Gnosticism: The Secrets of the Ancient Tradition of Inner Knowing Books Pdf File
Gnosticism: New Light on the Ancient Tradition of Inner Knowing Books Pdf File
If you are interested in exploring one of the most fascinating and mysterious spiritual traditions in history, you might want to check out some books on Gnosticism. Gnosticism is an ancient form of esoteric Christianity that emphasizes personal experience and inner knowledge over dogma and authority. Gnosticism offers a rich and diverse collection of myths, teachings, and practices that can inspire and enlighten modern seekers. In this article, we will give you an overview of what Gnosticism is, where it came from, what it teaches, and how it relates to our current times. We will also show you how to access some of the best books on Gnosticism in pdf format for free or at a low cost.
Gnosticism: New Light On The Ancient Tradition Of Inner Knowing Books Pdf File
What is Gnosticism?
Gnosticism is a term that covers a variety of religious movements that emerged in the first few centuries CE, mainly in the Mediterranean region. The word "Gnosticism" comes from the Greek word "gnosis", which means "knowledge" or "insight". Gnostics believed that they had access to a special kind of knowledge that could liberate them from the bondage of ignorance, sin, and suffering. This knowledge was not based on rational arguments or external authorities, but on direct experience and revelation. Gnostics claimed to have a personal connection with the divine source of all being, which they called the Pleroma or the Fullness.
Why is Gnosticism relevant today?
Gnosticism is relevant today because it addresses some of the most fundamental questions and challenges that humans face: Who are we? Where do we come from? What is our purpose? How do we deal with evil and suffering? How do we find meaning and happiness? How do we relate to ourselves, others, and the world? Gnosticism offers a unique perspective on these issues that can help us expand our consciousness, awaken our potential, and transform our lives. Gnosticism also resonates with many people who are dissatisfied with mainstream religions or secular ideologies, and who are looking for a more authentic and holistic way of spirituality.
How to access Gnostic books in pdf format?
One of the easiest ways to access Gnostic books in pdf format is to visit online libraries or websites that offer free or low-cost downloads. Some examples are:
The Gnosis Archive: This website contains a large collection of primary texts, secondary literature, and multimedia resources on Gnosticism and related topics.
Sacred Texts: Gnosticism: This website offers a selection of Gnostic scriptures and writings from various sources and traditions.
PDF Drive: Gnosticism: This website allows you to search and download thousands of books on Gnosticism and other subjects for free.
Alternatively, you can also purchase Gnostic books in pdf format from online platforms such as Amazon Kindle or Kobo. These platforms offer a wide range of titles and genres, from academic studies to popular introductions, from historical analyses to contemporary applications.
The Origins and History of Gnosticism
The pre-Christian roots of Gnosticism
Gnosticism did not emerge out of nowhere, but was influenced by various religious and philosophical currents that existed before and during the time of Christianity. Some of these currents include:
Judaism: Gnosticism borrowed some concepts and symbols from Jewish mysticism, such as the idea of a hidden God, the role of angels and archons, and the importance of wisdom.
Platonism: Gnosticism adopted some elements from Platonic philosophy, such as the distinction between the material and the spiritual realms, the notion of a divine spark in the human soul, and the goal of returning to the source.
Zoroastrianism: Gnosticism incorporated some aspects from Zoroastrian religion, such as the dualism between light and darkness, the conflict between good and evil, and the expectation of a final judgment.
Hellenistic religions: Gnosticism assimilated some features from various pagan cults and mystery schools, such as the use of myths, rituals, symbols, and initiation.
Gnosticism was not a monolithic or uniform movement, but a creative and dynamic synthesis of different influences that resulted in a diversity of expressions and forms.
The emergence of Christian Gnosticism
Gnosticism emerged in the context of early Christianity, which was itself a diverse and complex phenomenon. Some Gnostics considered themselves as Christians, while others did not. Some Gnostics accepted Jesus as a divine messenger or savior, while others rejected him or reinterpreted him. Some Gnostics used the canonical gospels and epistles as sources of authority, while others produced their own scriptures or relied on oral traditions. Some Gnostics interacted with other Christian groups or sects, while others isolated themselves or formed their own communities.
