Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Monday, January 22, 2007
I have recently created and began organizing monthly meetings for gnostics in the Vancouver area through a great website called Meetups.com. The group has grown from 5 to 16 in a few months and we have had some great initial meetings.
In this last meeting, we had quite the collection of people, and their own approaches to Gnosticism seemed to represent that current identity crisis that is occurring online. Who is Gnostic (as in a follower of the ancient religious tradition called GnosticISM) and who is gnostic (seeker of divine knowledge within through whatever means necessary and convenient)?
There were 4 people including myself that attended. There should have been more but I changed the date a week and a half before and that seemed to confuse. Note to self...don't do that again.
The first was a beautiful and bright lady who came from a Witness background but discovered Gnosticism through reading Sylvia Browne's material. Sylvia Brown is about as Gnostic as my toaster is a water buffalo and I suspect that she uses the term for it's popularity and Google rating.
The second was a kind and reflective young man who came to Gnosticism through the writings of Samael Aun Weor who teaches a psychology more than a religion. I have even heard him described as a cult of personality leader who claimed the title of White Rider from the New Testament.
The third was a thoughtful and contemplative older man who appreciates Gnosticism but does not consider himself of it. He is what I would label a New Ager if labels were necessary. He follows the beliefs of astral projections, karma and the such and offers spiritual counseling to those that seek him out.
The fourth is a self proclaimed Gnostist, in other words someone who feels that salvation comes from knowledge rather than spiritual practice alone. He is quiet and astute, preferring to watch than to actively participate.
Then there is me, the Priest of the group. I ascribe to a classical Gnosticism and believe and embrace the "churchiness" of it all rather than approaching it from a "I hate Christianity" direction that so many people do. Gnosticism has become perceived an anti-Christianity, rather than the original Christianity that it actually is.
So what's my point? Well technically speaking, I am the only one that is able to properly use the term Gnostic to describe myself...that is if I felt labels were worth anything. Many Gnostics online spend way too much time drawing distinctions and lines in the sand between themselves, the true Gnostics, and everyone else, the lowly small "g" gnostics.
Each of us was at that meeting to actively seek gnosis. We discussed many things much of it centered around praxis, the active application of beliefs to ones life with the expressed goal of attaining gnosis, or experiential knowledge and understanding of the divine within. As the organizer of the group, I seek to imprint a scriptural and chiclet-collared approach to Gnosticism because in my opinion it is the most proven avenue towards gnosis. It has survived for 2000+ years for a reason.
But I also seek to include the approaches and beliefs and notions of the other members, for I am not trying to create an exclusive club, but an inclusive community. I hope to impart an appreciation of scripture (NHL and GoJohn) and tradition to my fellow seekers, but I wish to learn from the as well. No matter what my impression and inherited biases are of their paths, what matters is the intent, not the tools.
Regardless of labels and notions, the meeting that just passed was real and beautiful and uplifting. As I have told many people before, it is the seeking that is the true lesson and it is there that the truth will be found. For without that, the object that is sought will never be found for how could it have any meaning? And so in these four I found brothers and sisters of my heart, united in purpose and awakening together to the reality of our existence and to the love of God. I look forward to future meetings and to walking with these great people as we journey side-by-side. What are labels compared to the love of another within a supportive community?
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
I rarely make any theological assertions online. This is generally because up until recently my views and thoughts changed often as I adjusted my world view and ideas of reality. But I think I have reached a point where things are starting to come together in my mind so I thought I would speak a little bit about my ideas regarding the Demiurge, a popular Gnostic figure.
The impetus for doing this was partly a few posts I have seen recently in the Palm Tree Garden and a discussion I had a few days ago with a newly reborn Evangelical Christian. She was reading the Old Testament and I struck up a conversation with her about it. She was in the process of relegating the angry and jealous God of the OT with the loving and forgiving God of the NT. Obviously she was viewing both texts as literal history rather than teaching myths and was having some trouble with what was obviously a schizophrenic deity. She asked for my opinion on the matter to which I replied, "You're assuming that they are the same God."
Needless to say, the conversation ended shortly thereafter. Oh well.
Gnostics can and do associate the Demiurge with the Jewish God depicted in the OT mostly because some Gnostic scripture tells us to. The trap that many fall into however, particularly gnewbies, is that hard-to-get-over literal view of these stories. The 21st century western mind has been trained to dismiss myths as irrelevant stories for children and to view everything they read as literal fact that you either agree with or do not. To view the Demiurge as the Jewish God or the Creator and to view the Father found in the NHL and NT as a the true God above all is to fall into a dualistic view of the Universe. You find yourself with a Good God and a Bad God which is a difficult standpoint to live ones life with.
Many will do away with this dualist Good God/Bad God view and see the Demiurge as some sort of oppressive and somewhat inept administrator of this lowest Aeon with a team of lackeys in the form of the Archons. So now they have a sort of jail house theory to settle into, with the flesh being the jail and the Father being the means by which one escapes this prison and the Demiurge being a sort of warden set to keeping you here. But this has its problems too since it leads to an understandably us-against-them way of seeing our reality, which can create a kind of flesh-hating world-hating ideal, a belief system that Gnostics have been and are still often accused of. And this again is a hard point from which to extend a spiritual way of life.
The truth, or something much closer to the truth, IMO is that the Demiurge is not an alternative Big Guy or a warden, but in fact a representation of our own ego, the Archons our senses through which our ego receives all of its information.
Through our senses, perceptions and notions we ourselves create our reality, this physical world. It can be argued that all that we see and touch and feel and hear are not in fact external phenomena that exists outside of ourselves, but are in fact projections of our experience. Science has shown that solid objects are in fact not solid at all. Science also shows us that the molecules that objects are made of are also not solid, that the atoms again are not solid, that the electrons again are not solid, and so on. Physical reality in actuality is mind given form, nothing more and nothing less. It is our belief in the overriding notion of a physical material truth that traps us in the limitations and laws that govern this reality. It could be argued that if every being on this planet were to simultaneously BELIEVE that the sky is purple, then it would in fact be purple. In this way our own egos ARE the Creators of this reality. They ARE the Demiurge.
So what is the ego? The ego is that part of yourself that believes itself to be separate from the rest of the reality it perceives. It says, "I am me, so therefore I am." It is the part of ourselves that says that is mine, I want this, I will do that, I need this. But it is only one part of a trinity that makes up our nature. The second part is mind and the third is spirit. The ego is the observed, the mind is the observer and the spirit is the relay of information that occurs between the observed and the observer. Sort of like watching a movie in a theatre. My ego is a character acting out an experience on the screen, my Mind is the audience watching this experience occur, and my Spirit is the energy that conveys the emotions and sensations that are the result of this experience. The spirit is that which connects the divine to the material. Where we all get into trouble is we associate to closely with the character and become unable to distinguish the movie from reality. The movie BECOMES our reality.
