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Re: Does Matter matter?

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  • 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 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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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