Secret Revelation

Is “Gnostic” a useful term?

The problem with the word is that it leads one to think of orthodox Christianity opposed to monolithic Gnosticism. There never was such a thing. It is a term first used in the 17th century, and not used again until the 19th. Instead, there is overlap and diversity, and development of spiritual understanding, among those who would see themselves as followers of Christ.

In the Secret Revelation of John, 22:17, Yahweh and Elohim are demoted to two separate beings, sons of Yaldabaoth. Yahweh is the Unrighteous one. So the Hebrew scriptures, of the worship of Yahweh, are worthless. Christ, of the True God, rescues us from him and them.

This is a rebellion. The writer rejects Scripture. Possibly this was part of a conflict over the Mosaic law, whether Christians need obey it. Now, Christians are happy choosing what parts of the Torah to find binding, and perhaps the Secret Revelation was part of the process leading to that position. I dislike the violent rejection of the Hebrew scriptures, and value the insight that we are not bound by them. That insight first comes in rebellion, and enables us to reach a sober valuing of the old testament. The document has value as part of a process though it is not the end stage.

“Matter is evil.” I am affected by matter: the wine that makes me slow and erratic, the pheromone that turns my head. I disagree; but what value might it have to split matter from spirit? Emotional resilience rising above physical pain and deprivation is a useful characteristic. The idea that my immortal soul is unaffected by the evil done by my fleshly body might either be licence to indulge, or a way of living with my natural animal self- though I prefer believing that animal self is healthy enough. A straight man told me he had been perplexed and bedevilled by his sexuality ever since his teens, and was still, though he was happy with his wife of forty years- and never told anyone that, before me. Straights have difficulty too.

I like the femaleness of God: The all, beyond everything, is surely beyond gender, and its perception and thought is Mother. From the All, at the request of the Mother-thought-Providence came Foreknowledge, Incorruption, and Eternal Life. These are the highest Æons of the All. Foreknowledge, or Predestination, has been the devilment of the Reformed church, sending ane to Heaven and ten to Hell. Incorruption divorces whatever is meaningfully “I” from matter, and eternal life- either makes me ignore this life for hope of another, or makes me live as if in Heaven now.

The next generations are the Son, Mind or Thought, and Will, then Grace, Understanding, Perception and Prudence. Attributes of God are different from Is-ness, though united with it in the highest realm. This may have value in contemplative prayer. God is both the Deist All, perfect and distant, and the Mother and Son, intimately involved with Creation.

I would like to know how this account fits with other accounts of the first Æons: which story came first, and how do the stories differ?

Hope

I rushed for the train, ignoring the man playing  jazz at the St Pancras piano, but seeing it was late went to hear him. He was listening to a young woman singing her own song. She harmonised very simply- an octave in the bass, a triad in the treble, not even using inversions, and only chords I, IV and V- once, a VI. When he looked at me I wondered if he wanted me to go.

She left for her train, and he sat down to hit blue notes in a way those of us who do not, envy. “Do you play?”
-a little.
-Would you like to?

I sat down to play Giorni Dispari, a not terribly difficult piece, not terribly well- though with feeling.

“Oh, more than a little,” he expostulated, warmly, and I bathed in that warmth. I am thinking of it now. I went for my train.

What is that “A little”- mock-modesty, perhaps, to elicit praise; or my best estimate of my talents; or not properly valuing my gifts? It is the kind of thing I hear from others: it might be for varying causes, to hide ability in order to get one over on someone, or even because it is the done thing or the fashion.

I procrastinate, and retreat, because I have little hope, or valuing of my gifts, or belief in what I might achieve. It seems that seeking to evaluate my achievements and abilities might help me: discounting them does me no good. My feeling of never being good enough- if that were true, I would not be here.

He who fears he shall suffer already suffers what he fears.
-Michel de Montaigne

Gnosis

So strange, to find a Christianity I am not programmed to believe! I am commanded to disbelieve, even execrate it. From the spiritual ferment of the early Church came a victorious tradition, which expelled this secret Knowledge.

