Gospel of Mary


The Instructor Gospel
By
Tom Saunders
The “Instructor Gospel” is a set of sayings from the “Gospel of Thomas” that combine to form what Jesus said in terms of what we should do. There is a divide in religion over the letter of the law and the spirit of the law. The Christian movement sought…“a new covenant, not of letter but of spirit; for the letter kills, but the spirit gives life.” (II Corinthians 3:6.)
Jesus said to Mariamne, “Do not lay down any rules beyond what I appointed you, and do not give a law like the lawgiver lest you be constrained by it.” (“Gospel of Mary”)
The specific criteria of the sayings below is that each contains at least one specific instruction from Jesus to do something…
Gospel of Instruction
1. (L-2.) Jesus said, “Let him who seeks continue seeking until he finds. When he finds, he will become troubled. When he becomes troubled, he will be astonished, and he will rule over the All.”
2. (L-5) Jesus said, “Recognize what is in your sight, and that which is hidden from you will become plain to you . For there is nothing hidden which will not become manifest.”

3. (L-6) His disciples questioned him and said to him, “Do you want us to fast? How shall we pray? Shall we give alms? What diet shall we observe?”

Jesus said, “Do not tell lies, and do not do what you hate, for all things are plain in the sight of heaven. For nothing hidden will not become manifest, and nothing covered will remain without being uncovered.”

4. (L-12) The disciples said to Jesus, “We know that you will depart from us. Who is to be our leader?”

Jesus said to them, “Wherever you are, you are to go to James the righteous, for whose sake heaven and earth came into being.”

5. (L-14) Jesus said to them, “If you fast, you will give rise to sin for yourselves; and if you pray, you will be condemned; and if you give alms, you will do harm to your spirits. When you go into any land and walk about in the districts, if they receive you, eat what they will set before you, and heal the sick among them. For what goes into your mouth will not defile you, but that which issues from your mouth – it is that which will defile you.”

6. (L-15) Jesus said, “When you see one who was not born of woman, prostrate yourselves on your faces and worship him. That one is your father.”

7. (L-22) Jesus saw infants being suckled. He said to his disciples, “These infants being suckled are like those who enter the kingdom.”

They said to him, “Shall we then, as children, enter the kingdom?”

Jesus said to them, “When you make the two one, and when you make the inside like the outside and the outside like the inside, and the above like the below, and when you make the male and the female one and the same, so that the male not be male nor the female female; and when you fashion eyes in the place of an eye, and a hand in place of a hand, and a foot in place of a foot, and a likeness in place of a likeness; then will you enter the kingdom.”

8. (L-24) His disciples said to him, “Show us the place where you are, since it is necessary for us to seek it.” He said to them, “Whoever has ears, let him hear. There is light within a man of light, and he lights up the whole world. If he does not shine, he is darkness.”

9. (L-25) Jesus said, “Love your brother like your soul, guard him like the pupil of your eye.”

10. (L-27) <Jesus said,> “If you do not fast as regards the world, you will not find the kingdom. If you do not observe the Sabbath as a Sabbath, you will not see the father.”

11. (L-33) Jesus said, “Preach from your housetops that which you will hear in your ear. For no one lights a lamp and puts it under a bushel, nor does he put it in a hidden place, but rather he sets it on a lampstand so that everyone who enters and leaves will see its light.”

12. (L-36) Jesus said, “Do not be concerned from morning until evening and from evening until morning about what you will wear.”

13. (L-37) His disciples said, “When will you become revealed to us and when shall we see you?”

Jesus said, “When you disrobe without being ashamed and take up your garments and place them under your feet like little children and tread on them, then will you see the son of the living one, and you will not be afraid”

14. (L-42) Jesus said, “Become passers-by.”

