"A religion without a goddess is halfway to atheism."- Dion Fortune
Friday, September 19, 2008
Thursday, September 11, 2008
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
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
"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
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
In the mean time, you can order it here, or, if you want the slightly different cover of the American version, try here (although you'll have to wait 'til early October for that version). Also check your local bookshops.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
This is run by a team from the Palm Tree Garden, and has some excellent posts thus far.
This is run by a friend, who has written a number of books on Gnosticism, and is the Editor of the new The Gnostic magazine, which should be out by the end of the year. I'll keep you posted.
I'll be attempting to update this blog a little more regularly, but in the mean time, feel free to check out my other blog:
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
"[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
Sunday, August 17, 2008
You see devils in the hearts of all God's people,
Who must, by your great will, come out in straw
With pitchforks ready
To clash, steel on wood, against the sceptres of sure Science,
Held aloft upon the horses of your reign.
If only it were simple,
Adam cast across the rift from Atoms,
An uncrossable Abyss,
A mental chasm where only malice lies.
But where is subtlety in these uncertain times,
Where we, in our doubt, assume we know it all?
There is only red and blue and yellow,
Stark around their corners
Where no meld of hue is seen,
Nor permitted, nor encouraged,
As was once the case
When the brilliant light of art
Merged with the evanescence of the angels
And the candescence of great culture
Saw no contradiction between the art of science,
And the science of art.
There was none of this vile blindedness,
Where the books of chemistry and physics
Cannot rest upon the shelf amidst the classics,
Those epitomes of literature
And the episodes of Man.
Our books are bound more tightly,
And thicker are their covers,
For fear we might somehow contaminate each other
With these opposing truths, these opposing lies.
The incivility of cynicism,
That vast tidal wave of suspicion,
Washes over many, a ravage rampant tempest
Against those "savages" who believe in something more.
And in the shadows of our minds creeps a growing creed:
Turn the other eye instead of cheek,
Afraid to face the possibility
That there are answers in the artistry
That only the humble heart can read.
Inspired by Richard Dawkins
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
"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.
Monday, July 28, 2008
"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
Saturday, July 26, 2008
- God is conceived of as beyond the Three Negative Veils of Existence, (Limitless Light, Limitless, and Nothing), as the Unmanifest, in the Qabalah. Likewise it was common Gnostic principle (as well as being a general approach in mysticism as a whole [see the Cloud of Unknowing, for example]) to define God in negative terminology.
- While the above is true, God was also seen as part and parcel of the entire manifest universe, while also being beyond the Three Negative Veils. This is called panentheism, believing the universe to be part of God, but not all of God, which is in stark contrast to pantheism. Of course, there were many Gnostics who claimed definitively that the world was not in the least bit divine, but there were also many others who believed otherwise - the Valentinians in particular. They shared a predominantly panentheistic view. This can also be found in the Qabalah, where God is present in all the Sephiroth, and yet there is also part of him that is Unmanifest, beyond the Veils.
- The process of emanation in the creation process ("emanationist cosmogony") is part and parcel of, at the very least, Sethian and Valentinian belief. It is a typical point that, in a sense, defines Gnosticism (though, of course, not all Gnostics adhered to this, but this is pushing the term to its most open and inclusive). At the very least, the Sethians are the only group to actually call themselves Gnostics, and since they believed this, it is the most definitive source, in terms of scholarship, for defining the belief. The Qabalah shares this cosmogony, with emanating Sephiroth instead of Aeons. Indeed, the Aeons often numbered 10, the number of the Sephiroth.
- God of the Manifest Universe, either seen in Chokmah or Kether, is not the "real God" - you see a beared man in Chokmah (traditional "man in the clouds" god), or a bearded man in profile in Kether, showing you can only see one side of God. This is very similar to the conception of God throughout Gnostic myth, with the God of Chokmah or Kether (depending on your source and personal inclination), who is the "Creator God", being equated as the Demiurge.
- Gnosticism espouses a belief in a Divine Spark in Man. Qabalah also espouses this belief (via the Yechidah, etc.). See here and here for Qabalistic passages by the Baal Shem Tov on the Divine Sparks.
- Gnosticism teaches us that this world is a fallen one (sometimes likened to a prison, which the Qabalists would not necessarily have agreed with), with the Divine Sparks trapped inside. It must be raised up and restored to its original condition. This is a pivotal belief in the Qabalah, which focus on the Tiqqun ha-Olam, the Restoration of the World. This usually takes the form of Malkuth being fallen and requiring reunion with Tiphareth (see here for my Qabalistic Cross material on Tiqqun as an illustration of this).
