February 24, 2009
Is one saved by faith alone, or by faith and works?
This argument, an argument that in the light of Apostolic Tradition is so obviously pointless, has never troubled the Church, and in fact could never trouble It. In fact, faith is not an operation merely of comprehension, but an operation of the entire intellect and reason; i.e. of internally united comprehension and will. Faith is at the same time both life and truth; it is an operation by which man, condemning his own imperfect and evil character, seeks to unite with a moral being, with the righteous Jesus, with God Incarnate, with God-Man. Faith, in its very essence, is a moral imperative; a moral imperative that would not also entail a striving for discovery would thereby condemn its own impotence, or, more precisely, its nothingness, its non-being. Discovery of faith is precisely the matter, for a prayerful sigh, just barely conceived in the depths of a grieving heart is a matter like unto martyrdom. They are distinguished from one another only in the times and situations through which God deigns to allow a person to utilize the gifts of grace.
What work could the thief, nailed to the Cross, have performed? Or was his work, his simultaneous repentance and confession insufficient? Or does God show mercy by removing [him]? Thus, both those who say that faith alone is not a saving faith, that works are also needed, and those who say that faith without works is salvific are foolish: without works, faith is dead, is not true faith, for in true faith Christ is truth and life; if it is not true, then it is but false and external knowledge. And can falsehood save? If [faith] is true, it is alive, i.e. performing works, and if it is performing works, then what other works are needed? The God-inspired Apostle stated, “Shew me thy faith [of which thou boastest] without thy works, [as] I will shew thee my faith by my works.” Does he recognize two different faiths? No, he condemns foolish boasting. “Thou believest that there is one God; the devils also believe, and tremble.” Does he then recognize the faith [held by] devils? No, he proves the lie in boasting of a quality even demons possess. “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” Is he comparing faith with body and works with spirit? No, for that would be a false analogy. However, the meaning of his words is clear. As a soul-less body is no longer a person and cannot be called a person, but rather a corpse, so faith without works cannot be called true faith, but only false faith, i.e. external knowledge, knowledge that is fruitless, and is attainable even by demons. What is written plainly must also be read plainly. Thus, those who cite the Apostle as proof that there is dead faith and live faith, that there are two distinct types of faith, do not grasp the meaning of the Apostle’s words; they in fact oppose, rather than support [those conclusions]. Likewise, when the great Apostle to the nations says, “[what use is it without love, even] though I have all faith so that I could remove mountains…” he does not affirm that without love such faith is possible; rather, in that assumption, he states that [such faith] would be useless. The Sacred Scriptures should not be read with a spirit of secular wisdom, debating over terms, but with the spirit of Sophia, God’s Wisdom, and candor and simplicity of soul. In delineating faith, the Apostle states, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen…” (not only that which is expected in the future); if we have sure hope, then we wish for; if we wish for, we love: for it is impossible to wish for what we do not love. Or do demons also possess such sure hope? — Hence there is but one faith, and when we ask “Can true faith save without works?” we are posing a foolish question, or to put it another way, no question at all, for true faith is a living faith that performs works: it is faith in Christ and Christ in faith.
– A.S. Khomiakov (Faith and Works)
The above article was written by the accomplished theologian Alexei Stepanovitch Khomiakov. Khomiakov (1804 – 1860) was a solid, brilliant thinker of great originality, and multifaceted talents and interests. He was a poet, a dramatist, and a publicist. Khomiakov had an exceptional education, and was a knowledgeable person of enormous erudition in an extremely wide range of fields. As a theologian, he was extremely well read in the works of the Holy Fathers and in the History of the Church. As a philosopher, he knew the contemporary thinkers. As a historian (who left us his interesting 3-volume work, Notes on World History), he was, one may state, universally well read.
February 23, 2009
Posted by GraalBaum under thomas merton  Comments
In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all these people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world, the world of renunciation and supposed holiness. The whole illusion of a separate holy existence is a dream. Not that I question the reality of my vocation, or of my monastic life: but the conception of “separation from the world” that we have in the monastery too easily presents itself as a complete illusion …. [W]e are in the same world as everybody else, the world of the bomb, the world of race hatred, the world of technology, the world of mass media, big business, revolution, and all the rest …. This sense of liberation from an illusory difference was such a relief and such a joy to me that I almost laughed out loud …. To think that for sixteen or seventeen years I have been taking seriously this pure illusion that is implicit in so much of our monastic thinking …. I have the immense joy of being man, a member of a race in which God Himself became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.
–Thomas Merton (Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander)
February 21, 2009
Posted by GraalBaum under Abraham
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> I think that the True Man can be more accurately described as the
> Jesus-Man through which the Christ can become manifest.
> As for the mirror/reflection analogy … I think of the Biblical
> phrase that we were created in the “image” of God. The word “mirror”
> can be found in the definition of “image” … not that we are/were
> “The” God, but were created in the likeness of God … a reflection of
> the divine.
these are important questions
“I think that the True Man can be more accurately described as the
> Jesus-Man through which the Christ can become manifest.”
The power of God is with you at all times; through the activities of mind,
senses, breathing, and emotions; and is constantly doing all the work
using you as a mere instrument.”
So is Jesus the vessel and christ wine that is poured into the vessel?
Or is Jesus the vessel and the wine as is the Christ?
One day as Manjusri stood outside the gate,
the Buddha called to him,
“Manjusri, Manjusri, why do you not enter?”
“I do not see myself as outside. Why enter?”
> As for the mirror/reflection analogy … I think of the Biblical
> phrase that we were created in the “image” of God. The word “mirror”
> can be found in the definition of “image” … not that we are/were
> “The” God, but were created in the likeness of God … a reflection of
> the divine.
Where does God end and man begin?
“When my Beloved appears,With what eye do I see Him?
With His eye, not with mine,
For none sees Him except Himself.”
Two points as opposites when stretched for infinity will bend in upon themselves and meet. Thus mnaking the end in the begining, or perhaps that there is no end or beginning; see college level math and chapter one of the Sefer yetzirah in theory and practice, A. Kaplan translation.
if we are alike God, but not God… is this not duality?
If I am not God, does this mean that there exists God and not God?
“He who sees himself only on the outside,
not within, becomes small himself and makes others small.”
