Tradition of the Gnostic Apostle: The Legacy of Christ in You

by Tommie on January 29, 2014

Gnostic PaulI have always had a passion for the Bible. My interest in Christian origins introduced me to the gnostic form of Christianity, which I’m convinced was the way it began. I have been taken by it and through it Christ is more alive for me than ever. What is written here will be elementary for some and new for others. The point is to see the beauty.

The word ‘gnostic’ describing a spiritual-mystical tradition and persons holding to that tradition was not in common use until the 17th century. If you had asked a so-called “gnostic” in the 2nd century if he or she was a gnostic you’d get a blank stare. I don’t capitalize the word because it is not a religion. It is a way of seeing truth across all faiths and disciplines.

There are many gnostic traditions: secular, Jewish, Christian and Eastern. Most aspire to union with the Divine and the reintegration of the Divine with the cosmos, which is the created order in need of healing. I’m reminded of words in a Christian hymn sung at Christmas time referring to Christ Jesus, which says he has “Risen with healing in his wings.” Love, truth and healing are the heart and soul of gnostic traditions.

I use the word ‘tradition’ to identify all mystical-mythological streams and the myth-history of those streams. From the gnostic point of view there isn’t a fixed-in-time tradition or doctrine. These are living traditions with new layers and insights added as we evolve as spiritual beings in God’s image. These are the living waters from which we drink (John 7:37-39). It is the light that shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:5).

Tradition, as opposed to doctrine, is not burdened with proving whether its foundations are historical, allegorical or mythological. Transformation is in the power of myth and metaphor and not actual events (see The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers, 1988). This is not to say that history is denied, as in whether or not Jesus and the apostle Paul are historical figures. I believe they are, though some claims about them may be more tradition than history. This doesn’t matter all that much.

[See Bart Erhman’s Did Jesus Exist: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth, March 2012]

The early Roman church was successful in suppressing gnostic Christianity, but it could not deny the one source of information they had in common – scriptures the church would claim as its own exclusive word of God. Though the scriptures have been corrupted over many centuries by attempts to obliterate its gnostic content, it is still there if you know what to look for – the hidden meanings of scripture.

Scriptures are an important record of gnostic thought, especially the scriptures attributed to Paul. According to church tradition this man who called himself an apostle was a prolific letter writer to communities of Christians he helped establish. The letters comprise nearly two thirds of the New Testament. It is doubtful all of them were written by Paul. Perhaps none of them were. It is almost certain we do not have them in their original form.

The letters in our Bible were originally obtained as copies from private collections. I’m convinced that what we have are the products of philosophical schools of gnostic thinkers. Academics refer to the philosophy-theology coming out of these schools as ‘Pauline’. Moral and ethical instructions were worked into them to address issues within a particular community. Ephesus needed instructions to address its issues and Colossae needed theirs. Narratives were sometimes added, as in Paul’s mystical experience in the third heaven (2 Corinthians 12:2). Despite the romantic notion, these are not the revelations, words of wisdom or moral platitudes of one incredible man. Whatever the case, it is the gnostic content which concerns us.

We find the first kernel of gnostic content in the letters with the use of the word ‘gnosis’ (Ephesians 1:17-19; Colossians 2:3). Gnosis meant something more than learned knowledge. The precise meaning of ‘gnosis’ in the Hellenized Greek language is knowledge received through mystical experience. Its origin is traced to the many esoteric philosophical schools, most notably in Alexandria Egypt. Gnosis is not secret knowledge held by a few. Gnosis is insight gained by experiencing or partaking of Divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). Divine nature is God’s nature, though not God him-herself.

According to tradition, Paul influenced the most prominent gnostic theologian Valentinus of Alexandria (circa 100 – 160 CE). The Christian theologian Clement of Alexandria (circa 150 – 215 CE) reported that Valentinus received his teachings from Theudas who was a follower of Paul. Valentinus authored the Gospel of Truth, which was discovered among a large collection of gnostic writings at Nag Hammadi Egypt in 1945. If not for Coptic monks who disobeyed church orders to destroy them and instead hid them, we would not have available to us today this exciting proof of a more diverse and gnostic Christian origin.

Valentinus was teaching in Alexandria before relocating to Rome around 136 CE. We know a good deal about his teachings through the apologetics of Roman church writers such as Tertullian’s (circa 160 – 225) Adversus Valentinianos. Valentinus’ school also relied heavily on John’s gospel. His disciple Heracleon was the first theologian to write New Testament commentaries, including one on John’s gospel. Unique for the time and culture, women in Valentinian churches shared equal status with men and held leadership positions. This was criticized by the Roman church and undoubtedly gave them one more reason to dismiss the Valentinians.

We see in the letters and Valentinian tradition that redemption or salvation is union with or becoming as ‘Christ’. Paul’s letters most often describe this as “being in Christ” or the “Christ in you.” Being in Christ, according to Paul, we participate bodily in the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ Jesus. We experience this resurrection in the present moment! (Colossians 3:1; Romans 6:4; Galatians 2:20).

It can be hard to wrap your head around this. We can understand this as our true Christ-self rising above the ego illusion of self. We awaken from our slumber and gain consciousness that we indeed are Spiritual beings, which is to “know thyself”. Therefore gnosis is also self-knowledge. (Romans 13:11; Saying 3 of the Gospel of Thomas; ancient Greek maxim engraved into Apollo’s temple at Delphi).

In Christ we have already been raised to eternal life. The ego-centric physical body you see in the mirror when you get dressed in the morning is in a sense already dead (1 Corinthians 15:50-55). Paul said it has been crucified. The real you is the Christ in you. Paul uses a form of the phrases “in Christ” and “Christ in you” some 90 times. We are alive in a way that is profound. We have eternal life with no chronological beginning or end. A traditional way of putting it is that we are saved. This body and physical death have no power over us. As a new creation Jesus said we are “born again” or “born from above” (John 3:3-8).

The arrival of Christ Jesus was the defining moment for Valentinian Christians. He is the incarnation of the self-begotten Savior who was sent by the Father to redeem (rescue, return, reunite) those who are spiritual in nature. Human beings are identified by their predominate natures: ‘carnal’ (animal or demonic), ‘psychic’ (rational mind or soul) and ‘spiritual’ (seed or spark). We are a mixture of the three natures. Those who are spiritual hear the call of the Savior, recognize his voice and respond to him (Matthew 22:14). All who respond are redeemed or “saved.”

We see the three natures metaphorically described in Jesus’ parable of the sower and the seeds. The seed that falls on good soil takes root in spiritual nature and thrives. The seed that sprouts quickly and is chocked out by weeds takes root in psychic nature, which is concerned with material things. The seed that falls along the path does not take root at all in carnal nature (Matthew 13:1-8).

On a cosmological level, the Savior’s spouse Sophia, also called Wisdom, is the sower. Mary Magdalene is the incarnation of Sophia and the spouse of Christ Jesus the Savior. There is always a male-female pair in Valentinian cosmology. Some see the seed as Christ. All may receive Christ, but all do not depending upon their predominant nature. The traditional interpretation of the parable is that Jesus is the sower, and the seeds are his words. It’s a proper way to see it on the surface, but there are other layers there for the ‘mature’ as Paul called them (1 Corinthians 3:1-5; Hebrews 6:1-2).

Another layer is that the seed is a spiritual spark implanted by Sophia in those destined to be rescued from their material entrapment and returned to the fullness (heaven). All do not receive the spark. See the layers of interpretation for ‘seed’ in the same story: one layer is the Word, another is Christ and another is spark. Don’t think of layers as order or rank. Think of them as depth. The layers are vitally related and all are correct ways to see the parable. How a person sees a story or event depends upon their level of gnosis.

Metaphorical interpretation of scripture, and certainly the cosmology, was anathema to the Roman church. But it may surprise you that gnostic teachings were acceptable for a time and Valentinus was nearly elected bishop of Rome. Tightening its grip, teachers such as Valentinus were eventually excommunicated and driven out of Rome by the ruling party. The church decided how one was “saved’ and who would be “saved.” Threatened by the liberty and innovation of gnostic Christianity, the Roman church proclaimed that salvation was through their church only.

What would Christianity look like today had Valentinus been elected bishop? We can only speculate. The “Christ in you” message gets drowned out by the judgmental question “Are you saved?” In other words will you avoid eternal punishment by accepting and confessing my doctrine? I don’t want to paint with a brush too broadly, but some have distorted the phrase “born again” to imply saved from damnation. For them there is nothing more that needs to be gained by it. What a shame. This is the legacy of the Roman church.

The gnostic apostle did not teach that salvation is to be understood within the archaic heaven-or-hell framework. He never said that it was about “believing in” a man-deity to avoid eternal torment. Where is the love in that? What kind of God is behind that? We are saved by being transformed by the living Christ into the image of a loving God. It is Christ in you. How wonderful! This is the legacy of a gnostic apostle.

We may understand all mysteries and possess all knowledge, but without love it is useless (1 Corinthians 13:2).

To be clear, I am not singling out any one church organization as all denominations have the same point of origin. Also, no one is superior to anyone because of their level of spiritual maturity. We’re all helping each other along the way. I will provide more depth to Valentinian Christianity in the next article. May Christ be in you!

