When you read about the history of mysticism, for example, don't believe anything you read; rather, read it all as poetic clever thematic metaphor; adopt a reading attitude of rigorous theme-oriented nonliteralism and put your main focus on theme-detection. Don’t let a presumably literalist subject matter deceive you for a moment; always be first of all searching, searching always, for standard, familiar mystic-metaphorical *themes*. Read the entire supposed "historical reports of actual events" first of all as mystic metaphorical tall-tales.
Cultivate, practice, and develop automatic theme recognition; this requires a particular type of radical hermeneutics of suspicion. Always be actively searching for pattern recognition of these themes.
It's blatantly obvious to the initiate that the mystery religions have in common the use of entheogens that produce the experiencing and phenomena that are so fantastically allegorized in mythic form as miracles, child sacrifice, and shape-shifting. Are you one who has walked on water, as I have? That's trivially easy -- just look down: do you see waves, or not? If you are one who believes in Jesus, who is the personification of the experience of timeless determinism and no-separate-self, you will do all these miracles and more.
I have characterized the mythic allegorization of religious experiencing as a clever joke before, but as I increasingly recognize the isomorphism of Hellenistic mystery myths and Christian myth, perhaps "game" is the best way to generally characterize it.
Solving the specifically Christian allegory of "the kingdom of God" as the kingdom of no-free-will was experienced by me as "solving a vexing puzzle". Now that I am on the inside and understand the logic that encompasses other Hellenistic and well as Christian myth, I no longer experience it as a puzzle, but rather as a game.
The insiders can treat it as a game to play with those who are outside. This is what it means to be a Jew in the high sense: I am one of the people who were selected from before the beginning of the world to consume the flesh of the savior and experience timeless block-universe determinism and no-separate-self.
I am one of the select race, one of God's exclusive ones (however the Jewish exclusivity wording would go), one of the purified ones. These ideas can be taken up in a grossly distorted, abusive, vulgar elitism fashion by the lower, egoic way of thinking, or even by power mongers who happen to be enlightened/initiated. It's a neat joke to say there are two races: the uninitated and the initiated.
The initiated are the saved, the elect, the ointment-rubbed or christened, God's true people, the pure ones, and so on. The uninitiated, especially those who go through their whole life uninitiated, are the damned, the guilty, the condemned, Satan's followers, the demon-possessed, and so on.
Some of the harshness of the mythic allegory may serve to emphasize that this is serious business, though the loosened mind or the initiate can as well see the comedy and humor in it -- thus Attic Tragedy also had Comedy. What can insanity and child sacrifice as a pathos-filled amusing joke be for Christians who have overcome the devil, but divine allegory in a twisted, sick-funny mockery of supernatural literalism?
Watts has commended Christianity as being the penultimately *serious* religion, where God's hiding from himself is taken to a certain kind of extreme limit where seriousness is amplified to the max.
Beyond Theology: The Art of Godmanship
I'm putting the comedy back into salvation and cybernetic self-control-death seizure. Salvation turns out to be a cheap trick.
It's the way
of the world
You were at work and then Friday at five,
I remember, felt like a pawn, was I dead or alive?
I remember, thought no one could hear me, I was goin' insane.
I remember, it was a real fine line, now you've changed my life around.
I've been runnin', I've been hidin', it's the way of the world.
You say it's over, but the world keeps turnin' 'round.
World goes round, life goes on, and on, and on.
>An astrotheological interpretation of Jesus walking on water is that Jesus represents the sun. At certain times of the day one can see the reflection of the sun on a body of water. Therefore the sun/son walks on water.
Many esoterics likely read the story that way. There are multiple allegory domains: a story can mean:
A. Intense mystic-state experiencing
The most central, important allegory domain is mystic-state experiencing. It wouldn't make sense for domain B or C to be the penultimate central allegory domain, in religion. Allegory may mean (point to) astrotheology, but astrotheology finally means (points to) mystic state phenomena. If Jesus points to sun, and sun points to Amanita, and Jesus points to Amanita, I'd still assume that finally Jesus, sun, and Amanita point to mystic-state phenomena -- proper for a religion as such.
The final center of religion is the mystic state and the insight the mystic state brings regarding self, time, and control. Worshipping sex or the astronomy bodies doesn't make sense as a final focal point, but sex and the astronomical bodies can be seen as metaphors for mystic experiencing and the insights into self, time, and control thereby revealed. If one puts astronomy or sex into dead center, that's a lesser system of metaphor, judged as a religion.
Sex and astronomy are most valuable for religion in that they can be read as metaphors for the mystic state and mystic insight into self, time, and control. The main facet of astronomy is cosmic determinism, something we encounter and seek to somehow transcend in the mystic state. Stars are "that which determines our destiny". The dark moon is ego death. The sun beyond the sun (David Ulansey) is the transcendent ruler of the stars that determine our destiny.
All the following have been used as metaphors for mystic state experience and insight into self, time, and control: Birth, death, climax, rape of the mortal soul by the deity, rebirth, conception, copulation, marriage, family, twins, parent/child, lovers, reincarnation.
Mystic state experiencing and insight are higher, more important, more central than other allegory domains -- more of a final referent that allegory points toward. Considering levels of initiation, a halfway level would say that the real meaning of Jesus means the sun. Later, it should be revealed that the sun means transcendence of cosmic determinism.
Individual esoterics' beliefs ultimately converge upon such a view and usage of metaphorical allegory domains -- even if many esoterics stopped at considering sex or astronomical bodies the end-all of religion. Here we may need to progress beyond many of the ancient allegorists, heading more toward philosophy (modern systematic theory and model-construction) of time, self, and control.
The ancients seemed trapped in and lost in allegory, as though everything points to everything with no non-allegorical end. Allegory must eventually point to a non-allegorical referent. Religious allegory should ultimately point to the mystic state and mystic insight and self, time, and control -- not sex, the astronomical realm, or entheogenic plants themselves. So astrotheology doesn't finally point to the sun; rather, in astrotheology, the sun points to insight about self, time, and control.
Is the white-light cognitive metaperceptual feedback experience a final referent, or a pointer? Both; allegory finally points to two distinct, related non-allegorical things: experience and worldmodel.
o Experience: the phenomena of the intense mystic state (loss of sense of control, sense of timelessness, white-light metaperception feedback, perceptual distortion, ego death, unity experience)
o Worldmodel (or "theory"): transcendent unity, timeless block-universe determinism with fixed past/present/future, time trumps egoic control, understanding the two ways of thinking and how the lower one gives way to higher, and other principles summarized in my Introduction at http://www.egodeath.com/intro.htm.
A modern theory of religion requires coverage of all three of these components: theory, experience, and allegory. The ancients were strong in experience and allegory; what modernity, combined with Philosophy, contributes is theory. Theory ("science", systematic explicit model-construction) comes naturally to modernity. Modernity is challenged in the departments of (mystic-state) experience and allegory.
The ancients were trapped and limited, unable to effectively incorporate theory into their expertise with experience and allegory.
As far as our records reflect, allegory in late antiquity characteristically tended to be incestuously trapped in and infatuated with itself: A means B, and B means C, and C means A, and round it goes, every allegory pointing to yet some other allegory, which pointed to yet some other allegory, never arriving at a clear non-allegorical referent -- or, if allegory A points to allegory B, B was misconstrued as the final non-allegorical referent.
Fevered inebriation with allegory was the result. Literalism is the misconstrual of allegory B for the final non-allegorical referent.
They ended up with mere sun worship idolatry, mere sex worship idolatry, mere literalist Jesus worship idolatry -- all falling short of completing allegory by pointing outside allegory to the proper non-allegorical referent, which in religion can only be the phenomena of the mystic state and especially the transcendent worldmodel that results from combining Reason with the mystic state of cognition.
To worship the sun as such is idolatry and incomprehension of transcendent knowledge; to worship the sun as transcendence of cosmic determinism, which one has experienced and comprehended in the mystic state, is true religion.
Be sure to always consider how a given religious allegorical mytheme, such as "archon", maps to *multiple* allegory domains. When considering a term such as "archon", consider it in light of the political allegory domain *and*, distinctly, in light of the mystic-state allegory domain. Another popular allegory domain we must consider is astrotheology or cosmology.
