Re: Pursuit of gnosis
- 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
(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
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
- 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
Honestly, I thought that was part of the point of your line of
questions..... that you are struggling to understand Gnosticism
>>>"(1) You said it, it's an ASSUMPTION. But, other assumptions MAYbe 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 thedestinction 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 ofI 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-revealing 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).