Becoming The ONE

Androgyny and the Immortal Body in the Gospel of Thomas

By Seeker


The Gospel of Thomas is one of the premier Gnostic texts. It is often quoted, recommended and studied by students of the esoteric arts. This article explores one of the more popular passages quoted and reveals the meaning of the suggested androgyny referenced therein. . Two key concepts that will be used to explain the passage can be found below. The Keys are:

Male: Active energy. Ego. Personality. Below. Mental. Physical. Outer. Mortal.

Female: Passive Energy. Soul. Essence. Above. Emotional. Spiritual. Inner. Immortal.

It must be understood that man consists of two parts: essence and personality. Essence in man is what is his own. Personality in man is what is ‘not his own.’ Essence is the truth in man, personality is the false” (In Search of the Miraculous, pp. 161 & 162).

The passage from The Gospel of Thomas is as follows:

When you make the two One,

The inner as the outer

And the outer as the inner

And the above as the below

So that you will make the Male and Female as a single One

In order that the Male is not made Male

And the Female is not made Female

When you make eyes into an eye

And a hand into a hand

And a foot into a foot

And even an image into an image

Then you shall enter the Kingdom.

This passage is often used to support the idea of gender fluidity or androgyny on a physical (i.e., lower body) level. That is an incorrect understanding as it equates lower bodies with higher spiritual forces. What this passage really talks about is huge, though. This passage holds the key to being born again.

Male and Female are two opposing but equal forces and through their constant state of opposition create a stasis that is the foundation for the struggle in every human being. We all have a measure of Male and Female—personality and essence. Personality, being the outward active force always steps forward to take control of daily life.  Over time, it drowns out essence as humans are ultimately unconscious machines run by ego. Ouspensky quotes Gurdjieff as saying, “If we take the average cultured man, we shall see that in the vast of majority of cases his personality is the active element in him while his essence is the passive.” (In Search of the Miraculous, p. 163)

You must make the two One,” the Gospel of Thomas first tells us. In other words, we must combine Personality and Essence. The Male and Female energies have to cease being separate things and become something else, something new. Ouspensky continues, “Personality must become passive and essence must become active. This can only happen if buffers are removed or weakened because buffers are the chief weapon by the help of which personality holds essence in subjection.” (Miraculous, p. 163) According to the passage above, if we are to level up we have to destroy that stasis and “make the two One.” Gurdjieff said that the only way to do that was to remove the buffers in our personality. Buffers are defined as things that, “Make a man’s life more easy…But they keep a man from the possibility of inner development because buffers are made to lessen shocks and it is only shocks that can lead a man out of the state in which he lives, that is, waken him…Buffers are appliances by means of which a man can always be in the right. Buffers help a man not to feel his conscience.” (Miraculous, p. 155). In other words, buffers are the coping mechanisms our ego has developed over time to protect itself. All of our excuses, justifications, reasons, all of our strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, everything we think of as ‘us’ is a product of buffers. All buffers originate from the Male or personality and the personality contains what is ‘not his own’ in man. ‘Not his own’ means what has come from outside, what he has learned, or reflects, all traces of exterior impressions left in the memory and in the sensations, all words and movements, all feelings created by imitation—all this is ‘not his own,’ all this is personality” (Miraculous, p. 161). Buffers create the stasis between the Male and the Female and separate us from our true selves. The passage in the Gospel of Thomas first points to this understanding  with the statement, “you must make the two One.”  And until that happens in a person, they can go no further. Once Ego vs. Essence is understood, they can move on to ‘how’ to change it.

 As our Ego acts as the outer force and Soul as the inner the next lines in the Gospel of Thomas, “make the inner as the outer and the outer as the inner,” suggests that we break the stasis and swap Ego for Soul. Gurdjieff also advocates this. “A very important moment in the work on oneself is when a man begins to distinguish between his personality (Male, J.) and essence (Female, J.). A man’s real I, his individuality, can only grow from his essence…But in order to enable essence to grow up it is first of all necessary to weaken the constant pressure of personality on it, because the obstacles to the growth of essence are contained in personality.” (Miraculous, 163). It is no big secret that Ego runs every person on earth. Ego, after all, is who we are, even if it’s ‘not our own.’  Gurdjieff further explains that personality overshadows essence to such a degree that any development of essence is essentially halted.  (Miraculous, p. 162) This is the default state of humanity. In breaking the stasis of Male and Female, both energies can be combined to create something new. Active-Passive. Actively passive or passively active. A complete unity of personality and essence. Higher body joined with lower bodies.

