Mani


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)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chewton_Mendip Church of St Mary Magdalene, Chewton Mendip

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chewton_Mendip
Church of St Mary Magdalene, Chewton Mendip

In the Western world, a strong belief in the objective truths of religion, which are viewed as incontrovertible, demonstrable facts, is regarded as essential to the life of faith. When asking if somebody is religious, peo- ple often inquire: “Does he or she believe?” as though accepting certain credal propositions was the prime religious activity. Indeed, faith is equated with belief, but this equation is of recent provenance. Origi- nally the meaning of the word faith was akin to trust, as when we say that we have faith in a friend or an ideal. Faith was not an intellectual position but a virtue: it was the careful cultivation, by means of the ritu- als and myths of religion, of the conviction that, despite all the dispirit- ing evidence to the contrary, life had some ultimate meaning and value. The Latin word credo (translated now as “I believe”) seems to have de- rived from the phrase cor dare: to give one’s heart. The Middle English word beleven meant to love. When Christians proclaimed: credo in unum Deum , they were not so much affirming their belief in the existence of a single deity as committing their lives to God. When St. Anselm of Can- terbury prayed in the eleventh century: credo ut intellagam (“I have faith in order that I may understand”), he was not blindly submitting to the doctrines of religion in the hope that one day these incredible asser- tions would make sense today, if he abdicated his critical intelligence. His prayer should really be translated: “I commit myself in order that I may understand.” The meaning of dogma would only be revealed when he lived a fully Christian life, embracing its mythology and rituals whole- heartedly. This attitude is foreign to modernity. Today people feel that before they live a religious life, they must first satisfy themselves intel- lectually of its metaphysical claims. This is sound scientific practice: first you must establish a principle before you can apply it. But it is not the way that religion has traditionally worked.

http://www.sacredweb.com/online_articles/sw4_armstrong.pdf
Karen ARmstrong (Faith an Modernity)

God, the word evokes such a lot. In Buddhism however we find that God is as you say, transcendant, but if we dig deeper God is also immanent.

We see this clearly in:

1

The tao that can be told
is not the eternal Tao
The name that can be named
is not the eternal Name.

The unnamable is the eternally real.
Naming is the origin
of all particular things.

Free from desire, you realize the mystery.
Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations.

Yet mystery and manifestations
arise from the same source.
This source is called darkness.

Darkness within darkness.
The gateway to all understanding.

…………………

This is the ineffible, unknowable reality above reality, beyond reality, something outside of words, outside of concepts…

This is the “God” of the Kabbalist, (Ain Sof: endless light)
This is the God of the mystic (christian and otherwise) such as Meister Eckhart

“To be full of things is to be empty of God. To be empty of things is to be full of God.”

The Kabbalist (Jewish Mystic, for sake of argument) states ideas such as:

The Nature of God

(from “God is a Verb” by David A. Cooper)

 

“What is God? In a way, there is no God. Our perception of God usually leads to a misunderstanding that seriously undermines our spiritual development.
God is not wht we think It is. God is not a thing, a being, a noun. It does not exist, as existence is defined, for It takes up0 no space and is not bound by time. Jewish mystics often refer to It as Ein Sof, which means Endlessness.

 

Ein Sof should never be conceptualized in any way. It should not be called Creator, Almighty, Father, Mother, Infinite, the One, Brahma, Buddhamind, Allah, Adonay, Elohim, El, or Shaddai, and It should never, never be called He. It is none of these names, and It has no gender.

 

When we call It God, what are we talking about? If we say that It is compassionate, full of lovingkindness, the source of love, we may be talking about our image of what we think the divine nature ought to be, but we are not talking about Ein Sof. In the same way, if we say that the God portrayed in the Bible is vindictive, jealous, angry, cruel, uncaring, or punitive, we cannot be referring to Ein Sof. Ein Sof includes every attribute but cannot be definite by any of them individually or all of them combined…..

 

The idea of Ein Sof was first described by the twelfth-century Kabbalist, Isaac the Blind. He taught that Ein Sof precedes thought (machshavah), and it even precedes the Nothingness (ayin) out of which thought is born. Nothingness is viewed as a level of awareness that is the result of the ‘annihilation of thought.’

