The Esoteric Christian Tradition
There have existed alternative forms of Christianity, which have very recently gained recognition amongst scholars, although much of that criticism applies only to the past. What many are not willing to recognize is the existence of a modern esoteric Christianity. This term “esoteric” or “esotericism” implies that which is hidden, secret, obscured from the public. The roots of this esoteric Christianity are very ancient. They are even older than Christianity itself, the first Christian sects.
The reason for our studies is to approach the science by which we can experience the truths contained within religion. However, for modern scholasticism, the tendency amongst many spiritual groups is to compartmentalize knowledge, to label things within easy categories, within labels, within a structure, and there is credence and value to this. But the reality is that individuals, groups, and systems are complex. They are subtle. They are nuanced. The tendency to approach religion with our assumptions, our preconceptions of what is there, really demonstrates for us the fundamental nature of belief, which really constitute a set of values, philosophical approaches, for making sense of life. Beliefs can create a sense of order in a world that is falling apart. However, we have to recognize that beliefs have a very limited utility when it comes to practical spirituality.
Due to this tendency, many have approached modern Gnosticism as another such system of belief, but I would like to present something different, and to ask us to reflect on a very important principle, as is demonstrated by the Gnostic scriptures themselves, their mere existence, the Gnostic teachings. We find that this wisdom strikes at the heart of what it means to believe, but more importantly, what does it mean to possess knowledge from experience, to know divinity? ― not from a theory, not from an idea, or what we have read, or a conviction without evidence. Instead, it has to do with facts.
Gnosis is a living tradition. It was made, and is made of many mystery schools, which had gone underground primarily to avoid persecution, and corruption when exposed to humanity. It is a natural law. When the divine provides exceptional and expedient knowledge for transformation, eventually when exposed to humanity, to degeneration, to vices, traditions become adulterated. They fall apart when the adherents of those disciplines no longer enact and fulfil their requisite values upon which such traditions are based. While this occurred even with early Christianity, this dynamic persists even today.
This is why the real keys for unlocking such knowledge, such enigmatic writings, were never giving to the public for millennia, and there is a very good reason for this. Humanity with its prejudices, its biases, its assumptions, translates and interprets according to the conditioning of our psychology. Therefore such wisdom was only given to those who had earned it, not to the uneducated, the inexperienced, or we could say, the uninitiated, because these scriptures lose their essential message when we lack the key, and more importantly when we are not willing to reflect upon their significance within our own life, with full objectivity and self-criticism, with analyisis, with investigation.
This knowledge is now being given openly out of compassion. Before, to really receive these kinds of teachings and instructions, scriptures and knowledge, one had to be part of a group in the physical world for a very long period of time, but now we are in a very different era where scriptures that were once hidden, and unavailable to the public, are now immediately present. You can pick up your iPhone and find the Gnostic Gospels. You can find teachings that were obscured for thousands of years―for a long time―with ease. This kind of reality is unprecedented in our history, but it is also important to remember that while we have a bunch of scriptural knowledge, the task is incumbent upon us to know how to interpret.
When approaching these studies, it is also important to examine our motives. Do we sincerely seek to understand the causes of our suffering, and more importantly, the suffering of others? Are we willing to sacrifice behaviors and views that produce conflict, discord? Or do we approach spirituality with ambition, with vanity, with selfishness, to impress others with obscure knowledge, or to acquire power?
The Esoteric Gnostic Christian tradition has methods and practices, procedures by which we can comprehend all of this, how to become better people, to change, to help others, and in that process of embodying the most elevated ideals of humanity, we approach divinity from experience.
We investigate these divine truths through experimentation, through analysis, through inquiry, through investigation, but first in order to do this, one must understand that which conditions our psychological states, so that by understanding them, we can remove them. In the process of self-transformation, Gnostic scriptures become very useful. But when isolated from the core teachings that inform their being, their genesis, their secrecy, these texts become elusive at best, and even useless.
Understanding gnosis, the Gnostic Gospels―without exception―requires initiation into the codes by which such scriptures were written, which specifically are known as Kabbalah and Alchemy. We are going to elaborate on what these two sciences are today, because without an understanding of what these principles are, it is impossible to understand what the Gnostics were referring to, because those were the codes in which those scriptures were communicated.
Just as appreciating Shakespeare requires a strong knowledge of English, likewise interpreting the Gnostic scriptures requires facility with the symbols, the methods, the allegories, the parables, the mystical language in which they were written, in which they were disseminated. We will examine today the necessity for evaluating our concepts, especially regarding the Gnostic traditions, in what manner the Gnostic Gospels were composed and why. We are also going to examine why the Esoteric Christian tradition was forced underground only to remerge to the public in the 1950’s.
I cannot emphasis enough―the Gnostic Gospels are truly compelling. They are practical writings for those who are initiated into its systems. We will take some time to elaborate on the practical roots of Gnostic scriptures, because they challenge our millennia-old beliefs, our assumptions, our theories, as well as the limitations of such beliefs.
Who Were the Gnostics?
The term γνῶσις gnosis is not well understood today. While literally indicating “knowledge,” gnosis is not limited to a particular geography, or history, or denomination. Just as water has many names, but is prevalent throughout all cultures, likewise gnosis, which is the experience and the knowledge of divine truth from personal testimony, is eternal. Many messengers, many prophets, many luminaries, taught humanity about the origin of spiritual life, but their languages are different. The symbols and codes they use are unique to a given culture. However, the essence of what they taught is the same.
As a tradition, Gnosticism constitutes the secret doctrines of Christianity, which precisely stipulate the following, as stated in the Gospel of John:
Know the truth, and the truth shall set you free. ―John 8:32
Many modern scholars and students of religion are really fascinated by the early Christians, the Gnostics, because their teachings differ greatly in terms of their content, and especially their pedagogy, in relation to modern Christian dogma. Rather than exclusively believe in the personality of Jesus, the Gnostics taught, and teach, how Christ is an internal principle, something that must be developed, and that salvation does not depend upon following a system of belief. It is found by awakening to our true nature, by comprehending and eliminating the obstacles to our own redemption.
Gnostic Christianity teaches a personal, experiential relationship with the divine. It does not require mediation from a priest, from a rabbi, from an imam, from any theology, from any idea or group. Gnosis is what we know from our own investigations based on facts.
Some have argued traditionally that Gnostic Christianity interpreted their mysteries through pagan symbolism, and there is some credence to this. However, Gnosticism extends very far beyond any particular geography, including the Middle East, the Holy Land, any particular language, any individual messenger, any historized or localized group. Through studying and applying these principles, we can verify this truth for ourselves, the universality of diverse spiritual traditions. We begin to see the essential thread that unites them, which is direct experience of the truth.
The Gnostic tradition, like many other mystical traditions, was maintained within secret societies, or esoteric schools, which was only accessible by certain candidates who had demonstrated their maturity, their ethics, their dedication, specifically to transforming themselves so that they can benefit humanity. Therefore much scholarship and modern interpretations surrounding the essential nature of Gnostic doctrine is wrong. Most scholars of Gnosticism even admit this. What little history we have, acquired regarding the first Christian groups and their teachings, has some problems.