{ 67 comments… read them below or add one }

Joshua Tilghman January 29, 2014 at 9:18 am

Tommy,

I love this line:

“These are living traditions with new layers and insights added as we evolve as spiritual beings in God’s image. These are the living waters from which we drink (John 7:37-39).”

This is certainly the evolution of consciousness. I think it is also beneficial to remind my blog readers that Paul (or the person who wrote his letters) didn’t consider the New Testament scripture. When he spoke to Timothy about the role of the scriptures to instruct and correct he was only speaking of the Old Testament since the Gospels hadn’t even been written yet. This should give us pause to reflect and think about how much truth is in your above statement.

I also love this quote:

“Gnosis is not secret knowledge held by a few. Gnosis is insight gained by experiencing or partaking of Divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). Divine nature is God’s nature, though not God him-herself.”

Thanks for making the above point. Too many have been scared away of the gnostic tradition simply because they think it is evil because its some secret occult knowledge.

I would like to point out one more powerful point made in your article:

“The “Christ in you” message gets drowned out by the judgmental question “Are you saved?” In other words will you avoid eternal punishment by accepting and confessing my doctrine? I don’t want to paint with a brush too broadly, but some have distorted the phrase “born again” to imply saved from damnation. For them there is nothing more that needs to be gained by it. What a shame. This is the legacy of the Roman church.”

Wow! I like that! Thank you, Tommy, for this contribution. You write quite well and bring us valuable historical knowledge to ponder and reevaluate the scriptures with. Being a student of history I really enjoyed this. A good balance of historical investigation and scriptural analysis. Looking forward to your series about Gnosticism.

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Thomas S January 29, 2014 at 9:43 am

Thank you, Josh. I’m humbled by that. My hope is that those who may not already know, will see that Christianity in its original form was more diverse, mystical and open minded. In short, gnostic. : ) The evidence is staring us in the face in scripture when we know what to look for.

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Justin January 29, 2014 at 10:22 am

Tommy,

Great article! I was just thinking this morning about the concept of “be fruitful and multiply” that has come to mean spread the word and bring others to the man-god Jesus Christ and how that relates to the Gnostic path. I came to the same conclusion that you mention above when talking about the parable of the sower and the seeds. Some are just not ready to receive divine knowledge and that is not a bad thing.

In the Who, or What, is God post there has a comment posted that stated that this life is all a game, its a day at the amusement park for the soul. Looking at the Parable of the Sower and the Seeds through this life is a game for the soul mindset we see something amazing appear. Some souls don’t want to leave the park, or stop playing the game, those would be represented by the seeds on path. Nothing is going to take root for them, and that’s fine; you don’t get mad a child who wants to ride the roller coaster one more time, why get mad at the soul who wants one more life? Then you have the seed that gets choked out by weeds and thorns, as you said the psychic nature. This would be the equivalent of someone getting ready to leave the game but then seeing something they want an being drawn back in, they may be closer to leaving the park (game), and in the right circumstances might even do so, but chances are they will be back again. Again, why be mad at this soul? It does not long for home and is happy where it is. Finally we come to the seed that falls on good soil, this is the soul who is ready to go home, much like a child in a game who is done and doesn’t want to play anymore. This soul is much more likely to seek out divine knowledge because there is a forcing driving it to find God, a need for it to return home at last.

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Paul January 29, 2014 at 10:54 am

Very deep, Justin. Love the analogies. What it says to me is that there are no judgments — not even for those who have (perhaps even intentionally) steered us down wrong paths. We start out life naturally, and gradually progress through the seven days of creation to the day of rest — the Sabbath. It is a process that we cannot circumvent. We cannot skip days 4-5-6, for example, and go straight from day 3 to day 7. We must experience the entire seven days. I see religion as the Day 1 status (when the “sons of God went into the daughters of men and had sons by them”). This results in the death that is appointed for us, and a necessary step along the path to “realization” or “raised consciousness.” On Day 1 we are young and know nothing, and we die for our ignorance. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”

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Thomas S January 29, 2014 at 1:11 pm

Justin! You just added another wonderful layer to the parable! What an imaginative way to say it. Glad you enjoyed it.

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Sparks January 29, 2014 at 7:06 pm

Justin,
Uplifting post!!
Seeing “Judge thee not” hidden between each line you write

your simplistic yet very powerful way of writing/understanding always brings forth a peaceful aura. You have a beautiful gift, share it where, when and with whom you can.

A little rewording with words on the vintage Pink Floyd song:
See me, Feel me, Touch me, Heal me
Listening to you, I get the comfort
Gazing at you I get the Peace
Following you, I climb the mountains
I get excitement at your feet
Right behind you, I see the Billions
On you, I see the Glory
From you, I get direction
From you, I get the story

Thanks Justin!
Love, Sparks

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Steve January 29, 2014 at 8:03 pm

I believe that’s The Who from Tommy. And it’s Pete Townsend’s adoration of Mehr Babba

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Sparks January 30, 2014 at 9:55 pm

Steve,
Yes, thanks for the confirmation and extended research concerning Pete Townsend.
I was unaware of that…

This is a bit re-worded to reflect the essence of Spirit and the Christ within.
Sparks

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Sparks January 30, 2014 at 10:01 pm

and…
How appropriate concerning it is Tommy/Thomas who is the author of this amazing article!!

I messed up on Pink Floyd being the musicians

for you Thomas!
Love and Light,
Sparks

Robert January 31, 2014 at 12:02 am

Steve,

Meher Babba? Didn’t know much about him but have always been curious about the Tommy music. So I just did a little research. Meher Babba really set the precedent for Eastern influence in the US and worldwide. I agree with much of his teaching. Also his last message to the world before he died in 1969 was to refrain from use of psychedelic drugs and marijuana From his Wikipedia bio:

“Meher Baba emphatically told several disciples not only to cease taking hallucinogenic drugs, but also to spread his word that drugs were harmful physically, mentally, and spiritually.

Tell those who indulge in these drugs (LSD, marijuana, and other types) that it is harmful physically, mentally and spiritually, and that they should stop the taking of these drugs. Your duty is to tell them, regardless of whether they accept what you say, or if they ridicule or humiliate you, to boldly and bravely face these things.

In addition Baba made specific claims about drugs, giving a clarification to several American professors through his secretary Adi K. Irani on July 4, 1964.[6]
Meher Baba did say that the user of LSD could never reach subtle consciousness in this incarnation despite its repeated use, unless the person surrendered to a Perfect Master. To experience real, spiritual consciousness, surrenderance to a Perfect Master is necessary.
The experiences gained through LSD are, in some cases, experiences of the shadows of the subtle plane in the gross world. These experiences have nothing at all to do with spiritual advancement.

Baba stresses that repeated use of LSD leads to insanity which may prove incurable in mental cases, even with LSD treatment.

Medical use of LSD helps to cure, in some cases, mental disorders and madness.
There is no such thing as “areas in the brain reserved for subtle consciousness,” and the question of LSD affecting them has no meaning.

When LSD is used for genuine medical purposes, in controlled doses under the supervision of specialists, there are no chances of the brain, liver or kidney being damaged.

Baba answered again that continued LSD use for non-medical purposes results in madness, and eventually death.”

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Robert January 29, 2014 at 10:31 pm

Sparks,

If memory serves me well, those lyrics were from the album “Tommy” by the Who.

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Sparks January 30, 2014 at 7:45 am

Good Morning Robert,
YES! you are correct…
for some reason I always get those two mixed up duh?
Listening to some of the “old” vintage songs and bands, I can see/hear much more going on there with the lyrics!
That is why I can get your point in your reply to Pedro’s fascinating post, many were on drugs during that time, in fact, it was extremely hard to have any friends because they were always high and wanting me to participate and I dared not go there, it was just something that felt un-natural to me and scary.
I certainly had enough going on navigating my life/soul, without messing around with my brain.
Sometimes, always being the straight one, I wound up getting people home and safe, other wise they would of been escorted to the nearest “crazy place”.
I always wondered if that was all put into place purposely to displace the souls of that generation and as far as I know, it is still going on, only with different substances?
Now, am stuck taking meds, as I am very ill, and I had to come to terms with all that, but still dread taking them.
The Dr’s had my mom (86) up to 35 pills/meds a day, and I got her a wonderful Dr. now, who is weaning her off on that unnecessary medication.
She was getting loopy on me and I thought she was getting Alzheimer’s, so I had to take action and get her back. It all turned out for the good and she is doing well considering her age! Yeah…
Soon, I believe, there will be a new “War on Drugs”, and that one will include pharmaceutical’s as well…
Thanks for the edit Robert!
Have a beautiful day,
Sparks

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Robert January 30, 2014 at 7:45 pm

Sparks,

My 88 yr old mother-in-law is getting loopier every month. She is also on a lot of meds. We wanted to get her a patch for Alzheimer’s but maybe consolidating her meds might be a way to go. I’ll look into that.

Sparks and Pedro

My ancestors who studied the Talmud engaged in the practice of arguing with an opponent and then switching sides. I tried doing that with the entheogens issue and now I understand the difference between the misuse in popular culture, which we have both experienced in its worst scenario second hand, and some of the other legitimate research which I was not previous aware of, the contributions of Stanilov Grof to Transpersonal Psychology in particular. He discovered LSD could be used as a tool to unlock the pre-ego experience of the subconscious, without which transcendence to higher consciousness might be blocked.

