March 9th, 1983, Serial No. 00397

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Monastic Theology Series Set 1 of 3

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I'd like to finish this subject of Gnosticism today, which tends to drag on, being the kind of subject it is. Next time we can go on to Christian Gnosis, Gnosis in the Fathers, up to and including the RMAs. And probably we'll spend a couple of sessions on the RMAs, if you think, and then we'll go on to the number I listed, the number of other Fathers we can take. There are these tapes by Inochenzo that I was looking for, remember, on Gnosis in the Fathers. I finally located them. There's only one missing, but I'll make those available if anybody's interested. Unfortunately, it's the second one that's missing, the first or the second one. We've got the one on Justin and Irenaeus, and a couple on Origen, and he goes on to Gregory of Nyssa. He wrote his book, of course, on Gregory of Nyssa, Exegesis in Gregory of Nyssa. Remember, the subject is the interpretation of scripture in the Fathers, but he's continually


talking about Gnosis. There are two chapters in Boyer's first volume, A History of Christian Spirituality, which treat a Gnosis of the Fathers up through Irenaeus. There's Chapter 9 and Chapter 10, so I recommend those sometime during the next few weeks as we move into this subject. What we've been doing is trying to sketch the background of the Gnosis of the Fathers, which often is expressed in contrast, in contrast to something else, in contrast to some heterodox belief. It's a curious thing what makes spirituality or what makes religion get expressed, you know? And often it's opposition, often it's heresy.


Let's move back, but of course if it is heresy, then it makes it come out in a certain way. That is, if it's a contrasting doctrine, an opposing doctrine, which is considered to be wrong and dangerous and heretical, then the way that the Christian mystery is expressed is going to be polarized in a certain way. It takes a really good teacher, a really good Christian spokesman, whoever it may be, the Fathers for instance, to be able to stand at a sufficient distance from the battle that he can express the depth of the mystery and not just lose himself in the fray. That in contrast to something which has missed the depth of the mystery, the whole of it in some way, missed its integrity, he can express that integrity rather than just carrying on the skirmish along the front line of particular points, but rather than just tightening up


and insisting on particular points of orthodoxy, to be able really to hold on to the mystery. So that's what we'll be looking for when we look at the Fathers. Okay, let's try to summarize, in finishing up today, let's try to summarize this Gnosticism business in a few points. I want to use, first of all, this person who edited that book called Gnosis, Volume 1. These are the main points of Gnosis, he says, and this is before the whole Nag Hammadi thing, however. Well, it's not before because he probably wrote his introduction after he'd read that material. This is the volume that doesn't contain it. Now, note, this is Gnosticism in general. It's not Christian Gnosticism. One, between this world and the God incomprehensible to our thought, the primal cause, there is an irreconcilable antagonism. So that notion of alienation, of dualism, they talk about so often. Secondly, the self, the I of the Gnostic, his spirit or soul, his true self, his deep


self, his Atman, as the Hindus would say, is unalterably divine. Three, this I, however, has fallen into this world, has been imprisoned and anesthetized by it, and cannot free itself from it. Four, only a divine call from the world of light looses the bonds of captivity. Five, only at the end of the world does the divine element of man return again to its home. He didn't press very hard the fact that this salvation comes through knowledge, which is kind of the characteristic feature of Gnosticism, isn't it, or of the Gnosics, that it's the Gnosis itself that saves you. Then, when it gets to be Christian Gnosticism, there are some other elements that arise from its interaction with Christianity, and the first one that we think of is the rejection of the Old Testament. So the dualism propagates itself, or the dualism expresses itself in new ways from its interaction


with the Christian truth. And first of all, it tends to cut out the Old Testament, and therefore all of the, what do you call it, institutional religion, religion of the body, all of that which is in the Old Testament, and some of which continues into the New Testament, it rejects the sacraments which are also the physical part, the cosmic level of Christianity, and it rejects the institutional church, it rejects the mediation of the institutional church, and this thing of mediation turns out to be extremely important. Notice that it rejects the mediation of matter. Matter doesn't mediate God created, and neither do priests. This is a radical point. Priests don't either. The institutional church, the structure of the church does not mediate grace to the people


if you take the radical position. So it's an immediate contact, and an immediate contact is an interior one, it's a personal one, it's through this gnosis. And it turns out that this gnosis may be really a kind of consciousness instead of what we would call knowledge. It may not be exactly what we would call intellectual, certainly not rational, maybe some kind of intuitive knowledge, but maybe also experience. There seems to be a variation. So you get this elitist, more perfect group within the church, the true Christians, the pneumaticoi, the spirituals, and this comes up again and again and again. If you look at Ronald Knox's book Enthusiasm, you see the history of the upsurging of this again and again and again, these special inside groups, which have, they have something, and yet they eventually become cut off from the communion. And some of them start out, of course, already outside of the Catholic communion, because


he extends right into the Protestantism, the Anabaptist, and so on. The rejection, now we get into the core, actually, of the Christian mystery. The rejection of the incarnation, the passion and death, and the resurrection of Christ, so you've got the whole bodily core of Christianity, the whole bodily working of Christianity just scooped up and rejected. And that seems to be doctrinally, at least, the way the mystery is completely avoided by this Gnostic practice. And then you have the emergence of the feminine. Well, not always. Where do you see that? The feminine. Remember, Pagels brings it up. She brings it up because she has her axe to grind, you know, about women now. But nevertheless, it does, it's a lot more freely emergent in Gnosticism, which is a positive rather than a negative. So there's one in Gnosticism, and there's one in Pagels as well.


