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Gnosticism


FredP
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Lately I've been trying to tackle Gnosticism -- not so much as an approach to spirituality, which probably wouldn't shock anyone around here too badly, but as an approach to metaphysics and cosmology. Whereas Liberalism and Literalism clash over the historical and scientific claims of Chrisitanity, Orthodoxy and Gnosticism clash over the metaphysical and epistemological foundations of Christianity -- and it's a much more interesting battle I think. Gnosticism takes most of the foundational narratives of the Bible and thoroughly inverts their ordinary meaning -- about as good an example of a Hegelian antithesis as you could ask for. This leads to some startling interpretations of the creation and fall stories in Genesis, to say the least.

 

Anyway, I'm not so much interested in adopting it as a philosophy as it is, but I'm captivated by it as a photographic negative of Christian orthodoxy. It is in many fascinating ways the Jungian shadow of Christianity, preserving some important but partial truths in the language of myths and dreamlike images, until Christianity's orthodox "ego" is able to integrate them into its religious consciousness.

 

One such important but partial truth, it seems to me of late, is that ignorance, suffering, and death are part of the Cosmos by design -- contrary to conservative Christianity, which sees them as the result of human sin -- and that they are malignant spiritual forces -- contrary to liberal Christianity, which sees them as merely neutral features of a lawful scientific universe. This is one of the aforementioned inversions of the ordinary meaning of a Christian (actually Jewish) teaching. When I attempt to synthesize the Orthodox and Gnostic views on this, what comes into view for me is the notion of a G-d whose love is so profound, that G-d literally divested Himself of all knowledge and power of the one true Source, issuing forth in a universe veiled in ignorance and suffering, in order to make genuine choice, love, and awakening possible. "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." (2 Corinthians 5:21)

 

So that's where my brain waves have been lately. For more detailed discussions of gnostic views than I could possibly provide here, check out http://www.gnosis.org.

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One such important but partial truth, it seems to me of late, is that ignorance, suffering, and death are part of the Cosmos by design -- contrary to conservative Christianity, which sees them as the result of human sin -- and that they are malignant spiritual forces -- contrary to liberal Christianity, which sees them as merely neutral features of a lawful scientific universe.  http://www.gnosis.org.

 

Thinking like this you just might create some disorder in the universe. That's ok. Some are of the belief that truly creative acts and concepts are the ultimate form of symmetry breaking. It is definitely the road less traveled.

 

Of course this is the essence of some of the great religions that were created before Christianity. Zoroastrianism (Persia) and Buddhism (India) would be prominent examples. Experts believe that they both had a profound influence upon the formative philosophies of the early Christian church.

 

Pagels' book, Adam Eve and the Serpent also addresses some of the reasons that cosmic dualism was pretty much excluded from the Judeo-Christian systems. Spiritual philosophies expressed by the current Dalai Lama are also enlightening to a Buddhist viewpoint on suffering. My personal take is that Christianity mainly made dualism a more "abstract" subject of its philosophical foundations in order to facilitate trade and business activity.

 

Remember, the cosmos is the light and the darkness together. The darkness is much more prevalent than the light. It could be that Star Wars is the best set of mythical materials to come along in about 3,000 years. Lucas knew what he was doing when he asked Joseph Campbell for advice on story lines.

 

flow.... ;)

Edited by flowperson
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Lately I've been trying to tackle Gnosticism -- not so much as an approach to spirituality, which probably wouldn't shock anyone around here too badly, but as an approach to metaphysics and cosmology.  Whereas Liberalism and Literalism clash over the historical and scientific claims of Chrisitanity, Orthodoxy and Gnosticism clash over the metaphysical and epistemological foundations of Christianity -- and it's a much more interesting battle I think.  Gnosticism takes most of the foundational narratives of the Bible and thoroughly inverts their ordinary meaning -- about as good an example of a Hegelian antithesis as you could ask for.  This leads to some startling interpretations of the creation and fall stories in Genesis, to say the least.

 

Anyway, I'm not so much interested in adopting it as a philosophy as it is, but I'm captivated by it as a photographic negative of Christian orthodoxy.  It is in many fascinating ways the Jungian shadow of Christianity, preserving some important but partial truths in the language of myths and dreamlike images, until Christianity's orthodox "ego" is able to integrate them into its religious consciousness.

 

One such important but partial truth, it seems to me of late, is that ignorance, suffering, and death are part of the Cosmos by design -- contrary to conservative Christianity, which sees them as the result of human sin -- and that they are malignant spiritual forces -- contrary to liberal Christianity, which sees them as merely neutral features of a lawful scientific universe.  This is one of the aforementioned inversions of the ordinary meaning of a Christian (actually Jewish) teaching.  When I attempt to synthesize the Orthodox and Gnostic views on this, what comes into view for me is the notion of a G-d whose love is so profound, that G-d literally divested Himself of all knowledge and power of the one true Source, issuing forth in a universe veiled in ignorance and suffering, in order to make genuine choice, love, and awakening possible.  "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."  (2 Corinthians 5:21)

 

So that's where my brain waves have been lately.  For more detailed discussions of gnostic views than I could possibly provide here, check out http://www.gnosis.org.

 

 

Hi fred,

 

 

I just began reading a book on Gnosticism by Hoeller. The first chapter was very enlightening. I look forward to hearing more of your take on this subject.

 

 

Godspeed,

 

Jerryb

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I got this off the site you posted Fred. Thanks for the posting.

 

The Gospel According to Mary Magdalene

The Savior said There is no sin, but it is you who make sin when you do the things that are like the nature of adultery, which is called sin. ...

www.gnosis.org/library/marygosp.htm

 

This is my take on all this

 

As we perceive pure consciousness (God the Father) pervading all things, we understand more clearly that God has absolute control over all creation, and that each individual is already one with God, inseparable from Him. People are not aware of this because they are immersed in creation and the idea of materiality. They are deceived into thinking that disease (not being at ease, dis-ease) is real, and that the devil and sin are everywhere. Until a higher view is cultivated through prayer and purification of thought it will certainly appear that the devil can control our lives, but this is a false and temporary view because under God there can’t be a broken harmony in creation.

 

I like this philosophy because

 

When we know the truth that God is omnipresent and that there is nothing else but pure consciousness (God) , we feel at ease and yield to His divine consciousness. When our souls are enlightened with pure consciousness, we don’t attempt to control others by condemning them or manipulating them with the devil because we understand that it is through love that God governs everybody and all of creation. The personal desire to control others comes by mistakenly believing that man is evil and indicates a distrust of God’s ability to govern His own creation. If we worship God by basing our thoughts and our actions on Him who is the strongest force, then the devil has no power. When we see God as one, it will have a beneficial influence upon our minds, our bodies and all of creation because we will be moved to great clarity and good actions. We will become a clear-seeing soul, when we refuse to tolerate evil.

 

http://thinkunity.com

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[The Gospel According to Mary Magdalene

The Savior said There is no sin, but it is you who make sin when you do the things that are like the nature of adultery, which is called sin. ...

 

 

I see this as representing some different concepts than purely the spiritual aspect that you see soma. I believe that when you look at this "saying" of Jesus it seems that he is talking about the intentional crossing of sacred boundaries, and what may be the consequences of that action. He says,"...but it is you who makes sin when you do the things that are like the nature of adultery...."

 

Note that the author of this passage is careful to separate the act of adultery from the act of making sin. The making of the sin is the "doing the things" part. And this is further clarified in that the making of sin is related to doing things that are "like" the nature of adultery. To me the nature of adultery is not the physical acts involved in sexual license, rather the violation of the societal mores that constitute the strictures of a society. To me that means making intentional choices that result in the violating of the sacred vows and accompanying boundaries in personal relations that denotes one's territory inside of a marriage

 

The roots of these concepts reside in the Sumerian and Babylonian ciivilizations. Whenever a wall, boundary structure, or foundation of a structure was laid, there were usually votive images of the prevalent G-d placed under the stone, brickwork, or gateposts. This seems to indicate how highly the ancients valued the beginnings of the creation of sacred structures. Also, sexual prostitution was a fixture of the religious practices of many of the societies of the region.

 

Once each year every wife was required to place herself in the courtyard of the temple and offer herself for sale in prostitution to the first person who made an offer to her. Usually the offer was only for a token amount by rule. After this exchange and ensuing activiies, the wife went back to her home and marriage without recrimination. There were also priests and priestesses resident in the temples to provide instruction and sexual relief to members of the society in return for an appropriate offering. James Micheners book, The Source, provides a description of this practice in ancient Palestine.

 

So I guess my interpretation of all this, since like it or not, the OT has its cultural roots in the societies of the ancient Near East, it is not necessarily the physical act that creates sin, or the missing of the mark; it is the volitional entering into activities that take an individual across a boundary that represents a moral stricture of a society that makes it a sinful act. You could also surmise that in crossing forbidden boundaries, society and individuals automatically open themselves up to the malignant forces of the cosmos that are there to cause suffering and destruction, as Fred so accurately identified them elsewhere here.

 

flow.... :)

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Thanks for all the posts so far. I better get caught up before I fall too far behind. :)

 

Flow: I am in fact just about finished with Pagels' Adam, Eve, and the Serpent. I was hoping it would get more into the "Gnostic improvisations" than it actually does; as it is, it's mostly an exploration of the evolution of ideas about sexuality and freedom -- conceived both socially and metaphysically. Rightly so, Augustine figures heavily in any discussion of these topics, and the more time goes by, I'm finding a rather large intersection between Augustine's and my own beliefs about freedom -- despite the fact that his whole mechanism of semen as the carrier of original sin, to say nothing of how that all plugs into his pessimism about sexuality, is wildly off the mark. Still, his view of Adam as a "corporate personality" in whom the human race sinned is actually quite metaphysically profound -- leading naturally to a view of Christ as a corporate (indeed cosmic) personality in whom the Cosmos is restored.

 

As far as Star Wars goes, I have to respectfully disagree, and instead recommend The Matrix for that honor. ;)

 

Soma: I think your idea about sin being ultimately unreal to G-d in G-d's ultimate unity is exactly correct. I was seeing this same idea in Jim Marion's Putting on the Mind of Christ, for anyone who's seen or read this. (If not, think Ken Wilber meets Christian spirituality.) However, I think there still needs to be room for the distinction between blindly acting out of ignorance because one has not seen the truth, and willfully acting out of ignorance after one has seen the truth. While, etymologically, "sin" can refer generically to any kind of "missing the mark," I prefer to use it in the second case to denote a willful act in violation of what one knows to be true. I think this fits with what Flow was saying in his response.

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Hi fred,

 

 

      I just began reading a book on Gnosticism by Hoeller.  The first chapter was very enlightening. I look forward to hearing more of your take on this subject.

 

 

                                                                Godspeed,

 

                                                                  Jerryb

Happy Birthday Jerry!

 

I've flipped through that book quite a bit, and will probably pick it up eventually. The gnosis.org site is actually mostly Hoeller's articles anyway. He has also written a book called The Gnostic Jung. It should be fairly obvious from my original post on this topic that I'm a big Jung fan.

 

:)

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Of course you already knew that much of Augustine's approach to and opinions regarding sexual mores were shaped by his heavy and constant physical conversations with older women as a teen. Wonder which one changed his attitudes?

An act of G-d do you think?

 

flow.... ;)

Edited by flowperson
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Hi fred,

 

 

      I just began reading a book on Gnosticism by Hoeller.  The first chapter was very enlightening. I look forward to hearing more of your take on this subject.

 

 

                                                                 Godspeed,

 

                                                                  Jerryb

Happy Birthday Jerry!

 

I've flipped through that book quite a bit, and will probably pick it up eventually. The gnosis.org site is actually mostly Hoeller's articles anyway. He has also written a book called The Gnostic Jung. It should be fairly obvious from my original post on this topic that I'm a big Jung fan.

 

:)

 

 

Hi Fred,

 

Thanks for the birthday greeting.

 

I am more impressed every day by the Gnostic tradition. Much of my reading lately seems to take me in that direction.

You have to wonder about all those centuries before the arrival of written works...

how did people find out how to relate to God?.....Perhaps through the concept of

"inner Knowing",or gnosticism.

 

 

Blessings,

 

 

Jerryb

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I am more impressed every day by the Gnostic tradition. Much of my reading lately seems to take me in that direction.

It's such an incredible tapestry of images and ideas, far richer -- and much more subversive -- than the flat scientific reductionism that characterizes so much "liberal" Christianity. At the same time, there is no canonical "Gnostic View," which can be frustrating if you're looking for something to attack. ;)

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Gnosticism is by far a richer tapestry, and so much more diverse in its applicability than the approach of orthodoxy. You could say that it supports an underlying unified vision regarding Jesus and his mystical mission among us. This would be the Jungian aspect to the mysteries. A potentially subversive and disordering vision and set of beliefs concerning the core of Christianity.

 

However, there are those individuals in all societies that MUST have order and stability all around them in order to justify their own existence. One might call this the Freudian approach.

 

The restriction of the knowledge of the mysteries is the predominant philosophical approach of orthodoxy. This orthodox approach to Christianity was actively created and promoted over the centuries to balance the mystical richness of the Jungian visions of unity that are suggested by many of the Gnostic texts. Without the balancing influences of orthodoxy, anarchy would always have been a much greater danger in Christian societies over the past 2,000 years. After all, Jesus reputedly said that he had thrown fire upon the earth. What could be more threatening to those who insist upon order?

 

Of course the greatest danger here is that very strict orthodoxy can, and has, morphed into dictatorial and facist structures that have been brutally used to suppress and subjugate mystical visions and interpretations of Jesus' work among us. One might even say that such repression is alive and well in supposedly "free" nations today.

 

What is the best way? Of course the truth is the best way!

 

What is the truth? The truth is ALWAYS the most believable story.

 

What is the best story? That's being decided "for" us by "free market policies" these days, and not "by" us as it should be; but then, it's my belief that the success of The DaVinci Code speaks huge volumes about the "longing for truth" out there among a huge and silenced majority.

 

flow.... :)

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However, there are those individuals in all societies that MUST have order and stability all around them in order to justify their own existence. One might call this the Freudian approach.

As you're so fond of pointing out, order/stability is one (necessary) pole in a dynamic tension that exists within all complex processes. The disorder/instability pole would be constantly ripping everything apart otherwise. Within Christianity, Orthodoxy and Gnostcism represent a kind of chaotic tension within which Western spirituality and philosophy play out. Orthodoxy doesn't recognize Gn. as a valid form of Christianity, of course, but neither does the ego recognize the shadow as its disowned self.

 

The restriction of the knowledge of the mysteries is the predominant philosophical approach of orthodoxy. This orthodox approach to Christianity was actively created and promoted over the centuries to balance the mystical richness of the Jungian visions of unity that are suggested by many of the Gnostic texts. Without the balancing influences of orthodoxy, anarchy would always have been a much greater danger in Christian societies over the past 2,000 years.

Right, various forms of structure had to be in place over time, in order to develop the various pieces of the puzzle which lead to an integrated view of reality. See, we have the same basic understanding of the scientific process. ;)

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In the human phase of evolution man is endowed with the attributes of free will and free choice. The 'doer I' or ego can choose to serve either the mind and body or the pure consciousness of that particular individual. Man is not a mechanical individual, but is left alone to discover his 'pure I' or connection with the whole (God). Man cannot be forced to love God or his higher self because to love one has to be free so to love God one has to love God with his own volition. The element of freedom in love is due to the fact that the love we feel is from God. It is His love that we love Him with not our ego’s love to give. We have no love because God created everything; it all comes from pure consciousness so the love that we love God with is similar to shining a mirror at the sun because the light that we reflect on the mirror of our minds comes from the sun. The point I am trying to make is so long as man feels himself to be the ego; he is depriving himself of love and freedom. This very sense of freedom in the ego is what ultimately leads the ego to the discovery that there is more to life. Evolution waits for man to discover the natural laws that guide him to pure consciousness and our relationship to the whole. So we tetor tator between the individual and collective consciousness. I guess it is all fun.

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In the human phase of evolution man is endowed with the attributes of free will and free choice. The 'doer I' or ego can choose to serve either the mind and body or the pure consciousness of that particular individual. Man is not a mechanical individual, but is left alone to discover his 'pure I' or connection with the whole (God). Man cannot be forced to love God or his higher self because to love one has to be free so to love God one has to love God with his own volition. The element of freedom in love is due to the fact that the love we feel is from God. It is His love that we love Him with not our ego’s love to give. We have no love because God created everything; it all comes from pure consciousness so the love that we love God with is similar to shining a mirror at the sun because the light that we reflect on the mirror of our minds comes from the sun. The point I am trying to make is so long as man feels himself to be the ego; he is depriving himself of love and freedom. This very sense of freedom in the ego is what ultimately leads the ego to the discovery that there is more to life. Evolution waits for man to discover the natural laws that guide him to pure consciousness and our relationship to the whole. So we tetor tator between the individual and collective consciousness. I guess it is all fun.

This is dead on, soma! You've perfectly summarized the meaning of I John 4:19: "We love, because He first loved us."

 

When Paul repeatedly says that there is nothing good in us except what comes from God, this isn't neurotic self-loathing -- it's a recognition that everything that exists participates in the being of God. Yet this knowledge -- the experiential knowledge, the gnosis, not the conceptual idea of it -- is veiled from us so that we may seek it and find. And having found it, live fully in the One and in the Many...

 

Thanks for this post.

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If the "L Word" (love) is indeed the underlying, Jungian, archetypal, unifying theme of the Gnostic sects, then why were they doomed to destruction and extinction in the 2nd and 3rd centuries?

 

Why was orthodoxy so dogged and thorough in its pursuit and abolishment of this set of beliefs?

 

Why is love such a threatening emotion and organizational concept to certain individuals?

 

Why are we all so confused so often these days in sexual relations even when love is the reason-d-etre? Is the concept of "agape" love being extinguished by today's beliefs and replaced with sexual pleasures that turn into business arrangements?

 

If G-d is indeed love and we, his/her creations, are reflective in nature of that experience, why do we treat each other so cautiously, gingerly, and fearfully?

 

Could it be because of serpents? What are the serpents? We activate the primitive parts of our brains (the parts that extend back in our animal lineage to the serpent times) when sexual drives take us over. They exist mythologically as being representative of ancient revered wisdom on the Asian continent. They existed as the supreme being in past central American cultures as the feathered, rainbow serpent.

 

I am asking so many questions and that is essentially a disordering activity, but I just thought it was appropriate to indulge myself in some metaphysical mythologizing!

 

flow.... ;)

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If the "L Word" (love) is indeed the underlying, Jungian, archetypal, unifying theme of the Gnostic sects, then why were they doomed to destruction and extinction in the 2nd and 3rd centuries?

 

Why was orthodoxy so dogged and thorough in its pursuit and abolishment of this set of beliefs?

I don't think they necessarily had it out for Love, per se. Gn. was just a bit too freeform and ill-defined, at a time when definition was of paramount importance -- and I don't mean that as a slam. To make matters worse, where Gn. was not ill-defined, it insisted on a fundamentally flawed cosmos, which is at odds with both Judaic and Christian conceptions of cosmology. (As it turns out, the truth is probably more subtle and interesting than all of these conceptions.) As a system unto itself, I think Gn. does have some insurmountable problems; but rather than integrate and correct them, Orthodoxy chose to bury them and deny their existence during its process of self-definition. Again, not a slam. This is how evolutionary development proceeds. It's just so damned easy to get stuck.

 

Why is love such a threatening emotion and organizational concept to certain individuals?

 

Why are we all so confused so often these days in sexual relations even when love is the reason-d-etre? Is the concept of "agape" love being extinguished by today's beliefs and replaced with sexual pleasures that turn into business arrangements?

A different, but extremely good, question. If I had to answer off the top of my head, I'd say that real love requires intense self-examination and self-understanding -- to truly know another, one must let oneself be truly known. Love is a fire that consumes all the comforting illusions of self; beware people who peddle the sentimental love of God.

 

I am asking so many questions and that is essentially a disordering activity, but I just thought it was appropriate to indulge myself in some metaphysical mythologizing!

I've created a monster.

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To make matters worse, where Gn. was not ill-defined, it insisted on a fundamentally flawed cosmos, which is at odds with both Judaic and Christian conceptions of cosmology.

 

That's the "issue" I have with gnosticism overall. I don't believe this universe, this world, this existence is "fallen" - not in the way traditional Christianity (Augustine?) means it, and definitely not in the way gnosticism means it.

 

As I've watched "Lost Christianities" with Ehrman, I have been flabbergasted at the views towards life that the gnostics had. I've read a fair amount of "pro-gnostic" books that never touched on these views. They portray gnosticism as "fuzzy bunny mystical love" rather than discussing the asceticism and loathing of the flesh that many gnostics had.

 

I'm not saying that there aren't truths to be found in the gnostic writings and in gnostic philosophy, but I don't think the average person that embraces gnosticism (ala The DaVinci Code) really knows what it is they think they love.

 

I don't think the early church should have suppressed these writings however. People should be allowed to make up their own minds. :)

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That's the "issue" I have with gnosticism overall. I don't believe this universe, this world, this existence is "fallen" - not in the way traditional Christianity (Augustine?) means it, and definitely not in the way gnosticism means it.

Really? Ignorance, suffering, and death, are simply part of the wondrous natural cycle of life, and it's just the ego that creates the illusion of separateness? If the universe is so shimmeringly radiant, why do we virtually universally "fall" from childlike union into selfishness and separateness? Why does the very fabric of the universe around us seem to tempt us to embrace this illusion?

 

Gnosticism dares to answer that the universe is itself already "fallen" from union with God -- or at least from awareness of it -- that the ignorance and illusion are part of what makes it what it is, not something inculturated, or socialized, or learned, but your cosmic inheritance for being born on this plane of existence, at all. Now, that may need to be qualified in certain ways, but I've still got to respect it for being willing to deal so unflinchingly and systematically with these aspects of reality.

 

Have you read Wilber's "Pre/Trans Fallacy," or his book-length treatment in The Eye of The Spirit? Here's the introduction: http://twm.co.nz/kwilb_eyspir.html. The last section ("Now, there is indeed a falling away from Godhead ...") sums up what I'm getting at about as well as anything could.

 

I'm not saying that there aren't truths to be found in the gnostic writings and in gnostic philosophy, but I don't think the average person that embraces gnosticism (ala The DaVinci Code) really knows what it is they think they love.

Well, what philosophy can't you say that about? :)

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As I've watched "Lost Christianities" with Ehrman, I have been flabbergasted at the views towards life that the gnostics had. I've read a fair amount of "pro-gnostic" books that never touched on these views. They portray gnosticism as "fuzzy bunny mystical love" rather than discussing the asceticism and loathing of the flesh that many gnostics had.

