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Gnostic Paul

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  • Tom & Julie
    Here is a great web page with lots of info on early christianity and some stuff on the gnosis of St
    Message 1 of 2 , Jun 1, 2000
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      Here is a great web page with lots of info on early christianity and
      some stuff on the gnosis of St

      Paul.http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Styx/8676/files/page1.html

      Tom
    • Bob Prostovich
      ... Start Your Own FREE Email List at http://www.listbot.com/links/joinlb ... Note: forwarded message attached.
      Message 2 of 2 , Dec 31, 2001
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        The following is an exegesis written by gnostic
        theorist Michael Hoffman www.egodeath.com Just a
        note It is absolutely necessary that a historical
        jesus exist in orthodox christianity. In Gnosticism it
        is not necessary to have a historical jesus, In fact a
        mythical jesus is more profound in that the
        allegorical nature can be more greatly emphasied.

        The Gnostic Paul; heresy, secrecy, Christ myth,
        entheogens, fatedness
        Book: The Gnostic Paul. Elaine Pagels. 1975.



        This is a key book to provide a different view than
        the dominant one.



        A great principle for discernment is this negative
        technique: look at
        the
        theology that the "Church Fathers" insisted on, and
        list all the ideas
        they
        are most concerned with rejecting as heresy. The
        points the Church
        Fathers
        insist on are the core principles of all that is
        false, deluded, and a
        lie.
        The heresies they hate, or the heresy, is the truth.
        This book makes
        it
        clear what the Church Fathers affirmed and rejected,
        and what the
        Valentinian
        gnostics asserted and rejected.





        The great news The Gnostic Paul represents to me is
        that all the
        theological
        ideas divide very cleanly into two groups, which
        matches what the holy
        spirit
        revealed directly to me the day I reached the fork in
        the road, where I
        saw a
        choice bifurcate in vision-logic space: either I could
        hang onto
        certain
        premises and remain in a magic muddle, or firmly
        reject those premises
        and
        have everything fall into simple clarity and
        integrated sense.





        The book The Gnostic Paul by Elaine Pagels has a lot
        to offer for the
        Christ-myth theory. The book explains the Valentinian
        gnostic reading
        of
        Paul's early epistles. "Jews" means literalists, the
        uninitiated,
        lower
        Christians. "Greeks" means spiritualists, the
        initiated, higher
        Christians.
        Paul encouraged the higher Christians to feel united
        or married with
        the
        lower Christians.



        The book would greatly benefit from a 2-column listing
        of the ideas the
        Valentinians associated with the higher and lower
        Christians. As a
        philosopher and theorist of ego death who is looking
        for a rational
        reading
        of the Christian scriptures, I agree with everything
        that falls into
        the
        group of ideas the Valentinians associated with higher
        Christians, and
        I
        disagree with all the ideas that fall into the group
        of ideas the
        Valentinians associated with lower Christians.





        The two sets of doctrines -- the book The Gnostic Paul
        divides the
        religious
        ideas as follows, from the Valentinian reading of
        Paul's early
        writings:



        Higher Christians

        "Greeks"

        The religion of Heresy

        Early Paul

        The Truth, wisdom, enlightenment

        The initiated, adults

        A secret mystery is revealed to some apostles, but not
        to other
        apostles

        The sacrament of apolytrosis (apo- can mean after-,
        post-, and separate
        redemption) in addition to common eucharist

        Redemption

        Spiritual freedom from moral codes -- but metaphysical

        determinism/fatedness,
        predestined election

        Reject idea of responsible moral agency and idea of
        our culpability of
        sin/guilt

        The apple was a gift of gnosis

        All blame is placed on the Ground, not us

        No death on the Cross (it was mythic and could be seen
        as a
        pseudo-death)

        Sacrifice is mythic, mental, conceptual, a mental
        experience

        No bodily resurrection

        Mythic Christ

        Belief in higher and lower Christians (with a
        principled respect for
        the
        lower)

