I’m noticing a resurgence of interest these days in the whole counter-initiatory, gnostic paranoia, school of analysis out on the internets these days, and I suppose that’s natural when all the bleakest wet dreams of malthusians, libertarian psychotics and primitivists all appear to unfolding on schedule.

I can’t really point the finger, because I arguably played a major role in taking this stuff to another level. At least among left wing occultists, and spiritually minded social liberals. Let’s just call it the Jeff Wells school.

To me it’s just a bit of fun. Adds some color to the otherwise gut-wrenching parade of daily tragedies and cycling through the dukkha nanas of insight practice, so let us dance around a bit.

It’s important to remember that the core feature of gnosticism, at least the branch that concerns us here, is the predominance of dualistic themes of ignorance, and knowledge, evil and good, light and darkness, etc. The more modern re constructionist tendencies in the gnostic community tend more towards something that resembles mahayanna buddhism for Christians, only without the clear practice instructions, but that’s neither here nor there.

Historically gnosticism is absolutely and unequivocally an offshoot of the hellenistic philosophies. All you have to do is look at their terminology. “demiurgos” is straight out of platonism, for example. Their cosmology is likewise straight up neo-platonism, like most early Christianity. Modern scholarship leads us to believe that jesus himself was a hellenistic philosopher, not a judaic rabbi, or an independent flowering of some kind, so there’s no reason to think gnosticism is anything but another side branch of greek thought.

Where these derivations stray is that platonism doesn’t invest in dualism, which is basically a recipe for ideological trench warfare that goes nowhere. There is only the One, also known as the Good, and anything else is only absence of the good, or of oneness. There is no opposing force. Full stop.

So really the gnostic paranoid notion of evil, or the neo-traditionalist pattern of degeneration is only a perceptual phenomenon, not an actuality. Which is a safer and saner way of dealing with this stuff: as a perceptual filter, not an ontological reality.

To me, whether or not the most wildly depraved thing in the universe actually happens or not, is an open question. What isn’t open is whether or not people think that they happen, which in and of itself opens up some rather disturbing and interesting areas of inquiry. For instance: whether or not aliens actually exist, you have a profound number of people who really do think that aliens exist and interact with them, physically. That’s not a curiosity, it’s a psychic epidemic.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. I thought I’d spend a little time on a more top-down view of this then you usually get, and march it down through a few layers until we get to the ground level.

So we start with the one, also known as the good.  What makes things one unto themselves, and thus provides for their existence. What provides for existence is the highest good and hence the two terms are considered the same. And because it is “The One”, not “A One”, when you talk about it in this way, there is no other, and hence the one encompasses everything. Hence, everything is good. Period. It is the principle of absolute unity and non-duality.

Now, here’s where we get into gnostic territory: at some point the One decides to make something. Because it is the only thing that exists, and because it is good, it can only make something good, and can only use itself as a model for that making. It thus generates a copy of itself that will be the ‘idea in the mind of god’ that will serve as the model for creation itself, also known as the Logos, or the Word. In every case  of a rational principle at work there must be intent, which requires a model for actions, or the ideal goal, thus the model must precede the copy, which in this case means the One must precede the logos, and the logos must precede the creation of the material universe.

But a funny thing happens when the one does this: because it possesses the quality known as Ousia, it is fully transparent to itself, it can turn on itself and know itself in all ways ( this is the analogous principle to mindfulness in humans) and thus can lend all of it’s features to the model, with a major and profound exception: Because as soon as there are two things, the creator and the creation, there is no longer “The One”, but rather two things that are “ones-unto-themselves”, so to that extent, neither one of them is any longer the perfect one, or likewise, the perfect good, at least when regarded in this way.

From the first perspective, nothing has actually changed, and “The One” is still the same, and indeed, the one lacks any qualities that would allow it to change in any way, as any change can only deviate from perfection. Complex eh?

So from our second perspective, there are now two things: the transcendant maker, also known as the demiurge, and the first creation, also known as the logos. Both are subordinate to the one, and can thus both be regarded as creations of the one.

So even here, at this early stage, there is no dualism, but a trinity. The One, the demiurge, and the logos. And every further step from the perfect one, no matter how perfect of a copy it is, can only be less and less a perfect good, because each new thing only introduces new division and new disunity. Just as when the one tries to reproduce itself and loses the quality of perfect oneness, because every copy can theoretically reproduce everything except that which makes a thing what is it is unto itself, every copy is slightly distorted from its model. Thus, the farther you go down this chain of perception, the less good there is.