For example, the Book of Revelation is political/mystic/cosmological allegory that is tightly compacted -- smooshed together -- yet can be unpacked by skilled mystic allegorists into distinct allegory domains: an expression can have a political meaning, a mystic-state meaning, and a cosmological or astrotheology meaning. "Archon" is "ruler of this world" -- here ego is being allegorically represented by evil rulers/politicians.
Ego is ruler of the lower world, and evil politicians are rulers of the lower world, and the demiurge and the devil are ruler of the lower world. Allegorists must be careful not to commit the single-allegory-domain fallacy. Archon means politician, such as one who uses religion for political oppression, but from the point of view of mystic experiencing, the much more important meaning of archon is the ego as a corrupt ruler.
Book list about the End Times:
The kingdom of God is at hand
Excellent liberation theology book about political liberation and Biblical allegory, explaining the original political (not mystic thought) meaning of Revelation, and how to apply the same principles today:
Unveiling Empire: Reading Revelation Then and Now
Wes Howard-Brook et al
>>Which of these statements is true?
>>Physical life is imaginary.
>>Imaginary is imaginary, and physical is physical.
>>Physical is imaginary, and imaginary is physical.
>>Life is Reality.
>>Imagination is Theory.
A better question is, "In what specific ways are each of these statements or comparisons true?"
Merker wrote (paraphrased):
>>Simply stating that "this world is imaginary" or "this world is physical" is of little help. Single words by themselves lead to more confusion than clarity bcause
of how language works primarily: by making sense by method of meaning networks. Just think about randomly picking a single word out of a book: if you only read that one word, it's possible that it has multiple things, like most words (http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=run).
>>There's no clear distinction which can be made on a single-word basis. As you increase the string being analyzes to include the adjacent words in a sentence, the meaning progressively becomes more focused, with many possible meanings falling away, ideally converging and crystallizing to a single specific meaning. More realistically, whole sentences are often still ambiguous.
It is even possible to construct entire conceptual universes of deliberately and precisely ambiguous meaning, such as in the elaborate systematic 2-state meaning-shifting in Greek Attic Tragedy per Vernant & Vidal-Naquet:
Myth and Tragedy in Ancient Greece
Jean-Pierre Vernant, Pierre Vidal-Naquet
>>Mystic literature as a linguistic form emphasizes a paradigm of an active audience; the poetic art requires and causes the audience to actively search for the true main consistently coded meanings, just as in the work required to perceive a graphic 2-state illusion or stereogram encoded hidden 3-dimensional image, by actively using your brain to analyze and filter, rather than becoming a run-of-the-mill "wisdom parrot" putting forth a flat, static, or merely nebulous system of verbal and conceptual formations.
The mystic literary mode focuses in a skilfully controlled multiplicity of systematic meaning-networks, with one classic ancient formation being to put forth a two-state systematic flippable system such as "sin", and another formation being the skillful piling on of allegory-domain after allegory domain, such as mapping the realm of intense mystic-state phenomena to metaphors drawn from diverse areas such as politics, battle, food, self-control, visionary plants, astrology, family, race, metals, chemistry, magic, and sex -- the ancient literary game was an elaborate play upon such a technique of allegory domain mappings, all tying into the phenomena of the mystic altered state as a common reference point.
>>>>Mystery cults were a personal engagement of an individual with a saviour through communal ritual, through which the individual gained the keys to an afterlife.
>>>... I think there is more to the idea of a mystery cult than just the guarantee of an afterlife. It is obvious from the NT, i.e. Paul's corpus and the short tracts (the Johns, Jude) trying to redefine what he said. There was conflict between the gnostic idea of resurrection and the orthodox idea.
>>>It seems that Paul's resurrection is in the here and now, an ability to identify with the pneuma while still alive. He calls those identified with the body asleep (often [I suspect purposely, confusingly] mistranslated as dead). His docetic Christ and the attendant mysteries properly practiced and understood will allow followers of the Way to exp the Kingdom of God here and now. To wake up (as referred to in the Matrix trilogy). So we don't have to wait for the end of the aeon, or the End of Days as the Jews put it, or even the end of one's own physical life, for the soter [savior, or rescuer from captivity -mh] to come and bring us to heaven. ...
And you know sometimes words have two meanings. 'Afterlife' can mean after bodily death or after a Mystery Religion death-and-rebirth experience; in the latter sense, 'the afterlife' happens within one's lifetime. 'Waiting for the end of the world' was conceived of in two senses, the literal sense and the metaphor of religious initiation (or an initiation series) as the end of one, transient age of man and the beginning of another, lasting age of man -- that is, the post-initiation phase of an individual's life.
>>>>Some Mystery cults were also fertility-based. So fertility ensured the food supply and procreation, mystery ensured an afterlife rather than the blotting paper of Hades/Sheol.
Fertility cults used the domain of fertility in conjunction and interpenetration with the domain of religious experiencing and mystic experiencing, developing the ways in which mystic religious experiencing is like patterns seen in fertility, and in which the patterns of fertility are like religious experiencing such as in the Mystery Cults. The Mystery Cult of Demeter and of Osiris heavily used fertility themes to express religious experiencing.
All areas of life were deliberately compared in antiquity and were all deliberately linked to the sphere of religious experiencing such as provided in the Mystery Cults, the latter serving as a common thematic and experiential point of reference.
This domain intermapping and deliberate interpenetration included the domains of politics, battle, food, plants, astrology, family, race, magic, sex, and fertility -- the ancient literary game was an elaborate play upon such a technique of allegory domain mappings, all tying into the phenomena of the religious peak state of consciousness routinely administered in the religious methods of the Mystery Cults.
>>... the gnostics were not so much into gaining freedom from rules, with the implication of being able to thereby violate them (e.g. live licentiously, as their orthodox opponents falsely believed they did). Rather, they emphasized NOT giving in to the evil lustful demands of a mere evil material body. An aspect of this gnostic attitude appears in Paul's famously negative teachings on marriage. Of course, he was living in a deluded anticipation of a soon-to-arrive end of the age.
>>I'm rather suspicious of Frazer's magic-religion dichotomy. He appears to have "bought into" Christianity's use of this FALSE dichotomy to put down OTHER religions. There are certainly a multitude of "magical" elements in Christianity itself, as appears to be the case with ALL religions. Rather than referring to systems of "magic" as opposed to "religious" systems, we should speak of "magico-religious" systems. This would be much more reflective and descriptive of the REALITY of what we see in cultures the world over.
Careful, soon you'll be writing "magico-philosophical-religious-mystical-political-fertility systems".
Some related books about magico-religious systems:
Magic and Paganism in Early Christianity: The World of the Acts of the Apostles
Jesus the Magician: Charlatan or Son of God?
Magic, Mysticism, and Hasidism: The Supernatural in Jewish Thought
The King's Body: Sacred Rituals of Power in Medieval and Early Modern Europe
Shows how pre-modern European culture didn't draw a distinction and separation between the conceptual realms of the religious and political. I point out that this lack of distinction is comparable to the pre-modern relation between the realms of magic and religion.
Prayer, Magic, and the Stars in the Ancient and Late Antique World
Scott Noegel, Joel Walker, Brannon Wheeler (Editors)
>>I have a question about the words chosen to discuss the mystic state experience.
>>Why are linear-laden words such as "higher" and "lower" and "tier" used to describe a mystic state which is block deterministic and more "crystalline" ?
A full description of *anything* requires an assortment of metaphors and verbal, conceptual constructions, not limitation to a single perfect narrow set of immediately related metaphorical constructs. The world is like a crystal block, and the world is like a several-layered object. Enlightenment is like deep knowledge and high knowledge. The catch is that the world is like a crystal *in certain respects*, and is like a several-layered object *in certain respects* -- the hard work is to identify in greater detail in which respects the world is like each of these things.
Metaphors We Live By
George Lakoff, Mark Johnson
Thou Art That: Transforming Religious Metaphor
Book list (currently the top entries are on-topic):
Religious myth: allegorical metaphor of mystic experiencing
>Theory has been defined as the closure under logical implication of a set of lawlike sentences.
"Theory" can refer to a method of analysis.
"Theory" can refer to the product of a method of analysis.
"Theory" can refer to a general tendancy to prefer certain methods of analysis to others.
I would agree only if the key terms (lawlike, logical implication, closure, method) are understood to be loosened enough so that I can flex them.
