other people from the past -- came very actively into my life in 2007, as I record in the next chapter.]

Selection from Chapter Two:  
Identity Mystery

     I had thought that what is now Chapter One would have been the “Introduction” toThe Thomas Book and that it would have stopped right here. However, a whole string of mysterious things began to happen in early 2007. I realized these things had to form part of the book, even though the most important part had been written more than twenty years earlier.

            The events of 2007 opened a great many rifts in the fabric of time, so that Thomas again became a tremendously important part of my life. This was not just channeling. I was going through the process by which I discovered who I was in the past and who I am in the present. It was a painful process, because the pain of Thom­as’s life came directly into my own. No longer were there two thou­sand years separating us: we had become one. I include dates in some of what follows so you can see how things progressed in our time. After my long years of preparation, things suddenly speeded up.

 

            [Healing the brain after encephalitis in 1991 put me in contact not just with Judas Thomas, but with many other past lives, their trauma and potential. I began to integrate those lives into this life so that I became not just the Bruce who came into this life in 1944:  I became the sum-total of all the lives I had experienced. 

            I was also introduced to past-life researchers, Walter Semkiw, MD, author ofReturn of the Revolutionaries (Hampton Roads) and Kevin Ryerson, spiritual guide to Shirley MacLaine.  Kevin channels a spiritual guide named Ahtun Re who gives very accurate past-life and other information.   For some reason the information which came through them was in code form, telling me that I was “the scribe who wrote downThe Gospel of Thomas” in the Nag Hammadi Library.  I soon found out why things had to be in code.

            In this chapter I follow through the intricate web of information, deceit, clues and early Christian documents which finally led me to the conclusion that I was myself the reincarnation of Didymos Judas Thomas, known in the early church as the twin brother of Jesus.  I also explore the way this brother’s identity was hidden in the New Testament and I present some intriguing information about the early life of both Judas Thomas and Jesus.  They were not the product of a “virgin” birth, but they were the product of a very special birth which brings major teachers into the human realm.]

Selection from Chapter Three:  
Drawing on Spiritual Sources

            Yeshua came to teach the message of the all-inclusive Love of God and, after the resurrection, serve as a helper to those who fol­lowed him and sought his help. Judas Thomas, on the other hand, came to start a whole series of lives in which he could learn at first hand the deep experience of pain in the world, the anger, hatred, fear and other negative emotions which keep people from seeking and asserting their divine nature.

            Over the centuries, many attempts have been made to lead peo­ple out of the trap of the world of negative beliefs and actions. I had met Yeshua, Elijah and Moses during the NDE in 1966 for an important reason — because they put me in touch with a project which had been going on for many centuries.

            Moses had wanted to teach the people to talk to God as he had — “as a man talks to his friend” — but they were afraid and wanted to keep God at a distance, so he gave them a law to live by instead. Elijah had started the “schools of the prophets,” in which he taught those who wanted to find God, how to be in touch with the inner, “still small voice” of God. Yeshua came to teach the same thing: how to speak to God as one would to one’s loving father, Abba — with a prayer beginning “Our Father who art in heaven” and a daily “Prayer of Silence” which would gradually break the bondage of the negative aspects of the world and bring them into union with God.

            None of these worked completely, although they have made a difference to those who could find inner peace using their meth­ods. But most people still continued on their destructive way, even perverting the messages these prophets had brought, teaching cru­elty and violence instead of love and forgiveness.

            The mission of the soul, which Judas Thomas and I share, was to find why people keep returning to violence and pain even though many prophets have brought messages of God’s love. By entering in a profound and sustained way into the pain and darkness of life, it was hoped that, through the lives we lived, we could learn of the condition of humanity and then teach people how to move beyond its self-imposed limits.

            The lives of Judas Thomas extended to my life, which I under­stand is the last in a series. In my life the aim has been to write a new Gospel and books on a new kind of meditation which will help people take the next step in their spiritual evolution — before it is too late and we destroy the earth itself as a place where we can incarnate. I have built on the insights of many traditions, but have introduced new elements as well. The Gospel presents a new “mythic” story, a new pattern of meaning, designed to correct some of the errors in the other Gospels.

          [In this chapter I present information from a number of spiritual and documentary sources concerning the whole drama of the birth and life of Judas Thomas and Jesus. I examine the sudden changes which took place in me starting in 2007 and explore the stories of the Virgin Birth, the life of Joseph and Mary, the role and nature of reincarnation in our lives, and the events surrounding the death and resurrection of Jesus.]

Selection from Chapter Four:  
Reclaiming a Name

     This is the saddest part of the book.  It has to do with something which bothered Judas Thomas all his life — his name — or lack of name. This chapter also gives a sense of how conscious­ness can bridge the centuries and how information from Spirit can even be used to solve a case of suspected reincarnation identity theft, fraud and plagiarism.

