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I Am Tired Of All Of The Degradation Of The Gnostics: Here Is The Truth

 
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I Am Tired Of All Of The Degradation Of The Gnostics: Here Is The Truth
The Nag Hummadi find revealed that there was a broad range of beliefs among the various independent Gnostic systems or schools. However, the following points are believed to be generally accurate throughout the movement: Their Role: They believed that they alone truly understood Christ's message, and that other streams of thought within Christianity had misinterpreted Jesus' mission and sayings.
Gnosis: Knowledge to them was not an intellectual exercise; it was not a passive understanding of some aspect of spirituality. Rather, knowledge had a redeeming and liberating function that helped the individual break free of bondage to the world.
Deity: The Supreme Father God or Supreme God of Truth is remote from human affairs; he is unknowable and undetectable by human senses. She/he created a series of supernatural but finite beings called Aeons. One of these was Sophia, a virgin, who in turn gave birth to an defective, inferior Creator-God, also known as the Demiurge. (Demiurge means "public craftsman" in Greek.) This lower God is sometimes called Yaldabaoth or Ialdabaoth Jaldabaoth -- from Aramaic words meaning "begetter of the Heavens." This is Jehovah, the God of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament). He is portrayed as the creator of the earth and its life forms. He is viewed by Gnostics as fundamentally evil, jealous, rigid, lacking in compassion, and prone to genocide. The Demiurge "thinks that he is supreme. His pride and incompetence have resulted in the sorry state of the world as we know it, and in the blind and ignorant condition of most of mankind."
Duality of spirit and body: Spirit is of divine origin and good; the body is inherently earthly and evil. Gnostics were hostile to the physical world, to matter and the human body. But they believed that trapped within some people's bodies were the sparks of divinity or seeds of light that were supplied to humanity by Sophia.
Salvation: A person attains salvation by learning secret knowledge of their spiritual essence: a divine spark of light or spirit. They then have the opportunity to escape from the prison of their bodies at death. Their soul can ascend to be reunited with the Supreme God at the time of their death. Gnostics divided humanity into three groups: The spiritual, who would be saved irrespective of their behavior while on earth.
The Soulish, who could be saved if they followed the Gnostic path.
The carnal who are hopelessly lost.

Evil: They did not look upon the world as having been created perfectly and then having degenerated as a result of the sin of Adam and Eve. Rather the world was seen as being evil at the time of its origin, because it had been created by an inferior God.
Snake Symbol: Some Gnostic sects honored the snake. They did not view the snake as a seducer who led the first couple into sinful behavior. Rather, they saw him/it as a liberator who brought knowledge to Adam and Eve by convincing them to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and thus to become fully human.
Christ: The role of the redeemer in Gnostic belief is heavily debated at this time. Gnostics seem to have looked upon Christ as a revealer or liberator, rather than a savior or judge. His purpose was to spread knowledge which would free individuals from the Demiurge's control and allow them to return to their spiritual home with the Supreme God at death. Some Gnostic groups promoted Docetism, the belief that Christ was pure spirit and only had a phantom body; Jesus just appeared to be human to his followers. They reasoned that a true emissary from the Supreme God could not have been overcome by the evil of the world, and to have suffered and died. These beliefs were considered heresy by many non-Gnostic Christians. Some Gnostics believed that Christ's resurrection occurred at or before Jesus' death on the cross. They defined his resurrection as occurring when his spirit was liberated from his body. Many Gnostics believed that Jesus had both male and female disciples.
The Universe: This is divided into three kingdoms:
The "Earthly Cosmos": The earth is the center of the universe, and is composed of the world that we know of and an underworld. It is surrounded by air and by 7 concentric heavenly spheres: one for each of the Moon, Venus, Mercury, Sun, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. (Although the planet Uranus is visible to the naked eye, it was not recognized as a planet in ancient times.) Beyond Saturn resides Leviathan, a snake coiled in a single circle, devouring its own tail. Within these spheres live demonic, tyrannical entities called Archons. Beyond them lies Paradise which contains the "Tree of Life", the "Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil", and the flaming, turning sword of Genesis 3:24. Beyond Paradise was the sphere of the fixed stars, divided into the 12 signs of the zodiac.
The "Intermediate Kingdom is composed of an inner blue circle of darkness and an outer yellow ring of light. Within these rings is a sphere which is the realm of Sophia.
The "Kingdom of God" consists of two spheres: an outer one of the unknowable Supreme God, and inner ring of the Son.





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Gnostic practices:
Little is known about the rituals, organizational structure and practices of the ancient Gnostics. Almost all Gnostic texts were destroyed during various campaigns to suppress the movement. Although some of their religious writings survive, there is little information about how the groups actually functioned. Religious historians believe that: Many Gnostics were probably solitary practitioners. Others were members of mainline Christian congregations, probably forming a clique within each church.
There was no consensus on a "canon of Gnostic scripture." Many books were circulated in different versions; various schools within the movement had their own preferred rendition.
Many Gnostic texts were written by (or attributed to) women. Mary Magdelene played an important role in many Gnostic writings, often being second only to Jesus in status. They used both female and male images for the Supreme God. Theologians speculate that they probably treated women members as equal (or of almost equal status) to men in their communities.
Some groups poured a substance over the head of a member when they were dead or dying, and recited certain ritual phrases. This was intended to help the individual's soul ascend through the dangerous heavens of the Archons towards the Supreme God.
Some Gnostic groups had a ritual in which new members were baptized saying: "In the name of the Father unknown to all, in the Truth, Mother of All, in the One who came down upon Jesus, in the union, redemption and communion of powers."
Christian writers who attacked Gnosticism sometimes reported conflicting accounts of sexual behavior among Gnostics. Some wrote that some Gnostic groups appeared to have suppressed all sexual expression; their membership were expected to remain celibate. Other Christian writers criticized other Gnostic groups for allegedly practicing ritual sex magic. Where the truth lies is anyone's guess.
Anonymous Coward
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Re: I Am Tired Of All Of The Degradation Of The Gnostics: Here Is The Truth
After a series of visions and archival finds of Cathar-related documents, Jules Doinel "re-established" the Gnostic Church in the modern era.

Founded on extant Cathar documents with a heavy influence of Valentinian cosmology, the church, officially established in the autumn 1890 in Paris, France, consisted of modified Cathar rituals as sacraments, a clergy that was both male and female, and a close relationship with several esoteric initiatory orders (see link [link to www.gnostique.net] for more information).

The church eventually split into two opposing groups that were later reconciled in the leadership of Joanny Bricaud. Another splinter church with more occult leanings was established by Robert Ambelain around 1957, from which several other schisms have produced a multitude of distantly-related occult-oriented marginal groups.

The "traditionalist" René Guénon founded in 1909 the Gnostic review La Gnose. He believed in and throughout his works exposed the idea that modern thought, by its preference to the quantity more than to the quality, is the root of all evil aspects of modernity. The whole scientific enterprise would just be the beheaded relic of a lost Sacred Science. Modern technology and its realizations, worshipped by his contemporaries, would have been just a latter epiphany of the Kali Yuga (alias Dark Age), in a Cyclical Conception of Time.

Samael Aun Weor commented extensively on the Pistis Sophia in his book The Pistis Sophia Unveiled, and founded International Gnostic Movement, one of the Occultist movements that claimed inheritance from ancient Gnosticism. A number of schisms in Samael Aun Weor's movement ensued shortly after his death which is discussed in the article The Gnostic Movement.

In the United States there are several gnostic churches with diverse lineages, one of which is the Ecclesia Gnostica, affiliated with an organization for studies of gnosticism called the Gnostic Society, primarily in Los Angeles. The current leader of both organizations is Stephan A. Hoeller who has also written extensively on Gnosticism and the occult. Parishes of the Ecclesia Gnostica and affiliated Gnostic Society educational organizations are active in Portland, OR, Seattle, WA, Sedona, AZ, Salt Lake City, UT, and Oslo, Norway.

