It was a difficult interview for me, too. I found myself answering questions out of Tessa's frame of experience and reference. I agree with Tessa that we have different vocabularies for similar ideas. I think my answers were probably more confusing than enlightening or even explanatory as I attempted to address her questions from her frame of reference rather than mine. At my own website and podcast I am able to explain these things much more clearly because I am not standing on the outside looking in, but am rather on the inside, looking out, so my podcasts and articles come from my point of view.
I don't approach gnosticism from a historical perspective but from a conceptual perspective. The Nag Hammadi book that makes most sense to me is the Tripartite Tractate, and those are the concepts I explain in my books and podcast. History is history, and that's fine for people who love history. I am more interested in concepts and truth. The particular gnosticism I teach is Christian Gnosticism, which seems to me to be the true proto-Christian religion, prior to the Popes and the Emperor's meddling.
I agree with Tessa and comments below that human-made institutions generally enforce power and not truth. So, I agree that it is silly to promote celibacy because some ancient manmade "gnostic" institution thought that was the way to go. I don't find that instruction in the Nag Hammadi. Quite the contrary, according to the Tripartite Tractate every shadow that emanated from the Fall needs to be countered by one of us redeemed humans showing it the light. If we are not born, then we can't counter the shadow. It's an esoteric point, but one that demonstrates the silliness of institutional proscriptions.
Thank you, Tessa, for the interview and for including the link to my singing. I appreciate you and I agree that our focus on love promotes an open mind and heart. I think the many months it took you to digest and release this interview and article shows that we both had a difficult time seeing from each other's point of view and yet we largely agree.
I think there are limits to our ability to replace our interpretations of this world with the truths of our shared spiritual sociality—the sociality that includes all our relations—at least on this side of eternity. I also think that the goodness of creation extends to and suffuses the natural world—that God is in all things and transcends all things. But I also think that each and all of us—by knowing that we are of creation—participate as unique expressions of everything else in the universe in the whole that is always presencing itself to us at every moment of the now when time touches eternity. As Zhang Zai observed a thousand years ago: “Heaven is my father and Earth is my mother, and even such a small creature as I finds an intimate place in their midst. Therefore that which fills the universe I regard as my body and that which directs the universe I consider as my nature. All people are my brothers and sisters, and all things are my companions.”
Quite frankly I don’t have the patience to read the whole interview. I decided years ago that I am here and now to Do Earth. Answers to the Big Questions will be provided in due course, or I shall be blissfully unaware of their lack. Meanwhile I try to muddle through and be a half decent human being. I mainly chime in here to thank you for your attitude. Why can’t we all agree with people on some issues and disagree on others?
Happy robot fighting.
It's funny because I use to teach a course on gnosticism at university. I never became a specialist in this field of research but I ended up to be rather familiar with the topic. I did go through all their literature and a quite a few modern secondary scholarly literature related to this topic. At the end of the day I came up with my own theory on gnosticism and Roman antiquity mindset (which would include Christianity also). The early Roman Empire (and even the previous Greek Empire period) was not so dissimilar to ours. A big cosmopolitan structure to some extent with many dislocated persons living in (relatively) big cities.
There was a deep unhappiness shared among urban elites (and within the general population too to a certain extent) that pushed them to cultish groups that were either philosophical (such as neoplatonists) either religious (mysteries) either a bit of both (Christianity etc). Gnostics were radical Christians (formerly radical Jews) with a depressing dualist worldview that they had borrowed from Platonism. The body and physical beings were bad, only the spirit (trapped into matter unfortunately) was good.
The only way for humanity was to give up this life, avoid reproduction at all cost and escaping to a better more spiritual realm.
To me these are all symptoms of a society filled with self-hatred and depression. Not unlike ours again.
Just tried to summarize hours and hours of lecture into a paragraph! Funny me! :-D
I should have probably listened to the end before I tapped out my first comment. I could edit the comment but I'll just type another one. I'm with Tessa around the 1 hour point (the 'fall'). I love this world and its people to the core of my being, as it appears Tessa does. I don't know where that love springs from, nor can I put words or definitions to it. I somehow understand the truth of that love and somehow know that such truth is shrouded in deep mystery. I have found that it is in being able to say "I don't know" that I "know"... paradoxically. Things are so incredibly complex. Everyone tries to simplify them... the quest for a unified field theory being part of the current scientific paradigm... but complexity will be present on many levels if such a mathematical construct is ever achieved.
I'll finish with this: 1. If paradox isn't somewhere in the picture, you could be off the mark. 2. After all your efforts, over however many years or decades, give yourself the liberating freedom of sitting back intermittently and saying "I don't know"... really let go of the relentless, desperate effort of trying to understand.... and see what happens. Trust me... you will never stop trying, which is also necessary, but if you exert effort and then release into what is almost an innocence of not knowing... or a relinquishing of your white knuckled grasping at all the information you can find, you might derive some benefit. And next time you look at a flower or a sunset or whatever and just let it exist within the mystery of not knowing... well, without wanting to sound full of euphemistic, new-age bullshit, I'll put it like this: it might be quite good.
The system wishes for no competition...expressly because it puts them in a bad light more often than not.
Rather than learn from others...their standard chosen course is domination.
