Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Allogenes – Literally “foreigner” in Greek, this is the title of one Sethian Gnostic text (found here). The “foreigner” in this case is seen to be the Gnostic, who, while in the physical world, is foreign to it (having his/her true origin in God).
Apocryphon – Literally “secret book” in Greek (plural: apocrypha), this is appended to many Gnostic texts (such as the Secret Book of John) to show that it is a text, unlike other texts, that explores the secret truth (which many Gnostics felt was withheld from more generic texts that Christians, etc., used). This is generally employed by Sethian Gnostics (the Valentinians would have seen the secret truth in the more generic texts as well).
Archon – Literally “ruler” in Greek, this is the name of one of the adversary forces that rule the Cosmos, under the dominion of the Demiurge. Some Gnostics saw these as numbering into hundreds (i.e. angels), while others saw seven Archons (i.e. the seven old planets), one of which was the Demiurge (Saturn).
Cosmos – From the Greek (kosmos), meaning “system”, this is seen as the cage from which the Gnostics are to break free from. A good modern myth of this is the Matrix.
Demiurge – Literally “artisan” or “craftsman” (from the Greek demiurgos), this is the name/title of the main adversarial force in Gnostic cosmology. He is variously seen as the Creator God (differentiated from the True God who is beyond Creation), Saturn, Satan, or a more abstract force of bondage. The term was first introduced by Plato, who influenced many of the Gnostic movements.
Gnosis – Literally “knowledge” in Greek, this is the experiential knowledge of the divine that turns a person into a Gnostic. It is a revelatory and salvational experience of communion with God, not to be confused with intellectual or book knowledge (known as episteme in Greek).
Hylic – Literally “of matter” (from the Greek hulikos), this was a Valentinian title for the people who were devoid of spirituality entirely, those who had rejected God in any of his guises (even non-Gnostic ones). They were the people who clung to matter (hyle), and made up the first group of the Valentinian three-fold division of souls.
Logos – Literally “word” in Greek (though that is but an approximate translation). Originally introduced by Plato, it was taken by many Gnostics (via the introductory passages of the Gospel of John) as a title of the Christ, and is often seen as one of the primary Aeons.
Pistis – Literally “faith” or “trust” in Greek, this is often seen as the opposite of Gnosis (upheld by the psychic group of the Outer Church), but the Valentinian Gnostics saw it as a necessary prerequisite of the attainment of Gnosis (though it was never seen as offering salvation).
Pleroma – Literally “fullness” in Greek, this is a title for the totality of the Divine, the realm of the Aeons and the True God. Reunion with the Fullness is seen as one of the primary goals of Gnosticism.
Pneumatic – Literally “of spirit” (from the Greek pneumatikos [from pneuma – spirit]), this was a Valentinian title for the people who belonged to the third of their three-fold system of grouping. These were the Gnostics, the Valentinians themselves (among others of similar theology), and were seen to be members of the “Inner Church”, the Church of Gnosis, and the highest of all three groups.
Praxis – Literally “practice” in Greek, this is a common term for practical (as opposed to intellectual) exercises that a Gnostic might undertake as part of spiritual observance or attempts towards Gnosis. Examples include ritual, prayer, and community action.
Psychic – Literally “of soul” (from the Greek psychikos [from psyche – soul]), this was a Valentinian title for the people who belonged to the second of their three-fold system of grouping. They were seen as people who had embraced a limited aspect of the divine (given in Faith), and were members of the “Outer Church”. This generally referred to the orthodox Christians.
Saklas – Literally “fool” in Aramaic, this is a common title for the Demiurge (who is seen as foolish for denying the reality of the God above him).
Samael – Literally “blind god” (or “god of the blind”) in Aramaic, this is a title for the Demiurge. The name is also found in Jewish and Christian works, variously as the Angel of Death or a demon, often equated with Satan (further enforcing its usage for the Demiurge, who was sometimes seen as Satan).
Sethian – This is the name of a dominant group of Gnostics (who were the only ones to actually use the term “Gnostic” [calling themselves the Gnostikoi], generally of a strong Jewish background. They usually refrained from using Christian references, but upheld similar theology to the Valentinians (gnosis as salvational, emanationist cosmogony, etc.). They saw themselves as the followers/children of the biblical Seth, the third son of Adam and Eve, who was seen as the balancing of the forces of Abel and Cain.
Somatic – Literally “of flesh” (from the Greek soma – flesh), this is an alternative title for a Hylic. See the entry entitled “Hylic” for more information.
Sophia – Literally “wisdom” in Greek (giving rise to the word philosophy, love of wisdom [from philo love/r and sophia wisdom), this is the name of one of the primary Aeons in Gnostic cosmology, variously seen as the feminine aspect of the Divine, as the mother of the Demiurge (who created him in an attempt to mimic the actions of God), as the fallen aspect of Divinity (in much the same way as Eve) trapped in Creation, and as the spiritual consort of the Christ (in various forms, most notable of which is Mary Magdalene).
Soter – Literally “saviour” in Greek, this is a title of the Christ. Just as Jesus is seen to be the Saviour in orthodox Christianity, Gnostics saw the Logos/Christ as the salvational Aeon that descended to rescue Sophia (and the trapped sparks of the divine within humanity) from the Cosmos and the bondage of the Demiurge.
Soteriology – Literally “study of salvation”, this is a common term in theology to describe the discussions on what is required to save humanity. In orthodox Christianity it is seen as Faith, but Gnostics taught that Gnosis was the only thing that could grant salvation.
Valentinian – This is the name of perhaps the most dominant group of Gnostics to date, the followers of the teachings of Valentinus and his disciples. They upheld a moderate form of Gnosticism, embracing the ecclesia of Christianity with Gnostic and Platonic theology, doctrine, and practice. Most modern Gnostics and Gnostic Churches are seen as Valentinian.
Valentinus – The founder of the Valentinian Gnostic movement, he was a Bishop of the Roman Catholic Church (who was narrowly defeated for the honour of Bishop of Rome [i.e. Pope]) and the most influential and popular Gnostic to date. He taught a more moderate form of Gnosticism, which was less adversarial to the Church and its teachings, and was therefore considered more dangerous as he converted more and more members of the Church to Gnosticism. His name is sometimes spelled Valentinius, and he is sometimes considered (mostly by Gnostics) as the saint to which Saint Valentine’s Day is named.
Yaldabaoth – Literally “come here, child” in a Semitic tongue (alternatively spelled Ialdabaoth or Jaldabaoth), this is a title of the Demiurge. There is no direct and accurate translation available of this, so any provided can only be an educated guess on the part of scholars.