The character of a definition *I* would come up with (and writing a glossary is my next project), is that a Theory is not put forth as something to be believed. A theory is knowledge, even if the theory is wrong. A theory is organized and systematic, clear and unambiguous. Wilber's Quadrant scheme is a Theory. His most recent book is A Theory of Everything (with, by the way, "also: altered states" standing out prominently, page 43).
The study of the distinction between pseudoscience and science has potential, but limited potential.
>The fundamental distinction should be between claims that warrant our belief and those that don't. It doesn't really matter (epistemically) how we choose to group claims together, and what labels we attach to these groups ("science", "pseudoscience", "philosophy", etc).
The very concept of "belief" has become problematic. The main 20th Century kind of Belief is just ideology, various ideologies countering each other. I have no respect for flatland scientism of the kind I associate with Ayn Rand. Her kind of scientific humanism reeks of ideology -- her system is explicitly a counter-ideology; she can *only* be understood by remembering that her context was the peak of the ideology of Socialism. She is, first of all, a deliberately dogmatic anti-Socialist, putting forth an ideology to counter Socialism as an ideology.
She offers a better cock-sure grand narrative -- but postmodern Xers, according to generational theorists Strauss and Howe, reject all ideologies and metanarratives, preferring to hold all beliefs in a deeply doubtful way. No ideology can be trusted -- not modern-style religion, modern-style science, not modern-style political philosophy. Believers trust fervently, or claim to, in order to counter some other Belief system; postmodernists doubt belief systems in general and are hardly able to pose a counterideology with deep sincerity.
There may be different kinds of belief or modes of belief. And beliefs are often held very loosely; when one poses as holding them tightly, that may indicate one is actually covertly holding them loosely (doubting them, and projecting that doubt onto other people). I think the Puritans had deep doubt about Jesus and the presence of the supernatural God, and this manifested as great belief in the Devil -- "if only we can manage to believe fervently in the Devil, we have religion".
Some scholars have used scientific historical research to demonstrate that the Historical Jesus, who the nonsupernaturalist Jesus scholars take for granted, didn't exist at all. But such science-dedicated debunkers strike me as a severely shortsighted, modern scientistic thinkers, every bit as uninformed as the religionists they seek to overthrow, and uninformed in the same way, the same mode. These two positions, "science" and "religion" as conceived in the mid 20th Century, are part of the same thing, the same stunted way of thinking. Such scientists are, in the end, every bit as dimwitted, blindly ignorant, and narrow-minded as the religionists they battle against and define themselves in terms of.
I'm skeptical that people hold beliefs as closely as they supposedly do. The century before Luther, the 1400s, a supposed age of Belief, turns out to have been marked by pervasive doubt instead.
Much fervent belief in science actually is driven by doubt in its opposite, Religion. Faith, or at least public profession of faith, was not removed but was instead transferred from Religion to Science. Robert Anton Wilson points this out in his work on "reality tunnels", speaking of dogmatic scientism; the claim to believe in Reason is often motivated by something other than Reason. We need to Believe in something. U2's song -- I don't believe in Foo... but I believe in love.
Belief, in the Modern mode, is dead. The modernist kind of Belief is dead, regardless of whether it is Belief in Evolution, Belief in Science, Belief in Religion, Belief in the Devil, Belief in Information Technology, Belief in Philosophy. Beliefism is dead, and Science was just another form of Beliefism. Now we have worked through relativism and we no longer Believe in the same way as we (supposedly) did during the Modern era.
That's not to say we're radical relativists, but just to say that we have a deep appreciation of the tentativeness of all Belief. Modernist Science was counterdogma, which is itself strongly dogmatic in character. The dogmatic mode of belief, including counterdogma, is dead. I think Knowledge Studies has found a sound middle ground. Newton's physics was certain, then shattered, and we tried a variety of extremes.
Reality Isn't What It Used to Be -- Walter Truett Anderson.
We can no longer believe, in general, the way we used to, which was Belief. There are too many worldviews and perspectives to permit such a luxury.
Reading Huston Smith's book Why Religion Matters: The Fate of the Human Spirit in an Age of Disbelief ( http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0060671025 ) about our need for religion exposes how the nature and *purpose* of purported belief changes. As a defender of religion who evidently is totally cloistered and isolated within the walls of 1950s academia, he frames the entire religion vs. science battle in terms of the theory of evolution, and I think that dates him as a Modernist who believes in Belief. I believe in neither religion nor science nor evolution nor creation; I'm not looking to attach Belief to any of them. I recognize no battle and don't see evolution as a countersavior. Evolution and creation can both jump off a cliff for all I care. Evolution *doesn't much matter*. And Belief doesn't much matter.
I lost respect for MIT, technical university departments, and academic religion departments reading his book. My God, are they still stuck in that old mode of a standoff between obsolete concepts about science versus obsolete concepts of religion, expressed in terms of the dead battle about Evolution versus Creation? Both parties are living in the Stone Age of the 1950s -- and are irrelevant. As throwbacks in the identical way, they have *both* been Left Behind."
Comparing the excellence of different religious mythic systems
The battle between esoteric and exoteric mythmakers over centuries has resulted in Christianity being more systematically transformable, like Attic tragedy flipping between two conflicting meanings, than Jewish or other Hellenistic religions -- earliest Christianity had less pronounced systematic flipping between the literalist and mystic-mythic meaning systems.
Although this meaning-switching quality or "mystery-revealing" quality is surprisingly systematic, we must avoid an impulse of automatically assuming that Christianity is different and superior as a mythic system. The Jewish mythic framework read mystically and the Hellenistic mystic framework read mystically are completely equivalent to the Christian mythic framework; it's purely a matter of aesthetic and poetic judgment to declare the Christian mythic framework superior.
The same type of mapping is fully present in the Old Testament mythic/mystic system as the New Testament mythic/mystic system -- for example, inebriating psychoactive mixed wine in the "Passover seder meal before exodus into the holy land" vs. in the "last supper before redemption into the kingdom of God".
To explain mystical Christianity is to explain all Hellenistic mystical religion, including Christian and Jewish religion -- they were merely different wrappers or skins on the identically same core initiation system. The moment we understand the mystery of Christianity, we also understand the mystery of all myth-religion, particularly Western and near-East religions of the early Christian era.
The difference in metaphorical system logic between Zoroastrianism and Jewish and Hellenistic mystery-religion is trivial and superficial -- fully convertible and equivalent. Once you learn the conceptual vocabulary for one of them, the others are merely a slightly different dialect, hardly more than switching from playing one guitar and amplifier to another.
It was routine to create an initiation system on the standard core initiation framework. Initiation technicians could use any symbol system as a wrapper on the core initiation technology. Want a math-based, color-based, astrology-based, music-based, politics-based system, or Jewish historical-styled messianic apocalyptic system? No problem, the schools can open for initiation in a matter of weeks.
Thus Christianity cannot be finally reduced to astrology, or politics, or apocalyptic messianism, but rather, to initiation. Initiation into transcendent experiencing, rather than astrology, is the essence of mystical Christianity. Christianity is no more "really astrotheology" than it is "really messianic apocalypticism".
It is astrotheology or it is messianic apocalypticism only to the extent that astrotheology or messianic apocalypticism is understood as a symbolic wrapper on initiation -- initiation administering a series of mystic-state sessions.
Authentic initiation must be a series, because the mind must spend some time, some number of sessions, working through ideas and sense-of-self feelings while in the mystic state. Astrotheology reflects this by the idea of ascending through graded planetary spheres.
We need a table mapping between the core initiation technology, the astrotheology symbol-system, the fertility symbol-system, the Jewish messianic apocalyptic symbol-system, and other major mythic systems. Each system includes some expression of progressive initiation levels. Only then can we understand astrotheology, or Christianity, or initiation.
The best way to figure out what astrotheology was about would be to fill in this type of table, using functional equivalences to determine what aspects to look for. Reading Having read Christ Conspiracy and Ulansey's book on Mithraism before formulating this theory of initiation, I'm left without any satisfying and relevant sense of what astrotheology was, but I will feel satisfied when I map the core initiation technology to astrotheology.
I'm changing from being a researcher of "earliest Christianity" to a researcher of "initiation", because Christianity and the Jewish and Pagan religions were, first of all, and most significantly of all, differently packaged systems of the same type of mystic-state initiation -- not so much "symbolic" or "ritual" initiation, as *intense mystic-state* initiation.
