THE LAST LINE. THE LAST WORDS. THE LAST CHANCE.
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"Whoever knows the truth is free, and a free person does not sin, for 'one who sins is a slave of sin....' Those who do not allow themselves to sin the world calls free. They do not allow themselves to sin, and the knowledge of the truth lifts them up - that is, it makes them free and superior to all. But 'love builds up'. Whoever is free through knowledge is a slave because of love for those who do not yet have freedom of gnosis. Gnosis enables them to be free."- Gospel of Philip (via Jeremy Puma's column in The Gnostic #1)
The Demiurge's Laugh
It was far in the sameness of the wood;
I was running with joy on the Demon’s trail,
Though I knew what I hunted was no true god.
It was just as the light was beginning to fail
That I suddenly heard—all I needed to hear:
It has lasted me many and many a year.
The sound was behind me instead of before,
A sleepy sound, but mocking half,
As of one who utterly couldn’t care.
The Demon arose from his wallow to laugh,
Brushing the dirt from his eye as he went;
And well I knew what the Demon meant.
I shall not forget how his laugh rang out.
I felt as a fool to have been so caught,
And checked my steps to make pretense
It was something among the leaves I sought
(Though doubtful whether he stayed to see).
Thereafter I sat me against a tree.
- Robert Frost
"Another aspect of Rosicrucianism which few writers have touched upon, but which I feel is important, is its quality of playfulness, something that is arguably present in the Gnostic tradition that so influenced Rosicrucianism. The dualistic universe of the Gnostics, with its demiurge who created the physical world, need not be gloomy and depressing. Rather, it opens up the possibility of seeing the world as a marvellous conjuring trick, with the demiurge as the conjurer, whose skill is admired and applauded. But sooner or later the show will end and you must leave the theatre. From this viewpoint, Gnosticism ceases to be a negative, melancholy view and becomes instead a playful, celebratory one."- Christopher McIntosh, The Rosicrucians
"[Roiscrucianism] did develop a coherent teaching, which represented a highly interesting late revival of a Gnostic way of thinking. By "Gnostic" I mean, in essence, the view that the human spirit is trapped, as it were, under water, living a kind of half-life, ignorant of the fact that the sunlight and air of the true spirit are overhead. If knowledge (or gnosis) can make people aware of this, they will make the effort to swim upward and be reunited with their real element."- Christopher McIntosh, The Rosicrucians
"The Knights Templar are demanding that the Vatican give them back their good name and, possibly, billions in assets into the bargain, 700 years after the order was brutally suppressed by a joint venture between the Pope and the King of France.
"If the Holy See doesn’t comply, the warrior knights, renowned for liberating the Holy Land, will deploy that most fearsome of weapons: a laborious court case through the creaking Spanish legal system.
"The Daily Telegraph reports that The Association of the Sovereign Order of the Temple of Christ has launched a court case in Spain, demanding Pope Benedict “recognise” the seizure of assets worth €100bn. The Spanish-based group of Templars apparently says in a statement: "We are not trying to cause the economic collapse of the Roman Catholic Church, but to illustrate to the court the magnitude of the plot against our Order." This might come as a surprise to those who believe that the order of warrior monks – also credited with possessing the Holy Grail and laying the foundation of the European banking system - was smashed in 1307 by Pope Clement V and Philip IV of France."
Read the rest here.
"And so I urge you, go after experience rather than knowledge. On account of pride, knowledge may often deceive you, but this gentle, loving affection will not deceive you. Knowledge tends to breed conceit, but love builds. Knowledge is full of labor, but love, full of rest."- The Cloud of Unknowing
"The holy sparks that fell when God built and destroyed the worlds, man shall raise and purify upward from stone to plant, from plant to animal, from animal to speaking being. It is known that each spark that dwells in a stone or plant or another creature has a complete figure with a full number of limbs and sinews, and when it dwells in the stone or plants, it is in prison, cannot stretch out its hands and feet, and cannot speak, but its head lies on its knees. And, whoever, with the good strength of his spirit, is able to raise the holy spark from stone to plant, from plant to animal, from animal to speaking being, he leads it into freedom, and no setting free of captives is greater than this. It is as when a king's son is rescued from captivity and brought to his father."- Baal Shem Tov (via Rev Yakov Leib HaKohain)
"The Christ may have been in Jesus, but Jesus was not the Christ. He was the bottle, not the wine; the lightbulb, not the light; the wrapping, not the gift; the birdcage, not the bird."- Reb Yakov Leib HaKohain