So what are we truly? We are Mind. We are a fragment of the Divine that is observing a physical experience but are not of it. We are part of a universal "I" and not truly separate from God at all. The Demiurge represents our ego in the sense that we are ruled by the material and by our passions and our senses. He is jealous for if we are to awaken from these understandings and become aware again of our true nature as Mind, then He can no longer rule us and his power is diminished.
But here is another trap we can fall into. We do not want to dismiss and destroy the ego, for it is a necessary part to why we are here. The Demiurge is necessary, but He is not truly our ruler. To awaken to the truth of our inherent Divine reality, is to, in essence, step back into the role of audience, of observer. Life and Death as the Demiurge's creation understands it is a beginning and an end, but as Divine Mind they are merely transitions from one form to another. The Father is not an external figure, but an internal reality. A reality we can touch and exist with as were meant to once we subjugate the authority and influence of the Demiurge.
Easier said than done though ;)
Monday, January 08, 2007
Each of us carries with us a list of hurts and wrongs done to us wherever we go. This list is worn on the outside, right where anyone who knows how to look can see it. We may think it is invisible, but that's just another "notion" through which we protect ourselves. Over time this list of past issues hardens and becomes a shell that we hide behind. It becomes our Angry Suit.
There are a couple of odd things about this Angry Suit. One, as mentioned before, is that people who wear one think that no one else can see it, or at the very least sense it. Sure we're a little touchy, a little defensive, but who isn't? But as sure as a bear poops in the woods, the Angry Suit is a big shiny sign that says, "Watch out, I've got emotional baggage! I will lash out at even the most insignificant sign of insult, slight or disrespect!"
Another odd thing about an Angry Suit is that it always seems to attract attention. There are always those that want to fix you. There are always those that will, whether they do it on purpose or not, try to pick at it and see what reactions they can get. But the biggest thing is that Angry Suit wearers always attract other Angry Suit wearers. And they don't get along.
An Angry Suit can cause you to act in all kinds of counterintuitive ways. The whole point of wearing one is to protect yourself from further pain and hurt. But the Suit actually creates more of this, continually causing us to act in ways to perpetuates our suffering, rather than protecting us from it.
I wore one for years. It is so hard to see these realities, so lost are we in the unfairness of the world. The Suit tells us that everything is happening TO us, that nothing happens BECAUSE of us.
But I'll tell you something. We all wear one to some degree. All you have to do is admit it and see the Appearance for what it is, a lie we tell ourselves so we will not be forced to hold ourselves accountable for the state of our own lives and the choices we have made along the way. If you can see through this Appearance, and accept the Reality that we CHOOSE how we react and cope with the experiences we hop to and from in our lives, you will be ready to take off the Suit.
And when you take that Suit off, good God does your view of the world change! It's like taking off red-coloured glasses and see the colour and vibrancy that is the true Reality we exist in. Suddenly nothing bothers you anymore, nothing can unbalance your calm. People are nicer, love is easier and pain is an unpleasant memory.
So go on. See your Suit for what it is. And give yourself permission to take it off. Trust me, it'll be the best thing you ever do and it will be the first step to traveling a path of peace and happiness that will change you and your life forever.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
So today started like any other day (screaming kids, food, dishes, bed making, shower, etc...). I received a $30 gift card from my wife to Starbucks. I'm a sucker for the soy Caramel Macchiato. Anyway, I got off the bus today with every intention of walking across the street and picking up a coffee and a muffin before walking the few blocks to work. It is a beautiful crisp and sunny day here and Vancouver and I was feeling pretty lucky to be alive. But as I got to the street corner I came upon a homeless man lying on the ground wrapped in a thin blanket.
I'm not sure what was different about this guy. There are lots of "homeless" people in Vancouver, or in other words, people posing as homeless or jobless panhandling for loose change. I've seen several local stories of some of these people making a $200 a day and driving home from a day of begging in a shiny SUV to their townhouse in Kits. I've always been pretty jaded about these individuals having been burned on a couple of scams. But this guy was different. To me there seemed an energy around him, I could almost see it. Something inside me felt that this guy was really homeless and in some real trouble. He had a cardboard sign half covered by food offerings and change that made mention of "sick and dying" and "please help me".
There was maybe $3 in change, a croissant and a slice of banana bread wrapped in cellophane on the ground beside him. Hundreds of people were walking past him on this busy corner. Most would glance at him and promptly forget about him. Some looked guilty as they walked away. As I walked into Starbucks I remember the passage in the New Testament (not sure which Gospel) that tells us of Jesus saying if someone asks for your shirt, give them your coat. In other words, give them all you can and then more. It's a wonderful sentiment, but harder than you might think to actually do.
So in this little moral conundrum, I came face to face with my ego. Here was a real opportunity for me to put my money where my mouth is, to not just contemplate, write and talk about spiritual morals but to actually PRACTICE them. I had $30 on a plastic card and he was laying on a freezing cold street trying to sleep wrapped in a blanket I wouldn't give to my dog. I was about to enjoy a completely superfluous cup of gourmet coffee and a fresh baked muffin, and he was relying on charity to eat that day. It occurred to me that I could buy him something to eat, and I mean a real something, not a $1 croissant or a sugary piece of loaf that would not provide any real nutrition.
But my ego said, "But that's my money, my coffee, my luxury."
So I debated and struggled and bargained with that stupid ego. Eventually after about 10 minutes of internal strife, I settled on buying a $6 ham sandwich and a coffee for myself. I walked back out to the curb and placed that sandwich next to him and wished him blessings and went off to my work sipping my coffee, listening to my iPod and wearing about $400 worth of clothing and a bag to a job that will pay be $25/hr to play on a computer all day. And you know what?
That fucking ego wanted to be congratulated for that. It wanted to call my wife and tell her what it did or work it into a conversation at work so that people could see what a great guy it was.
It made me sick. I could have given it all to him. I could have stood him up, walked to the soup restaurant a block away a fed him some hot soup. I could have taken the day off of work and figured out how to get him to a shelter for a day. Something other than dropping a $6 sandwich and feeling self-righteous about it.
It was a small victory against my ego, one of many that I will need to win in order to awaken to my true identity and become a Christ. It also marked the first time "I" felt separate from my ego, like there was an alternate personality I was trying to control and tame.
But I still feel like I failed. Even as I write this I feel shame. Ultimately unhelpful, but there you go.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
"A student asked. "What is the mind?"
The master answered, "Mind is the Buddha."
The student said, "Thank you. Now I see."
The master replied, "Now that you see, I say the truth is there is no mind and no Buddha."
The astonished student exclaimed, "Then why did you say 'The mind is the Buddha'?"
The master explained, "I had to stop the baby crying."
- Zen teaching story
"Consider the trees that allow birds to perch and fly away without calling them to come or longing for them not to leave. If your heart can be like a tree you will be close to the Way."
"Ma'tsu was living as an ascetic and practicing meditation. Master Huai Jang asked, "What are you doing?" Ma'tsu replied, "Trying to be a Buddha." Huai Jang picked up a stone and began rubbing it. "What are you doing?" asked Ma'tsu. Huai Jang replied, "I am trying to make a mirror." Ma'tsu said, "No amount of polishing will make a stone a mirror." Huai Jang said, "No amount of meditation will may you a Buddha."
