Monday, September 29, 2008

The Way Out is In

Wow. Quite a wild ride the past few weeks, no? My first response to all of the manufactured crises we're seeing was to look back to the Gnostics. There was a time when a lot of serious people saw Gnosticism as a way out of the pre-packaged Fundamentalist/Atheist Punch and Judy show that's constantly shoved down our throats in the media. But in order to wedge between these extremes, you need a philosophy that's conducive to the accumulation of earthly power, which Gnosticism is clearly not. There's a lot of nonsense tossed around about Gnosticism, both by its admirers and its opponents. None of it really has anything to do with the teachings themselves. There could never be any true Gnostic political or economic conspiracy, because the Gnostics saw both politics and economics as fallen, corrupt and irrelevant.

I'd been listening to some lectures by the esteemed Biblical scholar Bart Ehrman, and it was his contention that Gnosticism as we know it was essentially the outgrowth of the immense disillusionment that Jewish apocalypticists felt following the fall of Jerusalem and the ensuing diaspora. Jewish apocalypticists like Jesus and Paul and their followers thought the End of All Things was coming in their time, not in ours. They are quoted as such. All of the various forms of early Christianity were meant to prepare their followers for an imminent apocalypse, not one sometime in the distant future.

We are witnessing now the dissipation of a modern apocalypticism. Bush was able to rile up millions of believers who thought for sure that all of these wars in the Middle Eastern deserts would result in in Jesus coming back in his glory on the clouds. All that came back was their dead and maimed and traumatized children and a whole mess of trouble. And now the final charade of the Clown Show is falling apart- the illusion that wealth can be created by what is essentially a modern brand of sorcery. It's amazing to see how quickly all of the long-running cons are coming apart at the seams. All we in America can hope is that we are looking at a much more modest future, one where our grotesque sense of entitlement is burned away like so much chaff by the alchemical process of economic reality.

I don't think we can find much of practical use in the Nag Hammadi library, but we can find some guidance from the basis tenets of Gnosticism. The most important of these is to not look to the outside world for revelation, look inside. Apocalypse was nothing novel to the Gnostics, it was an ongoing process. They didn't understand neurophysiology or psychology, so they resorted to the florid language of religious metaphor potential converts would be familiar with. Today we have a lot of tools at our disposal to divine the truths the Gnostics were searching for. We have the writings of modern day prophets like Philip K Dick and Carl Jung, and any number of lesser though still vital luminaries. It's funny, they all seem to essentially be saying the same thing- you have the real treasure trove locked inside your head. There's a whole universe of possibility that awaits those who look inside rather than to the trappings of the outer world.

Apocalypticists believe that this physical world can redeemed and transformed- that the key to enlightenment comes from a new political system (and don't let them tell you otherwise) where supernatural forces rule over humankind. The Gnostics came to believe that that was a dangerous pipe dream, and it was the understanding of symbolic mysteries that offers the way out. Modern Gnostics use techniques like meditation, dream interpretation, and the study of symbol systems to deepen one's inner experience (and many other techniques besides). All of these were part of Jung's teachings and practices, as was the reinterpretation of myth and culture. Which is what I'll be concentrating on here.

Hopefully we'll be in for not too hard a landing, but I have to say I don't see a return to the go-go days any time soon. Too much of our financial system is built on trickery and fraud. And though the eternal dream of something-for-nothing will always separate fools from their money, all of this is too big and noisy for things to go back to the way they were. Or perhaps this is all some long-standing master plan to institute a new, socialistic system on America (maybe the plan was to give the hucksters enough rope so they could all hang themselves and the "Free Market" along with them). I don't know and, really, I don't much care. I don't see a place for me in the world of materialism, dialectical or otherwise. I gotta pay bills and put food on the table just like anyone else, but I'll follow Carl Jung, not Karl Marx. Or Karl Rove.


  1. I remember the Dr. Strange T.V. special. I got to watch the first 10 minutes then I had to go to bed because it was a school night, 30 some years ago. I still haven't seen the whole thing.

    I would have liked the chance to be superficial and materialistic, but I just never seemed to have enough money. j/k

  2. You have again hit the proverbial nail on the head there Chris. Too true.
    And they don't learn it seems, those who wish to have others live by their trickery and self-hypnosis. Rather than face the fact that the illusion of the current economic system is itself the problem, as well as the kind of mindsets that are ok joining in with and going along with casting those spells over themselves, they seek to extricate themselves from the consequences with - yet more illusions.
    Whatever bail out amount is considered, it is not commodity backed, there isn't anything real behind it, and it's being offered anyway by institutions that are very much in a lot of debt and deficits.

    Now, if people want to juggle imaginary figures around and ignore their impact on actual reality, 'then fine' - but the fact remains that their sorcery (as you so correctly term it, as it is NOT magic!) doesn't allow them to subsist upon anything other than real food, real air, real water, and so on.
    They are not magicians, they cannot magic up the resources they require from 'nothing'; they have no sapo producing contraptions, no alchemical devices with which to make raw materials from.

