Over the last few years there has been strong moves towards recognition of the individual. In commerce we see the rise of personalization and customization with the chant of “have it as you want it”. Individual rights seem to take precedence over common rights. While our sense of community is lessening, focus on the individual is increasing. It is however an illusion. Most people tend to follow the attitudes, thinking, opinions, and actions of others rather than appear to be ‘different’.
Do you do feel ‘different’? For example, wondering why you ever came to this party, smiling bleakly at some outrageous comment from a companion, or switching off the inane prattle following every so-called news bulletin. If you do, then you may on the road to become a true individual: a Monakhós to whom Jesus speaks directly.
All of Jesus’s teaching in ‘Thomas’ is focussed on the individual: yes, you! He is talking to you and about you. No other. While he may only use the term Monakhós, in the following three logia, the majority of the remaining logia in ‘Thomas’ is about your work to grow spiritually.
In logion 49 Jesus reminds us that when we are a Monakhós then we will return to our true selves as the layers of false personality fall away.
Happy are the ‘loners’ and the chosen
for you shall find the Kingdom.
Because you are from the heart of it
you shall return there again. Logia 49
There are many standing at the door
but the ‘loners’ are they
who shall enter the marriage place Logia 75
But the most telling logion is number 16. In one way it’s the most shocking.
We are brought up to perceive Jesus as the Prince of Peace yet find in this logion that he brings fire, sword, and strife! Not very peaceful. We know however, that Jesus is really teaching us about our inner world, the world of spirit. This ‘war’ is about the forces battling out for supremacy in our internal world. We need to overcome these divisions within ourselves—our ‘demons’—to become a Monakhós.
Perhaps men think
that I have come to cast peace upon the world,
and they do not realize
that I come to cast divisions upon the earth,
fire, sword, strife.
For there will be five in a home,
three will be against two,
and two against three,
the father against the son,
and the son against the father,
and they shall stand boldly, being ‘loners’ Logia 16
Jesus of course speaks from his own experiences. He lived in a Roman world of devil-worship where Caesar was god. This view had hold throughout the empire and to come against it led to harsh persecution as Jesus and later Christians found to their cost. Jesus faced his own inner demons who “promised him the kingdoms of the earth”. He struggled for a long time (40 days & 40 nights) to overcome them and in doing so Jesus lived by his own beliefs, his own rules, in his own power. It is these that he shared with others; some listened and acted upon his guidance, others ignored him. Jesus manage to transform the commonly-held beliefs of the day into something other; for example the Roman Empire became the Kingdom of God that was not of this world and he replaced Roman-devil worship with the religion of Love.
But he never was rid of danger from his demons. Every night he withdrew from his companions to ‘pray’, to remind himself of his true nature, to reconnect with his divine centre, to become grounded. When we become a Monakhós, then we too have a rock on which to remain grounded, a mindset that is our own, and a power to be ourselves and no other.
This then is a true individual: a Monakhós.