- Zen teaching story
"No human being will ever know the Truth, for even if they happened to say it by chance, they would not know they had done so."
"Discovering the Father and Creator of the universe is a supremely difficult task; and having found Him it would be impossible to tell anyone about Him."
"Human beings were created to contemplate and reflect the Universe. They are not themselves this great perfection, but are particles of perfection."
"He is too great to be called by the name "God." His is hidden, yet obvious everywhere. He is bodiless, yet embodied in everything. There is nothing that he is not. He has no name, because all names are His name. He is the unity in all things, so we must know him by all names and call everything "God."
"To simply love God in thought with singleness of heart, and to follow the Goodness of his will - this is philosophy, unsullied by intrusive cravings for pointless opinions."
"Birth is no the beginning of life - only of an individual awareness. Change into another state is not death - only the ending of this awareness. Most people are ignorant of the Truth, and therefore afraid of death, believing it to be the greatest of all evils. But death is only the dissolution of a worn out body. Out term of service as guardians of the world is ended when we are freed from the bonds of this mortal frame and restored, cleansed, and purified, to the primal condition of our higher nature."
- Hermes Trismegistus
I am currently reading the Golden Builders, which is a historical look of the influences of Hermetic Philosophy, the Rosicrucian's and Freemasonry.
The Hermetic Philosophy and enigmatic figure of Hermes (real or mythical) is really touching something deep within me. It's as if my soul or spirit is "remembering" it as I read about it. It is a most interesting (right word? I don't know) experience to say the least. I think that with certainty I have found the next path in the many branched tree of my life-changing gnostic journey.
Peace to all and a belated Merry Christmas
Friday, December 22, 2006
I have learned so much from God
That I can no longer call myself
A Christian, a Hindu, a Muslim, A Buddhist, A Jew.
The truth has shared so much of Itself with me
That I can no longer call myself
A man, a woman, an angel, or even pure soul.
Love has Befriended Hafiz so completely
It has turned to ash and freed me
of every concept and image my mind has ever known.
- Hafiz, Persian mystic and poet 14th century
- Translation by Daniel Ladinsky
This was the final jewel given to me by Rosamonde Miller+ after some email conversations we've had in the past few days. By way of introduction I had petitioned her for a better understanding of the Divine Feminine. Her responses were thoughtful and heartfelt and I thank you very much for her time and wisdom. Msgr. Jordan Stratford's+ glowing opinion of her was right on the mark.
"I often talk to my congregation and students to the priesthood about not confusing the feminine principle with females. I have found fairly often that the so called "feminine" principle is quite absent in many women and also very present in many men. Our culture has defined as feminine certain qualities such as intuition, perception, ability to see both sides of a situation at the same time, compassion, patience, and many others. It has defined as masculine other qualities such as strength, perseverance, decision making, not being subject to deception and so on. I think that an enlightened being is quite androgynous in all of these positive attributes. The negative ones, such as greed, cowardice, insensitivity, pusillanimity, dramatization of one's live, whinnying, gossiping, betrayal, self-righteousness, just to mention a few, are neither feminine nor masculine. They are just annoyances that people of both genders are often prey to.
Divinity is Divinity, one and indivisible. In my experience (not a belief system, as I hold none) the undefinable essence of Being is in us and all around us, experiencing Himself (I will use He for the sake of brevity) and the rest of the physical world in the unique way that the DNA and circumstances of being a tree, a dog, a cockroach, a man or a woman can provide.
Our perceptions in ordinary consciousness tend to fragment everything into opposites when there is only one whole. That we call it masculine or feminine is only a matter of perspective. I, for instance, don't get what is meant by "female spirituality." Spirit is spirit, and while culture may approach and interpret a mystical experience from a certain perspective, what's experienced has no definable qualities."
- Rosamonde Miller+
Peace and blessings to all and a Merry Christmas
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
"Allah is non-being and being, existence and non-existence. He is the relative and the Absolute. All these concepts return to Allah, for there is nothing we can comprehend or write or speak about that is not Allah."
- Abd Al-Kader
"Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment. Cleverness is mere opinion. Bewilderment brings intuitive knowledge."
- Jalaluddin Rumi
There are many lenses and viewpoints that one can view the dichotomy of religious vs. secular life. It can be viewed from the view of inter-family issues, professional challenges, personal conflicts and moral dilemmas. The contradictions found in both ways of life are total and unavoidable. The best one can do is to draw a line in the sand as each issue arises and have the ethical integrity to not cross it. It isn’t easy, but then who ever said that it should be? It is my opinion that just as darkness allows us to appreciate the light, evil allows us to appreciate good, so to does the mundane and pitfall-filled secular life help us to appreciate the pureness and beauty of a religious life.
Inter-family issues abound when one sets his feet on the religious path. It is inevitable that some (if not all!) of the people that comprise your family will either not understand or disapprove of a Gnostic religious life style and/or religious goals, no matter how spiritually you phrase it. When you as an individual determine that you in fact want to live your life with a religiously inspired moral compass, then you must apply it to every facet of your life. My decision has lead me to many new ways of thinking and reacting to situations. Considering my old “chip-on-the-shoulder” way of navigating personal relationships, these changes have been most welcome by members of my family. However, as I get more comfortable with my emerging spirituality, my new way of looking at life creates some uncomfortable situations as people try to figure out if I am joking or if I am serious. If I am joking, then they don’t get it. If I am serious, then they don’t understand. So far this has all succeeded in creating an ever-widening gap between myself and everyone else. My recent decisions to become vegetarian, my staunchly pacifist leaning on issues of politics and war, and my visible prayer of thanks before eating have not helped this gap either. But the greatest difficulty is that my choices now seem to highlight the flaws of my family members. As I choose to not eat meat, for example, on the grounds that the meat industry is needlessly cruel and that animals need not die to feed me, it forces them to look at their own decisions. This can and has lead to guilt of which I am wrongly accused of causing. These are my choices and I cannot control how these choices make others feel about their own choices. I am not placing myself in a position of judgment, I answer when asked, nothing more. Patience and understanding and a certain “smallness” are required at times. The secular aspects of life will always constrict the religious.
Depending on ones chosen secular profession, strong ethical problems can arise for one of strong religious and spiritual leanings. As a graphic designer this is rarely if ever a problem directly, but for instance, I may be forced through my work to support a car manufacturer as they are major client of my employer. As a spiritualist, a humanitarian and a environmentalist (all of which go hand in hand with a truly spiritual traveler for love of the Mother will always be profoundly present) supporting a technology that is so devastating to the our world and whose use is so prevalent in Western culture as to be virtually entrenched into that way of life can be a difficult ethical burden to bear. The realities of this life is that we must “live” in this world created for us by the Demiurge and the Archons for absenting oneself into a life of a monk or hermit is, in my opinion, the easy way out. So if we accept that we must live here, then we must accept that it is not always a nice place and we will often be placed in situations where to stick to our ethical guns is to create suffering, which is the opposite goal of a spiritual life. As a graphic designer, jobs for companies that aren’t selling something to somebody for someone else are very rare. I try to level out my design karma by volunteering the same skills to organizations that give back. Maybe it works and maybe it doesn’t. I’ll know when I leave this dream and not a minute before. A wise man once told me the story of the man and the poison arrow and it is a lesson I remember every day.
