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what does it mean exactly

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  • dougwilmer
    Hi, I have read some websites on Gnosticism during the last few months and it seems to be very interesting, but I cannot quite make out as yet what it means to
    Message 1 of 8 , Feb 19, 2007
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      Hi, I have read some websites on Gnosticism during the last few months
      and it seems to be very interesting, but I cannot quite make out as yet
      what it means to be a gnostic exactly for there does seem to be so many
      variations in what it does actualy mean. I know it means knowledge, but
      knowledge of what exactly. Excuse my ignorance, maybe a stupid
      question.

      Thank you.

      Doug.
    • pmcvflag
      Hey Doug, welcome to the group. You ask... ... months and it seems to be very interesting, but I cannot quite make out as yet what it means to be a gnostic
      Message 2 of 8 , Feb 19, 2007
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        Hey Doug, welcome to the group. You ask...

        >>>Hi, I have read some websites on Gnosticism during the last few
        months and it seems to be very interesting, but I cannot quite make
        out as yet what it means to be a gnostic exactly for there does seem
        to be so many variations in what it does actualy mean. I know it
        means knowledge, but knowledge of what exactly. Excuse my ignorance,
        maybe a stupid question.<<<

        Part of the difficulty in answering the question is simply that not
        everyone uses the term "Gnostic" in the same way. In fact, the word
        has come to have so many meanings for so many different groups and
        people that it is sometimes a worthless word in casual conversation.
        What the word means will depend on who you are talking with.

        Since you have been in a number of groups, you likely noticed that
        many of them use the term gnostic as essentially a synonym
        for "mystic", and the "knowledge" that they refer to is the personal
        experience of the spirit.

        This forum, on the other hand, is a bit more technical. Here we try
        our best to use terms like Gnosis and Gnostic in the way that is
        informed by traditional (historic) Gnostic texts. While this meaning
        includes the personal experience mentioned above, it is a little
        more specific in that it also refers to a precise set of esoteric
        beliefs and practices that the ancient Gnostics believed would
        impart a kind of salvational knowledge of the spiritual world and
        how we relate to it. The "knowledge" in this case is about
        cosmology, anthropogeny, how we came to be in this world, and how we
        can leave it (salvation).

        PMCV
      • dougwilmer
        I see, thanks friend. So, some talk about the the experience of gnosis and some talk about the ancient beliefs regard to it in a more acadmic basis. Do you
        Message 3 of 8 , Feb 20, 2007
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          I see, thanks friend. So, some talk about the the experience of
          gnosis and some talk about the ancient beliefs regard to it in a more
          acadmic basis. Do you happen to know which lists talk about the
          experience of it by any chance? I wonder what it is like.

          Much thanks in anticipation.
          Doug.

          --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, pmcvflag <no_reply@...> wrote:
          >
          > Hey Doug, welcome to the group. You ask...
          >
          > >>>Hi, I have read some websites on Gnosticism during the last few
          > months and it seems to be very interesting, but I cannot quite make
          > out as yet what it means to be a gnostic exactly for there does
          seem
          > to be so many variations in what it does actualy mean. I know it
          > means knowledge, but knowledge of what exactly. Excuse my
          ignorance,
          > maybe a stupid question.<<<
          >
          > Part of the difficulty in answering the question is simply that not
          > everyone uses the term "Gnostic" in the same way. In fact, the word
          > has come to have so many meanings for so many different groups and
          > people that it is sometimes a worthless word in casual
          conversation.
          > What the word means will depend on who you are talking with.
          >
          > Since you have been in a number of groups, you likely noticed that
          > many of them use the term gnostic as essentially a synonym
          > for "mystic", and the "knowledge" that they refer to is the
          personal
          > experience of the spirit.
          >
          > This forum, on the other hand, is a bit more technical. Here we try
          > our best to use terms like Gnosis and Gnostic in the way that is
          > informed by traditional (historic) Gnostic texts. While this
          meaning
          > includes the personal experience mentioned above, it is a little
          > more specific in that it also refers to a precise set of esoteric
          > beliefs and practices that the ancient Gnostics believed would
          > impart a kind of salvational knowledge of the spiritual world and
          > how we relate to it. The "knowledge" in this case is about
          > cosmology, anthropogeny, how we came to be in this world, and how
          we
          > can leave it (salvation).
          >
          > PMCV
          >
        • lady_caritas
          Hello, Doug. PMCV might have some specific suggestions, but you could also just browse through any active groups in the Yahoo Groups Gnosticism category and
          Message 4 of 8 , Feb 20, 2007
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            Hello, Doug.  PMCV might have some specific suggestions, but you could also just browse through any active groups in the Yahoo Groups Gnosticism category and see many people talking about their personal mystical experiences.  Some do in our group, as well, which is fine.  As you and PMCV surmised, whether or not one would consider all these descriptions "gnosis" depends on one's meaning of "gnosis." 

