creation myth


Even if I walk in the light, I am not the light.

Even if I am a taut stringed lute, I am not the lute player

Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī

Seeing Michael Dowd give a discussion on his work to prevent the catastrophe of global climate change was interesting. He appeared at my local Unitarian Universalism church. Dowd outlined a “new” movement where people of all faiths are coming together with Science and scientists to discuss and hopefully combat climate change.

Religious naturalism is an approach to spirituality that is devoid of supernaturalism. The focus is on the religious attributes of the universe/nature, the understanding of it and our response to it (interpretive, spiritual and moral). These provide for the development of an eco-morality. Although it has an ancient heritage in many philosophical cultures, this modern movement is currently not well defined. Theistic or nontheistic religious naturalism is a basic theological perspective of liberal religion and religious humanism, according to some sources.

Religious naturalism is concerned about the meaning of life, but it is equally interested in living daily life in a rational, happy way. An alternative, more anthropocentric approach, is to look at it as answering the question: “What is the meaning of one’s life and does it have a purpose?” It is an approach to understanding the natural world in a religious way and does not offer a detailed system of beliefs or rituals. Religious naturalism also attempts to amalgamate the scientific examination of reality with the subjective sensory experiences of spirituality and aesthetics. As such, it is a combination of objectivity with religious emotional feelings and the aesthetic insights supplied by art, music and literature. It is a promising form of contemporary religious ethics and pluralism responding to the challenges of late modern religious transformations and ecological peril. In so doing, it is emerging as an increasingly plausible and potentially rewarding form of religious moral life consistent with the insights of the natural sciences.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_naturalism

Thank-God-for-Evolution

This is a very adimarable goal. I enjoyed Dowd’s talk, until he started discussing Humanism. Dowd himself and his wife, Connie Barlow, are partners and Co authors. Both have spent more than a decade on the road discussing their views, books and the problem of the scientific community in our modern lives.

Dowd himself admits he is a preacher, an ordained minister. Connie is described as an author of “popular science” books. Popular science books, the term doesn’t bode well.

Dowd outlined the need to view reality with reverence and the physical as sacred.

…….

The outer world of earthly existence corresponds in all its details to the inner world of man’s soul, and there is a similar correspondence between the Garden of the Heart and the Garden of the Soul, but these are only two particular  instances of the general truth that all the different domains in the Universe correspond to each other in that each is an image of the Universe itself. 

–Martin Lings, THE SYMBOL

b00c52b1b8

QVOD SVPERIVS EST EST EST SICVT ID QVOD INFERIVS
(“The top is like the below”)

MACROPROSOPVS – Macrocosm

MICROPROSOPVS – Microcosm

Now, this is great. Of course reality is sacred as is the very ground beneath my feet. Dowd admirably preaches and teaches a philosophy of reality as sacred. Hardly news to me or anyone with an ounce of sanity, in my opinion.

For Dowd, reality, or God as he interchangeably calls or labels things, is sacred and must be treated as such. Reverence for all, in order to prevent climate change… Dowd outlines this by dismissing God, destroying any notion of the supernatural and proposes that observation is our savior and will enable the unification of science and religion. Of course this is overly simplistic and not something I could get behind.

Not that scientific and aesthetic understanding is not necessary –but it should do its work faithfully and immerse itself and disappear in the truth of the relation which surpasses understanding and embraces what is understandable.

–Martin Buber (I And Thou)

By discarding the divine for:

“reality” is divine, but only that which is
” observable” we are being dishonest. By dishonest that is, to me it is dishonest.

Observation only works due to assumptions.

Assumptions include a shared language, for example if we are discussing chickens it is assumed we are discussing chickens that all have two legs and two wings, in reality what if the chicken is deformed? In a real sense this means we are assuming like and like. We are assuming that 1 (chicken) plus 1 (chicken) is 2 (chickens)…. Assuming that both chickens are equal. Which in the real world they would not be.

Observation only works due to an agreed upon yardstick. To quote Dowd

“You don’t have to believe in the sea, it’s just there.”
No, you are wrong Mr Dowd. The sea is only the sea because we agree it is the sea. If we measured using an electromagnetic measuring device, for example, we may have problems separating the sea from nearby rivers. In turn, if we change our yard stick a drop of rainwater is the sea. Benoit Mandelbrot demonstrates this in his essay on the coastline of Britain, demonstrating it is of infinite length, measuring from rocks, stones, sand… atoms etc.