–Mani (turfan fragment M 801)
Ain Sof in the Kabbalah of Azriel of Gerona
(from “Origins of the Kabbalah” by Gershom Scholem)
”If…..there was at first a great deal of uncertainty about the use of the term ‘en-sof, no such ambiguity exists any longer in the mystical vocabulary of the school of Gerona [13th century]. ‘En-sof there is a technical, indeed artificial, term detached from all adverbial associations and serving as a noun designating God in all his inconceivability. Here it is well to remember that the determination of God as the Infinite served for for the thinkers of antiquity and the Neoplatonists…..precisely as a symbol of his inconceivability, and not as an attribute that can be grasped by reason (such as it became with the Scholastics). Among the kabbalists, God is regarded as Infinitude no less than as the Infinite One. The inconceivability of the hidden God and the impossibility of determining him, which, occasionally seem to point to a neutral stratum of the divine nature, are nevertheless those of the infinite person on the whole, the latter being the theistic reinterpretation of the Neoplatonic ‘One.’ Azriel himself introduces him as such at the beginning of his questions and answers on the sefiroth, for he identifies ‘en-sof—a word he employs often and without hesitation—with the leader of the world and the master of creation…..
Azriel’s…..spoke of ‘en-sof as the God whom the philosophers had in mind, and whose sefiroth were but aspects of his revelation and of his activity, the ‘categories of the order of all reality.’ Precisely the most hidden element in God, that which the mystics had in mind when they spoke of ‘en-sof, he transformed into the most public. In doing so he already prepared the personalization of the term ‘en-sof, wich from the designation of an abstract concept begins to appear here as a proper name. Whereas in general, and even in Azriel’s own writings, ‘en-sof still has much of the deus absconditus, which attains anapprehensible existence in the theosophic notion of God and in the doctrine of the sefiroth only, the commentary on the ten sefiroth already presents the ‘en-sof as the ruler of the world, which certainly suggests an image of the government of the world that is very different from that of the theosophy of the Infinite and its sefiroth. For Azriel the highest sefirah is evidently the unfathomable or unknowable and especially the divine will, which in this circle is elevated above the primordial idea. In the abstract the latter could be distinguished from ‘en-sof, but in the concrete it constitutes a real unity with it. The hidden God acts by means of this will, clothes himself in it, as it were, and is one with it. In order to express this, the kabbalists of Gerona readily speak of the ‘will up to the Infinite,’ the ‘height up to the Infinite,’ the ‘unknowable up to the Infinite,’ by which they evidently mean the unity in which the supreme sefirah, represented in each case by the corresponding symbol, extends up to the ‘en-sof and forms with it a unity of action…..
Azriel is fond of referring Job 11:7 : ‘Can you find out the depth of God?’ to this primordial depth of God, which can signify both the fathomable as well as precisely that in the will that is unfathomable and beyond the grasp of all thought. From this primordial depth flwow all the paths of wisdom and it is this primordial depth that in the ‘Chapter on the kawwanah‘ is literally called ‘the perfection of the depth that is one with ‘en-sof,’ a phrase that can also be translated equally literally as ‘that unites itself with ‘en-sof,’ that is, that extends up to its infinity. Thus the terminology of cheqer, the primordial depth, at which all contemplation of the divine is aimed, changes at the same time into that of the ‘undepth’ (Hebrew: ‘en-cheqer), this primordial depth proving to be precisely the unfathomable, and thereby a perfect analogy, in its linguistic form as well, to the Infinite, ‘en-sof.
The will as primordial depth thus becomes the source of all being, and the deity, insofar as it can be envisioned from the point of view of the creature, is conceived entirely as creative will…..The fact that this creative will is then understood by Azriel, in the context of the ideas analyzed in the foregoing, as the Nought, is by no means an isolated instance in the history of mistical terminology. Jacob Böhme, whose Ungrund is reminiscent of Azriel’s formulations, considers the will that eternally emerges from this Ungrund as the Nought. It is therefore no wonder that in these writings the will never appears as something emanated, but rather as that which emanates…..
A state in which ‘en-sof would be without the will accompanying it is thus inconceivable. This again raises the problem of the necessity of the emanation versus the freedom of ‘en-sof in the primordial act of the creation…..
It can be said of ‘en-sof as well as of the Will that nothing exists outside it.
‘All beings come from the incomprehensible primordial ether, and their existence [yeshuth] comes from the pure Nought. However, this primordial ether is not divisible in any direction, and it is One in a simplicity that does not admit of any composition. All acts of the will were in its unity, and it is the will that preceded everything…..And that is the meaning of (Job 23:13): “He is One”—He is the unity of the will, outside of which nothing exists’ [Perush Aggadot, 107).....
Neither is 'en-sof nor in the will is there any differentiation; both are designated as the indistinct root of the opposites. For this indistinctness.....the 'Iyyun circle and Azriel use the Hebrew hashwa'ah; unseparated and indifferent is there called shaweh, literally 'equal,' a word that is never used in this snese elsewhere in the Hebrew literature. 'En-sof as well as the will are 'indifferent with regard to the opposites.' They do not conjoin the opposites.....but no distinctions are admitted at all; since the opposites in these supreme principles are 'equal,' that is, indistinct, they coincide in them. It is in this sense that mention is often made of the 'indistinct unity' or of the 'indifference of unity' in which apparent opposites coincide.....The oppoistes are abolished in the infinite.....
'En-sof is the absolute indistinctness in the perfect unity, in which there is no change. And since it is without limits, nothing exists outisde of it; since it is above everything it is the principle in which everything hidden and visible meet; and since it is hidden, it is the [common] root of faith and unbelief, and the investigating sages [the philosophers] agree with those who say that our comprehension of it can take place only through the path of negation’ [Sha'ar ha-Sho'el].”
February 19, 2009
Prosperity makes monsters,
Adversity makes men.
The training of a Kabbalist uses various techniques for each stage and level. First there are those concerned with self-discovery, both inward and outward, and then the methods by which the student becomes aware of different dimensions of time and space. These are related to one’s own life, the scope of the group, and the scale of the tradition. The aspirant will be shown by various means the interior connections he has between different parts of himself, as well as his relationship and function within the group and the tradition. Thus, he comes in contact with the individual, historic and cosmic aspects of the Work in which he will serve.
