Was Jesus talking about artistic angst in the Gospel of Thomas saying #70? (Article 2 of 2)

Continuing from last week, we are exploring an often misquoted saying from the Gospel of Thomas, which erroneously is quoted like this:

“If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you.
If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.”  (emphasis mine)

In the last article, we considered what the first part of the official translations mean, as a writer, artist or healer, and came up with three intentions for Awakening.

Now let’s look at the second part of the quote.

Part 2: The Thing about the Thing that Kills You

Consider the same five official translations for the second half of the quote (emphases mine):

Thomas O. Lambdin:
(70) “…That which you do not have within you will kill you if you do not have it within you.”

Stephen Patterson and Marvin Meyer:
70. “…If you do not have that within you, what you do not have within you [will] kill you.”

Stephen J. Patterson and James M. Robinson:
(70) …(2) “If you do not have it within you, (then) that which you do not have within you [will] kill you.”

Pico Iyer:
70.) …What you do not have within will kill you.

Coptic Ecumenical Project:
70. …If you do not have that within yourselves, this which you do not have within you will kill you.

In this part, the misquote almost restates the official translations of the first part: suppressing your gifts will kill you.

But in the official translations, it doesn’t seem to matter what you do any more. This part says you either have it, or you don’t. And not having it will somehow end your existence. Not having… something… has dire consequences.

What does this mean?

Know Your Gift, Divine Purpose, or Calling

One of the things I love about spiritual teachings and truths is that they can be interpreted in many ways or on many levels, and, if the teaching is deep enough, each of these interpretation provides valid insights. There is no “wrong” interpretation. (Just don’t mangle the teaching to say something else, lol.) So if you have other interpretations, please comment them below.

One way we could understand the correct second half of the phrase is like this: if you are pretending to be something other than what you are (that is, if you do not have within you what you are putting on the outside of you), it will kill you.

Well, ain’t that the truth. We have probably all done that at some point in our lives, moreso in our youth. Note to self: be genuine. Or, as I tell the kids, truth gets you much farther in life than lies.

What else does this teaching mean? To me, it’s all about seeing your own divinity, your own divine creative gifts, your own natural Inner Healer.

I bet you can think of a few incredibly gifted people who cannot see their own gifts. They don’t seem to appreciate how deep their abilities go or how much the rest of us, not having these gifts, treasure their abilities and their help. What I have observed in my clients over the years is that when you are truly living your gifts, it’s easy and fun. Effortless and enjoyable. The divine gift you bring to the world is so easy for you, in fact, that it can be hard to appreciate… or even notice at first.

Now let me ask you this: if a tree falls in the forest and there is no one to notice it, has it really fallen?

That is, if you have a divine gift inside you but you never see it, is it still there? Isn’t your gift, in a sense, absent from your being? If you do not look, do you really “have” it?

This teaching says to me that if you do not know what you have within you, for example if you do not explore your inner divinity, life purpose, calling, or Inner Healer, that omission will kill you. (You can interpret “kill” any way you like, from make you miserable to end your life.) If you never find out who you are, whether you get up the guts to express it or not, it you will simply cease to be.

Cease to be you.

This, in turn, reminds me of some of the oldest spiritual advice in the world, inscribed in the temple at Delphi: Know Thyself.

Know Thyself

When we get sucked into our angst, drama, and depression as writers, creatives, healers, and intuitives, we get pulled away from seeing that which we have within. We get sucked into a downward spiral of ego and insufficiency and crushed intentions. That is not the road to happiness, a meaningful life, and the joy of helping others.

Happiness comes from exploring, awakening, and expressing what you already have within. We know from the first half of the teaching that, whatever it looks like, what you are inside is GOOOOOOD. Take your time. Enjoy the chase. Enjoy the expression of your true self.

In a sense, fully investigated, this teaching of Jesus turned out to be even better advice for artists, writers and healers than I assumed.

What do YOU have within?

© 2013 Daria Boissonnas