            Imagine returning home from another life to find someone has stolen your name and has moved into your house. All the neigh­bors think the impostor is you. When you claim that you are you, they all say you are lying. Those who think you have evidence to prove the impostor is perpetrating a fraud try to prevent you from speaking the truth. They put blocks in your way and forbid you to use any of their words which might have inadvertently revealed the truth of the matter. They have become friends with the impostor and don’t want you back because you have become an embarrassment. They want you just to go away and forget about trying to get your identity back. You discover, to your dismay, that you have been the victim of reincarnation identity theft.

            It seems almost impossible to prove your case. It is hard enough to reclaim your identity if it is stolen in this life. How can you, after two thousand years, get together enough evidence to persuade oth­ers that the impostor is not who he claims to be? And worse, you have returned after many centuries, ready to publish the fruits of your labor, but almost no publisher will touch your story because the person who stole your name is Gary Renard, the self professed “Bad Boy” of spirituality, who has developed a large following around the world through his lectures and books.

 

            [This chapter recounts the struggle I had in trying to re-establish the name of Judas Thomas because Renard had committed reincarnation identity theft.  We now know, from the article elsewhere on this website, about how he plagiarized his “Pursah’s Gospel of Thomas” from two modern translators and that he has been committing fraud for many years.  His claims to be a reincarnation of both Thomas and Didymos Judas Thomas (two different disciples at the same time), demonstrate that he really does not know what he talking about and that Arten and Pursah are really just figments of his imagination, not Ascended Masters.  However, when I wrote this chapter I was still in the process of trying to find a publisher – and no one wanted to touch my book because of the claims made by Renard.  Even though we now know that Renard has not been telling the truth to his many followers, it is still worth quoting some of the argument in this chapter, if only briefly:]

            Gary begins to get into trouble because he goes farther than Ahtun Re’s reading would justify. Not only does Gary accept Ahtun Re’s assertion that he is St. Thomas, he also claims, in addition, that he is a reincarnation of Didymos Judas Thomas, Doubting Thomas and the author of The Gospel of Thomas inThe Nag Ham­madi Library.

            We don’t need a quote from Ahtun Re to tell us there is a prob­lem here. In our detailed examination of early Christian documents in Chapters Two and Three, we discovered that St. Thomas and Didymos Judas Thomas were two completely different people. Gary cannot possibly be both, as he claims. And we discovered that St. Thomas did not write The Gospel of Thomas, even though it would seem natural to make that assumption. If Gary was St. Thomas in a past life, as Ahtun Re says, then Gary could not have been the writer of the Gospel, as he claims, and he could not have been “Doubting Thomas” either. These are only the first of a num­ber of problems which arise from Gary’s ignorance about the fol­lowers of Jesus. It is this ignorance which makes it obvious that Pursah and Arten are fabrications, not real “Ascended Masters.”

            [However, Renard is not the only problem, as far as my Inner Guides point out.  A Course in Miracles is not Jesus speaking.  My Guides assert that ACIM was channeled by Simon Magus, a first century magician and teacher.  My Guides are very concerned about the effect of ACIM on the relationship between people, so they have written quite a bit about the philosophy underlying ACIM. I quote a long passage from The Thomas Book about this:]

            Members of the Course in Miracles community “think differ­ently,” and are actually quite open in claiming that they use a dif­ferent logic than the rest of the world, as I will summarize briefly in what follows here.

            The starting point of the philosophy behind A Course in Miracles is the assertion that the world as we know it is not real and theusual logic which we use is one of the sources of our suffering.

            The only reality is the Divine Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Humanity, collectively, is the “Son of God.” The world is an illusion, like a movie which the Son of God (humanity) has pro­jected out of ignorance. It may appear that the Son of God (human­ity) suffers in this self-created world, but suffering, and our whole physical existence, is really only a dream.

            The way out of the dream is forgiveness. Once we are able to forgive others and the world, to “overlook,” or forgive, the error which brought the world into being, and continues to maintain the illusion, we will literally no longer see the world and its suffering. The title of Gary’s first book, The Disappearance of the Universe, reflects these beliefs: once we “forgive” the universe, it will disappear.

            One of the weaknesses of the philosophy is that it is not made clear what “forgiveness” or “overlooking” are. Much of the differ­ence of opinion (and outright animosity) within the Community, revolves around these terms. It is not clear either how “forgiveness,” whatever that is, can cause the world to disappear.

