Modern Gnosticism

Discussion in 'Alternative' started by lunamoth, Jul 24, 2006.

  1. Abogado del Diablo

    Abogado del Diablo Ferally Decent

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    Well, yes and no. Sure, everyone considers themselves a free-thinker. But it's not necessarily true that everyone considers themselves "right", or, more to the point, it is not necessarily the case that everyone considers everyone who disagrees with them as "wrong."

    One of the things I've stressed in this topic is that the "right-thinking" in Orthodoxy defines itself by prosecuting. That's why it's useful to read the origins of their methods. The idea of a creed is to make a declaration about objective truth (which necessarily implies that that the creedmakers' are right). Think about this: As many have correctly pointed out, Gnostics make all kinds of claims that significantly differ from one another. Indeed, the broader context of gnosticism or mysticism involves people of entirely different faith traditions, using completely different cultures and symbols to communicate to still come together despite the different ways they may express their spiritual experience. And one doesn't claim access to one, defined objective truth to which the others are not privy.

    But dogma (and its "creeds"), is a different sort of thing. Sure, a person deciding for themselves what they "believe," is inevitable and necessary. But creeds don't serve that purpose. They serve the purpose of creating uniformity in thinking. That was the express purpose that Ireneaus undertook in the late second century - to create one "Christianity" out of many. And when a creed becomes accepted, it defines itself by distinguishing "heresies." This is the fundamental problem that sits beneath the religious conflicts that have raged for thousands of years and still obviously haunt us today. The inevitable result of building one's identity around a creed and based on faith is that others don't just disagree with the beleiver -they must necessarily be wrong. And not wrong in some inconsequential sense usually, but wrong in the grand cosmic sense of being bamboozled by evil spiritual forces and acting as an agent of some imagined devil. While in practice an individual certainly may be able to constrain himself from acting out on this perception of others, I think two things should be acknowledged: (1) to perceive that there is only one objetively correct way to express the truth makes it nigh impossible to really listen to what others are saying; and, (2) en masse the thinking behind creeds (and not just religious creeds) becomes disastrous and often downright monstrous.


    The gnostic tries to hear the human experience behind the symbols to find the connection to others and affirm our humanity. It's a way too complicated topic to go into here and probably deserves a seperate conversation, buy symbolic language and its relationship to identity and reason is a principal vehicle for gnosis. It's an attempt to find the humanity behind the veil of identity.

    If a person wants to make empirical claims about external reality, we do have a common language by which to discuss them - scientific method. We can investigate the evidence for and against a factual claim and arrive at whatever conclusions we may feel compelled by the evidence to make. And they may be different from one another, because reasonable people can certainly differ on the interpretation of evidence. But "facts" about external reality taken solely on faith are typically not open to investigation, so the one of the common tools of the modern world that allows us to communicate, despite our differences, is lost to us. And there's nothing wrong even with that. If a person subjectively has been moved by their experience to have 'faith' in a particular set of propositions about external reality, while we might be able to investigate the evidence, we are unlikely to reach a consensus. Who am I to claim to have reached the only right conclusion? What do I know that would entitle me to make such a claim?

    Because Gnosis is misunderstood as making claims about external reality as is done in creeds, it is ridiculed as a heresy and labeled "wrong" thinking. Which takes us back to why I originally responded to Thomas in the first place, which is that he was misrepresenting Gnosticism (a straw man, like I said) so that he could ridicule it. And he was ridiculing it based on its divergence from his preferred creed, which is why they particular subject of creeds was the starting point for the conversation about gnosis.

    I can't convince Thomas he's wrong, nor am I interested in trying to do so. I can give an honest account of what moves me to share my ideas and experiences with others. I can do my best to listen to what others explain moved them to do the same thing. And we can try to find a common ground. And if we don't, we respectfully disagree with one another, accepting that nobody really knows the objective truths of the cosmos.

    Sorry if I rambled. But does this make sense?
     
