26 April, 2012

Mailbag Q&A

Q: What do you mean when you say there's no self? I exist!

A: This is one of those times where I'm going to be mum and rather circumspect. No-self is a realization. It's a direct, experiential insight due to practice. If I tell you exactly what it means, it will be difficult for you to actually come to the realization on your own. Think about it. Who are you? Who sees? Who hears? What are you?

Q: Given the role of Apostolic Succession in orthodox Christianities why do you feel it's useful for Gnostics?

A: This is something I've been thinking about quite a bit recently, as the six year anniversary of my episcopal consecration recently passed. One of the original roles of Apostolic Succession was to be a kind of stamp of orthodoxy, so it seems a little funny that Gnostics would go ga-ga over something like that.

In a way, I think that taking Apostolic Succession is a way of saying "This too is in continuity with the teaching of Jesus." It's also sort of subversive in that we're taking what was once a stamp of orthodoxy and locating it within a Gnostic context.

It's a way of saying "A long time ago, someone had a really great message. He passed that message on to his disciples (students), and they passed it on to their students. However, somewhere along the way this message of very real liberation in the present moment became the tool of an imperial power and the meaning of that message was lost."

Apostolic Succession is in no way required for one to take on a teaching role in a Gnostic context. It's also not required for "valid" Gnostic sacraments. I talk more about that here.

In the context of the Thomasine Church we do say that you must have a certain ordination to perform certain sacraments, but I wouldn't say that the Leitourgia is any less useful if it's done by someone who is not a Thomasine priest.

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