            In the Course view, Jesus did not suffer, because he knew the truth that there is no suffering and consequently did not manifest it for himself. We only manifest suffering when we “make it real” for ourselves by doing something like get angry or sad or frustrated or jealous. If we can “forgive” every event, we can make it not real. Gary apparently says in his lectures that Jesus never got angry because anger would only make the reason for the anger, which is illusory, into something real.

            When we think Jesus suffered (as in the “Passion of Christ” movie), the Course says that what we are really doing is projecting our own fears of suffering onto Jesus. We do this also every time we think there is error in anyone else — the error is actually in us and we project it into the illusion which seems to be around us, by the mere fact of recognizing that it is there. If we choose not to recog­nize the error, to “choose a better way,” then the error is supposed to disappear.

            Jesus’ ability to “overlook” or “forgive” all error leads, in this view, to the possibility of the disappearance of the universe — and hence the end of our suffering. When enough people can overlook error, can stop projecting error into the illusion, then the Course claims the universe will cease to exist.

            It is not clear why the universe still exists, since Jesus is supposed to have been perfect and is supposed to have given the complete forgiveness of God to the universe. One would think that the uni­verse would already have disappeared if the philosophy is at all correct.

            Although the Course does not go this far, Gary (or his Ascended Masters) even says that God cannot be aware of our suffering and does not care about our suffering, because God cannot know any illusion. God does not know about our pain and so does not make it real. We are thus free to make it unreal by overlooking or forgiv­ing it. God is completely separate from the illusion which we live and cannot help us with our problems. If He did help us, He would be acknowledging that our suffering is real, which is impossible for God to do. In order to help us, God created the Holy Spirit to help us change our way of seeing the world.

It is not clear from Gary’s writing or from the Course how God was aware enough of our suffering (without actually being aware of our suffering — thus making it real) to decide to create the Holy Spirit. It is not clear either how the Holy Spirit can be aware of our suffering without God (who is inseparable from the Holy Spirit) being aware also, but these are some of the contradictions within the system.

            If this seems like circular logic, it is. It is only with a lot of work that people are able to adopt this logic. In fact, there is a Workbook with daily exercises which, when practiced regularly, make it pos­sible for the reader to enter more fully into this circular logic. My conclusion, after trying the exercises, is that it is a form of brain washing where any sense of the reality of the world and our place in it is replaced with the views outlined above. I notice on the inter­net that there are a number of people helping former Course mem­bers overcome the effects of this logic on their lives. They speak of the ideas as a trap, a cult, a distortion which poisons relations with family and friends.

            There is an interesting similarity here with an early Christian sect called the Docetists, from the Greek dokeo, “to seem.” This similarity will be important later in our discussion of reincarnation identity theft. The Docetists also argued that Jesus did not suf­fer — he only “seemed” to suffer, because God cannot suffer. For the Docetists, as for the Course Community, the world and our suffering likewise only seemed to be real.

            Like Gary, the Docetists felt that, as soon as we see the unreality of suffering and the world, and replace it with the realization that the only reality is God, we will be free, because our suffering only exists as long as we believe in the pain. (This also has similarities with Christian Science which is essentially a docetic movement.) The only differences between the Course and the Docetists is that the Docetists felt it was necessary to perceive the world differently and the Course says we must “forgive” the world, “overlook” the error — which may actually be the same thing.

            The effects of this philosophy on human relations are quite strik­ing. The Course teachers often use the metaphor of the theatre. You need to think of yourself as a projector, they say, projecting a movie, which is the world. Since whatever is outside us is illusion which we have projected there, if we see error in someone else (out­side), we are really only confirming that it is in ourselves (the actual source of the projection). When we “forgive” the other person, we are actually forgiving ourselves, from whom the error came in the first place.

            Applying this logic strictly in the case of murder, for instance, if the police accuse someone of being a murderer, which is by defini­tion an illusion, then the police must be the murderers for having seen an error which does not exist. The police, or even the victims of murder, are projecting this image into the world and are thus making it real. Instead of accusing, they should forgive and the murder will cease to exist — if only it were that easy. 
who wants to question the morality of any action and correct it. If Gary’s critics see dishonesty in Gary, the Course view is that they are actually only seeing it in themselves and projecting it onto Gary. Thus, in the view of many members of the Course commu­nity, it is the critics who accuse Gary of fraud, not Gary who is accused of fraud, who are guilty as soon as they have seen the fraud and named it.

            To an outsider, this logic seems hopelessly contradictory and in practice it leads to an inability to deal with conflict within the com­munity, as a number of members have discovered as they try to deal with the problem of Gary and his critics.

