Friday, January 29, 2010

Attaining Gnosis

How exactly does a person jump from dogmatic Christianity to gnosis? Because it is an extraordinary leap. Think about it. You're taught in dogmatic Christianity that Jesus literally died for our sins, Noah built an Ark because Jehovah was angry at the rest of humanity's sins(except for one family's), it's perfectly alright to incestuously sleep with your father if the goal is to continue the human race, Jehovah/Allah looks kindly upon those who murder others as long as they're infidels, and a myriad of other heinous concepts....

.... doesn't it seem a bit much to wrap your head around? Doesn't it seem unkind? If you can convince yourself that Jehovah of the New and Old Testament isn't seriously schizophrenic and in need of a therapist of the highest caliber then you're nowhere near the path of knowing what reality is. And that is what gnosis means. Knowing. Rationality is a must in attaining gnosis. A person who likes to be spoon-fed what to think will never attain gnosis because that is the antithesis of what the good god wants for you, which is to Grow Up and reach your potential Adulthood.

But what if you are on that path? What if you do find all these bizarre contradictions in the Bible too much for your heart to handle? What if you don't feel loved by God so much as enslaved? Then you know that you're on your way to change. If something just doesn't feel right with what you read in dogmatic texts like the Old and New Testament then you're in for a wild journey.

Let me first make clear to you that there is no written text you will ever find which will give you a step by step set of instructions on finding gnosis. It doesn't exist. It is a 100% personal experience which is personalized by ... guess? Ourselves. Our own choices. It's true. No one ever wakes up and falls into a state of gnosis when the day before they were speaking-in-tongues-Pentecostals. Or Baptists. Or Jews. It just doesn't happen.

For some gnostics they claim that they turned their back on dogmatic Christianity/Hinduism/Islam/Judaism/etc because of this inner voice which told them that all is not as it seems when they looked at the big wide world around them. They began searching for answers by investigating any and all religions. Some people immerse themselves in meditations, yoga, breathing exercises, and even occult practices involving deities which their childhood religion forbade researching lest it taint their minds. Others simply hop around to different church denominations, never happy but always feeling like they're on the cusp of finding what they're looking for. Most turn into rabid book worms. Gnostics are generally well read folks, as a rule. We have to be in order to educate ourselves on our choices instead of blindly following others like sleepy sheep. Anything from Valentinus to Plotinus to Plato to Shakespeare... you'll find it all on our bookshelves, even if there is an increasing number of very good modern gnostic authors to choose from.

There is no One Path to get on the path to gnosis. Every person's journey is unique and we all have a childhood of sorts which we must go through in order to find the right path to gnosis for us. Exploration is encouraged!! There are bits of gnostic wisdom in all religions to be found. However there are common themes in these journeys. Something nagged at them in the back of their mind and they couldn't in good conscience continue practicing a religion they had no faith in. The tide turned, that person changed, and their eyes opened. They realized that they were enslaved by the material world and that their spirit was in fact a separate entity from their body. They no longer identified with the material world and saw its many sparkling lures for exactly what they are: a means to trap our minds in an empty oblivion of entertainment. The truth is that the material world is meant to entertain us away from thinking about the very nature of ourselves.

The good god wants us to be loved and feel loved because we deserve it. It is our birthright. Not because we've jumped through so-many hoops that it satisfies some bent egotistical mania Jehovah possesses. Because the good god is not egotistical in any way. He knows what's what and doesn't require our blind subservience.

The type of relationship you will end up having with the good god/the All/pleroma is one of confidence, enduring endearment, questing and yet always finding. When we 'grow up' and find the good god we realize just how little we needed the pomp and ceremony of the fearful branches of Christianity of our youth. Our gnostic childhood when we first find him is quite exciting!!!

I encourage you to use Google and your own curious mind to ferret out those answers you've been looking for. Wikipedia is gnostic-friendly and so is Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Just don't cross your fingers that you'll find what you're looking for in your local Christian Bookstore. Think outside the box.