Internally as well one can expect ethical clashes between what your consciousness and spirit wants vs. what your ego desires. The best example is one of materialism. Spiritually on a higher level I understand that things and clothes are an impediment to my overall growth and my ability to transcend this dream but my ego still places an inordinate amount of worth into this things. Granted the battle waged over this topic is slowly but resolutely sliding to spiritual side but there are still some overwhelming ethical issues to be determined and resolved. For instance, where do clothes come from? It is a well-known fact that most of the large clothing manufacturers employ the use of sweatshops in poor countries around the world. If your tag says made in Chine or India, you can bet your last dollar that it was made by a person making 45 cents an hour with inadequate working conditions in circumstances that can be likened to slave labor. But despite this truth my ego still wants to feel pretty, so off I go to the Gap and Old Navy and Wal-Mart (I hate that Wal-Mart is actually corrected in the spell check of Word) to buy the cheapest clothes I can find because that is all I can afford. How does one resolve this prevalent ethical dilemma? I have to wear clothes so if I cannot buy them from these organizations, from where do I buy them? Information on local clothiers are slim as well is information on large clothing manufacturers manufacturing practices. Here in Western Canada as well, most locally made clothing is of a decidedly hippy, bohemian style and my ego just doesn’t jive with that. And this is just one of many seemingly insurmountable issues. Does one just do the best they can and buy only what one needs? Do we sacrifice appearance for what is right? Does it really matter to anyone but me? If we all stop buying sweatshop clothes and the whole industry falls apart, will those people in China and India thank us? More questions than answers as usual. I guess the best one can do is draw one of those lines I spoke about earlier and do your best not to cross it. Ultimately, how you feel in your heart about your choices is the true measure since in the end, it is between you and God.
Now all of the above is from the standpoint of an individual spiritual traveler, navigating the best they can the pitfalls and trials of a necessary secular existence with the desired and chosen spiritual transcendence. But what if the individual seeks to become a priest? From experience so far, I can say that the added burden of seeking priesthood is twofold. Firstly, one must battle the misconceptions and opinions the term “priest” creates with ones friends and family. The one thing that everyone can agree on is that becoming a priest requires exponentially more dedication inciting the questions “Why take it that far?” and “Why isn’t following a religion enough?” And secondly, the goal of priesthood implies a perfection of spirit that increases the pressures that one places upon oneself. It creates a new level self-expectation to adhere to ones chosen moral compass that can result in such internal dialogue as “Is chicken broth really eating meat?” and “If I just buy this one shirt, am I betraying something?” As I said, ultimately we are the greatest judge of our own actions if we are true to ourselves and do not shy away from knowing ourselves completely. Once we begin to start cutting corners, we only betray ourselves and that, in my opinion, is a greater crime than having no ethics at all. It is better to stand for nothing then to claim to stand for something and then seek to fool yourself that it is true. It is this that is the greatest obstacle of successfully being the Tentmaker, but it is in no way insurmountable. In fact, I sure I will find that the secret to surviving the secular vs. religious showdown is right in front of my face and so simple as to be laughable. I am convinced that God has a wonderful sense of humor.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
"If I were to say "God exists," this would not be true. He is being beyond being. He is nothingness beyond being. That is why St. Augustine says "The best thing to be said about God is silence." You must love God as not-God, not-Spirit, not-Son, not-image, but as He is - sheer, pure, absolute Oneness, without any duality."
- Meister Eckhart
"What does God do all day long? He gives birth. From the beginning of eternity God lies on a maternity bed giving birth to the All. God is creating this whole universe, full and entire, in this present moment."
- Meister Eckhart
"God inhabits every soul, even those of the greatest sinners is the world. There is always this union between God and His creatures, for through it He preserves their being. If it were not so, these souls would instantly cease to be."
- St. John of the Cross
"To come into union with the wisdom of God, the soul has to embrace not-knowing, rather than knowledge."
- St. John of the Cross
These passages bring to mind something that I have been pondering for awhile now (amongst other things, I record them here for my own benefit in future). It seems rather apparent that in order for one to attain union with God (enlightenment, gnosis, etc...) then one must cease to discuss the path and to actively live it.
About 2 months ago I ceased all activity in chat rooms, discussion forums and mail groups. I still read but I do not participate in any of the discussions and more commonly the raging arguments that occur there. Whereas theology and philosophy are great exercises to "work the kinks out of your beliefs" at some point a traveler must transcend such a vehicle. It is, in and of itself, a trap and just another way of staying asleep. It is quite insipid as well, for it has the ability to provide an illusion of spiritual advancement when all that is being perfected is one's intellectual understanding of "spirituality" and "religion". No spiritual maturation is actually occurring.
At some point one must "embrace not-knowing". We must accept the reality that without direct experience, we truly "know" nothing. It is the pursuit of this knowledge, of gnosis, to which a gnostic dedicates their life to but ironically, since it seems to attract the more intellectual, it is they who most often get stuck in their own theology. Endlessly discussing ad naseum the gnostic history, cosmology and true Christian-ness but not actually contributing to their own development or to the vitality of the modern Gnostic movement.
So truly the best advice I can see is to say nothing of God and to say little of your "beliefs". Let how you live your life show the world what you believe, for ultimately what the world thinks is immaterial. What matters is your journey back to God and your true Self. Wake up dear traveler, do not become entrapped in your own illusion of emerging freedom. It is a lie and just another method by which the Demiurge will hold you enthralled.
Monday, November 27, 2006
The concept of Christ Consciousness has expanded for me and I thought I would share what I have learned. This is from Paramahansa Yogananada's work:An email I received from my mother, a fellow spiritual traveller and an inspiration.
The threefold nature of God is: God the Father is the Absolute, the Unmanifested, existing beyond vibratory creation. God the Son is the Christ Consciousness existing within vibratory creation - this Christ Consciousness is the "only begotten" or sole reflection in creation of the Uncreated Infinite. The outer manifestation of the omnipresent Christ Consciousness, its "witness" is the Word or Holy Ghost - the invisible divine power, the only doer, the sole causative and activating force that upholds all creation through vibration. "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said to you." (John 14:26)
And then concerning meditation: What is important is fixing the whole attention at the point between the eyebrows. This is the Christ Consciousness center, the seat of the single eye spoken of by Christ: "The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light." (Matthew 6:22)
Self-realization: Self-realization means knowledge of one's own soul and of its oneness with the Father. It is the knowing - in body, mind and soul - that we are one with the omnipresence of God; that we do not have to pray that it come to us, that we are not merely near it at all times, but that God's omnipresence is our omnipresence; that we are just as much a part of Him now as we ever will be. All we have to do is improve our knowing.