Of course, his patients did not use the popular junk sold on the streets which may have simply caused hallucinations but unlocked nothing. Also, unlocking the primal pre-ego experience can be traumatic for patients that are not prepared and guided in a controlled setting to deal with them. So when LSD became illegal, Grof developed Holotropic Breathwork as a kind of release of primal tensions using breathing techniques to enter altered states, to accomplish the same thing. This may be good for people who are unable to settle down enough to benefit from meditation, and for people who have primal problems.

What still concerns me about the LSD is that there was not sufficient study or tools of study (like brain scans) when it was legal to determine the physical health risks. You can be sure the junk on the street our peers used did plenty of harm. There was no quality control on the street except word of mouth that Joe’s stash was “good stuff”, whatever that means.

John Hopkin’s University currently has an ongoing research program using psilocybin (http://www.heffter.org/research-jhus.htm) and guidelines for safety using general hallucinogens (http://csp.org/psilocybin/HopkinsHallucinogenSafety2008.pdf), but it omits any mention of brain scan studies, some of which have shown the potential for long-term deactivation of areas in the brain responsible for motivation and sound judgment by LSD. Maybe that is why they are studying psilocybin, which is believed to be a milder and safer hallucinogen than LSD.

I’m not a purest… I use Yerbe Matte, a tea from Brazil, that is a mild stimulant like coffee or English tea, but easier on the stomach and is rumored to aid transcendence, a major selling point. I think it does, but maybe it does because I think it does.

Sparks January 30, 2014 at 10:09 pm

Robert,
Concerning your MIL, please email me, I have some information that may help her get the proper diagnosis, believe me I went to hell and back and it WAS NOT Alzheimer’s.
It is not appropriate to discuss here, but you can help make her well. There are many elders being misdiagnosed, especially females. cosmosparks88@gmail.com
Pedro & Robert,
Found this and thought you might enjoy! Put your earphones on as it is very beautiful
http://msnvideo.msn.com/?channelindex=4&from=en-us_msnhpvidmod#/video/4149d7c1-ff7d-41d2-b980-0a2973d72d6a

Sparks January 30, 2014 at 10:25 pm

Robert, Pedro and all,
Wanted to share this very easy technique concerning breath work, some may already be aware of it, but I have just started prior to meditation and I really like it…
CIRCULAR BREATHING:
Place a finger over your left nostril and breath in through the right nostril to the count of 4, Hold that breath to the count of 16, then breath out the left nostril to the count of 8.
Do this as many times as you want, I usually do this at least 5 times, depending on my stress level.

Robert,
going to try this tea you mentioned as I need to wean off coffee completely…have been using many herbal teas w/honey, but this particular one sounds great if it aids in transcendence and is lighter on the belly.
I’ll let you know how it goes for me!
Thanks for sharing that

Robert January 31, 2014 at 12:35 am

Sparks,

Yerba Matte is sold in health food stores. The teabag kind doesn’t work because the ingredients get reabsorbed into the bag. Get fresh, loose Yerba Matte, a quality brand. Brew in French press for best results. Make sure you don’t brew it too strong because if you do it will smell like a horse. I make my own Keurig cup if no else is drinking, but it is not as good as French Press. Other people have also made it in a coffee maker with coffee filter.

Sparks January 31, 2014 at 6:40 am

Good Morning Robert,
Last eve I sent to post an email concerning your MIL ,on the issues you and your wife are experiencing as I have a few experiences with all that, especially a possible misdiagnosis of Alzheimer’s. I included my email as it was not appropriate to discuss here at SOS.
As I can see this am it did not get through, am assuming because I included the email.
If you would like to know what I found out during this confusing and difficult time mom and me went through, ask Josh to give me your email, as I do think I can help you and your wife explore the things I learned.
What I did find out is that this is especially an issue with women and can be remedied, my mom did not have Alzheimer’s!
Also, may I suggest a good geriatric Dr. (ask around), who will help slowly wean her off any unnecessary meds. It was all quite the job, but she is doing so much better and more grounded. I was totally lead by Spirit/God through all of it, but we got her back to a stable mental state. Am sure this is very hard on your wife, being her mother.
I can certainly empathize with what she must be going through.
With Love,
Sparks

Paul January 29, 2014 at 10:39 am

powerful, Powerful, POWERFUL!!!

This article captures fabulously the essence of what life is all about. When the veil is lifted (when our blindness has been healed), all we will see is LOVE, for God is love, and we are “God’s offspring.” The phrase “born again” simply means born of love. That’s all it is. John 3 states that we must be born again, i.e., born of water (affliction/adversity) and of the Spirit (love). And then 1 John says that “everyone who loves is born of God” (!!!!!!!!!!) It is not an action, it is a being. It is gnostic.

“I AM!”

Tremendous article, Tommy!! Thanks a ton for this!

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Thomas S January 29, 2014 at 1:06 pm

Thanks Paul, I am honored coming from a great master like you. Glad you enjoyed it. “Not I, but to God be the glory!”

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Paul January 29, 2014 at 1:27 pm

Great master??? Thomas, your sense of humor is simply off the chains. Thanks so much for the humor. It made my day.

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Sparks January 29, 2014 at 1:49 pm

Thomas,
BEAUTIFUL!! The purity of your LOVE/GOD is shining brightly in this article!
Seventh Heaven/Layer for me
Mega thanks…

I was especially touched by this, you wrote:
The gnostic apostle did not teach that salvation is to be understood within the archaic heaven-or-hell framework. He never said that it was about “believing in” a man-deity to avoid eternal torment. Where is the love in that? What kind of God is behind that? We are saved by being transformed by the living Christ into the image of a loving God. It is Christ in you. How wonderful! This is the legacy of a gnostic apostle.

We may understand all mysteries and possess all knowledge, but without love it is useless (1 Corinthians 13:2)

If Jesus/Christ came to force humankind, he indeed could of sat on a gold-gilded throne, but His choice was surrender to the Cross, he was born, he learned, he taught, he loved, he died. His legacy to humankind is still with/in us 2,014 or more? years later.
The sorrow for myself is how it has all been manipulated for gain & earthly power

Also, MM, am in agreement with your writings here and would like to suggest for anyone unfamiliar an insightful read: The Woman with the Alabaster Jar, Margaret Starbird

thank you again Thomas for adding another layer of Love to our Light
Sparks

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Thomas S January 29, 2014 at 3:33 pm

Thank you Sparks. I always enjoy your insights.
Tommy

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Laurie January 29, 2014 at 2:26 pm

Truly, Beautiful. Like a homecoming song.

I had no idea that there could have been a Gnostic Pope! I loved all the history and background you included in your article. I’m really looking forward to your next article.

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Thomas S January 29, 2014 at 3:35 pm

Thank you, Laurie. So much history and so hidden.

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Robert January 29, 2014 at 4:31 pm

Tommy,

I enjoyed reading your post. At one time I thought the Gnostics were some kind of offshoot, who might have been Gnostic before the times of Jesus and then applied Gnostic principles to the Gospel to create a different brand of Christian. However, you are showing a different picture of a grassroots Christianity that evolved early in church history, and got eventually tossed aside by Rome in a political power play. You described “Gnosis” and “being saved” as one and the same: as the Christ arises within you. I’d like to read more about this.

The “Gnostic Gospels” are very different than the NT ones. Your showing that the NT has evidence of Jesus and the Pauline author(s) teaching Gnosis is new to me. In fact, when you describe it, it seems quite natural, rather than hidden or twisted out of context. I wonder what Valentinus’s take was on John 3:16?

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Laurie January 29, 2014 at 5:04 pm

Robert, yes! I want to know more. It’s fascinating.

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Thomas January 29, 2014 at 9:45 pm

Thank you Robert. The church literalized the Bible, which obscures what we think of anachronistically as gnostic content. It was their way or the highway. You’re right. Knowing Christ and not just knowing about Christ is salvation. It is heart knowledge. With Christ in our heart we rise above our old nature — Paul really nailed it the way he put it. This is Christ in you. I will try to cover this more in another article. As for John 3:16, a Valentinian Christian would say that believing in the Son as the way, the truth and the life is eternal life. They really had no secrets or we would not know what they believed. The cosmology is more complex, but it is the same message. I will try to deal with this in another article. Glad you’re interested!

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Pedro January 29, 2014 at 9:33 pm

Tommy,

This is a well-written and lucid explanation of gnosis with some good historical background, though history in general is often sketchy at best. What is your take on the Church Fathers?

You said:

“The early Roman church was successful in suppressing gnostic Christianity, but it could not deny the one source of information they had in common – scriptures the church would claim as its own exclusive word of God. Though the scriptures have been corrupted over many centuries by attempts to obliterate its gnostic content, it is still there if you know what to look for – the hidden meanings of scripture.”

