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Why I'm a gnostic

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  • i_eat_pi_at_314
    The word gnostic is plagued with imprecision. The congress held in Messina in 1966 defined gnosis as knowledge of the divine mysteries reserved for an
    Message 1 of 2 , Sep 8, 2006
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      The word "gnostic" is plagued with imprecision. The congress held
      in Messina in 1966 defined "gnosis" as knowledge of the divine
      mysteries reserved for an intellectual elite; whereas "gnosticism" is a
      specific historical phenonenon. The problem, however is these
      definitions are ad hoc and don't spring up organically. We're labeling
      a group of people without understanding how they saw themselves. In
      effect, by claiming to be a gnostic, I'm claiming that clothes tailor-
      made to fit someone else will also fit me.
      Well; in what sense then am I a gnostic? I've been reading about
      the so-called Saphardic Jews living in the Iberian peninsula during the
      15th century. As the petty kingdoms of Spain began to unite, they also
      put the squeeze on their Jewish populations. Jews were told to either
      convert to Christianity or else get out. Those who did convert
      eventually left anyway because the Inquisition never trusted their
      sincerity.
      Many of the "Christianized" Jews who immigrated from Spain and
      Portugal ended up in Amsterdam. For the most part, they couldn't speak
      Hebrew and had a skewed understanding of what it meant to be Jewish.
      Essentually, they faced the same dilimma as I do: how does one practice
      a religion without flesh-and-blood examples to go by? While the Jews of
      Amsterdam were able to consult established cummunities elsewhere, such
      as those in Vienna, the practical problem is similiar.
      The Jews who wanted to repatriate with Eretz Israel of course had
      baggage. There were theological as well as social barriers between them
      and the established community of Judaism. The problem wasn't as acute
      though as say, repenting Christians wanting to return to the fold.
      Historically, Judaism is more tolerent of heterodoxy than is
      Christianity.
      The same is true of gnosticism. Although many gnostic teachers
      were indeed dogmatic, their core beliefs are not. Ironically, the Jews
      of Amsterdam regained their Jewish identity through the on-going
      tensions with the larger community. Those "tensions" were, in effect a
      dialogue. It's this paradigm which I claim allows me to unambigiously
      claim to be a gnostic.
      Many gnostic embellishments are alien to me; some are down-right
      bizarre. Yet, although being alien they continue to speak, albeit in
      strange accents. Frankly, I just don't get much of what they say. For
      example: different systems describe the machinations of various angels
      plotting to steal the purity of the supreme god. There's just so much
      surreal and sometimes petty drama. While the specifics do seem
      arbitrary, however the message itself is pretty clear. Creation, moved
      by hubris aspires to be the creator. I also have stolen fire from the
      gods; I warm myself with heat to which I have no right.
      The ancient gnostics knew humanity had transgressed the realm of
      God. At the same time, they also knew humanity was ineluctably drawn to
      that realm. There's no clear line between guilt and entitlement.
      Knowing that is what makes me a gnostic. The superficial tensions
      between me and the ancient believers only make that knowledge more
      trenchant. And, after all, isn't knowledge what gnosis is all about?

      Sincerely
      Pi
    • imdarkchylde
      Blessings and wingwhispers, Pi!! I d like to start with the fact that the ancient Gnostics didn t call themselves gnostic and even their enemies in the
      Message 2 of 2 , Sep 8, 2006
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        Blessings and wingwhispers, Pi!!
        I'd like to start with the fact that the ancient Gnostics didn't call
        themselves 'gnostic' and even their enemies in the Church of Rome
        didn't refer to them as gnostic, but rather as heretics and I even
        saw a reference to the Cathars as "Manichees". So Gnosticism as a
        term hasn't been around as long as the texts that are dubbed gnostic
        have. But the belief systems go back much farther than 1966, and the
        congress you mentioned I seriously doubt had any 'gnostics' on the
        panel. And as far as it being for the intellectually superior part, I
        think many have the idea that gnostics, manicheans and the like had
        to be from higher social classes and such but I think that had to do
        more with the constant suppression of the truth by 'authorities' and
        sometimes the only way you could be in dissent of orthodoxy is when
        you can hide behind land and title. That, of course, didn't stop the
        Roman Church as it became a means to an end.
        I would therefore perhaps call gnosticism as classification rather
        than phenomenon, but that is me.
        I totally understand your dilemma in finding flesh and blood, living
        examples of an obscure and possibly extinct belief system. When I
        first began my path, and read the texts, I found out quickly that no
        one I could speak with knew anything about gnostics. So I took my
        search to cyberspace. I began to research more and discovered the
        Cathars (Albegesians) and I am still rabid in my consuption on that
        subject. (Now wether the Cathars had connections to the ancient
        Gnostics would be a subject of some debate, I'm sure.) Then I come to
        discover the "Neo-Gnostics" perhaps would be the best term to
        describe them. The Eglise Gnostique was established by Jules Doinel
        who had a mystical experience during a time of researching the
        Cathars in 1890 that he was to recreate, or create, as it were, the
        assembly that once held the gnostic beliefs. This is still a
        fundementally sound organization, as far as their belief system as
        far as I could tell, and this could be one connection to a stream
        that has survived despite the very successful efforts of the Roman
        Catholic Church. Did you know, btw, that the Inquision was
        established to deal with the Cathar 'problem?'
        There is also the Ecclesia Gnostica, but I won't go into a discourse
        on that yet as I believe there are those on this forum that could
        provide much better info than I. Both can be found via the Internet.
        I also enjoy discourse with the Sophian Fellowship, led by Tau
        Malachi, which is the Sophian Tradition that has some very deep
        roots, and I believe Tau Malachi to be a modern mystic. This is, of
        course, my own opinion. This group can also be found on the Net. And
        there is always the Rosecreutians and Knights Templar that can draw
        some lines to gnostics.
        I have never personally had the problems with the mythology and
        cosmolgy, it was actually the first thing that made spiritual sense
        to me and 'struck a chord' somewhere deep. (Perhaps I have the ears
        to hear?) A bit overwhelming, perhaps, but so is the universe if I
        attempt to conceive it in its entirity. It is a complex system that
        shows us simple truths. Like the universe itself. And there would be
        pettyness and drama in the stories, as it is an accurate description
        of the manifestations of the ignorance embodied in the Demiurge.
        Now when you use the word 'dogma'is it in the sense of having a
        belief system, or is it the sense of someone aggressively pushing
        thier views on another? If you mean that they were aggressive, I
        have found that if that were the case, perhaps they would have won at
        the Niocean Council and not those who later promoted orthodoxy. The
        Cathars were also never known to proselyse. Dogma does not florish
        in societies that value secret knowledge and initiations. The
        gnostic saying is "those who know don't tell, and those who tell
        don't know."
        I also don't think you will find the gnostics promoted guilt-quite
        the contrary, the 'Fall' as orthodoxy would show is not comprehended
        that way in a gnostic system. Adam was 'set up' in the first place,
        and if any guilt need be laid it would be laid on the Demiurge. So
        mankind in the gnostic sense would not be seen as
        having 'transgressed' into the realm of God. For one thing, the
        gnostics had many names, Monad, the Entirity, (I personally call it
        Ain Sof or the One) but they did not call what they considered worth
        worshipping as God. Unnameable, and if it had a name how could we
        pronounce it when we are corruptable, how could mouths and tounges of
        base matter give voice to the ineffiable? Just a thought.
        The pleroma was transgressed upon, the Sophia was transgressed upon,
        but the human species did not and has not transgressed. The
        spirutual pull you mentioned is partly due to the dualism in our
        nature, and what makes us able to achieve gnosis, whereas
        other 'animals'cannot. The very thing that is our weakness can also
        be out greatest strength.
        I doubt if the tensions between you and the ancients goes both
        ways.LOL
        Love and inner peas
        DarkChylde



