Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

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

Expand Messages
  • F8snafs@aol.com
    In a message dated 4/2/2006 5:44:07 PM Central Standard Time, no_reply@yahoogroups.com writes: Widad, your posts bring up MANY possible topics. Notions of
    Message 1 of 3 , Apr 3, 2006
    • 0 Attachment
      In a message dated 4/2/2006 5:44:07 PM Central Standard Time, no_reply@yahoogroups.com writes:
      Widad, your posts bring up MANY possible topics. Notions of
      initiation and methodology, hermeneutics, cosmogeny, origins, and
      lots of things I think many here would love to delve. One, however,
      specifically seems to beg an answer.

      You write to Crispin....

      >>Well you certainly are in the minority to embrace this very
      unpopular understanding (almost as unpopular as the following
      subject you bring up). So, yes, for the teacher to design the
      teaching with strict regard to time, place and culture is a highly
      refined characteristic of authentic Sufic transmission. Yet I think
      there is some evidence that this was also a characteristic among
      some of the ancient Gnostics. Maybe someone will chime in here
      and let me know if I'm on the right track in this regard.<<

      This is a topic that has actually come up many times in less direct
      ways. At the heart of the issue is often a debate about exactly
      where the line of perennialism comes into play in the transmission
      of spiritual thought. Questions as to whether a text that is based
      on timeless spiritual truths could ever really become out-dated, vs
      whether a core could truely be passed on in a text without direct
      oral transmission of context, vs whether change over time could
      negate a spiritual truth (or at least the transmission of it in the
      old way).

      Do core ideas need to be repackaged now and again? IF so, how much
      of the package can be changed before the contents are changed to fit
      it? And at what point does something no longer relate to the
      original movement. Widad, you also state....

      >>>My mother thinks their creation entity is simply a toned down
      version of ancient demiurgic conceptions that might be considered
      detrimental formulations by the current teachers. That makes
      good sense to me, especially in light of how so much energy and
      attention appears to be misplaced on the ancient formulations by
      current Gnostic seekers, as opposed to those who are simply
      trying to understand the ancient Gnostics.<<<

      What makes this observation so fascinating, is just how much we have
      to deal with in order to even touch the question. For instance, how
      literal did the Gnostics of old assume the Demiurge to be? At what
      point, and in what way, could we judge a motif (assuming it is only
      a motif) to be "detrimental"? Then, of course, there is the question
      raised above about perennial thought and who can interperate (which
      could bring up the subject of origin as well).

      Do we open that can of worms? Well, I'm all for it *lol*. Perhaps
      then I should start by saying that I do have some doubts about how
      maleable the Gnostics intended their texts to be vs the "authentic
      Sufi" tradition that you all have mentioned. I am not saying there
      wasn't room for change, but I also think there were parts that were
      considered untouchable as well. Any thoughts?

      PMCV
      ================================================
      Excellent questions, PMCV. For the nonce, let's put my limited
      understanding and inferior speculations aside and listen to Arthur
      Deikman, an American Psychiatrist, and a variety of Sufis, both
      ancient and contemporary.
       
      Where I place EMPHASIS it will be all capitals.
       
      "Such a science [metaphysics].... must be individualized, shaped
      to match the specific time, place and person in question. When it
      is, a suitably motivated and equipped candidate becomes able to
      perceive directly the reality underlying the world of appearances.
      HOWEVER, ANTIQUATED SYSTEMS AND THEIR FRAGMENTS,
      WHICH ARE OFTEN PRESERVED AND VENERATED, ARE
      USELESS FOR ATTAINING THAT GOAL. With considerable
      sophistication, the Sufi literature details the manner in which
      ONCE-VIABLE TEACHING SYSTEMS INEVITABLY BECOME
      AUTOMATIZED AND PERVERTED TO SERVE SOCIAL AND
      EMOTIONAL NEEDS. Only a Teacher, someone who has attained
      'sight,' can select from any individual's environment and from the
      repertoire of available techniques a curriculum suitable to the task.
      For this reason, the Sufis say, AN ACTIVE SCHOOL OF
      MYSTICAL SCIENCE IS OFTEN INVISIBLE TO THOSE WHO
      EXPECT THE TRADITIONAL."
      Dr. Arthur J. Deikman 
       
      Here are some comments from a contemporary Sufi, Rais
      Tchaqmaqzade, culled from a Q & A session:
       
      Question 2: Is Sufism the interior meaning of Islam, or does it have
      wider application?
      Answer: Sufism is the knowledge whereby man can realize
      himself and attain permanancy. Sufis can teach in any vehicle,
      whatever its name. Religious vehicles have throughout history
      taken various names.
       
