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Apophatic Theology

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  • pmcvflag
    Over in George s club we have recently been talking about the particular brand of apophatic theology that some traditional Gnostic texts attempt to deal with.
    Message 1 of 23 , Jan 15, 2005
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      Over in George's club we have recently been talking about the
      particular brand of apophatic theology that some traditional Gnostic
      texts attempt to deal with. For those who are new to this, and may
      not know what I am talking about, an "apophatic theology" is in this
      case a concept of infinity that is so absolute that it cannot be
      described, and is only attempted by describing what something is
      NOT.... that is to say, it is talked about via negative attributes.

      I would like to open that subject to this group as well by asking a
      few questions..

      There are actually a few types of infinity, do you feel that this
      absolute form of infinity has any function that makes it worth our
      time to consider in our spiritual growth?

      If so, what do you think about the other forms of spirituality that
      don't go quite so far, but instead stick to more common
      understandings of "infinity" and equate thier "God" with that
      infinity?

      How do you personally feel concerning the equation of "spirit" with
      one of these infinities? I mean, which do you think is the
      Gnostic "Spirit"?

      Do you have any personal Gnostic texts that you feel deal with this
      subject in a way you like?

      PMCV
    • Mike Leavitt
      Hello pmcvflag ... Frankly I go back and forth between thinking these kind of distinctions about infinity are meaningless, and thinking they are a great
      Message 2 of 23 , Jan 15, 2005
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        Hello pmcvflag

        On 01/15/05, you wrote:

        >
        >
        > Over in George's club we have recently been talking about the
        > particular brand of apophatic theology that some traditional Gnostic
        > texts attempt to deal with. For those who are new to this, and may
        > not know what I am talking about, an "apophatic theology" is in this
        > case a concept of infinity that is so absolute that it cannot be
        > described, and is only attempted by describing what something is
        > NOT.... that is to say, it is talked about via negative attributes.
        >
        > I would like to open that subject to this group as well by asking a
        > few questions..
        >
        > There are actually a few types of infinity, do you feel that this
        > absolute form of infinity has any function that makes it worth our
        > time to consider in our spiritual growth?
        >
        > If so, what do you think about the other forms of spirituality that
        > don't go quite so far, but instead stick to more common
        > understandings of "infinity" and equate thier "God" with that
        > infinity?
        >
        > How do you personally feel concerning the equation of "spirit" with
        > one of these infinities? I mean, which do you think is the
        > Gnostic "Spirit"?
        >
        > Do you have any personal Gnostic texts that you feel deal with this
        > subject in a way you like?
        >
        > PMCV

        Frankly I go back and forth between thinking these kind of
        distinctions about infinity are meaningless, and thinking they are a
        great exercise to lift the mind from the mundane to the meaningful.
        A good example is Plotinus One. Because it is one and only one it
        does not exist, while the Unknown Father is not even one. How
        meaningful is this kind of distinction? That makes the Unknown
        Father One less a platonic idea(l) of One. Is it nothing, no that is
        a Platonic Idea(l) too, so it can't be that either. HeHe. :-) ;-)
        As usual the Gospel of Truth is probably my favorite text.

        Regards
        --
        Mike Leavitt ac998@...
      • pmcvflag
        Hey Mike.... ... distinctions about infinity are meaningless, and thinking they are a great exercise to lift the mind from the mundane to the meaningful. A
        Message 3 of 23 , Jan 15, 2005
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          Hey Mike....

          >>"Frankly I go back and forth between thinking these kind of
          distinctions about infinity are meaningless, and thinking they are a
          great exercise to lift the mind from the mundane to the meaningful.
          A good example is Plotinus One. Because it is one and only one it
          does not exist, while the Unknown Father is not even one. How
          meaningful is this kind of distinction? That makes the Unknown
          Father One less a platonic idea(l) of One. Is it nothing, no that is
          a Platonic Idea(l) too, so it can't be that either. HeHe. :-) ;-)
          As usual the Gospel of Truth is probably my favorite text."<<

          Plotinus is one that came up in the other conversation as well, but
          let me take it back a little further...... Plato.

          As we know, Plato's unmoved mover is in no way this sort of infinite
          thing. Plato simply does not speculate that far. Platonists like
          Celsus accuse these "Christians" of misunderstanding Platonic
          thought. Do you think the historical Gnostics saw this as a
          destinction? Were they confused or did they knowingly take these
          ideas into new realms? Do you think this speculation was important
          to them?

          I know we all talked before about the forms of infinity (and even
          how Cantor's Set Theory had something in common with these esoteric
          outlines). But it always strikes me how many people really resist
          the implications of this notion of absolute indescribability. And
          yet, the Gnostic texts attempt it.... why?

          PMCV
        • Mike Leavitt
          Hello pmcvflag ... In taking Plotinus One back further to not even One, the Gnostics were trying to present ultimate reality, and to make you think. IMO at
          Message 4 of 23 , Jan 16, 2005
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            Hello pmcvflag

            On 01/16/05, you wrote:


            > I know we all talked before about the forms of infinity (and even
            > how Cantor's Set Theory had something in common with these esoteric
            > outlines). But it always strikes me how many people really resist
            > the implications of this notion of absolute indescribability. And
            > yet, the Gnostic texts attempt it.... why?

            In taking Plotinus One back further to not even One, the Gnostics were
            trying to present ultimate reality, and to make you think. IMO at
            least. The hope being this would lead to greater revelation. As I
            said before though, I am not so sure how really useful all of this
            was or is.

