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Subject: Gnosis-Overview

This article was archived around: 1 Oct 2000 06:23:32 GMT

All FAQs in Directory: gnosis
All FAQs posted in: alt.religion.gnostic, alt.consciousness, sci.psychology, soc.religion.christian.bible-study, soc.history, alt.sufi, alt.religion.islam
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Archive-name: gnosis/overview Last-modified: 9 June 1995 Version: 1.1.2.3
Gnosis Overview This document is posted monthly to soc.religion.gnosis and to other relevant newsgroups. It is maintained by deane@netcom.com (Dean Edwards). ********************************************************** COPYTIGIGHT INFORMATION AND DISCLAIMER The following general overview of gnosis is not intended to be the last word or the definitive work on this subject. Rather it is, as its title implies, intended to provide the participant or reader with a set of guidelines that will familiarize them with the general use of the terms for gnosis. Beyond that it will seek to review the historical and contemporary trends, techniques, practices and developments of gnosis, Gnosticism, ma'rifat, irfan,jnana, mystical ecstasy and other related terms. The Gnosis-Overview is intended to serve as a general on-line reference about gnosis in the soc.religion., talk.religion., sci. and alt. hierarchies (among others). It may not be sold or resold without permission of the author. It is also used to support the discussions in soc.religion.gnosis. Please send comments to deane@netcom.com (Dean Edwards). GNOSIS-OVERVIEW c 1994 Dean Edwards Gnosis comes from a Greek word meaning 'to know' in the sense of 'to be acquainted'. Gnosis in a more specific religious sense refers to the knowledge of God and the fullness of the true spiritual realms through direct personal experience. Similar terms are jnana (Sanskrit) and ma'rifat (Arabic). A gnostic is someone who has had such an experience or who has been initiated into a tradition which provides access to such personal revelations. (Please note that as a term 'jnana' should not be confused with jnana yoga, which as a system of yoga is also concerned with the study of knowledge rather than the topic of gnosis as in 'direct acquaintance or experience. The true or 'sat' jnana, while it can be discussed or written about, has its real value in direct experience.) Gnosis is not simply a synonym for mysticism, paranormal, occult, metaphysics, esoteric or knowledge. It is a distinct category of mystical experience beyond the physical or psychic levels of being. (Psychic experiences, such as speaking in tongues, are not considered to be an experience of gnosis.) A gnostic religious-philosophical movement flourished during the first several centuries of the current era. During the Second Century C.E., a series of systems of gnosis emerged in Alexandria and the ancient Mediterranean world. These systems, most of which were associated with early Christianity are usually referred to by historians of religion by the term "Gnosticism". When Gnosticism is used in this document, it is with that meaning in mind. 'Gnosis' and 'gnostic' retain their broader meanings. Gnostic practices and ideas have long been present within many, if not most, religious and spiritual traditions. What occurred in the Second Century C.E. was the emergence of gnostic systems which focused on gnosis itself as the goal around which these early (classical) Gnostics formed their own approaches to spirituality. There would seem to have always been traditions of secret knowledge within various religious systems. What is referred to here was the emergence of systems in which gnosis itself was the principal goal and experience. In these systems it was not just another thread in a larger tradition. The effects of the presence of Gnosticism as a systematized religious and spiritual practice were felt throughout Europe, Asia and North Africa. These effects continue to be felt today. While much of the focus in gnostic studies has been with the early Christian forms of gnosis, Jewish, Islamic, Hindu, Taoist, Buddhist, pagan and other forms are also present in the historical and contemporary record. An active academic debate about the origins of Gnosticism and gnosis is a major focus for many scholars. The discussion and study of gnosis as an approach to spirituality cannot be easily tied to any single religion. Gnosis involves direct "knowledge" and experience of the sacred, rather than relying exclusively on faith, belief or study of sacred texts. The gnostic (Arabic: 'arif) draws upon this inner experience and knowledge to describe the origin and true nature