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.
John Moore
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The man who created the fake Tube sign explains why he did it

"We need to consider the fact that fake news isn't always fake news at the source," says John Moore.

"I wrote that at 8 o'clock on the evening and before midday the next day it had been read out in the Houses of Parliament."

John Moore, a 44-year-old doctor from Windsor, is describing the whirlwind process by which his social media response to Wednesday's Westminster attack became national news.

Moore used a Tube-sign generator on the evening after the attack to create a sign on a TfL Service Announcement board that read: "All terrorists are politely reminded that THIS IS LONDON and whatever you do to us we will drink tea and jolly well carry on thank you." Within three hours, it had just fifty shares. By the morning, it had accumulated 200. Yet by the afternoon, over 30,000 people had shared Moore's post, which was then read aloud on BBC Radio 4 and called a "wonderful tribute" by prime minister Theresa May, who at the time believed it was a genuine Underground sign. 

"I think you have to be very mindful of how powerful the internet is," says Moore, whose viral post was quickly debunked by social media users and then national newspapers such as the Guardian and the Sun. On Thursday, the online world split into two camps: those spreading the word that the sign was "fake news" and urging people not to share it, and those who said that it didn't matter that it was fake - the sentiment was what was important. 

Moore agrees with the latter camp. "I never claimed it was a real tube sign, I never claimed that at all," he says. "In my opinion the only fake news about that sign is that it has been reported as fake news. It was literally just how I was feeling at the time."

Moore was motivated to create and post the sign when he was struck by the "very British response" to the Westminster attack. "There was no sort of knee-jerk Islamaphobia, there was no dramatisation, it was all pretty much, I thought, very calm reporting," he says. "So my initial thought at the time was just a bit of pride in how London had reacted really." Though he saw other, real Tube signs online, he wanted to create his own in order to create a tribute that specifically epitomised the "very London" response. 

Yet though Moore insists he never claimed the sign was real, his caption on the image - which now has 100,800 shares - is arguably misleading. "Quintessentially British..." Moore wrote on his Facebook post, and agrees now that this was ambiguous. "It was meant to relate to the reaction that I saw in London in that day which I just thought was very calm and measured. What the sign was trying to do was capture the spirit I'd seen, so that's what I was actually talking about."

Not only did Moore not mean to mislead, he is actually shocked that anyone thought the sign was real. 

"I'm reasonably digitally savvy and I was extremely shocked that anyone thought it was real," he says, explaining that he thought everyone would be able to spot a fake after a "You ain't no muslim bruv" sign went viral after the Leytonstone Tube attack in 2015. "I thought this is an internet meme that people know isn't true and it's fine to do because this is a digital thing in a digital world."

Yet despite his intentions, Moore's sign has become the centre of debate about whether "nice" fake news is as problematic as that which was notoriously spread during the 2016 United States Presidential elections. Though Moore can understand this perspective, he ultimately feels as though the sentiment behind the sign makes it acceptable. 

"I use the word fake in inverted commas because I think fake implies the intention to deceive and there wasn't [any]... I think if the sentiment is ok then I think it is ok. I think if you were trying to be divisive and you were trying to stir up controversy or influence people's behaviour then perhaps I wouldn't have chosen that forum but I think when you're only expressing your own emotion, I think it's ok.

"The fact that it became so-called fake news was down to other people's interpretation and not down to the actual intention... So in many interesting ways you can see that fake news doesn't even have to originate from the source of the news."

Though Moore was initially "extremely shocked" at the reponse to his post, he says that on reflection he is "pretty proud". 

"I'm glad that other people, even the powers that be, found it an appropriate phrase to use," he says. "I also think social media is often denigrated as a source of evil and bad things in the world, but on occasion I think it can be used for very positive things. I think the vast majority of people who shared my post and liked my post have actually found the phrase and the sentiment useful to them, so I think we have to give social media a fair judgement at times and respect the fact it can be a source for good."

Amelia Tait is a technology and digital culture writer at the New Statesman.