  2. Abogado del Diablo

    Abogado del Diablo Ferally Decent

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    Short version: My objection to creeds is that they are often uttered to a baseline by which all who disagree may be adjudged wrong - and that is certainly how they've been used in Thomas's posts. If someone wants to believe in a creed, it's not for me to say they are wrong. But, by the same token, that I might disagree (or more to the point, not "believe" in or accept the creed) doesn't make me wrong either.
     
  3. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Staff Member

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    Sorry about that - it's a script that prevents the spammers from hitting the forums. I think it's after 10 posts you should be fine. :)

    Abogado, it's also nice to see you back as well. :)
     
  4. lunamoth

    lunamoth Episcopalian

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    Yes. That makes a lot of sense.

    luna
     
  5. Gnosteric

    Gnosteric New Member

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    I came across the following quote, from Rev. Jordon Stratford, regarding the relationship between Christianity and Gnosticism. It gave me a chuckle....hope it does the same for you.

    Rev. Stratford has a great blog at egina2 . blogspot. com/
     
  6. lunamoth

    lunamoth Episcopalian

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    I object to the use of creeds and dogma for ridiculing or prosecuting/persecuting others who believe differently. I disagree however that this is the intention or inevitable result of creeds. They do serve to unify belief, but this is not necessarily a bad thing. It depends upon 1) what concepts are being unified and 2) how one relates to people who choose not to accept the same thinking.

    As has been pointed out, the object of Gnosticism is knowledge, while the object of Christianity (as I know it) is love. Gnosticism is individualistic, Christianity is relationship (and of course there is much overlap, the Gnostic also has community and the Christian also has interior life). You might say that by accepting the creed we are accepting a shared 'myth' but I would say that by accepting the creed we are accepting a shared experience. That's just my take on it.

    It's also clear that in spite of your emphasis on gnosis as an approach, many people identify with Gnosticism as a religion, a religion that has all the trappings and more of orthodox Christianity, if not the same beliefs. At least some of those beliefs are in opposition to the teachings of Christianity. All Thomas has done, IMO, is pointed this out. Who has historical precedence and so some claim on greater authenticity may be empirically studied through whatever records remain, but ultimately that question itself comes down to a matter of personal judgement and choice.

    There is nothing inherently wrong with saying, in a creed, this is what we believe. The historical fact seems to be that yes, the Christian creed was written, at least in part to say, this is what we believe as opposed to these other beliefs held by Gnostics of the day. Steadfastly sticking to one's beliefs, clarifying them in contrast to what others think those beliefs should be, is not wrong. Granted, if 'heretics' are not just debated but actually persecuted, shunned by their families, cut out from their livelihoods, thrown in jail, killed...that is wrong. If the creed/law tries to control all the practical conduct of your life in a way that interfers with personal rights (I know, a huge topic), that is wrong. But sticking to your guns and saying no, we believe this, not that, that is commendable. I hate to think of what would have been lost if all the Christian theology and philosophy of the last 2000 years had not been preserved and cultivated, diluted out of existence.

    I think you've done an injustice to Thomas and prejudged him as you say he has prejudged you. I've read many of his excellent posts and he's not the rigid dogmatic you seem to think he is. Representing one's faith in a rigorous, scholarly, genuinely felt yet pluralistically sensitive way is not very common on these fora, but Thomas does this in spades. I have a lot of respect for him for this, as I respect you for your contributions here.
     
  7. Abogado del Diablo

    Abogado del Diablo Ferally Decent

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    This isn't a fair characterization. It isn't isn't just any knowledge, but a rather particular knowledge, and that knowledge is the path to Love.



    Of course. I've said as much myself several times now.

    The ideas expressed in both of these sentences are also a matter of personal judgment and choice.

    For better or worse, it would have simply been something else. Humans are thinking, reasoning and creative by impulse.

    But isn't that my prerogative? You just said so yourself . . . that I should be allowed to confess a creed and stick to my guns.

    Joke (sort of).

    We will have to respectfully disagree with one another about that as well.
     
  8. lunamoth

    lunamoth Episcopalian

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    Words fail me Abogado. Sometimes I feel like I nearly understand what you mean when you talk about a particular knowledge as the path to Love. My inability to connect with what you mean by this though leaves me exhausted and nearly in tears with frustration.

