Miguel Conner, on why Gnosticism more relevant than ever |338|

Discussion in 'Skeptiko Shows' started by Alex, Jan 17, 2017.

  1. Alex

    Alex New

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    Miguel Conner, on why Gnosticism more relevant than ever |338|
    by Alex Tsakiris | Jan 17 | Spirituality

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    For 10 years Miguel Conner has been a leading voice for Gnosticism, so why the sudden interest in his ideas?[​IMG]
    photo by: Skeptiko
    Alex Tsakiris:
    Today we welcome Miguel Conner to Skeptiko. Miguel is the creator ofAeon Byte Gnostic Radio, an entertaining and influential podcast that’s become part of this resurging interest in Gnosticism that seems to be seeping deeper and deeper into our collective consciousness. Miguel’s the author of several fine books, and he’s here today to talk about, Other Voices of Gnosticism, which is a follow-up to his acclaimed book Voices of Gnosticism, published just a few years back.

    Miguel Conner: …It seems ten years ago when I was talking about how reality is an illusion, and don’t trust any sort of reality you see in front of you, and everything is ruled by powers, principalities and wickedness in high places and how paranoia actually might be a good thing and alienation is something people should accept. That was pretty radical ten years ago, but I’m finding people are just kind of nodding their heads after they after they look at their Facebook feeds, the news and saying, “You know what… the Gnostic sensibility, the Phillip K. Dick world and all that… it’s a powerful thing.”
     
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  2. Vortex

    Vortex Member

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    Link to podcast doesn't work (at least for me). :(
     
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  5. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

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    Alex's question at the end of the interview:

    Do you think the gnostic worldview is true beyond metaphor -- are there really Archons out there; is there really a demiurge, or is this another abstraction of a reality which is beyond our understanding?
     
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  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demiurge
    In the Platonic, Neopythagorean, Middle Platonic, and Neoplatonic schools of philosophy, the demiurge (/ˈdɛmiˌɜːrdʒ/) is an artisan like figure responsible for the fashioning and maintenance of the physical universe. The term was adopted by the Gnostics.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archon_(Gnosticism)
    An archon, in the Gnosticism of late antiquity, was any of several servants of the Demiurge, the "creator god" that stood between the human race and a transcendent God that could only be reached through gnosis. In this context they have the role of the angels and demons of the Old Testament.


    I think there are entities like them.

    I don't know enough about gnosticism to say if their roles are exactly what the Gnostics say they are. With lots of these philosophies, if you want to make them fit you can stretch the definitions, and if you don't want them to fit you can choose among synonyms, take things literally, and reject them.

    I think of it as a celestial bureaucracy. Like there is a dial and when the committee decides society is getting too spiritual they turn the dial towards materialism, and when society is getting too materialistic they turn the dial toward spirituality. But it isn't a physical dial. Everything over there is mental. They have technology but it isn't physical technology it is mental technology. In the nonphysical realm, where consciousness is all that exists, thoughts are things.

    But I don't think understanding the fine details of how they are organized over there is that important. People don't come back from NDEs and say it's important that everyone understand the Archons are going on strike and we have to prepare for DOOM. They don't say, "do any stupid thing you want because it's all an illusion anyway". They say the most important things in their life reviews are loving people and helping other people.


    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gnosticism
    Gnosticism (from Ancient Greek: γνωστικός gnostikos, "having knowledge", from γνῶσις gnōsis, knowledge) is a modern term categorizing a collection of ancient religions whose adherents shunned the material world – which they viewed as created by the demiurge – and embraced the spiritual world.[1] Gnostic ideas influenced many ancient religions[2] that teach that gnosis (variously interpreted as knowledge, enlightenment, salvation, emancipation or 'oneness with God') may be reached by practicing philanthropy to the point of personal poverty and diligently searching for wisdom by helping others.[3][page needed] However, practices varied among those who were Gnostic.​
     
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  7. Tarquin Rees

    Tarquin Rees Member

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    Thing is there are two things operational in all these topics we discuss: belief and knowledge.

    Some of the ideas are about a body of people or a person who is reputed to have knowledge - Jesus say in discussions about Christianity, in this view Jesus actually HAD knowledge but the disciples (and by extension later followers) merely believed he had knowledge... they did not themselves have it - but this in itself is merely a belief. We believe the Gnostics had knowledge and act as if this belief itself gives us knowledge... or at least something 'better' than those who don't believe in anything of the sort like atheists and materialists.

    In many ways we are the same if we don't have the knowledge (or Gnosis if you prefer) that Jesus and the Gnostics had. All we really have is the paltry coin of believing THEY had it and sometimes not event that.
     
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  8. Philemon

    Philemon Member

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    Do you think the gnostic worldview is true beyond metaphor -- are there really Archons out there; is there really a demiurge, or is this another abstraction of a reality which is beyond our understanding?

