The only sin is ignorance.

January 29, 2009 at 10:06 pm (Personal Insight, Prodigal Valentine)

Today, the topic under review is “Sin”. Ah, yes, “sin”. That bugabear that traps so many in the unwitting clutches of religion. “Everything you do is sinful! You are a base, disgusting, worthless worm that doesn’t deserve to draw breath on this earth! But wait! There’s good news! If you pay, pray, stay and obey, your worm status gets upgraded, and when you die, you won’t be worm food!!”

See, this is where I like the gnostic path. The only “sin” is ignorance. The texts also instruct us to “be not concerned with Error”. Which is often easier said than done. But that’s the whole point of escaping the infinite chain of attainment (of not letting yourself be affected by the goings-on and sturm und drang in the world).

I drive the mainstream Christians batty, just because I approach their divinely inerrant texts as cracking good two-thousand-year-old fiction (with all the rationalism that perspective implies), but then I go that one step further, and try and get the same results out of the texts that they do — without having the need to literalize or historicize the parables. “You are not to be saved by believing that a man lived and died long ago at Jerusalem.” That quote from Gerard Winstanley is pretty much what I set sail by, when it comes to navigating the waters of the texts, both Christian canonicals and gnostic scripture.

Gnosticism contends that the spark of human consciousness is the same within us all. (Some gnostics would deify that spark, but I won’t go that far.) That we are all a part of the universe, just as much as it is a part of us. Being born as blank slates, we somehow forget that connection, as time goes on, and we become wrapped up in our own cares and concerns. We become, like the blind god Samael, self-centred, and we see no others besides ourselves.

That’s the only “original sin” in all of the gnostic texts and mythologies. When you forget who you are, and that everything and everyone is connected. The “we see through a glass darkly” verse from the Christian canon comes to mind here. There are some gnostic elements in the Christian texts. Unfortunately, they have been misapplied by the orthodox regimes.

This is likely why the only reference to sin in the Gospel of John (long claimed by religious Gnostics as “one of their own”) is a literalistic one, that agrees mostly with the orthodox Christian standard of “sin” I have outlined above. The other Johannite text, the Secret Book (Apocryphon) of John (whether it was authored by “John” or not; most likely it was not) takes an entirely different tack, and posits that forgetfulness and ignorance of our place in the panentheistic All was the “original sin” (as reflected in the allegory of the fall of Sophia).

Religious Gnostics accept this allegory as what literally, historically happened. Freethinkers like myself see instead the formation of the three cortexes of the brain reflected in this allegory. The paleocortex, the cerebral cortex, and finally the neocortex. To wit, the primitive brainstem, the “animal brain” (that we share with other mammals), and the thin layer of brain tissue that makes us human. This corresponds with the gnostic three-tiered view of hylics, psychics, and pneumatics. Bear in mind these are definitions from two thousand years ago; pretty cool that they came so close to what science determined as fact, eh?

I personally believe the early gnostics were trying to assimilate and fully understand (“Know thyself.”) the cerebral cortex. Not being as advanced scientifically as we are in modern times, they resorted to the hands-on approach of “Let me mess around with it, and see what happens.” This is what led to meditation and contemplative praxis becoming popular. Studies show that meditation thickens the cerebral cortex of the brain. (Which may explain why I feel as though I have been in a brain fog since I have given up my praxis as of late.)

The only “sin” in the gnostic worldview is, once you have caught a glimpse of what the cerebral cortex can provide you with, once you have tuned it properly, going back to forgetfulness and living life on auto-pilot is a very bad thing. Back to self-centredness, to not seeing yourself as a small spark in a much larger universe. Yeah, that’s been me, all right.

Fragments of Valentinian texts that have survived to present times, suggest that the first baptism, or initiation into gnostic thought, is the forgiveness of ignorance. Both in ourselves and others, I would think. That certainly isn’t the easy part. The gnostic path isn’t the easiest one, anyway, that much I hold to be self-evident and true.

If you want to read further on the gnostic idea of sin as ignorance and fear, I recommend the Gospel of Thomas, the Apocryphon (Secret Book) of John, the Hypostasis of the Archons (translated in some places as The Reality of the Rulers), the Gospel of Truth, and the Gospel of Philip. All of these can be found in Willis Barnstone and Marvin Meyer’s The Gnostic Bible.

(If you want the full exegesis, including scriptures, of my study on the topic, see here.)


Permalink 2 Comments

My Adventures as a Valentinian…….

January 24, 2009 at 4:46 pm (Prodigal Valentine) ()

…….Or a wannabe Valentinian, at any rate, have now come to a close. After all, I didn’t get on very well with the orthodox Christians I was exposed to on the pseudo-gnostic discussion board, so that taught me an excellent object lesson. I could not hide nor repress my freethinking tendencies (described as “impolite”) when hidden behind a screen-name; I highly doubt I would have been able to do so in a congregational setting.

The Knostics would tell me this means I am “the pope of my own orthodoxy” or “an orthodoxy of one”. If what they refer to as “my orthodoxy” is science and human progress and rational thought, then so be it.

The difference between them and myself is, I never sought to impose my orthodoxy on others. I just wanted to engage in open, freethinking discussion, about the experiences which we have in common.

Getting banned from the Pit at least woke me up to the fact that, experiences in common notwithstanding, the community there was exceedingly opposed to my worldview and rationalist perspective. As would be any orthodox community IRL, in which I found myself.

Well, that, and apparently my old church is still a little too much like “the old church” than they want everyone to think they are.

I was doing all right to begin with, on my gnostic path. My mistake was being led astray, by those who are in error. But the Gospel of Truth says all anyone needs to know about that, so I’ll shut up now.

