Tagged gnosis

Many Gods and the One

As someone who’s come to spirituality through Christianity, I continue to consider how to incorporate the concept of God in my beliefs. From a wide perspective, the idea of a great creator God is common to many beliefs. That God may be called by many names but regardless of the name the idea is similar.

In Gnostic beliefs there are many gods. There is still an ultimate creator God but there are also lesser gods. According to the Gnostic creation story, the god of this world isn’t actually the true creator god. To the Gnostic’s, the creator God, was much bigger than just the creator of this world.

Bible in the woods

A great resource I use to research the Gnostic beliefs is the Gnosis Archive, here. Through that site, I discovered Dr. Marvin Meyer who is one of the premiere scholars on the Gnostic’s. He has written an edited many books including translating many of the Gnostic texts. One of my favorite books is the comprehensive, Nag Hamadi Scriptures. It’s available on Amazon by clicking the link.

A good introductory book, also by Dr. Meyer, is The Gnostic Gospels of Jesus. The Gnostic version of Jesus is different from the modern version. This book gives another view of Jesus and how he related to his disciples. It’s also on Amazon by clicking the link.

There are many other books but these are 2 that I think are great resources for anyone interested in learning more about the Gnostic version of Christianity. This is an important perspective on God that has helped me put God in context with my own spiritual beliefs. I think of the creator God as the fabric of reality. This is a much larger God than the one who simply (comparatively) created this world.

The Gnostic system allows for lesser gods. From an animistic perspective, that allows for a universe of powerful forces. But, it also raises the question; what determines status as a god? That’s a question for another time, but it’s important to ask. In the Gnostic creation there are 4 “luminaries” that exist between God and angels and even the “god” that created our heaven and earth. So, if the force that created the Earth is a “god” and he was created by a “god” and there are powerful forces between them that aren’t “gods;” what criteria constitutes a “god?” Again, that’s a question that deserves its own article, but I think it opens the door to the possibility of many “gods.”

Nebula Galaxy

I think the concept of a creator god fits within animistic spirituality. From a Christian perspective, I think the Gnostic traditions provide a way to incorporate both, a belief in a creator god and belief in lesser gods. At some point I’ll have to write another article exploring the question; what criteria constitutes a god? I think we may be misusing that word, or we have restricted our thinking by denying the possibility of multiple gods. This question also leads to many other questions such as; is it possible for us to become gods? At any rate, those are all concerns for another article. I hope you’ve found some value in this article, and if you want to know more about Gnostic beliefs, check out the books I recommended. Until next time.

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On the Holy Trinity

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!

Bear Creek, Colorado

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)?

Great Sand Dunes Park

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!

Penitente Canyon

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.

-Amen