      Question 7: Is Sufism restricted to a certain language, a certain
      community, a certain historical period?
      Answer: The obvious face of Sufism at any given time, place or
      community may often vary because Sufism must present itself in
      a form which will be perceptible to any people.
       
      Question 8: Is this why there have been Sufi teachers with so
      many different systems and who have flourished in so many
      different countries?
      Answer: No other reason.
       
      Question 12: What is common to all forms of Sufism?
      Answer: The being of the teacher, the capacity of the disciples,
      the peculiarities of individuals, the interaction between the
      members of the community, THE REALITY BEHIND FORMS.
       
      Last Question: Why are there so few indications of the schools of
      Ahmad Yasavi of Turkestan and Ibn El-Arabi of Andalusia?
      Answer: Because, in the realm of Greater Understanding, the
      workshop is dismantled after the work is finished.
       
      The following is drawn from material in current usage.
       
      "What I have learned as a Sufi is something that man cannot
      credit because of what he has already been taught. The easiest
      thing to grasp in Sufism is one of the most difficult for the ordinary
      thinker. It is this:
       
      "All religious presentations are varieties of one truth, more or less
      distorted. This truth manifests itself in various peoples, who become
      jealous of it, not realizing that ITS MANIFESTATION ACCORDS
      WITH THEIR NEEDS. IT CANNOT BE PASSED ON IN THE
      SAME FORM BECAUSE OF THE DIFFERENCE IN THE MINDS
      OF DIFFERENT COMMUNITIES. IT CANNOT BE
      REINTERPRETED BECAUSE IT MUST GROW AFRESH.
       
      "IT IS PRESENTED AFRESH ONLY BY THOSE WHO CAN
      ACTUALLY EXPERIENCE IT IN EVERY FORM, RELIGIOUS AND
      OTHERWISE, OF MAN.
       
      "This experience is quite different from what people take it to be.
      The person who simply thinks that this must be true as a matter
      of logic is not the same as the person who experiences that it is
      true."
      Khwaja Salahudin of Bokhara
       
      "The Sufi message in written form is regarded as being of limited
      effectiveness, both in depth and in durability. This is because
      'THAT WHICH IS INTRODUCED INTO THE DOMAIN OF TIME
      WILL FALL VICTIM TO THE RAVAGES OF TIME.' Consequently,
      as in the waves-of-the-sea metaphor which Sufis so often use,
      Sufism is constantly renewed by successive exemplar-teachers.
       
      "THESE TEACHERS DO NOT ONLY REINTERPRET PAST SUFI
      MATERIALS; THEY SELECT , ADAPT, INTRODUCE, and in so
      doing enable the literary materials to continue a dynamic function.
       
      "This usage of materials sharply divides Sufi ideology from any
      other on record. IT IS THIS ATTITUDE WHICH HAS PREVENTED
      SUFISM FROM CRYSTALIZING INTO PRIESTCRAFT AND
      TRADITIONALISM. In the originally Sufic groupings where this
      fossilization has indeed taken place, their fixation upon a
      repetitious usage of Sufi materials provides a warning for the
      would-be Sufi that such an organizatin has 'joined the world'"
      Idries el-Hashimi
       
      "There are three ways of presenting anything. The first is to
      present everything. The second is to present what people want.
      The third is to present what will serve them best.
       
      "If you present everything, the result may be surfeit. If you present
      what people want, it may choke them.
       
