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Re: [Gnosticism] Evolution

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  • Coraxo
    Caritas: this is a great subject that you have brought up and one which really shakes at the iron bars of scientific epistemology. The ancients, Heraclitus and
    Message 1 of 19 , Sep 4, 2002
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      Re: [Gnosticism] Evolution Caritas:

      this is a great subject that you have brought up and one which really shakes at the iron bars of scientific epistemology.

      The ancients, Heraclitus and Pythagoras saw the plan of intelligent design, but ascribed this not to the Demiurgic fabricator of Kosmos, but to the properties of Nous itself.

      Good old Bishop berkeley wrote to the effect that we cannot know anything outside of the agency of the mind. This much is so and as such it begs the question whether the "objective universe" is a product of Intelligent Design, or if this design is the artifat of the Mind's perception of the Universe _ I tend to think that it is both.

      First, the Mind is not necessarily restricted to the limits of the epidermis in fact it is my experience that the Noetic construct is just as vast and as varied as the "physical worls". I write it in quotes because we bnever truly experience a "Physical World" but a mental world. The Physical World is a projection, just as is our sense of self - the ego, and the body. These are all constructs of Mind - we only surmise that they are external to ourselves because things do not always act in accord with our individual volition.

      Rather than being a narcissistic solipsism, it is a type of ontological solipsism which ios not based in the personal self but in a more abstract and impersonal realm of Mind.

      This Nous acts according to certain predetermined rules - some of which are apriori rudiments like the addition of Numbers, and the geometries of planes and solids were held in high esteem by the Pythagoreans.

      It is thus easy if we divorce our senses from the so-called objective world and see that we are in fact parts of a greater Mind - some of which have like ourselves forgotten their origins and begin to act chaotically, we can see that even the hyle which DNA is a component of must necessarily act in accord with certain basic formulae.

      Thus Bishop berkley evenmtually surmised that there was in fact nothing but spirit - that outside of this the qualities and characteristics of objects were the coloring of perception. This is not unlike the discussion in the Prajnaparamita Sutra as well as the discourse on Suffering in the Acts of John.

      Not that it is Illusion, but that the reality is a similitude of a greater ground of being.

      At any rate that is it from me for now.

      Corax



      From: lady_caritas <no_reply@yahoogroups.com>
      Reply-To: gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com
      Date: Thu, 29 Aug 2002 20:50:21 -0000
      To: gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [Gnosticism] Evolution


      I really should give this thread a subject name.  :-)

      --- In gnosticism2@y..., lady_caritas <no_reply@y...> wrote:
      > In his new book, _Gnosticism, New Light on the Ancient Tradition of
      > Inner Knowing_, Stephan Hoeller says, "Gnosticism holds that human
      > beings are essentially not the product of the material world.  The
      > important term in this statement is _essentially_, for Gnosticism
      > focuses on the essence rather than the physical and mental
      containers
      > that envelop this essence.  Though the theory of biological
      evolution
      > did not exist at the time of the ancient Gnostics, one might guess
      > that unlike their mainstream Christian brethren, they would not
      have
      > objected to it.  For they believed that the human body originates
      on
      > earth but the human spirit has come from afar, from the realm of
      the
      > Fullness, where the true Godhead dwells.  A human being consists of
      > physical and psychic components, which are perishable, as well as a
      > spiritual component, which is a fragment of the divine essence,
      > sometimes called the divine spark." (pages 17-18)
      >
      > I quote this because recently the July, 2002 issue of _Scientific
      > American_ had an article, "15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense." ~   
      >
      > (Sometimes Yahoo has the tendency to mess up the links.  If this
      > happens, please just copy and paste onto your browser or type it
      in.)
      >
      > http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleID=000D4FEC-7D5B-1D07-
      > 8E49809EC588EEDF
      >
      > The author, John Rennie, gives well-informed rebuttals to the
      fifteen
      > most common arguments raised against evolution.  In this article,
      > Rennie admits, "The origin of life remains very much a mystery, but
      > biochemists have learned about how primitive nucleic acids, amino
      > acids and other building blocks of life could have formed and
      > organized themselves into self-replicating, self-sustaining units,
      > laying the foundation for cellular biochemistry."  Later he
      > states, "Thus, science welcomes the possibility of evolution
      > resulting from forces beyond natural selection. Yet those forces
      must
      > be natural; they cannot be attributed to the actions of mysterious
      > creative intelligences whose existence, in scientific terms, is
      > unproved."
      >
      > Rennie also says, "Intelligent design offers few answers. For
      > instance, when and how did a designing intelligence intervene in
      > life's history? By creating the first DNA? The first cell? The
      first
      > human? Was every species designed, or just a few early ones?
      > Proponents of intelligent-design theory frequently decline to be
      > pinned down on these points."
      >
      > So, keeping Hoeller's words in mind, where does the mythological
      > demiurge fit in evolutionary "life's history"?  And the pneuma,
      > trapped in the "physical and mental containers"?  IOW, later in his
      > book, Dr. Hoeller says (regarding points he offers describing a
      > Gnostic), "Gnostics, when they stand up to identify themselves,
      would
      > have to agree to the majority of these tenets, but whether the
      > interpretation of them would be literal, psychological,
      > philosophical, or other must be left to the individual." (p. 190)  
      > His second tenet reads, "The manifest universe of matter and mind
      was
      > created not by the original spiritual unity but by spiritual beings
      > possessing inferior powers." (p.188)  So, Hoeller's opinion is that
      > mythology could be interpreted in a "literal, psychological,
      > philosophical, or other" sense. I wonder how many
      countless "Gnostic"
      > variations we might encounter explaining our existence regarding
      > the "first DNA" or "first cell" or "first human."  Or does that
      > even "matter"?
      >
      > Just thought I'd throw this out for discussion to the forum.
      >
      > Cari


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    • lady_caritas
      ... than ... than ... ancients ... I would agree that the function of science relates to the material universe. And that is still demiurgic territory wherein
      Message 2 of 19 , Sep 5, 2002
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        --- In gnosticism2@y..., incognito_lightbringer <no_reply@y...> wrote:
        > <<"Gnostics, when they stand up to identify themselves, would
        > have to agree to the majority of these tenets, but whether the
        > interpretation of them would be literal, psychological,
        > philosophical, or other must be left to the individual." (p. 190)
        >>>
        >
        > Gnosticism can be interpreted on all the above levels. I know
        > involving science in the mix has been labeled "new age" by more
        than
        > a few people. Also, science is a function of material universe, and
        > thus any conclusions drawn could be said to lead to nothing more
        than
        > the demiurge. But, quite obviously, we live in this world and are
        > under it's physical laws, and the experience of it is highly
        > unpleasant (that whole death and suffering and eating business),
        > which prompts us to search for answers to our questions. The
        ancients
        > were not above using science as allegory.