15. (L-50) Jesus said, “If they say to you, ‘Where did you come from?’, say to them, ‘We came from the light, the place where the light came into being on its own accord and established itself and became manifest through their image.’ If they say to you, ‘Is it you?’, say, ‘We are its children, we are the elect of the living father.’ If they ask you, ‘What is the sign of your father in you?’, say to them, ‘It is movement and repose.'”

16. (L-59) Jesus said, “Take heed of the living one while you are alive, lest you die and seek to see him and be unable to do so.”

17. (L-60) <They saw> a Samaritan carrying a lamb on his way to Judea. He said to his disciples, “That man is round about the lamb.”

They said to him, “So that he may kill it and eat it.”

He said to them, “While it is alive, he will not eat it, but only when he has killed it and it has become a corpse.”

They said to him, “He cannot do so otherwise.”

He said to them, “You too, look for a place for yourself within repose, lest you become a corpse and be eaten.”

18. (L-62) Jesus said, “It is to those who are worthy of my mysteries that I tell my mysteries. Do not let your left (hand) know what your right (hand) is doing.”

19. (L-63) Jesus said, “There was a rich man who had much money. He said, ‘I shall put my money to use so that I may sow, reap, plant, and fill my storehouse with produce, with the result that I shall lack nothing.’ Such were his intentions, but that same night he died. Let him who has ears hear.”

20. (L-65) He said, “There was a good man who owned a vineyard. He leased it to tenant farmers so that they might work it and he might collect the produce from them. He sent his servant so that the tenants might give him the produce of the vineyard. They seized his servant and beat him, all but killing him. The servant went back and told his master. The master said, ‘Perhaps he did not recognize them.’ He sent another servant. The tenants beat this one as well. Then the owner sent his son and said, ‘Perhaps they will show respect to my son.’ Because the tenants knew that it was he who was the heir to the vineyard, they seized him and killed him. Let him who has ears hear.”

21. (L-66) Jesus said, “Show me the stone which the builders have rejected. That one is the cornerstone.”
22. (L-73) Jesus said, “The harvest is great but the laborers are few. Beseech the Lord, therefore, to send out laborers to the harvest.”
23. (L-77) Jesus said, “It is I who am the light which is above them all. It is I who am the all. From me did the all come forth, and unto me did the all extend. Split a piece of wood, and I am there. Lift up the stone, and you will find me there.”
24. (L-81) Jesus said, “Let him who has grown rich be king, and let him who possesses power renounce it.”

25. (L-88) Jesus said, “The angels and the prophets will come to you and give to you those things you (already) have. And you too, give them those things which you have, and say to yourselves, ‘When will they come and take what is theirs?'”

26. (L-90) Jesus said, “Come unto me, for my yoke is easy and my lordship is mild, and you will find repose for yourselves.”

27. (L-92) Jesus said, “Seek and you will find. Yet, what you asked me about in former times and which I did not tell you then, now I do desire to tell, but you do not inquire after it.”

28. (L-93) <Jesus said,> “Do not give what is holy to dogs, lest they throw them on the dung-heap. Do not throw the pearls to swine, lest they […] it […].”

29. (L-95) Jesus said, “If you have money, do not lend it at interest, but give it to one from whom you will not get it back.”

30.(L-100) They showed Jesus a gold coin and said to him, “Caesar’s men demand taxes from us.”

He said to them, “Give Caesar what belongs to Caesar, give God what belongs to God, and give me what is mine.”

31. (L-106) Jesus said, “When you make the two one, you will become the sons of man, and when you say, ‘Mountain, move away,’ it will move away.”

32. (L-110) Jesus said, “Whoever finds the world and becomes rich, let him renounce the world.”

The spiritual vacuuming that is my life, currently unborn children, helping young people on their late 20s… a place of worship is always difficult. Other people around me of course are aware of my spirituality, some approve, others don’t, others just find it weird.