I’ve been waiting a while for someone to mention this theme, to wit, the fact that the scriptures as we have them today are utterly perverted by priests, rabbis, theologians and copyists. They are littered with mistranslations, errors, omissions, misleading interpolations, red herrings and deliberate efforts to eviscerate their truths (sadly, with great success thus far). How many people know that the word “catholic” means universal and comprehensive? These “truths” can also be found in (and in some cases were borrowed from) the Egyptian Book of the Dead, the Talmud, the Upanishads, the Sutras, the Tao, the Quran, the I-Ching, and all mythology. They can be found in the writings of Plato, Aristotle, Confucius, Pythagoras, Iamblichus, Homer, Paracelsus, Spinoza, Clement, Origen, Eckhardt, Ramana Maharshi, Ramakrishna, Euclid, Buber, Einstein, Blake, Tesla, Gilbran, Wordsworth… They can be seen with a microscope or telescope. And they can be found by simply studying the lexicon of Nature that is always waiting to be read, as people like St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Goethe, St. Francis of Assisi, Thoreau, Da Vinci, Emerson and countless others have pointed out.

But the Bible isn’t western as you say, rather it’s eastern, and if we understood this better we’d all be less likely to be looking through a glass darkly. Even a cursory glance at the words of the Buddha (who lived 500 years before Jesus) will show how the Eightfold Path can be found in the Sermon on the Mount. Who can read the ancient Upanishads and not come away with a better understanding as to how we’re like foreigners in a strange land where the greatest treasure in life is one most people walk over every single day, looking for it everywhere but within? (You cannot believe in God until you believe in yourself.) The often coded language of St. Theresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross is clarified by reading the words of the Sufi mystics. And who can read the Bhagavad Gita without gaining far greater zeal to meditate, an instant identification with Arjuna and a feeling that Christ and Krishna are brothers in arms?

On the other hand, while everyone likes to use the Peter-as-a-rock interpretation as signifying a “stable foundation,” they don’t realize that they’re ignoring the western meaning of this analogy in favor of an eastern iteration of rock without knowing it. For as everyone knows, when we say that a bank is “on the rocks”, or that a relationship is “on the rocks”, we sure as hell don’t mean they’re solid and capable of withstanding the next storm. Or think of the first verse of Psalm 91: “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” Well, we’re a culture that loves the sun and a nice tan, and we associate shadows with darkness, obscurity, shades, “evil”, but in the deserts of Palestine a shadow at midday might literally save the life of a wayfarer making bad time. How many more instances of this can we find? (On the flip side, the other scriptures have suffered similar fates regarding literalism and terrible interpretation. While most Christians have failed to see the esoteric meaning of crucifixion taking place at Golgotha, or place of the skull, pointing to the death of the ego, many Muslims have come to take their version of this teaching as literally removing the head altogether, as we’ve seen far too many times in gruesome forms of punishment.)

Perhaps a consideration of the human body can help me explain my point.

Your body consists of some 50-100 trillion cells. While there are different types of cells, all have the same DNA and all of them are formed and replicated by the same amazing process. What is more, there is an impressive specialization of labor that governs the inner workings of the body as shown by the different organs and systems. There is the brain, heart, liver, lungs, kidneys, reproductive organs, brain, spleen. There are glands like the pituitary, thyroid, pineal, pancreas, adrenals, testes and ovaries. There are many systems carrying out different functions, such as the respiratory, circulatory, nervous, digestive, muscular, skeletal, digestive, lymphatic, endocrine, immune, etc. All of this is born by the encounter of a sperm and egg. And yet despite all of this amazing diversity every aspect of your body, from the tangible to the subatomic, works in harmony for one single cause: life. Moreover, every second of every day your body destroys 10,000 cells while simultaneously creating 10,000 new cells. Your very body depends on an inconceivable diversity and a perpetual process of death in order to function properly. (At the macro level, is it inconceivable to see all 7 billion of us as individual cells on this living planet we call Mother Earth, wired and working together as our planet’s consciousness?)

Yet what do we find in Christianity (and to an extent Judaism and Islam)? Historical adaptation of spiritual allegory. (The early Church Fathers considered a personalized embodiment of deity as blasphemy.) Literal personalization of the Messiah. A fascist insistence on conformity in every way. A belief that the One True God could be so petty as to favor and show special concern for a specific people or tribe, leaving others in the dark. Holy Wars over whose God is the real God, whose scripture the straight dope. A Church believing that the love of a humanized Christ-child could glorify the slaughter of non-believers. The horrific results of “heresy” and “apostasy”. While I believe we’ve left the worst behind us, the source of the problem is still with us:

“When a nation or culture takes a single book as the determining source and monitor of its entire psychic life, every chapter, every letter becomes crucial, and its misinterpretation can hold countless minds in bondage…When every aspect of a nation’s life is imbued with the conviction that it is inspired by God for the accomplishment of his divine will, all philosophy must be shaped to fit this conception.”

While the Bible is a beautiful book, so too are all the world scriptures and innumerable other works of philosophy. This site is shedding some much needed light on the deeper spiritual meanings of the Good Book, but there is a constant need to follow the body’s example and destroy as we create. And this destruction includes our symbols, our past, our traditions, our mental patterns, our culture, our way of life, our ways of thinking, our expectations…lest we do little more than reduce our future to a projection of a dead past strewn with repetition and imitation. A world deadened by familiarity may seem practical to some, but it’s not life as it is meant to be lived. What is static imperils the flow of newness and birth. Too many people define as “good” anything which confirms their beliefs and caresses their ego while deeming “bad” whatever clashes with their bulwark of well-manicured and vintage certainties. Man’s energy is centrifugal, and it can only express itself through activity, movement, molting. But who isn’t seeking some measure of shelter in the continuum of existence, the linear conceptions of time and space? Seen in these terms, Eden was the most dangerous (and boring) place imaginable, for the comfort of stability is the bane of evolution. Fixation provokes a cessation of development, an accumulation of experience that leads to instinct. Instinct is characterized by repetition of the same reaction with a reduced margin of possible modifications. Too much stability leads to comfort. We were not designed to reach any ceiling in our evolution, for to reach a ceiling implies an end to the ability to adapt, and it is adaptability that determines what species live on and which die off. Comfort is no test of truth: it is the beginning of death.

Anyway, I enjoyed reading this…and then decided to go off on another tangent…I just think we need to tear down every wall and build bridges galore…and accept that life includes death.

Pedro

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Brian January 31, 2014 at 2:34 am

Hi Pedro.

This is really getting to the meat of the matter.

As a very amatuer scholar, I am fairly convinced that the Christian Church is an amalgam of the early Christian groups with their raw spiritual energy (probably akin to a modern day African tribal spirituality) and the Roman Empire with its basically fascist controls and emphasis on law and order.

Apparently Emporer Constantine had to high tail it out of Rome, just ahead of the invading hoardes, and head for Turkey where he was able to do a deal which led to the formation of the Holy Roman Catholic Empire. The rest is really just history; an unfolding of a dubious marriage between the King and the Annointed from the Next Life, whose collective aim was to keep the rest of us in line.

Within this fascist complex, the Enlightenment and the empowerment of the individual, has been an amazing achievement, commencing some 500 years ago with the invention of the printing press, by which thoughtful individuals were able to share their perspectives with each other; think Shakespeare, Newton, Pascal, Darwin, Davey, Einstein and a host of other thinkers who have literally lifted the Western world out of the dire circumstances of the Middle Ages.

I think you are right to highlight some important processes which were unfolding before and during this period.

It seems obvious that Paul and Jesus and many others were higly influenced by the Greek culture which had a 300 plus years head start over the Romans. And I think it is highly likely that the Jewish, Egyptian and Muslim cultures also did their share of some intellectual heavy lifting; and of course Babylonia, etc before them. Check out Jacob Bronowski’s Ascent of Man.

Then of course we had the Eastern culture evolving in their own cultures, largely but not completely, separate from the Western World. It is very enlightening to contemplate your ideas on how these different cultures have impacted each other.

Hopefully, we are now ready to see these various threads of history in a more integrated way.

Perhaps, the biggest barrier to this integration is our historical labels which tend to maintain the political separatism so vital to a fascist state with its need for scapegoats and devils. A card carrying fundamentalist Christian risks going to Hell if they talk to a Muslim or a Buddhist, or worst of all a Darwinian scientist.

Arguably these culturally separate beliefs had their purpose in a geographically separate world. But that was yesterday.

Today we have the tools we need to see the big picture and evolve our planet accordingly.

Hopefully, we will not let the fear implicit in these fascist, messanaic cultures hold us back.

As you highlight, our divinity lies within our imagination and our scientific method which is the source of our evolutionary progress.

As Jacob Bronowski said, as he held up the ashes of his Jewish ancestors in Auswich, “it is not science but a blind arrogant ignorance which creates a holocaust; a fundamental inability to admit that what I believe may be wrong.”

Such are the imperatives of the fundamentalist churches. It is time to let them die and pass peacefully into history. Belief may have its virtues but it does not guarantee truth.

Let your light shine.

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Sparks January 31, 2014 at 7:28 am

Hi Brian,
May I suggest a few more good reads for you…
Shadow’s of Forgotten Ancestors: a search for who we are; Carl Sagan & Ann Druyan
and
The Creators: A History of Heroes of the Imagination; Daniel J Boorstin

They may be out of print, if so, give Josh your address and I will mail them to you
As all can perceive I am an avid reader/bookworm, and I believe knowledge, books included should be shared, and am needing to thin out my collection and get them to the right home, where the knowledge is appreciated.

