Gospel of Luke

On hatred (part 2)

This is a little bit more on the interpretation of the Luke passage about hatred, with an unexpected twist. This is from the gnostic text – the Pistis Sophia. (It’s originally in Greek, but that version is lost. The only remaining version is one translated to Coptic, but that’s proving hard to track down online. This is the GSR Mead translation, Book 4 Ch. 131.).

This is Jesus speaking to his disciples:

“For this cause, therefore, have I in this manner brought the mysteries into this world which undo all the bonds of the counterfeiting spirit and all the seals which are bound to the soul,–those which make the soul free and free it from its parents the rulers, and make it into refined light and lead it up into the kingdom of its father, the first Issue, the First Mystery, for ever.

“For this cause therefore, have I said unto you aforetime: ‘He who doth not abandon father and mother and come and follow after me, is not worthy of me.’ I have, therefore, said at that time: Ye are to abandon your parents the rulers, that I may make you sons of the First Mystery for ever.”

Most interestingly, the language here is an “abandoning” of the parents, which would, at first glance, appear to be about detachment, but it’s not.

These words aren’t about abandoning worldly human parents, rather spiritual parents, “the rulers,” liberating oneself of their influence, and the counterfeiting spirit that keeps a soul trapped in the ignorant misery and suffering of reincarnations. That’s the larger context of this passage.

And it is through the mysteries that the seals and bonds are to be broken. What are these mysteries? They are the tools and practices of mysticism – the digestion and transmutation of pain (and hatred) into love. It is a purification and liberation of the soul, in this case from these demonic rulers (“parents”) that keep it trapped in the reincarnation cycle.

But the only way to get there is through the substance of human life – to first admit the truths to oneself, which is the original point of my interpretation. One cannot heal, cannot apply the mysteries, cannot liberate oneself, unless he has the courage to face his ugly truths and authentic (often unacceptable) feelings…

That means admitting to himself that he isn’t happy and the life he’s built isn’t making him happy (very hard for lots of people to do). That also means breaking the idealization of the parents and partners, admitting to himself that the people in his life are not who he imagines/fantasizes them to be (also very hard to do, but part of the psychological maturation process anyway). And coming into solidarity with the real feelings, so that the liberation work can begin.

The point here of course isn’t hate-mongering, or maintaining a condition of hatred in the mind, but rather an acknowledgment of truth, so that real transformation can begin to take place.

Another passage from Pistis Sophia. Book 1 Ch. 59.

“Then Mary, the mother of Jesus, came forward and said: “My son according to the world, my God and Saviour according to the height, bid me proclaim the solution of the words which Pistis Sophia hath uttered.

“And Jesus answered and said: “Thou also, Mary, hast received form which is in Barbēlō, according to matter, and hast received likeness which is in the Virgin of Light, according to light, thou and the other Mary, the blessed one; and on thy account the darkness hath arisen, and moreover out of thee did come forth the material body in which I am, which I have purified and refined,–now, therefore, I bid thee proclaim the solution of the words which Pistis Sophia hath uttered.”

And on thy account the darkness hath arisen!!!

Take this out of the conventional images we’ve been given of Jesus and the tender unconditionally loving Virgin Mary – what does this sentence mean in modern understanding, when someone is the cause of our darkness? It means that they have hurt us, traumatized us, destroyed a part of us, causing us to experience the pains of darkness. It is on their account, by their actions, that we are experiencing pain. And naturally, that would make us hate them, until that pain is processed through and forgiveness is reached.

Again, in these sentences we see the arc of the real human story – Mary was the cause of his darkness, the bringer of his pain, which he is being honest about directly to her. And she is also the one who brought him into the world, for which he is grateful. These are two perspectives held in the heart of a child who has worked through parental trauma. In this case, it is through the darkness Mary gave him that he was able to purify his human self.

And she is there, with him and among the disciples, not cast out somewhere in hatred.

This is the thrust of the actual work – to acknowledge the pain and darkness, to tell oneself the truth about the hatred, to process through the pain, and to return to love (and sometimes reconciliation, if that’s appropriate).

On hatred

If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters – yes, even their own life – such a person cannot be my disciple.

Gospel of Luke

Many theological interpretations of this line in the gospel read it to mean that Jesus is telling us to leave everything behind, give up on our lives entirely, in order to follow him. It sounds a little possessive on his part, like we must somehow love him so much that we grow to hate everything else, and we ought to abandon it (in hatred!) in order to follow him. This is a mis-reading.

While letting go of the quotidian material life in favor of the spiritual is very much part of the teaching, (we see it in a few different places), this line is talking about something else entirely.

What he’s actually saying here is astounding. Real discipleship, the real awakening to spiritual work and implementation of his teachings, doesn’t begin until a person matures to the point of recognizing and admitting his hatred. It is only when a person is ready to open his eyes to the truth of his life, to the hatred he feels, then he is ready to become a disciple.

But how can that be, from the same person who told us to love our neighbor and turn the other cheek? How can Jesus be condoning hatred or requiring it as a pre-requisite?

Hatred itself is merely a cover for deep emotional pain, and for many people it lives under the surface of a fake happiness and idealization. We idealize our families, our partners, our friendships, and while living entirely in those illusions in our minds, we fail to really attend to how those relationships make us feel, in our bodies. We are all conditioned to be happy, and positive, and to proclaim that we love everyone, but that’s merely the social mask we are required to wear. Deeper truths are often more difficult to see or stomach.

When the buried hatred (and the pain underneath it) finally begins to emerge, that is when the awakened spiritual life begins. That is when discipleship begins. That’s the real “coming to Jesus” moment. It requires a willingness to look honestly at one’s life, one’s feelings, and one’s relationships, and in doing so to see the toxic patterns of relating that dominate unconscious unawakened existence. We begin to wrestle with our fears and our pain, with our wounds, and to take personal responsibility for ourselves and our portion of those dynamics. We begin to practice the true art of forgiveness, and compassion, and we open the wellspring of authentic love within ourselves.

And that is precisely the moment (when our pain makes us hate everything and everyone) that the spiritual work begins. That’s when all the teachings begin to really resonate and make sense at depth, and we can hear them with a profound echo across the centuries.