"La tero nur estas unu lando, kaj ĉiuj homoj ĝiaj civitanoj."
- Baha'u'llah

Thursday, April 8, 2010

God Within

Okay, onto something a bit more serious than hair...

I was reading over Eric Stetson's website again today, and he touched on something very important, which made me realise I'd left it out of my previous statement of beliefs. He said, "All human beings are manifestations of divinity..." Every paragraph I read on his website, I find myself saying, "Exactly!" But this particular topic really jumped out at me tonight.

Now, I have an inkling that he meant something slightly different than I do when I say the same thing myself, but still, our ideas are close. As a Gnostic, I believe know that within each and every one of us there is a spark of Divine Light, just waiting to "wake up," as Gnostics like to put it. In fact, that Light underlies every bit of creation, both seen and unseen. I'm not saying that we're all gods, individually... rather, we are all part of God, the Unknown Father. In the Gospel of Thomas, for example, Jesus (Glory be to Him) constantly emphasizes that the "Kingdom of Heaven is spread out upon the earth, but men don't see it." He also says, "Split a piece of wood, and I am there; lift up a stone, and you will find me there." Most people, however, are perfectly happy being "asleep," and as my friend Susan often says, "Who am I to awaken a sleeping child before it's finished its nap?" It's no one's job to try and wake them up, they'll wake up when they're good and ready!

Eric mentions this very idea on his website, saying that "everyone will ultimately reach the level of great spiritual masters such as Jesus, Buddha, etc.," and he refers to a verse from the canonical scriptures: "A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher (Luke 6:40)."

This quote from Luke made me think of another passage from the Gospel of Thomas, logion 13, where Jesus asks His apostles to compare Him to something and tell Him what He is like. This conversation is also recounted in the canonical gospels, only there it's Peter who gets the right answer, and Jesus then tells him he's the rock on which He'll build His church. But the Gospel of Thomas, it's Thomas himself who gets the "right" answer. (In fact, the Gnostic scriptures in general usually tend to portray Peter as kind of an idiot!)

Peter says, in Thomas, that Jesus is "like a righteous angel;" and Matthew says, "You are like a wise philosopher." But Thomas outright admits, "Master, my mouth is wholly incapable of saying what you are like." To which Jesus responds, "I am not your master. Because you have drunk from my mouth, you have become intoxicated from the bubbling spring which I have measured out."

And there's an even more radical statement in the the Gospel of Philip, along these same lines, which I absolutely love, that says: "But one receives [Truth] in the chrism of the fullness of the power of the Cross . . . This one is no longer a Christian but a Christ."

I do hope I'm actually making sense here, and not just babbling (it's past my bedtime, and I'm starting to feel it!). I get so excited when I see Bahais having such Gnostic views! I'm fully convinced of the similarities between Bahaism and Gnosticism -- Baha'u'llah, Glory be to Him, emphasized repeatedly the need for the Knowledge of God; the Wisdom which comes from God. And he condemned those who would try to hinder that Knowledge... which, unfortunately, is exactly what I see the Haifan Administration doing to its followers. Rather than turning to Baha'u'llah's writings in matters of faith, as He said to do, Baha'is are expected to turn to the administrative order -- a collection of imperfect human beings, who, despite the religion's opposition to clergy, sure acts like clergy!

In a future post, while I'm thinking about it now, I'd like to write more about some specific issues I have with the administration's power, and why I could never bring myself to sign a declaration card... In particular, the fact that they do exactly what is condemned in the Book of Certitude: altering the word of God. But that's completely unrelated to this post, and I really should be getting to bed now, so I'll save it for later! :)

2 comments:

  1. Hi Brother Pier-Giorgio, Eric Stetson here. Thanks for mentioning and linking to my website.

    I agree with you that it's possible to hold Gnostic views and be a Bahai at the same time. If Bahaism is interpreted in a more Sufi-oriented way, as it could be, then there's no conflict.

    All religions have their "outer" and "inner" versions, and Bahaism is no exception. The outer, visible version of the Bahai faith today centers on obedience to an authoritarian "administrative order." Most Bahais, sadly, never move beyond this phase of their spiritual journey.

    The inner, esoteric version of the faith is about finding the manifestation of God within all religions, all peoples, and indeed all individuals -- not one exalted person we should worship, but an Inner Voice that is ever inspiring human beings to greater heights of spirituality and true civilization.

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  2. Hi Eric, thanks for the response.. I just now noticed it!

    Yeah, it's just like pretty much any other religion. The Catholics have their pope and the Magisterium, Protestants have their pastors, etc... They cling to the teachings of men, and believe that following specific rules will get them to heaven, but they shy away from (and are usually outright afraid of) having their own *experience*.

    You know, one passage in the Aqdas I've really struggled with as a Gnostic is: "Among the people is he who layeth claim to inner knowledge, and still deeper knowledge concealed within this knowledge. Say: Thou speakest false! By God! What thou dost possess is naught but husks which We have left to thee as bones are left to dogs."

    At first glance, it seems to condemn Gnosticism, and other esoteric traditions. But on studying different translations of this passage, my interpretation is that Baha'u'llah is refering to the people who *claim* to have this deep, spiritual knowledge, when in fact they don't, and are ultimately just showing off. You definitely run into a lot of those types of people in esoteric circles.

    Most of His other writings, like the Hidden Words and the Valleys, really seem to encourage inner knowledge, an intimate knowledge of the Divine.

    Btw, how is your translation of the Aqdas going?? I've been working on my own translation as well (although I love archaic language, haha!). It's an extremely time consuming process, but has really been inciteful!

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