As I become and am a Unitarian Universalist, I find hard to balance a head in the clouds versus the reality of UU ism. While my very thoughts and maps of belief and reality are fully colored by spiritual walking, this is difficult for others. At our church we have a discussion groups. I realize, I do find it difficult to not sound patronizing or to simply utter something that blows everyone’s minds (if I say anything at all…..which is more often the case, that I remain silent). This group has been going on decades before I joined, yet in that time, mysticism or more accurately, direct spiritual insight has not been discussed, or barely….

I remember my days as a depressed agnostic teen, overcome with the loss of my mother, I fell into the pit of Nihilism. This bleak self defeating world view and others similar to it…absurdism and other existentialist nightmarish world views. I remember years later, wanting, tasting, to cross the veil. To experience the inner planes. I did so, eventually in downtown Manhattan, NY.

Though as I have to remind myself

GNOSIS is for everyone, when they are ready, everyone is where they are meant to be…..

I guess this is one reason why I never really joined a church before, my interests were different to feeding the poor, protesting local government about bad public transport or any other social action activities; none of which are wrong…. just not my main focus… and I think that’s the problem…..when I perceive social action etc. being the main focus over actual mystical experience…….I guess, I imagined UUism would give me both. So far, it hasn’t.

I must get over myself… stop being a bung hole, realize that spirituality is, a lonely pursuit. Get a grip, work on myself, my failings…. help me to not see others as stupid, which is difficult as I do NOT view myself as advanced or anything approaching that term. I wonder how many struggle with this?

Though, I don’t see this as ever being resolved in our UU church, people are either atheists, humanists, damaged from fundamentalism or……. Having spoken to a church regulars husband at a dinner party, I am kind of coming to the sad conclusion he made in his refusal to attend reguarly because “not enough people were on a quest.”

Of course it doesn’t help that i’m an introvert and like to sound a person out before I share….. I mean, for inner walkers, how would conveying spiritual experiences go, to non walkers? Like discussing sex with a virgin?

Well that’s more rant, had to say it…. meaningless drivel. I wonder what if anyone else reading this attends a church which makes you smile……but leaves you wanting? Why is belief so scary? Why is praxis so scary? Who knows……probably it’s just me and no one could give a monkeys about discussing various cosmological variations…. why do UUs find beliefs so scary?

……..

Thou hast sworn unto Thy servants, for Thou alone

art He who changest not, Thou alone art the Infinite

and Boundless One. Thou only art unengendered,

born of Thyself, Self-Father, Thou only art immaterial

and hast no stain, ineffable in Thy generation and

inconceivable in Thy manifestation. Hear us, then,

O Father Incorruptible, Father Immortal, God of

Hidden Beings, sole Light and Life, Alone beyond

Vision, only Unspeakable, only Unstainable, only

[Foundation] stone of Adamant, sole Primal Being,

for before Thee was nothing.

–Bruce Codex

The Gnosis Of The Light: A Translation Of The Untitled Apocalypse Contained In Codex Brucianus (Ibis Western Mystery Tradition)

gnostic crossDeep: (Bythos) The term ‘deep,’ refers to the concept of parent or parents. The term is used in the ”Untitled Text of the Bruce Codex.” This is from Irenaeus, ”Adversus Heraeses 1.8.5.” ” Ptolemy interpreted the prologue of John’s gospel (Jn 1:1-14) “Parent” is usually called “Father” or “the Deep.” “Loveliness” is usually called “Silence.” Tertullian, uses the term ‘depth.’ The term can refer to the levels of the abyss….”let the deep open and swallow these men: yea, Sabaoth.” (Acts of Philip.)

Garment: (Vesture) Meaning clothing, but in Gnostic terms can mean the flesh covering the body. Sometimes used in various references to wearing the soul or the idea of social position as a philosophical covering. From the Un-named text in the Bruce Codex: “This is Man, begotten of mind (nous) ‘, to whom thought gave form. It is thou who hast given all things to Man. And he has worn them like garment.”

