The Trouble With Gnosticism
Posted by lahar9jhadav on November 10, 2011
The Gnostic’s cosmology is flawed because it places ‘Man’, and his personal physical experience, at the centre. If the personal ‘man’s’ existence is ‘not very nice’ then the whole of the universe, The World, must be a flawed universe created by a Flawed creator. However, because Gnosis gives the experiencer , through a definite (or Divine) Gift of Grace, Knowledge of a Transcendental world in which the experiencer is an intrinsic part, well then, there must be a Higher Creator who is not flawed. That is the Duality of the Gnostics.
Life’s a consistent bummer, and then in the midst of all this suffering you are woken up with ‘aid from above’ and given the keys to the kingdom.
Gnosis is personal Transcendent experience. Gnosticism is the world view which has grown out of Gnosis. Or is it?
The experience of Gnosis is like the most powerful psychedelic trip you’ve ever had – there’s a whole bunch of weird shit going on in a whole bunch of dimensions whilst you, in the midst (myths) of it all, stand with arms outstretched, paralysed, levitating in the middle of the air completely ‘thunderstruck’, being Initiated by the Universe. You are Infused with The Love and The Bliss, You hear the Roaring Voice of Silence, You are Given the Secret, You are shown the Truth Within Your Heart, You are Purified by the Fire, and perhaps given some Good Advice. Then you fall to the ground, in a heap, and crawl around trying to gather the pieces of yourself back together again. For a time you can Know Everything – nothing can be put into words or a coherent narrative, no – the Information is too big, too Wide – you don’t have enough ‘memory’ to store it so you just Randomly Access it in ‘real time’ until the main connection to the Cosmic Server is replaced by the, ‘Normal Resumption of Service’. But the Normal Service will never be the same as it was before the Universe Reached Out It’s Hand Across The Waters and Touched You on the Forehead, Anointed you, Remembered you. No, you are not the same.
After you have picked yourself up and dusted yourself down, and depending on the environment you find yourself in, your Understanding of certain things will be acute. If you find yourself in the midst of your small children you might understand why “we must be as little children”. Or perhaps if your are shepherd you will understand the ‘speech’ of your charges.
Or, perhaps, you will be surrounded by the ancient Jews and see their ‘God’ Jehovah as a Devil – a low order, ranting, brutal demigod. Gnosticism as a Myth, as a historical religious movement described by the Nag Hammadi Library, grows from this point. But Gnosis was there from the beginning – ‘before there was sand in Egypt’ as the saying goes.
But, find some pristine wilderness – see the balance. Look up at the night sky. See the Order of the Universe. Read some modern cosmology. This universe was not created by some ridiculous, brutal, selfish and ranting demigod.
A modern Gnostic sees a lion eat a gazelle for lunch and thinks that this is a brutal, flawed, and useless suffering – but then there are many many more gazelles than lions, and who live a ‘happy’, that is un-lion-lunched, life. And the lion goes for the throat and ends it reasonably quickly. And if the gazelles were not ‘managed’ in this way perhaps they would grow too numerous and eat all of the food in their environment and starve en masse along with all the other creatures sustained by that environment. And who knows what the gazelle experiences, internally, at that point. That particular scientific experimental study has not yet been conducted. Perhaps certain bliss creating hormones are released within the brain of the gazelle and it goes down in a blaze of love.
No the problem of the Gnostics is not the natural world, the balanced world, it is the world of Man which presents the problem. When the Gnostic speaks of the flawed creation, s/he is thinking about the suffering of Man. And it seems to me that the fundamental basis of that problem is the understanding of ‘Man’s’ place in this world. Remember, in those ancient days it was not widely held that the ‘world’ was a ‘self sustaining’ system – that everything had a requisite function intrinsic to the whole. The old Gnostic might have thought to him/herself, “Why didn’t God make the lion to just eat grass instead of making the poor gazelles suffer?” But we are here in the ‘Modern Age’ and we know a thing or two about how the world is a self sustaining system. The modern Gnostic then, understands why s/he might be plagued by flies when s/he is out bushwalking, s/he may not like it but s/he certainly would not think that flies were only created to torment her – s/he knows their function. But when the Gnostic looks to herself, and the problem of the suffering of Man, s/he does not see what function s/he plays in the world, except as a spiritual slave to the demigod.
The Gnostics have concentrated too much on the duality between The Good and the demigod, Good and evil, Light and Darkness. The Gnostic knows that without a physical body and therefore a physical world Gnosis would not occur. The Gnostic knows that with the Gnosis comes ‘escape’ from the ‘wheel of birth’. However, their theory is that the souls were already there, but in an imprisoned or unawakened state caused by the demigod. There is another view however, which is: that the soul is created, birthed through, or in, the Gnosis, or that Gnosis is a by-product of the ‘creation’ of a soul.
This idea removes the requirement of the Duality of The Good and the demigod. There is only one creation. The universe and all worlds and all that they contain have a function which is required for the maintenance of the Universe. Man, on this tiny planet, a grain of sand in the midst of an infinity of grains of sand, has a function — as a star has a function and a life and a death – and the possibility of something beyond his ‘planetary’ function which insists on a Soul which the Divine has provided the possibility for.
However, the ‘Suffering of ‘Man’’ is not intrinsic in the design. Man’s wars, brutality, hatred, greed etc., is not a requirement of his planetary function – all the Messengers From Above have told us this – well at least Buddha and Jesus have. That we not suffer needlessly, or indeed endlessly. A Mother gives birth and there is pain – this is not needless suffering. And when it’s all over the Mother forgets the pain and is in Grace and Love, of course along with all the ensuing work of providing for the child, the ups and downs. Or there is toil in the field for food – tilling the soil, planting, harvesting – this is not needless suffering and it can even be pleasant. You understand the basic concept. If we all listened to the Dalai Lama, needless suffering would disappear and the world would appear to be a paradise, compared to what it was the day before. Right?
But we live in the world we have – and there is needless suffering all around. We don’t have to feel guilty about it, but we also don’t have to be born continuously under these conditions, that is, we can escape from the Wheel of Birth (death) which is what the Gnostics are aiming for.
So, how do we get our hands on this Gnosis then?
That’s the question.
Or not – depending on your present outlook ;)
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