Miguel Conner, on why Gnosticism more relevant than ever |338|

Discussion in 'Skeptiko Shows' started by Alex, Jan 17, 2017.

  1. Nelson

    Nelson Member

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    From memory, it was the part of the interview when they were talking about vigor and Hinduism and about turning inward and rejecting the physical world; Miguel then said that in the back of his head there would be Joe Atwill saying that it's just a psy-op to keep idealistic people passive and inactive in the material world.

    Btw, I was originally playing devil's (demiurge's) advocate with your post... :) but actually, there could be something more to this:

    I can see this as a potential psy-op in terms of jnana yoga and other extremely inward traditions. The yogis who these days practice this are typically brahmins and they go into isolation for most of their life from a very young age (as described, for example, by Swami Rama). However, this is in direct contradiction to the most important law text of ancient India, the Manu Smrti. So maybe this new jnana yoga tradition of getting the young brahmins not to have children and to essentially leave the world is a psy-op by the kshatriya/warrior class and/or others to finally topple the brahmins. I don't have direct evidence to prove it, but maybe give someone like Atwill a few years on it and he could put a case together :D

    In any case, what resonates with me is karma yoga, as described in the Bhagavad Gita, of maintaining inner awareness while at the same time being active in the physical world.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2017
  2. Nelson

    Nelson Member

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    Though regarding the Bhagavad Gita, IMO there is evidence of a psy-op here too. Even mainstream academia admits that the Bhagavad Gita and the Mahabharata that surrounds it have been edited over the centuries. And who did the editing of this religious text? The Brahmin/priest class.

    And what would one expect the Brahmin class to do to reinforce their position in society? - To put the Kshatriya/warrior class (their main historical rivals for authority) in their place... And this is EXACTLY what we find in the Mahabharata:

    Arjuna (a kshatriya) doesn't want to fight before the battle of Kurukshetra, but Krishna persuades him not to doubt but to do his DUTY/ follow his ordained order/Dharma. The way Krishna does this beginning at Bhagavad Gita 2.12 onwards is IMO the most exquisite spiritual discourse; but then at 2.33 the whole mood changes, and it goes into a very materialistic frame, about being shamed for not fighting. This doesn't mesh with what preceeded it and how Ajuna is. It seems like a copy and paste job by priests, of telling a kshatriya audience, on whatever level they react on, that they simply need to follow their ordained duty. Further into the Bhagavad Gita, the character Krishna launches into a critique of the god Indra, who was like the Germanic Thor and very popular with the kshatriya/warrior class.

    The overarching theme of the Mahabharata epic is also like this: there is obviously editing by various authors (it is a huge, unwieldy epic yet also fascinating and covering many topics); but overarching is the emphasis on the kshatriya class simply doing their DUTY. This culminates with the main character, Yudhishthira, who didn't want to be a kshatriya but instead to be more like a brahmin, finally learning his lesson about following his duty/ordained order/Dharma -- embodied in physical form by his dog(!) at his side, who goes with him even after death.

    It smacks of being a giant lesson for the kshatriya/warrior class, that they should be loyal to their duty as a good dog is.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2017
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  3. Nelson

    Nelson Member

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    PS: whether one can find direct evidence that the Mahabharata is a psy-op against the Kshatriya/warrior class, and that (in turn?) the more recent manifestation of jnana yoga is a psy-op against the Brahmin/priest class, there is a lot of potential for research I think. To this day, the Brahmin class is discriminated AGAINST in India.

    And as Atwill has shown, re the New Testament, the psy-op line of research can have tremendous explanatory power.

    And the more one looks into this line of questioning, the more one will find such psy-ops in other works too (as one would also expect, based on most people simply doing what is best for themselves/their faction/class/homeland/etc.). We even find this in the Iliad by Homer, which unlike the Mahabharata seems from the superb structuring of the epic to be the work of one genius. But even in ancient times, there was controversy that the Athenians were trying to edit the ship list in the Iliad to make the Athenians seem more prominent. (In the period in which the epic was set, Athens wasn't that important, whereas Mycenae, Argos and Sparta were, and this was of course a source of consternation for the proud Athenians!)... :)
     
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  4. Nelson

    Nelson Member

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    PPS: the more one appreciates Atwill’s research, the more one can see parallels in other places and times.

