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Seeing the Unseeable

Chapter 83 of the Gospel of Thomas for Awakening

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Jesus said, The images are manifest to man, but the light in them remains concealed in the image of the light of the father. He will become manifest, but his image will remain concealed by his light. (83)

Patterson and Maeyer: Images are visible to people, but the light within them is hidden in the image of the Father’s light. He will be disclosed, but his image is hidden by his light.

Brown: The images are manifest to mankind, and the Light which is within them is hidden. He shall reveal himself in the imagery of the Light of the Father–and (yet) his image is concealed by his Light.

If a person is not really grounded in the ways and beliefs of Eastern Orthodox Christianity, he is tremendously hindered in understanding Christianity itself. Contrary to popular (especially “ecumenical”) opinion, Western and Eastern Christianity are profoundly divided. It is not just a matter of a few beliefs, but of many fundamental differences in belief and a profound difference in attitude and perspective. They are as different from one another as any two of the world’s other major religions. In many ways Eastern Orthodox Christianity is far more akin to the other Eastern religions than it is to Western Christianity. Few in the West seem to grasp this, including the Eastern Orthodox in the West.

One of the basic aspects of Eastern Christianity is what we may call Light Mysticism. In every form of Eastern Christianity, “Orthodox” or “Oriental,” we find a large amount of Hymns of Light dealing with the nature of God as Light, particularly deifying Light in which the individual spirit is united with God and made a perfect imaging or reflection of the Divine. This process is known as theosis–deification. The doctrinal conclusion is simple and direct: God is Light (I John 1:5). Contrary to Western theology which declares that the light seen at the Transfiguration of Christ was merely a created energy, a kind of manufactured glory, Eastern Christians adamantly state that the light seen by the apostles was God himself. Therefore they refer to it as Uncreated Light–as, by the way, did the great English mystic Richard Rolle, despite official Western Scholastic theology to the contrary.

Ultimately everything is Light, as Saint Bernard of Clairvaux saw in mystic vision when West and East were not so divided in beliefs. As I pointed out in the commentary on verse 62, in original Christianity the highest mystical experience was the vision of Divine Light in which the mystic perceived his oneness with that Light. Having understood this, we are ready to analyze this verse.

Saint Paul tell us that God “only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see” (I Timothy 6:16). This is in keeping with David’s praise: “O Lord my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty. Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment” (Psalms 104:1, 2). However, the statement that no human being can see God does not at all imply that no beings can see God–only human beings and those of lesser evolution. When we evolve beyond humanity to a higher status such as that of the great bodiless powers: Angels, Archangels, Thrones, Dominations, Princedoms, Virtues, Powers, Cherubim and Seraphim, then God will be seen. Yet Eastern Christianity tells us that when we see God we will learn that we cannot see him: we will be seeing the Unseen. Of course this is not comprehensible to our limited human minds, but the great mystics of all ages and traditions have told us the same. In mystic knowing we can know that God is Unknowable. That is what the medieval mystical classic The Cloud of Unknowing is all about.

In mystic vision it is possible to see the essential, highest nature of all things, their archetypal being, yet they will be in an incomprehensible manner veiled by the Divine Light which we will both see and not see. That is, the inner light of everything will be covered by God himself who is Light. How and why? Because everything is God. There will be nothing but God to either see or not see. God will be both manifested and revealed, but in a manner of knowing that is rooted in unity, not duality. So seeing and knowing will not be that of an object, but a Self-revealing impossible to any but those who have become organically one with God, who can truthfully say with Jesus: “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9).

Read the next article in the Gospel of Thomas for Yogis: Seeing Your Unknown Side

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Chapters in The Gospel of Thomas for Awakening

  1. The Open Secrets
  2. Seeking Is More Than Just Finding
  3. Seeking the Kingdom Realistically
  4. The One Goal
  5. From the Seen to the Unseen
  6. What Jesus Wants Us To Do
  7. Eat Or Be Eaten
  8. Fishing Wisely
  9. The Inner Field
  10. Guarding the Flame
  11. What Will You Do?
  12. Who Shall Lead?
  13. The Unspeakable
  14. When Virtue is Vice
  15. Father in Heaven; Father on Earth
  16. Divine Discord
  17. The Divine Gift
  18. The Origin is the End
  19. Original Being
  20. A Mustard Seed
  21. Disciples of Jesus
  22. How to Enter the Kingdom
  23. Unity of Vision
  24. Where is Christ?
  25. Love and Protect
  26. Seeing
  27. The Fasting and Sabbath of the Spirit
  28. How Jesus Saw the World
  29. Hidden Treasure
  30. One
  31. The Power of Unbelief
  32. Spiritual Strength
  33. Speak It Out
  34. The Blind
  35. The Secret of Spiritual Security
  36. Live Carefree
  37. Unashamed Before God
  38. At the Source
  39. The Religion of Ignorance
  40. Within God
  41. Spiritual Gain and Loss
  42. Move On
  43. Challenging the Master
  44. The Source of Good and Evil
  45. Great in the Kingdom
  46. Impossible Duality
  47. Peace That Moves Mountains
  48. Back to the Source
  49. Children of the Light
  50. Here and Now
  51. Seeing Yet Blind
  52. Outer Ritual or Inner Growth?
  53. Infinite Transcendence
  54. “Hate”
  55. True Understanding
  56. Wheat and Weeds
  57. Finding Life
  58. Live and Die Not
  59. “Lest Thou Also…”
  60. Who Will Die; Who Will Live
  61. The Path of Unknowing
  62. Awakened by Death
  63. Turning Ourselves Away
  64. Gullibility
  65. The Rejected is Truly Accepted
  66. All–and Nothing
  67. The Blessings of Persecution
  68. Life or Death Lie Within
  69. Admission
  70. Not a Divider
  71. Seeking the Harvest
  72. Thirsting in Vain
  73. Who Shall Enter?
  74. Unfailing Treasure
  75. The All Speaks
  76. Well-dressed Ignoramuses
  77. True Blessedness
  78. A Duplication
  79. Balancing the Inner and the Outer
  80. Near and Far
  81. Seeing the Unseeable
  82. Seeing Your Unknown Side
  83. Our Forefather Adam
  84. Blessed Homelessness
  85. Doubly Wretched
  86. Onward and Upward
  87. Twofold Life
  88. The Yoke of Christ
  89. Knowing the Unknown
  90. Asking and Hearing
  91. Give Not…
  92. Seeking and Knocking
  93. Right Generosity
  94. The Expanding Kingdom
  95. The Fulfilled Universe
  96. Taking Stock
  97. The Spiritual Family
  98. Three Debts
  99. Father and Mother
  100. Exoteric Religion
  101. Ready for Invasion
  102. Penitential Discipline, Anyone?
  103. Daring to Know
  104. Ending Duality
  105. “I Love You More…”
  106. At the Source
  107. Finding the Hidden Treasure
  108. Having Come to the End
  109. Immortal and Above the World
  110. Body and Soul
  111. Where is the Kingdom?
  112. Male and Female?
  113. In Conclusion
  114. Glossary
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