        I would agree that the function of science relates to the material
        universe. And that is still demiurgic territory wherein we exist.
        Incognita, you also mention:

        "One theory I've heard is that all possible universes exist
        simultaneously, thus all possible combinations of things, and we just
        happen to be in the one that supports life and thus it *appears* to
        us to be ordered by intelligence whereas it might not necessarily be
        so. At least it's a valid counter argument."

        I have also heard this. It has been posited, I believe, that if all
        other possible universes coexist simultaneously, that it is likewise
        possible that the physical nature of these universes could be
        entirely different than ours, whether or not potentially
        incorporating different laws (intelligent design?) or perhaps in
        chaos. We would still have the question as to the source of these
        universes, ordered or not.

        > I suppose if you want, the demiurge starts with the formation
        > space/time/matter; the big bang. (Although the big bang as just a
        > theory is constantly refined and altered as new phenomena are
        > discovered). No one will argue that DNA is a code, highly complex
        and
        > specific. That this code could have developed randomly *seems*
        > impossible, and that's the major argument used in the creationism.
        > The problem with creationism is that it's not just about proposing
        a
        > theory that incorporates seeding or some kind of intelligence. The
        > theory also has to adhere to whatever scriptural dogma, and with
        any
        > contradiction real science is dismissed while pseudo science and
        > charlatanism takes its place.

        I believe you have hit on a key point here, Incognita. Especially
        dogma found in modern religions that rely primarily on literalistic
        interpretations has swung the creationist pole so far to the right
        that scientists (many or most atheists or agnostics) often tend to
        react by associating any ideas of "creation" with fundamentalism.
        And, truly, fundamentalists can be very vocal. An acquaintance
        mentioned that one such person recently tried to post in a club
        some "pseudo science" mumbo-jumbo flatly lambasting evolution
        theories, stating (of course, replete with scriptural quotes) how the
        Bible literally predicted "modern" scientific findings. A few club
        members who were biologists, anthropologists and the like quickly
        refuted her unsubstantiated claims in fine form with very little
        effort, simply using common sense in many cases. Yet, that still
        leaves life's origin a mystery, as even admitted by John Rennie in
        his article. Wherefrom come "primitive nucleic acids, amino acids
        and other building blocks of life" he mentions. Space? Still the
        physical realm. And what about this "space"? And on we go ad
        infinitum ...

        > Rennie: <<"Thus, science welcomes the possibility of evolution
        > resulting from forces beyond natural selection. ..>>
        >
        > What I don't like about this is the word "natural". Natural is more
        a
        > term used to define not what *is* but rather *what we know so far*.
        > It's bogus, IMHO.

        Well, yes, I think most scientists would agree that "natural" is
        *what we know so far*. Yet, according to scientists, acceptable
        explanation for "forces" would need to comply with, well, …
        naturalism. As Rennie says, "A central tenet of modern science is
        methodological naturalism--it seeks to explain the universe purely in
        terms of observed or testable natural mechanisms." So, modern
        science at best can only explain our material world based on
        empirical evidence *we know so far*. When scientists have discovered
        all there is to know about life and our world and universe(s), what
        then?

        Likewise, I think fundamentalist creationists are doing themselves a
        disservice by trying to explain God and creation in materialistic,
        anthropomorphic ways, and letting emotionalism override common sense
        when discussing things of our material world. No wonder what they
        call "spiritual" is so easily discounted by materialists as
        superstition.

        While Rennie complains about religionists filling in the blanks with
        nonsensical beliefs, it is very possible that admonitions from both
        evolution and creationist camps are tending to fuel extreme,
        exclusive views in the process. It's all or none? As Corax pointed
        out (#6540), we humans have brains, intelligence, can reason. Why
        not the possibility of a greater Mind? Well, sure, scientists
        wouldn't discount that if we could prove it empirically. So, let's
        leave fundamentalism for a moment. How about Gnosis? What, someone
        can claim to KNOW?? Know what? ;-) Ah, . . . back to the drawing
        table . . .

        Now we get to that psychic/pneumatic dilemma you addressed,
        Incognita. Is there in fact "nothing but spirit" surmised by Bishop
        Berkley (Corax, Post #6540)? Is the reality of this world "a
        similitude of a greater ground of being"? What about the Gnostic
        concept of the flaw of our material/psychic world? More later . . .
        (and hopefully from lots of other members as well).
        Gotta go now.

        Cari

        P. S. Almost forgot ~ I wanted to comment on that computer program
        by Richard Hardison you mentioned. Not being familiar with the
        details of the study, I still certainly have the same reservations
        about possible high-order assumptions coded into that program by the
        researcher(s) (intentionally or not), . . . especially, *if* as your
        web search showed, the program included "right spots."
      • wilbro99
        Another view of the evolution of Spirit: There is the physical world, the one our senses work on and in, which requires a sensate body. There is a sense of
        Message 3 of 19 , Sep 6, 2002
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          Another view of the evolution of Spirit:

          There is the physical world, the one our senses work on and in, which
          requires a sensate body. There is a sense of self that can be imagined
          as using that body as a vehicle, or can be imagined as being
          synergistically engendered by it in an evolutionary sense. When that
          sense of self, assuming for the moment a latent sense of self that
          defines as the possibility of self-identity, defines itself in worldly
          language, the inner and outer are cast in the same language. The image
          of the self and the language of the self is an identity whose world is
          the sensate world. This image-identity evolves naturally from living
          in the world. When this sense of self focuses upon the world, its
          image and its world mesh, giving the illusion of being the one present
          to the world, whereas its presence to the world is through the image
          of the world/self. As such, this self-identity is not yet qualified as
          spirit; it finds itself solely in the world, yet separated from it, as
          if it were an abstract from the world.

