A Donkey Turning a Millstone The Gospel of Philip



A Donkey Turning a Millstone
A donkey turning a millstone walked a hundred miles. When it was set loose, it found itself in the same place. Some people travel long distances but get nowhere. By nightfall they have seen no cities or villages, nothing man-made or natural, no powers or angels. These miserable people have labored in vain.
An ass [beast of burden – domesticated slave of sin (carnal in nature)] which turns a millstone [grinds the Word to dust – people in Babylonian controlled religions toiling daily for bread but never eating] did a hundred miles walking [in the way of the world, the lusts of the flesh precipitated by worldly priests]. When it was loosed [finally came to realize it was going nowhere], it found that it was still at the same place [realized after all this “walking” he had not gained any spiritual insight and was still as a natural man of the world]. There are men who make many journeys [seeking spiritual wisdom by going from sect to sect], but make no progress towards any destination [they keep seeking others to be their spiritual guides not realizing that the Kingdom is inside of us and that we must seek the truth ourselves “by the sweat of our own brow”]. When evening came upon them [the end of their physical lives drawing near], they saw neither city nor village neither human artifact nor natural phenomenon, power nor angel [they were not able to discern any of the spiritual things for they were always looking “outside” for their answers]. In vain have the wretches labored [this is the lot of the masses who being subject to the influences of men in the world who lord it over them are never able to “hear what the spirit is saying” and as a result “die as men”]. (Philip 38)


An animal turning a millstone may walk a hundred miles, but when it has finished, it will find itself in the place it started from. All its efforts have produced no progress. Many people are like that. They keep traveling, but they make no progress toward a destination. All their efforts amount to nothing, because they are bound to the conditions of mortal existence as the beast is bound to the millstone. They do not know how to break free. They do not know the signs to direct them on their journey. They do not accept a guide to lead them to their destination. 

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