        No point in moral-reward heaven or moral-punishment
        hell

        We are spirits, controlled by God



        Lower Christians

        "Jews"

        The Orthodox religion

        Peter, The Church Fathers and their forged later Paul

        The Lie, error, darkness, foolishness

        The uninitiated, children

        No secret mystery; all apostles have authority through
        simple ordinary
        seeing
        of miraculous resurrection

        The common eucharist, only

        Salvation, baptism

        Spiritual enslavement to morality -- with delusion of
        free will and
        choosing
        faith oneself

        Belief in responsible moral agency and our culpability
        for sin/guilt

        All blame is placed on us

        The apple was bad

        Jesus died on the Cross

        Sacrifice is bodily, bloody, magically effective,
        physical

        Bodily resurrection

        Supernaturalist Jesus

        Disbelief in higher level of Christianity -- to obtain
        unity and
        harmony of
        the Church

        Moral-reward heaven and moral-punishment hell exist,
        for the
        responsible
        agent/soul

        We are souls, controlled by ourselves



        Each point I listed above should have page references
        to Pagel's book
        to
        prove that the ideas break out this way in her book.



        An important reason why Christ-myth scholars should
        read this book is
        that
        Pagels shows how to read the scriptures in a 2-valued
        ambiguous way,
        where
        the meaning deliberately toggles between two distinct
        readings. It's
        not
        just that Paul was misinterpreted; Paul deliberately
        wrote in an
        encoded,
        ambiguous way that flips between the two conceptual
        systems. If people
        were
        confused, it is because Paul meant for them to be
        confused and
        carefully
        chose his words so that they could support both
        readings: literal and
        spiritual. The epistles were written as encoded
        mysteries and should
        be read
        as such.



        I suspect that Paul deliberately wanted to withhold
        the higher view
        from the
        uninitiated, to protect and preserve the delusion of
        the ego just as we
        protect children and just as the Greek mystery
        religions forbade, by
        punishment of death, publically revealing the things
        shown in the
        mysteries.
        So he wrote in a way that would be read in a
        supernatural, Literalist
        way but
        could be read as a non-supernatural, mystery-religion,
        mystic allegory.



        Associating truth and error with Biblical characters
        This book, supported by others I've read, clearly
        divides theological
        doctrines and philosophies into two distinct camps:
        that of Peter, and
        that
        of the authentic Pauline and the Johannine (without
        the later-added
        ending of
        John, possibly moved from Mark). I understand "John"
        as possibly an
        epithet
        for Mary Magdalene. I'm not sure where James fits --
        does he have full
        understanding of the truth? So the characters are
        clearly falling into
        this
        division:



        Those who understand truth:

        Early Paul

        John

        Mary Magdalene



        Those who do not understand truth:

        Peter

        Later "Paul"



        (Pagels in this book does not discuss John or Mary.)



        From what I know so far, I'd prefer calling these two
        positions "Mary
        Magdalene" and "Peter". But since I'm just coming
        down from having
        read this
        book, I'll call the positions "Early Paul vs. Peter".
        I could also
        call them
        "Early Paul vs. Later Paul", understanding the first
        as authentic and
        the
        later as a Church Fathers' attempt to refute the
        earlier wisdom.



        The strongest feeling I have -- the rock of certainty
        -- is that Peter
        represents everything that is false in Christianity.
        Peter is the
        foundation
        of the Church of Error and The Lie. Peter is a very
        simple story: he
        is all
        fallacy, all error. The book The Unfinished Gospel
        explains that the
        book of
        John was originally entirely anti-Peter. Mark was
        pro-Peter. To make
        the
        book of John seem pro-Peter, the Church Fathers moved
        the pro-Peter
        ending
        from Mark to John, where it artificially sits while
        leaving Mark
        without an
        ending (our oldest Mark manuscripts lack any mention
        of the
        Resurrection).





