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Re: Gnosticism and Darwin

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  • Tsharpmin7@aol.com
    hi Gich... You wrote: Hi Crispin. You write if you re asking whether or not a contemporary Gnostic can find a place for the Theory of evolution, then i
    Message 1 of 20 , Mar 7, 2005
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      hi Gich...

       

      You wrote:

       

      Hi Crispin.

      You write 'if you're asking whether or not a contemporary Gnostic can

      find "a place for the Theory of evolution," then i would say  absolutely

      yes.' I'm trying to get to grips with the concept of 'the spirit within'; 'the

      inner spark; and similar expressions. This 'spirit', this 'inner spark', is

      divine. It exists within all men and, as I understand things, if only we

      can acquire the esoteric gnosis (and so get to know our own inner

      spirit and through this come to know God and his purpose) we will be

      saved. 

       

      crispin replies:

       

      actually, not according to all Gnostic teachings.  i don't have the

      references handy right now, and maybe someone can help me out

      here, but i seem to recall occasions where it sounded to me as though

      the gnostics were somewhat emphatically declaring that not every

      "human" was possessed of this "inner spark;"  that some Gnostics

      seemed to think it was, in a sense, a somewhat exclusive clubbut

      that's a pretty literal interpretation of what i've read, and their actual

      meaning may have been a bit more sophisticated.  it may have been an

      insiders way of expressing a conviction that not all humans have the

      capacity to exploit it regardless of whether of not they possess it;

      whether or not they desire or seek it.

       

      Gich wrote:

       

      But acquiring the esoteric gnosis requires some (spiritual) effort on our

      part which, presumably, is not possible unless there is a spiritual side

      (an 'inner spark') to our existence.

       

      crispin replies:

       

      sounds logical. 

       

      Gich wrote:

       

      If we accept the Theory of Evolution, then where does primitive man

      fit in to this 'spiritual' scheme of things? I can't imagine that beings

      only slightly removed from apes had this 'inner spark' at all. 

       

      crispin replies:

       

      maybe all matter contains this "inner spark":  humans, apes, toads,

      rocks, water, air, etc., especially if evolution is a tool of the divine as

      opposed to a purely mechanistic view of evolution.  and let me say

      right now that i lean towards intelligent design -- but reject Genesis

      and all other religious cosmogonies i've encountered including all

      Gnostic varieties -- and am not adverse to the idea that evolution

      could be a tool of an intelligent designer.

       

      Gich wrote:

       

      From God's point of view there wouldn't have been any point in

      implanting it because the beings in question would never become

      sufficiently spiritually aware to produce the (spiritual) effort required

      to acquire the esoteric gnosis. 

       

      crispin replies:

       

      i'm not about to address God's p.o.v., but i get what you're saying. 

       

      Gich wrote:

       

      But gnostics believe that present-day man does have this 'inner spark'.

      So we are left with the question: when (in our timeline) did God decide

      that mankind had become sufficiently evolved to make implanting the

      'inner spark' worthwhile? I just can't see this. 

       

      crispin replies:

       

      i'm not at all comfortable speculating about what God did or did not

      decide, much less God's motivations, desires, capacities, etc.  maybe it

      (this "inner spark") was always there but the capacity to perceive

      and/or exploit it was not. 

       

      Gich wrote:

       

      Presumably mankind evolved at different rates in different parts of the

      world; so some groups would have been rewarded (??) and others

      not.  

       

      crispin replies:

       

      i'd question (??) that idea of reward as well. 

       

      Gish wrote:

       

      Has all of mankind on Earth today evolved to a sufficient degree to be

      rewarded with this 'inner spark'? 

       

      crispin replies:

       

      as mentioned earlier, i'm pretty sure some Gnostics did not believe all

      humans have that spark, so it wouldn't be a matter of reward as much

      as dumb luck.  perhaps i'm one of the unlucky non-sparklers who only

      imagines he's a spiritual being, i.e., i'm essentially delusional perhaps. 

      i really don't know the answer to your question.  i would like to believe

      all life contains this spark, this connection to the divine, and that all

      relatively sane and healthy humans can develop the capacity to

      develop, or evolve, into beings of a much higher perception and

      awareness through some process that strips us of our social/cultural

      conditioning and our false selves (plural!), but my likes and dislikes

      seem to carry little weight with reality. 

       

      my body was dead, or nearly so (i don't know), immediately after my

      accident, and from what i experienced -- unless it was a purely

      mechanical/hallucinatory phenomenon as many have suggested -- i

      have little doubt that we are spiritual beings and that our spirits can

      survive, consciousness intact,  outside of the physical body (for a while

      at least: eternity is another question altogether, so i won't assume it).  

      so my hopes and experiences are that we are all in some way

      connected to the divine, or God, and, as seems likely to me, probably

      everything else.  the all?

       

      Gich wrote:

       

      It seems to me that the concept of a spiritual 'inner spark' implanted

      into mankind by God is incompatible with the Theory of Evolution;

      and hence Gnosticism itself is incompatible. 

