Gnosis: The Science of Mysticism
We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. - John 3:11
Throughout the history of humanity, there have been individuals whose mission it was to act as guiding lights within the darkness of the ignorance and hatreds of humanity. These individuals have been called saviors, prophets, masters, magicians, bodhisattvas, Buddhas, arhats, and sons of man… With wise words, miracles, and esoteric written texts, these men and women have brought about changes to advance human spirituality.
We read in books that these holy individuals undertake various missions and have belonged to different eras, regions, religions, sects, secret societies, and esoteric orders; yet, there is a common and exact doctrine that is inherent within all of their works. As if there were a cosmic plan, in all races and eras, to send these enlightened messengers to work for specific missions in regards to the evolution of humanity. In his book, “Orders of the Quest,” Manly P. Hall states:
There is an incontrovertible mass of evidence indicating the existence of initiated philosophers possessing a superior knowledge of divine and natural laws. There is also sufficient proof that these initiates were the agents of a World Fraternity or Brotherhood of Adepts that has existed from the most remote time. This overfraternity has been called the Philosophic Empire, the Great School, the College of the Holy Spirit, and the Invisible Government of the World. References to this sovereign body of “the ancient ones of the earth” occur in the sacred writings, the philosophical literature, and the mystical traditions of all races and nations of mankind.
…[we] have referred to the stream of the secret doctrine as Humanism. The term is not used in its popular sense, but to describe the grand program of the Mystery Schools for the emancipation of man from bondage to ignorance, superstition, and fear.
To begin the said emancipation, the Gnostic student seeks to enhance and develop the intuitive principle within, that force that causes one to seek for the Truth, that principle which causes us to seek to know ourselves. That principle is the consciousness inside the individual, that which is the reason and cause for all mystical experience. The consciousness is the means or material used in all acts of Theurgy, mysticism or white magic. Eliphas Levi once wrote, “Magic is the divine in man, consisting of science in union with faith.”
The true Theurgist, the mystic or prophet, is the aspect of divinity within the individual human, it is the Inner Being, the Innermost. It is the particular Inner Being of an initiate which expresses itself through the words and actions of the initiate by means of the essence or causal principle. We do not say that any individual personality is divine, no, as Samael states, “The Theurgist is more within, deeper, more profound.” (Logos Mantra Theurgy) It is not, as many fanatics believe, the personality of a saint that is divine, it is the divine within that saint that is holy. And it is here that the initiates of the Universal Lodge find real magic. Devoid of the guidance of the divine within, one can only find egotism, and thus all magic will turn black as it degenerates into darkness. Sadly this is happening to many of the psuedo-esoteric orders and religions of modern humanity. Therefore, for one to delve into the esoteric or occult mysteries, one must seek union and guidance solely from the “Lord God of Truth Within.” And this is the true meaning of Religion, as the word itself comes from the Latin Religare, which means "to unite (with the divine)." We see the same meaning in the Sanskrit word Yoga (see the book entitled “The Mysteries of the Fire - Kundalini Yoga” by Samael Aun Weor), which is the same process under the light of eastern mysticism.
Therefore, the students of Gnosticism do not follow any Gurus or teachers, save for the inner Guru, by cultivating the relationship between themselves with the divine. The true teachings of the Masters, which have come to serve humanity, are meant only to give us the means to nurture this relationship. Eliphas Levi wrote in “The Paradoxes of the Highest Science”:
Religion is Magic sanctioned by authority.
The Wise understand what true religion is—the eternal necessity that is. For debased souls, religion is a yoke imposed by the vagaries of fear and the follies of hope. For exalted souls, religion is a force, springing from an intensified love of God and humanity.
II. ScienceFor thousands of years, Gnosticism has offered keys to unlock the mysteries that lay deeply hidden within the soul and it has promised one thing: objective knowledge. We do not ask the students to believe in a particular dogma. Why believe when you could know? That is why it is said that the Innermost Self-realization of the Being is our goal, but science is our method. We must be critical, attentive and determined if we are to reach such a lofty goal. Therefore, there are three esoteric sciences which have been studied since the dawn of humanity which offer the means to our goal.