Appreciate this great post, and keep up the good/truth work!!
you wrote:
Today we have the tools we need to see the big picture and evolve our planet accordingly.
Hopefully, we will not let the fear implicit in these fascist, messianic cultures hold us back.
Powerful statement Brian, and so very true as we continue to watch a dis-eased society
de-volve.
“Let us Run the Race marked out for us with PERSERVERANCE” 12:1.3
We/All of us here are STRONG and BRAVE!!

As I am writing this, I think of Josh and all he has created here, without all his work we would not be here, growing, learning and sharing!
I would like to ask all on board today to make a donation to this awesome site, I have and will continue, even though I would like it to be more, I donate what I can afford as even small donations add up for Josh to continue his work…
With Love and Gratitude,
Sparks

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Thomas January 29, 2014 at 10:00 pm

Thanks Pedro. I will sum up in agreement that there is ONE universal truth and it cannot be contained in one jar. God is One.

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Robert January 30, 2014 at 8:11 pm

Thomas,

I didn’t know a hill a beans about Joseph Cambell until this afternoon. Someone on SOS dropped his name. He came up when I googled Hero’s Journey, a dramatic writing term I am familiar with. Cambell uses the term mono-myth, which is a little harder to recognize when he contracts it to monomyth. Wikipedia says “Campbell and other scholars, such as Erich Neumann, describe narratives of Gautama Buddha, Moses, and Christ in terms of the monomyth and Campbell argues that classic myths from many cultures follow this basic pattern”.

Cambell describes the monomyth; “A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”

So this is an example of varieties of spiritual allegories having a universal structure and purpose. The many lead to the one. I am not sure I would refer to the one as truth, per se, but maybe wisdom.

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Sparks January 30, 2014 at 10:52 pm

All,
More on Joseph Campbell here, for those who are interested in Myth, I suggest reading his bio first, I happened to catch the special on PBS, which after his death in 1987, was televised in 1988, after that series, I was hooked and began reading his books. Truly a great man!
Wonder why all the greats have to leave the planet before their contributions/knowledge come to fruition?

http://www.jcf.org/new/index.php

Good Night All!

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Thomas S February 3, 2014 at 11:20 am

Robert,
I was fortunate enough to see the PBS “Power of Myth” series when it first aired in 1988. I have several of Campbell’s books including the one you referenced. You mentioned that Campbell said myths from different cultures follow a pattern. So true.

The father of depth psychology, Carl Jung, called these archetypes. As a psychologist he saw his patient’s in-common neuroses and cross-cultural myths as revealing that our brain has been hardwired. He was saying archetypes are fixed, unalterable and embedded in the mind/brain’s structure from birth. Think of our DNA as a micro chip, ha!

Archetypes, science, reason, intellect, myths, all point to one universal truth in the universal mind. Interesting stuff. It’s interesting that Jung was considered a gnostic, although he publicly denied it, and Campbell a mystic in some circles.
Thanks,
Tommy

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Laurie January 30, 2014 at 7:08 am

Pedro, Reading your posts are like someone has done a quick scan of my brain (and small thoughts) and then they greatly expand on them in fast forward!!!! LOL I’m serious.

The “Rock”, the Wisdom being lost through corrupt hands and finding it in so many other places, etc.

So much more then all that. It’s hard to put into words. All of it.

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Sparks January 30, 2014 at 4:36 pm

Pedro,
Feel free to go off on tangents anytime…
Keep our big wheels turning!!
Love,
Sparks

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Robert January 31, 2014 at 10:33 am

Pedro,

Also include my four favorite avatars on your extended list along with Moses, Ghandi, etc. They are Charlie Brown, Lucy, Beethoven, and last but not least, Snoopy.

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anny January 31, 2014 at 5:24 am

Hi Thomas,

Thank you for a marvellous article, and so nice to see another author yet again!

There is not much to add to all these wonderful comments above, but I think it should be obvious that there is only One Universal Truth that we each access from our own background. I long since ceased to look for the true religion and started searching for the truth in every religion. We should not look for what separates us but for what unites us and the truth gets more facets every day.

I am looking forward to your next article.

Love,

Anny

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Laurie January 31, 2014 at 6:00 am

Anny, BINGO! 🙂

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Paul January 31, 2014 at 1:00 pm

Courtesy of Jacob Israel:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qX9FSZJu448

Blessings!

P

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Sparks January 31, 2014 at 2:48 pm

Jacob & Paul!!
OMG…this is too powerful for words! LOVE/HELP/LIGHT fixed him, a brave man!
EVERYONE! A MUST SEE

Thanks to all who helped him and gave him a new LIFE!

Jacob, Paul what can I say, only tears on my cheek, thanks for sharing, we needed this!

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Pedro January 31, 2014 at 1:25 pm

Reading this post by Tommy again the following stands out:

“I use the word ‘tradition’ to identify all mystical-mythological streams and the myth-history of those streams. From the gnostic point of view there isn’t a fixed-in-time tradition or doctrine. These are living traditions with new layers and insights added as we evolve as spiritual beings in God’s image. These are the living waters from which we drink (John 7:37-39).”

And

“Transformation is in the power of myth and metaphor and not actual events.”

The following excerpts are from Symbol and Metaphor in Human Experience by Martin Foss. I think they add some nice flavor to this theme. Keep in mind this quote from Heraclitus – ‘No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.’

“‘Existence’ is a process; ‘being’ is a process. The distinction between ‘dynamic’ and ‘static’ is lost in the paradoxical unity of the infinite process. Is existence movement? Is it rest? Existence reveals the metaphorical truth that Being is Becoming; that movement has its necessity only in a resting tension of force. This paradoxical unity of Becoming and Being, of movement and rest is the Heraclitean Logos, and it is Life.

“Rest and infinity are not limiting concepts, to be striven and sought for: they underlie all movement as force and conservation of force, carrying and transcending movement. Science may investigate a limited movement, abstracted from its infinite ground; but life is the indivisible unity of rest and movement, of Being and Becoming. It is the infinite tension of the metaphorical process itself.

“Every whole, therefore, seems only to be resting while it, in fact, is related to other wholes, and this changing and moving world comes truly to rest only in the process which transcends all parts, wholes, relations and changes. ‘Cause’ is such a seeming rest, a whole, but it changes into a part which together with its effect forms another whole… ‘Wholeness’ or ‘perfection,’ therefore, is limited to things, to objects which are whole or perfect only in their relation to other things, but are altogether transcended by the metaphorical tension of the process which is resting because it is the principle of conservation, energy and existence.

“Who identifies symbol and metaphor makes it impossible to understand the act of creation which is at the same time destruction and birth, a birth which grows out of destruction, a being which needs the naught and transcends it…To ‘overcome’ is the command which religion asks. But that which shall be overcome is not the ‘world,’ it is that which in the process of world-creation seems to resist and, as an element of destruction, has itself to be destroyed, although it is essential to creation…What is it that overcomes matter? We may call it ‘form.’

“In this process of realization the potential carries over and beyond itself into an actuality with which it has continuously been united, but through which it, nevertheless, does not ever lose entirely its potential character…In this process the necessary meaning lies permanently ahead of the potential consciousness as its direction and future…This, indeed, is the secret of life and consciousness that the potential is in a mysterious tension and unity with a never-ceasing actuality; that the communion of present and future is a consciousness which always is present, but always has to realize itself in a future. This inner articulation of the actual and potential, of present and future is an awareness, not of a detached object but of its own direction and development.

“Wherever life becomes conscious of its creativity, it is faced by a living entity, the ‘Thou,’ and this Thou is to the I a revelation of its own meaning and future. It is always a Thou, and only a Thou, as an expression of life which carries the I forward and makes it aware of its destiny. Not self-consciousness, but consciousness of the Thou is fundamental to life. The I, to be sure, remains the potential, but a potential for the Thou which reveals and expresses the I in its movement upward and beyond. In the process of life, expression means always communication with a Thou which is never fully realized but remains an inexhaustible power, leading on into a meaningful future. This Thou is, if reflected upon, other than the longing and striving I; but it is also that which is in no way other than the I, the ‘non aliud’ of Cusanus, and it is this essentially, because we are here in a realm where consciousness has not an object, not a content detached from itself, but is aware merely of its own drive and destiny.

“Progress carries history because progress is only another word for metaphorical transcendence. We can understand this transcendence as an idea, an ‘ideal,’ living in and through all events of history, never exhausted in them, never satisfied and fulfilled, never even fully explained nor interpreted. This ideal destroys as much as it creates because it is always beyond any achievement of the time. It may be attached to a model, but never as a slavish imitation because imitation again is only a symbolic reduction of similarity, comparison, and repetition. The ideal will always be transformed by its followers, enriched and developed. When people no longer live the ideal they cease to have a history; they stagnate and settle down in the repetition of an organized scheme. They live from their capital and at last deteriorate in the poverty and emptiness of a mere gesture of life.

“The history of the individual, equally, carries on in an infinite and unique process. We live neither a beginning nor an end, neither birth nor death. We cannot even conceive the thought of ever not having been or ever falling into the night of nothingness. Immortality is the ground on which we dispose of, organize, and discipline the small amount of years given to us. No life is truly a life which does not permanently live beyond the disciplined and organized stock of limited time and space, in a ‘world’ beyond, in a spiritual process which unites us with all that was and all that will be.”