It's incredibly beautiful when he's a person. He's terribly beautiful. What's his axe, do you think? Well, his axe is approximately the sort of thing, I suppose, I'm caught up with now, all this is in Julia Davis' work. Yes, yes. Because it comes to me. And his treatment of self-sacrificial problems is absolutely important. It's part of the mystery. I think that by the time you finish your lecture, you're going to be nervous. You're going to go back home and you're going to cry because you don't want to say it. He sounds generous sometimes, but he's generous with a kind of condescending. In the end, I read it after we had our experience with a charismatic woman. Yes, and I think you might feel more secure if you read it.


But the page in this is very, very important. And it's absolutely important that you read it. Okay, so much for the summary of Gnosticism, which is, of course, fanatical. And what happens to Gnosticism afterwards? The child of Gnosticism seems to be Manichaeism. There's been a lot more study about Manichaeism or Manichaeanism lately because of the discoverers, the archaeologists, digging things up, authoring family books and all this. They found something around 1900 and something around 1930. And evidently some of the original documents, the so-called Gospel of Mani and so on, and I don't know the detail of the original. But it seems that Mani, according to Gabriel Winkler,


he came from a Judeo-Christian background. And what is in his doctrine is this radical dualism, this radical cosmic dualism. And it's not Christianity. It's the successor of Gnosticism, which seems to outlive most of the other Gnostic currents. And it perpetuates itself down into the Middle Ages, into the Middle Ages in these furtive heresies that Monsignor Knox writes about some of these, he's got a long list of them, he's built up on various ones before he sets out to try to analyze them. The so-called underground would be in the Middle Ages. And most notable among them are the Albigenses, or the Capitalists, or the Capitalists. They're all these little sects. Now he devises, you see what you think of his thesis here, that there were really two streams of medieval heresy. One is that of the Albigenses, which is an air of Gnosticism


and which is, you'd say, philosophical or cosmological and has at its root this dualism, that the cosmos is evil and so on. Hence also the rejection of the sacraments, and of course the rejection of the institution of church and so on. You may call yourself Christian, but the heart of it is Christian, it's pure Gnosticism. On the other side he finds another current which he identifies with the Waldenses, and with the various poor men, he says. And the Franciscans were close to it. And the core there, really, is the rejection of wealth and power in the church. In other words, the rejection, the opposition, or revolt against a worldly church. And he says that the two intermingle, but that you can distinguish those two threads. I'm wondering if that's true. I think there's something to it. I think it's reasonable, I just say, because it's very, very interesting what the Waldenses are.


Yes, I was so surprised when I went to Italy to find a Waldensian pastor trying to come out of India. I thought they were archaeological specimens. So one, notice these two different things now, which frequently do get together, and notice that underground movements tend to merge, or tend to exchange some of their baggage. So you get these two things intermingling. And a lot of the simple people got into these things, and they hardly knew one from the other. And so they would pick up quite a mixture of beliefs. But common to both of them is opposition to the institutional church, opposition to the established Catholic church. And remember that in the Middle Ages we're in a Christian society, so if you're in opposition to the church, you'll also find yourself in opposition to the secular government, and so on, and that's not so good for you. There were cases in which, of course, even the nobles,


even the local authorities would be swung over, for instance, in the Albigensians. One stream is in reaction to, really, corruption in the church, in one form or another, but it radicalizes itself so far that it will say that the priesthood is invalid enough, or that unworthy ministers cannot attend to the sacraments, things like that, or that infant baptism certainly is invalid, and sometimes that the sacraments themselves are invalid, sometimes it goes that far. Now one of them has a much better leg to stand on, you would say, than the other, that is the Waldensian one, can easily be a reaction to real defects in the church, which then radicalizes it, and becomes un-Catholic. The other one is something else, and the other one doesn't start out, as it were, from a Christian seed, but from something else, and with its philosophy and its ideology, it's wholly consistent.


Yes, because the Greek fathers were also reacting against Gnosticism, but I don't know whether they had problems with it in the so-called Middle Ages, okay, later on, after the time of the fathers who put together this Gnosis. But consider Origen, consider the fate of Origen. I don't know the answer to this, but to what extent was the problem with Origen a problem with Gnosis? The fact that Origen was frequently condemned, that his works would be destroyed and suppressed, and so on. And this big battle, it also flared in monasticism, monasticism even in Egypt, which was partly ecclesiastical politics and partly theology, and who knows what else. To what extent was that a problem with Gnosis, of an anti-Gnosis current, or a monastic current, but within Christianity?