Some examples of Christian Gnostic groups or schools are:
The Valentinians: They were followers of Valentinus, a prominent teacher who founded a school in Rome in the second century CE. They taught that there were three types of humans: the spiritual (who could attain gnosis), the psychic (who could be saved by faith), and the material (who were doomed to perish). They also developed a complex cosmology that involved a series of emanations from the Pleroma, including Sophia (Wisdom), who fell from grace and gave birth to the Demiurge (the creator of the material world).
The Sethians: They were named after Seth, the third son of Adam and Eve, whom they regarded as their spiritual ancestor. They taught that there were two races of humans: the elect (who had a spark of light from the Pleroma) and the hylics (who were made of matter by the Demiurge). They also revered a figure called the Christ, who was sent by the Pleroma to awaken the elect and reveal to them their true origin and destiny.
The Mandaeans: They are still an existing group that lives mainly in Iraq and Iran. They claim to be descendants of John the Baptist, whom they consider as their prophet and master. They reject Jesus as a false messiah and an enemy of John. They practice baptism as a means of purification and salvation. They also have a dualistic worldview that opposes light and darkness, life and death, knowledge and ignorance.
The persecution and suppression of Gnosticism
Gnosticism faced opposition and hostility from various sources throughout its history. Some of these sources include:
The Roman Empire: The Roman authorities viewed Gnostics as subversive and dangerous elements that threatened the social order and stability. They persecuted Gnostics along with other Christians and dissidents, especially during times of crisis or conflict.
The Orthodox Church: The Orthodox Church was the dominant form of Christianity that emerged in the fourth century CE, after the conversion of Emperor Constantine and the establishment of the Nicene Creed. The Orthodox Church rejected Gnosticism as a heresy and a deviation from the true faith. They accused Gnostics of distorting the scriptures, denying the incarnation and resurrection of Jesus, and promoting immoral and elitist practices. They also confiscated and destroyed many Gnostic writings and banned their circulation.
The Islamic Conquest: The Islamic Conquest was a series of military campaigns that spread Islam across the Middle East, North Africa, and parts of Europe from the seventh to the eleventh centuries CE. The Islamic Conquest affected Gnosticism in different ways, depending on the region and the situation. In some cases, Gnostics were tolerated or even welcomed by the Muslim rulers, who saw them as allies against the Byzantine Empire or the Zoroastrian Persia. In other cases, Gnostics were persecuted or forced to convert to Islam, which had some similarities but also some differences with Gnosticism.
The Main Teachings and Practices of Gnosticism
The concept of the Pleroma and the Demiurge
One of the most distinctive and controversial aspects of Gnosticism is its cosmology, or its view of the origin and structure of reality. Most Gnostics believed that there was a fundamental contrast between two realms: the Pleroma and the Demiurge.
The Pleroma is the realm of the true God, who is ineffable, transcendent, and incomprehensible. The Pleroma is also populated by various divine beings or emanations, called Aeons, who represent different aspects or attributes of God. The Pleroma is characterized by light, life, love, and harmony.
The Demiurge is the realm of the false god, who is ignorant, arrogant, and malevolent. The Demiurge is also identified with Yaldabaoth, Saklas, Samael, or Ialdabaoth, who is the chief of the archons or rulers, who are lower cosmic powers that govern the material world. The Demiurge is characterized by darkness, death, hate, and chaos.
Gnostics believed that the material world was created by the Demiurge as a result of a cosmic accident or a tragic fall. According to some versions, Sophia (Wisdom), one of the Aeons in the Pleroma, desired to know God beyond his limits and emanated a defective offspring without his consent. This offspring was the Demiurge, who stole a portion of Sophia's light and used it to fashion a counterfeit world that entrapped her and her spiritual children. According to other versions, the Demiurge was simply an ignorant and arrogant creature who believed that he was the only god and created a flawed world out of envy or pride.
