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

#41
Predictably, I thoroughly enjoyed this podcast :) and would love to take the opportunity to ask Miguel a couple of questions, in the hope he's out there lurking :). Given the passion with which he has explored the Gnostic myths and sensibility, he must have thought about these ideas long and deeply and reached some well thought-out "working theory", which would be of great interest to me.

I think I am a natural-born Gnostic so I am certainly not asking these questions in order to undermine the Gnostic take on things - on the contrary, it makes so much sense to me that I would like (if possible) to fill the holes I see in it.

Basically, my question is this - if there's a "God above God" why has s/he/it not stopped/controlled the Demiurge (and of course when I use this concept I do not necessarily do so in a literal sense)? How come such an imperfect (if not evil) entity emanated from a supposedly perfect 'God'? In other words, how can this God above God not be responsible for the consequences of his imperfect emanations? And if s/he/it is not responsible, how can he be considered truly "above" (in the sense of 'higher'/'more powerful'/'morally superior')? The fact that this God above God is not able to do much to 'free us' makes the spiritual world resemble more a pantheistic situation, in which we happen to be the creatures of an inferior creator who, however, was imperfect himself - so how can the source which 'emanated' it (albeit after various "generations") be thought of as superior?

One of the frequent answers to these questions (including in "Jehovah unmasked" by Nathaniel J. Merritt - thank you Miguel for making that excellent book available on your website) is that "the God above God" cannot be considered responsible for the actions of its emanations - just like, say, a grandfather cannot be considered responsible for the actions of his grandchild. But our situation is completely different - unless the God above God is, like us, a creature operating according to the laws of an often flawed system ("nature") which works independently of his will/intentions (in other words: he is powerless to control the nature of whatever emanates from him. But that would hardly make him "the ultimate God", right?).

Another question - perhaps too personal, in that case please ignore it :); in the course of the interview Miguel said something like 'then things happen in life; you get a job, you have kids'. Isn't having children a deliberate choice (at least in our advanced societies)? If so, why would a Gnostic intentionally put children in this flawed reality?
I will ping him :)
 
#42
not sure I understand exactly what yr referring to. as you probably know, Atwill's primary tool was literary analysis... the parallels he discovered between Josephus and Jesus's "prophesy's" are self-evident... and incompatible with Christian theology.
Tl;dr ;)

1) Christian doctrine as espoused by the Church is a false and constructed control system

2) One of its functions is to draw attention away from the real possibility of individual change, development and access to 'God' on a personal/individual level as this would negate the control they seek

3) Jesus Christ is one of the individuals who achieved this individual access to God without an organised 'Church' framework and is part of the tradition which teaches how to do this and which the Church opposes

4) Their method of opposition was to co-opt Jesus and his Teaching as opposed to setting up in opposition to it. This is what the Church always does and the same reason it deliberately incorporates pagan elements into ritual or builds a church on a pagan shrine or magical site rather than at the other side of town.

It isn't just that organised religion is a control mechanism - it's that that it is essentially an opposition to something and that's WHY it needs to be a control mechanism.

That 'something' is individual enlightenment. Which is the only possible enlightenment actually.

So if that's true (to me it is... ymmv) then it follows that people like Jesus must exist. Why make it up? If it's the thing you want to keep buried? They do enough of a good job hiding all the other 'Jesus' figures that have existed through history.

It's like saying that there is no opposition to Trump (say) and what appears to be opposition is explainable by the fact it's made up by his administration.

For sure the Jesus of the Church did not exist. But that's implicit in my argument. They did not like what he was teaching so they killed him and then built the continuation of the Empire on his memory to co-opt and derail any subversion by his followers and close that particular door to enlightenment for future generations. And to keep power and money. Don't forget that one lol!
 
#43
not sure I understand exactly what yr referring to. as you probably know, Atwill's primary tool was literary analysis... the parallels he discovered between Josephus and Jesus's "prophesy's" are self-evident... and incompatible with Christian theology.
One other thing, and this would be a good experiment - I'll do it if I have time though anyone could - I bet that you could take any public figure at all from history and construct a solid case (equal to Atwill's evidence) that they did not exist.
 
#44
Predictably, I thoroughly enjoyed this podcast :) and would love to take the opportunity to ask Miguel a couple of questions, in the hope he's out there lurking :). Given the passion with which he has explored the Gnostic myths and sensibility, he must have thought about these ideas long and deeply and reached some well thought-out "working theory", which would be of great interest to me.