Now, Origen, as we've indicated today, is one of the fathers of the Church, but for a long time. He's not Saint Origen, and for a long time he was really in shadow, up to just a little while ago. Up to the time of the work of Daniel Lewin, who was one of the officers. Even, I think, especially among the Orthodox in Germany. He did, of course. Yeah. If you condemn him, then you have to condemn the rest of the Greeks. Well, you really do. You can't have him in front of you. Yeah. And in the same sense, it's systematic. And he says so many things that they become part of the essence later on, part of the essence of the work. I was going to say that, from the list you gave,


from the first study, the thing that strikes me as being the weakest distinction is the one about the Serbo-Romanian divine. Because in a certain sense, all Orthodox theologians are going to have to say that in some form. They can stress, they can draw the line, sort of draw the line very deep between uncreated divinity and created divinity. They usually feel the need to do that, to stress the created aspect of it. Yes, but the fact that they've got to defend some doctrine, the unity doctrine, Yes, yes. they've got to come very close to the soul of the Christian. That seems to be almost the most, what was it, the most tragic point in our Christian spirituality, spiritual theology, is that out of over-caution, that has been suppressed, I think, or excluded, or at least minimized, the idea of the divine spark in the human being. That accusation of pantheism, or whatever,


is just shut out automatically, even in our time. Well, that's when you've got to deal with these things. I don't know. I think so. Certainly there's a lot of it in St. Augustine, isn't there? Even his idea of illumination is wrong. Every augustine, every month, every Sunday, every Sunday morning, every Sunday. That brings this extreme caution with respect to Mr. Stevens. Generally, he brought the answer to the whole question, which says, here's where the divinity comes from. That's right, I guess. I don't know much about them. Well, they're all different facts. I don't know if it's the old believers or not. That's probably fairly common. See, a lot of these things came from the East


in the early Middle Ages, like the Bogomils, and so on. And what's very interesting in the Russian case, of course, is what's very interesting in the Bogomils case, in the Bogomils case, is the fact that quite a large Jewish population, in Russia, quite a large, is set apart. It must be noted for sure. And the Jewish had their own, their own monasticism, too. So, about this Manichaeism, it seems to have come out of a Judeo-Christian origin. It was a successor of Gnosticism, and was more long-lived. It was an especially, what do you call it, hardy variety of Gnosticism that endured way into the Middle Ages.


And as an underground within Christianity, it would come up again and again and again, especially, it seemed, in the south of France. And especially among certain social groups of people. According to Gnosticism, especially the weavers. If you were a weaver, you were probably at least tinted with pelvic insulin. Remember that St. Augustine was, for nine years, I guess, he was a Manichean, before he became a Catholic. And he experienced a radical conversion from that. Was his Manichean time before his Neoplatonism? I don't know. I'm not really sure. I don't know if it was Neoplatonism, or Salvation, or Communism. In the end, it was always associated with the impossibility of them interacting with each other as part of their consciousness. But it's a question as to


how much of the Manichean influence remained in St. Augustine afterwards, even though he became a Catholic. And to what extent has it actually been passed down in our tradition? To what extent, in other words, does this dualism remain within Christianity? People within Western Christianity. Because you find a lot of things coming up later that look like it. Especially at the time, at the time of Protestantism especially, I think. And Jansenism, too, feels a resurgence of dualism. Yes, and it's based on selection, I think. Yes. Because Augustine, I think, could be over here and over here, too, in a way, and he didn't take the trouble to make everything consistent. And so people can easily take that side of him. Which they did. So you find a kind of virus in Western Christianity, which is


hark cosmic, in a certain way, even though it continues to believe in sacramentality. But it loses the world at a certain point. But something, even perhaps more urgent, in a way, or more grievous, it loses the human person. Okay? There's a dualism that comes out between God and human nature, in some way, which really hurts. And which leads to all these upsurges that we're experiencing right now. You know, the self-movement and everything like that. And they've got there because they've divorced from the divine image. The divine spark


that we've found in the Gnostics, in the desperate battle against Gnosticism, or against something, I think that gets repressed. It gets suppressed. Maybe it's only since I don't know. It was certainly there, for instance, in the Cistercians, and it was there in the Latin Amnestics. And it's certainly there in St. John of the Cross. With all of his caution, it's there. And he's post-Tridentine. Yes, and that's why he encourages everyone to get through to the Amnestics, actually. And he's took quite a stretch around the Gnostics. He's very confused. Now, the key to this seems to be the overstressing, in some way, or the absolutizing of the mediation of the Church. If you believe that everything, if you get so cautious that everything has to come through the official Church, everything has to come through the Magisterium, through the Institution, through the Sacraments, through preaching, and so on, then there's no, excuse me, there's no immediate contact with God in the center of your own soul,


