How should we feel and think about those people who are deterministically predestined to never convert from freewillist assumptions to philosophical determinism, which holds that we have full practical freewill but no metaphysical freewill?
Putting aside the detail that people don't always fall cleanly into freewillist thinkers or determinist thinkers, we generally can hypothetically divide people into two groups: those who are deterministically predestined to conclude that philosophical determinism holds, and those who are deterministically predestined to conclude that metaphysical (in addition to practical) freewill is the case.
We cannot know, at a given point in time, whether a particular presently freewillist thinker is deterministically predestined to embrace determinism in the near future, later in life, or never. Only the future knows specifically who is destined to embrace determinism before they die. However, determinists know in general that there exists some set of people who are in fact predestined to never embrace determinism -- we simply are unable to identify specifically who these individuals are.
How should we think about that somewhat abstract, yet concretely present, group of people, the perpetual freewillists? Can they be forgiven for being destined for lasting delusion? Ought we determinists feel pity for them? Ought we feel grateful for being among those who are destined for embracing the correct and coherent mental worldmodel, determinism?
>>One should not measure one's worth by their attainment of enlightenment about no-free-will.
Ought a determinist feel proud of their worth for being among those who are destined for embracing the correct and coherent mental worldmodel, determinism?
The construction 'their worth' is problematic. The determinist holds himself to have no worth, in a key sense, because the determinist attributes all his thoughts and actions as frozen into spacetime, forced upon him from outside himself, outside his empty, impotent self. The determinist consciously considers himself metaphysically impotent as a will-controlling agent. A determinist considers himself superior to the deluded freewillists, but what is the conception of this 'himself' who is superior? It's a metaphysically empty self.
The result is a combination of a certain kind of pride and self-satisfaction, with a certain kind of humility and unseriousness about oneself such as a trickster may have. To the freewillist, 'pride' is the great bogeyman to fear and loathe, but the freewillist conceives of 'pride' in a deluded, freewillist sense. The determinist conceives of 'pride' in a different, determinism-conformant way.
-- Michael Balaam Hoffman; I can say only what God puts in my mouth
>>That depends on what godhead you're speaking of.
Acting prideful to shock the freewillists is a trickster move, intended to be read in one way by the freewillists and in another way by determinists; it's a way of putting forth a test and puzzle.
>>Some may hear it as words from a dickhead.
Generally, freewillists hear it that way, or "are meant to" hear it that way, while determinists recognize the ramifications, issues, and meanings involved in acting proud of one's determinism.
These issues are fully present in the Church with respect to the elite claims of those who have been raised higher than the other Christians, who merely have baptism in water, not in spirit. Though I consider Pentecostals to have made only a halting move toward the experiential enlightenment about no-free-will that is evident in pre-modern Gnostic writings.
'The elect and superior race, beloved of God' is a well-established Gnostic and Jewish metaphor playing on this same theme, of the superior worth of mystic determinists.
>>In the timeless block-universe determinism model, how is the freewillist (who is, unconsciously, deterministically predetermined) an integral, synergistically determined 'necessity?'
Fate, God, or Necessity has dictated that there shall be some number of freewillist-style thinkers frozen into the block universe in which time is a spacelike dimension. When the block universe was created, it was formed in such a way that it included, frozen into it, some people whose worldline or life-thread running through spacetime includes conscious enlightenment revealing the hidden reality of no-free-will; it also included, frozen into it, some people whose mental worldmodel remains the freewillist model all during their entire life.
As one interesting alternative group, some people were created and frozen into the block universe such that in the middle of life, they were made to shallowly adopt theoretical philosophical determinism but not to fully experience timeless determinism in the mystic altered state. These are armchair philosophical determinists, who generally derive determinism from the assumption of in-time, linear causality rather than from the mystic-state experience of timelessness and vanishing of the sense of first-order personal controllership power.
Picture the frozen block universe, with time as a spacelike dimension, with several people's worldlines frozen into it: a freewillist, a philosophical determinist, and a mystic determinist.
A. The worldline of the freewillist has the freewill mental worldmodel running along that person's entire worldline.
B. The worldline of the modern, armchair philosophical determinist (or causal-chain assuming, non-experiential determinist) has the freewill mental worldmodel running along the youthful portion of that person's worldline. Along the remainder of their worldline, there is a mental worldmodel that is essentially freewillist in its core, with a thin layer of theoretical, abstract determinist thinking on top.
More accurately, their worldmodel along the older-age stretch of their worldline is essentially freewillist overall, with a few bits of determinist thinking scattered about and a lump of determinist theoretical philosophy added, not integrated.
Even that lump of determinist thinking is an inferior, low-grade lump, because it is merely the in-time, horizontal, causal-chain, basically *egoic* conception of determinism, which conceptualizes the state in one time-slice as mechanically causing the state in the next time-slice. It's not a robust conception of determinism, and is not an experience of determinism.
C. The worldline of the mystical determinist has the freewill mental worldmodel running along the youthful portion of that person's worldline. Along the remainder of their worldline, there is a mental worldmodel that is relatively thoroughly determinist (no-free-willist; the *timeless* version of determinism) throughout. Or, their mental worldmodel used and present during the remainder of their worldline is freewillist in bulk, but has a lot of full-fledge determinism running throughout it, based on both conscious understanding and on direct experiencing of no-free-will.
That is similar to the way modern physics now has Einsteinian spacetime physics running throughout the Newtonian bulk of it. Newton provides the first-order approximation, and Einstein makes an adjustment throughout.
>>Does the existence of deterministically predetermined freewillists weaken the integrity of the block-universe deterministic model?
The block-universe determinism model is simple, easy, and impressively coherent. It can easily explain and describe how the freewillist mode of thinking is deterministically frozen into the block universe. Freewillist thinking is shaped in the form of freewill, but that doesn't make its presumed freewill real; it remains a delusion, a deluded mode of thinking that is not true to its nature.
To say that freewillist thinking exists is certainly not to say that such thinking possesses actual frewill; rather, it is shaped by freewill-styled patterns as though freewill exists -- but when those patterns are inspected during the state of mystic hyperconsciousness, they are revealed to be patterns that have a certain kind of falsity. This is like asking whether ego or the illusory ego exists, or in Optical Physics, to talk about a 'virtual image'. In some sense, an illusion 'exists'.
Freewill thinking is a style of thinking, a set of presumptions and habitual patterns, just as if one live one's life under a false impression or a delusion; one's thinking would be formed in the shape of the delusion, but the existence of that thinking doesn't make the delusion an actuality.
>>In the block-universe determinism model, what is the nature of the interaction between the freewillist thinker (who is, unconsciously, deterministically predetermined), the armchair philosophical determinist, and the mystic determinist?
There is a Gnostic and Jewish metaphor of the 'two races', or relation between mere psychic Christians and full pneumatic Christians. In the block universe, the worldlines of a freewillist-styled thinker, a philosophical determinist, and a mystic determinist are interwoven, all frozen into time, with no egoic agents running around freely within the block universe who could be able to exert power to change the future.
We all begin life as freewillist-styled thinkers (this is metaphorized as 'original sin'), so the full mystic determinist and armchair philosophical determinist have both been there before, have been freewillist-styled thinkers during an early portion of their own lives. The mystic determinist sees the lifelong freewillist as being predestined to remain as one who has never discovered sexual climax -- a virgin; inexperienced.
The three types of people can converse and interact with each other, with their worldlines spiraled around each other, just as the worldlines of anyone can. Putting aside the armchair philosophical determinist as a recent modern anomaly, consider the interaction of the lifelong freewillist and the advanced timeless determinist during the later phase of his life. Color the freewillist-thinking portion of each worldline blue, and color the no-free-will thinking of each person's worldline red.
When the blue and red person interact, they do so from within two different worldmodels: the freewillist and the no-free-will worldmodel; two different systematic models of space, time, will, control, and self. The question is like asking how do a Newtonian and Einsteinian interact with regard to spacetime; one uses a higher-order approximation that is more accurate. The thinking of a no-free-willist is a superset of the freewillist thinker; the no-free-willist has two modes instead of one, and is able to function utilizing both modes.