The role of Sophia and the Christ
Another important aspect of Gnosticism is its soteriology, or its view of salvation and redemption. Most Gnostics believed that there was a possibility for humans to escape from the bondage of the Demiurge and return to their original home in the Pleroma. This possibility was made possible by two key figures: Sophia and Christ.
Sophia is the feminine aspect of God, who represents wisdom, knowledge, and love. Sophia is also the mother of humanity, who gave them a spark of divine light that resides in their innermost essence. Sophia is also the repentant Aeon, who realized her mistake and sought to correct it by sending her emissaries to help her children.
Christ is one of these emissaries, who came from the Pleroma to reveal to humans their true identity and destiny. Christ is also the embodiment of gnosis, or experiential knowledge that liberates from ignorance and illusion. Christ is also the mediator between humans and God, who enables them to access the Pleroma through his grace and guidance.
The goal of gnosis and the process of initiation
The ultimate goal of Gnosticism is gnosis, which means "knowledge" or "insight". However, gnosis is not just an intellectual or rational understanding of facts or doctrines. Gnosis is a personal and experiential knowledge that transforms one's perception and awareness of reality. Gnosis is also a spiritual and mystical knowledge that connects one with God and all beings.
To achieve gnosis, Gnostics had to undergo a process of initiation, which involved various stages and levels of learning and practice. Initiation was not a one-time event, but a lifelong journey that required commitment and discipline. Initiation also involved different methods and techniques, such as:
Scripture: Gnostics used various texts, both canonical and apocryphal, as sources of inspiration and instruction. They interpreted the scriptures allegorically and symbolically, rather than literally and historically.
Myth: Gnostics used various stories, both ancient and modern, as vehicles of expression and communication. They created and adapted myths to convey their cosmology, soteriology, and ethics.
Ritual: Gnostics used various actions, both public and private, as means of purification and celebration. They performed rituals to mark important events, such as baptism, eucharist, marriage, death, etc.
Prayer: Gnostics used various words, both spoken and silent, as ways of invocation and meditation. They prayed to God, Sophia, Christ, angels, or saints for guidance, protection, or assistance.
Asceticism: Gnostics used various practices, both physical and mental, as tools of detachment and discipline. They practiced asceticism to overcome their passions, desires, or attachments that hindered their spiritual progress.
Magic: Gnostics used various arts, both natural and supernatural, as forms of manipulation and empowerment. They practiced magic to influence their environment, circumstances, or outcomes according to their will.
The diversity and creativity of Gnostic myths and rituals
One of the most fascinating and appealing aspects of Gnosticism is its diversity and creativity of myths and rituals. Gnosticism was not a rigid or dogmatic system, but a flexible and dynamic one that allowed for variation and innovation. Gnostics were not afraid to experiment with different ideas and expressions that suited their needs and preferences. Gnostics were also not bound by any authority or tradition that dictated what they should believe or do. Gnostics were free to explore and discover their own path to gnosis.
Some examples of the diversity and creativity of Gnostic myths and rituals are:
The Gospel of Thomas: This is a collection of 114 sayings attributed to Jesus that emphasize the importance of self-knowledge and inner wisdom. The Gospel of Thomas challenges the conventional views of Jesus' identity, mission, and teachings.
The Pistis Sophia: This is a complex and lengthy text that describes the adventures of Sophia after her fall from the Pleroma. The Pistis Sophia also contains dialogues between Jesus and his disciples on various topics such as cosmology, soteriology, ethics, etc.
The Gospel of Mary: This is a fragmentary text that portrays Mary Magdalene as a prominent disciple and leader of the early Christian community. The Gospel of Mary also depicts Mary as a recipient of special revelations from Jesus that surpass those of the other apostles.
The Bridal Chamber: This is a ritual that symbolizes the union between the human soul and the divine spirit. The Bridal Chamber also represents the restoration of the original wholeness and harmony that existed before the separation of male and female.