Mar Didymos I of the Thomasine Church has reinterpreted Gnosticism and the thomasine gospels from an Illuminist viewpoint. The method employed by clergy and initiates of the Thomasine Church involves the use of the scientific method and of critical thinking rather than dogmatism. Mar Didymos stresses the use of scientific theory or the use of a synthesis of well developed and verified hypotheses derived from empirical observation and deductive/indicative reasoning about factual data and tested through experimentation and peer review. This is antithetical in principle and method as compared to all of the existing modern Gnostic churches.

Mar Iohannes of the Apostolic Johannite Church is President of the North American College of Gnostic Bishops, a group dedicated not to dogmatic statements, but to working together to promote gnostic growth. The AJC is a bridge-building Church with traditionally-styled Rites, but Gnostic understanding of those Rites. 'Experiential Knowledge' of the Divine is the final arbiter of Gnosis.
sophia
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Re: I Am Tired Of All Of The Degradation Of The Gnostics: Here Is The Truth
truth teller

I've just finished reading a book by Tim Freke, Jesus and the lost goddess. It provided an excellent insight and understanding of Gnosticism, and how it exists in EVERY religion!

I too shudder to see people degrading it because in its pure form, from my understanding, it condemns little, and embraces the possibility in all things. Being open minded seems to be one of its essentially tenets (even tenet is a redundant word, given that no one is forced to believe anything, no dogma etc).

The book's description of mystery, psyche body etc is FABULOUS.
Anonymous Coward
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Re: I Am Tired Of All Of The Degradation Of The Gnostics: Here Is The Truth
we know that ‘all of us possess knowledge.’ Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge; but anyone who loves God is known by him.
sophia
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Re: I Am Tired Of All Of The Degradation Of The Gnostics: Here Is The Truth
"They believed that they alone truly understood Christ's message, and that other streams of thought within Christianity had misinterpreted Jesus' mission and sayings."

My understanding is that Gnostics believe that Jesus Christ was a mythical figure created to encapsulated the godman myth. That it operated on two levels, for those who understood something of gnosticism, they would understand the symbolism of the story to be representative of the fall, the initiations.

The "miracles" etc were used to give those still VERY attached their "bodies" something to encourage them to consider a mysteru greater than their own existence.

Essentially it appears Gnostics embrace and live the mystery of life, the GREATEST mystery there is.
sophia
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Re: I Am Tired Of All Of The Degradation Of The Gnostics: Here Is The Truth
AC

"Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up"

Perhaps you've misunderstood the use of the word "knowledge" in the context the gnostics use it? It's NOT about intellectual knowing, the accumulation of facts or something, but an inherent knowing, and understanding that we are all one, connected, to THE ONE, and that is, in its essence about LOVE.
TruthTeller  (OP)

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Re: I Am Tired Of All Of The Degradation Of The Gnostics: Here Is The Truth
"I too shudder to see people degrading it because in its pure form, from my understanding, it condemns little, and embraces the possibility in all things. Being open minded seems to be one of its essentially tenets (even tenet is a redundant word, given that no one is forced to believe anything, no dogma etc)."


Sophia,what gets me is if Gnostics were so "evil" why was Catholicism so against it? After all,according to some posters here,Catholicism is supposed to be the embodiment of "evil" also. You can't have it both ways.Either Catholicism is evil and Gnosticism is good,or vice versa.
Anonymous Coward
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My understanding is that Gnostics believe that Jesus Christ was a mythical figure created to encapsulated the godman myth.


Nope. That's new age gnosticism. Read Jung.
Anonymous Coward
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Re: I Am Tired Of All Of The Degradation Of The Gnostics: Here Is The Truth
the pope's who demanded the inquisition and crusades were gnostic in belief

gnosticism puts man in the place of God and makes him proud of his enlightenment or knowlege
then these self proclaimed superior beings give themselves godlike powers to eliminate all who will not bow to them

what is the end of gnosticism?
how do they save the world?
sophia
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Re: I Am Tired Of All Of The Degradation Of The Gnostics: Here Is The Truth
From my recent readings it appears that, as you point out, many religions, and initially the Roman Church sought to destroy gnosticism. To my knowledge there has never been a Gnostic Inquisition, a Gnostic Crusade etc... The Gnostics were not warlike.

Even the Cathars (mentioned above) were believed to live in Southern France, were vegetarians and pacifists. Again the Roman Church deigned to destroy these folks?

Scared of the truth? That the "truth" that "god" is WITHIN would remove the need for an external organisation to pay homage to, to obey, to be oppressed by, to PAY money to?
TruthTeller  (OP)

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Re: I Am Tired Of All Of The Degradation Of The Gnostics: Here Is The Truth
"the pope's who demanded the inquisition and crusades were gnostic in belief"


bsflag
sophia
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Re: I Am Tired Of All Of The Degradation Of The Gnostics: Here Is The Truth
I have read Jung, who lived in the 20th century, some 2000+ years after the attempt to bury gnosticism by the Roman Church.

I don't accept that there is ONE right answer to "what is gnosticism", not even mine!
Anonymous Coward
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Re: I Am Tired Of All Of The Degradation Of The Gnostics: Here Is The Truth
Would this be the same truth I read daily or a different version or are Gnostics capable of having alternating versions of the truth on alternating days...?...1dunno1
sophia
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Re: I Am Tired Of All Of The Degradation Of The Gnostics: Here Is The Truth
"give themselves godlike powers to eliminate all who will not bow to them"

link? or book reference?
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Re: I Am Tired Of All Of The Degradation Of The Gnostics: Here Is The Truth
Jung felt that the Catholic announcement of the Assumption of Mary, in 1950, was "the most important religious event since the Reformation." (Storr 1983 p. 324) 

This "bodily reception of the Virgin into heaven" (Ibid.) meant that "the heavenly bride was united with the bridegroom," (Ibid. p. 322) which union "signifies the hieros gamos." [the sacred marriage] (Ibid.)  The moment of the Divine coronation of Mary is indeed celebrated in many murals and ceilings and statuary.  This is an example from the cathedral at Reims where Joan of Arc brought Charles VII for his coronation.

Acknowledging that the Assumption "is vouched for neither in scripture nor in the tradition of the first five centuries of the Christian Church," Jung observes that:  "The papal declaration made a reality of what had long been condoned.  This irrevocable step beyond the confines of historical Christianity is the strongest proof of the autonomy of archetypal images." (Storr 1983 p. 297)

To Protestants who challenge the new dogma on historical grounds the Protestant Jung (1933 p. 236) answers in part that  "the Protestant standpoint . . . is obviously out of touch with the tremendous archetypal happenings in the psyche of the individual and the masses, and with the symbols which are intended to compensate the truly apocalyptic world situation today." (Ibid. pp. 322-323) 

Jung added: “Protestantism has obviously not given sufficient attention to the signs of the times which point to the equality of women.  But this equality requires to be metaphysically anchored in the figure of a 'divine' woman. . . .  The feminine, like the masculine, demands an equally personal representation.” (Ibid. p. 325)

Quotes from : Jung, C. G.  Modern Man in Search of a Soul.  Translated by W. S. Dell and C. F. Baynes. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers, San Diego. (1933); and: Storr, Anthony (Ed.).  The Essential Jung. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey. (1983).
sophia
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Re: I Am Tired Of All Of The Degradation Of The Gnostics: Here Is The Truth
Anonymous Coward
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1/31/2006 2:52 PM Re: I Am Tired Of All Of The Degradation Of The Gnostics: Here Is The Truth

Would this be the same truth I read daily or a different version or are Gnostics capable of having alternating versions of the truth on alternating days...?..