             

            In our group, as PMCV mentioned, we use "gnosis" with an eye on working to discover what the ancients meant by this term.  And any discussion of personal experience in our group is done by comparing this to our focus of historical Gnosticism. 

             

            For the ancients, the mystical experience was interpreted within a defined context, philosophically, as PMCV described.  It wasn't only about subjective, emotional feelings.  If you're interested, here are a couple of examples of ancient writings describing the mystical ascent:

             

            http://www.gnosis.org/naghamm/allogene.html

             

            http://www.gnosis.org/naghamm/zostr.html

             

             

            Cari


            --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "dougwilmer" <dougwilmer@...> wrote:
            >
            > I see, thanks friend. So, some talk about the the experience of
            > gnosis and some talk about the ancient beliefs regard to it in a more
            > acadmic basis. Do you happen to know which lists talk about the
            > experience of it by any chance? I wonder what it is like.
            >
            > Much thanks in anticipation.
            > Doug.
            >
            > --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, pmcvflag no_reply@ wrote:
            > >
            > > Hey Doug, welcome to the group. You ask...
            > >
            > > >>>Hi, I have read some websites on Gnosticism during the last few
            > > months and it seems to be very interesting, but I cannot quite make
            > > out as yet what it means to be a gnostic exactly for there does
            > seem
            > > to be so many variations in what it does actualy mean. I know it
            > > means knowledge, but knowledge of what exactly. Excuse my
            > ignorance,
            > > maybe a stupid question.<<<
            > >
            > > Part of the difficulty in answering the question is simply that not
            > > everyone uses the term "Gnostic" in the same way. In fact, the word
            > > has come to have so many meanings for so many different groups and
            > > people that it is sometimes a worthless word in casual
            > conversation.
            > > What the word means will depend on who you are talking with.
            > >
            > > Since you have been in a number of groups, you likely noticed that
            > > many of them use the term gnostic as essentially a synonym
            > > for "mystic", and the "knowledge" that they refer to is the
            > personal
            > > experience of the spirit.
            > >
            > > This forum, on the other hand, is a bit more technical. Here we try
            > > our best to use terms like Gnosis and Gnostic in the way that is
            > > informed by traditional (historic) Gnostic texts. While this
            > meaning
            > > includes the personal experience mentioned above, it is a little
            > > more specific in that it also refers to a precise set of esoteric
            > > beliefs and practices that the ancient Gnostics believed would
            > > impart a kind of salvational knowledge of the spiritual world and
            > > how we relate to it. The "knowledge" in this case is about
            > > cosmology, anthropogeny, how we came to be in this world, and how
            > we
            > > can leave it (salvation).
            > >
            > > PMCV
            > >
            >

          • dougwilmer
            OK, thanks, I will take a look when time allows. But, if this gnosis thing is a real experience then some folk must have experienced it, and if they did in the
            Message 5 of 8 , Feb 20, 2007
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              OK, thanks, I will take a look when time allows. But, if this gnosis
              thing is a real experience then some folk must have experienced it,
              and if they did in the past then they still do today surely. So, what
              is it that is so fascinating about two to ten thousand years old
              accounts when such folk who one could perhaps talk to about it must
              be around today.

              History of course is fascinating in so far as one can get at it, but
              the winners write history as we all know well enough. But, if this
              gnosis thing is what they say, an experience, then no amount of
              reading is surely going to give anyone that experience, whatever it
              is said to be. It seems to be a bit like this so called
              enlightenment thing, everybody talks abut it yet nobody says what it
              is and what it is like. Strange business all this it seems to me.

              Doug.



              --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, lady_caritas <no_reply@...> wrote:
              >
              >
              > Hello, Doug. PMCV might have some specific suggestions, but you
              could
              > also just browse through any active groups in the Yahoo Groups
              > Gnosticism category and see many people talking about their personal
              > mystical experiences. Some do in our group, as well, which is
              fine. As
              > you and PMCV surmised, whether or not one would consider all these
              > descriptions "gnosis" depends on one's meaning of
              > "gnosis."
              > >
              >
              > In our group, as PMCV mentioned, we use "gnosis" with an eye on
              > working to discover what the ancients meant by this term. And any
              > discussion of personal experience in our group is done by comparing
              this
              > to our focus of historical Gnosticism.
              >
              >
              > For the ancients, the mystical experience was interpreted within a
              > defined context, philosophically, as PMCV described. It wasn't only
              > about subjective, emotional feelings. If you're interested, here
              > are a couple of examples of ancient writings describing the mystical
              > ascent:
              >
              >
            • pmcvflag
              Hi Doug You state ... gnosis and some talk about the ancient beliefs regard to it in a more acadmic basis. Do you happen to know which lists talk about the
              Message 6 of 8 , Feb 20, 2007
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                Hi Doug

