31 January, 2013

Gnosis without God

One of the struggles people often have when studying the Thomasine path relates to the notion of god or divinity. Most of the enquiries I receive are from people who would probably think of themselves as religiously or philosophically oriented. The idea of God and divinity in general is an ancient and potent one that is present in many cultures. It represents the human need to make sense of a chaotic world. God is a box which is used to create boundaries and provide a sense of order and justice.

Classically, religions identified as Gnostic or as being a part of Gnosticism tell a story of alienation from the Prime Mover or Supreme Creator. The God of most Gnostic schools of thought is separate from the world you and I live in and, while not omnipotent, it is certainly capable of manifesting its presence in this world through various messengers.

Further, many modern Gnostics do a lot of talking about God. They insist that Gnosis itself is a knowledge of God or of the divine, that we all contain a divine spark, flame, or ember, and that we are quintessentially of God. The modern Thomasine tradition diverges here, because we are not theistic. We do not begin with the assumption that there is a divine being of any sort who is conscious or capable of intervening in the world; whether there is or is not a God within our without the boundaries of the world is not something that can be definitively proven, so we begin with the question "What reason do I have to presume that there is or is not a god?"

For the Thomasine initiate the existence of God is no more a serious question than the existence of the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus.

Thomasine initiates aim not to obtain divine knowledge, because such a thing cannot be reasonably proven through experience and experimentation to exist and exert an effect on human life, but rather we aim to attain liberating insight into the nature of what is. We can know, excepting perhaps philosophical solipsism, that we exist. We can know that we think, that we feel, and that we experience desire. We can know, through experience, that these things have an effect on our lives and on the lives of others. We can begin our enquiry into all of these things without even the briefest mention of theistic though or philosophy.

04 January, 2013

Q&A: Do people actually read this thing?

Q: You don't seem to get many comments, do people actually read this blog?

A: Between 500 and 700 people and/or search engine robots read and/or index this blog on a monthly basis. Sometimes people leave comments or send e-mails. Sometimes I respond to them.

I write a blog because, well, I like writing. The stuff taught by the Thomasine Church (or my teacher anyway) was, and is, exceptionally helpful to me. So, I write about the things I feel I can explain in this medium. Some people seem to get something out of reading.

Q: How do you decide what to write about?

A: I either try to answer a question someone asked or I write about something I've been thinking about. Sometimes I write about things that other people have written about or in response to thoughts that have germinated as a result of other writing.

I have a bunch of posts on topics that are not quite done yet, and I try to work on those topics and then publish the post if I still think it's worthwhile or people will be interested in it.