       

      Gich

       

      crispin replies:

       

      i may be alone in this, but i'ts not always clear to me when i see the

      word Gnosticism used amongst us whether or not we are speaking

      historically of the Gnosticism of the 1st millennium or are we

      speaking about current "Gnostic" thought.  my guess, concerning the

      ancients, would still be yes though.  using sophistry, wit, creativity,

      etc., they would have adapted.  We see this happening time and

      time again in every spiritual/religious movement i've ever

      investigated.  even today it looks to be a matter of adapt or die.  as

      to how the Gnostics would have adapted is anyone's guess (i've

      already suggested that it could have been employed as a form of

      propaganda to reinforce ideas about the debased nature of matter),

      but i certainly don't think they'd throw in the towel, as the highest

      ambitions of Gnosticism by far superseded their own mythologies. 

      as to current Gnostic thought or practitioners i  would imagine its

      pretty much the same.  i know i don't have any personal or

      emotional stake in regards to how life and humanity ultimately came

      to be.  i love monkeys and apes and really adore the idea that they

      might be my ancestors, and i sometimes think, right or wrong, i see

      that same spark that i see in us residing behind their eyes as well.  i

      just feel awe thinking about it or witnessing it.

       

      your friend,

       

      Crispin Glover III

       

    • pamela661
      In my ventures, I have only read a little Darwin, but if I remember correctly he did not completely trace the theory of evolution from apes to humans. In
      Message 2 of 20 , Mar 7, 2005
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        In my ventures, I have only read a little Darwin, but if I remember
        correctly he did not completely trace the theory of evolution from
        apes to humans. In other words, I thought the "trail" was somewhat
        incomplete - hence the theory of "the missing link". Sooooo,
        theoretically, Darwin's theory is still that - a theory. Gnostism,
        in my experience is simply a spiritual theory on the ways of
        spiritual existence - which by the way is open to change as new
        information is learned or discovered. I feel that the point of
        being gnostic is to serve the idea of what I feel is truly right
        theologically, while leaving room for change if and when I feel my
        beliefs need to given any new experience or information I find. I
        guess what I'm getting at after all this rambling is that no one can
        say yea or nay to your question but you. What do you feel is
        right? Or perhaps maybe that is something you can explore to serve
        your god. All in all, I feel it is the journey or the search for
        knowledge that is important, not just the answers. I hope this
        helps a little.
      • lady_caritas
        There is much to address here, but I ll just bring up a few points to focus on for now, and perhaps others would like to join in, too. As far as historical
        Message 3 of 20 , Mar 7, 2005
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          There is much to address here, but I'll just bring up a few points to
          focus on for now, and perhaps others would like to join in, too.

          As far as historical Gnosticism is concerned, the ultimate ineffable
          Unknown (or unengendered father, etc.) doesn't decide, reward, have a
          point of view,... is basically, in fact, beyond existence and any
          human conception. (A message board search might direct you to past
          discussion of this apophatic theology.)

          So, I suppose I wonder what is meant in this discussion by the
          term "god"? The various Gnostic mythologies show this world to be an
          abortion, as a result of the fall of Sophia, from whom spiritual
          sparks fall. Now, depending on the mythology, the demiurge, who is
          the artisan, creator of our world, either can be viewed as very
          negative (the sparks become trapped in the material prison) or even
          more positive (Valentinianism, where creation is viewed as a tool, a
          vessel to aid the maturing spiritual fruit). In any case, Gnosis
          destroys "lack," and the material world is deficient.

          Now, of course, caution should be taken in remembering that this is
          mythology, metaphor. The esoteric nature of Gnosis doesn't suit a
          black and white literal approach. Likewise the spirit isn't
          physical, so even though the theory of evolution wasn't around for
          those ancients, I don't see it as incompatible in describing
          biological occurrences, whether as part of a physical prison or an
          accommodating vessel.

