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I suppose It's Another Personal Statement

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  • chesterelders
    Hello: I recently posted a brief personal statement on gnosticism. I know I ran roughshod over the innumerable differences between the various gnostics
    Message 1 of 6 , Oct 7, 2007
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      Hello:

      I recently posted a brief "personal statement" on gnosticism. I
      know I ran roughshod over the innumerable differences between the
      various gnostics schools and the differences between those schools
      and orthodoxy Christianity. The point I wanted to make is this: I no
      longer believe that gnosticism holds an arcane hidden truth which the
      church then tried to suppress.
      I was initially attracted to the promise that a "hidden
      knowledge" might release me from the world. For me, the world seems
      like dessicated spirit. Even the greenest and most supple sensations
      of life are just husks. You know what I mean. It's the emptiness of a
      fragrance triggering a lonesome memory. Who hasn't stood in an empty
      place and had an odor or even a noise coat your tongue with heavy
      memories? It's that poignant loss which drove me to the ancient
      gnostics.
      The gnostics spoke of God as being completely outside "being".
      In fact, the gnostic text the Apocryphon of John speaks of God only
      in so-called apophatic language. The point is that the opposite of
      whatever can be said of God must also be true. This leads to an
      endless negation of Divine attributes which leads ultimately to a
      breakdown of all speech. I believe that we're capable of transcending
      being, but only for an instant. Transcending being, however is so
      brief that it can only be experienced as a memory. It's like being
      startled and opening your eyes. In that brief instant we see and know
      nothing except the sensation of being startled. Then, awareness
      rushes in. I hoped the gnostics could tell me how to express that
      memory with words and rituals which were beyond me.
      I wanted a language which would connect me with the memory of
      that which I couldn't remember. In looking to the gnostics for an
      answer, though I violated one of their most basic tenets: I cannot be
      initiated into the mysteries of gnosticism without a guide. The texts
      remain sterile in the same way a sighted man's description of the
      world remains sterile to a blind man. Those who might could have
      guided me are long dead; gnosticism remains locked in the past. The
      words they left behind are dessicated husks. Which is better: a
      beautiful woman forever beyond my reach or else a plain and homely
      woman who is interested in me? The one is frustrating and the other
      is unsatisfying. That's the dilemma I'm facing.
      It is no more possible to interpret the writings of the
      gnostics than it is to experience someone else's toothache. I do
      admit to a poignant longing to know what they felt. For example: what
      is it like for your passion to exceed your bounds? The gnostics
      talked about that. The archon "Wisdom" exceeded her bounds and then
      split between the upper world and the lower world. According to the
      gnostic teacher Valentinus, Wisdom was the farthermost emanation of
      God. Wisdom desired to give birth in a way forbidden to emanations.
      As a consequence, a lower image of Wisdom remained trapped in the
      material world even though a higher image was saved. That story
      strikes a visceral cord with me. I've split so many times I can't
      believe there's anything left to split; but of course there is. Yet,
      the story can never be to me what it was to those who really believed
      it; the Enlightenment stands between me and that experience.
      I can't study gnosticism without also mourning that wisdom
      which we'll never know. You might say that our modern understanding
      of the ancient gnostic texts is just as valid as the understanding of
      those who wrote them. I disagree, though. Suppose that I'm sick and
      someone lies to me and says there is a cure. No one's understanding
      of that lie can possible compare to mine. In the same way. my
      understanding of gnosticism can't compare to the understanding of
      those who saw it as their salvation. At best, we can only fake an
      understanding and rapport which leaves us as unfulfilled as a meal of
      empty calories.
    • Michael Leavitt
      ... Speak for yourself, friend.
      Message 2 of 6 , Oct 8, 2007
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        chesterelders wrote:
        > At best, we can only fake an
        > understanding and rapport which leaves us as unfulfilled as a meal of
        > empty calories.
        >
        >
        Speak for yourself, friend.
      • lady_caritas
        ... of ... Hey, Mike, good to see you! ;-) Cari
        Message 3 of 6 , Oct 8, 2007
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          --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, Michael Leavitt <ac998@...> wrote:
          >
          >
          >
          > chesterelders wrote:
          > > At best, we can only fake an
          > > understanding and rapport which leaves us as unfulfilled as a meal
          of
          > > empty calories.
          > >
          > >
          > Speak for yourself, friend.
          >