I think I am a natural-born Gnostic so I am certainly not asking these questions in order to undermine the Gnostic take on things - on the contrary, it makes so much sense to me that I would like (if possible) to fill the holes I see in it.

Basically, my question is this - if there's a "God above God" why has s/he/it not stopped/controlled the Demiurge (and of course when I use this concept I do not necessarily do so in a literal sense)? How come such an imperfect (if not evil) entity emanated from a supposedly perfect 'God'? In other words, how can this God above God not be responsible for the consequences of his imperfect emanations? And if s/he/it is not responsible, how can he be considered truly "above" (in the sense of 'higher'/'more powerful'/'morally superior')? The fact that this God above God is not able to do much to 'free us' makes the spiritual world resemble more a pantheistic situation, in which we happen to be the creatures of an inferior creator who, however, was imperfect himself - so how can the source which 'emanated' it (albeit after various "generations") be thought of as superior?

One of the frequent answers to these questions (including in "Jehovah unmasked" by Nathaniel J. Merritt - thank you Miguel for making that excellent book available on your website) is that "the God above God" cannot be considered responsible for the actions of its emanations - just like, say, a grandfather cannot be considered responsible for the actions of his grandchild. But our situation is completely different - unless the God above God is, like us, a creature operating according to the laws of an often flawed system ("nature") which works independently of his will/intentions (in other words: he is powerless to control the nature of whatever emanates from him. But that would hardly make him "the ultimate God", right?).

Another question - perhaps too personal, in that case please ignore it :); in the course of the interview Miguel said something like 'then things happen in life; you get a job, you have kids'. Isn't having children a deliberate choice (at least in our advanced societies)? If so, why would a Gnostic intentionally put children in this flawed reality?
First, I think trying to decipher mythological into concise answers is always a recipe for insanity (or maybe sanity).

One way to see it is that the Higher God is pure good or pure information, while the demiurge is the lord of the material. Information doesn't manipulate matter, except for the shard of divine information within called the Divine Spark (or consciousness or whatever you want to call it). The Higher God and the demiurge rarely interact, except for a mediator like Sophia or Jesus that has both information or matter.

Of course, there are other ways to skin this mythological cat (Good and Evil, Light and Darkness, and so forth).

And of course our rational mind can see flaws with the Gnostic system (as with any metaphysical system). Perhaps that is why the Manichaeans had such success. They didn't buy releasing of the Higher God of responsibility and contended the dark powers had always existed in some form or another.

As far as children, like all Gnostics, I'm trapped in the vagaries of fate and her formulas. Having said that, having children has increased my Gnosis. I see these small, fragile creatures that are much closer to the source than I am, and I see a world that is gunning for their destruction or at least their falling into ignorance and fragmentation. I want to fight for their safety and sense of wonder, and will fail in many ways.
 
#46
One other thing, and this would be a good experiment - I'll do it if I have time though anyone could - I bet that you could take any public figure at all from history and construct a solid case (equal to Atwill's evidence) that they did not exist.
I usually hear this argument from Christian Apologists with regard to Alexander the Great versus Jesus. I don't think it holds up well.
 
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#47
One way to see it is that the Higher God is pure good or pure information, while the demiurge is the lord of the material. Information doesn't manipulate matter, except for the shard of divine information within called the Divine Spark (or consciousness or whatever you want to call it). The Higher God and the demiurge rarely interact, except for a mediator like Sophia or Jesus that has both information or matter.
What is "pure information"?
 
#48
First, I think trying to decipher mythological into concise answers is always a recipe for insanity (or maybe sanity).

One way to see it is that the Higher God is pure good or pure information, while the demiurge is the lord of the material. Information doesn't manipulate matter, except for the shard of divine information within called the Divine Spark (or consciousness or whatever you want to call it). The Higher God and the demiurge rarely interact, except for a mediator like Sophia or Jesus that has both information or matter.

Of course, there are other ways to skin this mythological cat (Good and Evil, Light and Darkness, and so forth).

And of course our rational mind can see flaws with the Gnostic system (as with any metaphysical system). Perhaps that is why the Manichaeans had such success. They didn't buy releasing of the Higher God of responsibility and contended the dark powers had always existed in some form or another.