            If the fault which we see is in the fault-finder, not in the one who seems to have committed the offense, people will be at pains not to see error in Gary’s writings (or in anything else) for fear they will be convicted of the fault they point out. Instead, they are encouraged to “overlook” and “forgive” the fault, instead of pointing it out and asking for an explanation. Demanding that others be accountable for their actions is seen as “attack” instead of “love.” Thus, although forgiveness is the aim of the community, members are forced to accept anything that anyone else does as valid, for fear of being seen as the perpetrator of any error they point out.

            We can see this played out in Gary’s case. Gary’s critics merely asked for clarification of certain apparent contradictions in his work. In response, Gary wrote a vicious, personal attack against them, without addressing any of the contradictions. After Gary’s reply to his critics, in which he said that he pitied Jon and accused him of “Professional jealousy and mindless attack on a fellow Course teacher,” as well as dishonesty and acting from vested inter­est instead of integrity, Jon withdrew in seeming hurt and bewil­derment and published an “Apology” in which he said that he still did not believe Pursah and Arten were real, but that he acknowl­edged that Gary did. “Let’s sit down in San Francisco and talk about more pleasant things,” Jon Mundy says, and that seemed to be enough. Jon cannot call Gary to account for dishonesty becauseby doing that, Jon is acknowledging that he is the source of conflict, not Gary. Many other members sided with Gary and attacked Jon in language which was so offensive the journal said they could not print it. There was obviously no room to address the whole ques­tion of honesty or truthfulness in this case because the only value held up by the community is a vague “forgiveness.” Strangely, this “forgiveness” did not seem to apply to forgiving Gary’s critics. Members even felt free to use extremely offensive language in con­demning them.

            To an outsider, the whole exchange seems a bit ludicrous. Either Pursah and Arten are real or they are fabrications. It would seem that one should be able to bring up questions about honesty with­out feeling guilty for doing so, but the logic of the community makes this impossible.

            [We now know that Renard’s Gospel was not the real thing. We have rescued the name of Didymos Judas Thomas from identity theft and he can now speak, as he has wanted to for many years.   It is worth quoting the last page of Part One in this context:]

            As far as I am aware, this is the first case in history of provable reincarnation identity theft. Now that it has been cleared up, it will be possible to look beyond Gary’s deceptions and to realize that Didymos Judas Thomas is back as Bruce Fraser MacDonald. What follows here is another Gospel, The Thomas Book, actually written in collaboration between Bruce, Judas Thomas and their beloved brother and teacher, Yeshua.

            The first Gospel of Thomas was written after the death and resur­rection of JudasThomas’ twin brother, Yeshua, who he encountered in spirit as “the living Jesus.” His Gospel survived almost miraculously to be discovered, hidden in a jar, in Nag Hammadi, Egypt in December of 1945, one year after I was born in December of 1944. In December of 1947 I traveled on a ship through the Suez Canal, not far from the site of the find, to land inBombay on my third birthday, December 8, 1947, thus picking up the life of Judas Thomas which had ended in India. Ironically, December 8 is both Immaculate Conception Day and the day for celebrating the enlightenment of Gautama Buddha. I wonder what that says about the present drama. In 1966 I was reunited with my earlier life when I encountered the living Jesus in a Near Death Experience and was subsequently able to write our Gospel by listening to the words of the resurrected Christ and seeing the world of the first century through the eyes of Judas Thomas.

            As the Gospel which follows here opens, Judas Thomas has returned from Greece on his way to India. He had been separated from his twin brother when he was young and had rejected his Jew­ish heritage, seeking meaning among the Egyptians and Greeks. When he encounters Yeshua and his followers on a Judean hillside, Judas Thomas does not at first recognize him. But the words of this strange teacher spark a fire in his heart and he becomes his disciple.

            It is now time to look on the second column to get a sense of what the Gospel itself has to say.

 

Sample Readings from the Gospel Text,
Part Two of The Thomas Book

[The quotes from The Thomas Book are without comment. They speak for themselves.]

 

Selection from Chapter One:  The Life

     The others write as if they do not know him, this man of Nazareth. As we sit down following the evening prayers to record and remember the One who is gone, they remember teachings and sayings and argue over how he said them.

            For them he is outside, like a street they can follow to some­where, so they try to get his words down exactly, the events, the things. But there is no fire in their words.

            And they start their stories with him, with a birth, with genealo­gies, as if that is where it began. I am not learned in the scriptures of my forefathers because I was often a rebel and sought after the wisdom of the Greeks or the secrets of the Egyptians in their tem­ples and libraries.

            So I see him through different eyes, not the eyes seeking the fulfillment of prophecies, but eyes seeking spiritual unfolding, the wisdom which is greater than Greek or Roman, which comes from within.

            It does not start for me, then, with a birth, nor does it end with a death. These things are only incidental to the story.
“Thomas,” they say, “You have always been different from us, doubting where we believe. Why do you persist in your error? Why not join us? Is it too much to believe what we believe?”