- There is a feminine form of Divinity in Gnosticism, which is termed Sophia. The Qabalistic equivalent, often used by many modern Gnostics, is the Shekinah. Sophia was once one of the primary emanations, but has now become trapped in the physical. This is mirrored in the Qabalah, where Sophia (or Barbelo in her higher Sethian aspect) lies in Binah, but her fallen counterpart lies in Malkuth. Interestingly enough, Sophia is Greek for "Wisdom," while Chokmah is Hebrew for "Wisdom". Some Qabalists would attribute the Demiurge to Chokmah (while others will choose Kether or even Chesed), and the Demiurge is typically linked to Saturn, which is attributed to Binah. Thus we have a kind of reversal of attributions of Sophia and Demiurge between these two Sephiroth in the Qabalah.
- The most important principle about Gnosticism is Gnosis, experiential knowledge of the Divine. While the Qabalah does not have a direct equivalent, Gnosis is usually translated as "Knowledge", with a potential equivalent being the Hebrew Da'ath, also translated at "Knowledge". To access the Supernal Realm the Qabalist must peruse Da'ath, or, to put it another way, Gnosis allows us to experience the heights of Divinity. This is a fundamental hidden principle to Qabalah.
These are but a few of the parallels I've found between these two systems, which, as both a Gnostic and a Qabalist, have allowed me to use them together without contradiction (and have allowed me to explain Qabalistic ideas in Gnostic terms, or Gnostic ideas in Qabalistic terms). There are many more parallels, including the Sepher Yetzirah and Sepher ha-Bahir. I will be exploring these in a more indepth article on this matter in the future.
Friday, July 04, 2008
"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)
Thursday, July 03, 2008
"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
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
1. The creator of this world is demented.
The Demiurge. "Demented" implies that he is deluded, a bit mad, as it were. This falls in line with Gnostic teaching that the Demiurge is deluded enough, egotistical enough, to believe that he is God, that there is naught before, above, or beyond him, and that we are his Creation.
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
Like in the Matrix, this is a false world, or as the Buddhists would say, an illusion. A veil obscures us from seeing anything spiritual or non-physical, let alone anything else. Spiritual practice begins the process of piercing this veil. In the Qabalah that are multiple veils - between Malkuth and Yesod, signifying the astral, between Yesod and Tiphareth (Paroketh), signifying the Higher Self (which is mentioned in a later part), and between Tiphareth and Kether (the Abyss), our Divine Spark, the Yechidah (and then three further Veils to the Unmanifest: God). We're living in a dream world, living dream lives, and, like all dreams, it's entirely illusory and entirely transitory. The goal is to wake up.
3. There is another, better realm of God, and all our efforts are to be directed toward
a. returning there
b. bringing it here
The God beyond "God" (the Demiurge). Not the caricature of the old white-bearded man sitting in the clouds, but the real indescribable nothingness of God beyond the Veil. We must strive to return to this realm of God (the Pleroma, the Fullness), which is where we came from; and this same process involves bring it here. We elevate the physical to the spiritual, but we also invoke the spiritual into the physical. This is the Kingdom of God on Earth, the New Jerusalem.
4. Our actual lives stretch thousands of years back, and we can be made to remember our origin in the stars.
We are older than we think. These physical bodies of ours are but imitations of our true form, which is inimitable. Our lives are eternal, and our origin is far from here, far in the depths of the Fullness of God. When Crowley said "Every man and woman is a star", what do you think he meant?
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 Higher Self. We must elevate our consciousness from this sleepwalking state, puppets of circumstance, into the consciousness of our Higher Selves, who pull the strings. Then we are no longer sleeping, and no longer prisoner to this dangerous magician, this demented creator. The reunion with our Higher Selves is the remembrance of that which we've always had, and when we were born into this "reality" we were forced to forget it, forced to obey a set of rules that never should apply to God, and never should apply to us. These rules are: Death, decay, deception, and dumbness.
I'll explore the next five in another post another day.
Friday, June 20, 2008
Thursday, June 19, 2008
-Israel Regardie, The Tree of Life
I think we may have inadvertently "tabooed" the word "save", since so many people want to "save our Souls". Only we can do that. A Gnostic does not see Christ (Soter, the Saviour) as an external agent, or would only see him thus in order to personify the Higher Self (as all traditions do). The Qabalistic assignation of Christ and similar mythological figures to Tiphareth is in accordance with this.
