The Secret Knowledge

Enmity Between Flesh and Spirit

  1. The Mysterious Divine "The designation Gnosticism, derived from the Greek gnostikos (one who has gnosis, or "secret knowledge"), is a term of modern scholarship. Evidence for the Gnostic phenomenon, found in the Church Fathers who opposed Gnostic teachings (Irenaeus, c. 185; Hippolytus, c. 230; Epiphanius, c. 375) and in the Gnostic writings themselves, reveals a diversity in theology, ethics, and ritual that defies strict classification. Yet Gnostic sects appear to have shared an emphasis on the redemptive power of esoteric knowledge, acquired not by learning or empirical observation but by divine revelation." - Encyclopaedia Britannica "There were Gnostics in Greco-Roman academies, the [middle] Platonists , before Christ was born (ie, Figulus, Eudorus of Alexandria, Thrasyllus). These are the Pythagorizing Platonists who, before Plotinus, held that Knowledge can be perfected when it communes with the Divine, the mysterious Divine. Cicero speaks of Figulus (45 BC), the spiritual one, who was a contemporary of Apollonius of Tyana , the miracle worker and spiritualist mystic, and also a Pythagorean." "The main teaching states that there is a supreme being or power which is invisible and has no perceptible form. This power is the one which can be contacted by mankind, and it is through it that man can control himself and work out his destiny. The various religious teachers through the ages, putting their creeds in many different ways, were in contact with this power, and their religions all contain a more or less hidden kernel of initiation. This is the secret which the Knowers can communicate to the disciples. But the secret can be acquired only through exercising the mind and body, until the terrestrial man is so refined as to be able to become a vehicle for the use of this power. Eventually the initiate becomes identified with the power, and in the end he attains his true destiny as a purified personality, infinitely superior to the rest of unenlightened mankind." - Arkon Daraul, Secret Societies "It is as though the Middle Platonists sought to incorporate Mysticism into Plato’s perfect logic. The East still had a strong hold on many old Romans, just as it does on many new Californians. The main idea is the enmity between flesh and spirit, and the need for a Mediator between them."
  2. 2) The Aeons "When the soul has descended into generation (from its half-divine condition) she partakes of evil, and is carried a great way into a state the opposite of her first purity and integrity, to be entirely merged in which is nothing more than to fall into a dark mire." - Plotinus "Simply put, the Gnostics/Platonists believed that there was ‘The Good’ from which a variety of emanations (Aeons) were given off. They, the Aeons, in turn are in a sequential order, which is determined by the Aeons’ knowledge; the more they know the higher up and thus closer to ‘the Good’ they are. Each of these entities is aware of those under him, but is unaware of anything above him. They serve as the intermediaries which we have to bypass on our journey to ‘The Good’. As for us humans, we are actually the sons of The Good and have been separated from him, and are given these bodies almost as a punishment, for in essence we are spirits. In order for us to once again be reunited with The Good, we must gain the secret Gnosis, which will allow us to bypass all the Aeons and also to bypass the most ignorant of which, who is the Demigure who created this material world and enfleshed us. The Gnostics believed that this secret knowledge was transmitted by savior figures, who included Seth , Enoch , and Jesus ." - Maged S. Mikhail, "The Gnostics, A Survey of Gnostic Beliefs and Gnostic-Christian Ties" "Ye walked according to the Aeon of this world [aiwna tou kosmon], according to the Archon that has the domination of the air [arconta thV exousiaV]." "We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against the dominations, the powers; the lords of darkness, the mischievousness of spirits in the upper regions." - Ephesians 2:2, 6:12 "In developed gnostic systems, at the beginning was the incomprehensible, invisible, eternal, and ungenerated Forefather, Depth; Depth gave rise to a female counterpart, Silence. Together they produced the next pair of Aeons, which eventuate in fourteen such pairs, each pair with lesser power and memory of its origin that the previous pair. At the lowest level is Wisdom and the creator God. Salvation consists in reascending the ladder of divine emanations and rejoining the godhead." - Robert W. Funk, Roy W. Hoover, and the Jesus Seminar, The Five Gospels The tradition of the ladder (also reflected in Jacob’s ladder in the Old Testament) goes back to the Pyramid Texts . "There is thus a converse in virtue of which the essential man outgrows Being, becomes identical with the Transcendent of Being. The self thus lifted, we are in the likeness of the Supreme: if from that heightened self we pass still higher- image to archetype- we have won the Term of all our journeying. Fallen back again, we awaken the virtue within until we know ourselves all order once more; once more we are lightened of the burden and move by virtue towards Intellectual-Principle and through the Wisdom in That to the Supreme. This is the life of gods and of the godlike and blessed among men, liberation from the alien that besets us here, a life taking no pleasure in the things of earth, the passing of solitary to solitary." - Plotinus, Six Enneads
