Re: Don't accept suffering.
Reply to Incognito Lightbringer’s message #6663:
>>The crucifixion exposed the world for what it is by demonstrating *you can* keep a good man down. If *our sin* is supposed to be the reason for the evil in this world, and Jesus was without sin, why was he crucified? He was condemned and punished yet he was innocent....Couldn't this also be allegory for us?<<
Of course it has allegorical value for us—it’s merely the literal value that troubles me. For instance, I suppose it’s easy enough for me to witness how we’re “kept down” in this world when I consider all the terrible ways in which many babies and children suffer. For me, there’s innocence enough there—it doesn’t take a bolt of lightning or a murdered savior to convince me further. As an example, at least in the literal sense, I find the crucifixion even less convincing since the body of Jesus—the very physical body—also ascends to Heaven. As I said, you just can’t keep him down.
>>I know I'm engaging in major Buddhist/Gnostic/Christian exegesis here but the parallels interest me for several reasons.<<
No problem—they interest me, too. That’s why I found Cari’s Matrix link (with Buddhist comparisons) so intriguing.
>>A literal interpretation of the crucifixion does not bother me. After all, we're basically crucified here ourselves, and our pain and suffering is quite literal, and gnostic myth tells us that we, or at least part of us, derives from the Godhead, whereas other parts are from lower material realms. So what is crucified then? If Sophia, who was once one with the Father and the Aeons, and part of him, can fall into matter, what process then is that? If part of us, which comes from the Father, is now incorporated into flesh, than how is that? Why then is the concept that Christ descends into this world somehow looked upon as illogical? If a perfect Christ from the upper regions of the Godhead can't experience death or a combination with matter, than what the hell is going on with us then?<<
Exactly! I don’t think Christ’s descent into the world is illogical at all. I would question, however, that if Perfection could deposit Itself into the material realm, and then disappear at will, is such a “human” being really human in the same way that we are? If it could come and go like that, then why are we left fending for ourselves, when One Word uttered by the divine might have undone the error in the first place? When I ponder that difference, I don’t see how “literally” exemplary the crucifixion should be for us.
You’ve mentioned that you were never happy with the explanations given (or evasion of) your questions in parochial school regarding the crucifixion. We’ve discussed this before here. Oddly enough, even with my very limited Protestant upbringing, the mainstream rationale makes perfect sense to me—from a literal perspective, of course! Otherwise, it leaves me completely unsatisfied. The fact that you have no problem with it in a Gnostic context while I do makes me wonder if it might result from our different backgrounds. If I already have a bias towards it, I’ll understandably be less accepting of it in any other scenario.
>>So this whole docetic/adoptionist/trinitarian argument, literal or non-literal, while interesting, is not of such great importance to me since the very nature of myself is a mystery.<<
I’m with you there!
>>Jesus "appeared" to walk, talk, eat, drink, (although not shit LOLOL!)<<
Indeed! And didn’t Valentinus even suggest that we should emulate His behavior?—eating food but not allowing it to become corrupt within us, resulting in its inevitable excretion? Sounds like that would make us all a bunch of tight-asses, and probably not particularly healthy.
>>But then what's the point of the crucifixion. Gnostic texts offer some clues. Christ descends to teach to help us escape. He sneaks his way in, past the very forces which presumably try to keep us from getting out. In this world, illusion or not, he teaches in order to set us free. He is falsely accused and condemned even though he is innocent. Couldn't this be allegory for us also?<<
It could, but these various arguments are related. If someone is going to be sacrificed, and His suffering used as an example for the rest of us, the very nature of that individual is relevant. If some apparition is allegedly nailed to a cross or someone else takes the fall, then the message I might get from that is that it’s best to hoodwink your jailers or simply find some patsy to frame for your own indictment. It still looks like scapegoating, and could detract from the very purpose you mentioned, “he teaches in order to set us free.”