    I think Alex brought up an interesting question during the interview that ought to be fleshed out further, namely, is the yogic tradition(s) and the Gnostic tradition(s) essentially talking about the same thing?

    I've been reading texts on Vedanta for a little over a year now and have been noticing fascinating parallels between the assertions of Vedanta and Gnosticism as well as other streams of spiritual thought, such as western hermeticism and magic. I think these streams likely diverged from an earlier common source at some point in the deep past which we no longer have access to - or, alternatively, (and at least as likely) its possible that the western streams are bastardized versions of the Vedantic worldview.

    If we literalize the gnostic worldview, then we are talking about spiritual agents floating out there somewhere, like comic book superheroes, influencing our lives in ways we dislike. I'm inclined to take the gnostic viewpoint and understand it through its parallels with Vedanta. In this case, Maya is the demiurge, which instantaneously (much like the lightning bolt metaphor in Kabbalah) creates out of awareness all the various subtle and gross aspects of experiential "reality" which we take to be "the real thing." However, the only *real thing* is awareness itself and the rest of what we encounter is a misinterpretation. Our task in this case is to snake our way back up the ladder of the tree of life - to work against our inner archons that cause our attention to be extraverted on the subtle and gross objects of experience, and turn back - to "repent" and turn toward pure awareness. From this standpoint we could understand the parable of the prodigal son as a stand-in for all of us. We started out (and always have been) perfectly whole but somehow mistakenly came to identify with the objects of experience. When we turn back (repent) to make our way back to our true state of pure awareness, we discover that the "Father" is already there waiting for us - because the light of awareness is what all objects, subtle and gross, are illumined in and created out of. Knowing that this is what we are frees us from the ignorant stories our mind (which is a subtle object in itself) creates regarding its relationship to subtle and gross objects.

    The various dark powers that be such as the Deep State and what have you are simply where anyone ends up when they become utterly identified with the external world (which is really only awareness masquerading under the spell of Maya or the demiurge). As others have pointed out elsewhere, the word "devil" means divider. When people "come under attack from the devil" they "fall" from grace and become extraverted and misidentify with the subtle objects of the mind, intellect, and ego - or even the gross object of the body. They then become fixated on attaining security, pleasure, or virtue because to identify with anything other than awareness itself is to know oneself as incomplete and vulnerable. When we feel incomplete and vulnerable we "sin" and all of our acts become destructive both to ourselves and to others. The more we sin, the more divided we become because the acts and thoughts that we engage in only reify the lie that we are incomplete.

    My sense is that the Gnostic approach is one that starts with its emphasis on knowledge - the knowledge that I am the light of awareness itself. Not the "I" of the mind, intellect, ego, and body - but the true I AM in which all these objects are illumined. We are the container - not the contained. All objects are like prisoners within a prison. Knowledge helps us recognize that we were never bound. But,without the knowledge, how can we ever come to realize who we really are?

    The Gnostic gospel of Thomas sums it up as follows:

     
  9. Alex

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  10. Alex

    Alex New

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    great point! Reminds me of Jeff Long's interview and hearing him report overwhelming stats that support exactly what you're saying.
     
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  11. Alex

    Alex New

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    not sure I totally get yr point. one thing that folks like Miguel will point out is that we're talking about 100s of years of well-recorded writing/thinking/experiencing. various groups, different regions, different times, similar ideas.
     
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  12. Alex

    Alex New

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    great post. thx. I agree, but sometimes wonder if we've co-created some reality along the lines that the Gnostics were talking about. not that it matters much, because it seems to me that the big picture (and the only real path forward) is as you've described.
     
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  13. Philemon

    Philemon Member

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    Well, if you take the idea of the vertical and horizontal dimensions of existence as being in the right ballpark, ignorance exists in the vertical dimension almost like some sort of musical notation. That musical notation is then played out with various accents depending upon where any of us start out in life on the horizontal plane. It's the same song played in differing ways.

    Maya, then, manifests itself... or "incarnates" itself through the extraverted thoughts and actions of the billions of mind-body-complexes that go about taking their mind-ego-intellect-bodies to be "who they are." That's the co-creation process that gives form or reality to the "archons" so to speak. Of course, when we are interacting through a forum like this, or speaking to one another, etc., we are interacting on the worldly plane and, hence, the faculties we use to engage are the worldly faculties of the ego-mind-intellect-body complex that are objects in themselves. The real "I" is simply the awareness flooding the world.

     
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  14. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

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    Do you think the gnostic worldview is true beyond metaphor -- are there really Archons out there; is there really a demiurge, or is this another abstraction of a reality which is beyond our understanding?