First, it is obscured by a lack of material. We cannot really construct a comprehensive picture of their faith. We have ideas. We have assumptions. We have correlations. We have studious analyses of different texts by scholars and renowned academics, but the truth is that there is a lot that is missing, and because universities and scholars do not have access to methods and means for investigating these on a deeper level, in a spiritual sense, their judgments are incipient, insufficient. They have not received training within the mystery schools that are living the teaching. Therefore they cannot comment. It is beyond their scope.
Secondly, the knowledge that we have is filtered. We have many biases and assumptions, many ideas as I said, but we have to remember that what little that we possess of Gnostic treasures have been pieced together. The essential knowledge of the Gnostics was never written down. It was written in code, what little we have. Most of that knowledge was transmitted orally through a secretive chain of transmission between master and disciple. Therefore what remains of their doctrine is very limited. It is like a door without a key, since a lot of their teachings were destroyed, as evidenced by this statement by Manly P. Hall in The Secret Teachings of All Ages:
The entire history of Christian and pagan Gnosticism is shrouded in the deepest mystery and obscurity; for, while the Gnostics were undoubtedly prolific writers, little of their literature has survived. They brought down upon themselves the animosity of the early Christian Church, and when this institution reached its position of world power it destroyed all available records of the Gnostic cultus. ―Manly P. Hall, The Secret Teachings of All Ages
Therefore to truly understand the Gnostics, one has to be an initiate. One has to be a member of the initiatic, living mystery school. Now this statement can seem problematic. We are not referring necessarily to a physical group or school, because there are many Gnostic institutions that teach what we are teaching. When I refer to the living mystery school, I am specifically referring to states of consciousness that are beyond mere physicality. We practice the science of meditation, so that we can withdraw the senses and enter into profound introspection, and learn to experience our internal reality.
Some people may be familiar with dreams. Some people call it astral projections, astral experiences, lucid dreaming. We are going to be giving a course very soon on this topic [Dream Yoga and Astral Travel], but I just like to synthesize for you that there is knowledge accessible to us beyond the physical body, and that the consciousness can learn to gain lucidity, clarity, confidence, familiarity, skill, efficacy, abilities within the dream state, so that we are no longer dreaming there, and we can learn to access knowledge that is far beyond which is conceivable with our materialistic theories. The living mystery schools and the Gnostic Church are within these internal realities, these internal worlds. It is something that we can verify and experiment with, to test, to know, to witness.
It is important we learn to approach this knowledge without believing or disbelieving, but merely experimenting with it, testing its principles, its hypotheses, so that we can learn from facts what is the reality here, because physical senses are very limited. Intellectual knowledge that we gather from books does not really gives us the full picture of the reality of a thing. Intellectual knowledge is useful in its place, but it is not the core purpose of why we approach this type of spirituality.
Comprehension and understanding is born from experience. It is not acquired by merely reading a book, or attending a lecture. It is something much deeper than that. So we have many practices that we provide so that you can verify these things if that is your wish.
Now in relation to the Gnostic Gospels, some have referred to them as the Apocrypha, from the Greek apokryptein, “to hide away.” We can hear within this etymology the word “cryptic,” that which is indecipherable, archaic, obscure. This term includes religious scriptures not included within the standard canon. It can apply to biblical books from early Christianity, such as the Greek version of the Old Testament, which is not included in the Hebrew Bible. Apocrypha can also signify texts which are considered of doubtful authenticity, which despite their prevalence, may be questionable, even if they are accepted commonly.
For the purpose of our studies, we are examining these apocryphal texts, because they challenge us. They challenge well-established assumptions about the essential nature of Christianity, of Christian dispensation, about faith, about reality, about experience, about investigation, about knowing.
Many have tried to prove these scriptures false because it is truly frightening, if you think about it, to conceive that we in the West, our Western culture which prides itself on its magnificence, its worldly materialism and glories, really stands on mistaken foundations. This is why we study meditation very deeply and practice it, so that we can verify and test these truths, to discriminate with knowledge, with insight, with intelligence.
The Nag Hammadi Scriptures
The Nag Hammadi scriptures are Coptic texts. They were discovered in 1945 by a group of Egyptian peasants in upper Egypt. They were digging for fertiliser near a boulder when they discovered a sealed jar. Thinking that they might have found gold, and overcoming the fear of unleashing a Jinn—which is a bottled spirit—they broke the jar and found the codices written in Coptic. Coptic, which was influenced by Greek, originally descended from ancient Egyptian language, the former having been superseded by Egyptian Arabic. Coptic is a form of the Egyptian language that was used, I believe, from the Roman period up until more recent times.
The Nag Hammadi scriptures are approximately 50 different gnostic texts, constituted by 13 leather-bound papyri, bound books which are not scrolls.
A lot of supposition has been spread and focused upon the origins of these texts. They were most likely buried in the second half of the 4th century CE, and while originally written in Greek during the early centuries of the Christian movement, such texts were translated into Coptic, possibly by early Christian monks. This is what scholars like Marvin Meyer and Elaine Pagels believe.
Supposedly these monks translated these texts despite the accusations in Spring of 367 by Athanasius, the archbishop of Alexandria, who was calling for believers to reject what he called heretical, “illegitimate and secret books.” Instead the texts were conserved in a jar. They were buried, and then they were miraculously found 1600 years later.
The Dead Sea Scrolls
The Dead Sea Scrolls were surrounded in mystery as well, a deep history that you can read about especially on Deadseacrolls.org.il. They were initially discovered by a treasure seeker group of Bedouins in Qumran, by a nomadic group of people near the northern end of the Dead Sea. They were excavations of various documents, papyri, which were written on goat and sheep skin scrolls. Many of these were mostly written in Hebrew, but also in Aramaic. I am going to present to you most of the contents of the Dead Sea Scrolls, so that you can have a sense of what exactly was found before we go in to a deep analysis of the Gnostic Gospels themselves.
There were biblical scriptures, all except the Book of Esther. These are the oldest existing copies of these texts, so you can imagine that this is a huge find for archaeologists. There were translations of scripture in Greek and Aramaic, which was a language commonly spoken in the Holy Land 2000 years ago.
There were תפילין tefillin, which are prayer parchment slips. If you are familiar with the Jewish tradition, when praying in a synagogue, one wears תפילין tefillin, which are phylacteries, black leather straps around one’s arm, and a black box with prayer parchment slips as you see in the word תפילין tefillin themselves, which a placed in the black box that you wear on your forehead between your eyebrows, a representation of how we have to wrap ourselves within prayer, deep devotion, especially of our mind, controlling our mind, devotion to divinity.
There are מזוזה Mezuzot, prayers that are placed on the door post of houses. Usually you find a cylindrical object that has the Hebrew letter ש Shin, representative of שדי אל חי Shaddai El Chai, the Almighty Living God within Hebrew, a sacred name. מזוזה Mezuzot are prayers written by rabbis that are placed within these מזוזה Mezuzot, which are situated on the door posts of Jewish homes.
We also have אפוקריפה Apocrypha. These are Catholic and Eastern orthodox canons, not a part of Hebrew and the Protestant Bible. This includes Ben Sira, the Book of Tobit and the Epistle of Jeremiah.
We also have calendrical texts, which are solar rather than lunar calculations, which document the festivals, the ceremonies, and the priestly courses of those communities, sometimes written in cryptic script.
