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11686Re: [Gnosticism2] Some questions

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  • Nick Lawrance
    Nov 30, 2005
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      Hello,

      I am fairly new to the study of Gnostic beliefs, so excuse me if I
      sound rather uninformed.  Most of my knowledge of Gnostic thought has
      centered around some published texts regarding the history and not
      necessarily the practice of Gnosticism.  I know very little about the
      modern Gnostic movement. 

      I basically would like to have a few ideas clarified for me and I
      would greatly appreciate any comments.

      From my readings, I gathered that the Gnostics made a great
      distinction between the physical and the spiritual world.  The
      physical world was the creation of the Demiurge and was considered
      inherently evil, while the spiritual world was the creation of the
      “good God”  (I believe that is what some groups like the Cathars
      referred to this God as).  Basically, I am curious then, what the
      modern Gnostic movement thinks of this.  Is the physical world evil?
      ..........................................
      Hi Michael
       
      Not all Gnostics considered the world to be inherently evil:
       
      "The Valentinians had a very distincitive view of the material creation. Unlike other Gnostics, they saw the creation of the material world as part of the process of redemption. It was seen as instrumental in the destruction of the deficiency and the restoration of the fallen spiritual element to the divine fullness (pleroma).
      Rather than being the nadir of the fall into ignorance, the creation is the way back from the fall. It is created specifically as a place for the spiritual seeds to attain to gnosis. The attainment of gnosis also corresponds to the destruction of ignorance and lack as well as their concrete manifestation i.e. matter. Thus the world is also a mechanism for the destruction of ignorance and matter. Valentinians agreed with Plato that the form of the created world preserved the image of the ideal realm (the pleroma). For this reason they rarely criticisize the form of the world. Instead most of their criticism is focused on the world's material substance. In their view, the matter of which the world is formed is condensed or solidified deficiency and suffering. Thus while the world preserves the image of the pleroma, it is inevitably deficient on account of its substance. Valentinians could therefore appreciate that which was beautiful about the world while criticisizing that which was ugly.

      The view of the created world is quite different in Valentinianism than in most other forms Gnosticism. According to Valentinian teaching, the world is created to aid the spiritual element to return to the Fullness (pleroma). Its creation was necessitated by the primordial fall into ignorance and suffering. While the Valentinian view of the world is not altogether positive, it resulted in a positive view of marriage and reproduction.

      http://www.gnosis.org/library/valentinus/sitemap.html

      >> Basically, I am curious then, what the modern Gnostic movement

      thinks of this.

      I don't think Stephan Hollier would class himself as a modern Gnostic but he does in my opinion express a more modern interpretation of why the Gnostic considers the world evil. Perhaps a brief recitation from one of his books may give an idea of what I mean:

      "The created world, including a major portion of the human mind, is seen as evil by the Gnostic primarily because it distracts consciousness away from knowledge of the divine. Physicality inevitably attracts one to the external (Physiology calls this extroversion) while the turbulence of the personal mind focuses upon itself. Through this double distraction the 'inner' self is 'forgotten.' Yet it is this inner self (spirit) that is the point of transcendence within the human field of experience, for it alone has a direct link with ultimate Divinity. " Consciousness needs to become disenchanted with the lower world. To use Buddhist imagery, the thirst for soul embodiment dies out. This is the necessary precondition for liberation."

      Nick

       

       

       

      ----- Original Message -----
      From: mjm_1975
      Sent: Tuesday, November 29, 2005 7:33 PM
      Subject: [Gnosticism2] Some questions

      Hello,

      I am fairly new to the study of Gnostic beliefs, so excuse me if I
      sound rather uninformed.  Most of my knowledge of Gnostic thought has
      centered around some published texts regarding the history and not
      necessarily the practice of Gnosticism.  I know very little about the
      modern Gnostic movement. 

      I basically would like to have a few ideas clarified for me and I
      would greatly appreciate any comments.

      From my readings, I gathered that the Gnostics made a great
      distinction between the physical and the spiritual world.  The
      physical world was the creation of the Demiurge and was considered
      inherently evil, while the spiritual world was the creation of the
      “good God”  (I believe that is what some groups like the Cathars
      referred to this God as).  Basically, I am curious then, what the
      modern Gnostic movement thinks of this.  Is the physical world evil?

      Also, in my studies of the Cathars, I learned that the last known
      Cathar Parfait was murdered in the 13th century.  I do not have my
      book with me, so I cannot recall his name, but I remember that he was
      some sort of shepherd who received the consolamentum in remorse for a
      murder of a fellow shepherd and led a small group in Spain until he
      was betrayed by one of his followers.  I know that there are modern
      Cathars out there.  Do any of these groups claim descent from an
      unknown parfait?  I know that only Parfaits could give consolamentum
      and that this was passed on in an almost “apostolic succession”.  

      I really would appreciate any responses and again, I apologize if I
      misused any terms.

      Michael





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