Que sigan la luz dorada.

Pedro

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Sparks January 31, 2014 at 2:46 pm

Dear Pedro,

por allí encontrarás el tesoro!!

Blessings my friend,
Sparks

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Brian January 31, 2014 at 4:21 pm

Powerful thoughts, Pedro.

Metaphor is such a twin edged sword for a conscious being. And so much hinges on the true nature of the collective consciousness; or even if it actually exists.

As an individual with a living human brain, I can tell myself any story I please. But does this story-telling-consciousness cease with the death of the human, or can we look forward to a consciousness continuity after death? My belief is that in spite of all the visionaries, divine seers, annointed ones, infallible popes, and inspired books, we still simply don’t know. And believing that we do know, while harmless and comforting as an existential experience, becomes very dangerous when it is extrapolated into a cause and effect religious code (eg if you sin, you will go to hell!) This heaven and hell stuff may seem like an excessive use of metaphor, but it appears that a lot of people still believe in it enough to persecute each other in these silly inter-religious conflicts. Google “gay rights” and see what people are doing to each other on the basis of a few sacred texts.

Coming closer to the things that concern the community in this website, metaphor still has its yin and yang.

Yes, the human imagination with its ability to create symbolic possibilities, almost at will, is a wonderful tool in the life of any creative being. And indeed, it seems safe to infer that most leaps forward in the human condition begin as an idea; often a novel or even an heretical idea.

But can we use symbol and metaphor as universal communication tool?

I think Korzybski states the case well when he warns that “the map is not the territory.” Both the strength and the weakness of a map lies with the details that we filter out. And which details to include will always be related to our particular purpose in using the map. Google the gorilla basketballer experiment for a humorous experience of how we filter stuff out of our perception of reality.

Korzybski also highlights the impact of language upon our mapping of our objective experiences. As adults we can only speculate on how we coded our experiences in the first, prelanguage year of life; and some of us have similar speculations about how the family pet codes his relationship with us. Does he see us strictly as a meal ticket or does he really love us?

The answer is that we do not really know.

Enter language by which we would seem to be able to code and communicate our experiences with each other. But the code we use is another form of map called symbols and metaphors which are subject to the same limitations as the map which is not the territory.

So the fact remains that in spite of our best linguistic efforts, I will never fully understand your subjective experience; nor you mine. And worse still, the gorilla basketballer experiment shows that we are not even that crash hot at coding our own subjective experience.

So, what sad little beings we still are. Even after so many years of evolution we remain this island of individual consciousness that may only last for less than a century. I am sorry but all the rest is mere speculative metaphor, coded up in a set of symbols which are at best only local to each of us. (Never, ever assume that just because we share a common language we will automatically understand each other; the burgeoning divorce rate says otherwise.)

But what a wonderful gift those 70 odd years of life really are….as long as you don’t take all those myths, symbols and metaphors too seriously. After all, nobody gets out of here alive. That story is just another one of those metaphors.

Have a wonderful day. (Most of us will only get about 25,000 days of life on this earth. They are indeed precious.)

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Raymond Phelan February 1, 2014 at 8:43 am

Hi Thomas,

Thank you for sharing this wonderful knowledge, I’m totally fascinated by it. You’ve revealed some astonishing information and raised some what if Qs had a Gnostic Pope been elected.

Gnosticism had it so right, due in no small measure, I feel, to the evolved “tradition route” as apposed to constructed dogmas. Indeed, Traditions sourced of ‘gnosis’ remains the surest expression of divine Evolution. Sadly, somewhere along the line the seed was gobbled up by the crows during the “power grab” feast-frenzy.

The Gnostic all-inclusive inner Believe state, as separate from outer selective beliefs or, conditional believe IN something or ‘someone’, was authenticated by Jesus’ words when the apostles woken him on the stormy lake: “Where is your Believe”, not where is your belief/faith IN me/him, rather Believe, the state, sourced of Inner Christ.

Looking forward to another ‘feast’ of your insightful articles on S.O.S.

Blessings!

Raymond

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Sparks February 1, 2014 at 10:34 am

Thomas and all,
Yes, this is a “Feast”, as Raymond has stated, a wonderful, beautiful spiritual feast!
Thank you again Thomas!! Please write more as we are anticipating more from you, feed us!

In light of this article, I wanted to draw some attention to the “ESSENES”
It has been rumored that the Master, lived and trained with them, possibly in the lost years where we know nothing about his whereabouts.
As I have studied and been drawn to the Essenes teachings, I felt a great gnosis/knowing in their way of life, and have ventured to “know/feel” that this was one of my past lives.
Will not go and on, but I will provide a few links for those who may want to further explore

For me they were in fact the original Gnostics and would love for all to share their thoughts in Thomas’s article, which is carrying the same bandwidth/layer/energy.
Enjoy the read…
http://www.essenespirit.com/
http://reluctant-messenger.com/essene/

BOOKS & AIUTHOR
http://www.en.oliviermanitara.org/

Be Love,
Sparks

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Pedro February 1, 2014 at 1:36 pm

Brian,

You’re scratching me right where I itch! Lots of food for thought here.

I agree with most of what you say and confess that I have too often given more clout to the theories and explanations born in other minds than to my own individual experience. However, there’s no denying that we have far more in common than most people believe, even if language becomes a door as often as a partition. In keeping with Korzybski, “the window is not the view.”

It took me a while to realize that words are merely symbols and writing a technology. (I can’t help but think of Thoreau’s idea of being “the tools of our tools,” taken to an even lower level in a world where people have become the thrall of their media devices as evidenced by the current trivialization of words themselves.) Language, as a form of symbolism, is subject to manifold strictures. The work of George Lakoff highlights the complications of language and metaphor in everyday usage. In the realm of scripture and spirituality the use and abuse, interpretation and misinterpretation, of symbols seems unlimited. Is Truth ineffable? Do any of us truly have an answer to what appears to be the most simple question of all – Who am I? (Perhaps this is why we’re so much better at defining and judging others.) What is your opinion of the language of Nature? Surely this is a book that offers some reflections worth pondering…

Although I can relate to the implications of limitation, just as chaos only makes sense in terms of order, we can only even conceive of limitation against a background of freedom. While a piece of string has two ends and appears separate, the string itself is whole. It’s easy to think we live life in a way akin to looking at the front yard from inside the house by way of a peep hole on the door. But there is more than meets the eye. (The light spectrum comes to mind.) Is it possible to be consciousness of unconsciousness? You say “nobody gets out of here alive.” I’d say no body gets out of here alive… What would possession mean without dispossession?

In the end, whether that “story” is just another metaphor we tell ourselves, I’d say that everything is a symbol for something else, whether your body, nature, the stars, planets and sun… Your comments on consciousness remind me of a thought-provoking phrase by Julian Jaynes:

“O, what a world of unseen visions and heard silences, this insubstantial country of the mind! What ineffable essences, these touchless rememberings and unshowable reveries! And the privacy of it all! A secret theater of speechless monologue and prevenient counsel, an invisible mansion of all moods, musings, and mysteries, an infinite resort of disappointments and discoveries. A whole kingdom where each of us reigns reclusively alone, questioning what we will, commanding what we can. A hidden hermitage where we may study out the troubled book of what we have done and yet may do. An introcosm that is more myself than anything I can find in a mirror. This consciousness that is myself of selves, that is everything, and yet is nothing at all – what is it?
And where did it come from?
And why?”

BTW, your inquiry as to what’s going on inside our pets made me think of an interesting – and hilarious – account of a man who was struck by lightning in 1976 and pronounced dead, only to return to life. During his 35 minutes in between he experienced quite an amazing journey, and he returned with some uncanny powers. He claims to have in fact experienced the consciousness of his childhood dog and I don’t doubt that it’s true. It’s called Saved by the Light by Dannion Brinkley.

Thanks for your sharing your thoughts.
Pedro

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Dr Who 4 February 11, 2014 at 12:54 pm

I’m new to this blog/site and find it most interesting. After reading these comments on this subject my question remains, there must be some entity/conciseness in charge if you will?
There is just too much design/intent to creation/life to recon all there is to some unconnected force? How to truly find this is (puszelening ) ( I’m not a good speller)to me. I find it difficult to believe that the Christ in me is the creator/sustainer. However as has been described in other posts I’m a part of a whole entity but don’t understand how.
I’ll keep reading and learning as I can’t go back to fundamental Christianity because of the history of what I have learned to date, to do so would be akin to the dark ages. With this said I’m not ready to accept/ Hindu /Buddhist or other kind religious systems as they seam to me to be a kind of idol worship.
Thanks much to all who contribute their thoughts here as there is much to consider.