I don't accept that there is ONE right answer to "what is gnosticism", not even mine!
sophia
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Re: I Am Tired Of All Of The Degradation Of The Gnostics: Here Is The Truth
8486

I'm confused;

how does your post point to Jesus Christ having been a real man who died on a cross and was ressurected? jung, as he does is talking about archetypal symbols, imagery of the godman, the godess fall, redemtion, resurrection, isn't he?
TruthTeller  (OP)

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Re: I Am Tired Of All Of The Degradation Of The Gnostics: Here Is The Truth
"“Protestantism has obviously not given sufficient attention to the signs of the times which point to the equality of women. But this equality requires to be metaphysically anchored in the figure of a 'divine' woman. . . . The feminine, like the masculine, demands an equally personal representation.” (Ibid. p. 325) "


No doubt,it is Protestantism which continues to strive against the truth of Gnosticism simply because they want to keep the Patriarchial system alive.The Catholics have much the same agenda. I am a man;however,I believe that most women are more in tune with spiritual truths than men are.Yet,we,as men, suppress them.
sophia
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Re: I Am Tired Of All Of The Degradation Of The Gnostics: Here Is The Truth
"The late Carl Gustav Jung said, "The central neurosis of our time is emptiness." All of us have a deep longing for our life to have meaning and depth. Jesus offers us a more meaningful, abundant life, which comes through a relationship with Him. Jesus said, "I came that they might have life, and have it abundantly" (John 10:10)."


Here is a useful link to a brief summary of Jung's thoughts on Christ and Jesus Christ

[link to www.jungatlanta.com]
Anonymous Coward
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Re: I Am Tired Of All Of The Degradation Of The Gnostics: Here Is The Truth
the papacy is gnostic
trying to be the light to the church
denying the bodily return of Christ to earth
because the papacy claims to be the medium through which the righteous kingdom is established

gnostics deny the place of Jesus Christ

the roman church may have destroyed one version of gnosticism, but they assimilated the kingdom building version
sophia
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Re: I Am Tired Of All Of The Degradation Of The Gnostics: Here Is The Truth
excerpts from the above article


One of the most significant insights of the project, which will be the main thrust of this brief article, is the differentiation between Jesus, the historical figure from Nazareth, and the archetypal Christ, the Redeemer. This distinction between the historical and the symbolical is essential if the Christian symbols are to retain their power to touch the inner depths of the modern person. As we know, Jung’s diagnosis of modern men and women was a spiritual malnutrition bought on by a starvation of symbols. He called for a recovery of the symbolic life which had been abandoned to a one-sided literal, rational approach to religious matters.

The Jewish rabbi and reformer, Jesus, lived a personal, concrete, historical life. However, it was the archetypal image of a Redeemer slumbering, so to speak, in the collective unconscious, which became attached to that unique life. This powerful collective image made itself visible, so to speak, in the man Jesus, so that seeing him people glimpsed the greater personality which seeks conscious realization in each person. Jung notes that it was not the man Jesus who created the myth of the “god-man.” Other Redeemer myths existed many centuries before his birth. Jesus himself was seized by this symbolic idea, which, as St. Mark tells us, lifted him out of the narrow life of the Nazarene carpenter. (Jung, Man And His Symbols, p.89)

Briefly stated, at an early stage Jesus became the collective figure whom the unconscious of his contemporaries expected to appear and Jesus took on those projections. In this way, Jesus’ life exemplifies the archetype of the Christ, or in Jung’s psychological language, the Self, which is a more inclusive word for the inner image of god, the imago Dei, which resides in every person...

"Jung speaks to the necessity of withdrawing our projections from a historical or external Christ figure (Jesus, in this case) if we are to discover experientially the “Christ within,” or the Self. He writes, “The Self or Christ is present in everybody a priori, but as a rule in an unconscious condition to begin with. But it is a definite experience of later life, when this fact becomes conscious…It is only real when it happens, and it can happen only when you withdraw your projections from an outward historical or metaphysical Christ and thus wake up Christ within.” (CW:18:par.1638) If Christ remains outside us, either as an example of an ideal or as an external object of worship only, the deeper levels of the soul are never engaged. The result is that religion and religious practice may deteriorate into adherence to rational dogma and trying to follow a set of external rules.
Anonymous Coward
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Re: I Am Tired Of All Of The Degradation Of The Gnostics: Here Is The Truth
so, Jung is gnostic
and the pope believes the same thing about Jesus
TruthTeller  (OP)

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Re: I Am Tired Of All Of The Degradation Of The Gnostics: Here Is The Truth
"so, Jung is gnostic
and the pope believes the same thing about Jesus"

67574,I suggest you talk about something you know something about. You obviously know nothing of Gnostic history.You are out of your league. You are telling me that the Catholics did not drive the cathars which were Gnostics underground? Are you telling me that the "church" didn't burn Gnostics at the stake? Bullshit!! They did. You are talking out of the range of your knowledge,partner.
Anonymous Coward
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Re: I Am Tired Of All Of The Degradation Of The Gnostics: Here Is The Truth
there is more than one form of gnosticism, and the dominant faction in the catholic church killed off their competition
it's a well known tactic
it doesn't prove the church is not gnostic
Small_Brother

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Re: I Am Tired Of All Of The Degradation Of The Gnostics: Here Is The Truth
"the papacy is gnostic
trying to be the light to the church
denying the bodily return of Christ to earth
because the papacy claims to be the medium through which the righteous kingdom is established
gnostics deny the place of Jesus Christ"

Gnosticism has nothing to do with the Church of Babylon, at present located in the vatican.
_The Operator_

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Re: I Am Tired Of All Of The Degradation Of The Gnostics: Here Is The Truth
Gnostics

Gnostics or Gnosticism is the viewpoint that we are beyond and above things like good and evil, and are sovereigns above all that, in full power. It's a derivation of Jacobian and paganism, 7th century, rooted in southern france.

Gnostics say, religion, christ, the devil, whatever are all lower order illusions and you, me, us, are actually divine beings quite advanced beyond these issues.

Really?

Show me.

RIght now. Demonstrate this divine power. Uh-oh...

I asked them about this, they said, and I quote,

"If a man or woman finds themselves on Earth in human body, with seven centers, you are here for growth and testing, to divine if you truly can, finally, respond to the Inner Fount of Love within the Heart. Mankind is created for this purpose. Earth is a testing field to determine these things. No one can escape the Law."

It's about responding to the Spirit within the heart, and living it. In a nutshell. There exists no human I've ever met who can even barely OBE at will, much less be this so-called GREAT POWER TRAPPED ON EARTH, which is the essence of Gnosticism.

Don't be fooled by the deceptions of darkness. You are either for the Spirit of Freedom and Love or you serve darkness. It's that black and white, no grey areas. EVER.


Anyway..!
sophia
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Re: I Am Tired Of All Of The Degradation Of The Gnostics: Here Is The Truth
"he short answer to was Jung a Gnostic is no, Jung did not consider himself to be a "Gnostic.

[link to astrology.about.com]
sophia
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Re: I Am Tired Of All Of The Degradation Of The Gnostics: Here Is The Truth
"It's about responding to the Spirit within the heart, and living it"

That's a very good summary of the basis of gnosticism.
TruthTeller  (OP)

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Re: I Am Tired Of All Of The Degradation Of The Gnostics: Here Is The Truth
Operator,science itself is saying that everything you just stated is false.Science has almost proven beyond a doubt that without human consciousness nothing would exist.So,that should tell you about the specialness of humans.That is not to say that there is not a supreme being because there most certainly is.
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Re: I Am Tired Of All Of The Degradation Of The Gnostics: Here Is The Truth
Gnostics, theosophists, occultists, and other esotericists often berate or belittle outward, exoteric, orthodox Christianity as a mere "belief system" -- one based on myths and principles which were intended to be understood symbolically and metaphorically. This "belief" is contrasted to and juxtaposed against the inner realization and gnosis they lay claim to. And that "gnosis" means knowing -- not just mere intellectual knowledge -- but rather inner knowing and direct experience, as opposed to just "knowing about" on a mental, scholastic, or theoretical level. It is said that through experience they undergo an inner transmutation and contact the innate inner divinity. Outward or exoteric Christianity is thought to be simplistic, primitive, and anthropomorphic -- a mere projection of unenlightened concepts by unilluminated minds and clouded spirits. A shadow as opposed to substance.