The process of instruction begins with the individual. The first step is to get to know the body which is the Malkhutian vehicle for the psyche and spirit. If the student remains unaware of the body’s structure, dynamics and several levels of intelligence, then not only will much be lost by not seeing the analogue and resonance with the higher worlds, but its powerful influence on the psyche may not be detected, and if necessary controlled. To know the body does not mean that one must be as intimately familiar with its anatomy as a medical student, but to be acquainted with the general principles upon which it is based and how it works. This requires a rudimentary understanding of physiology, so that one can distinguish between different levels of work within the body. From the kabbalistic view the body can be said to contain four basic levels. The first and densest is that of solids, which would include any structure that supported, carried or operated according to mechanical laws, that is the skeleton, certain organs and muscles. The next would be of fluids which encompass blood, sweat, urine or anything that flows through the organism. The element of air is seen in all the gases present in the blood, organs, and cavities of the body, besides that passing in and out of the lungs. Fire would be the principle behind all the heat and light generated in the tissue which is radiated by the body. In order to become aware of this elemental division, the student sits or stands in a relaxed position, and focuses the senses on these Malkhutian levels. Beginning with earth, he senses the weight and mineral composition of the body, how it hangs upon the carefully designed structure of bones which are held in position by connective tissue, and the balance and counter-balance of the muscles. The student would then observe how the body moves with great subtlety and precision through every movement in a flow of positions that are held in a momentary equilibrium. This is the mechanical aspect of the body. Next the attention is shifted to the watery element. This is done by a blend of sense and imagination. Thus, the fluid-saturated tissue and organs are perceived as they hold and guide the slowly percolating fluids from their intake at the mouth to their exit in excretion and sweat. It will be noted how the body has quite distinct views about its mass and fluid content, whether it wishes to take on more, or lose some. This gives an insight into the vegetable mind and its effect both on the body and the psyche. By the same principle in reverse, we perceive how the will can influence the state of the metabolism by, for example, excessive drink, or fasting.
The level of air is then examined by controlling the breath and observing the reaction of the body as various quantities are absorbed and penetrate the tissue. It should also be noted that the atmospheric balance in and about the body is crucial to its well-being, and how a shift of consciousness can extract fresh air from a stuffy room. This demonstrates how there are levels within levels, in that a rarer dimension lies within the heavier aspect of the atmosphere that can be tapped and used. The principle of coarse and fine levels of an element is represented by the three intermediate elemental combinations of mud, vapour and flame, which is the earthly counterpart of fire.
The element of fire is examined by becoming conscious not only of the heat but of the radiance that is emitted by the body. This can be detected by very close observation and an attunement to the subtlest level of the physical world. Some people, either by gift or by diligent practice, can glimpse or see the field of light that hovers just above the skin, and others of a more sensitive nature or of greater development, can actually perceive the various lines of the aura as they shimmer around a person. In the early stage of this exercise the aura can be detected by the palm of the hand which registers the different sheafs of bodily radiation as gentle pressure fields set at various distances.
The purpose of this exercise is to acquaint the student with the manifestation of the four worlds in their most physical form. If the experience is developed, then much insight can be gained into the nature of the higher worlds and their relationship to one another. For example, the principle of inter-penetration of body and psyche can be clearly observed in the watery aroma of sweat or breath, which reflects the psyche’s condition in the metabolism. In this way the three lower elements can be related to physical, emotional and intellectual states, with fire representing consciousness. Thus solidity is usually concerned with practicality, whilst fluidity associated with moods. As regards gaseousness, people often speak of their minds being foggy or clear, and anyone who has seen a corpse knows that the light of consciousness has departed from it, in that it emits no heat and the eye has no radiance.
–Z’ev Ben Shimon Halevi (The Work of the Kabbalist)
February 19, 2009
Today we explore walking meditation. This can be done in a number of ways. Here we explore the Wu Wei walking meditation.
A Kabbalistic version can be done by the following exercise also.
The Taoist practice of “aimless wandering” through places of great natural beauty is a wonderful way to cultivate Wu Wei. As we practice, little by little we revive our capacity to move in the world with the kind of joyful ease and spontaneity that we see in young children. At the same time, we are nourished deeply by the elemental energies – by the plants, minerals and animals, the earth and the sky.
Time Required: 30-45 minutes, or longer if you’d like
1. Choose a place to practice. This might be your neighborhood park, the courtyard of an apartment complex, a mountain meadow, or a forest with a gentle stream flowing through it. What’s important is that it be a place where you can connect with the elements of the natural world, and a place that you feel inspired by.
2. Sit or lie down directly on the earth. (You can use a blanket underneath, if you’d prefer.) Close your eyes. Take a couple of deep slow breaths, and feel your connection to the earth beneath you. Feel the breath moving into and out of your body. Let go of any thoughts of past or future, as though there were no past or future – only this delicious moment, here and now.
3. Now open your eyes, and let your gaze gently scan your surroundings, noticing and appreciating the beauty of this place. Notice also what you’re hearing (birdsong perhaps), smelling (the scent of pine needles) and feeling (a gentle breeze on your face).
4. Next, let yourself begin to wander – to stroll about in this beautiful place, without an agenda of any sort. Be guided by what catches your eye, or perhaps a mysterious sound, or perhaps just your intuition saying: “let’s see what lies in this direction.”
5. Feel free to pause whenever you’d like, to sit or lie down again, or to examine something in great detail: to notice the texture of lichen on a rock, or the innermost folds of a blossoming rose. As you explore in this way, do your best to remain at a feeling and sensing level, without a lot of mental analysis.
6. If you notice that you’ve gotten lost in thoughts of the past or the future, no problem – simply bring yourself back to the practice: to wandering about, carefree as a child, in this beautiful place, letting your curiosity and gratitude guide you.
7. When your allotted time for the practice is up, or when your intuition tells you it’s time to end the session, sit down once again, and take a couple of deep slow breaths. Generate a feeling of gratitude for having the opportunity to spend time in such a beautiful place. Notice how you feel, in your body.
8. Then bring that energy with you, though the rest of your day!
1. Don’t worry if this feels a bit awkward at first. Many of us are so used to structuring our days with agendas and schedules and check-lists, that moving in a more spontaneous way can feel a bit odd at first. But you’ll soon remember how wonderful it is!
2. Be clear about the difference between this practice of “aimless wandering” and simply spacing out! Spacing out is what happens when we are drawn into thoughts of the past or future – when we get sucked into a “movie” being created by our thoughts. Aimless wandering brings us into the fields of our senses, and into a direct relationship with the elements of the natural world.
3. Notice the difference between honoring your own intuitive desire to move in one direction or another, and engaging in judgment. The sweetness of the “aimless wandering” practice is that there is no absolute “right” or “wrong” way to do it. Each of us discovers what’s right for us!