As far as children, like all Gnostics, I'm trapped in the vagaries of fate and her formulas. Having said that, having children has increased my Gnosis. I see these small, fragile creatures that are much closer to the source than I am, and I see a world that is gunning for their destruction or at least their falling into ignorance and fragmentation. I want to fight for their safety and sense of wonder, and will fail in many ways.
Thank you Miguel for answering my questions (and many thanks to Alex, too, for 'pinging' you, hehe). I would have lots of comments on what you wrote but I will refrain from making them because after all I am the one who was interested in your opinions and not viceversa :) so why should I bother you with them. Just wanted to say that I very much appreciate what you do and found your answers very interesting - although to be very honest my rational mind is far from satisfied by them (the ultimate dissatisfaction of my rational mind with all the "answers" I have heard so far is why I joined Skeptiko in the first place, so I'm certainly not easy to please, you know :)). All the best to you and many thanks again.
 
#49
I wanted to share some further thoughts on the Gnosticism discussion that have occurred to me over the past few days. They’ve largely been sparked by both the discussion on here, further thinking, and also exposure to a couple podcast episodes on The Higherside Chats and similar sources.

On Sunday morning, I had the impulse to take a look through my recently downloaded podcasts and see if there might be any topics that struck me as interesting. I noticed that THC had an episode regarding “pizzagate” which is something I really didn’t know anything about, though I had heard the phrase numerous times as related to “fake news.” As I have become deeply suspicious of the “fake news” meme, as well as the MSM, I decided I’d go ahead and delve in.

Well… I guess I came late to the party. After only a half hour or so of listening to the episode with David Seaman and a few quick glances on Google Images at the odd paintings hanging at a certain beltway restaurant—as well as in the personal possession of a notable staff person to a notable political candidate—I found myself besieged by the sort of paranoia Miguel discusses at the beginning of the Skeptiko episode with Alex. It was that spiritual blend of paranoia - the Philip K. Dick what-the-hell-is-really-going-on-here-and-what-kind-of-world-am-I-really-living-in-and-is-anything-I’ve-ever-assumed-to-be-true-really-true!? kind of paranoia. The kind that makes you feel that dreadful feeling that you might really be a very small worm on the end of a very, very big hook.

As I am becoming inclined to almost automatically engage in self inquiry every time I find my mind getting wrapped up in some emotional turbulence, I went back to engaging in the usual Vedanta-related mantras that I’ve picked up along the way over the past year, “I am whole, complete, ever present, never changing, always peaceful, non-dual awareness.”

While the jiva was there in the shower considering the possibility that he really was just a rat in a morally deprived, malevolent, inhuman cage, he considered again some earlier statements he made in this thread that the archons are really in us. Now, this could be taken in at least two ways. First, within consciousness itself lays Maya, in which unfolds the entire illusory world (In case you haven’t encountered Vedanta - according to Vedanta the world is illusory because it changes. Only the unchanging is real.) Part of this illusory world is the personality and within the personality lays various dispositions accorded it known as vasanas, which are forms of conditioning – particularly pleasure-attainment and pain-avoidance-related thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. As we are inclined to think of this complex of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors as a large part of “us” we end up bound in them, failing to recognize that, regardless of what is showing up on the theater screen of the mind, we are the light that flows through the projector and makes the movie visible. Nothing can touch us. We are “whole, complete, ever present, never changing, always peaceful, non-dual awareness.” Apart from this knowledge, we remain enthrall to the archons or the vansanas/samskaras or “the flesh”, etc., depending on your vocabulary.

The other way to take it, that occurs to me, is that in addition to the above (and much like it, but different) even should an “archon” in the form of an ancient Titan appear before the jiva it would still be appearing in us as awareness. As above, so below. To borrow a pithy statement from occultist Lon Milo DuQuette, “It's All in Your Head … You Just Have No Idea How Big Your Head Is.”

So, there I was, in the shower, contemplating this powerful paranoia welling up within me at the thought of malevolent agencies which, should the above be taken seriously, are in me. And the Pauline quotation that Miguel invoked at the beginning of the episode shot through my head, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

Which led me to a consoling, more manageable take on the whole thing: Yes, if there is an elite cabal out there carrying out awful, despicable, morally depraved, malevolent actions the likes of one’s worst #pizzagate nightmares, that is a disheartening thing indeed. HOWEVER, those actors are still just flesh and blood. They’re not superhuman. They, too, will one day turn to dust. Riffing on old St. Paul, it’s the unseen agencies which have incarnated in them that are the issue.