Dreamsmandy

The work of Werner Karl Heisenberg famously explored the problem of light being a particle and a wave, though I understand to some modern physicists the solution is that it’s a wave. At the subatomic level we can only measure where something is or its velocity, not both. To summarize Heisenberg we can simply say the
“observed and observer are inseparable ”

This means any observation is a compromise as it is fully changed by being observed. People may counter this by saying this is only at the subatomic level. Again though, it depends on our yard stick. There are numerous ways and means that demonstrate this phenomenon of the inseparable nature of observation. In the end, it is just a complex way if stating observation is dependent upon perspective and perception. For example if we only studied the sky at night we could learn many things, during the day, yet other things, at both times we observe the sky.

Every experiment destroys some of the knowledge of the system

which was obtained by previous experiments.

“Critique of the Physical Concepts of the Corpuscular Theory” in The Physical Principles of the Quantum Theory (1930) as translated by Carl Eckhart and Frank C. Hoyt, p. 20; also in “The Uncertainty Principle” in The World of Mathematics : A Small Library of the Literature of Mathematics (1956) by James Roy Newman, p. 105

This isnt to mention other things like Godel’s incompleteness theorem, that demonstrates that the only logical conclusion of logic is that logic doesn’t work.

A statement sometimes known as Gödel’s second incompleteness theorem states that if number theory is consistent, then a proof of this fact does not exist using the methods of first-order predicate calculus. Stated more colloquially, any formal system that is interesting enough to formulate its own consistency can prove its own consistency iff it is inconsistent.

http://mathworld.wolfram.com/GoedelsIncompletenessTheorem.html

At a basic level, if we started to discuss Star Wars with a dog, the dog would not understand who Darth Vader is…. sadly humanists are assuming that through observation we can understand reality, just as a dog can one day discuss Luke Skywalker. Uh, no….

But the cult of the intellect knows no bounds.

The point where we seperate from our origins…or the divine/God.

It is this type of world along with its overriding orientation and pursuits which we have destroyed. Our society is man-made, not a divine order. It is one in fact which represents a projection of the human mind that has cut its links with the divine and with the earth; and in so far that it has any ideals these are purely temporal and finite and concern only the terrestrial welfare of its members.

–Philip Sherrard, MODERN SCIENCE AND THE DEHUMANIZATION OF MAN.

To a humanist mindset and many other similar groups (notably modern scientific pantheists for example) throwing out the divine makes perfect sense. If logic, observation, bar charts and other intellectual tools won’t cover reality then anything else is garbage, to the humanist (collectively humanists but each and every group with this mindset).

I am reminded by the recent book/TV show where Stephen Hawkins disproves God. All these groups seem to have one thing in common, an overly simplified verging on puerile understanding or concept of God. The science may or may not be remarkable, advanced and inspiring, but the understanding of the sacred is childlike at best. Hawkins demonstrated this very adequately in his television appearance, in his defense I have not, nor do I intend to read his book.

If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up til he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.

–William Blake (The Marriage of Heaven and Hell)

Dowd, like Hawkins touches upon God, largely only in a puerile simplistic manner, the sky daddy playing chess. This overly simplistic image betrays a lack of perspective or genuine lack of investigation into the nature of God. As such, there is no place beyond the observable, the logical or even beyond the physical. As such we, to this modernist mindset, are merely dogs learning about Star Wars, one day able through language and concept to discuss the finer points of Star Wars.

Of course the talk was only an hour or so long, and I have not actually read his books, so my understanding may be limited.

Language of course fails us every time. Modernists use mathematics to overcome this.

The problem with secular liberals, as distinct from traditionalist liberals and traditionalist conservatives, is that they insist on inventing reality by denying any higher truth than themselves. They deny the natural law of holistic education, including the metalaw of holistic haqq, which is to be sought heuristic ally and holistically not created by human fiat.

By claiming the source of truth they deny the essence of anything and anything, because without essence everything is relative and truth cannot exist. If everything is relavistic, there is no purpose, then the practice of human responsibilities and the corresponding and resulting human rights has no logical basis.

The denial of any reality beyond the power of personal preference is the source of all totalitarian ideologies, beginning with the liberal logic of the French Revolution, which produced Communism, Fascism, and both Zionist and Muslim Statism today, where the sovereign state or global caliphate claims divinity based on top-down political process of might makes right.