          In the breaking of that image self, the self comes to know itself as
          itself and acquires the qualification of spirit, call that Gnosis, if
          you will; I will. The language of spirit is not the language of the
          world. It is a language only the spirit can speak and it can speak of
          two languages; the language of the world and the language of the
          spirit. It finds itself in the world, as presence, yet not of the
          world. The spirit is presence, and presence is being.
        • lady_caritas
          Hello, Incognita, Corax, Willy, B2aF, et al. ~ Having caught up on reading replies, I ll gradually continue to address the many thoughtful ideas from your
          Message 4 of 19 , Sep 7, 2002
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            Hello, Incognita, Corax, Willy, B2aF, et al. ~

            Having caught up on reading replies, I'll gradually continue to
            address the many thoughtful ideas from your posts.

            Thank you, Corax, for pulling some ideas together on classical
            Gnosticism (Post #6552). My last post was a response to Incognita's
            look at evolution in our material world. Corax, you then commented
            how "the gnostics quest is liberation from materiality, not evolution
            within it." Very true, although as Hoeller remarked the ancients
            probably would not have objected to evolutionary theory as a function
            of the material world. Evolution would have just been another way of
            describing the flawed world most likely. It wouldn't have affected
            what was essential, the human spirit, the divine spark.

            So, why even discuss evolution? Well, as Incognita pointed out, we
            obviously live in this material world and are curious about it. But
            also, . . . this concept of evolution has unfortunately permeated our
            language in how moderns often describe other things, like … evolution
            of the spirit. This would have seemed so contrary to a classical
            Gnostic approach. We find ourselves using temporal terms to describe
            knowledge not of this world; however, we do need to realize the
            inadequacy of language. ("The language of the spirit is not the
            language of the world." – Willy #6549) We talk of a Gnostic path of
            discovery, of recognition, of acquaintance, but perhaps should be
            very careful not to think of it as "evolutionary." This would seem
            to indicate a psychic approach, almost like climbing a never-ending
            ladder working through faith and deeds "evolving" or developing a
            spirit worthy of that projected personal, yet separate, god in the
            sky, whether near or far.

            Perhaps that is why this concept of evolving places a psychic person
            in that "midpoint" after this world. _The Gospel of Philip_
            describes this as "death." The psychic doesn't break through the
            barrier of the demiurge, but rather just keeps striving and
            stretching the limits of temporality without achieving resurrection
            while existing in this world. "While we exist in this world we must
            acquire resurrection, so that when we put off the flesh we might be
            found in repose and not walk in the midpoint: for many get lost along
            the way." (GPh)

            Well, `nuf for now. It's late and I'm beginning to not make sense to
            myself. lol

            Cari
          • Coraxo
            Hello Caritas; I agree that evolutionary theory is another way of describing mankind s involvement with the somatic world; instead of stellar archons the
            Message 5 of 19 , Sep 8, 2002
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              Re: [Gnosticism2] Re: Evolution Hello Caritas;

              I agree that evolutionary theory is another way of describing mankind's involvement with the somatic world; instead of stellar archons the archons now are Genes; small genii that pull the levers on how our bodies work, but archontic mechanisms just the same.

              Which speaks to the Creationist downfall; why would a benign deity engineer such a flawed and twisted imperfection? Regardless of the scientific merits or lack thereof, the essential failure of God is in the evidently mucked up design of the carcass into which the human Spirit is entombed with all of its fluids and excretions, needing to feed on other living things.

              Spiritual evolution as a metaphor for the ascent of the Spirit to the Pleroma is an interesting idea, nevertheless, the concept appears to have generated in the 20th century by people like Gurdjieff, Blavatsky, Ouspensky, and creepy old Aliester Crowley.

              In many regards the Theosophical movement and Golden Dawn sought early on to capitalize on the new scientism that was sweeping the western world at the time in order to appear modern in comparison to the very anachronistic dogmas and doctrines of the Catholic Church and its Protestant offspring.

              Nevertheless, evolutionary theory in spirituality does not work within a Gnostic view, IMO, since the Spirit itself is not "evolved" from some other source; that is to say it is not the product of a spectrum of process starting with inorganic materials combining to create simple lifeforms, which then culminate with man and his mental abilities which then beget the spirit.

              The development of spiritual capacity has not been documented to be advancing and despite the popular sentiments that the "Age of Aquarius" or the New Age marks a "quantum" change in humanity's spiritual progress, the evidence for such advance is lackibng. It would seem to be that humanity is devolving into materialism and that the popular spiritualities - New Age, Thelema, Fourth Way, etc., reflect that trend towards materialism through their use of scientific materialism as the foundation of their belief systems; hence the use of terms like "quantum" and "evolution" in spiritual discourse reflects not so much advancement, but a deepening amnesis of the spirit.

              Corax

              From: lady_caritas <no_reply@yahoogroups.com>
              Reply-To: gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com
              Date: Sun, 08 Sep 2002 06:08:50 -0000
              To: gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com
              Subject: [Gnosticism2] Re: Evolution


              Hello, Incognita, Corax, Willy, B2aF, et al. ~

              Having caught up on reading replies, I'll gradually continue to
              address the many thoughtful ideas from your posts.

              Thank you, Corax, for pulling some ideas together on classical
              Gnosticism (Post #6552).  My last post was a response to Incognita's
              look at evolution in our material world.  Corax, you then commented
              how "the gnostics quest is liberation from materiality, not evolution
              within it."  Very true, although as Hoeller remarked the ancients
              probably would not have objected to evolutionary theory as a function
              of the material world.  Evolution would have just been another way of
              describing the flawed world most likely.  It wouldn't have affected
              what was essential, the human spirit, the divine spark.

