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

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  • F8snafs@aol.com
    In a message dated 4/3/2006 2:01:22 AM Central Standard Time, Tsharpmin7@aol.com writes: hello Widad.... thank you for taking time out of your weekend to
    Message 1 of 44 , Apr 3, 2006
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      In a message dated 4/3/2006 2:01:22 AM Central Standard Time, Tsharpmin7@... writes:
      hello Widad.... thank you for taking time out of your weekend to respond. you're a real trooper.
      You're quite welcome, Crispin.
      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."
      Funny. Of course we Ladies are the absolute geniuses of
      non-verebal communication. You perceive correctly.
      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.
      Yes, when the work is done they pack up and leave.  But it's not
      usually as abrupt a process your comments may lead some to
      believe. Since you mentioned elsewhere that you had heard the
      U.N. was "a hotbed" of Sufic activities (I'm neither confirming or
      denying this), I can relate a story about a Sufi teaching operation
      that was unknown even to those for whom it was designed to
      A certain Embassy Director asked for and received a modest
      office in one of the sub-buildings near the U.N. building proper.
      He then asked for and received eight specific interns borrowed
      from various U.N. agencies to staff a project to look into the
      feasability of sending swamp-water across a certain mountain
      via wind-directed evaporation and recollection. 
      This Embassy Director became the butt of many jokes and
      cries of dismay at the waste of funds all were sure that he must
      be channeling into this "project." But the interns were quite
      content and enjoyed hanging about the office (they were rarely
      assigned anything they could clearly identify as work or research
      to further the goals of the project) and listening to the Director tell
      them stories about his ancestors and his own exploits in his
      native land.
      One day, some months later, the interns arrived at the office at
      their appointed time only to find that all the furniture, phones and
      computers were gone, and the usually immaculately dressed
      Director sitting barefoot on the floor in a pair of faded bluejeans
      and his soiled softball jersey. He thanked each one for their
      participation, handed them all a vanilla envelope with their
      name written upon it in a very lovely and elaborate calligraphy,
      and he departed. The next day he was back in his native land.
      He did not return the the States for another decade or more.
      So, what was in the envelopes? One sheet of paper with the
      Sufi teaching story of the swamp who surrenders to the wind in
      order to cross a desert and a mountain range that it might regain
      its true nature as a river upon the other side. Nobody will tell what
      else was in the envelope save to say that it was the greatest gift
      they had ever received to that point in their lives. 
      Two of those interns eventually died in service to a worthy cause,
      their actions having each saved many innocent lives. One of those
      deaths occured in the land of the director. The remaining six are
      still alive. They are now some of the most capable and influential
      people I know of working in International Affairs and Statecraft.
      Fortunately, to my knowledge, nobody has tried to duplicate the
      events just described, imagining the secret to hidden knowledge
      is contained in the operation of a bogus water project and not
      within the vision of the original operator himself. 
      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. 
      As a fellow "unrealized seeker" I share your sense of wonder and
      mystery. The secret hides itself from such as we.
      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
      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
      I appreciate your sense of humor more than you know. The hidden
      jokes are the best. Now, for God's sake, will you please stop
      flattering me! No, really, please stop! Well, if you insist.....
      Your sister and servant,
    • 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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