Official Christianity lacks a "ladder" or "series" conception, so it is easy to see why "purgatory" was added (functionally equivalent to the Orphic idea of a progressive series of rebirths into bodily existence). The New Testament reflects that there was some controversy around single initiation versus multiple initiation. Although the bishops advocated a single democratically flattened church, the scriptures reflect the idea of levels of initiations which, for example, the Valentinians endorsed.
This controversy is reflected in the ideas of "merely the baptism in the name of John, vs. the better baptism in Jesus' name in which you truly receive the holy spirit", and in the accusation of the gnostics as "elitist" (while the bishops ignored their own equivalent elitism of "there is no salvation outside our church").
>>Per Hermeticism, Thoth represented mystic-state experiential insight -- Wisdom or transcendent knowledge; a functional patron of ecstatic mystic revelation, first of all, including the awakening to and then transcendence of cosmic determinism.
>Thoth/Hermes is a mundane occupational patron for many. On other levels, he becomes "transcendent", but not to everyone.
The situation is like that of magic and astrology: these were conceived of in multiple ways by various people. Can we talk about "the real meaning" of astrology? No, that is audience-dependent. We can, however, talk about high astrology vs. low astrology; mystic-state allegorical astrology vs. literalist pragmatic astrology. Every religion has a lower, exoteric level, and a higher, esoteric (mystic-state) level -- including the religions of astrology, alchemy, magic, hermeticism, cult of saints, kabala, and national myth.
I'd say the best of the thinkers conceived of Thoth in a mystic allegorical, expansive sense, even if the sheer majority had a simplistic, superstitious, irrational, mundane, and utilitarian view of Thoth. More and more religions are turning out to have both their mundane popular saints and their monotheistic ultra-transcendent mystic and quasi-inconceivable, apophatic, hidden God.
There is even exoteric gnosticism, and, at the extreme, exoteric esotericism: literalism that misunderstands itself as being esoteric -- like the deluded person's misconception of what enlightenment is about, resulting in what a child might imagine upon hearing about astrology or gnostic myths or attaining Nirvana.
High esoteric magic, alchemy, and astrology are the same as rational, enlightened, esoteric mysticism -- just like any myth-religion, "magic" is really just another equivalent system of allegorical description of the mystic altered state phenomena. Hellenism included various blends of exoteric and esoteric thinking, with only a few people taking the hardline stance that magic, astrology, and alchemy are entirely allegorical (of intense mystic-state phenomena) and are not at all literally true.
Magic is like the idea of divinely ascending beyond the realm of the fixed stars, so that one has transcended cosmic determinism -- the domain of mind boggling, worshipping a black box as divine controller of the universe residing outside cosmic determinism, and being pulled up to become like that mysterious transcendent being.
>>Are Gnostic levels of initiation a remnant of hierarchical society? The Jesus figure would be:
o A simple lucky talisman to a longshoreman
o A figure of interest and self-awareness to a middle-class artisan
o An internal and totally overwhelmingly internalized figure to the saint/mystic who must somehow direct and communicate with the first two types.
Valentinian gnosticism was set up as a two-level system, with exoteric, beginner Christians as the lower level, and fully initiated Christians as the higher level. Full initiation used the additional 'sacrament of apolytrosis (redemption, rescuing)'. This was an attempt of the Gnostics to set up a viable arrangement with the increasingly exoteric religion.
Astrology as an initiation school is comparable: the children are taught simplistic materialistic and superstitious astrology, while the mature initiates increasingly switch to a purely mystic-state based allegorical view. In practice, people ended up with various combinations of literalism and enlightened allegorism.
I only grant full legitimacy to the extreme allegory-only interpretation. Today is no different; there is a range of degrees of mystic thinking, overlapping with a range of degrees of literalism. Some people are literalists at the same time as being mystic allegorists, which is why I sometimes have to clearly specify a "literalist-only" view or "mystic allegory-only" view.
A middle level is a kind of literalist (materialist) allegorism, as with Acharya where she uses terms such as 'reveal', 'symbolic', 'initiation', 'allegory', and 'myth', yet conceives of those in a mundane materialist sense, as in "The Jesus figure was a mystic symbol that actually meant the literal physical sun -- this was revealed only to initiates."
I disparage such a view as half-baked or only halfway there; it really "has nothing to do with Dionysus". Therefore I specify 'reveal', 'symbolic', 'initiation', 'allegory', and 'myth' as referring to the experiences of the intense mystic altered state.
The most classic scheme of levels in Hellenism was ascension through the 7 increasingly slower planets, to the 8th level -- the fixed stars (the experience of cosmic determinism), and then to the 9th level, beyond the fixed stars and therefore being lifted up (fished out), escaping the prison of cosmic determinism. Thus the Hermetic "discourse on the 8th and 9th".
Good children's movies are designed to entertain children and adults both, using multiple layers of meaning. Greek Attic tragedy was designed to contrast two systems of meaning, frequently raising the distinction between the understanding of the noninitiates and the initiates.
Given that the mind is designed to develop first the simple, animal-like, egoic freewill separate-self mental worldmodel, and then become sophisticated and become initiated to construct the subtle, transcendent, no-free-will/no-separate-self mental worldmodel (and even postulate moving beyond the realm of no-free-will), it's natural to develop symbolic meaning-systems that reveal one face to the pre-initiates, and another face to the post-initiates, just as transforming from the earlier to the later mental worldmodel involves reconceiving all key elements of the worldmodel: space, time, will, self, and control.
Kings are initiated, and initiates are like legitimate kings. The emperor is so high, he's above cosmic determinism -- so high as well are the initiates.
Thus initiation of the populace is political, potentially democratic, where every citizen is initiate and therefore a divinely legitimated ruler, wielding the power of control over cosmic determinism; every initiate has the power and authority to make the fixed stars move and revolve, as does God and Mithras.
God has the authority to move the zodiac, as he resides outside the realm of cosmic determinism/the fixed stars. So does Mithras, so does the initiate, so does the king and emperor. One can thus have a low rank in society yet a high rank in cult. The zodiac is a symbol of (the intense mystic experience of) determinism (Stoic heimarmene) and of transcending determinism.
Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic Age
As stated by McInerney, the democratic Macedonians/Greeks didn't like divinized ruler cult. The Egyptians and Persians liked equating the ruler with divinity. The problem for Alexander is that his empire covered both types of areas, in which people did and didn't like divinization of the ruler.
One completely misunderstands the notion of "Jesus, son of god, lord, king, divine, king of kings, lord of lords, savior, benevolent, redeemer, rescuer, buyer-back of the captured slaves" unless one has studied Ruler Cult, which was the source of these concepts. Christianity co-opted Ruler Cult, then the Roman government co-opted Christianity.
The Greco-Roman culture loved to create new variations on existing materials. Everything borrowed from and co-opted everything else, including cross-borrowing and co-optation of ideas across two key domains: mystical-state experiencing, and political government. Astrology was another domain woven in, as Acharya S and David Fideler have written about.
The ascending and descending redeemer myth has antecedents in pre-Pauline hymns, Jewish personified Wisdom literature, Greek Logos literature, and Ruler Cult. The divine ruler descends from his chariot at the city, rescues the people from slavery, and at death divinely ascends. Godmen could accomplish the same in the realm of mystic-state experiencing, which was abundantly present in the Greco-Roman era.
HDetering wrote (machine-translated):
>> I regard Marcion as one of the most fascinating and most important shapes of the early Christianity (in historical regard). But I am not approximate trailers of one therefore by any means also only similar theology. That would be ridiculous. Marcionitische theology with its absurd losses against the Demiurgen, the identification of Jew and creator God, the ethics with marriage prohibition etc. is a strange thing? and actually only in as much interesting as the historical question would be to be answered: how could arise such world-volatile municipality, which to a certain extent only with its tips of the toe affected this world, at all in great quantities? After my view have the probably with the unique spirit and historical situation the late ancient times do.