    A lot of delusional egos are going to have to begin to realise what they are actually doing when they choose to participate in those empty rituals.

    I've enjoyed referring to the distinction between sorcery and magic since a difference in definition I read of in Serpent in the Sky (John Anthony West book).
    A magician can produce you a lump of gold, from 'nothing' (the aethers, the act of actual creation of atomic substance from subatomic parts) or from transmuting another existing substance composed of atoms.
    All a sorcerer can do is make you think you have gold, and make another also think you have gold, and make a third person agree to invest in the idea that somewhere there is actual gold - as long as they leave that gold in a vault or in virtual liquid form in cyberspace.

    Oh and that market closing at minus 777 was almost too funny to bear.

  3. "I don't think we can find much of practical use in the Nag Hammadi library, but we can find some guidance from the basis tenets of Gnosticism. The most important of these is to not look to the outside world for revelation, look inside."

    I'm not sure how you make this statement, Chris. There are also references, urgings, in the Nag Hammadi to "look inside."

    As you say in your post, "they resorted to the florid language of religious metaphor potential converts would be familiar with."

    Most assuredly when "Jesus said, I myself shall lead her in order to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit...," (Gospel of Thomas) he wasn't referring to a sex change.

    Your historical grasp of the "intent" of the ancients is basically consistent with modern research, but I wonder concerning your dismissal of the Nag Hammadi texts.

    Is there some reason not to include the above texts in consideration? I do, indeed, agree that we can learn wisdom from the Gnostics, as we most certainly can from other philosophies founded upon insight and discernment. I mean only to discuss and not antagonize.

    -Morning Angel

  4. What I said is "practical use," Angel. The Gnostic texts are largely poetic and symbolic ruminations that are quite beautiful and interesting. But as Ehrman says most of them are written for people who would already have an understanding of Gnostic doctrine. Whereas writers like Jung offer up more cogent strategies to dealing with the challenges of everyday life (well, at least when Jung was speaking to the lay person and not to fellow academics).

    Hope that clarifies....

  5. Check out the Lin-chi lu, the teachings of Master Lin-chi. He spends most of his time beating (sometimes literally) the idea into his students that they are the equals of the Buddha. If you meet the Buddha on the road to enlightenment, kill the Buddha. No need for Buddhas, patriarchs. The dharma is inside.

    I find all the practical living advice I need in the practice of Zen Buddhism, i.e. Buddhism fused with Taoism. Seriously, I've steadily increased my well-being and happiness the more I've applied these teachings. And they dovetail with my anarchism too, which is nice.

    Overall, I'm a hell of a lot more positive about life. Shedding attachments and imaginary things while still allowing yourself to enjoy life (contra yoga and other asceticisms) is the way. For me at least.

    The world might be going to shit, but now I feel like I've got the tools to deal with this garbage.

  6. Much needed post Chris!

    Nice one bro, it is amazing how quickly those "failed systems" came apart at the seams, lets hope many woke up from this experience here in the U.S. as to the fraud and trickery it takes to maintain it.

    You and I don't have to believe in any ancient systems to have them layered upon us subliminally, through sigils and magics, those with the malevolent intent can utilize and create those illusions via harnessing mass consciousness without anyone's knowledge. Fun stuff huh?

    Be well bro during these times, I know you'll keep it real!

    P.S. That made SO much sense as Jesus was predicting "end times" during his time, Geesh!

  7. Point taken, CK.

    Bush, I imagine, wouldn't take much away from a reading of such texts.

  8. We're trying to please too many people. Broad statements made by politicians and world leaders to soothe a seething public are not the solution or the problem. We've reached a point where no on can deliver on their promises because peoples expectations are unreal. That being the sellers expectations and that of the buyers. We've needed and been sold illusory modalities as coping mechanisms, just to keep the system moving. Because the wheels came off long ago. Long before this current economic meltdown. Everyone wants their own slice of the pie, and naturally so. Even at the cellular level, all over earth, big cells eat little ones. There is a reason why mitochondrial DNA differs from that of it's host Eukaryotic Cell. And that is because it was absorbed by the larger one. Dawkins is correct with the idea of a selfish gene but overbearing in his approach. Also as technology continues to rapidly grow into the artificial intelligence realms, more men will be born who are not needed. So it is time for us all to question are wants and needs. The physical realm has become a traffic jam. The consciousness realms of earth feel like everyone is coming out of light speed and banging into one another. If you view it as a mess, it is a collective mess that is ALL of our faults. Not one world leader, but everyone has played a part. The truth is written in this blog, we must turn inward. To save humanity we need to be less human in the sense of abusing our liberties. There are currently 6 billion people walking around the host earth. The shift we need is needed now and it starts internally. T/Y