I first read of Gnosticism in the commentaries of William Barclay, who comments that several of the New Testament texts are written to combat it. From the understanding of Barclay which I retain I could tell you of Docetism, the idea that Jesus just seemed to be human, but was pure spirit- only the fleshly shell suffered on the Cross, as Christ stood with John, watching and commenting (Acts of John, I think).

I also knew the idea that the true God, pure spirit, could not create matter, which is evil, but put forth emanations  (aeons) and eventually an emanation with no knowledge of the Father created matter. I have a violent emotional reaction against that. I hated my body, as a child. Not so much my penis, as my arm, which was so thin and weak. Then I transitioned, and found my arm and hand slim and beautiful. Flesh is good, and this I know. The early church so condemned that view that we say, “I believe in the resurrection of the body”, and I understand that Protestant and Catholic theologians do not differentiate a soul which comes from the body at the resurrection, but a spiritual body (I Cor 15:42-44- note also v29, which appears to refer to the Mormon practice of baptising the living on behalf of the dead).

There is suffering in the world. Either God will not stop it, and is not all-powerful, or cannot stop it, and is not all good. This is the problem of evil, and Theodicy is the branch of theology answering it. Docetism produces a radically different theodicy. I would say that God is in the whirlwind, suffering with God’s creation, and Christ is on the Cross, transfiguring our suffering into our growth, maturity and glory- do ask, if you would like me to unpack those statements- but Docetism would say that only matter, which is evil, suffers, and the Wisdom of God rescues spirit from matter.

Mmm. That works, actually. It is not even “pie in the sky when you die”- through wisdom and understanding and maturity one comes to realise that physical suffering does not matter. My facebook feed regularly quotes Teilhard de Chardin, We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience, out of context.

Now I come across A New New Testament, where I read the Secret Revelation. I have not read the commentary, but this moves on from Barclay’s Gnosticism bad, Orthodoxy mostly good (he did not believe in the virgin birth) to-

here are contradictory texts valued by early followers of Jesus. What value can we find in them?

The Secret Revelation is another Dogma. I do not just accept it- I am attached to my physical body, and don’t call it evil- but, can we find in it anything good?

Yaldabaoth

God can only be described with negatives. Even, perhaps, the Father should not be thought of as God, for it surpasses divinity. It is perfect, and so needs nothing. It is neither corporeal, nor incorporeal. All it asks for is itself alone, within the perfect light.

It perceived its own image, and its thinking became a thing. The Mother appeared. She is the Power which is before the All. She became the primal Human, androgynous and everlasting.

They put forth emanations: Foreknowledge, Thought, Incorruption and Eternal Life, the five generations of the Father. Then the Mother, turning herself toward the Father, gave birth to a spark of blessed light- though not equal to her in greatness. It was the Son. The Father anointed the Son, who became perfect. At the Son’s request, the Father put forth Mind. The Father gave the Son all authority, so that the Son is the True God. The Father willed, and his Will appeared, and through it the Son created everything. But Adam was beside Christ, with unconquerable intellectual power.

Sophia-Wisdom thought a thought from within herself, without the Father or her partner the male virginal Spirit, and forth came an imperfect spirit, with the face of a serpent or lion. She cast him out, placing him within a cloud so none might see him, and named him Yaldabaoth, the Chief Ruler.

Yaldabaoth copulated with his own Madness, and begat angels, including Hermas, the eye of the Fire, and Sabaoth, and Cain. He produced seven kings over the Heavens, giving them his own power, but not any of the light he had drawn from the Mother. He made them call him God, saying, “I am a jealous God“. The Mother repented.

The powers of Yaldabaoth created a body, bone sinew and flesh, but it lay inactive, because they could not awaken it. The Father, seeking to extract the power of the Great Mother from Yaldabaoth the Chief Ruler, sent powers to advise him to blow into that body from the spirit within him. Yaldabaoth’s powers became jealous, and brought Adam down into the shadow of Death. They made a Tomb for him, the fetter of the Flesh.