“That children do not know the reason of their desires, all the learned teachers and instructors agree. But that grownups too stumble like children on this earth, not knowing whence they come or whither they go, acting as little according to true purposes, being ruled by cakes and birch rods, no one likes to believe; yet to me it seems quite obvious.
Let us watch man in his limited sphere and see how impressions affect him, how he is obsessed by ideas, until finally growing passion robs him of any possible calmness of mind and becomes his ruin.” –Johannes von Goethe (excerpts from “The Sorrows of Young Werther”)
The term psychology is a compound word coming from the Greek words Psyche (soul) and Logos (verb). Modern psychology only goes so far as to study the mind and the egotistical self. Gnosticism delves deeply into the esoteric aspect of psychology, seeking to incorporate the understanding of the spirit and the soul in relation to the mind and the various egos.
esoteric: (Gr.) Hidden, secret. From the Greek esotericos, “inner,” concealed. (From H.P. Blavatsky’s “The Theosophical Glossary.”)
Esoteric psychology seeks to understand and eliminate the cause of suffering just as the Buddha Shakyamuni taught over 2500 years ago. In relation to this aspect of psychology, the Buddha gave to his disciples the four noble truths. In brief, the first noble truth is that all ego-centric life is suffering. The second noble truth is that desire is the cause of all suffering. The third noble truth is that to eliminate suffering, one must eliminate all desire in oneself. The fourth noble truth says to follow what is called in Buddhism “the Eightfold Path”; these are the ways in which one goes about to eliminate desire and suffering.
Through many births I sought in vain
The builder of this House of Pain.
Now, Builder, thee I plainly see!
This is the last abode for me.
Thy gable’s yoke and rafters broke,
My heart has peace. All lust will cease.
- Buddha Shakyamuni
So in Gnosis, we go further into the soul of the matter. In esoteric psychology, we must understand how the desires and defects of the mind trap and condition the consciousness of the human soul. Therefore, under the light of the teachings of Samael Aun Weor, we study three main facets of psychology: the ego, the essence, and the personality.
EGO (Latin for “I”): These are the various vices, errors, wants, desires, conditionings, mechanicities, etc. in one’s mind, heart, and actions. By observing ourselves, we will see in a clear and obvious manner, that we have many different desires, often conflicting and contradicting each other, without any rhyme or reason. It is said that we have many thousands of these egos that dominate our mind, feelings and actions at a given moment. These are the elements in our psyche that cause us to identify with a particular self-gratifying sensation, these make up the false identity. These are the elements that lead to all the suffering of humanity. These elements, called psychic aggregates by the Tibetans, condition the human soul by trapping the essence or causal principle in the many deluded states of desire. The ego is a multiplicity, its name is legion.
PERSONALITY (from Latin Persona, which means mask): This is the visible aspect of one’s character, as it impresses others. This is formed from the time of birth to the age of seven. It has three major influences that are studied in the Gnostic curriculum. Our personality can give us the keys to understanding our psychological make-up and ourselves. Yet the personality is just a mask, it can be worn by the various egos or it can be the passive instrument for the Innermost to express itself in the world.
ESSENCE: This is the intelligence of one’s own Inner Being, inside the mind, heart and body. This is what we can call the Consciousness, Buddha nature, Buddhata etc. The Innermost has two souls, one divine and the other human; these three aspects make up our own particular individual Monad. The Innermost who is the aspect of the androgynous internal spirit, the Inner God, sends the essence of the human soul into the world in order to create. It does so, so as to acquire more knowledge in regards to the mysteries of nature. Thus, with divine intelligence, the Monad sends the essence into the world, our own psychological-physical world: mental, emotional/astral, vital and physical bodies. These bodies, intended to be vehicles of the cosmic intelligence of the Innermost (Monad), become identified and the mind becomes lost in the world, due to the identification with the desire for physical sensation. Thus, we must understand the egos, how they use our personality and how they trap the essence causing us to remain trapped in the base and superficial level of being that is so common and natural in this day and age. Yet it is only through re-connecting oneself to the essence that such a mission could be possible, for an ego cannot work on an ego, suffering only perpetuates more suffering. Therefore, the essence is what the students of Gnosticism seek to contact; it is only experienced in the moment, bringing knowledge, happiness and understanding. It is through the essence that the student can experience Gnosis (an intuitive and direct knowing), it can be experienced in different mystical states and various dimensions, as the essence is multi-dimensional.