          Cari

          --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, Tsharpmin7@a... wrote:
          >
          > hi Gich...
          > You wrote:
          > Hi Crispin.
          > You write 'if you're asking whether or not a contemporary Gnostic
          can
          > find "a place for the Theory of evolution," then i would say
          absolutely
          > yes.' I'm trying to get to grips with the concept of 'the spirit
          within';
          > 'the
          > inner spark; and similar expressions. This 'spirit', this 'inner
          spark', is
          > divine. It exists within all men and, as I understand things, if
          only we
          > can acquire the esoteric gnosis (and so get to know our own inner
          > spirit and through this come to know God and his purpose) we will
          be
          > saved.
          > crispin replies:
          > actually, not according to all Gnostic teachings. i don't have
          the
          > references handy right now, and maybe someone can help me out
          > here, but i seem to recall occasions where it sounded to me as
          though
          > the gnostics were somewhat emphatically declaring that not every
          > "human" was possessed of this "inner spark;" that some Gnostics
          > seemed to think it was, in a sense, a somewhat exclusive club.
          but
          > that's a pretty literal interpretation of what i've read, and
          their actual
          > meaning may have been a bit more sophisticated. it may have been
          an
          > insiders way of expressing a conviction that not all humans have
          the
          > capacity to exploit it regardless of whether of not they possess
          it;
          > whether or not they desire or seek it.
          > Gich wrote:
          > But acquiring the esoteric gnosis requires some (spiritual) effort
          on our
          > part which, presumably, is not possible unless there is a
          spiritual side
          > (an 'inner spark') to our existence.
          > crispin replies:
          > sounds logical.
          > Gich wrote:
          > If we accept the Theory of Evolution, then where does primitive
          man
          > fit in to this 'spiritual' scheme of things? I can't imagine that
          beings
          > only slightly removed from apes had this 'inner spark' at all.
          > crispin replies:
          > maybe all matter contains this "inner spark": humans, apes,
          toads,
          > rocks, water, air, etc., especially if evolution is a tool of the
          divine as
          > opposed to a purely mechanistic view of evolution. and let me
          say
          > right now that i lean towards intelligent design -- but reject
          Genesis
          > and all other religious cosmogonies i've encountered including
          all
          > Gnostic varieties -- and am not adverse to the idea that
          evolution
          > could be a tool of an intelligent designer.
          > Gich wrote:
          > From God's point of view there wouldn't have been any point in
          > implanting it because the beings in question would never become
          > sufficiently spiritually aware to produce the (spiritual) effort
          required
          > to acquire the esoteric gnosis.
          > crispin replies:
          > i'm not about to address God's p.o.v., but i get what you're
          saying.
          > Gich wrote:
          > But gnostics believe that present-day man does have this 'inner
          spark'.
          > So we are left with the question: when (in our timeline) did God
          decide
          > that mankind had become sufficiently evolved to make implanting
          the
          > 'inner spark' worthwhile? I just can't see this.
          > crispin replies:
          > i'm not at all comfortable speculating about what God did or did
          not
          > decide, much less God's motivations, desires, capacities, etc.
          maybe it
          > (this "inner spark") was always there but the capacity to
          perceive
          > and/or exploit it was not.
          > Gich wrote:
          > Presumably mankind evolved at different rates in different parts
          of the
          > world; so some groups would have been rewarded (??) and others
          > not.
          > crispin replies:
          > i'd question (??) that idea of reward as well.
          > Gish wrote:
          > Has all of mankind on Earth today evolved to a sufficient degree
          to be
          > rewarded with this 'inner spark'?
          > crispin replies:
          > as mentioned earlier, i'm pretty sure some Gnostics did not
          believe all
          > humans have that spark, so it wouldn't be a matter of reward as
          much
          > as dumb luck. perhaps i'm one of the unlucky non-sparklers who
          only
          > imagines he's a spiritual being, i.e., i'm essentially delusional
          perhaps.
          > i really don't know the answer to your question. i would like to
          believe
          > all life contains this spark, this connection to the divine, and
          that all
          > relatively sane and healthy humans can develop the capacity to
          > develop, or evolve, into beings of a much higher perception and
          > awareness through some process that strips us of our
          social/cultural
          > conditioning and our false selves (plural!), but my likes and
          dislikes
          > seem to carry little weight with reality.
          > my body was dead, or nearly so (i don't know), immediately after
          my
          > accident, and from what i experienced -- unless it was a purely
          > mechanical/hallucinatory phenomenon as many have suggested -- i
          > have little doubt that we are spiritual beings and that our
          spirits can
          > survive, consciousness intact, outside of the physical body (for
          a while
          > at least: eternity is another question altogether, so i won't
          assume it).
          > so my hopes and experiences are that we are all in some way
          > connected to the divine, or God, and, as seems likely to me,
          probably
          > everything else. the all?
          > Gich wrote:
          > It seems to me that the concept of a spiritual 'inner spark'
          implanted
          > into mankind by God is incompatible with the Theory of Evolution;
          > and hence Gnosticism itself is incompatible.
          > Gich
          > crispin replies:
          > i may be alone in this, but i'ts not always clear to me when i see
          the
          > word Gnosticism used amongst us whether or not we are speaking
          > historically of the Gnosticism of the 1st millennium or are we
          > speaking about current "Gnostic" thought. my guess, concerning
          the
          > ancients, would still be yes though. using sophistry, wit,
          creativity,
          > etc., they would have adapted. We see this happening time and
          > time again in every spiritual/religious movement i've ever
          > investigated. even today it looks to be a matter of adapt or
          die. as
          > to how the Gnostics would have adapted is anyone's guess (i've
          > already suggested that it could have been employed as a form of
          > propaganda to reinforce ideas about the debased nature of
          matter),
          > but i certainly don't think they'd throw in the towel, as the
          highest
          > ambitions of Gnosticism by far superseded their own mythologies.
          > as to current Gnostic thought or practitioners i would imagine
          its
          > pretty much the same. i know i don't have any personal or
          > emotional stake in regards to how life and humanity ultimately
          came
          > to be. i love monkeys and apes and really adore the idea that
          they
          > might be my ancestors, and i sometimes think, right or wrong, i
          see
          > that same spark that i see in us residing behind their eyes as
          well. i
          > just feel awe thinking about it or witnessing it.
          > your friend,
          > Crispin Glover III
        • pmcvflag
          Hey Mike.... ... Gnostics?
          Message 4 of 20 , Mar 7, 2005
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            Hey Mike....

