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Does Matter matter?

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  • wvdog61
    Hey folks, So far, in all my study of Gnostic teaching, one of the linchpin ideas has been that the sparks of light have been trapped in matter, and that
    Message 1 of 5 , Feb 1, 2004
      Hey folks,

      So far, in all my study of Gnostic teaching, one of the 'linchpin'
      ideas has been that the 'sparks of light' have been 'trapped' in
      matter, and that freedom/liberation/salvation means becoming
      disentangled from matter via Gnosis.
      Lately I've been reading Hippolytus' account of Basilides (Ref. VII
      20, 1-27, 13 selections). Let me quote Werner Foerster's intoduction
      to the selected passages dealing with Basilides' cosmogony:
      "Bailides is,...the one who harnessed his Gnosis in the most
      consistent way to a monistic system." Then, a little farther on:
      "The purpose and end is that all parts of the world, including the
      divine, shall be brought each to its proper place. Basilides has
      thus no need of any evil matter, or of an evil or even a merely
      mediating creator. He does indeed know two 'Rulers' who govern the
      spheres of the fixed stars and the planets, but do not control our
      world, for which the thought with which God created it is
      sufficient. That means that whereas both the Rulers believe
      themselves to be supreme, yet they do penance when they learn that
      the non-existent God exists and that they have no power over the
      world; they are not 'Fate'. The guilt in this world, which men are
      burdened with, will be expiated through reincarnation and through
      suffering." (Foerster, Werner. "Basilides According to Hippolytus."
      In, Gnosis, A Selection of Gnostic Texts. Vol 1. Trans R. McL.
      Wilson, 62-63. Oxford at the Clarendon Press, 1972)

      I found this a little jarring. A gnostic system with no notion
      of 'evil matter' or apparently even a demiurge! Damn... It seems
      that the implications of such an understanding would be far-reaching
      in large (ethos) *and* small (praxis) ways.

      Rodney
    • K.M.Hunter
      ... intoduction ... reaching ... On the question of matter, A good gnostic understanding in line with the wisdom contained in the Pistis Sophia, the Corpus
      Message 2 of 5 , Feb 2, 2004
        --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "wvdog61" <wvdog61@7...> wrote:
        > Hey folks,
        >
        > So far, in all my study of Gnostic teaching, one of the 'linchpin'
        > ideas has been that the 'sparks of light' have been 'trapped' in
        > matter, and that freedom/liberation/salvation means becoming
        > disentangled from matter via Gnosis.
        > Lately I've been reading Hippolytus' account of Basilides (Ref. VII
        > 20, 1-27, 13 selections). Let me quote Werner Foerster's
        intoduction
        > to the selected passages dealing with Basilides' cosmogony:
        > "Bailides is,...the one who harnessed his Gnosis in the most
        > consistent way to a monistic system." Then, a little farther on:
        > "The purpose and end is that all parts of the world, including the
        > divine, shall be brought each to its proper place. Basilides has
        > thus no need of any evil matter, or of an evil or even a merely
        > mediating creator. He does indeed know two 'Rulers' who govern the
        > spheres of the fixed stars and the planets, but do not control our
        > world, for which the thought with which God created it is
        > sufficient. That means that whereas both the Rulers believe
        > themselves to be supreme, yet they do penance when they learn that
        > the non-existent God exists and that they have no power over the
        > world; they are not 'Fate'. The guilt in this world, which men are
        > burdened with, will be expiated through reincarnation and through
        > suffering." (Foerster, Werner. "Basilides According to Hippolytus."
        > In, Gnosis, A Selection of Gnostic Texts. Vol 1. Trans R. McL.
        > Wilson, 62-63. Oxford at the Clarendon Press, 1972)
        >
        > I found this a little jarring. A gnostic system with no notion
        > of 'evil matter' or apparently even a demiurge! Damn... It seems
        > that the implications of such an understanding would be far-
        reaching
        > in large (ethos) *and* small (praxis) ways.
        >
        > Rodney