            Even Peter, who knew the true account of that death, chided me because, by siding with them, he could lay the whole guilt on me. Judas had already killed himself and Joseph of Arimathea had moved into a far country, so there was only Peter and me, and now there was only me who admitted the secret to himself.

            It would have been so easy to believe in their simple truths, to recall in the peace of an evening, the days of walking as disciples of this Master. But the burden I carried now was heavy, not with guilt, but with the need to find those who would believe.

            That was long ago, in another land, and because their account has been spread wide and accepted by most of the Brethren, mine will not be looked upon with favor. So I live now among a different people, going daily to the place of worship early in the morning to meet with the group who have believed my words. We seek in qui­etness, through the spirit of the Christ, to grow in this life, so that in this and the next we may become the teachers of the Christ, preserving the truth which He has given us.

            When I first met him I was hesitant because I did not look like most of his other followers. I had traveled and had the foreign clothes of one who travels. I did not look like a Jew as he and his other followers did.

            So when he called me by name and asked me to follow him, I drew back.

            “You have been frightened,” he said, “and you feel wounded by life. Follow me, and I will show you the roots of your pain.”

            This is where the story begins — not with a birth, but with that promise — the roots of my pain.

            You see, I had sought. From the Greeks I had hoped to gain a deliverance from the pain of my life. But their abstractions finally mocked me in their pillared courtyards. “Jew,” they would say, “there is too much darkness in your soul. How will you attain to the Good if you dwell on the darkness of the soul?”

            And the ritual of the Egyptians led me only part way out of that pain at the heart. They had power — there is no denying it — and I learned much of life and the powers of life from them. But again that darkness.

            He was patient, you see, as I stood hesitating before him and his followers. Some of them looked like they did not want me anyway, and I could have left easily to go into another country, as I had done often before, running away. But he seemed to know my thoughts, too.

            “When you go from here you will take your pain and darkness of soul with you,” he said again. “I will take you to the heart of this darkness.”

            And welling before my eyes came all the days of search and lone­liness, all the days far from home seeking and seeking. Yet here was a man among the hills of my home who offered some sort of deliv­erance or understanding.

            “What can you give me?” I asked.

            “Nothing,” he replied, “But I can show you what is within you, for that is where the giving comes.”

            “But is not truth in the world and in the hands of God?” I tested.

            “Yes, but the gateway to life is within and your inner eyes will be able to see the truth.”

            “But I have sought among the wise of the world for answers. How can you offer me anything, man of Galilee?”

            “You have gone to the wrong teachers,” he replied patiently, as if he did not care about insults. “Become pupil to yourself and you will have sufficient to provide you for many days.”

            “But it is the wisdom I do not have that I seek. How then can I learn from myself? Must I sit in front of myself and both teach and learn?”

            “You are full of pride,” he said. “You think your darkness is too great to have its own solution within it. You think all the world must try to solve the conflicts of your heart. The world cannot solve even its own problems. How will it solve yours?”

            And after some silence, as he sat and drew in the sand in that way of his, he looked me in the eye: “Learn from yourself, for there is the true wisdom and there you will meet your God face to face. I am the guide who can show you the Way.”

            And then, sitting again in quietness with his followers behind him, he seemed to struggle to see what was within himself, to rec­ognize what was growing there, and with great effort he said, “You will carry the secrets of the Kingdom within you for many life­times. Come, follow me.”

            With that he turned and began to stride down the road with hardly a glance over his shoulder. Soon I was alone again as the trail wound through the hills and only the sound of the wind in the tall grass filled my ears.

            Where would I go now — to Greece, to Egypt again, perhaps to Persia? I had heard that one of the kings of the East had set up monasteries where one could go.

            And then over a rise I saw this Galilean walking again and knew that his words had sparked fire in me such as I had not seen in all my travels, and I ran quickly down the road until I reached his group.

            I fell in walking with the man at the end of our procession. Mat­thew was his name. Some of the others looked suspiciously at me, but Matthew turned and whispered, “You think you look strange in your foreign garb? I was a tax collector. Only the Master accepts me so far, but maybe we can be friends, too.”

            “We can,” I said as we walked under the hot sun with grasshop­pers jumping against our legs.

            Those first few days I seemed to learn little, but a great peace grew steadily over me. It was the prayer he instructed us in which brought this peace. Every morning and evening we sat silently for a time, letting the cares of the world drain from us and being filled in imagination with the light of the Father.

            When we did this meditation on fine mornings, outside, while we faced the rising sun, we began to feel all the light and life of the world rise up within us.

            In the evening, we let the day die within us, that we might not be bound by it, but might be born anew each evening and morning.