    For example, the editors behind the New Testament created the ideal of the meek Christian sheep.
    The editors behind the Mahabharata created the ideal of the faithful Kshatriya dog.

    In both the ancient Near East and India there were also conditions to create such a deep conspiracy: i.e. very entrenched career-priesthoods. So there was both incentive AND opportunity for manipulations.

    Likewise in ancient Egypt, it was a very priest-orientated society. If you could create a priesthood that would fit with god-ruler worship, then it was doable. See what I wrote on Akhenaton in the previous thread, about how that pharaoh tried to ban other religions and to instead have a one religion of the Sun, with the god ruler as intermediary.

    But in ancient Greece, the scope for religious psy-ops was very limited. As I described on the previous page of this thread, in general Greek society didn’t have career-priesthoods and people were more laid-back about religion (e.g. there was a humorous critique of the gods, and one can see this in Homer, Xenophanes, Euripides, etc.). The Greeks were also open with their sacred stories: for example, every child learned a lot of the Iliad (the ideal was to learn the whole epic as a child by heart). So when the Athenians reportedly tried to manipulate the ship list in the Iliad to aggrandize themselves, they were called on it by their contemporaries. Compare this to the vast Sanskrit literature, in which an ordained group of Brahmins had a monopoly of learning and conveying it; for example, certain pre-ordained families of Brahmins were responsible for learning by heart and communicating the Rig Veda; another group of Brahmins was responsible for the Yajurveda; and so on, with self-contained monopolies by priesthoods based on birth. In contrast, in ancient Greece there were rotating priesthoods of about a year, by any citizen and they would do their duties of maintenance part-time, and that was about it. So it was much more egalitarian and open. Furthermore, the exception proves the rule. The Oracle at Delphi had long-standing priests and priestesses, yet these were the focus of accusations about manipulation/psy-ops. Specifically, the family of Pericles was accused of having bribed the priesthood in order to gain divinations that would assist the family…

    Now whether Archons/demons/certain gods are responsible for possessing people to do such manipulations, or whether it is most people’s nature to manipulate systems to benefit themselves, I think both are possible and indeed (from what I've read and heard about) likely.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2017
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  5. Tarquin Rees

    Tarquin Rees Member

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    There is a Sufi saying "counterfeit gold only exists because real gold exists". People like Atwill seem to focus on the fake exclusively. It's fakes, fakes, fakes all the way down. But if that's the case then they aren't fake are they? They're real.

    Put another way, if the NT created the idea of the 'meek Christian sheep' (and I agree it did) then it follows that if this was not the original teaching of Jesus (and it wasn't) then it is only a counterfeit. So who cares? I don't care about your fake $10 bill if I know there are real ones out there.

    This is why Atwill and co have to go further than"the Church created the ideal of the meek Christian sheep" because that would leave open the possibility of the original real alternative that they corrupted. So they have to deny that too. It's not enough to say the teaching was corrupted... they have to say there was NOTHING to corrupt and it was invented.
     
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  6. Tarquin Rees

    Tarquin Rees Member

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    Psy-ops might be in vogue these days but I think we could usefully resort to Occam's Razor.

    I'd tend to see it more like this: humanity is 'fallen' (or asleep if you prefer) but less than we could be. Some people manage to escape this and develop themselves and become 'awake' or real or whatever term you feel comfortable with.

    Some of these people - like Jesus, Buddha, Muhammad etc - get famous and a religion accrues around them. It is not a psy-op as such but merely asleep people not being able to understand someone who is awake. So they react in a variety of ways: opposing them, trying to kill them, adjusting their teaching to be less threatening and something they can 'understand'.

    There's nothing really sinister about it. As time goes on it gets more and more distant from the source and subject to 'Chinese Whispers' and sometimes Governments and States do you use these things to control the populace, but they use anything for that: Nationalism, race, patriotism, consumerism.... many, many things that even many of us here are prey to.
     
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  7. Nelson

    Nelson Member

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    It's normal that a researcher has an area of focus. Joe Atwill has focused on psy-ops, and he's made tremendous breakthroughs (as Miguel said, it's the sort of research one could come across once in a thousand years - it's that significant). Btw, in the interview with Alex, Miguel mentioned that Joe thinks the gnostics were genuine.

    The way I see it, is that religious institutions are like any institutions, in that they can be manipulated for personal gain, so sooner or later they will be. So it's not surprising that there's corruption everywhere; it just varies in degree.
     