1. The creator of this world is demented.
2. The world is not as it appears, in order to hide the evil in it, a delusive veil obscuring it and the deranged deity
3. There is another, better realm of God, and all our efforts are to be directed toward
a. returning there
b. bringing it here
4. Our actual lives stretch thousands of years back, and we can be made to remember our origin in the stars.
5. Each of us has a divine counterpart unfallen who can reach a hand down to us to awaken us. This other personality is the authentic waking self; the one we have now is asleep and minor. We are in fact asleep, and in the hands of a dangerous magician disguised as a good god, the deranged creator deity. The bleakness, the evil and pain in this world, the fact that it is a deterministic prison controlled by the demented creator causes us willingly to split with the reality principle early in life, and so to speak willingly fall asleep in delusion.
"The corn was orient and immortal wheat, which never should be reaped, nor was ever sown. I thought it had stood from everlasting to everlasting. The dust and the stones of the street were as precious as gold; the gates were at first the end of the world. The green trees when I saw them first through one of the gates, transported and ravished me, their sweetness and unusual beauty made my heart to leap, and almost mad with ecstasy, they were such strange and wonderful things. The men! O what venerable and reverent creatures did the aged seem! Immortal Cherubim! And the young men glittering and sparkling angels, and maids, strange seraphic pieces of life and beauty. Boys and girls tumbling in the street, and playing, were moving jewels ... I knew not that they were born or should die. But all things abided eternally as they were in their proper places. Eternity was manifest in the Light of the Day, and something infinite behind everything appeared ..."and
"All appeared new and strange at first, inexpressibly rare and delightful and beautiful. I was a little stranger which at my entrance into the world was saluted and surrounded with innumerable joys. My knowledge was Divine; I knew by intuition those things which since my Apostacy I collected again by the highest reason. My very ignorance was advantageous. I seemed as one brought into the state of innocence. All things were spotless and pure and glorious; yea, and infinitely mine and joyful and precious. I knew not that there were any sins, or complaints or laws. I dreamed not of poverties, contentions, or vices. All tears and quarrels were hidden from my eyes. Everything was at rest, free and immortal. I knew nothing of sickness or death or exaction. In the absence of these I was entertained like an angel with the works of God in their splendour and glory; I saw all in the peace of Eden ... All Time was Eternity, and a perpetual Sabbath ..."
"Matter, you in whom I find both seduction and strength, you in whom I find blandishment and virility, you who can enrich and destroy, I surrender myself to your mighty layers, with faith in the heavenly influences which have sweetened and purified your waters. The virtue of Christ has passed into you. Let your attractions lead me forward, let your sap be the food that nourishes me; let your resistance give me toughness; let your robberies and inroads give me freedom. And finally, let your whole being lead me towards Godhead."
- Teilhard de Chardin, The Divine Milieu
In early March I was asked to share my thoughts on Asceticism and how it applies (if at all) to Gnosticism. I’m admittedly not a fan of it, and recommend only brief stints of abstinence from food, sex, and other sensory pleasures – almost purely to develop the Will. Now I will share some of Jesus’ teachings on this subject from the Gospel of Thomas:
His disciples questioned him and said to him, "Do you want us to fast? How shall we pray? Shall we give alms? What diet shall we observe?"
Jesus said, "Do not tell lies, and do not do what you hate, for all things are plain in the sight of heaven. For nothing hidden will not become manifest, and nothing covered will remain without being uncovered."