            Regards
            --
            Mike Leavitt ac998@...
          • lady_caritas
            ... esoteric ... were ... One upshot, Mike, is that it forces me to accept personal responsibility for some things, since an infinite ultimate reality,
            Message 5 of 23 , Jan 16, 2005
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              --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, Mike Leavitt <ac998@l...> wrote:
              > Hello pmcvflag
              >
              > On 01/16/05, you wrote:
              >
              >
              > > I know we all talked before about the forms of infinity (and even
              > > how Cantor's Set Theory had something in common with these
              esoteric
              > > outlines). But it always strikes me how many people really resist
              > > the implications of this notion of absolute indescribability. And
              > > yet, the Gnostic texts attempt it.... why?
              >
              > In taking Plotinus One back further to not even One, the Gnostics
              were
              > trying to present ultimate reality, and to make you think. IMO at
              > least. The hope being this would lead to greater revelation. As I
              > said before though, I am not so sure how really useful all of this
              > was or is.
              >
              > Regards
              > --
              > Mike Leavitt ac998@l...


              One upshot, Mike, is that it forces me to accept personal
              responsibility for some things, since an infinite ultimate
              reality, "absolute indescribability," is a far cry from a literal,
              anthropomorphic being to hold my hand. And, literally or
              figuratively, I really don't want to count on blind faith in a flawed
              demiurge to solve all my problems. *ahem*


              Cari
            • Mike Leavitt
              Hello lady_caritas ... Good point, it s just how far you take this, Plotinus One would have the same effect, I would think. Regards -- Mike Leavitt
              Message 6 of 23 , Jan 16, 2005
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                Hello lady_caritas

                On 01/16/05, you wrote:

                >
                >
                > --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, Mike Leavitt <ac998@l...> wrote:
                >> Hello pmcvflag
                >>
                >> On 01/16/05, you wrote:
                >>
                >>
                >> I know we all talked before about the forms of infinity (and even
                >> how Cantor's Set Theory had something in common with these
                > esoteric
                >> > outlines). But it always strikes me how many people really resist
                >> > the implications of this notion of absolute indescribability. And
                >> > yet, the Gnostic texts attempt it.... why?
                >>
                >> In taking Plotinus One back further to not even One, the Gnostics
                > were
                >> trying to present ultimate reality, and to make you think. IMO at
                >> least. The hope being this would lead to greater revelation. As I
                >> said before though, I am not so sure how really useful all of this
                >> was or is.
                >>
                >> Regards
                >> --
                >> Mike Leavitt ac998@l...
                >
                >
                > One upshot, Mike, is that it forces me to accept personal
                > responsibility for some things, since an infinite ultimate reality,
                > "absolute indescribability," is a far cry from a literal,
                > anthropomorphic being to hold my hand. And, literally or
                > figuratively, I really don't want to count on blind faith in a
                > flawed demiurge to solve all my problems. *ahem*
                >
                >
                > Cari

                Good point, it's just how far you take this, Plotinus One would have
                the same effect, I would think.

                Regards
                --
                Mike Leavitt ac998@...
              • pmcvflag
                ... flawed ... Great point, Lady Cari. I think another thing I have noticed that is actually related to what you have noticed (in that it is a move away from
                Message 7 of 23 , Jan 16, 2005
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                  > One upshot, Mike, is that it forces me to accept personal
                  > responsibility for some things, since an infinite ultimate
                  > reality, "absolute indescribability," is a far cry from a literal,
                  > anthropomorphic being to hold my hand. And, literally or
                  > figuratively, I really don't want to count on blind faith in a
                  flawed
                  > demiurge to solve all my problems. *ahem*
                  >
                  >
                  > Cari


                  Great point, Lady Cari. I think another thing I have noticed that is
                  actually related to what you have noticed (in that it is a move away
                  from materialistic "spirituality") is that the apophatic speculation
                  pushes the bar up a few notches concerning just how far the material
                  extends into most concepts of spirituality.

                  I mean, even those who think they are beyond nathropomorphic ideas
                  of deity often still think of spirituality in very egocentric terms.
                  People generally still believe that the spirit is a personal
                  function, subjective and interpretive. Sometimes that is about
                  floating in astral realms, or psychological growth, etc.. Or, as we
                  all know there are many who feel that the mystical experience is THE
                  definitive process of spirituality. I can think of few concepts that
                  really challenge a person to look beyond these things.

                  Of course, the fact that modern science is conceptualizing in a
                  direction that points to these notions of a beyond conceptualization
                  removes an element of pistic doctrin and I sure that would have been
                  an attraction to the historical Gnostics considering the respect
                  that most of these people had for the scientific thinking of their
                  time... but I think the logical aspect and the effect on thinking
                  itself might have been more important. The logic involved seems
                  practically incontrovertaible, so what better way to evoke the
                  Logos? *lol* :)