4. As you become more adept at the practice, your sensitivity to the energies of the place will increase. Enjoy this!
What You Need:
· a precious human body
· a place of great natural beauty
· a blanket to lie on, if you’d like
“A Guide To Walking Meditation” by Thich Nhat Hanh
As you are walking place your eyesight and awareness on the horizon, or whatever is close if you are in an urban area. The idea here is to focus your attention upward and forward, instead of looking down and skulking.
Calm yourself, breathe rhythmically or however you achieve a serene state
As you walk focus your attention on the four kabbalistic “power points.” The feet, the groin, the heart (or solar plexus) and the forehead (or just above the head).
As you walk focus on those points in your mind. Feel your connection to the earth, the feet
Then the groin
Then the heart or solar plexus
Finally the head (or just above the head).
This can be done by focusing on the energies of the sefirot,
Malkuth, yesod, tifferet, Kether
Variations of this:
Focus on the images, of
Naturally we can go upwards or downwards, obviously the energy here has differing connotations.
This is of course related to the middle pillar exercise.
Another variation is to add the death emanation, or Gnosis.
Here at the throat, or if you are male, the adam’s apple we can picture the Gnostic “power” center. Find a symbol of image or something to help you visualize this energy center. I personally use the grail symbol of one upward triangle on top of another.
A further variation would be of course to use “energy balls” instead of kabbalistic emanations or imagery.
Feel free to change things to how you would like.
February 17, 2009
Posted by GraalBaum under Sophia
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Gender in Gnosticism
If the woman had not separated from the man, she should not die with the man. His separation became the beginning of death. Because of this, Christ came to repair the separation, which was from the beginning, and again unite the two, and to give life to those who died as a result of the separation, and unite them. But the woman is united to her husband in the bridal chamber. Indeed, those who have united in the bridal chamber will no longer be separated. Thus Eve separated from Adam because it was not in the bridal chamber that she united with him.
–Gospel of Philip
God, the one true God, the source of being is seen as a force that transcends gender and ultimately God is beyond categories of gender. But at the same time gender is very formative of our human experience. So just like God in an absolute sense cannot be contained in words but we still have to approach God through language, right? Through myths and stories and theology and…which is all kind of creating analogies about God. Similarly we have to approach God, or approach God through gender. And traditionally of course there’s been this hyper masculinisation of God, in which God has been primarily confined to male attributes, the father, the son or you know, God as the old bearded guy of the Cisteen Chapel ceiling or God as Superman, shooting down fire from the sky and destroying people. What Gnosticism works to change this image, not to destroy the male imagery of the father, the son or the imagery of the brother, but rather to compliment it with female imagery as well. SO that we understand in some sense that our relationship to God is like a father and a mother, like a lover and the beloved, a brother and a sister; so it’s like a complimentary to the relationship.
So what I want to talk about tonight is the metaphysical nature of gender itself. I’m going to leave the question of God alone for this evening and talk about our own experiences of gender and what the spiritual significances of those might be. I think we begin from a Gnostic perspective that gender arises out of the cosmos, out of the material reality or the physical reality and like other dualities, good /evil, light/dark, right/left…these are seen as the constituents parts of material reality, its these dualities and divisions and separations that make the material what it is and create the limitations that we associate with physical reality. And of these limitations it is probably gender that Gnosticism sees as the most traumatic one of all, well except maybe the good/evil dichotomy. But the division of male/female gender, the division is very traumatic in a lot of ways, it’s been a sort of division of the wholeness of the spirit into two separate pieces and as a result can often lead to very self destructive behavior as all too often when we adhere to the gender identity that we are taught to display and see in ourselves and we don’t find a way to pursue the complimentary aspects of the spirit then we quickly descend into patterns of abuse and dependence and domination that are really devoid of the true spiritual connection.
So one of the goals of Gnosis is to transcend and heal these dualities and divisions in human experience. And thus the question of gender and the question of how we heal the brokenness that is sort of implicit in it is stressed in the Gospel of Thomas especially saying 22:
Jesus saw some infants nursing. He said to his disciples, “These nursing infants are like those who enter the (Father’s) kingdom.”
They said to him, “Then shall we enter the (Father’s) kingdom as babies?”
Jesus said to them, “When you make the two into one, and when you make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner, and the upper like the lower, and when you make male and female into a single one, so that the male will not be male nor the female be female, when you make eyes in place of an eye, a hand in place of a hand, a foot in place of a foot, a likeness in place of a likeness, then you will enter [the kingdom].”
So when we look at this issue of what needs healing and the reconciliation, the issue, the problem, is that we’ve been taught and conditioned not just in our own lifetimes but over in generations of humanity to ascribe huge importance over what are really minor biological differences and not really seek to expand our consciousness in this area. To assume that we are locked in this duality and that there is no way to transcend it.
So what Gnosticism does, is to argue that each of us has a spiritual identity and it is the spiritual identity that can lead us back on a path to wholeness this is because even though we live in a very divided and sometimes painful existence in the physical world the spirit has what the Gnostic teacher Carpocrates would call a “deep spiritual memory.” These are the words he uses “the spiritual memory.” The most famous place where he talks about what this memory is when he makes his Christological statement about Jesus and says “That Jesus is a man like any other man, the son of Joseph; except that he was different from other people in that his mind, pure and clear could remember, could exercise memory of what it had seen in the realm of the ungenerated God.”
So if Jesus is a great model for what we can attain, then through Gnosis we can gain access to these spiritual memories of what was in the realm of the ungenerated God, to use Carpocrates’ term. And these memories are of wholeness, of a unity, indeed not a cessation of our individual existences, but rather as it were a completion of them. And part of this spiritual memory of wholeness beyond the divisions of gender is part of what makes up this spiritual memory, and it is in this sense that the Gospel of Thomas puts this question as central to the idea of what is going to bring us into what the Gospel calls the Kingdom. It is very important to make clear here that, the Gospel of Philip makes it clear that not only is this unity, the Pleroma, the fullness, it’s not only our destiny, but it’s also as spiritual beings, but also as in the words of the Gospel of Philip, our earliest origin, the earliest origin of things. So there is some way that this wholeness of the Pleroma is imprinted and on our spirits, this pneuma or the breath that gives us life, or rather makes us human, and we can access those memories that are imprinted on us. But it is something that takes time as we are held back by other things.