of all things. The world is often seen as a training ground or prison for Soul as it seeks spiritual liberation, a return to its true home in the Pleroma or realms of pure spirit beyond the physical and psychic regions of matter, emotion and the mind. The true nature of Soul is as a divine spark which originally issued forth from the fountain- head of God. Gnostic traditions often teach that only through the intercession of a messenger from the pure spiritual realms can the Soul become acquainted with God. The original Greek word 'gnosis', as noted above, meant knowledge in terms of being 'acquainted with'. The gnostic in any form is a 'friend of God'. Please note that Soul in the above paragraph refers to the spark of individualized spiritual essence that dwells within the consciousness or mind. In some systems the word 'spirit' itself is used instead of Soul. Soul then becomes interchangeable with mind. In Greek, for instance, the word 'psyche' means both mind and soul. 'Pneuma' on the other hand means spirit, wind, breath, air. The ancient Egyptians used the word Ba for mind/soul and used Sa for the spiritual essence which dwelt within the Ba. In some traditions the terms for soul and spirit often have the same meaning and are used interchangeably. Today, new schools of gnosis such as the Ecclesia Gnostica have emerged in the West. The ancient movement still thrives in several Sufi orders of Islam, which continue to attract many new adherents. There are also strong gnostic influences in Jewish wisdom tradition, Kabbalah, Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism. Similar patterns are found in India in the teachings of the Fifteenth Century poet Kabir and in the Sikhism. As a field of academic study Gnosticism has risen to prominence as a result of the discovery of the Nag Hammadi Library materials in Egypt in 1945 and earlier discoveries of Manichaean writings. This document is intended to serve as a foundation for a continuing serious exchange of information, questions and views about historical and contemporary gnosis, gnostics and Gnosticism. Additional information is also available by looking up Gnosticism, Sufism and related subjects at most libraries in the subject index. From daemon@alumnae.caltech.edu Tue Jan 13 13:13:41 1998 Return-Path: <daemon@alumnae.caltech.edu> Received: from alumnae.caltech.edu (alumnae.caltech.edu [131.215.50.235]) by mail2.netcom.com (8.8.5-r-beta/8.8.5/(NETCOM v1.02)) with ESMTP id NAA10597 for <deane@netcom.com>; Tue, 13 Jan 1998 13:13:40 -0800 (PST) Received: (from daemon@localhost) by alumnae.caltech.edu (8.8.3/8.7.3) id NAA00424 for deane@netcom.com; Tue, 13 Jan 1998 13:13:16 -0800 (PST) Received: from relay6.UU.NET (relay6.UU.NET [192.48.96.16]) by alumnae.caltech.edu (8.8.3/8.7.3) with ESMTP id NAA00419 for <srs@alumni.caltech.edu>; Tue, 13 Jan 1998 13:13:13 -0800 (PST) Received: from basement.replay.com by relay6.UU.NET with ESMTP (peer crosschecked as: basement.replay.com [194.109.9.44]) id QQdyeu26356; Tue, 13 Jan 1998 16:13:29 -0500 (EST) Received: (from daemon@localhost) by basement.replay.com (8.8.5/RePlay, Inc.) id WAA20577; Tue, 13 Jan 1998 22:13:23 +0100 (MET) To: soc-religion-shamanism@uunet.uu.net Path: basement.replay.com!mail2news-gw From: Anonymous <nobody@replay.com> Newsgroups: alt.drugs.dmt,alt.religion.shamanism,soc.religion.shamanism Subject: A Y A H U A S C A F A Q Date: 13 Jan 1998 22:13:21 +0100 Organization: mail2news@replay.com Lines: 238 Sender: daemon@basement.replay.com Message-ID: <199801132100.WAA18367@basement.replay.com> Comments: This message did not originate from the Sender address above. It was remailed automatically by anonymizing remailer software. Please report problems or inappropriate use to the remailer administrator at <abuse@REPLAY.COM>. X-To: mail2news@basement.replay.com X-Mail2News-Info-Url: http://www.replay.com/mail2news/ X-Mail2News-Errors-To: postmaster@replay.com Status: RO Hi, This FAQ is something that we're working on in the ayahuasca mailing list. If you have something to contribute, please join the list (details below) or email the editors. Thanks. ______________________________________________________________ ========================= A Y A H U A S C A F A Q ========================= Version: 0.000002 Date: 19970108 PLEASE NOTE: This document is under construction, and is not yet complete. If you have any comments/additions, please email the ayahuasca mailing list (see section 6.3.3). If you would prefer to email the FAQ editors directly (if you do not want your address to be revealed let us know), email <TBA> The latest version of this FAQ is (or soon will be!) available from the Ayahuasca home page (http://ayahuasca.lycaeum.org). _______ EDITORS Andrew Dunn <dunnat at lycaeum.org> Tomsk <tomsk at nym.alias.net> _________ THANKS TO [if you submit something useful for this document, we'll add you to this list (unless you'd rather that we didn't)] ________ CONTENTS 1. GENERAL 1.1 What is ayahuasca? 