The THOMAS Web-Zine
September 2007 Issue 8

Passers-by

In the last Web-Zine (July 2007, Issue7) the first part of Logion 42 -"becoming ourselves"- was explored, now it's time to consider the second part of this most powerful saying in 'Thomas':

Become yourselves, while passing away

From the Coptic original of just three words, literally translated as 'Become yourselves, passing by', other translations attempt to overcome the enigmatic nature of these few words with additions and subtractions:

  • Become your Real Self, as ahamkara passes away
  • Be passers-by
  • Become passersby

These different translations have significant meanings.

Become your Real Self, as ahamkara passes away

Passing away is about overcoming the dominance of our ahamkara. Many get confused about this concept, thinking it means 'killing' our ego-fuelled feelings, thoughts, and behaviours. When we focus on such feelings or thoughts then we actually increase their power. There is nothing that our ahamkara loves more than undivided attention.

. and abominated is the man whom the lion will eat,
and the lion will become man [#7 4-5]

The 'lion' will raise its head from time to time so our approach must be to simply give it recognition and acknowledgment: "hello there lion, I see what you're trying to do/make me feel, but I'm not going to do it/feel it - so goodbye!" Or in a more well-known modern catchphrase, "I'm not bothered!"

Now, these feelings, thoughts, or behaviours may be perfectly acceptable, but we need to be clear on their source. When we discern that the source of these feelings or thoughts is our ahamkara, then we start to overcome its dominance.

Be passers-by / Become passersby

Why does Jesus say "be passers-by" when he never was a passer-by? He was always moving from place to place to spread his message and in response to pleas for help. The story of the good Samaritan illustrates His message on meeting perceived needs in the here-and-now; a message that dominates thinking in many traditional Churches.

It's a paradox! one that is reflected in all religions as "nothing matters, everything matters".

Jesus proclaims "nothing matters" in many logia:

Have no care . for what you will put on [#36]
He who has found the world; has found a corpse[#56]
There was a rich man who had much wealth . and during the night he died [#63]
. See, your kings and your nobles; they are clothed in soft garments, and they will not be able to Know the Truth [#78]
He who has found the world and become rich, let him deny the world! [#110]

This advice is to become detached from the worlds of objects; this secular world where busy-ness and possessions are 'prizes' to display to others.

But for our Real Self-our inner world of the spirit-"everything matters". Our sensitized Self views the outer world through our new eyes and we are moved to respond, often in unexpected ways. Tasks rise and fall under this new sensitivity, this new discrimination, and we can respond with confidence in our leadings.

Perhaps we are following in Jesus' footsteps-we are passers-by in the true sense of the phrase.