So when we begin to pursue through Gnosis a kind of healing and wholeness through the question of gender a number of things begin to happen in our lives and in the way we experience the world. First of all we begin to revolutionize the way in which we relate to others especially those of the other gender or to use the more common term, the opposite sex…and really what begins to happen is instead of seeing them quote “as the opposite sex” as something to be possessed or owned or intimidated or feared or dominated or dominated by in an unhealthy way, we can begin to construct relationships with those of other genders in a way that really engage in a true human level; and seek on those others how we can begin to complete our own spiritual existence. In this sense relationships between men and women are very important because they have so much to teach us about this completeness, this wholeness and what it might look like. We are in many ways, forces of revelation to each other. Allowing us to open up the mysteries of the hidden things concealed in those things visible, to use the words of the Gospel of Philip. Or to return to the Gospel of Thomas as Jesus says “The person of light, lights up the whole world.” Or in other words, we are each other’s light. These places of spiritual wholeness are sometimes shrouded in a kind of darkness and ignorance. Through the light provided by other people we can begin to see the contours of their meaning.
So I think there is an importance for anyone seeking the Gnostic path to obtain a certain degree of intimacy with people of the opposite sex. Now what I want to make clear is what I am talking about is not tied in any way to what is called sexuality. I’m certainly not saying that heterosexual sexuality is somehow necessary for Gnosis, although it can indeed be an important manifestation of this kind of intimacy. Or it can be a barrier to this kind of intimacy, as we know. Of course we know there are lots of people who are simply not heterosexual. They don’t share this sexual orientation, as part of their constituent identities; they have some kind of other sexual orientation; that they are drawn to other ways of living as sexual beings. Gnosticism of course is generally open to lots of different forms of sexual identity.
But ultimately what I am saying is, it is not that important about sexual contact, it’s about intimacy. The kind of inter gender intimacy that can be pursued in lots of ways. Through friendship, through intellectual exchange, through the kind of connection where you learn to build mutual networks of care…and exchange of thoughts and ideas, and spiritual growth. Men and women learn from each other in a mutual way when they begin to experience this intimacy. Which indeed, indeed, even when it does involve sexuality, when it does involve heterosexual contact is in fact something that transcends it. It is an intimacy that takes place on the spiritual level and transcends merely the physical level.
So this should make clear, as is important to state, that gender like other forms of division in the material world are not EVIL; it’s not as if gender is something bad and evil and something we want to run away from. These sources of division are indeed sources of limitation. U ironically or paradoxically, the very things that create these limitations can be the sources of the transcendent liberation, that can lift us up out of the world as defined by limitations and limits or rather live in that world in a way that helps set our spirits free.
The question of suffering, similarly suffering is something we see as to be transcended through Gnosis but at the same time, it offers us things. It offers us understanding and compassion toward others. Again it can make us bitter and angry people or it can make us much more open to other people. And I think gender is much the same way. It can be a very troubling phenomenon or it can be something we harness the force of to propel us along the spiritual journey in a way that incorporates healing and reconciliation. So ultimately I think though, the pursuit of gender wholeness, if that is what we want to call it, is probably more importantly something that happens within ourselves. Our intra-gender identities rather than our inter-gender relationships.
When we begin to search for that spiritual memory that Carpocrates talks about; that memory of spiritual wholeness. In the Pleroma, that was later divided through the shaping of the Demiurge. We are really searching to recover in our own beings a wholeness of gender that has been divided and separated in our own experience of life. It is important to remember that of course that, Demiurgic forces and Archonic forces and Pleromic forces are not so much beings but are forces operating within us. So we are looking for something in our own identities and what we want to do is move closer to wholeness. And it is this wholeness that is already deep within us. As I said, as Carpocrates said it is imprinted on the spiritual memory, that we all possess through the pneuma, through the spirit that is within us.
So we want to move closer to that wholeness that is both our ultimate destiny and is our earliest origins. To use the words of the Gospel of Philip, we want to gradually transform our lives, and our beings and our existences into that image of that spiritual memory at the heart of the pneuma, the spirit. Which is indeed what really makes us human.
The journey of Gnosis is predicated on the idea that even in the midst of this limited material existence we can begin to transform things and transform ourselves. Our bodies, our minds, in a way that infuses them with a new wholeness of the spirit. And as you see in that same verse, saying 22 of the Gospel of Thomas that we not only recreate the unity of gender, that it goes on to say that we, it goes on to say that we, you know, make the hand in the place of a hand and the foot in the place of a foot and likeness in the place of a likeness… One way to think of that is it is talking about a recreation of the self and the image of the spirit. Or as some have said, through our spirit we are created in the image of God. What we need to do through Gnosis is to recreate ourselves into the likeness of God. That is to transform the entirety of our being into a full realization of this image of God that is in our deepest human natures.
In a very real sense we have already in our spirits a sort of latent inner partnership between things we have called male and female in our experience of the material and intellectual world. Thus, in a very real sense each of us has within us, a sort of inner man and inner woman, what some mystics have spoken of as the Animus and Anima. We must pursue the kind of inner metaphysical partnership that will allow their mutual complimentarity that will shine forth in our lives and transform our consciousness.
Just as we want to revolutionize our relationships externally with regards to gender, and the opposite sex; so in parallel, we want to revolutionize our gender relationships internally within our own identities.
Now, if we look at Christ and Sophia, I want to discuss how they personify a Gnostic theory of gender both in terms of what we should do unto others and how we should persue that wholeness of gender within ourselves. We see in the stories of Christ and Sophia a great exchange, a great partnership, a sort of dialogue that is going on in these stories of “cosmic missions” and developments in time. These forces that represent in some sense the feminine and the masculine within the whole unity of the Pleroma.
If we look at the creation myth of the Valentinians, these were the Gnostics that followed Valentinus, the great preacher of the 2nd century, it is a little more different and complicated from what you may be used to. Just to give you a taste of what I mean, what happens to Sophia in this story is that… of course it starts off the same, she’s an Aeon, she’s in fact sometimes portrayed as the yuoungest of the Aeons, and she goes off by herself. Wanting to obtain more about her origins, thinking she can learn more by being alone and thinking alone. This of course brings about division and separation. What she produces, now in the Valentinian story is not the Demiurge immediately, but rather a realm of imperfection, the cosmos or chaos which is the stuff that the Demiurge will later create the cosmic world. What happens in the Valentinian story (again you’ll see how this is different to the simpler Gnostic story) is that this is so traumatic that Sophia literally gets split into two pieces. There ends up being a higher Sophia, who remains kind of connected fully in the Pleroma, but there also emerges a lower Sophia, part of Sophia’s identity becomes trapped in the imperfect realm. It becomes trapped in the cosmic chaos, and it tries and tries to get out, but it can’t. What happens is the Demiurge emerges out of the imperfect realm and begins to create all this stuff and eventually creates human beings. In the Valentinian story the Demiurge thinks its creating everything on its own for its own power. But in fact the lower Sophia (Echamoth) with the help of the Aeons, is influencing the Demiurge. They are subtly, sort of influencing what he does. In particularly, subtly pressing him into the creation of human beings.