Dr Who 4

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Sparks February 11, 2014 at 8:30 pm

Hi Dr. Who 4.
Welcome aboard!! Your Spiritual ship is prepared and waiting!
Am assuming you are a Dr. who fan? Keep that show in mind OK

Energy is a force that is extremely powerful and invisible for the most part, if you have ever researched Nicola Tesla (energy genius) and his experiments with tapping into”free” energy, you may actually see it, we also see it in lightning, a flame or fire, maybe a few more, wind is an energy force we can’t see but we feel it.
Have you ever been kissed? If its a good kiss, you most definitely will feel the energy 🙂
These are seen and felt examples, listing all the unseen would take much too long for me as I believe we ourselves are in fact energy in a human vessel. Our entire body works on energy, the food we eat is the fuel, nutrition wise.
What then is the “Manna” we feed our minds, hearts and Spirit.
Does not God, the source of our being & The Christ inside of our being have the Leading Star Role here?
Conditioning has been a very strong factor in all our lives here at SOS, and that is no matter what particular faith we may have been conditioned by… so by reading and discovering you are actually clearing your mind and heart to accept a higher level of understanding, which eventually transmutes your consciousness, to a higher layer of truth, your truth!
You are here at SOS for a reason so to say, what force brought you here?
But, again, are you an explorer, navigator, seeker or spiritually lazy?
(think Dr Who)

May I suggest Raymond Phelan’s article here at SOS on The Lord’s Prayer:
http://www.spiritofthescripture.com/id2481-the-lords-prayer-the-essence-of-divine-cosmic-expression.html
and also Paul Young’s article on Who or What is God and Christ:
http://www.spiritofthescripture.com/id2427-who-or-what-is-god-and-christ.html

Clear your mind/heart of any preset notions you may be holding onto, then dig in, let your intuition guide you, this is all good food for the soul and all good souls providing that food.

Feel free to jump in with questions or comments, as all on board here are here simply because we feel a need to help ourselves and others, so many seekers fill that void they are feeling, seeing and knowing (Gnosis), that there is definitely to our spiritual lives/being, much, much more!!
We are here for the same reason you are…
Blessings & Love,
Sparks

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Dr Who 4 February 17, 2014 at 7:03 pm

Sparks

Thanks much for the response. Yes I’m a DR who fan.

This web site has been a real help to me in my quest to Christ in me the hope of glory and there is so much here to digest. For some time now I have had a feeling /knowing that there is more to the Bible than the typical fundamental Christian doctrine teaching because there are so many different denominations and each claim to have the truth so I was quite confused.
What got me to thinking was first Tim 2:4 where Paul states that God wants all men(people) to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. This with others like it started me questioning the traditional salvation doctrine and I went to church leaders for answers but couldn’t find a resolution that worked for me to answer my questions. I have been seeking answers since that turning point and this site has answered many but I now have a problem with the evil and killing of each other over small things as well on a mass level. Some times I feel as if God is playing games with us to see which ones will survive I know that is a tough concept but I have many people ask me how God allows this continuing evil of murdering each other continue, there must be an end some time? Perhaps not in my lifetime but sometime soon.
Thanks again for the response and I look forward to reading more information about life on this site.
Dr Who 4

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Sparks February 20, 2014 at 8:05 am

Dr Who 4,
The questioning of your Spiritually is one of the first signs of a door being opened, allowing you to bring in more knowledge, getting to know yourself better, opening your chakra’s, practicing meditation and being here at SOS, which btw, is not by chance.
I’m sure you can acknowledge that all of us here have been conditioned in our lives to various religious denominations, which has given us a band aid at difficult times, only to find we are right back where we started from and still feel a void in our soul/spirit.
The really wonderful part for you is that you are beginning an entire new life, the life of an awakened being and this experience will bring you much Joy.
At the same time our eyes become opened to “going within” to seek the answers of your truth, we begin to see and hear the chaos of the world with more compassion and love and it hurts.
For myself, I try not to ingest to much of it, although I want to know what’s happening in the world, my empathetic nature becomes too sensitive and I become saddened, frustrated and helpless. What can I do? What can you do?, all of here have asked this question at one or more occasions during their seeking, but the only answer that is viable is what you are doing right now, becoming one with the Christ within!
How many lives we can help by continuing on a awakened Spiritual path? 1, 2, perhaps thousands, we simply do not know, but what we do know is that energy moves, and as Spirit moves within you, your enlightened energy becomes a conduit for the light & love.
An example may be you are going about your day and happen to notice someone struggling, they need assistance, and yet 10 or so people have just passed by them and have done nothing to help, you take 3 seconds of your time to help them, They are relieved and grateful!
How much good energy have you created?!!
That particular person most likely will be telling everyone how a stranger, stopped, took the time, and helped them, thus creating more positive energy/light, not a big thing for you, you may think, but your wrong, it is in the small, little things we think and do that makes the difference.
You begin to change from service to self to service to others, helping humankind.
An act of caring/love goes a long, long way…
Continue your journey Who 4, (for yourself, for the world)!!

I found something for you, its from a small book called: “A World on its Knees”, honest prayers in uncertain times, gathered from all peoples from all parts of the globe:

Radiating Peace by Susan (Kenya)
God of all goodness and love,
we thank and praise you
because you desire all creation to live in harmony
in the heart of each one of us
regardless of our nationality or race;
allow us to collaborate with you
in bringing peace and tranquility
Let us live and share that peace that comes from you, within us,
not from any human invention
May our lives radiate peace to all~ Amen

and a beautiful song from The Fray “Be Still”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5nUuBjz4Vhc

Love & Light Always,
Sparks

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Dr Who 4 February 20, 2014 at 12:52 pm

Sparks

Thanks so much for the kind encouragement.
As a matter of fact I happend upon a drunk by the side of the road on my way to a Christmas gathering many years a go when I lived in Michigan. I believe this man might have died if I hadn’t stopped and taken him to the local motel till he became coherent enough to call family to come and get him. I never found out his name nor where he was from or how he came to be alone on the side of the road freezing in the snow and I’m reminded of this incident from time to time.
I have learned from my short time reading the articles and comments on this site that when reading the first chapters in Genesis if we take the symbolic meaning instead of the believed historical literal meaning we find the beginning of our selves and not the creation of the cosmos. This takes some adjustment in mind set ( traditional Christian interpretation) to see. We will probably not learn how creation truly came in to being so I recon from what you have advised I should view my concern for all the killing/death we see every day in similar light and trust that in the end God will eventually bring a good conclusion to these problems.
This web site is really a boon to my understanding of reality.
Thanks to everyone who add their impute/and insight.

Dr Who 4

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Robert February 20, 2014 at 4:29 pm

Dr. Who 4,

I’m a sci fi fan and have found Dr. Who very interesting. He has a mission to improve the universe and carries it out (each week) using his timelord capabilities through various circumstances. Then every few years he regenerates into a new personality and physical body with the same mission and capabilities (played by a new actor). Its kind of like a sci fi version of James Bond.

Maybe one part of an answer to “Why God allows gross suffering” is that it is a often the result of human ego-centered manifestation in individuals, groups, even nations. Traditional Christianity is just beginning to understand the role of the ego from secular psychology and Eastern religions. Early branches of Christianity probably also understood it, but were suppressed by the political power of the early Catholic church. One function of this blogsite tries to recapture some of that suppressed wisdom by reconstructing a different interpretation of scripture. New agers believe we are just now entering a new age of enlightenment, and part of that may be happening as believers start to stick their heads out of the fundamentalist turtle shell and open up to new approaches. Perhaps this will lead to the gradual establishment of a golden age of peace with much less suffering.

Glad you are learning.

Robert

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Robert February 20, 2014 at 5:37 pm

Dr who 4,

The exerpt below describes what some early Gnostics in the school of St Thomas believed about suffering (from http://www.integralscience.org/gnosis.html)

“…the Gnostics had a story centered on the metaphysical origins of individual immortal souls. The fundamental cause of human suffering according to the Gnostic story is not due to an expulsion of the group from a land of paradise, but to an exile of the individual soul from the spiritual realms into the material world. The entire created world, and hence its creator, thus becomes viewed as evil.

The Gnostic myth also describes the exile of the soul in the material world as a form of bondage or enslavement to the body, a type of ignorance or forgetting, and as a state of being asleep. A central distinguishing feature of the Gnostic myth is the call from the spiritual realms that reminds or awakens the soul to its true identity. The call is also symbolized by a savior or messenger from the spiritual realm who liberates the enslaved soul from suffering by bringing knowledge (gnosis) of its true nature. This savior is identified as Jesus in The Gospel According to Thomas …”

Robert

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Sparks February 20, 2014 at 9:48 pm

Robert,
Excellent find!!
Thanks for providing the link…and good reading for Dr. Who 4
A real treasure, am going there to read some before bedtime

Whenever I read Gnostic writings I always have good dreams, and I think during the dream in my mind, I will remember that, it so good I don’t want get up and write it down, just want to stay in the dream.
Then when I do get up, of course I only remember bits and pieces, and how powerful the dream was.
At times they will be the most beautiful words or songs, and I say you have to pull yourself away while you can still remember and write them down, but I think its natural to want to stay in the beauty essence of the dream.

Wonder if anyone here can remember these type’s of dreams?
or if there is a technique to recall it?
Anyone?

Sparks

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Christopher February 25, 2014 at 4:14 am

Joshua,

Hello! Salutations! Greetings with peace! 🙂 I’d introduce myself, but you already know me, as I am the universe so..
Allow me to introduce my ego: Known as Christopher, we are a 30 year old body and book of knowledge. I have been questing for Truth since the Earth age of 7 when my sister informed me about death.