              So, why even discuss evolution?  Well, as Incognita pointed out, we
              obviously live in this material world and are curious about it.  But
              also, . . . this concept of evolution has unfortunately permeated our
              language in how moderns often describe other things, like … evolution
              of the spirit.  This would have seemed so contrary to a classical
              Gnostic approach.  We find ourselves using temporal terms to describe
              knowledge not of this world; however, we do need to realize the
              inadequacy of language.  ("The language of the spirit is not the
              language of the world." – Willy #6549)  We talk of a Gnostic path of
              discovery, of recognition, of acquaintance, but perhaps should be
              very careful not to think of it as "evolutionary."  This would seem
              to indicate a psychic approach, almost like climbing a never-ending
              ladder working through faith and deeds "evolving" or developing a
              spirit worthy of that projected personal, yet separate, god in the
              sky, whether near or far.  

              Perhaps that is why this concept of evolving places a psychic person
              in that "midpoint" after this world.  _The Gospel of Philip_
              describes this as "death." The psychic doesn't break through the
              barrier of the demiurge, but rather just keeps striving and
              stretching the limits of temporality without achieving resurrection
              while existing in this world.  "While we exist in this world we must
              acquire resurrection, so that when we put off the flesh we might be
              found in repose and not walk in the midpoint: for many get lost along
              the way." (GPh)

              Well, `nuf for now.  It's late and I'm beginning to not make sense to
              myself.  lol

              Cari



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            • Gerry
              ... Since you wrote that, Cari, I’ve been thinking about my own experience with that topic. My parents really didn’t want to question the issue
              Message 6 of 19 , Sep 8, 2002
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                Reply to Cari’s message #6509:

                 

                >>I wonder how many countless "Gnostic" variations we might encounter explaining our existence regarding the "first DNA" or "first cell" or "first human." Or does that even "matter"?<<  

                 

                Since you wrote that, Cari, I’ve been thinking about my own experience with that topic.  My parents really didn’t want to question the issue (creation).  For me, however, the two worlds of science and religion didn’t seem to collide at all—the whole thing was very much a NON-issue.  Part of the reason for that was due to a misunderstanding.

                 

                Among my earliest childhood recollections were stories we kids listened to—some to entertain, some to educate, still others to just plain old scare us straight!  One such tale, from a set of 78 rpm records (yellow, if anyone else remembers them), was about Thunder and Lightning.  In the tale, a man was about to sacrifice his son (in accordance with customary ritual) to appease the gods, making the storm go away.  In the end, with the youngster already bound and ready to be sacrificed, the man instead decides that his son need not die and screams out, “Bring me a goat—bring me a young goat!”

                 

                Over time, the memory of that story converged somehow with the biblical account of Abraham and the near-sacrifice of Isaac.  In that tale, the patriarch opts for the slaughter of a ram he finds in a nearby thicket.  The part I was missing was that Abraham didn’t have some sudden inner revelation.  It took an angel shouting at him to prevent him from killing his son, revealing that God had merely been testing his faith.

                 

                As a result of the confusion of those stories, I had erroneously thought that Abraham had come to his senses, as it were, and that it made an interesting case for the possibility that as Man evolved in a physical sense, he came closer to realizing the internal spark of Divinity, enabling him to cast off the shackles of the material world and his hitherto Demiurgic lord.  That concept worked for me, even as a very young child (without the Gnostic terminology, of course!).  To me, the whole notion of scientific evolution was even more remarkable when imagining that other forces had set the entire process into motion, waiting for the day that man would awaken, not only to have self-realization, but the ability to realize something greater than himself.

                 

                While I can no longer reconcile the story of Abraham with my views, it should now be evident why I was so pleased with Incognito’s earlier recommendations (waaaay back) of Stephen Mitchell’s introduction to and translation of The Book of Job.  Indeed, this story works even better, at least with regards to witnessing the mettle of one who is repeatedly put to the test.  More than an account of proving the measure of Job’s faith, however, Mitchell shows how the story details a personal transformation—a level of understanding which Job could not have gained by faith alone.

                 

                It’s really a fantastic, quick read, if anyone has yet to encounter it.  The front-cover William Blake engraving should be indicative that this is not simply another mainstream interpretation of the same old sad story.

                 

                Gerry

                 

              • wilbro99
                It seems to me that in the matter of spirituality, we can only start with where we are. The question, as I see Corax as putting it, is between whether there is
                Message 7 of 19 , Sep 9, 2002
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                  It seems to me that in the matter of spirituality, we can only start
                  with where we are. The question, as I see Corax as putting it, is
                  between whether there is a spirituality that brings us to this point
                  or whether, in coming to this point, we encounter a spirituality
                  engendered by our coming to this point. I would think our capability
                  of that meta-awareness would account for what we discern as the
                  spiritual, regardless of how we came to it; as a given or as evolved.

                  I see no way of ascertaining which it is. If the faculty of
                  imagination derives from the given, then the given will verify itself
                  through the image, which, if I have not thoroughly bollixed it up, is
                  the Gnostic position. If, however, the faculty of imagination derives
                  from evolution, then the former is only imagined. IMO, it is the
                  latter, and Gnosis refers to coming to understand the role of
                  imagination in self-awareness: remove the image of the self and that
                  which remains leaves us exactly where we are; in the presence of
                  being. As I said, I can see no way of ascertaining which, if either,
                  is correct, and since that "which" cannot be decided, neither is
                  adequate for becoming other than a belief system.


