The Gospel of Thomas


Happiness and Joyousness

Happiness is one of the themes Jesus speaks of most often in the Gospel of Thomas. Only knowing and finding occur more often. The theme of happiness comes in ten of the sayings, which are scattered throughout the Gospel. What it must imply is that as Jesus and his disciples travelled around during his ministry, this must have been a frequently recurring theme. It may be unexpected that Jesus spoke of it so often—but there are many aspects of the Gospel of Thomas that come as a surprise to us.

Actually 'happiness' is not an adequate word for what is meant, for it can be confused with jollity or even excitement. Joyousness is perhaps better, and blessedness or bliss also contribute to the right idea. Even so, none of these words can be taken on their own. As so often happens in the Gospel of Thomas these words are symbols, or pointers to something more profound than any one of them can communicate.

Even so, happiness and to be happy in English may not immediately carry the intended meaning. It is not so much merriment as joy or bliss, associated with a profound contentment that leads to a repose. It does not appear so much as laughter (although it may come as a great challenge to us to visualize Jesus laughing with his disciples) but as a poise and radiance. It is derived not from a response to external events but from a condition or state of being within. It may be regarded as a flowering of the Self, so that any of the sayings 'Happy is he who does so-and-so' is a pointer towards coming to an awareness of what lies within.

When the Teachings in the Gospel of Thomas are truly mastered it will be found that the source of this Real Happiness lies within us. It does not come from anything outside, it does not have to be given us, it does not have to be made, we do not have to make it, we only need to become aware of it