        Also, I can read early Paul as implying that only the
        mind is real; the
        physical world is an illusion projected by the mind.
        That's a
        principle I'm
        considering for core inclusion in my Theory of
        transcendent mental
        phenomena,
        though I think ideas about the material realm are less
        important than
        ideas
        of time and agency.



        Why Keep Mysteries Secret?
        The greatest question raised by The Gnostic Paul is,
        why did Paul not
        initiate everyone? Why did Paul keep higher knowledge
        secret; why did
        he,
        like the other Greeks, refrain from publically
        revealing the mystery?



        My hypothesis, compatible with this book, is the agape
        theory: the
        Greeks had
        profoundly mixed feelings about awakening to the
        tyranny of fatedness,
        to the
        preset and even preexistent future (so to speak).
        Just as today's
        American
        culture refrains from teaching children about sex, and
        protects them in
        a
        bubble of a special childhood innocence, so also, I
        think, Greeks
        valued the
        innocent delusion of the uninitiated who were so
        unrefined as to
        actually
        believe in metaphysical free will. It was painfully
        obvious and
        terrifyingly
        vivid to the Greeks that they lacked metaphysical free
        will, that their
        futures were fixed, predetermined, closed, and
        preexistent, like a
        jail.



        3 key points defining my Theory or The Heresy: The
        Christ Myth,
        Entheogens,
        and Fatedness
        It is crucial for me to distinguish my views from
        those of other
        thinkers. I
        found 3 concepts that immediately place protective
        distance between my
        theory
        and others' theories of spiritual enlightenment.



        I could provide citations to support the following,
        including Pagels'
        book
        (Romans 9:18, page 38, a main controvery between
        heretics and orthodox
        was
        the question of free will; the heretics say salvation
        is not in our
        power.)
        Reading this book, I learned to distinguish my
        favored ideas from
        others' by
        asking, "What theological ideas would utterly go
        against the religion
        created
        by the Church Fathers?" Radical determinism would
        utterly undermine
        their
        religion of guilt, bloody punishment, and repeated
        bodily killing, and
        infinitely extended reward and punishment for the
        moral agent. I agree
        with
        Calvinism insofar as it moves away from the Catholic
        assertion of our
        personal moral agency -- I part with Calvinism by
        taking it all the
        way:
        because our moral power is utterly null and our
        salvation or damnation
        is
        predetermined by God's omnipotence, there is no reason
        to retain (as
        Calvin
        does) belief in moral-reward heaven or
        moral-punishment hell. I
        unabashedly
        do the unthinkable and blame God/Ground/Self for evil
        -- we're just
        vehicles
        that were timelessly steered and driven by his power
        at the moment all
        spacetime was created. The Church insists on moral
        agency and sin,
        against
        the heretics -- therefore I, with the Valentinians,
        reject moral agency
        and
        being culpable of guilt.



        The dark ages must have been so dark that when
        Calvinism awoke and
        rebelled
        against the Catholic doctrine of egoic moral agency,
        Calvinism
        illogically or
        habitually retained heaven and hell, which are the
        places of eternal
        moral
        punishment and reward, though it rejected all
        possibility of meriting
        such
        reward or punishment, having denied works as moral
        achievement and
        having
        rejected our ability to generate our belief in Jesus
        by our own effort.





        I propose that the one thing the Greek civilization
        wished for the most
        was
        the impossible: metaphysical free will -- genuine
        personal responsible
        moral
        agency, sovereignty, authorship over one's own will.
        All the educated
        Greeks
        had the direct experience of being killed as egos by
        time and Fate.
        The
        Greeks honored and cherished the foolish, childish
        belief in moral
        agency and
        sovereign free will just as we now cherish the
        innocent fantasies of
        childhood. I suppose the idea love in Greek culture
        was not between
        man and
        man, but rather, between the initiated and the
        uninitiated.



