Thursday, March 09, 2006

Mature Gnosticism

[Warning: the following is basically a rant. It isn't aimed at anyone in particular, rants exist more on the level of caricature.]

As I've mentioned before somewhere, I have a nephew who is really picky about what he eats, it is to the point where he looks a bit malnourished no matter how much food one sets before him. Even if it is something he will eat, the circumstances, or temperature, or whatever, often get in the way. His family is doing well enough that food isn't a problem, unlike so many in this world, so what is the problem?

Of course I don't bring this up to talk about my nephew, he just makes a good example of a very common tendency. I often think of it as refusing a gift because the wrapping paper doesn't quite go with the ribbon, or isn't one's favorite color. Yes, it is childish. And yes, we do it all the time. Sometimes it is in little things, we don't accept good advice from a source we don't like, for instance. Or, we refuse to support a candidate who actually would represent us, except on one key issue. Most often, we don't even unwrap the gift, we don't care what it may actually contain if the wrapping and ribbon aren't just right.

Fortunately, Gnostics haven't the slightest desire to proselytize, otherwise, I think I might loose my very calm demeanor and end up knocking some heads together when the whining started. Outright rejection is so much better than the attitude of "I don't like this or that tiny thing." And lets be very clear, it is whining. Gnosticism is for grown ups. It is as simple as that. There is a reason ancient Gnostics called themselves the Mature Christians. If you need a large group of folks who will agree with you, fundamentalism is right there. If you just want to “do your own thing” and never be challenged, there's the flaky end of the new age over there. If you want to wait until there's a Gnostic Cathedral in your neighborhood, my guess is the sun will burn out first. If you won't accept the gift because you don't like the ribbon, or because it isn't perfect, or because there's more than “some assembly required” there are so many options, go, follow one or follow them all. No one is stopping you.

Most of the talk about “Gnosticism” I only recognize because of the use of key words, it doesn't describe anything I'm acquainted with. And even less so when prefixed by anything: classical, modern, neo, wacko, whatever. Almost everyone always have and always will miss the point, all the while thinking and acting like the worst caricature of “knowing ones.” But, that is true of every spiritual tradition. If it were all about talking about it, it wouldn't be a spiritual tradition, it would be an intellectual one. How many books on Gnosticism have been written, printed, and sold? And how many Gnostic teachers have arisen from simply reading them? And while you might build an academic career arguing with or for some point or idea, you can't build a spiritual life from it.

There is only one Gnosticism that will ever truly matter to you—your own. This does not mean the “do your own thing” mentioned above, it means you have to own it, be responsible for it, grow it, actually do something with it. If you don't like the color of the wrapping paper, don't whine, at least unwrap it and see what is there. If it isn't “just right” at least consider if it is you who needs to change. If the few dedicated lives devoted to bringing tools for Gnosis since the restoration over a century ago haven't produced everything you want, don't blame them—thank them for what they have done, so that you don't have to start from scratch, or at the very least don't have to make the same mistakes. And in general, grow up: this is either your path, which means you must take your responsibility for it, or it isn't—in either case, what is there to complain about?

4 comments:

Jordan Stratford+ said...

"And while you might build an academic career arguing with or for some point or idea, you can't build a spiritual life from it."

This is wonderful, thank you. I shall have it inscriped into a two-by-four and whack certain people in the noggin with it henceforth.

J+

Marsha+ said...

"If you want to wait until there's a Gnostic Cathedral in your neighborhood, my guess is the sun will burn out first."

I think it is a safe bet to say this statement. One of my biggest fears for 'gnosticism' however is that in a hundered years the followers of Dan Brown will have built psuedo gnositic churhces. They will be right next door to the Chruch of Elvis.

Marsha

Sophia Sadek said...
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jp said...
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