            This was the centre of our life, this prayer, this meditation. And I began to see those inner doors open, which I had closed out of fear or hatred. Gradually, as my eyes turned inward, I began to see as I had never seen.

            “You will indeed see and hear and speak things which have been hidden from humanity since the founding of the earth,” he told us one morning as we sat on a grassy slope. “You see with your eyes like all people, but you do not see. What can the eyes show you or the ears tell you? They can tell you of the surfaces of things. But I will lead you into a deeper way. You will see into the things themselves.”

            “And with your hands and eyes you know your body, but I will show you a knowledge of your body and your heart and mind and Spirit. You will see your mind and know your Spirit and under­stand the longings and desires of the heart.”

            “Do you not already feel within you the peace which leads to understanding? You will be able to move in that peace to know the Father as I know the Father.”

            But we were troubled among ourselves because we did not know about this sort of knowledge, and our traditions did not have these practices, except among the prophets of Mount Carmel.

            So Peter asked, “Will you make us all prophets, then, that we may be like Elijah and Isaiah? We are but common folk. How can this be?”

            To which he answered, “You will be prophets and more than prophets. The prophets warned the people of what was and what was to come. But you will be the very Sons of the Living God. The prophets were servants and did not have it within them to take part in the creating. But you will be called Sons because you will create.”

            We could not believe his words and sat for a time plucking grass and staring into the distance.

            Then he continued, “The time has come when the Father desires not servants but sons and daughters. A servant does not know the will of the Master and so can only fulfill his commands and the laws which he has established. But a son knows the will of his father, and the son has an interest in the affairs of the father.”

            “So if I tell you that you are Sons of the Father, do not fear. You are no longer servants of the Law, because you have an interest in the affairs of the Father. You share in the possession of the Kingdom.”

            “But where is this Kingdom?” we asked, because we were wan­derers sitting on a common hillside. Our clothes also showed signs of wear, and people on the roads often mistook us at a distance for a band of thieves.

            “The Door of the Kingdom is within you and the Way of the Kingdom is within you. I lead you in the Way that you may possess what is rightly yours.”

            “Again, do not look at your clothes for a sign of the Kingdom. King Herod died consumed of worms, yet he possessed a whole earthly kingdom. Why then do you seek the signs of such a king­dom in yourselves? Do you also wish to be like Herod?”

            “No. Seek first the Kingdom of God and what you need in this world will be given to you. Look at the flowers of the field. They do not toil or spin, yet even Solomon in all his glory was not dressed like one of these.”

            “As yet you are people of little faith because you would still be servants. When you know in yourselves that you are Sons and Daughters and not servants, you will have the power of the Father within you.”

            “Show us how to have this faith,” James asked.

            “I cannot show you faith,” he replied. “Is it a stone or a stick that I can hold in my hand? Faith will grow within you as you follow my Way. Out of the silence of your prayer will come faith. Out of the peace of your living will come faith.”

            This was indeed something new which I had not seen in any place I had gone to seek. So I asked, “Master, the Greeks teach that in refining the mind and in the mastery of words is to be found wisdom. The Egyptians seek enlightenment in the complex rituals of their temples. And our fellow Jews seek fulfillment in the Laws of God. What then do you preach?”

            Again he pondered for a time, as he often did before replying.

            “Thomas,” he replied at last, “You seek to justify yourself with your knowledge. Yet if you knew the wisdom of every age and every people you would still not be satisfied. And now you seek by asking this question to show your learning and justify yourself.”

            “Your search has been hard and, in your attempt to break your bonds, you have sought farther than any of these followers of mine. Great things can come from you. But I tell you that even a small child can learn to see more of the Kingdom than you have seen for all your searching.”

            “What are words and rituals and Law to theKingdom of God?” he continued after a pause. “These are things for this present age. But through me is conceived a new age which shall grow and ripen through you. When the new age is ripe and ready to be born the birth pangs of the earth will destroy the old and bring forth the new.”

            “Then there will be no need of words or ritual or Law. But now you all come from the world and are servants. You will become Sons so that you may leave behind the Law and the rituals, and you will no longer be ensnared by words.”

            “Thomas, you will see far, but in a world where people do not wish to see, you will have much pain. I proclaim not words, law or rituals but simplicity, the true simplicity of the silence within. Fol­low my Way and it will lead to eternal life.”

 

Selection from Chapter Two:  The Death

We did not want him to die!

            Yet how can I write this part of the story? It is our shame! It is my torment! And who will believe, after all these years?

            But this secret has been locked up in my heart for too long.

Why should he die? We all told him of the danger. And we had seen others die for lesser teachings than his.

            He had been such a comfort to us, leading us to life. Now he seemed bent on death, almost suicide. We begged him often not to go again to Jerusalem because we knew of the anger of the Temple authorities. They wished to kill him as much as we wanted him alive.

