It is said that through language, human beings can approach the truth but never grasp it; and that, conversely, it is possible for them to know the truth through its reflection in beauty.
Editorial by Revan Filiaexdeus
This is an extraordinarily Gnostic thought. As a student and practitioner of gnosis - of which I cannot say much, save for only the history and present form that gnostic practice has taken - I have encountered this very thought in the writings and teachings of the ultimate gnostic teacher Jesus, as well as his legitimate successors Mary Magdalene and Valentinus.
What is truth? That famous adage was uttered by Pontius Pilate (John 18:38) at the Roman trial of Jesus. Jesus stood silent in reply.
That silence itself is a profound lesson. It echoes the sentiment of the writer of 1 Kings, who recorded in 1 Kings 19 the epic experience of the prophet Elijah. Elijah found God's presence ultimately not in the fearsome wonders that Hebrew history has been known for, but the very stillest silence.
The ultimate lesson of this, I think, is that we can find truth when we still our minds and let go of notions and mind frames. Truth is available to us if we would but listen to the Spirit of Truth which is upon all the Earth, available to us.
The Gospel of Truth, authored by the gnostic bishop Valentinus and later added to by his students, recalls a gnostic vision of creation, concerning beauty and truth:
Inasmuch as the entirety had searched for the one from whom they had emanated, and the entirety was inside of him -- the inconceivable uncontained, who is superior to all thought - ignorance of the Father caused agitation and fear. And the agitation grew dense like a fog, so that no one could see.
Thus error found strength and labored at her matter in emptiness. Without having learned to know the truth, she took up residence in a modeled form (a material body), preparing by means of the power, in beauty, a substitute for the truth.
Now to the inconceivable uncontained this was not humiliating; for the agitation and fear and the modeled form (material body) of deception were as nothing, whereas established truth is unchangeable, imperturbable, and cannot be beautified.
For this reason despise error since she has no root. She dwelt in a fog as regards the Father, preparing, while she dwelt there, products and forgetfulnesses and fears, so that by them she might beguile those of the middle and take them captive. (16:31-17:36)
It is interesting that error is referred to as "she", a counterpoint to Holy Wisdom spoken of in the canoncial Proverbs 8. Jesus also refers to Wisdom as a real, female divine personage in Luke 7:35.
For the gnostic, there are children of error and children of wisdom, or as John puts it in the Biblical Gospel and Epistles that bear his name, the children of light and the children of darkness.
Living in this fallen world of error, holy and divine gnosis - knowledge - can save us. It is up to us to take the faith given to us, and use this to advance along the divine gnostic path, to first see true beauty, and realize that itself is broken, but therein lies true form, and Truth itself.
"I am the life, truth, and the way," Jesus says in John 16. Remember it's great context in the whole chapter. The Apostles are asking Him the way to the next world, where He is going. Jesus, before declaring this, tells them, "You know the way...." and after it, "If you have seen me, you have seen the Father."
In the same Gospel, Jesus declares in John 14, "Whoever believes in me will do these works and greater."
John punctuates these thoughts with his first epistle, 1 John 3:2 - "Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is."
We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
This is a challenge that is heresy to the religion that has made an idol of the Master Teacher - that we can walk the same path as Jesus, do things He did and even greater things, and even become like Him.
Can we accept this challenge?
That is ultimate truth.
Ahmed Nait-Djoudi is a faithful Muslim and self-employed citizen of Algeria. He has studied at Université Mouloud Mammeri de Tizi Ouzou. Fluent in Arabic, German, English, and Algerian, he resides in Tizi Ouzou, Algeria.