Tonight were going to talk about the slippery slope of Gnosticism. Now in the second century people struggled with the concept of dualism and the emergence of Gnosticism and Manichaeism. We need to be careful here. Remember there are two forms of dualism and two forms of Gnosticism that we need to be aware of. What I call Organic Gnosticism is the loving balance of male and female opposites that celebrates life and the development of the soul through love relationships. The other traditional form of Gnosticism is one that believes in the battle of opposites between good and evil. The battle that destroys life.
So we want to be careful because it’s too easy to talk about the destructive Gnosticism of good and evil and forget about the Organic Gnosticism that we are really interested in. The followers of Manichaeism were also called the Christians of St. John the Baptist. They believed in baptism. They believed that matter was evil and spirit was good. They believed the world was satanic. They taught reincarnation and it became the most widespread religion in the world at the time reaching far into Asia.
Was this heresy or was it actually an influence on early Christianity? The message of baptism and that matter is evil and spirit is good? That the world is satanic? That sounds very familiar and I’m willing to suggest that it was assimilated into early Christianity, even if it may not have been taught by Jesus himself.
I’d like to mention Zoroastrianism in contrast, which at the time was five or six centuries older. Zoroastrianism is one of the earliest known religions and in its beliefs we see a bridge to the even earlier goddess religions with their balance of male and female. That is the Organic Gnosticism we are really looking for.
So we also see an interesting influence in Zoroastrianism which was the state religion of Persia for centuries. In Zoroastrianism the world is good and was created by a good God. There is no devil and it is a celebration of life. There is order and chaos. Later the concept of chaos became personified by Ahriman but not in the beginning.
There is only one path and that is the path of truth. People were to do the right thing because it was the right thing to do. It was very simple. Make the world a better place! They believed there would be a judgment day and a Messiah at the day of judgment.
Each person would be held accountable for their actions in life. You can see that some of this religion may have influenced Christianity, but it is far older. It was the Manichean’s that brought in the concept of Satan and that the material world was evil.
The early Church was in a battle for each individual soul. The soul was an evolutionary offshoot of literacy and the invention of reading and writing. But the simple people weren’t able to read and write! These simple people had strong bonds with nature and they kept a religion of the heart. They were Zoroastrians or pagans and later we will see how these bonds with nature branched out into the teachings of Tantrism and the use of sexuality as a form of soul development.
But there’s a big split here, and the main point that I’m trying to make in this message is that there were two types of Gnosticism and you want to be very clear which one you’re talking about. You want to be very clear which one was heretical. We are also going to be seeing just how anti-sexual the early Christian church actually was.
There was another religion around that time called Mandaism that didn’t last very long. They also believed in the split between good and evil. So what seemed to be happening was that some people began to develop the Observer self or watcher watcher self. They begin to have a concept of self which they called the soul.
It was the part of us that watches in our dreams, where a part of us stands back and watches another part of us. That is what was considered the soul and what was so important. That is what people were getting so excited about because they believed that it proved the immortality of consciousness and life after the death of the physical body and they became fanatical about it.
But the thing is, it was only available to the elites because it was actually part of reading and writing. That’s why the big move into religious head tripping. That’s why the move away from the common people and away from the common religions.
This was also when the elites started to prevent the common people from developing their own egos and their own sense of self. Their own abilities of reading and writing was proof of their superior intellect. They felt that this made them superior even though the common simple people had heart and had love in their hearts.
Self-esteem and the development of the soul has a lot more to do with heart than it has to do with the intellect and the mind. Self-esteem also has a lot more to do with survival with competency than it has to do with intellect. So we are seeing already during the second century the pressure to keep the uneducated, lower classes down. It was also decided to take sex away from the common people because sex was dangerous, it developed the soul and they didn’t want the common people developing their souls.
PS: I have started a Facebook group called Organic Gnosticism. Please join if you are interested.