The wine of the internal bliss

Jesus said to his disciples: “Compare me to something and tell me what am I like”, Simon Peter told him: “You are like a fair angel.” Matthew told him: “You are like a philosopher, like a wise man.” Thomas told him: “Teacher, my mouth is utterly unable to say what you are like.” Jesus replied: “I am no longer your teacher, because you have drunk and become intoxicated from the same spring I have tended.” After, he took him aside and told him three words. When Thomas returned to his friends, these asked him: “What did Jesus tell you?” Thomas replied: “If I tell you one of the things he spoke to me, you would pick up rocks and stone me: and fire would come from the rocks and devour you,” (Gospel of Thomas, 13).

What is the meaning of the strange reply that Thomas gave to Peter and Matthew’s question? His words are impregnated with the typical biblical style: rocks, devouring fire…It would look like if Thomas did not want to comment on anything that Jesus had told him.

From Yoga’s point of view, there could be an explanation for all this. When we advance in Yoga, when we prepare our body and mind sufficiently, the energy can flow upwards, through the center of the spine, towards the crown chakra: the famous raise of the Kundalini energy. With it, the practitioner experiments an intoxicating joy. A joy that Thomas tells Jesus he has experienced. And Jesus, noticing his spiritual development, reveals to him – perhaps – techniques that are more superior and advanced. Techniques for which Peter and Matthew are not ready yet. When Thomas tells them: “If I tell you one of the things he spoke to me, you would pick up rocks and stone me,” he is telling them that they would not be able to withstand the great increment of energy that he is experimenting, because their nervous system is not ready (and it would, literally, “burn up”).

In India, traditionally, the advanced yogic techniques, those that produce a great activation of the disciple’s internal energy, were taught personally to the disciple by the teacher, and were never taught publicly or indiscriminately. We cannot say for certain if Jesus knew or taught yogic techniques such as these, but if that was the case, it would not be incoherent that he would not have taught them in public, but only to those disciples that were more prepared. We are talking of a time 2,000 years ago, not of current times; people were not ready.

Jesus did teach publicly about the righteousness of our actions and about love, being these preliminary teachings that we must integrate before moving onto yogic techniques more advanced. Let us remember that the Siddha Patanjali speaks of eight necessary steps for the yogic experience, and that the first two steps relate to having a righteous attitude when we act, because this righteousness is the base, the foundation from which, later , we will be able to handle more powerful energies without creating any problems to ourselves or to others.

The spiritual experience is not an intellectual experience, neither can be achieved through the intellect. Rather, we need to transcend the intellect and the mental activity in order to experience it. Yoga teaches that a man has several bodies or layers, each one more subtle than the previous one. And the most elevated layer is called “anandamaya kosha” (layer made of bliss); the mental layer is more dense and coarse.

What words, arguments or reasoning do we need when we are intoxicated with the Divine bliss, the joy of our Superior Being? Pity on those who treasure intellectual erudition – or theological erudition – without having ever tasted a drop of this ambrosia: I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children, (Matthew 11.25).

Happiness does not need justification; the joy of the spiritual experience is its own reward. Teachers do not recommend intellectualizing the spiritual experience, not even talking about it, because the mind is an instrument too coarse to encompass something that exceeds it. Analyzing this experience, bringing it down to the mental body, only helps to dilute it. The great mystics prefer talking of their live experiences using metaphors and poetic terms, knowing that the heart understands and encompasses a great deal more than the arid and limited intellect, good for the black or white logic, but useless for capturing the infinite nuances of love, humor or divinity.

When Jesus told Thomas that he was no longer his teacher, he was starting to recognize that Thomas had found his internal Spring, the same spring from which Jesus drank the “living water” of Truth.

That is the role of the true teacher, the guru: helping the disciple find the real teacher inside himself. That is reflected in the conversation of Jesus with the Samaritan, in front of Jacob’s well:

- Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is very deep; where, then, can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us this well, and drank form it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?
- Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again – replied Jesus – but whoever drinks the water I give them, will never feel thirst again. Indeed, inside them that water will become a spring welling up to eternal life,
(John 4.11-13).

Krishna speaks of this internal spring, using even similar words to those which Jesus uttered:

Truly, those who listen to my words of truth, with an open heart, and drink the Waters of Eternal Life, are very dear to me, (Bhagavad Gita XII.20).

How precious and blessed the figure of the teacher that can give us the real experience of drinking such waters!