        On the question of matter,

        A good gnostic understanding in line with the wisdom contained in the
        Pistis Sophia, the Corpus Hermetica and certain Nag Hammadi texts, is
        that matter itself is like unto a counterfeit monetary claim. It is
        created 'from nothing' and 'backed up by nothing'. In a sense, this
        world of ours, a particular realm separated from higher realms in
        quality by a series of veils, was created fraudulantly upon a
        principle of counterfeiting. Thus, it represents an abnormal stress
        or strain upon the universe. It will possess a finite existence until
        the error that gave birth to the world is corrected, which will be at
        a time far off, described by Jesus as the moment of the assension of
        the universe. The abnormality of matter, will be dissolved. It will
        cease to be and disappear as if it had never been. This could very
        well be regarded as an event that puts everything in its proper
        place. Now, however, the central mystery of salvation is that those
        people who have not received gnosis will, at the assension of the
        universe, be composed of the same stuff - i.e. the counterfeit nature
        of matter, as the universe. They will be consumed along with the
        universe and disappear as if they had never been. However, those who
        have 'oil in their lamps', who have 'worked themselves' into a
        legitmate existence, will be of a quality higher than the universe,
        and of the same nature as the higher realms of being. Thus, when the
        universe is destroyed around these people, they are not destroyed
        with it, but migrate instantly to a higher realm, appropriate to the
        soul in question, dependent upon the record according to its deeds,
        built up throughout many lifetimes.

        Lightpotential
      • camarwick
        Hi Mike, my reading of your quotes would be that Balisidie s cosmology, because it is monistic, eliminates all questioning of the nature of the comos and
        Message 3 of 5 , Feb 2, 2004

          Hi Mike,
          my reading of your quotes would be that Balisidie's cosmology, because it is monistic, eliminates all questioning of the nature of the comos and gnosis etc. as monism accepts only one kind of susbstance or ulitmate reality.  Have percieved his viewpoint as the ulimate reality, the need for proofs becomes redundant.
           
          I feel the author is making a moot point anyway.  The way most human beings become aware of the differing, mostly emotionally based, concepts of good - evil, happy - sad etc. Is by comparing how they respond emotionally to the action involved. 
          Caz
           
          Carol A Marwick
          ----- Original Message -----
          From: wvdog61
          Sent: Monday, February 02, 2004 3:59 PM
          Subject: [Gnosticism2] Does Matter matter?

          Hey folks,

          So far, in all my study of Gnostic teaching, one of the 'linchpin'
          ideas has been that the 'sparks of light' have been 'trapped' in
          matter, and that freedom/liberation/salvation means becoming
          disentangled from matter via Gnosis.
          Lately I've been reading Hippolytus' account of Basilides (Ref. VII
          20, 1-27, 13 selections). Let me quote Werner Foerster's intoduction
          to the selected passages dealing with Basilides' cosmogony:
          "Bailides is,...the one who harnessed his Gnosis in the most
          consistent way to a monistic system." Then, a little farther on:
          "The purpose and end is that all parts of the world, including the
          divine, shall be brought each to its proper place. Basilides has
          thus no need of any evil matter, or of an evil or even a merely
          mediating creator. He does indeed know two 'Rulers' who govern the
          spheres of the fixed stars and the planets, but do not control our
          world, for which the thought with which God created it is
          sufficient. That means that whereas both the Rulers believe
          themselves to be supreme, yet they do penance when they learn that
          the non-existent God exists and that they have no power over the
          world; they are not 'Fate'. The guilt in this world, which men are
          burdened with, will be expiated through reincarnation and through
          suffering." (Foerster, Werner. "Basilides According to Hippolytus."
          In, Gnosis, A Selection of Gnostic Texts. Vol 1. Trans R. McL.
          Wilson, 62-63. Oxford at the Clarendon Press, 1972)

          I found this a little jarring. A gnostic system with no notion
          of 'evil matter' or apparently even a demiurge! Damn... It seems
          that the implications of such an understanding would be far-reaching
          in large (ethos) *and* small (praxis) ways.

          Rodney




          Yahoo! Groups Links

        • lady_caritas
          ... intoduction ... reaching ... Rodney, I think you ve hit on how difficult it is to put a definitive handle on all the fluid currents in early Christianity.
          Message 4 of 5 , Feb 6, 2004
            --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "wvdog61" <wvdog61@7...> wrote:
            > Hey folks,
            >
            > So far, in all my study of Gnostic teaching, one of the 'linchpin'
            > ideas has been that the 'sparks of light' have been 'trapped' in
            > matter, and that freedom/liberation/salvation means becoming
            > disentangled from matter via Gnosis.
            > Lately I've been reading Hippolytus' account of Basilides (Ref. VII
            > 20, 1-27, 13 selections). Let me quote Werner Foerster's
            intoduction
            > to the selected passages dealing with Basilides' cosmogony:
            > "Bailides is,...the one who harnessed his Gnosis in the most
            > consistent way to a monistic system." Then, a little farther on:
            > "The purpose and end is that all parts of the world, including the
            > divine, shall be brought each to its proper place. Basilides has
            > thus no need of any evil matter, or of an evil or even a merely
            > mediating creator. He does indeed know two 'Rulers' who govern the
            > spheres of the fixed stars and the planets, but do not control our
            > world, for which the thought with which God created it is
            > sufficient. That means that whereas both the Rulers believe
            > themselves to be supreme, yet they do penance when they learn that
            > the non-existent God exists and that they have no power over the
            > world; they are not 'Fate'. The guilt in this world, which men are
            > burdened with, will be expiated through reincarnation and through
            > suffering." (Foerster, Werner. "Basilides According to Hippolytus."
            > In, Gnosis, A Selection of Gnostic Texts. Vol 1. Trans R. McL.
            > Wilson, 62-63. Oxford at the Clarendon Press, 1972)
            >
            > I found this a little jarring. A gnostic system with no notion
            > of 'evil matter' or apparently even a demiurge! Damn... It seems
            > that the implications of such an understanding would be far-
            reaching
            > in large (ethos) *and* small (praxis) ways.
            >
            > Rodney