- Logion 6
Jesus’ disciples ask him what practices they should do to be worthy, and many of the things they ask are physical observances. Should they restrict their diet (i.e. not eat meat) or fast? Should they give offerings to the temple and the poor? Should they pray, and how shall they pray?
Jesus does not give them the law. He does not say: do this and don’t do this. All he says is: “Do not tell lies”, for isn’t the observation of a diet that you do not truly wish to keep a lie? Isn’t the giving of alms which you do not wish to give a lie? Isn’t the doing of anything that you do not truly wish to do a lie? Jesus tells us: “Do not do what you hate”. Do not restrict your diet or avoid sex or create this image of false piety, for “all things are plain in the sight of heaven” – God sees all, and he knows the truly pious of heart from those who don the vesture of piety. You do not enter the
Jesus said to them, "If you fast, you will give rise to sin for yourselves; and if you pray, you will be condemned; and if you give alms, you will do harm to your spirits. When you go into any land and walk about in the districts, if they receive you, eat what they will set before you, and heal the sick among them. For what goes into your mouth will not defile you, but that which issues from your mouth - it is that which will defile you."
- Logion 14
This is a very striking verse. Jesus says that these practices will result in bad things. While it is perhaps safe to assume that this is a bit of a hyperbole on Jesus’ part, the real crunch of the matter comes with his explanation. He encourages hospitality – eat what is offered to you, for it is rude to observe a diet that results in rejecting that which is offered to you by your host. Heal the sick no matter what time or day. Do not allow good will to be restricted by these conventions of man. What enters you mouth (food) is not as important as what issues from it: words. Those who deal in tainted words shall be tainted by them. Control what you let leave your mouth, not what you let enter.
I sill leave with the remaining passages from the Gospel of Thomas that deal directly with his views on ascetic practice: May those with ears to hear, hear:
Jesus said, "Do not be concerned from morning until evening and from evening until morning about what you will wear."
- Logion 36
His disciples said to him, "Is circumcision beneficial or not?"
He said to them, "If it were beneficial, their father would beget them already circumcised from their mother. Rather, the true circumcision in spirit has become completely profitable."
- Logion 53
Jesus said, "Why do you wash the outside of the cup? Do you not realize that he who made the inside is the same one who made the outside?"
- Logion 89
They said to Jesus, "Come, let us pray today and let us fast."
Jesus said, "What is the sin that I have committed, or wherein have I been defeated? But when the bridegroom leaves the bridal chamber, then let them fast and pray."
- Logion 104
The Book of Beth
by Fr. J/Yachin
1. The House of God has many colours, and it has ten rooms, and it has four floors. It is built of a stone that has no form, and the blueprints of the house are hidden in the words of the Architect.
2. The foundations are strong, yet this house was first built from the roof downwards; each person who enters it shall build it anew from the foundations up.
3. There are two main floors of attainment, a basement at its base where Man is cemented in form, and a roof that opens out into the sky, where the Air is full for the breathing.
4. And God is found through Spirit in the House, the Air that blows here and there; and He is found at the back of the House, where the back door is open to the fullness of His infinite majesty.
5. The breath is as a gale from the East, so the House was built to face the West, for the builder must face the tools of his creation.
6. A King must build a Kingdom, and the beginnings of His Kingdom start with His House.
7. The Kingdom is the Door to the House of God, and you shall enter by the basement, where the chamber is damp and moist.
8. The clay is broken and built up over years, and weeds from the desecrated garden slither in and out of cracks and crevices. There are seven weeds that coil and spring, and they are the Rulers of the garden.
9. The basement is dark, yet there appears to be three passages where light streams down, and the light of a Great Lantern above illuminates the moss and the mould below.
10. The Basement is cluttered and overgrown, and the garden needs tending, lest the weeds overrun the garden above, smothering the roots of the tree that knows no bounds.
11. The people of the Kingdom must beseech the King, and they must approach His Palace by way of the steps that rest upon the foundations.
12. The Palace hides a
13. The King has a Seat in the middle, but you must pass through His guards; one is a pillar of strength, the other a pillar of mercy. You must thread the path between them, and this path encompasses a second stair.
