Students who approach Gnosticism are often overwhelmed by the vastness and profundity of its knowledge. Presented with a plethora of teachings, techniques, and exercises, beginning practitioners normally experience a great sense of intimidation, disorientation, and longing. While recognizing the need to change and overcome the internal causes of affliction, newcomers usually do not know how or where to begin their process of transforming suffering and acquiring practical, personal knowledge of divinity.
The answer to such confusion, bewilderment, and aspiration is to reflect within:
“In the beginning, the esotericist does not know where to start. He feels the necessity of working on himself but is completely disoriented. Yet, if we take advantage of the critical moments, of the more unpleasant situations, the most adverse instances, we shall then discover, if we are alert, our outstanding defects, the “I’s” that we must urgently disintegrate.” —Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
All suffering and happiness come from within. To find liberation, we must perceive the obscurations that prevent the light of divinity from reflecting within our inner nature. By studying ourselves, our identity, our sense of self in the most difficult circumstances, we acquire knowledge of that which imprisons the mind, the soul, the consciousness. By comprehending and removing the psychological conditions that afflict us, we in turn live life with greater serenity, understanding, and contentment.
By seeing ourselves as we are, exploring the reasons for why we suffer, and by transforming our most hidden reactions to adverse circumstances, we open the doorway to genuine knowledge of the mysteries of life and death. Through learning to give birth to spiritual perception and compassionately serving others, we establish the foundations by which to receive divine favor.
To aid in such a process, Gnosticism offers extensive instruction on spiritual psychology, Hebraic kabbalah, medieval alchemy, ceremonial magic, tantrism, prayers, astrology, tarot, kundalini, meditation, astral projection, dream yoga, and more. All of these teachings form one unique whole, the synthesis of the “straight and narrow gate that leads to life” that “few find” (Matthew 7:14). None of these instructions are isolated or unrelated, but constitute an integral method for achieving the full awakening, development, and birth of the consciousness. Therefore, all aspects of the teaching are important.
However, the gnostic teachings should be approached in accordance with the disposition and needs of the student. There is no set, perfect curriculum by which to approach gnosis, since a “one-size-fits-all” for developing the soul does not exist. This is why, in this tradition, so many books have been written on diverse topics, to address a wide variety of spiritual subjects, interests, and needs. While gnosis encompasses many forms of esoteric wisdom, it is a unique, indivisible, and inclusive system, devoid of the speculations, theories, and exclusivity of spiritual schools that study one form of knowledge at the expense and rejection of the others. What matters is that the student is interested in a particular subject, seeks to move beyond the limitations of scholasticism, theory, dogmatism, and debate, and practices with the longing and aspiration for change.
Gnosis is an introduction to an infinite science, and should be approached with patience, close attention, and application to one's daily life. It is impossible to fully comprehend the entire teaching in a short span of time, but must be integrated within one's routines and life gradually. Study should be accompanied with strong application and practice of the methods. We recommend that you approach these studies with the purpose of learning how to change yourself, how to comprehend the psychological causes of suffering. Meditation is the best means for accomplishing deep, lasting, internal change.
Below are recommendations for where to start if you are new to Gnosticism, as well as a list of books and a general sequence of instruction that you can follow on our courses page. These lectures and courses help prepare students to comprehend and apply the practice of meditation in their own lives.
This is by no means an exhaustive or mandatory list, since students are always welcome to study whatever subjects resonate most with their level of understanding, interests, and needs.
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The Gnostic Academy of Chicago
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