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Re: Gnosticism versus Neoplatonism/Kabbalah

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  • lady_caritas
    ... writings of the Neoplatonists, such as Plotinus, with the Kabbalists; and the Gnostic writings on the other hand. ... Kabbalist Yehuda Ashlag. They teach
    Message 1 of 9 , Apr 15, 2009
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      --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "gvasquezneo" <gvasquezneo@...> wrote:
      >
      > It has always been a challenge for me to weigh on the one hand the writings of the Neoplatonists, such as Plotinus, with the Kabbalists; and the Gnostic writings on the other hand.
      >
      > One Kabbalistic group (http://www.arionline.info/
      > ,http://www.kabbalah.info/) attributes its teachings to the great Kabbalist Yehuda Ashlag. They teach that God's purpose was to create a creature(the manifest world, especially us) and fill it with delight. This to my ears sounds crazy, but if you read a lot of their other writings much of it makes sense.
      >
      > Also Plotinus, the Neoplatonist considered the gnostics misguided. They saw creation as perfect. I can't see it that way either.

      Welcome to our group, gvasquezneo.  And thank you for your succeeding post that clarified your meaning of the creator god.  I'll begin with a few observations, and maybe some of our members might want to stretch their limbs and join in discussion by offering some more comment or questions and even some pearls of wisdom.

      Even though there are differences in the traditions you mention, perhaps it might be beneficial to investigate similarities among them before pitting them against each other.

      For instance, there is a strong current of Platonist philosophy running throughout.  Plotinus might have disagreed with the Gnostics, but then again, some of the fiercest squabbles can sometimes occur among family members, so to speak.

      Dr. John D. Turner has done extensive research on the subject of Gnosticism, Sethianism in particular, and Platonism.  You can find some of his articles online here:

      http://jdt.unl.edu/

      I'm confused about your comment that "they saw creation as perfect."  Does "they" refer to the Neoplatonists or rather the Gnostics?  In either case, "perfect" is not at all a way I usually see creation described.  How do you mean this?


      > The one I feel most accurately portrays reality is Buddha, who I consider an eastern gnostic, but even there, the eight-fold path seems to be petitioning the maker with good acts, which again seems too rational. Even if these "rules" are being used to tear down duality, I feel grace has always the determining ingredient in enlightenment.
      >
      > I guess what I'm getting at is that making God evil sounds too dualistic, too human in reasoning. Making him good does the same. I'm more in agreement with Valentinus who considered the the "fall" an "error plane".But all these teachings have an excessive anthropomorphic bent. I feel truth comes from a non-dual reality that is beyond words or people. something indescribable.
      >
      > Has anyone else been struggling with this. Can anyone help me with this or refer me to some literature. Thank you.
      >

      Certainly, the Gnostics would agree that the ultimate Reality is "beyond words or people, something indescribable."  Also, absolutely infinite.  Particularly important to remember is that Gnostic systems of emanations were highly mythic in character.  And there is also an element of the rational as well as the mystical.  What might seem like anthropomorphism could likely be symbolism in an attempt to relate to us humans, not something to be taken literally in all cases.

      As stated in the Gospel of Philip:

      "Truth did not come into the world naked, but it came in types and images. The world will not receive truth in any other way."

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

      gvasquezneo, perhaps you could give us an example or two of what you find to have "an excessive anthropomorphic bent"? 

      Lastly, just for info, our group homepage has links to some articles for further reading in case you haven't already looked them over:

      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/gnosticism2/links

      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/gnosticism2/files/

      Cari

       

    • lady_caritas
      Just a note to say that the e-mail format of my previous post came out fine, but for some reason, portions of my reply in the post showing up at the website
      Message 2 of 9 , Apr 15, 2009
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        Just a note to say that the e-mail format of my previous post came out fine, but for some reason, portions of my reply in the post showing up at the website came out in green, not only blue, and sometimes bold in a different font. Very strange. Sorry about that. *lol*