To conclude, the idea I’m currently playing around with is that it is awareness which is the “high place” of St. Paul. The spiritual wickedness which goes on in the light of awareness is known to all of us. You might call it the seven deadly sins or Satan or the shadow, etc., but it is that inclination to avoid pain and attain pleasure taken to its darkest, most awful conclusions and the complete identification with the mind-intellect-ego that slaves away in service to those impulses. From a hidden seed comes an awful, hideous tree which bears poisonous fruit. Recognize that the vasanas occur in you but are not you. YOU know THEM, THEY do not know YOU. They should be serving YOU and not you serving THEM.

“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”

Or, as some sages are prone to saying, “Don’t get it twisted.”

Anyway, those were just some thoughts that came to me in the shower, after drinking coffee, and perhaps after a bloody mary ; )
 
#50
What is "pure information"?
Information is "something" put in-form. And what is the "something"? A different form. So information is a form put into another form. A form is a shape that changes slowly enough to be considered static from the perspective of the observer. So we could say ALL is form or "information" and that information is an identity with a relatively slow rate of change (relative to what?). This is pretty close to coming full circle back to materialism only with a more broad idea of material.

So I guess pure information would be like a completely changeless substrate upon which everything is written. This means past and future are all "fixed" in this god-substrate and our perception of change is only a kind of motion through this changeless medium.

As a child in Sunday school I learned through flash cards and flannel graph that among the dozen or so fixed characteristics of God, one was "immutability: God never changes". I turned this statement of absolute fact into a march and went stomping around the house endlessly proclaiming: "im-mu-ta-bil-i-ty! God never changes!" ...funny how that stuck in my head....

Anyway, This leads to another question: if something never changes... is it alive?

If life requires change, then the only way for the over-arching all encompassing omniscient Changeless One - the supreme substrate of form above forms to become alive would be... to forget and thus enter into another lesser form thereby becoming IN-formed and begin to move within himself?
 
#51
Well… I guess I came late to the party. After only a half hour or so of listening to the episode with David Seaman and a few quick glances on Google Images at the odd paintings hanging at a certain beltway restaurant—as well as in the personal possession of a notable staff person to a notable political candidate—I found myself besieged by the sort of paranoia Miguel discusses at the beginning of the Skeptiko episode with Alex. It was that spiritual blend of paranoia - the Philip K. Dick what-the-hell-is-really-going-on-here-and-what-kind-of-world-am-I-really-living-in-and-is-anything-I’ve-ever-assumed-to-be-true-really-true!? kind of paranoia. The kind that makes you feel that dreadful feeling that you might really be a very small worm on the end of a very, very big hook.


As I am becoming inclined to almost automatically engage in self inquiry every time I find my mind getting wrapped up in some emotional turbulence, I went back to engaging in the usual Vedanta-related mantras that I’ve picked up along the way over the past year, “I am whole, complete, ever present, never changing, always peaceful, non-dual awareness.”
What is pure non-dual awareness? Is it the opposite of pure form? hehe

Is "pure awareness" the name for an experience of elation we have which results from the creation of a higher-order feedback loop (being aware of being aware) which sort of floats away from the base hierarchical self like a globule in a lava lamp?

While the jiva was there in the shower considering the possibility that he really was just a rat in a morally deprived, malevolent, inhuman cage, he considered again some earlier statements he made in this thread that the archons are really in us. Now, this could be taken in at least two ways. First, within consciousness itself lays Maya, in which unfolds the entire illusory world (In case you haven’t encountered Vedanta - according to Vedanta the world is illusory because it changes. Only the unchanging is real.) Part of this illusory world is the personality and within the personality lays various dispositions accorded it known as vasanas, which are forms of conditioning – particularly pleasure-attainment and pain-avoidance-related thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. As we are inclined to think of this complex of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors as a large part of “us” we end up bound in them, failing to recognize that, regardless of what is showing up on the theater screen of the mind, we are the light that flows through the projector and makes the movie visible. Nothing can touch us. We are “whole, complete, ever present, never changing, always peaceful, non-dual awareness.” Apart from this knowledge, we remain enthrall to the archons or the vansanas/samskaras or “the flesh”, etc., depending on your vocabulary.
Excellent thoughts and the concept of change in relation to ultimate truth and illusion is something I think requires a lot of contemplation.