”Chelkeach, who is my garment, who has come from the Astonishment, who was in the cloud of the Hymen which appeared, as a trimorphic cloud. Ane Chelkea is my garment which has two forms, he who was in the cloud of Silence. And Chelke is my garment which was given him from every region; it was given him in a single form from the greatness, he who was in the cloud of the middle region and the star of the Light which surpassed the thought and teh tetimony of those who bear witness.” (”The Paraphrase of Shem.”)

3 sunsfinal mini

In alchemic and Hermetic traditions, suns (Sun symbol.svg) are employed to symbolize a variety of concepts, much like the sun in astrology. Suns can correspond to gold, citrinitas, generative masculine principles, imagery of ‘the king’ or Apollo, the fiery spirit or sulfur,[1] the divine spark in man,[2] nobility, or incorruptibility. Recurring images of specific solar motifs can be found in the form of a “Dark” or “Black Sun”, or a green lion devouring a sun.

Sol niger

The black sun as pictured in the Putrifaction emblem of Philosophia Reformata (Johann Daniel Mylius).

Sol niger (black sun) can refer to the first stage of the alchemical magnum opus, the nigredo (blackening). In a text ascribed to Marsilio Ficino three suns are described: black, white, and red, corresponding to the three most used alchemical color stages. Of the sol niger he writes:

The body must be dissolved in the subtlest middle air: The body is also dissolved by its own heat and humidity; where the soul, the middle nature holds the principality in the colour of blackness all in the glass: which blackness of Nature the ancient Philosophers called the crows head, or the black sun.[3]

The black sun is used to illuminate the dissolution of the body, a blackening of matter, or putrefaction in Splendor Solis,[4] and Johann Daniel Mylius’s Philosophia Reformata.[5]

At the core of this was a vision of an alchemical process occurring through a cycle of colour changes, from an initial blackness to the perfection of the quintessence.
The alchemist envisaged each stage of the process being heralded by a colour change and a meeting with certain animals.

Blackening – Black Crow, Raven, Toad, Massa Confusa.
Whitening – White Swan, White Eagle, skeleton.
Greening – Green Lion.
Rapid cycling through iridescent colours – Peacock’s Tail.
White Stone – Unicorn.
Reddening – Pelican feeding young with its own blood, cockerel.
Final transmutation – Phoenix reborn from the fire.

The phase of Blackening which usually marked the beginning of the work, was brought about either by heating the prima materia in the process of Calcination (the ‘dry way’ of the alchemists), or by the process of Putrefaction, a slow rotting or digestion over a period of weeks or months (the so-called ‘wet way’). The Black Crow or Raven was often associated with this Calcination, for on vigorous heating the calcined material would usually carbonise and layers would flake off and move like a crow’s wings in the flask. The Toad was a better symbol of the Putrefaction, the decaying mass slowly pulsating and shifting as gasses were given off, while the substance rotted down to a black mass. Another symbol of this stage was the dragon, a familiar inhabitant of the alchemists flasks. The dragon is however a more complex symbol and is also used when winged as a symbol for the spiritualising of the earthly substance. Thus to the alchemists the dragon appeared at the beginning and at the end of the work.

The alchemists paralleled these experiences in their souls as a withdrawal into the darkness of their interior space, a darkness pregnant with possibility. We have to a great extent lost the sense that still lived in the medieval and renaissance alchemists, that this darkness contained all potentialities. Like children we fear the dark, and for twentieth century humanity darkness often holds only an existential dread – philosophers of science have in the last decade brought us this terrible image of the ‘Black Hole’ which swallows up and annihilates everything that comes into its orbit. Perhaps we do not gaze enough at the blackness of the heavens. For if we look deep into the blackness of space on a clear night, we will sense more stars hidden between the known visible stars, especially in the vast star fields of the Milky Way. Cosmic space is pregnant with the possibility of other worlds as yet unseen. It is this image of blackness we must try to recover if we are to become alchemists. An echo of this perhaps remains in the often used phrase “a profound darkness”. In alchemy, to meet with the black crow is a good omen. Thus in the Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz, as our hero sets out on his journey of transformation, he meets with a Crow which by a turn of fate decides which among the various paths open to him is the one that will lead him to the Castle of the King.

http://www.levity.com/alchemy/animal.html

The three Suns. That above, most familiar. That within, seen in an instant, in a fleeting moment that may take a moment or a life time to see. Below the Sun at midnight. The interior Sun or Star, deep within the Earth itself.