14. The King sits upon a Crossroads, and he has six wings, and he has eight arms, and these arms point in seven directions, and one points at you.
15. The King hears the words of His people; then He casts off His robe of glory and they hear the Word of their King: Tiqqun.
16. The Garden of God’s House needs gardeners.
17. The people must cross into the
18. Stray thoughts create stray steps, and you shall stray with them. Keep then to the Way and you will keep your footing.
19. The Attic appears dusty, for it has seen little use by Man; but you grow to find that the dust is merely in your eyes, for there is no dust in this place.
20. What you see you will drown in, so keep to the goal of the garden and meet with the one who drew its bounds.
21. He will have the blueprint, but He has another Master, and this is the King Above.
22. God is in the Rafters.
23. Take a Ladder of Ten Rungs and you shall meet Him, yet you shall not glance upon His fullness, lest you become smoke and ascend into the clouds, where His majesty is unknowable and true.
24. There are three great clouds which obscure your view; the concentration of condensation is thickest near the chimney top, and this cloud is as a Limitless Light, so bright as to blind the onlookers who are not meet to meet that which is above.
25. Should you penetrate that (Heaven of Heavens be praised), you will see the Limitless, and there the Mind of Malkuth crumbles, for none can look upon the Infinite and live.
26. Life is only Life in the Light, and you shall have Life from the Limitless Light.
27. Your old eyes will melt, and you shall be given new ones, and you shall see the majesty of He that is unknowable and true, for sight is the sword that cuts the Veil, and sight is the source of penetration to the Source, where you shall see Not.
28. There is no Darkness here, nor is there Light; there is no Day, nor is there Night; even the Monad ceases to Be.
29. Hail the majesty of He That Knows No Bounds; and Hail the majesty of He Who Knows Not, for He is the Knower of All.
30. He Who Knows All knows how to mend the
31. You shall keep the weeds down, for they choke the flower of God’s worth.
32. You shall plant new seeds, for the Sower is the Reaper, and those who plant well supplant the Throne of Saturn.
33. You shall know the Tree by its roots; climb to the top and you will see them.
34. This is the glory of God’s Garden, and the glory of His Garden is the glory of His House.
35. Those who know God’s House know the manner of His living, and those who know the manner of His living know the mystery of His life.
36. The mystery of His life is found by the back door, yet few will think to open it.
37. So ends the Book of Beth; it ends in Silence.
Asceticism is the practice of extreme abstinence, primarily in a spiritual context. Think: No sex for the priests and no alcohol for the Muslims. Only, chances are that a true ascetic will abstain from both, as well as perhaps many (if not most) types of food and other physical and sensory pleasures (TV, music, books, games…).
“Now, why would anyone do this?”, you might ask. Surely food, for one, is a good thing? Well, that depends. If we look at the theological and philosophical side of things, it’s easy to see where the practice of asceticism came from.
Humanity tends to think in a dualist way. It’s either right or left, up or down, in or out, off or on. We’re talking good and bad here, heaven and hell, spirit and matter. I blame the Fall for our divisive nature, but even this blame game is a divisive comment, failing to acknowledge that I am the Fall just like everyone else is (and also the Restoration, but we’ll leave that for another topic). It’s this dualistic form of thinking, so natural for us as (seemingly) separate entities from God, that makes us wonder: If we want to be up “there”, doesn’t that mean we have to stop being down “here”?
In a sense, yes. Now, let’s follow this to a logical conclusion. “There” is, perhaps, heaven. It’s God. It’s the Pleroma. It’s spirit. “Here” is earth. It’s matter. It’s physical. The common Gnostic belief is that we (our true spiritual selves [our divine spark]) are trapped here in our physical bodies, in this physical world, on this physical plane of existence. Woe is us. In general terms, it’s pretty easy to be consumed by this world, to be consumed by consumerism and commercialism and the con of “this is all there is” physical existence. We might be striving for the American Dream. We might want a house, a job, a family. And it’s very easy to forget about the spiritual, to let those godly whispers be drowned by the rush-hour noise of our hustle-and-bustle everyday lives. So what do we do? We abstain.
