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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Everyone's forgotten the one issue that united the Labour party

There was a time when Ed Miliband spoke at Momentum rallies.

To label the row over the EU at Thursday’s Labour leadership hustings "fireworks" would be to endow it with more beauty than it deserves. Owen Smith’s dogged condemnation of John McDonnell’s absence from a Remain rally – only for Corbyn to point out that his absence was for medical reasons – ought to go down as a cringing new low point in the campaign. 

Not so long ago, we were all friends. In the course of the EU referendum, almost all of the protagonists in the current debacle spoke alongside each other and praised one another’s efforts. At a local level, party activists of all stripes joined forces. Two days before polling day, Momentum activists helped organise an impromptu rally. Ed Miliband was the headline speaker, and was cheered on. 

If you take the simple version of the debate, Labour’s schism on the EU appears as an aberration of the usual dynamics of left and right in the party. Labour's left is supposedly cheering a position which avoids advocating what it believes in (Remain), because it would lose votes. Meanwhile, the right claims to be dying in a ditch for its principles - no matter what the consequences for Labour’s support in Leave-voting heartlands.

Smith wants to oppose Brexit, even after the vote, on the basis of using every available procedural mechanism. He would whip MPs against the invocation of Article 50, refuse to implement it in government, and run on a manifesto of staying in the EU. For the die-hard Europhiles on the left – and I count myself among these, having run the Another Europe is Possible campaign during the referendum – there ought to be no contest as to who to support. On a result that is so damaging to people’s lives and so rooted in prejudice, how could we ever accept that there is such a thing as a "final word"? 

And yet, on the basic principles that lie behind a progressive version of EU membership, such as freedom of movement, Smith seems to contradict himself. Right at the outset of the Labour leadership, Smith took to Newsnight to express his view – typical of many politicians moulded in the era of New Labour – that Labour needed to “listen” to the views Leave voters by simply adopting them, regardless of whether or not they were right. There were, he said, “too many” immigrants in some parts of the country. 

Unlike Smith, Corbyn has not made his post-Brexit policy a headline feature of the campaign, and it is less widely understood. But it is clear, via the five "red lines" outlined by John McDonnell at the end of June:

  1. full access to the single market
  2. membership of the European investment bank
  3. access to trading rights for financial services sector
  4. full residency rights for all EU nationals in the UK and all UK nationals in the EU, and
  5. the enshrinement of EU protections for workers. 

Without these five conditions being met, Labour would presumably not support the invocation of Article 50. So if, as seems likely, a Conservative government would never meet these five conditions, would there be any real difference in how a Corbyn leadership would handle the situation? 

The fight over the legacy of the referendum is theatrical at times. The mutual mistrust last week played out on the stage in front of a mass televised audience. Some Corbyn supporters jeered Smith as he made the case for another referendum. Smith accused Corbyn of not even voting for Remain, and wouldn’t let it go. But, deep down, the division is really about a difference of emphasis. 

It speaks to a deeper truth about the future of Britain in Europe. During the referendum, the establishment case for Remain floundered because it refused to make the case that unemployment and declining public services were the result of austerity, not immigrants. Being spearheaded by Conservatives, it couldn’t. It fell to the left to offer the ideological counter attack that was needed – and we failed to reach enough people. 

As a result, what we got was a popular mandate for petty racism and a potentially long-term shift to the right in British politics, endangering a whole raft of workplace and legal protections along the way. Now that it has happened, anyone who really hopes to overcome either Brexit, or the meaning of Brexit, has to address the core attitudes and debates at their root. Then as now, it is only clear left-wing ideas – free from any attempt to triangulate towards anti-migrant sentiment– that can have any hope of success. 

The real dividing lines in Labour are not about the EU. If they were, the Eurosceptic Frank Field would not be backing Smith. For all that it may be convenient to deny it, Europe was once, briefly, the issue that united the Labour Party. One day, the issues at stake in the referendum may do so again – but only if Labour consolidates itself around a strategy for convincing people of ideas, rather than simply reaching for procedural levers.