Yaweh – A pronounced form of the Tetragrammaton (YHVH), the four-lettered name of God. This is the Creator God of Genesis, and he was often described as the Demiurge by Gnostics (especially those who raised how contradictory he seemed to the God shown in the New Testament), especially those with an anti-Semitic bent. This led to further conflict with Jews and Christians alike.
Zoe – Literally “life” in Greek, this is a name used for Eve. In this context she is seen as the daughter of Sophia (or an emanated aspect of her as the fallen goddess).
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Contentment is the obstacle of growth.
Suffering is almost a prerequisite of the yearning for spiritual growth. Jesus suffered. Buddha witnessed suffering everywhere.
We'll never leave the House if we're content enough to stay inside.
Happiness isn't enough. The "perfect life" isn't enough. The "american dream" isn't enough.
Because ultimately that's all transitory.
It doesn't last.
And we never truly feel any of it.
Because it never had the same sense of reality, the same sense of undeniable truth, as that which is experienced in Gnosis.
Look at Cypher in the Matrix.
He chose to go back to the System, to stay "plugged in".
He knew the meat wasn't real.
But it tasted so damn good.
The truth didn't make him happy.
It's not supposed to.
But ultimately his happiness isn't real.
So the lie doesn't make him happy either.
I was asked: Why does Neo take the red pill?
Because he has to.
Because he doesn't have a choice.
He thinks he does.
But he knows he doesn't.
The hand holding the blue pill is a ruse.
He already took the red pill - before it was offered to him.
And even if were to take the blue pill,
He'd end up sitting back in that room
Knowing he has to take the red pill.
Contentment is the obstacle of growth.
It was Neo's discontent that helped him grow, helped him take the red pill.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
A man knocked on a door.
"Who's there? asked God.
"Me," replied the man.
"Go away then," said God.
The man left and wandered in the arid desert until he realized his error and returned to the door. He knocked again.
"Who's there?" asked God.
"You," answered the man.
"Then come in," replied God. "There's no room here for two."
- Sufi teaching story
Saturday, November 10, 2007
I recently posted some thoughts on the official view of Faith in the Order of the Sons and Daughters of Light, so I thought I might share them here also:
On The Nature Of Faith
Many Gnostics have a distrust of the notion of faith, often due to coming from a strict religious background which taught blind faith alone. Given this, faith is often discarded or treated as lowly, or, worse yet, as an evil, a distraction from Gnosis, or a sign of the inability to think or function properly.
We in the O.'.S.'.D.'.L.'., however, do not share this negative view of faith. We take a Valentinian approach, seeing faith as a starting point, in much the same way as the Valentinians of old considered the "psychics", the average Catholic Church member, to be members of the Church in the Outer, the forerunners of the pneumatics, the Gnostics - the members of the Inner Church.
Faith (Pistis) is, thus, a prerequisite of Gnosis. It is by faith, by belief in the practices, the scripture, the teachings, etc. of our path that we climb the Tree of Gnosis, that we ascend the Ladder of Light. It is our faith in our Gnosis that allows us to tap into the Spark of Divine Light within us, allowing us to embrace the Fullness of God.
Faith is Trust. I cannot tell you what Gnosis is. You have to experience it for yourself. However, you can trust my limited appraisal, just as you can trust the accounts of others who have experienced (and continue to experience) it. You can trust the teachings of the scriptures, regarding God, regarding Sophia and the Demiurge, regarding Christ. You can trust in the intrinsic spiritual value of humanity, of our oneness, or our ultimate origin in the Heavens, from whence we came, and whereto we go quickening. Faith is that Trust. It is not the Bondage from which we seek to escape, but the Bonding with that which we seek to escape to (God).
Friday, November 09, 2007
"What makes us free is the gnosis
of who we were,
of what we have become;
of where we were,
of wherein we have been cast;
of whereto we speed,
of wherefrom we are redeemed;
of what birth truly is,
and of what rebirth truly is."
– Excerpta Ex Theodoto
Sunday, November 04, 2007
Thursday, October 18, 2007
And - brownie points for anyone who uncovers its meaning ;)
Sunday, September 09, 2007
(18) The disciples said to Jesus, "Tell us how our end will be." Jesus said, "Have you discovered, then, the beginning, that you look for the end? For where the beginning is, there will the end be. Blessed is he who will take his place in the beginning; he will know the end and will not experience death."
There is no time. The Alpha et Omega. The beginning in the end, the end in the beginning. Malkuth in Kether. Etc., etc. This is an age-old principle, and one that we can safely assume has true value among all traditions that hold it. However, let's also look at this in terms of Gnostic mythology. The Gnostic does not see Genesis as the beginning, but that which happened before that - i.e. the True God in the Pleroma, with Sophia and the Aeons, etc. Thus, to know about the end, the return to the Pleroma, we must know about the beginning, the true beginning. Indeed, it is with this knowledge of this creation myth, which the Gnostics held in great esteem, that the quest for the "end" (Gnosis, etc.) begins.
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
(2) Jesus said, "Let him who seeks continue seeking until he finds. When he finds, he will become troubled. When he becomes troubled, he will be astonished, and he will rule over the All."
At the beginning of the path the Gnostic must take, he has not found Gnosis, so he must seek it before he can find it. When he finds it, he becomes troubled, because he is now exposed to the truth, and the truth isn't pretty: this isn't everything - there's more - we're trapped here in a lesser form, etc. This is effectively the awakening of the Gnostic to the prison of the Cosmos and the Demiurge. However, once he has become troubled, which is a necessary step, he will them realise that what at first seems like a terrible situation is actually a lot better than he first suspected. Yes, our Divine Spark is trapped, but before we awoke we did not know we had a Divine Spark, for our consciousness was dulled and tempered. Thus, the Gnostic then becomes astonished by the realisation that he can realise a great and monumental potential, the potential hidden within that Divine Spark. Then truly he rules over "the All" (the Fullness, the Pleroma) because, through his Divine Spark, he is the All, and thus is merely ruling over himself.
Sunday, July 08, 2007
In a recent post on the Palm Tree Garden Forum, it was asked if questionable people (such as JZ Knight/Ramtha, who was mentioned in the topic itself) have a Spark of Light within, and if then we should honour that Spark within these people, who may be misguided, corrupt, or even worse.