This is where we get the illusion of evil.

to be continued…

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44 thoughts on “The gnostic space opera rides again…

  1. What is your opinion of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s Omega Point ?

    I think it makes a lot of sense. Its an anchor point. Evolution is thus teleological. Its also evolution toward “the good.”

    BTW, maybe all the Malthusians will get their wish and enter an alternative reality Hell and leave the rest of us to continue to evolve.

  2. chardin is quite influential in a lot of areas. he informs a lot of the singularity movement, and quite a bit of the woollier dimensional shift type of thinking. his idea of the noosphere kind of merged with the early internet thinking in a lot of ways.

    but, just like alfred north whitehead, a lot of people get influenced by chardin without actually reading him or knowing where the ideas come from.

    In terms of what I’m talking about up here, an omega point is a phenomena that arises in time, and thus is a litte farther down the chain of manifestation. we’re still in eternity here. it’s not until you have the actual act of creation that change and time come into it.

    and yes, I suspect there will be a few alternate realities going on in parallel before too long. heck, there are a lot of them going on right now…

  3. Well, my suspicion is that Chardin was a little more clear on what he was talking about than some of the singularity stuff.

    But anyway, I just read Kurzweil’s law of accelerating returns. Then reread Ran Prieur’s critique of Kurzweil and the Singularity in general.

    Ran Prieur’s essay made a lot more sense to me when I was a good deal less well read than I am now. Ignorance is more aligned with doom and gloom than bliss it seems.

    So anyway, you have Tainter on one side and Kurzweil on the other. Law of diminishing returns vs. law of accelerating returns.

    So which is it? Its both. The model of diminishing returns fits insde the model of accelerating returns. Limits are reached and then a new level of complexity organizes itself at a yet higher level of energy.

    There are s curves. You can look at anything like this. Like the shipping industry. Ships get huge, they get so big you couldn’t imagine them getting bigger, and then people ship things with airplanes.

    Buckminster Fuller talked about the relationship between compression and tension.

    But anyway. Complex societies don’t simply collapse. They become more complex.

  4. I’m not big into the singularity crap. It’s an entirely linear application, and it’s entirely a “flatland” scenario. You can imagine circumstances that would prevent it; it’s not a monolith “Rapture for Nerds”…

    Things still change, of course. It’s like comparing linear-visual-mediated thinking to electronics-mediated thinking. You gain something and you lose something else, but most won’t notice. You can see that with technology. We have a lot of cheaper consumer goods now than we used to and we live longer, but we also have a much more inaccessible government, partly because there is so much more wealth that the wealthiest interests can crowd out others.

    I haven’t read Chardin but his thought, i’d bet, is probably a little more rigorous than “teh computerz” singularity crap.

    I find it easier to understand emanation via the qabbalah, or the gnostic alien god/barbello narrative, than this one here, but that’s just me.

    And we still haven’t gotten a war in Iran, could be worse. The Alex Jones nightmare infotainment scenario just can’t seem to manifest. But the rebirth of liberal protestantism as “gnosticism”, well, I’ll just say that enemies.com is closer to the Nag Hammadi scrolls than those guys with “+” in front of their names.

  5. well, this is basically the qaballah, just the first three steps. my understanding is the qaballah was created in the twelfth century by Moses of Leon who adapted Neo-Platonic thought which became the qabbalah. it’s usually portrayed a bit more linearly in the tree of life model.

  6. Not a big fan of Lao Tzu, eh? Or maybe I just did a crap job at relating it to your post…

    Well, let me take another, more detailed, stab at it. After that I give up. =)

    Tao Te Ching #42
    The Tao gives birth to One.
    One gives birth to Two.
    Two gives birth to Three.
    Three gives birth to all things.

    That is:
    From the absolute unity of everything that is beyond conceptualization, comes the concept of everything.
    From the concept of everything comes the desire for a concept in addition to the concept of everything.
    From this desire for an additional concept comes the world.
    And from the world comes the illusion of all conceptual things existing independently.

    Does this relate to the various aspects of the devine you illustrate here? Obviously the Tree of Knowlege goes a bit further than this, but I think it works as a start…

  7. Ha, well no worries, thought I was on moderation. Had posted a shorter version of this last post yesterday and it never showed. Goddamn “computerz”…

  8. yeah, sometimes shit gets caught in the spam filter, and I don’t notice. I’ll try to keep an eye on it. alan gets dinged quite a bit for some reason 🙂

  9. I have to say, reading this again, I totally disagree with your last paragraph.

    I actually think that view is evil. Literally. That is what evil is in my opinion, the view you just elucidated in the last paragraph.

    I think ACIM is evil also. I think nondualism, basically is evil.

    Evil is like a black hole that wants to suck all of creation back into itself and go back to eternal sleep.