                  PMCV
                • lady_caritas
                  ... literal, ... is ... away ... speculation ... material ... terms. ... THE ... that ... conceptualization ... been ... Well, yes. It s possible that there
                  Message 8 of 23 , Jan 16, 2005
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                    --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, pmcvflag <no_reply@y...> wrote:
                    >
                    >
                    > > One upshot, Mike, is that it forces me to accept personal
                    > > responsibility for some things, since an infinite ultimate
                    > > reality, "absolute indescribability," is a far cry from a
                    literal,
                    > > anthropomorphic being to hold my hand. And, literally or
                    > > figuratively, I really don't want to count on blind faith in a
                    > flawed
                    > > demiurge to solve all my problems. *ahem*
                    > >
                    > >
                    > > Cari
                    >
                    >
                    > Great point, Lady Cari. I think another thing I have noticed that
                    is
                    > actually related to what you have noticed (in that it is a move
                    away
                    > from materialistic "spirituality") is that the apophatic
                    speculation
                    > pushes the bar up a few notches concerning just how far the
                    material
                    > extends into most concepts of spirituality.
                    >
                    > I mean, even those who think they are beyond nathropomorphic ideas
                    > of deity often still think of spirituality in very egocentric
                    terms.
                    > People generally still believe that the spirit is a personal
                    > function, subjective and interpretive. Sometimes that is about
                    > floating in astral realms, or psychological growth, etc.. Or, as we
                    > all know there are many who feel that the mystical experience is
                    THE
                    > definitive process of spirituality. I can think of few concepts
                    that
                    > really challenge a person to look beyond these things.
                    >
                    > Of course, the fact that modern science is conceptualizing in a
                    > direction that points to these notions of a beyond
                    conceptualization
                    > removes an element of pistic doctrin and I sure that would have
                    been
                    > an attraction to the historical Gnostics considering the respect
                    > that most of these people had for the scientific thinking of their
                    > time... but I think the logical aspect and the effect on thinking
                    > itself might have been more important. The logic involved seems
                    > practically incontrovertaible, so what better way to evoke the
                    > Logos? *lol* :)
                    >
                    > PMCV


                    Well, yes. It's possible that there could oftentimes be a perception
                    of a god of some sort dependent on the needs of the person involved.
                    It *does* become very personal. Some might conjure up a father or
                    mother figure. Others might push limits, sending a deity way out
                    into eternity, ending up with a disinterested, non-interfering,
                    deistic type of god. Also, there are some people who
                    consider "notions of a beyond conceptualization" that you mention who
                    nonetheless retain a materialistic worldview. In their minds, this
                    unknown is a material unknown. Others might ask how then one can
                    know this unknown is only material.

                    I would imagine considering an absolute ineffability outside of
                    temporal concepts of eternity could be scary for lots of people...
                    because when you do, there is no footing, no familiar grounding.
                    Preconceptions are continually being discovered and tested.
                    Personally, I wouldn't have it any other way even when the going gets
                    rough because any other path would be fake and a copout for me. Even
                    apophatic theology in relation to trying to understand the gods of
                    various religions doesn't go far enough for me. It's not the same as
                    the ultimately absolute apophatic concept of the Gnostics. By
                    allowing for the unknowable absolute (in both thinking and
                    nonthinking mode), I discover things about myself that might be
                    uncomfortable but in turn end up contributing to my journey to
                    wholeness while I'm here on earth. I just can't help but be
                    practical in that way. ;-)


                    Cari
                  • pmcvflag
                    ... perception ... involved. ... who ... this ... gets ... Even ... as ... Excellent, as always, Lady Cari. Better stated than mine, actually. PMCV
                    Message 9 of 23 , Jan 16, 2005
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                      > Well, yes. It's possible that there could oftentimes be a
                      perception
                      > of a god of some sort dependent on the needs of the person
                      involved.
                      > It *does* become very personal. Some might conjure up a father or
                      > mother figure. Others might push limits, sending a deity way out
                      > into eternity, ending up with a disinterested, non-interfering,
                      > deistic type of god. Also, there are some people who
                      > consider "notions of a beyond conceptualization" that you mention
                      who
                      > nonetheless retain a materialistic worldview. In their minds,
                      this
                      > unknown is a material unknown. Others might ask how then one can
                      > know this unknown is only material.
                      >
                      > I would imagine considering an absolute ineffability outside of
                      > temporal concepts of eternity could be scary for lots of people...
                      > because when you do, there is no footing, no familiar grounding.
                      > Preconceptions are continually being discovered and tested.
                      > Personally, I wouldn't have it any other way even when the going
                      gets
                      > rough because any other path would be fake and a copout for me.
                      Even
                      > apophatic theology in relation to trying to understand the gods of
                      > various religions doesn't go far enough for me. It's not the same
                      as
                      > the ultimately absolute apophatic concept of the Gnostics. By
                      > allowing for the unknowable absolute (in both thinking and
                      > nonthinking mode), I discover things about myself that might be
                      > uncomfortable but in turn end up contributing to my journey to
                      > wholeness while I'm here on earth. I just can't help but be
                      > practical in that way. ;-)
                      >
                      >
                      > Cari



                      Excellent, as always, Lady Cari. Better stated than mine, actually.

                      PMCV
                    • janahooks
                      ... gets ... Even ... as ... I think I may be on the verge of an aha moment (or duh ). Once again, Cari, could you direct me toward a text that is helpful
                      Message 10 of 23 , Jan 17, 2005
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                        --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, lady_caritas <no_reply@y...>
                        wrote:
                        > I would imagine considering an absolute ineffability outside of
                        > temporal concepts of eternity could be scary for lots of people...
                        > because when you do, there is no footing, no familiar grounding.
                        > Preconceptions are continually being discovered and tested.
                        > Personally, I wouldn't have it any other way even when the going
                        gets
                        > rough because any other path would be fake and a copout for me.
                        Even
                        > apophatic theology in relation to trying to understand the gods of
                        > various religions doesn't go far enough for me. It's not the same
                        as
                        > the ultimately absolute apophatic concept of the Gnostics. By
                        > allowing for the unknowable absolute (in both thinking and
                        > nonthinking mode), I discover things about myself that might be
                        > uncomfortable but in turn end up contributing to my journey to
                        > wholeness while I'm here on earth. I just can't help but be
                        > practical in that way. ;-)
                        >
                        >
                        > Cari

                        I think I may be on the verge of an "aha" moment (or "duh"). Once
                        again, Cari, could you direct me toward a text that is helpful along
                        these lines? You've probably done this before for me and it just
                        didn't take....:)
                        Thanks in advance,
                        jana
                      • nakedalchemy@aol.com
                        In a message dated 1/16/2005 10:55:18 PM Eastern Standard Time, no_r eply@yahoogroups.com writes: I mean, even those who think they are beyond
                        Message 11 of 23 , Jan 17, 2005
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                          In a message dated 1/16/2005 10:55:18 PM Eastern Standard Time, no_reply@yahoogroups.com writes:
                          I mean, even those who think they are beyond nathropomorphic ideas
                          of deity often still think of spirituality in very egocentric terms.
                          People generally still believe that the spirit is a personal
                          function, subjective and interpretive. Sometimes that is about
                          floating in astral realms, or psychological growth, etc.. Or, as we
                          all know there are many who feel that the mystical experience is THE
                          definitive process of spirituality. I can think of few concepts that
                          really challenge a person to look beyond these things.
                           
