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10902Re: [Gnosticism2] Re: Chicken or Egg (and other layings and scratches)

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  • Tsharpmin7@aol.com
    Mar 29, 2005
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      In a message dated 3/25/2005 1:47:08 PM Central Standard Time, no_reply@yahoogroups.com writes:
      Hey Crispin

      >>>"this might be a chicken or the egg issue:  which came first?  can
      we entertain the idea that someone might have attained to what we
      might consider the sublimities of gnosis in lieu, or outside, of any
      Gnostic or Platonic or Mystery training or trappings?   other
      traditions claim that, while extremely rare, some individuals just
      have "it": "it" being gnosis, illumination, enlightenment, or choose
      a term (we needn't be too strict in our definitions here -- just
      trying to establish some points of reference).  they're simply born
      with "it" or may be suddenly hit with "it" through no intention or
      pursuit on their part -- "it" appears to have pursued them!"<<<

      Even though I may disagree with some of the specifics that your
      choice of equations can carry as baggage, I do think that I agree
      with your main point. Since Gnosis is a process rather than something
      that a person simply has or does not have, it does not seem likely
      that one is simpy born with it. However, there does seem to be a
      concept of natural pneumaticism so that some people may have an
      easier time getting there than others.

      Remember though, since Gnosis is context specific just because a
      person may have found "enlightenment" does not mean they have Gnosis.
      hi PMCV... sorry for the late reply but i've been hangin' around another
      "Gnostic" playground of late.
      agreed: "enlightenment" doesn't in and of itself imply the possession of
      Gnostic gnosis per all of the parameters you previously described.  my point
      is that not just any old Joe Shmoe could develop an effective Gnostic
      "system" and expect to turn out individuals capable of  "knowing one's self,
      knowing the spiritual realm."  it would require someone already in relative
      possession of these "Gnostic" markers to accomplish this (can you give
      away what you don't posses?).  and further, these markers would exist prior
      to the development of a uniquely Gnostic system; prior to a time when
      Gnosticism included "understanding the meanings behind the Gnostic
      system" in order to attain gnosis.
      >>"someone had to develop the "system" (i'm using "system" for lack
      of a more flexible, creative and perceptive substitute to describe
      what a true Gnostic might have employed to realize gnosis in others)
      we think of as Gnosticism.  and the individual(s) who developed the
      original may or may not have come out of another tradition.  i
      believe we can see elements of other traditions, obviously, that
      influenced Gnosticism, but we don't know this original "Gnostic"
      developer.  we can' say anything really meaningful about the
      originator other than he/she was familiar with one or more
      developmental traditions that were culturally prevalent at the time,
      but was not necessarily a product of any of those traditions."<<

      You should not feel bad about using the term "system" to describe
      Gnosticism. To some extent we would be more accurate to view Gnostics
      of old as something that looks a little more like the more mystical
      branches of modern "Freemasons" than seeing them as some kind of
      spiritual anarchists practicing a lone art of contemplation.
      i don't feel bad at all.  cautious is more like it.  its just that using the word
      "system" may lead some to imagine that there might be a single method
      employed by the Gnostics for individual developmental purposes;  that what
      worked for Harry is necessarily going to work for Sally.  those who have done
      a good job of rearing their children will know what i mean.  i imagine an
      individual with the sort of capacities we envisage for the accomplished
      Gnostic has the capacities and flexibility to adjust the teaching to each
      student's unique requirements (as opposed to what the student imagines he
      or she needs or requires).  in other words i think that if it came right down to
      it a real teacher would eschew or adjust any cant, dogma, mythology,
      cosmogony, cosmology, etc., if that's what it took for the student to realize
      "knowing one's self, knowing the spiritual realm."  it the teacher was
      shackled by such self-imposed manacles, then that's just a crying shame,
      and i have little respect for such as he.  besides, if such a one were slave to
      the "system", as opposed to master of the option, what does that say
      about that teacher?
      Let me use your Sufi point to raise a question then; if you remove
      Sufism from ALL of it's Islamic imagery, is it still Sufism?
      yes.  absolutely.  for the Sufi its the content, not the container, that takes
      priority.  recall that the true Sufis do not refer to themselves as "Sufis."
      they don't employ such labels unless it serves their purpose; or rather the
      requirements of that purpose -- not tradition or imagined obligation.  there
      have been "Sufis" long before the advent of Islam (or else they're all just a
      bunch of stinkin' liars).  our common Western conditioning makes this
      concept difficult to grasp as it seems to go against the grain our habitual
      dependence on labels and categories; our sense of order.
      Sure a Sufi master can teach a Masonic order (and I am aware that there are
      Masonic lodges that have had Islamic members), but wouldn't it still
      need to have some of the destinctive conceptual imagery in order to
      be Sufism?
      only if the the requirements of time, place and culture demanded it. 
      otherwise, no.
      There already is a notion of "enlightenment" in
      Freemasonry, so if a Sufi member removed all the concepts from the
      specifically "Sufic" terms and methods of attaining that
      enlightenment, how could it be seperated from what already exists in
      let's not take my hypothetical too far,  but let me just say that the "notion"
      of enlightenment does not equal the "actualization" of enlightenment.  As
      Rumi says, if not for the existence of real gold, there would be no such thing
      as "fool's gold."  further, if my hypothetical Shriners were already producing
      enlightened individuals the Sufi would recognize this and there would be no
      purpose in his being there unless he was invited and his acceptance of that
      invitation would not be contrary or counter-productive to his perceptions of
      the requirements of the moment. 
      I would take it even further. It is tempting to say that the reason
      the Freemason and the Sufi concepts seem to interchange at the point
      the terms do is that the concepts are essentially the same at the
      core, but I think this is false. Instead, what I would say happens is
      that aspects of the meaning itself changes when the terms go from
      being Sufic to Freemason. What I mean is, not only do the external
      trappings change, but genuine core meanings can change as well. When
      these core meanings change what we have is no longer what we started
      again, there's a great difference between the concept of a thing and that thing's
      actualization. Sufis are in the business of actualization, among other things.  
      for the Sufi  "meaning" is but a feeble shadow (and subservient in extremis) to
      the experience of absolute truths.
      Christianity as a whole has the general terms and imagery of
      Gnosticism, but it is the core understandings that make it different.