      "If you present what will serve them best, the worst is that,
      misunderstanding, they may oppose you. But if you have served
      them thus, WHATEVER THE APPEARANCES, you have served
      them and you, too, must benefit, whatever the appearances."
      Ajmal of Badakhshan
       
      "When he was asked: 'What is Islam, and who are the Muslims?'
      he answered: 'Islam is in the books, and Muslims are in the
      tomb.'"
      Hasan of Basra (a Friend and contemporary of the feminine soul
      of the Sufis, Rabia al-Adawiyya)
       
      This last is from Ahmad Yasavi of the Naqshbandi Order.
       
      "Throughout our literature you will find us saying repeatedly that
      WE ARE NOT CONCERNED WITH YOUR RELIGION OR THE
      LACK OF IT. How can this be reconciled with the fact that
      believers consider themselves the elect?
       
      "Man's refinement is the goal, and the inner teaching of all the
      faiths aims at this. In order to accomplish it, there is always a
      tradition handed down by a living chain of adepts, who select
      candidates to whom to impart this knowledge.
       
      "Among men of all kinds this teaching has been handed down.
      Because of our dedication to the essence, we have, in the Dervish
      Path, collected those people who are less concerned about
      externals, and thus kept pure, in secret, our capacity to continue
      the succession. In the dogmatic religions of the Jews, the
      Christians, the Zoroastrians, the Hindus and literalist Islam this
      precious thing has been lost.
       
      "WE RETURN THIS VITAL PRINCIPLE TO ALL RELIGIONS and
      this is why you will see so many Jews, Christians and others
      among my students. The Jews say we are the real Jews; the
      Christians, Christians, and so on.
       
      "It is only when you know the Higher Factor that you will know
      the true situation of the present religions and of unbelief itself.
      And unbelief itself is a religion with its own form of belief."
       
      Before I carry on, allow me to state, emphatically, that I am NOT a
      Sufi, and I am not an authority on Sufism. I am not posessed of 
      the "Greater Understanding" Sufis and other mystical scientists
      past and present lay claim to. I am a student; a seeker after truth
      under direction. Nothing else.
       
      I hope the words I have quoted above are sufficient to answer your
      first set of questions, or at the very least provide some food for
      thought. Similarly, I hope these words provide, if not answers to
      your second topic of questions, at the least a demonstration of a
      perennial attitude and understanding that you might find germane
      to those questions.
       
      As for my own understanding, I suspect the degree to which each
      unique community or individual at various times understood the
      Demiurge literally or allegorically cannot confidently be nailed
      down in most cases. Chances are, if the Sufis are correct, it is
      virtually inevitable that, at some point, some forms, or "motifs", if
      you will, become automatized and ossified; they take on a lower
      function  -- even if highly venerated -- that was not the intent of the
      original design. However, it is beyond my capacity to identify
      clear instances of this phenomenon with any great certitude.
       
      Your final comment and question is, "Perhaps then I should start
      by saying that I do have some doubts about how maleable the
      Gnostics intended their texts to be vs the "authentic Sufi" tradition
      that you all have mentioned. I am not saying there wasn't room for
      change, but I also think there were parts that were considered
      untouchable as well. Any thoughts?"
      I think this depends on the intent and actual capacity of the
      individual, or individuals, who are presenting the material. To defer
      to Crispin for a moment, we would have to consider whether
      stubbornly holding on to a particular form and presenting it in times
      and communities different from the times and communities that
      necessitated the original design, this because it is assumed to be
      an essential, defining formulation -- so that we can say "yes, this
      is clearly X, and not Y or Z" -- does not merely create immitations
      of X as opposed to reproducing the much more valuable
      transformative results X once had the capacity to transmit. Are
      those who are presenting the material more concerned with
      preserving or venerating prior formulations then they are acutely
      concerned with the business of transforming people? For those
      who wish to to develop or preserve an attachment to forms, then
      the former will always be prefered above the latter. I don't imagine
      one can have it both ways unless the requirements of the
      situation demand an exoteric façade to mask an esoteric inner
      function.
       
      Khwaja Salahudin says the transformative essence of the
      teaching, the Truth, "cannot be passed on in the same form
      because of the difference in the minds of different communities. It
      cannot be reinterpreted because it must grow afresh." So I choose,
      however naievely one might suppose, to place my trust in the Way 
      of the Sufis in this matter. And, according to my teachers, only
      that which serves the transformative process is untouchable;
      sancrosanct. All forms are ultimately subservient to that
      consideration; subservient to time, place and community/culture.
       
