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Re: [Gnosticism2] Lebanese Gnostics? Crispin's questions

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  • Tsharpmin7@aol.com
    hello Widad.... thank you for taking time out of your weekend to respond. you re a real trooper. you wrote, ....to keep all of this in perspective we need to
    Message 1 of 44 , Apr 3, 2006
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      hello Widad.... thank you for taking time out of your weekend
      to respond. you're a real trooper.
       
      you wrote, "....to keep all of this in perspective we need to
      remember that we have very little information aside from that
      which I received from a single student who may have
      transmitted his own misunderstandings to me and, thus, from
      me to everyone else. That's a very real possibility."
       
      i hadn't thought about that, but i find a certain nobility of
      character in your decision to conclude with those cautionary remarks.  i really admire your approach and your attitude.
      believe me, i couldn't possibly be more sincere.
       
      you ask, "So is this Sufism or Gnosticism or a hybrid? What do
      you think?"
       
      well, by god, you've really turned the tables on me.  i was
      trying to coax the answer out of you!  i explained the situation
      to my lovely wife and she just laughed and gave me one of
      those over-the-shoulder shrugs which the female of the
      species uses to communicate their superiority over the male
      of the species, and also conveys, non-verbally, the question,
      "When will you guys ever learn."
       
      so here goes nothin'.  the prevailing idea among most people
      is that Sufis have to be Muslims.  it is against Islamic law and a
      great offense for a Muslim to leave Islam (i think everybody
      who keeps up with current events has this understanding).  therefore it can't be Sufism to seek mystical understanding
      outside of Islam and Islamic tradition; that they are irrevocably bound together.
       
      however, there is ample historical precedent to challenge the
      idea that "Sufis have to be Muslims."  according to Sufi
      tradition, if you wish to get to the heart of things (so to speak)
      you need to develop an inner perception, and part of the
      technique for doing so is by collecting information, adding
      sense and avoiding barriers to lucid thought.  the chief
      features of this procedure were put forth and printed by a thirteenth century English monk, Roger Bacon.  here are
      four items he lists which serve to inhibit lucidity: 1) over
      reliance upon mere authority; 2) being enslaved by custom;
      3) accepting general beliefs; 4) pretension to knowledge.  
      no non-Muslim author in the West expressed this very Sufic understanding prior to Bacon.  of course he was thought
      to be an eccentric due to the fact that he would lecture at
      Oxford in the robes of a Saracen, this at a time when "modern" knowledge was infiltrating the West from Moorish Spain. 
      there is more in Bacon's life and writings to suggest that if he
      were not a Sufi in the sense most people would credit it, he
      was very much posessed of Sufic understanding.  that Sufis
      have claimed him as one of their own is nothing to scoff at
      either.  and Bacon never renounced Christianity or openly
      adopted Islam.  he was, however, persecuted by his monkish
      superiors.  which reminds me of the Sufi aphorism that one
      will be decried a heretic a thousand times over before one
      arrives at the summit.  or something like that.
       
      there are others, from Jewish, Christian, Hindi and Sikh backgrounds, who were Sufis as well (recall that "Sufism" is a relatively new word, one which was coined in Germany in
      1821), yet never renounced the religion of their birth nor
      openly adopted Islam.
       
      there's also the Sufi claim that they can and have revitalized
      previously functional mystical teachings that, over time,
      have become ossified and dogmatic, i.e., where form has
      replaced functionality and a cult of personality impinges emotionality and obeisance over and above the pursuit of
      mystical insight.  and it should be remembered that not only
      are Sufis, as you pointed out, "notorious disrespectors of
      labels," they are also "notorious" for their disdain for
      establishing permanent schools in any particular locale, i.e.,
      authentic Sufi operations do what they need to do and leave,
      damn the torpedoes, be it six months or sixty years --
      depending on the requirements of the situation -- and move
      on.  so, if the remnants of their teaching operations continue
      to carry on without the real content they don't seem to mind
      at all. in fact they seem to believe it is an inevitability anyway.
       
      so, finally, yes, Widad, i think this Gnostic "movement" really
      could be a sort of Sufic revitalizing operation.  if a fully
      realized Sufi saw a need for this to happen then it must
      happen.  as a completely unrealized seeker i can't for the life
      of me understand why the transmission would need to wear
      a Gnostic skirt in southern Lebanon.  surely they aren't
      recruiting Moslems into the teaching (i imagine there are
      authentic Sufis operating in Lebanon in the "usual" fashion
      anyway). Christians i can see, somewhat, but i know next to nothing about the Druse religion so i can't imagine what kinds
      of factors a Druse would find of value in adopting an outwardly Gnostic mystical path. 
       
      one last comment.  you wrote,"....I had to constantly ask myself
      the question how many truly enlightened individuals I could discover who had arrived at that exalted state purely
      through their own studies and mentation. I kept coming up
      with nothing more than two very hesitant 'maybes.' So I
      surrender."
       
      talk about fingernails scraping the chalkboard!  you have a
      real knack for challenging assumptions: some more subtle
      than others.  pondering your question long and hard may
      help some of us to understand what we are really up to.  or
      what we're not up to.  all present company excepted, of
      course. ;}
       
      your friend,
       
      Crispin Sainte III
    • Michael Leavitt
      ... Doesn t seem necessary for the Quabalists and the breaking of the vessles. Might make it better though, if he were there. -- M. Leavitt
      Message 44 of 44 , Apr 30, 2006
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        Steve wrote:
        >
        >
        >
        >> I'm curious what others think. Going back to Plato (as Steve did
        >> with his reference to Theaetetus), we see Plato's demiurge in
        >> Timaeus. How is a relational demiurge of some sort necessary
        >> functionally to a Gnostic system, and is this necessary to carry into
        >> a modern adaptation?
        >>
        >> Cari
        >>
        >>
        > Hi Cari. IMO, it's fascinating to see how, for example, the author of
        > The Apocryphon of John goes back and forth from the Timaeus to Genesis
        > and uses both as a point of departure for his/her own perspective. In
        > Timaeus Plato has the Demiurge using the Form of the Intelligible
        > Living Creature as a template for the Cosmos. As such, Plato seems to
        > be an early advocate for 'Intelligent Design'. For Plato, the world is
        > intelligible, hence modeled upon an intelligible pattern. In the
        > Apocryphon of John the Demiurge also seeks to work from an intelligible
        > pattern, but doesn't fully understand it. Consequently his handiwork is
        > flawed in ways that go beyond the inherent imperfection of a copy in
        > relation to the original. IMO, it might be possible to dispense with a
        > demiurgos in an Neo-Platonic emanationist system wherein the only
        > problem with materiality is the inherent inferiority of copy to
        > original and wherein the successive unfolding of emanations is simply
        > inevitable. However, it seems to me that the problem in the Apocryphon
        > of John goes deeper than this and is conceived as being an actual
        > rupture in the Great Chain of Being. As such, it would be difficult to
        > account for this apart from a Demiurgic figure, or at least a Sophia
        > figure driven by a desire which is contrary to the will of her Consort,
        > that is to say, unbalanced. What is your opinion on this? -Steve W.
        >
        Doesn't seem necessary for the Quabalists and the breaking of the
        vessles. Might make it better though, if he were there.

        --
        M. Leavitt
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