5947[Gnosticism] Re: Thomasine Metaphor or universal microcosm?
- May 30, 2002PMCV,
Thanks for the attempt to answer my questions. I completely
understand that mere mortal vocabularies only hinder understanding
what is infinite. You asked me what were my intentions. If it was
anything it was to prove that our words completely fall short of
understanding IT sometimes. Yet, it is all we have so we are sort of
forced to use it if we want to share our ideas with others. It may
not have always been that way though. There may have been a time when
we all shared a common language, one of the mind and spirit. But
that's another story for another time and in another place.
More new comments below:
Play: Then why use words like "He" and "Father" when referencing it?
out of infinity came everything, including the Father of all things,
PMCV: 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".
Play: That isn't what I was asking but I certainly appreciate the
thought. I was talking more about a presence of something that was
alive regardless of gender. Does gnostics accept that the "Prime
Source" or "God" or whatever you want to call "IT" is alive? I
completely understand that if we are talking about the prime source
of all things as being infinite, it would include all genders; all
shapes; all forms. I have no choice but to communicate what isn't
linear in linear terms because that is what our language is limited
to. [and I don't use it as well as some of you here ;-)] But I do
understand that what is infinite has already answered the question of
who she, he, it is. He, She, It called itself "I Am". Those two words
spell it out quite nicely I should think. Place any words or phrases
after those two words and it becomes clearer, at least for me, what,
or who we are talking about here.
Play: Creation happened by osmosis? No thought? Totally random events?
PMCV: Well, no, not according to Gnostic mythology anyways. In our
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".
Play: I assume that what you mean by "creation" is the beginning of
things that are made up of matter, flesh and bone? In other words the
physical creation? For a weak minded fool, it sure was a beautiful
flaw. And what is flawed to you holds the key to understanding for
me. That is another intent of mine. To get you to see that if you
view the creation as flawed only opens up the idea that it isn't good
enough and has little or no value for understanding. I think that is
a grave error in and of itself. For we come to know this "entity" by
By the way, this is one reason why humanity has left the Garden of
Eden to begin with. The age old question of mankind has been "Is this
all there is?". The irony being we may have left the sanctity and
knowledge of the Garden [infinity?] , but the Garden didn't go
anywhere. It is all around us and in us. Why many of us don't see it
is simply because we don't want to. We do love our images. Each of us
are our own "gods". I believe that is written in Isaiah somewhere.
and Jesus referenced it as well that is is written, "Ye are gods". Of
course, that is with a little "g".
Play: Is it possible that infinite can also "express itself" as
PMCV: Infinite doen't "express", that is a happeneing. This is the
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.
Play: No I'm not conceiving the infinite that way my friend :-). I
see the infinite as INSIDE and OUTSIDE of us. It is in the heavens
and on Earth, in the depth and the heighth. In everything that is and
isn't. There isn't anywhere you can go that it doesn't exist. And for
the sake of discussion, we are pidgeon-holed into using language to
discuss this with each other. Unless you can read my thoughts?
PMCV: Try this thought experiment. Whenever you start to think about
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.
Play: So then we can't talk about them meaningfully? Sounds like a
cop-out. Actually, what works better for me is just the
opposite. "God" is a he. God is also a "she", a "It", a "them",
a "tree", a "dog", a "cat", a "me", a "you" etc., etc., ad infinte.
See above regarding "I Am". God IS infinite.
Play: Do Gnostics believe in the spirit, or better, that humans are
spirit? Is spirit infinite or a part of what is infinite?
PMCV: Yes, but Gnostics do not believe that "Spirit" and "Soul" are
same thing. "Spirit" is something that we gain, we put it on with a
certain conceptualization called "Gnosis".
Play: Something we gain? It isn't something we are already and just
need to remember? Can you provide some references from some Gnostic
texts to support this idea?
Play: If so, wouldn't it be possible that part of infinity
of that which is finite?<
PMCV: "Encompasses" is a linear thing, remember the exorcise.
Play: Hmm...remember linear language is all we have to communicate
this to one another. Let's try to use it. Which means we have to
first understand each other and where each of us is coming from
first. No small task for sure. I think we can do this linearly. At
least enough to get us started down the infinite path of
Play: Why is "one god" balderdash?
PMCV: "One" is a linear thing, remember? Pretty difficult isn't it ;)
Play: Not really difficult. Only difficult using words to define. OK.
Let me ask another way. How many "infinities" are there? Is the idea
of one infinty balderdash?
Play: Why use the words "prime source" then?
PMCV: Cause I can't think of any term that is accurate, so I'm forced
make a concious error in making a point. The mistake is in thinking
the term is an accurate literal description.
Play: Hmm... If you utilize the name that "the infinite" used for
itself, there is no confusion or error. again, see "I AM" above. No?
Play: Whether you make the assumption or not, this is true even in
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."<
PMCV: 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.
Play: I agree. I also think much of the confusion about understanding
what is infinite comes when we think it can be this but not that.
When we try to place one or a few characteristics on who or what the
infinite is or isn't. I think those thoughts are what creates error
[not to mention disagreement and turmoil] and creates a barrier to
understanding and acceptance of what is true. The infinite IS ALL as
well as it ISN'T ALL. Infinite is infinite and there isn't anything
that it is or isn't. I guess that can be pretty confusing too.
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