Ineffable Human Flaws
- The Ineffable Human Flaws
Thomas M. Saunders
In understanding human fault, we can see or define it by the models in Monadologies, like the iconic perfection as portrayed by the symbology of the I Ching. The Yin-Yang center is surrounded by eight trigrams, and this well known model is in a mode called the 'Heaven Sequence.' In terms with Pythagorean and Gnostic Christian ideas 'perfection' can be seen as being in balance and harmony with the self, your environment, and your attainment to being both Earthly and Pleromic. (One with the Tao)
The "Apocryphon of John" speaks of the 'ineffable race,' while other Nag Hammadi references tell of the perfect man, and perfect mind. These references are in regard to achieving Gnosis, the perfect state whereby one is joined with the Holy Sprit, or "Wisdom" and achieves balance and harmony, or 'oneness' with the self and the Wisdom of Jesus. This is the apparent purpose of the "Gospel of Thomas" to provide the 'living words of Jesus' as the catalyst.
This is the Gnostic ideal. Perfection is not the norm, not for the realms of the psyche, the kenoma, but only in the Pleroma. Consider the very definition of kenoma....Kenoma: The earthly or hylic state of the being. In the Gnostic schema(s) the kenoma is the imperfect and the antithesis of Pleroma (plhrwma), where all are in a state of privation and unreality. (See Iren. Haer. I.4.I (M.7.480A); ib 1.4.2 (484A); Clem.exc.Thdot.31 (p117.11; M.9.676A); Thdt.haer.I.7 (4.298).
The ideal has to be obtained in the state described above, the kenoma. This is the 'state' where man is 'trapped' in the human form, matter. Man is believed in the Taoist sense to be of heaven and earth, which both the "Kenpo Gokui" (Bubishi) and the "Tao Te Ching," state. Lau Tzu says in Logion 33, " He who knows he has enough is rich. Perseverance is a sign of willpower. He who stays where he is endures. To die but not to perish is to be eternally present."
In both cases of Enlightenment, and Gnosis this does not happen without the preparation prescribed in both systems. The Gnostic texts like Thomas make it clear that without 'understanding' and 'union' there is no salvation, Satori, or Gnosis. Without transition there is only darkness, described in many Gnostic texts.
The Gnostic comes to grips with the fact that he is doomed, if he cannot achieve the Gnostic transition. The warnings about the state of the 'hylic' are all pervasive in Gnostic works. The Apocalyptic 'End Times' are of far less consequence to the Gnostic who realizes 'matter' does not matter' after you perish from it. It is spirit which must be cultivated in the form of the soul. Without the bonding of the soul with the 'Wisdom' or 'Logos" (Tao), the "End Times" are already a certainty. The Gnostic does not fear death, and neither does the Taoist warrior.
The bonding with the Pleroma is done in the mind. It is described in the "Gospel of Mary," as the 'treasure' between the soul and the spirit, which sees the "Vision." The bonding with the Pleroma, can be allegorically aligned with the perfect state, of the 'reflective' pool, where the mind sees the vision with the reflective clarity of the calm pool. When the water is disturbed the reflection becomes broken into many pieces. "The truth is like looking at the white of the moon in water. If the water is cloudy you can't see it clearly." (Palmer p. 189) The "Gospel of Phillip" explains...
"Names given to the worldly are very deceptive, for they divert our thoughts from what is correct to what is incorrect. Thus one who hears the word "God" does not perceive what is correct, but perceives what is incorrect. So also with "the Father" and "the Son" and "the Holy Spirit" and "life" and "light" and "resurrection" and "the Church (Ekklesia)" and all the rest - people do not perceive what is correct but they perceive what is incorrect, unless they have come to know what is correct. The names which are heard are in the world [...] deceive. If they were in the Aeon (eternal realm), they would at no time be used as names in the world. Nor were they set among worldly things. They have an end in the Aeon."