  8. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

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    You put your finger on something: how do religions come to be and what is their relationship with spirituality? I think that essential spiritual meaning has always existed and that there have always been people who were well ahead of the curve in appreciating and imparting it to others. Were they the ones who consciously invented religion? I have my doubts; I suspect those nearer the end of the whisper chain invented it, introducing new and often silly elements.

    Thus we have literally meant and taken doctrines such as Jesus being an incarnated God, come to shoulder the burden of our sin and expiate it by his crucifixion. Merely by attesting to the truth of that, we can be saved from everlasting punishment, which is itself a silly invention enabling control of the masses by sacerdotal elites. To me, that control is the signal that religion can't be the invention of the truly spiritual; however, as they've continued to be around, it could be that they've done what they can to ameliorate religion's worst excesses; that they've continued to inoculate us, so to speak, with anti-whisper serum.

    What Shah seemed to hint at was that that serum hasn't always been of an overtly spiritual nature. Indeed, in some cases, it might have seemed the opposite. Certain events, perhaps including the Enlightenment, may have had at their source a spiritual impulse; been quietly nudged along by people whose agenda was spiritual in nature. No matter that the Enlightenment would lead eventually to more atheism: on balance, it was a force for the good simply because it made everyday life more bearable.

    This led to the possibility of longer life and increased leisure time during which there was the chance for more people to reflect and evolve. And, let's not forget, many atheists possess a higher degree of morality than can be found in some tub-thumping religionists. Morality, in its own way, is more important than an unquestioning belief in God originating from the fear instilled by the priestly classes. It might be hypothesised that "God" isn't so much concerned with belief in "Him", as in how one behaves: because behaviour, rather than belief, is what "saves", i.e. what helps one evolve. "God" is that which promotes evolution: not in others so much as in Itself, as represented by its many dissociated aspects -- of which you and I are two examples. As you may gather, I'm enamoured of Bernardo Kastrup's views, which seem to offer the best explanation I've considered so far for reality.
     
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  9. David Eire

    David Eire New

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    I wonder did the Gnostics of lore have knowledge?
    Or is gnosticism a mental construction
     
  10. David Eire

    David Eire New

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    Fascinating interview - thanks Alex and Miguel

    The impression I get is that gnosticism is a spiritualised anarchism; a reaction to the powers and principalities of the human world and their claims to Divine right and authority to rule over humanity
    It is a reaction that not only wants to overthrow the human powers and authorities, but also their gods from whom the princes claim their Divine right to own and rule the world
    Right up to our own times the gods were taken as literally existing by most people in a way few of us today can even imagine; so the gnostics accepted the reality of those gods
    but demoted them to demiurges and archons and the like

    Personally I dont need to demote Yahweh or Moloch et al; I dont think they exist in the sense their devotees claim them to; I think human religions are human constructions; including their gods
    At the same time NDEs and other sources convince me there is a spiritual realm beyond this earth realm, and it is full of life and people of all kinds, including our own deceased relatives and friends
    And just as there are good and evil people here in the earth realm, there are good and evil people in the spirit realms
    When evil people die they bring their evil mental condition with them into the spirit realm
    Perhaps some of those evil people are able to influence living humans and play at being gods
    ??

    Certainly the esoteric traditions speak of low-level or 'evil' astral entities that prey on living humans in various ways
    as well as the good spirits or 'angels' who try to help living humans
     
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  11. hypermagda

    hypermagda Member

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    Predictably, I thoroughly enjoyed this podcast :) and would love to take the opportunity to ask Miguel a couple of questions, in the hope he's out there lurking :). Given the passion with which he has explored the Gnostic myths and sensibility, he must have thought about these ideas long and deeply and reached some well thought-out "working theory", which would be of great interest to me.

    I think I am a natural-born Gnostic so I am certainly not asking these questions in order to undermine the Gnostic take on things - on the contrary, it makes so much sense to me that I would like (if possible) to fill the holes I see in it.