        Early Paul talks about the relation of the initiated
        and the
        uninitiated in
        terms of the metaphorical relation between man and
        woman. The one
        thing the
        Greeks longed for the most was metaphysical free will,
        moral agency,
        personal
        sovereignty, and an open future -- logically garbled
        and impossible
        fantasies
        that only the uninitiated were able to believe in.



        Having read The Gnostic Paul and glanced at some pop
        Gnostic sites, I
        can now
        identify a few principles that immediately distance me
        from everyone
        else, to
        distinguish the truth and reject the common lies of
        pop spirituality:



        o There is no historical Jesus, and the story of him
        tells of a swoon,
        a
        pseudo-death comparable with the aborted sacrifice of
        Isaac.

        o We do not have metaphysical free will; we are
        helpless puppets, or
        frozen
        worldlines with essentially a preset, closed,
        preexistent future.

        o Entheogens are the primary path to gnosis; other
        approaches are
        secondary;
        Christ's flesh is the entheogenic plant.



        I could add: there is no supernatural -- but that's
        implicit and so
        many
        people already agree, it doesn't distinguish me beyond
        the above. If
        there
        is no Jesus and no genuine moral agency, the orthodox
        story of
        moral-reward
        heaven and moral-punishment hell collapses as
        irrelevant nonsense
        designed to
        prop up the lie of egoic agency. I could also specify
        that my concept
        of
        fatedness is distinct from conventional reductionist,
        atomic-level
        determinism.



        Those 3 principles together distinguish me from 99% of
        all theorists of
        the
        transcendent. Few Christians have heard of the Christ
        myth theory, few
        people know of the entheogenic theory of the origin of
        religions, and
        everyone assumes that enlightenment provides freedom
        rather than an
        awakening
        into metaphysical enslavement.



        The last point above leads to the problem of
        recovering our effective,
        virtual, apparent personal power after it has been
        humbled and
        sacrificed.
        The religious myths celebrate such a resurrection that
        can't originate
        in our
        own egoic effort but can only be given to us as a gift
        by God or the
        Ground
        of Being. We find a scepter handed to us and a crown
        placed on our
        heads
        after the great ego crash and reboot, but our new
        rulership is now
        understood
        as only virtual, apparent, partial or shared
        rulership. Before, I
        thought I
        was sole sovereign ruler. Know I know I am co-ruler
        with the Ground or
        the
        God of the Ground, the God who controls Fate or is
        ruler of Fate, and
        ruler
        over time.





        Mistakes made by theorists in various groups:



        o The Christ-myth theorists reject all supernatural
        aspects of
        Christianity,
        but are left with no entheogen and no explanation of
        many difficulties,
        and
        no awareness of all the controversies and
        Mystery-related questions.



        o The entheogen theorists make the mistake of
        assuming the Historical
        Jesus
        view (Jesus existed, and was a fantastically amazing
        moral and mystical
        teacher, though not supernatural). They stop there
        and lack the full
        shocking and stunning revelation of fatedness and its
        ramifications.
        Some
        may philosophically accept determinism, but not in the
        relevant way for
        grasping the ramifications.



        You need all the main pieces to form the distinct
        Theory I am defining:
        Jesus
        didn't exist, Christ exists in the entheogen, and the
        entheogen
        presents a
        certain Christ rescuer as a solution for the problem
        of ego death and
        fatedness. We have to get rid of the supernatural
        *and* the
        irrelevant/distracting bodily Jesus, *and* adopt the
        entheogen, *and*
        consider the entheogen to be the vehicle for the holy
        spirit -- part of
        God
        -- *and* include the philosophy of ego death and
        rebirth, *including*
        the
        mythic/mystic/philosophical concept of Christ as
        mental sacrifice of
        ego to
        rescue and practically restabilize the ego.



