” As long as they are hidden, most things in the world are upright and live. If they are revealed they die, as is clear by the example of the visible person: as long as the intestines are hidden, a person is alive. When the intestines are exposed and come out, the person will die. So also with a tree. While its root is hidden, it sprouts and grows. If its root is exposed, the tree dries up.
“So it is with every birth that is in the world, not only with the revealed but also the hidden. As long as the root of wickedness is hidden, it is powerful. But when it is recognized, it is dissolved. When it is revealed, it perishes. That is why the word says, “Even now the ax lies set against the root of the trees.”It will not merely cut—what is cut sprouts again— but the ax penetrates deeply until it brings up the root.
“Jesus pulled out the root of the whole place while others did it only partially. As for us, let each one dig down after the root of evil that is within us and pluck it out of our heart from the root. It will be uprooted if we recognize it. But if we are ignorant of it, it takes root in us and produces fruit in our hearts. It masters us. We are its slaves. It takes us captive to make us do what we do not want; and what we do want we do not do. It is powerful because we have not recognized it. While it exists it is active. Ignorance is the mother of all evil. Ignorance will eventuate in death because those who come from ignorance neither were nor are nor will be. But those who are in the truth will be perfect when all the truth is revealed.” ~Gospel of Philip
Hidden are Upright in Ignorance
I believe what Philip is saying is that those who are ignorant, but unaware of it, can remain upright and alive in a world where ignorance is the norm. However, when they become aware of their ignorance, and the ignorance of others, they must change that status. They will no longer seem alive and intelligent to themselves once the ignorance and illusion of the world they live in is revealed. They do not truly die if they awaken to their ignorance and seek to change. It is those who cling to the ignorance and comforting illusions who are truly the walking dead.
He is also saying that people who are in truth not powerful can appear powerful in a land of ignorance and illusion if they are good at negotiating and manipulating the illusion. There are even people who believe that by manipulating the illusion through a process called “manifesting” that they are being spiritual, but manifesting is spiritual only when it is used for spiritual purposes, not material gain.
Jesus Pulled the Root
This means that Jesus pulled the root of ignorance, not a literal tree root. He pulled that root in two ways. First, by revealing the ignorance, then by revealing the truth that is hidden by the ignorance and illusion of matter. The root of ignorance is belief. If we are taught the falsehood of a belief, the root of that tree of ignorance is pulled out. As the forest of ignorance is cleared one tree at a time, one false belief at a time, we get a clearer view. When the view becomes clear enough, we can begin to see the truth. But truth must be revealed gradually to those who have been trapped in ignorance and illusion for many years. To reveal it too quickly can cause people to go mad. It can also cause some to retreat from the truth and cling to their comforting illusions even if that ignorance leads to death. That is why those who reveal the truth and destroy ignorance always do so gradually.
Ignorance is Evil
Yes, ignorance is evil, the mother of all evils. It is the one true sin. That is because we sin only because we don’t know the truth. When we are trapped in illusions and opinions, in other words, ignorance, we make decisions based on illusions and sin. But when the truth is known and understood, we don’t sin, we don’t make bad choices, because the consequences of doing so are obvious. When we are not ignorant, we know that we can’t outrun the Law of God any more than we can outrun gravity. The law is a force that acts on its own. God doesn’t have to be aware of our errors. The law simply reacts to them and we get what we have earned. When we are no longer ignorant, no longer trapped in illusion, we know that and act accordingly.