    Basically, my question is this - if there's a "God above God" why has s/he/it not stopped/controlled the Demiurge (and of course when I use this concept I do not necessarily do so in a literal sense)? How come such an imperfect (if not evil) entity emanated from a supposedly perfect 'God'? In other words, how can this God above God not be responsible for the consequences of his imperfect emanations? And if s/he/it is not responsible, how can he be considered truly "above" (in the sense of 'higher'/'more powerful'/'morally superior')? The fact that this God above God is not able to do much to 'free us' makes the spiritual world resemble more a pantheistic situation, in which we happen to be the creatures of an inferior creator who, however, was imperfect himself - so how can the source which 'emanated' it (albeit after various "generations") be thought of as superior?

    One of the frequent answers to these questions (including in "Jehovah unmasked" by Nathaniel J. Merritt - thank you Miguel for making that excellent book available on your website) is that "the God above God" cannot be considered responsible for the actions of its emanations - just like, say, a grandfather cannot be considered responsible for the actions of his grandchild. But our situation is completely different - unless the God above God is, like us, a creature operating according to the laws of an often flawed system ("nature") which works independently of his will/intentions (in other words: he is powerless to control the nature of whatever emanates from him. But that would hardly make him "the ultimate God", right?).

    Another question - perhaps too personal, in that case please ignore it :); in the course of the interview Miguel said something like 'then things happen in life; you get a job, you have kids'. Isn't having children a deliberate choice (at least in our advanced societies)? If so, why would a Gnostic intentionally put children in this flawed reality?
     
  12. Nelson

    Nelson Member

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    I agree. I do this with my own research, and I'll apply it to what you wrote too:

    For example, it is your opinion that Jesus was a real person and that he was "awake". That is quite a leap: that he existed and that he was "awake". But what does the data show? - As the interview referred to, there is a huge body of research that has critically stripped back the NT, and one is left with hardly any Jesus character at all. But even if he did exist, just analyzing the behavior of the character as described in the text shows someone who is extremely immoral. For example, the text shows that the Jesus character did not respect the rest of nature (about the only instances he encounters other species, it is to curse and kill them somehow: sending demons into pigs and cursing a fig tree).

    This is a terrible role model and the disastrous consequences are with us. The mistreatment of the rest of nature could even lead to the end of life on this planet.
     
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  13. Tarquin Rees

    Tarquin Rees Member

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    I think you're not following me completely. There is a flaw in your reasoning here.... if my claim is that Jesus existed and that he was awake BUT the Church later corrupted his message and character (I said exactly this... see above) then you can't use examples such as your "the Jesus character did not respect the rest of nature (about the only instances he encounters other species, it is to curse and kill them somehow: sending demons into pigs and cursing a fig tree)." to counter my argument as my argument is that these things you cite ARE the corruption I'm talking about.
     
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  14. Nelson

    Nelson Member

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    In other words, you are making a very big leap: you claim that Jesus did exist and that he was "awake", AND that the Church corrupted his message and character. Yet somehow YOU can determine the real Jesus...

    But just out of interest, can you give an example of something you think isn't corrupted?
     
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  15. Tarquin Rees

    Tarquin Rees Member

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    Actually yes, I can. So can you. Put it this way.... either you believe in the betterment of humanity and the possibility of human spiritual evolution, or you don't. If you don't then it doesn't much matter.

    If you do then your idea of what that means is 'Jesus'. The archetype of Christ Consciousness. It's a thing. And it would exist even if Atwill and co were proved right. It is the apotheosis of the goal of the spiritual seeker... the 'person they aim to be'.

    That's the point of spiritual development isn't it? To learn to recognise these things and then find them. Me telling you what I think is an example and then us having an argument about who is right is no part of that process.

    But the real question is: if one does not believe in the metaphor of people being 'asleep/awake' then the argument is not essentially about Jesus being 'awake' is it? It's about how no-one was ever awake right? Because it doesn't exist.

    If, on the other hand, one accepts the premise - then why would Jesus NOT be awake? I suppose you could do some sleight of hand here and transmute 'awake' to mean the opposite of what Jesus embodies but that doesn't really solve it does it? All we'd need to do then is to reframe being 'asleep' as the goal of human development.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2017
  16. Nelson

    Nelson Member

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    Just to rewind a bit: You were talking about someone who got famous and a religion accrued around him... (you said this exactly, check above) ... and you also claimed the following: "my claim is that Jesus existed and that he was awake BUT the Church later corrupted his message and character".

    But now you are talking about archetypes and "Christ consciousness", as if that proves Jesus was a real person who got famous and a religion accrued around him.