Alchemy was included in the curriculum of the College of Angels, which Adam attended in Paradise before the Fall. Moses and Aaron were instructed in the mystery of transmutation by God himself, and became great adepts in the secrets of the Stone. When the angels descended to take wives from among the daughters of men, as recorded in the Book of Enoch, they revealed to mortals the precious chemistry for the regeneration of elements. - Manly P. Hall (Orders of the Great Work)
This ancient metallurgical science implies to us the notions of those who attempted to transmute base metals into gold. The word Alchemy is said to come from ancient Egypt (the land of Kem or Chem) and is a compound word containing Al, from the Arabic Allah, and kimia, a Greek term meaning "to fuse or cast a metal. Thus the true intention of Alchemy is "to fuse with God." Here we should also understand that EL (Hebrew for God) and El[o]ah (Hebrew for Goddess) is analogous to the Arabic word Allah.
This science is not one that can be taken purely at face value. The flamboyant alchemical instruments in the laboratories of the middle ages were merely used as symbolic tools to teach a secret doctrine to the initiated, so that it would not be destroyed- by the inquisition. The Keepers of the Great Arcanum have jealously guarded this science. This is the science of creation and perfection. Remember when Jesus said, “With patience ye shall possess thy soul.” And truly it is patience that one needs to perform the Magnum Opus, the Great Work. Symbolically speaking, this science is the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
Will you with me tomorrow be content,
Faithfully to receive the Blessed Sacrament,
Upon the Oath that I shall here give,
For neither gold, nor silver, so long as you live;
Neither for love you bear toward your kin,
Nor yet to no great man, preferment to win,
That you disclose the secret I shall you teach,
Neither by writing, nor by swift speech,
But only to him, which you can be sure,
Has always searched after the secrets of Nature,
To him you may reveal the secrets of this art,
Under the cover of philosophy, before the world, you depart.
- From the manuscript “Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum”
This word comes from the Hebrew word Kibel, which means “to receive.” This reception, the ancient Hebrew Rabbis would say, refers to the reception of a hidden doctrine. While the masses would follow the precepts of exoteric religion and study the body of the doctrine, the Bible, Torah or Tanakh, these books were only supplemental to the secret doctrine studied by the Kabalistic Rabbis. To the Rabbis, the cryptic symbolism within the books the “Zohar” and the “Talmud” was the body of the secret doctrine. Gnosticism has unveiled this most valuable tradition in the light of esotericism.
exoteric: (Gr.) Outward, public; the opposite of esoteric or hidden. (From H.P. Blavatsky’s “The Theosophical Glossary.”)
Kabbalah is based upon the symbol called in Hebrew Otz Chiim or The Tree of Life. This symbol shows all the different aspects of the universe in all its dimensions in relation to the human, with the different aspects of the soul in relation to divinity. It shows the creation of the cosmos, the creation of individual life, and the creation of the soul. It shows the way every cosmic unit receives and is sustained by cosmic forces. This is the true Kabbalistic reception . In every ancient religion there is a symbolic “Tree of Life.” It is in the midst of Eden within the Judeo-Christian traditions, it is the Bodhi Tree of the Buddha Shakyamuni, it is symbolized by the Katums of the Popul Vuh of the Mayans, and the Oak Tree of the Nordic mysteries. Students are urged to read such books as Mystical Qabalah by Dion Fortune, Tarot and Kabbalah by Samael Aun Weor, and Transcendental Magic by Eliphas Levi to understand the in depth symbolical structures of Kabbalah. To have a clear understanding of the Tree of Life, in its basic applications, one can unlock the doors of the mysteries of the ages.