Also, the advanced no-free-willist has the special skill of recognizing alternate systems of word-meaning, with respect to words about agency, control, time, will, and self, and is able to read mythic and classic religious writings and expressions fully, from both perspectives: the exoteric, freewillist perspective (which is one systematic interpretive framework) and the esoteric, no-free-willist perspective (an alternate or additional systematic interpretive framework).
Greek Attic Tragedy vividly portrayed onstage the interaction between the freewillist and determinist, or uninitiated and initiated, modes of thinking. Book: Myth and Tragedy in Ancient Greece, by Vernant.
There is a chapter on block-universe determinism and personal worldlines, including some tie-ins to mystic-state perceptual revelation and conversion, in the book:
The Fourth Dimension: A Guided Tour of the Higher Universes
Rudolf Rucker (David Povilaitis, illustrator)
Chapter 9, "Spacetime Diary", pages 133-164
Pages 202 (left column) and 203 (all) -- the end of the book
Pages 40 (block quotes) and 41 (top)
>>Words have meaning within a broader context. "I can say only what God puts in my mouth" within the broader context of the block-universe determinism model can be understood to be pre-determined to be understood as meaning that the words have been predetermined.
The verse is Numbers 22:38.
NIV: "Well, I have come to you now," Balaam replied. "But can I say just anything? I must speak only what God puts in my mouth."
NASB: So Balaam said to Balak, "Behold, I have come now to you! (1) Am I able to speak anything at all? The word that God puts in my mouth, that I shall speak."
Amp. Bible: And Balaam said to Balak, Indeed I have come to you, but do I now have any power at all to say anything? The word that God puts in my mouth, that shall I speak.
KJV: And Balaam said unto Balak, Lo, I am come unto thee: have I now any power at all to say any thing? the word that God putteth in my mouth, that shall I speak.
NLV: Balaam said to Balak, " See, I have come to you! Am I able to speak anything at all? The Word that God puts in my mouth is what I must speak."
ESV: Balaam said to Balak, "Behold, I have come to you! Have I now any power of my own to speak anything? The word that God puts in my mouth, that must I speak."
NKJV: And Balaam said to Balak, "Look, I have come to you! Now, have I any power at all to say anything? The word that God puts in my mouth, that I must speak."
KJ21: And Balaam said unto Balak, "Lo, I have come unto thee. Have I now any power at all to say anything? The word that God putteth in my mouth, that shall I speak."
ASV: And Balaam said unto Balak, Lo, I am come unto thee: have I now any power at all to speak anything? the word that God putteth in my mouth, that shall I speak.
Darby: And Balaam said to Balak, Lo, I am come to thee; but shall I now be able at all to say anything? the word that God puts in my mouth, that shall I speak.
NIV-UK: Well, I have come to you now, Balaam replied. But can I say just anything? I must speak only what God puts in my mouth.
YLT: And Balaam saith unto Balak, `Lo, I have come unto thee; now -- am I at all able to speak anything? the word which God setteth in my mouth -- it I do speak.'
MSG: Balaam said to Balak, "Well, I'm here now. But I can't tell you just anything. I can speak only words that God gives me--no others."
NLT: Balaam replied, "I have come, but I have no power to say just anything. I will speak only the messages that God gives me."
CEV: "I'm here now," Balaam answered. " But I will say only what God tells me to say."
>>If that sentiment is what 'enlightenment' is thought to bring to the world, then may it die as quickly as it has been born.
Don't pay excessive attention to isolated phrases people use; that would be cheap and shallow, a way of making oneself look elevated and righteous by nitpicking the shallow surface layer of the word-choice that people use. First pay attention to a person's overall framework of thinking.
Sentiments are a dime a dozen. Maudlin moralistic sentimentalism is a degenerated travesty of the real metaphysical sorrow Mary Magdalene felt upon discovering what a life of erroneous metaphysical assumptions about her nature as a self-controller agent she had had prior to her enlightenment about no-free-will.
I'm all for genuine moral action and ethics. I'm against cheap, fake, shallow posturing about one's own high morality which depends upon distorting and deliberately misreading, in worst possible light, other people's words, opportunistically. That would be a cheap, worthless game that does no one any good, but makes the one who plays that trick feel morally superior, by using other people as a canvas upon which to project false attributions of attitudes, erecting strawmen and then knocking them down.
Metaphysical enlightenment is distinct from socio-political improvement, so it is reasonable to address the issue of metaphysical enlightenment in isolation from improving the world. If a determinist ought to be nice to a freewillist, that doesn't follow from metaphysical determinism, which is strictly a system of knowing ('good' meaning here 'knowledge' and 'good works' meaning here 'bringing metaphysical enlightenment to others').
If a determinist (or 'pneumatic' in Valentinian Gnosticism) ought to be nice to freewillists (or 'psychics'), that follows from mere ordinary mundane *ethics* -- not from metaphysical enlightenment. Metaphysical enlightenment does shed some perspective on ethics, but I hesitate to speculate that being metaphysically enlightened is necessarily linked to acting nice to other people.
There are two entirely distinct types or species of enlightenment: everyone *already* has the ordinary common vulgar type, the shared ethical value that one ought to be nice to other people. The rarer type of enlightenment is metaphysical enlightenment.
Too much in post-1960s popular spirituality, fervent moralism, drawing all attention to acting nice, has become effectively an active impediment to metaphysical enlightenment. If mere sentimentalism and common ethical moralism is all that such recent popular spirituality redundantly adds to the world, then may such cheap spirituality die as quickly as it has been born.
Metaphysical enlightenment is in favor of ordinary practical ethics, but not if such ethics becomes too much the exclusive focus of attention such that it prevents the clear thinking required for metaphysical enlightenment. It could well be that ordinary ethics has no chance of success until we throw it in the trash can long enough to think staight about metaphysical enlightenment while holding common ethics at bay.
Ethics and metaphysical enlightenment about ethical agency must be firmly kept differentiated in order to enable them each to flourish and assist each other. Some overlap is realistic but there is a serious threat of losing metaphysical enlightenment by dragging it down (or across) into ordinary ethical thinking -- a form of reductionism and loss.
There is a bridge one must cross to move from original freewillist thinking to determinist thinking, but it is predetermined who is destined to cross this bridge. Therefore there is a wall dividing people into two groups, those destined to cross the bridge and those not; no-free-willist sheep and freewillist goats.
>We should openly be able to express our disgust towards the evil people led by ill logic, "the devil inside".
I'm working toward being more open and accepting less B.S. phony paradigms posing as "reasonable". Given determinism, disgust of unenlightened and inexperienced people ultimately points upward or underneath persons, to the transcendent ground of being that produces everyone's thoughts. This is why I perfectly forgive my enemies. My 'enemies' are those who are uninitiated and believe in freewill, believe that meditation is the standard mystic method, and/or have little or no experience with visionary plants yet fancy themselves as having a worthwhile opinion on the matter. 'Turn the other cheek' is tantamount to saying "that awful act of yours was determined, and so will be your next awful act". No one exists to be mad at but the demiurge. One has been rescued by a compassionate good God, so dualism (the good God vs. the demiurge world-ruler) easily arises from fully mystic-state based religion.
>I routinely experience disgust with people inexperienced. I really can relate to the conception of the "devil" being the fallen ego logic not knowing of the wisdom the light brings. Such people are pure evil vs. us heavenly Saints. And they hold up their noses in stupid ignorance. Those fools should steal a ship and sail away!
A clear grasp of deterministic logic of agency is needed. Saying that one is "disgusted with those who have fallen ego logic" sounds like it implies the false assumption of freewillist culpability. What is the *content* of the wisdom the light brings?
That metaphysically, our every thought is the product of the Ground of Being, not of oneself. My thoughts are borrowed, are given, like everyone's, though only some people are conscious of this and have a worldmodel centered around this insight -- those who from the beginning of time are among the elect, chosen race, beloved of the divine, pleasing to God. Those on the outside are awful, horrible, accursed, deluded, evil by nature, destined for perdition -- as the humorous clever Qumran Jews maintained. The humorless are damned to the fires of hell for eternity of torment.
