Fathers’ Rights

A Chicago Blog

The Gnostic implosion and collapse of second reality!

Posted by madcap on July 7, 2007

By, Chuck Jines

(The title will become clear after my note at the end.)

Link to original article.

I want to start this next chapter in this dialogue with the understanding that I have utmost respect for the various members of all faiths, including the Gnostic church. Aristotle, in the first line of his Metaphysics states, “All men by nature desire to know.” This desire is the seed of the soul that we all share. We are all on these websites because of our desire to know, our “urge to merge.” That’s why we go to our churches, mosques, and temples. That’s why we read the Koran, the Bible or the Nag Hammadi texts.

Let us all keep this foremost in our mind, while also remembering that although everyone may be equally entitled to their opinion, not all opinions are equally valid. Let us all have the faith to let loose of our chains and turn toward the Good, the True, and the Beautiful; gatekeepers of the One.

What are the Gnostic ideas?

What are these Gnostic ideas in themselves? I’m not talking about the realm of myth. I’m talking about the real things myth points to. These are the two Gnostic ideas in their most simple form once we strip all the poetic language away:

One) The world as given is flawed.

Two) These imperfections can be corrected through the process of a man-made system.

That’s it. No angels, no Bible, no Rulers at war, no debates on duality, just two simple ideas. These are quotes taken from the blog of an ordained Priest of the Apostolic Johannite Church, Jordan Stratford, that clearly affirm my premise:

These children – known as the Archons, or rulers – are a huge problem. They are in turn jealous of their Mother’s ability to create, and they create an entire universe over which to rule. The set themselves up as gods over their creation, but as they are imperfect their creation is flawed, cruel, and grotesque. This is the universe in which we live, and we are their creatures. It is a caricature of the Real World of union with the Pleroma.

The Gnostic must personally negotiate with the Archons, and debate, argue, and define the nature of that relationship.

I’ve never met a Gnostic who feels this is anything other than a metaphor, a powerful and transformative myth. But it does describe an almost universal sense of “this is not the deal”, that the SYSTEM (“kosmos”) of time, decay, disease, ignorance, jealousy, pettiness – does not reflect the “true” world, and that the god in charge of this creation must be cruel, insane, or both.

….. To be saved from the forces of deception and ignorance (maya in Buddhist parlance) one must attain enlightenment: the direct experiential intimacy with G@d that is gnosis. This experience is the birthright of every aware human person.

So here we have it. Two very simple, and very real ideas expressed through poetic-myth. Idea one, that “creation is flawed,” and two, the Gnostic prescription for salvation from this dilemma. Keep in mind that these Gnostic “Archonsor” or “rulers” that are such a problem to the Gnostic, are the same as Plato’s ground of being that we are to align ourselves to, rather than declare war against. These are also the “things in general” that God created during the first three days of creation in Judeo-Christian tradition.

Now here is the Spiritual Gnostic formula for creating the superman, as written by Brother Jordan. What’s so funny about this, is that these five points taken from Brother Jordan’s blog overlap quite nicely with Voegelin’s six characteristics of the Gnostic enterprise. Keep in mind Voegelin has “raped” Gnosticism according to Gnostics.

“Process of becoming a Gnostic. [a Superman]

Gnostic1) Aporia (“roadlessness”). A feeling of disorientation or exclusion from the accepted conventions of the world, and a sense that “this is not the deal”. The certainty that something is wrong with the universe, and creeping paranoia that a) this is not the real world and b) that the forces in charge of this world are hiding something secret, something powerful.

Voegelin One) It must first be pointed out that the Gnostic is dissatisfied with his situation. This, in itself, is not especially surprising. We all have cause to be not completely satisfied with one aspect of another of the situation in which we find ourselves.ins firt point)

Gnostic2) Epiphany (“shining above”). The big light bulb over the head, the primal “Aha!” that reveals the glowing spark of divinity in all things. A perception of real and immediate and undeniable TRUTH in art and life and joy and beauty and the sacred real.

Voegelin Two and Three) Not quite so understandable is the second aspect of the Gnostic attitude: the belief that the drawbacks of the situation can be attributed to the fact that the world is intrinsically poorly organized.

