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Ella S.

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Answering for myself: I really never understood, at a deep level, what the "meaning of life" question is about. To me, meaning is something we manufacture by consent, to facilitate communication. Meaning came into my life long after I was born, as I learned my way around society. To me, it is endless possibilities, not pre-existing, pre-ordained. But then, I'm a materialist: Existence precedes essence, in my personal experience of life.

All of this doesn't mean I don't have goals, or purpose for this life, or that I never procrastinate and wish I could solve issues in such a dim future that it might just as well be a future life :)

I'd like to ask in return what you'd like to carry across the *poof* moment, and what you'd rather leave behind, and how that choice is informed by the meaning you find in life?

I am not a metaphysical naturalist, however, I tend to agree. Concepts like meaning, purpose, principle, and law are ones that we construct. The One has no need for them.

In fact, I would go as far as saying that, to gain gnosis of the One, we have to (at least temporarily in contemplation) let go of these concepts and labels precisely because they are mental constructs.
 

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I am not a metaphysical naturalist, however, I tend to agree. Concepts like meaning, purpose, principle, and law are ones that we construct. The One has no need for them.

My world would be poorer without them. If the One were a human being, I'd feel genuinely sorry for them for missing out. Obviously, they are not human in Gnostic cosmology, so this doesn't apply.

Letting go of concepts, in contemplation, what is that like? Does it come in a succession of stages? What does the contemplation hold on to, or use as a guide for the mind in the absence of concepts?
 

Aupmanyav

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I'd like to ask in return what you'd like to carry across the *poof* moment, and what you'd rather leave behind, and how that choice is informed by the meaning you find in life?
:) For me, it is very clear. There is no 'me' after the 'poof' moment. What is left behind is carried on by one's progeny, property or ideas. We try to mold our progeny in our ways. That is why all these initiation ceremonies. To some ways they will stick, other ways they will change. That is passed down from one generation to another and that is how life goes on.
 

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Letting go of concepts, in contemplation, what is that like? Does it come in a succession of stages? What does the contemplation hold on to, or use as a guide for the mind in the absence of concepts?
Not all people are contemplative. Yeah, 'letting go' comes in various ways. Some times quickly, some times in steps. It is supposed to have come instantly when King Bhartrihari (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhartṛhari) saw his most beloved queen in the arms of his hostler. To Buddha it came in steps; the old man, the diseased and the dead. Contemplation is always with concepts, it cannot be without them, IMHO. The term itself means going over ideas.
 

Paulus

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I am not a metaphysical naturalist, however, I tend to agree. Concepts like meaning, purpose, principle, and law are ones that we construct. The One has no need for them.

I think that these are very real and valuable concepts, not just made up by us, and 'The One' knows them too. I don't dig the idea of a supreme existence in which everything dissolves in a pool of oneness and thereby becomes meaningless. I rather see it as an ocean of unlimited potential, in which everything retains its meaning and value.
 

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Contemplation is always with concepts, it cannot be without them, IMHO. The term itself means going over ideas.
The terms "meditation" and "contemplation" have reversed meanings in Eastern and Western traditions, I've noticed.

Eastern "meditation" = Western "contemplation". Entering non-conceptual states of mind.

Eastern "contemplation" = Western "meditation". Thinking about or concentrating on meanings and concepts.
 

Ella S.

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I think that these are very real and valuable concepts, not just made up by us, and 'The One' knows them too. I don't dig the idea of a supreme existence in which everything dissolves in a pool of oneness and thereby becomes meaningless. I rather see it as an ocean of unlimited potential, in which everything retains its meaning and value.

I feel like "everything retains its meaning and value" contradicts "an ocean of unlimited potential." Once a meaning is arbitrarily assigned by some subjective agent, then they have constrained what-is with their conceptual rigidity.
 
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Ella S.

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My world would be poorer without them. If the One were a human being, I'd feel genuinely sorry for them for missing out. Obviously, they are not human in Gnostic cosmology, so this doesn't apply.

Letting go of concepts, in contemplation, what is that like? Does it come in a succession of stages? What does the contemplation hold on to, or use as a guide for the mind in the absence of concepts?

My perspective on the matter is fairly similar to the Quietist heresy (insofar as such a thing can be said to truly exist), and so I focus on the timeless, ever-present stillness that tends to be drowned out by thoughts and emotions until my awareness of self dissolves and nothing is left but the experience of that stillness.

I see hesychastic prayer as a stepping-stone or sort of like training wheels for Quietism, since it teaches you how to focus on the One and quiet your mind almost completely. It certainly can take a lot of practice. Personally, I have started by meditating on a Gnostic hymn or an excerpt of some Gnostic text when I struggle to reach this state as a way to ease myself into pure contemplation.