  3. (3) Routes to Salvation "Some teachers believed a state of ecstasy provided divine illumination, while others advocated fasting and meditation." - Ancient Wisdom and Secret Sects "Living in a world which is subjectively felt and experienced as a ‘rotten place’ (a Gnostic term), cries out for salvation. The way this salvation begins is with the material body. It rises up to higher planes (e.g. the emotional plane and the intellectual plane), until man reaches the divine place in the Pleroma. That is fulness to overflowing. This Pleroma, be it IN man or somewhere in outer space, is the Gnostic counterpart to the ‘rotten’ earthly place. Two routes can be pursued to leave this rotten place: to suppress or avoid it (the ascetic concept); or to dissolve it while completely living it out (the sensual way). On a higher plane it is vice versa. The sensual way leads to homeopathic asceticism: weakening the evil whilst indulging in it like a necessity. The sensual gnostic embraces sin in order to experience the decaying of the world, and to rise as the Phoenix from the ashes. Sexual orgies are sweating out the divine Pneuma/Logos which rises to the Pleroma. The ascetic way reacts allopathically: against the poison of existence it gives ignorance of the body as a remedy." - P. R. Koenig, "Spermo-Gnostics and the OTO"
  4. The Gnostics "defined three types of men; the spiritual, the carnal and the ones in-between (the Soulish). The spiritual ones were said to be saved regardless of what they do, the carnal were assumed to be beyond salvation, and the in-betweens were believed to be capable of salvation if they followed the Gnostic way and played by the rules. This doctrine of some being saved regardless of what they did caused many to live reckless lives. However, this made the Gnostics seem even more heathenistic..." - Maged S. Mikhail, "The Gnostics, A Survey of Gnostic Beliefs and Gnostic-Christian Ties" Even "the most perfect among them shamelessly do all the forbidden things." - IreaneusAgainst the Heresies, I. 15.4 and also I.11.4
  5. (4) Magical Talismans "The Gnostics were a closed society; they were said to carry stones inscribed with serpents and other symbols as talismans and proof of initiation, and to employ passwords and secret handshakes to identify themselves to other members of the sect." - Ancient Wisdom and Secret Sects "Inscribed magical gems were probably derived from Egyptian oracular papyri, which evolved as a kind of substitution for amulets late in the New Kingdom. (Inscribed stones usually are carved with the figure of either a traditional Greek god or a Hellenized Egyptian god, such as Isis or Anubis, and a brief inscription such as, ‘Preserve me’, or ‘Do my bidding’.)" "The inscriptions on these magical gem stones are almost always in Greek letters, but often they are meaningless syllables intended to impress the purchaser by their strangeness of sound. A typical example of such a formula is: aththa, baththa, ibi, abi, selti, belti. Sometimes a series of letters that reads the same forward and backward would be inscribed...In some instances the numerical value rather than the phonetic value of the letters is important. When each Greek letter is given its numerical value, the total of all the letters gives some magically significant number....These words have no meaning in Greek, but the first line [citing the example of a gem of red jasper] contains the rudiments of a magical word familiar to us all - abracadabra. This word was believed to have magical powers; stones inscribed with it are called ‘abraxis stones’. The origins of the word are uncertain, but it appears for the first time in a poem of the second century AD." - Bob Brier, Ancient Egyptian Magic "A name was in a way one’s whole being. Actually, this is a very old notion which predates the Hellenistic age and stems from the religion of the Ancient Egyptians...Knowing the name of the Aeon didn’t just give a person knowledge of him but also power over him so that the Aeon no longer became an obstacle in the souls’ return-voyage to The Good." - Maged S. Mikhail, "The Gnostics, A Survey of Gnostic Beliefs and Gnostic-Christian Ties" The Gnostics "possessed many such formulae as ‘abracadabra’, and having pride of place above all their secret knowledge were the names of the demons. Only when each soul knew such names and could thus control their power, could repeat the holy formulae and display the right symbol, and were anointed (i.e., ‘christened’) with a holy oil, could he find his way to the seventh heaven, the kingdom of light. Thus, a principal feature of Gnosticism was the transmission to one another in strictest secrecy doctrines about the being, nature, names, and symbols of the Seven demons or Angels who would otherwise bar their way to achieving the ultimate goal." - John Allegro, The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross "The Letter of Paul to the church of the Colossians describes what some scholars have considered to be incipient Gnosticism....Apart from Songs [of the Sabbath Sacrifice] we have no early writing advocating such worship." - Michael Wise, Martin Abegg, Jr., and Edward Cook, The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation (1996) p. 366 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day BR> - Colossians 2:16 "Let no one disqualify you, being bent upon humility and religion of angels, which he has seen upon entering visions." - Colossians 2:16 (translated by Fred Francis)
