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Re: Pursuit of gnosis

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  • pmcvflag
    Hey Gich, sure I can try to do a comparative analysis on the outline you give here. It is a little vague though so I am only giving a perspective based on
    Message 1 of 31 , Mar 23, 2005
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      Hey Gich, sure I can try to do a comparative analysis on the outline
      you give here. It is a little vague though so I am only giving a
      perspective based on basic observations.

      (1) Knowledge received from divine revelation.

      As you may recall, I am a little wary about using the term "divine
      revelation" simply because I think it can be too easily misunderstood
      to be meant in the "god told me" kind of context. However, there is
      obviously a spiritual revelatory aspect to "Gnosis".

      (2) Gnosis equips the soul with the necessary knowledge required to
      transcend the obstructive barriers that would keep it in captivity;
      i.e. knowledge of the path of redemption.

      I think this is a bit more direct and accurate of a statement. It is
      also closely related to the next two you list

      (3) Knowledge of the self in its relation to God ... which leads
      to ...
      (4) Knowledge of the redeemer.

      In Gnostic thought these knowledges are closely tied to the system
      itself. These knowledges must be grasped on mulitple levels to be
      seen as "valid". In other words, one may have faith in a redeemer,
      and consider that faith to be "knowledge" of this redeemer, but this
      would not count as "Gnosis". In Gnosticism the redeemer is a function
      that is repeated in the initiatory process.

      (5) Knowledge of the soul's divine origin ... knowledge of the
      transcendent God.

      Again, it is a bit vague since the Gnostic understanding is a bit
      more specific in outlining exactly what this is.

      (6) The "chosen" were those who had received the gift of gnosis, but
      this gift was given for a purpose, namely, that those who were
      enlightened should be a source of enlightenment to others. Thus they
      would contribute to creating a truly spiritual united church.

      This last one I don't find to be particularly true of "Gnosis" as a
      general Gnostic function. It is true that Valentinian texts use an
      imagery of "The Chruch", concerning a spiritual family, but this is a
      sectarian concern not a general "Gnostic" one.

      The primary problem with this outline then is that it is sort of a
      vague half truth that doesn't fully deal with the necessary
      subtleties and contexts of exactly what "Gnosis" was seen to be and
      how it was attained according to the traditional Gnostics.

      Hope that helps

      PMCV
    • pmcvflag
      Hey Gich ... I m struggling to see any connection with gnosticism as I understand it. :)
      Message 31 of 31 , Apr 7, 2005
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        Hey Gich

        >>>"Gosh!! I must confess to feeling somewhat baffled by your post.
        I'm struggling to see any connection with gnosticism as I understand
        it. :)"<<<

        Honestly, I thought that was part of the point of your line of
        questions..... that you are struggling to understand Gnosticism
        itself.

        >>>"(1) You said it, it's an ASSUMPTION. But, other assumptions MAY
        be equally valid including ones that haven't yet been proposed."<<<

        Sure, other assumptions could be equally as valid or invalid... that
        has nothing to do with whether other assumptions are
        particularly "Gnostic". The point is not relevent to the other
        philosophies that my make this assumption either.

        >>>"(2) I didn't know we were discussing "movements that deal with the
        destinction between the perciever and the percieved". I'd need loads
        more definitions to begin to understand what you're talking about."<<<

        Well, the vast majority of philosophical movements make this
        destinction, and Gnosticism is one of them. Your other alternatives
        are pantheism or solipsism... and even the first of those two makes
        some destinction. Since we are not here to talk about New Age or post
        modernist movements, you can now assume for the remainder of our
        conversation that we are indeed dealing with a destinction between
        the perciever and the percieved.

        (3) I'm glad you put "fact" in inverted commas.

        >>>If one cannot grasp this, they cannot grasp the very function of
        >>>Gnosticism<<<

        I find this statement incomprehensible:

        Harris writes: Gnosticism is a term that is used of a movement centred
        around a deep inner yearning to know the secret of deliverance. The
        movement is not a "sociological entity", [Perkins, P. (1980) Gnostic
        Dialogue, New York.] but the use of the word "movement" is intended
        to indicate a process of developing wider vistas of reality on the
        way to full salvation. There is within such a process an implicit
        unity or self-revealĀ­ing experience that is a foretaste of that all-
        consuming coming union between the human and the divine.

        While Harris seems to prefer to couch the point in terms I find a
        little fluffy, it seems he is agreeing with what I said more than you
        seem to believe. He seems to be aware of the teachings in Gnostic
        texts dealing with what is beyond the realm of opposites, but I think
        his subtlety has served more to confuse you than to make the point
        clear. He is, however, wrong in defining the movement in the way he
        does... this is in fact not fully what the term "Gnosticism" was
        coined to refer to. On the contrary, while the "movement" is
        certainly primarily defined by this soteriological function, it is
        also defined by cosmology and ritual, aspects that are very much
        definitive of a "sociological entity". Harris becomes so vague here
        that while he may have started with the intent to deal with
        historical Gnostics what he winds up presenting looses its accuracy
        (at least from the academic perspective).

        It may, however, be of great interest to those who are using a wider
        definition based on emic qualities. That is to say, while for our
        purposes Gnosticism is defined more by the academic qualities that
        the word was created for in the first place, I know that many
        here.... like our friend George who's group you are also a member
        of.... prefer to foster a slightly wider definition for personal use.
        That is certainly ok in that context, and I think that Harris seems
        to be fitting that context more. But again, here we are talking about
        traditional "Gnosticism" so that the point becomes far more specific
        to be generalized in such a way (for our purposes).

        PMCV
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