The Valentinians chose a more balanced 2-tiered flip-flopable metaphor system though, welcoming -- into the lower rank -- clueless freewillist literalists. Both metaphor strategies are interesting and need to be understood: the Qumran *strictly insiders* approach, or the 2-level religion approach of the Valentinians.
My difficult task as a theorist or scholar is to marry myth-religion scholars, determinists, and entheogen scholars. I need to push the points about determinism and no-Jesus/purely mythic religion within the entheogen community.
"Those the father has given to me know my voice and follow me and recognize me. They shall not be taken away from me. Those who are outside have had their ears plugged, and are not given to me. These are my sheep, who are mine, and who I have gathered and rescued out of the world." Jesus or Apollo the good shepherd here is a symbol of determinism, the kingly leader and mascot of the determinists.
"Those who are not mine are given to their father, their king, who is the devil. They are of the devil and belong to the devil; their lot is perdition and eternal apartness from the Father." The followers of the father of lies are those who are *not* timelessly predestined to experience and grasp cosmic determism.
Either you are a freewillist, or a fully experienced determinist, and that's that -- a sheep or a goat, saved or lost, pleasing or displeasing when standing before the divine court.
The hard, clean division into two groups is somewhat idealist; in reality, grasping and experiencing determinism is a matter of degree and happens in increments -- still, the simple two-category scheme is intellectually coherent and profound, and it's that much easier for an individual to fall well within the determinist camp when scripture is recognized as teaching the clean distinction between freewillist and determinist thinking.
Perhaps every astrological sign has been included in the entheogen-determinism metaphor system: bull, sheep, fish, ...
>>Using those confounded adjectives does sort of highlight the existence of antithetical ideas, doesn't it? Ya just can't escape that duality in consciousness.
>An interventionist god merely proves his own errors in his design.
That's one good reason for dualism about two Gods: the Benevolent transcendent God who is good in that he fishes us up into heaven beyond the determistic cosmos, and the stupid or evil demiurge, creator of the deterministic cosmos where we are not only helpless puppets subject to fate according to the demiurge's dictates, but we are so blinded we aren't even aware of it.
Once a person adopts determinism through full religious conversion and purification, how does one then conceive of evil or deluded people? They are seen as helpless puppets jerked around by the evil or stupid demiurge.
>>In order for a thing to exist... it must actually be.
According to Neoplatonism, upon which Christian theology largely rests, the Good is above mere being. Only the Good has real existence. That which merely exists (the lower, apparently moving and changing world, with freewill agents running about) is unreal, illusory, inebriated in a drunken stupor.
>>Show that and you have ended the debate.
Comprehend the right interpretive framework, worldmodel, and paradigm, and you have perfected the initiate.
>>An interventionist god merely proves his own errors in his design. Such fallible gods are made of men, not deities.
A good reason to describe the idea of two deities, good and evil. The fallible god is the lower god, associated with archons of the world. Deity is uncontaminated by any contact with the world. To follow this mode of thinking, leave literalist rigidity at the door, and put on your armor of mystic-state allegorical description.
'Pneumatic' = timeless determinist
'Psychic' = freewillist religionist; freewillist moralist lower Christian
From http://groups.yahoo.com/group/gnosticism2/message/9047 (paraphrased) --
>>Pagels' book _Johannine Gospel in Gnostic Exegesis: Heracleon's Commentary on John_ is hard to find.
>>In Chapter Four of her recent book _Beyond Belief_, Pagels mentions that Valentinians had their own interpretation of John's gospel, and she referred (pages 116-117) to Heracleon's _Commentary on John_.
>>In _The Johannine Gospel in Gnostic Exegesis_, Pagels covers this topic, with references to source documents from Valentinians and heresiologists. The book covers Heracleon's discussion of two major conversion stories in the canon, viewing these two accounts as conversions occurring on the psychic vs. pneumatic levels.
>>Though "Heracleon often warns pneumatics against asserting their superiority over psychics," and "he says they are not to keep for themselves the gifts of divine grace they receive, but to `pour them out' for `the eternal life of others' (CJ 13.10)," (p. 94)... many might wonder why the elect, the pneumatics have this "divine grace" in the first place,... their "receptive capacity for `eternal life' symbolized in the story by the woman's water jar (CJ 13.31)." And, why do some people not get past a hylic stage? Their own doing or something else? What is this "receptive capacity" for some? For me, this goes beyond worldly, egotistical concerns about arrogance or jealousy or fairness.
>>A couple paragraphs from the Pagels' book on John regarding the different types of conversion:
>The contrast between the conversion of the centurion's son and the redemption of the Samaritan woman shows how the experience of psychics and pneumatics _in the cosmos_ differs qualitatively. The psychic, as the "called," can never achieve in the present certainty of his salvation. He is "immersed in materiality" and in "sins." For him this condition is potentially fatal; he stands under the demiurge's law that prescribes death for sins. To be delivered from death, he needs the "life-giving forgiveness of sins." He must have faith, but his faith is directed specifically toward the "psychic Christ" whose death on the cross ensures his "forgiveness." Receiving this, he is transferred from the hylic to the psychic topos, and must then persevere "by choice" in "good works" in order to receive "salvation" as his "reward."
>The pneumatic, as the "chosen," receives even in this world an utterly "certain" and "imperishable" redemption. Even while she remains ignorant of her pneumatic "life" and seems to suffer total destruction in materiality, her "life" cannot be extinguished or lost. The Father has already chosen her as one of "his own," bestowing election as a "gift of grace" poured down "from above." She encounters the savior as the pneumatic revealer who discloses to her her own hidden, divine pleroma. Through his words she spontaneously comes to recognize that her own "true nature" is essentially one with the "divine nature of the Father." As she receives this gnosis, she participates in the joy of the "divine marriage" even as she remains in the cosmos.
Gnostic scriptures are a metaphorical description of mystic-state experiential insights. John's gospel discusses conversion from Hylic or Psychic to Pneumatic and presents anthropological categories.
'Psychics' (by whatever metaphorical name, the inferior group in any pairing) refers to freewillist thinkers, particularly freewillist Christians or freewill-assuming religionists. 'Pneumatics' (or any other name for the superior group) means those who have experienced no-free-will in the intense mystic state and have thereby been brought to believe in timeless determinism.
The Gnostic Paul: Gnostic Exegesis of the Pauline Letters
According to the classic Gnostic view prior to and other than the Valentinian Gnosticism hybrid compromise, the scheme of salvation is simple: those who have experienced determinism (no-free-will) multiple times in the mystic altered state have been elected to salvation; those who remain all during life in the default mental framework of freewill thinking are not saved; are predetermined to be reprobate: predestined to be abandoned to damnation.
According to the contrasting, lower view, those who use their freewill to do good are saved, and those who use their freewill to do evil are damned, or lost.
o The 'freewill-premised scheme of salvation' holds that you have metaphysical freewill and if you use your freewill to do good, you are saved, and if you use your freewill to do evil, then you are lost.
o The 'no-free-will-premised scheme of salvation' holds that you don't have metaphysical freewill, and if you are aware of this (through mystic-state experience), you are saved, and if you are not aware of this (through mystic-state experience), you are lost.
These form two completely different criteria and conceptions of salvation. The no-free-will-premised scheme is the Gnostic, esoteric, mystic, higher, advanced, trans-moralist scheme; the freewill-premised scheme is the Literalist, exoteric, ordinary-state, lower, beginner, moralist scheme.
Valentinian Gnosticism is the best scheme of spiritual-anthropological divisions to study, because it skilfully and deliberately overlays these two distinct incompatible schemes, integrating them while realizing that they remain incompatible.
According to the classic pre-Valentinian Gnostic, no-free-will scheme of salvation, *all* who embrace the freewill-premised scheme of salvation are lost, regardless of whether they do good actions or evil actions as freewill agents: their very self-conception of being freewill agents is the source of their lostness; whether those actions are conventionally good or evil is irrelevant to spiritual/mystic salvation, or redemption out from the cosmos.
Per the simple and straightforward Gnostic division, freewillist thinkers are *all* lost, destined for eternal perdition, all sleeping within the deterministic cosmos without knowing they are subject to it -- this remains fact without even raising the question of whether the actions of those thinkers are conventionally good or evil.