        This list of requirements explains why *none* of the
        previous scholars
        has
        hit upon the potent complete core set of ideas yet.
        Those theorists
        either
        lack the entheogen, or the philosophical insight, or
        the critical
        distinction
        between the vulgar, bodily "Jesus" idea and the
        higher, profound
        "Christ"
        idea.



        Because Pagels so clearly divides the contested
        theological concepts
        into the
        Peter group and the Early Paul group, I could see that
        all the ideas I
        reject
        are on Peter's side, along with the Church Fathers,
        whom I despise as
        prohibitionists, and that all the ideas I embrace are
        on Early Paul's
        side,
        which is to say, Valentinius' side. An enemy of the
        Church Fathers is
        an
        enemy of mine.





        I agree wonderfully with the Valentinian gnostic views
        -- but why keep
        the
        Mystery secret?



        The point that most mystifies me about these
        Valentinian Gnostics is,
        why
        would you ever want to vow to not reveal the mystery
        to the
        uninitiated?
        James Arthur in Mushrooms and Mankind has clearly
        condemned inner
        circle
        mysteries as being associated with the evil
        power-mongers who seek to
        gather
        all power to themselves through abusive and oppressive
        means.



        Assuming Early Paul and the Valentinians and the
        Greeks (whom we so
        worship
        in dumb awe for their mysteries) were all fully
        enlightened... why then
        did
        they declare the death penalty for revealing the
        mysteries to the
        uninitiated? That's the only point at which I balk
        from joining these
        mystery groups -- and I have a reasonable theory
        supported by Wilber's
        agape
        idea, that God (the Self) *loves* and cherishes
        separation, and
        separation is
        necessarily delusion. To protect the beloved woman or
        child that is
        the
        fantasy of free will and personal moral agency held by
        the innocent and
        naive, the fully mature mind must be like the mind of
        God, who *chose*
        to
        lose himself in the apparent separateness of separate
        selves -- this is
        the
        love held by the One for the Many; the central fire
        loves the sparks.



        So the mystery is preserved and kept from the
        uninitiated for their own
        good
        and health as deluded egos -- why do we tell children
        about Santa
        Clause as a
        literal person instead of a mythic tradition from
        Siberia? Why do we
        enjoy
        and love the innocent limited and bounded world of the
        child, and work
        so
        hard to protect their innocence that we sometimes seem
        to run our whole
        culture, even stunting the adult freedoms, claiming we
        do it "for the
        good of
        the children"? Paul, with the rest of the civilized
        Greek culture
        except
        perhaps for Socrates, chose to protect the deluded
        feeling of free will
        by
        keeping the fact of puppethood hidden, occluded,
        obscured, covered up.
        This
        is next on my list of research: why did Greek culture
        treat possession
        of
        initiation like possession of a loaded weapon that was
        a grave threat
        to
        society?



        Society is based on a lie that every educated person
        admits is a lie:
        the lie
        of moral responsible agency, as though we author our
        own future and can
        simply be held accountable for what the Fates have
        already woven for us
        like
        a vein in a rock -- as though we can come out of and
        thus be born out
        of the
        rock of the spacetime block, becoming free and
        independent lords over
        it.
        Publically admitting and revealing the truth that we
        are helpless
        fate-puppets would threaten the legal fabric of
        civilization -- *that*
        is
        what is so preciously delicate about civilization.
        The Moral Law and
        moral
        agency that the Jews took as legitimate strengthens
        the delusion of
        egoic
        power and metaphysical freedom. (Ref: Mystery
        Religions - Angus; Myth
        and
        Tragedy in Ancient Greece, The Mysteries [ed.
        Campbell].)





        But then the lie of the Law, the delusion of the
        physicalist,
        literalist
        worshippers of the Moral Law, took over and ran
        rampant and roughshod
        over
        culture, in the form of the Christian Church -
        worshipper of egoic
        moral
        agency, suppresser of the entheogenic source of ego
        death and weary
        wise
        knowledge of fate's tyranny. That is the choice we
        have: the ego
        delusion
        (the lie, error), versus fate's tyranny (the closed
        future, the
        reduction to
        puppet or slave status, as mere controlled
        controllers, authored
        authors, and
        programmed programmers).