  6. The Gnostic Gospels (1) Philosophic Roots "The first Gnostic about whom something can be said with confidence is Simon Magus , a 1st-century Jewish heterodox teacher who introduced the fundamental Gnostic conception that evil resulted from a break within the Godhead. But Simon’s gnosis remained essentially Jewish and monotheistic, as did that of the Gnostic circles to which later parts of the New Testament allude." "The dualistic phase was reached after the expansion of Gnosticism into the Hellenistic world and under the influence of Platonic philosophy, from which was borrowed the doctrine that a lower demiurge was responsible for the creation of this world. This teaching is to be found in the Apocryphon of John (early 2nd century) and other documents of popular gnosis discovered near Naj’ Hammadi in upper Egypt in the 1940s and in the Pistis Sophia, a 3rd-century Gnostic work in Coptic belonging to the same school." "Naj’ Hammadi, also spelled Nag Hammadi, [is] town in Qina muhafazah (governorate), on the west bank of the Nile, in Upper Egypt, on or near the site of the ancient town of Chenoboskion. [Nearby is] al-Qasr wa’s Sayyad on the eastern bank, site of Old Kingdom tombs and an important Coptic settlement. There in 1945 were found the Naj’ Hammadi (Nag Hammadi) papyri, a collection of 13 codices of Gnostic scriptures and commentaries written in the 2nd or 3rd century (though the codices themselves are 4th-century copies)." "Among these, the Jung Codex (named in honour of the psychoanalyst Carl Jung by those who purchased it for his library) includes five important items: a Prayer of the Apostle Paul; an Apocryphon of James, recording revelations imparted by the risen Christ to the Apostles; the Gospel of Truth, perhaps to be identified with the work of this name attributed by Irenaeus to Valentinus ; the Epistle to Rheginos, a Valentinian work, possibly by Valentinus himself, on the Resurrection; and a Tripartite Treatise, probably written by Heracleon, of the school of Valentinianism. The other documents from the Naj’ Hammadi library include the Gospel of Thomas , a collection of sayings and parables that are ascribed to Jesus; the Apocryphon of John, which represents the first chapter of Genesis in mythological terms; and writings ascribed to Philip, Mary Magdalene, Adam, Peter, and Paul." - Encyclopaedia Britannica "...Though the term Gnostic is somewhat difficult to precisely define, (particularly prior to Nag Hammadi) the standard use of the word would be for those who used the Septuagint [Greek version of the Old Testament] as a base but reinterpreted it such that the true God was the Unknown God and the Creator God was actually a Demiurge - thus all creation is evil." - Paul Harvey "The world, produced from evil matter and possessed by evil demons, cannot be a creation of a good God; it is mostly conceived of as an illusion, or an abortion, dominated by Yahweh, the Jewish demiurge, whose creation and history are depreciated. This world is therefore alien to God, who is for the Gnostics depth and silence, beyond any name or predicate, the absolute, the source of good spirits who together form the pleroma, or realm of light." "These conceptions are expressed in various myths, which employ material from many traditional religions but serve to express a basic experience that is new, the discovery of the unconscious self or spirit in man which sleeps in him until awakened by the Saviour. The Gnostic sects of the 2nd century made use of Hebrew and Christian religious writings, employing the allegorical method to extricate Gnostic meanings from them." "In the Gnostic view, the unconscious self of man is consubstantial with the Godhead, but because of a tragic fall it is thrown into a world that is completely alien to its real being. Through revelation from above, man becomes conscious of his origin, essence, and transcedent destiny. Gnostic revelation is to be distinguished both from philosophical enlightenment, because it cannot be acquired by the forces of reason, and from Christian revelation, because it is not rooted in history and transmitted by Scripture. It is rather the intuition of the mystery of the self." - Encyclopaedia Britannica "At the hour of the Nativity, as Joseph looked up into the air, ‘I saw’, he says, ‘the clouds astonished, and the fowls of the air stopping in the midst of their flight....And I beheld the sheep dispersed...and yet the sheep stood still; and I looked into a river, and saw the kids with their mouths close to the water, and touching it, but they did not drink. "Then a bright cloud overshadowed the cave. But on a sudden the cloud became a great light in the cave, so that their eyes could not bear it...The hand of Salome, which was withered, was straightway cured...The blind saw; the lame and dumb were cured." - Protevangelion (ascribed to James)
