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.)
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.
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.
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.