Salvation, as someone pointed out to me recently, implies that we have a debt to pay (original sin, etc.). In this modern age of reclaiming our authority over our own lives, this is not an acceptable notion. But in a sense, we do have a debt - a debt to ourselves. It's our failure to recognise the truth about ourselves, about our divinity, about the world around us (and how the physical isn't everything), that results in us being fallen. The Fall may only be a state of mind, an illusion, the product of ignorance, but this is what mythology is all about - describing these things. In the end, there's something wrong with us here - otherwise we'd all be enlightened. It's this lack of enlightenment that we need to be saved from, even if the Saviour is ourselves.
Sin, as so many of us Gnostics point out, did not originally mean "a spiritual crime", as it is often depicted today. It simply meant "missing the mark". We missed the mark. We took a leap and we fell. We do not have to throw out concepts; we can simply reinterpret them, as Gnostics have done for millennia. A Gnostic might also accuse the Demiurge of committing the original sin, the sin of ignorance, a sin against the true divinity of God beyond the Veil. See an old poem of mine for more on this potential interpretation.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
We all have to face our demons some day. Indeed, the very phrase "face your demons" is ingrained in our modern psyche, but what exactly does it mean? In Jungian terms it is the Shadow, all the parts of ourselves we do not like, the parts we ignore and repress; and one day it rebels against us, like a child locked away in his bedroom. In the end we find we neglect our Shadow. But is it the same as our demons? Is our Shadow made up from our demons? It is the Nephesh of the Qabalah, our animal nature, and it does us the good service of taking all our unwanted junk. Its reward: we shun and ignore it. We must, of course, sacrifice our demons, our Lower Self, before the altar of the Higher. But we also need to open the locked door; we need to make amends for our neglect, for ultimately we find that the dog-face is merely a mask, and when we demask our demons we might be troubled at what we find. And when we become troubled we will be astonished, and we will rule over the All.
Monday, June 16, 2008
Meanwhile, I'll continue to post my Gnostic musings here.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Enochian is only one of my three prime interests. These are:
I've spent the last four years, with the O.'.S.'.D.'.L.'., dedicated to studying Enochian, from Golden Dawn material to the original Dee material to more modern work like that of Benjamin Rowe.
I am, however, much more intrinsically fascinated by the Qabalah, and it meshes so well with my Gnostic beliefs (as does Enochian to a certain degree). It is difficult to summarise beliefs, but I will take a "stab" at it:
1) I believe in God, though I use the term merely for simplicity's sake. The true God is both immanent and transcendent (i.e. part of this world while also beyond it), so this can be characterised as panentheism. This God is also beyond description. We cannot say what he is, but more what he is not: illimitable, indescribable, etc. This type of unknowable God belongs to both Gnosticism and Qabalah (the Three Negative Veils).
2) In contrast to this, I believe in a lesser form of Deity - i.e. the Demiurge and Archons, who are the Creators and crafters of the physical universe (the Cosmos). Through a divine mistake, on behalf of Sophia, the forces of ignorance were created, as opposed to the emanation process which previously occurred with God (i.e. when God emanates his divinity, all is well. When something is created, however, something goes wrong). This emanationist cosmogony belongs to both Gnosticism and Qabalah (Aeons and Sephiroth).
3) I believe that God has fallen, to a certain degree, and is trapped in the physical world (not all of him, however, as he is also transcendent). This is Sophia of Gnosticism, the Shekinah of Qabalah. We are the Sparks of God (Yechidah in Qabalah), and our goal is to escape our physical prison (which is, like in Buddhism, an illusion), which is achieved through the Saviour, the Christ, who we become (in Tiphareth). This fallen state is known as Malkuth in Qabalah, which acts as a pendulum to the Tree. The goal, known as Tiqqun, the Repairing of the World, is to reunite Malkuth, the Kingdom, with the King, Tiphareth. This is frequently symbolised in Qabalistic teaching. Reincarnation is a form of entrapment that must be escaped to unify with God (this is essentially the same teaching as Buddhism's samsara).
4) I believe, like all Gnostics, that this salvation is only achieved through Gnosis, direct experiential knowledge of the Divine. Faith has its place as a pre-runner to Gnosis, but it is Gnosis alone, which is, in actuality, anamnesis, the act of remembering (such as remembering our divinity, our origin in God, our imprisonment, our ultimate knowing of all things, and our ability to save ourselves and, thereby, save God), which Plato taught about (which was thenceforth absorbed, like many Platonic teachings, into Gnosticism), that saves us. In the Qabalah, Knowledge is Da'ath, and thus it could be said that the goal of a Gnostic is to cross the Abyss into the Supernal Realm, the Garden of Eden. This is, in effect, the Tiqqun, for the Fall was us being thrown out of the Garden of Eden, and thus humanity's Rise is the re-entry of that Garden.
