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duality vs non-duality

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  • cmosbo67
    Hi, I m new here and have a pretty basic question. I am currently reading Gnosticism: New Light on the Ancient Tradition of Inner Knowing by Stephan A.
    Message 1 of 5 , Feb 24, 2004
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      Hi, I'm new here and have a pretty basic question.

      I am currently reading "Gnosticism: New Light on the Ancient
      Tradition of Inner Knowing" by Stephan A. Hoeller. He points out
      that gnosticism is strictly dualistic.

      I've also read quite a bit of Avaita Vedanta (non-dualist) material.

      It seems to me that they are both saying roughly the same thing.
      Can anyone clarify where the line between duality and non-duality is
      (in this particular case)?

      Chad
    • Gavin Riggott
      ... This is an subject I enjoy as I used to have a great interest in Vedanta. Advaita vedanta ( non-dual ) says that duality is an illusion caused by
      Message 2 of 5 , Feb 24, 2004
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        > I am currently reading "Gnosticism: New Light on the Ancient
        > Tradition of Inner Knowing" by Stephan A. Hoeller. He points out
        > that gnosticism is strictly dualistic.
        >
        > I've also read quite a bit of Avaita Vedanta (non-dualist) material.
        >
        > It seems to me that they are both saying roughly the same thing.
        > Can anyone clarify where the line between duality and non-duality is
        > (in this particular case)?

        This is an subject I enjoy as I used to have a great interest in Vedanta.
        Advaita vedanta ("non-dual") says that duality is an illusion caused by
        ignorance. However, while the world can be denied, suffering cannot, as I'm
        sure Descartes would have agreed. I used to know an advaitin and often
        talked with him. Unfortunately, he never explained how ignorance arrised in
        the first place if all is identical to God and thus perfect. I constantly
        pointed out that this was a serious incinsistency, but he never seemed to
        understand what I was getting at.

        Gnosticism is perhaps more similar to vishistadvaita vedanta ("qualified
        non-dual vedanta"), which says the world was emmanated from the "body" of
        God/brahman, thus there is dualism between the world and brahman, but only
        in a certain sense. That is, the world is in brahman but not identical to
        him; it is composed of the same substance, however, and so this idea is
        called _qualified_ dualism. This paradox is demonstrated in a passage from
        the Isha Upanishad (Patrick Olivelle translation):

        It moves -- yet it does not move!
        It is far away -- yet it is near at hand!
        It is within this whole world -- yet
        it's also outside this whole world.

        Ultimately, I abandonned my interest in vedanta as it failed to satisfy me.
        With hindsight, I can see that this was because, unlike Gnosticism, it never
        adequetly explained suffering.



        Gavin Riggott
      • Terje Bergersen
        ... I think he felt it is pertinent to point out that the particular Gnosis of Gnosticism has a distinct approach almost unparalleled any place else, and
        Message 3 of 5 , Feb 25, 2004
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          >
          >
          >
          >
          > Hi, I'm new here and have a pretty basic question.
          >
          > I am currently reading "Gnosticism: New Light on the Ancient
          > Tradition of Inner Knowing" by Stephan A. Hoeller. He points out
          > that gnosticism is strictly dualistic.

          I think he felt it is pertinent to point out that the particular Gnosis
          of Gnosticism has a distinct approach almost unparalleled any place else,
          and within popular religiousity almost completely forgotten or repressed.



          > I've also read quite a bit of Avaita Vedanta (non-dualist) material.
          >
          > It seems to me that they are both saying roughly the same thing.
          > Can anyone clarify where the line between duality and non-duality is
          > (in this particular case)?

          What is apparently always confused is why and how Gnosticism, if it can be
          said to be thus; _is_ dualistic. Comparing G. to Advaita Vedanta or any
          asiatic philosophy or religion, with regards to hermeneutic, is _rarely
          helpful_; the expertise it demands exhaust most intellects, and should it
          fall short.. you have 90% of what is being construed on the Internet as
          being "essentially Gnostic" whatever that is meant to mean.

          How? The kernel of the structures of Gnostic _Initiation_ is always a
          recognition of existencial predicament _contrasted_ against an interior
          and acute "revolution" in response to it, which reveals a hidden light
          which moreover is as acutely recognize to reflect a Light which the
          existencial predicament does not contain. He seeks, he finds, he is
          troubled, he is astonished, he rules over all - he dissolves and is not
          himself dissolved; death dies by, through and in him by acquiantance which
          reveals and actualizes life eternal, that which precedes all else.
          This coming to consciousness of contrast is the acquisition of a peculiar
          way of discerning existing things; by their appearance on account of the
          predicament man finds himself, and their true disposition which is only
          accessible to man through liberating himself from the predicament and
          absolving all claims it has on him. This is the Apolytrosis (Redemption)
          which proceeds from the first waking moment in any man or womans life,
          wherein the clouds of dream are dispersed in front of such Light which
          informs existence yet is not detained by any particular.