Sex is pretty distracting. I don’t need to back up that comment. We all know that. Humanity is a very horny species, particularly with that blissful realisation that sex feels good, and isn’t, as we currently utilise it, just for procreation. Chances are that if you’re eyeing every passing woman (or man) because you’ve got “the urge”, you’re probably not thinking about God.
Alcohol. Personally speaking, I don’t drink (or shall I say, very rarely [once in a blue moon] do), but I don’t have any religious reasons for doing so. I think it’s safe to say, however, that abuse of alcohol is quite high, especially in modern society. It’s no surprise that many people of a strong religious persuasion (like followers of Islam) refrain from drinking. Not acting like a fool, not throwing up, not having a hangover, and actually remembering what happened tend to be seen as good things. Unlike other drugs that may open you up to spiritual experience (however chaotic or limited those may be), alcohol tends to inhibit the spirit just as much as it releases your earthly inhibitions.
But what about food? Well, we could say that vegetarianism is a form of abstinence. Asceticism goes a bit further than that. In extreme cases it can actually involve the complete refusal of food for extremely long periods of time. Sometimes only basic survival is encouraged. I don’t think that’s healthy at all, and I’m talking spirit-healthy here as much as healthy in a physical sense. Yes, food is a physical thing, and eating will strengthen the physical body, but taking the division of body and soul to such an extreme tends to miss the point entirely. Let me put it simply: if you don’t eat, you will die. I don’t care if your soul still lives, you’re dead and there’s nothing you can do now to set your soul free. Remember, this prison isn’t just your physical body. There’s a whole cosmos here, an entire Matrix to break free from. If you (extreme example) commit suicide in order to escape the physical you’re more than likely going to end up back here in a new body, still trapped in the cycle of Samsara. It’s not that easy. The Gospel of Judas shouldn’t be taken literally.
What happens when a Gnostic “wakes up”? Things can get a little difficult. You see, when you start fighting the chloroform of creation, the universe starts fighting back. The Archons are loosed. Every attempt to break free is met with a brick wall and an Agent in front of it. You simply can’t break free using brute force. Why? Brute force is a physical thing. Try subtlety. Try assimilation. Try persuasion. Because if you keep fighting the physical world you’re going to end up living a miserable life here, and waking up to the truth, however frightening, is not meant to make you miserable. It’s supposed to set you free. Suffering is another prison.
God is here. Yes, he’s “there” too, but he’s here. He’s always been here. This is part of waking up. It’s the realisation that just as you are “here” in the Matrix, you’re also “here” in the real world too. God is flowing through the veins of all creation. It’s a subtle invasion of divinity, permeating all. It’s not enough to elevate yourself from the physical to the spiritual. You have to bring down the spiritual into the physical. It’s a symbiotic process. As Above, So Below.
Thus, for anyone considering asceticism as part of their practice, let me say this: There are good reasons for fasting and abstaining from certain things for certain periods of time. It helps develop your Will. It strengthens you. It highlights your strengths and weaknesses. It can aid your spiritual growth. But don’t do it because a book told you to, or because your spiritual leader told you to. And don’t put your life at risk or think that you need to suffer to grow spiritually. That’s an illusion. It’s a lie that the Demiurge feeds us when he realises he’s losing his grip on us.
All that said, if you are an ascetic or are considering asceticism, there are theological and philosophical justifications for this, and I am in no way dismissing the practice as a whole. However, for the average Gnostic, I think it’s better to nurture your body and mind so that the nurturing of your spirit is made all the easier.
"...if you kill your ego, you might kill what motivates you to embark on the spiritual path and stay on it. Therefore, do not attempt to kill your ego or even to weaken it. What your ego needs is purification, transformation, and guidance."
- Pandit Rajmani Tigunait
P.S. Kudos to Anthony for suggesting this topic.