      Your sister and servant,
       
      Widad
    • pmcvflag
      Hey Widad ... NOT a Sufi, and I am not an authority on Sufism. I am not posessed of the Greater Understanding Sufis and other mystical scientists past and
      Message 2 of 3 , Apr 3, 2006
      • 0 Attachment
        Hey Widad

        >>>>Before I carry on, allow me to state, emphatically, that I am
        NOT a Sufi, and I am not an authority on Sufism. I am not posessed
        of the "Greater Understanding" Sufis and other mystical scientists
        past and present lay claim to. I am a student; a seeker after truth
        under direction. Nothing else.<<<

        I think many of us here would say something similar about our own
        respective paths, or the paths we aspire to... or find an empathy
        with.

        >>>I hope the words I have quoted above are sufficient to answer
        your first set of questions, or at the very least provide some food
        for thought. Similarly, I hope these words provide, if not answers
        to your second topic of questions, at the least a demonstration of a
        perennial attitude and understanding that you might find germane
        to those questions.<<<

        Well, my first set of questions was largely rhetorical, and dealing
        with how we might look at the subject as a methodological means for
        comparing and contrasting spiritual movements. You have done a great
        job of providing examples of how some Sufis view the question. I do
        hope, however, my point was not overly obfuscated concerning the
        difference between how practitioners of various systems may see it,
        vs the categorical approach we must take here.

        Thank you for putting in so much work there. Sufism is, without a
        doubt a very varied and interesting set of sects. Understand,
        though, it wasn't at issue as to whether some Sufi orders think this
        way (although in order to be honest we need to point out that it is
        a debate between various Sufi schools as well, and many of them
        don't agree with the more open view of tradition), I think we all
        agree that indeed some Sufi schools do have this opinion of the
        matter. We could go on to add that to some extent there are
        syncratic (even eclectic) forms of mystical thinking in other
        movements besides Sufism... including Hindu, Buddhist, and even some
        Christian thinkers. Of course, some of them have drawn the line as
        to where the tradition ends and the core meanings lay in slightly
        different ways.

        >>As for my own understanding, I suspect the degree to which each
        unique community or individual at various times understood the
        Demiurge literally or allegorically cannot confidently be nailed
        down in most cases. Chances are, if the Sufis are correct, it is
        virtually inevitable that, at some point, some forms, or "motifs",
        if you will, become automatized and ossified; they take on a lower
        function -- even if highly venerated -- that was not the intent of
        the original design. However, it is beyond my capacity to identify
        clear instances of this phenomenon with any great certitude.<<<

        My other questions were meant to raise the issue (for the sake of
        discussion) as to whether these are qualities also common to
        Gnosticism. And if so, to what degree. It seems that you raise the
        same issue from a slightly different angle. I agree with you, of
        course, that we simply can't always be authoritative about how
        everything in these texts are intended. You certainly have an
        important point concerning how a mystical idea can become
        concretized in popular usage... but historically the inverse has
        happened as well. Non-mystical movements have had mystical sects
        grow out of them.

        I'm not sure if it is really important here which way it happened
        for Gnosticism... and that is an ongoing debate that we may not be
        able to answer. It could, however, have implications to your point.

        I do think, though, that we can do much more justice to the question
        of the Demiurge in Gnostic thinking. Lets get back to that in a
        moment though.

        >>>I think this depends on the intent and actual capacity of the
        individual, or individuals, who are presenting the material.<<<

        Inversely, it takes an assumption concerning what a "capacity" in
        this area would necessarily lead to in order to make the valuation.
        This premise can only be applied from one emic stance for or against
        another... not from an etic perspective. That causes a serious
        problem for what you say next.