          The concrete world, far from being illusionary, is quite immediate,
          relevant and approached by the capacities which exist within the soul.
          The soul cannot afford to be passive because the world is participatory
          in its essence and emerges out from it; darkness repress and separates it
          from its light, conforming it into its own - this darkness, while emerging
          out of forgetfulness is neverless part of the evil which is _real_.
          The world, material conditions, the lower soul, the counterfeit spirit
          and evil - while we exist in the boundary between - has such claim upon us
          that it _is nonsense to speak of any kind of illusion_.
          There is a particular casuality to things you wont find in eastern
          philosophies, it is easy to neglect because for the duration of a century
          the greatest mediators, popularizers and transmitters of information
          _about_ Gnosticism has been theosophists, whose particular disposition
          lays towards revealing a tradition in almost entire proxy to the asiatic
          religions, particularly Buddhism and Hinduism _as received by the west_.
          G.R.S. Mead, a gentleman I am sure even Stephan Hoeller will admit, did a
          great service to coming generations in translating and making available
          information from the Gnostics and kindred traditions (all dualistic in
          outlook) - did not shy away from interposing the concepts of Karma,Dharma,
          "Reincarnation" and other concepts out of Hinduism/Buddhism without any
          consideration that not everyone knew that originally the terms he
          "translates" is connected to an entirely different cultural hermeneutic
          and worldview; Fate became too problematic, also Casuality to
          materialistic anti-materialistic spiritualists (sic!) is anathema and
          lastly Metempsychosis; of essence rather than individuated personalized
          "selves" brought chills to certain spines. That the Platonic ideal
          "forms"/types receives persons in a seeming reversal of the
          demythologization which a sterile,"cultured", post-enlightenment reading
          of Plato`s classics represented. If Gnosticism had been clad naked from
          all these embellishments and trendy attachments it would have been
          rendered unattractive to the seekers of that day, they were not ready.
          Jung repaired some of this; Jung acknowledged the mechanisms of
          projection, of the shadow self, of the ego being an miscarriage from the
          unconscious of true self - of the archetypes being ambigious and
          unbalanced so far as they are perceived by the unindividuated self or ego.
          He knew the Gnostics directed their attention towards a process which
          becomes immediate and relevant to the soul at the precise moment it lays
          off the irrelevant quibble of its ordinary consciousness with anything
          religious or metaphysical for the sake of "filling voids"; therefore he
          had his patients construct their own kosmoses (systems) by way of painting
          abstract dream patterns, Mandalas. Creative people get instinctual about
          their abstractions to the degree that at times it becomes impossible for
          them to decipher what they have let manifest out of their "subconscious";
          rather than enrichening them with "impressions", it rids them of a surplus
          of conscious notions whose irritative quality produces a pearl; they are
          emptied and undone, and feel loss rather than contentment confronting
          unfinished image upon unfinished image.
          If you paint a non-dualist Mandala you are a genius.
          However, if you do paint a Mandala and call it non-dualist
          because you "are" non-dualist - you will get an F for not
          comprehending the nature of the assignment.
          The Pleroma is not dual, divided - it has no notion of duality,
          but any descriptive, inquisitive, analytic approach towards it,
          also in silent Praxis _reveals duality_.
          Meditation is actually one of the most concrete experiences you can have
          _of duality_.
          I do not have Hoeller`s book in front of me at the moment, so I will have
          to tell you something out of my own experience; I do not believe, in terms
          of not being impressed by any evidence, of which there are many I am sure,
          especially evidence circumstancial and overtly interpreted by wellmeaning
          scholars - that Matter is so relevant as language and scripture has it;
          I will not say that it is an illusion for we _know_ immediately that we
          have already sunk beneath the weight of this contrived ideas untruth;
          but it does not uphold, contain or restrict anything of the spiritual.
          Of Matter, the Valentinian Gospel of Philip says "Do not love it, and do
          not fear it" - either way it detains you and substract from you what is
          needed elsewhere, by way of emotion and disposition. This dispassion with
          regards to it is made possible by not being centred within a conscious
          centre within us whose balance is towards "flesh" and
          "appearance"(untruth), it might be pertinent to speak of it as the body
          insofar as the manifest body is a form with which we are accustomed to. If
          we are too disposed towards the physiology and anatmony of ourselves and
          others, to the degree it overshadows all else, we grow morbid -while we
          loose ourselves in these things - sensually, intellectually, creatively -
          notion does not escape us that this appreciation itself does not repair
          its condition, which is dwindling. The Gospel of Thomas has Jesus
          diagnotize the "rude awakening" of one which formerly thought to know and
          possess the body; "when you have found the body, you have discovered a
          corpse".
          I do not mean with this that the Gnostic dualism has to do with body vs.
          spirit, for there is a tripartition of man`s priority or
          consciousness-of-self within most Gnoses within the Gnostic tradition, and
          the three can never achieve status as dual or duality - also a tripartite
          nature of man`s being - his creation or coming into this particular form
          you and I have - speaking of all qualities within the former three; has
          also three stadiums and natures - the dualism of Gnosticism is Spiritual:
          There is Pleroma and Kenoma; Fullness and Emptiness, there is Light and
          Dark which are directly relating to the acquisition of Gnosis - moreover,
          and this anchors the Initiatory, progressive, calculated approach of the
          Gnostic Systems; wherein the Myth of Descent and Ascent, Fall and
          Redemption, Forgetting and Remembering, Exile and Return plays a
          significant part - namely the divide which exist between Spirit and
          Counterfeit Spirit. Sophia produces an unequated reflection upon herself
          apart from the wholeness - while man is disposed to do so from the
          beginning of his life on earth, enforced and encouraged by wellmeaning
          mediators and tutors, by parental upbringing to education and religious
          instruction - this also occurs in his soul. As such, he receives that
          which is excreted out of Sophia, a particular portion of the Demiurge
          containing his essence, and becomes its container, for most, for the
          duration of his life.. whereupon the lion briefly roars and instills fear
          in the souls of this aeon, only to again be brought down into this abyss
          of purificatory preparations of Man interior.
          In one liturgy we are informed Sophia bears twins, this becomes a subject
          for both the Zervanite story of the younger and elder son, wherein the
          younger coming to realization that his destination is subservience, breaks
          through the womb before his brother and waits there to strangle him at his
          arrival - and the medieval Cathar story of the sons Jesus and Satanael,
          born to the unknown Dyadic "Father".
          The Myth speaks to no-one else but the soul, that means, not the soul in
          general, but yours and mine. If we are fulfilled in a greatly focused and
          discerning consciousness coupled with all-embracing compassion for all
          life, and particular that of our fellows who suffers the same from the day
          they enter into the world, we may, through this really extraordinary,
          almost unique disposition, make do without it or similar reminders. But
          the world is full of effective and ineffective, true and counterfeit
          "myths" addressing souls in this capacity, and Tradition more often than
          not are anchored with it, but often, so deep no "traditionalist" is aware
          of it and cultures are bereaved of its benefits.

