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Re: A Question From The New Guy (NEW LINGO)

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  • pmcvflag
    Hey, I_eat_pi, welcome to the group. You raise some interesting points and questions. ... whether we can achieve gnosis on our own without a community s
    Message 1 of 2 , Sep 5, 2006
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      Hey, I_eat_pi, welcome to the group. You raise some interesting
      points and questions.

      >>>Can gnosis ever be exclusively private? By this I mean to ask
      whether we can achieve gnosis on our own without a community's
      help.<<<

      It is very good you made your intent more clear, because to me the
      first question and the second could be seen as completely different
      things. In fact, the absense of physical community may not
      imply "private" in the least if the conclusions are shared with a
      wider community. Since you used the word "exclusively" I would have
      thought you meant on all levels rather than simply the physical...
      had it not been for your qualification of intent.

      However, one thing you did not qualify or explain is your meaning of
      the word "Gnosis" itself. In this forum we do try to stick to the
      historical usages, so I am going to have work from that angle.

      >>>I'll tell you why I ask. Postmodern culture has nurtured a cult of
      the subjective. I suspect this is so because the subjective has
      become problematical. Our interior selves are constantly being
      mined.<<<

      Postmodern culture has very little to do with Gnosis. In my view it
      was a big mistake on the part of some philosophers to
      equate "Gnosis" of the ancients with their own philosophies. This is
      true of the Existentialists, and I would say even more true of
      anyone who wishes to do the same with postmodernism. However, I
      think we do have to draw a line between Philosophical Postmodernism
      and Popular Postmodernism before your question can have meaning. You
      seem to be implying a greater interest in the latter, but I am
      trying to not assume that before I say anything further on that
      subject.

      >>>We've become so exteriorized that personal experiences are a joke.
      In order to salvage what historically has been our subjective
      and private selves, postmodernism gives us permission to experience
      the "divine" without justifying anything.<<<<

      The Gnostic texts deal with the subject from almost the opposite
      perspective. It is the personal and the subjective that is exterior
      (or more accurately, not completely exterior OR interior). For
      instance, reading the first part of "Gospel of Truth" we
      see "ignorance" categorized as a sort of subjectivity that melts
      away with Gnosis. Same with the Tripartite Tractate and the Gospel
      of Philip where the subjective observations of language are seen as
      problems with the fallen state, where an objective realization of
      underlying meaning is seen as part of Gnosis itself.

      In fact, I think it would be fair to say that the Gnostics accepted
      subjective methods for attainment, but equated Gnosis itself as a
      move toward objectivity. Again and again the texts talk about
      absolutes that are beyond subjectivity, and they equate this
      recognition with aspects of "Gnosis". It could amost be stated that
      popular postmodernism ("New Age" thinking) is nearly opposite to
      that of Gnosticism.

      >>>Yet, even though ancient gnostics were open to charismatic and
      original experiences, those experiences were expressed in familiar
      terms. The gnostics spoke in the language of well established
      cosmologies. The most ad hoc insights were still subject to the
      logic of those cosmologies.<<<

      I was not sure if you meant "ad hoc" in the popular or the
      traditional way, but it almost doesn't matter. I take you to mean
      that the Gnostics were actually very specific in the linguistic
      usage, and thier belief about the function and meaning of
      experience, in which case I think there is no question that you are
      correct.

      >>>It might be argued that modern gnostics do the same thing.<<<

      This forum uses the term "Gnostics" only in the historical
      meaning... which means we have to question the usage of the
      term "modern Gnostics". This does not mean that we question whether
      modern people can find Gnosis, or if they can find the meaning and
      method of ancient Gnostic orders... it only means that we don't
      extend the category beyond the more technical meaning.

      >>>The problem is that the ancient cosmologies don't have currency,
      anymore.<<<

      This is a question that was recenly raised (by me) in another
      conversation. Before you can even deal with whether the ancient
      cosmology has currency you have to deal with whether you think it
      was literal or not. In fact, you have to deal with a whole host of
      hermeneutic methodologies that you simply have not.

      >>>The universe is no longer some anthropomorphic projection.
      Consider the narrative from the gnostic text "Thunder Perfect Mind."
      The hubris of Wisdom and her subsequently deformed progeny just don't
      resonate.<<<

      This actually brings up my prior point perfectly. For one, it is
      questionable whether Thunder is technically a "Gnostic" text, but
      more importantly there is the issue of just how much of this is a
      literary divice. One has to ask exactly how this text is being
      understood... is it an allegory? If it does not resonate is that
      because it isn't true? Or because the person does not yet understand
      it? (if the CAN understand it)

      >>>If gnosticism is simply a way to validate our personal and
      private selves, then in what sense can we claim kinship with the
      ancient gnostics? For them, gnosis was a release from an interiority
      which was already there, not a means to create that interiority.<<<

      While I think the terms may be more complex, if this is what you are
      driving at I think I agree. I am partially bringing up these
      problems to point out that in this forum your point needs to bring
      up actual examples and contrasts.

      >>>>As I see it, we must hollow out the languages of our mundane
      communities and fill them with new meanings as the ancient gnostics
      did with their creation myths. In order to become a personal
      expression, gnosis must first spring from a communal matrix. The
      irony is that the subjective derives from it's community. Once the
      subjective is created, then and only then can the light trapped
      within us be released.<<<<

      I think that is a really great idea for a topic. In fact, I would
      like to ask anyone here to attempt it. We have already talked about
      how the Gnostics had a pretty specific "trade lingo" that helps to
      identify them as a group, BUT!!!! what modern words would you all
      use if you thought you were going to try to communicate the beliefs
      to a modern mind?

      Those of you who voted for modernization in the recent poll should
      especially answer this one.

      PMCV
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