'Eternal perdition' of lifelong freewillist thinkers is a mystic metaphor joke, like most myth, a tall tale double-entendre designed to test and mislead the literalists -- an amplifier of your literalism if you are a literalist, and an amplifier of your metaphorical masterful thinking if you are in on the higher meaning-network. 'Eternal' here secretly means "unending during life". Consider a person who lives to 75, never experiencing determinism/no-free-will. That person was predestined for "eternal perdition".
Consider a person who lives to 75 but at 70 experiences determinism/no-free-will: that person was predestined to be among the elect by the will of God, so has gained "eternal life", which secretly simply means, has gained the stable, imperishable way of thinking, having given up the perishable way of thinking and self-concept, through the (spiritual) death before (bodily) death.
It is artificial and messy to introduce the Psychic category into the middle of the 2-category Gnostic division of people.
Johannine Gospel in Gnostic Exegesis: Heracleon's Commentary on John
Page 112 covers controversy over division of people based on divine election, free will and determinism:
>>>Those recent scholars who recognize the polemical bias in the charge of determinism, and who argue instead for the opposite position (that Gnostic anthropology presupposes "free will") are still operating within the framework of the philosophical categories developed in anti-gnostic polemics. Bultmann, Langerbeck, and Schottroff all discuss the Valentinian view of natures in terms of this antithesis between "determinism" and "free will." These categories neither occur in the gnostic texts themselves nor do they reflect the concerns of Valentinian theologians.
Valentinian theologians were concerned with election by the will of God, which is identical with concern about determinism and free will.
Pneumatics are not simply deterministic, but it is valid to call them absolute determinists, particularly if you introduce the qualifier of, they believe that *the cosmos* (but not the divine realm outside and beyond it) is absolutely deterministic.
'pneumatic' is effectively a label for the mystic-determinism worldmodel. One complication here is the subtle but all-important distinction between radically transcendent freedom and naive freewill thinking.
Ken Wilber's "pre/trans fallacy" applies to that subtle but all-important distinction; the perfected initiate is beyond determinism, whereas the uninitiated hasn't even awoken to the iron rule of determinism yet: both the perfected initiate and the uninitiated are non-deterministic, but there is an all-important difference; one is pre-deterministic in their awareness, whereas the perfected initiate is trans-deterministic or post-deterministic in their thinking.
A peak mystic experience is that of being released from the iron grip of cosmic determinism. In the moment of salvation at the end of the series of initiations, one is lifted up and born up out from the sphere of the fixed stars, being pulled high beyond the realm of cosmic determinism -- a kind of interstellar overdrive tearing through the experienced deterministic boundary of the starry sphere.
That ultimate religious experience of transcending cosmic determinism occurs soon after the near-ultimate experience of experiencing determinism (metaphorized as prison, chains, physical fastenment). The experience of being released from the grip of cosmic determinism is commonly called true spiritual freedom, to differentiate it from naive freewill thinking held by animals and children (the uninitiated).
Still, despite this infinitely lofty type of freedom the mature initiate is given from above, the initiate thinks of the cosmos, the world, the body as being entirely ruled by determinism, though the uninitiated are unaware of being so entrapped.
First one has to be initiated about 7 times, metaphorized as ascending through ever-slower planetary spheres, before one reaches full awareness of cosmic determinism that has even permanently dictated all our thoughts and actions and movements of will. Only then, in a subsequent initiation, is one (or one's radically transcendent spiritual aspect) lifted, pulled, birthed, or fished up out from the newly recognized deterministic cosmos.
>>>Heracleon intends the term "nature," along with the Johannine metaphors of "generation" and "seed," to interpret what he considers to be the election language of the fourth gospel. Yet his election theology is a limited one. It allows for more than the simple alternative of election to grace or reprobation. It includes a third possibility, that of "those in the middle," who, not being elected, must choose their own destiny.
He himself thinks from within a firmly election-based framework, though he magnanimously grants a kind of legitimacy to a freewill-premised scheme of salvation, to keep the Gnostic head attached to the exoteric body of the congregation.
>>>Schottroff points out that certain earlier Gnostic literature recognizes no such third possibility. She suggests that the Valentinians may have developed this theory of the "psychic nature" in their anthropological doctrine "as a concession to the church."
Agreed. Earlier Gnostic thought had the simple division we could call 'hylic' vs. 'pneumatic': freewill thinkers vs. experienced no-free-will thinkers.
The "middle" scheme of 'psychic' was really thought of by Valentinians as being entirely within the 'hylic' category: all 'psychic' thinkers are freewillists, whether they are conventionally good or conventionally bad in their conduct; 'psychics' all operate under the delusion of metaphysically free moral agency, and thus would fall into the original 'hylic' category. Valentinian thought chose to artificially pretend that the upper, good-acting half of the Psychics could legitimately be raised from the category of 'hylic' to 'pneumatic'.
>>>This suggestion is appropriate to the self-consciousness of the Valentinians in relation to the emerging mainstream of the Christians as valid and effective for salvation, and to criticize it simultaneously as an incomplete apprehension of the revelation in Christ. They claim that only those who are pneumatic apprehend in the present the "true meaning" of Christ's coming, which is to reveal the Father's will in election.
>>>Yet the Valentinians recognize that those psychics who _choose_ to do the Father's will in their lifetime may _also_ come to gnosis at the "consummation." At that time the condemned psychics and hylics shall be destroyed, and the psychics who are saved shall be "raised" and transformed to join in the reunion of the "whole ecclesia" with God (see above, pp. 95f). The three designations of the "natures," then, are provisional. They express the different relations of those _in the oikonomia_ to the divine election:
The Valentinian marriage between oil and water, between the lower and higher Christians, is a masterful, coherent incoherence. Psychics operate from a conceptual worldmodel premised on freewill; this affects all aspects of their thinking about what salvation is all about, how the will works, and what moral agency and responsibility amounts to.
There are two, starkly contrasting schemes of salvation: the one that's premised on the freewill assumption which is held by the uninitiated, and the wholly different and perpendicular scheme of salvation that is premised on the no-free-will assumption. The no-free-will position is a result of repeated direct religious experiencing in the mystic state, through a series of initiations; before initiation, everyone thinks about salvation and heaven according to the psychic scheme, premised on the natural sensory feeling of freewill moral agency.
God only knows which of the currently psychic-style thinkers are predestined to undergo perfection and regeneration through a series of mystic-state initiations, resulting in their becoming no-free-willist thinkers, being thus revealed as Pneumatics.
It was indeed the intent of the Pneumatics (the determinists/trans-determinist mystic-experienced thinkers) -- to cooperate with the Psychics (the freewillist inexperienced thinkers), just as the head is wise to stay attached to the body. As opposed to the Qumran/Dead Sea Scrolls metaphor and attitude of "only we, the Elect of God, the mystically experienced determinist thinkers, are saved; everyone else is on the outside, all condemned, doomed to remain impure, freewillist thinkers; all they are Elected to perdition, with wailing & etc."
Valentinians thought of that Qumran attitude as the head suicidally chopping itself off from the body. Basically the same question is posed to beleaguered Christian esotericists today: "Should I remain in my exotericist church to uplift it, or become secessionist, abandoning it for a pure, esoteric, purely true congregation, with only mystic-experiential esotericists gathered together?"
The Pneumatics, specifically the Valentinian Pneumatics, thought of the church as two churches in one, two different schemes of salvation married together as a head and body are united: we *can* form a single united congregation comprising, at any particular point in time, a gathering that comprises two contrasting types of thinkers, or worldmodels: the Psychic scheme of salvation, which is premised on the naive freewill thinking of the uninitiated, holding hands together with the Pneumatic scheme of salvation, which is premised on the mystic-experienced, fully initiated, experiential revelation that all the world and all our thoughts are ruled by cosmic determinism (though, by the glory of the radically transcendent Good God, as soon as we awaken to the horrible truth of no-free-will, we are lifted up magically, supernaturally, miraculously, that is transcendently, to the realm where the Good God exists, beyond mere cosmic existence, outside the astrological sphere of the fixed, deterministic stars, that sphere which contains sleeping uninitiated children drunken with the naive freewill delusion.