in your own spirit, in the image of God in you. And practically, that image of God ceases to function. It does not give you an immediate contact with God anymore. Everything comes down from above through authority, literally. And that's the paranoid position of Catholicism that cuts the throat of our spirituality, often. Okay? And it can be taken by interpreting Saint Augustine partially and incompletely. You take that which seems dualistic in Saint Augustine, that which seems to put human nature down, and then we scoop out, actually, the core of human nature, which is so evident in the Greek fathers, okay, through their doctrine of the image of God. As long as that image of God is glowing there within the core of the human person, that can't happen. When somehow that is forgotten, then we get into real trouble. Because we get a grim, heavy, dualistic Catholicism,


and then sooner or later there's a revolution. And the people, the revolutionaries, have plenty in their hands, you see, because what they're vindicating is the core of the human person. That's what's happening nowadays. So the Gnosticism of today, if we can call it that, I think it's useful to call it that, is a re-vindication of the image of God, but not in those terms. A re-vindication of the true self, of the core of the human person, the deep self, the center, as Panacostas, or as B. Griffiths says, okay, or the Atman, as the Hindus would say once again. That's a useful term because it's been around for thousands of years and it says exactly that. So that's what seems to happen. That's one reason for studying this thing, the Gnosticism, because when you get into it, look at the battle that happened, then you begin to see what was lost. Exactly.


And when it's a central truth like that, then you really see the polarization that happens in the Western church especially, the polarization between authority and the individual. Authority and now at a certain point you have to tighten up and you have to say, no, you cannot get to God by yourself. You better not read the Bible by yourself and that mysticism business is dangerous because that short circuits God's chosen path of communicating his grace to you, which is the institutional church, the priesthood, and the sacraments. Okay? So you get that radical polarizing between authority and the individual and then you get the radicals who say, well, no, you don't need that authority at all. That's the breaking of the crucial moment when you absolutize one side because you've got it to the dualistic mind. Because the fact is that there is both a mediated contact with God, a mediation of grace through the church, and there's a direct contact with God as well,


which is really, it's evident enough in the New Testament that no one's going to fall on John, but that's what Christ is doing, he's bringing that immediate contact with God. He's doing something, in some way, coming into that energy of God so that from this point on God grows within him. The mediation is necessary, but it's not the only path. And so you've got this dialogue situation between a mediated communication of God and an immediate communication of God. Almost like between the word and the spirit in the church, that's the way some of the orthodox theologians talk about it, questions. But it's a matter of that dialogue. The principle which comes up again in Vatican II, verse 1, that the church is not simply, what would you call it, a one-way communication of God to you through a structure. Because a lot of people, I think, are just unconsciously doing that. It goes along with that monophysite Christology, Father Elder was


talking about, in which monophysite means that Christ is simply divine. He doesn't have a humanity. He doesn't have the basic nobility in the core of human nature, and potentially with all of human nature. The doctrine of the image of God is a three-dimensional thing. Using the issue of what I said, I think Christians who could educate themselves much better than the liberalists, they are much, much more open to the there is a divinity and and and hope and faith and faith and faith and the faith Yeah, the theology of the Holy Spirit.


Note, for instance, an orthodox theologian would say, Lasky would say, and he's radical, but he says, you've got these two lines, right, in the Church, you've got the line of the word, and that means the institutional Church, the mediation of God to you through a preached word through the sacraments, through the authority of the Church, through the whole set up, okay? And then you've got the line of the Spirit in the Church, of the Holy Spirit in the Church, which is direct, which is immediate, and which is the prophetic spirit, the prophetic charism, the mystical, the contemplative, and the monastic, according to Clement, one way or another. So you've got these two, and Lasky contends that the West has subordinated the Spirit to the word, and therefore the Holy Spirit, grace, charism, and the individual contact with God submitted it, subjected it to the magisterium to such an extent, to the official word authoritarian Church, that it's quenched it, okay, and that effectively it's been blessed. It's another way, maybe, of saying the same thing, or another facet which manifests the


same happening to you. Now the importance of Tony Merrill, this is so obviously sort of in the cover, because we're in a moment now, if it's possible, to summarize, to fund it. I'm very excited about these Athanasius, which has been an integral contemplative. He didn't wish, he didn't want to lose himself to the Spirit, he didn't want to be able to attend to the doctrine of the Church. It's awesome, from the actresses, especially, it's very good, very good. Who is the author? I don't know. There's a strange thing that happens when Gnosticism opposes itself to the institutional


Church. And then the institutional Church almost has to suppress that notion of the image of God in order to defend itself. I had a bunch of diagrams that were in. There's been a lot of reaction to this dualistic trend in our own Western Christianity, of course, lately, a lot of which has been kind of unbalanced. In other words, you go back from the dualism, you go back to the body, or something like that. You know, they want an earthly Christianity, a bodily Christianity, but still missing that image of God, missing the depth dimension, and missing the integrity of the mystery. So it's another dualistic thing, where you rebound back to the other side, but equally missing the core. There's something about Catholicism, though, that even when it suppresses the truth, the seed of the truth is always carried along with it, and it never bursts forth when the


door is open. Then I thought we might consider, once again, this proposed contemporary form of Gnosticism. I've got my own idea about which is the most meaningful, but there have been all kinds of proposals made. One of them notes that they're almost always partial. In other words, they catch one aspect of Gnosticism, but they're never totally identical to that original Gnosticism, because that was a thing of its own time, and it responded to a particular context, and it grew out of particular roots, which are no longer existing in the same form. But the Gnostic tendency, somehow, is a perennial tendency, and is it possible for us to put a label on that, either psychologically or spiritually, or can we kind of isolate and distill a particular essence that we can say is the Gnostic essence, the essence of Gnosticism?


