A lion eaten by a man is blessed
as it changes to human form,
but a human devoured
by a lion is cursed
as lion becomes human.
Translation: Lynn Bauman in The Gospel of Thomas:
Wisdom of the Twin
The First Response:
Have you eaten rage in that cold
for a little warmth between your ribs
and found instead
how it binds
wrinkles the skin between your eyes,
lifts your shoulders to your ears?
And woe if you try to speak out of stomach full like that.
It is not enough to swallow the fury;
we must invite it to the table within
sit it down,
tip our head and listen
so it may settle into our bones--
a more civilized beast
holding up the mirror to our own face.
Journey through Logos:
We are creatures of many faces, some of them convenient masks, others instinctual reactions to our environment. We have good control over some of these “selves”, others, not so much. The movement toward relationship requires coming to our inner table with consciousness, and “dining” with the shadowy, violent, unloved parts of ourselves. The transformation that Yeshua has named as eating is quite profound—a deep integration of those parts of ourselves that, while perhaps part of our natural ecology, can also cause harm if left un-examined. The search must take us into these corners and dark places if we are to be whole—and it is only in a state of wholeness that we can meet and fully interact with all the other pieces of this magnificent creation.
The human who is consumed by these shadow aspects of themselves will not be able to meet the world in wholeness. Even if “the lion” is kept carefully hidden, its effects will accumulate in bodily tension, in cynicism, in impatience. Our psychologists have told us for years that repression will out in the end. Again, what Yeshua is doing is something much more radical than turning away from parts of us we don’t wish to own—he’s calling us to “eat” just like at the communion table, to experience an intimately transformative event that will allow us to enter more fully into community and relationship with the others beyond our thin skin.
Hokmah’s Symphonic Note:
In this historic lecture, notice how Vivekananda, who gave the West its first broad-ranging taste of Vedantic philosophy, recognizes both unity and multiplicity, form and formlessness. He points out clearly that the lion and human can, in fact, inform each other because they are not different at their cores. He, too, like Yeshua, is focused primarily on how we might best enter into an understanding of our inter-relationship with others by “evolving” at the level of our soul. Both comprehend the need for not just discernment, but also the elusive and binding singular principle of love:
“The evolution of nature is the modification of the soul. The soul in essence is the same in all forms of being. Its’ expression is modified by the body. This unity of soul, this common substance of humanity, is the basis of ethics and morality. In this sense all are one, and to hurt one's brother is to hurt one's Self. Love is simply an expression of this infinite unity. Upon what dualistic system can you explain love?”
March 8, 1900
Oakland, CA Lecture
Next time you find yourself “being eaten by the lion” of your shadow self—feeling anger, jealousy, rage, entitlement and the like—watch carefully how the emotion or action rose. What triggered the response? Can you remember the feeling-mind before the response? Sit with these shadows face to face in your imagination, and as you breathe in, let them fill you. As you breathe out, welcome them in with patience and kindness. How does this change the texture of the states? Notice this is not repression or turning away, but embracing in love and compassion our wild and seemingly unpredictable selves.
To search, all the pieces of ourselves must come to the Holy Communion table within.
You can find Kim's entire commentary on the Gospel of Thomas in Kindle, paperback and audio formats by clicking on this link: