I am so not a dualist.

December 26, 2008 at 6:55 pm (Prodigal Valentine)

World-haters. That’s what the orthodox catholics accused the ancient gnostics of believing. There are numerous passages throughout the gnostic texts, and even the modern Gnostic liturgies, that reflect the idea of the demiurge, of the the world being created as a result of Error. Superficially, the texts agree with the Catholic heresiologists’ assertion, that gnostics view “the world” as something to be shunned, or regarded as base or crooked.

“The world is Satan’s dominion,” to quote my former religion. We made a big deal out of the “be not conformed to this world” scripture, in much the same way the gnostics of the ancient world were accused of doing. We actively withdrew from “the world”, and its evil ways. Cathar Perfecti, however, we assuredly were not. As a matter of fact, not even close. We were truly dualists, of a particularly cruel and cloistered nature. Terrible System to bring a child up in.

G/gnosticism appears on the surface to be much the same. But only to those observing from the outside, taking a blanket reading of the texts at face value. That approach does not aid an allegorical reading at all. Reading the texts and seeing “world-hating dualism” is one thing. Experiencing gnosis directly is another thing entirely.

Praxis of gnosis, being neti neti (I am an apophatist), leads me to the sense that this is not what the texts are saying at all. To agree with the positive atheists, the world is neither good, nor evil, it is simply indifferent. This is actually in agreement with the emanations theology of the Cathars and some of the other orthodox Gnostic groups, that the demiurge came from “the god above god”, despite the inherent contradiction this poses for some.

I don’t agree with the Catharist concept of this god above god being “the good god”. The Ineffable Unknowable, as the world attests if only we will open our eyes and look, is neither good nor bad. It is indifferent. The infinite chain of attainment, that which we vow to escape as gnostics, means (to me) also rejecting a black-and-white either/or, good/evil view of the world. Not an easy task by far. I certainly haven’t come close to “perfecting” it myself.

That there is something beyond the “self” is beyond dispute. Whether it is “out there” in the sense of a First Cause, or whether it is simply “in here”, within the confines of human consciousness and self-awareness, science may never draw conclusive results. That isn’t an issue for me.

I do not need to assign divinity to “as it always was, is now, and ever shall be” of the eternal aeon when I am within it. Nor do I need to deify the purely human consciousness that gets me there. I do not need to literally believe that that which I experience directly, is something alien or extrinsic to myself, in order to get the full benefit of the experience. If it is something extrinsic, great. If it is not, no difference. “Reality” of the myths for me is not a deal-breaker.

Men create gods. This is where I find apophatism useful. No need to create a god, when I acknowledge the universal Truth in the fact that there is no way to define one, that does not ultimately end up being an image of an image. That, for me, is the allegorical heart of the “men create gods” passage from Philip.   This was the “world of error” the ancient gnostics tried to steer themselves and their followers away from, IMO.

This is why the gnostic gospels repeatedly urged their readers not to speak directly of their experiences in the presence of the ineffable knowledge. Not because of any two-tiered information system, or any cultist tendencies, that reserved a different level of information for those who had been initiated versus the ordinary lay-members, but because assigning words and names and shapes and forms to that which always was, is, and ever shall be, will render it useless. It will disappear like so much mist, or be distorted into a demiurgic form. Neither outcome is beneficial.

The gnostic texts were, to my mind, actively preaching against dualism, not for it. The “be as a little child of seven days” idea from the gospel of Thomas. Not this, not that. Something and nothing and everything in between. There is no spoon. The ideas begin to break down. Even this paragraph is reduced to so much insensate babble, when exposed to the reality of the rulers. If those “rulers” are only psychological, or otherwise.

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Approaching Darkness (Solstice Thoughts)

December 23, 2008 at 9:53 pm (Gnostic Texts, Reading, Un-Lectionary)

The concept of neti neti or apophatic theology has always held great appeal for me. Is this another Pascalian wager, or does it perhaps reflect some form of Universal Truth?