Three) The third characteristic is the belief that salvation from the evil of the world is possible.

Gnostic 3)Agon (“struggle”). This is where things get ugly. The problem is, the Opposition is real, organized, and thoroughly pissed off at your recent epiphany. You’re suddenly a lightning rod for “bad luck” in the form of THE SYSTEM – parking tickets, tax audits, bank charges, mechanical failures, illness, miscommunication. People are “worried about you”. This is where most people either give up and deny their epiphany, or go crazy and talk to themselves on the bus.

Gnostic 4) Gnosis (“knowledge”). Equivalent to the satori of Zen or the nirvana of Hinduism, this is personally-negotiated spiritual enlightenment. A first-hand experience of divinity as real and present. Tag, you’re it.

Gnostic 5) Charis (“grace”). This is Sainthood, the ability to radiate your own gnosis to others, and overcome the limitations imposed on you by the Archons.

Voegelin Five and Six) From this follows the belief that the order of being will have to be changed in an historical process. From a wretched world a good one must evolve historically

Five) With this fifth point we come to the Gnostic trait in the narrower sense – the belief that a change in the order of being lies in the realm of human action, that this salvational act is possible through man’s own effort.

Six) If it is possible, however, so to work a structural change in the given order of being that we can be satisfied with it as a perfect one, then it becomes the task of the Gnostic to seek out the prescription for such a change. Knowledge -gnosis- of the method of altering being is the central concern of the Gnostic.

I would hope we could all agree that these two simple ideas I presented are in fact fundamental to the modern Gnostic faith. I just clearly described the belief that the ground of being is flawed, and the Gnostic prescription for remedy, by using a direct source from the contemporary Gnostic church. I really think to argue about this would be intellectually dishonest. If fact, I would consider any objections to this basic premise to be a derailment designed to prevent further investigation as to the validity of these ideas. This would lead me to believe, that what Voegelin coined, an “intellectual swindle” was taking place.

Gnostic connections

If we can conclude that these two ideas in fact exist, the next step would then be to examine which other groups partake in these two Gnostic ideas. I have broken these groups into two general camps: spiritual Gnostics and secular Gnostics. I will first briefly give a general description of the spiritual Gnostic connection, and then point the way to the secular Gnostics’ partaking of the two Gnostic ideas. This is no figment of Voegelin’s imagination. This is like saying that the war on terror is really just a bumper sticker.

The common thread will be found in the creation of mystical and social systems, and the death of the individual: One death occurring in the spiritual world, the other death occurring in the historical world. Spiritual Gnostics are at war with the “ego,” or the sense of “I.” To these folks the path to “enlightenment” requires the destruction of the self. You must annihilate the ego in order to become a master.

In Marx, Nietzsche and others you must kill the God, and therefore they kill the man. Their recipe for this endeavor is the tearing down the world of divine moral and social governance, and replacing it with man’s own.

Both camps are two sides of the same coin; one inward, the other outward. One spiritual, the other secular. Both are attempts at escaping the boundaries of being. Both embrace the two ideas.

The spiritual connection

This is what the Gnostics say themselves about their connection to both Hinduism and Sufism. The two ideas are this connection.

2) Gnosticism is a lot like Buddhism

Because of Gnosticism’s insistence on personal responsibility and ethics, its emphasis on singular prayer, the practice of compassion, detachment from materialism and the striving for enlightenment, it has been called “the Buddhism of the West”. The similarities between Gnosticism and Mahayana Buddhism are so strong it has been speculated that there may have been ongoing contact between the two religions.

The similarities between Gnosticism and Mahayana Buddhism are so strong it has been speculated that there may have been ongoing contact between the two religions.

And this is my point exactly! The modern Gnostics claims total autonomy when being compared to secular Gnosticism. They do this by limiting Gnosticism to only those who are members of their church and follow the teachings in the Nag Hammadi text (which wasn’t even published in English until 1978!). They then openly abandon their claim to total autonomy, when they associate themselves with other spiritual traditions. This is a swindle designed to cover up the secular Gnostic connection.