This is the effect that the Gnostic learns to expect in the flawed state of the 'Kenoma.' This is a state where the Aphorist or the Scientist can both be the 'Sophic' or mistaken. Early Gnostics as well as the Orthodox were mistaken in two common aspects of the concepts of sex, and money. Money has changed in modern economics, and is a different 'animal' in some ways. I do not think the ancients had a grasp of real economics, or what modern Sexology can relate to the ancient beliefs concerning these two matters. The friction in ancient times over these two concepts, leaves us in this time with no real "Strife" relief from what Empedocles would see as the dualism between Love, and Strife. (Early Greek Philosophy, and IEP)
Many Gnostics and Taoists saw sex as a powerful force, or spirit. Clement of Alexandria, and Origen, had enormous problems with being celibate. Carpocrates on the other hand fed the sexual drives, as Clement describes in Book III of "Stromata." Jerome in his letter (LXXXIV) tells of Origen castrating himself to overcome the sexual problems of the day.
How do we see the ancients using the tools they devise to bring clarity to the question? This is possible because the Gnostics saw 'demonstrable truths,' of logical investigation in high regard.
".....correct expounders of the truth, are Gnostics. Since also, in what pertains to life, craftsmen are
superior to ordinary people, and model what is beyond common notions; so, consequently, we also, giving a complete exhibition of the Scriptures from the Scriptures themselves, from faith persuade by demonstration." (Clement. "Stromata" Bk. 7)
"And to those who thus ask questions, in the Scriptures, there is given from God (that at which they aim) the gift of the God-given knowledge, by way of comprehension, through the true illumination of logical investigation. For it is impossible to find, without having sought; or to have sought, without having examined; or to have examined, without having unfolded and opened up the question by interrogation, to produce distinctness; or again, to have gone through the whole investigation, without thereafter receiving as the prize the knowledge of the point in question." (Ibid. BK. 8)
In the above statement about the Aphorist and Scientist becoming the Sophist, let's examine the Sophist. Sophist: Teachers in 5th Century B.C. Greece who took payment for lecturing. Later Sophists were known for presenting convoluted lectures on political subjects to further their own means. Clement of Alexander denounced them for distorting truths. (See W. K. C. Guthrie, Sophists (1971); H. Diels, ed., The Older Sophists (1972). "Stromata" Bk 1 ) Therefor we can see Sophists as expounders of non truth, satire, unfounded dogma, and illogic, by purpose, or 'Agnoia: Literally "ignorance" or not paying attention."
(The parable in 'Thomas' saying 97, resembles this fault)
Agnoia, can happen to anyone. It can happen in the realm of the Psyche, and certainly the kenoma. Perfection is hard. What is the worst thing for the Gnostic is: Agnosia: State of not having insight or Gnosis. Another identifiable flaw is described in the Thomas parable of the Vineyard, saying 65.
Thomas, 65. He said, "A [...] person owned a vineyard and rented it to some farmers, so they could work it and he could collect its crop from them. He sent his slave so the farmers would give him the vineyard's crop. They grabbed him, beat him, and almost killed him, and the slave returned and told his master. His master said, 'Perhaps he didn't know them.' He sent another slave, and the farmers beat that one as well. Then the master sent his son and said, 'Perhaps they'll show my son some respect.' Because the farmers knew that he was the heir to the vineyard, they grabbed him and killed him. Anyone here with two ears had better listen!"
The lack of sound reasoning by the owner of the vineyard, describes the flaw known in Gnostic literature as, Aponoia: "Unreason" like the misuse of thought. This is different than simply not having thought, as the inability to "put things together" can be worse than not even knowing they do in fact fit. This is something like the modern theory of Cognitive Dissonance. In 1951, Leon Festinger was asked to develop a "prepositional inventory" of the area of "communication and social influence." The result was his theory of Cognitive Dissonance. (G. Johnstone Spring 2002)
Agnoia, and Aponoia, can be persistent enough to cause Agnosis. These are the faults of the mind among others that are in effect kenomic flaws of the mind that must be overcome. The Sophist, cannot, transcend, like the Saklas: Literally means "fool." It is another name for the Demiurge. In most Gnostic schema those entities that are not in the non-corporeal pleromic state are thought to be in the hylic state, and imperfect. Some are considered incapable of Gnostic transcention, and are doomed.