I would like to propose that so-called "orthodox" or classic Christianity also involves Gnosis -- direct inner knowing and experience -- not just "belief." The claim of the Christian scriptures is that this spiritual gnosis is imparted and transmitted via a divine hierarchy -- not by self-effort to raise the consciousness. The Christian would argue that the consciousness which is being raised and expanded by "the Great Work" of esoteric gnostic or mystic inner transmutation is not the ultimate spiritual reality, but a lesser or even diversionary one. The Christian would contend that the ultimate image or likeness of God in man has been distorted or even lost, and that man is now incomplete without a new impregnation of a divine seed or spiritual component. A metamorphasis is needed -- not just an expansion or a clearing of inner spiritual obstructions. This is likened to a inner spiritual rebirth -- a transmission of a spiritual energy and reality from the Godhead.

As the Christian scriptures state: "But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." I submit that the concepts of grace and absolution of all karma and sin by means of a divine identification with humanity represents foolishness to occultists and esotericists. It flies in the face of reasonings derived from the physical or astral planes.

Continuing from the above-quoted scriptural passage: "For what man knows the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knows no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches; comparing spiritual things with spiritual."

My point is that you may want to disagree with Christianity on many grounds, but don't accuse Christians of harboring or teaching "mere belief," and not having an inner realization or "gnosis." Christianity is also experiential -- not just parotting things from a book or a belief system with no outer or inner basis. Again, quoting from the passage in 2 Cor. 2: "God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searches all things, yea, the deep things of God."

2 Cor. 4:6-7: "For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the KNOWLEDGE (Greek, "gnosis") of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us."

Colossians 2:2-4: "That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Greek, "gnosis") ..."

Speaking of spiritual perception, 1 John 2:20 says: "But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things."

Gnosticism extols knowledge as the modus operendi in spiritual unfoldment. But there is something even beyond gnosis: "...through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that SURPASSES KNOWLEDGE (Greek, "gnosis")—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God" (Eph. 3:16-19).

There is no need to set gnosticism off against Christianity as if Christianity ignores knowledge, or gnosis, or direct inner experience. Perhaps the better question might be, what is the origin and scope of the knowledge in the different paradigms?
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Re: I Am Tired Of All Of The Degradation Of The Gnostics: Here Is The Truth
Want Proof,Operator? Here you go:



CONSCIOUSNESS AND REALITY:
OUR ENTRY INTO CREATION
by James N. Studer
We no longer experience the world as Plato and Aristotle did. The new physics has seen to that. And its new epistemology leads to a new theology -- one from which fresh truths emerge.

JAMES N. STUDER, a Benedictine priest, recently retired after thirteen years on the pastoral care team in an acute care hospital in Minneapolis, Minn. He is completing a book, The Mind and the Atom: What is Real?, which deals with the first part of this article.

Our spiritual lives wait impatiently for the unity of matter/mind that could simplify our idea of the divine presence. If we could grasp that the God of the Creeds -- almighty, wholly other creator, transcendent, and so far away -- is really only the ancient projection of the One (Deut. 6:4), the God of our inner, personal experience, prayer might more often come naturally and quietly in a unified and convincing way.

This essay places more emphasis than usual on how reason and faith work together in an evolutionary universe to reveal how this unity could happen. The evidence here begins with the difference between the way our body/brain seemed to the ancients -- the ones who, in their idea of brain/thought, wrote our Judaeo-Christian Scriptures and most of their traditional interpretations -- in comparison to what our body/brain is today.

Seeking how our blood flows, how our brains work, as well as the rest of our body-processes, tells us how we think and work. In the negative, how could blood flow, food digest, and brains work without our having a magnificent body of a refined animalian kind? Response begins with discovery of the electron a hundred years ago. This is the "small particle" that does everything for us. As it flows from our generators, it turns on our lights, runs our kitchen appliances and elevators, and even more, operates the computers which now run our world of communications. If the electron were to disappear, the dead would pile up unknown in a week on the stairs and atop skyscrapers.

We take the electron for granted: we heed only what it does, not what it means. Yet, we know that electrons (with other particles) make atoms. Atoms make molecules. Molecules make cells of body and blood. Blood circulates through heart, lungs, and brain to keep us alive and conscious and aware of self-identity. The electron (from here on, it symbolizes all subatomic particles), in brief, is the foundation of all material things and their tenacious material integrity that allows us to walk safely on ground and floors, drive cars, and sense the wonders of the earth.

This seventieth anniversary of the Heisenberg Principle gets us closer to what the electron means. The principle says that we cannot measure both the position of the electron and its velocity at the same time; the electron is inherently uncertain, or more forcefully, intrinsically indeterminate. It shows in the world only by what is called statistical probabilities. Underpinning all higher-order connected sciences, it concerns particles so tiny that we can only imagine them. Its nature in ultimate mystery is taken here for cash, and will show what it does in ordinary experience that funds spiritual life.

The pioneer physicists announced this bizarre principle only after exhaustive experiment. Werner Heisenberg, baffled at the anomaly, exclaimed, "I repeated to myself again and again the question: Can nature possibly be as absurd as it seemed to us in these atomic experiments?" Niels Bohr replied that understanding could come only by creating a new framework of meaning and language.(1) To cast its influence "upward" into our material world, subatomic activity must convert indeterminacy into determinacy. But how? As John Polkinghorne says, this question has puzzled science for seventy years.(2)

Returning to how our bodies work: Science and our own experience also show that our bodies can go awry and cause a myriad of bodily ills: a fibrillating heart, stroke, Alzheimer's disease, and cancers. Coherence of thought says these illnesses must describe some dimension of the nature of the electron, that subatomic activity reflects "upward" into the material realm of molecules and our body/brains to cause illness. The question then arises: How can the reliable material integrity of the way ordinary "things" act, square with how electrons fail and cause so much sickness?

Look at a bare reminder of how we know anything: We encounter "things" by our senses. We touch, see, or hear them. They now come to mean something to us. That is, we abstract metaphorically from the concrete thing to a universal idea about it. We want to write a note, so we pick up a pen. We feel pen in hand; this means we can write a note; we do so. But suppose we are in a strange house, it is suddenly pitch dark, and there are no lights. In a weak analogy, indeterminacy sets in, and we cannot write. Yet, the electron, by its essence and with the help of other particles, turns into material things all the time.

Language that refuses to contradict itself says the process itself must be intrinsically mysterious. If we seek coherent language to describe this process, our only recourse is metaphor: subatomic activity "breaks out" of the interior of the atom to its exterior. The process is a smooth flow, a becoming -- not a clanking, piece-by-piece physical conjunction of particles. If our sense perceptions participate foundationally in indeterminacy, how can the world and the universe be other than mixed and inchoate "stuff," without intrinsic meaning or reality?

My language, let me repeat, is metaphorical. No literal "finger" of subatomic activity reaches out directly to a measuring instrument, or to the universe, to change them materially. Bohr wryly contradicts the popular phrase, "disturbance of phenomena by observation."(3) Statistical probabilities do not refer to an uncertain single measurement but to an aggregation of measurements in the same experiment. Therefore, the body differs totally in its roots from anything the ancients knew. The very idea of evolution that illustrates the validity of the Heisenberg Principle could not have crossed their minds. Rather, they inferred from their limited knowledge that this enormous body of "stuff," of "things" and the universe -- was real all by itself, because created directly by Yahweh-God, or the Aristotelian First Cause.

The ancients logically regarded their surroundings from an absolutist standpoint, generating absolutist ideas about earth, sea, and sky and about the causality of their massive "objective material reality." But now science avers that the universe emerged from a dimensionless point or, more lately, that it may have emerged from anywhere in what we informally regard as "space." Now the coherent view of "things," the world, the universe -- and the very idea of human expression of absolutes -- is self-contradictory.

This evidence clarifies the growing uncertainty we sense as we enter the third millennium, and the increasing breakdown in ordinary experience of underlying principles of ethics and morality. We do not deal well with obvious global conflicts, with continued possession of deadly armaments, nor with seemingly lesser problems such as the possibility of terrorism on a massive scale. Increasingly, the marketplace -- despite the communicating power of its vaunted cyberspace -- ignores these ancient founding principles.

These problems pose a general question: Has our physical and societal dynamic so changed that a massive flaw in an underlying principle, logically assumed historically to be valid, now fails radically in guiding and empowering us? If so, how would we know, and with what faculty? In a traditional static structure, some higher spiritual dimension would be said to exist, the lower form of which was consciousness. But how would such a power connect with our bodies, our behavior? Are we now finding that the phenomenon of consciousness -- the most subtle yet incompletely explored activity of the subatomic -- must somehow respond by identifying it with ourselves through the power of local brain structure?

