Sunday, June 03, 2007

Questions: Personal Gnosis & Religion

If all that we need is personal gnosis, and that is signified by a "life changing" experience, then why do we need to move to a gnostic tradition, except for sociality? ... The reason we have left our previous traditions were doctrines that supported a religious dictatorship, and problems with overbearing leadership.

The "life changing experience" or conversion experience is how religion is approached as a system of beliefs or opinion. That is, a little experience or gnosis, to accept a lot of doxa (opinion, belief). This is one of many differences between approaching religion with a paradigm of gnosis and the standard paradigm of doxa. You can find religious groups using the terms “Gnosis” and “Gnostic” that operate in the usual doxastic paradigm, or approach and framework, of religion. However, in doing so they divorce themselves from the foundation of gnosis. We are not one of them. If someone is seeking a pre-made system to adopt, it isn't Gnosticism they are seeking.

Gnosis isn't a "one time event" and it isn't such experiences as epiphanies or apocalypses. Those are spiritual experiences and may lead to Gnosis, however Gnosis is a transformative or spiritually developmental knowledge. It is knowledge that you are, rather than knowledge that you have. It is also a spiritual knowing through spiritual growing. Remembering an epiphany or a conversion experience is not Gnosis. Asserting a memory or a remembered lesson from an experience is actually doxa.

Doxa (belief, opinion) is what most of what we call religion is made up of, either held individually or collectively as a group or society. However, as a method of spiritual inquiry and growth, doxa is very limited. It is one way a tradition is passed on, (other ways are myth/story and symbolism), it can provide a starting point, it can aid with gnosis indirectly, by learning categories of recognition or diagnosis. But it will always remain doxa: opinion, belief, assertion.

The difference in paradigm is the main difference of Gnosticism. In essence, it is this difference that is Gnosticism, a radical change in the foundation of spiritual knowledge. It may be that I am misreading your questions, but you seem to want an orthodoxy, a correct opinion or belief that is simply different from those held by other religious groups. If that is the case, we won't be of much help. We do not follow the paradigm or structure of orthodoxy because we are concerned with gnosis not doxa.

Completely shifting perspectives (paradigms) in such a radical fashion can take some time. That is to say it can take quite a while before the new perspective becomes the natural or default one in new situations.

The hierarchical portion of the EG is liturgical, that is, the church services themselves. This is on the order of what is an official EG service, going through proper training and formation to celebrate liturgical services, and serving in a mindful and ethical manner. In contrast to other religious groups, there is as little control and collective determination of the individual as possible. The all-encompassing framework of most churches is completely alien to us. Liturgical services are provided as a service, there are no requirements to participate. For example: you do not need to profess any belief, complete some form of membership, or renounce any prior or continued membership or participation in any ethical spiritual path. Formation is available for those called to serve as clergy. It requires a higher level of involvement, and eventually, of commitment to this spiritual path and tradition. Obviously, to expect otherwise would be to disrespect this path and tradition, to treat is as an esoteric merit badge rather than a process of personal transformation that leads to being able to serve others in their personal transformation. The spiritual path is walked alone, and in the Gnostic paradigm, religion exists to serve and support that process.

If you are looking for support, insight, and some companionship in your journey, then we may be of service. However, if you are looking for a group with a correct opinion or belief on some issues, we are probably not what you are looking for. What we do is not based on correctness of belief, but on what pragmatically aids in spiritual growth rooted in the ancient tradition of Gnosis.

None of this is intended as a criticism, and I may be wrong in how I am understanding your questions. My intention is merely to aid you in discernment in regards to Gnostic tradition and practices. It is a tradition that rests upon continual inner growth and development that is manifest as Gnosis. And so is founded and centered on that individual Gnosis, rather than on any correct beliefs or ortho-doxia.

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