He continues: So long as it dwells on the material plane, human
consciousness cannot encompass the universal Christ Consciousness no matter how desirous it may be of doing so. By practice of meditation however, the sincere student can increase and refine the receptivity of his consciousness so that he may ultimately perceive the Christ Consciousness universally present in every atom of creation. St. John referred to this expansion of the human consciousness to receive the divine when he declared of Christ: "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe in his name." (St. John 1:12) Thus, according to the Bible, all men may discover their actual oneness with Christ Consciousness. By intuitive self-realization, or knowledge of his own soul, man becomes aware of his oneness with the Christ Consciousness. Those who attain the highest self-realization know without any doubt that they are "the sons of God".
And lastly, I thought you might find this interesting. This is a footnote from his book "Autobiography of a Yogi": His guru, Sr Yukteswar, told him: "Theologians have misinterprested Christ's words in such passages as 'I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me' (John 14:6). Jesus meant, never that he was the sole Son of God, but that no man can attain the unqualified Absolute, the transcendent Father beyond creation, until he has first manifested the 'Son' or activating Christ Consciousness within creation. Jesus, who had achieved entire oneness with that Christ Consciousness identified himself with it inasmuch as his own ego had long since been dissolved."
The footnote continues: When Paul wrote: "God..created all things by Jesus Christ" (Ephesians 3:9) and when Jesus said: "Before Abraham was, I am" (John 8:58), the sheer essence of the words is impersonality. A form of spiritual cowardice leads many wordly people to believe comfortably that only one man was the Son of God. "Christ was uniquely created," they reason, "so how can I, a mere mortal, emulate Him?" But all men have been divinely created, and must someday obey Christ's command: "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matt 5:48). "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God" (I John 3:1).
Understanding of the law of karma and of its corollary, reincarnation, is displayed in numerous Biblical passages; eg. "Whosoever sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed" (Gen 9:6). If every murderer must himself be killed "by man", the reactive process obviously requires in many cases more than one lifetime. The contemporary police are just not quick enough!
The early Christian church accepted the doctrine of reincarnation, which was expounded by the Gnostics and by numerous church fathers, including Clement of Alexandria, the celebrated Origen (both 3rd century) and St. Jerome (5th century). The doctrine was first declared a heresy in AD 553 by the Second Council of Constantinople. At that time many Christians thought the doctrine of reincarnation afforded man too ample a stage of time and space to encourage him to strive for immediate salvation. But truth supressed leads disconcertingly to a host of errors. The millions have not utilized their "one lifetime" to seek God, but to enjoy this world - so uniquely won, and shortly to be forever lost! The truth is that man recincarnates on earth until he has consciously regained his status as a son of God.
Friday, November 24, 2006
mind, so that we may understand You, speech, so that we may expound You, knowledge, so that we may know You.
We rejoice, having been illuminated by Your knowledge. We rejoice because You have shown us Yourself. We rejoice because while we were in (the) body, You have made us divine through Your knowledge.
The thanksgiving of the man who attains to You is one thing: that we know You. We have known You, intellectual light. Life of life, we have known You. Womb of every creature, we have known You. Womb pregnant with the nature of the Father, we have known You. Eternal permanence of the begetting Father, thus have we worshiped Your goodness. There is one petition that we ask: we would be preserved in knowledge. And there is one protection that we desire: that we not stumble in this kind of life.from Nag Hammadi text | Gnostic Society Library
Thursday, November 23, 2006
So I've made the next big step and formally become a vegetarian. Feels good I have to say. I don't really allow myself to feel guilty, it's a self-indulgant emotion that achieves absolutely nothing, but the facts about the meat industry were plain to see and weighed heavily upon me.
I urge everyone to watch the videos found on the home page of Chooseveg.com. Even if you aren't interested in becoming a vegetarian, everyone should be aware of where your food is coming from and what the animals endured to feed you. "Meet your Meat" is especially powerful, it moved me to tears a few times.
Now granted these videos contain a dose of rhetoric and the site does try to play the "meat isn't as healthy for you as you think" angle which is not particularly correct IMO, but the videos are powerful nonetheless and do a fair job of jolting you into recognizing how your food is "processed". The videos also speak to dairy cows and egg chickens who have it even worse than the meat animals.
Watch them, please. Don't turn away. Pull your head from the sand.
I urge you to watch it so that at least, at the very least you will stop eating non-organic, non-free range meats and dairy. Now I know what you are saying, that it is too expensive to eat organic, and you're right. "Organic" is a buzz word and food companies are certainly not above cashing in our altruistic and well meaning intents to eat while keeping the animal in mind. But there are alternatives, even if it means abstaining. Eatwellguide.org is a US/Canadian site that will allow you to find local sustainable farming operations where you can buy free-range, non-hormoned, humanely treated meats and dairy that are not exactly "certified organic". It is affordable and you help keep a very important economy alive rather than continuing to hand over your money to uncaring major corporations. Sure it will take a little more planning to shop, but at what point do these sorts of excuses just stop holding water? This site will also show you stores that sell organic products and restaurants that cook with organic and/or free range ingredients.
These animals suffer, folks. Their pain is unimaginable, their suffering is inexcusable. You can play the ostrich all you want, but at some point we as a culture are going to have to face what we support, even if its with our inaction.
I have chosen to go vegetarian because I can no longer expect another lifeform to die so I can eat. I don't need it. The animal is dying for no other reason than because I want it to, because I like the taste of their flesh.
The next step for me is to give up seafood. Whereas the cruelty shown to fish is on a much smaller scale, the devestation wreaked by the fishing industry on our oceans and lakes is terrible. The final step will be to avoid byproducts of the meat industry like leather, and this step is truly difficult.
I have said before that a society can be judged based on how it treats its animals. Please watch the videos and visit these sites. If you decide to continue to eat meat, so be it. At least you will be aware of what you are supporting rather than pretending it does not happen, and for that at least you will have my respect.
Peace and blessings to all God's creatures. It is their right.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Volunteering has been something I have wanted to do for some time now, but I didn't know where to start, and with 2 small children at home, I didn't really have any physical time to donate. But still, I felt it necessary to see if there was some way for me to help.
Through the excellent website, www.govolunteer.ca, I found several opportunities for a graphic designer such as myself to offer my design services as a way of volunteering. Because of today's technology through phone, email and PDF proofs it is possible for me to volunteer from the office and/or from home without actually having to GO anywhere. It works out well for me, for now anyway. When the kids are a little older I would like to get out on the front lines to help battle homelessness and hunger but I do what I can right now.
I am currently volunteering for St. Barnabas Anglican Church (an organic spiritually inclined parish with a great loving community, a female priest with an inexhaustable resevoir of energy who runs a thrift shop for the underpriviledged and regular Thursday meals for the homeless), Farm Folk/City Folk (an organization dedicated to bringing city consumers to local sustainable farming families who practice free range and humane farming techniques), and the Vancouver Cancer Society (self-explanatory, who hasn't been touched by cancer?).
I also found a couple of sites that accept clothing and houseware donations for distribution to the poor and needy. They are Homestart.ca and Gatherandgive.org. Way better than dropping our extra stuff at the local Value Village, though anything is better than the landfill!