Perhaps a supreme expression of the maxim As Above so Below. The interior pereption and exierience there in of. A hidden secret.

………..

THIS I BELIEVE

This I Believe:
There is a light in all of us, and the more we search out ways to express ourselves, the brighter that light shines. Whether your passion be baseball, or computers, or painting, or eating, laughing, hiking, biking, films, teaching, listening, or cooking, whenever you engage yourself in doing something that you love you make the world a little bit brighter. Through finding your own source of enthusiasm and love, you invite others to do the same in their own way, and you spread the joy that comes with truly living.
While it can be all too easy to just sit back and watch life go by, don’t forget about the things that make a difference in your life, the people that inspire you, and the dreams that help nudge you out of bed in the morning.

I believe that we all want to become a better version of ourselves, and that we are continually given chances to step up and challenge ourselves to be better. We just have to be willing to welcome those challenges, and see them as gifts rather than curses. It all depends on the perspective you choose to take. What will you choose today? Will you simply sit back, and let others take the lead, or will you step up and conquer your fear and indifference, break out of your shell, and take actions that better yourself and the world? I believe that what you focus on grows: the more you complain, the more reasons to complain will appear; the more you see life as a blessing, the more blessings will pour out into your waiting arms. Rejoice in what life has to offer, and help to open others’ eyes the the beauty and opportunity that surrounds us at every moment. We are given a great power: free will. Because of this power we are always given a choice. We may not be able to change our outer circumstances (at least not in the short run), but we can always change the way we think about something. The power of the mind is incredible! It can drag us down into the depths, or it can liberate us! Find the joy in your life today–take a chance, challenge yourself and see the resulting growth, dare to become more alive! And best of all, as you become a brighter light, so will those around you catch your reflection, and the world will be filled with suns, moons and stars…

http://redwood.colorado.edu/hutchicr/digitalmedia/hutchicr_believe2.html

http://redwood.colorado.edu/hutchicr/index.html

The formula of spagyrics is similar to that of Solve et Coagula – to separate and recombine. This is the backbone of alchemy. In slightly less basic alchemical procedures, distillation is used to separate organic matter into these three principles using distillation – yielding unpurified salt in the form of black ash, essential oil, and the spirit of the plant. These are each purified after separation, and recombined, creating a purified instance of the original subject which is then consumed.

http://enteralchemy.com/

http://mickevery.wordpress.com/2014/03/14/origin-of-alchemical-formulae/

http://newtopiamagazine.wordpress.com/2014/03/15/cosmos-science-surrealism-and-the-hermetic-imaginary-an-interview-with-leon-marvell/

Freedom is not achieved by turning our backs upon the heritage of the land, nor is it won by force of arms. The restricting vessels of a true tradition are the way to freedom, but only if they are correctly understood and utilized. If this operation is successful, the restricting power itself is not only transcend, but transformed.

–The UnderWorld Initiation

Re-reading the underworld initiation. Just finished the hidden adept which was a fun book. Debating whether to read some Gersholm Sholem, Ibn Arabi and/or fiction about cats…..