Everything is allegory, metaphor, poetry, irony, and amusing shifting of meaning. There is a total contrast between the literal meaning and the mystic meaning. The word "God" doesn't mean god. The word "world" doesn't mean world. The word "body" doesn't mean body. The word "death" doesn't mean death. Every word has meaning within a network -- within the lower, literal network, or within the higher, metaphorical network. The higher network of word meanings is a description of the journey of mystic consciousness and mystic experience which results from drinking magical elixir. This is not only old ancient consciousness from the year 250; this poetry and metaphor was also popular until the age of Enlightenment in 1650, in Western esotericism, like Boehme, with its high magic (with potion and poison beverage), high alchemy (with elixir or mixture to drink), high Kabbalah (chariot mysticism with manna or bread of heaven), and high astrology (with its Hermetic cup of mind -- a bowl to mix wine in; mixed wine). Every word has two meanings. Never think of the literal meaning; always think of the humorous joke interpretation -- the second, higher meaning. If a person cannot understand the joke and laugh about the contrast of meanings, he is not allowed into the kingdom of heaven.
>>Eins zu eins läßt sich ohnehin nichts auf unsere heutige Situation übertragen. ... Ich halte Marcion zwar für eine der faszinierendsten und wichtigsten Gestalten der frühen Christenheit (in historischer Hinsicht). Aber ich bin darum keineswegs Anhänger einer auch nur annähernd ähnlichen Theologie. Das wäre lächerlich. Die marcionitische Theologie mit ihren absurden Ausfällen gegen den Demiurgen, der Identifizierung von Juden- und Schöpfergott, die Ethik mit Heiratsverbot etc. ist ein Kuriosum – und eigentlich nur insofern interessant, als die historische Frage zu beantworten wäre: wie konnten derartige weltflüchtige Gemeinde, die diese Welt gewissermaßen nur mit ihren Zehenspitzen berührten, überhaupt massenhaft auftreten? Nach meiner Auffassung hatte das wohl mit der einmaligen geistes- und kulturgeschichtlichen Situation der Spätantike zu tun.
Alles ist Allegory, Metapher, Poesie, Ironie und amüsante Verschiebung der Bedeutung. Es gibt einen Gesamtkontrast zwischen der wörtlichen Bedeutung und der mystischen Bedeutung. Das Wort "Gott" bedeutet nicht Gott. Das Wort "Welt" bedeutet nicht Welt. Das Wort "Körper" bedeutet nicht Körper. Das Wort "Tod" bedeutet nicht Tod. Jedes Wort hat Bedeutung innerhalb eines Netzes -- innerhalb des untereren, wörtlichen Netzes oder innerhalb des höheren, metaphorischen Netzes. Das höhere Netz der Wortbedeutungen ist eine Beschreibung der Reise der mystischen Bewußtseins- und Mystikererfahrung, die aus dem Trinken des magischen Elixiers resultiert. Dieses ist nicht nur altes altes Bewußtsein vom Jahr 250; diese Poesie und Metapher waren auch bis das Alter der Aufklärung 1650, im westlichen esotericism, wie Boehme, mit seiner hohen Magie (mit Potion und Giftgetränk), hoher Alchimie (mit dem Elixier oder Mischung zum Trinken), hohem Kabbalah (chariotmysticism mit manna oder Brot des Himmels) und hoher Astrologie populär (mit seiner hermetischen Schale des Verstandes -- eine Schüssel zum innen Mischen des Weins; Mischwein). Jedes Wort hat zwei Bedeutungen. Denken Sie nie an die wörtliche Bedeutung; denken Sie immer an die humorvolle Witzdeutung -- die zweite, höhere Bedeutung. Wenn eine Person nicht den Witz verstehen und über den Kontrast von Bedeutungen lachen kann, wird er nicht in das Königreich des Himmels erlaubt.
Stephen C. Conte wrote:
>The sort of Christians you are concerned to interact with will not accept you as one of their own, an insider, no more than they accept Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses and Swedenborgians. They will write you off as a cultist.
I'll pre-brand myself closer to home as a heretical Christian or Gnostic Christian. I agree with the Christian orthodox doctrines but in the esoteric, not Literalist sense. There are now, and will soon likely be many more, self-labelled Christians who are esoteric Christians -- witness the great popularity of Freke & Gandy's books.
The Literalist Christians will be more and more besieged by the esoteric understanding of Christianity, and soon the Literalists will find themselves in the smallest minority of prominent opinions and sheer numbers.
>Reformations and transformations have been tried; the reformed organization is usually worse than the original. Thousands of new denominations appear every year. Christianity has a built-in dynamic that drags it back into literalism whenever it deviates. You would have to alter the canon and text of the bible in order to modify that dynamic, and even it that were possible, it would fail.
>A better alternative: let's work toward establishing Christianity as the official state religion of the USA. Pay the preachers out of tax money. Make the president the official Head of the Church of America. Make the Bishops members of the US Senate as Lords Spiritual. Same for State legislatures. Soon the Christian religion would be as dead in America as it is in Europe.
My main, driving goal is not to kill off Literalist Christianity, but more importantly, to put into place a widespread esoteric-only understanding of all religion, including Christianity. People in the mystic state need to have a correct esoteric understanding of the ancient godman tradition and religious allegorical myth in general; people should understand how mythic allegory of religious experiencing works and what it really means, what myth is really about at its best.
My goal isn't to put into place a form of Christianity, but rather, to provide an accurate explanation of religious experience and transcendent knowledge, from an essentially modern, systematic theory (or "scientific") point of view. The center of gravity in my thinking isn't esoteric Christianity, but rather, a pure systematic theory of what principles and worldmodel religious experiencing is actually pointing towards -- with esoteric Christianity as one example, or "application", of such a core universal theory.
I'm not mainly proposing a reformation of Christianity, but rather, a reformation of all religion from Literalist incomprehension to esoteric comprehension.
This is the only possible long-term solution that can constitute progress: not an uncomprehending retreat into secular humanism that is utterly ignorant (like Ayn Rand) of the rational transcendent truth that is reflected more or less dimly in religion, but rather, to progress toward Reason, rationality, and correct understanding by clearly comprehending what Christianity and other religions are ultimately about.
Was the Virgin Mary was raped by the Holy Spirit as mortal women were raped by Zeus, and mortal children abducted? The annunciation is a variation on the theme of rape, abduction, and overpowering by the divinity -- a variation that may emphasize the moral agent freely willing to be aligned with the all-powerful will of the divine and de-emphasize that the supposed free will was subtlely coerced, "from the metaphysical point of view" or "with respect to the metaphysical plane", by the all-powerful divine.
During the intense mystic state, the mind's sense of free will is consciously subverted by the power of the Ground of Being. The mind is usually arranged in the form of a controller homunculus who creates and controls his own thoughts.
But during the mystic state peak, the mind loosens and becomes restructured so that the controller homunculus is seen as a largely illusory mental construct, so that a higher or profoundly more underlying authorship of the mind's thoughts becomes evident; it becomes evident that the thoughts arise from the creative power of the timeless Ground of Being rather than from the homunculus' power.
This perspectival shift of attribution of power from the mind's homunculus-controller to the Ground of Being or Overmind is often allegorized in world religion-myth as the rape and overpowering of the psyche or homunculus. This overpowered, "mortal" homunculus is the ego as controller-agent that is normally felt to be sitting above the mind's thoughts, controlling them and steering them like a charioteer or helmsman.
Authades, housemate or psyche-mate of Sophia, means self-pleasing, self-willed, arrogant -- the trait of mortals who haven't yet been overpowered and abducted or who haven't righteously or sheepishly conceded, like the Virgin Mary, the omnipotence of the god and the (metaphysical) nullity of the mind's homunculus controller agent (the free-willing, goatishly self-willed ego).
The lower, deludedly "free willing" part of the mind is allegorized as being "jealous to the death" of the "righteous, favored, immortal" part of the mind -- the non-freewillist formation that is constructed during a series of initiations.
This type of allegorization ranges across world religion-myth, such as the idea of the warring brothers, the warring generations, the warring kings, the warring kingdoms: first there is the lower way of thinking (without the higher and thus unrighteous and an enemy of the divine), then a struggle (actually a series of struggles), then there is the higher way of thinking (but not the lower, except now reduced to shadowy servitude of the righteous, "last-born" brother).
The annunciation to Mary may be the opposite of rape, but it's an opposite that preserves the essential mystic concept, equivalent to the "rape", "abduction", or "overpowered by the divine" metaphor -- it's especially equivalent when considered as part of an allegorical system serving to express the relationships between lower thinking and higher thinking; the mind in its pre-initiation and post-initiation formations.