                          Hmmm? I have mostly thought that I am in spirit and spirit is in  me, but I have never considered it being limited to me, in fact, it is what I mean when I say Spirituality is connection, that everything is connected to everything, and the simple realization of this is what brings on the logic of what spirituality entails...one doesn't necessarily need to have a mystical experience, but it is nice and helpful(although I have found it to be a hindrance too in compounding the message of gnosis). A mystical experience, for one, sometimes happens like a acid trip, way too overwhelming and not always clear. I would not comprehensively recommend it, but then, we have little say so, it would seem, if it does occur.
                          Gnosis, although akin to such a thing is without description, it is a "knowing" sometimes a feeling mingled in with conceptualizations, but, basically, once described, it is never of the same potency, or, rather...well, Like when I go to write a poem and try to get my thoughts into words, and the poem turns out not to be anything like I intended it to be. It may be a good poem, it may be full of all sorts of cool meaning and depth, but it still isn't the same thing as when I first imagined it.(Sometimes I write things that don't even seem to be of my own persona doing it at all).

                          Of course, the fact that modern science is conceptualizing in a
                          direction that points to these notions of a beyond conceptualization
                          removes an element of pistic doctrin and I sure that would have been
                          an attraction to the historical Gnostics considering the respect
                          that most of these people had for the scientific thinking of their
                          time... but I think the logical aspect and the effect on thinking
                          itself might have been more important. The logic involved seems
                          practically incontrovertaible, so what better way to evoke the
                          Logos? *lol* :)
                           
                          when we dissect something we remove the mystique from it and see that its organs have functions, that, the thing that was once alive is just a carcass, it takes the romance out if it, so we go with reason and logic from thereon.
                          but, if we have never personnaly dissected anything, the mystique remains...CSI on TV spoils everything by being so in your face with precisely this. Instead of faith we have cold science, but science cannot and is not in the business of explaining supernatural phenomena beyond what can be proven. It attempts to and is sometimes confronted with unknown variables, but just by being unknown does not make it illogical, it just hasn't yet come to light.
                          I think the Gnostics wanted to work both sides of the fence here, and why not, it gives a broader view.
                           
                          mychael

                          PMCV



                           
                        • nakedalchemy@aol.com
                          In a message dated 1/17/2005 1:25:40 AM Eastern Standard Time, no_reply@yahoogroups.com writes: I would imagine considering an absolute ineffability outside
                          Message 12 of 23 , Jan 17, 2005
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                            In a message dated 1/17/2005 1:25:40 AM Eastern Standard Time, no_reply@yahoogroups.com writes:
                            I would imagine considering an absolute ineffability outside of
                            temporal concepts of eternity could be scary for lots of people...
                            because when you do, there is no footing, no familiar grounding. 
                            Preconceptions are continually being discovered and tested. 
                            Personally, I wouldn't have it any other way even when the going gets
                            rough because any other path would be fake and a copout for me.  Even
                            apophatic theology in relation to trying to understand the gods of
                            various religions doesn't go far enough for me.  It's not the same as
                            the ultimately absolute apophatic concept of the Gnostics.  By
                            allowing for the unknowable absolute (in both thinking and
                            nonthinking mode), I discover things about myself that might be
                            uncomfortable but in turn end up contributing to my journey to
                            wholeness while I'm here on earth.  I just can't help but be
                            practical in that way.  ;-) 


                            Cari
                            Cari..as I agree here, also, if the Unknow God is that unknown, then, I wont try to know it since no matter how much I would try, I wouldn't anyway. Just inconceivable and try and leave it at that.
                            But, my nature is insistent, too, so damn curious, I will be arrogant enough to confront mu understanding or misunderstanding, as the case may be, that I will go ahead and make the attempt.
                            One thing I have noticed in the TEXTS is that mention is made of the Ineffable, but so many more gloss over it, too. Some may make the attempt, as I do, but knowing it can't be done.., well, they tend to go back to what they know, and they know that these other gods they can describe are not the "one"..so sticking with the knowable gods is a much easier task.
                            I feel the Trimorphic Prottennoia is a beautiful example, they describe the Three Thoughts as having existence rather than describe or attempt to describe from What these  THOUGHTS came from.
                            It is these Three THOUGHTS that do the speaking. each connected to the other, distinct but ONE..A great concept for the original understanding of a TRINITY and incidentally understood as Feminine, The First THOUGHT being Barbelo, whom is the First Father(A FEMALE being a male), the Second Thought is the VOICE, and is the Female, the Mother, and the Third Thought is the Logos, now male and the Son...and EACH THOUGHT DESCENDS, and has its own story, you might say, spoken in the first person by each.
                            I love it!
                            So, that which is scary to many is that which we cannot know, so why bother, is what I say.
                            Howvere, that which we can know, it is our journey to find out as much as we can about it, them, whatever, the more we know, the more we understand what we know, and the more we understand, the greater our capacity for reaching beyond ourselves by reaching into ourselves.
                             