The liberation mentioned above is a spiritual union if all opposites and transcended. The UnderWorld tradition is a universal one found world wide. The Orphic mysteries, sleeping beauty, the Cult of Venus and the Goddess in her tomb. Transformation within the very depths of the earth, within and without…

As we know in Hermeticism, “As above so below” The macro and microcosm. Transformation in the depths of the earth then is seen on a stellar, solar, lunar scale.. within this lunar scale is ourselves.  Visita Interiora Terrae Rectificando Invenies Occultum lapidem. Visit the interior of the Earth through purification you will find the hidden stone.

I realised, it is this aspect that I must initially explore in the home I live in. Misplaced from England and New york city, now in this spiritually, botanically unfamiliar land. To truly work here, I must work here. Therefore I must pass through the inverted tree, downwards into wonderland… to the realms below.

They summoned Eurydice and gave her to him, but upon one condition: that he would not look back at her as she followed him, until they had reached the upper world. So the two passed through the great doors of Hades to the path which would take them out of the darkness, climbing up and up. He knew that she must be just behind him, but he longed unutterably to give one glance to make sure. But now they were almost there, the blackness was turning gray; now he had stepped out joyfully into the daylight. Then he turned to her. It was too soon; she was still in the cavern. He saw her in the dim light, and he held out his arms to clasp her; but on the instant she was gone. She had slipped back into the darkness. All he heard was one faint word, “Farewell.”
 

I must embrace the Rose, meet the natives of the land….

 

From this it is plain that the Earth is like the bass above which the rest of the harmony of the universe progresses. If it were removed, the other voices would remain in an unpleasant and imperfect harmony of many dissonances. Believing sufficient to have been said on the universal symphony of the planets, we will now turn to the particulars of their symphony.

Athanasius Kircher

If this metaphysical space is to be known,

such knowledge can be attained only by faith and grace,

not by ‘entering’ but by ‘being entered’

-this is so because the greater must reveal itself to the lesser.

Put differently, that which is immanently ‘Spirit’ can only be known receptively,

through its own intellective vision, and not any derivative faculty such as reason,

feeling or sensation. Reason can only discern conceptually,

at best reducing reality to a dualism of subject and object

(as in the case of Descartes) or catagorical postulate

(as in the case of Kant) or dialectic process

(as in the case of Hegel) – its ‘telos’ will tend to be utopian(as in the case of Marx),

fundamentalist( as in the cases of religious, political or secular dogmatism)

or anthropocentrically consencual (as in the case of Rousseau’s social contract);

while sensation or feeling even where elevated to

the level of empirical ‘science,’ can only discern reality as matter or as psyche,

quantitatively, thereby cutting it off from its transcendent

and qualitative roots, leading to an emphasis on hypertrophic subjectivism

(as in the case of Nietzsche), Psychologism(as in the case of Freud),

or reductive positivism(as in the cases of philosophical positivism and of scientism).

That which transcends us cannot be known reductively

but only by that transcendent faculty which is immanent in us-which in

Tradition is termed the ‘Intellect’

or the Self-knowing Spirit. To know is to discern BEING.

We must empty ourselves or our ‘self’ in order to know who we ARE.

We must return to the sacred emptiness of the space that is our

ontological core in order to know that which truly IS.

–M Ali Lakhani (the Distance between us, found in Sacred Web issue 31)

 

 

 

Soaring upwards
Can be like reaching down

Pushing forward

Can be like pushing back

Going right

Can be like Going left

Within is within

All things begin

And end at the cross roads

–GraalBaum 2013

 

 

