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Tue Feb 5, 2013, 08:45 PM

I wonder where we got the idiotic idea that certain plants should be outlawed?

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Reply I wonder where we got the idiotic idea that certain plants should be outlawed? (Original post)
cleanhippie Feb 2013 OP
tama Feb 2013 #1
Jim__ Feb 2013 #2
tama Feb 2013 #3
Jim__ Feb 2013 #4
Phillip McCleod Feb 2013 #5

Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 06:46 AM

1. Gnostic genesis


Here is a brief summary of the Secret Book of John. First we hear of an unimaginable, indescribable perfect God, the being (beyond being) called Brahman in Hinduism, or Ein Sof in mystical Judaism. The Secret Book of John goes on at some length to describe how indescribable God is. Second we hear about the mystical structures of the divine mind, how God's mind contains a central realm of providence called Barbelo, and four subordinate categories of divine activity—truth, incorruptibility, foreknowledge, and everlasting life—then how further subordinate categories of divine being, mainly mental, come into existence. The Secret Book of John's description of the mind of God, called the fullness or, in Greek, the "pleroma," is conceptual and therefore below the level of the indescribable God. Third, we are told that Sophia, the Wisdom of God, seeks to know God objectively. But this leads to crisis because God is purely subjective. God's Wisdom imagines God and, although an imaginary God is unreal, it yet takes on a kind of inferior illusory being of its own outside of God's realm. This lower god has the name Yaldabaoth and is to be identified with Yahweh of the Hebrew Bible. Fourth, Yaldabaoth, who does have a portion of divine spirit from his mother, Sophia, creates a universe populated by all sorts of demonic creatures when, to his amazement, the full mind of God reveals itself as a human being in the heavens. Yaldabaoth constructs a material version of the heavenly human being and puts the divine spirit into it to make it mobile. But, surprise! It was a trick, for now, if the human being can realize its divine origin and return above, the divine spirit will return with it and thereby the realm of Yaldabaoth will become devoid of divine spirit and cease to be. Fifth, in self-defense Yaldabaoth makes the human being ignorant of its origins. But the divine mind sends down a messenger (Jesus, in the Christian version of the tale) to give human beings true "gnosis" by which they can go back to the perfect divine realm.

Whew. The Secret Book of John may be bizarre (and there is a great deal more to it that I have left out here) but it is ultimately a negative reworking of the Biblical story of Genesis, taking the point of view that while the story behind Genesis is true, the version written into the Bible by Moses is mistaken. We hear several times in the Secret Book of John that we should understand that it was "not as Moses wrote," but as some other thing. Moses is taken to be a mistaken interpreter of the fundamental myth. For Gnosticism, the tree of knowledge in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:15–17) was the tree of gnosis, and people should eat from it. Wicked Yaldabaoth forbade this and then walled off the garden and the tree after Eve did the right thing (led by a divinely empowered serpent) by eating from that Tree (Genesis 3:1–24). The story in Genesis is wholly reversed through Gnostic interpretation.

The success of orthodox Christianity over Gnostic Christianity stemmed in part from its organizational superiority. In establishing an invariant set of beliefs through creedal conferences such as the one in Nicea (325 CE), the range of possible Christian ideas was pinned down to a defined set. Gnosticism's wild creativity worked against its success as an organized religion. Eventually orthodox Christianity defined Gnosticism as a heresy that first Roman and then medieval Catholic police power would work to exterminate. In 367 CE the Egyptian bishop Athanasius of Alexandria ordered his monks to destroy "illegitimate and secret books" and so, in a Pachomian monastery near Nag Hammadi, Egypt, the monks took their library of Gnostic books and, rather than burn them all, buried them in jars. In 1945 CE those jars were unearthed and they have subsequently been translated and published. Anyone interested in Gnosticism can read a whole library of texts from 1,600 years ago (many of which were written a couple of centuries earlier still). Through these texts, and others, Gnosticism still lives today, and through the New Age movement and the Spiritual religion movement the creative impulses of the Gnostic thinkers persist.


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Response to tama (Reply #1)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 08:09 AM

2. Do you know the source of Gnostic beliefs?

Is it just based on introspection?

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Response to Jim__ (Reply #2)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 08:50 AM

3. Good question


I wouldn't say any form of communication can be based on introspection alone, whether we are speaking about linguistic communication, as in Gnostic texts, dialogue between people or "Holy Communion" with fruits of Tree of Knowledge - which can and IMHO should be interpreted as psychadelic substances and other methods of reaching shamanistic experiences such as meditation, drumming, dancing etc.

But in general Judeo-Christian Gnosticism, just like pagan Hermeticism and philosophical Neo-Platonism etc. can be said to be based on "introspective" experientalism and their cosmological myths function as guides to experiencing and in modern language holographic relation to cosmos. Strong parallels with Eastern philosophies and spiritual practices have been noted and discussed for a long time.

Introspection alone has the danger of solipsism, and on the other hand holographic relation of parts and whole is not necessarily limited to introspection alone - but rather, shows the barrier between internal and external in new light. Holographic relation can be thus 1) matter of faith, based on narratives of 2) experiences interpreted as "introceptive" (from outside) but when actually experienced 3) overcoming the dualistic narrative barrier between introspective and extrospective experiences.

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Response to tama (Reply #3)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 11:16 AM

4. Thanks for that information.

The write-up in your referenced article made me realize that gnostics have a large set of beliefs. I'll try to read-up on this some more.

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Response to Jim__ (Reply #4)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 08:57 PM

5. there's gnostics and there's Gnostics


sorry i have no right pinky so i hate shift keys.. anyway. elaine pagels, 'the gnostic gospels' is a good place to start by a scholar of high repute with a very good way with the reader too. comparative religion is a hobby and i had my gnostic periods, big g and little.some of the gnostic books are much closer both temporally and geographically to the origin point of christianity than anything in the new testament. it was compatible with all kinds of religions so made a good crucible for syncretism. hermeticism is a great example, tama, thanks for point it out it's seldom understood how big a deal it was in the five centuries leading up to christianity.

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