        Cari

        --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, lady_caritas <no_reply@...> wrote:
        >
        >
        >
        > --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "gvasquezneo" <gvasquezneo@>
        > wrote:
        > >
        > > It has always been a challenge for me to weigh on the one hand the
        > writings of the Neoplatonists, such as Plotinus, with the Kabbalists;
        > and the Gnostic writings on the other hand.
        > >
        > > One Kabbalistic group (http://www.arionline.info/
        > > ,http://www.kabbalah.info/) attributes its teachings to the great
        > Kabbalist Yehuda Ashlag. They teach that God's purpose was to create a
        > creature(the manifest world, especially us) and fill it with delight.
        > This to my ears sounds crazy, but if you read a lot of their other
        > writings much of it makes sense.
        > >
        > > Also Plotinus, the Neoplatonist considered the gnostics misguided.
        > They saw creation as perfect. I can't see it that way either.
        >
        >
        > Welcome to our group, gvasquezneo. And thank you for your succeeding
        > post that clarified your meaning of the creator god. I'll begin
        > with a few observations, and maybe some of our members might want to
        > stretch their limbs and join in discussion by offering some more comment
        > or questions and even some pearls of wisdom.
        >
        > Even though there are differences in the traditions you mention, perhaps
        > it might be beneficial to investigate similarities among them before
        > pitting them against each other.
        >
        > For instance, there is a strong current of Platonist philosophy running
        > throughout. Plotinus might have disagreed with the Gnostics, but then
        > again, some of the fiercest squabbles can sometimes occur among family
        > members, so to speak.
        >
        > Dr. John D. Turner has done extensive research on the subject of
        > Gnosticism, Sethianism in particular, and Platonism. You can find some
        > of his articles online here:
        >
        > http://jdt.unl.edu/ <http://jdt.unl.edu/>
        >
        > I'm confused about your comment that "they saw creation as
        > perfect." Does "they" refer to the Neoplatonists or rather
        > the Gnostics? In either case, "perfect" is not at all a way I
        > usually see creation described. How do you mean this?
        >
        >
        >
        > > The one I feel most accurately portrays reality is Buddha, who I
        > consider an eastern gnostic, but even there, the eight-fold path seems
        > to be petitioning the maker with good acts, which again seems too
        > rational. Even if these "rules" are being used to tear down duality, I
        > feel grace has always the determining ingredient in enlightenment.
        > >
        > > I guess what I'm getting at is that making God evil sounds too
        > dualistic, too human in reasoning. Making him good does the same. I'm
        > more in agreement with Valentinus who considered the the "fall" an
        > "error plane".But all these teachings have an excessive anthropomorphic
        > bent. I feel truth comes from a non-dual reality that is beyond words or
        > people. something indescribable.
        > >
        > > Has anyone else been struggling with this. Can anyone help me with
        > this or refer me to some literature. Thank you.
        > >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > Certainly, the Gnostics would agree that the ultimate Reality is
        > "beyond words or people, something indescribable." Also,
        > absolutely infinite. Particularly important to remember is that Gnostic
        > systems of emanations were highly mythic in character. And there is
        > also an element of the rational as well as the mystical. What might
        > seem like anthropomorphism could likely be symbolism in an attempt to
        > relate to us humans, not something to be taken literally in all cases.
        >
        > As stated in the Gospel of Philip:
        >
        >
        >
        > "Truth did not come into the world naked, but it came in types and
        > images. The world will not receive truth in any other way."
        >
        > http://www.gnosis.org/naghamm/gop.html
        > <http://www.gnosis.org/naghamm/gop.html>
        >
        > gvasquezneo, perhaps you could give us an example or two of what you
        > find to have "an excessive anthropomorphic bent"?
        >
        > Lastly, just for info, our group homepage has links to some articles for
        > further reading in case you haven't already looked them over:
        >
        > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/gnosticism2/links
        > <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/gnosticism2/links>
        >
        > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/gnosticism2/files/
        > <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/gnosticism2/files/>
        >
        > Cari
        >
      • Gnostic Ken
        ... Hi Cari, Yahoo is improving things again so expect strange things. Half of my groups disappeared Tuesday. They are back today. This morning I couldn t
        Message 3 of 9 , Apr 15, 2009
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          --- On Wed, 4/15/09, lady_caritas <no_reply@yahoogroups.com> wrote:

          > Just a note to say that the e-mail
          > format of my previous post came out fine, but for some
          > reason, portions of my reply in the post showing up at the
          > website came out in green, not only blue, and sometimes bold
          > in a different font.  Very strange.  Sorry about
          > that.  *lol*
          >
          > Cari

          Hi Cari,
          Yahoo is improving things again so expect strange things. Half of my groups disappeared Tuesday. They are back today. This morning I couldn't access my mail. Now it's back. Now I find the settings changed on one of my small groups where I am the only moderator.

