The prodigal Valentine tries again.

September 5, 2009 at 6:36 pm ("Like it says on the tin.", Media Divinia, my funny valentine, Prodigal Valentine) ()

Technological issues notwithstanding (I do not have the proper hardware to adequately run the world-simulator), I have found myself of late, attending the Second Life Meeting for Worship. It is by no means an adequate substitute for a face to face “real live” Quaker Meeting, as even the non-theist Friends agree.

Given the vagaries of geography and politics and religion, combined with how all three of those factors interact, it’s the closest I can come right now. It may provide only a dim light, casting shadows on a richer reality elsewhere, but it has given me at least a sense of what meeting face-to-face, just might be like.

Much harder work, for one thing. Sitting in meditative praxis in front of what is essentially a blank IRC chat window, is worlds and away easier than “sitting” via avatar, in a rich visual setting, with other representations of real people moving around in the environment around you. I never did have any success with the “blank your mind” meditative techniques, but I can see where being in an unfamiliar visual environment, can reinforce and even strengthen that type of praxis.

I am still using the gnostic guided meditation technique, however, although I have hit on the trick of focusing the meditations through the lends of the “centering thought” that is provided at the start of each Meeting. In today’s case, it was hospitality, along the lines of the quote (that I paraphrase badly) “go cheerfully throughout the world, seeing that of go[o]d in everyone you meet”, with several insightful queries appended.

Using the Thomasine meditations, I was struck again by how the allegories themselves, while they never change, consistently provide a shifting lens upon whatever topic I bring them to bear. Including this one. The first meditation, in all of the rosaries (indeed even the standard Roman Catholic, Buddhist and Anglican ones), are set to achieve what the Quakers refer to as “centering down”, and this I have found useful.

The second meditation, the woman with the jar of flour, was very much in line with the quote above, and I ruminated on that for some moments. Especially given that is one of my weak spots, and I more often leak darkness from the broken handle of the jar, than any kind of light. This journey is not about self-recrimination for me, however, it is merely about resolving to be more aware of my faults, before I actually engage in them.

The third meditation, the lost sheep, became more the idea of ‘bull in a china shop’ and how to meet those with whom we may not necessarily agree, or share the worldviews of. There was even some ministry regarding this, which was a pleasant coincidence.

During the fourth meditation, I became more aware of the idea that reality is entirely how I see it, and to change my reality, I need to change my perspective. The initial reaction by some to this might be “Do DRUGS!” but I’m taking a much less invasive (although no less neurochemical) approach to it, personally. I feel attuned to nature, ex., I could (and have done) sit and watch the spiders on my back porch busily spin their individual webs, and live their individual lives. Same with the blue jay that visits every year, or the ants busily making hills in the flower bed, or the moths that flicker around the lights at dusk.

My interactions with other people on the other hand, are not quite so fascinating. This is where I need to pull myself up, and it’s a key that I am only just realizing as I type it, it was not something that came up in MfW. In order for me to more easily interact with others, I have to see others (I may have to will myself to see it, but I certainly want to try) as unique, intricate, individual members of the animal kingdom, that every bug, spider, bird, and plant, that currently catches my attention is as well. Instead of automatically assuming the negative, I need to step back, and observe others as themselves. Good, bad, indifferent, I should find it all fascinating. Gaining insight into others might give me insight into myself.

It’s my crackpot theory, anyway, we’ll see how the testing phase of it goes.

The fifth meditation was very much about how little things often mean more (for good or for ill) to others, than do big, showy productions or trying too hard. I have always made at least a minimal effort to try and do little things for people, sometimes. This was also the point at which the allegory of the multiplied fishes and loaves (shared by both the christological figure and by Horus), kept popping up. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it at all, not even after I read the Johannine verses on it from the RSV.

I think the point was, at the end of the allegory, they sought the christological figure again, to punish him for being generous. In standard Christian fare, this is the source of the typical persecution complex. In allegorical terms, if you read the text from the beginning of the chapter, it indicates that the central character in the story planned the “miracle” all along. So it’s very much a satirical, cautionary tale; that if you go overboard, and do too much, out of a place of working great signs and wonders, you’ll definitely get taken down a peg for it!

Those are my initial thoughts about it. I do need to do some more research, however, and look into the original legend of Horus that the christological allegory was drawn from.

The sixth meditation was very much focused on seeing that of good in others, maybe beginning to see that of good in myself. Finally, the seventh meditation was, as it is in all of them, the concluding, ‘come back to reality’ type of wind-down that is its purpose. Come back to a more grounded, less anxiety-ridden reality, that is.