The answer is, of course, yes. She does have a Spark within. Even that most abhorrent of individuals, Adolf Hitler, does (or did, at least). When we conceive of everyone as having a Spark of Light, a Divine Flame, within them, we cannot go back on that conception when we encounter evil or iniquity in people. Even the most evil of people have a Spark of Divinity within them – no, they may not be using it, or may not be in any way in touch with that Light, but it is there all the same, buried beneath the layers of deception and cruelty (among other things) they (and society around them) have built up over the years.
Let us consider a few passages from the Gospel of Thomas for illumination on this:
“If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.” (Thomas, 70)
What you bring forth from within you is the Spark of Light, and this Spark is your Salvation. If you do not bring forth the Light of this Spark, then you live in a world of Darkness, and this Darkness will destroy you and those around you. Indeed, for the case of Hitler, it was not merely the failing to bring forth the Spark of Light within him, but the rejection of the Sparks of Light within others (the Jews in particular) that led to such evil and destruction.
“Light exists inside a person of light, and he shines on the whole world. If he does not shine, there is darkness.” (Thomas, 24)
We are all people of the Light, for there is a Spark of Divinity in us all. If we do not shine, however, then there is Darkness. It is the task of people everywhere, in whatever manner is possible to them, to let the Light of their Divinity shine forth to repel the Darkness and illuminate the world.
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
To ignore the spark of light within you
Is to demean the authority of your spirit,
And to demean the authority of your spirit
Is to degrade the stature of the Lord, your God.
Recognition is as the casting off of cloaks
And the removal of worn and weathered walls;
When you cast off the cloak of illusion
And knock down the wall of separation,
You will find and you will know
That the spark of light within you
Those who shun and spurn and shirk,
And those who don veils and vestures
So as to hide the beauty of their souls,
Or reject the beauty of the souls of others,
Cannot bypass the Gate of Heaven,
For those who reject shall be rejected,
And those who shun shall be shunned,
And those who veil shall be met with veils,
And they shall neither know them,
Nor penetrate nor pierce them,
For the walls of man are thick and high,
And the clouds of heaven are many,
And vigilant are the Watchers
Who grow an extra eye
For ever slight against a spark
Friday, June 22, 2007
Fr. Jordan+ made an excellent post a few days ago about the genocide in
Thursday, June 21, 2007
These are the words spoken to celebrate the Summer Solstice, as part of the O.'.S.'.D.'.L.'.'s Solstice Ceremony, as well as that performed by the Irish Occult community on this day. May the blessings of Sol be upon you all, that we might bask in the Light of its Beauty, and that we may all be purified and regenerated by its healing power.
Sol Invictus! Sol Triumphant!
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
I want to point out a blog post from an Irish priest here that deserves some attention. Suicide is a growing trend in modern Ireland, with us ranking 5th in Europe for it, and it is a topic that needs to be highlighted. In this light, I want to link you all to the post in question and point out the last few paragraphs in particular for anyone who is considering suicide:
Remember, there are people who can help, people you can talk to, people who will neither judge nor condemn, and people who not only understand many of these issues intimately (having experienced them in some manner or form), but have the relevant experience to help deal with them.
For others - parents, teachers, and, indeed, every single person in Ireland now, I must say this: "Let those with ears to hear, listen", for there is not much listening going on right now in Ireland.
I pray, in the name of the Lord God Almighty, that the pressures of modern society lessen and subdue, and that if and when they become too much, there are people and services available to help. May those who struggle, be their problem big or small, find the necessary outlet to express their concerns, to find help in whatever manner they need, even if it's just a helping hand, a listening ear, or a shoulder to lean or cry on. May we all learn to avoid judgement, especially of those who have experienced things we do not or can not know, and may we all pray together in the spirit of love, charity, mercy, and endless compassion, that none of God's children go unheard.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
The first practical exercise we'll explore here is called Lectio Divina, Sacred or Divine Reading. This is an important exercise, since we, among other faiths, have a large collection of texts at our disposal (such as the Bible and the Nag Hammadi finds). While we must, by all means, utilise our intellect in our approach to these texts, it is also important to "read" them in another manner, to allow the truth that is hinted by their words to filter into our heart and change us. In this sense, reading such scripture becomes a form of prayer, a method of communion with the Divine.
This process generally takes the following form, though don't feel limited to it, as each individual reader and reading will follow its own path when allowed to, and communication with God is never truly defined by the bonds of structure. Take it as a guideline and go from there:
This is the reading part itself, but unlike some other forms of reading, where we may be merely skimming the lines or trying to hurry through to the next paragraph, this should be a slow, deliberate reading of the selected material. Several rereads are also good practice, to allow the verse (etc.) to sink in.
This is the part where you meditate upon the words and meaning of the reading you have chosen. Try to uncover its meaning and how it applies to you, but don't force it; let it flow naturally from the piece itself, letting key words lead you on trains of thought and new meaning.
This is the part where you make a response to the piece and your findings through meditation on it. It is where, effectively, you "talk" to God, expressing what you have discovered about the world and yourself via the reading.
This is the part where God makes his response, and this is accomplished by trying to clear the mind from your own conscious and unconscious thought patterns and allowing the voice of the divine to descend upon you. While this is expressed in terms of a dialogue, it's important to note that this is primarily an inner dialogue, so expect "contact" via thoughts, ideas, etc. that arise during your contemplation.
While some of the above stages may seem similar to each other, the subtle differences can only truly be known by actually practicing it. It's also important to note that you should not select a huge piece of scripture to read, as this may distract from the exercise itself. You are more likely to have success with this exercise if you take small passages individually and allow them to sink in without battling for attention with other passages.
And that's that. Remember, this is not merely a form of reading. It is a sacred act of communion with the Divine, an act of prayer that opens the channels on both ends. With that I wish you the best with practice of this. Feel free to leave comments on how you are progressing.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
One of the common experiences of Gnostics (and other "alternative" groups) is the feeling of alienation, of not quite belonging where they are. This, of course, is partly due to the fact that a Gnostic is 1 in a 1000, if even, and that minority groups are, by their nature, somewhat alienated from the dominant culture and group of the given people. But is that all of it? Gnosticism gives another reason.
Have you ever had the feeling that you just don't belong here? By here, I mean in your town, in your country, on this planet. This should ring a bell for many people who are reading this blog, and let me try to explain why.