        --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "i_eat_pi_at_314"
        <i_eat_pi_at_314@...> wrote:
        >
        >
        > The word "gnostic" is plagued with imprecision. The congress
        held
        > in Messina in 1966 defined "gnosis" as knowledge of the divine
        > mysteries reserved for an intellectual elite; whereas "gnosticism"
        is a
        > specific historical phenonenon. The problem, however is these
        > definitions are ad hoc and don't spring up organically. We're
        labeling
        > a group of people without understanding how they saw themselves. In
        > effect, by claiming to be a gnostic, I'm claiming that clothes
        tailor-
        > made to fit someone else will also fit me.
        > Well; in what sense then am I a gnostic? I've been reading
        about
        > the so-called Saphardic Jews living in the Iberian peninsula during
        the
        > 15th century. As the petty kingdoms of Spain began to unite, they
        also
        > put the squeeze on their Jewish populations. Jews were told to
        either
        > convert to Christianity or else get out. Those who did convert
        > eventually left anyway because the Inquisition never trusted their
        > sincerity.
        > Many of the "Christianized" Jews who immigrated from Spain and
        > Portugal ended up in Amsterdam. For the most part, they couldn't
        speak
        > Hebrew and had a skewed understanding of what it meant to be
        Jewish.
        > Essentually, they faced the same dilimma as I do: how does one
        practice
        > a religion without flesh-and-blood examples to go by? While the
        Jews of
        > Amsterdam were able to consult established cummunities elsewhere,
        such
        > as those in Vienna, the practical problem is similiar.
        > The Jews who wanted to repatriate with Eretz Israel of course
        had
        > baggage. There were theological as well as social barriers between
        them
        > and the established community of Judaism. The problem wasn't as
        acute
        > though as say, repenting Christians wanting to return to the fold.
        > Historically, Judaism is more tolerent of heterodoxy than is
        > Christianity.
        > The same is true of gnosticism. Although many gnostic teachers
        > were indeed dogmatic, their core beliefs are not. Ironically, the
        Jews
        > of Amsterdam regained their Jewish identity through the on-going
        > tensions with the larger community. Those "tensions" were, in
        effect a
        > dialogue. It's this paradigm which I claim allows me to
        unambigiously
        > claim to be a gnostic.
        > Many gnostic embellishments are alien to me; some are down-
        right
        > bizarre. Yet, although being alien they continue to speak, albeit
        in
        > strange accents. Frankly, I just don't get much of what they say.
        For
        > example: different systems describe the machinations of various
        angels
        > plotting to steal the purity of the supreme god. There's just so
        much
        > surreal and sometimes petty drama. While the specifics do seem
        > arbitrary, however the message itself is pretty clear. Creation,
        moved
        > by hubris aspires to be the creator. I also have stolen fire from
        the
        > gods; I warm myself with heat to which I have no right.
        > The ancient gnostics knew humanity had transgressed the realm
        of
        > God. At the same time, they also knew humanity was ineluctably
        drawn to
        > that realm. There's no clear line between guilt and entitlement.
        > Knowing that is what makes me a gnostic. The superficial tensions
        > between me and the ancient believers only make that knowledge more
        > trenchant. And, after all, isn't knowledge what gnosis is all about?
        >
        > Sincerely
        > Pi
        >
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