 The next line in the Gospel of Thomas instructs “and [make] the above as the below.” This is a vital statement and we must pay special attention to the order of the phrasing. Make the above as the below. The above is Female and all that pertains to it. The below is the Male energy.  So in building an immortal body we must make our essence a personality or give our soul an ego– a conscious personality. As we saw above, the ego seeks to repress the soul and if given enough time will eventually succeed. In this way, unchecked ego always leads to self-destruction. On the other hand, essence by itself is passive and has no will other than “to be.” It is unconscious and has no awareness, no personality, no ego. Such a person who was previously, “full of the most varied and exalted ideas, full of sympathies and antipathies, love, hatred, attachments, desires, convictions, suddenly proves quite empty, without thoughts, without feelings, without convictions, without views…all that he can find in himself is a small number of instinctive inclinations and tastes,” (Miraculous pp. 162-163). This can’t be the goal of developing an immortal body. We shouldn’t seek to destroy ego to bring forth the soul. Unconscious existence is a different type of oblivion. And everlasting life is first and foremost everlasting remembrance.

 John 5:24 reads, “I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes in the one who sent me has eternal life and will not come to condemnation.”  Jesus spoke of conquering death, and to the people of the day “death” was synonymous with forgetfulness and oblivion.  Plato’s Republic illustrates this, “they all journeyed to the Plain of Oblivion, through a terrible and stifling heat, for it was bare of trees and all plants, and there they camped at eventide by the River of Forgetfulness, whose waters no vessel can contain. They were all required to drink a measure of the water, and those who were not saved by their good sense drank more than the measure, and each one as he drank forgot all things,” (621a). Death was equated with forgetfulness. Oblivion is, in other words, loss of self–of consciousness. It follows that eternal life refers first to an immortal consciousness.  Jesus was referring to a physical thing—ego—becoming a spiritual, immortal thing. To escape death means to escape oblivion. There can be no life everlasting if we have no remembrance of life. Jesus also explains this to Nicodemus in John chapter 3: 5-7. “I say unto you that no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and spirit. What is born of flesh is flesh and what is born of spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I have told you, ‘You must be born from above’.” But this is more than just some proclamation of faith. It is more than saying a prayer and “inviting Jesus into your heart.” This requires sacrifice, dedication, real work and real struggle to achieve any results. Paul echoes these teaching in 1 Corinthians 15: 46-47, “The spiritual was NOT first, but rather the natural and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, earthly; the second man from heaven.”  Note first was the physical body—the ego. The spiritual body—the soul—comes later after a person is “born from above.” And this can only be achieved “when you make the two One, the inner as the outer and the outer as the inner.”

The question remains how is an immortal body supposed to be developed? Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15: 44, “It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body there is also a spiritual one.” The Gospel of Thomas further extrapolates, “You will make the Male and Female as a single One.” This is another key statement. Making the forces “a single One” is more than just joining them together in a yin-yang type of blending where each force has its own place. They aren’t to be two halves making up a whole.  Taking parts of both to make a piecemeal whole is equally incorrect. They must be blended to make a new force altogether. As the next lines inform us, “The Male is not made Male/ nor is the Female made Female.”  These distinctions—these forces—are no more! Not only that, they are utterly undone as individual forces without the possibility of regressing back to their old dichotomy. Something entirely original is made through the synthesis of Male and Female. And this new force is only described as “One.” What is clear is that this new force is superior to its progenitors.

Once “Oneness” is obtained, the remaining passages tell us how to develop an immortal body, “When you make eyes into an eye/And a hand into a hand/And a foot into a foot/And even an image into an image/Then you shall enter the Kingdom.” You literally use “One” to create a new spiritual body modeled after your physical one. You shape something wholly original—truly this is to become born again in the spirit. “For that which is corruptible must clothe itself with incorruptibility, and that which is mortal must clothe itself with immortality,” (1 Corinthians 15: 53). This is the Way as Christ taught it. In this way, we solidify our personality to attain immortality and escape the cycle of death.

And when this which is corruptible clothes itself with incorruptibility and this which is mortal clothes itself with immortality, then the word that is written about: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory./ Where, o death, is your victory?/ Where O death, is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15: 54-55).

The passage from the Gospel of Thomas plainly speaks of more than physical androgyny or even of joining two separate forces together. It speaks of doing away with those forces altogether in favor of creating something new, something capable of achieving immortality. And in fact, it says that unless we accomplish creating “One” within ourselves, we will not enter the kingdom of God.



Grube, G.M.A., Plato’s Republic, Hackett Publishing, 1974.

Ouspensky, P.D., In Search of the Miraculous, Harcourt, Brace & World Inc., 1949

Ross, Hugh McGregor, The Gospel of Thomas, Watkins Publishing, 1987

The New American Bible, Revised Edition, St. Jerome Press, 2011

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