    Yes, because I am not a robot. However, I see now where this might be considered offensive and I apologize.

    Excellent point. This occurred to me as well as I was writing but it seemed like too big of a tangent to go off on. I've been thinking of Taoism, and how that has survived as a philosophy, a way, for centuries without the 'benefit' of a central authority. Maybe another thread?

    See my point above about exactly what the creeds are about. But yes, we can all judge each other and we can all express those judgements. I expressed my judgement that I disagreed with your creed. *Joke (sort of)* Of course, all of this judging is not the Kingdom of God, in my judgment.

    Respectful disagreement is not a problem, and yes we can leave it at that. However, I would like to apologize for any insensitivity anyone may feel I've displayed in this thread. My intention was to learn more about Gnosticism, but I really feel that I've failed in this. I'm certain this reflects more on me than anything about the quality of the replies, which were all appreciated.

    Thank you everyone for your replies.

    lunamoth
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2006
  9. Abogado del Diablo

    Abogado del Diablo Ferally Decent

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    I apologize as well. Sometimes I feel like the circumstances require me to be obtuse. I should know better with you. I sent you a PM.
     
  10. Gnosteric

    Gnosteric New Member

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    Hi Earl. Thanks for the greeting. Every so often I google "Zen Gnosticism" and remain surprised that nobody has done some development of the combo. Maybe we are all off other places enjoying the absurdity of it all. :cool:
    I think that the "knowing" is for those brief moments of Gnosis and (we hope) its lingering after effects while the "not knowing" is best when we are up to our eyeballs in the illusion and can't get out of our own way. It's better being in the state of "not knowing" than being trapped in the illusionary (or Archonic) "blind or fake knowing."
     
  11. Gnosteric

    Gnosteric New Member

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    Don't assume it is your fault when it comes to understanding and/or describing something that is ultimately so subjective, mystical, mythical, intuitive....... and greater than reason itself.
    Thank you for the initial question. I was thrilled to read that you wanted to hear from Gnostics in order to better understand our philosophy, methodology, psychology, and/or religion. It is very common for Christians to argue with us (or try to change us), but rare (in my own experiences) for Christians to try and develop some empathy. It gives me some hope. :)

    BTW, sorry if I failed to use the needed number of winkies ;) to properly express myself. I do not think this thread has risked any of my previous Gnostic gains. :eek:
     
  12. lunamoth

    lunamoth Episcopalian

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    Thank you Gnosteric, :) Looking forward to more discussions with you.

    lunamoth
     
  13. lunamoth

    lunamoth Episcopalian

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    Thank you Abogado, no worries. See you around the forum. :)

    luna
     
  14. path_of_one

    path_of_one Embracing the Mystery

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    I haven't had a chance to read everything yet, but I just wanted to say thank you to Lunamoth for thinking of this thread, as I've long been curious about this topic myself. I've had a few people ask me if I was gnostic, and I've generally replied... I don't think so. At least, if I am, I did not knowingly choose to be, since I only vaguely have a conceptualization of what gnosticism is. It will be useful to read from more knowledgable (pun not intended! ;) ) people about the topic.

    Also, thank you in advance to all of you for your replies- I'm sure I will learn quite a bit from this thread. :)
     
  15. RubySera_Martin

    RubySera_Martin New Member

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    If AdD is a fair example of what a gnostic is, then I'm a thorough-bred gnostic. Have always been; will always be. I've been walking this earth for nearly half a century and I never knew what a gnostic is, either. I do know that two or three years ago when I took a course on Christianity after the New Testament, we came to some Gnostic readings. I was hooked!

    I did my paper on Gnostics view of the crucifixion. Didn't do too good a job but I did get to read most of the Nag Hammadi Library in English translation, plus some of Elaine Pagel. The Gospel of Thomas and a few others were assigned course readings.

    Earlier this week I met with a Pagan to learn more about that religion because I felt a need for some kind of spiritual identity. He pretty much pin-pointed that Gnosticism may well be my identity. Now I read AdD's posts. Never has man spoken my language better.