Key words to use in your quest: gnosis, gnostics, gnostic writers, Valentinus, Nicene Council, Irenaeus, Gnothi Seauton, Nag Hammadi Scrolls, Cathar, Gospels of: Thomas, John, Baruch, Mary, The Secret Gospel of James, Pleroma, The All, Gospel of Truth, Gnostic Bible.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Hermetic Literature: The Prayer of Thanksgiving

From the (small) Hermetic collection of works found in the Nag Hammadi scrolls, the Prayer of Thanksgiving is said aloud before a meal. Something to note here is the oblique lack of "hellfire and brimstone" threats. No mention of begging forgiveness of trespasses or who's will is supposed to be done on earth as is in heaven. Instead, we have a heartfelt piece of prose written to convey a deep and lasting affection for a father from a child. It is not meek or subservient. It is not with fearful compliance that a person would say such a prayer; it is instead with confident steadfast love and devotion, knowing that the All wants to give this knowledge and compassion freely with no strings attached.

"We thank you,
every soul and heart reaches out to you,
O name free of trouble,
honored with the designation god,
praised with the designation father.
To all and all things come fatherly kindness and affection and love.
And if the instruction is sweet and simple,
it grants us mind, word, and knowledge:
mind, that we may understand you,
word, that we may interpret you,
knowledge, that we may know you.
We are happy,
enlightened by your knowledge.
We are happy.
You have taught us about yourself.
We are happy.
While we were still in the body
you have made us divine through your knowledge.
The thanksgiving of those approaching you is only this:
that we know you.
We have known you,
light of mind.
Life of life,
we have known you.
Womb of every creature,
we have known you.
Womb pregnant with the nature of the father,
we have known you.
Eternal constancy of the father who conceives,
so have we worshiped your goodness.
We ask one favor:
we wish to be sustained in knowledge.
We desire one protection:
that we not stumble in this life."

An added note at the end of the prayer states, "When they prayed and said these things, they embraced and went to eat their sacred bloodless(vegetarian) food."

Songs of Solomon, exerpt of Song11

Speaking waters came near my lip
from the vast fountain of the lord,
and I drank
and was drunk with the living waters
that never die,
and my drunkenness gave me knowledge.

I threw off vanity and turned to my god,
and his bounty made me rich.
I threw off the madness of the earth;
I stripped that madness from me
and cast it away,

and the lord renewed me
in his raiment
and held me in his light.
From above he gave me uncorrupt ease,
and I was like land deep and happy in its orchards,
and the lord was sun on the face of the land.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Our Internet Freedoms

Do we have true freedom to speech on the 'net? For most of the free-world the answer would be yes. As long as we are not hurting or threatening others directly we can use our minds and keyboards to collaborate ideas and share our daily thoughts. For the Chinese, Vietnamese, Koreans, Russians, and others this freedom we take for granted simply does not exists. Government censorship holds information hostage. For gnostics this is not acceptable.

The gnostic path is such that in order for the greatest amount of learning and gnosis to occur we must have the greatest amount of freedom. Censorship is not freedom. When government conspiracies and embarrassments cannot be aired on public information highways for discussion then tyranny will prevail.

Yesterday Google became even more disenchanted with Chinese censorship laws than they have been in the past year. Hackers, most likely the government funded variety, tip-toed their way into multiple accounts and have created a security nightmare. Here is the story. Make note of the text in red which mentions Falun Gong and Tibetan independence.

Google may quit China over cyber-attacks

Firm vows to stop censoring search results after Gmail accounts are hacked news services, 01/13/2010
SAN FRANCISCO - Google Inc. will stop censoring its search results in China and may pull out of the country completely after discovering that computer hackers had tricked human-rights activists into exposing their e-mail accounts to outsiders.

Google said on Tuesday that it had detected "highly sophisticated" cyber-attacks in mid-December on the Gmail accounts of Chinese human-rights activists, and that at least 20 other large companies from a wide range of businesses have also been similarly targeted.

The change of heart announced Tuesday heralds a major shift for the Internet's search leader, which has repeatedly said it will obey Chinese laws requiring some politically and socially sensitive issues to be blocked from search results available in other countries. The acquiescence had outraged free-speech advocates and even some shareholders, who argued Google's cooperation with China violated the company's "don't be evil" motto.

The criticism had started to sway Google co-founder Sergey Brin, who openly expressed his misgivings about the company's presence in China.

But the tipping point didn't come until Google recently uncovered hacking attacks launched from within China. The apparent goals: breaking into the computers of at least 20 major U.S. companies and gathering personal information about dozens of human rights activists trying to shine a light on China's alleged abuses.

'Very serious concerns'
Google spokesman Matt Furman declined to say whether the company suspects the Chinese government may have had a hand in the attacks.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the Google allegations "raise very serious concerns and questions" and the U.S. is seeking an explanation from the Chinese government.