There are exegetical texts, which are explicit analyses and interpretations of biblical works. If you have gone on our website you find we talk about many scriptures. We provide exegeses, which are commentary on different obscure verses within various traditions. Here in the Dead Sea Scrolls you find that they were many exegetical texts about the Bible, including פשר Pesher, relating to biblical prophecies that are applied to historical moments.
You also have historical texts, which are numerous historical events with theological and moral commentary, and there are also legal texts as well, rabbinical Halakah, which means the Jewish laws and customs of those communities relating to the Bible. If you have read the Old Testament you are probably familiar with Leviticus, and Deuteronomy especially, which outline a lot of the Jewish law, which mystical texts like the Zohar comment upon.
There are parabiblical texts retelling expansions and embelishments of biblical stories, or legal texts. There is poetical and liturgical texts: hymns and prayers that people use in synagogue, or in many ceremonies relating to biblical poetry. There is sapiential texts relating to wisdom or knowledge. It is a continuation of the wisdom tradition of Proverbs, the Book of Job, Ecclesiastes, some Psalms, Ben Sera, and the Wisdom of Solomon.
There are also sectarian texts which interest a lot of scholars, which are the unique theology, world view, and history of the Essenes, or Yahad, “the community.” There is a lot of obscurity about who the Essenes were. Their history is very hidden from materialistic science and archaeology, but this is something that we can investigate within our meditations, to go deep into learning the history of these groups, if that is our wish.
What is at Stake?
Now, the question becomes: “What is at stake by studying the Gnostic Gospels?”
Despite their novelty within the context of Christianity’s evolution in the public sense, the presence of Gnostic scriptures asks us to revise our assumptions, our convictions, our beliefs, which for many obviously can be source of discomfort. There is a lot at stake for mainstream Christianity when studying their origins and the significance of their tradition. This is why many people simply dismiss the Gnostic Gospels as heresy, as inauthentic, as satanic, but regardless or not whether they are true, their presence asks us and compels us to present an uncomfortable question:
“What do we really know? What do we know about Jesus? What do we know about ourselves and divinity?”
We are basically asked to question what it means to believe, and what it means to know. While it is difficult even to believe in a tradition today, as evidenced by the prevalence of Atheism in the West, especially North America, it is even more difficult to experience religion, simply because for the modern mind, which is conditioned by its own scepticism, such possibilities do not exist for it. It is incompatible with the materialistic dogma that has perpetuated, and conditioned our Western world view, but the reality is even if we are in a religion, we may be very materialistic, primarily because we deny that it is even possible to experience these things.
When someone says they have experienced divinity, we look at them like they are crazy, but it is sad that this is the general outlook and attitude, because all religions are teachings from individuals who experienced divinity. If you look at scriptures such as the Qur’an, there are really many Surahs that simply are of the Prophet Muhammad contesting with the unbelievers who reject his testimony, much like the ancient Christian prophets and masters, or the Hebrew rabbis, the enlightened ones, who constantly had to contend with very doubtful people. So there is nothing new under the Sun here.
But rather than dismiss the Gnostic Gospels, it is better to really examine the situation, rather than follow the easy, dismissive, and unscientific path of just rejecting what does not fit our world view, that which is not palatable for us. We can really come to the conclusion that there must be reasons why we do not have this knowledge. I am not talking about from a book, or from a scripture, but from experience, from verification, from meditation.
Part of why we do not know these things is due to our inherent tendencies, such as mechanically taking in information. We always like to compare data that we receive with our memories, with our knowledge. Perhaps you are listening to this lecture and comparing what I am saying with what somebody else said, or to a book you have read, or to a lecture you heard, or to a scripture you are studying. The mind can only compare thesis and antithesis, point A and point B. It can only look at the corelations between them. It can store data. It is useful for basically storing information, but when it comes to trying to experience what these scriptures entail, the mind, with its overdependence on rationalization, tends to become the obstacle, a very chatty, distracted, and disorientated mind. We tend to project our thoughts onto the reality before us, and therefore we do not really see what is new.
We also like to compartmentalize information we have heard, so that it will fit a certain box, an a priori assumption, and most people get stuck there. They do not go any further, and it is unfortunate, because there is really more to life and experience, as evidenced by the Gnostic Gospels, than is merely assumed, or lived, or believed. Rather than see a phenomenon for what it is, we tend to just merely interact with our concepts, and we can say that this is really a profound state of sleep, spiritually speaking, unconsciousness, not really knowing ourselves, not really knowing our full potential or what we could do.
The reason why this happens is that there is comfort within structures. There is complacency within belief systems. They provide us with a sense of order. They give us cohesion when we approach a world that is really afflicted, and afflictive, with a society that is really backwards, upside down. You just simply have to look at the news to see what is happening, even in the Middle East right now, or in different cities. It is distressful, and the truth is that if you look at the conflict going on in Israel right now, you find that people have their firm convictions and beliefs why the enemy is wrong.
Beliefs do not change anybody. Our religion, our attitudes, our beliefs do not really affect a lasting, profound, and deep spiritual realization. If you do not believe me, you can simply examine your own life. We can think and feel one day that something is true, and yet that changes. Our ideas change. Our political parties change. Our religions change, and yet we continue to suffer. People change religion and political parties, ideas, like changing clothes. These tend to be very superficial, and worn like regalia, or a costume, in order to fit in with a specific group. But unfortunately that does not really penetrate the depth of the consciousness, of really altering the fundamental trajectory of our life, of examining what behaviors we enact that really produce problems for ourselves and for others, and learning to change them. We can change our political affiliations and ideologies, and yet we can continue to be unhappy, to be burdened with problems, with pain.
Therefore if these are impermanent, the question become: what is not? What is permanent? What is real? Is it not facts born from experience the most real thing that we can come close to, that we can approximate, that we can agree upon? But unfortunately when it comes to spirituality, we have many assumptions and vague notions about what spirit, what divinity, what Christ is, because if people’s basic terminologies and definitions completely differ from one another, then it is not factual. It is a belief. It is not based in evidence. It is not the raw experience of a thing.
So this is why knowledge, when it is divorced from practice, is really useless. Studying and accumulating information in the intellect, but not deeply changing our daily states, is a waste of time. We can use scriptures, and these teachings, and the Gnostic Gospels to inform the basis of an ethical lifestyle, but without the effort and the will to work, it will not get us anywhere, unfortunately. If our knowledge does not rectify our suffering, then it is necessary to revise our method. What is the common saying? It’s the definition of madness is to keep repeating the same thing expecting a different result. This is why Gnosis exists.
But traditionally this knowledge has been so revolutionary that it had to go underground, because most people cannot accept it. Whether you are new, or have studied these teachings for some time, you can simply go on the internet to realize this fact, how many people do not get it, but that is ok. People are at their level. They have their beliefs and we respect them. As for our personal life, we work with what is effective, and try to provide clarity for those who need it, who want it.
Some people merely hear this knowledge, about this type of instruction, and then they dismiss it because it does not fit preconceptions, and there is some truth to that. It is a natural sentiment to not want to feel challenged in one’s beliefs, our identity. We feel offended when someone criticizes perhaps even our taste in music, or our religion. It is a natural reaction or instinct, but if we want to go deeper in our understanding of these principles, it is important to question that reaction. This is why this wisdom traditionally was only given to people or candidates who proved their willingness, their maturity.