The lower Sophia realizes the only way she can free herself and the rest of the spirit that is trapped in the cosmic world is if there can emerge some kind of beings that will have some kind of amalgamated identities. That is, they will be, part of the cosmic world and part of the spirit world. Part cosmos and part Pleroma. This she sees in human beings. So there is a sort of subversion of what the Demiurge wants to do. He wants to create automatons to worship him, but Sophia wants to create autonamus beings that can achieve liberation. So it is the lower Sophia, in this Valentinian story that comes into the form of the serpent. The lower Sophia says, “Alright, I have to get in contact with the human beings.” And so she says “What I’ll do is that I will go into the most humblest and the most simple of physical things. This animal that simply slithers along the ground, the serpent.” The Demiurge is so overwhelmed with his own arrogance and his own power that he’s not going to notice something as humble as the serpent. It is going to be completely off his radar screen.
So the lower Sophia, enters the serpent and comes to the people and then has the dialogue in which she begins to tell them the truth about things which is as she says, the Demiurge is not the one true God. That in fact human beings have this divine core within them and that if they would have the courage to eat the fruit of moral truth, if they have the courage to face the realities of the universe or rather not the universe but of all existence. Then they too can be transformed into God.
So you can see that is a little more complicated than other stories. I wouldn’t say it contradicts “on the origin of the World” more that it compliments it. What we see is the relationship between Christ and Sophia becomes more explicit. When Christ comes down to earth and manifests in the human being Jesus, Valentinian Gnostics would say “Why?” you know, why? This is a problem, why does Christ come into the world? I mean what is the point? They would say it is to help liberate Sophia. It is because Sophia is so important, so fundamental to him in the Pleroma, that he sees the lower Sophia and the rest of the spirit in the cosmic realm. He wants to enter that world; he wants to be willing to empty himself into a human existence so that he can help bring about the liberation of the lower Sophia and the reunification of the two parts of Sophia. Because there is a great pain involved in the separation for every being in the Pleroma because their wholeness has been ripped apart. So there is very much a sense that Christ and all the other beings or Aeons and God, even God, is deeply moved by compassion. It is compassion that moves all of these forces to try to help us. It is compassion and it is suffering. As Origen, an early Christian theologian said something interesting, he said, he was talking about Jesus Christ and he said “Christ suffered before he died on the cross.” And that “Actually Christ suffered before he was even born.” He goes on to say that “If Christ did not suffer, he would have never have come down to Earth.” That is his explanation of why Christ enters the world. That you can see is tied into this very interesting relationship between Christ and Sophia.
– Brother Matthew Ouroboro
Sophia: Means “Wisdom.” Like the Logos this is considered a primal form. While the Logos is personified as male, Sophia is female. Logos has a direct and intellectual basis for guidance, Sophia is inspirational (sometimes even sensual). The basic idea is comparable to wisdom being Sophia (sofia) or “Holy
Spirit” in the form of pure wisdom. Pistis, means faith, hylic, or Prunikus Sophia refers to the imperfect or earthly state of the living, or earthly form from Pleromic origins. ”As appropriated by Sethianism and the Gnostics in general, Sophia is a hypostatized form of Hokmah, (i.e., the divine Wisdom of Proverbs 8, Job 28, Sirach 24).” ( See; Turner.)
Carpocrates: (100?-150 CE); Formed a sect in Alexandria known as Carpocrations. Possible successor to Samaritan Simon Magus. He taught reincarnation in his Gnostic philosophy. An individual had to live many lives and adsorb a full range of experiences before being able to return to God. They practiced free sexuality. They believed that Jesus was the son of Joseph. They questioned the docetic aspects attributed to Jesus. (See; “Stromata,” Bk 3.) http://www.antinopolis.org/carpocrates.html
Pleroma: The word means “fullness,” and the ‘All.’ It refers to ”all existence
beyond matter. Refers to the world of the Aeons, the heavens or spiritual
universe, which represents being out of the state of matter. According to the
“Gospel of Truth” “….all the emanations from the Father are Pleromas.” see
Tractates 3, 2, Codices, I, and XII, Nag Hammadi Lib. Pleroma can have other
connotations according to the Gnostic school of thought, some differences in
Sethian and Valentinian (other) schools can be noted. Pleroma, is different than
Logos. (See; Logos, See also; Gaffney, p. 246.)
Pneumatic: One who identifies with the spirit (pneuma), beyond that of the
physical (hylic) world and the intellect alone (psychic). The pneuma, described
in the ”Gospel of Phillip,” as ‘breath,’ refers to bonding with the internal
spark (spinther) that came from and is drawn to reunite with the Father in some
Gnostic schema. One who awakens it (the spinther) within the self does it
through the process of gnosis. (See; Gregory of Nicea (Basil), who used the term
in his mystical teachings, and is a later term which connotes Gnostic. See;
”Early Christian Mystics,” McGinn, Crossroads, 2003.)
the “Pneumatics”, correspond with “Pneuma”, the spiritual
“breath”, the spiritual order. These are the Gnostic Initiates,
those who go beyond mentality/consciousness, and all modes related to
the individuality. That which concerns Pneumatics, is as different
from the psychics, and the psychics from the hylics.
Aeon: These are characterized as emanations from the ‘first cause,’ the Father in some Gnostic schema. The word not only refers to the “worlds” of emanation, but to the personalities as well. Sophia, Logos, and the other high principles are aeons. ”A link or level of the great chain of being, the sum total which is the ‘All’ or Pleroma…Can also mean a world age.” (See; Gaffney) ”According to other Gnostics, for example Valentinus, the first principle is also called Aeon or the unfathomable, the primeval depth, the absolute abyss, bythos, in which everything is sublimated…” translated by Scott J. Thompson from G.W.F.