Google officials also plan to talk to the Chinese government to determine if there is a way the company can still provide unfiltered search results in the country. If an agreement can't be worked out, Google is prepared to leave China four years after creating a search engine bearing China's Web suffix, ".cn" to put itself in a better position to profit from the world's most populous country.

"The decision to review our business operations in China has been incredibly hard, and we know that it will have potentially far-reaching consequences," David Drummond, Google's top lawyer, wrote in a Tuesday blog posting.

A spokesman for the Chinese consulate in San Francisco had no immediate comment.

China has more than 350 million Web surfers and annual search revenue topping $1 billion, but its Internet market has been a thorny one, with companies having to adhere to strict self-censorship rules dictated by Beijing.

Anyone disobeying those rules, which prohibit sites on sensitive issues like Tibetan independence or the outlawed Falun Gong spiritual movement, can have their site blocked or closed.

"Google's move is related to censorship and not a business decision at all," said a high-level industry executive close to Google's former China chief, Lee Kai Fu, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the subject's extreme sensitivity.

"Google has been agonizing for a very long over this decision. Since last year, Google was talking about making a gesture to show the Chinese government it will no longer tolerate strict censorship over its operations," the source told Reuters.

Abandoning China wouldn't put a big dent in Google's earnings, although it could crimp the company's growth as the country's Internet usage continues to rise.

Google, based in Mountain View, said its Chinese operations account for an "immaterial" amount of its roughly $22 billion in annual revenue. J.P. Morgan analyst Imran Khan had been expecting Google's China revenue to total about $600 million this year.

Although Google's search engine is the most popular worldwide, it's a distant second in China, where the homegrown processes more than 60 percent of all requests.

Free-speech and human rights groups are hoping Google's about-face will spur more companies to take a similar stand.

"Google has taken a bold and difficult step for Internet freedom in support of fundamental human rights," said Leslie Harris, president of the Center for Democracy & Technology, a civil-liberties group in Washington. "No company should be forced to operate under government threat to its core values or to the rights and safety of its users."

It's "an incredibly significant move," said Danny O'Brien, international outreach coordinator at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an Internet rights group in San Francisco. "This changes the game because the question won't be 'How can we work in China?' but 'How can we create services that Chinese people can use, from outside of China?'"

Many Web sites based outside China, including Google's YouTube video site, are regularly blocked by the country's government.

Intellectual property
Google's new stance on China was triggered by what it described as a sophisticated computer attack orchestrated from within the country. Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., praised Google for disclosing chicanery that "raises serious national security concerns."

Without providing details, Google said it and at least 20 other major companies from the Internet, financial services, technology, media and chemical industries were targeted. The heist lifted some of Google's intellectual property but didn't get any information about the users of its services, the company said. Google has passed along what it knows so far to U.S. authorities and other affected companies.

It does not appear that any U.S. government agencies or Web sites were affected by the attack, according to two U.S. administration officials. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the issue.

The assault on Google appeared primarily aimed at breaking into the company's e-mail service, Gmail, in an attempt to pry into the accounts of human right activists protesting the Chinese government's policies.

Only two e-mail accounts were infiltrated in these attacks, Google said, and the intruders were only able to see subject lines and the dates that the individual accounts were created. None of the content written within the body of the e-mails leaked out, Google said.

As part of its investigation into that incident, Google stumbled onto another scam that was more successful. Google said dozens of activists fighting the Chinese government's policies fell prey to ruses commonly known as "phishing" or malware. The victims live in the United States, Europe and China, Google said.

Phishing involves malicious e-mails urging the recipients to open an attachment or visit a link that they're conned into believing comes from a friend or legitimate company. Clicking on a phishing link of installs malware — malicious software — on to computers.

Once it's installed on a computer, malware can be used as a surveillance tool that can obtain passwords and unlock e-mail accounts.

Google's unfettered search results won't necessarily ensure more information will be made available to the average person in China because the government could still use its own filtering tools, said Clothilde Le Coz, Washington director for Reporters Without Borders, a media watchdog group.

"The Chinese government is one of the most efficient in terms of censoring the Web," she said. The blocking technology has proven so effective that it's become known as the "Great Firewall of China."