    Truth is, I don't know for sure. But I did particularly like Philemon's response, which seems to me to point to only one reality, namely awareness, which is the container and not the contained. It is through a process of identification that awareness seems to take on other forms, which can be taken more, or less, literally. Of course, "awareness" is just a word for something, rather like "energy" is a word for something -- in fact all words to some extent literalise, and therefore reify, various things. We live in a world describable by language, which is a means for the creation of "objects" which can be taken to some degree or other as literal, thus tending to trap us in notions of separation.

    One can perhaps see this a little more clearly when one thinks of a word like phlogiston, which at one time, I'm sure, was taken literally by some people. Archons, demiurges, angels, demons and the like may be words like phlogiston: which attempt to put a finger on something, trying to circumscribe and differentiate it from all the other things we've created as concepts describable by words. In fact, though I've singled out phlogiston because it's an obvious example of a nonsense word that at one time some people took literally, to some extent, all words are nonsense, and to argue about whether or not they should be taken literally in and of itself is to accord them a degree of substantiality they don't warrant.

    The highest degree of substantiality, from the materialist viewpoint, relies on mathematics. If something can be accurately described using the language of maths, then that concretises the language of words on which the maths is based. For instance, maths using the concepts of gravity, mass and distance demonstrably work in an equation like F=Gm1m2/d^2, and indeed, mass as well as distance, work in other equations that may or may not have anything to do with gravity. As a consequence, the often unspoken reasoning is that terms such as these not only describe reality, but are reality. But then, we have quantum mechanics, which seems to call into question what mass and distance (think of entanglement and apparent instantaneous action at a distance) actually are. Things seem not to be what we once thought.

    Then we can take it a step further, into descriptions of apparent things or concepts that can't be mathematised, such as angels and demons. In a sense, just being here and discussing whether or not they exist is absurd: arguably, they have even less substantiality than mass and distance. In fact, everything starts to become more and more insubstantial, and notions of knowledge (gnosis) more and more ridiculous.

    It seems to me that the extent to which we can communicate and understand anything real is determined by what exists -- as much as anything -- in the interstices between words. Which is possibly why poetry, jokes and allegory sometimes work better at conveying meaning: they enable us to comprehend from a new and unfamiliar angle; to some extent, from outside the accustomed box of everyday language.

    To know and understand even further, we move into the realm of actual experience, but even there, contamination by words and conditioning seems to impinge. The fact that gnosticism has a long history and there is a vague correspondence between concepts in various flavours of it doesn't mean it's necessarily literally real.
     
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  15. Hurmanetar

    Hurmanetar New

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    I think that some mythical archetypes represent "poles" or "focal points" or "vertices" of certain types of complex structures that manifest themselves on various levels.

    Just like Phi, Pi, and e show up again and again in various natural structures thanks to the geometry of our universe, the same could be said for the archetypes.

    All structure can be viewed through the lens of hierarchy and its antithesis because all things can be thought of as being composed of patterns of smaller/lesser things.

    Hierarchy defines the relationship of the smaller/lesser to the larger/greater. When you throw conscious will into the hierarchy (which if you are panpsychist then it is always there), the two poles of hierarchy (top and bottom) split into left and right and yielding 4 poles and this relationship is represented by 4 archetypes going by various names which can be simplified to: good top, bad top, good bottom, bad bottom - and these labels subjectively define one's orientation to the hierarchy and are not static but constantly in flux which sets up a repeating cycle of fulfillment, corruption, death/decay, new growth. These 4 poles and the cycle show up in various ways with which we are familiar and probably many other ways.

    -------------------

    Good top archetypes:
    Father God
    Creator
    Sophia
    Yahweh (on a good day)
    Corresponds to summer and fullness or pleroma

    Bad top archetypes:
    Lucifer (when pride overcame him before he fell)
    Demiurge
    Yahweh (on a bad day)
    Corresponds to winter and death and decay

    Bad bottom archetypes:
    Devil
    Lucifer (in fallen state)
    Other mean trickster figures
    Corresponds to fall and corruption

    Good bottom archetypes:
    Jesus
    Holy Spirit
    Divine Spark
    Other suffering servants
    Other benevolent tricksters
    Corresponds to spring and new life

    ---------------

    There are three areas I think we can see this archetypal pattern show up: human consciousness, politics and group dynamics, and in the life cycle of the four seasons.

    It seems very likely to me there are more ways this pattern shows up that go beyond our current understanding so it would not surprise me at all if there are forms of "consciousness" and "politics" and "season cycles" that we cannot currently fathom that naturally approach each of the four poles giving actual existence to these mythical archetypal characters at a "level above" our current one.

    In short, yes, they may be true beyond metaphor though I wouldn't say this means the specifics of these myths are necessarily true beyond metaphor.
     