 The Metalaw of Holistic Haqq: Toward a Just Third Way beyond Capitalism and Socialism in the Holy Land
by Robert Dickson Crane

….

In conclusion, Dowd and other humanists make giant compromises. Dowd does however stress the urgency of climate change. His concepts work for the ignorant i.e. those expecting the rapture, denying evolution, biblical aging of the planet and other ridiculous literalisms that demonstrate once again observer and observed change things; as literalisms as found in modern times, never existed in the ancient world. However, Dowd is educating the small of understanding, the ones that arguably need to be spoon fed understanding. His goals are also good ones. However, I don’t agree with all his political leanings. Sadly, I think Dowd’s allusions fit well at my church amongst the right people (which may or may not be a good thing depending on your perspective). I enjoyed his conclusions i.e. live in harmony with the earth or die, it is not all doom and gloom, we may do better in regards to combating climate change.

                       .

It is precisely the challenge involved

in using inadequate words

that drives the mind

beyond all words…

At the borders of speech

we open ourselves

to the positive value of silence….

Literary reading,

through its complexity, its music,

its suggestiveness, points to a fuller realm of being.

–Edward k Kaplan (citing Abraham Joshua Heschel)

Zen emptiness is not the emptiness of nothingness, but the emptiness of fullness in which this equation takes place: zero=infinity. The Godhead is no other than this equation. In other words when God as Creator came out of the Godhead he did not leave the Godhead behind. He has the Godhead with him all along while engaging in the work of creation. Creation is continuous, going on till the end of time, which really has no ending and therefore no beginning. For creation is out of inexhaustible nothingness.

 

–Thomas Merton

 

………………………..

THE universe is God’s book,
And he to whom the vision of the Divine
Has been vouchsafed
Reads therein and understands.
Substance is its consonants and accidents its vowels,
And different creatures are its signs and pauses.
The first verse is “Universal Reason,”
The second “Universal Soul,” the “verse of light,”
And this is as a brightly shining lamp.
The third is the “Highest heavens,
The fourth “The Throne.”
After there are seven transcendent spheres,
The “chapter of the seven limbs,”
And forms of the four elements,
Then Nature’s three kingdoms
Whose verses none can count.
And last of all came down the soul of man

http://www.sacred-texts.com/isl/srg/srg00.htm

………………………………………………….

 

“The world was created with ten utterances.

But could God not have created her with a single utterance?

Rather, it is to teach you how precious the earth is,

and how much reward for those who cherish her and how great the consequences for those who abuse her”

 

— Babylonian Talmud, Avot 5:1

 

………………………..

 

 

Sometimes you really feel the presence of God in the world, and in your life, And sometimes, you have trouble accessing that sense of Divine Presence. Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi calls God “The Great Cosmic Flasher.” More ancient rabbis put it this way: “The Sacred Wellspring (God) is both revealed and concealed. “God is always present, and at times that presence is conspicuous, and at times mysterious. But never absent.

-Sefer Ha’Zohar, (Vol 1, f39b)

 

Ten Spheres

 

When you train yourself to hear the voice of God in everything, you attain the quintessence of the human spirit. Usually the mind conceals the divine thoroughly by imagining that there is a separate mental power that constructs the mental images. But by training yourself to hear the voice of God in everything, the voice reveals itself to your mind as well. Then the right in mind, you discover revelation.

–Daniel C Matt: The Essential Kabbalah: The Heart of Jewish Mysticism

 

 

 

To find the Tao, there is nowhere you need to search.

If it is nit inside you, it is not the Tao

–Confucius

 

> 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.

>

> Regards,

>

>

 

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.”

 

 –The Gita

 

 

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?”

 

Manjusri replied,

 

“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.”

 

–Ibn Arabi

 

 

 

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].”

 

 

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

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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.)

https://magdelene.wordpress.com/2008/01/08/the-demiurge/


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.)

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Abadon. Hebrew. “ Destruction ” personified as the Greek

Apolluōn (Revelat. ix, 11), and as Asmodeus (see Asmodeus) called

by Rabbis Ashmadai (see Job xxvi, 6); and in the Book of Wisdom

(xviii, 25) Olothreuōn in the Greek.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abaddon


Abel. It is necessary to distinguish Abel the second son of Adam

(Hebrew Habl), from Habāl or Hobāl the great Arabian deity,

though the letters seem the same (see Habāl). Abel is usually

supposed to be the Babylonian word Ablu “ son.” The Hebrew Ābel

is again different—a common term for “ meadow.” Arabs and

Persians call Abel and Cain, Habīl and Ḳ abīl. No very satisfactory

explanation of their legends in Genesis has been given (see Ḳain).