            >>>"Did evolution as a concept even exist at the time of the
            Gnostics?"<<<

            Interestingly, it did. In fact, it predates Gnosticism and existed
            all the way back in the time of the pre-Socratics (Anaximenes, for
            instance). I think most people today think of "evolution" as a
            completely modern concept that simply sprang into being. While it is
            true that the Greek and Latin philosophers that talked about the
            notion of evolution did not have all the evidence to work through,
            bones, genetics, etc., but the basic concept was still there.

            Gich...

            >>>"I've looked at some of the old thread you mention but can't find
            a straightforward answer to my question:

            Is there a place for the Theory of evolution in Gnosticism?"<<<

            I know you want a "straightforward" answer, but I think it may be
            there more than it looks. When Cari points out a couple posts back
            that we have to remember the destinction between the Demiurge and
            the trou source, and to remember that much of what we are talking
            about is metephor, it brings to the front that to some extent your
            question sort of goes against the point of evolutionary theory and
            the point of Gnosticism. What I mean is, it is as if you asked "is
            there any place for solor power homes in psychology?"

            I could say yes, or no, or maybe, but the larger question is why are
            we trying to compare solor power with theories on how the mind
            works? The two areas neither confirm or deny the accuracy of the
            other.

            The physical means by which humans came into existance isn't really
            something that Gnosticism gives much attention to. If it was
            evolution, or some kind of "god", it is still just the physical
            world which is the realm of the Demiurge, not the Source. Remember,
            Gnostics don't believe we were created by the real spiritual
            unknowable source, and it was not "God" who gave us spirit.

            So, just as you can believe in psychology AND in solor power, I see
            absolutely no reason you could not believe in evolution and Gnosis.
            Perhaps one might even argue that in comming to understand the
            physical mechanics of our origin one could come to know the limits
            of that physical existance... just as the advancement technology
            such as solor power and the like could give us additional leisure to
            explore our psychology.

            PMCV
          • Mike Leavitt
            Hello pmcvflag ... My mind is going, I should have remembered that. Regards -- Mike Leavitt ac998@lafn.org
            Message 5 of 20 , Mar 7, 2005
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              Hello pmcvflag

              On 03/08/05, you wrote:

              >
              >
              > Hey Mike....
              >
              >>>> "Did evolution as a concept even exist at the time of the
              > Gnostics?"<<<
              >
              > Interestingly, it did. In fact, it predates Gnosticism and existed
              > all the way back in the time of the pre-Socratics (Anaximenes, for
              > instance). I think most people today think of "evolution" as a
              > completely modern concept that simply sprang into being. While it is
              > true that the Greek and Latin philosophers that talked about the
              > notion of evolution did not have all the evidence to work through,
              > bones, genetics, etc., but the basic concept was still there.

              My mind is going, I should have remembered that.

              Regards
              --
              Mike Leavitt ac998@...
            • pmcvflag
              Hey Gich You wrote..... ... I read many, many years ago that one should not use analogies when trying to prove a point. They lead to confusion, muddled
              Message 6 of 20 , Mar 8, 2005
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                Hey Gich

                You wrote.....

                >>>"Hey PMCV

                I read many, many years ago that one should not use analogies when
                trying to prove a point. They lead to confusion, muddled thinking
                and incorrect conclusions. I'm afraid your 'solar power -
                psychology' analogy does not help me at all.

                When you write '.... to some extent your question sort of goes
                against the point of evolutionary theory and the point of
                Gnosticism' I'm afraid I don't agree. You seem to view the two
                topics as completely disjoint but In my attempts to understand the
                gnostic idea of the 'inner spark' the theory of evolution looms
                large. Perhaps my other post on this subject clarifies my
                confusion."<<<

                I completely agree with you that analogies are an imperfect medium.
                Unfortunately they are sometimes what we have to fall back on when
                something gets difficult to explain. In fact, allegory, metephor,
                analogy, parable, these are all core methodologies in traditional
                Gnostic texts. Which means, without dealing with these methods we
                cannot hope to understand the Gnostic texts as they were intended to
                be understood. Our only other recourse is to take them literally.
                Are you taking them literally when you read them?

                However, understanding then that I did not make my point very well,
                may I point out that Cari and Crispin also answered you saying the
                same thing that I did only in different ways. Perhaps they were a
                bit more clear.... I don't know because you didn't respond to either
                of them. I can only go by your answer to me.

                Maybe it is simply a matter of us talking about different things.
                Let me then ask you a question that may help me to understand
                exactly where you are coming from with your question. Can you point
                out any specific Gnostic texts that in your view either seem to
                imply or deny the possibility of physical evolution? I mean, is
                there something in the text that made this seem important to
                reconcile physical evolution with spiritual evolution?

                Let me point out, again just for context, that the Gnostic texts
                really don't deal with physicality so much other than to simply deny
                that physicality is so serious in the spectrum of spiritual
                existance.

                Since the Gnostic story of how the "inner spark" came to be part of
                our human existance is not necessarily meant to be taken at face
                value (and we can't assume that all people actually have this
                spark), we are really left with a problem as to how to compare it to
                something that IS literal... i.e., evolution. The only way to do
                that would be to try and make the Gnostic cosmogeny literal as well.