It [the Tree of Life] is a glyph, that is to say a composite symbol, which is intended to represent the cosmos in its entirety and the soul of man as related thereto; and the more we study it, the more we see that it is an amazingly adequate representation; we use it as the engineer or the mathematician uses his sliding-rule, to scan and calculate the intricacies of existence, visible and invisible, in external nature or the hidden depth of the soul. - Dion Fortune (Mystical Qabalah ch 6)
Therefore, the students of our institutions are urged to study these three sciences and how they are applied to all of the ancient religions. We do not exclude any religion, because we believe that the doctrine of the synthesis is the most accurate, objective, all encompassing and tolerant. Understand these three sciences and the three sciences will help you to understand yourself spiritually and psychologically. These sciences should be studied and applied. For what is science without experimentation, theories, and facts?
“Initiation is life itself, lived intensely, with rectitude and with love.” - Samael Aun Weor
Initiation is a very important aspect of Gnosticism. The Initiation process reflects the cosmos, its order, and the laws of the universe within the “lodge.” We do not give grades and degrees to the students of our institutions, like many initiatory schools; that is not necessary. The initiations are received by the soul of the student in the temples that exist in the higher dimensions of nature. The true lodge, orders, and temples exist within the astral plane, and it is in the astral plane that the inner orders meet. The Gnostic student must become proficient in the arts of meditation and astral travel to be able to attend such meetings.
Initiations are gained by the merits of the heart. The initiation expresses the evolution and development of the consciousness and the soul. To achieve these initiations, one must learn to conquer oneself and to purify the soul. It is the Innermost who gives the initiations. This purification is achieved through the comprehension and elimination of the undesirable elements within the psyche, those psychic aggregates that were referred to in the section of this leaflet entitled Psychology.
Verily, there are three factors that lead to the true initiation, which we may call here, the Revolution of the Consciousness or the Awakening of the Consciousness. These three factors are as follows:
Mystical (Alchemical) Birth
This type of birth is in relation to the forging of one’s own soul, see the section in this leaflet entitled Alchemy. Let us reflect upon the words of Jesus when he spoke to the famous Pharisee Nicodemus:
Verily, verily I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I say unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. - John 3:5-8
Thus, Jesus spoke this symbolism for those who have the ear to hear. This is not, as many people think, to be taken literally, but to be understood on a deeper esoteric level. And He explains that in the words he speaks there is deep symbolism, not to be taken at face value:
We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. - John 3:11
Mystical (Psychological) Death
This refers to the dying of one’s egos or psychological I’s. This is the path that the serious Gnostic student takes to pay the Karma that one owes and to crucify one’s own desires, defects, and vices. By defects and vices, we are emphatically referring to those defects that can be called Anger, Pride, Envy, Greed, Gluttony, Lust and Laziness. We seek purification through comprehending our defects through the application of self-observation and meditation as our tools. It is only after comprehending a certain defect that it can be eliminated. All of the suffering of the world is caused by these defects and each of these defects has its corresponding selfish desires. The world and all of its problems is just a sum total of all the individuals who carry the defects within. Therefore, we must seek to change ourselves and thereby make a true revolution.
Sacrifice for Humanity
This factor is seen in the works of the great avatars and what they have done for humanity. Those who have given their life for suffering humanity, to give the teachings in different epochs, races and religions have shown us how to sacrifice for humanity. We read about many great Masters who gave their life for suffering humanity and received martyrdom in return. Sacrifice is to give without the desire to receive, and it is to give consciously. If we give money to a poor fellow, and he in turn spends that money on an unhealthy habit that harms him and humanity, how is that a conscious sacrifice? We must be wise and not careless in our actions. The road to the abyss is paved with good intentions. We must help in the way that best suits the individual and humanity. Therefore it is written, “Love is the Law, but conscious Love.”
“The results are always that which speak; it serves no purpose to have good intentions if the results are disastrous.” - Samael Aun Weor