Gnostic psychology

It is only through self discovery that man may realise his true potential

There exist many different schools in the world that have methods to develop the many internal senses, but all this could lead us to disorientation and failure, if we did not begin by developing the sense of psychological self-observation.

The development of this sense of intimate observation leads us gradually towards knowledge of our self, permitting us to carry out a psychological inventory of what we have in excess, and of what we are lacking. Arriving at this stage of the knowledge of oneself, our other internal senses will also have been developed extraordinarily.

We discover that we contain many psychological defects, each personified in a specific “I” or “Self”. As it is that we have thousands and up to millions of defects, it is obvious that there are many people living inside us.

Therefore, by discovering ourselves- what we are internally- and eliminating that which is inside ourselves that makes our life bitter, we will unravel the enigma of our own existence and we will develop all our latent possibilities. This is why we are told by the Oracle of Delphi: "Man, know yourself and you will know the Universe and the Gods."

The human being has always aspired to know the answers to the questions of life: 'who are we?'; 'where do we come from?’; 'where do we go to?'; 'what is the reason for our existence?'. To conquer the integral knowledge of oneself and of the Universe, of our material and spiritual destiny, is the true objective of the Gnostic studies.

However, it is clear that we cannot access this knowledge by using the ordinary intellectual faculties, or by mere belief or ideology. Unquestionably, the Gnostic knowledge always escapes the mundane analysis of subjective rationalism.

The intellect is inadequate and terribly poor as an instrument of knowledge. We have to distinguish between the intellect and the consciousness. The intellect is educated intellectually; the consciousness is educated with the dialectic of the consciousness. We must never confuse the intellect, or the memory, with the consciousness, because they are as different as the light from a car's headlights, to the road upon which it drives.

The Gnostic knowledge is related to the infinite reality of each one of us, to that which we still do not have incarnated, to the internal Master, to the Being. Authentic Wisdom belongs to the Being. The self-realisation of self-knowing of the Being is a supra-rational process which has nothing to do with intellectualism. Only the Consciousness can know that which is the real, that which is the Truth; only the Consciousness can penetrate to the legitimate depths of the Being.

For those who perform "the esoteric work" upon themselves, at a very advanced stage, two distinct paths emerge: the Straight Path and the Spiral Path. The Spiral Path involves reaching a relative state of enlightenment and choosing to enjoy the superior worlds (Heaven or Nirvana), and occasionally returning to a physical body in order to pay out a little more karma and help humanity.

Samael Aun Weor refers to these as the Pratyeka Buddhas and Sravakas, and that the vast majority who reach this state choose the spiral path because it is very easy and enjoyable. The Straight Path is the Path of the Bodhisattva who renounces the happiness of the superior worlds (Nirvana) in order to help humanity.

Samael Aun Weor gives a very specific definition to the term Bodhisattva - it is not merely someone who has taken the Bodhisattva vows. Speaking in the language of the Kabbalah, it is the physical (Malkuth), vital (Yesod), astral (Hod), mental (Netzach) and causal (Tiphereth) vehicles – in other words the human soul – of a self-realized spirit, (Geburah-Chesed) who has chosen the Straight Path in order to incarnate the Christ (Kether-Binah-Chokmah).

In other words, the Bodhisattva is the "Son" of a self realized God who is attempting to return to the Absolute or 13th Aeon.

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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Justin Trudeau points the way forward for European politics

Is the charismatic Canadian Prime Minister modelling the party of the future?

Six months after Canadian election day, Justin Trudeau’s Liberal party continues to bask in the glow of victory. With 44 per cent of support in the polls, the Liberals are the most popular party amongst every single demographic – men and women, young and old, and people of all educational backgrounds. 

While most European mainstream parties only dream of such approval, this is actually a small dip for the Liberals. They were enjoying almost 50 per cent support in the polls up until budget day on 21 March. Even after announcing $29.4 billion in deficit spending, Canadians overall viewed the budget favourably – only 34 per cent said they would vote to defeat it.

Progressives around the world are suddenly intrigued by Canadian politics. Why is Justin Trudeau so successful?

Of course it helps that the new Prime Minister is young, handsome and loves pandas (who doesn’t?) But it’s also true that he was leader of the Liberals for a year and half before the election. He brought with him an initial surge in support for the party. But he also oversaw its steady decline in the lead up to last year’s election – leadership is important, but clearly it isn’t the only factor behind the Liberals’ success today.

Context matters

As disappointing as it is for Europeans seeking to unpack Canadian secrets, the truth is that a large part of the Liberals’ success was also down to the former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s extreme unpopularity by election time.