1.2 Why would I want to take it? 1.3 How does it work? 1.3 What does it do? 1.4 Is it legal? 1.5 Are there any dangers associated with taking ayahuasca? 2. OBTAINING IT 2.1 What are some possible ingredients? 2.2 Where can I get them? 2.2.1 Growing them.. 2.2.2 Buying them.. 2.3 Preparation 2.3 Extraction methods 3. THE EXPERIENCE 3.1 Making the experience pleasant 4. TRADITIONAL USE 4.1 Shamanism 4.2 Santo Daime 5. AYAHUASCA RELATED HOLIDAYS 5.1 Contacts 6. REFERENCES 6.1 Journals 6.3 Books 6.3 Internet 6.3.1 Websites 6.3.2 Newsgroups 6.3.3 Mailing lists 6.3.4 IRC 7. CURRENT RESEARCH __________ 1. GENERAL 1.1 What is ayahuasca? This brew, also called yage, or yaje, in Colombia, ayahuasca in Ecuador and Peru (Inca "vine of the dead, vine of the souls," aya means in Quechua "spirit," "ancestor," "dead person," while huasca means "vine," "rope") caapi in Brazil, is prepared from segments of a species of the vine Banisteriopsis Caapi. Sections of vine are boiled with leaves from any of a large number of potential admixture plants resulting in a tea that contains the powerful hallucinogenic alkaloids harmaline, harmine, d-tetrahydroharmine, and often dimethyltryptamine (DMT). This medicine has been used for millenia in order to enter the sacred supernatural world, to heal, divine, and worship. 1.2 Why would I want to take it? [unanswered--feel free to fill in the gap!] 1.3 How does it work? [unanswered--feel free to fill in the gap!] 1.3 What does it do? [unanswered--feel free to fill in the gap!] 1.4 Is it legal? The plants that are used to make Ayahuasca are legal, but some of the compounds contained within are not. 1.5 Are there any dangers associated with taking ayahuasca? [unanswered--feel free to fill in the gap!] _______________ 2. OBTAINING IT 2.1 What are some possible ingredients? o Mimosa Hostilis o Peganum Harmala ...etc 2.2 Where can I get them? 2.2.1 Growing them.. 2.2.2 Buying them.. http://www.entheogen.com/fatfreddie/plants/ http://www.shadow.net/~heruka/ -- L.E.R Legendary Ethnobotancial Resources - specializing in rare ethnobotanical seeds and plants http://www.well.com/user/dpd/botdim.html - Botanical Dimensions is a non- profit organization dedicated to the collection of shamanic plants http://www.amazing-nature.com/ Amazing Nature - psychoactive herbs, seeds, mushrooms and cacti [comments from actual customers on these companies would be good--response time, potency, etc] 2.3 Preparation [unanswered--feel free to fill in the gap!] 2.3 Extraction methods [unanswered--feel free to fill in the gap!] _________________ 3. THE EXPERIENCE 3.1 Making the experience pleasant [unanswered--feel free to fill in the gap!] __________________ 4. TRADITIONAL USE 4.1 Shamanism [Anyone feel up to writing a little about ayahuasca and shamanism?] 4.2 Santo Daime [Anyone feel up to writing a little about ayahuasca and the Santo Daime?] _____________________________ 5. AYAHUASCA RELATED HOLIDAYS 5.1 Contacts http://www.green-travel.com/santodai.htm [need more information] [let us know of any more of these, and if you've been on one of these holidays then it would be great if you could review/rate it] _____________ 6. REFERENCES 6.1 Journals 6.3 Books Psychedelic Shamanism by Jim DeKorne is a great book that brings the two areas together in a very practical way. [Also see MIND BOOKS in section 6.3.1] 6.3 Internet 6.3.1 Websites http://www.promind.com/ -- MIND BOOKS offers publications about psychedelics - mail-order book store focused on "mind-expanding" plants http://ayahuasca.lycaeum.org -- Ayahuasca Home Page http://www.lycaeum.org -- The Lycaeum [comments, reviews, etc are welcome] 6.3.2 Newsgroups alt.drugs.dmt alt.drugs.psychedelics rec.drugs.psychedelic 6.3.3 Mailing lists ayahuasca@lycaeum.org Topics for discussion - Anything relating to Ayahuasca or its chemical constituents. Subjects such as extractions, preparation, botany, and shamanism are all more than welcome. To be added to the list, simply send a message with the words "subscribe ayahuasca" in the body of the text, to majordomo@lycaeum.org Remember, however, that you have to send the subscription request from the address that you want to receive the list mailings to. 6.3.4 IRC #entheogen on dalnet ___________________ 7. CURRENT RESEARCH [unanswered--feel free to fill in the gap!]