                            mychael
                          • lady_caritas
                            ... people... ... of ... same ... along ... jana, not being inside your head or heart, I ll not venture to guess that I d be successful in complementing your
                            Message 13 of 23 , Jan 17, 2005
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                              --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "janahooks" <janahooks@y...>
                              wrote:
                              >
                              >
                              > --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, lady_caritas <no_reply@y...>
                              > wrote:
                              > > I would imagine considering an absolute ineffability outside of
                              > > temporal concepts of eternity could be scary for lots of
                              people...
                              > > because when you do, there is no footing, no familiar grounding.
                              > > Preconceptions are continually being discovered and tested.
                              > > Personally, I wouldn't have it any other way even when the going
                              > gets
                              > > rough because any other path would be fake and a copout for me.
                              > Even
                              > > apophatic theology in relation to trying to understand the gods
                              of
                              > > various religions doesn't go far enough for me. It's not the
                              same
                              > as
                              > > the ultimately absolute apophatic concept of the Gnostics. By
                              > > allowing for the unknowable absolute (in both thinking and
                              > > nonthinking mode), I discover things about myself that might be
                              > > uncomfortable but in turn end up contributing to my journey to
                              > > wholeness while I'm here on earth. I just can't help but be
                              > > practical in that way. ;-)
                              > >
                              > >
                              > > Cari
                              >
                              > I think I may be on the verge of an "aha" moment (or "duh"). Once
                              > again, Cari, could you direct me toward a text that is helpful
                              along
                              > these lines? You've probably done this before for me and it just
                              > didn't take....:)
                              > Thanks in advance,
                              > jana


                              jana, not being inside your head or heart, I'll not venture to guess
                              that I'd be successful in complementing your impending "aha" or "duh"
                              moment. ;-)

                              However, for starters, I can direct you to some Sethian scripture
                              that describes the ascent of the soul toward Gnosis. Both _The
                              Foreigner_ (or _Allogenes_) and Zostrianos involve intellectual
                              abstractions and mystical aspects. The Foreigner describes a
                              lifetime of deliberation (study, contemplation) in preparation. _The
                              Foreigner_ is concerned mainly with ascent, and _Zostrianos_ also
                              discusses the descent. Zostrianos is heavily metaphorical compared
                              to _The Foreigner_, but both works describe a process, a journey
                              through abstract aeons. Particularly relevant to our subject is the
                              apophatic description of the unrecognizable in _The Foreigner_
                              (similar to that found in _The Secret Book According to John_),
                              involving, ironically, a rational recognition that *complete*
                              rational understanding or description of the ineffable first
                              principle isn't humanly possible.

                              Here's a passage from _The Foreigner_ (Bentley Layton trans.)
                              preceding this apophatic depiction that describes part of this
                              person's experience with an added mystical component:

                              "Now, I was listening to them say these things {instructions of holy
                              powers}, and within me was stillness of silence. I listened to
                              blessedness, through which I understood myself as I really am. And I
                              withdrew to vitality, which I sought to understand; and I accompanied
                              it into itself, and stood at rest--not firmly, but in stillness. And
                              I beheld an indivisible, eternal, intellectual movement--belonging to
                              all the powers; formless; and unlimited by bestowal of limit. And
                              when I wished to stand firmly at rest I withdrew to reality, which I
                              found to be standing at rest and still, after an image and a
                              resemblance of the (image) which I was wearing. Through a
                              manifestation of the undivided and the still, I became full of
                              manifestation. (And) through a first manifestation of the
                              unrecognizable, I [understood] it (the unrecognizable), at the same
                              time [that] I was uncomprehending of it. And from the latter I
                              received power, having gotten eternal strength from [it]."


                              Cari
                            • lady_caritas
                              ... gets ... Even ... as ... then, I wont ... anyway. Just ... arrogant enough ... be, that I ... the ... attempt, as I do, ... they know, ... the
                              Message 14 of 23 , Jan 17, 2005
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                                --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, nakedalchemy@a... wrote:
                                >
                                > In a message dated 1/17/2005 1:25:40 AM Eastern Standard Time,
                                > no_reply@yahoogroups.com writes:
                                >
                                > I would imagine considering an absolute ineffability outside of
                                > temporal concepts of eternity could be scary for lots of people...
                                > because when you do, there is no footing, no familiar grounding.
                                > Preconceptions are continually being discovered and tested.
                                > Personally, I wouldn't have it any other way even when the going
                                gets
                                > rough because any other path would be fake and a copout for me.
                                Even
                                > apophatic theology in relation to trying to understand the gods of
                                > various religions doesn't go far enough for me. It's not the same
                                as
                                > the ultimately absolute apophatic concept of the Gnostics. By
                                > allowing for the unknowable absolute (in both thinking and
                                > nonthinking mode), I discover things about myself that might be
                                > uncomfortable but in turn end up contributing to my journey to
                                > wholeness while I'm here on earth. I just can't help but be
                                > practical in that way. ;-)
                                >
                                >
                                > Cari
                                >
                                >
                                >
                                > Cari..as I agree here, also, if the Unknow God is that unknown,
                                then, I wont
                                > try to know it since no matter how much I would try, I wouldn't
                                anyway. Just
                                > inconceivable and try and leave it at that.
                                > But, my nature is insistent, too, so damn curious, I will be
                                arrogant enough
                                > to confront mu understanding or misunderstanding, as the case may
                                be, that I
                                > will go ahead and make the attempt.
                                > One thing I have noticed in the TEXTS is that mention is made of
                                the
                                > Ineffable, but so many more gloss over it, too. Some may make the
                                attempt, as I do,
                                > but knowing it can't be done.., well, they tend to go back to what
                                they know,
                                > and they know that these other gods they can describe are not
                                the "one"..so
                                > sticking with the knowable gods is a much easier task.
                                > I feel the Trimorphic Prottennoia is a beautiful example, they
                                describe the
                                > Three Thoughts as having existence rather than describe or attempt
                                to describe
                                > from What these THOUGHTS came from.
                                > It is these Three THOUGHTS that do the speaking. each connected to
                                the
                                > other, distinct but ONE..A great concept for the original
                                understanding of a
                                > TRINITY and incidentally understood as Feminine, The First THOUGHT
                                being Barbelo,
                                > whom is the First Father(A FEMALE being a male), the Second Thought
                                is the
                                > VOICE, and is the Female, the Mother, and the Third Thought is the
                                Logos, now
                                > male and the Son...and EACH THOUGHT DESCENDS, and has its own
                                story, you might
                                > say, spoken in the first person by each.
                                > I love it!
                                > So, that which is scary to many is that which we cannot know, so
                                why bother,
                                > is what I say.
                                > Howvere, that which we can know, it is our journey to find out as
                                much as we
                                > can about it, them, whatever, the more we know, the more we
                                understand what
                                > we know, and the more we understand, the greater our capacity for
                                reaching
                                > beyond ourselves by reaching into ourselves.
                                >
                                > mychael