A lot of rambling thoughts, to try and describe 45min I still haven’t completely sorted through myself. But that’s exactly how it’s supposed to be.

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Pissing off the religious is my part-time hobby.

August 15, 2009 at 5:13 pm ("Like it says on the tin.", my funny valentine, Personal Insight, Praxis, Prodigal Valentine)

I have long been attracted to the idea of becoming a Non-Theist Friend.

To that end, I have begun participating more in the online Quaker world, most notably on the QuakerQuaker site, which says it’s one thing, and has proven to be quite another, indeed.

The site is most decidedly for Christians only, and the Quakers there (the real ones) have tried their utmost to make the Christians realize their intolerance, narrow-mindedness and general bigotry, is well, maybe, not OK. (I mentioned they’re Quakers, right?)

Recently, a Pagan Quaker decided to post a section on QuakerQuaker for Liberal Quakers. Liberal Quakers include non-Christians and non-theists, or sometimes they do, apparently. Yeah I know, it’s a Quaker thing. So I decided to participate, and posted the following videos:

Comedian Dave Allen’s Introduction to Christianity. I mentioned in the description the Christian canonical scriptures of a little child leading them, and out of the mouths of babes.

Atheist Peace, by Bad Religion. Titled “My Kind of Peace Testimony!”, with a description that read, “Atheist Peace a music video that lines up nicely with the Quaker Peace Testimony.” Which it does, if you watch the video. So I decided to log in this afternoon, to see what kind of discussion had been sparked. This is what I found when I tried to access the site:

I wasn’t even logged in, so it looks like I’ve been banned by my IP address. Classic. (What are you going to do when I connect to the Internet through a different wireless connection, Martin?)

Also! An update from the NTF list, another non-Christian Quaker has disassociated himself from the site.

Silly Christians. The inner light is for everyone, and in everyone. If you can’t see that, or live that, or feel that, well, you’re not living up to the Quaker Faith and Practices very well, are you? Then again, you’re not really Quakers, you’re just trying to take over Quakerism, and make it into something it’s not.

There’s a reason your Christian ancestors tortured, jailed, and excommunicated the early Quakers. Trying to usurp Quakerism from within, and make it orthodox again, is not going to go over very well with the rest of the Quakers who aren’t Christians, who don’t believe in the inerrancy of Romanized/Anglicized Christian canon, who don’t believe we are saved by believing a man lived and died in Jerusalem a long time ago (“he” didn’t, it was an allegory).

I’ll confess, when the religious Gnostics kicked me to the curb, I went through a “fuck ’em all” phase, but I decided to keep pursuing the non-theism among Quakers angle. This minor little incident has inspired the opposite reaction in me, and it has only cemented my feeling that I should pursue association with non-theist Friends, and/or Liberal Quakers.

My praxis has been non-existent lately. This, more than anything else, is an indication I need to resume. With or without a MfW surrounding it.

Edit #2:  The Pagan Quaker I mentioned above, has disassociated from the website.

Edit #3: As with my dismissal from the holy presence of the religious Gnostics, I was given neither warning nor explanation for my banning, nor even a cursory email explaining why I was banned. What is it about Christians and their complete and utter lack of basic netiquette, I wonder? Oh, that’s right, they’re “above the law”, I keep forgetting that…..

Edit #4: Apparently there have not been any other bannings. and thanks to the cursory nature of my banning, I have no idea whether it was the videos that pushed Martin Kelley over the edge, or my response to the Dialogue with Non-Christians thread. I’m a non-Christian, why should I get banned for responding to the ghetto thread created for us on QuakerQuaker? Oh, that’s right, it’s because it was a thread for the Christians to preach us into the “correct” way of thinking.

Well, that’s my last word on the matter. Time to be moving on.

Final, final edit: Looks like both of the above non-Christian Quakers have removed their blog posts that I linked to. Probably because I linked to them. 😦 Ah well. Final word on the matter. Better things to do, other people to interact with, I guess. 😦

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Being troubled, and my ongoing baptism of fire.

June 21, 2009 at 2:57 am ("Like it says on the tin.", Praxis, Prodigal Valentine) (, )

The ascent of the seven spheres hit a little closer to home today than it has to date; I don’t know if I am making progress, or back-sliding. I know for a fact I am accessing long-disused parts of my cerebral cortex, because for the past week I’ve had songs from my former church running through my head completely unbidden (not the ones I’ve cribbed for the psalter, the more apocalyptic ones). I am hopeful that means I am clearing it out of my head. Reading it out of memory so it can be erased? Question is, what am I overwriting onto it??