        For several years, I struggled to conquer the problem
        of
        re-understanding
        Christianity in terms of entheogen-triggered ego death
        and related
        phenomena
        and philosophical insights about mental phenomena.
        What could the
        Jesus
        story really mean, given these philosophical
        revelations about the
        mind,
        revealed by the entheogenic holy spirit? Finally,
        with books such as
        Strange
        Fruit, Apples of Apollo, The Christ Myth, and The
        Gnostic Paul, the
        pieces
        have come together and I now have essentially a
        complete entheogenic
        theory
        and theology of the Christ myth, combined with an
        unusually simple,
        stark,
        yet unimpeachable theory of spacetime, determinism,
        and control agency.



        These revelations about the Early versus Later Paul,
        and the way they
        perfectly lined up with the points of my theory as
        against the
        supernaturalist scheme, theology, and value system of
        the Church
        Fathers, act
        as the final major piece of the puzzle, the puzzle of
        making
        entheogenic
        *and* philosophical sense out of the earliest forms of
        Christianity. I
        can
        account for the origin of Christianity and the debates
        and the
        rewritings of
        scripture to force it from simple metaphysical
        coherence as a rational
        Mystery into a supernaturalist fantasy propping up the
        impossible lie
        of
        moral responsibility and metaphysical freedom.



        I'm just in time to publish before the U.S. economy
        weakens,
        psychoactive
        drugs are legalized (prohibition is just too
        expensive, at $20 billion
        a year
        only to exacerbate the problems), and there is to be
        no more Mystery.
        Do I
        really want to swing the metaphysical sword, deliver
        the Bad News, that
        there
        is no metaphysical freedom, that the future is closed,
        and undermine
        the
        legal lie of egoic responsibility upon which our false
        civilization is
        constructed? Well, this responsibility-destroying
        conceptual system is
        just
        a Theory, but when combined with the entheogen, it
        does lead to the
        most
        phenomenal experience of all, ego death -- and some
        acedia and despair
        that
        disturbed the wise but Fate-weary Greeks, from which
        they needed the
        catharsis of the dramatizations such as Oedipus trying
        to elude his
        ineluctable fate.



        Don't say I'm being too subtle and profound. The
        theory I expound is
        based
        on the principle of radical simplicity and least
        effort, finding the
        least
        complicated view to defend. The Greeks considered ego
        death so
        obvious,
        keeping it a secret (to preserve the civilized lie of
        responsible egoic
        agency) was a constant challenge and was strictly
        enforced in the
        courts: if
        you reveal our conventional, legal lie in public,
        we'll eliminate you
        like we
        did Socrates. (The theory of Socrates' crime being
        revealing the
        mysteries
        is so fitting, it hardly matters whether it happens to
        be true.)



        I bring maturity and ego death, and people don't
        entirely like that new
        status, an abrupt but halting revolution. Shall we
        retreat back down
        into
        the lie of Moral Law and egoic sovereign power? Can
        we have a
        civilization,
        with a legal system of responsibility, with a clear
        theory that denies
        metaphysical responsible agency, with access to
        entheogens to drive
        that
        point home via direct experience of ego-killing
        block-universe Unity?





        Ken Wilber has written some innovative comments on
        altered states
        recently
        (Integral Psychology, A Theory of Everything). A peak
        experience is
        interpreted through and thus limited by the current
        level of psyche
        development. He's right in saying that the
        psychedelics community is
        predominantly regressive or magic-level, and is in
        that way alienated
        from
        the mainstream -- but Wilber's tremendous mistake is
        ignoring drug
        policy
        reform, which is a major cause of the present limited
        range of
        psychedelics
        theorizing.



        -- Michael Hoffman


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