Detail of the Ghent Altarpiece (1432) at Saint Bavo Cathedral.

Detail of the Ghent Altarpiece (1432) at Saint Bavo Cathedral.

Aben. Hebrew Eben, “ a stone.” Perhaps the root is found in

Banah “ to build,” as Ban or Ben (“ a son ”) is builder of the family

(see Ben). Ebenezer (“ stone of help ”) was a stone emblem of the

god, like those of Arabia (see Arabia). Jeremiah tells his tribe that

a stone begat them, and that they committed adulteries with stones

Jer. ii, 27 ; iii, 9. See also Gen. xxxi, 48 ; and 1 Sam. iv, 1 ;

vii, 12). Āban (says Delitzsch) has the sense of a “ peak ” or “ pointed

thing ”—the Assyrian Ubanu “ peak, rock, or finger ” (see Finger).


Abhi-Marsin. Sanskrit. Courting, inciting.


Abi-Kāma. Sanskrit. “ Love primeval,” intense desire, struggle,

war.


Ablathanabla. See Abraxas.


Abors. Bors. The Asamese term for the wild race, calling

themselves Padams or Pagdams, inhabiting the N.E. frontier of British

territory at the bend of the Brāhmapūtra River (N. and N.W.), and

embracing the greater and lesser Dihong river valleys, north of

Sadiya. The term Abor is said to mean “ savage,” “ non-tribute

payer,” or “ fierce man ” : for Abors are a much-feared people who

hunt down even the “ wild cow ” (or Nilgau), and eat buffalo beef,

but not cows—showing a Hindu influence. They worship Nāts or

fays, spirits of the woods and waters : they tattoo their bodies, and

clothe themselves in skins and bark, but go naked in the hot season.

They are never without their bows and arrows—the latter poisoned

(for war) with the powdered root of the wild aconite, or with blood.

They wear a dhār, or long cutlass, at the waist, or slung (as by

Burmese) over the shoulder.

These people are scarcely as yet out of the communal stage, and

pay scant respect to chiefs, with some 250 of whom the Government had to deal in 1859-1870, and to try to keep them quiet by

subsidies. They are all sullen, clownish, and violent when roused,

like their congeners of Tibet and Barmah. Families are distinguished

by totems, or by marks on the forehead. The poorer are often

polyandrous : the richer are polygamous ; and sometimes they are

communists, a group of men living with a group of women. There

are barracks for bachelors and women, where considerable licence is

practised ; and chastity consists in having no intercourse outside the

clan. As regards religion, they believe in a life hereafter, with rewards

and punishments ; and sacrifices are said to please and propitiate the

spirits, and to be necessary to prevent famine and pestilence.


Abram. Abraham. There is no very satisfactory etymology of

this mythical patriarch’s name. Abram (Babylonian Ab-ramu) is

usually rendered “ high father,” that is to say, a deity like Brahmā.

Abraham is compared with the Arabic rahām, “ a host—a “ Lord of

Hosts” like Gānesa, or Yahveh. Hindus call a loving brother Rāmu.

The tablets of Esarhaddon’s days give such names as Abi-ramu and

Am-ramu. If we take the root to be Abr “ strong,” as in Abir a

“ bull ” or “ hero,” the m is only a suffix—as in Hebrew, Sabean, or

Babylonian speech. Some think this word connected with ’Abr (see

Gen. xiv, 13, and Exod. v, 3) ; for Abraham is especially called the

“ Hebrew,” and descendant of ’Eber, father of Peleg. Coming from

Padan-Aram he would naturally worship the “ high God ” (El-’Eliūn),

and seek his shrine at Ieru-salem (“ the abode of salvation ”). There

stood (no doubt) his symbol, a sacred stone (menhir or lingam) ; and

naturally he dedicated to this the agent of creation by circumcision,

swearing solemn oaths thereby, as we read that Abram and Isaac did

by what is euphemistically called the “ thigh.” See the Jewish World

(3rd April 1885), where the learned writer says: “ Abraham is a title

applied to the Creator only ” ; and if so, based on the root Bra “ create “

(Gen. i, 1).