To understand who the Gnostics were really requires initiation, meaning, entering the discipline, into the tradition that they practice, which has to do with our inner experiences, by practicing meditation, by verifying these truths within oneself. Now contrary to popular assumption, this tradition has indeed thrived throughout many centuries in very different ways―sometimes subversive, always hidden, but always adapting to the social, the cultural, the religious climate of different periods in history. There have been many figures throughout history who have known and practiced Gnosticism, yet many of them never announced their allegiance, because it was risky.
We now live in an era of information, as I said, that is unprecedented. We have access to knowledge that was veiled for millennia. However, since there is so much confusion surrounding it, humanity has been granted access to this knowledge so that they can gain clarity, orientation. This is the purpose of the Gnostic Gospels and the Gnostic teachings.
These are the teachings of a mystery school, but as I mentioned, what is a mystery school?
Some people only like to think that they are groups far removed from the past, but the truth is that they are a living entity that sustain, emerge, and last in accordance with the work of the individual practitioners who belong to those groups. So there are physical groups as I said, but more importantly, the Gnostic Church is within the superior, internal worlds, which we access when we physically go to sleep. We enter deep meditation and we awaken in those states. This is not a theory. It is not a belief. Personally for me, this is not what I believe. This is something I practice, and so I invite you to study and enter that discipline yourself.
So as we said, scholars often have not been initiated into gnosis, specifically the practices that allow aspirants to really acquire this knowledge for themselves. What we are providing here is verifiable through experience, through study and practice. It is not a belief. If some people wish to make Gnosticism into a another belief system, that is ok. That is their path. They can do that, but that is personally not why we at this school are providing these lectures. That is not a reflection of the reality and purpose of this teaching. We can only really understand this through study, and looking at some of the historical trends, but more importantly living this esoteric knowledge.
Esoteric and Public Christianity
But in order to kind of emphasize and provide a distinction between the different forms of Christianity that emerged, I am going to relay to you some quotes from Dion Fortune who wrote in her book The Training and Work of an Initiate about some of the history of the early Gnostic Christians, because her analysis is very eloquent and very deep.
She emphasizes that there is a great tendency in humanity. People want to adhere to an outer religious form without really understanding its inherent mysteries. So there has always been a division between two spheres―outward religious forms and inner mystical meaning. This is a binary that has been studied and documented by many scholars, some very renowned individuals like Gershom Scholem, who was a German Israeli philosopher. He made Kabbalah very popular for academics, some valuable history that one can learn, but obviously one has to discriminate what the scholars assume, but also what we have known from experience, because they are different. These domains constitute the esoteric and public religious forms―the secret meaning of a tradition and its outward symbols.
So classes of people have developed in relation to this binary, one which is made up of dogma and the other from direct experience. In other words, one group has been initiated into these mysteries, and the majority merely adhere to a structure, a code, a ritual system, a belief system without verification. I will read for you her quote at length:
There naturally sprang up a keen rivalry between the two types of Christians; those who had accepted the teaching of Our Lord without any previous Mystery-training depended entirely upon spiritual intuition and good works; those who were already accustomed to the methods of the Mysteries sought to express the Christian truths in the language of the esoteric philosophy of their day. The first chapter of the Gospel according to John is an excellent example of the process whereby men already highly trained in mystical knowledge correlated the new teaching with that which was already familiar to them. In this Gospel we see the influence of the Greek Schools of initiation, but in the Apocalypse we see the influence of Qabalistic thought.
For those who are not familiar, Kabbalah constitutes the mystical teachings of esoteric Judaism, which can inform our understanding of Gnostic Christianity, its inception, its meaning. This is because Christianity has Jewish roots. Jesus was a rabbi. He was an Essene, as we are going to examine in later quotes. Therefore, if we want to understand the Gnostics, the esoteric Christian tradition, we need to know the esoteric Jewish tradition from which it sprung, without exception.
Likewise, Dion Fortune also emphasised something very interesting, that Gnostic Christianity was formed by initiates from different esoteric groups. These are people who already possessed knowledge. They had spiritual development. Therefore they recognized within the newly emerging esoteric Christian traditions their inherent mysteries. These were encoded, these were conveyed, and they were taught within the new religious movement.
As is the tendency of modern humanity, many new adherents to Christianity did not want to engage with the difficult task of learning Kabbalah: the Jewish mystical science which informs esoteric Christianity. The study of Kabbalah consists of the archetypal nature of the Hebrew letters, their symbology, what they represent, divine numerology, and many intuitive symbols. Instead, certain followers of public Christianity either ignored or they removed such roots. They wanted to make their tradition more acceptable, and as a result, they sterilized Christianity. I will read for you Dion Fortune again:
In the struggle between the two types of Christians, the initiates and the non-initiates, the latter eventually gained the day, and forthwith the order for persecution and abolition went forth against the Mysteries of Jesus. The orthodox element then gradually developed, as was inevitable, something of a Mystery System of their own in the sacraments, which are ritual magic pure and simple, as is agreed even by such an authority as Evelyn Underhill.
Christianity, as with all religions, is composed and conveyed through the language of symbols, abstractions within philosophy, within allegory, within archetypes. If you do not believe me, look at the verses of the Bible, in the New Testament, where Jesus says he speaks in parables for those who understand, for those who are initiated. Modern Christians interpret their scriptures literally, and they perform and observe rituals without really comprehending the deeper reality, the significance, what their teachings and rituals communicate in a spiritual level, on a psychological level, more importantly.
For Gnostics, rituals are really powerful. They are a medium for developing and awakening our full potential. We have ceremonies that we practice, which encode, empower, and which represent the path itself, within its mystical allegory.
Now what some have denominated magic is the capacity of the consciousness to exert divine influence upon humanity. This term magic is often denigrated today. People do not understand its original roots. It comes from the Indo-European root word mag or magush, meaning “priest.” A real magician is a priest, and there are also in the Gnostic Church priestesses, because men are not the only source of authority, of spiritual guidance, of wisdom. In fact, a real priest needs his priestess in order to be a priest. This has to do with the Gnostic Mysteries of Chastity, which is the next lecture in this course.
Now real magic is learning how to influence others through divinity for a positive purpose, to elevate the soul of others. Through training of spiritual practices, we can develop this capacity. We can develop the intuitive capacity for comprehending scripture, and we can also strengthen our ability to express a superior way of being―real compassion―not the hallmark cards of holidays, gifts, and sentimentalism, but loving so much that we even forgive our worst enemies, like Jesus on the cross. We can really express states of compassion and love, which are facilitated through Gnostic ritual, ceremonies and practices that we have in our tradition.
But unfortunately for many Christians, their tradition has been sterilized, as I said. They are really infertile. Many Christians like to say that they are born again, but really if you look at their teaching, which is divorced from its Jewish roots, there is really is not much fertility there, especially in relation to sexual aspects of this knowledge, which are studied in relation to Alchemy, as we are going to explain.
Their traditions no longer convey effective methods for bridging the divine and the personal worlds. Many who find intellectual, emotional, or practical deficiencies in Christianity flee to other religions. They run away, and this is really sad, because there is something within Christian dispensation for Westerners which is valuable, but when that teaching no longer reflects its original patrimony, its essence, then people become disillusioned. They leave.