The Aphorist and Scientist can if there is a balance and harmony of principles in their mental vision, or perception. A clarity, or oneness with the Nous. Nous: "Mind", The soul, not the same as 'pneuma' or spirit. It is the part of the anima that gives us consciousness. The anima as a whole gives life (or literally movement.. "animates") to our bodies. Tatian declares the soul as a special kind of spirit. (See Tatian's "Letter to the Greeks')
Those who can gain control of the Nous, can achieve levels higher than the lowest known Gnostic description of the flawed......Sarkic: "Fleshly" (Greek sarkikos) Same as or similar to "hylic" but may connote the lowest form of Gnostic understanding, animalistic. "The Book of Thomas the Contender" quotes Jesus as saying, "some men are beasts."
Gnostic descriptions of Gnostics in transition relate to the doomed, as described above, then there is the Psychic. Psychic: This level of thinking is the one right above "hylic," and below pneumatic. It's drive is the intellect, or normal understanding of the mind. While alive in the earthly state, the psychic remains as a hylic.
The highest level for the Thomasine Gnostic is that of the Pneumatic, which is thought to be above the Psychic. One who has become a Pneumatic is described as: Pneumatophoroi: One who has united his soul with the 'light' (Sophia, Wisdom) achieving Gnosis which is thought in Christian Gnosticism to be a union with the Holy Spirit. A common name for those who have reached this state are 'spirit bearers.' Those having reached this state are mentioned in "Acts" and Pauline works. Thought to wear the Holy spirit like a garment.
Leloup, in his "Gospel of Philip" points out the process of Holy Unions, which also applies to the concept of Gnosis in the triads of both Father, Mother, Son, and Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. This bonding is described by Origen and many of his students, who focused on the bonding in the 'Science of the Trilogy" as it is described in "Early Christian Mysticism," by McGinn.
"Not only did He enumerate several ways of salvation for any one righteous man, but He added many other ways of many righteous, speaking thus: "The paths of the righteous shine like the light." The commandments and the modes of preparatory training are to be regarded as the ways and appliances of life." (Clement. "Stromata" Bk5)
As we seek truth and enlightenment we see that harmony and balance can be seen as the clarity between the Aphorist and Scientist, The quest is to seek clarity, to understand the knowledge of something, and determine its value to truth or sophism, good and evil, Yin and Yang, with the catalyst of the "One."
Still while one might be meditating and have a stillness or oneness with the Power of the One, reflecting the aspects of the Pleroma. Suddenly a natural disaster can shake, the shakable mind. In descriptions of Taoist perfection of "Fudo" which means immovable in reference to "Shobutsu Fudoshi" the "Immovable Buddha Wisdom." Immovable wisdom is that which the mind does not stop, can move freely in any direction, forward, backward, right left, etc. (Tabata, p. 16, "Secret Tactics") This describes the Gnostic, and the Crafts which enable him to build the kingdoms or stages in the process of Gnostic transcendence. The Vision between the soul, and spirit. (Gospel of Mary)
Conclusion: The state between perfection and non-perfection can be seen in the realms of being Pleromic, and Earthly. The Earthly chaos, which is seen and not understood, can be brought to clarity with an understanding that perhaps we will only see a glimpse of the "All," a bit at a time.
Note: Many of the terms used in this document are a collection from my personal glossary, which has been compiled from various sources of Philosophy, and the Nag Hammadi Library, with special help from the Scholar's group of the Gospel of Thomas. (email@example.com)
The Nag Hammadi Library, Robinson, Harper, 1988.
Ten Great Works of Philosophy, Wolfe , Signet, 2002
Early Christian Mystics, McGinn/McGinn, Crossroads, 2003
The Jesus Sutras, Palmer, Ballantine, 2001
Hidden Wisdom, Smoley/Kinney, Penguin, 1999
The Bible of Karate, Bubishi, McCarthy, Tutle, 1995
The Gospel of Mary Magdala, King, Polebridge, 2003
The Gospel of Philip, Leloup, Inner Traditions, 2003
The Gospel of Thomas, and Christian Wisdom, Davies, Bardic, 2005
Early Greek Philosophy, Barnes, Penguin, 2000.
The Way of Qigong, Cohen, Ballantine, 1997
Tai Chi Classics, Liao, Shambhla, 2000
The Twenty Guiding Principles of Karate, Funakoshi, Kodnasha, 2003
Tao Te Ching, Lau Tzu, Feng/English,Vintage, 1972
Secret Tactics, Tabata, Tuttle, 2005
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