MfW today was more of a personal reflection, than a connectedness with an external subjective reality; that was actually the point. Unfortunately. A lot of “truth came to the world in images”, and quite a considerable amount of trying to figure out if I am being honest to myself, or if in actual fact, I can “remember who I am” and make myself different at the same time. Or maybe make myself the same as what I would like myself to be.

What do I want myself to be? Remembering who I am means remembering things I don’t really want to descend into again, and I thought I had gotten past most of them. I have. Superficially. It is my interactions on the outside of my skull (what few that I have) that are still impacted by who I am, as a result of how I grew up. Remembering who I am means paying attention to those interactions, and trying to determine how they are impacted by who I am, and how I can change my interactions, to change who I am, which might change my interactions. Maybe.

Things have definitely moved from “see the big picture” into “focus in on yourself with a laser” in my praxis. Not a comfortable experience, but as the gospel of Thomas says, “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.” But back to the ascent.

The first sphere was fine, leaving behind the force to grow and decrease is what gets me “in” on the mental space of subjectively non-linear consciousness, quite effectively.

The second sphere, I found myself reflecting upon my own machinations of evil. Nothing of a criminal nature, and the “machinations of evil” that I came up with sounded ridiculous, even to me. The second  sphere was all about my actions and their consequences today though, not the actions of others towards me, the way it usually is.

The third sphere, I found myself reflecting that the guile of lust could also refer to the infinite chain of attainment. Yeah, the one that gnostics vow to escape. I contemplated whether or not there was anything in my life that I could really say I was attached to, through greed or desire or even lust. I couldn’t find an answer right away, until I realized there is one thing that I am attached to, that I should probably let go of.

It isn’t anything material though, it is a mental tic that I have used for a security blanket for as long as I can remember, one that I am definitely 100% absolutely attached to. How I am going escape it, I have absolutely no idea. It informs who I am, just as much as any of the rest of it does, and not in a good way. I wish I was attached to stuff, or things, or even other people (in the real world) although being attached to other people would be a swing of the pendulum in the exact opposite direction from where I am now. I’m trying to find the median, although I don’t know where that is, nor how to get there, if I even can.

The other thing I realized is that NOT being attached to anything, can be a guile of lust all on its own. Rejecting everything out of hand, that isn’t healthy either. Motion and rest. Seesawing between being too attached and not being attached enough is surely better than not being attached to anything or anyone, anywhere, ever, isn’t it?

The fourth sphere was all about reflecting on how I was and can still be judgemental. Again, how I’m going to change that, I have no idea. I was even judgemental of someone, AS I REALIZED that I had to stop being judgemental!! THAT’S NOT GOOD. My brain refuses to cooperate…….How the hell am I going to get my brain to cooperate?! Maybe my brain won’t ever be able to cooperate. Judging others is basically the default setting for all of my interactions with people in the real world, and I DON’T KNOW where the damn DIP switches are………

The fifth sphere, I realized that for me, unholy daring and rashness can be inaction, as well as action. Thumbing your nose at the outside, crawling into your hole and pulling it in after you, THAT’S “unholy daring and rashness”! Crawling out of a nice, comfortable, unthreatening hole to make a life and connections with others, on the other hand, that’s troubling. Which is the point.

The sixth sphere, at least was a little more mundane. I certainly don’t attain wealth through malicious means, but I do have problems with money. Not what you think. I pinch nickels so hard, the beaver chews off its own tail in an effort to get free……Which I realized is also a form of attaining wealth through malicious means. Not something I can readily modify, in my current situation, as being cheap is necessary right now, and more of a help than a hindrance. Mostly.

The seventh sphere had me wandering back to the beginning, and wondering how in the hell I’m supposed to work harder to reflect my “true self” to myself and others around me, when I don’t even have the first clue who or what that true self really is? I know exactly who my true (childhood) self WAS, but given that I was raised in a closed high-demand Bible-based group, I definitely don’t want that “true self” escaping ever. Ever. At all. Not even a little bit. Maybe I don’t have a “true self” maybe I actually am a black hole. Blank slate. I really don’t have any hobbies, popular culture stuff holds absolutely zero interest for me, and my interactions with others are strained at best, and awful at worst.