Hegel’s ”Vorlesungen über die Geschichte der Philosophie ii ,” (Theorie Werkausgabe, Bd. 19), Frankfurt a.M., Suhrkamp Verlag, 1977, 426-430] ( See also; Pleroma.) The first ten aeons in the Valentinian schema are, Bythios (Profound) and Mixis (Mixture), Ageratos (Never old) and Henosis (Union), Autophyes (Essential nature) and Hedone (Pleasure), Acinetos (Immoveable) and Syncrasis (Commixture,) Monogenes (Only-begotten) and Macaria (Happiness). http://www.wbenjamin.org/hegel_kabbalah.html
Demiurge: Meaning ‘Creator’ in Greek. Thought to be the “Craftsman” or creator of the material world. (Heracleon) In Orthodox thought this is a supernatural entity or force, such as the appearance of God to Moses. In the Gnostic schema the Word refers to an order, and it may be a natural sort of intelligent design, related to wisdom, the earthly or kenomic state of the higher wisdom, or form from the Pleroma. The material state is considered less than the Pleromic, and highly flawed. Archons seem to be emanations from the Demiurge process, much like other emanations from the Pleroma. (See; Pleroma, Kenoma, Archon.)
Echmoth: (Echamoth) Meaning a form of wisdom; “Echamoth is one thing and Echmoth, another. Echamoth is Wisdom simply, but (e) Echmoth is the Wisdom of death, which is the one who knows death, which is called “the little Wisdom”. (”Gospel of Phillip, NHL.)
February 12, 2009
Posted by GraalBaum under sufi Leave a Comment
Sufism recognizes that committed relationship and family are not contrary to the flowering of spirituality, but rather are wonderful vessels for spiritual ripening. The beauty of partnership, children and family are great blessings, containing the inspiration, the breathing in, of the divine. As we deepen our capacity for relationship and fidelity in the human sphere, we also increase our capacity for relationship with God. We need to stand together in the light. The way is opening in our own time for greater recognition of equal partnership. We have much to learn form each other, and male and female need to recognize each other so that we can come to balance within ourselves as well as creating balance outwardly in the world. The male attributes of strength and determination also belong to women; the feminine attributes of receptivity and beauty also belong to men. As we look to the divine in each other, encouraging each other to rise to the fullness of is or her own divine nature, we push against our limitations until they dissolve and a gift unfolds. As we learn to witness the miracle of creation, a time comes when “wheresoever you look, there is the Face of God; everything is perishing except the One Face.” Whether we choose celibacy or committed partnership, whether we are female or male, the same work remains of polishing the mirror of the heart, of being in remembrance moment by moment, breath by breath. Each moment we reaffirm the inner marriage until there is no longer lover or Beloved but only Unity of Being. Little by little, we die to what we thought we were. We are dissolved into Love, and we become love, God willing. As Rabi’a says:
In love, nothing exists between breast and Breast.
Speech is born out of longing, True description from the real taste.
The one who tastes, knows;
The one who explains, lies.
How can you describe the true form of Something In whose presence you are blotted out?
And in whose being you still exist?
And who lives as a sign for your journey?
February 11, 2009
THE heavens and the stars
At the appointed time will disappear.
A wave will strike the earth,
And lo! it vanishes.
Only the Truth will remain Unchangeable.
And you at that moment,
Passing from this dream-life,
With self discarded,
Will be one with the Beloved.
Oh! Master, ponder on your coming and your going,
And the thousand existences that lie before you!
–The Secret Rose Garden
There isn’t a fundamental difference, that’s the point
Sure if you ONLY look at the outside, then yes there is a fundamental difference.
Someone just posted a question about where to find information about Rosicrucianism being catholic online….
Sadly I doubt they will find it. Why? Because the web only will deal with the outward face.
If one looks at the history we shall come up with some simple “ideas”
Firstly Rosicrucianism has its roots in mysticism, in Islam…in Sufism. With Sufism we have a cross pollination (some would argue that came from “Persian Gnostic strands”) that influenced Judaic Kabbalah and Esoteric Christianity. The Rose cross’ use of the Rose symbol, a symbol of the perfected self, the true self…comes from Islam. Of course if one reads the Chemical wedding, arguably the key Rosicrucian text (the rest largely being commentary) we see the divine feminine. Our protagonist meets Venus; the rose again is symbol of Venus. In this instance we see the divine feminine, the Virgin; the protagonist also meets 7 other versions earlier in his journey. So we see the Rose also represents the Virgin Mary. So we return to Catholicism. So yes, Rosicrucianism is Catholicism.
Of course Rose Cross, historically is a protest, a form of Protestantism. Arguably this stems from Martin Luther who “co-incidentally” created a crest formed from a rose, a red heart a black cross and a golden circle (with a “blue sky”). The Modern Lectorium group of course uses a red, a white and a golden rose to represent different stages of “development.”
Now of course Martin Luther was a very good monk, with much faith and devotion in his Catholicism. If one examines the history, Luther never sought to destroy Catholicism, he merely chose to reform what had become outwardly, and a corrupt institution… power corrupts. One could argue the seeds of Luther’s revolt were sewn centuries before by the killing of the Knights Templars and the Cathars. But then the outward exoteric face of religion often fears, and misunderstands the inner esoteric (deeper understanding) face of itself. Modern Muslims for example have ill feelings toward the Sufi and many modern Christians are suspicious of more esoteric branches of their own faith.
So what do we have? Rosicrucianism is protestant in that it is a protest. But it fails to truly be protestant as it is a protest to the outer face while retaining a deeper inner esoteric core. The protestant movement as a whole, by and large ran screaming to distance itself from the esoteric and remove it as much as possible. The Protestant movement ironically embraced the Gnostic (classical Gnostic, i.e. users of the NagHammadi library of texts) and Sufi idea of transcending Dogma. Gone were the want and need for power, leaders and ritual. Of course as Sufi and Gnostics know, these both have their place but should not be followed rigidly. So where as the Protestant movement threw away the temple and replaced it largely with a wooden horse, the original intent was a return to a much early esoteric form, an inner core that to this day is exactly what Rosicrucianism represents and is (although this is further complicated by 19th century change and revaluation and re-invention by so called modern “Rosicrucian” groups).
So in summary, at the core Catholicism and Rosicrucianism is the same thing…as is Sufism. The Rose Cross movement and the Sufi (and the Gnostic) seek to remove the constraints and politics found in the outer exoteric parts of religion, WHILE retaining the inner esoteric (which can never be separated from, fully, arguably) practices and teachings of their respective religious base.
It is ironic that we return full circle where it becomes those that claim an esoteric heritage become the accusers and finger pointers. In so doing they become the exact embodiment of the beings that Frater Rose Cross sought to run screaming from. For at the heart, the Rose Cross has always been about transcending division, by passing differences and seeking a universal unity. As has the Gnostic and the Sufi, fittingly because this is where Rosicrucianism comes from.