Yaldabaoth placed Adam in Eden, intending to deceive him. The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil is Sophia, and the command not to eat of it is to keep him in darkness. But Christ told Adam to eat. Eve, the reflection of the Light, hid herself inside Adam, and Yaldabaoth pursued her, unable to grasp her, but created the flesh form of woman for her. He cursed her, that Adam should rule over her. Yaldabaoth raped her and begat Yawe and Eloeim, Cain and Abel.

Perhaps there were two births of Adam, that on Earth echoing that in the eternal generations.

The Mother sent her Spirit to awaken Spirit in men, and those on whom Spirit descends will be saved, and become perfect. But some are entered by a counterfeit spirit, which draws them astray. Yaldabaoth’s powers cast them again into fetters (reincarnation) until they receive Gnosis- and in this way they become perfect and are saved. But some never repent, and are tortured eternally with the angels of poverty.

Then Christ came, to save the spirit of those who heard from the chains of the flesh.

This is a summary of the Secret Revelation of John. I will say what I think of it tomorrow.

Catharsis

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fb/Arnold_B%C3%B6cklin_-_Der_Vulkan.jpgWe swapped stories. I told of people I had known who became paranoid on smoking cannabis, and M told of eleven year-olds getting drunk and pupils smoking cannabis in the fields- teachers passing just told them to “stop it”, rather than taking action. He disapproves. It is illegal, and the lads are not taking any notice of the warnings in the videos.

Alcohol is dangerous if you use it to escape stress, I said, and he expostulates- They’re not stressed! These are people who don’t care about the exams and are not revising!

M excels. He will go to university, unless just possibly he finds some more long-term worthwhile way of spending his time, and-

being teenage has moved on. It is not about seeing the sheep obeying the rules, and rebelling against the Rules. It is about a sober analysis of how things are, and moving towards appropriate goals- or about starting seriously self-destructive behaviour early.

I saw a woman put through the mill. On telly, this is: “Life of Crime”, in which a woman suffers a disaster to her career at the same time as her mother has a stroke and her marriage breaks down. Her daughter stays with her husband. We see her sensitivity and vulnerability, and her inability to open up because the pressure is too great. She is having a hard time at court, and on the phone to her husband she says, “I love you”. He says, “Bye”. He feels she has betrayed him.

This “police officer emotes, fails to catch the bad guys and is ground down by the system” plot is exactly the same as “Good Cop” in the Autumn. Setting it in the police enables the dramatist to include life and death threats, but the basis of it is the human being, trying to do the right thing, failing at work- the plot of several Employment Tribunal cases I have seen. Here we are, we workers by hand and by brain, under this pressure, the pressure of there being too many workers for the work needing done, so the wages go down.

File:Johan Christian Claussen Dahl 001.jpgAmazon, Google and Starbucks dodge taxes in the UK, and I was expatiating on transfer pricing to F when I realised- “You know all this, don’t you?” Yes, she does. She takes an interest. She gets news from Al-Jazeera and bloggers as well as from the BBC, and resents the journalists’ way of making a Story out of facts, rather than presenting them, and of their telling tittle-tattle about royals and celebs rather than real news.

F gains hope from Avaaz campaigns, and learning of NGOs- there is all this altruistic seeking the Good, and all the activists and ordinary folks can get together on line as a counter-weight to buccaneer capitalism. I block out my distress and anger at the Vast Impersonal Forces, and feel it at the fate of a fictional female police officer.

If I (not a rhetorical question: all comment is welcome) have distress at my own situation but feel it consciously only when I see a woman’s world collapse on the telly- might that help or hinder me from doing what I need to do?

File:Николай Павлович Красовский - Побег из извержение вулкана.jpg

Healing words

I went to my counselling session flummoxed and flustered, seeing things as bad, and Yvonne gave me a different way of seeing them, which just might work.

I went in wanting to talk of sex. I am just about over my shame around autogynephilia. I told her something which I had not told anyone else, which filled me with shame and misery at the time. When I still had testicles, I had wet dreams about cross-dressing. The issue for shame is- was that culpable at all? I don’t think so. Sex has the value of uniting two people, and for me it seemed instead to isolate. And- whether that was because of reinforcement activity which was within my control, is the centre of whether it was culpable or not- and I don’t think it was. I am just about over that shame. Yes. That is old pain which I remember, and not current pain.