                                Thank you, mychael. I hope jana finds your words helpful, too.

                                Cari
                              • lady_caritas
                                ... people... ... grounding. ... of ... same ... what ... attempt ... to ... THOUGHT ... Thought ... the ... Also,... *recognition* of the unknown in the
                                Message 15 of 23 , Jan 17, 2005
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                                  --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, lady_caritas <no_reply@y...>
                                  wrote:
                                  >
                                  > --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, nakedalchemy@a... wrote:
                                  > >
                                  > > In a message dated 1/17/2005 1:25:40 AM Eastern Standard Time,
                                  > > no_reply@yahoogroups.com writes:
                                  > >
                                  > > I would imagine considering an absolute ineffability outside of
                                  > > temporal concepts of eternity could be scary for lots of
                                  people...
                                  > > because when you do, there is no footing, no familiar
                                  grounding.
                                  > > Preconceptions are continually being discovered and tested.
                                  > > Personally, I wouldn't have it any other way even when the going
                                  > gets
                                  > > rough because any other path would be fake and a copout for me.
                                  > Even
                                  > > apophatic theology in relation to trying to understand the gods
                                  of
                                  > > various religions doesn't go far enough for me. It's not the
                                  same
                                  > as
                                  > > the ultimately absolute apophatic concept of the Gnostics. By
                                  > > allowing for the unknowable absolute (in both thinking and
                                  > > nonthinking mode), I discover things about myself that might be
                                  > > uncomfortable but in turn end up contributing to my journey to
                                  > > wholeness while I'm here on earth. I just can't help but be
                                  > > practical in that way. ;-)
                                  > >
                                  > >
                                  > > Cari
                                  > >
                                  > >
                                  > >
                                  > > Cari..as I agree here, also, if the Unknow God is that unknown,
                                  > then, I wont
                                  > > try to know it since no matter how much I would try, I wouldn't
                                  > anyway. Just
                                  > > inconceivable and try and leave it at that.
                                  > > But, my nature is insistent, too, so damn curious, I will be
                                  > arrogant enough
                                  > > to confront mu understanding or misunderstanding, as the case may
                                  > be, that I
                                  > > will go ahead and make the attempt.
                                  > > One thing I have noticed in the TEXTS is that mention is made of
                                  > the
                                  > > Ineffable, but so many more gloss over it, too. Some may make the
                                  > attempt, as I do,
                                  > > but knowing it can't be done.., well, they tend to go back to
                                  what
                                  > they know,
                                  > > and they know that these other gods they can describe are not
                                  > the "one"..so
                                  > > sticking with the knowable gods is a much easier task.
                                  > > I feel the Trimorphic Prottennoia is a beautiful example, they
                                  > describe the
                                  > > Three Thoughts as having existence rather than describe or
                                  attempt
                                  > to describe
                                  > > from What these THOUGHTS came from.
                                  > > It is these Three THOUGHTS that do the speaking. each connected
                                  to
                                  > the
                                  > > other, distinct but ONE..A great concept for the original
                                  > understanding of a
                                  > > TRINITY and incidentally understood as Feminine, The First
                                  THOUGHT
                                  > being Barbelo,
                                  > > whom is the First Father(A FEMALE being a male), the Second
                                  Thought
                                  > is the
                                  > > VOICE, and is the Female, the Mother, and the Third Thought is
                                  the
                                  > Logos, now
                                  > > male and the Son...and EACH THOUGHT DESCENDS, and has its own
                                  > story, you might
                                  > > say, spoken in the first person by each.
                                  > > I love it!
                                  > > So, that which is scary to many is that which we cannot know, so
                                  > why bother,
                                  > > is what I say.
                                  > > Howvere, that which we can know, it is our journey to find out as
                                  > much as we
                                  > > can about it, them, whatever, the more we know, the more we
                                  > understand what
                                  > > we know, and the more we understand, the greater our capacity for
                                  > reaching
                                  > > beyond ourselves by reaching into ourselves.
                                  > >
                                  > > mychael
                                  >
                                  >
                                  > Thank you, mychael. I hope jana finds your words helpful, too.
                                  >
                                  > Cari


                                  Also,... *recognition* of the unknown in the first place seems to be
                                  of utmost importance in this process.