You don't come from this place. Yes, you're "human", and yes you were physically born here on this planet. I would never argue against that. But, as we all know, there is more to this than meets the eye, because there is more than the physical. Creation didn't start with "Creation" (a la Genesis) - something happened before this. This is a common teaching in both Gnostic and Qabalistic texts. So, while Genesis describes the creation of the Cosmos (the "System" that Gnostics try to break out of [in much the same manner as the Buddhists do with Samsara]), which includes, of course, the "stuff" that makes up the Earth and our physical bodies, that "stuff" isn't all of us, and our True Creation goes back a lot further than that. In essence, you could see it as: the Demiurge created our bodies, but our souls were created by God. The Breath of God was breathed into Adam, whose body lay like a lifeless inanimate shell, and it is the Divine Spark in all of us that harks back to our true heritage in the Pleroma, in the Fullness of God and his infinite majesty.
So what does this all mean? Simply put, the reason why you feel you don't belong here is because you belong in the Pleroma, and by "you" I mean a greater you than the ego usually likes to admit. The body is, in essence, a cage, just as the Cosmos is - the Matrix that we all have to wake up to and break free from, and "what makes us free is the Gnosis". I'm not saying, of course, that we should shun the physical or commit suicide in order to try to "get out", as that simply won't accomplish anything. You can't escape easily. You will be reincarnated. The bondage of Samsara is broken through other means, and this is through contact with the Divine (through Gnosis). Over a number of incarnations where such contact is sustained the bonds begin to weaken, and eventually there is an Ascension of the soul, a Return of the the Divine Sparks into the Pleroma, the Tiqqun (Repairing) of the World, the Reunification of the Shekinah with the King.
This is a common thread of Gnostic thought (see "Allogenes", for example, which means "the Foreigner", and deals extensively with this subject), and, indeed, was important for Christianity and Judaism as well (among other religions), since, for example, Judaism places a special importance on their exile from Egypt and subsequent places (identifying it with the exile from the Garden of Eden and the fall of the Shekinah, which is the fall of Sophia). It is a recurring trend in all people, which tends to strengthen the idea that humanity doesn't quite "belong" here. We belong, in essence, in the Garden of Eden, from which we were exiled, and we are homesick, yearning to return there, for no grass here has the greeness of those meadows, and no fruit can taste as sweet as that of the Tree of Life.
To be alienated is, in essence, to be alone (or, at least, the experience can feel like that), but to be alone is to be One, for the word "alone" is a conjunction of "all" and "one": all-one becoming al-one. This is the same for other words of a similar nature like "only", which was originally written as "onely" in an older form of English. So, to be alone is to be One, and when we consider the philosophical implications of this, the "loneliness" element is diminished considerably. As a Gnostic, one of the key beliefs is that all is One, that everything ultimately belongs to the Fullness. Thus, if we are "all one", then being "alone" (in a negative sense) is merely a misconception of the state of our total being, of God being alone in the Universe.
Let us pray for Tiqqun, and let us share our Wisdom, our Understanding, and our Knowledge with one another, that we might all know the mysteries that make up the Ascension. May we remember our Fall and Exile, and that of Sophia (the Shekinah), and we work towards the Restoration of God, which is the Restoration of Man.
Monday, June 11, 2007
"If we are already One within the Divine, who is having the experience [of gnosis]?"
Friday, June 08, 2007
Practice (in Greek, "praxis") is one of the areas that is often overlooked when it comes to spiritual paths like this. There is so much academic discussion and arguing, not to mention the sheer reading pleasure of the texts we have available, that the actual practical application of these things can be ignored. Many people are studious in terms of the intellectual elements of these things, and that is a vital element, without doubt, but most of them fail to balance that with actual practice, with actual use of what the material describes.
If there is no practice, it amounts to little more than, as many call it, intellectual masturbation (effectively, stroking the brain). It might be fun, but it isn't going to produce much more than short-term pleasure, and spiritual progress relies on much more than intellectual knowledge. As Gnostics this should be doubly notable, given how we stress that Gnosis is not intellectual knowledge. Reading books won't produce Gnosis (though it will help towards it) - if there is no practical application of knowledge, it is wasted potential for growth. It is the planting of seeds and not watering and nurturing them.
I implore, therefore, that all genuine students of any form of spirituality, religious or mystical, orthodox or heretical, put the teachings of their path to use, to help transform the world and the lives of those within it. Spirituality that is divorced from everyday life is spirituality that is divorced from an integral aspect of God, the God that is right here and now.
I will be devoting a few posts to things that aspiring Gnostics can do in terms of "praxis", so keep reading for the next few weeks.
Thursday, June 07, 2007
"If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love."
- 1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
"The price of God's purity is the loss of His living reality. For the living God can never be subsumed under a pure concept. What makes Him a living God in the mind of a believer is precisely what involves Him in some part of the human world, what makes it possible for man to see Him face to face in a great religious symbol. Reformulated in rational terms, all this vanishes. To preserve the purity of the concept of God without loss of His living reality - that is the never-ending task of theology."
- Gershom Scholem, "On The Kabbalah & Its Symbolism"
One of the pivotal points of Gnostic theology is that God is indescribable, that his true essence cannot be summed up in words (in much the same way that Gnosis itself cannot). It has been the principle of Gnostics therefore (and, indeed, Kabbalists and other members of the broader "Gnostic" communion of mysticism) to limit descriptions of God to negative terms: indescribable, infinite, ineffable, illimitable, ad infinatum. The True God is, while very definitely present here in our everyday lives, far beyond the realm of our limited conceptions, so much so that we can only truly describe what God is not (i.e. finite, "good", etc.).
But this makes for a somewhat "distant" God. If God cannot be described, if all our attempts at such description are doomed to failure from the outset, and if God can only be conceived in this abstract "pure" manner (which many would argue is still a limited conception of God), then doesn't that make God, to the human mind, an alien force? If God cannot be expressed in a human way, how can the human hope to know God, feel his presence, or come to walk a path laid out by him? If God is "maths" and not "mythology", then doesn't it make God a bit clinical, a bit impersonal, a bit too "other" to really mesh with how we, as humans, interact the world?
The answer is, of course, yes, and a very valid yes. Personal interactions with God are, by their very nature, a limited experience, and we cannot use them as a basis for describing God in his totality of being. But what we can do is use our mythology, our anthropomorphisms of God, to help us recognise God as he is "here" in order that we might know more fully what he is like "there", in that abstract unmanifest realm. We cannot describe Gnosis accurately, but we can intimate what Gnosis is, and help inspire Gnosis in others (by stimulating their inner spark), by means of mythology and poetry, and likewise we can intimate what God is, and help inspire contact with him (by, again, stimulating that inner divine spark), in those whom we communicate with. So long as we recognise that the words are only directions to God and not what God actually "is", they become invaluable tools in our search for divinity.