Now rather than abandon one’s Christian heritage if one grew up Christian, one can learn to appreciate it deeply. One can find sustenance through the rich intellectual and spiritual sciences of Kabbalah and Alchemy which inform its heart.
As Dion Fortune states:
Consequently there is an unbridged gulf in our modern Christianity between the mysticism of its deep spiritual truths and the symbolic and magical ceremonial of its ritual. This gulf it is the task of the modern Mystery Schools to bridge. These, however, have in many cases re-illumined their fires at an Eastern altar, so that the bridge they build does not lead to the Christian contacts of the West. Those of their followers who seek initiation, instead of having revealed to them the deeper issues of their own faith, have to change their religion and follow other Masters.
The Tree of Life: Christian Kabbalah
Kabbalah is one of the primary codes in which the Gnostic Gospels were written, represented in the Book of Genesis and the Gnostic Gospels as the Tree of Life in Eden.
It is a map of our internal and external universe. It is the structure of consciousness within every dimension. This knowledge flourished secretly within Jewish mystical circles, but Judaism is not its sole patrimony. Each spiritual tradition contains the same elements. Some of these predominate within a specific culture, within a given time or place or language. The Jewish tradition delved very deeply within the Kabbalistic teachings, just as Buddhism flourished with its analytical insights into meditation. However this does not mean that Buddhism is devoid of Kabbalah, or Kabbalah is devoid of meditation. Each tradition encompasses the other. They embody the same principles, much in the same way as water changes shape within different cups. The water is the same.
Christianity has its roots in Judaism, but since its roots were removed from it, Christianity has lost its soil.
Kabbalah is the practical tool for navigating spiritual experience. It is a way to understand our reality and our relationship with divinity.
Dion Fortune states in her book The Mystical Qabalah:
It [the Tree of Life] is a glyph, that is to say a composite symbol, which is intended to represent the cosmos in its entirety and the soul of man as related thereto; and the more we study it, the more we see that it is an amazingly adequate representation; we use it as the engineer or the mathematician uses his sliding-rule, to scan and calculate the intricacies of existence, visible and invisible, in external nature or the hidden depth of the soul. […]
This map depicts ten spheres. These are known as סְפִירוֹת sephiroth in Hebrew, “emanations,” which emerge from the transcendent divinity, or as the Gnostics denominate, Agnostos Theos: the Unknowable God, from the most rarefied states of being to the most condensed and conditioned, material states.
The Gnostics refer to the origin of spiritual life and light as Barbelo, from the Aramaic language. Bar means “son,” while Bel signifies “sun.” Christ, represented by Jesus of Nazareth, the son of the solar divinity, is therefore the embodiment of heavenly light, of compassion, which permeates all the spheres, the eternal realms, the סְפִירוֹת sephiroth or the aeons, and the later which can also signify any inhabitant of such dimensions, those who have mastered those realms.
Barbelo can also be referenced as the Solar Absolute: the אין סוף אור Ain Soph Aur above this Tree of Life, which means the Limitless Light, the Uncreated, the Unmanifested potentiality to be. It is the source and origin of all existing, manifested things, represented by these ten סְפִירוֹת sephiroth, or spheres, these heavens.
All of this emerges because of the essential and eternal compassion of Christ, which is that light, the אין סוף אור Ain Soph Aur, Barbelo. Gnostics have referenced the Absolute, above this diagram, as Pronoia: the “forethought of God,” which is a pure, cosmic abstraction which is not yet materialized. It is not yet in manifestation. The Jewish mystics have referred to the unmanifested divine as אאלהים Aelohim, and the creator demiurge as אלהים Elohim. This duality between the unmanifested cosmic potential and an intelligent but often denigrated creative host or demiurge, is very often depicted in the Gnostic Gospels.
Each sphere relates to different dimensions of nature, in accordance with the densities and the materiality of them. The most subtle and rarefied are at the top, and the most dense are below, as you can see with מלכות Malkuth in Hebrew, the “kingdom,” the physical world, our physical body. Above that we have different realms and spheres which are more subtle to perceive, but are able to be verified through meditation. I will not go through the meaning of all of these סְפִירוֹת sephiroth, because that will be the purpose of this course. We will be unpacking Gnostic scripture in relation with Kabbalah and Alchemy.
So we can access these higher realms when the physical body is asleep, when we experience dreams. But rather than enter such states with a fragmentary awareness or just complete unconsciousness, the Gnostics learn to enter those realms with lucidity, with full awareness, with complete intentionality, with development, so that we can take advantage of those states, of such perceptions, in order to receive divine wisdom. We can learn to speak with the divine, including all of the masters of these celestial realms, the aeons, the divine hierarchies, who can grant us the capacity for transcendence, or make us pay what we owe before the archons, the hierarchs of the Law, which in eastern traditions are known as the Lords of Karma. They work with the creative demiurge, the host of gods and goddesses that manage and manifest all of the laws of nature, whether for good or for ill.
Just as there are physical and societal laws, divinity also enforces superior laws that we have to learn to comprehend and follow if what we want is to achieve liberation, like Sophia in the Gnostic myth ascending up thirteen repentances, towards the source, which is the אין Ain, the Nothingness in Hebrew. Notice that you have ten spheres, and you have three realms above that, so that makes a total of thirteen―the thirteen repentances of Pistis Sophia if you have read The Gnostic Bible.
So all of that relates to the Tree of Life. It is very deep, very important, and all of it is mapped. To really become skilled meditators, we use this graphic to help us understand our experiences and to know what to do in our path.
Alchemy: The Tree of Knowledge
Kabbalah has its twin sister. This is Alchemy. It is the other tree of the Garden of Eden.
The Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge―Kabbalah, and Alchemy―are not specific, literal trees in Mesopotamia. These are symbols. In scripture, geography has often served as a code for deeper spiritual realities, in order to escape detection, persecution, and death, as we saw with the Spanish Inquisition.
Alchemy is a rich tradition that encodes a lot of knowledge, but it is not a literal science of transforming lead in to gold. It is a symbol of how we use energy, how we transform the densities of our suffering personality into the lightness and gold of a liberated Essence, a pure consciousness.
There are some interesting correlations between the Tree of Life and the Nag Hammadi scriptures, which we are going to examine some of the etymologies here. The term nag or naga reminds us of a serpent, from the Sanskrit नाग Naga, which in Buddhism are renown as elemental beings of nature who live within and empower nature itself. They are depicted as having a lower body of a snake and a humanoid torso. They often dwell in bodies of water and lakes, rivers especially.
My wife, who before coming to Chicago, she was often praying to the Nagas by the rivers where she lived, in order to receive internal assistance. They have a very concrete reality. They are very beautiful souls that can help us.
But importantly for us in this lecture, we are talking about the serpentine form of these elemental creatures, and the serpent is an ancient symbol. They can refer to our creative energy, which has the power to enliven our spirituality or to damn it, to destroy it. We find this evident in the duality of the tempting serpent, and the serpent of bronze that healed the Israelites in the wilderness.
Nag spelt backwards is גן Gan, ג Gimel- נ Nun, which is a garden. Such a garden of Eden, the Hebrew term for bliss, is not a literal place. It is a psychological and spiritual state of being.
