if you want to experience what he meant
saying-54; who is poor?
(latest update: 04-12-2018)
Blessed are the poor,
for yours is the kingdom of heaven.
Poor not only refers to the absence of sufficient material means for living, but symbolically
also the absence of any craving or longing for material goods, including such things as influence,
power, respect, beauty, or whatever. When even craving itself has been abandoned, one is
really “poor”. That such a “poor” state is absolute conditional for experiencing ”the Divine”
is a tenet also held in Advaita Vedante: “when every desires that finds lodging in the
heart of man, has been loosened from its moorings, then this mortal puts on immortality:
even here he tastes God, in this human body” (Sri Aurobindo, 1996 – Katha Upanishad 6:14).
“When are liberated all the desires that lodge in one’s heart, the a mortal becomes immortal!
Therein he reaches Brahma” (= God)” (Hume, 1921 – BrihadAranyaka Upanishad:4.4.7). Perhaps
that is what Jesus’ paradoxical speaking of “the poor” refers to. From various sayings and
also from the NT stories it is clear that the Jesus' circle itinerant-to-be had to give up all
possessions freely and without sulking, whereas she/he had to leave involvement in worldly
affairs, which included family ties, behind – such one became “poor”.
Perhaps the original phrasing might have been something like:
Blessed our you when you are poor.
For then the kingdom is yours.
In our time the poor may be considered those who are satisfied with what they have
without craving for more, whereas they are without any clinging to what they do have,
how little it may be. In Buddhism, however, there is no such cultural mitigation, as those
"following the Buddha" still give up everything and become dependent on others, although
the full itinerant Buddhist live has become an exception nowadays rather than the rule
Quispel (2004) remarks that for once Thomas acts out of character when he speaks of
“the kingdom of heaven” instead of just the kingdom. Thomas' Jesus
was rather reluctant to use the word God (Quispel,2004), and the kingdom of God cannot be
found in the kernel Thomas' sayings. Just the kingdom appears four times, but the
kingdom of the father five times. In addition, saying-79 contains the word of my father, and
saying-99 the kingdom of my father.
However, we should realize that according to Jewish piety using the word God was
avoided and all expressions, whether the kingdom alone or with the additional of heaven or
of the father, may similarly refer to the divine rule the significance of which is discussed in the
comments of saying-3. Most likely Jesus respected this form of Jewish piety, rather than
his use of the different designations signified different religious concepts he had in mind.
However, that he used the addition of the father, does not necessarily mean he had
adopted the classical Hebrew interpretation; he might just have respectfully been using
phrasings that just sounded familiar to the ears of his hearers.
Luke 6:20; Matthew 5:3.