    Evil is centralization, conglomeration and collectivism. Evil mistakes itself for unity but its not.
    In your scheme, continued diversity and complexity is bad. But that my friend, is my definition of life itself.

  10. Another way of looking at this is “life instinct” vs. “death instinct” I may just have a really strong life instinct. More yang more positive.

    The death instinct no doubt has its place. The urge to merge.

    I like to stand apart.

  11. the problem with what you’re saying is that I’m not describing something that happens in time. infinite diversity coexists with infinite unity. it’s all perception. your life instinct is just another way of looking at the same thing as your death instinct.

    the good doesn’t ‘want’ anything. it is incapable of wanting anything other than itself. the only way it can be perceived to want something is by calling it something else, which is what kicks off the chain of emanation.

    and there’s nothing in there about surrendering individual decisions. anything that is a one unto itself is good, and joining a larger one is also good, and individuals acting together as a one is another expression of the good. nothing is wiped out in the process, because that would be eradicating the good in something as a thing in itself.

    everything is good both as singular and as part of the plural and as part of the totality. that’s non-dualism.

  12. ok here it is as clearly as I can state it:

    what you are describing as the “less good” and as the “illusion of evil” would appear as evil only to the ANTI-LOGOS.

    and I suppose…entities aligned with the ANTI LOGOS

  13. Free Range, (If I might call you that)

    As far as I can see, you’re making terribly materialist assumptions–that everything that can exist is necesarrily physical and temporally bound. I’m currently reading Guenon’s “The Reign of Quantity”, and a large part of the introduction is him explaing the metaphysics that he’s using to make his points.

    For one thing, he makes the distinction between qualititive and quantitive discrimination–ie: do things simply exist with slightly tweaked set of quantitative parameters (eg: one’s favourite colour being red vs. green), or is there a substantially different quality between two items? In Guenon’s metaphysic, if two items were “carbon copies” of each other, then they’d in fact be the same item, so in essence, it’d be pointless. The only way you can qualitatively discriminate yourself from The Good is by becoming less good, or flawed.

    So, what’s Zac’s talking about an ontology where the various parts have qualitiative differences. So, your assumption seems to be that the “ideal end result” should be for us to be acting as seperate individuals, but as part as a whole. Which in itself, is a sense of unity with differentitation, because each actor in the system is simultaniously acting as a part of the whole. Which is fine in the temporal world (what you might descibe as seems to be happening outside of your own mind), but in the world of eternal forms, or archetypes, and the like, this logic breaks down, because it doesn’t make sense to speak of quantitative differentiation in this way.

    To extend the Qaballah usage, Zac’s talking about what might happen up in Aziluth and Briah (the “god” and archetypal realm, sort of), wheras you’re talking about it in terms of Assiah (the material world). So, the further down you percieve things from and the more towards cold dead matter you go, then the more “evil” is going to be apparent.

    Thanks to Zac for yet another fascinating post. I look forward to the next one.
    Cheers all,

  14. “So do you believe that once everyone is enlightened the Universe will disappear?”

    “The universe” is never not completely enlightened; that’s basic non-dualism. People and each moment are in the universe. When they see the ground in which they are figures, the figures don’t disappear and neither does the ground. Arahats, theurgists and yogis don’t just “go poof” (to quote Charles Manson). Well, some of them do for a limited period of time, but that’s a power, not wisdom. And that doesn’t mean they don’t have things they need to change etc. To quote a children’s book, “everybody poops.”

    From the perspective of individuals, from a practical perspective, “in the Assiah” there can be all manner of problem and evil. But since those are grounded in the universe, which is grounded in “the One”, at an absolute level, it’s fine, b/c it emanates from the same source. The further it emanates, however, the more it opens up for variety of expression and the worse this expression can be. This is why extreme “quantity” for the Traditionalists is the root of things like serial killings etc., since to show that much disrespect, and to treat that much like just raw matter, is to disavow the possibility of “quality”.

    This is why qabbalah can be useful. Between the supernal triad and the rest of manifestation a “breaking of vessels” into “shells” or qlippoth has to occur.

    Likewise, another way to look at this is in terms of compassion. Even the most evil act has at its root a form of compassion, just a very ignorant, selfish compassion: it is someone trying to find something permanent and a source of happiness, even if it’s in a morally repugnant way. In platonic language it would be like looking at the shadows in the cave and trying to make them into the source of light. That doesn’t mean we don’t do anything about it: “right plane, right time”. One of the stupidest things in the world is running into someone who is trying to non-dual their way out of a real, practical problem. Malkuth doesn’t disappear b/c of Kether.