For the Pneumatic, there are three important levels: the realm above cosmic determinism; the boundary of the fixed stars (that is, mystic-state experience of imprisonment in the determinism-ruled cosmos), and the realm of delusion of naive freewill inside the deterministic cosmic sphere.
How can two incompatible mental worldmodels be conjoined into a single congregation? Here, Valentinians masterfully played with bending logic, like the Augustinian key, masterful, consistently inconsistent, oil-and-water idea that "When you do evil, you are fully to blame (implies freewillist thinking); but when you do good, God gets all the credit (implies determinist thinking)."
The Valentinian Pneumatics, from their lofty vantage point above the thinking of the Psychics, grant that the Psychics get to have a certain, restricted sort of "salvation": that entire scheme of salvation which is premised on the freewill-thinking delusion.
The Psychic, freewill-premised version of salvation is granted a certain, constrained sort of legitimacy, or quasi-legitimacy by the Pneumatic, perfected no-free-willists (or "no-free-will-in-the-cosmos-ists"). The clever, masterful bending of logic occurs by the Pneumatics saying "To protect the unity of the congregation, we suppose and grant that the person (noninitiate) who is saved according to the freewill-premised scheme of salvation will in the end gain full gnosis, as something tacked on later *despite* their now-erroneous conception of salvation."
According to such a Valentinian logical scheme, "half" the psychics are secretly destined to fit the qualifications for the lower conception of salvation, and half, perdition. And the hylics is more of an empty logically implied group, "those who are concerned neither with the lower, freewill-premised scheme of salvation, nor with the higher, no-free-will-premised scheme of salvation.
To be more accurate, by comparing the earlier Gnostic idea of hylics (the lower half of a "2 natures" scheme) vs. the later Valentinian definition of hylics (the lower third of a "3 natures" scheme: The above describes the eventual outcome of the Valentinian compromised theory.
But originally 'hylics', or whatever you label the lower half of a "2 natures" scheme, simply meant "all who think under the delusion of metaphyscially free moral agency" -- which would by definition include everyone who was labeled Pneumatic and artificially raised the become a "middle" category. The Valentinians in effect, generously and artificially redefined "hylic" to be somehow a category lower than the two halves of the Pneumatic group.
Valentinian thought is a *hybrid* that's a compromise by strategically combining and overlapping two opposed schemes of salvation: the gnostic distinction between who's saved and not, overlapped with the freewill-moralist distinction between who's saved and not.
Are the Psychics really to be raised together with the Pneumatics at the end of time? The Pneumatics doctrinally hold that to be the case, but again this is a double-meaning, since "end of time" for the Pneumatic means the mystic experience of timelessness experienced during life, during the series of initiations. The Psychic worldmodel, in contrast, conceives of "end of time" according to the ordinary state-of-consciousness, literalist framework of thinking.
For the Pneumatic to say that both types of Saved are raised together as one at the end of time, is still to keep in mind a combination of two separate kinds of "salvation at the end of time": the one according to the freewill-premised worldmodel of the Psychics, and teh one according to the "no-free-will-in-the-cosmos"-premised worldmodel of the Pneumatics -- however, the Pneumatics would not admit that difference if doing so risked the cooperation and unity of the congregation.
Therefore, we should even go so far as to ask the question: if the Pneumatics granted that the Psychic "saved" would be granted gnosis, did the Pneumatics secretly consider it to be merely a lower, freewillist, impure type of gnosis, even a travesty of gnosis? Were the two different types of thinkers even held to be saved by the same god, to the same heaven? To keep the congregation together, such was granted by the Valentinians -- yet the question obviously looms despite all "official" Valentinian doctrine.
Eventually, after Augustine, to remain universal and all-inclusive, the Church had to repudiate *both* freewillist thinking *and* no-free-will thinking: taking either exclusive stance necessarily divided the church; the task then became to infinitely obfuscate the doctrines of grace, freewill, and order of salvation. "If you want the church to stay undivided, don't let any particular doctrine of determinism or freewill become exclusively identified with church teaching."
>>>1) The term "psychic nature" characterizes those who are exempted from election. The stand provisionally "in the middle" between the two alternative elections of grace and reprobation, having received a capacity for attaining salvation even through their limited faith and through works.
>>>2) The term "hylic nature" characterizes those elected to reprobation, who can also be called "lost natures."
>>>3) The term "pneumatic nature" characterizes those who are the "elect seed," who belong to the Father who has chosen them as the elect through his will.
In some sense every person may or may not have the elect seed in potential.
Those who are conscious of determinism are, by definition, destined for election, will certainly be given to heaven. Those who are destined to never experience determinism, are destined to remain all their life, under the delusion of freewill -- but Valentinians, for strategic reasons, switch gear here and jump into assuming the freewill-premised scheme of salvation and doctrinally, technically answer "Yes, according to Psychic doctrine, which we Pneumatics choose to grant some kind of validity to (to keep you, the body, attached to us, the head):
All psychics, according to (relatively) consistent freewill doctrine, have the potential seed of salvation. And, only the Good God knows for certain which of today's Psychic-style (freewillist) thinkers are actually destined to be revealed as actually, Pneumatic: destined to undergo the initiations which burn away the sense-delusion of freewillist thinking, converting and regenerating the higher mind to "no-free-will-in-the-cosmos" thinking.
Introducing the artificial Psychic scheme into the middle of the elegant twofold Gnostic division was a necessary strategy to keep the body attached to the head, one practically united congregation containing two conflicting schemes of salvation.
Are non-Pneumatics capable of recognizing the pneuma? Hypothetically, yes; however, they are predestined and fated not to, and that predestined fate is the very basis and core concept underlying the entire scheme and metaphor of the two "races" or two "natures".
A hylic is a person who is destined to remain in delusion, and is neither interested in the lower, freewillist scheme of salvation nor the higher, no-free-willist scheme of salvation.
To determine a person's "racial" nature, follow a person during their entire life. If they report an overwhelming mystic-state experience of determinism followed by miraculous rescuing and lifting up above the newly discovered deterministic nature of the world, then it turns out that they weren't really a hylic, or a Psychic, but were instead late-in-life regenerated and revealed as one of the Pneumatic elect.
Valentinian logic is the logic of the contrast between systemic freewill thinking and systemic no-free-will thinking.
Hylic, psychic, and pneumatic Valentinian categories are associated with the afterlife. To the Pneumatic, 'afterlife' means the phase of one's life after one has awakened to the deterministic nature of the cosmos and has been lifted up, born up out of the cosmic iron block. Every word ('salvation', 'good', 'afterlife', 'mortal') has two meanings: the first meaning is that of the uninitiated freewill mental worldmodel, and the second, higher meaning is that of the mature initiated no-free-will mental worldmodel.
A person's nature or "race" is manifest in the world only in terms of understanding and mystic-state experiencing, essentially; though those can affect action during the remainder of life.
The Gnostic Paul: Gnostic Exegesis of the Pauline Letters
Ken Wilber's concept of the "pre/trans fallacy" applies to transcending determinism-awareness as well as rationality.
One description of the nonordinary-state experience is oneness with God. This could be described as "nonrational", but it's clearer to say "trans-rational" and "not restricted to reason", in line with Ken Wilber.
A common metaphor is to worship briefly the true God, but then after the mystic session finishes, to become apostate, returning to idol-worship or worshipping a lower god. That theme equivalently appears in other religions, such as the metaphor of "a rebirth into incarnation after death, repeated in a series of deaths until one fully and permanently dies, remaining up in the heavens".
Several initiation sessions are required before the mind can attain experiential awareness of cosmic determinism, then rationally comprehend and retain it, and finally, transcend it.
The normal, standard, and successful series of mystic initiations results in glimpsing the higher God and higher Truth during the first few initiations, but falling back down afterwards into error -- but making progress each time, eventuating in no longer falling back down into the habit of worshipping the lower god. "Falling back down to earth and continuing to worship a lower god" is done not once, but multiple times in a finite series, for the mystic.