                So, as you can see part of the reason it may look like you are not
                getting a straight answer may be simply that we are not on the same
                page in our subject matter. What are your observations on this
                possibility?

                PMCV
              • eyeambetty
                Hello Cari, ... it seems like the question of literal vs mythical interpretation is something that many of us struggle with, especially newcomers, like myself
                Message 7 of 20 , Mar 9, 2005
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                  Hello Cari,


                  --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, lady_caritas <no_reply@y...>
                  wrote:

                  > Now, of course, caution should be taken in remembering that this is
                  > mythology, metaphor. The esoteric nature of Gnosis doesn't suit a
                  > black and white literal approach.


                  it seems like the question of literal vs mythical interpretation is
                  something that many of us struggle with, especially newcomers, like
                  myself to Gnosticism.
                  i've actually been grappling with understanding the function of myth
                  for the last couple of months, specifically the function of Gnostic
                  myths.
                  i came across some passages in a book i've been reading, "The History
                  of Gnosticism" by Giovanni Filoramo (one of the best books i've read
                  thus far on Gnosticism), that were very insightful.
                  under the heading "The Nature of Gnostic Myth" it reads:

                  "The mythological revival of the Gnostics is not an isolated
                  phenomenon and cannot be explained simply by means of oriental
                  influences. If it is true that the mythological material on which
                  Gnostic thinkers work derives from the available religious traditions
                  of diverse provenance, it is equally true that they generally
                  transform them, endowing them with new meanings. And if it is true
                  that Gnostic myths are myths in their own right because they are the
                  basis of the realities of this world, because of their particular
                  narrative form, the structure of their underlying thought and their
                  characteristic richness and varied symbolic value, it is equally true
                  that their content is not unrelated to history. In other words, as
                  structural analysis has shown, myth as the manifistation of primitive
                  thought posseses an independent form of expression, which prevents it
                  from being reduced to the level of a mere mirror of reality or an
                  aetiological explanation. At the same time, above all in literate
                  societies, it cannot be attributed solely to a combinatory mechanism
                  endowed with a particular logic removed from the influence of
                  historical changes. Gnostic myth thus no longer relates the
                  activities of gods separate from humankind , but only those of that
                  original Anthropos(human being), from whom individual anthropos, or
                  humans are descended through fragmentation, and dispersal. The change
                  of emphasis is decisive and betrays the centrality that reflection on
                  humankind has acquired.

                  In this respect Gnostic myth has only one predecessor: ancient
                  Orphism. This was a religion of the book, inspired by holy scriptures
                  from which it derived its doctrines and purificatory practices. These
                  scriptures contain and transmit a mythical story of Dionysus'
                  assasination by the Titans- in a form that reverses the view of
                  traditional mythology of the type recorded by Hesiod. If the mythical
                  account in the "Theogony" develops, as it does, from the indistinct
                  to the distinct, from the void to the full, from chaos to cosmos,
                  from atemporality to the affirmation of a chronos, or time, the
                  Orphic myth is inspired by a contrasting aim to explain, to justify
                  itself and at the same time to establish the passage from an initial
                  ontological plenitude to the existential void of the present. In this
                  way the Orphics seem to condemn the traditonal mythical structures
                  that are used to affirm the primacy of existence and to guarantee
                  hierarchies and equilibrium between humankind and gods, and
                  consequently within humankind itself."

                  "Gnostic mythology also adopts this reverse perspective as the result
                  of its own radical dualism. It is now a matter of understanding,
                  intuiting and reliving the origianl drama, the initial situation that
                  provoked the rise, the establishment and triumph of evil, an evil
                  that now has acquired an ontological toughness and substance. This
                  cosmos is incurable and must be rejected. Myth thus acquires the
                  functions of salvation. It describes the way of salvation, reminding
                  the Gnostic of his true origins and showing him how to escape from
                  the cosmos. But above all, like all myth, that of the Gnostics is
                  essentially a story of origins: there lies the key of all that one
                  thinks one possesses. But the 'origins' of the cosmos coincide with
                  the pouring forth of Being, a Being that is the Anthropos, for the
                  human has now become the predicate of the divine. The manifestation
                  of God to himself: this is at the heart of the myth, that seeks
                  access, like all theosophy, to the mystery of that first throb of
                  Being, that initial moment, that original conflagration from which
                  the pleromatic universe would emerge.

                  And this manifestation can only take place through the medium of the
                  imperfect narrative that pertains to the era of myth.
                  As "Geschichte", or history, a sucession of archetypal events that
                  proceed from plenitude to deficiency in order to establish and
                  thereby explain it, this divine self-manifestation cannot be
                  described in logical and discursive terms. In the heart of the
                  individual Gnostic it takes shape as an individual process, which is,
                  however, at the same time a moment in a more general process and thus
                  in that same manifestation of God to himself. the mythological
                  narrative form is thus the only channel, the necessary bridge between
                  Being and its becoming.

                  On the screen of imaginary myth of the Gnostic thus projects divine
                  events and exiles that to the modern interpreter can appear only as
                  stages in the search for a new identity, the attempt to refashion a
                  different basis for a conception of the individual in crisis, to
                  which the underlying logos of the Gnostic mythos is striving to
                  restore to its origianl and archetypal unity.

