Beryl Pogson on the Gospel of Thomas

[Mrs. Pogson’s quotations are from the Guillaumont, Puech, Quispel et al translation of the Gospel of Thomas.]


On the Year December 1,1959

(2) Jesus said: Let him who seeks, not cease seeking until he finds, and when he finds, he will be troubled, and when he has been troubled, he will marvel and he will reign over the All.

MRS. POGSON: I want to consider the second of these sayings of Jesus from the Gospel of Thomas. It has some interesting connections. It was among the fragments found in 1897 or 1903…. It appears that it is pre-Christian and very old, and can be traced back to the Egyptian
Mysteries, You see what is written? These refer to the five stages of development which can be traced through all the great religions, and we find them not only there but in nature as well. It is marvelous to think that organic life, in which man is placed and which is a background for man, contains these correspondences. These stages which belong to the year and are stages in the progression of the sun through the year are also stages in initiation.

You begin in the winter solstice with the finding, with the birth. The God has to be found also in oneself. Then comes spring, the time for work and the doing of miracles. Then comes ummer, when the sun, when Christ, is at the height of his power. Then comes a curious time, when the sun begins to descend. Then comes the end of the year, when the sun has to depart.

You see, first the new thing has to be found. I think this refers to Christ; the newborn has to be found in oneself. Then he does wonders, and is troubled, and has new experiences. Then he has power.

Then come the last two stages which are the times of death and regeneration. If we follow the course of Hercules, this is the time work has to be done, when you are shocked, when you meet with man; and after that the test of death, when it becomes possible to die.

We think at Christmas about the birth of the New Man. This is in all the great religions. The infant Bacchus came in a basket, floating on the water. There is the story of Moses, and a similar story in other legends. The point is that the child is found, and he has to be found in a container in which the infant can float until it is found. We talk about this in the Work, that there must be a container to protect the child until it is found and received.

Then, after it is found, comes the stage of work when there are shocks. And then the stage when one’s being begins to have some unity and power.

[The following sayings from the Gospel of Thomas were read;]

(3) Jesus said: If those who lead you say to you: “See, the Kingdom is in heaven,” then the birds of the heaven will precede you. If they say to you: “It is in the sea,” then the fish will precede you. But the Kingdom is within you and it is without you. If you will know yourselves, then you will be known and you will know that you are the sons of the Living Father. But if you do not know yourselves, then you are in poverty and you are poverty.

(4) Jesus said: The man old in days will not hesitate to ask a little child of seven days about the place of Life, and he will live. For many who are first shall become last and they shall become a single one.

(5) Jesus said: Know what is in thy sight, and what is Hidden from thee will be revealed to thee. For there is nothing hidden which will not be manifest.

(6) His disciples asked Him, they said to Him: Wouldst thou that we fast, and how should we pray, and should we give alms, and what diet should we observe? Jesus said: Do not lie; and do not do what you hate, for all things are manifest before Heaven. For there is nothing hidden that shall not be revealed and there is nothing covered that shall remain without being uncovered.

MRS. POGSON: This saying about the birds, when it occurred in the earlier fragment, was quite muddled. Now we can understand it. All these sayings are about self-knowledge and about the necessity for knowing yourselves first. Only when we know ourselves will we be
known. What does this mean? Is this what you want? How many of you really want to he known? When we know ourselves, there is something in us that we can be connected with. Then it is possible to know where we belong. The only real poverty is lack of self-knowledge.

X: What do you think is meant by the man old in days asking a little child of seven days about the place of Life?

X: I thought it referred to someone fully developed.

MRS. POGSON: Don’t you think it refers to the Essence in him? To the new birth? The old man is the unregenerate man. We all have this old man in us when we come into the Work. But the old man has no Life in him except by virtue of this child, this Essence, this spark in
him. All real knowledge will come from what is newborn; it is intuitive knowledge. Whoever has this always has a connection. For the child is connected with higher centers. So the old man can ask the child about the place of Life, and he will live.

It is interesting that the Greek word for truth means “not-forgetting.” This child in us can give us real truth, because it remembers.

X: It is interesting that although we have this connection in us, we have to be taught from without.

MRS. POGSON: Yes. First we have to be taught from without because essence has been smothered by life. A system has been specially revised to teach people. But you find in the Work that you gradually begin to remember things and make inner connections. The deepest
parts in us are always connected with this truth. Some mystics, like Jacob Boehme, could be taught from within. Education and the stress of life take us away from what we know. But then you find in the Work that you begin to recognize things; you remember. One of the most important things in the Work is to feed Essence.

X: Do you think that if one goes through a period when Essence is being fed, one has intuitive knowledge, and then when it is not being fed, one loses it?

MRS. POGSON: Yes. The literal mind would say nonsense to the intuitive knowledge. In the sixth saying the disciples ask Christ about fasting and praying and giving alms. But you see, Christ does not answer directly. He says: Do not lie! Dr. Nicoll used to answer formatory questions like this. In esoteric teaching a formatory question is not answered directly.

What is meant by Christ’s answer, Do not lie and do not do what you hate?

X: From a higher level in us we would hate those things in us. But as we are, we can only see what we hate in other people, and we can only try not to do what we hate in other people.

And it means, don’t go against real conscience. But until we are linked with real conscience, it can mean don’t go against the instructions of the Work.

X: If we’ve done something, we can see it and hate it afterwards.

X: I thought of it in connection with what the Work says, that lying kills Essence.

MRS. POGSON: Yes, this is what it means. Lying ie the chief obstacle to seeing oneself. Don’t lie to yourself. Then you come to see yourself. And when you no longer lie to yourself, you won’t lie to others. The instructions are so simple. If we could follow them, everything would be changed. They are school instructions which are only given to disciples. How much of the Work is in them!

Extracted from pages 1-6 of The Work Life by Beryl Pogson, Samuel Weiser 1994