Hi, I revisited this Substack tonight to break the ice as a topic of conversation with a new acquaintance who is death doula (guide for natural at-home funerals) within the topic of the Amish midwife who was incarcerated. Thanks for the excellent content, as always, Tessa. Your work makes a positive difference in my life.
Good interview as always Tessa. What a complex cosmology/ theology. I could be wrong, but I don't think it's that complicated. That being said, we live on a planet circling a star that's one of a hundred billion of so other stars in our galaxy that's one of a hundred billion or so galaxies, so mysteries abound. Even that factual statement is contested, just ask a flat earther.
I have to admit though, I resist just saying that we're all on a personal spiritual journey with one path being as valid as another as long as it's centered on Love. Even the Davos crowd and others have their spiritual transhumanist cosmology they are inflicting on the world. It's for the good of the world, don't you know. Not to mention the psychopaths it's good for too. I say this because there has to be a power or force that can bring good into the world and fight the demonic forces that are so powerfully prevalent now. We need a unifying theology / cosmology. God is a God of science and of physical laws. Is it so hard to think there are spiritual laws and principles too? Maybe things are at an Apex now, and we will really come to know spiritual Truth and Laws. I banked on having the pearl in the Oyster theology wise, but alas, though I learned and experienced many profound things, it turned out not to be the way I hoped. Even now, I think the world's troubles may be because of that, and I'm not the only one, if that sounds to be self centered.
My words were absolutely written in love. Bless you, Tessa. I take my guidance from my Lord Jesus, whose revelation is totally unique among the religions on Earth. I acknowledge everyone's right not to hear the Gospel, but I still must speak it. By the way, I love the Russian Orthodox church, though I am a Lutheran myself.
This was a wonderful interview. I so relate to the views expressed. Really resonant and comforting to me. Both of your sentiments shared. Thank you so much! Part of it made me think of how I've heard some describe shamanism....path of direct revelation. You just KNOW and it resonates as truth. Seems like a similar path.
This is, as usual, a really thought-provoking stack. As I was reading this song came on my headphones
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFGs7HP15d4. I think about what we as a species have to wrestle with before we can effectively throw off this anti-human force, and one of things is belief systems at war, orthodoxy vs heresy. This suffuses every institution, even the supposedly objective ones. Another is our impulse towards subjugation of others. Another is sadism, particularly coupled with power, and the fact that the evolved brain enjoys, and is built for, killing. But belief systems are so freaking intrinsic, and lead to such whackamoleness, like digging people's bones up and burning them for heresy, that I've really been thinking about that. In spirituality, cosmology and theology, ideas and paradigms are also mixed in with embodied experiences, overtly, whereas other paradigms may be covertly or unconsciously based on the experiential. I *know,* for instance, that we are both matter and spirit due to an experience, but no one else has any way of validating or falsifying that experience. The most anyone who knows me well can do is verify that I believe what I'm describing. Here's an interesting take on belief and faith from the Ethical Skeptic https://theethicalskeptic.substack.com/p/what-constitutes-belief. To wrestle these angels is to fight robots so I am grateful for your writing Tessa. Here is a poem for you from the Sufi Muid-ad-Din ibn al-Arabi (1165-1240)
My heart is capable of every form,
A cloister for the monk, a fane for idols,
A pasture for gazells, the votary's Kabah,
The tables of the Torah, the Quran.
Love is the faith I hold.
Wherever turn his camels, still the one true faith is mine. (quoted by Karen Armstrong in Fields of Blood)
The perspecitive of medical lawyer, Nanci Danison, who had an extreme and extremely profound near death experience (or death experience), is well worth listening to. She can be found on YouTube in various talks and interviews she's given. Life is deeply mysterious and has more languages than those our biological natures give rise to.
The longer I live, the more I realize how 'the ground we stand on', i.e. the sum of our own efforts, is vitally important, not least in our human attempts to honour our life and what our particular life represents in the world.
In all of philosophy, it is now my conviction that the most important concepts (which are actually life-long and profoundly nuanced processes) are summed up in the ancient Greek maxim: 'Man know thyself', and, in Polonius' words (Shakespeare's 'Hamlet'),: "This above all: to thine own self be true..."
I don't quote these words lightly or tritely. Quite the opposite. In my experience, they are the most difficult achievements possible, not least because 'To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment' - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Notice your gifts to humanity “the mediator” “exploratory” “teacher” to find answers to feed the courage n strength to overcome
Perhaps science can show a different type of hero’s with the brains structures like amygdala.
60 minutes article Carnegie hero’s and the neuroscience behind acts of heroism date 6/5/22 by Scott Pelly. Article doesn’t mention the female scientist but the 60 minutes “date line” does.
Take/point basic love is healing
The very didn’t goals to heal oneself, others n the world by redifinding thru our journey of life, sometimes jumping from a sinking ship in rough seas, lost n weak n yet each try to swim can be easy listening to others as our floats in our overcoming
Storytelling for warriors
Thank you, you helped me thru your podcast n this article
Keep healing n others
Wow, I studied the History of Religion in my BA 30 odd years ago. this is all news to me, the Arian thing! So THANK YOU! I have always found it hard to go along with any “organised” view of God and the world. So new ideas are always welcome, to refine my own thinking one way or another.
"i have an objection to source code!" ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
I checked out Cyd's youtube. That was nice of you to post it. She has some wonderful videos on there.
While I live a world away in many regards...it is refreshing to have a sense of being connected.