So what's my point? Well as a priest-in-formation I feel that volunteering in your local community to be absolutely necessary and a fundamental building block of living what you preach, rather than just talking about it. These are the people who you will be helping, who willbe coming to you for ministry, for compassion and for assistance. Gnostics often spend too much time IMHO in their own heads when the real battle against the Archons occurs out "there".
I asked a few of my co-worker's hypothetically whether or not they would volunteer their time, provided that it was easy to find opportunities locally and that it was for an organization or cause they felt inclined towards. The answers, frankly, surprised me. These are caring, lovely people who I feel very at home with. Everyone one of them felt (I'm being general here) that their time was too precious to give it up regularly unless they were to get something in return. Their reasons differed and what they felt they would need in return to make it worth it differed, but in the end they "didn't have enough time" to even think about it. We're talking about mostly single people with no kids in their 30s. No time!?
Now, I'm not judging here but I was a bit surprised and even a little disappointed. Is this apathy to the suffering and needs of others cultural? Is it taught and/or learned? Is it simply that these people have no real understanding what it is to need? I grew up pretty poor and we had some pretty rough stretches their while my Dad was out of work sick, so I know what it is like to eat potatoes and PB&J for weeks at a time. I know what it is like to not know if you will eat tomorrow. I know what it is like to have one shirt and one pair of pants for most of a school year and I know what it is like to wear patches on your patches.
Where does this apathy and indifference come from? Is it just the way we are? Some of us care and some of us don't?
Volunteering is easy. It seems that the real challenge is finding time in your busy and dare I say it self-absorbed schedule to make room for the needs of others. It could be anything just as long as you do something that will positively impact your community and reduce the suffering of others even by an inch.
Or is it wrong to expect others to give a shit about the needs of others? Am I being naive here?
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
As per my post directly below this one, I have been accused of being a naive idealist who holds dear an idea that a hug will save the world. Whereas I do believe that simple human contact in the form of a hug holds extraordinary power, I am not stupid enough to believe that the path to Peace is so simple.
The world is a mess, that is plain to see. It has been a mess since WWI, or more correctly it has been a modern mess since European powers began building empires. Natural balances were upset, and our own modern us-against-them worldview was created, perpetuated and set in stone. I won't pretend to understand all the nuances, but in a general sense this is my opinion. I am not trying to discuss the causes however, simply the effects.
What we now live in is a world full of countries that willingly commit evil now in order to save later. How much suffering has been committed in the name of a better tomorrow? Every country seems to focus so much on what is going on outside of its borders, what their neighbours are doing. They build better defenses, more weapons, a larger army. All in the name of protecting what is theirs and securing safety for their people.
But to what end? Certainly not to the welfare of their people. Poverty, homelessness, healthcare, civil rights, etc... are all neglected and/or violated in the pursuit of a future safety. Are they any safer? Not in any meaningful way that I or many other people can see. Violence begets violence. It is a notion as old as the hills, and yet we as reasoning and intelligent beings completely ignore the evidence that is plainly in front of our faces.
And where is religion in all this? Generally speaking, totally in concord with the needs of the state, since it is their survival that is also being secured. Once a religion gets into the business of sanctioning killing and violence or even ignoring that is happening, it sacrifices everything it stands for. It is Thich Nhat Hanh that said if given the choice between Buddhism or peace, he would choose peace. To choose otherwise would be to violate everything Buddhism is and all that would remain is something called Buddhism with little meaning left to it. We are fundamentally what we do, not what we say.
To think we could ever live in a world without violence, without crime, without murder is totally unrealistic, and I am enough of a realist to admit this. The situation that I am challenging is when violence, crime and murder is legitimized and held up as virtuous. One cannot sacrifice what is right today, for a better tomorrow. That tomorrow will always be tainted by the evil committed to get there. The lesser of two evils is still an evil, and it is of this fundamental truth that we must always stay aware.
When a country kills the bad guys to protect itself and its people, it betrays its people and turns its back on God. Every country is always killing the bad guys. No one ever kills the good guys. When that countries religious leaders do nothing about this violence and killing, they too turn their back on God, and become nothing more than an empty tradition. They are an accomplice to the state, rather than a moral compass for its people.
I have also been challenged that whereas this idea of peace through non-violent action is nice, it does not speak to the work required to achieve it. Again, I will not pretend to know where to start or how to go about it, at least not yet. I will however direct anyone who cares to read more about the subject to the book "The Raft is Not the Shore" by Thich Nhat Hanh and Daniel Berrigan. Here is where you will find the ideas and notions that would form the basis of how this could be done written by two men who have done much towards peace in the world today.
We may not be able to affect change on a world scale today, or even tomorrow, or even in our lifetime. But we can change ourselves, to embody peace, harmony and love towards all things. This transformation will affect those around us, and as they transform it will affect those around them, and so on and so on. This is the only way true lasting peace will ever be attained, one person at a time.
But what we can do today, what we are morally obligated to do in the name of humankind, is to not standby mutely as our country sanctions violence and killing in our name. Vote for the persons that will lobby in the name of peaceful non-violent action. Write to the persons who hold power who do sanction it and tell them how you feel. When the topic comes up amongst friends, speak your mind. Violence and killing will never buy us a better tomorrow. It will only give us more of the same suffering, it is a self-perpetuating cycle. By doing nothing, no matter how small, we sanction the killing, and we are as much responsible for it as the state that orders the soldiers to pull the triggers.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
This is a topic that's been bugging me for awhile, but I did not want to tackle it until I had sufficiently explored the topic. After much contemplation and meditation, I have come to the following conclusion:
Any argument that supports the necessity of war is groundless and infinitely destructive to any and all efforts towards Peace in the world today.
You cannot fight fire with fire, evil begets evil, make love not war, etc... You could go on for hours pulling out all the spiritual and peace-inspired platitudes. People love them, they feel inspired by them, they are moved by them. Religious folks spout them and spiritual folks wear them on their sleeves. They are idealistic thoughts that are part of a grander movement dreamt, created and activated by brave and courageous people.
But they are all flawed. Peace is not going to happen overnight. It will not be inspired by any one person or result from some calamatous event that momentarily pulled a people together.
Peace is a change that must occur within ones heart and soul, it is a shifting of ones notions and understandings, of the basics of how an individual interacts with the world at large and the other people one shares it with. Peace is every step. Any movement towards a lasting world peace must happen one individual at a time. There is no other way.
But there are still people that argue that war is necessary in certain circumstances. These are good people, loving people. But this notion this is grossly false. Violence and death are not answers. Ever. Period.
So now your thinking of all the extreme examples you can think of. What if a people is being persecuted and hunted down to extinction? What if there human rights are being abused? What if they are murduring babies? And so and so on. Look at Iraq. Did armed conflict work there? How about Afghanistan? Vietnam? Korea? Shall I go on? When are we going to learn from our mistakes as a human race? And when are people going to see that history of mistakes and start holding their governments accountable, rather than swallowing the propaganda sprayed across their TV screens hook, line and sinker?