I don’t know how to change. I don’t even know how to convince myself that I NEED to change. Part of me is still going, “You don’t need to change! You’re in almost total isolation except for your imagination which gives you everything you will ever want or need, you haven’t settled down anywhere,  you have no permanent connections with anyone, ever, anywhere, but it’s easier, less messy, and you’re free to pick up and go as you will! Why is this a bad thing?”

Um, because it’s the stuff normal people’s nightmares are made of?

They’re not kidding when they call it a baptism of fire……..

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Gloomy Sunday and random musings

June 7, 2009 at 1:01 pm ("Like it says on the tin.", Personal Insight, Prodigal Valentine)

I stumbled across this through a combination of surfing, URL-hacking, and generally puttering around on the Net. The title and the pic at the top are a bit off-putting, but hey I read the Johannites’ blogs, without having to buy into the institution they’re selling, so I kept reading. The article started out reasonably enough, the experience of Gnosis being universal, whether you belong to a church or not, and you’ll know it when you have it, etcetera, etcetera.

Then I came across this little gem (emphasis mine):

[Long screed about how the pre-NHL gnosticism was too “psychological” and “Jungian” for the author’s “esoteric” tastes, redacted]

Such [gnostics that don’t agree with the self-professed “arch-bishop’s” worldview] are in grave error and apostasy.

My reaction? Shut up, fool! Every human has the spark of consciousness within them! EVERY human. We are each unique for a reason, and seeking to make people cookie-cutters of yourself or your One True Gnosis, is a thrall of the archons, the delusion of a false self.

Which brings me to my point. The religious Gnostics I took up with, in the earlier part of the year (the ones who kicked me out for not taking the christological myths and allegories literally enough for their liking), accused me of being “the pope of my own orthodoxy”, just because I tried to discuss ideas that were intrinsic to my own gnosis, but anathema to theirs. (They may have also believed that I did not experience gnosis or the Pleroma, because my words and images did not match with theirs.)

With this blog I am, by no means, trying to force my own experiences of gnosis onto anyone else. I just want to discuss what the implications and ramifications of the gnosis I am experiencing through my own individual praxis, means for me. Recording it in a blog lets me organize my thoughts, and process material later that I may not fully comprehend the implications of, at the time that I am writing it.

It has subsequently occurred to me that perhaps people (albeit very few people, which is a good thing) are reading the wrong intentions out of this blog, if they are reading the blog at all. Please don’t do that.

Look, I’m an atheist for one more god than the Christians. Do I “believe” in the Pleroma and the god-above-god? I know I can achieve a subjective non-linear state of consciousness through praxis; however, I do not presume to name, label, or otherwise constrict my own subjective experiences. (Think the speech from The Prisoner.) To do so, for me, is to project a false image onto what is supposed to be Ineffable to me for a reason. In my opinion, if I walked around daily in perfect 24/7 contact with the non-linear consciousness part of our minds, it would look like this. Not conducive to living life in the world, and I am not such a dualist that I want to eschew “the world” and all it contains.

Think of me like the kid from the movie Hackers. I’m messing with the root directory of my own brain, and recording what comes out. My results are, by default, sloppy, off-the-cuff, and not going to be exactly the same as everyone else’s. I would like to think, at the heart of it, that I’m tapping into a universal subjective experience. Whether I actually am or not, is splitting hairs, and beside the point.

Trying to see that subjective, non-linear consciousness peeking through others’ subjective experiences and labels of same, is the part that I need to do the most work on, and that I might ultimately never be able to. But that’s the push-pull of it, for me.

When they ask you, ‘What is the evidence of your Father in you?’ say to them, ‘It is motion and rest.’ Gospel of Thomas

I am reaching towards the Ineffable aeon, but I cannot be encompassed by it fully, because to do so would mean becoming something other than human, which is not possible. Thus, motion and rest.

I am in motion when I am battling the daily archons of fear and self-judgement and the variegated problems and joys of daily living.

I am at rest, when I am in the heart of my praxis, in that non-linear mental space that seems outside of time and all strictures. Both states, in my opinion, are the evidence of the Ineffable within me, as the Gospel of Thomas attests.

Disclaimer: My two cents, not to be applied to anyone else other than me, thus ends my random musings on a gloomy Sunday.

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Nova Logos: Reification

March 14, 2009 at 2:52 am ("Like it says on the tin.", Prodigal Valentine) ()

New feature on the Gos.of.Mikjij blog: Whenever I run across a new word or concept, it will go under the Nova Logos tag/byline. Bad pun yes, and yes, I am unrepentant about that fact. Deal.

