27 Haiku on the Gospel of Thomas

A friend gave me the Gospel of Thomas (early non-canonical gospel) to read, and it just cried out to be made into haiku.

I wrote the original 21 haiku one evening (1 August 2002) while reading through Craig Schenk's version of the Gospel of Thomas. Originally not all of them were "classic" haiku (5-7-5 syllables), but I later (February 2005) revised them so they all were, and added another six for a new total of 27. Some were extensively rewritten, others just had the line breaks shifted and a couple needed no changes. The six new haiku are numbers 6, 7, 9, 10, 23 and 25.

They're probably not great haiku but the subject matter gives them a boost.

More about the Gospel of Thomas here. That site also has a FAQ.

The first three haiku are based on the translation of the Greek version, the others are from the translation of the Coptic version. I'd like to learn Coptic and read it in the original, but I don't have the energy just now. Verse references are to the Coptic version.

1. (v.2)

Seek until you find
Finding, wonder; wondering, reign,
Reigning, you shall rest.

2. (v.3)

If you will not know
Yourselves, in poverty you
Dwell - and it is you.

3. (v.5)

Recognise what is
Plain before your face; hidden
Things are then revealed.

4. (v.6b)

Tell no lies, and do
Nothing that you hate; Heaven
Sees all things plainly.

5. (v.10)

I have cast the fire
Upon the world, and guard it
Until it blazes.

6. (v. 13)

Jesus is like - what?
Angel? Philosopher? Or
Can your mouth not say?

7. (v. 17)

What I give you, no
Ear has heard, eye has seen, hand
Has touched, or mind grasped.

8. (v.18)

Disciples, who ask
"What will be our end?" - Have you
Found the beginning?

9. (v. 19)

If you heed my words,
And become my disciples
These stones will serve you.

10.  (v. 22)

When two are one, and
Inside is like outside, you
Enter my kingdom.

11. (v.24)

Light is in a man
Of light, lighting up the world -
That is where I am.

12. (v.25)

Jesus said, Love your
Brother - love him as your soul.
Guard him like your eye.

13. (v.28)

I came in the flesh.
I found all of them drunk, and
None of them thirsty.

14. (v.37)

When shall we see you?
When you strip like small children,
Without shame or fear.

15. (v.48)

If two make peace here
In this one house, they can say,
"Mountain, move away."

16. (v.50a)

Whence are you? Of light.
Are you the light? No, but you
Are the light's children.

17. (v. 50b)

What is the sign of
Your Father in you? It is
Movement and repose.

18. (v.58)

Jesus said, "Blessed
Is the one who has suffered
And in it found life."

19. (v.69)

Blessed, those within
Themselves persecuted - know
Truly the Father.

20. (v.70)

Bring forth from within
What will save you - or, if not
Brought forth, will destroy.

21. (v.77)

Split a piece of wood
And I am there. Lift a stone,
And you will find me.

22. (v.82)

Those near to me are
Near the fire - those far from me
Far from the kingdom.

23. (v. 83)
The Father will be
Manifest, but his image
Is concealed by light.

24. (v.91)

You read the sky and
The earth, but do not know him,
The one before you.

25 (v. 106)

When you make two one
You will become sons of man,
And move the mountain.

26. (v.108)

Drink from my mouth - be
Like me; I will become you
And reveal mysteries.

27. (v.111)

Does not Jesus say,
"Whoever finds himself is
Better than the world?"

1. (v.2)

Seek until you find
Finding, wonder; wondering, reign,
Reigning, you shall rest.

2. (v.3)

If you will not know
Yourselves, in poverty you
Dwell - and it is you.

3. (v.5)

Recognise what is
Plain before your face; hidden
Things are then revealed.

4. (v.6b)

Tell no lies, and do
Nothing that you hate; Heaven
Sees all things plainly.

5. (v.10)

I have cast the fire
Upon the world, and guard it
Until it blazes.

6. (v. 13)

Jesus is like - what?
Angel? Philosopher? Or
Can your mouth not say?

7. (v. 17)

What I give you, no
Ear has heard, eye has seen, hand
Has touched, or mind grasped.

8. (v.18)

Disciples, who ask
"What will be our end?" - Have you
Found the beginning?

9. (v. 19)

If you heed my words,
And become my disciples
These stones will serve you.

10.  (v. 22)

When two are one, and
Inside is like outside, you
Enter my kingdom.

11. (v.24)

Light is in a man
Of light, lighting up the world -
That is where I am.

12. (v.25)

Jesus said, Love your
Brother - love him as your soul.
Guard him like your eye.

13. (v.28)

I came in the flesh.
I found all of them drunk, and
None of them thirsty.

14. (v.37)

When shall we see you?
When you strip like small children,
Without shame or fear.

15. (v.48)

If two make peace here
In this one house, they can say,
"Mountain, move away."

16. (v.50a)

Whence are you? Of light.
Are you the light? No, but you
Are the light's children.

17. (v. 50b)

What is the sign of
Your Father in you? It is
Movement and repose.

18. (v.58)

Jesus said, "Blessed
Is the one who has suffered
And in it found life."

19. (v.69)

Blessed, those within
Themselves persecuted - know
Truly the Father.

20. (v.70)

Bring forth from within
What will save you - or, if not
Brought forth, will destroy.

21. (v.77)

Split a piece of wood
And I am there. Lift a stone,
And you will find me.

22. (v.82)

Those near to me are
Near the fire - those far from me
Far from the kingdom.

23. (v. 83)
The Father will be
Manifest, but his image
Is concealed by light.

24. (v.91)

You read the sky and
The earth, but do not know him,
The one before you.

25 (v. 106)

When you make two one
You will become sons of man,
And move the mountain.

26. (v.108)

Drink from my mouth - be
Like me; I will become you
And reveal mysteries.

27. (v.111)

Does not Jesus say,
"Whoever finds himself is
Better than the world?"

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2 Responses to 27 Haiku on the Gospel of Thomas

  1. Scott says:

    I found your Rose Mandala prayer quite beautiful, the pace and cadence of the stanzas lend a serene power to the prayer .

    In this haiku, based on The Book Of Thomas, I am reminded of our dual nature. The idea and goal of uniting, or bringing closer together, the opposites is brought forth (masculine/feminine, matter and spirit etc.). The spiritual practice of balancing opposing forces, which is symbolized so succinctly by the Taoist ying/yang swirl, is represented in beautiful simplicity by this haiku.

    When two are one, and
    Inside is like outside, you
    Enter my kingdom.

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