          Christ is called, in some traditions, "Second Creation" or even "Second
          Nature" - it is Christ, in the selfsame, which collects and brings
          together - the "Christian" becomes the embodiment of this Second Creation
          and receives it; in one capacity as Adam, meaning the virgin "earth" which
          receives it (whose symbol the Cross and essence the Ashes, are drawn upon
          many brows on this day without any realization of this) - another
          capacity, active, as Sophia, who in iconography is the "pregnant Madonna"
          bearing within her the complete Christ (here pious Christian Ikons
          actually depict a Docetic Christ who arrives completely formed and
          transfigured out of Mary, but in a manner of revelation rather than
          fleshly form) encircled by a Vesica Piscis, a Mandorla, a "womb of light".
          While Catholics, ironically the most bitter polemists against Gnosticism,
          Modern and Ancient, today - thinks that the Gnostics lived in fear of the
          flesh and matter, thinking it to be the essence of evil contradistinct to
          an entirely divorced reality of spirit; they still look toward the
          Nativity on December the 25th as an answer to the fall of man into a
          predicament which equals the fragility, vulnerability and nakedness of all
          flesh,
          and simultaneously offers thought to the "forebears" earthly Adam and
          earthly Eve, and essentially all mortal men and women proceeding from them
          by the generations -and their fall into this condition which is what has
          been diagnosized as the same by their "rivals and enemies" the Gnostics;
          they still apply words pointing hope in the direction of a reintegration
          into the Kingdom of God, following the ascent of Christ, in Christ and
          through Christ, as well as a contemplation on the tomb of a man who was
          born in the sight of other mortals, "laying with him in his tomb, entering
          our death through his". All that is lacking is an appreciation that the
          finitude of "creation" is a beguiling lie, and the architechts of the
          notions have for all too long forget the reasoning behind their craft - to
          glorify the temporal as eternal. I.e. Idolatry.
          If we possess a notion of Idolatry - the notion of a representation,
          wrought by human hands, receiving the glory and worship True divinity,
          True deity deserves; we acknowledge the Duality of types, and the
          possibility of having a relationship towards true, revealed Reality
          contradistinct to the false and contrived appearance of Reality.
          There is no both and same in Gnosticism; at best we may be reminded of
          existing things by inspecting what is "before our eyes", as the Gospel of
          Thomas reminds us - if we "cleave the wood, lift the stone" - we will see
          what is _hidden within_ and _hidden beneath_; but this requires a certain
          type of seeing, which only one certain type of _eye_ may see.
          This requires something else than passive certainity.
          Non-discrimination does _not_ recreate reality in its image or disposition,
          it is an intellectual exercise occupying consciousness while conscious
          souls should _go somewhere_, even in transgression, towards acquiantance
          of existing things, towards light and life - not the shallows of abstract
          thought. If you disregard the matters of disentangling the Man of Light
          and reuniting him with his Witness, his Counterpart in the Pleroma, of
          whom it is a reflection; which is Gnostic Praxis, as well as identifying
          and exposing the Archons (rulers) which attempt to distort and pervert our
          souls from within, as false guides and false lights - as well as the
          Gnostic Myth with its fallen Sophia/Adam and redemption and final Bridal
          Chamber. If we disrobe Gnosticism of its features, unique to its own, and
          clothe it in alien garbs, without regards for its ideal and goal - and the
          quality and type of experience unqiue to the Gnostic.. I am sure you will
          find how wonderfully IRRELEVANT it is in comparison to all and sundry..
          and wisely pass it by. Or else, I am sure you`ll be disturbed and troubled
          by it.. or am I wrong?



