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Exegesis, Part Two

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on July 23, 2011 by theclockworm

The root of my journey toward these ideas began with PKD and proceeded directly to one of his own primary sources of inspiration – the Gnostic texts, particularly those found at Nag Hammadi. My ideas and understandings have proceeded from my own readings of these texts, as well as a  of scholarly and critical works which help to illuminate them. A large part of my story has been a process of trying to rectify my insights with the seemingly extraneous aspects of thought found in much of Gnosticism, sometimes overtaking what to me are the central principles to such a degree as to render them meaningless. Exploring the similarities and differences is important to me for various reasons. What follows is an outline of conclusions I’ve come to regarding the relationship between my own ideas and various common expressions of Gnostic thought.

  1. That the emanationist system of description is a metaphorical way of identifying procedural processes in the universe. It is a valuable one, and one I retain.
  2. That Belial, the Aeons, the Pleroma et al. were intended to serve as metaphors and/or as metaphysical and scientific descriptions, and that the employment of various ontological states (being, time period, quality) is an indication of this.
  3. That the explicitly religious aspects of modern or historical Gnosticism, while not necessarily without value, are not essential to the core philosophical and cosmological ideas.
  4. That, at best, Jesus was a teacher whose philosophy often included aspects of Gnostic thought, but who was not a deity or savior in any way, shape, or form.
  5. That the very notion of worship is contrary to the most fundamental aspects of Gnostic thought.
  6. That the overt reinterpretation of texts and ideas throughout early Gnostic thought is indicative of a non-literal approach to the religious or mythological ideas contained in various texts.
  7. That Gnosis is not a particular state which can be imparted or replicated by any community or body of ritual or works, but is rather a revelatory moment in which basic, explicable truths about the nature of reality become clear.

The reasoning for this segment may not make sense to some, but it will probably come up in my life, so I’m putting it out there. These points represent the feelings I have about issues of importance within the Gnostic “community.” When I look past the differences and ask myself where I would fall, these are the places.

  1. There is no direct lineage or succession linking ancient Gnostic orders to modern ones.
  2. There is no “transmission” of Gnosis via tradition, ritual, or leadership. Community serves, at best and in theory, to clarify the details of the truths imparted by Gnosis, and to provide the comforts and supports of a group of peers grappling with the same issues.
  3. Anyone claiming to know what the “specific thing” the “ancients” were talking about when they spoke of Gnosis should not be given the time of day.
  4. Gnostic traditions and thought absolutely predate Christianity. They are also capable of surviving outside of it, and indeed outside of religion or theism of any kind.
  5. The ancient Gnostics understood the degree to which their texts were metaphorical, philosophical, and referential much more fully than modern scholars, and most modern Gnostics, do.
  6. Reverence for specific texts or for “the ancients” in general, in a way that conveys a greater likelihood of being correct, or any sort of holiness whatsoever upon them, is contradictory to the very nature of Gnosticism, as well as the spirit of said texts and said ancients.
  7. Gnosticism was not a heretical response to Christian Orthodoxy; quite the opposite. This is, again, a notion that simply has no place.

Exegesis, Part One

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on July 23, 2011 by theclockworm

Since I’ve made the decision to continue dealing with these issues in this venue, I’ve had it pointed out to me that I should be a bit more specific about what Gnosticism is to me. I know my ideas and approaches differ greatly from pretty much any I’ve encountered; I’m aware of this. It need not be pointed out. If you’d like to tell me that, because I’m not Christian, I can’t be Gnostic, you’re better off simply finding something else to do, as your comments will be deleted. This is my space, and I’m under no obligation to suffer your judgments.

This is an attempt to articulate and disseminate the things I’ve come to understand or believe or feel are likely. To be clear: I value my ideas enough to think others might find them valuable too. That doesn’t mean I have any interest in starting a group, let alone a religion or anything of the sort. I’m not trying to make money, or gain adherents – I have other venues for that, venues that allow me to sleep at night.

I am inclined to believe in these fundamental ideas:

  1. That the Universe as it is experienced by people is somehow occluded, limited, or disconnected from the larger reality. This may be due to events which occurred at the beginning of our universe; we may be inside an ancestor simulation or something similar. Or it could be something else entirely.
  2. That these things are true within a larger reality which is rational and not supernatural, and can be understood, from some standpoint or other, rationally.
  3. That this understanding may or may not be able to affect change, but that there is no promise of any kind of salvation or redemption in this knowledge alone.
  4. That this realization of the limited nature of things does not translate into dualism; this sphere is part of reality, it is simply connected to the whole in a limited fashion. It may well be that the core of Gnosis is a sense of the fullness of things, and that the path toward that reality may simply be the path of exploration.
  5. That the universe is essentially cybernetic, and that various forms of interaction are possible without the existence of deities or the like.
  6. That certain forces may be accessed in ways which appear sentient without having real nature as an entity; this is a function of a cybernetic universe. Sophia is real, but only when she speaks to you. And she only speaks when spoken to.
  7. That these forces are not deities. Realization of this facet of reality and contact with it is an essential part of Gnosis, but the presupposition that it must be confined to the limited definitions of religious thinking is counter-productive.
  8. That many forms are fluid, and that the ‘invasion’ of “Gnosis” or revelatory information into one’s life is a function of the ability of certain forms to express intent.
  9. That events of sufficient complexity carry the burden of analysis. I did not come to these ideas because I found them interesting; I came to them by way of experiences I had which were best rectified with reality within the framework provided by Gnostic cosmology.
  10. That not all unusual events are simply coincidences; neither are they miracles, divine intervention, demonic temptation, or any sort of supernatural event. They may be directed insights into the complex interconnectedness of things – a realization essential to Gnosis.
  11. That the nature of the force which intrudes into our reality to provide such information is as yet unknown; however, it demonstrates intent as well as the ability to focus on one person. I am inclined to believe that it is a collective consciousness, perhaps composed of aspects of human beings living and/or dead, which seeks to free the physically-living from the conditions of our occlusion. It may also simply be the background force of consciousness in the physical universe. This force very well may be primarily characterized as a different point in time (aeon in its chronological application); it may emanate from outside our universe or our reality; it may be where we go when we die; it may be nothing, though I find that unlikely.
  12. That these events adhere to a conservation of energy principle; that is, perhaps in a simpler and less crowded world, only a burning shrub would sufficiently convey that the message might upset one’s current understanding of reality. However, in a world such as we now inhabit, much smaller events can convey these things just as well if not better. Finding a particular book, for instance, on a particular day, may be a stronger indication of something being wrong with your understanding of the universe than anything at all being on fire.
  13. That skepticism and rigorous intellectual openness are the only sacred practices. If, after rigorous self-questioning and critical thinking, an event seems to indicate something of importance, it very well may.
  14. That the validity of these things, or of anything, is not altered by how comforting they are. Again: I did not come to this because it made me feel good about life, or because it makes me feel better about death. I came to it because it came to me. Truth is worth pursuing, even if the end is not know.
  15. That, though secondary to the internal discussion, the importance of accurate, unambiguous language and terminology are important to a meaningful discussion of these things. The language of religion is often detrimental to the full and uninhibited exploration of these ideas as philosophical concepts.
  16. That there are no heretics. This notion is not a sword nor a shield, but rather a bigotry that should exist only within the closed world of orthodoxy and not within the sphere of philosophical speculation.
  17. That there is no seniority in these things. Having come first confers no special status on anyone. The ancients provide illumination; they are not the only source of light.
  18. That my understanding is imperfect.
  19. That your understanding is imperfect.