                  Gnostic mythological accounts reveal a profound cultural
                  transformation. The Gnostics'is a conscious and reflected mythology.
                  Using pre-existing material, the Gnostic shuffles them round and
                  gives them a new task and purpose both profound and original: by
                  penetrating the divine mystery to circumscribe and to clarify the
                  same mystery of humankind."

                  i hope this might be helpful to some...

                  take care, betty
                • lady_caritas
                  ... is ... a ... myth ... History ... read ... traditions ... [...] ... mythology. ... Betty, thank you. The passages you quoted were most appropriate to our
                  Message 8 of 20 , Mar 9, 2005
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                    --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "eyeambetty" <eyeambetty@y...>
                    wrote:
                    >
                    >
                    > Hello Cari,
                    >
                    >
                    > --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, lady_caritas <no_reply@y...>
                    > wrote:
                    >
                    > > Now, of course, caution should be taken in remembering that this
                    is
                    > > mythology, metaphor. The esoteric nature of Gnosis doesn't suit
                    a
                    > > black and white literal approach.
                    >
                    >
                    > it seems like the question of literal vs mythical interpretation is
                    > something that many of us struggle with, especially newcomers, like
                    > myself to Gnosticism.
                    > i've actually been grappling with understanding the function of
                    myth
                    > for the last couple of months, specifically the function of Gnostic
                    > myths.
                    > i came across some passages in a book i've been reading, "The
                    History
                    > of Gnosticism" by Giovanni Filoramo (one of the best books i've
                    read
                    > thus far on Gnosticism), that were very insightful.
                    > under the heading "The Nature of Gnostic Myth" it reads:
                    >
                    > "The mythological revival of the Gnostics is not an isolated
                    > phenomenon and cannot be explained simply by means of oriental
                    > influences. If it is true that the mythological material on which
                    > Gnostic thinkers work derives from the available religious
                    traditions
                    > of diverse provenance, it is equally true that they generally
                    > transform them, endowing them with new meanings.
                    >
                    [...]

                    > Gnostic mythological accounts reveal a profound cultural
                    > transformation. The Gnostics'is a conscious and reflected
                    mythology.
                    > Using pre-existing material, the Gnostic shuffles them round and
                    > gives them a new task and purpose both profound and original: by
                    > penetrating the divine mystery to circumscribe and to clarify the
                    > same mystery of humankind."
                    >
                    > i hope this might be helpful to some...
                    >
                    > take care, betty


                    Betty, thank you. The passages you quoted were most appropriate to
                    our discussion.

                    It also further emphasizes that various "pre-existing material"
                    didn't force or determine some kind of experience in eclectic,
                    shallow fashion, but rather was employed in original manner as a
                    means of expression for a very unique, profound human understanding.


                    Cari
                  • Gerry
                    ... That title has been on my wish list for some time now. Each time I see passages from that book taken out of context elsewhere on the Net, I end up wishing
                    Message 9 of 20 , Mar 9, 2005
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                      --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "eyeambetty" <eyeambetty@y...>
                      wrote:
                      > [...]
                      >
                      > i came across some passages in a book i've been reading, "The
                      > History of Gnosticism" by Giovanni Filoramo (one of the best books
                      > i've read thus far on Gnosticism), that were very insightful....





                      That title has been on my wish list for some time now. Each time I
                      see passages from that book taken out of context elsewhere on the
                      Net, I end up wishing I had a copy of it right in front of me (so I
                      could hit someone over the head with it, if nothing else!). Now
                      you've piqued my curiosity even further.

                      And I still haven't managed to get a copy of Mead's _Fragments of a
                      Faith Forgotten_. I did locate one recently at a bookseller's in
                      Richmond and have tried to talk myself into the drive up there to
                      check out the condition of it. I may wait a while longer; I've also
                      noticed that Dover is coming out with a new edition (in just a couple
                      days) on his "Pistis Sophia," so I may be able to maximize my spree
                      if I wait a bit.

                      Gerry
                    • pmcvflag
                      Hey Gich I have not read the book by Harris that you mention, so I have no idea how accurate it may or may not be. I ll limit my observations to dealing with
                      Message 10 of 20 , Mar 9, 2005
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                        Hey Gich

                        I have not read the book by Harris that you mention, so I have no
                        idea how accurate it may or may not be. I'll limit my observations
                        to dealing with your observations... if that is ok.

                        >>"I am taking literally the idea of 'the inner spark', 'the divine
                        within'. It seems to me to be a fundamental part gnosticism."<<

                        I think we would all agree here, Gich, that this is something meant
                        to be taken literally. However, it does not follow that the method
                        by which it comes into the individual is meant literally. BTW, I
                        also thought I would point out that this spiritual aspect to the
                        human pneumatic is not always described as being "within". On the
                        contrary, it is sometimes talked about as something out there,
                        above, that we can ascend to or connect with. Consider the many
                        passages dealing with the "consort" or sometimes the "twin". This is
                        the spiritual spark, but it obviously is not described in these
                        cases as being an "inner spark".

