Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Coincidence?

Some time before I began to re-explore Gnosticism I set out a task for myself. I wanted to try to define what it was I believed in, spiritually. I was at a time when I didn't feel connected to any "relgious" path. I never did fully explore all of my thoughts at the time (partially because I was mostly sastisfied with the basic conclusions I had come to). It wasn't long after this process began that I rediscovered Gnosticism for myself. This came after the passing glance I had given it years earlier (although I would come to learn that what I had thought was 'big G' Gnosticism actually wasn't).

What is ironic is that I was on the trail of gnosis before I conciously realized it. What made the lightbulb go off in my head about Gnosticism and gnosis, was that I had previously defined the three main elements of what I believed in and cosmology in ways that would be very interesting to me later:

  • The Mythos of Christianity: I have always been most famliar with the Christian story as it is what I was taught as a child, and indeed it had been the only system of belief I was knowledgeable of until my mid-teens. I would go on to reject Christianity, but in reality it was a rejection of Protestanism. It hasn't been until recently that I've re-established my connection with my Christian heritage, albeit inthe heresiological form of Gnosticism!
  • The Heart of Buddhism: I would define the meaning and labeling of this, for me, as the praxis of Buddhism. When I began to explore Buddhist thought and practice, I read about the Four Noble Truths, the Five Precepts, and Eightfold Path. These teachings offer inspiration, but also a practical guide for being, living and interacting with the world around oneself in a way that encourages you to trully understand yourself and the truth of our "reality". My knowledge of Buddhism very much helped me to understand gnosticism.
  • The Magic of Paganism: When I rejected my Christian beliefs in my mid-teens I would soon find myself immersed in paganism, specifically Wicca. I felt connected to the ritual, symbology, mythology, and expanded perception it gave me. Wicca was something that I felt right about, although after a few years I realised that something was still missing.

Looking back at the ideas I put together about my own beliefs, I now find some intriguing similarities to what I now know as Christian Gnosticism. Are these similarities a coincidence? I can't say for sure. There are certainly arguments that can be made either way. I do know that everything I know now, and everything I have learned in the past has lead me to Gnosticism. It is the only answer to my question, so in that will I continue.

There is a quote attributed to one St. Ratford (ahahaha) that I feel expresses that syncretism quite well:
"Catholic on the outside, Buddhist on the inside. Quotes a lot of dead Greek guys."
From my past experiences this resonates with me, both in my attraction to Christian ritual and mythology, and of my respect for the wisdom within Buddhism. I don't quote many dead Greek guys, but give me some time and works by Greek philosophers and I'll get there in no time!

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