In The Tree of Gnosis, it seems that Ioan Couliano noted this quandary between the physical crucifixion and a docetic Christ:
Confronted with the cross, phantasiasts do not have many choices. They either spurn it because of the impossibility of Christ’s death or accept it under pretext that it has a symbolic, commemorative function. The Paulicians assert “that this piece of wood and cursed instrument” must not be worshiped, for the true cross is Christ himself. They were nevertheless able to pay reverence to the cross with reservatio mentalis, but they did not attach any positive function to it, for they did not conceive of Christ’s death as having a salvific function. [pg. 196]
Seriously, it’s not at all that I’m opposed to the notion of the crucifixion, or better yet, rising above it. I’m fascinated by all the permutations of christological possibility, and how they relate to other aspects of His life. I’d just like to see one presentation that “made sense” from start to finish—from conception to resurrection—if you will.
After outlining the various conceptions of the Jesus-Christ nature, Couliano goes on to make some interesting observations as to the relationship between many of these issues in His life.
Based on a prior, simplified christological scheme we developed, we can already specify that the root distinction of the christological system is between “low” and “high” christology—one tending to lower Christ to the human dimension, the other tending to divinize him completely. All other christologies are in between these two. [pg. 13]
Yet, as we will see in the course of our study, the binary oppositions that belong to the structure of a hierarchical system may easily come loose and enter—as single units or building elements—the composition of another system, either hierarchical or made up of other similar “bricks.” This shows not only the flexibility of hierarchies but also the fact that a pattern of active interaction exists between systems that we choose to classify as independent, such as Christianity and Gnosticism. In fact, in many respects the two share the basic system but activate different options in it. This in itself should demonstrate the uselessness of labels, which belie the contiguity of systems of thought. In morpho-dynamic terms, Christianity and Gnosticism are on a number of accounts transformations (or deformations) of each other, hence perspectives on (and within) the same system. [pg. 18]
Michael Tardieu is perfectly right in assuming that all of these doctrines are synchronic, in the sense that they form a “logical object” of the kind that was described in the Introduction to this book. They are part of the system of christology (to call it Christian christology would be tautological) and have nothing to do with Gnosticism in particular. The dogma of virgin birth was a matter for debate for quite a long time. The solution proposed by the Christian Valentinus was no less dignified than the one contained in the Protogospel of James. Why one was chosen above the other is a mystery that has nothing to do with logic but with the extremely complex interaction of social systems. [pg. 133]
As if things weren’t complicated enough at the time of the convocation of the early Church Councils, add to the mix how much more society has changed from then to now. While I still don’t see that as a reason to throw out the old in favor of “New & Improved” scriptures, I also have no problem with taking fresh looks at those early conclusions and offering a contemporary spin for a more modern world. The very fact, though, that we’re still trying to rationalize other-worldly realms in mundane terms is a sure sign that contradictions will continue.
Who among us isn’t up for a good paradox?!!
- Hi Gerry,
have you had ever a reincarnation experience?
And what personal revelations have you received, if you want to
I myself had a dream as a child, very early, and I have no
explanation for it. I dreamt something, but from it I knew that this
could not have been me dreaming, because I was so young. I concluded
that this must have dreamt a male person about the age of 35.
I was approx. 5years at that time. I don;t know much about
reincarnation, but certainly I have not forgotten about this dream,
because it was so extraordinary. Do you know what Gnosticism has to
say on reincarnation? I want to break the circle. It's a sad state.
Yesterday, I had a funny revelation: As I was pondering and reciting
in my mind the most fundamental principles of gnosticism, two things
happened. I understood that since the Ego is the psychological counter
[part of the demiurge, it is blind and creating its own world, a
world of mistakes, unreality...Any salvation when it is supposed to
come won't reach us as long as we are in the Ego-state. It came to me
as more of a "gnostic" experience I have to say, not exactly as an
intellectual conclusion at all. But simultaneously, I adopted this
understanding and asked where am I then. And the answer came you are
not even here (where I was standing), you are there, someplace else.
And I felt that only this part of me, never the Ego, could be
reconciled with God. Then, I felt that I was already reconciled with
God. And everything was perfect. Shortly after that while being in
this state of understanding that a part of me unknown not the ego, I
suppressed it, was already "accepted" by a higher being. I felt very
happy. Then I was lifted up, mentally, and I was afraid, so the
feeling left me. I walked home.