 

The idea of the annihilation of thought, of course, is paradoxical. Can we imagine a void without beginning or end? Can we, limited by minds that are finite, imagine infinity? The answer is no, we cannot think of Nothing. Anything that we can imagine has some kind of boundary—Kabbalists call it garment or vessel—and boundaries are containers. All thoughts, including all imagination, are garments or vessels.

 

By definition, a boundary sets limits. We may be able to put a name to infinity, we can draw a symbol of a figure eight on its side and say that this represents infinity, but no matter how much we may believe that our imagination is limitless, we remain confined by the boundaries of our own reality. If it can be imagined, it is not infinite.

 

As infinity is beyond the imagination, what about that which transcends infinity—that which created it? Ein Sof is not ‘restricted’ by infinity. Indeed, we have suddenly run out of words because the idea of ‘trans-infinite’ is a logical absurdity. What can go beyond infinity? Moreover, what can go beyond the Nothingness that surrounds infinity? This is Ein Sof.

 

Although we are informed that Ein Sof is inaccessible through any intellectual endeavor, we may still ask if there is a ‘knowing’ that surpasses the intellect. Did Isaac the Blind have access to a level of awareness through which he could sense, somehow, the imperceivable?

 

The answer is yes. Jewish mysticism teaches that we can know Ein Sof in ways that transcend thought. This aspect of developing a relationship with Endlessness, the source of creation, is the key to all Kabbalah and the lifeblood of all Jewish practice. The secret teaching in developing this relationship with the Unknowable is hidden in the mystical foundation of the nature of relationship itself.

 

The word ‘God,’ and each of Its various names in Judaism, such as El, Elohim, Adonoy, Shaddai, and so forth, represent aspects of Ein Sof. The exploration of these aspects gives us insight into the nature of Ein Sof . Thus, whenever God is discussed…..we are not talking about a thing in itself, but a representation of a far deeper mystery…..

 

We can relate to God as an interactive verb. It is God-ing…..Many names of God are included in Ein Sof; God-ing is one name—a name that happens to be a verb rather than a noun…..What would we be without the awesomeness of the unknowable God?
There is no answer to this question; we cannot prove anything about Ein Sof. Rahter, it is a self-reflecting inquiry. Yet when viewed from the perspective of our dynamic relationship with the Divine, it is a self-fulfilling question, for paradoxically the source of the question is the answer it seeks. ‘What would I be without God?’
Consider this question from your inner awareness. Not you the noun, the person you may think you are, but you the verb, the process of being in full relationship, continuously, with its creator. When a question arises wthin you, who is asking the question, and to whom is the question addressed? Assume that there is no ‘me’ to ask the question, and there is no God out there to answer it. The question is part of the process of David-ing and God-ing in a mutual unfolding.

 

Try to do this in a way that melts all barriers or separation. No subject and no obuect. Simply an ever-opening process. No past, no future; only the Now. Each moment is a fresh opening. Each breath we draw, each move we make, is only Now. This is my dance with God-ing. It is an awesome experience…..

 

Perhaps you will take a few moments to close your eyes and allow yourself to sink into this idea. Meditate on this thought: The teaching of the mystery of Ein Sof is that the center of our being, out of which awe arises, is that about which we are awed. It is It! When we contemplate our continuous process of opening, right here, right now, we realize that God-ing is always with us…..

 

The Unknowable can be discerned. Beginning at an indefinable point as sharp as a needle. It radiates in various ways which can be perceived—only in the context of process and interaction. We are not an audience watching the God-ing process onstage. We are onstage, ourselves. We mysteriously begin to get a glimmer of God-ing when we succeed in merging with the continuous process of unfolding creation…..

 

The intrinsic definition of Limitlessness is that It lacks nothing and can receive nothing, for It is everything. As It is everything, theoretically It is the potential to be an infinite source of giving.

 

The question arises, however, that there is nothing for It to give to because It is everything. It would have to give to Itself. This has been a major conundrum in philosophy and theology for thousands of years.

 

Kabbalah suggests one way of dealing with this issue. It says that as long as the infinite source of giving has no ‘will’ to give, nothing happens. However, the instant It has the will to give, this will initiates a ‘thought.’ Kabbalah says, ‘Will, which is [primordial] thought, is the beginning of all things, and the expression [of this thought] is the completion.’