Here is a link: ( to exactly what China thinks of internet forums and news articles. According to some people these 'spin doctors' are less noticeable now, however they do still lurk.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Book Review

Zen Fables For Today
By: Richard McLean

Zen? Buddhism? ... how exactly does this relate to gnosis and why would a gnostic read a book about Zen or Buddhism let alone a combination of the two? Ahhh but Grasshopper, the answer is in the question. Gnosis means knowing. The path to knowing winds and turns, rarely in a straight line, overlaps itself and then delves deeply into other religions to ferret out their kernels of gnostic truth. Zen Buddhism certainly contains some tasty morsels for thought.

In giving you a taste I hope that you will feel inclined to search out more. Here are two short excerpts.

Page 103:

"Tell me about apples," said the Roshi(teacher) to his three most promising students as he placed an apple on the table. "Whoever explains them best gets to go to Kyoto with me."

The first student explained the apples' origin and introduction into Japan and other historical lore.

The second pointed out the marketing uses for apples in cider, desserts, and applesauce.

The third said nothing. Instead he took a pen knife, cut a wedge, slipped it into the Roshi's mouth and gently pushed hi teacher's jaw upwards so the apple would squish inside his mouth.

"Precisely," said the Roshi talking around his slice of apple. "Apples cannot be explained with words. They must be experienced on the tongue. The only way to know about apples is with your mouth shut."

The class shared the remains of the apple and the third student went to Kyoto.

Lesson: Like "knowing" apples, the only way to "know" about one's place in the universe is not through the ears but through the heart.

Page 10, Mindfulness

The Zen concept of mindfulness could be described as "time hedonism." Zen offers a view of the world that is starkly practical; it says we can (and must) live in the present. And the only way to live in the present is to be present in the moment. For example, if we are washing dishes, Zen says to be there washing the dishes and living that simple action rather than tuning out. Zen labels as wasteful recriminations over the past or worry about the future. "Live now," it commands and gives us the tool to live now: mindfulness of the moment, living in the present, not squandering this precious span of life, not putting consciousness on "automatic pilot" or dreaming away today in favor of an impossible-to-predict tomorrow

Fortune Cookie Wisdom

I'm not one to put much stock in the paper slips which fall into your hand out of a folded and twisted wafer crisp. But my latest acquisition made me stop and think. It's not half bad advice, really. Here it is the manna which fell out of my fortune cookie:

"Let us train our minds to desire what the situation demands."

(Oh and now I know how to say "cherry" in Chinese. It's "ying tao.")

Saturday, January 2, 2010

What We Have To Look Forward To In 2010

When I saw this article upon waking this morning I was pretty disgusted. We're talking about jihad in Denmark, people. Denmark! What the hell have the Danish ever done to anyone? The tone of this piece makes it sound as though Denmark's government can't quite get it's act together to decide what they should do with terrorists. Then again, neither can the US.

Here's (I hope) a thought provoking question: If the US cannot deport immigrant criminals back into their native country for acts of terrorism against the US, what should we do with them? If our justice system cannot deal with them then why shouldn't their crimes be dealt with in their native land? The current system says that if these criminals would be killed by their country we cannot hand them over. This gnostic asks, "And why not?"

Gunfire Ends Attack On Muhammad Cartoonist
Danish police shoot armed man in 'terror related' case at artist's home

By The Associated Press, updated 10:28 a.m. ET, Sat., Jan. 2, 2010

COPENHAGEN - A Somali man was under heavy guard at a Danish hospital Saturday after police stopped him from killing an artist whose cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad outraged the Muslim world, the country's intelligence chief said.

Jakob Scharf, head of the PET intelligence agency, said the 28-year-old man with ties to the al-Qaida group al-Shabab broke a window and entered Kurt Westergaard's home in Aarhus on Friday night armed with an ax and a knife.

The 75-year-old artist, who has received previous death threats for depicting the Prophet Muhammad with a bomb-shaped turban, pressed an alarm and fled with his visiting 5-year-old granddaughter to a specially made safe room.

Officers arrived two minutes later and tried to arrest the assailant, who wielded an ax at a police officer, said Preben Nielsen of the Aarhus police. The officer then shot the man in his knee and his hand, authorities said.

The suspect's name was not released in line with Danish privacy rules. Nielsen said he was in serious condition at a hospital but his life was not in danger.

'Quite shocked'

The Somali man denied the charges at a court hearing Saturday in Aarhus, Denmark's second largest city, northwest of Copenhagen. Accompanied by a lawyer, he was wheeled into the court on a stretcher from the hospital where he was being treated.