Most Syrians and Arabs considered Abraham to be a Messiah ;

and prayers are still addressed to him (at his tomb in Hebron), as

Christians pray to Christ or to Mary. Abraham, as Ab-ram, “ the high

father,” was both a Malaki-ṣadī ḳ (Melchisedec), or “ King of righteousness,”

and a Shem—“ sign ” or “ mark.” Yet, says the Rev. Dr Cheyne

(Hibbert Lectures, 1892), “ Abraham must be given up as an historical

figure . . . some one must confess this truth, which ought, long ago,

to have found its way into our schools and colleges.”

This view is corroborated by the various widely different periods

assigned as the age of Abraham. The Samaritan and Greek Bibles say

he lived in 2605 B.C. Josephus said 2576, and the Vulgate, 2015 B.C.

Prof. Hommel (in 1896-7), says he “could not have lived earlier

than 1900 B.C.,” and Archbishop Ussher makes him 175 years

old in 1821 B.C. According to this Biblical chronology, he left Padan

Ararn in 1921 B.C. (see Bible), and went to Egypt on account of a

famine. But by Egypt we may understand the south of Palestine,

then perhaps an Egyptian province. Thence, about 1917 B.C., he

went to settle with Lot, “ towards Sodom.” In 1913 B.C. Chedorlaomer,

King of Elam, came, with ’Aniraphel, King of Shinar, Tidal king of

nations, and Arioch, King of Ellasar (Larsa), to quell a rebellion in

Eastern Palestine, which had been under Elam for twelve years.

The Biblical legend runs that Abraham (apparently 83 years old),

pursued this Babylonian army with three hundred and eighteen armed

retainers, defeating it, and taking the spoil and prisoners (Lot among

them), near Ḥ obah, “ north of Damascus.” This Hebrew fable, however,

enables us to test the dates. A tablet from Tell Lo ḥ (Revue Assyr. iv, p.

85, 1897), has been supposed to mention ’Amraphel (as Ḥ ammurabi),

with Arioch (Eriaku),and Tidal (Tudkhal), in which case Abraham would

live about the 22nd century B.C. [This translation is, however, rejected

by most specialists ; and the tablet is late, and probably refers to events

about 648 B.C.—ED.] Ḥ ammurabi (Kha-am-mu-ra-bi), is usually

supposed to have acceded in 2139 B.C. (the date given by Dr Peiser,

and by Col. Conder in his Hittites, p. 175). He ruled over “ the

west ” (Martu in Akkadian), like his successor Ammi-satana

(2034-2009 B.C.).

It has puzzled some commentators that Abraham went “ south ”

from Egypt on his way to Bethel [see Gen. xiii, 3. But the Hebrew

word so rendered is Negeb, a term applying to the “ dry ” country—as

the word means—near Beersheba.—ED.] The fatherland of Abraham

was at “ Ur of the Chaldees ” (Hebrew “ Ur of the Kasdīm ”), the later

Edessa, now Orfah. Ignoring this site, scholars have placed Ur at

Mugeiyer in Chaldea (near the mouth of the Euphrates), and have been

puzzled to explain why he went to Ḥ aran (near Edessa); but that

Ḥ aran was his fatherland, we see by his sending his confidential servant

there to seek a wife for Isaac. [The error is due to following the Greek

translation of Kasdīm by Khaldaioi (whom Herodotos mentions in

Babylon), and identifying them with the Kaldu, a people of Kaldea,

south of Babylon. Kasdīm appears to mean “ conquerors ” in Assyrian.—

ED.] The author of Acts vii, 2-4 calls Padan-Aram (Mesopotamia), the

“ land of the Ohaldeans.” Ṭ eraḥ called his youngest son also Ḥ aran ; and

there are still many legends of the patriarchs in this region—such as that

Orham, King of Or (Edessa), called Abram Ab-or-ham—reminding us of

Pater Orchamus (Ovid. Metam. iv, 212), the fabled son of Zeus, founder

of the empire of the Anatolian Mineans, who ruled Boiōtia and North

Greece from their capital Orkhomenos. M. Renan (Hist. Israel, i,

p. 63), even says, “Orham has lent his name, and several characteristic

traits, to the history of Abraham.”

