Christian Gnosis

Note:  This “post” is part of a longer essay which has been posted as a separate “page” under the Nonduality menu:  Gnosticism:  The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

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With [the aforementioned article] in mind, I will point once again to various resources that may shed light on the kind of unitive insight or nondual awareness  (aka gnosis) that I am referring to.  Then, I will refer the reader to some putatively gnostic texts that may be profitably understood in that light.  And finally, I will refer my Christian readers, especially, to additional resources which suggest that a unitive or nondual Christian gnosis can, indeed, supply the key to authentic Christian living in the 21st century.

Points of Entry into Non-Dual Awareness

Alan Watts describes the Bible as follows:

taboo“…’the Good Book’—that fascinating anthology of ancient wisdom, history, and fable which has for so long been treated as a Sacred Cow that it might well be locked up for a century or two so that men could hear it again with clean ears. There are indeed secrets in the Bible, and some very subversive ones, but they are all so muffled up in complications, in archaic symbols and ways of thinking, that Christianity has become incredibly difficult to explain to a modern person. That is, unless you are content to water it down to being good and trying to imitate Jesus, but no one ever explains just how to do that. To do it you must have a particular power from God known as ‘grace,’ but all that we really know about grace is that some get it, and some don’t” (THE BOOK on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are 4 — see PDF pages 9-10).

To hear the Bible again with clean ears is, indeed, what is needed, to be sure…  How wonderful, in fact, to see our religious traditions once again– in their entirety –with fresh eyes, as well!  Unfortunately, neither typical Christians, in their dogmatic piety, nor typical atheists/agnostics, in their cynical skepticism, tend to have clean ears or fresh eyes.   As such, neither are particularly motivated to see or hear differently except in the wake of, 1)  deep suffering, or 2) a realization of something profoundly incongruous about their respective worldviews (e.g. their Sunday school theology OR their reductive, mechanistic understanding of the natural world conceived of as the whole of reality).  Assuming that either one or both of these motivations are present, however (i.e. personal suffering and/or epistemic incongruity), some of the pointers from this essay on Nonduality—  or from the material posted on the Yeshua21 Blog –could provide the needed clues (see, for example, this thought experiment).   Readers for whom all this is totally unfamiliar terrain should probably have a look at one or all of those links, before continuing.  Then, perhaps, these (so-called) “gnostic” texts may be read with understanding:

Some So-Called “Gnostic” Texts

Conclusion  [to the longer article on Gnosticism]

There you have it: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly!  It should be clearer, now, why the early church tended quite naturally to oppose gnostics and gnosticism.  Considering their alternative mythology and metaphysics, on the one hand, and their proclivity for alternative social and sexual conventions on the other, it is hardly surprising that they were strongly opposed by the mainstream church and that the current reaction of Christians, today, toward anything that may be plausibly associated with them (however tenuously) continues to be extremely negative.  And it does seem, historically, that– by virtue of both their beliefs and behaviors –the Gnostics did come into significant conflict with important elements of New Testament thought and culture.  Nevertheless, I have argued that with regard to the cutting insight that constitutes gnosis itself, there is no such conflict.  Not only is the same insight is perfectly consistent with a more conventional understanding of Genesis (see, for example, All Things Are New and The Curse and the Kingdom), but once the light of the world is seen, there is no call to disparage our bodily existence or to look for a way of escape through what would seem to be– at least for some participants –nihilistic forms of beliefs and behavior.  All things are lawful for us, but all things are not expedient (Cf. I Corinthians 10:23).  Let us rather see that being raised with Christ in newness of life, the kingdom of God is indeed within us; among us; at hand — spread out upon the earth although most human beings (in despair) do not see it.

The take-home message is clear:  Let us repent…  That is,  denying our separate selves, let us take up our cross and enter into life . . .  NOW!

NOTE:  While the idea of a unitive or nondual Christian Gnosis will no doubt seems strange to many on first hearing, it is, in fact, well on its way to becoming mainstream.  Here are several Christian authors who have advanced somewhat compatible views:

Francois du Toit
Wayne Teasdale
David Steindl-Rast
Richard Rohr
Henry Nouwen
Ted Nottingham
Thomas Merton
Thomas R. Kelly
Thomas Keating
Bede Griffeths
James Finley
Cythia Bourgeault

–> Gnosticism:  The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

good bad ugly 3

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