                  --- In gnosticism2@y..., Coraxo <coraxo@e...> wrote:
                  > Hello Caritas;
                  >
                  > I agree that evolutionary theory is another way of describing
                  mankind's
                  > involvement with the somatic world; instead of stellar archons the
                  archons
                  > now are Genes; small genii that pull the levers on how our bodies
                  work, but
                  > archontic mechanisms just the same.
                  >
                  > Which speaks to the Creationist downfall; why would a benign deity
                  engineer
                  > such a flawed and twisted imperfection? Regardless of the scientific
                  merits
                  > or lack thereof, the essential failure of God is in the evidently
                  mucked up
                  > design of the carcass into which the human Spirit is entombed with
                  all of
                  > its fluids and excretions, needing to feed on other living things.
                  >
                  > Spiritual evolution as a metaphor for the ascent of the Spirit to
                  the
                  > Pleroma is an interesting idea, nevertheless, the concept appears to
                  have
                  > generated in the 20th century by people like Gurdjieff, Blavatsky,
                  > Ouspensky, and creepy old Aliester Crowley.
                  >
                  > In many regards the Theosophical movement and Golden Dawn sought
                  early on to
                  > capitalize on the new scientism that was sweeping the western world
                  at the
                  > time in order to appear modern in comparison to the very
                  anachronistic
                  > dogmas and doctrines of the Catholic Church and its Protestant
                  offspring.
                  >
                  > Nevertheless, evolutionary theory in spirituality does not work
                  within a
                  > Gnostic view, IMO, since the Spirit itself is not "evolved" from
                  some other
                  > source; that is to say it is not the product of a spectrum of
                  process
                  > starting with inorganic materials combining to create simple
                  lifeforms,
                  > which then culminate with man and his mental abilities which then
                  beget the
                  > spirit.
                  >
                  > The development of spiritual capacity has not been documented to be
                  > advancing and despite the popular sentiments that the "Age of
                  Aquarius" or
                  > the New Age marks a "quantum" change in humanity's spiritual
                  progress, the
                  > evidence for such advance is lackibng. It would seem to be that
                  humanity is
                  > devolving into materialism and that the popular spiritualities - New
                  Age,
                  > Thelema, Fourth Way, etc., reflect that trend towards materialism
                  through
                  > their use of scientific materialism as the foundation of their
                  belief
                  > systems; hence the use of terms like "quantum" and "evolution" in
                  spiritual
                  > discourse reflects not so much advancement, but a deepening amnesis
                  of the
                  > spirit.
                  >
                  > Corax
                  >
                  > From: lady_caritas <no_reply@y...>
                  > Reply-To: gnosticism2@y...
                  > Date: Sun, 08 Sep 2002 06:08:50 -0000
                  > To: gnosticism2@y...
                  > Subject: [Gnosticism2] Re: Evolution
                  >
                  >
                  > Hello, Incognita, Corax, Willy, B2aF, et al. ~
                  >
                  > Having caught up on reading replies, I'll gradually continue to
                  > address the many thoughtful ideas from your posts.
                  >
                  > Thank you, Corax, for pulling some ideas together on classical
                  > Gnosticism (Post #6552). My last post was a response to Incognita's
                  > look at evolution in our material world. Corax, you then commented
                  > how "the gnostics quest is liberation from materiality, not
                  evolution
                  > within it." Very true, although as Hoeller remarked the ancients
                  > probably would not have objected to evolutionary theory as a
                  function
                  > of the material world. Evolution would have just been another way
                  of
                  > describing the flawed world most likely. It wouldn't have affected
                  > what was essential, the human spirit, the divine spark.
                  >
                  > So, why even discuss evolution? Well, as Incognita pointed out, we
                  > obviously live in this material world and are curious about it. But
                  > also, . . . this concept of evolution has unfortunately permeated
                  our
                  > language in how moderns often describe other things, like …
                  evolution
                  > of the spirit. This would have seemed so contrary to a classical
                  > Gnostic approach. We find ourselves using temporal terms to
                  describe
                  > knowledge not of this world; however, we do need to realize the
                  > inadequacy of language. ("The language of the spirit is not the
                  > language of the world." – Willy #6549) We talk of a Gnostic path of
                  > discovery, of recognition, of acquaintance, but perhaps should be
                  > very careful not to think of it as "evolutionary." This would seem
                  > to indicate a psychic approach, almost like climbing a never-ending
                  > ladder working through faith and deeds "evolving" or developing a
                  > spirit worthy of that projected personal, yet separate, god in the
                  > sky, whether near or far.
                  >
                  > Perhaps that is why this concept of evolving places a psychic person
                  > in that "midpoint" after this world. _The Gospel of Philip_
                  > describes this as "death." The psychic doesn't break through the
                  > barrier of the demiurge, but rather just keeps striving and
                  > stretching the limits of temporality without achieving resurrection
                  > while existing in this world. "While we exist in this world we must
                  > acquire resurrection, so that when we put off the flesh we might be
                  > found in repose and not walk in the midpoint: for many get lost
                  along
                  > the way." (GPh)
                  >
                  > Well, `nuf for now. It's late and I'm beginning to not make sense
                  to
                  > myself. lol
                  >
                  > Cari
                  >
                  >
                  >
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                • lady_caritas
                  Corax, you make an interesting point that there doesn t seem to be any evidence that humanity is spiritually evolving as a whole. It seems that although
                  Message 8 of 19 , Sep 9, 2002
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                    Corax, you make an interesting point that there doesn't seem to be
                    any evidence that humanity is spiritually "evolving" as a whole. It
                    seems that although Gnosis appears as a type of knowledge shared by
                    humans and can be traced to historical surroundings, Gnosis remains
                    an individual experience even within a setting.

                    Gerry, your childhood experience was wonderful. What a precocious
                    child you were to attribute an altruistic action to an inner
                    revelation instead of the result of an outside, interfering force.
                    Your experience brings to mind Will's comment (Post #6564), "The
                    question, as I see Corax as putting it, is between whether there is a
                    spirituality that brings us to this point or whether, in coming to
                    this point, we encounter a spirituality engendered by our coming to
                    this point. I would think our capability of that meta-awareness would
                    account for what we discern as the spiritual, regardless of how we
                    came to it; as a given or as evolved."

                    At this point, I'd like to discuss the word "evolved" some more.
                    Some of us do agree that spiritual "evolution" does not work in the
                    sense of being "a product of a spectrum of process starting with
                    inorganic materials combining to create simple lifeforms, which then
                    culminate with man and his mental abilities which then beget spirit."
                    (Corax, #6556) Mental abilities involved in begetting spirit might
                    lead one to believe that "spirit" is not truly pneuma but rather some
                    abstract mental construct of a psychic variety.