          Hey, Mike, good to see you! ;-)

          Cari
        • Mark
          Chester, I hear the struggle and frustration of your spiritual quest and from experience I can relate to finding something that I hope and feel may lead me to
          Message 4 of 6 , Oct 8, 2007
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            Chester,

            I hear the struggle and frustration of your spiritual quest and from
            experience I can relate to finding something that I hope and feel may
            lead me to a new truth--maybe even enlightenement--and then being
            disappointed as I delve into my new find deeper. I would not say
            that I have found enlightenment, for enlightenment is not found, but
            is. What I have found is that all of my looking "out there" will not
            lead me to the truths I seek: the truths I seek can only be found "in
            here"--in me! I think that in this respect I share a similiar
            soteriology with what we commonly call the Gnostics. The Gnostics
            have provided us with a variety of historical forms or paths to
            follow or learn from, but they all are only forms with which you
            yourself become the content, or in other words, they all provide a
            path, but you yourself are the one who needs to walk it and
            experience it.

            I greatly enjoy studying Gnosticism and learning of all the variety
            and various ways of expressing their gnosis, which is the "hidden"
            and inward truths that they experienced. I enjoy knowing that
            historical Gnosticism in many of its Christian forms developed in a
            context of a polemical relationship with what came to be defined as
            orthodoxy. But neither historical Gnosticism nor traditional
            Gnosticism will give me what I seek. They, as well as other
            spiritual paths, may point the way, but I must make the journey--and
            it is a journey inward. The only "hidden" truth is the one hidden
            within me, which only I can find.

            I hope you find within the shadows of Gnosticism something that
            speaks to you. But if not, it is still a fun and worthwhile study in
            its own right.

