Can We Still Say ‘God’?

All that we are is the result of all that we have thought.
– Siddhartha Gautama

In the last book of the New Testament, The Revelation, we read that the Alpha and Omega are One; origin (arche) and end (telos) are linked, and it is not possible to understand the destiny of things if one does not understand their beginning.

The origin of all things can be traced to what we call a FIRST PRINCIPLE, a pure, perfect and supreme POWER, which is eternal, infinite and absolute. These words merely attempt to set out our understanding of this SUPREME BEING, for whatever we say of Him/Her/It would have to be denied because it is ultimately inadequate. Exoteric religions invariably present their ‘God’ as a mighty potentate, a stern judge who rewards and punishes. The Italian metaphysician Julius Evola reminds us that there were once civilisations that never named their gods or attempted to portray them in anyway. The most primordial civilisations held to the “idea or perception of pure powers,” which is not a limited being or person, “but a sheer power that is capable of producing effects, of acting, and of manifesting itself. The sense of the real presence of such powers, or numina, as something simultaneously transcendent and yet immanent, marvelous yet fearful, constituted the substance of the original experience of the ‘sacred’.” Writing in Revolt Against the Modern World, Evola observes:

A well-known saying of Servius emphasizes that in the origins, ‘religion’ consisted in nothing else but experience. Even though more conditioned points of view were not excluded from exotericism (those traditional forms reserved for the common people), ‘inner doctrines’ were characterized by the teaching that the personal forms of deities, variously objectified, are only symbols of superrational and superhuman ways of being. As I have said, the centre consisted in the real and living presence of these states within an elite, or in the ideal of their realisation through what in Tibet is called the ‘direct path,’ and which generally corresponds to initiation conceived as an ontological change of nature. The saying from the Upanisads that best represents the traditional ‘inner doctrine’ is: ‘So whoever worships another divinity than his Self, thinking: ‘He is one and I another,’ he knows not. He is like a sacrificial animal for the gods.’

In our age exoteric religions have completely lost touch with their esoteric centre and become ‘empty shells’ inhabited by demonic forces of spiritual atrophy, ignorance and control. In their attempt to depict the Supreme Being the exoteric faiths rely on human images and on externals. Lacking inner wisdom they are blind to the SUPREME POWER. Their god is the demiurge, the imposter, the ignorant artisan of the physical world, the Adversary of Truth. A false god is forced on people in the name of religion. In the Apocryphon of John, and several other Gnostic scriptures, this Demiurge is referred to by many descriptive names. Among them Yaldabaoth (‘child of chaos’), Samael (‘blind one’), Satanael (Hebrew el referring to his former archangelic status), Saklas (‘fool’) El Shaddai (‘god of the mountain’), and Thartharaoth (‘ass’). According to a now lost Gnostic book the Birth of Mary, Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, saw in the Jerusalem temple a vision of a man standing “having the form of an ass.” And Zacharias went out and tried to tell the people, “Alas for you, who is it that you worship?” But the creature that appeared to him in the temple stopped his mouth. When he recovered his speech he revealed to the people – devotees of the Mosaic Law – what he had seen, and they put him to death.

The Demiurge reigns supreme in the religions of this world, in the same way he passed himself off on the Judeans declaring, “There is no god beside me” (Isaiah 45:5). Several Gnostic texts recount how the claim is rejected. A voice from above declares, “You are mistaken, Samael,” addressing him by the name meaning ‘blind one’. Another voice that of Sophia – Wisdom – rebukes him saying, “Do not lie. There is above thee, the Father of all.” And, “The Son of Man exists above thee,” and “The eternal angels are higher than the god who created the world.” Jesus the Christ exposed the Demiurge and the false image of the divine promulgated by the Jerusalem priests. Reproaching the religious leaders of His day, Jesus said, “Ye are of your father the devil” (John 8:44) because He knew the true nature of the god to whom they gave their allegiance.