Where Does Consciousness Come From?
To respond to this question, the search turns next to the origin of consciousness. In our own animalian body, must not our consciousness and that of the lesser animals be rooted in the common power of subatomic activity, of indeterminacy in action? The origin of both begins to show in the story of Stuart Hameroff, a research anesthetist. Hameroff has explored how consciousness is lost in anesthesia and then reemerges as the patient comes out. He discovered that immobilizing part of the neurons of the brain seemed to restrict electrochemical activity so that the patient lost consciousness, while the brain remained undamaged. He also suspected that a process, a "something," was occurring that went deeper than this activity and was also immobilized as the patient lost consciousness.

Realizing that the deeper process had to reflect a depth of subatomic activity beyond his competence, he discussed the puzzle with physicist Roger Penrose. Their discussion showed that the tiny "microtubule" of the neuronal cell has a "slot" on its side, of micro dimensions, within which an electron exercises its normal activity during consciousness. Loss of consciousness immobilized the microtubule and the normal activity of the electron as well. Against this backdrop, Penrose proposes the activity of an electron as searching "countless billions of different patterns simultaneously [emphasis added] on its way toward choice of a 'single' state." A "single state" could mean impact on a measuring instrument or change in the uncountable combinations and shapes of molecules of brain proteins.

Thus, loss of consciousness -- immobilizing the microtubule -- would mean restricting activity of the electron. Cessation of the mysterious electrical signal underlying normal electrochemical exchange, as Hameroff had observed it, would show evidence of the restriction. Suppression of the activity of the microtubule would cause both loss of consciousness and suppression of the subatomic signal.(4) In brief, the trail of sequential activity points to: (a) suppression of consciousness by suppression of activity in the microtubule, (b) associated suppression of a mysterious signal that corresponds to suppression of its womb of nurture, the microtubule, and, therefore, (c) suppression of the subtle and incomprehensibly great power of the electron to play some role in consciousness.

This means that the electron would enable the action of consciousness to change a protein (alter the shape of molecules of a microtubule) that, in turn and still within the realm of action of the electron, would augment consciousness. Might not repetition of this reciprocal causality -- at incomprehensibly high speeds and in equally incomprehensibly great quantity -- develop the ribbon of continuity that we designate consciousness, the highest faculty and quality of life in human experience?

In this perspective, the reciprocal conversion of protein to consciousness and back is metaphor in process, and is therefore intangible. Consciousness is intrinsically bonded, however, to brain protein (tangible) within which the billions of different patterns, simultaneously explored, are based. In other words, indeterminacy has to be based in determinacy (protein of neuronal tissue) as it engages in reciprocal causality with it and reflects foundational energy of the universe. Yet, energy is not a "thing." It is a process, as in e=mc2, that transforms. "Process" is already inherently a metaphorical term. This process would deliver us from functional dualism of mind and matter.

The critical juncture here lies in Penrose's suggestion that consciousness might result from the action of the electron in its function in the brain. It is of the nature of the electron that it explore those billions of different patterns simultaneously at incomprehensible speeds on its way toward choosing a "single state" in the atom --> molecule. In support of Penrose, physicist Murray Gell-Mann asserts that "any particle can occupy any one of an infinite number of 'quantum states,' " and that "the number of different kinds [of particles] is actually infinite."(5)

In this light, a brief model for the origin of consciousness might take this form: Subatomic activity makes brain tissue in the first aspect of any frozen "moment," as atoms form molecules by, in the phrase of Linus Pauling, "sharing electrons at their corners." The second aspect of the same "moment" involves what Nobel chemist Roald Hoffmann calls "gluing atoms together by a wave."(6) That is, the electron acts as both particle and wave necessarily and simultaneously according to a "complementarity" that is integral to the foundation of quantum mechanics.

Physicist Sidney Perkowitz would support the model; he observed recently that "an electron travels through empty space as a wave, but when it encounters an obstacle it blows up into a multitude of particles"(7) (an analogy: faxing a message to Paris). As the mutual action occurs to make tissue inside the molecule, it still works within tiny space. Therefore, the action -- combining energy of both first and second aspects of the same "moment" -- creates the self-awareness we call consciousness as the result of reciprocal causality within the process in a continuum. The statements of Hameroff, Penrose, and Gell-Mann suggest the interaction of microtubule and electron. The return to consciousness after anesthesia returns normal function to both. Can the microtubule, as such, constitute consciousness? Hardly. How could the intangible (consciousness) be explained on a literally molecular (material) level alone? And why neglect the mysterious power operating at once as both particle and wave? For example, one relevant example of recent research shows how electrons can be made to emit photons better. This process shows what physics calls "quantum confinement." The process pens electrons "into nanometer-sized spaces. Thus confined, they behave more like trapped waves than particles."(8)

How Do We Know What Is "Real"?
The question remains: How do we judge what is real in the context above? How do we describe the relationship between the process by which subatomic activity (indeterminate) builds the universe and the result, the universe itself? Coherent language now declares: The activity is its result. Language demands still more: A universe built by an agency of mixed determinate and indeterminate elements cannot escape being indeterminate itself. Language must then say that a universe, as indeterminate, must be attribute becoming existent. That is, "indeterminate," the adjective or attribute that characterizes subatomic activity, becomes "indeterminacy," the noun or existent referring to results of the action or process.

In contrast, when we are building a house, we do not confuse the operation, "are building," with its result, "the building," that results from the operation. But subatomic activity at the foundation of existence both builds and is the built. In this one and unique instance in the universe, language says that indeterminacy as process is existent as it names the foundation of the universe, which -- with the material "stuff" it creates -- constitutes the fullness of physicality. The reverse is also true. The total existing entity is the action or the attribute.

To look at the negative: If attribute at this foundational level did not identify with existent, what entity -- real in itself -- could exist in order for attribute (as indeterminacy) to characterize it? Philosopher Bernard Lonergan reminds us that contrast with their opposites clarifies ideas.(9) In addition, Penrose's point suggests that the engine of indeterminacy creates the material universe and, in a combination of the two levels of physicality, produces our material bodies and our consciousness.

Consciousness in this view creates incalculable leads for cooperative work between the sciences and the humanities toward a common epistemology. Penrose, in later work, discusses some of these.(10) In a similar connection, David Tracy comments, "With science we interpret the world. We do not simply find it out there. Reality is what we name our best interpretation."(11) Some scientists agree with this insight in their view of the objective cosmos as a "psychophysical entity."(12)

These thinkers are saying that dynamic and changing subatomic activity and energy ground "becoming," not "being." Becoming originated in the instantaneous expansion of an entity or process called dimensionless. (Or, more lately, it may refer to "becoming" from within anywhere in what we informally call "space.") This entity -- by definition, "dimensionless," or an indefinite emergence -- precedes the ability of science to measure and therefore, ultimately, to describe. Such a beginning neither affects nor interests science, qua science. Inquiry into the nature and origin of "becoming" is philosophical. Moreover, this means that cosmological problems, with their uncertainties within quantity, do not, in some reverse action, affect indeterminacy. These problems ride atop indeterminacy in action, available to human involvement.

In this context, we need a new definition of "real." Tentatively, I suggest: Becoming real means becoming present to and possessing Self, as living and knowing, in the same act of involving one's world and communities.(13) This description of the Self does not point to a panpsychism or any other previous "ism." It means that we involve a universe of "stuff," meaningless per se, in our judgment of what is real. It means that the apogee of the universe, the self-reflective creature/community (wherever in the universe), encompasses the universe. This full experience of any moment necessarily centers first on the Self and then on the Community in constant dynamic balance. We obviously do not make the "stuff" of the world nor of our bodies. Yet, reality -- always a philosophical question -- must come to a focus in this new self-reflective Community/Universe.

