Sunday, November 05, 2006

On The Father

Below is a section from the Tripartite Tractate, dealing with God the Father as he truly is, beyond those Veils of Negative Existence - not a man on a cloud with a thick white beard, held aloft by an entourage of angels, but that which is inexpressible, yet not unknowable. Its poetic potency reminds me why I love such works so much:

2. The Father

"He existed before anything other than himself came into being. The Father is a single one, like a number, for he is the first one and the one who is only himself. Yet he is not like a solitary individual. Otherwise, how could he be a father? For whenever there is a "father," the name "son" follows. But the single one, who alone is the Father, is like a root, with tree, branches and fruit. It is said of him that he is a father in the proper sense, since he is inimitable and immutable. Because of this, he is single in the proper sense, and is a god, because no one is a god for him nor is anyone a father to him. For he is unbegotten, and there is no other who begot him, nor another who created him. For whoever is someone's father or his creator, he, too, has a father and creator. It is certainly possible for him to be father and creator of the one who came into being from him and the one whom he created, for he is not a father in the proper sense, nor a god, because he has someone who begot him and who created him. It is, then, only the Father and God in the proper sense that no one else begot. As for the Totalities, he is the one who begot them and created them. He is without beginning and without end.

Not only is he without end - He is immortal for this reason, that he is unbegotten - but he is also invariable in his eternal existence, in his identity, in that by which he is established, and in that by which he is great. Neither will he remove himself from that by which he is, nor will anyone else force him to produce an end which he has not ever desired. He has not had anyone who initiated his own existence. Thus, he is himself unchanged, and no one else can remove him from his existence and his identity, that in which he is, and his greatness, so that he cannot be grasped; nor is it possible for anyone else to change him into a different form, or to reduce him, or alter him or diminish him, - since this is so in the fullest sense of the truth - who is the unalterable, immutable one, with immutability clothing him.

Not only is he the one called "without a beginning" and "without an end," because he is unbegotten and immortal; but just as he has no beginning and no end as he is, he is unattainable in his greatness, inscrutable in his wisdom, incomprehensible in his power, and unfathomable in his sweetness.

In the proper sense, he alone - the good, the unbegotten Father, and the complete perfect one - is the one filled with all his offspring, and with every virtue, and with everything of value. And he has more, that is, lack of any malice, in order that it may be discovered that whoever has anything is indebted to him, because he gives it, being himself unreachable and unwearied by that which he gives, since he is wealthy in the gifts which he bestows, and at rest in the favors which he grants.

He is of such a kind and form and great magnitude that no one else has been with him from the beginning; nor is there a place in which he is, or from which he has come forth, or into which he will go; nor is there a primordial form, which he uses as a model as he works; nor is there any difficulty which accompanies him in what he does; nor is there any material which is at his disposal, from which creates what he creates; nor any substance within him from which he begets what he begets; nor a co-worker with him, working with him on the things at which he works. To say anything of this sort is ignorant. Rather, (one should speak of him) as good, faultless, perfect, complete, being himself the Totality.

Not one of the names which are conceived or spoken, seen or grasped - not one of them applies to him, even though they are exceedingly glorious, magnifying and honored. However, it is possible to utter these names for his glory and honor, in accordance with the capacity of each of those who give him glory. Yet as for him, in his own existence, being and form, it is impossible for mind to conceive him, nor can any speech convey him, nor can any eye see him, nor can any body grasp him, because of his inscrutable greatness, and his incomprehensible depth, and his immeasurable height, and his illimitable will. This is the nature of the unbegotten one, which does not touch anything else; nor is it joined (to anything) in the manner of something which is limited. Rather, he possesses this constitution, without having a face or a form, things which are understood through perception, whence also comes (the epithet) "the incomprehensible. If he is incomprehensible, then it follows that he is unknowable, that he is the one who is inconceivable by any thought, invisible by any thing, ineffable by any word, untouchable by any hand. He alone is the one who knows himself as he is, along with his form and his greatness and his magnitude. And since he has the ability to conceive of himself, to see himself, to name himself, to comprehend himself, he alone is the one who is his own mind, his own eye, his own mouth, his own form, and he is what he thinks, what he sees, what he speaks, what he grasps, himself, the one who is inconceivable, ineffable, incomprehensible, immutable, while sustaining, joyous, true, delightful, and restful is that which he conceives, that which he sees, that about which he speaks, that which he has as thought. He transcends all wisdom, and is above all intellect, and is above all glory, and is above all beauty, and all sweetness, and all greatness, and any depth and any height.

If this one, who is unknowable in his nature, to whom pertain all the greatnesses which I already mentioned - if, out of the abundance of his sweetness, he wishes to grant knowledge, so that he might be known, he has the ability to do so. He has his Power, which is his will. Now, however, in silence he himself holds back, he who is the great one, who is the cause of bringing the Totalities into their eternal being.

It is in the proper sense that he begets himself as ineffable, since he alone is self-begotten, since he conceives of himself, and since he knows himself as he is. What is worthy of his admiration and glory and honor and praise, he produces because of the boundlessness of his greatness, and the unsearchability of his wisdom, and the immeasurability of his power, and his untasteable sweetness. He is the one who projects himself thus, as generation, having glory and honor marvelous and lovely; the one who glorifies himself, who marvels, honors, who also loves; the one who has a Son, who subsists in him, who is silent concerning him, who is the ineffable one in the ineffable one, the invisible one, the incomprehensible one, the inconceivable one in the inconceivable one. Thus, he exists in him forever. The Father, in the way we mentioned earlier, in an unbegotten way, is the one in whom he knows himself, who begot him having a thought, which is the thought of him, that is, the perception of him, which is the [...] of his constitution forever. That is, however, in the proper sense, the silence and the wisdom and the grace, if it is designated properly in this way."

- 2. The Father, Tripartite Tractate

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