In parochial school, whenever I’d ask embarrassing questions, the nuns would send me to my seat out in the hall. Soon, the doubter, Thomas, became my favorite disciple. I grew up as an atheist seeking meaning in my life, and life in general. I entered college late, taking courses in philosophy, the sciences, and psychology to find that meaning—but to no avail. Even the greatest philosophies stopped mute at the threshold of death and non-being. I finally found myself but an infinitesimal speck lost in an infinite cosmos that cares not, and knows me not.
This spiritual crisis happened in the rebellious 1960s when educated young people were dropping out of society to find alternative lifestyles. After reading the book Siddhartha (by Herman Hess), I dropped out in my own way, leaving a teaching position to take a job as a night watchman by the river. There, I would walk my lonely rounds by the river at night, and had plenty of time to think and write. Here was the beginning of my urge to be a writer, though I was suffering from writer’s block at the time.
In the midst of my walking rounds was a huge electric generator for the town. It was the size of a city block and its vibrating hum was almost deafening. I had ingested some pot at that time, and became inspired to sit in a yoga position by the generator, and continuously sing out “Ohmmm” in resonance with the generator’s earthshaking hum. My hair was standing straight up and soon it seemed something clicked in my brain. When I finally came back to the guardhouse, I became flooded with an outpouring of ideas I could not write down fast enough. (These writings inspired my book of poems and literature, Ripples From the Darkness, and a manuscript of essays yet to be published titled Journeys on the Fringe of Knowledge.)
My continuing thirst for knowledge then brought me through graduate school, from which I became a psychologist of Jungian persuasion. At one time, I was studying the Jungian Codex concerning the ancient Coptic Nag Hammadi Texts, once hidden from Christian persecution. There, I came upon The Gospel of Thomas, The Acts of Thomas, and The Book of Thomas the Contender. This brought back memories of the nuns and Thomas being my favorite disciple. Hence, the inspiration for writing my own book on Thomas the Doubter.
The hidden texts were considered Gnostic because, in The Gospel of Thomas and The Book of Thomas, the Contender spoke of finding the Kingdom and Spirit not just in the heavens–but also within yourself. However, this knowledge is also in our canonized Scripture as well (e.g. see Gen.2:7; Exod. 31:3; Job 32:8; Luke 17:20; 1 Cor. 3:16-17; John 14:16-18) But, emphasizing the Divine within ourselves could keep worshipers from needing the church–-therefore…the persecutions.
The Acts of Thomas veered most from traditional Christian teachings in depicting his acts as an apostle in India. I thought this far-fetched until my research revealed an actual tribe in India called “The Christians of St. Thomas.” They claim the original Thomas to be their founder. Moreover, near India’s eastern coast there is a Mount of St. Thomas along with a Cathedral of St. Thomas, which claims his bones.
The writings moved me deeply and I thought of writing a scholarly treatise on the texts. However, I wanted to share this knowledge with ordinary readers as well. So, I managed this material in the form of a story depicting what Thomas himself would have written if a scroll were found with his own testimony to the world. To make sure I had the authentic history, culture, geography, clothing, sights, and sounds of those places and times, I surrounded myself with the ancient maps and pictures, even the music–until I felt I was virtually there, and channeling Thomas’ voice through the scroll.
Once published, for a touch of irony, I sent copies of my Thomas book as gifts to all the local convents in my area, signed “The kid in the hall.” They must have loved it, for I received many gracious letters from the nuns in return. The Thomas experience cured my atheism, and brought me back to religion. Putting my manuscript of The Fringe aside, for now, I combined psychology with religion, and wrote and published Tapping Your God Source, inspired by the Thomas teachings of finding the spirit and power within ourselves. (Waiting in the wings is another, tentatively titled Christianity for the Critical Mind.)
My detonated thirst for knowledge brought me back to Thomas and, from there, to a spiritual quest beyond the mundane toward ultimate concerns. Where there was once a writer’s block is now a writer’s deluge.
ABOUT THE BOOK
The Gospel of Thomas revealed the secret teachings Jesus gave to his doubting disciple. The ancient historian Eusebius spoke of Thomas’ travels into the mysteries of occult lands. The Acts of Thomas told of his mission among the Hindus and Buddhists of India (and there are commemorative sites and Thomas Christians in India to prove it). What effects would Jesus’ most intimate teachings have on the disciple Thomas? And, how would this skeptical Jew have responded to the occult religions in strange lands? Thomas’ secret teachings and mysterious travels are now brought vividly alive in the apocryphal story: The Book of Thomas the Doubter: Uncovering the Hidden Teachings
George Tyrrell traces his namesake back to the 19th century Jesuit Father George Tyrrell who was excommunicated for attempting to bring Christianity to modern times. Tyrrell now is a retired psychologist who—in the spirit of W. James, Jung and others-developed a profound interest in spirituality and religion. (Jung himself helped uncover the hidden Nag Hammadi texts on which this book is based.) Tyrrell immersed himself in the ancient secrets and this astounding book was born.
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