I'm talking about Gnosticism now, and not Gnosis, because Gnosis is, what would you call it? In Christianity, it's a natural outcome, a natural issue from the faith itself. It's the understanding and the affective wisdom which develops in the heart and in the mind of a person who believes. It develops within the faith. It's the natural child of the faith. I'm talking about Gnosticism. Can we really distill an essence? It seems to me that it's salvation through knowledge, essentially. And if it's within Christianity, it's salvation through knowledge bypassing the integrity of the mystery, bypassing the core of the mystery, and particularly the bodily core of the mystery. And there's a general attitude behind it, isn't there? The intellectual or interior or mental or sometimes spiritual bypass. What's the principle behind it? If you say it's dualistic, it's very tricky when you talk about dualism, because actually


everything is dualistic. Life is dualistic in a way. You have to be a dualist and a monist at the same time. If we say that Gnosticism is dualistic because it separates the divine and matter, or separates the world from God, it's also monistic in a way. In that it's saying that there's only one real... There's only one reality. And if we say that we don't want to be dualistic, then what are we going to do? If we reject dualism, we'll certainly reject monism. So what is it? What's the problem with Gnosticism? It seems to be a desire simply to escape part of life. It seems to be an unwillingness to go through the whole thing. An unwillingness to go through the whole composite of body and soul, of matter and spirit, of


the ordinary and the extraordinary, of the exterior and the interior. It's the interior bypass which refuses to go through the world which we've been created in. It's an escape of some kind. It's a rejection of some kind. And then the Christian variety adds something else. And what's that? The rejection of the institutional church or of the exterior of the church. The whole external or material or visible layer or level of the church itself falls under that same dualism. You remember how Hitchcock says that it's the desire to have it throw away, simply. The desire to be able to remain within the unchallenged self, or to remain within a reality without encountering that which comes from outside of you. That's one way of looking at it. Isn't that also very close to what nearly all of us associate with?


Fairly strong anti-religionism. I hate to use that word because it often starts people thinking I'm a giver, per se. But what I really mean is this. It's the attempt to evade the fact that as a human being we have to think something. Your sentences have to make you think something. And therefore, especially if you don't want to spend your time in the infirmity of this day, which most people don't really want to do, there is a temptation to avoid doing it ever, in pure honesty. There's a certain... Now what does it mean to think? Because there's a certain kind of intellectual activity that seems to go with Gnosticism. But it seems to be purely intuitive. And that which is intuitive, in a way, seems to be generated from within. That which is intuitive is unchallenged, in a way. It's unchallenged.


So you generate your system from inside. You spin a mythology out of your own insides. This is what frequently happens in Gnosticism. It's really the sort of problem that I find extremely unsympathetic, except not with Gnosticism. Because I believe in a very nice man. I'm not saying I've ended up in a little brothel, which was a very nice reaction to what he'd been early on. But I think one of the things we have to talk about, which is very important, is the necessity of being human. Of dividing things up in order to unite them. Because most people never get as far as ever uniting themselves. It's right to make a point. Unless you're mistaken between one being and another, which is what most Gnostic systems don't want to do. They're the fakes. They can't ever get to a point where you can unite them. And being a Thomist, as he is, and he has a very good position for doing that.


Because I think that Thomism does express the Catholic position in this, what they call Critical Realism. Or the fact that the reality of what's out there, that essential acceptance of what is in some way confronting them. And not sort of dissolving it to some kind of a priori. Not dissolving it as some kind of intuitive product of our own insides. Which the Fathers occasionally can do, because they remain, as it were, in the right brain or something. They remain, sometimes, when they're not thinking critically. So reason, which tends to appear in a critical way rather late in Christianity, is part of this. And the Critical Realism of St. Thomas seems to be almost the Magna Carta of the reason in that way. The acceptance of the world as it is, and having to contend with it, even though it may not immediately agree with our interpretation of our faith over there.


