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What is Gnosis? Knowledge of oneself and of the Universe, Samael Aun Weor. - Encyclopedia and Precepts
“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
The word “Gnosis” is of Greek origin, and means Knowledge. It consists of a global Knowledge of all that exists: the universe, the human being, nature, and the functioning of all things. In this sense, it is considered “superior”. The foundations of this Knowledge are based on diverse methods of investigation: while some are scientific in nature, others are of a metaphysical type – be it the study of first principles, of natural causes, of reality and the mystical experience that leads to it.
Historically speaking, though there is a gnostic thread within the primitive Christian church, Gnosis has also always existed at the heart of the great cultures and religions of the world. It therefore predates ancient Greece, even if its actual name dates back to that epoch. The origin of Gnosis is unknown, due to the fact that it does not belong to any one culture or people in particular.
Gnosis attempts to answer questions that remain even today as mysteries to the human being. The invisible mechanisms of creation, the hidden causes of phenomena, the origin of life on Earth, death, the human being’s place within creation, the goal of his or her existence; are all questions that give to this knowledge a philosophical as well as psychological and anthropological scope.
As much as it is a global and universal Knowledge, Gnosis is also as vast as the search for the “truth”. In this sense, it cannot be entirely understood by the human being. For us, it constitutes the sum of humanity’s experiences throughout time – some people having contributed more to it than others.
Gnosis aims to be an objective science, based on observation and experimentation, just like modern science, only the difference is that with Gnosis, the metaphysical experience is accepted, as long as it can be repeated. Gnosis does not uniquely seek to discover the reality of our existence and of creation; it also pertains to the study of human faculties that permit the experience and discovery of these realities.
Supported by diverse historical and anthropological research, it is the uniqueness of this Knowledge that has brought the modern adepts of Gnosis as well as numerous seekers to affirm that, despite a mythological and artistic symbolism that is presented in diverse forms, all the ancient cultures and great civilizations, with their diverse religions and philosophies, have arrived at a common body of doctrine.
We can give the Pythagorean School as an example, where mathematics, astronomy, poetry, philosophy, music and the law of octaves were taught as parts of a greater whole; integrating the human-microcosm at the core of the universal macrocosm… as well as uniting the sciences, arts, philosophy and mysticism.
We can therefore say that Gnosis is a practical philosophy that can be applied to daily life, retransmitted throughout the arts and that uses the direct mystical experience, according to scientific methods, to investigate and live the universal principles.
This global Knowledge is not solely theoretical, but has always invited it’s adepts to unite theory and practice.
According to the doctrine’s precepts, there exists a material world and a spiritual world; the duality of good and evil at the core of the material world is but one of many manifestations of this reality. The human soul, when placed between matter and spirit, has the possibility to regenerate via the studying and knowledge of the self, thus permitting the efflorescence of one’s superior nature, or “awakening”.
This transformation, brought upon by the psychic purification of the individual, leads to his or her spiritual elevation and, by consequence, the birth of their latent faculties and direct experience of reality or “revelation”.
Throughout the ages, a large number of animist, mystic and religious currents have attempted to keep this so called ancient Wisdom alive.
During the middle ages, it also took the form of many different fields of study including Kabbalism (the multidimensional structure of the human and universal cosmoses), Alchemy (the higher study of chemical principles and their mutations within the human body and nature), and contemporary Astrology. It is within numerous varied orders and fraternities that these themes, as well as others, have been studied in depth and passed on.
Finally, what we know today as parapsychology, esotericism, spiritualism, traditional medicine and naturopathy, the study of dreams and astral projection, the cosmic sciences, martial arts, meditation, yoga and all the teachings that we can find in these modern schools, are extensions of this ancient Tradition known as Gnosis.