          Ken
        • Gerry
          ... groups disappeared Tuesday. They are back today. This morning I couldn t access my mail. Now it s back. Now I find the settings changed on one of my small
          Message 4 of 9 , Apr 15, 2009
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            --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, Gnostic Ken <gnostic_ken@...> wrote:

            >
            >
            > Hi Cari,
            > Yahoo is improving things again so expect strange things. Half of my groups disappeared Tuesday. They are back today. This morning I couldn't access my mail. Now it's back. Now I find the settings changed on one of my small groups where I am the only moderator.
            >
            > Ken
            >

             

            I know you prefer the e-mail interface, Ken, but when I also noticed that most of my groups had recently disappeared from the "Groups" page, I found that they were still accessible from their respective home pages.  It's good to keep those web access links nearby if only for those occasions when Yahoo starts acting up.

            Gerry

          • lady_caritas
            ... Eegads, Ken. I do hope that all this improving ends up really improving things. Cari
            Message 5 of 9 , Apr 16, 2009
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              --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, Gnostic Ken <gnostic_ken@...> wrote:
              >
              >
              >
              >
              > --- On Wed, 4/15/09, lady_caritas <no_reply@yahoogroups.com> wrote:
              >
              > > Just a note to say that the e-mail
              > > format of my previous post came out fine, but for some
              > > reason, portions of my reply in the post showing up at the
              > > website came out in green, not only blue, and sometimes bold
              > > in a different font.  Very strange.  Sorry about
              > > that.  *lol*
              > >
              > > Cari
              >
              > Hi Cari,
              > Yahoo is improving things again so expect strange things. Half of my groups disappeared Tuesday. They are back today. This morning I couldn't access my mail. Now it's back. Now I find the settings changed on one of my small groups where I am the only moderator.
              >
              > Ken
              >


              Eegads, Ken. I do hope that all this "improving" ends up really improving things.

              Cari
            • Br Benjamin Assisi
              some say: kabbalah comes from the essenes or enochian Gnostics...as some refer to them who mixed with Buddhism eventually... I suggest checking out hechalot
              Message 6 of 9 , Apr 16, 2009
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                some say:

                kabbalah comes from the essenes

                or enochian Gnostics...as some refer to them

                who mixed with Buddhism eventually...

                I suggest checking out hechalot (spelling nazi, the palaces) and merkavah (chariot) literature...

                paradise now edited by Deconick would be a good start, plenty of others... most are expensive and rare though



                Kabbalah has very Gnostic elements... it also has Buddhist elements too...

                consider this extract:

                ”Innerspace” by Aryeh Kaplan

                 

                 ”One of the basic axioms of the Kabbalah is that nothing can be said about God Himself. It is for this reason that God is called Ain Sof, which means literally, the One without end or limit. God is infinite and therefore undefineable and uncharacterizable. He is limitless Being and Existence before the act of creation as well as subsequent to it. Even conceptually, there is no category in existence which can define God. This is what the Tikuney Zohar means when it says ‘Not thought can grasp Him.’

                        On the level of Ain Sof, therefore, nothing else exists. Every concept and category associated with existence must be created from nothing…..

                        Since no quality can be ascribed to Ain Sof, it follows that if God has or uses ‘Will,’ He must have created it. The Zohar explicitly states that God does not have ‘will’ in any anthropomorphic sense. Rather, to the extent that we can express it, in order to create the world, God had to will the concept of creation into existence. In order to do this, He had to create the concept of ‘will.’ This, of course, leads to an ultimate paradox, for if God is going to create ‘will,’ this in itself presupposes an act of will. This means that going back to Ain Sof, to God Himself, involves an infinite regression…..

                        Ain-Nothingness…..This is not a nothingness which implies lack of existence. There is no deficiency in the Ain, only fullness beyond the capacity of any created being  to experience directly. Rather, it is nothingness because of the lack of a category in the mind in which to place it.  Ain is therefore only ‘nothingness’ relative to us. It is the nothingness of ineffability and hiddenness. It is no-thing because it is so much more rarified than the some-thing of creation. In this sense, like God Himself, it is ultimately unfathomable and beyond our ability to comprehend.