    One of those ACIM dudes worked on MK-ULTRA and they use a form of the word “channel”. That’s two-and-a-half strikes regardless of what the book says. But then again, it also just sounds like New Thought, which predates the CIA

  15. well,

    ACIM presents itself as nondualism. So to me that makes nondualism suspect. I don’t really undertand most of the terms you guys are using.

    but I just don’t like the idea that some big portion of the Universe split off and became evil and that things have been getting worse ever since the further we go through time.

    the idea that the Univere is majorly blighted and that we all need to become “one” in order to heal it or whatever just strikes me as the root of all evil.

    My model is that there is an anti-logos that wants to merge everything into one, for selfish reasons. Like a child that wants to enslave the mother and have all its attention.

  16. Wow, this is a great discussion. I’d just like to add one thing.

    Free Range, when you say “too bad the one can’t just make digital copies”, I believe you are missing the point. “The one” is not something that can be copied. To be copied, it would have to be something that fits inside of a concept. If all-and-every-thing were to completely replicate itself, than “the one” would suddenly include 2 of all-and-every-thing, but it would still be “the one”.

    Digital measurement in itself is not relevant to the one, because digital means agreed upon measurements of actual concepts. In computers, for example, this is binary, 1s and 0s. But “the one” does not equal the 1, in this case. “The one” is both the 1 and the 0.

    And becoming enlightened does not take away your individuality. It does not subordinate you to anything. It simply gives you a source and a foundation, which is the same source and foundation as everything else. Your individuality already grows out of it, and enlightenment is simply the subjective realization of that as an experiential fact.

  17. Also, I don’t think it’s actually the univers that split into parts and became evil, I think it is our conception of the universe, the way we think about it in our heads. Hence the title of Theoconcepter for the previous post.

    The idea that the one (as the ground of being) is non-conceptual makes for an open ended interpretation. It allows for the mind to accept new data from reality, while still holding onto it’s previous conceptualized view. It puts that conceptualized view in secondary place to the true experiential reality. It’s like being at the front of the train and looking out the window, so to speak, instead of looking out the side windows.

  18. “but I just don’t like the idea that some big portion of the Universe split off and became evil and that things have been getting worse ever since the further we go through time.”

    that’s not the suggestion. it’s that the possibility of “evil” is the result of emanation; we’re not putting it into time, at least at this juncture.

    at the point evolution can rise, you have the differentiation and time. that doesn’t make evolution or progress evil any more than it makes you or me evil. at the same time, evolution and complexity and progress aren’t necessarily good, either. I don’t believe evolution is teleological. Evolution is a “good enough for now” mechanism applied to a calorie-based competition; by the time you have technological progress, evolution in the sense the scientists refer goes out the window.

    “My model is that there is an anti-logos that wants to merge everything into one, for selfish reasons. Like a child that wants to enslave the mother and have all its attention.”

    I think that’s what Rudolph Steiner would call the “Luciferean” impulse. It’s part of the reason he split with the Theosophists, who preach nonduality but have pigeonholed it into a framework for action and as framework by which someone would get some superhuman understanding, when there really is no action that moves towards or away from nonduality. It’s not a thing or an action, which is why talk of “healing” etc. just misses the point.

  19. I’m not sure what this ACIM is you guys are referring to. maybe I’m just a bit dense today.

    Nothing actually splits off, and nothing actually ‘becomes’ evil. That’s why it’s an illusion. And there’s a difference between “the” one, and “a” one. there are plenty of the latter, but the former is the very root of oneness itself. “the” one lends aspects of itself to everything that functions as “a” one. the terminology is very important in this way of thinking.

  20. @Zac: is there a way to reconcile this theory of “The One” and “A One” emanation with, e.g., something like the Shiva-Shakti?

  21. there are plenty of things that have the quality of oneness. anything that exists must have the quality that permits it to exist as an independent entity. but there is only one source for the quality of oneness.

    I’ll get back to you on the rest. might require some heavy lifting…

  22. “The quality of oneness”, that’s a great way to put it. It’s a really powerful idea for cutting away delusions.

    As for ACIM, it’s A Course In Miracles, although I don’t know much about it myself.

    But yeah, at first I was thinking, “Ain’t It Cool News? What do a bunch of movie nerds have to do with perceiving ultimate reality…”

  23. For what its worth,

    I read the “disappeaerance of the Universe” which is kind of an introductory book for ACIM, which has the endordsement of a lot of higher ups in the Unity church. I then bought a copy of ACIM and began to wade through it. I had strong philosophical differences with it and threw it against the wall. I then immediately had the experience of being visited and not so much attacked but insulted, by some type of entity.

    So its my subjective experience, doesn’t hold weight in an argument, but carries a lot of weight for me personally.