Westergaard was "quite shocked" but was not injured, Nielsen said.

The attack on the artist, whose rendering was among 12 cartoons that led to the torching of Danish diplomatic offices in predominantly Muslim countries in 2006, was "terror related," Scharf said.

"The arrested man has, according to PET's information, close relations to the Somali terrorist group al-Shabab and al-Qaida leaders in eastern Africa," Scharf said. "(The attack) again confirms the terror threat that is directed at Denmark and against the cartoonist Kurt Westergaard in particular."

The Somali man had won an asylum case and received a residency permit to stay in Denmark. Scharf said the man is suspected of having been involved in terror-related activities in east Africa and had been under PET's surveillance but not in connection with Westergaard.

Westergaard could not be reached for comment. However, he told his employer, the Jyllands-Posten newspaper, that the assailant shouted "Revenge!" and "Blood!" as he tried to enter the bathroom where Westergaard and the child had sought shelter.

"My grandchild did fine," Westergaard said, according to the newspaper's Web edition. "It was scary. It was close. Really close. But we did it."


An umbrella organization for moderate Muslims in Denmark condemned the attack.

"The Danish Muslim Union strongly distances itself from the attack and any kind of extremism that leads to such acts," the group said in a statement.

Westergaard remains a potential target for extremists nearly five years after he drew a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad. The drawing was printed along with 11 others in Jyllands-Posten in 2005.

The drawings triggered an uproar a few months later when Danish and other Western embassies in several Muslim countries were torched by angry protesters who felt the cartoons had profoundly insulted Islam.

Islamic law generally opposes any depiction of the prophet, even favorable, for fear it could lead to idolatry.

Westergaard has received previous death threats and was the subject of an alleged assassination plot.

In October, terror charges were brought against two Chicago men who allegedly planned to kill Westergaard and newspaper's former cultural editor.

In 2008, Danish police arrested two Tunisian men suspected of plotting to kill Westergaard. Neither suspect was prosecuted. One was deported and the other was released Monday after an immigration board rejected PET's efforts to expel him from Denmark.

Throughout the crisis, then-Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen distanced himself from the cartoons but resisted calls to apologize for them, citing freedom of speech and saying his government could not be held responsible for the actions of Denmark's press.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Obvious Paradoxes & Contradictions

The Sacrifice of Isaac by Caravaggio

In a discussion on the Atheist Camel's blog, an anonymous commenter made a few deductions which were so perfect I couldn't resist talking about it here.

The Atheist Camel's blog post was called Loving The One You Fear: The Peculiar Christian Dilemma. In it, Dromedary Hump points out the flawed and contradictory relationship literalist Christians have with their God. In essence, this is an abusive relationship.

Anonymous goes even deeper into the paradox saying,

"Do we love abusive parents too? I personally can't stand to read about a parent who abuses their own.

For example, would you build a playground for your kids, and than put a running chainsaw in the center?(garden of Eden).

Would you leave your toddler(s) alone in the neighborhood knowing that a drug pusher was going to try to convince your kids to do something forbidden?(Serpent in said garden).

Would you kill all your kids but one and his immediate family?(Noah).

Imagine two of your kids gave you a present. Would you tell one child how wonderful his present was, and tell the other what a piece of crap HIS present was?(Cain and Able)

How about this..... Your kids are having problems. So you instuct one child(Moses) to tell the other child (Pharaoh)to knock it off, or he will pay. In the mean time, you tell the other child NOT to listen to the first("and he harden the Pharaohs heart). Then, just for kicks you kill all the innocent first born in the second childs village to teach him a lesson!!! Man, that's one terrible dad!!

The last example(of many) is one of my all time favorites. You make a bet with your sworn enemy(Satan) that he can't shake the love of your best behaved child(Job). Your enemy tortures your kid to the point of death, destroys those he loves, and generally is a real terror to him. Well, your kid still loves you, and your enemy is proven wrong. But to what end? All that horror has made absolutly zero difference!! Your enemy is still your enemy, he hasn't changed, but your kid is scarred for life!! What a great parent!!!

Above all, don't forget the Xtian mantra "god gave us free will". Yeah, sure he did "love me or burn". That's not free will. Free will would be "believe in me and go to heaven", or "don't believe and go to heaven". They confuse freedom of choice with free will. Sorry, abusers don't give free will."

-- The Serpent Was Right