The Gospel of Thomas, Saying 22

Shroud of Turin22) They said to Him: Shall we then, being children, enter the Kingdom? Jesus said to them:
When you make the two one, and when you make the inner as the outer and the outer as the inner and the above as the below, and when you make the male and the female into a single one,
so that the male will not be male and
the female (not) be female, when you make
eyes in the place of an eye, and a hand in the place of a hand, and a foot in the place of a foot, (and) an image in the place of an image, then shall you enter [the Kingdom].

(The Gospel According to Thomas, coptic text established and translated by A. Guillaumont, H.-CH. Puech, G. Quispel, W. Till and Yassah ‘Abd Al Masih, pg 18-19 log. 22)

“Make the two one”: for me, this involves the relinquishment of “latent conceits that ‘I am the doer, mine is the doer’ in regard to this consciousness-informed body”, and that relinquishment in turn depends on a cessation of habitual activity in the movement of breath.

“Make the inside like the outside and the outside like the inside”: Yuanwu wrote about a moment when “after the breath is cut off, …you come back to life”. He said, “only then do you realize that it is as open as empty space.” I take this as a reference to the moment when habitual activity must be relinquished in the movement of breath, and freedom of movement of the location of awareness identified with the self is realized. At the same time, there is an inclusion of contact in any of the senses, necessary to the freedom of movement of the location of awareness.

Regarding “the above as the below”, Gautama the Shakyan gave this recipe for cultivating psychic power:

So he abides fully conscious of what is behind and what is in front.
As (he is conscious of what is) in front, so behind: as behind, so in front;
as below, so above: as above, so below:
as by day, so by night: as by night, so by day.
Thus with wits alert, with wits unhampered, he cultivates his mind to brilliancy.

(Sanyutta-Nikaya, text V 263, Pali Text Society volume 5 pg 235; more on this here)

Gautama didn’t really elaborate on the meaning of “before” and “behind”. With regard to “as below, so above; as above, so below”, he said that this referred to regarding each part of the body as it really is, from the soles of the feet to the crown of the head and from the crown of the head to the soles of the feet.

“When you make the male and the female one and the same, so that the male not be male nor the female female”: I would begin with my own description of the third of the initial meditative states, “the cessation of ease apart from equanimity”:

The cessation of ‘ease apart from equanimity’ that marks the third meditative state points to a strenuousness of the posture. Involuntary reciprocal activity in the muscles associated with the major ligaments of the body, such as those that connect the sacrum to the pelvis and the pelvis to the hips, only comes about because the ligaments and fascia are stretched to a point where they themselves generate the impulses necessary to contract the muscles for their resile. The induction of reciprocal, ongoing involuntary activity in the major muscle groups requires stretch that remains on the border of the generation of such impulses in the associated ligaments and fascia. Because of the need for resile that is felt at the level of stretch necessary to the third meditative state, ease does not exist apart from equanimity.

And now a bit that I hope pertains to “make the male and the female one”:

It happens that the stretch and resile of ligaments in the lower abdomen (paralleling the stretch and resile of the fascia behind the sacrum) can sometimes focus at or immediately above the pubic region. Gracovetsky, Farfan, and Lamay proposed a mechanism of posture whereby, with the right alignment of the spine and the right flatness of the lumbar curve, the lumbodorsal fascial sheet could be displaced (they did not say by what means); such a displacement, they calculated, would increase the load-bearing role of the fascia of the lower back, and decrease the load on the annuluses of the spine. Perhaps in a bent-leg posture, there comes a moment when the initiation of such support through the displacement of the fascia of the lower back is necessary, and the distinction of the senses allows pressure in the fluid ball to complete what the extensors behind the sacrum initiate.

If that seems far-fetched, there’s this, from Cheng Man-Ch’ing’s “Thirteen Chapters”:

…First we isolate the most vital portion of the sexual energy and the mind’s fire, and heat them together with the ch’i in the tan-t’ien. Then we stir it up and set it in motion, causing the sexual energy to be converted into heat which passes through the wei-lu (tailbone) up the spine, reaching the crown of the head and spreading out to the four limbs.

(“Master Cheng’s Thirteen Chapters on T’ai-Chi Ch’uan”, Cheng Man-Ching trans. Douglas Wile, pg. 6-7)

More from my writing, about the above:

Cheng mentioned that the ch’i must be allowed to overflow the tan-t’ien and pass through the tailbone without the use of force (in fact, he goes so far as to advise his students to seek out a teacher, to avoid any harm that they might do themselves in this regard). I would say Cheng is advising that the displacement of the lumbodorsal fascial sheet must be achieved only by reciprocal activity generated by the stretch of ligaments, and will occur as a matter of course in a bent-knee posture through the experience of equalibrioception, proprioception, and graviception, provided the movement of the diaphragm is free (as is necessary to experience ‘the whole (breath-)body’, inhaling and exhaling). In order for the movement of the diaphragm to be free, the activity generated by ligaments and fascia throughout the body must be relaxed.

In a bent-knee posture, stretch and activity may sometimes reciprocate between the front of the abdomen and the rear of the sacrum, engaging the muscles of the pelvic floor in the balance and alignment of the tailbone and sacrum. The muscles of the pelvic floor have a role in human sexuality, yet their engagement in a bent-knee posture is the same for either sex, hence “when you make the male and the female one and the same, so that the male not be male nor the female female”.

Following on from D. L. Bartilink’s assertion that there is always some pressure in the “fluid ball” of the abdomen in support of posture, I wrote:

To the extent that the necessity for pressure in the ‘fluid ball’ of the abdomen engenders experience of equalibrioception, graviception, and proprioception, to that extent some feeling for the posture supported by the distinction of the senses is gained as the pressure is sustained.

I continued:

The ‘feeling for the posture supported by the distinction of the senses’ allows me to make an eye in the place of an eye, a hand in the place of a hand, and a foot in the place of a foot. This morning I asked myself, does feeling for the posture supported by the distinction of the senses allow me to make an image in the place of an image? If I take the word ‘image’ to mean the location of my awareness, the question becomes: does feeling for the posture supported by the distinction of the senses allow me to locate my awareness in the place of the location of my awareness?

Equalibrioception I feel is closely related to pressure sustained in the “fluid ball”, while proprioception and graviception are intimate with the support of posture and carriage provided by the “fluid ball”.

My conclusion is this:

It’s possible to experience support from the ‘fluid ball’ exactly as a sensation or perception that sustains the ‘fluid ball’ takes place. In fact, I would say such a simultaneity is a normal part of everyday life, and underlies any induction of concentration. The simultaneity feeds on itself when the circumstances are appropriate, and exercises in the distinction of the senses and the recall of signs are really only intended to allow an openness to such a simultaneity.

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