This world-mountain was Nizir to the Chaldeans, Olympus to the Greeks, Hara Berezaiti to the Persians of the Avesta, the later Alborz and Elburz; a transfer, as says Mme. Ragozin, of ‘mythical heavenly geography to the earth.’ This mountain—the solar hill of the Egyptians—we shall again refer to in the next two or three chapters. At its apex springs, the heaven tree on which the solar bird is perched. From its roots spring the waters of life—the celestial sea, which, rushing adown the firmament, supplies the ocean which circumscribes the earth or falls directly in rain. At their fountain these springs are guarded by a goddess. In Egypt Nut, the goddess of the oversea, leans from the branches of the heavenly persea and pours forth the celestial water. In the Vedas, Yama, lord of the waters, sits in the highest heaven in the midst of the heavenly ocean under the tree of life, which drops the nectar Soma, and here, on the ‘navel of the waters,’ matter first took form. In the Norse, the central tree Yggdrasil has at its roots the spring of knowledge guarded by the Norns, the northern Fates; two swans the parents of all those of earth, float there. In Chaldea the mighty tree of Eridu, centre of the world, springs by the waters. The Avesta gives a very complete picture—Iran is at the centre of the seven countries of the world; it was the first created, and so beautiful, that were it not that God has implanted in all men a love for their own land, all nations would crowd into this the loveliest land. To the east somewhere, but still at the centre of the world, rises the ‘Lofty Mountain,’ from which all the mountains of the earth have grown, ‘High Haraiti;’ at its

summit is the gathering place of waters, out of which spring the two trees, the heavenly Haoma (Soma), and another tree which bears all the seeds that germinate on earth. This heavenly mountain is called ‘Navel of Waters,’ for the fountain of all waters springs there, guarded by a majestic and beneficent goddess. In Buddhist accounts, the waters issue in four streams like the

Eden from this reservoir, and flow to the cardinal points, each making one complete circuit in its descent. In the Persian Bundahish there are two of these heavenly rivers flowing east and west. To the Hindus the Ganges is such a heavenly stream. ‘The stream of heaven was called by the Greeks Achelous.’ The Nile in Egypt, the Hoang-Ho in China, and the Jordan to the Jews, seem to have been celestial rivers. This mountain of heaven is often figured in Christian art with the four rivers issuing from under the Throne of God.

Sir John Maundeville gives an account of the earthly Paradise quite perfect in its detailed scheme. It is the highest place on earth, nearly reaching to the circle of the moon (as in Dante), and the flood did not reach it. ‘And in the highest place, exactly in the middle, is a well that casts out the four streams’—Ganges, Nile, Tigris, and Euphrates. ‘And men there beyond say that all the sweet waters of the world above and beneath take their beginning from the well of Paradise, and out of that well all water come and go.

 

http://www.sacred-texts.com/earth/amm/amm07.htm

 

http://chasinghermes.com/2009/04/24/08-axis-mundi.aspx

 

Perplexity is the beginning of knowledge. 
  --Kahlil Gibran 
 
 
 
Only crime and the criminal, it is true, 
confront us with the perplexity of radical evil; 
but only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core.
 
--Hannah Arendt

 

 
 
 

"Jesus said, `Blessed are those alone and chosen, for you will find

the kingdom. For you are from it, and to it you will return'" (Gos.

Thom. 49).

 

In our Yahoo chat room the other day, someone asked me about this

verse, and generally what it means to talk about "the chosen"

or "the elect" in a Gnostic context. This concept has been another

of the many subjects through which Christianity has attempted to

denigrate Gnosticism, in this case by suggesting that we Gnostics

believe that only a certain (small) class of people are capable of

gnosis, creating a kind of fundamental soteriological hierarchy. In

other words, this would mean that being "chosen" would be a kind of

volitional and constitutive act, presumably by God, without which

one cannot enter through the gate of knowledge.

 

There may indeed have been some Gnostics in the past who believed

this, and who suggested that initiates into their religious groups

could only be drawn from a very small "gnosis-capable" part of the

human population, so to speak. However, the earliest articulations

of Gnosticism, and pre-Gnostic texts such as the Gospel of Thomas,

suggest in contrast a radically inclusive version of "the chosen," a

version that is flowering again today in our neo-classical Gnostic

Renaissance. I would like to take a few minutes here to suggest the

outlines of this understanding, which I hope may be helpful for you

in considering the history and theology of Gnosticism, and your own

personal spiritual outlook.