The Rite of the Five Seals: This is a ritual that involves the application of five seals or marks on different parts of the body (forehead, mouth, right shoulder, left shoulder, chest). The Rite of the Five Seals also signifies the protection and empowerment of the initiate by the five elements (fire, water, air, earth, light).
The Invocation of the Great Seth: This is a ritual that involves the recitation of a hymn that praises Seth as the true son of God and the savior of humanity. The Invocation of the Great Seth also expresses the defiance and contempt for the Demiurge and his minions.
The Modern Revival and Relevance of Gnosticism
The discovery and translation of the Nag Hammadi library
One of the most significant events in the history of Gnosticism was the discovery and translation of the Nag Hammadi library in the 20th century. The Nag Hammadi library is a collection of 13 leather-bound codices that contain 52 texts written in Coptic. The Nag Hammadi library was discovered in 1945 by a group of peasants near the town of Nag Hammadi in Upper Egypt. The Nag Hammadi library was hidden in a jar under a large boulder by some monks from a nearby monastery in the fourth century CE, probably to avoid destruction by the Orthodox Church.
such as the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Philip, the Gospel of Truth, the Apocryphon of John, the Secret Book of James, the Hypostasis of the Archons, the Thunder Perfect Mind, and many others. The Nag Hammadi library also contains texts from other traditions such as Hermeticism, Platonism, Manichaeism, and Judaism.
The Nag Hammadi library was initially kept in a museum in Cairo, where it was studied by a team of international scholars. The first English translation of the Nag Hammadi library was published in 1977 by James M. Robinson and his colleagues. The Nag Hammadi library has since been translated into many other languages and made available to the public through various editions and formats.
The influence of Gnosticism on modern culture and spirituality
The discovery and translation of the Nag Hammadi library has sparked a renewed interest and appreciation for Gnosticism among scholars, artists, writers, and seekers. Gnosticism has influenced and inspired many aspects of modern culture and spirituality, such as:
Literature: Gnosticism has been a source of inspiration for many literary works that explore themes such as identity, alienation, rebellion, transcendence, etc. Some examples are The Matrix by Philip K. Dick, The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman, The Sandman by Neil Gaiman, etc.
Art: Gnosticism has been a source of expression for many artistic works that depict images or symbols related to Gnosticism. Some examples are The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch, The Last Judgment by Michelangelo, The Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh, The Scream by Edvard Munch, etc.
Music: Gnosticism has been a source of reference for many musical works that incorporate lyrics or sounds related to Gnosticism. Some examples are Imagine by John Lennon, Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin, Losing My Religion by R.E.M., Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen, etc.
Film: Gnosticism has been a source of influence for many film works that portray scenarios or characters related to Gnosticism. Some examples are The Matrix by the Wachowskis, The Truman Show by Peter Weir, Fight Club by David Fincher, The Sixth Sense by M. Night Shyamalan, etc.
Spirituality: Gnosticism has been a source of attraction for many spiritual seekers who resonate with its message and vision. Some examples are The Gnostic Society, The Ecclesia Gnostica, The Gnostic Movement, The Gnostic Church of L.V.X., etc.
The challenges and opportunities for contemporary Gnostics
Gnosticism is not only a historical phenomenon, but also a living and evolving one that continues to speak to our present condition and situation. Gnosticism offers us a unique perspective and approach to spirituality that can help us cope with the challenges and opportunities that we face in our modern world.
Some of the challenges that contemporary Gnostics face are:
Misunderstanding: Gnosticism is often misunderstood or misrepresented by mainstream religions or secular media as a dangerous or deviant cult that promotes anti-social or immoral behavior.
Marginalization: Gnosticism is often marginalized or ignored by academic institutions or public authorities as a fringe or irrelevant movement that lacks credibility or legitimacy.
Fragmentation: Gnosticism is often fragmented or divided by internal conflicts or external pressures as a diverse or heterogeneous movement that lacks unity or coherence.