If we were to pinpoint one quote which has influenced our thinking more than any other, it would probably be the following words, attributed to Jesus, from The Gospel of the Holy Twelve.*
The One Truth has many sides,
and one sees one side only,
another see another,
and some see more than others,
according as it is given to them,
Behold this crystal:
how the one light its manifest in twelve faces,
yes , four times twelve,
and each face reflects one ray of light,
and one regards one face, and another another,
but it is the one crystal, and the one light that shines in all.
Truth is such an interesting thing to ponder on, don’t you think? Some people believe their own ideas are true to the exclusion of all others. In reaction to this, there are other people who say that truth doesn’t exist at all, except for each of us, individually. But these lines from The Gospel of the Holy Twelve bring together both sides of the argument in a very beautiful way: Truth is One, but many-faceted, and as human beings we can think ourselves lucky if we are able to encompass just one or two of those facets at any one time. So how liberating it is to be able to remember, when we are drawn into conflict with our friends, that our differeing ideas are simply varying reflections of the one Light that shines in the centre, and , if we keep an open mind and are patient with each other we will eventually see our individual reflections of the one Light that shines in the centre, and if we keep an open mind and are patient with each other, we will eventually see our individual reflections coalescing into one, radiant crystal.
The clamour of differing ideas regarding truth is nowhere more apparent than in the controversy surrounding Jesus himself. Did he exist or are the stories about him simply pagan myths, carried forward into the modern world? Was he the Son of God, a highly evolved human being, or merely a terrorist? Did he really die on the cross? Could he have been married? Did he have children? Of all the teachings attributed to him, which ones are really his? If we believe we are communicating with him now in our prayers or meditations, who or what are we really communicating with? The Son of God, a friend, an ascended master, a highly developed thought-form, or even our own higher self? Or is Jesus simply to be rejected altogether, as the outdated God of an outdated religion which, through centuries of religious persecution and bigotry, has been responsible for more death, pain and destruction than any other institution on Earth? Is there a ‘baby’ in all this, or is the whole thing just ‘bathwater’ that we can safely let down the plughole? Well, if you’ve understood Timothy Freke and Peter Sandy’s message in The Laughing Jesus you’ll realise that, while we may have all kinds of beliefs about these things, knowing is another issue altogether!
Despite finding it hard to swallow most conventional Church teachings, Geoff and I have always believed that there is a ‘baby’ in all this, and that’s why, since childhood, we’ve watched with great interest the unfolding of the Jesus controversy, in the light of new information from the Dead Sea Scrolls, Nag Hammadi Gospels and other hugely exciting modern archaeological discoveries. And, with the understanding of Truth given to us by The Gospel of the Holy Twelve, we’ve been content to observe all the opposing and conflicting ideas, not especially espousing one or the other, just watching patiently as those that stand the test of time reveal more facets of the crystal, and gradually transform our collective understanding into one that admits more Light.
That’s why, whatever your beliefs, we hope you will enjoy reading the brief taster of Gnostic philosophy in this month’s message, from Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy. As they write, in The Laughing Jesus, Gnostic philosophy – leading to direct experience of the divine – was at the heart of early Christian teachings and is a ‘baby’ that, whatever else, we really should not throw out with the ‘bathwater’. Then there is James Twyman’s book, The Art of Spiritual Peacemaking which tells how, on a visit to Israel, he experienced a presence which he felt was Jesus. You’ll also find in Michael Baigents’ book, The Jesus Papers, in which Baigent describes how he actually saw a letter which he believes may have been written by Jesus himself.
With much love from Ann, Geoff and all of us at Cygnus
*p.s. You can read The Gospel of the Holy Twelve and many other interesting documents online at www.thenazareneway.com