These are just my main beliefs, and don't explore all the subtleties, but I would have no problem describing myself with any of these terms:
If we look at the early Gnosticism, we will note that it was both Jewish and Christian, and, indeed, the early Christians still considered themselves Jews. I would, in turn, follow suit. There is much of value in the Christian teachings, primarily that of the dying-and-resurrecting Godman, the Christian Rosenkreutz of Rosicrucianism, but, as a Qabalist, I have a very big soft-spot for Torah and the Hebrew bible (and language).
In comparison to the above, I only employ Enochian when I need to. It is a system of magick, and you can believe what you will and still practice it to great effect. I am actually more enamoured by the Qabalah, and have always been.
Why not try a summary of your own religious/spiritual beliefs?
Friday, June 13, 2008
Vengeance is something all of us have to deal with, and it can be a hard one to manage. We all get angry, and anger is a healthy emotion, despite what we may think of it. Anger is the natural response to something or someone hurting us in some way. It may be trivial, or it may be epic in scope, depth, and application. Regardless, vengeance is the extreme end of anger, when we fail to forgive, which is not, admittedly, an easy thing to do. Vengeance brings us over the edge, and it can be hard to come back from the darkness that it leads to. I hope I have made this clear in my poem.
I pray that we all, myself included, learn how to forgive, and that when someone wrongs us, we do not wrong them in return, but express our dissatisfaction and, if necessary, remove ourselves from the situation. Let us not get caught up in the cycles of revenge, for they lead to no good places. Let us, instead, try to understand one another, and express our anger in a productive and healthy manner. Lord, in token of this, forgive us for all that we have done to anger others, and I ask for the forgiveness of these people, whether they feel ready to offer it or not. Let us also remember not to judge someone on their readiness to forgive, for we cannot understand the pain they may feel. Lord, grant us empathy and understanding, that we might live in a better world.
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
We know from Science that the Moon (Luna) has an actual effect on water on this planet, on the tides, and even on the menstrual cycle of women (which is tied up in the cycles of the moon). The moon is also said to affect the minds of men and woman (after all, we are dominantly made of water), and asylums frequently report more “madness” at the time of a Full Moon. Indeed, this is where we get the terms lunacy and lunatic form: luna-cy and luna-tic.
We know from sheer existence that the Sun (Sol) has an actual effect on the life of this planet, and that without it life could not exist. It provides heat. It helps plants grow. It even affects our moods, for when the sun is less frequent in Winter many people report the “winter blues” (which is why so many religions have adopted solar ceremonies in an attempt to off-set this). Indeed, some modern research indicates that the flu virus becomes prominent in winter simply because our Vitamin D levels have been depleted by lack of sunlight.
Now, I’m not as well-versed, scientifically-speaking, on whether or not the other planets have such a noticeable affect on us here on Earth, and, if so, what those effects might be. However, it doesn’t take much of a leap to consider that they do, given their proximity, have an effect on things here. This is what astrology teaches us.
What if the bondage of the Archons is the bondage to our “fate”, delineated in our natal chart in astrology? What if it is the bondage to the effects of the planets on our lives? What if freedom from them involves planetary workings to off-set these effects? What if, for example, a writer lacking in Mercury in his chart (the planet best associated with writing and the intellect), knowing that he is bound by the forces of the Archons to produce inferior material, propitiates Mercury, invokes this planetary energies on a regular basis? What if a volatile person banishes Mars energies? Is this the work of a Gnostic? Is this part and parcel of some of the ancient ceremonies that Gnostics carried out?
Now, let’s look at Saturn. Some people point out the remarkable similarity between the name “Saturn” and the name “Satan”, and perhaps the Gnostics of old were some of those people (after all, some Gnostics equated the Demiurge with Satan). Saturn is the most malignant planet in our system. He is, in essence, the primary force of bondage. He is Death. The image of the Grim Reaper was originally an image of Saturn. If Yahweh in the Old Testament is the Demiurge, and his kicking humanity out of
I’m pushed for time at the moment, but the purpose of this short post is to illustrate the different ways we can look at the mythology available to us. This is one way we can look at the Archons of old in modern light, and one that may feel most at home for all the astrologers among us. How do the planets affect us? And how do we make the most of their good effects and lessen the effects of the bad?
Monday, May 05, 2008
"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 ..."
from Centuries of Meditation by Thomas Traherne (via the Introduction to Israel Regardie's The Golden Dawn)
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
"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
Sunday, April 06, 2008
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
Motivation is an area that many people feel they lack in, yet they may be surprised to find just how motivated they can be when it comes to certain things. We might complain about the lack of motivation we have to go to work, but we may be highly motivated to buy a new house or new car, or even to read a book, watch a movie, or have an in-depth discussion with someone.