            How had he offended them? By telling them of their hypocrisy. “Whited sepulchres,” he called them, and “viper’s brood.” And they proved that way. They would invite him as a guest to their homes, only to find evidence against him.

 

            When he healed on the Sabbath, even in the name of the Father, they said he broke the Law. When he gave the people food for their souls, they said he was in league with the Devil. But when he said he was the Son of God, then in a violent show, they shouted and tore their garments and said he spoke blasphemy.

            “He must die,” they shouted in a frenzy.

            Calmly he spoke to them, “Will it change anything, even if I die? Will you be closer to God or will my words die? Death is noth­ing but a door. When you kill my body, I will yet see you and your sin.”

            “Death, nothing?” they shouted. “The Law says that anyone who blasphemes should be put to death. Yes, we will come close to God by obeying the Law. But you will die in your sin. God Himself will punish you. But we will inflict punishment on punishment before you go.”

 

            We knew this would come. We knew of the hatred in their hearts which blinded them. So we did not want to go to Jerusalem. They had already driven us out with their threats. Now we were in a safe place across the Jordan, where John used to baptize in the river.

            Yeshua’s fame spread throughout the countryside and people came to him from far away. He would teach them, then we, his disciples, would teach them in smaller groups. Many learned of the Master and his message in this way, so that he had many followers.

            But, as with John the Baptist, so with Yeshua: the Temple author­ities also came to listen and condemn. Their followers had begun to come to Yeshua and to forsake the bondage to the Law, so they asked questions to trap him, but his answers only made him more loved and brought scorn on the Pharisees and Sadducees.

            They hated but, there in the wilderness, they did not dare touch him, lest the crowd kill them. So they came and listened and returned in anger toJerusalem.

            This time in the wilderness, across the Jordan, was our most fruitful. Here we saw the one we had followed become great. We were proud to be disciples of such a Master. He was sought by all the world. Even the Romans and Greeks came to hear him and some became his followers.

            One day, escorted by many soldiers, the wife of the Governor, Pilate, came, bringing her child who had been troubled by a spirit that seized him. She sought healing, but when the boy was healed by the Master, she stayed to hear his words as well. Even some of the soldiers believed.

            Ah, what days those were! Even the Romans came to his feet! Could we be blamed for thinking that we were coming into our reward for a few years of sacrifice? We even began to quarrel over who would be greatest in this new kingdom.

            “The one who would be great must be servant of all,” he told us. So we all sought to be servants so that, when he came into his power, he would give us position and wealth.

            He only looked at us and smiled sadly. “You still do not under­stand,” he mused. “How long must I be with you before you will learn? How can I change the current of centuries? It will take many lifetimes to undo the error of ages.”

            But even when he said his Kingdom was not of this world, we could not believe him. We would say, “Look at the people who have followed you. How can you say your kingdom is not of this world?”

            He would reply, “These people follow me into the wilderness, not because they see power and wealth here. Rather, I show them the Kingdom of the heart and they are content.”

            But we wouldn’t believe. Earlier, when we had been empty like these people, we understood, but now our hearts were full and we looked with envy to the kingdoms of this world. How we erred! But we could not see, for our greed and popularity had blinded us.

            “Even you will desert me,” he said one day. But we could not believe him.

            “I will stay with you always,” I said to him. “You have given me life. Do you think I would let you be delivered into death?”

            In great sadness he said, “You do not understand either life or death. But you will learn. You have been chosen to learn what has been hidden from the foundation of the earth. It will be a great burden for you, until you realize it is the greatest blessing.”

            However, we were afraid still, and tried to persuade him to stay away from Jerusalem and certain death.

            “What is that to you?” he replied. “If I choose to lay down my life, what is that to you? And if I lay it down, I can also take it again. You still do not understand life and death, so you are afraid. I tell you, neither life nor death is as you see it with your eyes. This also you will learn.”

            From that time he watched the opportunities to go to Jerusalem, “So that you may learn of life and death and the great love of the Father.”

Selection from Chapter Three:  The Interim

            Within the Fellowship of the Way I was consulted often, since I had been part of the events of the life and death and resurrection of Yeshua. So, although we encouraged all members to take their place, I had a certain prominence and was a spokesman for our group.

            When there was criticism, it was levelled at “Thomas and his followers,” even though we were all the followers of the Christ.

            When persecution came, I was at the centre, although our peace­ful life kept us from the major sufferings. We did not, like the oth­ers, openly provoke the authorities but, in quietness, tried to change the world from within.