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  16. Nelson

    Nelson Member

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    Though I think this last example reinforces the point you were making above.

    According to Electric Universe scientists , quantum mechanics is mathematics being prioritized over observation.

    It is admitted by some scientists that the equations in physics don't work over enormous distances (such as the attraction of stars across galaxies), but rather than radically question their model, instead they made up things to try to balance it out, such as "quantum entanglement" and "dark matter", etc. You can also see these videos on youtube for more on this (against Einstein and quantum mechanics respectively):


     
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  17. Nelson

    Nelson Member

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    But as Miguel said, what if the Archons are actually real and have planted such a worldview as a psy-op in order to have passive slaves...
     
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  18. Nelson

    Nelson Member

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    This was a thought-provoking interview... about the gnostics being "major myth-makers" and at the same time the creative process was a "spiritual exercise". Great stuff!

    And it relates to what we were discussing re David Mathisen's work in the previous thread: that a myth can be true on different levels: e.g. a myth such as the Trojan War could actually have literally happened, more-or-less as described; and it could also be a metaphor reflected in the stars, and at the same time a reflection of a ritual, etc. It can be all these things. Or as was nicely said in the interview with Miguel: "the bear was many things at once".

    My opinion (based on first-hand experience, along with a third party who experienced exactly the same thing, without suggestion that we would sense something of the sort, we simply experienced it without preconceptions) is that ghosts are real. I've experienced this very clearly on numerous occasions. That particular evidence isn't verifiable for you here; yet even so, there are a vast number of such anecdotes from the most different times and places across the entire planet, all pointing to the existence of non-corporeal spiritual beings.

    Then there is mythology, and if we take (say) the Greek myths literally, then there are gods/very powerful beings who REQUIRE sacrifices. If they don't get the sacrifices, then they cease to exist. But the question for me arises: If the gods need sacrifices in order to exist, then doesn't this show a weakness in the gods? Why would such stories be made up? The explanation that a priesthood wanted to ensure plenty of sacrifices so that they could get a share of the food doesn't really hold water, because in ancient Greece (as far as we know) there weren't priesthoods as a career. Instead, and almost without exception, there was a rotating system for ordinary citizens to simply do duties at the temples.

    In other words, there wasn't much in it for people to make up stories of their gods NEEDING sacrifices in order for the gods to exist. Rather, it makes the gods just look weak.

    This seems to me a reason to think that (at least some) gods are dependent on the living.
    Who knows, maybe they were originally created by people channeling their thoughts to create new gods? Or maybe these gods were powerful people who after physical death were disincarnate but wanted to keep interacting on the physical plane; so they existed in a sort of intermediary realm, in which they still needed thought-energy of others in order to dwell in that intermediary realm... Who knows, but I think those could all be literalist views of what an Archon is, and this is partly based on what the myths say too.

    On the other hand, and maybe equally validly, the Archons/certain gods(?) seem to be metaphors, such as a very clear celestial metaphor (albeit as reported by a heresiologist, Irenaeus): http://textexcavation.com/irenaeusah1.html#chapter24

    "They [the Gnostics] make out the local position of the three hundred and sixty-five heavens in the same way as do mathematicians. For, accepting the theorems of these latter, they have transferred them to their own type of doctrine. They hold that their chief [Archon] is Abraxas; and, on this account, that word contains in itself the numbers amounting to three hundred and sixty-five."

    Now I've heard the number 365 somewhere before... and I don't think we need David Mathisen to figure this one out... ;-)
     
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  19. Philemon

    Philemon Member

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    Did Miguel say that? If so, I didn't catch that part.

    I believe I may have responded to a post in which you suggested something similar in the past regarding archons, passivity, etc. Your suggestion reminds me of Robert Monroe's account of the "loosh."

    Such nightmarish scenarios may indeed turn out to be true, but they are essentially unfalsifiable at the present time and, in my view, disempowering.

    I would also argue that disidentifying from subtle and gross objects and engaging in self-inquiry does anything but make one passive. In fact, I'd say the exact reverse is the case. If a person identifies with their body or mind or their desires, etc., they are asleep and enslaved. To know your true identity is to finally wield power over oneself that had heretofore been usurped for all of one's life.

    EDIT: Also, if identifying with awareness is some psyop of the archons, they are doing a piss poor job of diseminating it! Far less efficient than such reportedly powerful beings ought to be capable of.
     
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  20. Alex

    Alex New

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    well put! you might have said this before, but it penetrated a little deeper this time :)

    e.g. so, the Trojan war happens. it turns out to be a very important historical event for this group. the story is retold again and again, and maybe enhanced a bit by the really good storytellers. finally, someone tweaks it to echo some star myth language in order to connect even further with an audience that's predisposed for this kind of metaphorical leap. I could definitely see it.
     
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