Reification

Reification (also known as hypostatisation or concretism) is a fallacy of ambiguity, when an abstraction (abstract belief or hypothetical construct) is treated as if it were a concrete, real event or physical entity. In other words, it is the error of treating as a “real thing” something which is not a real thing, but merely an idea. For example: when one person “holds another’s affection”, affection is being reified.

Note that reification is generally accepted in literature and other forms of discourse where reified abstractions are understood to be intended metaphorically, for example, “Justice is blind.” But the use of reification in logical arguments is usually regarded as a mistake (fallacy). For example, “Justice is blind; the blind cannot read printed laws; therefore, to print laws cannot serve justice.” In rhetoric it may be sometimes difficult to determine if reification was used correctly or incorrectly.

Pathetic fallacy or anthropomorphic fallacy (in literature known as personification) is a specific subset of reification, where the theoretical concepts are not only considered alive, but human-like and intelligent.

The discussion of reification of interest to this blog can be found here, as to how reification is used as a fallacy of ambiguity as it relates to atheism/agnosticism.

Of course, it should be noted that hypostatization is really just the use of metaphor – but, as a fallacy, it is metaphor which has been taken too far. It can be very useful to employ metaphors and abstractions in what we write, but they carry a danger in that we can begin to believe, without realizing it, that our abstract entities have the concrete attributes we metaphorically ascribe to them.

How we describe a thing has a great influence on what we believe about it, which means that our impression of reality is often structured by the language we use to describe reality. Thus, this fallacy teaches us to be careful in how we describe things, lest we begin to imagine that our description has an objective essence beyond the language itself.

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The gnostic book of….Romans?! And the Johannine “Comma”

March 6, 2009 at 12:22 am ("Like it says on the tin.", Gnostic Texts, my funny valentine, Reading)

Say it ain’t so! But look what I just stumbled across:

(Following has been taken from the NKJV, with the NU Text footnotes preferred and insert words removed.)

Rom. 14:1 Receive one who is weak in the faith, not to disputes over doubtful things. 2 For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables.

Hah! Yeah I’ve been there before. You wouldn’t believe how popular vegetarian restaurants were, amongst the members of the church, back in the day. Best way to “know for sure” after all. 😛

3 Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. 4 Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand. 5 One person esteems day above another; another esteems every day. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind.

“Men create gods. That is the way it is in the world. Men create gods, and worship their creation. It would be better for gods to worship men!” Gospel of Philip

6 He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks. 7 For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. 8 For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.

Presumably these verses are where the universalists take their dogma from.

9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living.

The NKJV footnote reads: “NU-Text omits and rose.” This would be consistent with the metaphysically-manifesting christological figure in The Secret Book of John, and perhaps an oblique reference to the ascent through the spheres from the Faith of Wisdom texts? Compare also with this passage from On the Exegesis of the Soul: “Now it is fitting that the soul regenerates herself and become again as she formerly was. The soul then moves of her own accord. And she received the divine nature from the father for her rejuvenation, so that she might be restored to the place where originally she had been. This is the resurrection that is from the dead.”

10 But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God.

The NKJV notes, once again, that “of Christ” was a later addition, and the verse initially read as above. I no longer see this verse in an apocalyptic light, nor do I see this verse  as prophesying some future Great White Throne Judgement. I believe now that this verse exhorts an ongoing self-judgement (“men create gods”) that it would benefit us all to undertake. See also “Baptism by Fire”.

Now on to “the Johaninne Comma”, which I didn’t even realize existed. Here we have Version A, the popular form of the verse that is extant in all of the literal fundamentalist Christian world today (“The Empire never ended.”)

John 5:7 “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. 8 “And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.”

Let us examine the text without the added “comma”:

John 5:7 “For there are three that bear record, 8 the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.”

This maps quite nicely to the neocortex, the cerebral cortex, and the paleocortex, although surely the verse could not have been understood in those terms two thousand years ago.

They would not have understood (except perhaps dimly, the way the author of the Gospel of Philip did) that the narratives they gained such powerful transformative effects by, actually came from within themselves, and were not bestowed by some literalized, anthropomorphized externalized entity. Or maybe they did understand that, and it has just unfortunately been lost in translation, three thousand years on.

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And Now For Something Completely Different

February 18, 2009 at 8:51 pm ("Like it says on the tin.")

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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.

Read the rest of this entry »

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