 

While the limited, exclusive theory of "the chosen" is attributed to

Gnostics by mainstream Christians, it actually is far more clearly a

part of THEIR religious traditions. The notion of predestination,

in particular, has made this idea of "divine election" profoundly

volitional in its metaphysical origins and constitutive in its

metaphysical effects on human beings. What many do not realize is

that a fairly robust form of predestination continues to be

theologically present in the belief systems of many denominations

that no longer emphasize it publicly, such as the Catholic Church –

in the case of Catholicism, as recently as the Council of Trent that

followed the Protestant Reformation, a Catholic doctrine of

predestination was solemnly affirmed. I say this only in passing to

provide you another example of the many inconsistencies in Christian

denunciations of Gnosticism – although, as I have said before, we

should not expect to find any consistency, because Christian polemic

against Gnosticism is not fundamentally concerned with being either

rational or coherent, but rather with foisting off on Gnosticism all

the difficulties, repressions, and forms of guilt that have

accumulated over the centuries in the massive social and cultural

edifice that calls itself the Christian church.

 

Now, on to the contrasting INCLUSIVE theory of "the chosen." What

in fact does it mean to be chosen or set apart? Is this setting

apart purely self-referential, or does it have an object? In other

words, are we just chosen, or are we chosen FOR something? This is

the key distinction that allows us to make sense of the whole

concept. When we embark on the path of gnosis, we are responding to

the basic call of the spirit within us, and the spirit beyond us

that ultimately is God. Because of this response, we are chosen by

God and set apart to be as it were the avatars of the spirit in the

world. As we move forward toward enlightenment, we have more and

more responsibility for the actualization of our own spirits but

also for true spiritual compassion of those all around us. We

are "the chosen" not indeed as if those around us are incapable of

gnosis, but in fact to be the instruments by which their gnosis can

come about as well! This is, of course, not at all the same as the

mainstream Christian notion of conversion, because that is about

dominating the other, about forcing the other into your own

prefabricated "truth." Being called and chosen, we are to form a

kind of sacred river, flowing through the world with what looks to

those outside to be passivity and even surrender, but gently picking

up the salt of the spirit as it were on our way to the sea.

 

So, the idea of a certain "chosen" group does not necessarily mean

in any way that other individuals are incapable of gnosis, for it

seems certain that other human beings, who share the basic

experiences of life with us, must have those experiences rooted in

the same kind of spiritual nature. Rather, being chosen, or

constituting an "elect," is in many ways a practical description,

since most of the people around us, fully capable of gnosis as they

are, are held back by many painful and frightening things from

taking those first steps that set us apart at the very beginning.

This point is made clear by another saying from the Gospel of

Thomas, which is included in the canonical New Testament as

well: "Jesus said, `The harvest is great but the laborers are few.

Beseech the Lord, therefore, to send out laborers to the harvest'"

(73).

 

Look around you: how great is this harvest, how ripe the fruit of

human beings standing just on the front porch of enlightenment,

ready to take that first step through the door! How late the time

is, my dear friends, and how quickly the sands of time are falling;

look at the darkness descending and the blood-red sun sinking low on

the horizon, as our world is weighed down ever more by the pain of

violence and hatred. How many sit in the lingering twilight,

yearning for the night to come – for the pain of living in this

world without joining in the life of the spirit has become

unbearable without drugs, and distractions, and addictions that ease

the pain.

 

We have been called to be those laborers, to be those shepherds, to

live not only for ourselves, but for all. To be chosen is to be set

apart as a gift to others, not to be elevated above others. Pride

is extinguished in love, and the ultimate love leads us to the

sacrifice of the bodhisattva, to the sacrifice of Christ. While the

light is still with us, before the clock strikes the closing of the

day, let us seek love and the fruits of love. For truly "there is

light within a person of light, and that person lights up the whole

world" (Gos Thom. 24).

 

In Christ and Sophia,

 

Matthew

 

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