        >>>To defer to Crispin for a moment, we would have to consider
        whether stubbornly holding on to a particular form and presenting it
        in times and communities different from the times and communities
        that necessitated the original design, this because it is assumed to
        be an essential, defining formulation -- so that we can say "yes,
        this is clearly X, and not Y or Z" -- does not merely create
        immitations of X as opposed to reproducing the much more valuable
        transformative results X once had the capacity to transmit.<<<

        How could I disagree? But to get back to what I just mentioned
        previously, we have to be very careful before we even foist any
        particular notion of "transformation" on to these groups. I don't
        think for this conversation we can take it as an assumption that the
        Sufis and the Gnostics are necessarily seeking the same thing. I am
        not saying they are not, but I think you may have jumped ahead a few
        steps in the conversation about some things that many here may have
        other perspectives on.

        That means before we can assume function, we have to establish
        intent. That brings us back to the question I raised about the
        Demiurge, which I think your next point leads into.

        >>>Are those who are presenting the material more concerned with
        preserving or venerating prior formulations then they are acutely
        concerned with the business of transforming people? For those
        who wish to to develop or preserve an attachment to forms, then
        the former will always be prefered above the latter. I don't imagine
        one can have it both ways unless the requirements of the
        situation demand an exoteric façade to mask an esoteric inner
        function.<<<

        There are many notions of "transforming" people. Evangelical
        Christians consider the gaining of faith in Jesus to be the primary
        transformation a person can attain. I think you and I are agreed
        that this is a bit more literalist than any of the movements we are
        talking about. I would venture to guess that we could agree that
        there are some important points in common between the Sufi notion
        and the Gnostic notion of spiritual attainment as a sort of
        awakening to a kind of esoteric knowing. It doesn't mean, though,
        that what they wish to know is necessarily the same. I think that is
        an issue that needs further discussion.

        So what does that have to do with the Demiurge? As I mentioned
        previously, I think that there was a literary aspect, a motif of
        sorts, that gets delt with in different ways depending on the text.
        Yes, there was some room for change. I also raised the question as
        to how literal, over all, we can look at the subject as it was used
        by the categorical movement of "Gnosticism". One thing I think we
        can say, with a great deal of confidence, is that in the Gnostic
        thinking the Demiurge was NOT simply a psychological device meant to
        induce psychological change. Even when we see the motif used
        allegorically, it is connected to metephysical observation that was
        taken as a literal truth in not only Gnosticism, but Platonism as a
        whole. In other words, the Demiurge is not simply a defining motif
        for the methodology of Gnosticism, a Jungianism, but instead it is a
        core attribute of the Gnostic view of the relationship between
        matter and spirit, existence vs origin.

        This, I think, COULD be a deep philosophical difference between some
        Sufis and the Gnostics that would be interesting to test. The
        specific spiritual goal is another possible one that should be
        explored. If we base our whole exploration on an assumption that the
        goal is the same, we are bound to prove ourselves right via
        eisegesis.

        >>>Khwaja Salahudin says the transformative essence of the
        teaching, the Truth, "cannot be passed on in the same form
        because of the difference in the minds of different communities. It
        cannot be reinterpreted because it must grow afresh." So I choose,
        however naievely one might suppose, to place my trust in the Way
        of the Sufis in this matter. And, according to my teachers, only
        that which serves the transformative process is untouchable;
        sancrosanct. All forms are ultimately subservient to that
        consideration; subservient to time, place and community/culture<<<

        I can imagine the debate between the hypothetical Sufi and the
        Gnostic. The Sufi talking about the experience of God and the
        transformative process, the Gnostic quipping that change is an
        aspect of the fallen realms, and that "God" is just the experience
        of the lower realms of the Plaroma, not the true source. The Sufi
        could parry by calling the Gnostic moldy and stringent, and the
        Gnostic retort that the Sufi only has half the picture. Then again,
        maybe they would split a six pack of beer and marvel at how
        entertaining it is to debate things that no one can really
        demonstrate one way or another beyond our own experience and a
        little logic here and there. ;)