            Mark

            --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "chesterelders"
            <chesterelders@...> wrote:
            >
            > Hello:
            >
            > I recently posted a brief "personal statement" on gnosticism.
            I
            > know I ran roughshod over the innumerable differences between the
            > various gnostics schools and the differences between those schools
            > and orthodoxy Christianity. The point I wanted to make is this: I
            no
            > longer believe that gnosticism holds an arcane hidden truth which
            the
            > church then tried to suppress.
            > I was initially attracted to the promise that a "hidden
            > knowledge" might release me from the world. For me, the world seems
            > like dessicated spirit. Even the greenest and most supple
            sensations
            > of life are just husks. You know what I mean. It's the emptiness of
            a
            > fragrance triggering a lonesome memory. Who hasn't stood in an
            empty
            > place and had an odor or even a noise coat your tongue with heavy
            > memories? It's that poignant loss which drove me to the ancient
            > gnostics.
            > The gnostics spoke of God as being completely
            outside "being".
            > In fact, the gnostic text the Apocryphon of John speaks of God only
            > in so-called apophatic language. The point is that the opposite of
            > whatever can be said of God must also be true. This leads to an
            > endless negation of Divine attributes which leads ultimately to a
            > breakdown of all speech. I believe that we're capable of
            transcending
            > being, but only for an instant. Transcending being, however is so
            > brief that it can only be experienced as a memory. It's like being
            > startled and opening your eyes. In that brief instant we see and
            know
            > nothing except the sensation of being startled. Then, awareness
            > rushes in. I hoped the gnostics could tell me how to express that
            > memory with words and rituals which were beyond me.
            > I wanted a language which would connect me with the memory of
            > that which I couldn't remember. In looking to the gnostics for an
            > answer, though I violated one of their most basic tenets: I cannot
            be
            > initiated into the mysteries of gnosticism without a guide. The
            texts
            > remain sterile in the same way a sighted man's description of the
            > world remains sterile to a blind man. Those who might could have
            > guided me are long dead; gnosticism remains locked in the past. The
            > words they left behind are dessicated husks. Which is better: a
            > beautiful woman forever beyond my reach or else a plain and homely
            > woman who is interested in me? The one is frustrating and the other
            > is unsatisfying. That's the dilemma I'm facing.
            > It is no more possible to interpret the writings of the
            > gnostics than it is to experience someone else's toothache. I do
            > admit to a poignant longing to know what they felt. For example:
            what
            > is it like for your passion to exceed your bounds? The gnostics
            > talked about that. The archon "Wisdom" exceeded her bounds and then
            > split between the upper world and the lower world. According to the
            > gnostic teacher Valentinus, Wisdom was the farthermost emanation of
            > God. Wisdom desired to give birth in a way forbidden to emanations.
            > As a consequence, a lower image of Wisdom remained trapped in the
            > material world even though a higher image was saved. That story
            > strikes a visceral cord with me. I've split so many times I can't
            > believe there's anything left to split; but of course there is.
            Yet,
            > the story can never be to me what it was to those who really
            believed
            > it; the Enlightenment stands between me and that experience.
            > I can't study gnosticism without also mourning that wisdom
            > which we'll never know. You might say that our modern understanding
            > of the ancient gnostic texts is just as valid as the understanding
            of
            > those who wrote them. I disagree, though. Suppose that I'm sick and
            > someone lies to me and says there is a cure. No one's understanding
            > of that lie can possible compare to mine. In the same way. my
            > understanding of gnosticism can't compare to the understanding of
            > those who saw it as their salvation. At best, we can only fake an
            > understanding and rapport which leaves us as unfulfilled as a meal
            of
            > empty calories.
            >
          • Michael Leavitt
            ... I m still here, but haven t had much to say. I must recommend Giovani Filoramo s, HISTORY OF GNOSTICISM, the coverage is mind boggeling for a 191 page
            Message 5 of 6 , Oct 9, 2007
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              lady_caritas wrote:
              > --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, Michael Leavitt <ac998@...> wrote:
              >
              >>
              >> chesterelders wrote:
              >>
              >>> At best, we can only fake an
              >>> understanding and rapport which leaves us as unfulfilled as a meal
              >>>
              > of
              >
              >>> empty calories.
              >>>
              >>>
              >>>
              >> Speak for yourself, friend.
              >>
              >>
              >> Hey, Mike, good to see you! ;-)
              >>
              >> Cari
              >>
              >>
              >>
              >>
              I'm still here, but haven't had much to say. I must recommend Giovani
              Filoramo's, HISTORY OF GNOSTICISM, the coverage is mind boggeling for a
              191 page book.
            • lady_caritas
              ... Giovani ... for a ... Mike, I ve been meaning to get to Filoramo s book, but now that you give it such a glowing recommendation, I ll put that near the top
              Message 6 of 6 , Oct 10, 2007
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                --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, Michael Leavitt <ac998@...> wrote:
                >
                >
                >
                > lady_caritas wrote:
                > >>>
                > >>>
                > >> Speak for yourself, friend.
                > >>
                > >>
                > >> Hey, Mike, good to see you! ;-)
                > >>
                > >> Cari
                > >>
                > >>
                > >>
                > >>
                > I'm still here, but haven't had much to say. I must recommend
                Giovani
                > Filoramo's, HISTORY OF GNOSTICISM, the coverage is mind boggeling
                for a
                > 191 page book.
                >


                Mike, I've been meaning to get to Filoramo's book, but now that you
                give it such a glowing recommendation, I'll put that near the top of
                my list.

                I just received an order yesterday, which included Birger A.
                Pearson's new introductory book, _Ancient Gnosticism: Traditions and
                Literature_, along with the new International Edition of _The Nag
                Hammadi Scriptures_ edited by Marvin Meyer and also _The Gospel of
                Judas together with the Letter of Peter to Philip, James, and a Book
                of Allogenes from Codex Tchacos, Critical Edition_.

                Now I just need to find time to get through all these. :-) I did
                start reading the first several pages of Birger Pearson's book and it
                appears to be a lucid introduction. I look forward to reading
                further.

                Cari
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