THE FOG – Gnosis and the Good Life
As we assess the landscape and distribution of power in the world how do we assess the abilities of those who sit in these seats? Are they effective or feeble? In other words where are the weeds among the wheat? For some these discoveries can cause great anger and confusion. For others it may cause great sadness and melancholy. However for the person full of gnosis nothing can rob them of the supremacy of joy. For they have learned to live beyond the anxieties of the world. They know the ignorant have their place in time and will always be with us as we are all called to experience life in stages. This is why the people of gnosis willingly turn their backs on the human comedy to focus on the harmony of heaven.
All of us are being called to the good life but few respond. For instance, if I ask a group of people who is interest in living the good life, I expect everyone would respond in the affirmative. However, if I was to suggest that most people don’t really want to live the good life this would sound like a contradiction. Nevertheless this is the truth and the evidence is all around us. Just open your mind’s eye and look within and you will see the paradox humanity has created for itself. The paradox is that on a conscious superficial level we want the good life while on a subconscious plain we do not. A good example is the alcoholic who may or may not know they have a drinking problem. They want the good life but cannot achieve it because they are seduced by a false liquid piety. There are many similar examples that we can all come up with. Therefore it is probably safe to say that many want the good life but few know how to achieve it. They lack the knowledge of the good life because they lack gnosis. This is why those who truly possess the good life have chosen to leave all the anxious values of the material world behind. Within the light of forethought it is easy to see how the decision to live a life of simplicity would sound ridiculous to the insecure at heart. This is why gnosis is a narrow path down a road less travelled. Knowing this you may begin to understand the paradox of the good life.
To understand paradox means you have come to understand the principle of polarity. This is the spiritual reality of duality, yin and yang or like and unlike. Each polar opposite is an extreme at either end of a continuum. For instance love and hate or hot and cold. The question is where do I want to be on the continuum. Do I want a greater capacity for love or hate? Do I want more positive or negative energies in my life? To live the good life we have to choose between “cause” and “effect”. Do I want to be the “cause” of something good in my life or will I settle for being the “effect” of someone else. We must always remember that there will always be people in the world who are very willing to step on other people’s dreams to obtain their own. So what are the positive and negative energies of “cause” and “effect”? Where am I on the continuum and what is helping or hindering me to experience the good life?
It is clear that the answers to these questions are both individual and communal. This is the principle of polarity. To gather a deeper understanding of polarity and the continuum of life let us turn to the ancient Gnostic tradition of the Hermetica or the Corpus Hermeticum. The Hermetic tradition represents a Christian lineage of Gnosticism, which is the name for a variety of ancient religious ideas and systems dating back to the 1st and 2nd centuries A.D.
The surviving writings of Hermeticism are known as the Corpus Hermetica, which is composed of a series of letters from a master, Hermes Trismegistus, wherein he tries to enlighten his contemporaries. These letters were lost to the western world after classical times, but survived in the Byzantine libraries. We also have the Nag Hammadi library which is a collection of early Christian and Gnostic texts which include portions of the Hermetica discovered near the Upper Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi in 1945.
Hermeticism is a school of ideas and systems that focuses on the pursuit of Gnosis — meaning the pursuit of empirical knowledge pertaining to spiritual mysteries. All major religions had gatekeepers to the spiritual experience. The Gnostics, and later Hermeticists were rebels of thought and free thinkers. They took the pursuit of the mystical experience into their own hands and developed a way of relating to the world that helped them communicate with it directly and experience what they call a more visionary reality.
Hermes Trismegistus is the purported author of the Corpus Hermeticum, and one of those individuals in history that blend the mythical with the actual. He is a synthesis of the Egyptian God Thoth and the Greek God Hermes. It is therefore assumed that the Corpus Hermetica was actually written by a collective of unknown authors who were Platonistic and Stoic Greeks.