 

That is, the entire creation is nothing more than a thought in the ‘mind’ of Ein Sof, so to speak. Another way to express this idea is that the will to give instantly creates a will to receive…..”

ain

Here we can see that God is NOT God

If we return to Buddhism the Heart Sutra states:

Body is nothing more than emptiness,
emptiness is nothing more than body.
The body is exactly empty,
and emptiness is exactly body.

The other four aspects of human existence —
feeling, thought, will, and consciousness —
are likewise nothing more than emptiness,
and emptiness nothing more than they.

All things are empty:
Nothing is born, nothing dies,
nothing is pure, nothing is stained,
nothing increases and nothing decreases. So, in emptiness, there is no body,
no feeling, no thought,
no will, no consciousness.
There are no eyes, no ears,
no nose, no tongue,
no body, no mind.

There is no seeing, no hearing,
no smelling, no tasting,
no touching, no imagining.

There is nothing seen, nor heard,
nor smelled, nor tasted,
nor touched, nor imagined.

There is no ignorance,
and no end to ignorance.
There is no old age and death,
and no end to old age and death.
There is no suffering, no cause of suffering,
no end to suffering, no path to follow.
There is no attainment of wisdom,
and no wisdom to attain.

The Bodhisattvas rely on the Perfection of Wisdom,
and so with no delusions,
they feel no fear,
and have Nirvana here and now. +

All the Buddhas,
past, present, and future,
rely on the Perfection of Wisdom,
and live in full enlightenment.
The Perfection of Wisdom is the greatest mantra.
It is the clearest mantra,
the highest mantra,
the mantra that removes all suffering.

………..
Here we see the Heart Sutra telling us that God is transcendent and immanent, that God is not God

If we return to christianity again:

Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.’

-John 6:12

“But if by “God“ we mean a reality far surpassing our own fullness of being we must envisage the divine as total realization, abundance of life and actuality, energy unfailing, of which our mode of being is a pale reflection, and at best a symbol. Yet people persist in asking whether or not God exists. As Dostoyevsky pointed out, their question never finds an answer, because it is wrongly put. Its proper context is the experience of active loving, but it is confined within the narrow limits of a notion of existence which is as irrelevant to life as it is unreal and reductionist. The concept of God as a remote entity which does nothing served as a postulate for some philosophers of the eighteenth century, but it is foreign to all the great religious traditions of humankind. For these the question-and it is a burning question-is not of God‘s existence but of his presence, and this implies his power or energy. Yet even today deism is not dead. The reductionist notion of God, which was formerly the preserve of academics, is uncritically accepted by ordinary people in our society, who on the whole do not reject belief that God exists but have little sense of the divine presence and of communion with him. This reductionist point of view is in direct opposition to the religious instinct and mystical impulse, which suffers widespread atrophy in our times.
In spite of all this, the human heart senses that “God” is not a mono­syllabic blob but the Ever-present One. How are we to understand, and live, this sense? Christianity is sometimes seen as nothing but a collec­tion of moral duties and soothing reassurances about salvation, rather than as a summons to the deification of the human person.

St. Athanasius of Alexandria, a pillar of orthodoxy during the fourth century, insisted upon the divine being’s exuberance. The divine being, ineffably more alive that we are, cannot be self-contained and barren but has to be Father, forever bringing forth his son from the womb of his own substance. This continual begetting is a movement of being which is essentially fruitful. Our human experience of parenting is only an analogy for the perfect generation in the divine being, where there is no before and after, no differentiation into male and female, and where the one brought forth is not inferior to the parent. This vision of God continually pouring forth his very being would inspire Meister Eckhart a millennium later to speak of God in terms of molten metal which is always boiling over. The son‘s coming forth from the Father is a non-stop act of both begetting and giving birth.
Thus for the Christian tradition the divine reality is essentially per­sonal. The three are not merely aspects of some impersonal substrate, nor are they separate individuals. The doctrine of the Trinity states that ultimate reality is a communion of persons, each dwelling in the others. Here relationship is of the essence. And this communion of persons is the truth and exemplar of all being. In particular it is the hope to which we human beings aspire. We come alive when our eyes meet those of the one who loves us, for we then find our center outside ourselves in the other, and in so doing we touch the mystery of transcendence.