I know Gnosticism when I see it, because I know the Hindu and Sufi tradition first hand. I mean some real old authentic Gnostic mystic alchemy traditions. I made a note of this in my comments in response to critics of my first article.

I also found the spiritual/secular connection through my own investigation. It was some time after this that I discovered Voegelin, who articulated the same things I saw in the world for myself.

Additionally, I have previously pointed out that Nietzsche found relevance in Buddhism. This connection is a GNOSTIC CONNECTION!

The secular connection

We see these same two ideas in modernity’s Gnostic mass movements.

One) That the moral and social structure as given is flawed and must be torn down.

Two) Through the re-organization of moral and social structures a new man, and society could be born.

These two ideas of the modern Gnostic secular mass movements owe much in common with their spiritual counterparts. They are in fact the same two Gnostic ideas applied to two different value spheres.

The Gnostic text poetically proclaims, “This world was not made according to the desire of the Life.” And then further asks, “Who conveyed me into the evil darkness?” We can recognize these same sentiments in Hegel’s “alienated spirit” and Heidegger’s description of man’s “flungness” into existence.

Others who have been influenced by the two Gnostic ideas include William Blake in the realm of poetry, Carl Jung in the realm of psychoanalysis, Herman Hess in his Damian and later Steppenwolf. And of course Nietzsche’s Zarathustra:

Before God!- Now however this God hath died! Ye higher men, this God was your greatest danger.

Only since he lay in the grave have ye again arisen. Now only cometh the great noontide, now only doth the higher man become- master!

Have ye understood this word, O my brethren? Ye are frightened: do your hearts turn giddy? Doth the abyss here yawn for you? Doth the hell-hound here yelp at you?

Well! Take heart! Ye higher men! Now only travaileth the mountain of the human future. God hath died: now do we desire- the Superman to live.

Friedrich Nietzsche; Thus Spake Zarathustra, The Higher Man, Cp. Two

These are not ideas of the ordered cosmos of Hellenic man, or the goodness of creation of the Judeo-Christian world. I have only touched the surface in this short little piece. To what degree Voegelin is correct in his insight, into the Gnostic influence on modernity, can and will be argued. The legitimacy of his general premises cannot easily be dismissed through mythological poetry. I agree with Voegelin that a primary factor of modernity is Gnosticism. What we often call the “culture war” is really a struggle between Judeo-Christian Hellenism and modernity’s Gnostic Humanism. Furthermore, Positivism, Relativism, Existentialism, and Historicism all share in the two Gnostic ideas.

Because these ideas do not hold up in neither historical, cosmological nor ontological critique, the Swindle, in all its forms, must be applied. The Gnostic will seek an escape from the critique at the first round of analysis.

Conclusion:

Ideas have consequences. This is Voegelin’s, and my, main thrust: the Gnostic ideas that the world is poorly organized and that man can re-organize the nature of a thing, ends in the destruction of human life. Voegelin stands firm on the ground prepared by Plato, Aristotle, Augustine and Aquinas. “The nature of a thing cannot be changed; whoever tries to ‘alter’ its nature destroys the thing. Man cannot transform himself into a superman; the attempt to create a superman is an attempt to murder man.”

I hope I have brought forth at least some clarity about the two Gnostic ideas and their connection to modernity. For further study I would refer you to two of Voegelin’s works: The new science of politics and Science, politics, and Gnosticism. For further understanding of the Big picture, Voegelin’s five volume masterpiece titled Order and History should provide months of mindful entertainment.

In my next writings I will be turning away from describing and defining Gnosticism’s two ideas, and throw them into the arena with classical Judeo-Christian Hellenistic thought to test them out.

The questions at hand: Is the ground of being something flawed and to be overcome? Or is it good and something to align our souls to?

Till next time, peace and blessings to all. Madcap

NOTE: Before publishing this article, two responses were posted in response to my second post that show the implosion of the Gnostic’s two ideas; and the flight back into “second reality.”

Bro. Jeremy posted a response: They’re On To Us!