This idea of reality senses "things," but imagines their foundational source as well. We seek also the "inner qualities" of things (Wittgenstein), not their mere appearances.(14) For instance, trying to leap directly from the colorful quantity only of the heavens to spiritual visions is like standing before sagebrush and breathing in awe, "It's a cathedral!" In the way language works, we have an incorrect "initial referent."(15) When we want to make sense in saying in awe, "It's a cathedral," we go to the Muir redwoods, not to sagebrush.

Just so, by analogy in a renewed sense of our transcendence, we no longer limit ourselves to television, radio, and computer, to the powerful cars, big houses, and land -- merely in their appearances and use -- as the naked initial referent from which we may leap to their higher meaning. Rather, we infer also that they teem with invisible particles, tumbling over one another like tiny dynamos of energy, leashed but powerful -- and then add the majestic mountain. From there, we ratchet the mountain up to the farthest reaches of the universe. Thus, having summed up the present stage of evolutionary environment, we integrate ourselves as creators of the meaning and as judges of what is real of all this visible creation.

Then, our best subjective judgment of reality becomes objective reality. Expression of this reality begins to suggest who we are. In supreme paradox, the physical universe in this way both produces us and, ultimately, participates in us to become real. The self-reflective creature is the explanation of the universe, and growth of consciousness increases the reality of both. This process of understanding establishes the Community as the judge and the focus of reality, metaphorical and real. Reality is homemade when we get our folk-philosophy straight.

Consequences in Meaning and Reality
This summary of what we are, and the beginning of who we are, responds to the lament of physician-novelist-linguist Walker Percy in the 197Os: We have no theory of humanity!(16) Histories of the origin of the mind show it unable to get beyond a foundational split between mind and matter. The ancients were chained to this matrix of thought, generally, and succeeding generations have not been able to improve upon it. But, language in this universe defines a self-identity, a "who," because consciousness, shown in the particle and wave relationship of subatomic activity, identifies its activity with the results of its activity. The activity is its result, unity of matter/mind.

Might not both science and the humanities, in this light, consider a new and higher level of reality that includes material "stuff" in the ordinary integrity demanded by the scientific enterprise, while at the same time uniting its imagined meaning and its fuller expression of reality? This could be the source of a common epistemology for the sciences and humanities and for elimination of the "god of the gaps," that subtle obstacle which still cleaves them apart. Note that language must begin and renew generally for us within the material universe just as it did for the ancients. This must occur because only material things, encountering our senses with their ordinary integrity, can enable initial abstraction and constantly renewed concrete reference for both science and humanities.

Nancy Malone observes that "while the new physics dissolves the very ground beneath our feet into particles and waves, we have no new metaphysics on which to stand."(17) Response to her challenge offers a description: "Here's the physics. Now, taking care to guard ordinary material integrity, what does it mean, and how do we judge what is real?" In this way, a meta[after]physics in an evolutionary universe develops. This metaphysics of "becoming" would replace the outworn static metaphysics.

In addition, in this higher reach of metaphor, would it become organic to consider the plausibility of the emergence sometime of a "community mind" that is, nevertheless, individually held in freedom and choice? Space between individual and community is no longer an absolute of distance. Space is an energy/medium. It is neither a vacuum nor "ether" nor any other former idea of some kind of matter. "The observed properties of an electron derive from an interplay between the particle and the vacuum."(18)

We make real what we experience. We discover "stuff," but we create reality, as we realize our biological roots in the indeterminacy of the electron and universe. The rest of the material universe -- quasars that lie beyond astronomical discovery or trees that fall in the forest without human witness -- is "stuff." Our conscious creation of meaning -- from initial intuition of personal identity through the warmth and suffering of fostering relationships to the creation of beauty, goodness, and truth -- makes human transcendence flourish.

The premise invites another step in the development of reality. This step rises to a higher level of metaphor, indeterminacy as such, which abstracts from the indeterminacy in action that generates both the universe and, ultimately, ourselves. The premise returns to the foundational and perennial philosophical question that has preoccupied some of the best minds in history: "Why is there something instead of nothing?" Response, in the present context, describes its ultimate object as the self-reflective human person. In addition, "the natural object is always the adequate symbol (Ezra Pound)."(19) In contrast, the existence of "being" -- grounded in independently real and majestically stable, objective material reality, directly created by the First Cause of Aristotelian-Thomistic philosophy -- could neither recognize nor integrate its product, but had to appropriate it by magic. Surely, a universe of becoming, initiated in far deeper mystery, holds out greater horizons for investigation.

How Do We Become Ethical/Moral?
What we are is the foundation of who we are. The origin, nature, and function of the "what" -- the body/brain of the self-aware creature of the animalian world -- produces the nature and function of "who" we are. We develop within the animalian world and inherit its traits, with special emphasis on the drive to survival, as we become self-reflective creatures. This new "who" becomes an "ego," a center of human consciousness, charged by nature, if it is to become real, to foster relationships from the narcissistic self-alone toward Self-Community. In this great task, the Self counters its hostilities by offering gestures of public civility as minimal groundwork for fostering relationships.

Our hearts are restless until they rest in a growing desire for personal integrity. This adaptation of Augustine takes us first to ordinary experience within which personal integrity is native to a self-reflective creature. An old order of morality inferred that moral behavior arose organically from direct religious command. Ancient anthropomorphic conceptions of divine nature, that arose from "objective" material reality and society's tribal and monarchical structures, mandated direct command of ordinary experience to the ethical and moral.

But the total human experience arises in the evolutionary realization as ordinary --> religious, not the other way round. Attempts to teach ethical-moral behavior other than in this sequence distort reality. Within an underlying but primary religious command to good behavior, we feel increasingly dehumanized, while at the same time our longing increases -- within the adult version of childhood wonder -- for spiritual experience. Repeated polls of spiritual life show this. Much of contemporary confusion in ethical-moral behavior traces to this reversal of actual experience. Moreover, human nature responds better to leadership by lure and genuine "tough love" than to command.

Within the lesser animalian context alone, the individual serves only itself as it rushes forward in gene propagation by which the species survives. Ultimately, despite some appearances, there is no lesser-animalian altruism. Evolution is not purposeful. Within this heritage, we tend to revise, diversify, and selectively modify all our animalian instincts. This tight phrase designates a highly complex process. It must be traced all the way, at least by generalized threads, from Jung's "collective unconscious" in our animalian and hominid heritage, to conscious intent to become a responsible Self toward the balance of Self-Community -- with the personal drive to survival trying to ride shotgun all the way.

Until we devise a higher view of the dignity of the human person, as such, the drive to survival can make us do virtually anything to avoid blame -- yet claim the right to blame the other without limit for serious aberrations. The immediate need says: If we accept the evolutionary universe as indeterminate and perceive the marks of abuse on many from childhood, will we not review our notions of culpability and punishment? Posing "closure" for families of victims at a sentence of execution causes the snarl, "Can there be anything more contemptible than capital punishment as therapy?"(20) Yet, the rights of others rightly commands incarcerating the person who seriously breaches those rights.

In this context, the practical question becomes: Can the human species survive without volitional care for the community by the individual person beyond the person's own perceived interests? Current events suggest it cannot. How else explain the human slaughter in Cambodia, Bosnia, and Rwanda, with comparable threats elsewhere? The wretched of the earth still must run and hide. Or, how even explain our own mysterious hostilities? The thesis argues here that we are charged with the task of fostering relationships in order to become real. Yet, each of us utters the same individualistic, animalian cry, "me, me!" -- as primal and reflexive as "the howling of a dog,"(21) -- by which the universe achieved the very existence of humanity.

In this further context, must we not ask: What is the power and where does it come from to oppose this self-centered character of the individual in favor of community? If the thrust of life in this universe, until the recent emergence of homo sapiens, depended upon individualistic focus -- by means of which the species survives -- this means that the universe cannot be the source of such power. Life then faces the puzzle: How, when the universe opposes individual volition, can there be a creature of supreme significance who still needs power to foster relationships volitionally in order for its species to survive?