By falling in love we leave behind our own isolation and break away from our old, limited way of life, which is now revealed as loneliness and incompletion. And, even more, in the unromantic daily struggle of active loving, in relationship, we find out who we really are. That is the context in which we can ask about God for it is then that we most resemble God. The Trinity goes beyond both solitude and the mutual opposition of Dual­ism, for God, as St. John says, is love.”

–father symeon burholt

….

And finally we get a clear idea if we turn to Gnosticism, and the Gospel of Philip (note that of course many Gnostics were highly influenced by Buddhism, in fact one branch even boasts that their leader was the reincarnation of Lao Tzu)

Light and Darkness, life and death, right and left, are brothers of one another. They are inseparable. Because of this neither are the good good, nor evil evil, nor is life life, nor death death. For this reason each one will dissolve into its earliest origin. But those who are exalted above the world are indissoluble, eternal.

Names given to the worldly are very deceptive, for they divert our thoughts from what is correct to what is incorrect. Thus one who hears the word “God” does not perceive what is correct, but perceives what is incorrect. So also with “the Father” and “the Son” and “the Holy Spirit” and “life” and “light” and “resurrection” and “the Church (Ekklesia)” and all the rest – people do not perceive what is correct but they perceive what is incorrect, unless they have come to know what is correct. The names which are heard are in the world […] deceive. If they were in the Aeon (eternal realm), they would at no time be used as names in the world. Nor were they set among worldly things. They have an end in the Aeon.

One single name is not uttered in the world, the name which the Father gave to the Son; it is the name above all things: the name of the Father. For the Son would not become Father unless he wore the name of the Father. Those who have this name know it, but they do not speak it. But those who do not have it do not know it.

We see things as we are
Not as they are

–Kahlil Gibran

There are no mundane things outside of Buddhism,
and there is no Buddhism outside of mundane things.

–Yuan-Wu

It is I who am you, and it is you who are me. And wherever you are, I am there.

And I am sown in all; and you collect me from wherever you wish.

And when you collect me, it is your own self that you collect.

–Attributed to Christ, found in the Gospel of Eve

> 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.)

But creatures remain untouchable, inviolable. If God wants you to suffer a little, He allows you to learn just how inviolable they are. As soon as you try to possess their goodness for its own sake, all that is sweet in them becomes bitter to you, all that is beautiful, ugly. Everything you love sickens you. And at the same time your need to love something, somebody, increases a hundred times over. And God, Who is the only one who can be loved for His own sake alone, remains invisible and imaginable and untouchable, beyond everything else that exists.”

 

Thomas Merton

 

……..

The Kingdom of Heaven is within you –the immortal words of Christ do not pertain exclusively to the patristic formulae of salvation through sacrament, nor do they point only to the mystical body itself as unitive and unifying salvation. Rather, the observation is most profound or religious truths, akin to the shahadatyn themselves, the depth of micrcosmic reality, the height of human possibility. Above the kataphatic lies the apophatic, and This is unapproachable, impenetrable. But the kataphatic is a Reality humanity mirrors, when cleansed of unnecessary and delimiting contingency.

 

–Ahson Azmat (Extract from: Between Kaf and Nun: Rings, Gardens, Cosmos and Imago Terrae: Towards an explanation of Sacred Tome and Space, found in Sophia vol 12, no1)

http://www.sophiajournal.com/

……

It is for this reason that the highest form of Gnostic spiritual writing, the highest and most challenging and most frustrating in many ways for the reader, is the apophatic/kataphatic contestation, of which the finest and purest example is found in Thunder Perfect Mind.

For I am knowledge and ignorance.
I am shame and boldness.
I am shameless; I am ashamed.
I am strength and I am fear.
I am war and peace.
Give heed to me.
I am the one who is disgraced and the great one.


It is only slightly, I would say, trailed behind by the Gospel of Philip itself. It holds the famous statement of Gnostic apophatic declaration:

Light and Darkness, life and death, right and left, are brothers and sisters of one another. They are inseparable. Because of this neither are the good good, nor evil evil, nor is life life, nor death death. For this reason each one will dissolve into its earliest origin. But those who are exalted above the world are indissoluble, eternal.


