The Meaning of Pistis and the Science of Gnosis
AS CONTRARY TO CHRISTIAN THEOLOGICAL INTERPRETATIONS AND POLEMICS
In stating that this is the correct meaning, I mean it in the sense of standing in contrast to the attitude I often encounter when reading the writings of Christian authors and theologians, whenever mentioning the words Gnostics and Gnosticism. I will demonstrate what I mean. Bible Hub explains, that “gnṓsis (“applied-knowledge”) is only as accurate (reliable) as the relationship it derives from.” It adds, “the Gnostics boasted of their “applied knowledge” gained by their personal spiritual experiences – and it was (is) disastrous!” What is the point of adding “it was (or is) disastrous,” because the Gnostics boasted of their “applied knowledge,” or method? It would seem Christianity fights against the attempt of esotericists to prove the scientific corroborations of their most fundamental doctrines, for the theologian’s study of the notion of a “divine spark” is always butchered. As demonstrated, such a doctrine antedates the Gnostics, as I had shown concerning pre-Hesiodic mythology and poetry. Yet, there is imminently, a pre-scientific position to this concept the Christian is unable to understand. “Gnosticism” is literally, “the cult based on having special, personal knowledge” the Bible Hub tells us, yet is not Christianity, the cult based on the belief in a special demi and space god? Which shall we presume is the more ridiculous on the basis of such a short definition alone? Alas, this is the pattern I find repeatedly. “Gnṓsis (a feminine noun derived from ginṓskō, “experientially know”),” or “functional (“working”) knowledge gleaned from first-hand (personal) experience, connecting theory to application; “application-knowledge,” gained in (by) a direct relationship. A direct relationship with what exactly? The Christians, say a man-god, their various ideas of incorporeal or corporeal spiritualized Jesus; the Gnostics, an incorporeal principle, that the Christians implore with no sight themselves, as any uncertain sort of manipulative demonic forces, or they claim the Gnostic Christos is their mythical Christian version of evil Lucifer. One seems incapable of standing up to scientific scrutiny; and the other may possibly be proven, which the very definition of the words gnosis (Gr.) and jnana (Sk.) implies. The Gnostics are treated as believers in a collection of isolated beliefs alien to Christianity; but in fact, it is the dogma of Christology that is an Island onto itself, if we are to consider the esoteric nomenclature of the “Babylonian, Judaic, Persian, Egyptian and Greek metaphysics.” G.R.S Mead wrote, that “no one can thoroughly understand the New Testament who has not acquainted himself with the terminology of these early schools of initiates, the real Christians of the first centuries of our era. Many of the expressions in the New Testament now translated as ordinary commonplace words, are purely technical terms of the stupendous system of the Gnosis, which has so far baffled scholars . . .” (Lucifer Magazine, Vol. 7, 478). Many Western thinkers interested and who believed in the esoteric value of the ancient philosophical systems and schools outside of Christianity yet maintained Christianity and Jesus Christ was an advanced progression from the pagans. I fail to find this “advancement,” except the creation of a religion palatable to the masses, rather than an elite of worthy initiates. If we are to believe the words of Jesus in the New Testament, the words attributed to him itself however warns about merely giving certain knowledge to the public. Jesus is the one we are told by the Church establishments and the scripture magically lifted the need to engage in such effort and exercise of the body and mind, because being the very embodiment of knowledge and of truth (of salvation). Considering this, there is irony in Christian authors and theologians attempting to always make Gnosticism seem irrational, in contrast to their own religion. I would go so far, given my old skeptic-atheist and scientific tendencies, state, that if the central ideas of the experience of gnosis and the occult explanations are false, then all of religion is surely built on a lie and a fantasy as their position goes — every measure and weight of atoms devoted to its formation as “idea” . . . excluding perhaps certain ethical precepts, which can be true regardless of the existence of organized religion. However, I could not go so far, for I am precisely no longer an atheist, because of my attempts at understanding the experiences associated with gnosis and theurgy. I suspect truth in the basis of the Gnosis and secret doctrines, even regarding the misunderstandings about the dualism in Zoroastrianism, Gnosticism and Manicheanism. I do not exactly understand why or how certain things are possible within the limit of human experience, but have certain very specific experiences I observe; therefore, I try to understand from the works and treatises of ancient writers and proponents, uncontaminated by Christian polemic. If religion will only tell us, these are heresies; and science and physicalism, that all is merely illusions of the brain, then why not engage the body in practice, and understand directly from those who created the ideas and concepts? When honestly doing this, without bias, the negative exaggerations of the Christians are clearly contrasted with the actual fact about the nature of the ancient secret doctrines and what they tell us. I say, that these matters have not yet been solved, but ignored and skewered. It does not take significant energy to deconstruct false accusations.
Theosophists often view Jesus quite humanely; and if having lived, an initiate among Adepts that lived before and after the Christian period.
THE MEANING OF PISTIS AND GNOSIS IN NOTES TO H.P.B.’S COMMENTARY ON THE PISTIS SOPHIA
“A helpful definition of the title’s meaning has been supplied by P.A. Malpas. ‘Title: Pistis-Sophia is a combination of two Greek substantives, usually translated Faith and Wisdom. But H.P. Blavatsky plainly shows that Faith in the modern sense is quite an inadequate rendering of the term Pistis. It is better described as Intuitional Knowledge, or knowledge not yet manifest to the mere intellect, though felt by the Soul to be true. This definition leaves the way open for dogmatists to say that it means precisely what they call faith, and the genuine enquirer needs to be careful in accepting dogmatic definitions of the soul and intellect and to beware of thinking that Pistis has anything to do with “believing” things that are not otherwise known. “Faith” is too often merely another name for “self-persuasion,” which may not be, but usually is, delusion, in one of its fascinating forms. The whole book is highly instructive as to what Pistis really is. The importance of the correct understanding of the word cannot be overestimated for students of the New Testament, when it is realised that Paul was a Gnostic using the Gnostic term in its technical sense, and that however pleasing it may be to attach quite another sense to it, it did not and does not mean what it is usually taken to mean by Europeans of our own day. In the drama of Pistis-Sophia and her sufferings it is clear that her unshakeable intuition that she will be saved by her divine part is the link that enables that divine part to save her. It is the actual testimony that she is not yet finally lost, and in the end it is fully vindicated. Job, another drama of initiation, teaches the same lesson in an ancient Egyptian setting. . .’
