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To Infinity . . . and Beyond!

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  • Gerry
    ... I ... up, ... Are some of those theories actually counterintuitive, or is it that our experience in the physical world has merely shaped our perceptions
    Message 1 of 97 , Nov 13, 2003
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      --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, incognito_lightbringer
      <no_reply@y...> wrote:
      > Hi Mike,
      > Yes, it is contra-intuitive, and no, I'm not *getting it*, oh well.
      I
      > accept, though, that this is Plotinus' system and definition. There
      > are contra-intuitive theories in science, which experiments back
      up,
      > so I can't dismiss it on just that.
      >
      > I also realize though that kabbalists say the same thing. The upper
      > level, the Ein Sof, is nonexistence. And the whole "you can only
      > describe it in the negative" which Sufi mystics also claim.
      >
      > The problem I have is that I view existence as dualistic. In other
      > words, things don't exist in a framework where things do exist. So
      > there are no purple flying elephants, that I know of ;)
      >
      > I've always though that this might be more like 'beyond existence',
      > where it's not contained in any universe?
      >
      > Then there's the Gnostic description of oneness which contains all
      > things within it but isn't bound by anything.
      >
      > I'll have to think on this some more. I have a feeling this can be
      > better described by mathematics as a language than by English.
      >


      Are some of those theories actually "counterintuitive," or is it that
      our experience in the physical world has merely shaped our
      perceptions so as to leave us blinded to the possibility that lies
      beyond the confines of these dimensions?

      You're not alone in seeing existence as a duality, but your
      observation of looking "beyond" it seems to be the gist of what the
      Gnostic writers were getting at. Not in the sense of adding greater
      numbers of dimensions to our already limited and polarized universe,
      but achieving a state where such limitations simply don't apply.

      The best example that a friend gave me was to ponder two points on a
      piece of paper. Can it not be said that there is an infinite number
      of points between them? Indeed, one could keep dividing that segment
      ad infinitum, but it's still operating on a limited section along one
      axis of a two-dimensional plane——something far short of the normal
      field of existence in which we're used to operating, and yet we think
      we can appreciate the concept of infinity.

      To me, that's like the orthodox version of an "infinite" god, one who
      is just sooooo loving that he'll always be there for us no matter
      what——of course, when he's not loving US to death, he's sending
      others off to eternal damnation in hell. Anything wrong with that
      picture? God's allegedly infinite mercy and compassion would have to
      be extremely limited.

      On the other hand, by furthering that example, we can consider the
      points on that paper outside of those initial two points. It's no
      longer simply about a limited segment, but actual "lines" this time——
      two axes——then throw in a third to make it really exciting and begin
      to include all points above the paper and all those through the desk
      and floor beneath it, extending in all directions to the edges of the
      universe. Here, we have DRAMATICALLY increased the playing field in
      a way that a flatlander couldn't have conceived, and yet, it's merely
      the world in which we currently reside. It's still governed by space
      and time. We're still limited by the field of opposites. It's the
      world we all know, but it's not the world with which gnosis seeks to
      reacquaint us.

      What I always loved about the Big Bang is that I couldn't stop
      wondering what all this expanse of creation was expanding INTO?
      Especially with the implication that it alternately expands and
      contracts, the contained system of the universe seems less intriguing
      to me than the container itself. If you can come up with a
      mathematical explanation for what lies beyond, more power to you, but
      I think that the philosophical infinity of the Gnostics (…Kabbalists
      and Sufis) lies outside of such attempted explication. No matter how
      many alternative dimensions we should conceive, we're merely adding
      to the concept of plotting limited points across time and space, even
      if we jazz it up with such extras as curved space and superimposed
      universes. When we find that which cannot be measured in any
      direction or by any standard, we will have found our Source.

      Gerry
    • Terje Bergersen
      ... As far as I can see, Walter Bauer is considered somewhat of a pioneer in the investigative genre of Early Christian scholarship - especially with the
      Message 97 of 97 , Nov 17, 2003
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        > Interesting to hear it put that way - I haven't read Bauer (yet), so
        > Gnostic Gospels felt like an historian exploring new ground. Based
        > on her bibliography and notes, I at least had a sense that Pagels was
        > leaning on Bauer.

        As far as I can see, Walter Bauer is considered somewhat of a pioneer
        in the investigative genre of "Early Christian" scholarship - especially
        with the Comittee to which Pagels belonged (the Coptic Gnostic Library
        Comittee of scholars).


        Anyways, I was just butting in to inform the readers of this list
        that they can make their own mind up, without much trouble and without
        parting with money - Bauer`s chief work is online


        Walter Bauer: Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity

        http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~humm/Resources/Bauer/




        Pax Pleromae

        --
        Terje Dahl Bergersen
        Deacon,Ecclesia Gnostica Norvegia
        terje@...
        http://terje.bergersen.net/
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