            Rodney, I think you've hit on how difficult it is to put a definitive
            handle on all the fluid currents in early Christianity. The umbrella
            of ancient Gnosticism covers a wide range... or not, depending upon
            with whom you talk. Gnosis emphasized in the soteriology seems to be
            generally accepted as a determining factor. I also personally would
            like to think that the experience of Gnosis (and the accompanying
            realization of the Unknown) should be paramount regardless of various
            expressions or what otherwise seem to be common motifs in alternate
            systems.

            One example of someone who has a more specific idea of groupings
            would be Bentley Layton in _The Gnostic Scriptures_. He categorizes
            Basilides in the "Other Early Currents" section, along with Hermetic
            writings, as opposed to what he views as "Classic Gnostic Scripture"
            or even the Valentinians whom he views as Christian reformers of
            Gnostic theology. In fact, Layton states his main purpose for
            inclusion of Basilides (and Hermetic writings) in his "General
            Introduction" (p. xvi): "Unlike the Hermetic writings, Basilides'
            Christian philosophy is very different from the other scripture
            translated in this book; its historical relevance lies in a very
            shadowy connection with Valentinus. It was during his education in
            Alexandria, A. D. ca. 120, that Valentinus could have encountered
            these two currents."

            Unfortunately, we only have a piecemeal picture of Basilides through
            fragments and reports from heresiologists. Basilides seems to have
            been eclectic and may also have been influenced by Stoic philosophy.


            Cari
          • Rodney Cecil
            On Mon, 02 Feb 2004 19:17:42 -0000 ... Hello Lightpotential, Your reply is a good illustration of a Sethian/Valentinian understanding of matter. However I was
            Message 5 of 5 , Feb 7, 2004
              On Mon, 02 Feb 2004 19:17:42 -0000
              "K.M.Hunter" <lightpotential@...> wrote:
              > On the question of matter,
              >
              > A good gnostic understanding in line with the wisdom
              > contained in the
              > Pistis Sophia, the Corpus Hermetica and certain Nag
              > Hammadi texts, is
              > that matter itself is like unto a counterfeit monetary
              > claim. It is
              > created 'from nothing' and 'backed up by nothing'. In a
              > sense, this
              > world of ours, a particular realm separated from higher
              > realms in
              > quality by a series of veils, was created fraudulantly
              > upon a
              > principle of counterfeiting. Thus, it represents an
              > abnormal stress
              > or strain upon the universe. It will possess a finite
              > existence until
              > the error that gave birth to the world is corrected,
              > which will be at
              > a time far off, described by Jesus as the moment of the
              > assension of
              > the universe. The abnormality of matter, will be
              > dissolved. It will
              > cease to be and disappear as if it had never been. This
              > could very
              > well be regarded as an event that puts everything in its
              > proper
              > place. Now, however, the central mystery of salvation is
              > that those
              > people who have not received gnosis will, at the
              > assension of the
              > universe, be composed of the same stuff - i.e. the
              > counterfeit nature
              > of matter, as the universe. They will be consumed along
              > with the
              > universe and disappear as if they had never been.
              > However, those who
              > have 'oil in their lamps', who have 'worked themselves'
              > into a
              > legitmate existence, will be of a quality higher than the
              > universe,
              > and of the same nature as the higher realms of being.
              > Thus, when the
              > universe is destroyed around these people, they are not
              > destroyed
              > with it, but migrate instantly to a higher realm,
              > appropriate to the
              > soul in question, dependent upon the record according to
              > its deeds,
              > built up throughout many lifetimes.
              >
              > Lightpotential

              Hello Lightpotential,

              Your reply is a good illustration of a Sethian/Valentinian
              understanding of matter. However I was trying to express my
              surprise at finding that at least one of the ancient
              masters didn't share the view of matter held by other
              ancient teachers and set forth so admirably in your post.

              Peace,

              Rodney
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