There were most definitely sects within Gn. that naively regarded all matter as evil, and all spirit as good, and thus treated their bodies with abject hatred. As the movement matured, the more perceptive philosophers, like Valentinus -- who actually had a pretty good shot at becoming pope at one point -- grew to understand the light/dark polarity in a much more nuanced and subtle way. On the whole, Gn. ascetisicm was probably on par with the asceticism of orthodox spirituality. I think it's really difficult, from our cultural perspective, to understand what drove asceticism in pretty much all forms of spirituality up until modern times (17th/18th century, enlightenment, etc.). This was not just a western phenomenon, by any means... Anyway, we're almost unable to view it in any other way than as bodily hatred. The writings of the Desert Fathers (and Mothers), for example, make it abundantly clear that it was primarily about self-examination and self-understanding. The modern practices of poverty and chastity, in Christian and Buddhist monastics, still carry on that tradition today -- as well as people who practice Lent beyond giving up TV or chocolate.

 

;)

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Really? Ignorance, suffering, and death, are simply part of the wondrous natural cycle of life, and it's just the ego that creates the illusion of separateness? If the universe is so shimmeringly radiant, why do we virtually universally "fall" from childlike union into selfishness and separateness? Why does the very fabric of the universe around us seem to tempt us to embrace this illusion?

I didn't say the cycle of life is "wondrous" nor did I say the universe is "shimmeringly radiant". :unsure:

 

The whole reason I put the word "issue" in quotes was to "soften" it. It's really not an issue, but I didn't know what other word to use.

 

Also, the reason I put the word "fallen" in quotations was to highlight that I don't agree with the standard definition of "fallen" - I don't think humans were created perfect, unable to "sin", and then somehow sinned, and fell from grace (the standard Christian belief).

 

I actually lean towards the idea that Iraneaus had (as I understand it, I haven't read him) - that we are here to "learn" (nutshell version).

 

Gnosticism dares to answer that the universe is itself already "fallen" from union with God -- or at least from awareness of it -- that the ignorance and illusion are part of what makes it what it is, not something inculturated, or socialized, or learned, but your cosmic inheritance for being born on this plane of existence, at all.

I appreciate that gnosticism dares to answer that the universe is fallen from union with God. I wasn't trying to say that it didn't.

 

I was trying to say, (as I said above), that I don't think that humans were created materially and spiritually perfect and then fell from perfection. I also don't think the universe is fundamentally flawed (created imperfect by a flawed god).

 

I do think that the universe was purposely set up to distance us from God. That was actually my sig line for awhile. I think we may be on the same page here (hence my confusion). :blink:

Edited by AletheiaRivers
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PS - The whole reason I chose the handle "Aletheia" was because of the idea of kenosis ... that creation was made in such a way as to make us forget God, forget the truth, forget knowledge and be immersed in "illusion" ... that we (or God if you prefer) emptied ourselves to live in this plane ... we drank of the river lethe and emptied ourselves. A-lethe-ia is the process of remembering, of un-emptying ourselves, of finding truth, of finding light.

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I didn't say the cycle of life is "wondrous" nor did I say the universe is "shimmeringly radiant".  :unsure: 

I know, I was exaggerating for effect. B)

 

I was trying to say, (as I said above), that I don't think that humans were created materially and spiritually perfect and then fell from perfection. I also don't think the universe is fundamentally flawed (created imperfect by a flawed god).

 

I do think that the universe was purposely set up to distance us from God. That was actually my sig line for awhile. I think we may be on the same page here (hence my confusion). :blink:

We're definitely in agreement that humans weren't created materially and spiritually perfect, as traditional Christianity claims. As for being created by a literal "demiurge" or flawed god, as many ancient gnostics would have held, no, I don't believe this. But taken symbolically, the idea of the universe being the product of a more limited -- or self-limited -- creative impulse is starting to really make sense to me. The idea of God, in full knowledge and power, engineering a world of pain and suffering for us to awaken in, seems frankly cruel; but God utterly emptying himself, generating the very conditions of our existence out of his own supreme self-sacrifice... that's astounding. Talk about a God who is with us in our suffering, a God who upholds the downtrodden.

 

Maybe this is a different way of expressing what you mean anyway. :)

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