                You state

                >>>I see, thanks friend. So, some talk about the the experience of
                gnosis and some talk about the ancient beliefs regard to it in a more
                acadmic basis. Do you happen to know which lists talk about the
                experience of it by any chance? I wonder what it is like.<<<

                Actually, not exactly what I meant... though sometimes also true.
                The bigger problem isn't the line between the groups that deal with
                history vs those that deal with personal spirituality, but those
                that use the word "Gnosis" to mean essentially what it meant
                traditionally vs those who use the word "gnosis" to mean something
                entirely different. There are modern groups that use the
                word "gnostic" and "gnosis" to refer to things like ESP, drug
                experiences, experiences with aliens on UFO's, and even Nazi style
                racial purity. Obviously none of these have anything do to with the
                meaning of the word that we see in the Nag Hammadi and the
                traditional Gnostic thinking.

                In another letter you go on to say...

                >>>OK, thanks, I will take a look when time allows. But, if this
                gnosis thing is a real experience then some folk must have
                experienced it, and if they did in the past then they still do today
                surely. <<<

                The next misunderstanding that people often have about "Gnosis" in
                the traditional meaning of the word is to equate it with various
                mystical experiences. Many of the groups you will find out there
                will talk about an "experience" of Gnosis, and believe that they are
                talking about something in line with the traditional Gnostics.
                Generally speaking this is because they are confused about
                traditional Gnostic thinking. Gnosis, in the traditional meaning of
                the word, is not an experience.

                Are there people today that have various sorts of mystical
                experiences? Sure. Does that mean they have Gnosis? Not necessarily.

                >>>So, what is it that is so fascinating about two to ten thousand
                years old accounts when such folk who one could perhaps talk to
                about it must be around today.<<<

                Some would argue that if Gnosis was ever true, it would not matter
                if it was now or then... the accounts would be just as valid.
                However, there is actually something even more important. The
                word "Gnosis" in this traditional meant also implies a cognitive
                esoteric understanding of the text and the communication of the
                sect. Without that, one would not even technically know what the
                word "Gnosis" means. In this case, the personal spirituality and the
                esoteric function of the texts are difficult to extract from each
                other. This is NOT to imply some modern protestant Christian "sola
                schriptura" dogma, but instead to point out that there is more to
                Gnosis than an experience.... there is also an interpretation.

                >>>But, if this gnosis thing is what they say, an experience, then
                no amount of reading is surely going to give anyone that experience,
                whatever it is said to be.<<<

                I guess then it depends on whether one wants to use the
                word "Gnosis" to mean what it means in the traditional usage that we
                talk about here, or if they are looking for one of the various other
                things that some people call "gnosis". When we use the word here, we
                definately are not talking about the experience of Aliens or racial
                memory. Part of the reason we deal with history here is to keep a
                clear focus on the meaning of "Gnosis" as it is used in these
                traditional sources. We are then free to go on and talk about what
                it may imply in our personal lives, whether we have it or not, and
                if we do.. how.

                PMCV
              • dougwilmer
                Thanks for all that PMCV (sorry I do not know what the stands for) and for your time and effort there. So, in essence, what you are saying there is that this
                Message 7 of 8 , Feb 20, 2007
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                  Thanks for all that PMCV (sorry I do not know what the stands for)
                  and for your time and effort there.

                  So, in essence, what you are saying there is that this gnosis IS NOT
                  an experience at all. Leastwise as it is seen to be on this group
                  anyway. That of course does somewhat conflict with what most
                  literature on gnosis and Gnosticism claims, but however and what
                  ever, so be it. Now, could you refer me to the source which claims
                  that gnosis is NOT an experience, for I sure would like to look that
                  up.

                  Also, could I be so bold (later) to offer a few quotes form the Nag
                  Hammadi Codices and get your opinion as to whether they are genuine
                  Gnostic sayings from people who had undergone what, in the Western
                  World, became known as Gnosis. For presumably other people in other
                  parts of the world have used different words for the same event.

                  Thanks in anticipation.

                  Doug.