حمادي Hammadi in Arabic means: “praiseworthy,” “one who praises God,” with roots in أحمد ahmad orمحمد Muhammad, the “praised, commendable, laudable.” Therefore, the Nag Hammadi scriptures are the esoteric knowledge of the serpent, of “the praiseworthy serpent,” the bronze serpent of Moses that can heal the soul. These are symbols. That energy, which is very subtle and terrifying for many, can be trained and elevated within our physiology in order to empower our consciousness. Rather than exclusively represent an evil tendency to be shunned, which is done by many superstitious people, the serpentine creative energies, when harnessed and controlled with love, provides happiness and a genuine awakening.
What matters is that we utilize, symbolically, the metals of bronze. This is an amalgamation of copper and tin. Copper is feminine and tin is masculine, Venus and Jupiter when corresponding astrologically to those planets related to those metals. This demonstrates how a woman and a man within the Edenic bliss of sexual union, within a marriage, can overcome temptation. They can perform actions, sexual behaviors, that are praiseworthy before God.
This is the original meaning of Adam and Eve in the garden. A man and a woman naked in a garden before God―obviously this is very sexual. But it is emphasizing that there are two paths that open up for the primordial couple, the archetypical man and woman. This is science has been designated at sexual alchemy, known as sexual magic within our tradition, where a couple, who are married, can utilize their union to achieve genuine religion. They can achieve return, reunion with divinity.
Water into Wine
Now Gnosticism is a specific doctrine of the initiates, primarily Kabbalah and Alchemy as I stated. All religions contain the science of these two trees, although they are in code. These sciences are the absolute synthesis of religion. When you really reduce a religion to its core, you arrive at a sexual trope. Everything else is extemporaneous.
This spiritual knowledge is represented by water, and knowledge (water) is fluidic. It flows like a river, and often times in history, especially in the past ages, this esoteric, secret Christianity was often flowing like a ripple, often still, unperturbed, like in a reservoir underground. But now this knowledge is being given openly like a torrent, very fierce, which we find in writings by the author Samael Aun Weor.
He wrote about Gnosticism since the 1950’s and was really the first to explicitly discuss teachings about early Christianity, about Buddhism, about all religions, that were previously prohibited to discuss. His most prevalent thesis is that all religions have a sexual basis, a sexual essence, which is the most expedient method for intense spiritual transformation. It is found precisely in the relationship between husband and wife. This is known as sexual alchemy, how a martial union grounded in divine love, with an ethical fulfilment, within the highest spiritual ideals, within discipline, within purity, within compassion for suffering, this results in the creation of an angel, a master, a prophet.
Some have qualified Samael Aun Weor’s work as neo-Gnostic, in that his writings are an innovation, yet this is a pleonasm. His teachings regarding the essential practices of the Gnostics are not new. They have been presented throughout all religions without exception. To recognize this fact merely takes study, but unfortunately people do not want to. It is even more evident when you really practice and experience this science for yourself, and then, really, a lot of clarity emerges in relation to abstract symbols and religious allegories, which might seem very superficial and dumb in a literal sense, but really is the spirit of the letter that vivifies.
Some people reject Samael Aun Weor because his work is not just isolated to the first Christians, but is extensive to all religions. Many people do not except the universal religion at the heart of all faiths, which Samael Aun Weor denominated as Gnosis. It is the experience and knowledge of divine truths from witnessing for oneself. He explains the following in his lecture “The Gnostic Institutions”:
There is Gnosis in the Buddhist doctrine, in the Tantric Buddhism from Tibet, in the Zen Buddhism from Japan, in the Chan Buddhism of China, in Sufism, in the Whirling Dervishes, in the Egyptian, Persian, Chaldean, Pythagorean, Greek, Aztec, Mayan, Inca, etc., wisdom. If we carefully study the Christian Gospels, we will find in them Pythagorean mathematics, the Chaldean and Babylonian parable, and the formidable Buddhist moral. ―Samael Aun Weor, “The Gnostic Institutions”
The highest form of spiritual knowledge is Alchemy. This was conserved in secret. This knowledge was kept hidden, was maintained secretly amongst the early Christian groups, because it is volatile. It is powerful. It is controversial. It is a practice that requires the renunciation of our deepest, egotistical, and sexual drives, transforming sexual instinct into something divine, into something pure, into something sacred, creative, divine. We now have the opportunity to explain and learn knowledge that was reserved for the most developed and earnest of practitioners.
This knowledge was represented in the Bible in symbols, in relation to Alchemy. Was not Christ’s first miracle, in transforming water into wine, at a marriage? Christ taught sexual alchemy―to be born again. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh.” Everybody knows this. But the same sexual act, but transformed, elevated, “that which born of the spirit,” through that transformed act, “is spirit.” This is how common intercourse can become spiritual, how lust, which is contrary to love, is transmuted and transformed into divine compassion, conscious love, our soul. This is the basis of Gnosticism in all religions.
Some people might ask, “How is it that Gnosis is in all religions, yet should not be adulterated?” We can say that the sexual teachings constitute the synthesis of all religions. The religious forms have died, but if we have the synthesis, the key, we can unlock these traditions and give them vibrancy, give them life. Religious authorities have expunged this synthesis as best it could, not knowing the full import of certain religious symbols that were retained within the Bible, within scripture. They passed censorship, especially in books like the Book of Revelations, which is so Kabbalistic and symbolic that the censors just did not get it. But because they did not want to remove the teachings of the Lord, they kept it in the Bible even though it is very difficult and impossible to understand without this key. Therefore to approach traditions without this basis is mistaken.
Samael Aun Weor continues:
The system of teaching which was adopted by Jesus was the system of the Essenes. Certainly, the Essenes were one hundred percent Gnostic.
So Gnosis is within all religious forms, but not all forms have retained their essence. All religions have degenerated, unfortunately. Therefore it can be difficult to discern their original teachings if we lack an education in this studies, and especially with practical training in its methods.
So despite the fact that Gnosticism is flourishing again, there have been many disagreements among and about Gnostic groups since the times of Jesus, including today in Samael Aun Weor’s movement. For example, the Nazarenes were, according to Blavatsky:
The same as the St. John Christians; called the Mendaeans or Sabeans. They designate Christ “a false Messiah” and only recognize John the Baptist, whom they call the “great Nazar.” ―H.P. Blavatsky
You also find the following from The Three Mountains by Samael Aun Weor:
The Nazarenes were known as Baptists, Sabians, and Christians of Saint John. Their belief was that the Messiah was not the Son of God, but simply a prophet who wanted to follow John. ―Samael Aun Weor, The Three Mountains
And also from the lecture “Alchemical Symbolism of the Nativity of Christ”:
In those days, there were disputes among the Baptists, the Essenes, and others. ―Samael Aun Weor, Alchemical Symbolism of the Nativity of Christ
There is great diversity even today in so called Gnostic groups, whether from Samael Aun Weor or not. Many of them fight with each other. They denominate the others as heretics, much like Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Athanasius, and other heresiologists towards Christians whose doctrinal purity they questioned. For example, Irenaeus and Hippolytus were heresy hunters. They wrote against the Gnostics, yet what is interesting is that Samael Aun Weor refers to them as Gnostics. This can get confusing, right? But rather than becoming confused by this apparent or glaring discrepancy, or merely reject Samael Aun Weor, it would be better to really re-evaluate our definitions, our lexicon, our knowledge about what a Gnostic is.
