Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Where Is The Source of the "Ego" or "Self"?

Monoimos, a second-century C.E. Gnostic ("Christian") teacher (quoted by Pagels, and Freke and Gandy) said it quite well. With apologies to the translators, I have here slightly modified both translations to clarify (as I think it) what Monoimos' message really is--to make it somewhat easier (I hope) to comprehend:

Abandon this "search for God" and "the Creation" and other matters of a similar sort. Look for "God" by taking YOURSELF as the starting point. LEARN who it is WITHIN YOU who takes everything to himself and makes it his own, saying, "MY God, MY mind, MY thought, MY soul, MY body." LEARN where and what is the source of "ego", "self", sorrow, joy, love, and hate; of waking--even though you would rather not; of sleeping--though you would rather not; of getting angry--though you would rather not; and of falling in love--though you would rather not. And if you will carefully and impartially investigate these matters, you will ultimately find "God"--in YOUR SELF.

What did "Christ" say at Luke 17:21? "The Kingdom of Heaven is WITHIN YOU..." (KJV)

This is, of course, echoed by similar statements in the Gnostic "Gospel of Thomas", such as "The kingdom of the Father is spread out on the earth, but people do not see it," and "The kingdom is within AND without..."

And finally, what is perhaps THE most common statement about man's relationship with deity as found in the eastern traditions of Buddhism and Hinduism? "The self is Atman." "'God' is Brahman." "ATMAN IS BRAHMAN." In other words, "God" IS the "Self", or the "Self" is part of "God".

Many scholars (and laymen) are now asking whether Eastern philosophies might not have had a profound influence on the Gnostic form of early Christianity (and I think it probably did).

And throughout the ages since Gnosticism was brutally suppressed, many later mystics and thinkers have also affirmed that the "self" in each of us is only a "spark", "fragment" or "splinter" of God himself, that divinity or "The Divine" resides within each of us, if only we will open our sleepy eyes to see it.

Now, I don't think for a minute that this idea or belief ignores the propensities for 'evil' that seem to be irredeemably inherent in humankind; I tend rather to see both what we puny humans call "Good" AND "Evil" as being part and parcel of "God" or the "Divine'. (GASP!!!! HORRORS!!!!) Well, I have this idea on good authority: no less a person than the Old Testament prophet Isaiah said it, speaking in "God's" voice (and presumably with His Authority too):
"I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil." (Isaiah 45:7) I guess it could be readily admitted (by even the most hardened Evangelical) that if you really THINK about the matter, NOTHING can really exist without "God's" authority, or without "His" permitting it to exist--if, that is, "God" did in fact create EVERYTHING that exists. I, for one, think so, and I also see how this idea harmonizes quite nicely with Monoimos' (and the other mystics') teaching with which I began this little essay.

Early in the twentieth century, German writer Hermann Hesse argued that thinking human beings should move beyond the conventional dichotomy of 'good and evil', and I agree: it is far past the time when the human race should evolve and develop a more MATURE idea of the nature of "God". (Nietzsche hinted at this well over a hundred years ago ...) And here it is definitely ironic that we are being shown the way toward this new conception of deity (and our relationship to it) by the teachings of these sages and prophets and mystics whose ideas have literally been around for two thousand years (and more), but which have been cleverly and deviously kept from the knowledge and awareness of most of us during that time.

"Even so, Lord JESUS, come ..."

T.J.White, 25 January, 2005.