There are many ways to allegorically express this type of system that serves to describe divine transformation of one's thinking. Look for contrasts between good and bad; the bad part of a pair, such as "prostitute" or "unfaithful" or "prodigal" is always an allegorization of lower thinking.
This concept of polar pairs applies to the Israel/Judea opposition in the "divided kingdom"; there is a contrast between the "Israelites" against the "Jews" in which one is glorified as righteous and God-worshipping while the other is unrighteous and idol-worshipping.
The Lion may represent the idea of the God of Time or the "God who transcends and thereby controls time." As mythic ideas strive to overpower each other, a kind of constant regress occurs: in one phase, the lion may be the God that controls and masters time, while in the next phase, the latest "even more powerful god" may be said to even overpower that lion so that the lion is reduced to the level of the time dimension that he formerly was controller of.
In one generation, the sun is worshipped as controller of/over the World, and in the next generation, as a matter of course, an "even higher god" is yet again postulated, as controller of/over the sun, or the "sun behind the sun" as in David Ulansey's study of Mithras.
The idea of rape or abduction of the divine is used to represent the dominance of divine power over the lower way of thinking, a hidden metaphysical-plane dominance that is consciously experienced and revealed during initiation. As always, later mythicists came along and asked how they could one-up this idea of divine rape, and the idea arises of "the morally superior, freely willing consent of Mary to conceive by the Holy Spirit".
The Greeks playfully exaggerated the moral outrageous behavior of the gods in mythic/mystic allegory; the Christians sought to morally one-up the Greeks by radical pacifism in their Christian system of mythic-mystic allegory.
Insofar as both systems are mere systems of allegory serving to express and encode the relation between lower and higher experiencing, there's no point in being moralistic and so the Christian system comes across as cloying, but is saved by the compensatory ultraviolence of the Cross.
Mary may not have been raped like Zeus' mortal women, but she did consent to conceive a child for the purpose of sacrificing him: so much for gentle Literalist Moralistic Mother Mary -- the shadow of the Devouring Mother Goddess grins in. The righteous moral person sacrifices their firstborn childself, which is the lower mental worldmodel that is structured around the self-will delusion.
o The orthodox supernaturalist literalists know Christ is really about sin, guilt, moral culpability, forgiveness (or not), and perdition, and supernaturalist end-times prophecy and miraculous bodily resurrection.
o Acharya S proves that Christ is really all about astrotheology.
o Freke and Gandy prove that Christ is really all about gnostic spark-gathering and Sophia.
o The esoteric Hellenistic/Essene mystery-religion researchers proved Christ is really about mystic-state ego-death death-and- rebirth allegory.
o I proved that Christ is really about entheogenic ego-death, which is the deterministic transcendence and breakdown of self-control cybernetics.
o Malina and Horsley proved that Christ is really about socio- political resistance to imperial domination.
o Heinrich, Allegro, and Arthur proved that Christ is really about Amanita.
The book of Revelation has been interpreted compellingly as various combinations of socio-political allegory, Amanita allegory, mystic- state ego-death death-and-rebirth allegory, and astrological allegory. The challenge then is to accept all of these domains and, like Ken Wilber's integral theory, determine how they are connected together.
All these readings are correct and we have not just one, not just two, not just three, but a large number of distinct domains with inter-allegory mapping and translation across domains, often with deliberate artistic, tricky mapping or translation across domains, that is deliberately confusing or clever. Once you have the idea of clever allegorical mapping between *two* domains, the way is open for clever allegorical mapping among an *unlimited* number of domains.
Different schools or sects may have specialized in inter-allegorizing particular domains. So we need to study inter-domain allegory in general. The scriptures were thoroughly involved in inter-domain allegory -- mythic, poetic, metaphorical, isomorphic allegorical mapping.
Part of a theory of interdomain allegory is that some domains may be most important; I proposed that the esoteric experiential domain and the socio-political rebellion domain are the main domains in the Christ story-space.
Burton Mack's 2001 book seems relevant to such a general theory of Christian myth.
The Christian Myth: Origins, Logic, and Legacy
Mastery of language and semantics is mandatory for higher thinking. We must think not in terms of isolated words, but networks of words, meanings, usages, and conceptual frameworks. There is no problem with any one term such as 'ego' or 'vibration'.
Poor systems such as typical New Age suffer not from the use of isolated inadequate terms, but rather, weak networks of meaning and definition; they are overly vague, soft, unclear, and inconsistent -- mush and fog; regression below linguistic mastery and conceptualization, rather than transcendent mastery of it. Analytic Philosophy, focusing on precision of meaning and usage and networks of terms, has some value to offer in studying religious-philosophical insight.
Alan Watts' book the Way of Zen has a sloppy carelessness with language, a failure of effort to communicate clearly and precisely. Watts didn't integrate poetic facility with semantic precision, but too often caved in and sacrificed semantic precision for sloppy playfulness of clever expression, without also defining exactly and consistently what he meant.
Regressive spiritualists use just enough words to condemn words, when the path forward is to commit to mastering words.
Ken Wilber's Integral Theory is merely glorified Multidisciplinary Studies, in which to study a subject, you study many subjects as distinct yet interrelated domains, and use each domain as an interpretive lens on the others, and treat different domains as different dimensions of the central subject at hand.
According to Integral Theory, or simply Multidisciplinary Studies, to study Gnosticism you must study various relevant domains or apply the perspectives provided by various relevant domains and approaches. Certainly History is one such domain, perspective, or dimension of Gnosticism.
>>Arthur Drews wrote that only the modern incapacity of metaphysical thinking makes people claim the historicity of Jesus. I agree with this, today even more than 100 years ago. Due to the modern enlightenment, rationalism, and all moderity, average people got brainwashed into losing the ability to think metaphysically as people up to Renaissance times did. Typical scholars of the historicity of Jesus admit their inability to see anything metaphysical in the Paulinics or Gospels. Those people think that Gospel people and events must either be historically real or not real at all.
Postmodernism supposes that we are done with all this Western culture, which is based on Platonist metaphysics -- but postmodernism doesn't understand the actual meaning of Platonist metaphysics, so it is an empty claim. You can't do away with a field by simply failing to understand it. Such metaphysics-dismissing Postmodernism is just the clueless ignorance of modern-style thinking, taken to its natural conclusion.
The Copenhagen interpretation was a collossal disaster and failure of scientific thinking (the determinism of Einstein was right, and Bohm) -- so was Psychology an incredible utter failure to grasp the meaning of its subject matter. Modernity utterly failed to comprehend what religion is about, what Psychology is about, and what Quantum Physics is about.
It's amazing that an era so utterly clueless about higher knowledge -- so totally uninspired -- could accomplish so much (in addition to the huge confusions and misguided directions it has also contributed). The modern Psychology paradigm has led to nearly as much confusion as clarity -- such as Freud's totally out-to-lunch, complete misreading of Oedipus (set straight by Vernant).
Even analytic linguistic philosophy failed to add up to inspiration, though it did, unintentionally, end up providing tools (linguistic precision) to express metaphysics the right way.
When postmodernists dismiss "metaphysics", they don't realize that what they are dismissing is entheogenic experiencing and insight regarding personal controllership. Sure, Postmodernism spills ink about "death of the self", but they don't even understand the self and can hardly approach the insights about death of the self that are provided by real metaphysics, which is the religious practice of specific altered-state experiencing and insights.
It's as bad as the new Christian book about shamanism that doesn't mention entheogens. Christian scholars now agree they need to study "shamanism" but they pretend that shamans get high by drumming -- they are again hell-bent on creating history the way they want it to be, like gods, by writing Christian history books serving to obscure the actual history.
The modern era artificially reduces philosophy to epistemology (like how the conceptual definition of 'determinism' and the purpose of science is reduced to predictionism). According to modern philosophy, there is only one issue in philosophy: what is the foundation for certainty in our knowledge?
Religion, just the same, was reduced to the same thin sliver in modernity -- it burns me up, the Teaching Company lecture titled "Philosophy of Religion" for a lecture course that in fact strictly covers the stupid modern Western Christian question of whether we can know God exists, as though that is the entirety of philosophy of religion.