In conveying the Gnostic Call, we depend on the traditional words and language forms of religion. To awaken certain perceptions and inner realisations in sensitive souls, Gnostic teachers make use of the Scriptures and the language of the prevailing religious traditions. They take the externals of religion and draw out the interior truths. When the Gnostic gospels speak of ‘God,’ ‘Jesus,’ the ‘Church,’ the ‘Holy Spirit’, ‘Heaven’ and ‘Hell’, they are not speaking of the shallow, literalist and one-dimensional notions used by Christendom.

The True God of Light proclaimed by the Gnostics is completely different from the imposter ‘god’ worshipped by the majority of people on this planet. The infinite and eternal Reality behind all phenomena the Gnostic know under several names, such as the “Unknown Father”, the “King of Light” and many more.

The adherents of dogmatic religion try to claim Gnostics believe in a multitude of ‘gods’. In fact, Gnostics know only ONE SUPREME POWER and a multitude of lesser spiritual powers ultimately deriving their existence from the ONE. These spiritual forces may be collectively termed ‘gods’ (Hebrew Elohim, ‘Mighty Ones’) but they are not to be confused with the Divine Unity, the TRUE GOD OF LIGHT. Also this SUPREME POWER is totally beyond the limiting characteristics of language.

The ineffable qualities of the ETERNAL ONE, when named in human language, have come to receive the common articles of ‘he’, ‘she’ and ‘it’. The God of Light can be seen as ‘he’, ‘she’ or both or neither. It is not uncommon to find terms for God in Gnostic scriptures which are androgynous such as “Mother-Father.” The God is sometimes described by enlightened mystics as manifesting as a family comprising the Heavenly Father, the Word or Son, and the Holy Spirit, the Mother or divine feminine. Other mystics reject all human analogies seeing the True God as a limitless Ocean of Mercy, Wisom, Compassion and Power.

In the words of the great Gnostic Master Teacher Valentinus (110-175) the godhead is “perfect and pre-existent…dwelling in invisible and unnameable heights, this is the pre-beginning and forefather and depth.” A Gnostic text from the Nag Hammadi library, Allogenes states:

Since he is not one of those that exist but is another thing; he is superior to all superlatives even in comparison to both what is properly his and not his. He neither participates in age nor does he participate in time. He doesn’t receive anything from anyone else. He is not diminishable, nor does he diminish anything, nor is he undiminishable. But he is self comprehending, as something unknowable that he exceeds those who excel in unknowability.

Another Nag Hammadi text speaks of the “Father of All of the light dwelling in the heights above the regions below. Light dwelling in the heights, Voice of Truth, upright Mind, untouchable Word, the ineffable Voice, incomprehensible Father.”

The True God is absolute perfection; He cannot exist in the imperfect world of humanity, but stands outside Time. God transcends all dimensions. The fundamental life force, which is God, is infinitely small and has infinite scope. This is the basic nature of the two-pole universe; zero and infinity; nothing and everything. God is a non-existence with awareness of all existence.

The True God cannot be confined to any human ideas about Him, and he cannot be encapsulated in human terms. Thus the Gnostic teacher Silvanus wrote, “My son, do not dare to say a word about the One and do not confine the God of All to mental images.”

Then can we, as Gnostics, still say ‘God’? Using the terminology of exoteric religion, Gnostics worship the Unknown Father who is without limit and therefore beyond description or measurement. For mortal beings the Eternal One must be said to be incomprehensible in majesty and indescribable. This is why Gnostics speak of the True and Good God the Father as incomprehensible Light. The German mystic Angelus Silesius wrote, “God dwelleth in a light far out of human ken; Become thyself that light, and thou shalt see Him then.” To know the True God is to experience God.

We read in the Gnostic Gospel of Truth, “Those whose names are known in advance will be called at the end. He whose name has not been named is ignorant.” Knowing – experiencing – God is the best way of being known by God. While the True God is outside the demiurgic world of humanity, He can be discovered deep within our True Being, for we are a Light Spark from the Cosmic Fire. Through the divine grace and mercy of the Unknown Father the Holy Spirit awakens and purifies our True Being, reconnecting us to the Source.