Yes, it's quite a different kind of thing. They're almost like analogies within the one great proof which is intuitive. But the vital thing, and I think from the point you're making, is that the one of the five which is most important for that very critical attitude is the observation that something moves. It's the conviction that there's something other than me. And I'm aware of this because I see it change. The sky, for instance, is not the same as when we got up the walls. It's come to change. It's a serious observation that there's something which is changing outside and which is beyond our control. There's a line that runs through St. Thomas, I believe, on this line of recognizing what is outside. It has immense consequences for Catholicism, for our modern world, which means also recognizing


the autonomy of reason as well as the autonomy of the objective world of what's out there, and not immediately sort of suppressing it or subduing it with the faith, with my interpretation of the faith. That's an enormous step of confidence, and it opens the way to the modern world. Yes, it does. And it's so wonderful, of course, that St. Thomas the Episcopal King on Friday would say, where the truth is, the Holy Spirit must be there. And he points out that it doesn't mean we're saying that Catholicism is a great spirit. The fact of being able to see what is true is a gift of the Holy Spirit. You can't deny it. And that, I presume, is what the significance of the Holy Spirit is. It's to say that the Holy Spirit is not present where He is. Isn't it? For Jesus, it seems to be the radical negation of the work of the Holy Spirit in Him, in His signs, and attributing that work to the contrary principle. In other words, somehow turning light into darkness.


Yes. This country? Yes. Sure. That's the big trap of Christianity, you see. When you have that much truth, you appropriate it to your ego, and then you say that everybody else has completely darkness. That's the trap, isn't it? You have to recognize it. If everyone else remembers. Yes. Okay, so we have all these people who suggest all these contemporary forms of Gnosticism.


The one who has kind of a lot of credentials for doing it is Hans Jonas, who contends that existentialist philosophy in our time expresses the same attitude that the Gnosticism of the 2nd and 3rd centuries and Gnosticism around the early Christian times is expressing. That attitude of alienation and the situation of kind of a crumbling social order, a crumbling picture of the cosmos, that well-ordered cosmos that you have, the Greek cosmos and so on. And then all of a sudden, you've got this situation where the cosmos no longer comforts you, in a sense, as you see that divine order reflected everywhere, and as you find its center somewhere in yourself, it frightens you because you're lost in the immensity of chaos. He sees this happening with Pascal, for instance. Pascal says these infinite spaces frighten him. The discovery of the Copernican revolution and the discovery that the center is not right


here, not with my own navel, and it's not on the Earth, but it's up there somewhere. We don't know what there is up there, in a sense. Astronomical depth. So that opens a whole perspective that extends even to today, I just remind you. The idea of how do we solve that dilemma of just being liberated into a shapeless universe? Where is the center? And even this new paradigm that you're talking about, you see. I don't think it would happen. See, like the Tao of physics would say that. But a Christian can't really be satisfied with that, and I don't think a human being can be satisfied with it either. In fact, the physicists and people themselves find themselves rather chilled by that prospect, that bridge between Asian mysticism and physics. Remember when we were talking with Rick down at Esalen. He says, it's too cold.


It's too cold. Because there's nobody there. There's no heart in it. There's no center in it. That's enough for some people, but it's not enough for somebody who knows the humanity of Christianity, who has that somehow behind him, even though he doesn't have it in his belief, and even though he doesn't know how to express it. It's very hard for a Westerner ultimately to be satisfied in that. Because we have the incarnation in our tradition, even when we don't believe anything in that. And the humanity, the humanity which is developed from that in Western society, most people are unconscious of it. It's inside of them. So there's existentialist philosophy. I'm not going to go on about that. But it's in Jonas's Gnostic Religion, and then I think Perkins talks about it. And Vogelin says that modern philosophy, starting with German idealists, and from then on, is


a kind of Gnosticism. Now here it begins to get a bit strange, because this doesn't seem to be the same attitude. He's not talking about a feeling. He's not talking about a feeling towards the world. He's talking about a certain kind of self-centered aggressiveness, which appears in philosophers who spin their own theory independently of what's out there. And he cites Hegel especially. Hegel, and then with Marx, and then of course Nietzsche. This idea of the omnipotent will, the omnipotent self, which doesn't really have to contend with the reality of the world. And then from this he derives some political movements of the contemporary world. The totalitarianism, fascism, Marxism. He talks about some contemporary novelists who follow a Gnostic track, and then she talks about Jung. Now, she doesn't really call Jung a Gnostic.


She's talking about Jung's investigation of Gnosticism. And she points out the difference between his conclusions, actually, and the Gnostic track itself. Because remember, the Gnostic way is a way of alienation, okay? And a way of escape, of evasion. It's a partial way, isn't it? The dualism of it means it remains partial. But what about Jung? Jung's key concept is that of integration, right? You see both sides. You see the light and the darkness. You see good and evil people. You see one side and the other, and then you integrate. Okay? So if he looks at the Gnostics, it's in order to come back around later, to integrate what has there been lost. But especially to integrate what is in Gnosticism, which has been lost by orthodox Christianity or by the modern society. Gnosticism is this kind of Gnosticism.