Trans-rationality is a combination of the rational and nonrational that preserves and engages the rational fully, while not being restricted to it.
Beware of comparing a mystic who has reached partial maturity to a Gnostic who has reached full maturity. A corresponding comparison could be made between a partly mature Gnostic and a fully mature mystic. One doesn't become a pneumatic overnight.
Dividing people into hylic versus pneumatic is logically valid in Gnostic or Valentinian theological theory, but in practice, a particular individual changes from the hylic way of thinking to the pneumatic way of thinking, over a period of time, through a series of initiations which include teaching of principles and themes as well as sessions of the non-ordinary state of consciousness.
This kind of logic could support a perfected Gnostic saying: "I am a set two people: the earlier me belongs to the hylic race. The later me belongs to the pneumatic race."
The Gnostic or Valentinian anthropology is logical and clever, but oversimplifies by not highlighting the fact that the Pneumatic starts with one way of thinking (Hylic/Psychic), jiggles the thinking for awhile, and then ends up with a different way of thinking. A young child may belong to the elect Pneumatic race, rather than to the Hylic/Psychic race, but that child has not yet reached maturity, and no one can know yet whether a particular child is destined to reach maturity and thus be revealed as a member of the Pneumatic race.
In quasi-Valentinian terms, bending them somewhat, one could say: "I am a set of three people: hylic (before any initiations), then psychic (during the series of initiations), then pneumatic (after the series of initiations)." The weakness of the 'race' metaphor is that regeneration and redemption don't happen instantly, but during a series of initiations; and, a person who belongs to the higher race begins life as the lower race.
Metaphors such as these are flexible and there is no single right way to put them together. However one describes it, and however one puts people into categories, the important thing is to picture a person's life, as the standard model and yardstick, thusly: a period before initiation, a period of initiations, and then a period after the initiations -- like a drinking straw with a flexible part in the middle, or like a resistor in a circuit diagram.
On the left end, the person is literally born; on the right end, the person literally dies. Each caret ^ indicates an initiation session, numbered 1 through 9. Below, the initial series of underscores _ indicates the Hylic (naive freewillist) type of thinking. The final == indicates the Pneumatic (no-free-will-in-the-cosmos) type of thinking. Dashes -- indicates deterministic thinking that has been recently discovered after much experience and reasoning, but not yet divinely and supernaturally transcended.
Here's someone who was fully initiated, having ascended to the 8th sphere and reached the 9th, divine realm where the Good God resides, outside the deterministic cosmos: (a Pneumatic, though started life thinking in a hylic fashion, like everyone).
Some people have become mystic determinists and consider mystic determinism to seem like full enlightenment, but they wonder whether there is a higher transcendence beyond the discovery of our no-free-will embeddedness in cosmic determinism; after transcending the naive freewill delusion, can we then transcend determinism too? They are remaining at the 8th, the sphere of the fixed stars, subject to the demiurge and consciously aware of their servitude. Their lifeline looks like:
After sessions 1 through 7, the person falls back down into worshipping the demiurge without recognizing it; during each session the person glimpses cosmic determinism but then forgets it afterwards due to mental habit. After session 8, the person understands and retains awareness of cosmic determinism, now seeing the demiurge's kingdom. During session 9, the person experiences rational deterministic imprisonment as a fatal problem and is lifted up outside the limitations and rational realm of cosmic determinism.
Here's someone who was partly initiated, then literally died:
Here's someone who went through all their life without being initiated (in Gnosticism, a hylic; a life-long hylic thinker):
Here's someone who went through some initiations, then gave up:
The experience of the advanced, perfected, mature pneumatic Gnostic includes fully developed rationality (on the subject of time, self, control, will, personal agency, and freedom), and includes trans-rationality.
But the experience of the beginner Gnostic, who has not attained perfection and maturity, has not yet *reached* the 8th sphere -- the sphere of the deterministic fixed stars -- much less surpassed it; has not yet reached the level of complete rationality, much less surpassed it; that Gnostic initiate just has partially developed rationality.
In initiation levels or sessions 1 through 7, the initiate is working towards rationality and towards the discovery of determinism; in level or session 8, the initiate attains rationality and discovers cosmic determinism; in level or session 9, the initiate or their spirit breaks through and beyond the level of complete rationality and consciousness of cosmic determinism.
Ken Wilber wrote:
>>Spirit is indeed nonrational; but it is trans, not pre. It transcends but includes reason; it does not regress and exclude it.
This applies to rationality and determinism-awareness together. Wilber hasn't written anything to state his position on the key subject of determinism, and he's written little about Hellenistic thought and Mystery Religions. Wilber just takes at face value Plotinus' criticism of the metaphor of 'rejecting the world'. 'pre-' and 'trans-' with respect to *rationality at its highest development* is essentially the same as 'pre-' and 'trans-' with respect to *awareness of determinism*.
Fully developed rationality in the mystic state of consciousness brings full awareness of cosmic determinism. Rationality when fully developed and applied to self-controllership is realized to be a hidden prison when it leads to the logical conclusion of no-free-will. There are places in Neoplatonic, Hermetic, or Gnostic thought that identify rationality or the mind as a prison and trap to be escaped. I would like to locate these passages, and am now equipped to search for them.
I would also like to compare and contrast Neoplatonism, Hermeticism, Gnosticism, and Jewish ascent-mysticism with respect to the theme of ascending to and past the sphere of the fixed stars.
Breaking out of prison is a common metaphor for discovering no-free-will through rational analysis in the mystic state, but then breaking past it trans-rationally.
Esoteric lyricist Neil Peart wrote, as one side of a story (Artist: Rush, album: Hemispheres, song "Dionysus: Bringer of Love"):
Throw off those chains of reason, and your prison disappears
From their song "Freewill":
A prisoner in chains
A victim of venomous fate.
Kicked in the face,
You can pray for a place
In heaven's unearthly estate.
When you reach "the 8th" (level of initiation; the sphere of fixed stars; retained rational consciousness of cosmic determinism), you awaken to our imprisonment in cosmic determinism, as when Neo in the movie The Matrix awakens to the terrible truth of our embeddedness in the machine-world. It remains for the initiate to reach the 9th, which requires being a member of the race that is predestined to be lifted up to it, out of the machine-world of cosmic determinism.
In the song "Steal Away (The Night)", esoteric lyricist Bob Daisley of the Ozzy Osbourne Band wrote:
If you feel that you and me
Could escape and hold the key
To a paradise that's true and free [true *and* free, at the same time? that would have to be a radically cosmos-transcendent paradise, because in the cosmos, discovering truth amounts to the discovery of the absence of metaphysical freedom]
Now I've met your honesty
You are here and I am free ["here" would have to be the radically transcendent level outside the deterministic cosmos, because only outside the deterministic cosmos can the mystic truthfully say "I am free"]
Broken chains have fallen all around [breaking out of prison is a common metaphor for discovering no-free-will through rational analysis in the mystic state, but then breaking past it trans-rationally]
Point my finger at the fools
Broken chains and broken rules [in a Gnostic reading, this 'rules' would include rationality considered as a restriction]
Let it be rebellion rules tonight [this would be rebellion against the demiurge]
Using the general metaphor scheme of 'race' and 'levels', you could say that a person who is destined for perfection starts out as one race, and then over a finite period of ascending through levels, is regenerated to become a member of another race.
If I wonder which race a person is, I'm actually wondering whether that person is predestined to reach the state of retaining rational awareness of cosmic determinism (and spiritually transcending determinism), or whether instead that person is predestined to merely retain, all during life, the default unawareness of cosmic determinism.
A spiritually redeemed person is one who has experientially comprehended cosmic determinism and has been given the grace to miraculously transcend cosmic determinism. Only a supernatural rescuer from on high, breaking through from outside the starry veil of cosmic determinism, can fish out and pull up the powerlessly trapped personal agent through a hole in the Zodiac.
Like the Valentinians' practical conception of a single but two-layered Christianity, it is practical to conceive of a single but two-layered Gnosticism. It may even be practical to talk of a single yet two-layered conception of "esoteric religion" or "mysticism".