      Since we agree that a rose by another name may not be the same, then
      we should not be afraid to say that Gnosticism by another name may
      not really be Gnosticism.
      maybe, maybe not.  the important question for me would be whether or
      not Gnosticism by another name, or via another incarnation, can develop in
      others the abilities of "knowing one's self, knowing the spiritual realm."  if this
      new incarnation did not have this capacity than what would be the point of its
      existence?  there are plenty of imitative, derivative and superficial "systems"
      and methodologies in the world that quite obviously don't live up to their
      promises.  as for those groups i'm only superficially, when at all, interested. 
      however, can we say, unequivocally,  that some Gnostics did not move on or
      evolve into new cultures and times without the obvious trappings of Christian
      Gnosticism (which might reasonably lead to their harsh persecution).  in
      order for this to be so we would have to imagine that every accomplished
      Gnostic was destroyed or scared into dropping the idea of transmitting the
      abilities of  "knowing one's self, knowing the spiritual realm."  this idea of
      absolute destruction and/or abandonment seems pretty silly to me.  just as
      some Gnostics had the good sense to avoid martyrdom when given the
      choice, i think we can give at least some of them credit for moving into the
      shadows and adjusting the container without losing the developmental
      content.  and if some of these survivng Gnostic were truly possessed of
      something of value, i'll give them credit, even if no one else will, for having
      what it takes to continue transmitting the "knowing one's self, knowing the
      spiritual realm" through a different vehicle, be that new vehicle an existing
      tradition (or a branch of an existing tradition) in need of revival, or something
      new or hidden in plain sight. 
      >>>"PS  it suddenly occurs to me, PMCV, was there any sort
      of "miracle" tradition within any of the Gnostic communities?  i
      don't recall having read of any, but i'm curious what their attitude
      might have been on the subject of supposed miracles. i've got a hunch
      about what their attitude may have been, but i can't find anything. 
      all my web searches comes up empty except for references to
      a "Gnostic Mass" and Jesus stories."<<<

      Hmmmmm, that could be a touchy subject. I would say that generally
      speaking we can say no (depending on what one means by "miracle").
      The properties of experience one finds in the initiation could be
      called a miracle. However, practical magic is something that some
      texts warn against since it is seen as a trap that will focus
      attention in the material world instead of a true higher
      spirituality. However, it is an accusation that heresiologists make
      that Gnostics did do this sort of thing. I think we would have to
      dedicate a whole thread to it.

      thanks, PMCV.  this is sort of what i had in mind:  Rabia is famous for an
      incident where some women in the kitchen were bemoaning the absence of
      onions to put in a stew they were concocting.  at some point, in Rabia's
      presence with them, there suddenly appeared an abundance of onions.  the
      women fell to their knees in praise and fear of Allah, but Rabia rebuked them,
      saying "My god is not a green grocer."  this is pretty typical of the Sufic
      attitude toward apparent "miracles."
      your friend,
      Crispin Sainte III
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