The venerable Sufi Master Rumi, addressing a scholar of exoteric faith, asks scornfully:

Do you know a name without a thing answering to it? Have you ever plucked a rose from R.O.S.E.? You name His name; Go, seek the reality named by it! Look for the moon in the sky, not in the water! If you desire to rise above mere names and letters, make yourself free from self at one stroke. Become pure from all attributes of self, that you may see your own bright essence. Yea, see in your own heart the knowledge of the Prophet, without book, without tutor, without preceptor.

Humanity trapped in ignorance and worldly illusion is estranged from the Unknown Father. Humanity is a snare of confusing inhibitions, while the True God is limitless. Man in turning away from the True God, is exiled on earth, and trapped in the world by his Adversary, the Demiurge, CONTROL. People are shaped by the world around them, by society. The human person is born with incredible inner spiritual potential; but born into a society corrupted by the blinding sinfulness of greed, selfishness and rampant materialism that person can be regarded as being “born in sin”. The recovery of the True Self or Divine Spark from CONTROL’s evil matrix— characterised in the Bible by ‘love of the world’ — is part of the Gnostic mission. CONTROL, after all is known by many names e.g. ‘Satanael’, ‘god of this world’, ‘Demiurge’, ‘Adversary’…

Right Action

Both Church and State demand that men and women conform to external laws. They seek to codify what is ‘good’ and ‘bad’. Gnostics see man-made external commandments as insufficient and potentially spiritually destructive. The Gnostic Way is far more demanding, requiring we examine the evil within, rather than outwardly conform to the shifting rules of the world. Jesus is quoted in the Gnostic Gospel of Philip:

As for ourselves, let each one of us dig down after the root of evil which is within one, and let us pluck it out of one’s heart from the root. It will be plucked out if we recognize it. But if we are ignorant of it, it takes root in us and produces its fruit in our hearts, it masters us…it is powerful because we have not recognized it.

The Gnostic engages in constant self-examination in an effort to confront the deeper motivation behind one’s thoughts and external behaviour. John Glyndwr Harris, after an extensive study of the beliefs and practices of the ancient Gnostics, observes “each person is urged to engage in self-examination and root out such potential sources of evil as lurk in the mind and spirit. What ensures that behaviour is right is acknowledgement of the evil of the flesh and the continual self-denial of its attraction.” (John Glyndwr Harris, Gnosticism)

We must put to death the small vulgar ‘all too human’ self — in all its multiple forms and guises — to resurrect the True Self. Knowledge of the Absolute comes only by inner illumination, not by merely accepting or rejecting a doctrine or dogma. It is something which must be experienced, comprehended and lived. We must put to death the ego personality that impedes transformation and feeds ignorance and suffering. Only then can we realize that longed for unity with the Eternal One. By overcoming the subjective elements of perception within one’s psyche, one eliminates the selfish ego, beset as it is by a legion of psychic aggregates, what G.I. Gurdjieff termed the “I”s. This revolution in consciousness is the way of Gnosis. This is the path of true discipleship based on Right Action which is conscious and conscientious. Good is what is in its place; bad is what is out of place. To quote the Tao Te Ching:

Let nature take its course.
By letting each thing act in accordance with its own nature, everything that needs to be done gets done.
The best way to manage anything is to make use of its own nature.
For a thing cannot function well when its own nature has been disrupted.

What we call the ‘Cosmic Battle’ is also a perfect metaphor for humanity’s struggle for ultimate liberation. It is the Demiurge, the god of the world, the god of contracts and laws, the god of Church and State, who extracts blind obedience and uniformity from men and women, instead of bestowing liberation. But the True God, the Unknown Father, sent Jesus the Christ to fight for Truth and liberation from ignorance. He left his example, showing the way to triumph over demiurgic CONTROL.