Many years after the above was first written appeared the

valuable paper by Mr Hormazd Rassam, the old explorer of Nineveh

(Proc. Soc. Bib. Arch., February 1898), which proves that “ Ur of the

Ohaldees ” was Edessa, or Orfah. Cappadocia (Kappadokia) proves to

have been early entered by the Babylonians, who spread all over

North Syria. The name Khaldaioi (in the Septuagint) may thus be

connected with that of Khaldis on the Vannic inscriptions [applying

to a deity.—ED.]. From Ur, Ṭ era ḥ ’s family went to Ḥ aran, which is

only some two days’ journey from Edessa. In Judith (v, 6, 7), Jews

are called descendants of the Arameans, “a belief prevalent among all

Hebrews in Biblical lands at the present day” (Rassam). It is not

known, however, why the Septuagint translators changed the Hebrew

Kasdīm into “ Chaldeans.” According to Ezekiel (i, 3), the “ land

of the Kasdīm ” was by the River Chebar (or Khabūr River), a great

tributary of the Euphrates, one affluent of which rises in the Aram

or “ high land ” near to where Edessa is situated. It was the country

of Bal’aam (Deut. xxiii, 4), and was higher up the Euphrates than

Babylon, whereas Mugeiyer is near the mouth of that river, far below

Babylon. All this, and more, is ably set forth by Mr Rassam, who

only follows in the track of many other Oriental scholars.

In the Book Zohar (see Ḳ abbala) Abraham is called an “ incarnation

of love, mystery, and divine unity ” : he is symbolised by a pillar

(p. 41) as were Zeus, Yahveh, etc. He was the first to teach the

Ḳ abbala to Egypt, and received the mysteries “ from Noah, who

received them from Adam, who received them from God ” (Ginsburg’s

Zohar). Moses had personal intercourse with Abraham, as had most

legislators down to David and Solomon (p. 80). In the Book Jetzira

(“ Creation ”) the Ḳ abbala is called “ a monologue of Abraham,”

whereby he is induced to accept the true faith; and he is there said

to have invented writing and the Hebrew characters (p. 65). Elsewhere

he is described as a “ giant, a monster, having the strength of

seventy-four men, and requiring the food and drink of the same.”

The Arabian El Kindy (in our 8th-9th century) says, “ Abraham

lived seventy years in Ḥ aran, worshipping Al’Ozzah, who is still

revered in Arabia ” (see Royal Asiatic Society Journal, January 1882 ;

and Sir W. Muir’s El Kindy). He says that the inhabitants were

given to human sacrifice—which Abram wished to continue in

Palestine, whence the early rite of devoting the first-born to Yahveh.

The sacrifice of Isaac (or, as the Arabs say, of Ishm’ael) has now been

whittled down by Ezra-itic writers, who were evidently ashamed of it,

as making their God a bloodthirsty fiend, and their patriarch the

heartless murderer of his innocent boy. Tradition, and the persistence

of race barbarism, are however too strong for the would-be cleansers of

history ; and God and man still appear cruel and deceitful, while

multitudes still commemorate the half-enacted rite (see Sacrifice).

Abraham is represented as trying to hide his murderous purpose from

his son and servants by a lie, saying he would return with the child.

The deity doubts his sincerity till the knife is raised, when the wouldbe

murderer is lauded for wondrous “ Faith.” Faith in a God ?

—nay, in a dream. His God then promises him wealth, and offspring,

in abundance.

The sacrifice was originaJly commemorated in autumn, when

human sacrifices were common ; and what would be more orthodox

than that a great Sheikh, entering on a new land to found a colony,

should begin by offering his first-born to the god of the land ? Did

not the Christian Saint Columba bury his brother, St. Oran, in the

foundations of his church ? (Rivers of Life, ii, p. 340.)

Abraham, however, seems to have been anything but wealthy

when he died, possessing only the burial-place that he is said to have

purchased. He had given “ all he possessed ” to Isaac, and “ the

rest ” to numerous children by two stray wives. Islāmis say that he

travelled in both Arabia and Babylonia, but chiefly in Arabia ; and

that he assisted Ishm’ael in building the fourth shrine of Makka, and

in establishing the “ Black Stone ” (see our Short Studies, p. 539).

Hebrews and Arabs have reverently called him the Khalīl, or “ friend ”

of Allah (see Gen. xv, 17 ; Isaiah xli, 8).