As we look into our philosophical past we see how the hermetica influenced the creativeness of the renaissance and influenced the revolutionaries of the past which now shows up in much of our modern psychological systems of thought. When studying the following Seven Hermetic Principles it is important to keep in mind that they were written thousands of years ago, before modern science.
The Seven Hermetic Principles
1. The Principle of Mentalism: “All is mind, the Universe is Mental”
All is Mind (nous). Meaning, the Universe itself, at an underlying and foundational level, is Mental. That all phenomena of life, matter and energy of the material universe are thoughts of an infinite and universal, living Mind. Which means we are all individual thoughts of the One. All things share a common connection due to the existence of the Divine mind of the One. Therefore we are all subject to the laws of creation. This Mental Universe could be explained as an infinite intelligence and the nature of consciousness itself. All that is physically created is mental in essence because the essence of everything is mind. This explains many circumstances such as psychic phenomena. Even our actions arise from our thoughts. What we think we shall become. When we have the right thoughts, the right action will follow.
2. The Principle of Correspondence: “As above so below, as below so above”
The ancients believed that the macrocosm is a reflection of the microcosm, and vice versa. The Bible has also said that God created human beings in their own image. To solve complex paradoxes, we look at what is above us and below us. Because what works for the planets also works for the atoms. And what works for the solar system and atomic system also works for the human system. All things have their equivalent part – physically, mentally, and spiritually – which are in harmony with one another. Physical, mental, and spiritual are not separated but flow in the same line with different degrees of existence. There is always a correspondence between the laws of various planes of existence that manifest as being and life. Grasping this principle is what allows one to deduce the hidden solutions to problems by looking at what exists a layer above, and below the problem, to infer the pattern and shadow nature of what is in the space between. By observing the Principle of Correspondence, we can come to know the whole of the Universe by exploring the higher and lower nature of things. Thus we will discover more of ourselves. By experiencing and studying the world we swill share in the pursuit of Gnosis.
3. The Principle of Vibration: “Nothing rests, everything moves, everything vibrates”.
This principle embodies the truth that ‘nothing rests,’ ‘everything is in motion,’ and ‘everything vibrates.’ It explains that matter, energy, and even spirit, are simply varying rates of vibration. Knowing this, Hermeticists believe that even thoughts have their own rate of vibration, and can be controlled like tuning an instrument, to produce various results for the aim of self and environmental mastery. As our understanding of vibration, frequency, harmony and resonance increase, we become more proficient over ourselves and our world.
The Principle of vibration is one of the accepted laws of the modern science which states that all of life are vibrations at different frequencies. We all vibrate. Trees vibrate. Sounds and thoughts vibrate. Some vibrate slowly and others vibrate at a higher frequency. Higher frequency vibrations are in the realm of the unseen while lower frequency vibrations reside in the physical world where our sights can translate the “visible light.” Everything is in motion. We either vibrate at a state of harmony or a state of chaos. This is within our control.
Knowing this, Hermeticists believe that even thoughts have their own rate of vibration, and can be controlled like tuning an instrument, to produce various results for the aim of self and environmental mastery. As our understanding of vibration, frequency, harmony and resonance increase, we become more proficient over ourselves and our world.
4. The Principle of Polarity: “Like and unlike are the same”
Everything has its pair of opposites. Everything has two poles and exists in a state of ‘duality.’ However the true nature of this principle is that opposites are only two extremes of the same thing, which only vary in degree. For example; hot and cold or light and darkness. There is no clear transition moment when hot stops being hot, and starts being cold or when light stops being light and becomes darkness. All are merely our perceptions of the degree. And the Principle of Polarity exists to explain these paradoxes.
Hermeticists, suggests we can change the polarity of a degree of emotion, by recognizing it is the same and choosing the degree which best suits the situation. We can voluntary transition our psyche between love and hate or like and dislike. We can choose to experience these transitions by the use of mindfulness for the betterment of our lives and others. Knowing that love and hate are merely two expressions of the same thing in different degrees is the beginning of Mental Alchemy.