And- when it comes to relating with others in my sexuality, I am bewildered and shamed and fearful.

I notice how passive and submissive I am. I still have some shame around that- I am a man! I ought not to be! I have just about got over my shame: I tell myself, this is how I am, it is within normal human variation, resisting it is fruitless so I might as well go with it- and- it feels like it can only cause me pain. That encounter traumatised me, and that was miserable, and I can be hurt and if my head gets turned I just make a fool of myself and

I can’t imagine actually forming a mutually satisfying relationship.

Oh, what was it exactly? I came away feeling much better. Something around self-forgiveness. Something around noticing that I am learning. I am, actually. As I approach other people and interact, I am learning.

I am not particularly resilient at the moment. If anything, I am a slightly squishier quivering pile than I was eighteen months ago. Notice every moment of joy- it is transient, and it is there. Possibly, even, it is constant, a ground bass below all the emotional music.

And- there is something around noticing just how badly I am hurt when I make a mistake or something bad happens. It seems it is worse in the anticipation- absolutely terrifying, to be avoided at all costs- than in actuality. Mmm.

I am sitting here, having had my session, walked home and blogged on it, feeling better. Slightly less terrified. A bit affirmed. That has to be a good thing.

Everything is all right.

Nihilism

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/0a/William_Blake_-_America._A_Prophecy%2C_Plate_1%2C_Frontispiece_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg/734px-William_Blake_-_America._A_Prophecy%2C_Plate_1%2C_Frontispiece_-_Google_Art_Project.jpgHow do you prove that we exist?

I am not sure I do, actually. Given that my metabolic processes are constant, I am not quite the same object that got out of my bed this morning, and given that I am constantly taking in sense-impressions, and processing them, I am not quite the same mind or soul either. If the words mind, soul, prove, we, exist have any meaning.

What would “exist” mean? If I am part of a simulation in an alien battle-computer deciding whether to invade this galaxy I imagine myself part of, I still “exist” in the sense that it behoves me to imagine that I do. Resistance is futile!

So, I can’t prove that I exist, never mind that we exist, but it appears useful to act as if there is a sequence of entities with a certain degree of continuity, which might be referred to as “Clare Flourish”, and that it is in a “world” where there are similar sequences of entities. I act as if my sense-impressions register something other than myself, in a useful manner which allows me to make predictions and decisions- until it doesn’t. I behave like a naïve realist, in other words.

Klovax asked this. She self-identifies as a nihilist. My understanding was that a nihilist believed nothing had value- Oh, OK, then- but her identification moved me to read further: if she finds value in nihilism, it is worth checking out. I turn to my Oxford Companion to Philosophy which tells me that nihilist is more usually a term of abuse, meaning someone who believes there is no justification for values or morality. So when Klovax tells me I have dodged the question, which is true, I could reply that she has no grounds to object to that. I choose to act as if values had meaning. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/06/William_Blake_-_Jerusalem%2C_Plate_1%2C_Frontispiece_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg/848px-William_Blake_-_Jerusalem%2C_Plate_1%2C_Frontispiece_-_Google_Art_Project.jpgI find hers a wonderful question, and am grateful.

I then had a look at the entry for existence. It tells me that “exist” does not express a property of objects, as verbs like “shine” or “fall” do, but a property of properties- to say “God exists” is to say “the property of God-hood is instantiated”.

This is not a book I get down from my shelves often.

It goes on to say that David Lewis espouses an idea called Modal Realism, in which Pegasus- or, I don’t know, Doctor Who- has full-blooded existence in other possible worlds. Lovely as the thought that The Doctor exists is, Lewis admits he is not “actual”. You see what I mean about “it depends what ‘exist’ means”.

The biggest metaphysical problem is why anything should exist at all. I am unaware whether there is an Answer to this question. When I read that God, angels and demons have necessary existence, but this does not mean that they necessarily exist, I give up on the thought of proving existence.

I do not share enough William Blake.

Justifications

http://prayerwarriors.wordpress.com/2008/11/16/power-in-prayer-and-praise-music-video-tuesday-november-18-2008/healing-hands/Justifications are unnecessary.
I express myself female because I am transsexual.
I want to practise Reiki because I can channel healing energy, or Qi.

