Jesus was wrong: what those magazines on your coffee table really mean

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In the Gospel of Thomas, one of the exiled books of the Gospels (highly suggested reading), Jesus said

When you make the two into one, and when you make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner, and the upper like the lower, and when you make male and female into a single one, so that the male will not be male nor the female be female…then you will enter the kingdom.

I have to say, that even without being Christian (I’m not) it is tough to find fault with much of what Jesus says anywhere. Yes, I know the “I come with a sword” bit is hard for some to reconcile but let’s leave that and a few  others aside for the moment. I adore the Gospel of Thomas and this is one of the best passages in that gospel. But I am going to slightly disagree with Jesus here regarding what he was saying about the inner and the outer – especially as it relates to magazines on your coffee table. As you shall see in a moment.

In principle, I get what he is saying and I can go into that exegesis if you want.

But in my experience the inner is already like the outer. It is a law, not just a good idea.

We are holographic in the sense that repeating patterns in our behavior can be found at every level. But since we have a misconception of what the inner and outer is we lose the chance for a deeper integration.

But I wasn’t thinking about any of that when D sat down to talk with me. D was with her partner M and was browsing the other artists around the fountain while I spoke with him. When he and I were done he waved D over and said to her “You have to try this guy.”

I didn’t mean to flatter her but when she told me that she was 55 and had been in real estate for 23 years I sniffed at her like she was lying – totally reflex. She looked like she was 40 at the most and I told her so.

She appreciated the compliment and continued describing her situation. She has tutored creative writing for six years and has half heartedly looked for a new a job for the last year while doing her same real estate job. She was honestly surprised to not have found one yet.

As we talked she described her life as feeling like it was all in boxes. All partitioned off. Work didn’t connect with passion. Passions didn’t connect with hobbies. Relationships all seemed small and not anchored to the important things to her.

As she bemoaned her current state and I was just listening she tossed off the comment that she hadn’t done any art in twenty years.

I had a sense that D’s mental blocks might have a physical manifestation. That her outer (something in her physical life) was like her inner (her mind). I asked her when the last time she cleared out her coffee table.

D grimaced and said

FUCK!! I hate my coffee table! It is one of the spots in my house I hate most. I have so many magazines there that I have never read and books that I used to like. It is a mess.

I told D that this was a chance to clear two things at once – her coffee table and her lack of connection to her long lost passion.

We leaned in towards each other conspiratorially and I told her in a slightly crazy way to go home and make some art.

Go to a store and buy a big poster board and some glue stick and some markers. When you get home take all your clothes off and start tearing the magazines apart – look for images, shapes, colors and words that catch your eye. Cut the magazines to shreds and same with the books. Do it all in one shot. Throw away the junk and then make a big mosaic-y collage with the cutouts.

Draw on the collage with the markers and connect images with ideas and inspirations and see what happens. See what you see.

Forcibly cracking open her art-egg might reveal something wonderful and instill a new habit; or at least a desire for a new habit. But I guessed that being exposed to this would inspire her.

D looked back at me with a look that met and matched my madness/inspiration. She bit her lower lip like the whole thing just turned her on.

She was smitten.

I just gave her permission to cut loose and connect her passionate hatred of her clutter to her buried passion for creation.

I told her to follow that creativity and see where it dragged her. She smirked at me and hugged me goodbye.

Art therapy? How do you connect your anti-passions to your passions? And when you are talking about passion you must talk about Jesus at some point anyway. Look, Jesus didn’t know what magazines were so lets cut him some slack here.

Lots of people’s coffee tables are cluttered, so maybe that was a lucky guess. But her violent reaction to it mirrored her real frustration with her job situation. Her inner and outer, as far as she understood them were the same – even though it was hidden to her. What I offered her gave her a chance to actually take the advice from Jesus above and expand her vision of herself and experience entry into a new kingdom.

There are many methods for entering “the kingdom” but undoubtedly expanding our visions of what we are is part of that. And if a little naked collage making is what it takes…so be it.

Where do you see these sorts of patterns repeating in your life?

If you think you might want a creative approach to something in your life book a session with me today

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5 comments
Peter Crowell
Peter Crowell

I still have not read the Gospel of Thomas. But I'm a big fan of the teachings of Jesus. I liked it when you said, "...when you are talking about passion you must talk about Jesus at some point..."

And when you mentioned long-lost passion, I was struck by convergence. This past week I finally decided to take up my old passion for cartooning again, and take it seriously. It's been sleeping, with short breaks of waking, for 20 years.

I can't understand why I let it go so long, considering how fired up it makes me feel when I'm doing. It. Same goes for guitar.

But that goes to the heart of my own experience of the exercise you prescribed for D. Dive into the pool of your creativity and you will discover life.

Raw life. Yours to shape from there.

Something Jesus taught his followers in everything he said. Including that bit about the sword.

Thanks for this post!

Peter Crowell
Peter Crowell

I still have not read the Gospel of Thomas. But I'm a big fan of the teachings of Jesus. I liked it when you said, "...when you are talking about passion you must talk about Jesus at some point..."

And when you mentioned long-lost passion, I was struck by convergence. This past week I finally decided to take up my old passion for cartooning again, and take it seriously. It's been sleeping, with short breaks of waking, for 20 years.

I can't understand why I let it go so long, considering how fired up it makes me feel when I'm doing. It. Same goes for guitar.

But that goes to the heart of my own experience of the exercise you prescribed for D. Dive into the pool of your creativity and you will discover life.

Raw life. Yours to shape from there.

Something Jesus taught his followers in everything he said. Including that bit about the sword.

Thanks for this post!

Susan Alexander
Susan Alexander

Matt:

So well said, and true, as usual. These words especially: "repeating patterns in our behavior can be found at every level."

I've love the idea of connecting anti-passions with passions. A variation of this has happened to me many times, when I've tried something I thought I didn't or wouldn't like, and over time, I started liking it.

We never know how we're going to feel about doing something until we do it. Which is why we all should try out a little art therapy - or something from the wealth of cool ideas on your blog.

Great post!
Susan

Susan Alexander
Susan Alexander

Matt:

So well said, and true, as usual. These words especially: "repeating patterns in our behavior can be found at every level."

I've love the idea of connecting anti-passions with passions. A variation of this has happened to me many times, when I've tried something I thought I didn't or wouldn't like, and over time, I started liking it.

We never know how we're going to feel about doing something until we do it. Which is why we all should try out a little art therapy - or something from the wealth of cool ideas on your blog.

Great post!
Susan

mstillman
mstillman

for you The Gospel of Thomas is required reading. I am delighted that you found a convergence with the post and your own internal work. As for why you let cartooning go on for so long...cicadas have very long growth cycles. It might have just been waiting and growing until the conditions are right..

looking forward to crossing paths with you.

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