And he investigates all these sort of underground facts, like alchemy. That was a great portion of his study. It's very interesting. It begins, in a way, with his first question. He tells how a young man, who was shown down there in a hospital in Boston, and always in the circumstances as I was myself in Boston, and told by the consultant taking him around, you know, these people in this world have nothing to do with us. And he simply puts to himself the question, is this true? No. So this forces him, and all the rest of his life, to go on seeing what truth is. A lot of modern psychiatry seems to be an effort to recapture that which has been repressed or supressed or excluded, doesn't it, from the modern psyche, which means basically the Christian psyche and then the sort of post-Christian psyche,


the Western civilization. Freud begins with trying to integrate what? The unconscious, the libido. Not to integrate the whole thing, but at least to open it and to bring it back into the conscious mind, and to come to peace with it, come to terms with it. And Jung extends it enormously by opening up that other unconscious realm, which is really a spiritual realm, very often, and a collective unconscious, in a way. He sort of opens it to infinity. To try to, and the other side, he's always talking about the other side, which has to be brought back. Whether it be the feminine, or whether it be the anima, or the shadow. It's a Christian way of recapturing, which is quite contrary to the Gnostic tendency. But notice how it actually may be a product, a reaction against that inherent Gnostic tendency in our Western civilization. Part of it may be a reaction to the Manichaean tendency,


which had crept somehow into our Western Christianity, and then passed into our Western society. Even the Puritanism, in a way, that's in some of our culture, around the time of the 1900s, and the early times of Freud. So... There are people who say that schizophrenia is good for you. I'm exaggerating a bit. It's better to be mad, because that's the way to be released from the common talker, or ignorance, or blindness, or whatever you want to call it. Basically, there's a kind of leaning over, a kind of preference for madness.


A preference for the... Because it's a rejection of the common mind, which is so awful, which is so small and mean, and so on. There are... There are a lot of people who are saying that. And you see, there's a grain of truth in it, because the thing before was to classify anything abnormal, including the mystical, as being pathological, as being sick, rejecting it, throwing it away, and you've got to cure it. So you... Remember when Father... My slave was talking the other day about the medieval psychiatry, and the insane asylum, which was like a torture chamber, with a person wrapped around. Well, that's an extreme case. But the idea that everything out of this small normal is sick and is to be corrected, and that you really know the norm, and it's in your conscious mind, you know how a person should be. So it's a rejection of that, and there's a truth in that. Also John Curry. Remember Julian Silverman on this one? He worked on that too.


They had a hospital there, what do you call it? They had an experiment, Agnew State Hospital, trying to bring schizophrenics through the experience, out the other side, rather than bringing them back up the same door. That's what it's to do. Letting them live and experience the experience totally, and then go through it, seeing it as some kind of a growth experience. And of course it doesn't always happen. But it almost never happens under the conventional treatment, that's the beauty of the way it's done. Burton, remember that article on final integration? He says, well, if you get into the dark energy spirit, in a contemporary monastery, you leave out your chapter, and so on. You bring a lot of it quick. It's supposed to be normal. But that can be carried, obviously, with absurd lengths. Then Hitchcock calls the New Catholic Left a Gnostic movement.


Remember? Did you give that any deep study as well? I read the book. He mentions that, he also, and that's part of the subject of his book, he says the Right, the New Catholic Left, has many of the same manifestations. He doesn't go through that though. He uses the categories of the New Catholic Left, he doesn't quote the book itself, but he uses those categories, The difficulty with this kind of approach is, it's like a machine gun fire, which goes all around, almost anything, it's a very general kind of annihilation. He doesn't have any concrete thesis. His book is entitled The New Enthusiasts, where he started the Gnostic tradition. We're talking about contemporary movements. And some of it is political, of course.


The Catholics who are sympathetic to Marxism, and Socialism, those would be among his Gnostics. And there he hooks up with Bogle and the other... He doesn't call them all Gnostics, he says they're all Enthusiasts, and that's his broader idea. Well, he's got two chapters there where he intensifies the connection of Gnosticism as well as the general way of Enthusiasts. Now, an Enthusiast is not always a Gnostic, but that's something else. It's curious that Monsignor Knox, of Hitchcock Moments, didn't have a chapter on Gnosticism as such in his book Enthusiasts. He talks about the Medieval Earth season, he talks about Marsha, but he doesn't have one on Gnosticism. One of his critiques of Knox in the book is that Knox is Enthusiast Enthusiast. So, Knox treats Gnosticism as something more or less than the medieval Gnosticism as well. In other words, it's sort of a point on this movement.


Boo! I think that a kind of a prime case for us in Gnosticism today is the so-called Consciousness Movement, or the Human Potential Movement in a certain way. And here I'm not being condemnatory, this is just a fact, that this is an equivalent for a great, great, great, great grandchild, as it were, of Gnosticism of early Christian time. Now, notice that it's gone from Gnosis to Consciousness, and it's come back somehow, however, within the human self. And it's the discovery of the, as it were, unlimited potential of the human self. And it's usually in a non-theistic context. It's a reaction against the established religions of the West. It's a reaction against the established Christianity, against the churches. It's a return inside. And in it,


there's forming a kind of pool of all of the spiritual traditions of the world. And one expression of it, of course, is transpersonal psychology, which becomes a kind of neutralized religion, a kind of mysticism taken out, isolated, from its religious context and from every tradition. So you form a kind of common science, actually, of this deep self, a common science of... We can't call it the image of God because it doesn't relate to God. It's not theistic, but that's what's in question. And there's a whole lot of it. And California is the center of it, actually. And I think it's very important for us to be aware of it and maybe even to dialogue with it. Because in it, there is a searching for that which has been most lamentably imbobbed in Boston around Western Christianity. The story. Hmm?