Names given to the worldly are very deceptive, for they divert our thoughts from what is correct to what is incorrect. Thus one who hears the word “God” does not perceive what is correct, but perceives what is incorrect. So also with “the Father” and “the Son” and “the Holy Spirit” and “life” and “light” and “resurrection” and “the Church (Ekklesia)” and all the rest – people do not perceive what is correct but they perceive what is incorrect, unless they have come to know what is correct. The names which are heard are in the world […] deceive. If they were in the spiritual realm, they would at no time be used as names in the world. Nor were they set among worldly things. They have an end in the spiritual realm.


What could be a better description of this philosophy than to say it is a prefiguring, written in the mythological and spiritualizing language of the first centuries of the Gnostic era, of the postmodern philosophy of Baudrillard’s simulacrum? I think it is also relevant for us to consider the warning of Max Horkheimer, the
Frankfurt School philosopher of the mid-twentieth century, that we as a society are advancing far faster technologically than we are in terms of our actual substantive enlightenment as human beings. There is a difference between the substance of reason in the sense of “reasonableness”, and the process of “rationalization” — but unfortunately we collapse the two into the concept of the “ratio.” Of course, Gnosticism has never allowed for such a collapse, because of its healthy skepticism about the ability of the ratio per se to provide the salvation of either the human person or of humanity as a whole. It is important for us to hold onto that skepticism. It is a skepticism that is not anti-scientific and anti-rationalistic per se. We are not talking about the kind of anti-scientistic frenzy that has taken hold of conservative Protestantism with its bizarre hatred of genuine scientific endeavor and progress. But we are talking about a recognition that our science and our technology is sometimes advancing well beyond our moral capacity to deal with that advancing process. This is why we face issues like cloning and stem-cell research on which human society seems to be incapable of engaging in real dialogue beyond shouting and screaming matches that actually jettison any kind of reasonable debate in favor of competing fundamentalisms. We can see that is a typical problem in many parts of human life today. We actually have competing fundamentalisms. One fundamentalism of the left, one of the right; one of the Christians, one of the anti-Christians; one of the sexually repressed, one of those who seem to have no sense of the need for any kind of sexual morality based on human diversity and respect for the individual’s sexual identity.

–Brother Matthew Oroborous (From Basilides to Baudrillard… )

 

 

………….

“The four elements stem from a single source element. This is alluded to in the verse, ‘and a river flows from Eden to water the Garden; from there it divides and becomes four major rivers.’ That is, there is a single source which divides into four — the four elements….. This source element is called the yesod hapashut, the ‘simple element,’ in that, at the source, everything is united as one, without differentiation.

 

Everything in the world is composed of four basic elements. Each element contains traces of all the others, even if only in microscopic proportion. Thus, domem (mineral) has ‘earth’ as its main component, but one can find traces of ‘water,’ ‘air’ and ‘fire’ within. The continued existence of the world is based upon the proper combination and interaction of these elements.

 

Each element is radically different in makeup from the others, yet God in His infinite wisdom created them in such a way that they could coexist and sustain life in an almost endless array of combinations — as long as that which they are sustaining is alive. When its ‘life’ ends, the elements disperse — creating a situation, conceptually, of the ‘World of Separation.’ Thus it is the life force that binds the disparate elements together so that man can exist…..

 

Although every person is made up of all four elements, there are four main roots, corresponding to the four letters of the Tetragrammaton (YHVH). Each individual is rooted in his particular letter more than all the others. Correspondingly, he is also rooted in the specific element and character trait that derives from that letter. This is what accounts for the tremendous differences we find in people’s temparents. Some temperaments are rooted in fire, some in air, some in earth, some in water. The main thing is to harmonize their differences, for when difference, rather than harmony, is stressed, strife becomes the norm and people resist and oppose each other. This strife reverberates into their root elements, causing disharmony Above. As a result, the world is visited with destruction and sickness.

The main controlling force which can harmonize these differences is found in the single source element, the Tzaddik, The Tzaddik knows how to establish a proper balance between the various elements in his domain. This brings harmony and peace to each individual and to humanity as a whole.”

