Friday, September 01, 2006

What Is Gnosis?

Gnosis is experiential knowledge of the Divine.

Gnosis is not a scientific knowledge – it is not about books or laboratories or facts. When we think of the word “knowledge”, a huge list of connotations and associations come to mind. “That person is very knowledgeable”, we might say of a professor of literature or someone who has a PhD. The Greek word for this familiar type of knowledge is not gnosis – it is episteme (literally “science”, though often translated as “knowledge” in the scientific and “book knowledge” sense).

Gnosis, on the other hand, is a completely different type of knowing – it is a knowing that permeates the very core of us. It is not based on “theory” or “proof”, both of which change as new “facts” replace old ones and are just as impermanent as the last. When we “plug in” to Gnosis, we access something that is primordial, something that has existed before “existence” itself (I refer to physical creation here) – we access a truth that does not change or waver, the very core of our eternal being. It cannot be measured by intellect. It cannot be summed up in words. It can only be known in the gnostic sense.

Even this very essay is going to fall short of describing what gnosis is. I can give you pointers and clues, and I can use language to stimulate something in you, but ultimately, despite what I say here, I cannot tell you what gnosis is, least of all your own gnosis of yourself. Gnosis cannot be conferred or appointed, nor is it a destination, but a continual unveiling and perpetual remembering of that which is eternal. “No one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself.” They say seeing is believing, but true seeing is knowing. Let those who have eyes to see, see.

When I say “Gnosis is experiential knowledge of the Divine”, what do I mean by Divine? What is Divine is truly a matter of perspective, but I, personally, consider it to be both Man and God, for they are ultimately one and inseparable. So, this covers both experiential knowledge of God and experiential knowledge of the self, for they are identical. Gnosis is not just about knowing “God is good” or “God is Love”, or even how many hairs he has on his beard – it is the experience of God. When you look at him, he looks back at you, and you look with one set of eyes, not two.

Gnosis does not belong, of course, to Gnosticism alone, for it has been, is, and always will be eternal and perennial, but Gnosticism is one of the few paths that deals directly in the attainment of it. Not everyone needs this path to attain it, for as said in a Valentinian piece, “What makes us free is the gnosis”. Gnosticism does not make us free, but it, like all tools of growth, can help and contribute to the attainment of that which makes us free – Gnosis itself.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

check out The Gnostic Circle..