                  --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, pmcvflag <no_reply@...> wrote:
                  >
                  > Hi Doug
                  >
                  > You state
                  >
                  > >>>I see, thanks friend. So, some talk about the the experience of
                  > gnosis and some talk about the ancient beliefs regard to it in a
                  more
                  > acadmic basis. Do you happen to know which lists talk about the
                  > experience of it by any chance? I wonder what it is like.<<<
                  >
                  > Actually, not exactly what I meant... though sometimes also true.
                  > The bigger problem isn't the line between the groups that deal with
                  > history vs those that deal with personal spirituality, but those
                  > that use the word "Gnosis" to mean essentially what it meant
                  > traditionally vs those who use the word "gnosis" to mean something
                  > entirely different. There are modern groups that use the
                  > word "gnostic" and "gnosis" to refer to things like ESP, drug
                  > experiences, experiences with aliens on UFO's, and even Nazi style
                  > racial purity. Obviously none of these have anything do to with the
                  > meaning of the word that we see in the Nag Hammadi and the
                  > traditional Gnostic thinking.
                  >
                  > In another letter you go on to say...
                  >
                  > >>>OK, thanks, I will take a look when time allows. But, if this
                  > gnosis thing is a real experience then some folk must have
                  > experienced it, and if they did in the past then they still do
                  today
                  > surely. <<<
                  >
                  > The next misunderstanding that people often have about "Gnosis" in
                  > the traditional meaning of the word is to equate it with various
                  > mystical experiences. Many of the groups you will find out there
                  > will talk about an "experience" of Gnosis, and believe that they
                  are
                  > talking about something in line with the traditional Gnostics.
                  > Generally speaking this is because they are confused about
                  > traditional Gnostic thinking. Gnosis, in the traditional meaning of
                  > the word, is not an experience.
                  >
                  > Are there people today that have various sorts of mystical
                  > experiences? Sure. Does that mean they have Gnosis? Not necessarily.
                  >
                  > >>>So, what is it that is so fascinating about two to ten thousand
                  > years old accounts when such folk who one could perhaps talk to
                  > about it must be around today.<<<
                  >
                  > Some would argue that if Gnosis was ever true, it would not matter
                  > if it was now or then... the accounts would be just as valid.
                  > However, there is actually something even more important. The
                  > word "Gnosis" in this traditional meant also implies a cognitive
                  > esoteric understanding of the text and the communication of the
                  > sect. Without that, one would not even technically know what the
                  > word "Gnosis" means. In this case, the personal spirituality and
                  the
                  > esoteric function of the texts are difficult to extract from each
                  > other. This is NOT to imply some modern protestant Christian "sola
                  > schriptura" dogma, but instead to point out that there is more to
                  > Gnosis than an experience.... there is also an interpretation.
                  >
                  > >>>But, if this gnosis thing is what they say, an experience, then
                  > no amount of reading is surely going to give anyone that
                  experience,
                  > whatever it is said to be.<<<
                  >
                  > I guess then it depends on whether one wants to use the
                  > word "Gnosis" to mean what it means in the traditional usage that
                  we
                  > talk about here, or if they are looking for one of the various
                  other
                  > things that some people call "gnosis". When we use the word here,
                  we
                  > definately are not talking about the experience of Aliens or racial
                  > memory. Part of the reason we deal with history here is to keep a
                  > clear focus on the meaning of "Gnosis" as it is used in these
                  > traditional sources. We are then free to go on and talk about what
                  > it may imply in our personal lives, whether we have it or not, and
                  > if we do.. how.
                  >
                  > PMCV
                  >
                • Michael Leavitt
                  ... Even a mystical experience is hard to describe, a gnostic one is wore. I was in the clouds when Sophia gave birth to Salas, but the vision is more than I
                  Message 8 of 8 , Feb 20, 2007
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                    dougwilmer wrote:
                    > OK, thanks, I will take a look when time allows. But, if this gnosis
                    > thing is a real experience then some folk must have experienced it,
                    > and if they did in the past then they still do today surely. So, what
                    > is it that is so fascinating about two to ten thousand years old
                    > accounts when such folk who one could perhaps talk to about it must
                    > be around today.
                    >
                    > History of course is fascinating in so far as one can get at it, but
                    > the winners write history as we all know well enough. But, if this
                    > gnosis thing is what they say, an experience, then no amount of
                    > reading is surely going to give anyone that experience, whatever it
                    > is said to be. It seems to be a bit like this so called
                    > enlightenment thing, everybody talks abut it yet nobody says what it
                    > is and what it is like. Strange business all this it seems to me.
                    >
                    > Doug.
                    >
                    >
                    Even a mystical experience is hard to describe, a gnostic one is wore.
                    I was in the clouds when Sophia gave birth to Salas, but the vision is
                    more than I can begin to describe. I actually saw what happened, but
                    only have an inkling of why. For the most part I stood there
                    dumbfounded. Maybe someday I will sort it out. I am very sure that
                    Salis is real, and more sethian than Vallentinian, though not intirely.
                    That is why I call him Saklas,
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