                                  Cari
                                • janahooks
                                  Thank you, Cari and Mychael. And Cari, I thought it was interesting that you said *recognize* the Unrecognizable One--I think I have only been *acknowledging*
                                  Message 16 of 23 , Jan 17, 2005
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                                    Thank you, Cari and Mychael. And Cari, I thought it was interesting
                                    that you said *recognize* the Unrecognizable One--I think I have only
                                    been *acknowledging* several concepts. I wish I could pull my
                                    thoughts together into an actual question, but I don't think that's
                                    going to happen. Ha--the unrecognizable question. ;)

                                    jana
                                  • lady_caritas
                                    ... interesting ... only ... Ha! Didn t mean to provide a koan there, jana. lol Maybe I should have said it was important to recognize the image or concept,
                                    Message 17 of 23 , Jan 17, 2005
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                                      --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "janahooks" <janahooks@y...>
                                      wrote:
                                      >
                                      >
                                      > Thank you, Cari and Mychael. And Cari, I thought it was
                                      interesting
                                      > that you said *recognize* the Unrecognizable One--I think I have
                                      only
                                      > been *acknowledging* several concepts. I wish I could pull my
                                      > thoughts together into an actual question, but I don't think that's
                                      > going to happen. Ha--the unrecognizable question. ;)
                                      >
                                      > jana


                                      Ha! Didn't mean to provide a koan there, jana. lol

                                      Maybe I should have said it was important to recognize the image or
                                      concept, since we indeed only perceive through images in this realm.


                                      Cari
                                    • nakedalchemy@aol.com
                                      In a message dated 1/17/2005 6:03:12 PM Eastern Standard Time, no_reply@yahoogroups.com writes: Also,... *recognition* of the unknown in the first place seems
                                      Message 18 of 23 , Jan 17, 2005
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                                        In a message dated 1/17/2005 6:03:12 PM Eastern Standard Time, no_reply@yahoogroups.com writes:
                                        Also,...  *recognition* of the unknown in the first place seems to be
                                        of utmost importance in this process.


                                        Cari
                                        yeppers...i,e, just knowing there is ofr isnt an unknon is quite enough to know
                                      • Mike Leavitt
                                        Hello lady_caritas ... Ah yes, as it says in the Gospel of Philip, explicitly. Regards -- Mike Leavitt ac998@lafn.org
                                        Message 19 of 23 , Jan 17, 2005
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                                          Hello lady_caritas

                                          On 01/18/05, you wrote:

                                          >
                                          >
                                          > --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "janahooks" <janahooks@y...>
                                          > wrote:
                                          >>
                                          >>
                                          >> Thank you, Cari and Mychael. And Cari, I thought it was
                                          > interesting
                                          >> that you said *recognize* the Unrecognizable One--I think I have
                                          > only
                                          >> been *acknowledging* several concepts. I wish I could pull my
                                          >> thoughts together into an actual question, but I don't think that's
                                          >> going to happen. Ha--the unrecognizable question. ;)
                                          >>
                                          >> jana
                                          >
                                          >
                                          > Ha! Didn't mean to provide a koan there, jana. lol
                                          >
                                          > Maybe I should have said it was important to recognize the image or
                                          > concept, since we indeed only perceive through images in this realm.
                                          >
                                          >
                                          > Cari

                                          Ah yes, as it says in the Gospel of Philip, explicitly.

                                          Regards
                                          --
                                          Mike Leavitt ac998@...
                                        • lady_caritas
                                          ... that s ... or ... realm. ... Yes, it does indeed, Mike. Truth did not come to the world nakedly; rather, it came in prototypes and images: the world will
                                          Message 20 of 23 , Jan 17, 2005
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                                            --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, Mike Leavitt <ac998@l...> wrote:
                                            > Hello lady_caritas
                                            >
                                            > On 01/18/05, you wrote:
                                            >
                                            > >
                                            > >
                                            > > --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "janahooks" <janahooks@y...>
                                            > > wrote:
                                            > >>
                                            > >>
                                            > >> Thank you, Cari and Mychael. And Cari, I thought it was
                                            > > interesting
                                            > >> that you said *recognize* the Unrecognizable One--I think I have
                                            > > only
                                            > >> been *acknowledging* several concepts. I wish I could pull my
                                            > >> thoughts together into an actual question, but I don't think
                                            that's
                                            > >> going to happen. Ha--the unrecognizable question. ;)
                                            > >>
                                            > >> jana
                                            > >
                                            > >
                                            > > Ha! Didn't mean to provide a koan there, jana. lol
                                            > >
                                            > > Maybe I should have said it was important to recognize the image
                                            or
                                            > > concept, since we indeed only perceive through images in this
                                            realm.
                                            > >
                                            > >
                                            > > Cari
                                            >
                                            > Ah yes, as it says in the Gospel of Philip, explicitly.
                                            >
                                            > Regards
                                            > --
                                            > Mike Leavitt ac998@l...


                                            Yes, it does indeed, Mike.

                                            "Truth did not come to the world nakedly; rather, it came in
                                            prototypes and images: the world will not accept it in any other
                                            form."


                                            And one of my favorites,

                                            "And, furthermore, when that person leaves this world, he or she has
                                            already received the truth in the form of images, and the world has
                                            already become the eternal realm. For, to this person the eternal
                                            realm is fullness and, as such, is manifest to him or her alone--
                                            hidden not in darkness and night but hidden in perfect day and holy
                                            light."


