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5945[Gnosticism] Re: Thomasine Metaphor or universal microcosm?

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  • pmcvflag
    May 29, 2002
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      Hey Play....

      >Then why use words like "He" and "Father" when referencing it? From
      out of infinity came everything, including the Father of all things,

      That is an excellent question, since it is a practice that has thrown
      many modern readers off. We find out in the "Tripartite Tractate"
      that the word "He" is in fact an error, and that the words we use to
      describe it are for our own inabilities rather than for any accurate
      meaning concerning it. There are a couple of reasons that "He" tend
      to be a more common word than "She", or "It". The "It" gets taken out
      of the picture in part because there is in fact no neutral gender in
      the Hebrew or Aramaic languages that some of the originators of these
      documents would have been familiar with. Even though most of the
      ideas are Greek, our "Gnostic" version comes from Greek speaking
      Hebrews who would have had, that thought pattern in mind. In turn,
      the translation into Coptic simply keeps the habbit.

      So, why He insted of She? The Patriarchal quality of this is
      something that has been commented on as a negative thing by some, but
      in fact there is an illustrative quality to this usage that is
      something beyond the idea "Male = power". We call our electrical wall
      socket "female" and th plug "male", why? Because of the shapes. Now,
      if you look at the Gnostic mythology what do you see? If we track our
      movement through time as a sort of geometric pattern, it can be seen
      as a sort of birth canal shooting us into the unknown (death). We
      then also see that unknown as somethin external that, as best as we
      can explain, breaks into the field of time from an external position.
      Thus, our existance is seen as a sort of sexual union (one of the Nag
      Hammadi books... can't remember which off the top of my head, even
      describes us as "sperm"). So there you have it, why it is calle "he".

      >Creation happened by osmosis? No thought? Totally random events?<

      Well, no, not according to Gnostic mythology anyways. In our Gnostic
      texts creation happens because of a flaw in the reflection of
      Infinity. Creation itself is seen as being done by a week minded fool
      (saklas) that we call "God".

      >Is it possible that infinite can also "express
      itself" as finite?<

      Infinite doen't "express", that is a happeneing. This is the part of
      Gnostic thought that is the most difficult to grasp... this notion
      of "Infinite". You see, all these describing terms that you and I use
      are based on our "existance" and our inability to fully grasp just
      what it means to be without it. You appear to be concieving
      the "Infinite" as something outside that we exist within. That is
      indeed infinite, in that we cannot measure it, but it is not the pure
      absolute Infinity that is the subject of Gnosticism.

      Try this thought experiment. Whenever you start to think about the
      highest "God" remember that it isn't a "God" at all. When you start
      to describe it, remind yourself that you cannot do so, and that any
      term you use is dependant on some linear comprehension. So, when you
      start to say "he", remember that it isn't true. When you start to
      say "Huge" or "Eternal" remember that these are literalist and
      untrue. As you state words that you recognize as untrue, good, big,
      light, loving, also think of thier opposites which prove they cannot
      be true of the Infinite. SInce all terms are linear, you cannot use
      them to describe something that isn't linear.... you can only talk
      about what it is not. As you do this you may start to get a really
      odd feeling, one of just how alien this concept is to your mind, and
      even a nagging fear that comes from the implications your mind starts
      to pick up on.

      >Do Gnostics believe in the spirit, or better, that humans are partly
      spirit? Is spirit infinite or a part of what is infinite?<

      Yes, but Gnostics do not believe that "Spirit" and "Soul" are the
      same thing. "Spirit" is something that we gain, we put it on with a
      certain conceptualization called "Gnosis".

      >If so, wouldn't it be possible that part of infinity encompasses all
      of that which is finite?<

      "Encompasses" is a linear thing, remember the exorcise.

      >Why is "one god" balderdash?<

      "One" is a linear thing, remember? Pretty difficult isn't it ;)

      Why use the words "prime source" then?

      Cause I can't think of any term that is accurate, so I'm forced to
      make a concious error in making a point. The mistake is in thinking
      the term is an accurate literal description.

      >Whether you make the assumption or not, this is true even in gnostic
      teachings. Especially in gnostic teachings. "Therefore, all the
      emanations of the Father are pleromas, and the root of all his
      emanations is in the one who made them all grow up in himself. He
      assigned them their destinies. Each one, then, is manifest, in order
      that through their own thought <...>. For the place to which they
      send their thought, that place, their root, is what takes them up in
      all the heights, to the Father."<

      Ah, but this does not mean what it appears to on the surface.
      Remember, this "root", this "Father" is only a reflection itself. It
      is a conceptualization there only for our comfort. It would be a
      carryover from literalist religion to assume that a Gnostic author
      means this in a direct and literal fashion. These are illustrative
      points that are only reletive to thier context of _that moment_. TO
      quote the Tripartite Tractate concerning beliefs...

      "Thereforethey have introduced other types of explination, some
      saying that is is according to providence that the things which exist
      have thier being. These are the people who observe the stability and
      the conformity of the movement of creation. Others say that it is
      soemthing alien. These are the people who observe the diversity and
      the lawlessness and the evil of the powers. Others say that the
      things which exist are what is destined to happen. These are the
      people who were occupied with this matter. Others that it is
      something in accordance with nature. Others say that it is self
      existent. The majority, however, all who have reached as far as the
      visible elements, do not know anything more than them."

      We can (and must) use these descriptions... all of them for thier
      good effect, as long as we realize they are not littaraly accurate.

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