I was rather surprised at how juvenile, and intellectually vacant his response was. Mine is not a critique of people’s intentions. My questions pertain to the effect of ideas upon both the interior and exterior world-space. I have never questioned the Gnostics’ intentions. A common symptom of modernity is to judge the intentions and not the actual results of ideas. It’s based in feelings, not reason. The Gnostic must avoid the light of reason at all cost. This is why Bro. Jeremy imploded into an emotional rant of no substance. He did not address any of the questions or relevant points to the arguments presented in my first article. The friction caused by his “second reality” being confronted by reality as is, forced him to retreat into claims of victimhood. Wallowing in feelings of injustice, claming to be charged with a conspiracy, he felt as if a “rape” had just been perpetrated on his ideas. This is a derailment par excellent. Voegelin goes in depth on what he calls a “second reality” that must be created when confronted with reality as it is. Voegelin eloquently exposes both Marx’s and Nietzsche’s admission that when confronted with reality, the Gnostic enterprise breaks down. This is why it is a swindle; they have full knowledge from the onset that the ground they claim to stand upon is a fraud.

JP also responds by bailing out of the debate and declaring it unimportant. Who has time to think about such things with all the “nice things” we could be doing instead?

and we’d have tons of self-congratulatory material, each of us “proving” our point.”

The problem with JP’s thinking is that he has failed to offer any self-congratulatory material that proves his point. He offers this assertion instead:

“THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS SECULAR GNOSTICISM. It’s an impossibility. Gnosticism without God, without its myths and without Sophia and the Logos and the Christos and Barbelo, and (*ESPECIALLY*) without gnosis and sacrament and prayer, is not Gnosticism. Period. End. Of. Argument.”

I guess that solves that! This sounds a lot like Al Gore’s “the debate is over” line of reasoning. I think Voegelin might be on to something after all. And remember; you Gnostics were the ones who knocked on my door.

Peace to all and to all a good night. Madcap

UPDATE: Donald has taken the time to answer my questions from my first post.

Q1.) Do Gnostics, as you define them, think that humanity can come to a point in time where things like starvation and war will be no more? If so, how will this come to pass?

A1.) “A world without starvation and war is possible, but it requires a maximum effort on the part of individuals…”

Q2.) Do Gnostics, as you define them, think that an individual can come to a point in their spiritual development where they can become free of all attachments and illusions of reality? If so, how can one achieve this? What should be done with the ego?

A2.) Yes, through the grace of gnosis. What to do with the ego is a question that puts the cart before the horse. One would know “what to do with the ego” after developing the level of communication necessary to attain perfection.”

I rest my case. Nietzsche and Marx thought the same thing.

21 Responses to “The Gnostic implosion and collapse of second reality!”

  1. Interesting that you chose not to approve my response. You are clearly trying to make a straw-man to burn. I answered your questions with earnesty and civility, and you chose not to post it. I guess you too can use “the debate is over” line?

    Donald

  2. madcap said

    Donald, I did not know you had responded, nor have I disapproved any responses. I am reviewing your responses to my questions. Thank you for taking the time to answer in a thoughtful manner. Feel free to post your response.

  3. Good to hear from you. I think that our difficulty here is the use of certain words and meanings. While Nietzsche did share some ideas in common with Gnosticism, he was not – and never claimed to be a Gnostic. Hegel even less, and Marx – no way. So it appears that the theory that you have here uses the word Gnostic to describe people, forces, politics and etc. that we do not represent, nor do we care to. I will try to help give a better background of Gnosticism for you on my blog – not today I’m afraid, but as soon as I can. Thank you for remaining true to your own quest for the Truth.

  4. You rest your case on what? Nietzsce and Marx both wore boots and spoke German, so does that make them both Nazis? Some Gnsotics would disagree with me about those answers that I gave you. Just because I feel that the world can be perfected or sanctified again doesn’t mean that I (or any other Gnostic) thinks that ipso facto, we need a totalitarian regime. It has NOTHING TO DO WITH POLITICS and everything to do with WHAT I DO MYSELF -TODAY RIGHT NOW. I am engaging in this dialogue because I believe very strongly – that we can make a difference because we are all sparks of the Father. I need to respect and even love you because you are too. That is where my “world without starvation and war” comes from.

