Iona Miller, (c)2015
…nature exists without human aid, can deal with her processes herself, has everything in herself to bring about transformations, to move from the depths to the heights and down into the depths again. ~Jung, Modern Psychology, Page 42.
We can experience gnosis not as a medieval religious belief but because
it happens to us unsought and unexpected. Gnosis is not Gnosticism. It doesn't require belief, scripture, or Apocrypha. The transformative perspective, observable in its real effects, unlocks the hermeneutics of the creative imagination. The life of the unconscious goes on within us without our conscious knowledge.
Gnosis is an emergent property, not merely an introverted religious attitude. Embracing gnosis does not mean embracing Gnostic dogma or medieval doctrines -- participatory convictions based on personal desires and fears. The secret is inside the creation and based in the study of nature and our own nature. We become more integrated by bringing more of the unconscious and mythic into consciousness.
Can we find the absolute in the depths of our soul -- the very source of symbols? Even physics declares our personal experience is profoundly subjective. There are two principle attitudes -- devotion and gnosis. Gnosis is not a philosophy, nor a way to rationally comprehend the world.
All that is knowable is our immediate subjective experience. Our most personal "I" is our core subjective experience which is identical to awareness. That awareness is the ground where the objects of awareness -- sensations, thoughts, images, memories, and emotions -- fluctuate and intermingle. Fundamental awareness has no intrinsic form, content, or characteristics. So awareness is less about the dualism of mind and matter, light or dark, or polarized good and bad, but more about the dualism of awareness and the contents of awareness.
Gnosis is not a ready-made religion but a more comprehensive view allowing psyche to speak for itself in dream, active imagination, synchronistic phenomena, premonitions, mythic living, and creative expression. "Self-redemption" is an arduous path that leads through self-deception. Insights in self-understanding come through grace, not labor or merit.
Gnosis is a spontaneous personal event of primordial psychic experience. Empirical experience of the psyche may appear in modern dreams. Experiences of the collective unconscious may be reflected in gnostic literature, but are not derived from it. Those lacking such experience can never understand it, but that does not nullify its existence. Getting it conceptually is not the same as knowing it experientially, thus, all "esoteric" secrets remain concealed from the uninitiated.
Continually recurring fundamental ideas can arise from the archetypal potentials of objective psyche. Generally similar ideas are modified by era and context. We can recognize their archetypal core. We live in archaic identity with the absolute unconscious. Archetypes are the psychophysical interface of emotion and energy, linking inner and outer realms. The form of opposites become distinct but conjoined as they enter consciousness.
Such numinous assertions and feelings produced by psyche may or may not express universal 'truths'. We perceive the psyche with intuition, but not everyone has discriminating intuition and clarity. Our universal vision is as limited as our rational and irrational human vision. Intuition exalts and redeems us through connection with our core -- the midpoint of our internal Cosmos.
True gnosis is an expansion of consciousness. But according to our concepts, beliefs, and assumed truths (psychological presuppositions), intuition can produce understanding or danger and destruction. Jung observed that belief is transformed into gnosis by individuation. Eternal knowledge or perennial wisdom is not intellectual.
We imagine we are imagining "the real" but such consciousness can be used correctly or incorrectly. Because the psyche and archetypes are bi-polar they can produce either wisdom or utter nonsense. There is the path through the labyrinth that is a descent to the underworld, but there are also false paths, deceptions, and dangers on that path. Each must beware of spiritual pretensions and gnostic inflation, careful not to mistake ego for the interior Light, which helps us realize our own darkness.
Rationality cannot eliminate the irrational but is part of the same phenomena. Beliefs arise from lack of experience and knowledge of psychic dynamics. More than one heart has been misled. The naive take the manifestations of the unconscious -- this natural psychic activity -- at face value, mistaking them for the essence of the world or revealed truth. Insights appear as natural revelations. Numinosities appear paradoxically true and untrue.
Some manifestations are simply misguided inner authority or inferior notions, ideas, images, motivations, emotions, and the disturbances they create. A sense of certainty is no guarantee of accuracy. Experience is mythic, projective, and subjective. All of it adds up to nothing without psyche's infusion of value and meaning -- living psychological process. Conscious and unconscious comprehension are united by myth, which is preconscious and therapeutic.
We must be modest, not mistaking 'our truth' for 'the truth'. Yet, it remains important to continue to pursue the search for truth in our lives. We are led inside ourselves by the assimilation of myth -- an inner journey. Sapientia Dei is revealed through the archetypes. The Gnostics considered themselves members of a new aeon marked essentially by the rise of spiritual man. Trusting their own spiritual powers, they plumbed their spiritual depths.
Deeper layers of the unconscious are independent of culture and time. Myths remain myths even if some people take them as literal revelations or eternal truths. Myths are renewed in retelling with new spiritual language. In psychological insight, knowledge and understanding correspond with symbolic expression of the myth. Myths die when they no longer live and grow.
Gnosis is characterized by the integration of archetypal contents. The holistic perspective on external and internal mirrors the alchemical "unus mundus." Today the same Gnostic or alchemical symbols and motifs arise from the collective unconscious. But the Promethean creative spirit goes largely unnoticed. The chthonic part of the psyche -- undifferentiated consciousness -- is our life-sustaining structure.
Gnosis is a general human phenomena which can appear any time, anywhere, independent of tradition. Experiential knowing is a spontaneous creative phenomenon that reflects a rich reserve of ideas and images absorbed consciously and unconsciously, newly organized in novel ways -- familiar material placed in a surprising and creative context -- an achievement of particular genius.