Monday, June 04, 2007
"Scripture is like a man and has flesh [according to the literal meaning], soul [according to allegorical interpretation] and spirit [in accordance with the mystery]."
- the Zohar (via Scholem's "On The Kabbalah & Its Symbolism")
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Join me and many others in a one day blog silence on the 30th of April, in honour of the victims of the Virginia Tech tragedy and all other victims around the world, at all times and in all places. This day is for them. Let us remember them and contemplate the ways we need to change ourselves so that we might all live in a better world tomorrow.
For those who wish to cast the first stone of blame in relation to this recent event, I can only say: "...first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbour’s eye."
Let us promote love instead of blame.
Monday, April 16, 2007
I was pointed towards a blog post on charity (or the lack thereof) today, and I wanted to add some words of my own to this topic.
It's too true that charity seems to have gone out the window, as it were, nowadays, which is terrible, especially considering it was one of the most pivotal teachings of Christ (through his words and his actions). I'm not merely referring to how much money we are willing to donate either, nor just our concern for the sick and the poor (in terms of material wealth); in many ways, there is a lack of charity in all our actions, with a greed of mind and spirit as well as the greed of the physical (food, money, etc.) that we are more than familiar with.
The thought of people thinking the phrase "God helps those who help themselves" is in the Bible is shocking, yet it doesn't surprise me. In
Perhaps it's a disillusionment with Christianity in general, where there is a diminishment in belief in the afterlife, leading to a kind of panic-stricken world seeking to get as much as they can in the few short decades they have in this life. The idea of building your treasure in heaven has been replaced by a literal building of treasure on earth (or a figurative building of treasure in hell), and we are the jealous dragons guarding our hoard (how suitable that we would be this fiery beast, breathing the very flames that lick and lash at our neighbours in a self-created worldly hell). But how is it that the aforementioned "creed of greed" has come to be seen as something that was intended as the creed of Christianity, as the teachings of Christ? How can the self-sacrificing figure of Jesus, who welcomed the hated and the feared (lepers, women, tax collectors, etc.), not to mention his aspostles, who opened the path to Gentiles as well as Jews, be abused in this manner as some sort of excuse for our poor thoughts and deeds?
Many people may be richer in wealth, but they are not only poorer in time (as the common phrase goes), but are much poorer in spirit. I encourage everyone to regain a sense of basic Charity, whether you are Christian (of any denomination) or not. Let us be inspired by self-sacrifice and an unwavering love of our fellow man (and woman), to not only be kinder with our pocket (for there are many who donate blindly), but kinder with our thoughts, words, and actions.
May you be a participant in the Unwavering Love of God, in the Spirit of Ceaseless Charity.
Sunday, April 15, 2007
We all know the common logical argument made by the theological question: “Can God create a stone he cannot lift?” The paradoxical nature of this has led many people to believe that God is not omnipotent, while it has led some theologians to defend the omnipotence of God, not by arguing the logic of that paradox, but merely by looking at what omnipotence really means (and redefining it if necessary).
I’m not really concerned with whether or not God is omnipotent, but what I do find interesting is the idea of God’s self-restriction or self-limitation. One of the main arguments against the paradox cited above is that God could do anything at one stage, but can’t do everything anymore. This is the argument proposed by William of Ockham, where he suggests that there are “two powers” of God (potentia absoluta – the absolute power of God; and potentia ordinata – the ordained power of God). The first is the “primal” conditions of God, before anything every happened – it is God’s potential, which includes the ability to do anything (and everything), whereas the second is how it is now: God with self-imposed limitations.
To many people unfamiliar with theology, this might be a shocking suggestion – a limited God (even if it is a self-inflicted limitation). However, I feel the following quotation from Thomas Aquinas offers a good explanation of this idea when he discusses whether or not it is possible for an omnipotent God to sin:
“It is commonly said that God is almighty Yet it seems difficult to understand the reason for this, on account of the doubt about what is meant when it is said that “God can do ‘everything’”…. If it is said that God is omnipotent because he can do everything possible to his power, the understanding of omnipotence is circular, doing nothing more than saying that God is omnipotent because he can do everything that he can do…. To sin is to fall short of a perfect action. Hence to be able to sin is to be able to be deficient in relation to an action, which cannot be reconciled with omnipotence. It is because God is omnipotent that he cannot sin.”
Now, let’s come back to the idea of divine self-limitation. Is this possible? Does it make logical as well as theological sense? If we explore the Kabbalah, we come across the notion of “tzimtzum” (restriction), which is where God (who is everywhere) restricts himself so that the universe can be created. This might not make sense at first, but let’s explore it further. God is, by his vary nature, spiritual (as opposed to physical), and lies, in truth, beyond the Three Negative Veils of Existence (i.e. the “unmanifest” nature of God – an eternal, boundless Light). In order for God to become physical, he must restrict himself, because this is a world of form, and form requires boundaries for it to take shape (Binah, the first Sephirah of Form is seen as a restricting force in the Path of the Lightning Flash down the Tree from Kether and Chokmah [Force], and just as Binah is the Superior Mother, so is Malkuth [the physical] the Inferior Mother, being the ultimate birthing place of Form – us, our world, our universe). Because the physical is much denser (i.e. more closely packed together), it is, by its very nature, a restricting element.
Then, of course, if we consider God to be Light, the creation of Darkness can only logical occur by an absence of light, so in order to remove light, God must remove (and thereby restrict) himself. This “darkness” could be seen as the gross nature of the physical, yet, and I must stress this, the physical is but a mirror of the spiritual that, through its density, has been closed in upon itself, so that the spiritual element has become, in essence, “trapped”, yet it still remains. I cannot theologically or spiritually advocate the idea that God removes himself from creation so much so that he simply ceases to exist in creation or in the lives of humanity (afterall, we all have a divine spark within us that betrays this conclusion about God).
We can also think of the stories of God revealing himself to the world through incarnations in people such as Christ (and others, though he is especially of note here). In order to make himself known to humanity (which is none other than himself in a restricted form, opening up the possibility of sin through humanity’s imperfect nature), he had to restrict himself into the form of a human, which includes the “imperfection” of death. This ties in nicely with the depiction of Judas being the Gnostic apostle who set the spirit of Jesus free (thereby removing the restriction) through handing him over for the crucifixion, which, as we all note, was not stopped by God, who, “surely” (if he were omnipotent), could do something about it. Or could he? If God was Christ at that time, was he also God as “God”? If he restricted himself to the form of a human, would he have had to have been freed from that form in order to be a “god” again? And, indeed, is this all just a matter of perception?