I know of a few individuals, brothers of mine in the Gnostic tradition, who will argue the necessity of war. As prospective priests in a tradition founded upon the teachings of Jesus, I am at a loss to understand how they are able to justify this obvious hypocrisy. One of Jesus' most famous quotes in the one that tells us that when our enemy strikes our cheek, that we should turn and offer him the other. How as ambassador's of a tradition that expounds harmony, peace, love and enlightenment possibly explain away or justify the harbouring of such violent notions of justifiable war? How damaging would a priest that teaches such a notion to spiritual travellers in their care be? I have and do challenge these brothers to contemplate and meditate on this misheld notions. The idea of Jesus now or then, supporting justifiable war is laughable. So how can we as would-be priests in a Christian tradition support it? It's simple. We can't.
So where does this idea of justifiable killing and violence come from? I would posit that it derives directly from our western us vs. them, either/or worldview. When we view a conflict, say the recent Hezbollah vs. Israeli war, westerners tend to choose sides. Since both sides believe that they are in the right, it is up to us to view the facts and decide who is on the side of justification. The problem is that unless you are wearing blinders or are just being willfully ignorant of the circumstances, any reasonable human being cannot say that either one is right, nor can they definitively say that either side was wrong. I'm not going to get into the details here, but suffice it to say that this winner/loser worldview is not going to get us anywhere. It is not either/or, it is both/and. Boths sides were right and wrong within the precepts of this faulty and destructive worldview.
So where does the western viewpoint take us? It takes us down the path of choosing a side and seeing through the necessary measures to ensure a victory or a satisfactory resolution. Isn't it George W. who keeps saying "we have to stay the course"? Does this work? Perhaps for politicians and leaders and perhaps even for the viewers who are safe and snug at home in the living room watching horribly biased news programs on the 52" Plasma TV they bought at Best Buy. Care to ask the people whose homes are being destroyed and loved one are being killed? Do you think they give a crap who's right or wrong? Nope, you can bet your ass they only care about getting the bombs to stop falling. They don't have the luxury of caring about right or wrong. They can only see life or death. It is up to us to us to live this suffering with them through our compassion. We are all one, what happens to the least of us, happens to all of us.
There are peaceful solutions to any conflict. Ghandi showed us this, amongst others. And as Jesus goes on to say, if a someone asks for your shirt, give them your coat. If all that matters is the welfare of every human the Earth, then giving over a few hundred acres of land you don't really "own" to save them the pain and suffering of war is a reasonable, no...a necessary step. Israel took land given to them by the British that was not theirs in the first place. Britians imperialistic ambitions were misplaced and caused a great deal of suffering. The arming of many sides by the US has deepened the problem. And so on and so on. The situations are complicated, the history twisted and mired in hate, prejudice and self-interest. None of it matters, the past is an illusion, it only exists in our minds. All we have is NOW, and we need to start choosing the course of peace regardless of what it means to our past. The lives of innocents demands no less.
But then, you are thinking, you are just giving into their unreasonable demands! Where would that lead, you say! It is a difficult thing to see, all but impossible unless we begin to change our world view. The Earth is our home and human beings are one people. We will never know peace until we begin to erase the lines of race and country. What do borders matter when compared to the health and happiness of each individual? Sure armed agressors should be opposed, but sending in a bunch of our guys with bigger guns has proven time and time again not to be the answer. There are other ways, and we as individuals must have the courage and the insight and the conviction to choose them, and to demand that our countries leaders choose them as well. Rather than allowing politicians to lead us, we must guide them in choosing what we want and we need to make these wants clear. They are not kings and queens, they are not omnipotent gods. They are people like you and me, and they make mistakes you can be sure, and are not doing much if anything altruistically. You can bet every decision is made with a healthy does of self-interest.
But all of it must start within the individual heart. Peace is every step. It is every heart that turns towards love over hate, joy over right, compassion over ownership. Take a look at your views. Are they valid? Are they yours, or are they just what you have been taught? Are they a product of your countries political propoganda or are they convictions you hold tightly in your heart? And will they begin to create a world that you would want for your children and your grand-children?
I know where I stand. Where do you?
Monday, November 06, 2006
Is there really a human race?
Is it going on now all over the place?
When did it start? Who said, "Ready, Set, Go"?
Did it start on my birthday? I really must know.
Do I warm up and stretch? Do I practice and train?
Do I get my own coach? Do I get my own lane?
Do I race in the snow? Do I race in a twister?
Am I racing my friends? Am I racing my sister?
If the race is a relay, is Dad on my team?
And his dad and his dad? You know what I mean.
Is the race like a loop or an obstacle course?
Am I a jockey, or am I a horse?
Is there pushing and shoving to get to the lead?
If the race is unfair, will I succeed?
Do some of us win? Do some of us lose?
Is winning or losing something I choose?
Why am I racing? What am I winning?
Does all of my running keep the world spinning?
If I get off track when I take the wrong turn,
Do I make my way back from mistakes? Do I learn?
Is it a sprint? A dash to the end?
Am I aware of the time that I spend?
And why do I do it, this zillion-yard dash?
If we don't help each other, we're all going to crash!
Sometimes it's better not to go fast.
There are beautiful sights to be seen when you're last.
Shouldn't it be that you just try your best?
And that's more important than beating the rest?
Shouldn't it be looking back at the end
that you judge your own race by the help that you lend?
So, take what's inside you and make big, bold choices.
And for those who can't speak speak for themselves, use bold voices.
And make friends and love well, bring art to this place.
And make the world better for the whole human race.
Children's book I read my daughter by Jamie Lee Curtis & Laura Cornell.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
It occurred to me the other day that one does not necessarily result in the other. Allow me to explain my thought process.
Gnosis can be defined in any number of ways since the experience is largely undefineable. Suffice it to say that Gnosis is experiential knowledge of the Universe and a recognition of our own identity as the universal "I".
I have heard many of my teachers and learned folks on the internet state that Gnosis initially is an experience that occurs and then passes. It takes a lot of work and dedication for this experience to become a constant state of being for someone. Buddhists would equate this to "cessation" or the total lack of suffering. Only the most advanced attain this level of consciousness on a mostly permanent basis.
To become a Christ, one must awaken to our actual identity as a consciousness witnessing the life of this physical being we appear to be. This is not to say that it is becoming only a spiritual being to the detriment of the physical being, but instead a harmonizing of these two seemingly opposing perspectives. It is both/and instead of the either/or. As a Christ, you are aware of life as the physical being experiencing the miracle life and at the same time being aware of being a consciousness witnessing these experiences. They are two ends of the same pole and must be embraced together rather than separately.
So when does someone become a Christ? Is it in the first experience of Gnosis or once cessation is achieved or somewhere along the way. I would posit that the Budhhist concept of cessation is identical to the Gnostic concept of becoming a Christ.
So if this is indeed the case, than Gnosis is not the end goal of any practicing Gnostic. Is only the first step to a larger state of being. Sort of like how all 12 years of Math is only the basis one must have to start the entry level Calculus in University.