    For what it's worth, AdD, I am glad you wrote that piece that you apologized for. IT spoke the truth. THAT was something I could identify with. I'm sorry it caused luna so much distress but I am not sorry you wrote it.
     
  16. pohaikawahine

    pohaikawahine Elder Member

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    Hi Lunamoth - love your new picture and your statement that "we have to get back to the garden" .... seems to me, in my humble opinion, that this is what we all seek and one of the great messages in any dialogue on comparative religions .... to my thinking gnosticism and/or mysticism are paths that take us within ourselves to "get back to the garden" .. I use the term deep meditation, but it can also be prayer, chant, etc .... the way of the mystic takes us through stages of understanding the path within and moving along letting go of the emotions that keep tripping us up .... there are many paths that take us to the same place .... what a beautiful world for our children and our children's children if we could open the doors to the "garden" .... I posted this little story before, but it is relevent to the garden concept ....

    The Garden of Life by David Gardner

    Three people were walking through a forest when they came upon a beautiful garden. "What an awesome place this is," said the first one. "I wonder who's responsible for such an incredible looking garden."
    "But it's not just the way it looks," said the second excitedly, "there's a special feeling here, a very unique and powerful feeling. I wonder what it is."
    The third one grabbed his companions by the arms,stopping them short. In a hushed tone he said, "You know, things like this don't just happen. It might be a trap. We'd better be careful."
    Shortly they happened upon an old man in white robes sitting near a fountain at the center of the garden, and the first one asked, "Oh, Wise One, can you tell us what this marvelous looking garden is?"
    The old man replied in a sage and sprightly voice, "What this is the Garden of Life. Haven't you ever seen the Garden of Life before?
    "But, Wise One,what is that special feeling that's here?" asked the second one. "Why, that's the feeling of life. Haven't you ever felt the feeling of life before?" replied the old man.
    Then the third one said, "But tell me sir, is there any danger here that we should watch out for?"
    "Oh yes," replied the wise man narrowing his eyes and lowering his voice dramatically.
    "I thought so!" exclaimed the third man with a start. "I'm outta here." And in the blink of an eye he was gone.
    "Well," said the old man, "now that the danger is gone, let's enjoy this beautiful garden together."

    Walking the path to the garden .... aloha nui, pohaikawahine
     
  17. Chela

    Chela Psychological Janitor

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    Gnosis is a natural function of the consciousness, a Perennis et Universalis Philosophy.

    True gnosis is found when those artifacts within one’s psyche or soul that normally distort the image of truth are removed in either a temporal or absolute fashion. When the true nature of reality can be direct experienced: this is Gnosis. Gnosis is undoubtedly direct mystical experience of the ultra. It is absolutely clear, profound and inexorably shakes the very foundations of one’s inner constitution.

    Gnosis means knowledge, yet not intellectual knowledge. As astounding as it may sound, anyone can study the scriptures, even “Gnostic” scriptures, and not have an inkling of true gnosis. Likewise, a strictly intellectual study of such scriptures as Gospel of Thomas, The Thunder Perfect Mind, or The Pistis Sophia (Books of the Savior) is similar to someone attempting to reconstruct a meal from the ashes of a stove. The Bread of Wisdom is found in the Heart. The Doctrine of the Heart is gnosis. The Doctrine of the Eye is everything else.

    Those who have nourished themselves on the Heart Wisdom intuitively understand the sublime truths of ancient texts even though no empirical evidence can prove to those who follow the Doctrine of the Eye of such truths. Jesus, throughout the Bible, is always condemning the Pharisees because they are the ones who are following the Doctrine of Eye. They don’t understand Jesus because he was teaching the Doctrine of the Heart.

    Many people believe in God, yet who has really experienced this intelligence? Many people believe in the subtle bodies and the higher planes yet how many of us have directly left their physical body and experienced the Heavens? Many believe of the Masters of humanity, yet how has spoken with them?