Well. I want to practise Reiki because it is a wonderful placebo, and I have the showmanship to carry it off. If you can fake sincerity, you have got it made. I express myself female because I am a transvestite pervert who has lost all sense of proportion. Or something.

I am fairly sure that the theory of autogynephilia is trivial. Yes, we get turned on by the thought of us female. No, this does not cause us to transition: if it did, “gender dysphoria” could have no meaning.

Some think there is that causal link, though I think the cause is likely to be the other way round. What do I do with contrary evidence?
-Blot it out of consciousness, ignore it, deny it, pretend it is not there, collapse weeping thinking of it occasionally-

Acknowledge it. It exists. It will not make me change my actions. It does not affect my situation: few cissexual folk care. What matters is my reaction to it. Is it a threat? Only if I find it so.

I have felt my hands grow warm, and I have felt warmth seemingly communicated from another’s hands, without touching. Others have valued my attention. And I want that to be the reason why I perform healing: I want it to connect to the reality of the other person.

I spoke to a man who has given several types of Healing over thirty years, and said it seems it’s just placebo. He said, “Yes, that’s about the size of it”. That shocked me. I should have asked straight out, “How do you let yourself do it, if that is all it is?” He told me of spending time with Shiatsu practitioners, and how lovely that was.

What I want is a reason for doing this. My inner rationalist should sense my hands growing warm, sense heat or coolness as I pass my right hand over someone, and use inductive reasoning to connect that to a measurable positive result for the other. It does not work that way.

Relax. It is alright. What I have instead is that I want to do this, that I like to do it, and that other people seem to like it too. It is not this amazing mystic calling, which I cannot follow without perfect certainty that it is right; it is a thing I can do if I want to. And- placebo is a powerful effect.

Birds in flight II

flyinghunting…Just this way a bit- bit lower-

I don’t actually know what these are. If you do, please let me know.

roosting

I really would hate to scare the swan off, and- at the moment of taking the picture I wanted the picture. Partly “Of course it’ll be alright” and partly recklessness of wrong.

flocking

No such problem with the flocking

ripples

or the ripple effect.

Slippery slope

Legislating gay marriage will set us on a slippery slope to legalised bestiality, necrophilia, polygamy and the end of civilisation. It is a sign of Satan’s enslavement of the World. Equal marriage will “Destroy our morals, our values, and yes our world”.

Slippery slope? WHEEEEE!!!!!!

That sort of argument, visible in many places on WordPress, shows quite how much I disgust these Christians. I get the idea of a slippery slope towards polygamy- I welcome it: if people can manage a mature poly relationship, good on them, and such relationships should be celebrated- but not to incest or paedophilia. Incest has a bad consequence, genetic disorders from inbreeding, and paedophilia has a victim who is harmed by the experience. That is why it is a crime.

They use the Natural Law argument: the natural purpose of sex is conception, and to create a bond between a couple. Arguably, the latter purpose is more important, judging from the proportion of sex acts which result in conception. Bestiality and necrophilia do not create such a bond. I can hardly imagine someone wishing necrophiliac sex with a relative, and the cadaver belongs to the relatives. A corpse with no friends or relatives has been human, and is therefore entitled to respect. There are moral arguments against these things.

That disgust bothers me. Disgust alone is not a valid ground for a moral argument: there are arguments against necrophilia, and none against gay lovemaking. It is part of the taboo around sex, which is necessary: caressing and being caressed messes with my head.

These “pastors” and others arguing against marriage look at another human being and feel disgust, so seek to control that other. Rather than seeing the problem in their own disgust, they say the problem is with the other. There is no threat to them, other than to their misconceptions, but that feels the most terrible threat: see the violence of the language they use about it.

O God, save me from my beloved falsehoods. Save me from my blind spots.

Man is born free, but is everywhere in chains. No, not BDSM, but the Right of the Strongest. Rousseau’s answer is the Social Contract, a dialectic of opposites: nature and society, freedom and contract. All should seek the interest of all. The problem is seeing what that interest is.