Scholars had even argued whether to really call the Nag Hammadi scriptures Gnostic, since they do not reflect one ideology or group, but different Gnosticisms or movements. The traditions from which ancient Gnostic texts emerged were highly varied and unfamiliar to modern scholars, because certain bishops really sought to dismiss and erase any viewpoint that conflicted with their own.
Although the term Gnosticism was appropriated to refer to heretically-designated sects, the term gnosis is different for others. Whether elements of teachings or truths were throughout different schools, it really is disingenuous to assume that there is a homogeneous world view to a constellation of very nuanced groups and systems. For example, many believed Gnostics were dualists, who thought the world was created by an evil power, with a very fatalistic view of its god or demiurge. However, this philosophy is only a small range of knowledge within the spectrum of Gnosis, and it does not really constitute the entirety of its teachings.
This is because every religion possesses gnosis, direct personal testimony of divine reality. Even within any given religion there is a tremendous range of knowledge, a tremendous range of practice, let alone varying messengers who all founded different schools. This had occurred even with early Christianity, which was composed of various doctrines or Christianities (plural), many of whom were competing with one another, like basically all religions today, and especially Samael Aun Weor’s Gnostic movement. Many groups are competing with one another.
Now this does not mean that we should condemn, that we should shun, that we should ignore those with whom we disagree. But we should not go to the other extreme as well. We should not elevate Gnostic initiates on a pedestal, on a palanquin, on a throne where we can admire those who are really riddled with flaws. Likewise, we should not reject these people, these individuals, because they still were vehicles, however imperfect, of divine teachings.
This might mean disassociating with certain schools that are not maintaining ethical discipline, and finding a Gnostic institution that resonates with us. But sadly, some potential students perceive the hypocrisy of certain groups and thereafter they leave. They often associate Samael Aun Weor with the failures of his students. This has happened with every religion, without exception, to the point that now many individuals have traumas that are associated with the prophets. We can say that this is really a tremendous crime against the soul. Therefore, if we are instructors or missionaries providing guidance to others, we have a tremendous responsibility to maintain in our body, in our speech, in our mind.
Also there is the need to remove the psychological tendency to think that only one group is real or authentic and that the rest are wrong, as if instructors, or people, as if aspirants are not complicated, as if we are not struggling, as if we are not afflicted despite our best intentions, our most noble ideals. Until we overcome our own karma, our delusions, our assumptions, our egotism, our beliefs, even to a minor degree, we cannot even begin to understand or appreciate reality. Since we have ego, we are all susceptible to liability. We make misinterpretations. We make mistakes, no matter how authentic our teachers may be, because we are fascinated by desires, and we cannot see the truth in that way.
So there is value to be taken from many Gnostics instructors and scriptures, even though there are going to be different nuanced interpretations, often open disagreements between them. We have to remove the fanaticism that dictates, within a rigid, false dichotomy, that only one organization has it right and the rest are condemned.
Now we have to avoid extremes. Neither blind adherence to a dogma, nor its vehement rejection, means that we have arrived at wisdom. In fact, it is the opposite. If we are not examining our position, if we are not scientifically investigating these things through personal inquiry, then we are not making any ground. There is a saying amongst the Sufis that was documented in Al-Qushayri’s Al-Risalah: The Principles of Sufism, that when the Sufis disagree with one another, the harmony and the unity of the group is maintained, since each believer helps the other. As mentioned in the Hadith:
A believer to another believer is like two hands. One washes the other, correcting each other. ―Hadith
However, when the Sufis all agree, then there is a problem. Often this occurs in the form of a dogmatic conformity. So a balance has to be reached. You have to follow your heart, your intuition. What matters is that you rely on your conscious experiences, your knowledge, your meditations to discern and guide you.
Initiation is deeply personal. It is not found in a group. It is found within yourself. It is necessary to study from proven and pure sources, but for that, you need to awaken, to personally verify their efficacy, whether or not they are expedient or effective, whether or not they are worthy. Study from those masters who are proven, the founders of different religions. We have to be very careful with what we ingest, spiritually speaking.
Now even if we tell you that certain scriptures are pure or not, only you can really evaluate and understand these truths from experience. As Samael Aun Weor rightly indicated:
The Gnostic must not be a fanatic. We must study everything in order to reject the useless and accept the useful. Gnosis is not against any religion, school, order, or sect. We have fought for the moral purification of many religions, schools, orders and sects. We have never been against any religion, school, or sect. We know that humanity is divided into groups and that each group needs its own system of particular instruction. All religions, schools, orders, and sects are precious pearls that are strung on the golden thread of divinity. ―Samael Aun Weor, The Yellow Book: "Order and Esoteric Discipline"
We will conclude with a reference to the book The Major Mysteries, which we invite you to study if you wish to learn more about esoteric Christianity, the path of initiation, and a foundation for approaching the Gnostic Gospels. We conclude with this statement by Samael Aun Weor:
If the Lord had not been crucified, the destiny of the Western world would have been another. We would now have sublime enlightened rabbis everywhere, preaching Christic esotericism. The union of Christic esotericism, secret Jewish Kabbalah, and holy alchemy would have completely illuminated and transformed the entire world. Yes, the mysteries of Levi would have shone with the light of Christ. Gnosis (Da’ath) would have magnificently shone everywhere. ―Samael Aun Weor, The Major Mysteries
If you have any questions, I invite you to ask them.
Questions and Answers
Question: Do you hold events on specific sexual transmutation practices? I have been practicing for several years and I am looking to go deeper. Thank you!
Instructor: If you go on to Glorian.org there is a course called the Distance Learning Course, which if you have not registered with that, you should. We have practices and exercises that we do as a group online right now due to the pandemic, but also for the students that are long distance, where you can participate in different sexual transmutation practices. There was recently one given by my wife for Ham-Sah Pranayama. So you could study that exercise that was uploaded to our website under Guided Practices specifically. But yes, we do have online practices that we do where you can participate and ask questions of instructors in case you want to go deeper into the exercises themselves.
Question: Can you expound on the meaning of the demiurge and the archons?
Instructor: I was hoping someone would ask that. I have intended to really talk about this topic in future lectures especially, but I can relate to you some basic understandings of the demiurge and the archons.
Now the term demiurge is from the Greek language. It means “worker” or “craftsman.” The demiurgos or “the artificer” is an architect who supposedly, in accordance with Gnostic Gospels, built the universe. Even the Freemasons derive the meaning of “Supreme Architect” from this word. Plato even talked about it in the Timaeus, about the creator God.
The Gnostic Gospels speak very negatively about the demiurge, and this has produced some confusion for people, because in our tradition we talk very highly about the demiurge.