        PMCV
      • Steve
        ... a ... great ... this ... some ... question ... against ... it ... to ... the ... few ... imagine ... is ... to ... a ... some ... the ... Hi Karl. The
        Message 3 of 3 , Apr 4, 2006
        • 0 Attachment
          --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, pmcvflag <no_reply@...> wrote:
          >
          > Hey Widad
          >
          > >>>>Before I carry on, allow me to state, emphatically, that I am
          > NOT a Sufi, and I am not an authority on Sufism. I am not posessed
          > of the "Greater Understanding" Sufis and other mystical scientists
          > past and present lay claim to. I am a student; a seeker after truth
          > under direction. Nothing else.<<<
          >
          > I think many of us here would say something similar about our own
          > respective paths, or the paths we aspire to... or find an empathy
          > with.
          >
          > >>>I hope the words I have quoted above are sufficient to answer
          > your first set of questions, or at the very least provide some food
          > for thought. Similarly, I hope these words provide, if not answers
          > to your second topic of questions, at the least a demonstration of
          a
          > perennial attitude and understanding that you might find germane
          > to those questions.<<<
          >
          > Well, my first set of questions was largely rhetorical, and dealing
          > with how we might look at the subject as a methodological means for
          > comparing and contrasting spiritual movements. You have done a
          great
          > job of providing examples of how some Sufis view the question. I do
          > hope, however, my point was not overly obfuscated concerning the
          > difference between how practitioners of various systems may see it,
          > vs the categorical approach we must take here.
          >
          > Thank you for putting in so much work there. Sufism is, without a
          > doubt a very varied and interesting set of sects. Understand,
          > though, it wasn't at issue as to whether some Sufi orders think
          this
          > way (although in order to be honest we need to point out that it is
          > a debate between various Sufi schools as well, and many of them
          > don't agree with the more open view of tradition), I think we all
          > agree that indeed some Sufi schools do have this opinion of the
          > matter. We could go on to add that to some extent there are
          > syncratic (even eclectic) forms of mystical thinking in other
          > movements besides Sufism... including Hindu, Buddhist, and even
          some
          > Christian thinkers. Of course, some of them have drawn the line as
          > to where the tradition ends and the core meanings lay in slightly
          > different ways.
          >
          > >>As for my own understanding, I suspect the degree to which each
          > unique community or individual at various times understood the
          > Demiurge literally or allegorically cannot confidently be nailed
          > down in most cases. Chances are, if the Sufis are correct, it is
          > virtually inevitable that, at some point, some forms, or "motifs",
          > if you will, become automatized and ossified; they take on a lower
          > function -- even if highly venerated -- that was not the intent of
          > the original design. However, it is beyond my capacity to identify
          > clear instances of this phenomenon with any great certitude.<<<
          >
          > My other questions were meant to raise the issue (for the sake of
          > discussion) as to whether these are qualities also common to
          > Gnosticism. And if so, to what degree. It seems that you raise the
          > same issue from a slightly different angle. I agree with you, of
          > course, that we simply can't always be authoritative about how
          > everything in these texts are intended. You certainly have an
          > important point concerning how a mystical idea can become
          > concretized in popular usage... but historically the inverse has
          > happened as well. Non-mystical movements have had mystical sects
          > grow out of them.
          >
          > I'm not sure if it is really important here which way it happened
          > for Gnosticism... and that is an ongoing debate that we may not be
          > able to answer. It could, however, have implications to your point.
          >
          > I do think, though, that we can do much more justice to the
          question
          > of the Demiurge in Gnostic thinking. Lets get back to that in a
          > moment though.
          >
          > >>>I think this depends on the intent and actual capacity of the
          > individual, or individuals, who are presenting the material.<<<
          >
          > Inversely, it takes an assumption concerning what a "capacity" in
          > this area would necessarily lead to in order to make the valuation.
          > This premise can only be applied from one emic stance for or
          against
          > another... not from an etic perspective. That causes a serious
          > problem for what you say next.
          >
          > >>>To defer to Crispin for a moment, we would have to consider
          > whether stubbornly holding on to a particular form and presenting
          it
          > in times and communities different from the times and communities
          > that necessitated the original design, this because it is assumed
          to
          > be an essential, defining formulation -- so that we can say "yes,
          > this is clearly X, and not Y or Z" -- does not merely create
          > immitations of X as opposed to reproducing the much more valuable
