Gnosticism - an introduction

In the first of four blogs Giles Oatley explains what Gnosticism is and how it began as a movement

Samael Aun Weor founded the Gnostic Movement in the 1950’s in South America, and wrote more than sixty books and gave hundreds of complementary lectures. Illustrative of the synthesis contained within these teachings we have the ‘Perfect Matrimony’, being the first book to publicly unveil the ‘mysteries of fire’ and the tantric knowledge of the authentic schools of mysteries.

"The Perfect Matrimony and the Cosmic Christ are the synthesis of all religions, schools, orders, sects, lodges, yoga systems, etc. It is truly unfortunate that so many who discovered the practical synthesis have left it, to fall into an intricate labyrinth of theories." (Perfect Matrimony)

The word Gnosis comes from the Greek language and means “knowledge”. The knowledge that is referred to here is not limited to intellectual knowledge; it indicates a specific type of knowledge that is experiential and that has a specific purpose: the complete development of the human being.

"I sustain that Nirvana can be won by us in a single reincarnation, properly taken advantage of. Samael Aun Weor has delivered you this course precisely for you to win Nirvana quickly and in a few years. I do not want henchmen nor followers, only imitators of my example." (Zodiacal Course)

Gnosis is the ancient and universal science which is present in every major religion. It is not limited to one specific culture, place, or time. The Gnostic Wisdom is found in Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, and so on. And as that universal wisdom or knowledge, it is the essential science required in order to achieve the ultimate aim of all real religions, which is the religare (Latin), or in other words, “union” with the divine.

Christ is viewed as the saviour yet not as traditionally understood by contemporary Christianity. Instead, Christ is an impersonal force or intelligence that emanates from the Absolute and is also referred to as the Cosmic Christ.

Christ is anterior to Jesus, and represented in other various traditions with names such as Ormuz, Ahura Mazda, Krishna, Osiris, Zeus, Jupiter, Quetzalcoatl, Okidanokh, Kulkulcan, Chrestos, Baldur, and Avalokitesvara. Christ enters into and exalts any individual who is properly prepared, which denotes the complete annihilation of the ego, the exhaustion of all karma and the birth of the solar vehicles, the latter which is necessary to handle the super high voltage of Christ. Samael Aun Weor writes that only those who choose the path of total sacrifice can incarnate the Christ. Likewise, any true Bodhisattva has incarnated the Christ or is in process of doing so. It is said that in history Christ has incarnated in Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, Krishna, Moses, Padmasambhava, John the Baptist, Milarepa, Joan of Arc, Fu-Ji, as well as many forgotten by time.

The Gnostic Institute of Anthropology is a worldwide organization that exists to disseminate the teachings of the avatar Samael Aun Weor and to assist humanity with the awakening of the consciousness. The groups operate in the same way in every country, providing a wide range of free public activities and consisting of various levels of study at the institutes. Groups in the UK are currently located in London and the northeast of England.

Giles Oatley lectures in forensic statistics, data mining and decision support systems for crime detection and prevention. He has also worked in the care sector for several years with adults with challenging behaviour and severe learning difficulties. He chairs the Gnostic Institute of Anthropology.
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After Richmond Park, Labour MPs are haunted by a familiar ghost

Labour MPs in big cities fear the Liberal Democrats, while in the north, they fear Ukip. 

The Liberal Democrats’ victory in Richmond Park has Conservatives nervous, and rightly so. Not only did Sarah Olney take the votes of soft Conservatives who backed a Remain vote on 23 June, she also benefited from tactical voting from Labour voters.

Although Richmond Park is the fifth most pro-Remain constituency won by a Conservative at the 2015 election, the more significant number – for the Liberal Democrats at least – is 15: that’s the number of Tory-held seats they could win if they reduced the Labour vote by the same amount they managed in Richmond Park.

The Tories have two Brexit headaches, electorally speaking. The first is the direct loss of voters who backed David Cameron in 2015 and a Remain vote in 2016 to the Liberal Democrats. The second is that Brexit appears to have made Liberal Democrat candidates palatable to Labour voters who backed the party as the anti-Conservative option in seats where Labour is generally weak from 1992 to 2010, but stayed at home or voted Labour in 2015.

Although local council by-elections are not as dramatic as parliamentary ones, they offer clues as to how national elections may play out, and it’s worth noting that Richmond Park wasn’t the only place where the Liberal Democrats saw a dramatic surge in the party’s fortunes. They also made a dramatic gain in Chichester, which voted to leave.

(That’s the other factor to remember in the “Leave/Remain” divide. In Liberal-Conservative battlegrounds where the majority of voters opted to leave, the third-placed Labour and Green vote tends to be heavily pro-Remain.)

But it’s not just Conservatives with the Liberal Democrats in second who have cause to be nervous.  Labour MPs outside of England's big cities have long been nervous that Ukip will do to them what the SNP did to their Scottish colleagues in 2015. That Ukip is now in second place in many seats that Labour once considered safe only adds to the sense of unease.

In a lot of seats, the closeness of Ukip is overstated. As one MP, who has the Conservatives in second place observed, “All that’s happened is you used to have five or six no-hopers, and all of that vote has gone to Ukip, so colleagues are nervous”. That’s true, to an extent. But it’s worth noting that the same thing could be said for the Liberal Democrats in Conservative seats in 1992. All they had done was to coagulate most of the “anyone but the Conservative” vote under their banner. In 1997, they took Conservative votes – and with it, picked up 28 formerly Tory seats.

Also nervous are the party’s London MPs, albeit for different reasons. They fear that Remain voters will desert them for the Liberal Democrats. (It’s worth noting that Catherine West, who sits for the most pro-Remain seat in the country, has already told constituents that she will vote against Article 50, as has David Lammy, another North London MP.)

A particular cause for alarm is that most of the party’s high command – Jeremy Corbyn, Emily Thornberry, Diane Abbott, and Keir Starmer – all sit for seats that were heavily pro-Remain. Thornberry, in particular, has the particularly dangerous combination of a seat that voted Remain in June but has flirted with the Liberal Democrats in the past, with the shadow foreign secretary finishing just 484 votes ahead of Bridget Fox, the Liberal Democrat candidate, in 2005.

Are they right to be worried? That the referendum allowed the Liberal Democrats to reconfigure the politics of Richmond Park adds credence to a YouGov poll that showed a pro-Brexit Labour party finishing third behind a pro-second referendum Liberal Democrat party, should Labour go into the next election backing Brexit and the Liberal Democrats opt to oppose it.

The difficulty for Labour is the calculation for the Liberal Democrats is easy. They are an unabashedly pro-European party, from their activists to their MPs, and the 22 per cent of voters who back a referendum re-run are a significantly larger group than the eight per cent of the vote that Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats got in 2015.

The calculus is more fraught for Labour. In terms of the straight Conservative battle, their best hope is to put the referendum question to bed and focus on issues which don’t divide their coalition in two, as immigration does. But for separate reasons, neither Ukip nor the Liberal Democrats will be keen to let them.

At every point, the referendum question poses difficulties for Labour. Even when neither Ukip nor the Liberal Democrats take seats from them directly, they can hurt them badly, allowing the Conservatives to come through the middle.

The big problem is that the stance that makes sense in terms of maintaining party unity is to try to run on a ticket of moving past the referendum and focussing on the party’s core issues of social justice, better public services and redistribution.

But the trouble with that approach is that it’s alarmingly similar to the one favoured by Kezia Dugdale and Scottish Labour in 2016, who tried to make the election about public services, not the constitution. They came third, behind a Conservative party that ran on an explicitly pro-Union platform. The possibility of an English sequel should not be ruled out.  

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.