            But our teaching and our practices and our peace and freedom from persecution brought greater condemnation from the other congregations that had sprung up. So, finally, they grew to fear me and drove me out because I saw with different eyes than they. Yeshua, the Nazarene, they said, was as they taught. In those early days of our movement, there was much disagreement and much distrust.

            Many things had happened among us which we could not explain. The dead rose; people were healed; we saw visions and heard voices which came from we knew not where. But we were simple people, most of us, and these things which we had not seen even in the Scriptures, shook us deeply. Most of the new followers wanted to see the world the way they had always seen it, except with the shining appeal of religion. But for me, the whole world had changed, and this Man had given me new eyes with which to see.

            When I told all this, and much more, to the other Apostles, they merely said that I was deluded and would lead the people astray. “What you propose is too far beyond how our fathers taught us the world and God is. No! Yeshua is the fulfillment of the Law; he does not come to change our world. God loved the world as it is and came to redeem it.” And so they would go on, speaking words which, finally, came to mean nothing because the world looked different to me.

            They even made up a statement to discredit me, so that no one else would listen to me. “Do not be like Thomas who doubts,” they said, “but believe, even without seeing.” So they bound the new converts to the lies and half-truths which they had salvaged from all those years of teaching which we had from Yeshua.

            “Believe without seeing,” they said. “Don’t look for evidence, but believe our witness. Don’t be like Thomas, the one who doubts.”

            So they silenced me in Judea where, as I stayed longer and tried to speak of the new way of seeing which Christ taught me, they turned more and more against me and the small band of men and women who followed the Way of Seeing. They would not look for the evidence within, but insisted from the first on the authority of the other Apostles.

            Peter, who had seen much of what I had seen, but was not so deeply involved in the darker side of our actions, was the loudest in denouncing me. He it was who carried the story of Christ’s resur­rection and how I refused to believe until I had seen the prints of the nails and the spear. But he knew why I doubted, too!

            He would not tell that part of the story! And later, he seemed to have forgotten that all those things happened. He seemed to recol­lect none of it, as if he had not even had a hand in it.

            So they were again like people without a guide, even after Christ had appeared among us many times. In their councils, they would pray as they had always prayed in the synagogues, piling words on words, and they believed, then, that their words became the words of God. Some could heal, some could speak in tongues, and there was a great pouring out of power. But it looked to me as if they had the Spirit without direction.

            Some expected the end of the world, some the coming of Christ to the world. Some expected the return of Eden while some thought the wicked would be destroyed in flames before their eyes. They sold all their goods and brought the money to the Apostles to dis­tribute, but the food and money attracted large crowds of the poor who wanted bread and not the new Way. After not many months, the Church in Jerusalem was reduced to poverty and famine.

            What had happened to that glorious vision of the Master, I wondered, as we hid in rooms down the stinking, dark streets of Jeru­salem? And even in that darkness, I was an outcaste. “Do not listen to Thomas, the one who doubts,” they said. “Be thankful that we are persecuted for the sake of Christ. Remember His cross, always.”

Selection from Chapter Four:  The Journey

            As I continued my journey, and as I was brought to this place on the seashore among a people who are dark in skin but who have followed the Light within, I continued to learn many things from the Father.

            When I looked around me and saw people who had been searching before I arrived to bring the words of the Christ and the Father, I began to wonder about the nature of what Christ had given me to do.

            The Father said to me one evening in my time of meditation, “You wonder that people other than the Jews have the secrets of the Kingdom as well as you. As you have been instructed before, the secrets of the Kingdom have been given to many people, but to no one in their complete form, so that each, seeking in their own way, may gradually come closer to me, but no one group can say, ‘I have the secret and you are excluded.’ Indeed, any who say that, have already put themselves outside of the Kingdom, because the King­dom comes by Love, and Love is a working together. Love is not exclusively for one group.”

            “In the end of the Age, peoples from all parts of the earth will bring their knowledge together and will find the Inner Way to me by working together. So, read and know what has been given to others, that your knowledge may be complete and you may be able to come to Me, all working together in Love.”

 

            So I continue my work among these people and grow to love them in the years I have been here. I learn their language and teach them and learn also from them. And from day to day I learn more from the Father of the celestial which is at the heart of our lives.

Now there is no fear, even though I am in disfavor with the authorities of the temples here. These people also have priests who seek to enslave, and they resent my coming here to teach a way of freedom and love and mercy. So perhaps I, too, will find an end like many of the followers of the Christ before me.

            But I do not fear now, and I know that in life or death I will not be separated from the Father who is within.

            That is my story of the Christ — not a birth and not a death, but a life which is within us. There is no doctrine and no law, but only the search within and the guidance of the Christ and the Father. What may come at the end of the age I have not been given to know, but it, too, will arise from Love and the fulfilling of the life of Love in the world.