— Nosson of Bratslav (Likutei Halachot)

………

Whoever is able to fulfill the first phase of the path, the phase of self-dissolution in the grace of the rose, and is able to break up the magnetic system of ordinary nature to which he is bound is immediately liberated. And although existentially still completely a nature being and so still in the world and within the system of the twelve aeons, such a person will no longer find any hindrance on account of this second sidereal birth. He has become a child of God. He has been freed of all ties forever.

The Gnostic Mysteries of Pistis Sophia (Lectorium Rosicrucianum) 

…..

“O God, If I worship You for fear of Hell,

burn me in Hell without end.

And if I worship You in hope of Paradise,

Forbid it forever to me.


But if I worship You for You,
do not hold back from me Your everlasting Beauty.”

 

–Rabi a al-Basri (8th Cent Sufi Saint http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rabi’a )

 

رابعة العدوية القيسية) or simply Rabiʿa al-Basri (717–801 C.E.) was a female muslim Sufi saint.

Rābiʻa al-ʻAdawiyya al-Qaysiyya (Arabic: رابعة العدوية القيسية) or simply Rabiʿa al-Basri (717–801 C.E.) was a female muslim Sufi saint.

…………………….

 

SHAHADATAIN: Bearing witness. In order to become a Muslim one must utter and believe in two Shahadas (Shahadatain): First Shahada: Ashhadu an la illa ill’allah. ( I bear witness that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah.) Second Shahada: Ashhadu anna Muhammadar rasoolullah. (I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.) The Shahadatain is the gateway to Islam and the gateway to the Garden. It is easy to say, but to act on it is a vast undertaking which has far-reaching consequenccs, in both inward awareness and outward action, in this world and in the next world.

http://www.islambasics.com/view.php?bkID=999999&chapter=19

 

 

 

Cataphatic theology describes God positively according to what He has revealed of Himself in Scripture and nature. It is usually discussed as the opposite of Apophatic (or negative) theology, which attempts to describe God only in terms of what He is not.

Negative theology, also known as Apophatic theology, is a theological approach that describes God by negation, speaking of God only in terms of what He is not (apophasis) rather than presuming to describe what God is.

In negative theology, it is maintained that we can never truly define God in words. In the end, the student must transcend words to understand the nature of the Divine. In this sense, negative theology is not a denial. Rather, it is an assertion that whatever the Divine may be, when we attempt to capture it in human words, we will inevitably fall short.

In contrast, making positive statements about the nature of God, which occurs in most other forms of Christian theology, is sometimes called cataphatic theology.

Negative theology played an important role early in the history of Christianity. Three theologians who emphasized the importance of negative theology to an orthodox understanding of God, were Gregory the Theologian, John Chrysostom, and Basil the Great. It was employed by John of Damascus when he wrote that positive statements about God reveal “not the nature, but the things around the nature.” It continues to be prominent in Eastern Orthodoxy (see Gregory Palamas) where apophatic statements are crucial to much of their theology, and is used to balance cataphatic theology.

Save me, O God, by Thy name, and judge me by Thy strength.


Hear my prayer, O God; give ear to the words of my mouth.


For strangers are risen up against me, and oppressors seek after my soul; they have not set God before them. Selah


Behold, God is mine helper; the Lord is with them that uphold my soul.


He shall reward evil unto mine enemies; cut them off in Thy truth.


I will freely sacrifice unto Thee; I will praise Thy name, O LORD, for it is good.


For He hath delivered me out of all trouble, and mine eye hath seen my desire upon mine enemies.

–Psalm 54

“If we are quite content to pray without paying attention to our prayer
or to God, it shows we have not much idea of who God is, and that we do
not really appreciate the grace and the privilege of being able to speak
to Him in prayer.  For prayer is a gift of God, a gift which is by no
means given to all men.  Perhaps it is given to few because so few
desire it, and of those who have received it so few have received it
with gratitude.”

Thomas Merton

…….

In the Name of the Great Life! My good messenger of Light who travelleth to the house of its friends, come, direct my speech and open my mouth in praise that I may wholeheartedly praise the Living Gods.

In the Name of the Great Life! I worship Life and I praise my Lord Yeshu d-Hiya and that great Presence of Glory which emanated from itself.

The Gnostic Prayerbook

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