The term gnosis, a term originating from the Greek in which it means knowledge, evolved as a branch of Christianity in the first two centuries of her existence. In that context one spoke of gnosis in the sense of the knowledge concerning hidden, esoterical and secret matters. It is especially about the knowledge of the direct experience of the supernatural or divine. With Plato - in a more philosophical sense thus - carries the concept of gnosis not so much the meaning of hidden, mystical matters, but knowledge in the sense of a higher form of knowing, a higher intelligence, a form of knowing which is capable of exerting influence and control. Gnosis concerns a form of enlightenment not in the sense of knowledge as acquired from learning something from the outside world, but an enlightenment in the sense of according with the transcendental and the therewith acquired experience and knowledge. The term gnosis is thus closely associated with the concept of self-realization and emancipation. With Christianity in her beginning came gnosis about as a religious-philosophical movement which, later declared to be heretical by the pope, not so much departed from belief on the basis of accepting the authority of the church or whatever other authority from the outside. In gnosis one is concerned with belief on the basis of inner realization and connectedness with the saintly person. In the gnostic practice is in that case of relevance the interest of stabilization, of developing fortitude and forbearance in relation to the godhead or the sainthood. Succinctly stated is gnosis the knowledge of self-realization.
Contrast with spirituality and theism
Spirituality versus gnosis
Spirituality is more a state of being or a state of mind on the basis of followed regulative principles than of having arrived at a realization concerning the transcendental and divine. Also in a philosophical sense doesn't spirituality necessarily imply that there would be gnosis. Spirituality deals with the true nature and purpose of humanity in the sense of truthfulness, nonviolence, purity, and compliance (penance) in which the developing of a common vision constitutes the purpose. One thus may be a strongly spiritual person motivated for the essence of humanity without being a gnostic, without being of direct experience in and having knowledge of the transcendental position. But contrary to that may gnosis also imply that with having caught a glimpse of the mystical experience and thus having acquired a certain gnosis therefrom, one nevertheless is totally unconcerned about the regulative principles or the realization of a common vision. A gnosis which does incorporate spirituality is what we call filognosy, a special spiritual gnosis: of having knowledge about and insight in the transcendental position at the one hand, while at the other hand there is also mentioning of following the regulative principles and the striving for a common vision as the purpose.
Theism and gnosis
The same way one may speak of an association or else not going together of a belief in God, or theism, and gnosis. The same way as there may be a spirituality without one believing in a governing impersonal, or else personal, God - then called Something or the Force - and one just as well may have a belief without feeling obliged to the regulative principles of spirituality, may there also be a gnosis not believing in God the way we may find with philosophers and can there also exist a theism in the sense of a traditional theology declaring all forms of gnosis heresy in the name of the institute of authority of the religion in question. In filognosy one finds a gnosis which is theistic, and a theism in the sense of a ritualized practice of devotional service which as well accepts the gnosis of a spiritual self-realization.
The Integration of gnosis, theism and spirituality in the human mentality
It finally amounts to a spiritual integration of all possible human visions. Only with a sound coherence of the different existing human mentalities may we expect to arrive at a world order in which each and everyone feels at home, in which each knows himself to be respected. Thus do we in filognosy according the logic of an analytical spirituality then see the entire complex of knowledge of the human mentalities displayed in the form of the next table:
Filognosy is in this table recognized as a compass quadrant which in all directions covers the integrity of the unity in diversity in the field of the facts, the principles and the person of the human mentalities. The grey area that is formed by the doubtful going together of 1) gnosis with atheism in mysticism at the one hand and with rationalism in the impersonal at the other hand; of 2) theism with agnosticism in conventionalism and with rationalism in opportunism; and 3) of spirituality with agnosticism in escapism and with atheism in spiritism. Rationalism, spiritism and the other -isms mentioned in the table we know of the definition of materialism as respectively follies or else forms of corruption relating to the knowledge, the power and to other visions and opulences. Having arrived at integration in filognosy vanishes the curse pronounced against the ego of all these lonely endeavors, of all these selfrighteous, orphaned mentalities. In filognosy we see the control of the duality of gnosticism and agnosticism as being essential in relation to the necessity of a spiritual integrity at the one hand and an open philosophical fundamental attitude at the other hand. Spirituality itself which can be poised against rationality, constitutes as well therewith a fundamental duality which is essential to an integer filognostic mentality of functioning to the principles at the one hand and to the facts of reality at the other. And finally warrants the duality of theism as opposed to atheism filognostically a proper respect for the person in a religious as well as political way. Even though they are separated in our constitution, are they both necessary forms of human selfrespect. Thus seen is filognosy then the final stage and the solution for the problem of integrating all gnostic, theistic and spiritual visions and their counterparts.
- Forum discussion about theïsm and gnosticism with Richard Dawkins. This discussion demonstrates to what extend people are confused concerning the basic concepts of gnosis, spirituality and theism.
- A new Dualism - a more elaborate discussion on determinism in relation to the different forms of materialism.
- Encyclopedic definition of Gnosis (wikipedia Engels).
- Spirituality (Wikipedia English).
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