Sometimes a 3-layered approach shows why this type of move is practical, dividing people into those who lack religio-philosophical knowledge, those who have some degree of religio-philosophical knowledge, and those who have an advanced degree of such knowledge. It could even be realistic to portray a 4-level system:
2. Exoteric religion
3. Beginning esoteric religion
4. Mature esoteric religion
However, when considering the quantity of esoteric truth held by minds in each stage, "level" 1 and 2 are identical, containing zero esoteric truth. That's why the esotericist pities the non-religious and the exoteric religious in largely the same way. The typical non-religious (religion-hating, mysticism-disparaging secular humanists such as Ayn Rand) hold the exact same conception of religion as the vile exoteric religionists. Both groups assume that religion is literalist religion.
So groups 1 and 2 above collapse into "minds that equate religion with literalist, exoteric religion". This leaves us with:
1. Exoteric religion (including Literalist anti-religion)
2. Beginning esoteric religion
3. Mature esoteric religion
Putting this in terms of early Christianity:
1. Official, Literalist Christianity
2. Beginning Gnostic Christianity
3. Mature Gnostic Christianity
Most Gnostic churches of the Modern era are at stage 2. They have moved beyond official, Literalist Christianity, and are striving to pursue Gnostic Christianity instead, but they have not reached mature Gnostic Christianity.
It has always been simplistic to form a dualistic, extreme 2-level system that simply and totally demonizes egoic thinking, and completely glorifies transcendent thinking. This extreme polarized value system is then applied to groups of people in a way that is sometimes used by some people in a harmful way. Although egoic thinking is lower, and must be transcended, we must be cautious about what sort of "rejection" of egoic thinking we do and appear to do.
We must assist the egoic thinking in reaching its limits and betraying itself. We must not condemn people whose minds are currently limited to the egoic framework of thinking, any more than we'd criticize a baby for being immature. Freewill Gnosticism (where 'freewill' is taken to mean naive freewill) is beginner's Gnosticism. It should be commended for going beyond literalist religion, but should not be prematurely granted as perfection.
It is fully understandable that an attempt at Gnosticism that is still shaking off the slumber of official Literalist religion is not yet anywhere near maturity and perfection. The same is true in the New Age, which Ken Wilber's 'Boomeritis' idea criticizes for mistaking the lowest stage of non-Literalist religion for the highest, fully developed stage of non-Literalist religion.
New Age religion as it typically stands today has broken away from Literalist religion but hasn't yet reached what we can call a mature Esoteric religion. The typical New Age Boomer isn't as far past Literalist religion as they think they are. The false mislabelling of beginning New Age religion as "fairly developed and substantial esoteric religion" is what Wilber calls "Boomeritis".
The character of much New Age religion seems as literalist and exoteric as, say, conventional liberal Christianity. Conventional or official Christianity is sometimes more advanced that people give it credit for, and the New Age religion is sometimes less advanced than its practitioners like to think -- so New Age religion isn't substantially more advanced in terms of transcendent knowledge than Christianity.
Although in the end there are just two ways of thinking (which I label 'egoic' and 'transcendent'), a 2-level classification of religion is of limited practical value. We need some sort of purgatory, some path, some court outside the inner sanctum: some place in between the vulgar exoteric or literalist world, and the heart of religious comprehension. Hellenistic religion wasn't a single initiation.
Some people haven't been initiated at all, some have been initiated a little, and some have been perfected. The endpoints are the first thing to notice but I must admit that the bulk of the system may be the journey, with steps of increasing knowledge, between the initial state of egoic thinking and the final state of transcendent thinking. That "journey" through multiple initiations has been allegorized as a "lifetime" or a series of "reincarnations".
Wilber's future work regarding the blips of transient peak experiencing or "altered states", and on "states versus stages", fills in more theoretical detail here, to explain what a "series of reincarnations leading to nirvana" means to the mystically developing mind.
Because enlightenment or transcendent knowledge is, in practice, a discontinuous series of jumps or steps, Wilber's multi-step systematization has some merit that is lacking in Alan Watts' portrayal of Satori as a dualist 2-level system where the mind jumps directly from egoic thinking to transcendent thinking.
The advantage of picturing enlightenment as a 2-level system that jumps all at once from complete darkness to complete light is its simplicity of contrast. Perhaps even Calvinism can be seen as both an idealistic 2-level system (in which one is suddenly lifted into his election all at once) and a multi-level initiation process in which one's election is gradually realized.
There are pros and cons in 2-level, 3-level, and 7-level (or more) theories of psychospiritual development. The 3-level system has most advantages of the 2-level approach, and most of the advantages of the 7-level approach.
Gnosticism could be considered:
o A 2-level system: there are the children of darkness or light; the sarkik/psychic or the pneumatic, the lost/called or the chosen.
o A 3-level system: sarkik, psychic, pneumatic. Lost, called, and chosen.
o An 8-level system: voyaging through the gateways of the 7 heavenly spheres, the perfected mind finally steps beyond spacetime.
Considering today's Christian church -- an actually diverse situation -- and considering that all religions are mostly lower religion, including Gnosticism -- consider a 3-level system:
1. Exoteric Christianity
2. Egoic Gnosticism (or, beginning Esoteric Christianity or beginning Mystical Christianity)
3. Transcendent Gnosticism (or, mature Esoteric Christianity)
There is a vertical axis of distinction and a horizontal axis. These form a pyramid. At the convergent, esoteric top, science agrees with Christianity and Gnosticism and New Age and the other religions. At the divergent, exoteric, literalist, broad bottom, it's all war: low science against low Christianity against low Gnosticism against low Islam and so on. The "evil religion of idolatry and polytheism" actually refers to the lower aspect of *all* worldview frameworks.
Even secular humanism can be treated as a religion with a vulgar, ignorant, and distorted low part (Ayn Rand's blanket dismissal of all religion) and a transcendent esoteric enlightenment at the top. Esoteric religionists shouldn't despise secular humanism without including the qualifier of "lower" secular humanism. In the end, all worldview frameworks are wrong and right, as they include lower and higher thinking.
Many people see "Christianity" as evil. That oversimplistic thinking misses the real point entirely. As far as the quest for metaphysical truth is concerned, the specific problem isn't "Christianity", it's lower thinking, regardless of what brand label is attached.
For example, lower secular humanism and lower science is just as deluded and egoic as conventional liberal Christianity -- while higher secular humanism and higher science share more and more with higher, esoteric Christianity, the more you focus on the ultimate potential of both worldview frameworks. We have got to differentiate the vertical axis, which is what is truly important, from the brand axis, which is largely inconsequential.
The most common assumption among would-be progressive religionists in the U.S. is to assume *esoteric* Eastern religion and assume *exoteric* Western religion and then to make an unfair and misguided comparison of Buddhism with Christianity, when what's really being compared is general exoteric religion with general esoteric religion, in the form of exoteric Christianity and esoteric Buddhism or some ideal characterization of those two options selected from the grid of combinations.
That's the risk of a Gnostic discussion group, that "Gnostic" will be conceived of as meaning only the highest form of esoteric Gnosticism, while other religions will be seen only in their lower form and lower Gnosticism will be hated, demonized, and denied most of all. It *is* a worthwhile project to recover the highest forms of Gnosticism, and differentiate the Gnostic tradition from the other worldview framework traditions of psychospiritual development.
But the most worthwhile project is to recognize the higher way of thinking across all religions or worldview frameworks. The peak, highest form of any worldview framework has a good chance of recognizing the perennial philosophy across all frameworks. It may be that some religions (or worldview frameworks) have a higher center of gravity than others, so that transcendent thinking can be attained more easily in "Buddhism" (broadly considered) than Christianity, or more easily in Gnosticism than in Judaism.
In the Information Age, per the book Reality Isn't What It Used to Be, it's impossible to realize transcendent thinking within one worldview framework or "religious tradition" or "brand" without also recognizing it across the others -- including Rabbinical Judaism, good Mystical Christianity, ideal New Age, higher Secular Scientific Humanism & Systems Theory, Islamic Sufism, and sophisticated Hinduism.
