Recently, I watched a lecture on the Gnostic worldview by Laurence Caruna at the Vienna Academy of Visonary Art. One of the topics I enjoyed was the discussion on the historical context of Gnosticism. I appreciated the way the topic was presented, and I thought it helped put everything in historic context. Another topic I enjoyed was the discussion of the Gnostic creation myth. The creation myth is something I spend much time contemplating.
Of particular interest is the concept of the holy trinity. It’s interesting that the Gnostics didn’t scrap that idea. Instead, the Gnostics changed it. Where canonical Christianity describes the holy trinity as the father the son and the holy spirit; Gnostics described it as the father, the mother, and the child. Intuitively the Gnostic version makes more sense.
I always thought the traditional holy trinity was odd. From a naturalistic perspective, I always thought the trinity worked better as a father, mother, child. I’ve always had difficulty understanding why the woman was substituted for the holy spirit. So, I was happy when I discovered that the Gnostics did have a mother in their version of the trinity!
But the discussion doesn’t end there. Besides these standard models of the trinity there is another way of thinking about it. This is the way on which I spend much time contemplating. It was presented in the lecture as the Aristotle model. But it was also part of the Gnostic philosophy. God is the first thought. Barbelo (in Gnostic theology) is the second thought. And the Child is the third thought.
Laurence presents the concept as, the thought thinking of itself thinking. This seems confusing on it’s face. But through contemplation, I’ve come to understand the first thoughts as; the first thought is awareness (I am- thought), the second thought is an awareness of the thought (I am thinking) and the third thought is self-awareness (This is me thinking).
This perspective seems to coincide with Gnostic thought. Where the son (Jesus) teaches that self-knowledge is the path to knowing God. In other words, if we work backwards from existence the path is to realize; this is me thinking. And that thought is the child or Jesus. So, to begin with finding Jesus, we must first realize; this is me thinking.
From there we can move on to the realization that; I am thinking. From here on it get’s a little tricky. For instance, if I know, this is me thinking; isn’t it correct that, I am thinking. And if, I am thinking, doesn’t that mean; I am. The question then becomes; could I be thinking if I don’t exist (I am not)?
The idea of the self-creating god seems to answer that question. If god came into existence with the first thought (I am), shouldn’t that mean that to go to the second thought, I am thinking, requires existence? Or another way to ask the question would be; did god exist before it had a thought? It might seem like the easy answer to that question is yes but; that would lead to a circular argument where you could ask; if god did exist before the first thought, how did it come into existence at that point, and then before the next point? So, there must be a beginning. Although, there may be another way.
Instead of thinking of God as a thing (like a person) what if God is the actual fabric of reality itself? What if the personified God we think of is actually a projection or actually a personification of the fabric of reality? This not only makes God a much larger concept, but it eliminates a before god argument. This seems to be the way the Gnostics knew God. How else can something be the beginning and end, the light and the shadow. It’s so because God is the fabric of reality. In this way there can’t be time or space, beginning or end, light or dark, without this kind of God.
Modern metaphysics, engaged in the discussion of quantum physics, seem to agree with this way of thinking. One problem scientists are beginning to realize is the problem of consciousness also known as the observer effect. They’ve discovered that experiments involving light can have different results if the experiment is observed or not. A possible hypothesis is that the consciousness of the observer is interfering with the experiment. That’s important because these are experiments dealing with sub-atomic particles (photons). The realization that our consciousness could influence sub-atomic particles would be profound! It would certainly give some credit to psychic healers!
But let’s go back to another aspect of the Gnostic creation myth. When the demi-urge and his angles created man, they couldn’t bring us to life. It wasn’t until Pistis- Sophia told the demi-urge to blow some of this spirit in our face, that we finally became alive. In this way, we carry the little piece of the holy spirit. But we are small. And if we have a spark of the holy spirit it’s very small. Could it be some sub-atomic particle we can identify? If it is, it would be that which gives us consciousness in the first place. So, how to we get in touch with that?
Now, we come back to the beginning. I think this is where the Gnostic teachings were trying to lead us. They told us their story of creation. They told us we have a spark of the holy spirit in us. And Jesus told us that knowing ourselves is the path to knowing God. Since the child is the third thought, this is me thinking, we must start there. Once we can master the reality that, this is me thinking, then we can move on to the reality that, I am thinking. Once we can master those realities, we can finally come to understand that, I am. That is, the holy spirit is already a part of us and therefor we do, already exist, in the Holy Spirit.