          "Remember O Soul that this body is dust from dust and will return unto it!"

          "Insofar you dissolve the world, and are not dissolved yourselves, you are
          lords over all creation and corruption"

          "Now that I have come as far, and found my Soul, what are all the worlds
          to me"


          Pax Sophia et Pleromae

          --
          Terje Dahl Bergersen
          Deacon, Ecclesia Gnostica Norvegia
          terje@...
          http://terje.bergersen.net/
        • Chad Osborne
          Wow. Thank you very much for the intriguing and thoughtful response! I had to read it several times, but you more than answered the question. ... of
          Message 4 of 5 , Feb 25, 2004
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            Wow. Thank you very much for the intriguing and thoughtful response!  I had to read it several times, but you more than answered the question.

             

            > I think he felt it is pertinent to point out that the particular

            Gnosis
            of Gnosticism has a distinct approach almost unparalleled any place else,
            and within popular religiousity almost completely forgotten or repressed.


            Do you feel that this particular gnosis is something different than the gnosis reported by mystics of other religions? Or only that the path is different?

             

            > If we disrobe Gnosticism of its features, unique to its own,

            and
            clothe it in alien garbs, without regards for its ideal and goal - and the
            quality and type of experience unqiue to the Gnostic.. I am sure you will
            find how wonderfully IRRELEVANT it is in comparison to all and sundry..
            and wisely pass it by. Or else, I am sure you`ll be disturbed and troubled
            by it.. or am I wrong?

             

            I see what you are saying, and it was not my intent to take anything away from Gnosticism. I have been 'seeking' for some time (over a decade now), and have exhausted intellectual approaches. So I am interested in mystical approaches. What troubles me is the gap between Advaita Vedanta and Gnosticism. They both appear to be valid approaches (as much as I can judge without having actually had any real gnosis or true awareness of the witness), but I am unable to ascertain whether they are both pointing to the same ultimate truth, or whether one is superior to the other.

            Chad

          • cmosbo67
            ... Gnosticism. They both appear to be valid approaches (as much as I can judge without having actually had any real gnosis or true awareness of the witness),
            Message 5 of 5 , Feb 26, 2004
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              --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "Chad Osborne" <c_osborne@a...>
              wrote:
              > What troubles me is the gap between Advaita Vedanta and
              Gnosticism. They both appear to be valid approaches (as much as I
              can judge without having actually had any real gnosis or true
              awareness of the witness), but I am unable to ascertain whether they
              are both pointing to the same ultimate truth, or whether one is
              superior to the other.


              Having had a chance to sleep on this, I would rephrase that last
              line to say "I am unable to ascertain whether they are both pointing
              to the same ultimate truth, or whether they are exclusive of each
              other".

              Chad
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