It's only the *lower* version of all these worldview frameworks that *seem* to be set against each other irreconcilably. If a version of Gnosticism portrays the other worldview frameworks always in their lowest form, this would demonstrated that that version of Gnosticism is itself the *lower* form of Gnosticism. Higher Gnosticism proves that it is higher by its respect for the *higher* form of *all* worldview frameworks.
This doesn't mean that all religious traditions blend into undifferentiation at the top; rather, the higher form of each worldview framework has necessarily developed the mapping ability to skillfully translate among all the metaphor systems that constitute all the worldview frameworks.
Why do the officials dislike the esoteric thinkers in each tradition? Because the livelihood of the officials often is predicated on the supposed disagreement among the worldview frameworks. The officials can justify war against the other religion if the other religion disagrees with our religion. But if all religions ultimately agree and are considered in their highest interpretation, the significant difference, the Otherness, of the "competing" worldview framework vanishes.
The war-mongers and politicians within each worldview framework promote the lowest interpretations of all the frameworks, to make it appear as though we are surrounded by incompatibility, dispute, and otherness. Mystics and integral thinkers threaten to reveal that the disagreement is an illusion and show that the only significant battle is the vertical difference, the lower form all all frameworks against the higher form of all frameworks.
In religion, freedom is sometimes promised in an ironic way; one becomes free from the penalty of death, or becomes a slave of God or a slave of Christ rather than of Caesar or the Archons or Heimarmene/Necessity. In the Roman empire being a slave of a high man was sometimes more desirable than being a lowly freedman.
The most overlooked point in religious metaphysics is the idea of eternity as frozen time. We ought to be on the lookout for the "god of time" mytheme, or "controller of time" concept. The feared bogey "no-free-will" not only goes with the boringly familiar idea of "no-separate-self", but also goes with the idea of "no time for free will" (the experience of frozen time).
It's time to highlight the word "time" and recognize that it's practically identical with Heimarmene, necessity, fate. The problem encountered in the ascent is the problem, "How can I, a mortal in spacetime, transcend the spacetime prison that Reason reveals as a prison?"
There are only two religions: the religion of freewill, and the religion of no-free-will. The latter means that there can be no freewill of the ordinarily assumed type, but only of a transcendent type. We can't say exactly what the "freedom of God" or "divine free will" could mean, positively, but we can negatively assert that such freedom is certainly not the familiar, carelessly assumed freewill notion held by the beasts and children.
Any school of Gnosticism that is based on 'freewill' in any ordinary sense of the notion is a sham: lower, exoteric Gnosticism that has not experienced how entirely problematic the conventional concept of freewill is. The conventional freewill idea is doomed to self-seizure of its power.
One book about Christian origins is intelligent enough to raise skepticism about Paul as well as Jesus, and informed enough to cover divine sacraments, and alert enough to recognize encoded astrotheology. Yet the author is apparently unaware that the Hellenistic world considered cosmic necessity a great problem to be transcended, in an almost magical way, through religious salvation of various equivalent brands.
In mythic-mystic and Christian conceptual vocabulary: conventional freewill sets itself up as a rebel against the ruler of the spacetime cosmos, though freewill is in principle a slave of the spacetime cosmos -- so such personal freewill is condemned to death as a rebel, by the spacetime ruler. The supposedly freewill-wielding person, or personal mind, is then consciously lifted up to divine unity so that the personal mind now properly attributes its will to the hidden transcendent will of the One.
If I say that I have free will and have transcended spacetime Heimarmene/necessity, or frozen-time cosmic determinism, that can only be true if that word 'I' refers not to a personal separate-self mind, but to the hidden transcendent One beyond conception, residing outside of the spacetime prison, iron block universe.
The mystic progression starts with the egoic freewill delusion, then during ascent awakens with great alarm and astonishment to the problem of cosmic determinism, and then is brought to make the leap outside the system.
Although this is a leap beyond conventional Reason at the same time as beyond spacetime, this journey can't be made without preserving and honoring and developing Reason to its fullest, and even *relying on* Reason even while attributing one's being, now, to something that transcends the limitations of Reason.
Reason is like a faithful donkey that carries you even a ways into the sea beyond the end of its road. The resulting transcendence is like standing with one foot on the ground, Reason, and the other foot in the air -- the hidden transcendent source of our thoughts and actions.
In general, New Age religion is false and not transformative, because it's freewill religion. Transformative religion is no-free-will religion. I was amazed to see a no-free-will Advaita Vedanta interview (Ramesh Balsekar) in one of the better run-of-the-mill New Age magazines (What Is Enlightenment?).
Naturally, the editor was horrified that some readers were expressing enlightenment and emancipation upon reading this heretical and absurd interview, and it wasn't long before the editor officially disavowed and rejected Balsekar's position, thus showing his true colors, showing that the magazine ought to be titled "What Enlightenment Isn't".
Besides that article, another exception in New Age religion, showing that even some broken-down vehicles can deliver the occasional voyager, is Timothy Freke, who includes a no-free-will section in some of his books on world religions. Even most Calvinism, in practice, is, at heart, freewill thinking with merely a fake veneer of unintegrated no-free-will doctrine.
Freewill religion is beginner's religion, where you teach the child to act as a responsible moral agent. But a fully civilized adult must also understand, firsthand, the illusory nature of that freewill moral agency and give ultimate credit to that which lies hidden beyond the reach of Reason, personal will, perception, and spacetime.
A person may be metaphysically free in some sense (depending on the network of meanings we assign to our terms), but not in the conventional sense of the uninitiated, who are unknowingly slaves asleep in the frozen spacetime rock even if they are consciously ignorant of that so far. Genuine religion is the full-on rational and experiential encounter of the problem of cosmic determinism and the finding of a way to somehow leap out of the system and transcend that problem.
"Avoiding reincarnation" means securing the understanding of these ideas and not falling down once again into the lower way of thinking, which is ordinary freewill/separate-self thinking.
The Valentinians generously grant lower religion the status of "religion" -- beginner's religion, the lower baptism, the baptism of water, milk religion. If freewill gnosticism is "higher religion" then so is conventional Christianity, because they are both freewill religion and only differ in that they happen to use different allegory systems, which is inconsequential.
Allegory systems aside, there are only two religions, or levels or modes of religion: freewill/separate-self religion, and no-free-will/no-separate-self religion. Both modes or levels of religion are found in every religion including today's Gnostic religion. The higher mode of religion was far more common around 150 CE. In the modern era, the low mode of religion was pretty much universally dominant.
This enabled ego, which is freewill thinking, to escape the perceived threat of scientific determinism and take refuge in the nebulous jungles of inchoate religion, even including inconsistent literalist Calvinism which was happy to welcome the spirit of egoic freewill moralism even while preaching predetermination.
Freewill thinking is our default, uninitiated state, not something to parade and elevate as a religion. A religion and ritual based around freewill thinking is glorification of the ordinary, given mode of conception, the pomp of the Archons. It could be stimulating, exciting, interesting... but surprising and transformational, and dangerous, requiring a drastic change of thinking and mental worldmodel?
Does it force you to consciously rise outside the spacetime system, tremble, fear, panic, pray, destabilize and restabilize in a deeply revised configuration? Such changes and such demands and experiences were routine in genuine Hellenistic religion. People assume they can enjoy no-separate-self, and higher thinking, while adhering to freewill delusion, as though they could take confusion and impurity with them while crossing into the 8th heaven.
No-free-will has become important because with today's sophisticated but uninformed esotericism, it's the clearest differentiator between the kind of religion developed by the uninitiated and the kind of religion discovered by those whose foolish conventional assumptions about personal power have been seized and reset by hidden, transcendent power.
Freewill religion is egoic religion, because ego is freewill. Egoic religion is a travesty of transformational religion. Labelling minor shuffling-about as "transformation" hardly begins to bring about any change deep enough to deserve the term "transformation"; it produces more like an "enhancement" of conventional thinking.
Ken Wilber is completely weak and hazy on three tightly coupled topics: Hellenistic myth-religion, sacred meals, and no-free-will, but his recent Boomeritis concept correctly criticizes popular spirituality as being narcissistic enhancement of ego merely relabelled as "transformation of consciousness".