The other way to take it, that occurs to me, is that in addition to the above (and much like it, but different) even should an “archon” in the form of an ancient Titan appear before the jiva it would still be appearing in us as awareness. As above, so below. To borrow a pithy statement from occultist Lon Milo DuQuette, “It's All in Your Head … You Just Have No Idea How Big Your Head Is.”

So, there I was, in the shower, contemplating this powerful paranoia welling up within me at the thought of malevolent agencies which, should the above be taken seriously, are in me. And the Pauline quotation that Miguel invoked at the beginning of the episode shot through my head, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

Which led me to a consoling, more manageable take on the whole thing: Yes, if there is an elite cabal out there carrying out awful, despicable, morally depraved, malevolent actions the likes of one’s worst #pizzagate nightmares, that is a disheartening thing indeed. HOWEVER, those actors are still just flesh and blood. They’re not superhuman. They, too, will one day turn to dust. Riffing on old St. Paul, it’s the unseen agencies which have incarnated in them that are the issue.
I think there are likely higher order entities which are reflections of entities within ourselves (elements of sub grouped consciousnesses that compose the hierarchy of mind) and that we are also reflections of them. There is war in heaven and while we can get a reprieve, we will eventually find ourselves wandering into no-man's land at some point.

To conclude, the idea I’m currently playing around with is that it is awareness which is the “high place” of St. Paul. The spiritual wickedness which goes on in the light of awareness is known to all of us. You might call it the seven deadly sins or Satan or the shadow, etc., but it is that inclination to avoid pain and attain pleasure taken to its darkest, most awful conclusions and the complete identification with the mind-intellect-ego that slaves away in service to those impulses. From a hidden seed comes an awful, hideous tree which bears poisonous fruit. Recognize that the vasanas occur in you but are not you. YOU know THEM, THEY do not know YOU. They should be serving YOU and not you serving THEM.

“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”

Or, as some sages are prone to saying, “Don’t get it twisted.”

Anyway, those were just some thoughts that came to me in the shower, after drinking coffee, and perhaps after a bloody mary ; )
These are the prime times for enlightenment to strike us unawares :)
 
#52
As a child in Sunday school I learned through flash cards and flannel graph that among the dozen or so fixed characteristics of God, one was "immutability: God never changes". I turned this statement of absolute fact into a march and went stomping around the house endlessly proclaiming: "im-mu-ta-bil-i-ty! God never changes!" ...funny how that stuck in my head....

Anyway, This leads to another question: if something never changes... is it alive?

If life requires change, then the only way for the over-arching all encompassing omniscient Changeless One - the supreme substrate of form above forms to become alive would be... to forget and thus enter into another lesser form thereby becoming IN-formed and begin to move within himself?
This is pretty much where I find myself at the moment, too. Since I've gone down the Vedanta path, I've pretty much jettisoned the personal God "out there somewhere" and come to embrace the God-as-Awareness perspective of Vedanta. Awareness never changes. It just is. It contains everything within it. It pre-exists everything that comes to be because everything is known in it. Etc. Far more parsimonious and intellectually satisfying than old Yahweh. Far less distasteful and disturbing, too!

Is God alive, then? Just playing with ideas here, but, I'd wager yes - in His manifest form which we experience with our senses. But like all living beings, that God dies - like Jesus. Since we are all "in Christ," however, we all get "resurrected." We discover our body - matter - to be an "empty tomb" rather than a living "temple." We are born "from above" or "again" as awareness. We slough off the rest in the "second death" so that God may be "all in all."

Or as Kurt Cobain put it, "All in All is All We Are."

Again, just playing with ideas here. Playing is fun.
 
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#53
This is pretty much where I find myself at the moment, too. Since I've gone down the Vedanta path, I've pretty much jettisoned the personal God "out there somewhere" and come to embrace the God-as-Awareness perspective of Vedanta. Awareness never changes. It just is. It contains everything within it. It pre-exists everything that comes to be because everything is known in it. Etc. Far more parsimonious ant intellectually satisfying than old Yahweh. Far less distasteful and disturbing, too!

Is God alive, then? Just playing with ideas here, but, I'd wager yes - in His manifest form which we experience with our senses. But like all living beings, that God dies - like Jesus. Since we are all "in Christ," however, we all get "resurrected." We discover our body - matter - to be an "empty tomb" rather than a living "temple." We are born "from above" or "again" as awareness. We slough off the rest in the "second death" so that God may be "all in all."