Feel free to tell me ;)
For more info, check: www.thegospelofthomas.org
Friday, April 13, 2007
Feel free to make suggestions - God is on tour - do you want to see him in your town? Which divinely inspired books do you want him to sign? What movies do you think he'd like to see now that he's down here (the cinema in heaven isn't that good, to be honest)? Have a guess where God keeps his gold tooth at night-time. What does he do for "kicks"?
Friday, March 30, 2007
I wrote the following in my personal journal, but I felt I should share it here, as the subject matter is important:
It's been a good year or two since I watched the movie Memento, but I bought it recently and watched it again tonight. Without a doubt, it's one of the best movies made - a slow film (i.e. no real action), but such an intriguing film, so well-crafted and acted, and it leaves you with lots to think about.
The idea of having no short-term memory is terrifying. Think about it - you'd never know who you are, and you'd never be able to create a new life for yourself, because you simply wouldn't remember it. In esoteric terms, this is why so many people fear Unity with God, because they fear losing their identity, their self, their essence, their being, to this amalgamation of Spirit - losing "Me" to "the All".
As human beings, identity is such an intrinsic and important subject for us, and it is one of the key things you'll find in Gnostic teaching: Who are we? Do we even know who we really are? What if this is just a dream, a fabrication of someone else's mind, of our own mind, a new life we just created because we cannot truly remember the one we had before? If we think about it in terms of reincarnation, of being stuck in the cycle of samsara, these questions are actually more valid than we might care to admit. Short-term memory in the case of a single human life might be something like 5 or 30 minutes - but what is short-term memory in the case of the life of the soul? How many lives has a soul lived? Would 100 years of one life even make up 5 minutes of the 24 hours of the soul? Is this really just part of the equation, one little number in a galaxy of numbers? We get so caught up in our existence here and now that we fail to remember who we were before, who we will be in the tomorrow of our soul. This might make some people wonder: What's the point? Is it really worth it?
But let's face it, it's a safety valve, like all types of memory disorders. If I fail to remember my childhood, part of that is because it's safer for my consciousness to survive without those memories. If I have a severe accident and trauma (like the main character in Memento), I lose my memory so I can survive and live a life not plagued by the memories of events I simply cannot take. And if I die and am reborn in a new body, I lose the memory of my old life because the human mind (in its undeveloped and untapped form) simply cannot take the concept of multiple lives - it starts to mix it all up, remembering people here and now who actually lived several hundred years ago. Losing those memories is a safety valve, to help us cope with the sheer volume of information that the soul can process (in its infinite and transcendent form), but the human mind cannot.
One of the things that Plato teaches (and Philip K. Dick, the Gnostic science-fiction writer, firmly latches onto) is the concept of anamnesis: remembrance, or the removal of amnesis. Effectively, we know everything - we simply have to remember it. And it makes sense. We have this Divine Spark in us, part of the True Source and Origin of All, and this is accessed through our Gnosis of ourselves (Gnothi Seauton - "Know Thyself"), because when we come to know ourself, our True Self, we begin to remember - we begin to awake from the belief that this is all there is, that this is the extent of life, that we merely exist as ecological beings as part of some coincidence of nature. And I know those beliefs aren't true, because I remember more than that, and what I do remember is liberating.
But what is it like to suddenly remember things that you never knew before, things you have forgotten? In many cases, it is strongly advised that past life regression not be attempted, as it opens a new "can of worms" that most of us just simply would not be able to deal with. I mean, let's face it, if you found out you were a murderer in one life, chances are that it will affect you in some negative way, depending on your emotional and spiritual maturity. On the spiritual ladder, many of us do begin to remember our past lives, some more than others. Often times they have no real use to us - I can waste 5 minutes of my current life, and my soul can waste an entire life of its eternal existence. Other lives are more important. Some of them hold missing keys. But these lives are really not what matters - it's your eternal life, the one that puts all the pieces together, that ultimate and transcendent self, that is the final gatekeeper, the one who is the key and is the lock and is the door you must past through - to find You.
But again, I have to ask: what is it like to suddenly remember things you forgot? I suppose it depends on the memory. Sometimes I'll remember the name of a film or a song or something simple like that, and it will just all of a sudden "ring a bell", whereas I couldn't remember it before. I'm sure many of you are familiar with that feeling when you're trying to get the name of a song (or similar), and it's at the tip of your tongue (or, more correctly, at the edge of your mind), seemingly toying with you, dangling just out of reach, an elusive phantom. And then there are other things, things you've buried, things that are only unearthed when something triggers it. You might have had an accident in a car, so your muscle memory kicks in when you come near a car, showering you with fear and anxiety. And what if you got in? Depending on how strong your mental barriers are, being in the car might trigger the memory into surfacing. Or it might not.
Many people live without their memories, or, at least, live without memories that are often considered important - such as childhood. In truth, we can say that everyone lives without their memories - that everyone thinks they're living when they're really just in a cosmic coma, waiting for the weather to change. And it will change.
I guess part of the reason of this topic is that I am beginning (well, this is a process that has been happening over a period of many months) to remember some things I haven't remembered before - both in a physical and spiritual sense. Without a doubt, this is not a thing to be considered lightly, and I would advise caution if someone were considering regression of lost memories or unremembered past lives - even remembering that there is more to this world than meets the eye can be a terrifying experience ("ignorance is bliss"), but ultimately it's a door that many of us will have to unlock.
Saturday, March 24, 2007
Okay, so I guess the title of this post is vague and a little misleading. However, I'll try to explain:
Today I found out there was to be a topic about the Gospel of Judas on the main chat show here tonight called "The Late Late Show" (which has been running for around half a century), so I decided to watch the show. When it came to it, however, I found out rather quickly that they were not referring to the recently revealed Gnostic text of the same name (dating from before 180 CE, if I remember my dates correctly), but a newly written gospel (a paraphrase of what a gospel is, according to one of the guests [and authors of this new work], Fr. Francis J. Maloney, is: the story of Jesus, his life, death, and resurrection, told as "good news" [from the Old English "god-spell"]), written by Jeffrey Archer with the scholarly backing of the aforementioned priest (who is, supposedly, one of the most respected biblical scholars of this time).