Now in order to explain how our Gnostic tradition refers to the demiurge, or creative architect of the universe, in contradistinction with the transcendent unmanifested deity as we explained, I will relate to you some excerpts from Samael Aun Weor in his writings. This is from The Three Mountains:
Esotericism admits the existence of a Logos, or a collective Creator of the universe, a Demiurge architect. It is unquestionable that such a Demiurge is not a personal deity as many mistakenly suppose, but rather a host of Dhyan Chohans, Angels, Archangels, and other forces. ―Samael Aun Weor, The Three Mountains
He also states in The Gnostic Bible: The Pistis Sophia Unveiled:
It is impossible to symbolize or allegorize the Unknowable One (or in Gnostic terms, Agnostos Theos, the Unmanifested or the Absolute within Kabbalah, the Ain, Ain Soph, and Ain Soph Aur). Nevertheless, the Manifested One, the Knowable Elohim, can be allegorized or symbolized. The Manifested Elohim is constituted by the Demiurge Creator of the Universe. [...] The great invisible Forefather is Aelohim, the Unknowable Divinity. The great Triple-Powered God is the Demiurge Creator of the Universe: Multiple Perfect Unity. The Creator Logos is the Holy Triamatzikamno. The Verb, the Great Word. The three spaces of the First Mystery are the regions of the Demiurge Creator. ―Samael Aun Weor, The Pistis Sophia Unveiled
So if you studied the Kabbalah, you know that the creator is precisely the top three סְפִירוֹת sephiroth of the Tree of Life: כֶּ֫תֶר Kether, חָכְמָה Chokmah, בִּינָה Binah―Crown, Wisdom, and Intelligence. These are the Trinity of Christianity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, which are not people, but forces within divinity. All of the masters and angels who have perfected themselves are the demiurge. They created the universes, the solar systems, the planets, the stars, the galaxies, the infinites. Those are divine beings who are perfect. They are beyond good and evil. They are a perfect, multiple unity. They are individual masters who are in charge of governing the mechanical laws of nature.
Now what confuses people when Samael Aun Weor mentions this is that the Gnostic Gospels, such as the Nag Hammadi or the Dead Sea Scrolls, refer to the demiurge as a tyrant God, as negative, as oppressive, and this is really interesting. It reveals something very nuanced that we have to examine in ourselves.
People, in truth, do not like divinity. In fact, we all like to blame God to some degree. Our egos and our defects, and our vices and errors, do not want to take responsibility for their culpability, for their errors, and so we like to externalize. There are many people―I am sure from our own experience, whom we know, whether in social circles―who blame God for everything, or blame divinity. There are people in the Gnostic movement who blame Archangel Sakaki for the fall of humanity, and many other things. People blame God for everything, for the state of the world, for humanity’s failure, for its degeneration, without willing to accept one’s own responsibility for our own situation. We have our own agency. Yes, there are other influences in nature which are detrimental, that are mechanical, that are oppressive, but at the same time, those can only influence us so long as we subject to them.
Now the Elohim or the demiurge, the gods, the divine, the angels, the masters, the prophets, they are beyond good and evil. They are beyond the mechanical forces of nature, which are represented by the lower סְפִירוֹת sephiroth on the Tree of Life, and because we are subjected to those laws, such as evolution and devolution, mechanical ways of being, we suffer. We are oppressed. Now the demiurge, or the creative host of the Elohim, they manage those forces, whether for good or for evil. They are beyond good and evil, so to speak. Now what is interesting is that the demiurge, the creative host of Elohim, manage everything. Even the hell realms are governed by the angels and the gods. So it is interesting that the Gnostic Gospels, they blame the demiurge for the fall of humanity, and there is some credence to that, but in the sense that they are only mangers of forces that we choose to fulfil in ourselves. So we are fully responsible for our own errors. We cannot blame anyone else, but the tendency of people in spiritual circles is to blame divinity.
This is why the Gnostic Gospels sometimes depict the demiurge as a very negative and oppressive figure. As someone mentioned in the chat box, it is like a judge. But it is true that as we are judged by the divine, he also teaches, trains, and tests us, so that we can grow spiritually.
Now the archons is a different term. It comes from archeus, the Law (arcanum), laws (plural: arcana), the word like archangel have this prefix which relate to the rulers, the different habitants, judges, or lords of the different aeons: the different סְפִירוֹת sephiroth of the Tree of Life. In our tradition, we refer to them as the Lords of Karma. Now in the myths of the Gnostics scriptures such as the Pistis Sophia, which Samael Aun Weor commented upon, explains the path of the soul ascending back to the origin, to the Absolute, to the divine, and in that process one has to answer and repent before the different archons, who are the different Lords of Karma who basically help us to be accountable for our deeds.
So for many people, it is a very painful situation spiritually when you want to enter the higher realms of divinity but you are obstructed by the Law, which is cause and effect. We reap what we sow, and as we repent and change, we learn to transform our situation and receive the blessings of those different beings. So they are kind of like the guards of the different gates, or the different spheres of this diagram of the Kabbalah.
Archons are the Lords of Karma, but there is also a dual significance to this too, which we have to be very careful about. Now, there are some beings that call themselves archons, which are not divine. Instead of being heavenly divinities, cosmic hierarchs, angels or gods within the pure sense, they are beings who are hierarchs of the hell realms and infernal states. We call them, in our studies, black magicians, and personally I have even met many beings like that who refer to themselves are archons.
So that term can be dual. When you read the Gnostic scriptures, it is very important to be very flexible and intuitive, because different gnostic authors, or originators of those scriptures wrote in accordance within a specific context, and many layers and dimensions of meaning, so it is very deep.
One of the essential themes of Gnostic scriptures is that there is a duality. There is the unmanifested divinity and the manifested divinity, and that the reason why we are in this big mess is because we are struggling to reconcile the manifested with the unmanifested. So if you want to learn more about some of the philosophical nuances of that teaching, which of course will take a very long time because it is very profound and difficult, study The Gnostic Bible: The Pistis Sophia Unveiled, which was commented upon by Samael Aun Weor. We have that available at Glorian.org.
Question: Are the archons considered evil or just misunderstood by our limited human understanding?
Instructor: Again, it is both. We often confuse our helper with our enemy. When life gives us difficult situations or circumstances, karma, challenging ordeals, the most instinctual reaction is to complain and to resist it, even though we are just receiving a situation or ordeal to help us, often given to us by the Lords of Karma, the archons, the heavenly beings. But because they are difficult situations which are meant to test us, to help us grow, we should learn to appreciate karma and not to blaspheme, because if we complain, suffer, and blame others, we exacerbate the issue. The karma is deepened instead of being rectified. So the archons in that sense are really divine beings, but also we misunderstand them, those heavenly angels, because of our conditioned state. We do not recognize that they are helping us.
But there are also beings that call themselves archons but they are really of the lower realms, the inverted Tree of Life of the Kabbalah. We are going to go very deeply within these nuances with different scriptures in this course, but I invite you to study again the works of Samal Aun Weor, especially The Gnostic Bible.
One other point to make in relation to this duality, we have to remember that nature is dual. There is good and evil in nature: “Eat or be eaten.” “Conquer or be conquered.” There is an oppressor and opportunity. If you study the opera The Magic Flute by Mozart, you find this exemplified in the Queen of the Night. She provides the flute and the magic bells for Tamino and Papageno, the heroes of the opera, in order to save the daughter of the Queen of the Night. She is representative of the forces of nature, which nourish and support us in the beginning. But if we are not comprehending and conquering those forces within ourselves, we are in danger of becoming its slave.
So I invite you to study especially that opera that eventually we are going to have on our website, as well in the course: The Secret Teachings of Opera. It deeply relates to this topic.
Thank you all for coming!
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