Or as Kurt Cobain put it, "All in All is All We Are."

Again, just playing with ideas here. Playing is fun.
Haha, Cobain had it right. :) And I think playing with ideas is the way to go... I think you can only approach true wisdom and knowledge if you include paradoxes, humor, and irony in your conclusions.

There is a clue in the fact that in searching for the Ultimate, the Uber, the Supreme Being, two simultaneous conclusions are reached: Pure Information (which is pure form and changeless) and Pure Awareness (which is an action or motion perceiving the form).

One is active and the other is passive. One is static, the other dynamic. It is the fundamental Duo and it is the best we can come up with because it's what we are and we are It.

And if we are It, we don't have to be afraid of anything - except ourselves - so maybe that's why we're here: to build a better self?
 
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#54
RE: the origin(s) of myths:

To those interested in a possible psy-op in the Mahabharata, and connecting this with the New Testament, then you can read further about it here -- and it also contains a parallel with the other great epic of ancient India, the Ramayana:

For some fascinating background, see David Mathisen's post on the ape warrior Hanuman (post number 195), and in the following post is my reply:
http://www.skeptiko-forum.com/threa...-way-we-think-about-hercules-337.3574/page-10
 
#55
RE: the origin(s) of myths:

To those interested in a possible psy-op in the Mahabharata, and connecting this with the New Testament, then you can read further about it here -- and it also contains a parallel with the other great epic of ancient India, the Ramayana:

For some fascinating background, see David Mathisen's post on the ape warrior Hanuman (post number 195), and in the following post is my reply:
http://www.skeptiko-forum.com/threa...-way-we-think-about-hercules-337.3574/page-10
thx for this awesome post.
 
#56
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:


Samkhya philosophy speaks of how Purusha, pure consciousness, gets entangled and identifies with prakrti, material reality, which gives rise to egoic consciousness and our concept of self. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samkhya

Also, in many Mahayana buddhist texts, such as the Lankavatara Sutra, primacy is placed on the role of consciousness in constructing reality.


There are four things by the fulfilling of which an earnest disciple may gain self-realisation of Noble Wisdom and become a Bodhisattva-Mahasattva: First, he must have a clear understanding that all things are only manifestations of the mind itself; second, he must discard the notion of birth, abiding and disappearance; third, he must clearly understand the egolessness of both things and persons...

As to the first; he must recognise and be fully convinced that this triple world is nothing but a complex manifestation of one's mental activities; that it is devoid of selfness and its belongings; that there are no strivings, no comings, no goings. He must recognise and accept the fact that this triple world is manifested and imagined as real only under the influence of habit-energy that has been accumulated since the beginningless past by reason of memory, false-imagination, false-reasoning, and attachments to the multiplicities of objects and reactions in close relationship and in conformity to ideas of body-property-and-abode.
As to the second; he must recognise and be convinced that all things are to be regarded as forms seen in a vision and a dream, empty of substance, un-born and without self-nature; that all things exist only by reason of a complicated network of causation... As to the third; he must recognise and patiently accept the fact that his own mind and personality is also mind-constructed, that it is empty of substance, unborn and egoless.[3]
 
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Also, in many Mahayana buddhist texts, such as the Lankavatara Sutra, primacy is placed on the role of consciousness in constructing reality.
This is a key point I think and does tie in with Alex's initial question: "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?"

The main question in this part though - "role of consciousness" is whose consciousness?

The Gnostic idea of the Archon (in my reading) is the same as most genuine esoteric systems in that there is envisaged the idea that our personality is in fact a false one. We think we are real but we are not. This 'false personality' (ie Archon) has taken over our real personality (ie God) and is masquerading as it.

Esoteric and mystical systems are a means of identifying that we actually HAVE a false personality, living with an awareness of that and bringing it under control.

When you don't realise that there IS a false personality and you get into spiritual things without this framework you get 'religion' as opposed to dynamic development and you get literalism. We all know where that goes. This is how is it possible for religion (or anything) to be true and false at the same time. It is not the religion that should be looked at... it's whether the practitioner is approaching it through his real or false self.

The false self IS the Archon. And yes, it can mess things up. It doesn't want to be brought under control for example and will do anything to stop that happening...
 
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