So, a new Gospel of Judas. Since many people have the inaccurate assessment of the four canonical gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) as being the "word of god" (like the rest of the Bible), rather than that of us mere mortals, this new text probably won't be received as much more than an interesting novel or scholarly work (depending on whether you're concentrating on Archer's storytelling or Maloney's biblical scholarship). That said, however, it is interesting to note that since it takes the story of Jesus from Judas' point of view (without any reference to the Gnostic Gospel of Judas, which is obviously because of the Catholic Church's disapproval of it), it portrays him in a much more positive light than we are used to (bar the Gnostic text which totally inverted our common-held beliefs about this "betrayer"), removing elements like his suicide and also what the two guests described as the "nature miracles" of Jesus (walking on water, parting of the waves, turning water to wine, etc.), which they found they be untrue, and merely elements of storytelling that were used to "drive home" the point that Jesus is the continuation of the Divine from the Old Testament, "proving" this by giving these miraculous signs that the God of Israel also gave (same goes for the story of Lazarus).
So, for the average Christian, that's quite a blow to them. Many of these epic moments didn't happen? For the average Gnostic, it's old news, and doesn't go nearly as far as what the Gnostic Gospel of Judas suggests (I'm a little annoyed that they called it the same name, as this can lead to a lot of confusion, and, let's face it, the Gnostic one deserves to keep its title, being older by nearly two thousand years). In some ways, I feel this might be an attempt to "meet halfway", as it were, with the Gnostic portrayal, in order to discredit what might be seen as a more "fanciful" view with a much more toned-down version that allows Judas to be exonerated enough to pacify anyone who might want to "look deeper" into the alternate views to the Canon. Indeed, while the Pope has not formally approved of the text, Archbishop Tutu described it as "riveting and plausible", which is quite high words from a high and powerful man in the church, which lends to the view that it has received a certain amount of "Church backing", as it were.
Speaking of the show itself, at one stage a journalist in the audience (who was invited on to give an alternate view to that of Archer and Maloney) dismissed it as the "Gospel of Jeffrey, not the Gospel of Judas", that it is as a "gimmick" with no sound "biblical erudition", saying the authors were trying to suggest it had Church approval, and said something along the lines of "we all know who is to benefit from this". Maloney explained that the initial funds raised from the sale of the book would go towards building a secondary school in a poor country (the name of which currently evades me), and anything earned after that is free to go to Archer if he so wishes (if, indeed, anything more is raised, though I would hazard a guess it will earn more than the required amount for the school). However, the journalist then went on to dismiss the work as "boring" and gave a personal attack to Archer himself, saying he is a "second-rate author" (which ruined his argument for me, as personal attacks tend to do), which may or may not be true (I have not read Archer's work). What is interesting, however, is Archer's response to this. He quickly got fired up, raising his voice and assuming aggressive posture (and it looked as though Maloney did not approve of Archer's angry response), culminating with him coming back (on several occasions) to the dismissal of him as a second-rate author (even though he initially said he does not respond to personal attacks), to say something along the lines of: tell that to the two point something million people who have bought my books. This defensive attitude ruined his own position in the show tonight, I feel, just as the personal attack did for the position of the journalist (I mean, come on, journalists are paid for this sort of thing - surely he had to expect some amount of criticism about his work, especially work of this nature). Another element which irritated me about Archer was his behaviour at the end of the discussion, where he whispered something to Maloney while Pat Kenny (the host) was giving the final words about the piece, culminating in him shaking hands with Maloney rather than, as I felt it should have been, Pat Kenny himself (afterall, Archer and Maloney came on the show together).
I haven't read the text in question yet myself, though I am intrigued by it (particularly in context of comparing it to the Gnostic Gospel of Judas [see how I've been forced to "rename" it, as if it were a heretical byproduct of this "orthodox" Gospel of Judas?]). You can find it here:
Gospel According To Judas
P.S. I just noted that this book does indeed have a different (albeit slightly) name than the "Gospel of Judas" (the Gnostic one), but it was constantly referred to as the "Gospel of Judas" throughout the show, and will undoubtedly lead to a certain amount of confusion regarding these two texts.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
1. No man can pervert Your holy place, O my God; nor can he change it, and put it in another place.
2. Because he has no power over it; for Your sanctuary You designed before You made special places.
3. The ancient one shall not be perverted by those which are inferior to it. You have given Your heart, O Lord, to Your believers.
4. Never will You be idle, nor will You be without fruits;
5. For one hour of Your faith is more excellent than all days and years.
6. For who shall put on Your grace and be rejected?
7. Because Your seal is known; and Your creatures are known to it.
8. And Your hosts possess it, and the elect archangels are clothed with it.
9. You have given to us Your fellowship, not that You were in need of us, but that we are always in need of You.
10. Shower upon us Your gentle rain, and open Your bountiful springs which abundantly supply us with milk and honey.
11. For there is no regret with You; that You should regret anything which You have promised;
12. Since the result was manifest to You.
13. For that which You gave, You gave freely, so that no longer will You draw back and take them again.
14. For all was manifest to You as God, and was set in order from the beginning before You.
15. And You, O Lord, have made all.
This Ode seems to discuss the location or "place" of God as He fits into the Universe. However, I think the first line is suggestive of the reality that God is immovable (He is the "Prime Mover"), and likewise is He incorruptible (these "negative descriptions" [i.e. in-, im-, un-, etc.] are typical of the Gnostic view of God the Father, showing the inability to describe what God is, but helping to understand God through describing what He is not). This immovable nature of God lies partly in the fact that He is everywhere - the Universe lies within Him, and yet He lies above the Universe. This is called panentheism, being immanent and transcendent simultaneously, and can be seen in many Gnostic texts. So God's place cannot be changed, for God simply is everywhere, and simply is ("I Am", Eheieh, etc.).
The "special places" of line two may refer to the Sephiroth, which are the spheres of the manifest. God the Father, in his truest guise, lies beyond this manifest world, beyond the Three Negative Veils (I find these "negative" veils tie in quite well with the "negative descriptions" typical of the Gnostic view of the Father), which would be His "Sanctuary" that He designed before the making of the "special places" (or Sephiroth). Man, being manifest, has some power over the Sephiroth but not over this "Sanctuary" beyond them, for he is (in a sense, described in the next line) "inferior" to the Father (only in so far as he is man and not the Divine Man which he also latently is).
Verse three strongly suggests this "inferiority", and then goes on to state that God has given His "Heart" to his followers ("believers"), which, if we look at it Qabalistically, would relate to Tiphareth, which is none other than Christ Himself, who, indeed, God gave to His people.
