Of all the world-hating, female-fearing, life-denying cults that sprang up in the wake of the Curse of Abraham, one of the most interesting is Gnosticism. As far as Abrahamic cults go, it’s unusually moderate, and its adherents appear to have achieved a far higher level of general spiritual awareness than the others. It’s worth taking a closer look at.
Gnosticism might not even really be an Abrahamic cult, as the sentiments that led to its creation may predate Abraham and go all the way back to Zoroaster, but the common interpretation of it nowadays is in the Christian context, as it was codified in the Christian Syria and Egypt of the second century A.D.
We may never really know if this movement was started by Christians who accidentally got close to the truth or if it was started by people who knew the truth and therefore knew that they had to modify it to fit a Christian paradigm for it to be accepted. Therefore we cannot judge if the Gnostics basically had it right or wrong (at least not here).
The essentials are this: there exists a unified, remote, supreme force that is considered a deity. From this deity various lesser forms have emanated. It is one of these forms – known as the demiurge – that has created our material world. In some schools of Gnosticism this demiurge is considered merely imperfect – in others, outright evil.
The essential idea that the world as it appears to the senses is not the full story is an idea that is shared with many other esoteric traditions. On the face of it there are similarities with the Hindu concept of Maya.
Let’s leave aside what we know about consciousness and the contents of consciousness for now. This essay posits a simple argument: any demiurge intelligent enough to have created the world in which we find ourselves wouldn’t do anything so simple and easy to outwit as merely maintaining the illusion of a material world.
A clever demiurge would create two competing illusions, one masculine and one feminine. In this manner, the vast majority of people will spend all their time and wit trying to figure out which of the masculine or feminine illusions are correct, never suspecting that they were both shadows cast by one black fire.
This is a far more accurate picture of our world that to posit simply truth and illusion. There is not only truth and illusion, but truth within illusion, and enough so to make it far more powerful an illusion.
After all, if we were merely trapped in an illusion, then knowing the truth would be a simple matter of outlining the illusion and then looking at its opposite.
A clever demiurge might create just the one material world, but it would be created in a way such that there were at least two entirely different interpretations of it, and therefore conflict. This conflict would itself intensify the power of the illusion, as it would force all of us in the material world to take it seriously or suffer and die.
The most obvious way to understand this is to look at modern politics from a Gnostic viewpoint.
Most of us agree that there is only one material world, but, by way of example, consider these two competing perspectives. If one looks at the world in a feminine way it is natural to conclude that the primary imperative was to co-operate. If one looks at the world in a masculine way it is natural to conclude that the primary imperative was to compete.
This can lead to two entirely different attitudes to life, which naturally cause their bearers to come into conflict. After all, if someone is truly committed to competition there is no way to co-operate with them short of abject submission.
If one takes a fundamentally feminine perspective it may be that one looks to co-operate first and foremost and is thus likely to end up supporting a social democrat party. This will inevitably lead one into conflict with anyone taking a fundamentally masculine perspective, because this latter group will resent paying the taxes demanded by the social democrats.
If one takes a fundamentally masculine perspective it may be that one looks to compete first and foremost and so ends up supporting a conservative party, and so comes into conflict with those taking a fundamentally feminine perspective, because this latter group resents the inequality, coercion and social decay demanded by organising society for optimal capital production.
The demiurge may have achieved all this by emanating from itself lesser demiurges. Perhaps there’s a left wing demiurge making us want to do stupid things like let millions of Muslims in, and a right wing demiurge making us want to do stupid things like spend our children’s education money on a giant bronze statue of Jesus.
If any of this is true, the only way to find absolution is to reject entirely the belief that politics is a lens through which the truth appears. The left wing tells half truth and half lies, and the right wing simply tells the truth where the left lies, and lies where the left tells the truth.