Apparently in modernity, Religion has been taken over by modern Philosophy, which is obsessively fixated on just one issue to the exclusion of the others: "justified belief". Thankfully, I found Philip Cary's outstanding lecture course, Western Philosophy and Religion. Why has the entire modern era, in Philosophy and Religion, been so monomaniacally focused on the topic of "justified and certain belief" to the exclusion of all mystical metaphysical issues and topics?
The initiate (the selected, the elect, the ointment-rubbed, the Perfected, the mature) has mastered rationality, semantics, symbols, metaphors, and mythic allegory, and thus cannot be trapped in dogma. The Literalist church squirms this way and that trying to shut out competition from other religions and shut out higher Christianity -- to no avail.
The sophisticated rational mystic, who is the Gnostic as opposed to the supernaturalist or mundane liberal Christian, is able to rationally and universally concur with the most dogmatic, obnoxious, exclusivist claims of the officials of the lower church. It's uncanny, but I'm able to interpret practically all the dogma at http://www.vatican.va; reading-as-true is an *active* process requiring mapping of concepts between lower dogma and higher universal truth.
It is an axiom of Gnostic interpretive technique that reading *is* interpretation, and any dogmatic statement can be interpreted and read to make it become true. This absolutely does not mean that truth is relative, that everyone has their own truth, that there is no truth. Rather, there is a single truth, a single worldmodel that is true (or at least, rationally coherent), and there exists a transformation for any statement of dogma that fairly translates that lower dogma to the single true worldmodel.
If there are any flaws or wrinkles in this system or paradigm, the system remains vastly superior to lower dogmatic literalist Christianity. It is a game: dogma attempts to trap the mind in lower thinking; higher thinking is tasked with escaping that lower-thinking trap to escape back into the one true truth which is universally true.
Per Pagels (Gnostic Paul, Gnostic Gospels) this transcendent mastery of religious conceptualization on the part of the Gnostics is one reason the authoritarian lower church had to struggle to combat the Gnostics. The Gnostics won all conceptual battles, their intellectual firepower being inherently superior and transcendent of lower literalist thinking. Lower thinking is handicapped right from the start. Falsity cannot entrap truth. The Gnostics were only suppressed to a degree, through mundane power rather than through intellectual battle."
The symbolized archetype of "worshipping Isis", then more abstractly and directly that of "having a vision of the throne/kingship of JHVH", finally lead to the irreducible core idea or archetype of "receiving trusting confident dependence on the uncontrollable transcendent controller, which could be called one's own distinct higher self, but nevertheless remains a separate center of control and will".
Consider a tripartate view of the person:
o lower, egoic freewill thinking (the personal control system in its egoic mode)
o higher, transcendent no-free-will thinking (the personal control system in its transcendent mode)
o the uncontrollable transcendent controller (the trans- or supra-personal control system)
To talk of simple 2-layer systems:
o Alchemical hermaphrodite (male and female) figure
o Moon and sun halves of amanita post-egg phase
o Lower and higher mental worldmodel
o Personal center of control vs. uncontrollable transcendent controller
o Sol and Mithras (the latter as sun behind the sun)
o God as controller vs. Jesus as sacred king w/o freewill
o King vs. subjects (each is a locus of control, king controls subject, not v.versa)
I think of mythic symbols as being a high-level user-interface skin on an underlying thing, and it seems like the archetype is lower and more essential and real, so I would talk of a "symbol representing an archetype". For example, 'savior' is a mythic symbol that serves to represent the archetype "helpful device to help the mind's personal control system trustingly rely on the uncontrollable transcendent controller".
Dualist metaphors for egoic vs. transcendent thinking
The Primal Polarity: in early Christian writings, any praised group is actually a clever metaphor for those who have transcendent thinking, and any disparaged group is actually a clever metaphor for those who only have egoic thinking.
Some who are unfamiliar with the best of Gnosticism may try to divide Christian thinking into "rational Christianity vs. Gnostic Christianity" but that way of dividing things can't hold up under scrutiny as put forth by Pagels and other recent studies of the battles between the Gnostics and the orthodox authoritarians. The way the parties actually break out is orthodox (supernaturalist or mundane liberal), uninitiated, lower Christianity versus rational, higher, initiated, Gnostic-type Christianity.
Preferred, less-metaphorical, explicit terms for theoretical use:
egoic thinking and transcendent thinking
the egoic mental model and the transcendent mental model
the egoic and the transcendent
exoteric religion and esoteric religion
exoteric Christianity and esoteric Christianity
lower Christians and higher Christians
lower Christianity and higher Christianity
the lower and the higher
lower thinking and higher thinking
the freewillist separate-selves vs. the no-free-willist no-separate-selves
the literalists and the allegorists
egoic Christians and transcendent Christians
the unenlightened and the enlightened
the Orthodox and the Gnostics
literalist Christians and allegorical Christians
the evil and the good
the bad and the good
the guilty and the innocent
the rebels and the good citizens
the accursed and the blessed
the born and the born again
the self-willed and the obedient
the slaves and the kings
the kings and the slaves (ironically reversible)
those enslaved and those who have overcome
the worldly and the heavenly
the damned and the saved
the soul and the spirit
the soulful and the spiritual (pneumatics)
the deluded and the enlightened
the children of darkness and the children of light
those who are without (outside) and those who are inside
the impure and the pure
the body and the spirit
the flesh and the spirit
followers of Caesar and followers of Jesus
the gendered and the ungendered
the false Israel and the true Israel
Abraham's false children and Abraham's true children
the false seed of Abraham and the true seed of Abraham
the Jews and the Gentiles (from _The Gnostic Paul_)
the disobedient and the obedient
liars and those who speak truth
the lost and the elect
the rejected and the selected
the omitted and the chosen
the foolish and the wise
the children and the adult
child thinking and adult thinking
childish ways of thinking, adult ways of thinking
milk and meat
the flawed and the perfected
the followers of the devil and the true followers of Jesus
the sinners and the saints
the demons and the angels
the fallen and the raised
the defeated and the victorious
the possessed and the cured
the mad and the sane
the sick and the cured
... surely many more
These polarizations are emphasized in the book
The Gnostic Paul: Gnostic Exegesis of the Pauline Letters
Although Gnosticism has been defined as essentially hyper-dualist -- with "the world" being wholly evil and created by a deluded, pathetic creator-God -- I would define the "Gnostic" approach as actually being centered on salvation through initiation-type knowledge. The Gnostics are those who have experienced God's power first-hand; they are the inner circle of broadly Christian religion.
But putting aside such labels that were created and debated in times that lacked knowledge, by people who lacked knowledge, let us here put forth more explicit and clear labels, per Freke & Gandy's books Jesus Mysteries and Lost Goddess. And per Ken Wilber and other theorists of religion.
Consider Freke & Gandy's term "literalist Christianity". The problem with that is that many Christians are clueless even though they are not "literalists" in the sense of being supernaturalists. There is a huge difference between literalist supernaturalist Christians and liberal anti-supernaturalist Christians, but for all important reasons, they must be grouped together and differentiated from the best of the Gnostics.
Similarly, assume that some Gnostics are just plain kooks and magical thinkers, while other Gnostics know truth first-hand and fully rationally. The labels "supernaturalist Christian", "liberal Christian", and "Gnostic Christian" all fail to point to anything that really matters. If we are going to divide Christians into the two most important groups, let us focus on what really matters.
Dualist thinking is remarkable and key. You would think that everyone would agree, like many New Agers, that enlightenment is very gradual. Yet religions have a strong tradition of dividing people into two, as though there is something profoundly different, as different as gender, that divides all the world into two classes of people.
I am now defining The Primal Polarity for the first time. The Primal Polarity is the religious metaphor principle that all metaphorical twofold contrasts are metaphors for the distinction between egoic and transcendent thinking. Egoic thinking is freewillist, separate-self thinking; transcendent thinking is no-free-will (timeless block-universe determinism), no-separate-self thinking.
For example, if you are reading scriptures and you come across praise of some group, *any* group, and disparagement of some group, *any* group, then the *real* meaning of the praised group is *those who have transcendent thinking*, and the *real* meaning of the disparaged group is *those who have egoic thinking*.
So, "those awful horrible people we really really hate" *actually* means "whoever thinks egoically", and "those wonderful, great people we really really like" *actually* means "whoever thinks transcendently". This immediately brings to mind, however, "love your enemies", which would here translate to, "transcendent thinkers should love and accept egoic thinkers".