    Many people hold on to very incipient and nominal experiences as if they were the absolute experience of the transcendental. I do not want to underestimate such these experiences, yet I think many people accidentally, haphazardly experience something and suddenly feel as if they have been enlightened with gnosis. There is a level of gnosis there, in these random experiences; yet we (Gnostics) need to be more profound in these studies. Let us go much deeper into meditation, transform the vague into the precise. The light shines in the darkness, yet the darkness does not understand. So you must go deeper. The Light is the awakened consciousness, the darkness is the unconsciousness. Thus, to enlighten one’s self is to give gnosis to one’s self.

    Because few people who study the Gnostic scriptures actually have any real gnosis, the interpretations of their doctrines have been very limited. People believe that the Demiurge is some insane God that is living in the outside world. Yet, the real Demiurge lives within one’s own self. The false creation of the Demiurge is one’s ego; the Demiurge is you and I.

    The Twelve Repentances of Sophia is directly related with the Twelve Labors of Hercules, the Twelve Hours of Apollonius, and the Twelve Keys of Basil Valentine. Thus, these repentances are something that one must work in order to perform within each one of us.

    The 13 Aeons are directly related with the 12 plus one, that is to say, 10 emanations plus the three aspects of the absolute (Ain, Ain Soph, Ain Soph Aur). This invites us to reflect on the profound kabbalistic symbolism that no scholar I have ever seen even suspect. Who really knows what the 13 Aeons are? The empirical scholars do not know, they only debate and speculate; where is the gnosis they study so much about? Anyone who studies their own inner self knows very well.

    The Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden is the Tree of Gnosis. Under this tree Satan (Demiurge-Logos) tempted Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit. The mystery of the cooperative antaganism of Christus-Lucifer is being displayed here. Lucifer (Carrier of Light) is what gives light, knowledge (gnosis) yet only when one overcomes him, like in the story of Job. But in story of Adam and Eve, they did not overcome, thus they fell into the opposite of gnosis: ignorance.

    Daath in the Kabbalah means Knowledge, Gnosis. Daath is the hidden knowledge or gnosis. Daath is related with the Seal of Solomon (The Star of David) which itself is tantric knowledge. Remember that tantrism is not coition per se, yet, certainly the phenomena arising from intercourse is obviously tantric. The cross on which Christ saves is tantric, the cross is where knowledge, gnosis forms. This is why “Adam knew Eve” in the sexual act. The tantric-gnostic crossing of Wisdom and Compassion is the foundational basis of Buddhism, the crossing of Imagination and Willpower through skillful means is the basis of meditation.

    Redemption is within gnosis because it is under the Tree of Gnosis that one fell into ignorance (without gnosis). With ignorance, Buddha said, comes suffering. This is why Buddha meditated under the Tree in order to awaken from ignorance. Gnosis is the auto-discovery of one’s own self. The wisdom of the Word is stored within your own subconsciousness. Liberating the Word allows one to utter the mystery. I am speaking in code, what this means is related with the fact that God speaks in order to create. Remember, Daath is located at the larynx of God. The larynx of God is like a uterus that fecundates the Verb through the Waters of Life. God said through his masculine principle, “Let there be light!” and then it was reflected back through his feminine principle, “And there was light!” This is tantric, this is gnosis. This is why the highest levels of Buddhism are tantric. This is what created the universe, thus to gain gnosis is to understand not only your self, but that which your self is a reflection of, all of Creation.
     
  18. Chela

    Chela Psychological Janitor

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    (double post)
     
  19. moseslmpg

    moseslmpg Member

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    That certainly is an interesting interpretation of things. One question though: Where are you getting the number of Aeons to be 13?
     
  20. Chela

    Chela Psychological Janitor

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    There are many different categories of "Aeons." In the Pistis Sophia we find the 12 Aeons spoken of many times, and the 13 Aeons other times. The 13th Aeon is where the 12 additional Aeons emanate from.

    The 13th Aeon is so distant from the other 12 Aeons that they appear like a speck of dust from the point of view of the 13th. See chapter 84 of the Pistis Sophia.

    Jesus (The Intimate Christ) descends from Barbelo (The 13th Aeon; Ain; The Absoulte Abstract Space) into the 12 Aeons: Ain Soph, Ain Soph Aur, and the 10 emanations of the Tree of Life. These regions are within one self and outside of one's self.
     

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