Consequences for Theology
The notion of "objective" material reality splits ordinary and religious experience, because it must retain the Cartesian categories that split mind and matter. Such a notion inhibits intellectual curiosity and a sense of human transcendence and stifles the marvel of an open-ended gaze in faith at the divine. The ancients validly assumed the reality of things totally independent of them, for no evidence existed to contradict their solid-earth notion of reality. The idea of evolution and the inherent indeterminacy of our evolutionary universe "could not have crossed their minds."(22)

For most religious people this notion endures, and impedes the imagination, dampens the meaning of experience, and hinders use of the concept of inherent indeterminacy to renew theology. On the other hand, accepting the reasoning that we create contingent reality -- although it is the material aspect of the universe that gives us life and returns our bodies to dust -- frees us to the inner spiritual experience of the immanent God, who urges us on as we create reality in this new universe.

In this universe, religious belief renews itself as imagined extension of ordinary experience while avoiding contradiction of the material aspect of reality that gives us bodies. In this renewal, dogma is the enemy of evidence. It dampens initiative toward discussion, thereby dehumanizing us. How can we coherently believe that we are made "in the image and likeness of God" (and even add, "in intellect and will"), but then forbid free inquiry? When we stifle intellectual curiosity, it hinders entry into ordinary experience of foundational probabilities required by combined quantum mechanics and Darwinian biology.(23) It fosters the dualism of mind/matter.

In great irony, then, a system of orthodox, dogmatic religious belief remains ultimately closed to evidence from the changing ordinary experience it purports to respect. Such a thought process produces ideology. These assertions attack the literal shift of ancient reasoning to the present; they do not attack religious faith. Put another way, belief in divine power physically manifest sets up a primary obstacle to interpretation of the Scriptures. Divine revelation in an indeterminate universe can neither be complete nor closed. As David Hartman writes, "the very meaning of revelation is God's refusal to act independently of the process of human experience."(24) Even "refusal" does not fit the bill, for the concept of divine action, concerning but independent of us and of material integrity, is contradictory. The maligned "secular humanist" has much to teach us.

Hartman offers further insight by asking what difference there might have been, in the role of revelation in most Western Scriptures and theology, if the more philosophical context of the story of Abraham had prevailed over the thunder-and-command view of Moses that emerged at Mount Sinai. For Abraham, "prophecy was a natural expression of philosophical excellence" that ignored a redemptive history in favor of "worship of God out of love." Hartman's insight reinforces the implication of evolutionary reality -- that our experience is by nature free and operates in reciprocal causality with the religious experience of divine presence. Imagination and reason work in tandem with faith.

A faith overloaded with directives cultivates childishness or inclines to despair. Prophet and evangelist both organically held the notion of divine "command" because of their limited way of knowing reality in a static view of the universe. But does not the "command" tend to stifle the "lure" of God (Hos. 2:14)? Is "reverential fear" an adequate substitute for this concept of a divine love that pursues and allures us? Paul's justification of the law in temporary place of the promise (Gal. 3:19) emanates ultimately -- through the Mosaic command structure -- from the notion of objective material reality. It suits tribal structure.

Traditional ideas of humility, which strengthen the hand of command and "the obedience of faith," tend to force us into varying degrees of servility. The evolutionary view urges release from the Moses-on-the-mountain literal divine command (which is increasingly disregarded in any event) and urges response instead to the divine lure of God within. For the Christian, Jesus is the special conduit of this divine love-power in the resurrection witnessed so powerfully by the disciples.(25) We need not wonder why the early Christian church in a static universe yearned to divinize Jesus literally, but in our time we can recognize the greater opportunity for the incarnation of all self-reflective creatures, while renewing the human role of Jesus. The "theocentric christology" of Paul Knitter,(26) John Hick, and others supports this argument.

Within a mentality that acknowledges the divine as lure, an "analogy of becoming" then coherently interprets religious experience as re-creation by the one conceivable and creating absolute, "God is love." Divine re-creation does not connote material change. The "analogy of being" sinks to insignificance. Along the route of this interpretation lie the broken pieces of fallen "objective" material reality. Instead, we now coherently conceive original divine creation of a fully mysterious "thing" or "process" -- some proto-indeterminacy, metaphorical and real -- that precedes in "time" the universe as material and measurable. Surely the present material universe is but a mere shadow of the potential in meaning and quality of that preceding entity or process. Moreover, it is beyond the interest of science qua science. Scientists, in response to the ultimate philosophical question, "Why is there something instead of nothing?" do laudably speculate on the nature of these beginnings, for this reflects their search for "meaning and intelligence in the universe,"(27) however much hidden. Physicist Steven Weinberg notes that big-bang cosmology describes what happens after the origin of the universe, not before.(28) Awed human reason combines with faith to ascribe divine action to the origin.

Praise rendered to God literally for the "gift of life" usually denigrates the universe and its creativity. It assumes a directly created visible universe vaguely connected in a quasi-magical way to humanity. In fine, the preceding arguments do not attack religious faith: they attack present reasoning that mistakenly brings ancient reasoning forward literally under the banner of faith. Fostering this contradiction constitutes the primary and hidden motive for withdrawal from established religions. In contrast, in the evolutionary view, God accepts and re-creates metaphorically in us what the material universe produces. Imagination and reason work in tandem with religious faith in this conception, without either of these dynamics compromising the other or the innate freedom of the self-reflective creature.

Positive grasp of the universe, as evolutionary, reinterprets many aspects of religious experience. Three major components of this experience might be designated as (a) the divine covenant made from the beginning of the self-reflective creature as a human person, (b) divine empowerment to oppose individualistic, blind animalian hostility in favor of the community, and (c) hope for transformation at death to fulfillment of the Beatitudes beyond imagining:

Covenant. It is the universe that gives us life. Then, "the Spirit of God, brooding on the face of the waters" (Gen. 1:2) "finds us in the wilderness" (Deut. 32:10). God "calls us by name" (Isa. 43:1), and declares, "You are mine, and I love you" (Isa. 43:4). The initial move is divine: "Here I am, here I am!" (Isa. 65:1). God never "withdraws." The ascent of relationship then becomes: a divinely posted proto-indeterminacy --> universe --> animal life --> humanity --> God. This ascent responds to the ancient philosophical question, "Why is there something instead of nothing?" Various descriptions below show this divine love. The question/response ultimately connects philosophy and theology. John Courtney Murray notes that it occupied the best minds in the Christian church during the first six centuries.(29) We, and the universe we encompass, become enabled to love in response to the divine love that initiates creation.

Empowerment. The nature of our creation contradicts the need for initial "salvation," a most unfortunate impediment to heeding the divine lure. The notion of "hell," derived from centuries of literal scriptural interpretation and strongly residual in many people, thwarts belief in God as a loving creator. Hell derives ultimately from mistaken assumptions -- in the sense argued in this paper -- of objective material reality, direct divine creation, and a literally infinite offense in the Garden of Eden. These assumptions reflect misinterpretation of God's relationship to us. They underlie a mistaken notion of "divine anger and punishment" and cause fear and guilt for myriad people, subliminally even for many who are only vaguely religious.

There is no distortion of human nature that leads to wickedness. We are not a "fallen race" in any sense of "original sin." "God saw all that was made, and indeed it was very good" (Gen. 1:31), and it remains so. The assumption that we are cursed with an "innate evil impulse," a common belief in Paul's day, now must give way to the idea of impulses conceived in a drive to survival, a drive that develops our animalian becoming. Therefore, these are virtuous impulses and energy for good. Our animalian drive for survival and security, energies of the universe which created us and are hard to control, are available to divine conversion because we can surrender to the love that is conversion. Should not "salvation" refer to such a deliverance from bondage to an animalian self-centeredness that harms my neighbor? Paul's "thorn in the flesh" was not "a messenger from Satan" (2 Cor. 12:7) but the natural working of his inner animalian cry, "me, me!"

This animalian heritage of blind hostilities cannot respond, ultimately, to coercion and command. But these hostilities can submit to the lure of God's love. How can the raw and consuming desire of the animalian "me, me!" submit except to unfailing love? And how can such love be known other than as lure? Augustine asked how anybody could be good if not made so by loving. "Be it done to me according to your word" (Luke 1:38) is a response not to command but to lure. God can only lure and persuade, and we need but one petition: "Convert us, God, our savior." Divine "command" belongs to objective material reality.

