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5947[Gnosticism] Re: Thomasine Metaphor or universal microcosm?

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  • play_nice_now
    May 30, 2002
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      PMCV,

      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?
      From
      out of infinity came everything, including the Father of all things,
      no?

      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
      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".

      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
      their works.

      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
      finite?

      PMCV: 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.

      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
      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.

      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
      partly
      spirit? Is spirit infinite or a part of what is infinite?

      PMCV: 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".

      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
      encompasses all
      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
      understanding.

      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
      to
      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
      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."<

      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.
      ***smiles***

      Peace,
      play
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