                        On the other hand, God’s Will permeated the entire system of creation. The continued existence of creation, in fact, depends entirely on God’s willing it. Since only God exists in an absolute sense, everything else exists because God wills its existence continually. A human architect can design and construct a building and then forget about it. But God’s creation is more than that. Nothing can exist without God constantly willing it to exist. Without this, it would utterly cease to exist.”



                then theres the thing about emanationism...


                but there...


                ask off or on list if you want more, preferably off, I dont pay a great deal to this list



                On Tue, Apr 14, 2009 at 8:51 AM, gvasquezneo <gvasquezneo@...> wrote:
                It has always been a challenge for me to weigh on the one hand the writings of the Neoplatonists, such as Plotinus, with the Kabbalists; and the Gnostic writings  on the other hand.

                One Kabbalistic group (http://www.arionline.info/
                ,http://www.kabbalah.info/
                ) attributes its teachings to the great Kabbalist Yehuda Ashlag. They teach that God's purpose was to create a creature(the manifest world, especially us) and fill it with delight. This to my ears sounds crazy, but if you read a lot of their other writings much of it makes sense.

                Also Plotinus, the Neoplatonist considered the gnostics misguided. They saw creation as perfect. I can't see it that way either.

                The one I feel most accurately  portrays reality is Buddha, who I consider an eastern gnostic, but even there, the eight-fold path seems to be petitioning the maker with good acts, which again seems too rational. Even if these "rules" are being used to tear down duality, I feel grace has always the determining ingredient in enlightenment.

                I guess what I'm getting at is that making God evil sounds too dualistic, too human in reasoning. Making him good does the same. I'm more in agreement with Valentinus who considered the the "fall" an "error plane".But all these teachings have an excessive anthropomorphic bent. I feel truth comes from a non-dual reality that is beyond words or people. something indescribable.

                Has anyone else been struggling with this. Can anyone help me with this or refer me to some literature. Thank you.


              • Gnostic Ken
                Hi Gerry, I always access the groups page to see if any of my lists need attention before I go to mail . At least half of my groups were missing too. The
                Message 7 of 9 , Apr 17, 2009
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                  Hi Gerry,
                  I always access the groups page to see if any of my lists need attention before I go to "mail". At least half of my groups were missing too. The second day they were still gone so I clicked on "view all" and they came back.
                   
                  Ken

                  --- On Wed, 4/15/09, Gerry <gerryhsp@...> wrote:

                  From: Gerry <gerryhsp@...>
                  Subject: [Gnosticism2] Re: Gnosticism versus Neoplatonism/Kabbalah
                  To: gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com
                  Date: Wednesday, April 15, 2009, 7:32 PM




                  --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, Gnostic Ken <gnostic_ken@...> wrote:
                  >
                  >
                  > Hi Cari,
                  > Yahoo is improving things again so expect strange things. Half of my groups disappeared Tuesday. They are back today. This morning I couldn't access my mail. Now it's back. Now I find the settings changed on one of my small groups where I am the only moderator.
                  >
                  > Ken
                  >
                   
                  I know you prefer the e-mail interface, Ken, but when I also noticed that most of my groups had recently disappeared from the "Groups" page, I found that they were still accessible from their respective home pages.  It's good to keep those web access links nearby if only for those occasions when Yahoo starts acting up.
                  Gerry



                • Gnostic Ken
                  ... Hi Cari, Me too ;-) As much as I like to complain I gotta admit that over all yahoogroups has gotten better over the years. Ken
                  Message 8 of 9 , Apr 17, 2009
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                    --- On Thu, 4/16/09, lady_caritas <no_reply@yahoogroups.com> wrote:
                    > > Hi Cari,
                    > > Yahoo is improving things again so expect strange
                    > things. Half of my groups disappeared Tuesday. They are back
                    > today. This morning I couldn't access my mail. Now it's
                    > back. Now I find the settings changed on one of my small
                    > groups where I am the only moderator.
                    > >
                    > > Ken
                    > >
                    >
                    >
                    > Eegads, Ken.  I do hope that all this "improving" ends
                    > up really improving things.
                    >
                    > Cari

                    Hi Cari,
                    Me too ;-)

                    As much as I like to complain I gotta admit that over all yahoogroups has gotten better over the years.

                    Ken
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