  7. (2) The Teachings of Jesus "In the gnostic myth implied in the Gospel of Thomas , the individual spirits originally dwelt in the kingdom of light, the kingdom of the Father, who is the first principle of ‘the All’ (= the spiritual universe of divine beings). by their very nature, these spirits were all united with and of one substance with the divine. Through some sort of primeval catastrophe, some of the spirits entered into the poverty of this material world and are imprisoned in the fleshly garments of human bodies. This fall and imprisonment have cased them to fall asleep spiritual, have caused them to forget their true origin in the kingdom of light; they are like drunkards and blind men in the realm of darkness. The ‘living’ Jesus (basically, the timeless, eternal Son, without any true incarnation in matter, lengthy earthly ministry to the Jewish people in general, real death, or true bodily resurrection) comes into this world to wake these spirits up, to remind them of their true origin and destiny, to free them from the illusion that they belong to this material world of death." - John P. Meier, A Marginal Jew - Rethinking the Historical Jesus, Vol. 1. To the Gnostics "salvation was to be saved from uncertainty, and to return to our origin ‘the One’ or as it was called earlier ‘The Good’, and the way this was accomplished was through the revelation of secret knowledge. Thus the deeds of the savior figure, whoever he is, are quite unimportant; what is of absolute importance, however, are his teachings." - Maged S. Mikhail, "The Gnostics, A Survey of Gnostic Beliefs and Gnostic-Christian Ties" "One in the divine substance with those he seeks, Jesus saves them simply by revealing to them the truth of who they are, i.e., divine beings who belong to another world. This knowledge, pure and simple, saves these spiritual persons right now. As soon as they realize who they are, they are immediately free from the ‘garments’ of their material bodies, which they can trample underfoot. Even now they can find the treasure of true knowledge that means eternal life; even now they can enter into the ‘place’ or ‘rest’ of the Father. Fully integrated with the divine source from which they came, there is no salvation to be awaited in the future; the Gospel of Thomas thus represents ‘realized eschatology’ in its most radical form." - John P. Meier, A Marginal Jew - Rethinking the Historical Jesus, Vol. 1. "Jesus said ‘If those who lead you say to you "See, the Kingdom is in the sky," then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you "It is in the sea," then the fish will precede you. Rather, the Kingdom is inside of you and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living Father. But if you will not know yourselves you will dwell in poverty and it is you who are that poverty.’" - Thomas 3

"There is no kingdom to be awaited from above or in the future, the spiritual kingdom is already within them and surrounding them, if only they open their inner eyes to see it. The material world and physical body are rejected as evil, and one abstains as far as possible from things material. Sex is seen as an evil, and the female role in bearing new spirits imprisoned in bodies is especially deprecated. By asceticism the spirits already triumph in principle over the body, which will be totally left behind at physical death." - John P. Meier, A Marginal Jew - Rethinking the Historical Jesus, Vol. 1. "...Certain sects of the early Gnostic Christians...taught that to propagate the human species was to increase and perpetuate the power of the Demiurgus; for the lower world was looked upon as an evil fabrication created to ensnare the souls of all born into it - hence it was a crime to assist in bringing souls to earth. When, therefore, the unfortunate father or mother shall stand before the Final Tribunal, all their offspring will also appear and accuse them of being the cause of those miseries attendant upon physical existence." - Manly P. Hall, Masonic, Hermetic, Quabbalistic & Rosicrucian Symbolical Philosophy "Judas said ‘You have said this to us from the mind of truth. When we pray, how shall we pray?’ The Lord said ‘Pray in the place where there is no woman.’ Matthew said ‘He says to us "Pray in the place where there is no woman." and "Destroy the works of femaleness" not because she is another [...] but so that the works will cease.’ Mariam said ‘Will they never be destroyed?’ The Lord said ‘The Mother is the one who knows that the works of femaleness will dissolve and be destroyed in this place.’" - The Dialogue of the Savior "To the Christians he [Judas] was the greatest of traitors, to the Gnostics he ‘alone knew the truth better than the other apostles {and thus} he accomplished the mystery of the betrayal’." - Maged S. Mikhail, "The Gnostics, A Survey of Gnostic Beliefs and Gnostic-Christian Ties"