The case for lure shows why punishment does not work in the absence of the selfless leadership recognized as "tough love." We may hide rebellion, but we cannot change under the lash. We also know increasingly that the struggle goes on in an unconscious produced by indeterminacy.(30) In this light, Western religion -- still greatly in thrall to its God of the primitive Hebrews, who saw God as a manipulator of forces, but just barely -- could then know the God who ultimately empowers action in the Jungian journey from raw ego to the balance of Self-Community.

The animalian drive to survival not only substitutes adequately for the "innate evil impulse" but bounds upward in life as positive, not as innately tainted. The Journey -- from the bare human ego, center of identity and its "me, me!" to the Self who perceives that nobody is an island, to the Self-Community -- would fire our imaginations and our native thirst to learn the wonders of ordinary life never before perceived. New openings would show in more available terms what the mystics know: in the fullness of the Journey, the divine-human relationship will focus us in Love as lure, not command. Lure can then convert feelings of mutual hostility into combined immunity to the hostility of another and dynamic compassion for the sufferings of all others.

Transformation. Our hope to live in happiness forever, which is born within our transcendence, dares to oppose the universe that birthed, but cannot by its own power complete us. The notion of objective material reality hinders belief in life after death, the culmination of divine work according to the fullness of human destiny. Imagination and reason, working in tandem with faith, might now suggest that divine power raises us upon death into full union with the one communal body of the living we know, while our material bodies return to dust. This would mean divine integration of our consciousness into our communities at death. Our acceptance of the witness of the disciples of Jesus in the Scriptures is what being Christian means. Do not the Muslims attest to this salvation from the ordinary demands of the universe, as they respond in their way to "Why is there something instead of nothing?"

Would the mystery of this conversion of individual consciousness at death into union with the community be any more mysterious or "difficult" than that traditionally believed? The latter envisions literal "reconstitution" somehow of material bodies in a resurrection of the dead in some "location" detached from the universe and from our experience. But Perkowitz can already declare, "We create and carry fields of order through an enigmatic cosmos,"(31) as he edges into a neglected philosophy that could use such anthropomorphism licitly in judgments metaphorical and real. Christians could now expand and deepen Paul's body-of-Christ doctrine (1 Cor. 12:27) to describe in limitless fashion our heaven on earth. The idea invokes both the traditional "new heavens and a new earth" and a new concept of "the communion of saints."(32) Belief in this new heaven at death and in such a communion of saints is an act of faith, but a faith no longer blind and unconnected to this universe. Ancestor worship is distorted, but in what way?

The more free in spirit we are as human, the more the divine presence can unite with us. We relate to this divine first as individuals, and there we find that pursuing God without regard for self establishes full personal identity and security. Divine empowerment can overwhelm all exaggeration of ego. The Journey flourishes in eternal completion. In the same identity in freedom, we counter hostility as we become enabled to love and to serve neighbor. The God whom we identify in our inner experience -- as well as in response to the question, "Why is there something instead of nothing?" -- is the eternal Lover who responds to our transcendent yearning to live forever in fulfillment.

God does not "deign to create us from on high" and then merely to associate with us, albeit closely. We are God's love affair, and our immortality is divine poetry. As the mystics know, we are "the throne of God's glory," and when we lose ourselves in the divine, we become most truly found. We have not wasted our studies in the nature and soaring implications of incarnation. The original divine egg has hatched into the self-reflective creature that can return the divine love given. God "dreams for us much more," and the divine hope for creation becomes our own.

Notes
1. [Back to text] Werner Heisenberg, Physics and Philosophy: The Revolution in Modern Science (New York: Harper & Row, 1958), 42. Niels Bohr, Essays 1933-57 on Atomic Physics and Human Knowledge (New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1958), 67.

2. [Back to text] See John Polkinghorne, "The Quantum World," in Physics, Philosophy, and Theology: A Common Quest for Understanding, ed. Robert J. Russell, William R. Stoeger, George V. Coyne (Vatican City: Vatican Observatory, 1988), 336.

3. [Back to text] Niels Bohr, Essays 1958-1962 on Atomic Physics and Human Knowledge (Woodbridge, Conn.: Ox Bow Press, 1987), 5.

4. [Back to text] See David Freedman, "Quantum Consciousness," Discover 15 (June 1994): 89-98.

5. [Back to text] See Murray Gell-Mann, The Quark and the Jaguar: Adventures in the Simple and the Complex (New York: Freeman, 1994), 124-39.

6. [Back to text] In Malcolm Browne, "Seeking Beauty in Atoms," New York Times (July 6, 1993): B9.

7. [Back to text] Sidney Perkowitz, Empire of Light: A History of Discovery in Science and Art (New York: Henry Holt, 1996), 43.

8. [Back to text] See Elizabeth Pennizi, "Piecing Together," Science News 146 (November 5, 1994): 300. See also R. Lipkin, "Device Goes for the Glow," Science News 148 (25 November 1995): 359. In addition, see I. Peterson, "Faster-than-light Time Tunnels for Photons," Science News 146 (July 2, 1994): 6.

9. [Back to text] See Bernard Lonergan, Insight: A Study of Human Understanding (New York: Philosophical Library, 1970), 128.

10. [Back to text] Roger Penrose, Shadows of the Mind: A Search for the Missing Science of Consciousness (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), 348-411, esp. 376.

11. [Back to text] David Tracy, Plurality and Ambiguity: Hermeneutics, Religion, Hope (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1987), 48.

12. [Back to text] See Win Sternlicht, in Robin Robertson, C. G. Jung and the Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious (New York: Peter Lang, 1987), xvi-xvii.

13. [Back to text] Many recent studies of the Self are helpful here, for example, Eugene Fontinell, "The Return of Selves," Cross Currents 43 (Fall 1993): 358-68.

14. [Back to text] Owen Barfield, Saving the Appearances (London: Faber and Faber, 1957), 23.

15. [Back to text] See Paul Ricoeur, The Rule of Metaphor: Multi-disciplinary Studies of the Creation of Meaning and Language (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1977), 216-56.

16. [Back to text] Walker Percy, The Message in the Bottle (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1975), 8.

17. [Back to text] Nancy M. Malone, "Spiritualities in a Post-Einsteinian Universe," Cross Currents 46 (Winter 1996/1997): 435.

18. [Back to text] Steven Weinberg, "Before the Big Bang," New York Review of Books (June 12, 1997): 17.

19. [Back to text] In Jane Kenyon, Otherwise: New and Selected Poems (Saint Paul: Graywolf Press, 1996), 218.

20. [Back to text] Christopher Hitchens, "Dirty Stories," Nation 265 (July 7, 1997): 8.

21. [Back to text] Ernest Becker, The Denial of Death (New York: Free Press, 1973), 6.

22. [Back to text] See H. J. Renckens, Israel's Concept of the Beginnings (New York: Herder and Herder, 1964), 168-79.

23. [Back to text] Lonergan, 132-34.

24. [Back to text] David Hartman, Harvard Divinity Bulletin 24 (1995): 5-6.

25. [Back to text] See Paul Ricoeur, Essays on Biblical Interpretation (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1980), 119-54.

26. [Back to text] Paul F. Knitter, No Other Name? A Critical Survey of Christian Attitudes toward the World Religions (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1985), particularly chap. 8.

27. [Back to text] See Dennis Overbye, "The Cosmos according to Darwin," New York Times Magazine (July 13, 1997): 27.

28. [Back to text] Weinberg, 16.

29. [Back to text] John Courtney Murray, The Problem of God: Yesterday and Today (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1964), 31-36.

30. [Back to text] James Hillman, A Blue Fire: Selected Writings, ed. Thomas Moore (New York: Harper Perennial, 1991), 44-45. See Hillman in conjunction with Ann Belford Ulanov, "Christian Fear of the Psyche," Picturing God (Cambridge, Mass.: Cowley Publications, 1986), 5-23.

31. [Back to text] Perkowitz, 91.

32. [Back to text] See Charles Wright, "Homage to Paul Cezanne," The World of Ten Thousand Things: Poems 1980-1990 (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1990), 3-10.





GLP