Throughout almost ten years in power, Harper shifted Canada markedly to the right. His Conservative government did not just alter policies; it started changing the rules of the democratic game. While centre-right governments in Europe may be implementing policies that progressives dislike, they are nonetheless operating within the constraints of democratic systems (for the most part; Hungary and Poland are exceptions).

Which is why the first weeks of the election campaign were dominated by an ‘Anybody But Harper’ sentiment, benefitting both the Liberals and the left-wing New Democratic Party (NDP). The NDP was even leading the polls for a while, inviting pundits to consider the possibility of a hung parliament.

But eight days before election day, the Liberals began to pull ahead.

The most important reason – and why they continue to be so popular today – is that they were able to own the mantle of ‘change’. They were the only party to promise running a (small) deficit and invest heavily in infrastructure. Notably absent was abstract discourse about tackling inequality. Trudeau’s plan was about fairness for the middle class, promoting social justice and economic growth.

Democratic reform was also a core feature of the Liberal campaign, which the party has maintained in government – Trudeau appointed a new Minister of Democratic Institutions and promised a change in the voting system before the next election.

The change has also been in style, however. Justin Trudeau is rebranding Canada as an open, progressive, plural society. Even though this was Canada’s reputation pre-Harper, it is not as simple as turning back the clock.

In a world increasingly taken by populist rhetoric on immigration – not just by politicians like Donald Trump, Nigel Farage, Marine Le Pen and other right-wingers, but also increasingly by mainstream politicians of right and left – Justin Trudeau has been unashamedly proclaiming the benefits of living in a diverse, plural society. He repeatedly calls himself a feminist, in the hope that one day “it is met with a shrug” rather than a social media explosion. Live-streamed Global Town Halls are one part of a renewed openness with the media. Progressive politicians in Europe would do well to take note.

Questioning the role of political parties today

Another interesting development is that the Liberal party is implicitly questioning the point of parties today. It recently abolished fee-paying, card-carrying party members. While this has been met with some criticism regarding the party’s structure and integrity, with commentators worried that “it’s the equivalent of turning your party into one giant Facebook page: Click ‘Like’ and you’re in the club,” it seems this is the point.

Colin Horgan, one of Trudeau’s former speechwriters, explains that Facebook is “literally a treasure trove for political parties”. All kinds of information becomes available – for free; supporters become easier to contact.

It was something the Liberals were already hinting at two years ago when they introduced a ‘supporters’ category to make the party appear more open. Liberal president Anna Gainey also used the word “movement” to describe what the Liberals hope to be.

And yes, they are trying to win over millennials. Which proved to be a good strategy, as a new study shows that Canadians aged 18-25 were a key reason why the Liberals won a majority. Young voter turnout was up by 12 per cent from the last election in 2011; among this age group, 45 per cent voted for the Liberals.

Some interesting questions for European progressives to consider. Of course, some of the newer political parties in Europe have already been experimenting with looser membership structures and less hierarchical ways of engaging, like Podemos’ ‘circles’ in Spain and the Five Star Movement’s ‘liquid democracy’ in Italy.

The British centre-left may be hesitant after its recent fiasco. Labour opened up its leadership primary to ‘supporters’ and ended up with a polarising leader who is extremely popular amongst members, but unpopular amongst the British public. But it would be wrong to assume that the process was to blame.

The better comparison is perhaps to Emmanuel Macron, France’s young economy minister who recently launched his own movement ‘En Marche !’ Moving beyond the traditional party structure, he is attempting to unite ‘right’ and ‘left’ by inspiring French people with an optimistic vision of the future. Time will tell whether this works to engage people in the longer term, or at least until next year’s presidential election.

In any case, European parties could start by asking themselves: What kind of political parties are they? What is the point of them?

Most importantly: What do they want people to think is the point of them?

Ultimately, the Canadian Liberals’ model of success rests on three main pillars:

  1. They unambiguously promote and defend a progressive, open, plural vision of society.
  2. They have a coherent economic plan focused on social justice and economic growth which, most importantly, they are trusted to deliver.
  3. They understand that society has changed – people are more interconnected than ever, relationships are less hierarchical and networks exist online – and they are adapting a once rigid party structure into a looser, open movement to reflect that.

*And as a bonus, a young, charismatic leader doesn’t hurt either.

Claudia Chwalisz is a Senior Policy Researcher at Policy Network, a Crook Public Service Fellow at the University of Sheffield and author of The Populist Signal: Why Politics and Democracy Need to Change