5. The Principle of Rhythm: “Everything cycles, flows in and out,everything has its tides”
This principle controls the cycle of life and death, creation and destruction, rise and fall, and the manifestations of our mental states. There is a rhythm. There is a cycle. You can enjoy the fruits of the highest highs. But you can’t overcome the destruction of the lowest lows. You can only neutralize it to a degree. Therefore you have to understand that no matter how high we are, we will eventually hit a low tide. The seasons change and the summer will become winter. There are days when crops are greatly harvested and days when the seasons are too rough to plant. If you understand this law, then you can learn to enjoy the rise and neutralize the falling season of our life.
Being able to adjust to these smooth transitions can be the difference between days of recovery (mentally, physically, and emotionally) and smooth grace periods between times of intensity. Knowing when to retreat and when to return is one of the many keys of self-mastery.
Through heightened awareness gained by understanding this principle, you can experience transcendental states of consciousness to rise above the swing of the pendulum. Rhythm will have an effect on you one way or another, but with awareness you can use it to propel you forward and ride it back to recovery. All people who experience self-mastery do this to some degree, but those who exert their will upon this principle are able to act from a place of purpose as opposed to letting the pendulum swing them into reactivity and victimhood.
6. The Principle of Cause & Effect: “Every cause has its effect, every effect has its cause”
For every cause there is an effect? There is no such thing as coincidence. Everything is done by the law of “cause” and “effect”. What comes to us may appear as coincidence because we are not clear on what the cause arises from. When we are aware of this law, we can become “causers” instead of the “effect” of the cause. By dominating our moods, characters, qualities, and powers, we become masters of ourselves. In careful consideration of the cause, we can lead a better effect.
The empowering use of this principle is to make the conscious choice to rise above the plane of thought you currently occupy to become your own “cause”, and not just an “effect” of others and the situations you find yourself in. That is to say, be your own first mover as opposed to someone who merely reacts to circumstance. You will know when you are out of alignment with this principle, when you find yourself feeling reactive, stressed and frazzled.
When you are on the quest to become someone who has mastery over their self, and can control their moods, character, and the environment around them — you will naturally have to obey the causation of higher planes in accordance to this principle. But the important distinction is that having awareness of this will give you the ability to rule on your own plane, without resigning to the roles of a victim.
7. The Principle of Gender: “Everything has its masculine and feminine principles”
Also known as the Principle of Generation, everything contains two elements, masculine and feminine. In the physical, we understood this to mean “man” and “woman”. But even so, a man can have masculine and feminine qualities and so can a woman. To understand this principle on a higher plane, goes beyond man and woman and into the realm of polar extreme energies. Not just in sex, but in the creative nature of all things, on all planes. In harmony with the Principle of Correspondence, this means that the masculine and feminine exist not only in the physical plane, but also the mental, and the spiritual as well. In Taoist alchemy, masculine and feminine are believed to be the same energy in two different forms. Everything in creation and generation has gender. To create, there must be infused masculine and feminine force.
Too much masculine energy without a balance of feminine, leads to a growth of power which leads to an extreme reckless abandon and the loss of the perspective of what is most important. While, too much feminine energy, without a balance of the masculine, leads to a life grounded so deeply in the present that our life circumstance can cycle out of our control.
The most potent use of this principle is how gender is responsible for creation, generation, and regeneration on the mental and spiritual planes, and not just the physical. True progress is possible through the balancing of these two energies in oneself, relationships, and environment. How much do we protect and honor what is our highest priority. How far from home have we traveled, in pursuit of what we desire the most? How much are we giving and how much are we receiving? Do we ask ourselves if these energies are in balance?
God and Goddess
When we worship both the God and Goddess of love within the micro and the macro the cosmos will reveal the sacred path that is void of extremes. To choose the middle path of balance in all things is the gift of the Seven Hermetic Principles. Thus we can achieve self-mastery without straying too far from the path.