    That is a HUGE leap.

    Here are some reasons why:

    -An archetype of a character does not necessarily mean that it's based on a historical person.

    -Higher consciousness can be called many things, such as "Christ Consciousness", "Krishna Consciousness", or one could call it "Hermes Trismegistus Consciousness". It doesn't necessarily mean Jesus was a historical person. So in this way "Christ consciousness" is a misnomer, because it gives people who experience higher consciousness the impression that it came from a character called Jesus.
     
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  17. Tarquin Rees

    Tarquin Rees Member

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    Yep. Exactly. He got famous. Like Buddha, Muhammad, Zoroaster. There have been thousands and thousands who no-one ever heard of or did not get 'religified'.

    Not sure that's a connection I made. I use 'Christ consciousness' to imply the state that the mystical aspirant intends to develop to. I happen to believe that Jesus was a real person who had these qualities but it doesn't matter. It works even if he is a fiction. Because the reality behind it is not a fiction. That's the point I'm trying to make.

    No, and I am not using it as proof it does. Even if you proved Jesus never existed it would not impact my argument. My personal belief is that a character called Jesus existed with the qualities that are embodied by the 'awake' motif but, even if this is not the case it doesn't matter because there are many other historical embodiments of this 'Jesus' motif.

    I think you're a bit hung-up on this historical Jesus angle. Of course you could call higher consciousness "Krishna Consciousness" or "Hermes Trismegistus Consciousness" or (my personal fave) "Prophet Muhammad Consciousness". That's what it is. You connect with it however you connect with it.

    You seem to be focussed on the historicity. That's irrelevant. I'm focussing on the 'Consciousness' bit and arguing that Higher Consciousness is in fact synonymous with the characteristics as delineated by the Jesus motif whether there was a real person behind it or not.
     
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  18. Nelson

    Nelson Member

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    [Edit: just saw the post above after typing the post below, but it doesn't change what I wrote... and I'll let this point go after this, to let others think about it...]

    To elaborate on this:
    In a Gothic cathedral or a temple or by a beautiful grove of trees, one could recite to someone unfamiliar with Sanskrit or Western literature the lines of the Bhagavad Gita, from 2.12 onwards:

    That there was never a time when I or You didn't exist, and likewise there will never in the future be a time when we will cease to exist. Such is the incarnated soul in this body, wandering from youth to old age; likewise wanders the soul at death from one body to another. A special person through such a change will not become confused...

    One could recite until verse 2.32. And those open to this elevated teaching would likely change to a higher state of consciousness (a very real experience). Then after the recitation one could tell the audience that these words were by an avatar called Krisha. The audience would then have a name to label their higher state of consciousness: "Krishna Consciousness".

    Likewise, though, one could tell the audience that these words were by an avatar called "Aristotle", or "Gandalf", or "Tintin". The audience would then have a label for their higher state of consciousness: "Aristotle Consciousness" or "Gandalf Consciousness" or "Tintin Consciousness", respectively. That doesn't change that their experience was real, but it also doesn't necessarily mean that the characters Tintin or Gandalf or Aristotle were historical people, and if they did, maybe they didn't say the quote attributed to them.

    This may seem absurd, but if we look at the Nag Hammadi library, we find the same pattern:

    Found in the ancient collection were two texts: one a Christian one, "The Sophia of Jesus Christ", and a non-Christian one: "Eugnostos the Blessed". The general editor for the publication of the Nag Hammadi library, James Robinson, described it thus:

    'The Nag Hammadi library even presents one instance of the Christianizing process taking place almost before one's eyes. The non-Christian philosophic treatise "Eugnostos the Blessed" is cut up somewhat arbitrarily into separate speeches, which are then put on Jesus' tongue, in answer to questions (which sometimes do not quite fit the answers) that the disciples address to him during a resurrection appearance. The result is a separate tractate entitled "The Sophia of Jesus Christ". Both forms of the text occur side by side in Codex III.'
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2017
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  19. Alex

    Alex New

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    nice... and great closing point... makes it impossible to tell where the myth-telling ends and the myth-making begins :)
     
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  20. Alex

    Alex New

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    not sure I understand exactly what yr referring to. as you probably know, Atwill's primary tool was literary analysis... the parallels he discovered between Josephus and Jesus's "prophesy's" are self-evident... and incompatible with Christian theology.
     

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