Of course, this is often considered blasphemous and misguided by Orthodoxy, and it's one of the major disagreements that I feel like has defined the difference between Gnostic and Nicene mysticism. It certainly loses the centrality of Christ that both Catholic contemplatio and Orthodox theoria emphasize, at least on the face of it, but I would argue that Christ is the name we give to the mediator between the individual and the transcendent because he liberates us from the ignorance of concept and the suffering of material experience.
 

Cino

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I see hesychastic prayer as a stepping-stone or sort of like training wheels for Quietism, since it teaches you how to focus on the One and quiet your mind almost completely. It certainly can take a lot of practice. Personally, I have started by meditating on a Gnostic hymn or an excerpt of some Gnostic text when I struggle to reach this state as a way to ease myself into pure contemplation.

Hesyshasm reminds me a lot of the esoteric Buddhist (Vajrayana) approach to mantra meditation, where three modes of experience - the sound of the mantra, the thought, and the posture - are unified.
 

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Christ is the name we give to the mediator between the individual and the transcendent
The human bridge between nature and Spirit -- the bridge for human beings -- because nature encompasses also a fish, and a leaf, and a neutron star? The Christ not only acts and speaks and lives as flesh -- but in himself is the way and the truth and the life -- for hu/man: 'No man cometh to the Father except by Me.'
 
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Paulus

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I feel like "everything retains its meaning and value" contradicts "an ocean of unlimited potential." Once a meaning is arbitrarily assigned by some subjective agent, then they have constrained what-is with their conceptual rigidity.

Hmmmm, I see potential and item relating like container and content. If you put for example an image of a goldfish on a screen, it doesn't restrict in any way the potential of all the other things you could (have) put there. The screen is constant (oneness), while the content is specific ('rigid' as you say) to itself.

Or shorter: actual doesn't influence potential.
 

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The terms "meditation" and "contemplation" have reversed meanings in Eastern and Western traditions, I've noticed.
Eastern "meditation" = Western "contemplation". Entering non-conceptual states of mind.
Eastern "contemplation" = Western "meditation". Thinking about or concentrating on meanings and concepts.
Meditation is "Dhyana", the seventh step in the Yoga, while the eighth and final is Samadhi, which has many meaning, including completion. Samadhi, IMHO, does not mean just to be without thought. That will be an incomplete and biased translation (convenient to fake gurus who want to mystify it). Samadhi is not 'trance' all the time. See here: https://www.learnsanskrit.cc/index.php?mode=3&direct=au&script=hk&tran_input=samAdhi

Dhyana ("Meditation"): Intense contemplation of the nature of the object of meditation.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yoga
 

Paulus

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Hope I'm not overextending anything by noting that, in physics, potential energy is diminished as actual (kinetic) energy is increased, as a mass descends into a field.

Ugh don't take it too literal lol, it's just an illustrative example.

The point is that in my experience non-dualistic ideals tends to reduce meaning because "it's not One", "not the final target" etc. You see this typically in eastern views, but also in Richard Rohr's (Franciscan) reasoning. AFAIC the journey towards G-d should be a widening experience, not a narrowing one.
 

Ella S.

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Ugh don't take it too literal lol, it's just an illustrative example.

The point is that in my experience non-dualistic ideals tends to reduce meaning because "it's not One", "not the final target" etc. You see this typically in eastern views, but also in Richard Rohr's (Franciscan) reasoning. AFAIC the journey towards G-d should be a widening experience, not a narrowing one.

Oh, I see. Well, I'm not a non-dualist. I believe in a duality between spirit and matter.

I would actually say that non-dualists do tend to focus on widening experience. I'm the weird one because I believe that one has to cleanse themselves of the pollution of this world to properly apprehend the divine, which means that narrowing experience is the goal.

That said, I don't believe that God created the world, either, but is wholly transcendent and detached from it. I can see why a widening of experience would make sense if you view God as the Creator.
 

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Obviously you can't learn everything in one such life.
It rather depends on what one means by 'learning'. I'm not sure I think there's that much to learn. One life is ample.

For me, it's about 'being' rather than 'knowing'.

The Way of Simplicity is a disposition, it's not difficult in itself, but we are so easily distracted and deceived.
 

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For me, it's about 'being' rather than 'knowing'.

The Way of Simplicity is a disposition, it's not difficult in itself, but we are so easily distracted and deceived.
So well expressed ...
 

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But it must be learned?
 
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