    But the philosophy behind ACIM, seems to be that we are all Christ, having a bad dream. That the more people there are, the more we are split off and fragmented. All of reality is an illusion. Enlightenment entails everything eventually dissapearing, because creation was basically a bad idea to begin with. When we wake up it will all go away.

    I see elements of this in Eastern religion. I disagree. I think creation in all its diversity is good and getting better all the time. I think increasing levels of complexity and diversity is part of the intended design.

    I also see evolution as teleological. I am an optimist and a futurist. If I thought everything started out perfect and has been steadily getting worse, I wuldn’t be.

    bottom line.

  24. well, that’s nice, but as long as you understand that isn’t what I’m saying. the universe started out perfect and is still perfect, from a certain perspective. regarded in time, things are becoming more and more good as they seek higher unity, but they never fully encompass “the good” and never will.

  25. “I then immediately had the experience of being visited and not so much attacked but insulted, by some type of entity”

    Like I said. MK-ULTRA and “channelling”. Bad scary shit. And “The Nine”? look that one up sometime. Funny how these numbers and symbols keep coming up, huh? “Ramsey Dukes” is, if I’m not mistaken, a proponent of Simulation Theory, but he qualifies it by saying that the universe is made of “information” that we can manipulate. Otherwise simulation theory is hard to really make pragmatic. Something like non-duality or evolution or qaballah can all be helpful models pragmatically, but simulation is harder to respond to although a lot easier to argue for and elucidate.

  26. Yeah, chanelling creeps me the fuck out. And I trust my instincts. Maybe I am a bit “earthy” compared to some. But anyway it works for me. If something repulses me I asume its bad until proven otherwise. Whenever I read channeled stuff the whole tone and flavor of it repells me.

    Well, if we are in a simulation, by default, our “goal” would be to get out of the simulation if possible. If not possible, then I guess just enjoy it.

    Personally that removes any goal of work or growth.

    I sense I am here for a purpose, besides simply getting the hell out of here. So anything that smacks of “everything is an illusion” we all need to awaken back into the source, we are all deluded…etc. Arouses my suspicions.

  27. I think it is all too easy to mistake emanation as a creation myth, something that occurred in the past; it is happening RIGHT NOW, every second. If it helps, you could think of it occurring as perpendicular to time. In this respect, you can have evolution, direction, True Will, a self as agent in the world, etc, simultaneoulsy with the experiental realisation of the One and the nature of emanation (normally called enlightenment).

    The experience of time, self, the universe etc is horizontal; the ignorance or realisation of the One is vertical. Getting enlightened only works on the vertical; it doesn’t change the horizontal. The failure to understand this is the cause of the life denying spirituality of the old school of supposed ‘non-dualists’, and the perpetuation of this confusion is the work of the evil nasty fuckers responsible for so much of the channelled ‘new age’ garbage floating around on the net. Dodgy ‘black brother’ material is easily spotted by its handling of the idea of enlightenment in purely physical or horizontal terms e.g. the disappearance of the universe, ‘ascension’, ‘awakening’ as realising we are ruled by reptiles, etc.

  28. Yo FROH! I really sense where you’re coming from, and if you have discernment… that’s not bad at all.

    In a practical, less theoretical approach, it’s good to be aware of basic realities which gets left out in such discussion (which are great too … “stimulated thinking”)

    If there’s anything my own fundy years taught me from gospel (arrived at while truth seeking as a rosicrucian resident in a Zen co-op) is that:
    “Relationships” are the core of existence, seeking deeper connections, where
    “love” is what binds it together: self, nature, society, God, etal.
    “emptying” and purification must prepare the way
    a “holy” spirit guides and grants grace for the travel/travail

    What scares me is the “nothingness” approach to supposed non-dual oneness… IMO it may be a perverted understnading of definition, but many who take on this mediative goal seem to become the most spaced out “nothings.” bless their hearts …
    In my practice, it’s all active focus and concentration: either attuning/listening, or simple adoration/appreciation (worship!) for each breath i enjoy.

    If I am able to approach the ineffable most high in a relationship as “Father” so much the better – I spread the good vides up and over to all I encounter and think/pray about.

    Jesus had lots of good things to say: top 2: Lord’s Prayer/outline and the 2 NEW-IMPROVED “commandments” instructions, which really are 3, but really are just simply one …

  29. For what it’s worth I get a similar and immediate bad reaction from the meta-fourth-density site you linked to on 6-11-08.

  30. That’s right kid’s! Satan star-maker is responsible for all physicality. Don’t worry though, because his Momma implanted a little piece of heaven into all of us! Have a good day!

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