          > transformative results X once had the capacity to transmit.<<<
          >
          > How could I disagree? But to get back to what I just mentioned
          > previously, we have to be very careful before we even foist any
          > particular notion of "transformation" on to these groups. I don't
          > think for this conversation we can take it as an assumption that
          the
          > Sufis and the Gnostics are necessarily seeking the same thing. I am
          > not saying they are not, but I think you may have jumped ahead a
          few
          > steps in the conversation about some things that many here may have
          > other perspectives on.
          >
          > That means before we can assume function, we have to establish
          > intent. That brings us back to the question I raised about the
          > Demiurge, which I think your next point leads into.
          >
          > >>>Are those who are presenting the material more concerned with
          > preserving or venerating prior formulations then they are acutely
          > concerned with the business of transforming people? For those
          > who wish to to develop or preserve an attachment to forms, then
          > the former will always be prefered above the latter. I don't
          imagine
          > one can have it both ways unless the requirements of the
          > situation demand an exoteric façade to mask an esoteric inner
          > function.<<<
          >
          > There are many notions of "transforming" people. Evangelical
          > Christians consider the gaining of faith in Jesus to be the primary
          > transformation a person can attain. I think you and I are agreed
          > that this is a bit more literalist than any of the movements we are
          > talking about. I would venture to guess that we could agree that
          > there are some important points in common between the Sufi notion
          > and the Gnostic notion of spiritual attainment as a sort of
          > awakening to a kind of esoteric knowing. It doesn't mean, though,
          > that what they wish to know is necessarily the same. I think that
          is
          > an issue that needs further discussion.
          >
          > So what does that have to do with the Demiurge? As I mentioned
          > previously, I think that there was a literary aspect, a motif of
          > sorts, that gets delt with in different ways depending on the text.
          > Yes, there was some room for change. I also raised the question as
          > to how literal, over all, we can look at the subject as it was used
          > by the categorical movement of "Gnosticism". One thing I think we
          > can say, with a great deal of confidence, is that in the Gnostic
          > thinking the Demiurge was NOT simply a psychological device meant
          to
          > induce psychological change. Even when we see the motif used
          > allegorically, it is connected to metephysical observation that was
          > taken as a literal truth in not only Gnosticism, but Platonism as a
          > whole. In other words, the Demiurge is not simply a defining motif
          > for the methodology of Gnosticism, a Jungianism, but instead it is
          a
          > core attribute of the Gnostic view of the relationship between
          > matter and spirit, existence vs origin.
          >
          > This, I think, COULD be a deep philosophical difference between
          some
          > Sufis and the Gnostics that would be interesting to test. The
          > specific spiritual goal is another possible one that should be
          > explored. If we base our whole exploration on an assumption that
          the
          > goal is the same, we are bound to prove ourselves right via
          > eisegesis.
          >
          > >>>Khwaja Salahudin says the transformative essence of the
          > teaching, the Truth, "cannot be passed on in the same form
          > because of the difference in the minds of different communities. It
          > cannot be reinterpreted because it must grow afresh." So I choose,
          > however naievely one might suppose, to place my trust in the Way
          > of the Sufis in this matter. And, according to my teachers, only
          > that which serves the transformative process is untouchable;
          > sancrosanct. All forms are ultimately subservient to that
          > consideration; subservient to time, place and community/culture<<<
          >
          > I can imagine the debate between the hypothetical Sufi and the
          > Gnostic. The Sufi talking about the experience of God and the
          > transformative process, the Gnostic quipping that change is an
          > aspect of the fallen realms, and that "God" is just the experience
          > of the lower realms of the Plaroma, not the true source. The Sufi
          > could parry by calling the Gnostic moldy and stringent, and the
          > Gnostic retort that the Sufi only has half the picture. Then again,
          > maybe they would split a six pack of beer and marvel at how
          > entertaining it is to debate things that no one can really
          > demonstrate one way or another beyond our own experience and a
          > little logic here and there. ;)
          >
          > PMCV

          Hi Karl. The example of the Demiurge is instructive for me because
          I'm always walking that fine line between reading the gnostic myths
          as a coded reference to inner spiritual life and reading them as an
          ontological explanation of existence. Of course, in all Platonic-
          influenced systems of thought the two are not considered separate
          from each other, the whole microcosm/macrocosm thing. -Steve W.
        Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.