As do all truly worthwhile spiritual practices…Of course there is a danger in supposing all roads lead to Rome. This is quite clearly not the case, but there is a fundamental tie that binds most of the world’s spiritual practices. Interestingly enough, the word Religion means to tie, to bind and to bring together.
O King of Glory:
O Lord of Hosts:
O thou, the Creator of Heaven, and Earth, and of all things visible and invisible:
Now, (even now, at length,) Among others thy manifold mercies used, toward me, thy simple servant John Dee, I most humbly beseech thee, in this my present petition to have mercy upon me, to have pity upon me, to have Compassion upon me: Who, faithfully and sincerely, of long time, have sought among men, in Earth: And also by prayer, (full often and pitifully,) have made suit unto thy Divine Majesty for the obtaining of some convenient portion of True Knowledge and understanding of thy laws and Ordinances, established in the Natures and properties of thy Creatures: by which Knowledge, Thy Divine Wisdom, Power and Goodness, (on thy Creatures bestowed, and to them imparted.) being to me made manifest, might abundantly instruct, furnish, and allure me, (for the same,) incessantly to pronounce thy praises, to rend unto thee, most hearty thanks, to advance thy true honor, and to Win unto thy Name, some of thy due Majestical Glory, among all people, and forever.”
–[Sloane Manuscript 3191, Folio 45; British Museum; presented here with today's spelling.] Linda S. Schrigner (http://www.crcsite.org/dee1.htm)++
THE ISLAMIC ORIGIN OF THE ROSE-CROIX
extract of the above article:
The Rosicrucian doctrine of Creation which we have recently
published , is found again in its entirety in the philosophy of Ibn
Sina. God does not create the world directly but the necessary Being
emanates a pure intelligence which is the First Cause. This First
Cause knows the Creator as necessary and itself as possible. From
this time multiplicity introduces itself into the Order of creation.
This intelligence is the active intellect, the illuminator of souls.
From sphere to sphere (through the ten spheres) the radiance pursues
itself towards the pure intelligences as far as the level of matter.
God is understood therefore as the omnipotent and creative First
Cause. He cannot have been abstaining from all time and have
commenced that which implies in him a change so that the creation is
The Creator does not directly create matter, but it is through the
role of the intermediaries, the angels who identify themselves with
the first principles.
It is possible that Chr. Rosenkreutz could have known the teachings
of Ibn Sina or Abdu’l-Karim al-Jili, who developed an analogous
theory: ” The world is co-eternal with God, but in the logical
order, the judgement that God exists in Himself is anterior to the
judgment that things exist in his knowledge. He knows them as He
knows Himself but they are not eternal and He is eternal.”
Mohyi-ed-Din taught that the souls are pre-existent to the body,
that they are of different degrees of perfection and that they
unequally break through the shadows of the body. The act of learning
for them, therefore is nothing more than a remembering, a return
ascension towards the place from which they had first departed.
Ibn-Arabi who wrote a book on “The Hundred Names of God” used
circles to expound his system , which is singularly close to that
of “Dignitates Divinae” by Raymond Lully, who is considered as an
initiate and precursor to the Rose-Croix.
Ibn Sina (Avicenna) – doctor of doctors
February 11, 2009
Hidden Great Invisible Holy Spirit
Unimaginable Depths of the Divine Above
Overflowing with Grace
We ask that Your Loveliness would
Support our every footstep
Through Spiritual Fullness
Manifesting in Desired-for Wisdom
May we be receptive to Wisdom
May we be Empowered
Eternity, as bestowing eternity…
Life, as bestowing life…
Blessed, as bestowing blessedness…
Acquaintance, as bestowing acquaintance…
Good, as bestowing goodness…
Mercy, as bestowing mercy and ransom…
Grace, as bestowing grace…
All these things
Not as possessing attribute
Rather, as bestowing them…
Your immeasurable, incorruptible light…
A wellspring of pure luminous living water…
Prior Acquaintance – Prior Knowledge,
Mother-Father; Father, Mother, Child…
Child of the Child…
May we be Illuminated!
May we Know
The essence of Wisdom
Shaped in the form that is Spiritually Desired
The essence of Blessedness
Shaped by the form of Spiritual Community
The essence of Understanding
Shaped by the form of Ever-Mindfulness
The essence of Agape Love
Shaped by the form that is Spiritually Motherly
The essence of Hope
Shaped by the form that is Spiritually Fatherly
The essence of Faith/Trustworthiness
Shaped by the form that is The Comforter
May we participate in
The Comforter’s Faithfulness
The Fatherly Hope
The Motherly Agape Love
The Ever-Mindful Understanding
The Spiritual Assembly’s Blessedness
The Desired-For Wisdom
Flowing through us
Permeating our being
Nurturing and healing
Shining light upon our souls
Revealing sparks of Divine Light
February 10, 2009
Posted by GraalBaum under Reflection Leave a Comment
Contemplation is the goal of all life. It is knowledge by love. St. Paul] often prays for his disciples that they may have knowledge (gnosis) and understanding (epignosis) in the mystery of Christ. The mystery of Christ is the ultimate truth, the reality towards which all human life aspires. And this mystery is known by love. Love is going out of oneself, surrendering the self, letting the reality, the truth take over. It is not limited to any earthly object or person. It reaches out to the infinite and the eternal. This is contemplation. It is not something which we achieve for ourselves; it is something that comes when we let go. We have to abandon everything, all words, thoughts, hopes, fears, all attachment to ourselves or to any earthly thing, and let the divine mystery take possession of our lives. It feels like death and is a sort of dying. It is encountering the darkness, the abyss, the void. It is facing nothingness or, as the English Benedictine mystic Augustine Baker said, it is the “union of the nothing with the Nothing.”
YOUR eye has not strength enough
To gaze at the burning sun,
But you can see its brilliant light
By watching its reflection
Mirrored in the water.
So the reflection of Absolute Being
Can be viewed in this mirror of Not-Being,
For non-existence, being opposite Reality,
Instantly catches its reflection.
Know the world from end to end is a mirror;
In each atom a hundred suns are concealed.
If you pierce the heart of a single drop of water,
From it will flow a hundred clear oceans;
If you look intently at each speck of dust,
In it you will see a thousand beings,
A gnat in its limbs is like an elephant;
In name a drop of water resembles the Nile,
In the heart of a barley-corn is stored an hundred harvests,
Within a millet-seed a world exists,
In an insect’s wing is an ocean of life,
A heaven is concealed in the pupil of an eye,
The core in the centre of the heart is small,
Yet the Lord of both worlds will enter there.
–The Secret Rose Garden
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