Reading about your marvelous posts, I have shared the same unsettled feeling about common Christian teachings and traditions. And allow me to say it is a pleasure to have stumbled upon your blog, and blessed it be as I have sought it with out knowing, It provides wonderful connections and insights to the “Holy Bible”

Skipping my life story, it was a baptism, a confession of Jesus Christ, and the unsettling words “You’re born again! You’re going to heaven now!” with the assured and friendly smile of a pastor that finally anchored my constant insecurities of Christianity. I knew with out a shadow of a doubt that this was false, and what I believe to be Pagan tradition, searching outward for answers instead of inward, practicing outward rituals as opposed to inward rituals, and seeking intellectual understanding in hopes to obtain heaven, as opposed to seeking divine experience which brings intellectual understanding.

It had been my notion for a long time that the bible was misunderstood. And I personally believed it some how related to anatomy, metaphysics, spiritual ascension and the right now. I had often wondered if names mentioned In the Holy Bible were metaphors for bodily organs or journeys light takes down pathways, like electrical pulses from the brain to the arm, or to the eye, etc.

In the onslaught of cries and woes of confusion I stumbled upon Kundalini, which lead me to research, and brought me to the Chakras or Churches, which eventually lead me here, where I am now doing the majority of my research.

You have helped me! I found new Faith, revitalizing my understanding and giving me a foundation in which to stand as I come to shed the Ego.

Now I wish to bounce ideas off of you, and I would like to communicate with you through email if possible with your varying schedule.

In regards to this particular article, is it possible that the Holy Bible and all other religious texts were not written by understanding, not written after experiences, but reverse Engineered out of the universe using and equation of some sort?

Essentially all religious texts are the same, and very specific, to the point where man’s conversion of thought to paper would have to be beyond man’s natural error.

The word of God could be the sound that creates existence, but have you noticed how Christians unwittingly refer to the Holy BibLe as the “word of God”? An explanation from preachers and pastors is that God wrotw through their experiences.

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Joshua Tilghman March 1, 2014 at 12:09 pm

Chris,

Thanks for commenting, and you do bring up some excellent points. To get straight to the point, I believe all the scriptures of world were received in altered states of consciousness. Christianity would have us to believe that the rational mind, attuned with the Holy Spirit, made the scriptures possible, but the fact that so many religious text from across the world and different time periods are evidence that the rational mind could never have been involved. Scholarly investigation have proven that much of the Bible is myth, and yet there is more truth in that myth when not interpreted literally than in the Bible when it is interpreted literally. Paul explicitly told us that the letter (literal interpretation) kills the life of the spirit. So yes, I do think you are right.

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Christopher February 25, 2014 at 4:25 am

Christopher here. Excuse me, I am on my phone and I accidentally posted with out finishing the thought.

So as I said, the explanation is that man wrote Gods word from a literal interaction with God with out error.

However, Hebrew and Greek are very mathematical languages. I am getting the impression that the reason the bible is God’s word is actually because there was an equation used to convert existence into language, which is why it can be written so many ways.

Blue and azur are both words to describe a color that is what it is.

As you said, Kundalini, Christ, Chi, Prana what have you are all words to define “what is” to one another. True understanding is to not contain objects with words but to recognize existence.

Perhaps “God’s word” is written in many different languages and cultures as a means to get the systematic message, a code, into each individual. So that regardless of if he knows the word kundalini or christ, he is taking in the signal flow of creation behinds the words. Other wise in its simplest form the bible could be written as “this is it” or comprised entirely of numerical equations. Your thoughts?

Thank you 🙂

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Joshua Tilghman March 1, 2014 at 12:02 pm

Christopher,

Your last paragraph rings especially true. This code that you speak of beings to birth the seed, but our rational minds always distort the message.

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Dr Who 4 February 25, 2014 at 4:59 pm

Robert

Thanks for the response and the information from the web site mentioned. I read the info. and found some answers to some questions.
As mentioned in some of the comments on this page there is the reality that we can’t know definitely as in a scientific experiment what is true or false but we must stretch our faith based on the knowledge we learn for ourselves as what is true or false. With this said I have been reading the books by Eckhart Tolle and he has ,what I believe, is a good handle on what is real and what isn’t. I have much to learn and much to wrap my thinking around so any help SOS or any of your comments are much appreciated.
One of the paramount things I’m learning is about the ego and how it is like Plato’s cave in a sense by keeping us prisoner and hiding knowledge of consciousness. However one thing I know for sure I wish I had paid attention in English class and learned to spell well because it takes me a long time to write anything due to my lame spelling. I though since I could draw well and express my self visually I wouldn’t need spelling but then in college when I decided to study advertising I had a rude awakening I still do when I try writing something.
Sorry for the brief detour but I really am glad I found SOS and am learning every time open the site up and read the entries.
Thanks Joshua for starting this website and all who contribute.

Dr Who 4

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Robert February 25, 2014 at 9:44 pm

Dr. Who 4

All we timelords find spelling problematic in the host time period and location we visit. We are derived from a race that used mathematical language. Earth in this epoch uses an inferior phonetically derived langauge. It started with a few grunts like “duh” about food or sex and worked its way up to supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

Do not loose heart Dr. Who 4. Timelords are more than capable of what the Brits on this planet and in this age call “banging out the whole mess on a keyboard and pressing the bloody spellcheck.button.” Have you ever wondered why every Dr. Who has a bloody British accent? Not just British. But bloody British.

Using the Brit trick I fooled everyone (that’s what we bloody timelord’s are known best for). Everything was going well until I locked myself out of the Tardus. Can’t fool the Tardus. Have to wait another life cycle before I can get back in. So in the meantime I googled “free online spelling practice for adults” and had a lot of fun playing spelling games. If you have some time, try it out. Let me know if it helps. Also, if you happen to come across a way to unlock the bloody Tardus, we can both scoot out of here. I left a supercomputer running on Sirus 4 in 30122 calculating the equation for everything. Might come in handy. Need to get back there and check on it.

Thnaks fer duh fedbak.
Robert

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RogerV August 2, 2014 at 2:05 pm

I think you will find my article here lends some backing to the idea of Christian origins stemming from the Kingdom is Within You teaching:

Dating the Gospel of Thomas
http://www.reddit.com/tb/2cfuu5

I added some additional notes as the first comment on this article that in particular drills in on this matter.

Regards,
RogerV

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Joshua Tilghman September 7, 2014 at 9:16 am

Thank you, RogerV, for sharing more info for my readers to consider. Always appreciate info on the Gnostic Gospels.

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Tommy September 8, 2014 at 1:36 pm

Roger,
Excellent article. Adding to what you wrote. Between Thomas and John, Thomas seems the more likely disciple. He quoted Jesus as a gnostic sage in the Essene tradition. For the Essenes the words of the teacher were important as hidden wisdom and instructions necessary for salvation (“Whoever discovers the interpretation of these sayings will not experience death.”) The Essenes believed in the resurrection of the body as entering a life in paradise — divinity was never in view. In this tradition, understanding the words spoken by Jesus and recorded by Thomas were necessary for salvation. Jesus as a god spreading the notion of our own divinity as children of God would have been blasphemy.

In contrast, John, who was likely not a disciple beloved or not, much later than Thomas built upon the idea of the divinity of man-woman represented by Jesus. Resurrection – rebirth happened in the here and now. Jesus’ purpose was to reveal this. He showed this generation the “Way.” This idea was taught by Paul decades earlier as the “Christ in you,” so this already existed as a widespread stream of Gnosticism at the time John’s gospel was written. The divine Christ and the recognition of our own divinity featured prominently in Paul’s writings and are somewhat veiled in John’s gospel.

It is more probable that friction between the two traditions, not the individual personalities as suggested by Pagels, had at its root interpretations of events based upon their respective backgrounds. There could not have been a greater contrast in traditions stemming from a single event. It’s apparent John felt strongly that Thomas had missed the point badly. If this hypothesis is accepted, we can see why John chose to defame Thomas and by association discredit the tradition following after him. Between the two traditions, Christian Gnosticism profits greater from Paul and John’s Christology, while Thomas is an interesting footnote.

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Tommy September 9, 2014 at 12:02 pm

Let me clarify that I do not mean to diminish the importance of the gnostic teachings of Jesus as recorded by Thomas in his gospel. While John may have looked down on Thomas, paraphrasing Elaine Pagels assertion, Thomas’ gospel is certainly more than an “interesting footnote.” Poor expression in comparing the two and choice of words on my part. Only in Thomas’ gospel do we unambiguously see proof of the gnostic Jesus.

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RogerV September 8, 2014 at 2:12 pm

Tommy,

I ‘ve actually shifted my thinking a bit on the Christology of the Gospel of John. Am thinking the Trinity doctrine of early 4th century has caused everyone to interpret John’s Christology in a highly skewed manner. If we go back to John itself it actually explains its Christology itself and even depicts Yeshua as giving that explanation. And that Christology is a very Gnostic one. So John may be much closer to GTh than many folks presume (though the author still seemed to see GTh as a kind of rival to be superseded by that author’s take). Can check out the last item of this short article:

Which Jesus? (Gnosticism in the New Testament Gospels)
shortlink: http://redd.it/2do3ba

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Tommy September 8, 2014 at 3:59 pm

Thanks Roger,
My thinking is always shifting. I agree the 4th gospel has been skewed badly by the universal church. The trinity doctrine is not supported by the cannon. It’s just not there. Thanks!

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