                    Even though I would personally choose not to use the word "evolve"
                    because of scientific connotations, another way of looking
                    at "evolved," however, might be to consider evolution in the sense of
                    unfolding, revealing, "unrolling." (See etymology:
                    http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary ). Oftentimes Gnostics will
                    describe Gnosis within our temporal world perceived as a *process* of
                    acquaintance even once Gnosis is recognized. IOW, Gerry describes
                    his early childhood experience of realizing inner revelation as very
                    natural, but that his understanding (and sense of self) did
                    eventually change in relation to the context of science vs. religion
                    in our flawed world. So, would Gnosis then involve a "given" that
                    becomes realized or revealed as a process in our temporal world?
                    And, would this "given" be a given because we already have an Object
                    we expect to become acquainted with or is it a "given" that is
                    inherent that we may not be aware of (through ignorance) but
                    eventually discover?

                    Will goes on to say,
                    "I see no way of ascertaining which it is. If the faculty of
                    imagination derives from the given, then the given will verify itself
                    through the image, which, if I have not thoroughly bollixed it up, is
                    the Gnostic position. If, however, the faculty of imagination derives
                    from evolution, then the former is only imagined. IMO, it is the
                    latter, and Gnosis refers to coming to understand the role of
                    imagination in self-awareness: remove the image of the self and that
                    which remains leaves us exactly where we are; in the presence of
                    being. As I said, I can see no way of ascertaining which, if either,
                    is correct, and since that "which" cannot be decided, neither is
                    adequate for becoming other than a belief system."

                    It seems to me that Will is analyzing this from a cognitive
                    perspective. Imagination is still within the mental container, is it
                    not? And, yes, it is necessary. However, it seems to me that Gnosis
                    is not derived solely from mental abstractions, but is also
                    experienced through revelation. Gnosis is not a mystical experience
                    as such, although this can play a role in the "process" of
                    acquaintance.

                    Will says, "I see no way of ascertaining which it is." I'm not sure
                    that Gnosis is at all about being subject to proof, other than
                    evidence displaying what it *does* vs. what it *is*. Does the
                    concept of a "belief" system seem antithetical to the Gnosis?

                    I suppose this brings up a question. Both of Willy's scenarios might
                    result in a shift in sense of self. Both might apply
                    this "knowledge" in a practical sense in this world. Both would
                    recognize the flaw of the "demiurge." But one "leaves us exactly
                    where we are; in the presence of being." The other would also
                    recognize something greater than "being." Can both be indicative of
                    Gnosis? Willy, are you suggesting there could be a pneuma without an
                    Objective Infinite?

                    Cari
                  • Will Brown
                    Cari, a short response. Your last paragraph of 6538: I suppose this brings up a question. Both of Willy s scenarios might result in a shift in sense of self.
                    Message 9 of 19 , Sep 10, 2002
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                      Cari, a short response. Your last paragraph of 6538:

                      "I suppose this brings up a question. Both of Willy's scenarios might
                      result in a shift in sense of self. Both might apply this "knowledge"
                      in a practical sense in this world. Both would recognize the flaw of
                      the "demiurge." But one "leaves us exactly where we are; in the
                      presence of being." The other would also recognize something greater
                      than "being." Can both be indicative of Gnosis? Willy, are you
                      suggesting there could be a pneuma without an Objective Infinite?"

                      I have two answers. The first has to do with something called the God
                      Spot. The following first two sites speak to it. It could be argued
                      that the God Spot is the faculty through which the Objective Infinite
                      is sensed and it could be argued that it is nothing more than an
                      artifact of evolution. Again, the either/or I suggested. The third
                      site speaks to a drug induced NDE. If the ref. is too long, Google up
                      ketamine and it is the third site listed. This suggests a
                      physiological involvement to what is considered to be a spiritual
                      experience.

                      http://www.parascope.com/articles/slips/fs22_3.htm

                      http://abcnews.go.com/sections/scitech/Nightline/neuro020114_spirit_fe
                      ature.html

                      http://leda.lycaeum.org/Documents/Using_Ketamine_to_Induce_the_Near-De
                      ath_Experience.9260.shtml

                      My other answer is that there is a cognition that may be come upon in
                      which a sense of Presence comes into being that infuses the sensed. My
                      description would go like this: At its fullest, my sense of self is
                      annulled, and having been "there" allows a sense of that Presence to
                      be brought back with my sense of self, placing me in it as a
                      particular within it. It is as if one's sense of self must come to an
                      end within it in order to return with a piece of it. At this point,
                      all is Home. This is what I call the realm of the spiritual. There is
                      no room for a beyond. This is what I would call self-knowing in that
                      the self, i.e., sense of self, becomes present to itself in a way that
                      speaks to the prior way as being an empty sense of self, an abstract
                      thing of thought, the thought of self reified, or, if you will, an
                      empty box.

                      If there is another self-knowing in which the sense of self itself
                      that can enter that fullness, so be it. I do not know it. My
                      experience is that the self must be left outside to enter; there being
                      no place for it. The fullness can not entertain the particular. How
                      then do we account for the two separate domains of fullness we seem to
                      be speaking to? We each have separate truths. This is my either/or and
                      neither is exclusive. All that I know is of a fullness that when one
                      falls into it, one comes out reeking of it, and until that fall, one
                      has no reek. Yet, in saying that, I must say that when one falls into
                      it, no one fell into it. All but that tail will pass through the
                      window.

                      Of course, and this goes without saying, what I am talking about could
                      have nothing whatsoever to do with Gnosticism and the few points I see
                      in common are solely artifacts of my over fertile imagination.
                    • Gerry
                      ... being ... to ... Will, in that treatment of The Book of Job that I mentioned previously, the author made a deliberate distinction between submission and
                      Message 10 of 19 , Sep 11, 2002
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                        --- In gnosticism2@y..., "Will Brown" <wilbro99@y...> wrote:
                        > . . . .
                        > If there is another self-knowing in which the sense of self itself
                        > that can enter that fullness, so be it. I do not know it. My
                        > experience is that the self must be left outside to enter; there
                        being
                        > no place for it. The fullness can not entertain the particular. How
                        > then do we account for the two separate domains of fullness we seem
                        to
                        > be speaking to?