God will not be "idle", for He is the "Prime Mover", the Great Giver of Life (in maternal form), and idleness is Death. God, being the Fountain that all springs from, will not "be without fruits", both in the sense of the life that all partake from (or "eat" of) and in the sense of the Sephiroth being the "fruits" on the Tree of Life, which sprang forth from that great Fountain that never rests (for God is Potential).
The next few lines give a definite feeling of "clothing", and I would continue the idea of the Fountain of Light flowing down and over a person, so that they are immersed and now wear a garment of Light. This is the Grace ("Charis") of God offered to the Faithful (or, in in the Gnostic school, to Those Who Know, or have Knowledge). One hour of this "clothing of grace" is more excellent than a lifetime without, for it is the true guise of Man, and when you embrace Truth, there is no Time (Time is a Cage of Illusion), and those who are thus adorned cannot be rejected, for it is their True Form - "Do what thou wilt ... and no other shall say nay".
I see the "seal" as being Gnosis ("Your seal is known" hiding a blatant truth). This is the only real mark of importance - the rest is designed to attain, stimulate, or elongate the experience of Gnosis.
The next few lines suggest the fellowship of Man and God, and then go on to continue the idea of God being a Fountain, showering his children with "milk and honey" (a familiar phrase used in similar texts, I believe, though I cannot state examples offhand... "milk and honey", the nectar of the Gods).
There is no "regret" with God. Even though the Cosmos ("the System") has become corrupted to act as a cage for God's children (by that potent force, the Demiurge, and all who answer to him - likewise, think of the breaking of the vessels of the Sephiroth in Qabalistic lore), God does not regret His creation. Why? Because ultimately all must move in accordance with His will. Right here and now God penetrates all and works in subtle ways to bend things to His will (think "everything happens for a reason"). "The result was manifest" to God, for it was God who manifested it.
The giving forth, and giving freely, suggests to me the outpouring of Light from Kether (and above) to the Sephiroth, and the idea of God not drawing back or taking the Light from there suggests to me that God will not remove Light from this world, that we might all stray in Darkness, but will let the Light that He has shone forth illuminate all, that all might walk in the Dawn.
The next line is unusual in that it states that "all was manifest to You as God, and was set in order from the beginning before You". It is possible we could look at "God" there being the Creator God (or Demiurge in a less negative light), and that all was "set in order from the beginning" before this "God" by what is actually the True God, or the Father, who is much more difficult to comprehend and describe (with the term "God" being useful, but somewhat inaccurate). This ties in quite well with how we can look at Kether as "God" and yet know that there is more beyond it.
Friday, February 23, 2007
Many people think that to evolve spiritually we must shun the body, that we must deny our impulses, avoid sex and procreation (as they lead to keeping the human race imprisoned in physical form), and deny the pleasures and necessities of food (either completely, or to the point of us being vegetarians or vegans). Many religious paths have some form of bodily discipline as part of their “curriculum”, some coming in the form of abstinence from food (or certain types of food), sex, entertainment, and other “physical” things.
And I think they are wrong.
No, not wrong in the sense that these things are untrue or that we should not be vegetarian, vegan, sexually abstinent, etc., but I think the requirement to refuse and deny the physical is a confusion of cosmology, a trick of the Demiurge, if you will, that lulls us into the false belief that God is “up there” in Heaven and that we must do everything in our power to get there, and that means shunning everything else. This is, of course, a dualistic view of the world, a little too black and white to be anything more than a concept (reality is, I’m afraid, a much more complex, and yet simple at the same time, place, and it involves being multiple things simultaneously) – this dualistic view has been a criticism of Gnosticism for centuries, and it remains so today, though often for the wrong reasons, as modern Gnosticism tends to follow suit with the Valentinians and Sethians of old, with the concept of panentheism, of God being simultaneously “up there” and also “down here” (that distance is really only illusory, and the travelling of the distance is actually the simultaneous dispelling of it), of being transcendent and imminent at the same time.
So, if God is really actually here in the physical (“the divine invasion” of the Phildickian mythos) as well as the spiritual (the physical being but an illusion, which many Gnostics and Buddhists would both agree with), then why do we need to shun it? Again, I feel the origin of this issue is a confusion of the original intent of those who wrote about it. Let’s face it, there are many distractions “down here”, many things that will lead us astray or keep us in our Iron Prison, and, indeed, these include things like sex, food, and entertainment. So, we need to make sure we do not let them rule us, that the Pentagram is the right way up, as it were, with Spirit as the “head” and the physical working in service to it (just as our body works in service to our brain, and why it tends to be disastrous is men think with their…). However, we also have to make sure we aren’t being ruled by our desire to not engage in physical activities – this is just the other extreme, another imbalance that will only serve to harm and hinder our spiritual growth. The physical can hinder our spiritual growth – we all know that – but I honestly think it’s a trick of the Demiurge, who is well aware of our knowledge that the physical can hinder the spiritual, playing on that knowledge so that we ignore and shun the spiritual that is in the physical, “the God within”.
When it comes to food, at the end of the day, most of what we eat (meat and plants alike) was alive at one time, and it continues to have life through us, as per the laws of Nature, which all animals must adhere to. I personally think it is foolish (not to mention a little arrogant) to try to shun "animal" practices (like eating meat [and plants] and having sex), as they are essential aspects of our survival (on a personal level and on the level of our entire species). If I do not eat, I will become weak and, in time, will die physically. At the moment I need my physical body to be strong if I am to get the most out of my spiritual pursuits and to help others do likewise. If I am wasting away, I will not have much will or energy to concentrate on spiritual things, and dying from starvation is only going to mean another life here, "starting from scratch", as it were, before the lessons of this life were learned.
So, a Gnostic should be whatever is important and applicable to their personal unveiling through Gnosis. For some that will include being vegetarian, but for others it will not. For some that will include sitting in a cave and meditating for 12 hours a day, but for others the entertainment value of television, books, and games will be an essential aspect of their growth, an element of balance, if you will. In closing, I would like to give the following:
God is here and now, within us and in the world around. The world may appear to be heading in a dark direction, with more and more people being consumed by greed and selfishness, but God is a subtle force, the single snowflake that sets an avalanche in motion. We are often too wrapped up in our own perceptions of the world that we fail to recognize the pieces that are being set in place. I pray that humanity will learn to use the physical world as a tool to attain its growth, as a stepping stone to the spiritual revelation that is Gnosis.