Humanity must be redeemed from the Demiurge’s world of law and egoism. Redemption is only possible if we repudiate the god of the Church and State, characterised by falsehoods, greed and exploitation. Driven by pure love, renunciation and compassion, the Gnostic is impelled to struggle, following the example of the revolutionary Jesus who came to preach “deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind…” (Luke 4:18)

Gnosis brings release from the bonds of illusion and imparts understanding of the meaning of existence. Yet, this knowledge is inseparable from Right Action. One does not exist without the other. Without right action, knowledge is meaningless and false, as is action without knowledge. We read in the New Testament: “Let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:18) and “So then, as the body without the spirit is dead, also faith without action is dead.” (James 2:26)

Adherents of the Gnostic Tradition strive to overcome the world and its false values, while shaping their lives after the pattern of the Christ. They seek to conform, not to the ways of CONTROL’s world, but to the impulses of the great universal plan.

Unfortunately, most men in this oppressive world are only half-men and ought to spend all their time becoming whole-men. As the Sufi mystics say: “He, not busy being born is busy dying”. Jesus’ message was designed to make people more alive, more conscious, awaken their longing for transformation and open the door to the real abundant life.

We must not forget that the snares of ignorance are subtle. See social media, newspapers, radio and television implant their images in our mind. They propagate twenty-four hours a day the idea that “objects make us happy”. Everything is reduced to a commodity to be bought and sold. We are told consumption is the purpose of life. Information is manipulated by those in power to suit their social, economic and political goals. Confronted by a barrage of images, words and a constant flow of data, people are becoming more, not less, ignorant.

Real happiness, say Gnostics, can only be achieved when we look at this phenomenal world as it really is. What is ‘mass entertainment’ and ‘social media’ but escape from the boredom and tragic reality of life? Modern society veils the mystery of existence and reinforces a desires-orientated world. But desires are manifold and even when satisfied only multiply — rather than extinguish — anguish, alienation and inner despair.

Today, bombarded as never before by words and images, each individual gathers a large quantity of information, but there is not much exchange of the information with other people. There is a tendency for people to isolate themselves from groups. The media promotes the image of individuals cut off from community, the past and the future. This situation helps to maintain a robot-like dependence on the system. Isolated individuals, with nothing but squalid material consumption to unite them, pose no danger to authority, or to the Dark Lord who rules this planet.

Ask yourself how you can practically apply this information in your daily life. The great Gnostic Secret Schools of the past were not ‘sellers of enlightenment’. You could not pay a few dollars, attend a weekend seminar, or do an on-line course, and walk away with the secrets of life. Most of what passes today as ‘esoteric wisdom’ and ‘spirituality’ is just plain egoism, vanity, and commercialism.

The Gnostic Tradition can only be properly understood in a Spiritual Christian Community. We grow through dialogue, human interaction, spiritual discipline, and simple work both on ourselves and in our environment. A community of people with a shared vision, firmly united around a goal, and committed to action is a power. This is why the rulers of society separate people, attempting to keep them powerless.

Face to face communication generates a certain vibration. Therefore television, telecommunications etc that break down person-to-person interaction, are vital to the control mechanism of demiurgic society. When individuals are isolated from each other, occupied with only the most mundane affairs, lacking a transcendent purpose and vision, it is easy to rule them.

Gnostics take no notice of the value system the rulers of this world are trying to implant and teach. They cannot control us because we do not want the ‘food’ they are trying to ‘feed’ us. We simply turn away from them, saying, “We prefer something else”.

Are you prepared to count the cost? Are you prepared to act? Then you must seek out the contemporary Spiritual Christian Community.

About the Author

TAU MIKHAEL is the Chief Bishop of the Universal Life Gnostic Fellowship and currently serves as the international secretary of the Universal Gnostic Alliance. He holds degrees of Doctorate of Divinity and Theology. He has travelled extensively in Eurasia, Africa and the Middle East, and currently divides his time between Australia and South East Asia.

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