                        Will, in that treatment of The Book of Job that I mentioned
                        previously, the author made a deliberate distinction
                        between "submission" and "surrender" to a higher power.
                        Unfortunately, I left the book with a friend while I was out of
                        town. If anyone else cares to quote it, I think it was around
                        section 5 of the Introduction.

                        Anyway, Job's growth was the result of not merely bowing down to an
                        unseen authority, but by his release of his own "self," even if
                        momentarily, so that there might be a union of sorts with the
                        Fullness.

                        I think the concept of the tripartite nature of Man is crucial here
                        for rationalizing why such a union can only be "temporary" as long as
                        we exist within the temporal world.

                        Sorry if I've missed your point altogether! I've been driving all
                        day and I think it's past time to get something to eat. ;-)

                        Gerry
                      • Mister Coraxo
                        Well gerry; The Job thing really points out the pettiness of the Demiurge and his bet with Satan. I mean nary a tear shed for the casualties of Job s first
                        Message 11 of 19 , Sep 11, 2002
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                          Well gerry;

                          The Job thing really points out the pettiness of the Demiurge and his bet with
                          Satan.

                          I mean nary a tear shed for the casualties of Job's first family, including
                          children, wives, daughters; his servants (slaves?), his livestock - simply
                          non-entities wipoed out by Jehovah to prove a point about the "faithfulnesss"
                          of hsi submissive Job.

                          Nevertheless, Job prevails not through faith but by accessing the reality of his
                          own self, the Pneuma; now this was not something the Demiurge Jehovah and
                          his shadow self Satan bargained for:

                          Job 3:23 "Why is light given to a man whose way is hidden,

                          And whom God has hedged in?

                          7:1 "Is not man forced to labor on earth,

                          And are not his days like the days of a hired man?

                          9:17 "For He bruises me with a tempest

                          And multiplies my wounds without cause.

                          21 "I am guiltless; I do not take notice of myself;

                          I despise my life.

                          22 "It is all one; therefore I say,

                          `He destroys the guiltless and the wicked.'


                          19:25 "As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives,

                          And at the last He will take His stand on the earth.

                          NB: Job is not speaking about Jehovah as the Redeemer.

                          And so on; Job demonstrates that this Deity is an arbitrary and capricious Lord
                          - and then asks elsewhere "Where is the place of Wisdom and where can it be
                          found?"

                          So while not a tale of the Logos, Job understands the origin of the Lord
                          subservient to Wisdom Sophia-Choahkmah.

                          Job 28:
                          28 "And to man He said, `Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom;

                          And to depart from evil is understanding.' "

                          Now this may be read as being that which the Lord himself is afraid of:
                          Chockhmah - Wisdom - the Lord's fear is of Wisdom.

                          Surprising the hidden resources of Job who saw through the wickedness of the
                          Creator, yet took the high road and refused to stoop to quarrel.

                          Corax






                          --- In gnosticism2@y..., "Gerry" <gerryhsp@y...> wrote:
                          > --- In gnosticism2@y..., "Will Brown" <wilbro99@y...> wrote:
                          > > . . . .
                          > > If there is another self-knowing in which the sense of self itself
                          > > that can enter that fullness, so be it. I do not know it. My
                          > > experience is that the self must be left outside to enter; there
                          > being
                          > > no place for it. The fullness can not entertain the particular. How
                          > > then do we account for the two separate domains of fullness we seem
                          > to
                          > > be speaking to?
                          >
                          >
                          > Will, in that treatment of The Book of Job that I mentioned
                          > previously, the author made a deliberate distinction
                          > between "submission" and "surrender" to a higher power.
                          > Unfortunately, I left the book with a friend while I was out of
                          > town. If anyone else cares to quote it, I think it was around
                          > section 5 of the Introduction.
                          >
                          > Anyway, Job's growth was the result of not merely bowing down to an
                          > unseen authority, but by his release of his own "self," even if
                          > momentarily, so that there might be a union of sorts with the
                          > Fullness.
                          >
                          > I think the concept of the tripartite nature of Man is crucial here
                          > for rationalizing why such a union can only be "temporary" as long as
                          > we exist within the temporal world.
                          >
                          > Sorry if I've missed your point altogether! I've been driving all
                          > day and I think it's past time to get something to eat. ;-)
                          >
                          > Gerry
                        • Will Brown
                          ... How ... seem ... as ... Gerry, I am not sure whether you missed my point or hit it spot on. I am trying to think my way through a possible difference in
                          Message 12 of 19 , Sep 11, 2002
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                            --- In gnosticism2@y..., "Gerry" <gerryhsp@y...> wrote:
                            > --- In gnosticism2@y..., "Will Brown" <wilbro99@y...> wrote:
                            > > . . . .
                            > > If there is another self-knowing in which the sense of self itself
                            > > that can enter that fullness, so be it. I do not know it. My
                            > > experience is that the self must be left outside to enter; there
                            > being
                            > > no place for it. The fullness can not entertain the particular.
                            How
                            > > then do we account for the two separate domains of fullness we
                            seem
                            > to
                            > > be speaking to?
                            >
                            >
                            > Will, in that treatment of The Book of Job that I mentioned
                            > previously, the author made a deliberate distinction
                            > between "submission" and "surrender" to a higher power.
                            > Unfortunately, I left the book with a friend while I was out of
                            > town. If anyone else cares to quote it, I think it was around
                            > section 5 of the Introduction.
                            >
                            > Anyway, Job's growth was the result of not merely bowing down to an
                            > unseen authority, but by his release of his own "self," even if
                            > momentarily, so that there might be a union of sorts with the
                            > Fullness.
                            >
                            > I think the concept of the tripartite nature of Man is crucial here
                            > for rationalizing why such a union can only be "temporary" as long
                            as
                            > we exist within the temporal world.
                            >
                            > Sorry if I've missed your point altogether! I've been driving all
                            > day and I think it's past time to get something to eat. ;-)
                            >
                            > Gerry

                            Gerry, I am not sure whether you missed my point or hit it spot on. I
                            am trying to think my way through a possible difference in one's
                            registering of the experience that when reflected upon is seen as
                            contact with the spiritual, or pneuma. I dance with the words here
                            because the "union with fullness," as you termed it, can only be
                            reflected upon as having happened after the fact. I am trying to
                            distinguish between it and the experience where I can say, during the
                            fact, that I am experiencing fullness. When the former is, there is no
                            one present to say what it is, and to say what it was is only to say
                            what one thought it was. There is no way to say beyond when one is
                            beyond; can't even say one was there, much less make it objective.