                        >>>"My problem regarding evolution is that I could not 'see' how sub-
                        humans could possibly have a pneumatic component (inner spark) and
                        so fit into the gnostic system. However I now think my difficulty
                        has been resolved...."<<<

                        I think I see what you mean there a bit better now. let me deal with
                        this at the same time as what you say next....

                        >>>"So ALL humans (whether sub- or not) possess the 'inner spark'
                        but not ALL will be saved because salvation requires considerable
                        personal spiritual effort (which presumably the sub-humans were
                        never capable of) together with Divine intervention!!"<<<

                        Ok, consider this passage for a minute....

                        "For he who is ignorant, is deficient, and it is a great deficiency,
                        since he lacks that which will make him perfect."

                        While this particular text does talk about being called by
                        the "Father" in much the way you describe, it by no means assumes
                        that we all have that ability to gain Gnosis, or that spiritual
                        spark.

                        Anyway, what you said about the spark and "sub" humans would apply
                        to animals and one celled organisms as well. By the reasoning you
                        present you would not only have to worry about the spark in humans,
                        but also the spark in animals, plants, even one celled algea in the
                        ocean. When did this spark descend? At what point did we
                        become "human" and were is the line between us and other animals?

                        But what is the point of that? Why do proto-humans have to fit into
                        the Gnostic system? Why do mushrooms need to be saved? Remember, one
                        cannot find pnuematicism without first reaching the psychic level.
                        It would seem to fit MORE into the notion of evolution to not assume
                        that early people had yet attained this function.

                        >>"So the Divine will choose!!"<<<

                        In Gnosticism, it is questionable as to what we could mean
                        by "Divine". The First Father? It doesn't "choose" anything. The
                        Second Father? Maybe, there does seem to be more of a notion
                        of "divinity" and will attached to it even though it is infinite.
                        The Logos or the Sophia? This seems the more likely when talking
                        about divine human interaction. But when many people use the
                        word "Divine" they really mean the Demiurge. You can see why the
                        lingo you chose can look a little vague in this particular
                        situation. Perhaps for the sake of clerity in dealing with the very
                        specific and subtle Gnostic motifs we should try to use the Gnostic
                        lingo. I think that will help our communication.

                        PMCV
                      • Tsharpmin7@aol.com
                        hi PMCV... i m very much in the habit of using the divine yet i never intend for it to be mistaken for the Demiurge. when i use the divine i m
                        Message 11 of 20 , Mar 9, 2005
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                          hi PMCV... i'm very much in the habit of using "the divine" yet i
                          never intend for it to be mistaken for "the Demiurge."  when i use
                          "the divine" i'm generally referring to that ineffable source of  life,
                          light and perception that, i suppose, most people call God.  since
                          there are multiple Gnostic mythologies/cosmogonies, some of
                          which had much less flattering opinions of the Demiurge than
                          others, what are you suggesting we use as a source for our
                          nomenclature here?  this looks like it could get pretty sticky
                          without a sizable consensus amongst us.  i'm willing to seriously
                          consider anything you have to offer.  i'm pretty flexible with this
                          sort of thing.
                           
                          your friend,
                           
                          Crispin Sainte III
                          _______________________________________________________
                          _______________________________________________________
                           
                          In Gnosticism, it is questionable as to what we could mean
                          by "Divine". The First Father? It doesn't "choose" anything. The
                          Second Father? Maybe, there does seem to be more of a notion
                          of "divinity" and will attached to it even though it is infinite.
                          The Logos or the Sophia? This seems the more likely when talking
                          about divine human interaction. But when many people use the
                          word "Divine" they really mean the Demiurge. You can see why the
                          lingo you chose can look a little vague in this particular
                          situation. Perhaps for the sake of clerity in dealing with the very
                          specific and subtle Gnostic motifs we should try to use the Gnostic
                          lingo. I think that will help our communication.

                          PMCV
                        • pmcvflag
                          Say Crispin, what you said here confused me a little.... ... never intend for it to be mistaken for the Demiurge. when i use the divine i m generally
                          Message 12 of 20 , Mar 9, 2005
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                            Say Crispin, what you said here confused me a little....

                            >>>"i'm very much in the habit of using "the divine" yet i
                            never intend for it to be mistaken for "the Demiurge." when i use
                            "the divine" i'm generally referring to that ineffable source of
                            life, light and perception that, i suppose, most people call God."<<<

                            The very point of the "Demiurge" is to point out a problem with what
                            most people call "God". Jews, Christians, Muslems, even atheists...
                            they all worship the Demiurge in one way or another. Animists, and
                            various tribal religions the world over, some forms of Buddhism
                            (though perhaps not other forms) and so on, many of them worship the
                            Demiurge. Perception is a function of the Demiurge, as is life on
                            this Earth.... at least according to the Gnostic sources. What most
                            people the world over call "God" is, in fact, the Demiurge. Can you
                            see where my confusion is coming from? At one moment you say you are
                            not talking about the Demiurge, and in another moment you seem to
                            say you are.

                            In Gnosticism the "Source" is more than just "infinite"
                            or "ineffable"... in fact there are three types of infinity... but
                            the Gnostic source is truely apophatic.