And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

Permalink 3 Comments

Think Gnosis

January 23, 2009 at 2:41 am (Prodigal Valentine) ()

Please visit the new discussion board, Think Gnosis. This board will aim to adhere to the policies of gnostic freethought (not as oxymoronic as some might incorrectly assume), skeptical inquiry, and rationalist criticism.

Hope to see you there!

Permalink Leave a Comment

Response to Hexalpa

January 20, 2009 at 11:03 pm (Prodigal Valentine) ()

quote=”limitlessquestions”When those of you who belong to churches participate in the rituals, you can’t tell me you are in “a usual state of mind”. That rather defeats the purpose, doesn’t it?/quote

quote=”Hexalpa”You don’t know what you are talking about./quote

Hexalpa’s opinion.

quote=”Hexalpa”You are also treading close to religion-bashing./quote

Please tell me where I was “religion-bashing”? Again, I think you are building a straw man, simply because I am a rationalist, and clearly unwelcome here.

quote=”Hexalpa”I am getting tired of your hostility toward churchs./quote

Please tell me how the above sentence was “hostile”? (You also misspelled “churches”.)

You don’t have to be “tired” of me for too much longer, Hex. I’m out of here.

quote=”Hexalpa”No more soft warnings. This one is official./quote

And has been taken entirely in the spirit is which it is intended.

Turns out Hexalpa decided to ban me so I wouldn’t have a chance to respond to this. I think a few words from Matthew are appropriate at this juncture, don’t you?

“By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.”

Permalink 2 Comments

They’re Definitely Not in Pasadena Anymore

January 18, 2009 at 3:05 pm (Prodigal Valentine) ()

The focus of the church’s theology has apparently changed (They now have no qualms about mentioning crosses, although fortunately what I have seen does not devolve into the gory “bloody” Christian death-worship thus far.), but the finances appear to be the same (or similar) as always. (All the money still gets funnelled to “the head of the church under Christ”, although mandatory tithing is no longer required, at least I have not been told that it is. Mind you, I have not gotten in the door yet.)

I am undecided as to how I should broach the topic of my reading Tom Harpur, except maybe to mention that I’ve seen the documentary, and reserve any comment on what I feel about it.

(See the documentary yourself, here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5.)

The church also now apparently devotes a lot of its time to calling themselves Christians, without the appellation “the true” in front of the name.

I never considered myself a Christian, and I fall much more in line with Jim West’s and Jordan Stratford’s views of gnosticism and Gnosticism, respectively. The culture shock, at least, might jar me out of any notions that I can go back to the church, even in a Cosmic Spirituality context.

That said, I am also swayed by the idea that the members of the discussion group are able to reconcile a purely Valentinian practice with their praxis; a part of fully accepting the world as it is presented to them, perhaps. And of recognizing “that of [ineffable]” in all others, even those who hold fast to fundamentalism.

We shall see what we shall see. On the surface, it appears the church (or my local congregation of it at least) is at least saying they have changed; whether or not the words will translate into types, or into images, at this point, remains to be seen.

Jeremy Puma’s post on “Silent Agency” has been a great help to me as well, in going forward with this, despite any misgivings the negatives of the past may stir up.

Permalink 1 Comment

Odd Visual Experience

January 18, 2009 at 12:12 pm (Prodigal Valentine) ()

My life has been, shall we say, somewhat archonic as of late. I confess that I have let my praxis (what little I engage in) badly slip.

I was generally reflecting on how badly my life was going, and generally having a nice little pity party, when I caught a glimpse of myself in passing in a mirror.

For just a split second, I did not recognize what I saw. A sullen, angry, thoroughly alienated person looked back at me.

I blinked, thinking it was a trick of the light, just my imagination running away with me, but when I looked away and looked back again, the impression was still there. I realized then that I actually felt the way I looked. That I had felt that way for about a week (or more) actually.

An object lesson, in how far I have come, and how far I still have to go. I said a rosary of the ascent before I went to sleep last night. I feel different this morning. Calmer. Much less agitated, angry, upset.

It was unsettling to see myself like that, but at least I was able, for the first time to actually see. A brief glimpse into the mirrored bridal chamber perhaps? Definitely progress IMO, whatever the root cause is, or was, or will be.

“Seek, and do not stop seeking until you find. When you find, you will be troubled. When you are troubled, you will marvel and rule over all.”Logion 18, the Gospel of Thomas

Permalink Leave a Comment

Personal Account of Gnosis

January 10, 2009 at 8:29 pm (Personal Insight, Praxis, Prodigal Valentine)

Found this on a mini-Wayback Machine-type jaunt:

I’m looking for personal enlightenment stories, by or about people who have achieved gnosis. I’m really looking for these from a Gnostic perspective, but I’ll gladly look at any submissions. They can be a slam-crash-boom enlightenment, or a slow, gradual learning-experience type of enlightenment.

I am now also looking for contemporary interpretations of what exactly gnosis *is*. Even if it’s something you don’t feel you’ve experienced, but you have some good ideas, please send them along. Anything goes.

The author is Jeremy Puma from the Order of Allogenes. I say “mini-Wayback Machine” because this was posted in February 2008, so the deadline has likely closed. The word limit was noted as being 500 words. Still, it’s a good exercise for any time, if not necessarily the original purpose to which it was intended.

So in 500 words, the achievement of gnosis, from my perspective.

Read the rest of this entry »

Permalink Leave a Comment

My Adventures as a Valentinian……

January 9, 2009 at 10:08 am (Prodigal Valentine) ()

……Are about to begin. I have emailed the minister of my local congregation. We shall see what develops.

The Valentinians were able to reconcile community with fundamentalist, literalist believers, even though they did not share the same mindset, in the way of blind faith and non-docetism, not even to mention non-gnosis.

We shall see what develops.

Permalink Leave a Comment