                            I guess I was trying to answer Cari's question about an Objective
                            Infinite. Since the Gnostic has that requirement, the only equitable
                            statement I can make is that there is more than one Gnosis. Yes, a
                            fullness is brought back from that Fullness, and from there, one can
                            say that one is full, but since the Fullness cannot be grasped, how
                            can one tag fullness as other than self-presence? That's why I tag
                            Fullness as Presence. I don't know if that makes sense to you, but
                            it's fairly close to what I am trying to say.

                            Try as I may, I cannot make the body/soul/spirit fit this. I see the
                            division as between the language of the world and the language of the
                            spirit, with the latter coming into being with presence as the
                            language of presence. I would suspect the soul is only the place
                            holder for the self-identity of the language of the world, and that it
                            has to do with the habit of self-identity more than anything else. I
                            can't find anything I would call a soul in presence.
                          • Gerry
                            ... wisdom; ... wickedness of the ... I doubt you could have found a better example from the OT, although, I certainly wouldn t mind if you proved me wrong.
                            Message 13 of 19 , Sep 11, 2002
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                              --- In gnosticism2@y..., "Mister Coraxo" <coraxo@e...> wrote:
                              > . . . .
                              > Job 28:
                              > 28 "And to man He said, `Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is
                              wisdom;
                              >
                              > And to depart from evil is understanding.' "
                              >
                              > Now this may be read as being that which the Lord himself is afraid
                              of:
                              > Chockhmah - Wisdom - the Lord's fear is of Wisdom.
                              >
                              > Surprising the hidden resources of Job who saw through the
                              wickedness of the
                              > Creator, yet took the high road and refused to stoop to quarrel.
                              >
                              > Corax
                              >


                              I doubt you could have found a better example from the OT, although,
                              I certainly wouldn't mind if you proved me wrong. Got any other
                              quotes up your sleeve? :-)

                              BTW, Corax, I was quite impressed with your knowledge of Náhuatl in
                              the earlier thread. Frankly, I wasn't even able to read the linked
                              article to that point.

                              Ax tleno / Gracias. ;-)

                              Gerry
                            • lady_caritas
                              ... Will, thanks for the references, but you should know me better than that by now. :-) You are rehashing old territory here. God Spot? Oh, please. Let s
                              Message 14 of 19 , Sep 11, 2002
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                                --- In gnosticism2@y..., "Will Brown" <wilbro99@y...> wrote:
                                > I have two answers.

                                Will, thanks for the references, but you should know me better than
                                that by now. :-) You are rehashing old territory here. God Spot?
                                Oh, please. Let's not use the word "God" then. Personal gods,
                                deities, etc. I view as projected mental constructs that remain in
                                the demiurgic psychic nature. This is NOT what I mean by Bythos or
                                Ineffable Infinite. When I asked you about pneuma in relation to an
                                Objective Infinite, that was meant to stir you to a *beyond* that is
                                also part of you.

                                Consider something for a moment. We live in a temporal world and
                                think in temporal ways. But gnosis is not about mental constructs.
                                Therein lies the paradox when trying to mentally construe your
                                experience. We can be aware of the infinite, but as Gerry says, even
                                if "there might be a union of sorts with the Fullness,[…] such a
                                union can only be `temporary' as long as we exist within the temporal
                                world."

                                Willy, do you remember our past discussion about a paradox box, …
                                about two sides of a coin?

                                Perhaps it would be refreshing (and hopefully, not also too
                                confusing) for you to review Posts #5770, 5771, 5774 to get other
                                members' perspectives.

                                Cari
                              • beautiful2afault
                                about that two sides of a coin anology. i think the band between the two sides is understanding. this anology also applies to the pain posts. if pain is the
                                Message 15 of 19 , Sep 12, 2002
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                                  about that two sides of a coin anology.
                                  i think the band between the two sides is understanding.
                                  this anology also applies to the pain posts.

                                  if pain is the coin.
                                  it , the pain is either internal or external of orgin. one side of
                                  the coin or the other.
                                  the band is understanding the source of that pain and is then the
                                  element needed, understanding to acknowledging the pain, the source
                                  and then the process of healing can begin.

                                  b

                                  --- In gnosticism2@y..., lady_caritas <no_reply@y...> wrote:
                                  > --- In gnosticism2@y..., "Will Brown" <wilbro99@y...> wrote:
                                  > > I have two answers.
                                  >
                                  > Will, thanks for the references, but you should know me better than
                                  > that by now. :-) You are rehashing old territory here. God
                                  Spot?
                                  > Oh, please. Let's not use the word "God" then. Personal gods,
                                  > deities, etc. I view as projected mental constructs that remain in
                                  > the demiurgic psychic nature. This is NOT what I mean by Bythos or
                                  > Ineffable Infinite. When I asked you about pneuma in relation to
                                  an
                                  > Objective Infinite, that was meant to stir you to a *beyond* that
                                  is
                                  > also part of you.
                                  >
                                  > Consider something for a moment. We live in a temporal world and
                                  > think in temporal ways. But gnosis is not about mental
                                  constructs.
                                  > Therein lies the paradox when trying to mentally construe your
                                  > experience. We can be aware of the infinite, but as Gerry says,
                                  even
                                  > if "there might be a union of sorts with the Fullness,[…] such a
                                  > union can only be `temporary' as long as we exist within the
                                  temporal
                                  > world."
                                  >
                                  > Willy, do you remember our past discussion about a paradox box, …
                                  > about two sides of a coin?
                                  >
                                  > Perhaps it would be refreshing (and hopefully, not also too
                                  > confusing) for you to review Posts #5770, 5771, 5774 to get other
                                  > members' perspectives.
                                  >
                                  > Cari
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