                            >>>"since there are multiple Gnostic mythologies/cosmogonies, some of
                            which had much less flattering opinions of the Demiurge than others,
                            what are you suggesting we use as a source for our nomenclature
                            here? this looks like it could get pretty sticky without a sizable
                            consensus amongst us. i'm willing to seriously consider anything
                            you have to offer. i'm pretty flexible with this sort of thing."<<

                            Ah, good point Crispin. I should have made my intent more clear. All
                            I really meant to say is that we should make clear when we are
                            talking about the First Father, the Second Father (Barbelo), the
                            later Aeons (Sophia and Logos), or the Demiurge. Whether we wish to
                            put a positive or negative spin on the Demiurge is really not so
                            important, I only wish for us to all make clear when we are talking
                            about one of these four basic forms of "Divine" at any particular
                            moment so that we know which page we are on at that specific time.
                            Since we are talking about Gnosticism, maybe we should use the
                            language of Gnosticism rather than personal terms.... just so that
                            we understand each other. See what I mean?

                            I have been absolutely beat down in other "Gnostic" groups for
                            suggesting this, but I honestly think that it is simply logical
                            (.....Logos) that we should use a common language to talk about
                            these things. I think that the "Gnostic" language is the obvious one
                            we should stick to here.

                            PMCV
                          • pmcvflag
                            Hey Gich... ... Sorry to be picky but could you define apophatic ? Gich
                            Message 13 of 20 , Mar 10, 2005
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                              Hey Gich...

                              >>>"Hey PMCV
                              Sorry to be picky but could you define "apophatic"?
                              Gich"<<<

                              Sure, the term "apophatic" refers to a theological understanding in
                              which the divine source is so completely and absolutely infinite
                              that it can not be described using any attributes. Instead it is
                              described in a way known as the "via negativa", which is to say it
                              is described in negatives. This is because anything you can talk
                              about is a measurement. If we say "God is good" then we have given
                              god an atribute, but Gnostics do not believe that the true spirit
                              exists within the field of time, so it has no attributes that the
                              mind can understand. This is why you will see in a number of Gnostic
                              texts a long list dealing with what the true spirit is not. It looks
                              something like this...

                              "The source is not large, nor small, neither good nor evil, not
                              light nor dark, itt does not think or will, nor see nor hear, nor
                              have any thing that we can understand"

                              Sometimes you will then see an aditional note that explains that we
                              may call it "good" or talk about its "will" only because we need
                              some kind of language to talk about it.

                              This is what "apophatic theology" is.

                              You also ask me to provide links to "Gnostic" groups that are not
                              related in any way to traditional Gnostic thought. Here is one in
                              specific for those here who feel they would better enjoy that kind
                              of environment....

                              http://groups.yahoo.com/group/GnosticGathering/

                              PMCV
                            • pmcvflag
                              Gich.... ... almost a perfect description of how I have felt most of my life, not that I m claiming to be particularly righteous. I have never been able to
                              Message 14 of 20 , Mar 10, 2005
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                                Gich....

                                >>>"The righteous feel estrange­ment in the world!! Wow! This is
                                almost a perfect description of how I have felt most of my life, not
                                that I'm claiming to be particularly righteous. I have never been
                                able to discuss philosophy or religion with anybody until I
                                discovered this gnostic cyber domain!"<<<

                                Well, I don't know that I would call Gnosticism "Apocolyptic" as the
                                word is commonly used, but I do think you would be interested to
                                note that one of the Nag Hammadi books is actually called "The
                                Stranger" or "The Alien". The Gnostics of old did not consider
                                themselves to belong here in material existance.

                                >>>"This implies that there are gnostic systems which DO NOT give
                                prominence to the redeemer and his mission! I'm hoping this will be
                                clarified later in the book but do you know what systems are
                                referred to and, if so, I would appreciate your comments on these
                                non-redeemer systems."<<<

                                Even the Gnostics that DO give an important role to the "redeemer"
                                or "Soter" do so primarily as an example. Gnostics did not believe
                                Jesus died for our sins. The mission of the "redeemer" is our own
                                mission, and everyone who gains Gnosis becomes that savior.

                                However, as you point out there are Gnostic texts that really only
                                mention this in passing. I believe what Harris is talking about here
                                is Sethian Gnosticism. In this form it is Seth, not Jesus, that is
                                given the role of bringing Gnosis into the world. Again, it is the
                                teachings not the teacher, and usually Seth is not really much of a
                                focus the way Jesus tends to be in the Christian texts.

                                PMCV
                              • janahooks
                                ... important and you ... Gich, I was looking for info on that earlier this week. All I ve had time for right now is to read the Valentinian version that is
                                Message 15 of 20 , Mar 18, 2005
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                                  --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "gich morgan" <gich2@b...> wrote:
                                  >
                                  > Hey PMCV.
                                  >
                                  > In my studies the concept of the "divine twin" seems to be
                                  important and you
                                  > say something about this in this old posting.

                                  Gich, I was looking for info on that earlier this week. All I've had
                                  time for right now is to read the Valentinian version that is
                                  contained in a link that Gerry put in the links section. I think it
                                  says *Valentinus and Valentinian tradition*. Last link on the page.
                                  jana
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