The story. That's right. I don't think any of us is listening to the spiritual side of it. That's the whole point. The research is good, but I don't think we can be very good at it. It's very important for us, especially, to see it. Yes, and it's to find the... to experience the spiritual, once again. The spiritual center of the non-person. One example, one very clear example, is this, Ken Wilber, I've read one or two of his books. This one's called The Atman Project, and it's an interpretation of human development and also of evolution in terms of the emergence of this inner self, this true self, which for the Hindus is called the Atman. And for him, it's the same as pure consciousness. So, there's a philosophy in what he's saying. He's the divisor of the spectrum of consciousness. He's a very bold attempt to integrate


psychology, psychiatry, and spirituality, and to form one spectrum in which you have all these grades of movement, all these grades of therapy, or growth, or whatever you want to call it, down to what he calls his unitive consciousness, ultimate consciousness, pure consciousness. Now, the philosophy of that, of course, is simply an Eastern philosophy. It's the philosophy of Hinduism, basically. That the world that you see before you is illusions, and that the only reality is that infinite consciousness, and then you simply merge into that. He gives a very strong basis, however, for making this spectrum, this kind of universal system of levels of consciousness, which I think is really useful to know about. It's got its depths. It's also very interesting because it's got close to what is known as intellectualism


in the 12th and 13th centuries, which is precisely understanding. Understanding. You've got there a universalist comprehension. It's quite important to use the word intellectual, but you don't get the word. And it doesn't get rid of the idea of grasping something. Grasping something from a deeper point. Intellectualism is actually grasping and collecting. Like a noose for the boots. But it's a noose in act. That's the point. I think it's very important that intellectuality is what you actually have here now. And you've got... Yes, I see what you mean. I see what you mean. Okay, I see what you mean. It's still objective, however. Consciousness seems to go another step in moving to the point of a consciousness which may not have any object at all,


but only its own imminent activity, or its own light, or whatever one might want to say. It's immanentized. Intellect is grasped. Yes, you can get as kind of insignificant, I was told the other day, I didn't know about you, where you take in the existence of the Father, and in such a way you become the Father. This is a kind of intellect. Doesn't St. Thomas say nearly the same thing? Yes, he does. In the sense that there's a marvelous depth in him, at the point where he says that when you understand something, you are understanding yourself, that that which you know, you know by an act of


reflection in yourself, by an act of oneness with yourself. It's a marvelous thing. And it then opens up our, as it were, our metaphysics to the soul of the world. It ultimately comes, of course, from the 28 days in 1921, the day in Kentucky, because he does say at one point, if you could stop at the point at which you could see yourself seeing things, then you'd see what he implies. Because the actual experience of it doesn't permit you to reflect on it. You either are in the middle of the experience, or you're looking at it from outside. Instead, you're actually having a notice. Exactly. Which becomes the theory of meditation, for some people. That's what one does when one descends into the silence. So that's the meeting point between East and West.


And notice that St. Thomas Aquinas has come up twice in our discussions. One once, we were talking about the opening to, as it were, the modern world. That wasn't the thought that introduced him, but it came out of it. And the other, he opens us to the East in some way, because he's found a position in the Central. Especially with his notion of intellect and being and other two. I think he... Eckhart and Aquinas are very close, I think. You can even suggest that Eckhart is nothing but the mystical and radical expression of what's already in Aquinas' insight. There are people that say that nowadays, and that's an exciting thought, because Eckhart does reach directly over, for instance, into Zen Buddhism. The Zen Buddhists themselves say that whatever is in Zen is in Eckhart. Thomas Aquinas brings it out in a kind of


non-flashy, very what do you call it? Ordinary way, in a sense. Very economically with no... And Eckhart shouts ... [...] Whereas if you were interested in Islam, there was really some articles to ensue with enormous regard for Islamic religion as well. And you wouldn't have to have something like that. That's right. But interestingly, there were great articles.


There was even that strange book which started Thomas Merton writing the final education thing. It's an incredible book. The book by Rusty. Exactly. I went from the beginning. It's hardly believable that a man of modern time could be so completely and maybe even Islamic. If pure Islamic, then also Islamic. He's got another one too. I'll show it to you. It's on the inner self, isn't it? It's on spiritual. Okay, that's enough, I think, for this morning. So we've concluded Gnosticism. Everybody agree? Gnosticism is dead. So next time we'll try to go on to some of the early fathers. And then to their case. And one by one we'll take the fathers and their version of Gnosis. Okay. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.


As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.