Among arithmetical errors in the Bible is the statement that he

was born when Ṭ era ḥ was 70 years old, yet was 75 when (apparently)

Ṭ era ḥ died at the age of 205 years. He is also said not to have

known Yahveh, but only the tree gods—Āle-im or Elohim. He twice

dissembled to save his life by endangering his wife’s chastity, which

he seems to have valued little, as she lived some time in the harīms of

Pharaoh and Abimelek, who heaped riches on Abraham. It is untrue

to say that Sarah was “ without shame or reproach,” for Genesis

xii, 19 should read, “ she is my sister though I have taken her for

my wife.”

We shall not attempt to record the voluminous legends (in the

Talmud, etc.) concerning Abraham, of which the Old Testament does

not give a tithe. He is said to have visited Nimrod, and to have

converted him by the old feeble argument: “ Fire must not be worshipped

for water quenches it ; nor water because clouds carry this ;

nor clouds because winds drive them.” He might have added, “ Nor

Yahveh because we invented him.” According to other traditions,

Yahveh found great difficulty in calling (or killing) Abraham. He

sent the archangel Michael several times, to break the command to

Abraham as gently as possible : for the patriarch loved life. The

archangel—whom he fed—told his mission to Isaac, who tried to

explain it, deploring that both sun and moon (Abram and Sarah)

must ascend to heaven. The patriarch then accused Michael of

trying to steal away his soul, which he said he would never yield up.

The Lord then reminded him, by Michael, of all that he had done

for him ; and that, like Adam and others, he must die. Abraham

asked that he might first see “ all peoples and their deeds ” ; but,

when carried up in a chariot, he was so disgusted, by what he saw,

that he begged the earth might open and swallow all peoples. God

then shut his eyes lest they should all be destroyed, saying, “ I do not

wish it so, for I created all, and will only destroy the wicked.”

Abraham then saw a narrow road with few people on it, and a man

on a gold throne, “ terrible and like God,” though it was only Adam :

and again a broad road thronged with people, and with pursuing

angels. The man (or god) tore his hair and beard in sorrow, and

cast himself and his throne to the ground ; but, as people increased

on the narrow way, he rose rejoicing though “ in 7000 years only

one soul is saved.” The angels were scourging the wicked with

whips of fire ; and at the door of heaven sat one “ like the Son

of God,” though he was only Abel, having before him a table, and

a Bible twelve yards long and eight yards wide. He wrote down

the virtues and sins of all, and then weighed the souls (like Thoth).

The Lord had commanded Abel to judge all till the final judgment,

which is to be by the Son of God. Some souls were however set

aside as wanting an extra good deed, and “ Abraham prayed for such,

and the Lord saved them because of Abraham’s holiness.” He also

saved, at his request, all whom Abraham had cursed on earth. The

patriarch was then taken back to his house, to the great joy of his

family, and commanded to settle his worldly affairs, and to give up

his soul to Michael. This Abraham again refused to do; so the

Angel of Death was told to visit him—which he was very unwilling

to do. He was however commanded to disguise himself as a gentle

and beautiful spirit ; but he confessed to Abraham that he was the

“ poison of Death.” He argued long that he could not depart

without Abraham’s soul ; and he assumed many horrid forms, but

did not frighten the patriarch, who accused Death of killing even

boys and girls, and made him kneel down with him and pray for

their restoration. Death continued to torment the patriarch, who

was 175 years old ; and at last he slept on his bed, and kissed

Death’s hand, mistaking it for that of his son, so receiving “ the

poison of death.” Michael and innumerable angels “bore away his

pure soul, and placed it in the hands of the Lord ; and his body was

swathed in pure white linen, and buried in ‘ Dria the Black ’ or Elonē-

Mamre.” (From a Roumanian text, published by Dr Gaster, who

gives this interesting Apocalypse in the Transactions, Bib. Arch.

Soc., ix, 1.)


Abraxas. Abrasax. Abracadabra. Ablathanabla.