    As for perfection of the person, there again we are speaking different languages. The perfect, just like the Word and Wisdom – are not nouns – they are verbs. If you want an example of someone who I think recently attained this status, it would be Mother Teresa of Calcutta. She was human, and she had her problems, but her life was in the “perfect” context.

  5. madcap said

    Donald,
    It has everything to do with politics. The State is man written large.

    Word games are a derailment.

    I am using the “word Gnostic to describe people, forces, politics and etc.”

    No. Wrong. I am using the word Gnostic to describe two ideas.

  6. madcap said

    Donald,

    “doesn’t mean that I (or any other Gnostic) thinks that ipso facto, we need a totalitarian regime.”

    I never said you did.

  7. madcap said

    Donald,
    “While Nietzsche did share some ideas in common with Gnosticism…”

    Thank you for the honesty.

  8. I know mentioned it in a post here, but I still insist that Voegelin provides a very mediocre interpretation of Gnosticism and should be avoided as a source on the subject. I consider that something of an inviolable proposition, kind of like the separation of church and state…

  9. Adam said

    I personally am not a Gnostic and so don’t have any particular philosophical bias either way when it comes to both yours, Father Stratford and Brother Jeremy’s arguments.

    However reading this little exchange from sidelines it seems to me that the main thrust of your argument is fixed upon one major misinterpretation of what both Jordan and Jeremy are saying.

    The argument sort of seems to boil down to this:
    Madcap: Gnostics think that creation is flawed and we must improve it!

    JP and JS: No actually we think creation is fine, it’s our perception or creation that’s flawed all we’re about is realising that fact.

    Madcap: No actually you think that creation is flawed and here are you’re own writings stating just so (including of quotes that obviously talk about how it’s our perception of the world that’s flawed).

    JP and JS: No actually, what we said above.

    and so on and so on.

    If you look at the quotes you’ve taken from Father Stratford’s site to back up your argument and simply notice that when he’s talking about the archons of ignorance and greed and fear, when he talking about the sense that ‘something is not right with the world’, he’s actually talking about forces that are ‘in your head’ and not ‘in the world’. Then you might notice you’re actually taking his quotes completely out of context.

    As far as I see it, it’s not about setting up an external system (a la Marx), it’s about understanding your own internal systems using the map of myth to point the way and that’s it.

  10. madcap said

    Cool! Next topic… The cause of evil

    https://thoughtsongod.wordpress.com/2007/07/07/the-cause-of-evil/

  11. madcap said

    Adam,
    “quotes that obviously talk about how it’s our perception of the world that’s flawed”

    Is it our perception that the world is flawed that is flawed? Or is it our perception that the world is perfect that is flawed?

  12. Adam said

    Madcap

    “Is it our perception that the world is flawed that is flawed? Or is it our perception that the world is perfect that is flawed?”

    In the context of my above comment that question is irrelevant.

    I wasn’t commenting on which of you were right, I was just pointing out that so far Jordan, Jeremy et al have been making a logical and consistent argument based on their experience of Gnosticism while you have been critiquing them based on a misinterpretation of their own writings.

  13. madcap said

    Adam,
    “logical and consistent argument “and “…that question is irrelevant.”

    Wow… I’m truly at a loss. I’m trying to follow a line of thought to its conclusion and all I get is side stepping. This is not rocket science. I’ve written over six thousand words on this very simple point; “Some people think the world is flawed as it was created.” We keep going in circles around this point. Why? If you take some time to read any of the Nag Hammadi texts, I do not know how someone could come away with any other conclusion. My question to you is relevant. I wish for you to answer.

  14. madcap said

    Adam,
    “critiquing them based on a misinterpretation of their own writings.”

    Did you read that I have practiced Gnosticism first hand? I’m not an outsider looking in at some room I’ve never walked in. I disagree with Gnostic theology, not because I don’t understand Gnostic theology, but because I think it is fundamentally wrong.

    Please stop with all the “you just don’t understand” crap.