Gnosticism was a syncretistic philosophico-religious movement which included all the manifold systems of belief prevalent in the first two centuries of the Christian era. Originating somewhat prior to Christian times, it combined various elements of Babylonian, Judaic, Persian, Egyptian and Greek metaphysics with certain teachings of dawning Christianity.
As a name, Gnosticism is derived from the Greek gnosis (γνῶσις), “knowledge,” more specifically spiritual knowledge or esoteric wisdom, a knowledge not attainable by ordinary intellectual processes, and only to be gained by mystical enlightenment or the awakening of the Buddhic elements in man. The emphasis on knowledge as the means of attaining a higher evolutionary stage, and the claim to the possession of this knowledge in ones own doctrine, are common features of the numerous groups in which the Gnostic movement historically expressed itself, even though there were only a few of these groups whose members expressly called themselves Gnostics§.”
§ Gr. gnostikos—γνωστικός Lat. gnosticus, meaning “knower,” and gnōsis, “knowledge” of spiritual realities)
“To connect the Mosaic Religion with the Mysteries is to wrest from the Church its position, and to show that the Old Testament is the result of human effort…”SAMUEL F. DUNLAP. 1860. SOD: THE MYSTERIES OF ADONAI, PAGE. III
“Moreover it is Astrolatry and Sabaean worship, pure and simple, that is to be found in the Pentateuch when it is read exoterically, and Archaic Science and Astronomy to a most wonderful degree, when interpreted — Esoterically.”H.P. BLAVATSKY, OLD WINE IN NEW BOTTLES
“The work of the Old Testament is the first offshoot from the Mysteries; the New Testament is the second. The Old Testament is the Reformed Judaeo-Phoenician or Rabbinical Church—The New Testament is the Essene-Nazarene Glad Tidings. Adon, Adoni, Adonis, called also Bol, was the Deity in both the Old-Phoenician and the Judaeo-Phoenician styles of worship. The Hebrew Religion stepped out from the noblest side of the Dionysian-worship, influenced no doubt, to some extent by Persian and Babylonian ideas, but still retaining the Phoenician impress.”SAMUEL F. DUNLAP, 1860. SOD: THE MYSTERIES OF ADONAI, PAGE III-IV
“But for how long until the end comes, well may sincere Christians remember the prophetic lamentations of the thrice-great Trismegistus over his own country: Alas, alas, my son, a day will come when the sacred hieroglyphics will become but idols. The world will mistake the emblems of science for gods, and accuse grand Egypt of having worshipped hell-monsters. But those who will calumniate us thus, will themselves worship Death instead of Life, folly in place of wisdom; they will denounce love and fecundity, fill their temples with dead men’s bones, as relics, and waste their youth in solitude and tears. Their virgins will be widows (nuns) before being wives, and consume themselves in grief; because men will have despised and profaned the sacred mysteries of Isis.” (Champollion: “Hermes Trismegistus,” xxvii.).”ISIS UNVEILED, VOL. II., 1877, PAGE 360.
“. . .you are absolutely right as to the Egyptian origin of Christianity, the carnalisation of purely metaphysical dogmas of the Gnostics . . . the archaic Esoteric Wisdom of one nation, the Egyptian, now radiating in so-called Christianity in a thousand broken rays. . .”H.P. BLAVATSKY, LETTER TO THE EGYPTOLOGIST GERALD MASSEY, NOV. 2, 1887. PUBLISHED IN THE AGNOSTIC JOURNAL (LONDON, OCTOBER 3, 1891, 214).
“If Christianity is an expression of universal Truth, it will gain, rather than lose, by a recognition of its identity with other expressions of the same truth. If the Bible is a revelation of God, its truth will become more apparent if it is found to agree with other “revelations.” If Jesus was a “Son of God”, his position will become still more secure when he is recognized as a member of a great Fraternity of Perfected Men, all of whom have presented identical doctrines.
The study of the history of these five centuries will disclose an important fact: that there is nothing unique in Christianity. It will show that Jesus was not a unique character, but only one of a long line of Teachers. It will show that the Bible is not a unique book, but only one of the many Scriptures of the world. It will show that there is not a single dogma, ritual nor ceremony in the Christian Church that has not been taken bodily from the so-called “Pagan” religions. Finally it will show that not even the term Christian is unique.
Many persons believe that Christianity has been in existence for only two thousand years. But history shows that the terms Christ and Christians were well known to writers like Herodotus and Aeschylus fully five centuries before the “Christian” era, and were simply borrowed by the later “Christians” from the Temple terminology of the Pagans. The early Church knew this to be a fact, for it is openly admitted by no less an authority than Justin Martyr, one of the foremost Christian writers of the second century.
The terms Chrestos and Christos came from the Mysteries.”GREAT THEOSOPHISTS: JESUS CHRIST, THEOSOPHY, VOL.. 24, NO. 7, MAY, 1936
“. . . For lo! thy law is passed
That this my love should manifestly be
To serve and honour thee;
And so I do; and my delight is full,
Accepted by the servant of thy rule.”
(Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Pannuccio dal Bagno Pisano. “Canzone. Of his Change through Love”)