Do not be ignorant of me.
For I am the first and the last.
I am the honored one and the scorned one.
I am the whore and the holy one.
I am the wife and the virgin.
I am the mother and the daughter. [..]
I am the barren one and many are her sons.
I am she whose wedding is great,
and I have not taken a husband.
I am the midwife and she who does not bear.
I am the solace of my labor pains.
I am the bride and the bridegroom,
and it is my husband who begot me.
I am the mother of my father
and the sister of my husband
and he is my offspring.
I am the slave of him who prepared me.
I am the ruler of my offspring.
These words are from the ancient text, ‘Thunder, Perfect Mind,’ found among many other texts at Nag Hammadi in Egypt. Written before 350 C.E., although the exact date and author are unknown, it is a Gnostic voice of a divine power that suggests we look beyond intellectual theories and sentimental beliefs of divinity. That so long as we continue to see our world from dualistic goggles, we will remain in darkness.
“The mind that believes, the mind that does not believe and the mind that doubts is an ignorant mind. The path of wisdom does not lie in believing, not believing or doubting. The path of wisdom consists in inquiring, analyzing, meditating, experimenting.
Truth is the unknown from moment to moment. Truth has nothing to do with what one believes or stops believing, neither does it have anything to do with skepticism. Truth is not a matter of accepting or rejecting, it is something to experience, live and understand.” Samael Aun Weor, Fundamentals of Gnostic Education
The dark side of paradox
A paradox is a statement that apparently contradicts itself and yet might be true or untrue, at the same time. My first introduction into the concept was in the novel 1984, and later, in politics. The novel tells the story of Winston Smith who lives in Airstrip One, previously known as Great Britain. During a period of perpetual war, government surveillance and dictatorship, individualism and independent thinking is considered a crime and the government’s invented language Newspeak is used to control the population and gain power. This Party thrives on paradox.
The Ministry of Truth is responsible for propaganda and historical revisionism. The Ministry of Peace supports the perpetual war. The Ministry of Plenty rations and controls foods and goods. The Ministry of Truth controls the news and media. And the Ministry of Love surveils and arrests real and imagined dissidents, and converts them back to support for the Party. The novel basically represents a world where the antagonist can never know what is real or fall in love. A nightmare from which one either never wakes from or only escapes by death. Dark, totalitarian, grim, and not the only way humans are, in my opinion.
For I am knowledge and ignorance.
I am shame and boldness.
I am shameless; I am ashamed.
I am strength and I am fear.
I am war and peace.
Give heed to me.
Politics is the story of us, the intrigue, the greed, the deceit, the striving, the collusion, the power, the way we come together to do good, to protect the weak, to develop a collective. It is how we succeed and how we screw up. But it is ultimately us, each one of us, whether we support it or throw stones at its walls, or whether we appreciate or curse it.
Since reading 1984, my concept of paradox was that it was a means of manipulation, a form of cohesion, a tool to confuse and therefore delude someone else. Or it could be a random example of strangeness, something to be avoided or dismissed. It was an anomaly, unlikely to happen again. Twenty years later and I am ready to embrace the paradox. To consider it as a possible new movement we could develop in order to save humanity.
I am the one who is disgraced and the great one.
Give heed to my poverty and my wealth.
Do not be arrogant to me when I am cast out upon the earth,
and you will find me in those that are to come.
And do not look upon me on the dung-heap
nor go and leave me cast out,
and you will find me in the kingdoms.
And do not look upon me when I am cast out among those who
are disgraced and in the least places,
nor laugh at me.
And do not cast me out among those who are slain in violence.
But I, I am compassionate and I am cruel.
Be on your guard!
The original whole beyond duality
Give heed, be on your guard she warns, to see something as black without knowing it is also white is a folly. Zen knows this and tells many riddles to expose the paradox of reality and throw the mind off its familiar tracks, or often deep grooves, of logical reasoning. These koans are used to to provoke the “great doubt” and are not meant as logical equations to be explained. Logos means to count, to tell, to say, to speak. It imparts a plea, an opinion, an expectation though word, speech, accounts and reason. It is the ground for order and knowledge, it is problem that can be solved. In Gnosticism the Logos is paired with Sophia, or wisdom. They are a syzygy, a male/female pair and exist equally along with the Absolute, the One. Sophia is effectively the human soul and also the feminine aspects of the One. She was also considered the fallen one for helping to create the material world. Logos on the other hand, was identified with the Son of God Christ, and was seen as a ‘certain rational power’ according to the apologist Justin Martyr. Sophia was banished and removed from history or fused with Logos so that the soul could be considered as part of this rational power rather than it’s own individual ineffable force. Soul is knowing and knowing is the state of being informed with full awareness or consciousness. Knowledge is not the same as knowing. Logos can learn and speak but only with the soul can he truly know. Without Sophia he is everything, yet nothing.
Things have been skewed ever since, right up to modern times when soul is a word left out of science, politics, medicine, education, philosophy … ah the list is long. In these fields rational and logical knowledge have superseded the actual knowing of wisdom. Remember the words of Samael Aun Weor, “The path of wisdom consists in inquiring, analyzing, meditating, experimenting. […] Truth is not a matter of accepting or rejecting, it is something to experience, live and understand.” It goes beyond Black is not white, white is not black. It is more like the Tao, black becomes white and white becomes black because they are not separate. They are equal parts within a whole. Just as Logo and Sophia are equivalents within a whole.
I, I am godless,
and I am the one whose God is great.
I am the one whom you have reflected upon,
and you have scorned me.
I am unlearned,
and they learn from me.
I am the one that you have despised,
and you reflect upon me.
I am the one whom you have hidden from,
and you appear to me.
But whenever you hide yourselves,
I myself will appear.
For whenever you appear,
I myself will hide from you.
A noite acompanhada dos gênios do estudo e do amor,
1883 – Pedro Américo
How does a movement of paradox work then beyond the grim and darkness? A bit like this:
When we work hard to save the environment, we will likely bring it to our version of ruin.
When we struggle for peace, we will likely perpetuate war.
When we think only of what we don’t want, we will surely only bring it into being.
When we desire to be more manly, we will be less masculine and when we try to be more feminine, we will be less of a woman.
I am control and the uncontrollable.
I am the union and the dissolution.
I am the abiding and I am the dissolution.
I am the one below,
and they come up to me.
I am the judgment and the acquittal.
I, I am sinless,
and the root of sin derives from me.
I am lust in (outward) appearance,
and interior self-control exists within me.
I am the hearing which is attainable to everyone
and the speech which cannot be grasped.
I am a mute who does not speak,
and great is my multitude of words.
Hear me in gentleness, and learn of me in roughness.
I am she who cries out,
and I am cast forth upon the face of the earth.
When we wage war on terrorists, we will surely have more terror in the world.
When we switch to vegetarianism to save the planet from global warming, plant farming will likely decline with no livestock in agriculture.
When we decide a convicted felon needs to suffer by just punishment, he will probably become a more skilled criminal.
When we strive to be positive and happy, we will more certainly increase our depression and loneliness.
Quote from Samael Aun Weor.
Thunder, Perfect Mind text, translated by George W. MacRae.
Lectures and Publication by Lance S. Owens