If we’re not motivated to do something, we rarely do it, or reluctantly and begrudgingly do it. We may want it done, but we don’t want to do the “doing”. In these cases, what do we do?
Motivation comes in two primary forms: negative and positive.
Negative motivation comes in the form of us being driven to do something for fear of the consequences. For example, we go to work so we don’t get fired, lose our money, our house, our car, and possibly our family. Someone who is negatively motivated may visualise all these nasty things happening if they don’t go to work – and this motivates them to go to work. It doesn’t sound very nice, and it isn’t. This form of motivation is about avoiding painful experiences. You’re not motivated towards riches, but are motivated away from poverty.
Positive motivation comes in the form of us being driven to do something because we want the rewards it offers. We go to work because we want the money, or maybe we like the “good job!” pat-on-the-back sentiments, or maybe we like team-work, or if we’re in a supervisory role we may like feeling in control. Whatever it is, we do it because we like what it gives us, be it money, happiness, or just personal satisfaction. We may even take up dead-end jobs because it goes towards something we’re striving for: a new apartment, a new car, that trip to a spa. We put in the overtime and do the hard work because we envision a goal we want. This form of motivation is about approaching pleasurable experiences. You’re not motivated away from poverty, but are motivated towards riches.
Once we understand this basic premise, it’s easier to deliberately motivate ourselves. “What?!” I hear some of you cry. Many people seem to think that motivation is an external force, like some big bad Demiurge pushing or pulling them towards success or misfortune. Many artists and writers seem to think that their muse is an external entity that comes and goes as it pleases, and that they cannot do a thing in their craft until inspiration strikes. They’re wrong. Inspiration and motivation work on the same system, and both are under our control. The reason they feel so external is because we’re too used to going on autopilot. Now it’s time to take he reins.
Firstly, what I want you all to do is this: think of something you want to me motivated about. Maybe you want a new job or new car. Maybe you want to write a novel. Whatever it is, get a good mental picture of what you want. This is your goal. Now, how do you get motivated about it? Try this: play out a scenario in your mind of you at the desk in your new job (if there is a desk – if not, demand one from your boss), actually there, doing the work. Imagine getting your new paycheck, and make special note to pay attention to the nice sum of money you’ve earned. Imagine looking in your bank account at the savings you have after just one year at your new job (even if you feel you can’t save to save your life). Imagine the great place you can now afford, the new TV, the new car. Likewise, imagine driving this car. Imagine picking it out in the shop and driving it home. Hell, imagine all the women or men turning heads as you glide past, sunglasses on, the wind in your hair (if you have no hair, imagine you have some, or imagine a woman or man in the back seat giving you a lovely Indian head massage). Imagine yourself smiling. Now really smile if you aren’t already. Invoke the feeling of pleasure. Let it well up inside you, let it fill you with its warmth, with its energising rays, as if the very Sun itself bows down to you and becomes a part of you. Imagine writing your book. Imagine yourself at the laptop as you complete your first 1,000 words, then 10,000, then 50,000, then 100,000. Imagine the satisfaction of a chapter completed. Imagine the greater satisfaction of the whole novel completed. Imagine sending it off to agents and publishers, and imagine receiving a lovely acceptance and being invited to a nice wine party to celebrate. Imagine reading an extract and receiving a wild applause, and maybe even a standing ovation. Imagine receiving a copy of your book in the mail. Feel the satisfaction it offers. Imagine all those wonderful praises the reviewers give: “Best thing since sliced bread. Tolkien or Stephen King, eat your heart out!” Imagine the sales figures jumping through the roof (then imagine a very high roof). Imagine the lifestyle you can live now. Imagine being able to whip out a copy of your book and finally prove you’re a real author.
Now, once you’re finished imagining all this, go out and do it. Make it real.
Monday, March 24, 2008
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
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.
For anyone who wants a nice PDF copy of the above, click here.
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
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.
Back from the dead... you know, like that fella... E.T.
Okay, so many of you might have noticed that I haven't really been around much lately. Apologies for that, and I'll try to rectify the sheer lack of posting on this blog. That's my side of the bargain. Here's yours:
In order to encourage me to post (there's an Archon out there called Laziness and he's incredibly hard to kill - get me Neo, please), why not comment with some suggestions for topics for me to tackle? Indeed, I'll even go so far as to make an oath that I will post about every suggested topic, so long as it relates somewhat to Gnosticism, religion, spirituality, philosophy, or the occult.