Why Gnosis is not the End of your Journey
CONCERNING SPIRITUAL VISIONS, HASTINESS AND W.T.S. THAKARA ON PLATO AND GNOSIS
If I could give one advice, you may be made to see wondrous things, without drugs, but do not make the mistake of jumping quick to conclusions, and coloring experiences too much with language or the limited knowledge one possesses from a religion, even one’s atheism.
Morya mentions in one letter, that unless one is regularly initiated and trained, “concerning the spiritual insight of things and the supposed revelations made unto man in all ages from Socrates down to Swedenborg (. . .) no self-tutored seer or clairaudient ever saw or heard quite correctly.” Few were there to remind Theosophists, but H.P. Blavatsky and others, that Theosophy details so much about the degrees of spiritual experience and conditions of mind in a scientific manner that can be empirically studied; and how much this puts into question revelatory religions and the history of prophets and prophetesses. H.P.B. does this numerous times throughout her writings, and it goes unnoticed. Thus, Theosophy does not promote what some believe, that “all religions are pathways to the same truth.” This is an over-simplification that has led to misunderstandings. There is, according to our study and for some intimate experience, the real ability of seership, of “spiritual vision.”
One can be born a seer, or their faculties can be trained, but nothing is simple. The ability brings with it complications, especially for one untrained, or afflicted by a mental condition. When one hears, or sees a thing one thinks cannot be so, or which is not entirely clear to define, we are skeptical. Right? But, sometimes, when it comes to the spectral and the spiritual, some people are less inclined, and are frightened by what lurks around the dark corner, even if they do not believe in such things. Many people throughout centuries thus far have claimed to be Manifestations of God, whether Christianity, Baha’i, Hinduism or Islam, and it never ends. Many people believed Theosophy encouraged this kind of behavior, because of the case of Jiddu Krishnamurti, which we have explained was a cult infestation of the Theosophical Society.
There have been many people in time that have claimed a particular kind of deity spoke to them, and told them they are the one true god, or that the receiver of the message is a king, prophet, manifestation, etc. This becomes problematic in Theosophy, precisely because it explains, seership and spiritual visions is not a mere matter of randomness, and can be controlled. The ancient ideas, such as that of one’s “Union to the Deity” can be reproduced, and it has not been by science. Scientists labor under the error, that it is one experience, interpreted differently. Sam Harris is able to claim, e.g., he has done yoga and experienced alternate states of consciousness, and have some idea as to what is going on. But, that isn’t going to cut it.
One can train themselves to shift their consciousness in various ways, not a single way, such as feeling “out of your body.” There are various forms of feeling “out of body.” It isn’t one type of experience. It can be studied to the second, like a tape-recorder in a special investigations case. This is why scientific explanations for religious feeling using electro-magnetism, or attributing it to chemical drugs is not a final conclusion. This is why the term Adept is important, rather than a fancy title of distinction for people to use as a stepping-stone to power. If there is a science of it, then there must be proficients to whom these things are not random and unclear, as they are for most people. It is also important, to note, such proficients tell us it is not possible to properly study these things, without undergoing moral, mental and inner discipline ourselves.
Very quickly, one has been through time able to claim a deity spoken to them and gave them power to make laws, and do such and such. Seership is not random, and many seers have not been entirely correct in their visions, producing more delusions for people to believe in, concerning planes, worlds, and their “denizens.” K.H. and Morya attributed this, especially to mistakes of Swedenborg. There is a psychological aspect to abilities such as clairvoyance and seership, entirely looked over. Real spiritual seership indeed lifts and raises one into a new birth, a splendid spiritual condition of being, to the Good, our Nous. One is able to live on earth in such condition. What is that even like? We cannot imagine. It tells us, that spiritual gnosis is not an end in itself. You must still live on.
When taught a thing, the question is what will you do with it? A man can attain to a great insight, have a vision, a certain strange dream, or even attain gnosis one day, and in the next lose his condition, and is to be found at the local pub somewhere relapsing and is wrecked. What did Jesus do when he came from his seclusion with his God in the desert? What did Gautama do after attaining enlightenment under the Bodhi tree? Did they sit there for the rest of their lives in the hot sun subsisting on milk, honey, and rice all day and living it up? No. They went straight to action, to preaching, and establishing community. They went to work.
Hence, it is something about Jesus’s condition, or Shakyamuni’s condition, that endows and propels them with such sense of urgency and courage. An unseen power that matches the spirit of an entire nation. That is what I am getting from what W.T.S. Thakara is saying about Plato and the gnosis not being an end, that should mean your journey is not complete. It is the beginning of a new life. I do not know much about messiahs and prophets. People will believe what they do concerning religion.
But, it was necessary to establish that for Theosophy, it is a science, not a matter of randomness, nor a particular God choosing special people at particular times, leaving people in other times to either claim the mantle, or wonder, “why God does not speak and give us prophets today?” For theosophists, these are distractions (even idolatry or rather self-debasement by being ignorant of the inner god), which encourages others to make as they believe “false prophets.” The belief is also, that the concept of the inner god creates the false prophet of “New Ageism.” However, Theosophy is in fact the most unwelcome remedy to the problem of those that claim to possess the finality of knowledge, because they had one, or a few too much special visions. This mentions “direct experience of divine reality,” something theologians and scientists critique, or are skeptical of. The problem is as explained, that we talk about these things as if it is a singular and similar experience everyone has and interprets differently. There are many conditions, and semi or sub-states. Theosophical concepts and terms help us decipher the difference between the drunkard, the Seer, untrained medium, Adept, or man suffering from a brain injury, or mental condition, just as much as the exorcists and psychologists claim to do; though the latter would prescribe them all to medicines, after one word — “interesting.”
W.T.S. THAKARA, THE GNOSIS ACCORDING TO PLATO: “Plato did not invent his philosophy, nor did he write merely as the disciple of Socrates; rather, his works are imbued with the concepts and characteristics of a universally-diffused wisdom-tradition, a primordial gnosis, to which all major religions have given expression. (…)
Just what is the gnosis and
why is it central to Plato’s philosophy?
In every gnostic system, gnosis is virtually synonymous with spiritual enlightenment. Gnosis, however, is not ordinary knowledge, but connotes direct experience of divine reality. As such, it is esoteric or secret to the worldly man because he does not possess “the eyes to see or the ears to hear,” his intuitive faculties are not yet awakened. Nevertheless, this knowledge is accessible to all who earn their way into its sacred precincts. The gnosis is also soteric, that is, “saving” or healing in the sense of bestowing wholeness: it carries the power to transform and reintegrate one’s life. Faith alone cannot save; one must also know and practice the alchemy of redemption.
Knowledge of divinity, of the origin, present condition, and destiny of man, and of the discipline which prepares one for the reception of the gnosis are important themes in Plato’s philosophy. As in other gnostic systems, ascent to the divine realm is a major goal, too: we should strive towards a “likeness to Divinity” (Theaetetus, §176b), for in this way we discover the reality behind outer appearances. However, whereas many gnostics have preached transcendence as the ultimate achievement, Plato clearly emphasizes that gnosis is not an end in itself. Rather, it should be put in service for the common welfare, for creating a just and beneficent polity on earth. Divine wisdom is meant to glorify the whole of cosmos, not just a part (Timaeus, §29e-31a).”