Abanathabla. Various terms on Gnostik charms—see Rivers of

Life, i, p. 511. [The translations are much disputed. Probably

they are Aramaic sentences: Abrak ha dabra, “ I bless the deed ” :

Ablaṭ ha nabla, “I give life to the corpse” : Abana thabla, “ Thou

our father leadest.”—ED.] The Persian sun-god was seen in the

Greek letters Abraxas, representing in numbers 365—the days of

the solar year. This word, placed on an amulet or seal, exorcised

evil spirits, and was eXplained by Semites as meaning Abra-Shedabara,

“go out bad spirit out” [or perhaps better, Abrak ha āsh, “I

bless the man.”—ED.] In Syria Abraxas was a form of Iao (Yahveh),

Mithras, Ṣ abaoth, or Adonis, figured as a lion-headed solar serpent

with a rayed glory (Rivers of Life, ii, p. 274) : or as a cock-headed

serpent, or the eastern serpent (Sesha) biting his own tail as Ananta

“ the Eternal.” In Egyptian Abrasax was thought to signify “hurt me

not ” ; and the pious Christian Marullus bequeathed to his children

an amulet, with this name on the one side, and a serpent on the

other, of jasper enclosed in a golden Bulla shaped like a heart—the

seat of emotions. Such bullæ are said to be the origin of the “ Sacred

Heart,” and to explain the name of Papal “ Bulls,” though these had

leaden “ seals ” later (Rivers of Life, ii, pp. 237-8). Such amulets

cured bodily pains, and averted the evil eye. We read of the

physician of Gordian II. as prescribing one for his patient (see King’s

Gnostics, pp. 105-6). Basilides the Gnostik is said to have invented

Abraxas, to denote the spirit presiding over the 365 days of the year.

But the radical idea was that of fecundity, for the image is found as

a bearded Priapus grasping his organ like Osiris.


The Lord’s Prayer is the most excellent prayer of all since it has Christ for its author; it is therefore more excellent as a prayer than the Ave, and this is why it is the first prayer of the Rosary. But the Ave is more excellent than the Lord’s Prayer in that it contains the Name of Christ, which is mysteriously identified with Christ himself, for “God and His Name are identical”; now Christ is more than the Prayer he taught, and the Ave, which contains Christ through his Name, is thus more than this Prayer; this is why the recitations of the Ave are much more numerous than those of the Pater and why the Ave constitutes, with the Name of the Lord that it contains, the very substance of the Rosary. What we have just stated amounts to saying that the prayer of the “servant” addressed to the “Lord” corresponds to the “Lesser Mysteries”—and we recall that these concern the realization of the primordial or Edenic state, hence the fullness of the human state—whereas the Name of God itself corresponds to the “Greater Mysteries”, the finality of which is beyond every individual state.

From the microcosmic point of view, as we have seen, “Mary” is the soul in a state of “sanctifying grace”, qualified to receive the “Real Presence”; “Jesus” is the divine Seed, the “Real Presence” which must bring about the transmutation of the soul, namely, its universalization or reintegration in the Eternal. “Mary”—like the “Lotus”—is “surface” or “horizontal”; “Jesus”—like the “Jewel”* —is “center” and, in dynamic relationship, “vertical”. “Jesus” is God in us, God who penetrates and transfigures us.

Among the meditations of the Rosary the “joyful Mysteries” con­cern the “Real Presence” of the Divine in the human, from the point of view adopted here and in connection with ejaculatory prayers; as for the “sorrowful Mysteries” they describe the redemptive “imprison­ment” of the Divine in the human, the inevitable profanation of the “Real Presence” by human limitations; finally the “glorious Mysteries” relate to the victory of the Divine over the human, the liberation of the soul by the Spirit.

*We are here alluding to the well-known Buddhist formula: Om mani padme hum. There is an analogy worth noticing between this formula and the name “Jesus of Nazareth”: the literal meaning of Nazareth is “flower”, and mani padme means “jewel in the lotus”.

Frithjof Schuon

……..

I heard my deceased elder say that even people who do not pray, but who either have the or are sick, see light streaming from every article in the darkest of rooms; they distinguish objects, sense their double, and penetrate the thoughts of other people. But what proceeds directly from the grace of God in the prayer of the heart gives so much delight that no tongue is able to express it. It cannot be matched in any material thing; it is even beyond compare. Everything perceptible is base in comparison with the sweet sensations of grace in the heart.

–The Pilgrim’s tale

…..

“ Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. ”

–The Prayer of the Heart

….

The real purpose of meditation is this: to teach a man how to work himself free of created things and temporal concerns, in which he only finds confusion and sorrow, and enter into a conscious and loving contact with God in which he is disposed to receive from God the help he knows he needs so badly, and pay to God the praise and honor and thanksgiving and love which it has now become his joy to give.

–Thomas Merton

Jesus Prayer in Romanian Doamne Iisuse Hristoase, Fiul lui Dumnezeu, miluieşte-mă pe mine păcătosul.
English translation Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.

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