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Re: Gnostic beliefs on matter

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  • Verna Leigh Johnson
    ...but is there a way to test truth as intended by the texts vs modern popular postmodernist acceptance of the text as either personally effective or
    Message 1 of 48 , Sep 4, 2007
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      ...but is there a way to test "truth" as intended by the texts vs
      modern popular postmodernist acceptance of the text as either
      personally effective or personally not?

      Imho, truth is what it is, and you can test all you want, but it is
      what it is. I think if you wanted to test something, you are leaving
      an option for control, a vairety of outcomes, and all other things
      needed for such things, as well as the interpretation of the tester.
      But 'truth' for me is what it is as is, and this is known, and
      testing is fine if you need to do it, but won't change what is,
      whether tested or not. This is what the ancients were describing, is
      what is, not beliefs or superstitions. They experienced it, so they
      knew, and wrote about it on all different levels.
      Testing would be for theories, ideas and the like, but it is usually
      just someone trying to prove their preconcieved ideas. The 'truth'
      is what it is, was there long before and will be there long after
      tests and tester are long gone...
      So I guess it would be a good idea for such discussions to first
      establish whether or not truth is a perspective, or a reality.
      Pretty ambitious idea in itself, I think.
      Again, this is merely my opinion...
      blessings and inner peas

      --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, pmcvflag <no_reply@...> wrote:
      > Hey Mark
      > >>>I'm rambling now, but it is when this connection is lost or
      > in the modern and current expression of a spiritual experience that
      > the person can no longer claim to have a Gnostic experience, but at
      > most an experience of gnosis, which has become synonymous with a
      > mystical experience.<<<
      > Sounds concise and unconfusing.
      > I wanted to wait until I could remind myself which of Plato's works
      > talk about something similar, but I didn't want to let overly much
      > time lapse before responding (if anyone wants to chime in, feel
      > With that in mind, I recall a section in Plato that talks about
      > popular Mysteries vs what potential the mysteries could contain
      > and beyond the experience.
      > It is very interesting that in sharp contrast many people today
      > about the experience as the ONLY important aspect, the goal, of
      > spiritual practice.
      > Rather than raise the issue of whether Plato was right/wrong or
      > people right/wrong, I mean to point out an interesting difference
      > thinking and ask the people in the forum to consider which they see
      > more of in historical (and traditional) Gnostic thinking.
      > >>>As for the tension of which I spoke: Historical Gnosticism is an
      > account of applied Gnosticism as practiced in a certain time and
      > place and as contained in certain documents; Traditional Gnosticism
      > attempts to take those historical practices and apply them in the
      > here and now as possibly adapted to fit the current culture.<<<
      > It may be an interesting subject to try and talk about how a
      > continuity could be most effectively maintained. For instance, what
      > differences are there in the modern mind (intrinsically), if any,
      > would call for a different lingo to express the same things we may
      > pick out in ancient texts? On the other hand, what is the same and
      > need not be changed in the allegories/myths or interpretive
      > Is there anything outdated, or is it more about hermeneutics? Is it
      > possible to truly understand the ancient texts at all, or are they
      > just "moldy old books and doctrins" as some here have sometimes
      > pointed out? AND, I almost hate to even raise the messy subject....
      > but is there a way to test "truth" as intended by the texts vs
      > popular postmodernist acceptance of the text as either personally
      > effective or personally not?
      > I hope I didn't kill conversation by asking too many questions.
      > PMCV
    • pmcvflag
      Hey Mark You state... ... interpreters, I often wonder to what degree an historical Gnostic practitioner might have presented, or appeared, as a modern day
      Message 48 of 48 , Sep 10, 2007
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        Hey Mark

        You state...

        >>>At times when reading the Gnostic texts and some of their
        interpreters, I often wonder to what degree an "historical" Gnostic
        practitioner might have presented, or appeared, as a modern day

        Could you help me by telling me what you mean by "charismatic"? I am
        not sure if you mean this in the generic, or if you mean it in the
        modern evangelical sense, or if you mean it etymologically.

        >>>Thus, I think experience was important, maybe even critical, to
        Historical Gnosticism. But such an experience only helped to start
        them on the path, and it was not the whole of the path. If you want
        to find a person who has lost faith, then find a charismatic who can
        no longer experience the "Spirit." I think Historical Gnosticism
        would agree with the idea that faith may be initiated through an
        experience, but faith grows through an act of will. Experience is
        the proverbial icing on the cake. Without a doubt, beautiful and
        delicious, but without a substance that sustains and nurishes.<<<

        This could raise an interesting question for another thread. One may
        wonder exactly what function pistis, praxis, and gnosis have in the
        larger concept of Gnosis (with a capital "G") for historical (and
        traditional) practitioners. Is there a correct mix or specific
        interaction that one can find stated (or even implied) in the texts?

        >>>I am a fairly firm believer that every generation castrates
        the previous one in order to individuate themselves. Or to put it
        differently, each generation has the right or obligation to recast in
        their own terms/lingo that which their ancestors held as sacred.
        This is not the same as rejecting. Many, perhaps due to an
        intellectual laziness, find it easier simply to reject tradition,
        instead of re-interpreting it. Tradition, in its most meanigful
        sense, however, is this very process of re-interpretation through

        Interesting point. I find I can't disagree.

        There is, as you point out, a move to reject all notion
        of "tradition" itself. I find it interesting that the rhetoric used
        in these cases are very often based on singular experience and a
        reaction against that experience (people who were raised with strict
        fundementalist backgrounds). This is then cast in a lingo that is
        very closely related to racist doctrins, i.e., all notion of
        tradition or structure of any sort must be spiritually dead (the
        proof being their personal experience with one single false claim)
        and need not be examined or understood before making such a

        More important to our subject is how shockingly many people who are
        interested in Gnosticism are very much using Gnosticism (and by this
        I mean the historical texts) as a weapon for this kind of reaction
        without really wanting to try and understand the texts in and of
        themselves (I am tempted to call it the Da Vinci code complex, but
        maybe there are better terms).

        >>>When it comes to the questions of what is outdated and what must
        be changed, I think we need to be careful to distinguish between
        the "form" of the Gnostic "truths" and the "content" of those
        truths. In other words, there were many social and political norms
        that "formed" the Gnostic content and we must account for these,
        which is the domain of hermeneutics. Nonetheless, I think there are
        some spiritual truths that worked then and that work now, regardless
        of the "forming" influence of culture. In this sense, these texts
        are not just "moldy old texts and docrines," but give "form" to a
        spiritual "content" that speaks to us today.<<<

        In the end, that may be key to the whole issue. When you state this,
        though, do you have any specific examples in mind? If not, could we
        impose upon you to find a couple? It seems to me that the point may
        be too core to the conversation to be left abstract.

        >>>What is the "truth" the texts intend?<<<

        Well, I guess I could counter by asking "what is truth", but I think
        Darkchylde already does this. Frankly, though, it isn't so much my
        point. Rather, I was trying to raise the question of whether the
        authors of the texts believed in a "truth" or whether they were
        relativists like the modern popular postmodernists (or maybe bits of

        To be fair, let me try to give my own perspective on the texts and
        some examples of what they may posit as "truths".

        For one, I think they intend their cosmology as a genuine
        functional "truth" (whether that cosmology is literal or allegorical
        may be a different question, but from the functional perspective it
        may not matter).

        I think they intend to offer a specific soteriology as a literal
        truth based directly on the functionality of the cosmology (again,
        whether that cosmology is literal or allegorical).

        I am open to debate on these points, as always, but I just wanted to
        offer what I think to be the intended function of many of these
        texts so that it doesn't seem like I am standing outside the issue.

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