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10678Re: The Golden Rule (reciprocity)

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  • lady_caritas
    Feb 14, 2005
      --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "gich morgan" <gich2@b...> wrote:
      > Hey Mychael!
      > You write: 'Gnosticism seems, on the surface, an every-man-for-
      himself concept...'
      > That's exactly how I see it at the moment. I can't seem to find
      a 'community' dimension.
      > Gich

      Hi, Gich. Actually, I observe a seeming dichotomy here. On the one
      hand, yes, a Gnostic awakening is certainly a personal one, but it
      doesn't happen in a vacuum. Individual ancient Gnostics did not
      literally have reserved seating on isolated mountains only doing
      their own thing. Socially, the ancient Gnostics were part of
      initiatory communities with peers and teachers, assisting individuals
      in their personal inner paths.

      We see teachers (examples: Ptolemy's Epistle to Flora and Treatise on
      Resurrection) and sermons (for instance, in Zostrianos and The Gospel
      of Truth) -- a real community effort aimed at guiding the individual,
      not numbing the masses. ;-)

      The Valentinians with their Christological ties had a strong sense of
      community, yet they did so with an eye of caution to (a) offer
      assistance to those who *wish* to arise and focusing on those who
      were awakened, yet (b) on the other hand, not lose what they had
      gained by mistakenly focusing on impeding influences that they had
      left behind.

      "Make steady the feet of those who have stumbled, and stretch out
      your hands to those who are sick. Feed those who are hungry, and
      unto those who are weary give repose; and awaken those who wish to
      arise, and get up from your sleep. For it is you who are unsheathed
      intelligence. If strengthening is thus, it is truly strong.

      "Focus your attention upon yourselves. Do not focus your attention
      upon others, that is, ones whom you have expelled. Do not return to
      eat what you have vomited forth. Do not become eaten by moths; do
      not become infested with worms; for you have already cast him out.
      Do not become the place of the devil, for you have already brought
      him to naught. Do not strengthen the elements that impede you --
      those who fall -- supposing that this is a kind of improvement. For
      the lawless is nothing. Treat such a one more forcibly than the
      just, since the lawless acts on the supposition of being lawless,
      while the just acts toward others on the supposition of being just.
      For your own part, then, do the will of the father, for you are from
      him." (_The Gospel of Truth_)

      It seems to me that if the Valentinians considered themselves "from
      him," from the father, then although they were still very human, they
      possibly would have felt better equipped to focus on the restorative
      aspect of this acquaintance with the father. This might have helped
      in making wiser judgment calls regarding reciprocity within their own
      social community, but obviously eventually didn't fare well in the
      larger Christian environment as time went on and the moths and worms
      of political forces were hell-bent on their destruction.

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