                                            Cari

                                            "
                                          • pmcvflag
                                            Mychael ... in me, but I have never considered it being limited to me, in fact, it is what I mean when I say Spirituality is connection, that everything is
                                            Message 21 of 23 , Jan 17, 2005
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                                              Mychael

                                              >>>"Hmmm? I have mostly thought that I am in spirit and spirit is
                                              in me, but I have never considered it being limited to me, in fact,
                                              it is what I mean when I say Spirituality is connection, that
                                              everything is connected to everything, and the simple realization of
                                              this is what brings on the logic of what spirituality entails...one
                                              doesn't necessarily need to have a mystical experience, but it is
                                              nice and helpful(although I have found it to be a hindrance too in
                                              compounding the message of gnosis). A mystical experience, for one,
                                              sometimes happens like a acid trip, way too overwhelming and not
                                              always clear. I would not comprehensively recommend it, but then, we
                                              have little say so, it would seem, if it does occur.<<<"

                                              I think you very nicely outline the problem with equating the
                                              mystical experience with "gnosis".

                                              >>>"Gnosis, although akin to such a thing is without description, it
                                              is a "knowing" sometimes a feeling mingled in with
                                              conceptualizations, but, basically, once described, it is never of
                                              the same potency."<<<

                                              I am not sure I agree with that, but I am not sure if I understood
                                              you correctly. The usage of the word "gnosis" in both the Platonic
                                              texts and the Gnostic is not so vague. On the contrary it often in
                                              very obvious contexts that we see it come up.

                                              Remember when we were using the allegory of math to
                                              describe "gnosis"? Since that was in the other group let me recount
                                              it here for the people who were not there......

                                              A person can understand the formulas for a very complex physics
                                              problem but have no understanding of how it is practically used or
                                              why the math even exists. They may even have the statistics to plug
                                              into the problem that represent real world actions. This is pure
                                              data, simply an academic knowing. We have all met those who are
                                              mathematicians for the plain love of numbers. This is obviously not
                                              gnosis, it is "pliroforo".

                                              On the other hand, there are the engineers and technicians who know
                                              exactly what the numbers are for. It is their job to actually USE
                                              those numbers to equate to real world practical experience. Often
                                              times they have no understanding as to why the numbers work, or
                                              where they came from, only that they do work. When you ask them how
                                              they know when to use which methods in a problem, you will
                                              surprisingly often here them say that they simply felt it in thier
                                              gut. This is also not gnosis, it is "xero".

                                              However, sometimes these two forms of "knowing", xero and pliroforo,
                                              come together. They cross the lines and meld into a situation where
                                              the person can really say they "know" the subject as if it was the
                                              back of their hand. You know the experience, you know the
                                              intellectual context, you know it inside and out... you
                                              have "gnosis" of it.

                                              It is interesting that so many people today are so bent on removing
                                              the academic end so that they equate gnosis with xero, but that is
                                              exactly what seems to be the popular usage today.

                                              Ok, Mychael, I know that you are already aware of all that. But let
                                              me point out then that I don't see what you mean by saying that once
                                              you can describe it it looses potence. When Archemedes supposedly
                                              ran naked from his bath after obtaining "gnosis" of the problem of
                                              mass, he was surely very excited to be able to describe it. After
                                              all, as the saying goes.... one who can't describe it doesn't really
                                              know it. Perhaps this is where the attacks from the polemicist
                                              against the Gnostics comes from when they say 'these Gnostics
                                              believe that you are not spiritually mature until you can write your
                                              own gospel' (paraphrase). I think that a deep knowing like this
                                              produces an excitement, a WISH to communicate it, and that
                                              includes "gnosis" as it pertainst to spirit as well.

                                              What do you think?

                                              PMCV
                                            • nakedalchemy@aol.com
                                              In a message dated 1/17/2005 11:47:56 PM Eastern Standard Time, no_reply@yahoogroups.com writes: Ok, Mychael, I know that you are already aware of all that.
                                              Message 22 of 23 , Jan 18, 2005
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                                                In a message dated 1/17/2005 11:47:56 PM Eastern Standard Time, no_reply@yahoogroups.com writes:
                                                Ok, Mychael, I know that you are already aware of all that. But let
                                                me point out then that I don't see what you mean by saying that once
                                                you can describe it it looses potence. When Archemedes supposedly
                                                ran naked from his bath after obtaining "gnosis" of the problem of
                                                mass, he was surely very excited to be able to describe it. After
                                                all, as the saying goes.... one who can't describe it doesn't really
                                                know it. Perhaps this is where the attacks from the polemicist
                                                against the Gnostics comes from when they say 'these Gnostics
                                                believe that you are not spiritually mature until you can write your
                                                own gospel' (paraphrase). I think that a deep knowing like this
                                                produces an excitement, a WISH to communicate it, and that
                                                includes "gnosis" as it pertainst to spirit as well.

                                                What do you think?

                                                PMCV

                                                perhaps "potency" is the wrong word to use here...I simply meant oftentimes it is not easy to put down in words--for others--exactly what you experienced, while it still can be true that you do know whereof you speak. Not all of us are Archemedes, and not all of us have the skills to describe things accurately...this is all I meant.
                                                 
                                                mychael
                                              • pmcvflag
                                                Hey Gich Pliroforo is facts and data, pure intellectual knowledge. Xero is intuited and experiential knowledge.
                                                Message 23 of 23 , Jan 21, 2005
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                                                  Hey Gich

                                                  Pliroforo is facts and data, pure intellectual knowledge.
                                                  Xero is intuited and experiential knowledge.

                                                  --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "gichnosis" <gich@h...> wrote:
                                                  >
                                                  >
                                                  > Please forgive a newbie for butting in to your conversation.
                                                  > Could you give a definition of 'xero' and 'pliroforo'.
                                                  > gich
                                                  >
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