In this way, experience does not instantly transform one into a higher state of being. It is simply a finger pointing at the moon. It seems to me then, that many Gnostics, myself included, have been confusing the finger with the moon.
Monday, October 30, 2006
Iraneus quotes Valentinus:
Perfect redemption is the cognition itself of the ineffable greatness: for since through ignorance came about the defect . . . the whole system springing from ignorance is dissolved in Gnosis. Therefore Gnosis is the redemption of the inner man; and it is not of the body, for the body is corruptible; nor is it psychical, for even the soul is a product of the defect and it is a lodging to the spirit: pneumatic (spiritual) therefore also must be redemption itself. Through Gnosis, then, is redeemed the inner, spiritual man: so that to us suffices the Gnosis of universal being: and this is the true redemption. (Adv. Haer. I. 21,4)
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
I am delighted that the teachings of oneness are becoming increasingly popular. But as I travel around performing my ‘stand-up philosophy’ shows, I encounter some profound misunderstandings. I often hear people say that life is some sort of inconsequential illusion, that the personal is the problem and the ego is the enemy, that there is nothing to be done, because nothing really matters. I want to suggest that to become conscious of oneness we don't need to reject separateness, but to celebrate our individuality.
Waking up is not a state of disembodied ‘enlightenment’. It is an ecstatic state of individual ‘enlivenment’! It is living as the one appearing to be someone. Our individual identities are to be celebrated, because it is only by appearing to be separate that the one can become conscious of itself.
- Timothy Freke
I've spent enough time now in the online sanctuary of seekers and travellers to know that so many get stuck on the first step of awakening. In their dissatisfaction with whatever spiritual path (or lack thereof) they are travelling, they search for something more. And they find it in the many streams of online spiritualism, gnostic and otherwise. They read and search and read some more and they come to some startling, and seemingly revolutionary ideas about the nature of reality and of their own identity. They embrace them in a sweeping moment of enlightenment and faith and...that's as far as they go.
Here is what the conclusions that many draw look like:
1) We are not our physical bodies. We are spirit with a body.
2) The physical world is an illusion. It is not who we ARE.
3) At our root, our true "I", we are all one.
4) Find our way back to identifying with our spiritual "I" and we find gnosis.
Tic tac toe, there you go. The problem is that this is an elementary understanding, with no true depth, no shape. And no praxis. How do we get there? Where do we go? Do I pray? Do I meditate?
And this is the key point, this is where you need to take that next step. The next step says that I'm here. I'm me, I don't have a choice about that. You think this is all an illusion, try not eating for a few weeks. Not much of an illusion now is it? So I guess I'm going to have to make the best out of being me because from where I'm standing, the chances of me being absorbed bodily into the "One" and disappearing is rather slim. You will have to conclude then that any joining with the Oneness will have to occur in death and that will come when it comes, again no choice about that. So it would seem that you have a life to live after all.
So celebrate it. Your uniqueness, your individuality is an emanation of the Divine, the Universal Consciousness recognizing itself. In order for an entity to be conscious, it needs something to be conscious of, like in order for light not be darkness, needs something from which to reflect. So live, be alive, be aware of the consciousness of the divine within you, at the root of your being. This is where I am at. The physical is not an illusion, but illusory (a wise man explained this to me recently) which simply means that all the signals making their way to my senses are not all being computed by my limited little brain. I am not getting all of what reality is, and therefore my impression of it can be somewhat suspect, and should never be considered final.
But there are just so many left at the first step, still totally convinced of their brilliant enlightenment, convinced that they "get it". You see them, you know who they are. They are the ones that creep around blogs, forums and chat rooms spouting such things as "We are all One" and "The world is an illusion" and other such nonsense to all questions, to all topics. Their's is a one trick pony, quickly exhausted, eternally repeating. And more often than not since they have not begun the process of circumventing the ego and learning true humility, they are superior, aloof and condenscending. Many become the hated firestarters, believing they are doing everyone a favor by shouting their truths at you, and deriding you for disagreeing with them and not understanding the truth they are telling you.
We are precisely as we are meant to be. Is this an easy place to be? No, but it isn't meant to be. What meaning does joy have without pain, love without hate. We need the opposites to understand the depth and the importance of the positive. What is God but the uniting of all opposites in perfect harmony? And what else is gnosis but this uniting within ourselves, thereby bringing ourselves into alignment and in-sync with the divine? It is through this parallel that we catch the glimpse of the Pleroma in life that is gnosis, that saves us from the ignorance of seeing our individuality as being separate and alone.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
"No matter what the future of the Gnostic legacy may be, there is one thing whose future is certain, and that is gnosis itself - the direct spiritual awakening that comes, bidden or unbidden, to individuals great and small. It is not the property of any religion, though each religion tries to make it its property; it can be invited by meditation and spiritual practice, but just as often it is like the wind, "which bloweth where it listeth," arriving where it is least expected or even desired. Sought or unsought, honored or dishonored, gnosis will always be with us. It is both our birthright and the destiny to which each of us will sooner or later be called."
Excerpt from "Forbidden Faith" by Richard Smoley
Whereas I don't necessarily agree with the arguments that this excerpt is the summation of, this paragraph can and does easily stand on its own as significant and profound.
I am aware that I am discussing an experience I have not had yet, but I can however, understand the premise of a goal that is sought for too hard. It is often the case that the harder we try, the farther we actually get from the goal. Like holding a golf club too hard or swinging with too much vigour will cause the ball to slice, we must always keep in mind the things that will lead us to gnosis. Love, compassion, purity, openness, kindness and a little dash of faith. Whereas some will come upon gnosis in a flash, as is the case of Philip K. Dick and his "pink ray", most of us will realize gnosis as a gradual reawakening to our true "I".
There is, I believe, a tangible experience waiting for us in the sacraments. As I approach the day of my baptism and initiation, I am aware that there is a distinct possibility of an "experience", a glimmer of gnosis, a feather's touch of the divine. Every part of me is looking forward to this and I can't help but anticipate it as a certain vindication of the truth of the path I have chosen, or more correctly, that chose me.
But I am aware too of the danger of expecting the experience. A watched pot never boils and so too will the experience elude me if I look for it too hard. So I must leave myself open to it, but not reach for it. It is a thing that is given but not taken.
And so to is the road to many things that are worth having in this life. Our life is a gift, one for which we should be grateful for every minute of every day. Children, health, family, friends even success are gifts, not rights. It is this sense of entitlement that keep us from appreciating the good things in our lives. It has us always looking to the future for more, for what we don't have now, totally ignorant of the fact that we already have everything we need NOW. We just need to remember, to see that which is in front our faces already.
Once we can embrace this knowledge, the goal of gnosis actually loses its iconic pedestal like value. We are already happy, already content with what we have. Gnosis is like a cherry on top of the beautiful gift of life, not something that will validate my existence. I am content to let it come when it comes, neither seeking nor avoiding it, ready to embrace the moment when I re-unite with the divine.
Until then, my life is full enough.