    Donald Donato, thank you again for your honesty in this discussion. I look forward to further dialog.

  15. Madcap said

    The Necromancer,
    “…but I still insist that Voegelin provides a very mediocre interpretation of Gnosticism.”

    I can only assume you have not read much Voegelin directly.

  16. Madcap said

    Donald,

    “While Nietzsche did share some ideas in common with Gnosticism…”

    Could you explain what ideas Nietzsche and Gnosticism “share in common?”

  17. Ok, for example, Nietzsche discusses religion and morality in starkly different ways than a materialist or an orthodox Christian. In “Antichrist”, he questions the “intercourse between imaginary beings” (read, mythology). He also questions the formulae behind sin, redemption; judgment. We do not deny sin, but we see it as an error that must be corrected in order to move on, not something that will earn you eternal damnation in some fiery pit. Now most theologians don’t like to talk about the fact that until recently most orthodox Christians agreed on hell as a real place. For us, false separation from the One through ignorance and blindness is hell. Right here, right now, we have everything we need to make heaven and hell in the same place.

    However – and this is very important, he then goes on to state “This world of fiction is vastly inferior to the world of dreams insofar as the latter mirrors reality, whereas the former falsifies, devalues, and negates reality.” Antichrist 16 (Portable Nietzsche, Viking 1982, p 582.)

    Here, he is saying that Christianity and religion in general is the “world of pure fiction.” Gnostics would not agree with that. One cannot be an atheist and a Gnostic. But one can be a Gnostic Christian. Valentinus saw the Catholic Church as his home, too. Exoteric and Esoteric.

  18. madcap said

    Donald,
    Thank you. Give me some time to digest all that you have presented.

  19. “Some people think the world is flawed as it was created.” We keep going in circles around this point. Why? If you take some time to read any of the Nag Hammadi texts, I do not know how someone could come away with any other conclusion. My question to you is relevant. I wish for you to answer.”

    Madcap: I think the problem here is that you are superimposing a literalist interpretation of texts. You were a practicing Gnostic, and you know that there are many types of Gnosticism. Johannites, for example, do not agree with the dualism of the Cathars or the Mandaeans or the Manicheans. They’re still Gnostics. Just because some papyri were found together at Nag Hammadi doesn’t mean that all Gnostics are going to take them as “gospel.” The point is that we don’t take any text as infallible gospel period – full stop – Nag Hammadi or not. Did you see my reference to the “value of the Gnostic texts?”

    I think Fr. Jordan and other Johannites would agree when I say that the universe and nature are not evil, bad or anything of that sort. The veil that shrouds our vision of it is ignorance. It’s there, it’s real, and it’s good – Through gnosis we learn to see it as it really is. This is the problem with describing gnosis by reading mythologies. What matters is what is within us, and how it allows us to see the truth.

    Even if you take the dualistic texts in the Nag Hammadi Library literally, you can see that creation is a product of Barbelo and/or Hagia Sophia through her creation. Holy Sophia to us is beyond mention in negative terms, so it is unthinkable to even insinuate that this is all a mistake or evil if we take the next logical step. You know that Gnostics believe that we all return to the One – even the “bad” guys.

  20. Adam said

    Madcap
    “Did you read that I have practiced Gnosticism first hand? I’m not an outsider looking in at some room I’ve never walked in. I disagree with Gnostic theology, not because I don’t understand Gnostic theology, but because I think it is fundamentally wrong.”

    I’m not questioning whether you have or haven’t any understanding of Gnostics, neither am I side stepping the argument or suggesting that you don’t have your own understanding of Gnosticism.

    I am however very much sticking to my original argument.

    Whether or not your own interpretation of Gnosticism agrees with Father Jordan’s and Brother Puma is as I said irrelvent to my point. My argument is that you appear to be misquoting writing from someone else’s blog to back up your own argument when they have clearly and consistently explained in other posts that is not what they meant.

  21. […] mass movements of the post-modern age. The following is a comment in response to the article “The Gnostic Implosion and Collapse of Second Reality” that is worthy of attention. I would like to thank Joe for taking the time to clarify the major […]

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