From experience, and per Wilber's theory that it's a struggle to dis-identify with a level in order to ascend to the next level, I know that the mind still struggling to break from egoic thinking to transcendent thinking strongly hates, loathes, and demonizes egoic thinking -- but when your thinking is fully Christly, which is to say fully transcendent, you no longer have any reason to passionately hate, fear, and loathe egoic thinking -- you're interested in helping the uninitiated become initiated, but it's no longer a personal matter for you.
That theme is discussed in Pagels' The Gnostic Paul; the Paul figure is read by the Valentinians as teaching that the higher, initiated Christians or Gnostics are to love and accept and not actually hate the lower, common, uninitiated Christians.
So if you are enlightened, you ought to love and accept the unenlightened (they are puppets of God anyway, as we all are; they "know not what they do"). You can help them join the elect, but don't hate them. Don't even hate the delusion, personified as the devil. If God or the Ground of Being wanted to lose himself in the delusion of separateness, which entails sending forth the devil, that is God's right, or the Ground of Being's right. It created the devil of delusion just as surely as it totally created the entirety of every one of your thoughts and actions.
Rethinking "Gnosticism" -- An Argument for Dismantling a Dubious Category
Williams says that among the highly variegated groups that have been lumped into the supposed category of "Gnostic", there is really only one thing in common, biblical demiurgism. Scholars usually treat Gnosticism as always elitist, or dualist, or puritanical or libertine, or world-hating or body-hating. Williams says that instead, the actual common thread among the highly various Gnostic groups is biblical demiurgism.
All the various Gnostic groups are deeply attached to the biblical narrative, and they are deeply dissatisfied with the biblical deity. They use myth, imagination, subversive re-reading of texts, and the primacy of mystic-state experience, to retain the biblical narrative story and transcend the biblical deity. Williams says that not all Gnostic groups actually despise matter and the physical creation.
Now consider that common dichotomy that is the hallmark of such various Christian Gnostics: they are all intently focused on the distinction between what I could call "thee lower version of God" and "the higher version of God". This distinction fits right in beautifully with my theory of hard dualisms. For example, for some years I've considered whether the Jesus figure serves to Satanically delude people as well as Christ-enlighten them.
The Jesus figure, as he is presented, seems to lay an egoic responsibility delusion/trip on us, on the one hand, even while he reveals that egoic moral agency is an illusion, on the other hand. He gives us the egoic freewill delusion and he takes it away. So I picture the lower half of the Cross as delusion-inculcating, while the upper half of the cross is enlightening.
Now the perhaps ultimate idea occurs -- perhaps the ultimate such dividing would be of God himself, into a lower half (the demiurge) that charges us full of delusion, and a higher half that fills us with enlightenment. And why not even emphasize this, in fully developed Gnosticism? Reformed thinking, if politically permitted to attain its full development, logically must admit that, in the last judgment, God is the author and owner of all sin, moral guilt, and delusion.
All of these dualisms are metaphorical equivalents to my cybernetic, cognitive-science style "egoic versus transcendent" hard dualist distinction that arose at exactly the moment, or couple of months in 1988, when my core theory of timeless block universe determinism and self-control cybernetics came suddenly crystallized after two solid years of anguished self-analysis."
Additional metaphors for egoic (freewillist, separate-self) thinking vs. transcendent (no-free-will, no-separate-self) thinking:
the goats and the sheep
the willful and the docile
the bulls and the oxen
the donkeys and the horses
the promiscuous and the chaste
the harlots and the pure
the unfaithful and the faithful"
The Primal Duality
Polar pairs can shift around so that one term can be paired with multiple other terms and can even switch sides. With respect to God, Jesus is the lower way of thinking and is sacrificed/abandoned. With respect to Satan, however, Jesus is the higher way of thinking.
Egoic vs. transcendent
Jesus vs. Christ
Jesus vs. God
Demiurge vs. God
Satan vs. God
Satan vs. Jesus
The Jesus--Christ pair is an archetypal template for ego-death initiation, because Jesus willingly sacrifices his lower self, Jesus, to become the Christ.
The Jesus--God pair is another archetypal template for ego-death initiation, because God willingly sacrifices his son Jesus, to manifest his glory and omnipotence.
The Satan--Jesus pair is another archetypal template for ego-death initiation, because one converts from believing in self-willed goat thinking to non-self-willed lamb thinking.
>Where, specifically, can I read about the secret of determinism supposedly known by the Greek Tragedy playwrights and taught to Greek initiates? (I read a book on Greek Tragedy alone and it didn't mention anything like that).
Look for the terms:
and other terms -- the Greeks had as many terms for determinism as Eskimos for snow.
See the first third of the book Myth and Tragedy in Ancient Greece. Jean-Pierre Vernant, Pierre Vidal-Naquet (Contributor). Paperback - 538 pages Reprint edition (August 29, 1990). http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0942299191. Available in many bookstores. Excerpts:
Page 21: In the French translation by Jean and Mayotte Bollack, what he says to Oedipus at that point is: ... [If you are the man whom he (the shepherd from Corinth) says you are, know that you were born damned]." What the Greek text says is: ... [know that you were born for a fatal destiny].
Tragedy marks a new stage in the development of the inner man and of the responsible agent.
Page 46: ...as is well known, in ancient Greece there was no true vocabulary to cover willing -- is expressed in tragedy in the form of an anxious questioning concerning the relation of the agent to his actions: To what extent is man really the source of his actions? Even while he deliberates ... does not their true origin lie somewhere outside him? ... not through the intentions of the agent but through the general order of the world over which the gods preside?
Page 52: ...he "recognizes" that there is only one way open before him. This involvement reflects not the free choice of the subject but his recognition of this religious necessity that he cannot elude and that makes him someone internally "compelled, ... even while he is making his "decision." If there is any scope for the will, it is certainly not autonomous will ... It is a will bound by the reverential fear of the divine, if not actually coerced by the sacred powers that inform man from within.
This book covers the mystery religions and gnosticism, and esoteric Judaism, rather than the earlier Attic Tragedy.
Hellenistic Religions: An Introduction. Luther H. Martin. November 1987. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/019504391X -- "an integrated view of Hellenistic religion as a coherent system of religious thought defined by shifting views of fate." Available in some major bookstores. Read pages 157-161: the conclusion is that the religions of late antiquity centered around Fate, and involved evolving approaches to relating to, grappling with, or overcoming Fate.
Determinism was associated with unjust rulers claiming their rulership is approved by the gods. "I am ruler, therefore I was destined to be ruler, therefore the gods want me to be ruler, therefore in respect of the gods, you must submit to my yoke." This is why techniques for triggering the perception of determinism, and the fact of our metaphysical determinism, were illegal -- they were a threat to early, fledgeling democracy. For political reasons, determinism and the methods that led to realizing it had to be hushed up, and pushed away into the exclusive highest levels of initiation. Metaphysics, politics, philosophy, and religion were all jumbled together. They could not utter the distinctions I do, "metaphysical freedom is false, practical/existential freedom is true, and political/social freedom is good."
There is nothing bad about the word "attain" itself: what matters is the meaning-network. *Any* word, such as 'attain', can be misused. Individual words don't matter; the higher-level meaning-network is what people need to pay more attention to. The pre-modern poets such as Greek tragedians, were masters of meaning-networks.
A bad poet knows the meanings of individual words. A *good* poet knows -- infinitely more importantly -- the *meaning-networks* within each word participates.
Don't be superstitious about isolated words.
I attain enlightenment. I am the elect. I am the messiah. Enlightenment is a thing to be acquired. 'Goat' means enlightenment, 'sheep' means delusion. I am saved through my will. 'Sheep' means enlightenment, 'goat' means delusion. The personal will is free. The end of the world and overthrow of the archons is upon us this very night.
These expressions mean nothing without considering the meaning-network context. The main thing that matters is the meaning-network.
Being a superficial "language policeman" merely at the level of individual words would be futile, superficial, ineffective.
I shall write any and every word that comes to mind. The only thing that matters is the meaning-networks. Kill superficiality, if you actually care about depth and are not just pretending and posturing. Get real and don't just pick the low-grade low-hanging fruit, the chaff. It is more challenging to provide real value, than to provide superficial, apparent value by excessively attending to individual word choices as though they were where the main action is at. The main action is at the higher level, of networks of word-meanings -- not at the level of individual words.