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Baptism by Fire

December 22, 2008 at 9:00 pm (Personal Insight, Praxis)

Going through the psalter today, I was struck by some of the many images of Sophia that feature the Wisdom goddess with the descendant spark of the Gnosis (or the Christos if you’re comfortable with that term — I’m not) either descending onto the fallen figure, or “within” [the arms of] the fallen figure, consistent with the mythos of the Bridal Chamber, and its promise/fulfillment of the restoration of the divine syzygy.

To me, this is a powerful psychological allegory for how human wisdom, that “experience is the best teacher” is tempered by human consciousness, insight and intuition. Allowing that temperance just might be the “baptism in the bridal chamber” spoken of in the gnostic texts.

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Heretical Anti-Ecclesiastic Questions

December 16, 2008 at 10:50 pm ("Like it says on the tin.")

“The limitless questions cannot be asked. I vow to ask all of them.”

WARNING: If you are a Gnostic Ecclesiastic, proceed at your own risk! I am VERY anti-church, VERY anti-institution, and very very very very extremely “anti-Gnostic” (the religious guys in the funny hats). If you are offended, put out, or feel yourself trodden upon by the following post, do not say you were not warned in advance.

For all others: Take everything I say with a huge grain of salt, these are only my opinions: I was born and raised in a closed high-demand religious group, and so I am extremely leery of ALL organized religion, which I see as Systems. Any good gnostic (not the Gnostics though) will tell you where a System will get you. (Hint: Take the red pill.)

Today we shall be examining the Ecclesia Gnostica.

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Mid-winter

December 14, 2008 at 3:57 pm (Personal Insight)

As the winter solstice draws closer, I find myself feeling the wind-down of the year more keenly than I have in years past. For a variety of reasons and circumstances I find myself much more reflective, during this solstice season, than ever before. I really don’t do Advent, but the ending of this solar year has had a slightly advent-ish feel, to me.

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“The end will be where the beginning is.” Gos.Th., Log.18

December 14, 2008 at 1:42 am (Media Divinia)

“The disciples said to Jesus, “Tell us, how will our end come?”

Jesus said, “Have you found the beginning, then, that you are looking for the end? You see, the end will be where the beginning is.

“Congratulations to the one who stands at the beginning: that one will know the end and will not taste death.”

If you have done any kind of comparative reading on the Gnostic religion and Gnosticism (and even gnosticism), you should know, or at least have come across, the concept lectio divina.

I had linked to a page I only skimmed, as it resulted in a search for “gnostic lectio divina”. Unfortunately that page, similar to the Wikipedia entry, takes a fundamentalist, “don’t-let-those-nasty-demons-in” literalist orthodoxy approach. As per the old adage of getting something done right the first time by doing it yourself, here are the aspects of lectio divina as practiced by Gnostics and gnostics:

Lectio

The “reading” part of the lectio divina. Read the passage slowly, attentively, several times. You are not looking to “download” the information, you are seeking to understand it fully from your perspective on the world.

Meditatio

That understanding must then be integrated into yourself. This is the essence of gnosis, and is what all gnostics (and some Gnostics) strive for.

Contemplatio

This part, if practiced at all by Gnostics or gnostics, is a very different understanding than traditional Christian prayer. Some may choose to pray to Sophia, if they take the Valentinian approach that Sophia, whether only in our minds or external to them, has a “lower incarnation” to whom we can plead our cases, and she will intercede for us in the eighth and the ninth.

Others of a more Buddhist or even Quaker bent might simply forego the intercessors, and go straight for an “opening oneself to the limitless light” type of prayer. (The oratorio and contemplatio may be combined, in gnostic/Gnostic praxis, or may be separated out, as dictated by the individual or the group.)

Given the post-modern nature of the world as it is (especially the world as it is on the Internet), submitted here for your approval is the inaugural text in the Media Divina category of the Gospel of Mikjij.

That’s right: I seek re-union with the Pleroma, through the “holy reading” of visual media (TV shows and movies) that has Gnostic (or even gnostic) undertones, subtle or overt.

My media divina of choice for today’s post is Doctor Who: Journey’s End.

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