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!