Though Christian Gnosticism is oriented to the inner and secret teachings of the Gospel, nevertheless the outer teachings are not outright rejected. Rather, the outer teachings are like a body and the inner and secret teachings are like the spirit and soul. When we speak of exoteric Christianity as the outer and unspiritual church, it is because the outer teachings are given and creeds and dogmas are formed apart from the inner meaning and secret wisdom of the Gospel. When the ignorance of dogmatic doctrines and creeds is extracted and the inner or mystical meaning of the Gospel is restored, nevertheless there is truth and wisdom in certain basic ideas that appear in exoteric Christianity.
Throughout Christian Gnostic texts that appear in the Nag Hammadi and elsewhere the term “Savior” is used in reference to Yeshua Messiah (Jesus Christ), specifically the terms Living Yeshua or Risen Savior. The term Savior implies some form of salvation or redemption, and some form of grace or divine assistance. Thus, in some way, on a most basic level, a sanctuary of grace is formed by Yeshua Messiah and through that holy sanctuary salvation or redemption becomes possible.
This is implied in the name Yeshua, which is the name of Yahweh with the addition of the Hebrew letter Shin. Yahweh literally means “That Which Was, and Is and forever Shall Be,” and the literal meaning of Yeshua is “Yahweh delivers.” Yahweh is the One Life-Power, the Being-Consciousness-Force from which all forms of being-consciousness-force emerge, and thus is the Truth of Being. To say “Yahweh delivers” is to say that “gnosis of the True Being will set you free.” Yeshua means Savior and Salvation, and indicates gnosis as salvation; hence a state of Enlightenment and Liberation.
The Hebrew letter Shin is significant, for it symbolizes the Holy Shekinah, the Divine Presence and Power, and it symbolizes Ruach Ha-Kodesh, the Spirit of Holiness through which Divine Revelation (Prophecy) transpires. Specifically, Shin indicates a Fiery Intelligence or Divine Illumination; hence a Light-Presence. If Shin in the name of Yeshua indicates a Light-Presence, then Yahweh represents a Light-Continuum from which the Light-Presence comes into being. This is the mystery of the Son and the Living Father – the Person of Light who comes from the Light-Continuum, according to Sophian teachings.
In the Kabbalah there are three manifestations of Ruach Ha-Kodesh: Ruach Ha-Enoch, the Spirit of Initiation; Ruach Ha-Elijah, the Spirit of Prophecy; and Ruach Ha-Messiah, the Spirit of Anointing. Initiation, prophecy and anointing all imply a transmission. From the meaning given to Yahweh and Yeshua, the Living Father and Son, Ruach Ha-Kodesh indicates a Light-Transmission. Considering the names Enoch, Elijah and Messiah, and the stories of the Ascension associated with all three names, the idea of the Risen Christ or Risen Savior is clearly implied; hence the Living Yeshua.
This is the truth of our inmost being, the inmost part of our soul, which is embodied and revealed in the Person of Yeshua Messiah and the apostles of Light who teach and initiate in the Way of Yeshua Messiah. Essentially, the truth of the Messiah (Anointed One) is this: That we are a Soul of Light, a Person of Light, who comes from the Light-Continuum; that our being-consciousness-energy is ever at-one with the Infinite and Eternal, it transcends the physical body and material plane, and is without beginning or end and, therefore, is bornless and deathless – Eternal Being. This is the Savior of Gnostic Christianity and the Gnosis of the Savior truly is Salvation: Enlightenment and Liberation.
Lord Yeshua may well have been the greatest teacher and master of gnosis to have appeared among us, though certainly he is not the only teacher of true gnosis. Understanding this, and understanding the Christos as the truth of our inmost being, we may speak of the root of all Gnostic Christian practice in exoteric terms, aware of the inner and mystical meaning. Essentially, the root of all spiritual practices of Gnostic Christianity is faith in Christ, the Light-Presence, which is known inwardly in the sanctuary of the heart. Entering into the sanctuary of the heart, with faith in Christ, and consciously opening ourselves to the light of Christ, which is love, we experience and embody the love of Christ. The nature of this love is a sanctuary of grace through which we die and are reborn in Christ, and are “hidden with Christ in God.”
Our path begins and has its root in the faith of Christ embodied in the Person of Lord Yeshua, and faith in the Christ Presence embodied, more or less, in the apostle of Light whom the Spirit sends to us as a messenger and guide, and to whom we are given by the Holy Spirit. Through this faith we are established in a sanctuary of grace, and we know to go within and live within in order to recognize and realize the Christ Presence in us. For it is this Christ Presence that Yeshua Messiah reveals to us and all apostles of Light reflect to us, so that having faith in them we have faith of Christ in us and ourselves in Christ.
The Interior Life:
In exoteric Christianity it is said that one must believe in Yeshua Messiah (Jesus Christ) and accept him as one’s personal Savior, inviting him into oneself and one’s life in order to receive salvation. From what has been said thus far, there is a certain degree of truth in what exoteric Christianity is saying, for to receive the light of Christ, which is the love of Christ, one must consciously open oneself to it. There is a distinct experience of a Light that comes from above if one desires to receive it and opens oneself to it, and it is as though, receiving this Light from above, there is Fire and Light kindled within us and the Light-Presence shines from within us like a Spiritual Sun. Yet, it is not on the surface that we are able to open to this Light, but rather it is in the depths of our being that we are able to open and receive the Light. One must enter into the sanctuary of the heart and cultivate an interior life to receive it, and going within one must live within, letting one’s mind, heart and life be illuminated and transformed by this Supernal Light.
Though we may perform an external rite of baptism, and perform the rite of chrism (anointing) and the Wedding Feast (Eucharist), it is the descent of this Light which is the true baptism, and the reception of this Light which is the true chrism, and realization of our innate unity with it which is the cause of the true Wedding Feast. Whatever is performed outwardly is a symbolic representation and celebration of what occurs inwardly. Perhaps the outward rite is an invocation or perhaps a bringing down and out into the body and material plane that which is above and within. However, apart from the inner event anything external is devoid of true purpose or meaning and has no real power of salvation; hence does not lead to Divine Illumination.
The nature of this Holy Light is a Pure Radiant Awareness, and in it are all spiritual gifts and the enlightenment and liberation of our soul. This Radiant Awareness, when fully manifest, is a Non-Dual Gnostic Awareness, in which everything is inwardly revealed and made known; hence an Awareness of Sacred Unity, the unity of oneself with all creatures and creation, and with the Light-Presence and Light-Continuum (unity with Christ in God). Thus, the most essential quality of this Holy Light is love and compassion, for nothing exists outside or apart from the Light-Presence, and in it one knows “Christ in all and all in Christ.”
Like the external rites that may be performed, these words have meaning only through direct and personal experience. As for anyone who claims to have this experience, to one degree or another, or who claims to have a state of Divine Illumination or Gnosis of the Living Yeshua, it is not our place to judge the truth or falsehood of their claim, but rather to seek direct and personal experience ourselves. We can only say this, that the one who has the experience, which comes by way of faith, will know the love of Christ and will embody that love; love bearing witness to the Divine Fullness of the Light-Presence in the holy person.
Thus, if anyone seeks to receive the Supernal Light, he or she must seek to enter the sanctuary of the heart, and go within and live within – therein one will acquire the Gnosis of the Indwelling Christ, and the Cosmic Christ and the Supernal Christ, and will commune with the luminous assembly of prophets, apostles and angels – which are the Mystical Body of Christ; hence one will commune with the Living Yeshua or Risen Savior. One need only gather oneself inwardly, within the sanctuary of the heart, and consciously open oneself to the Light and invoke the Light, and with faith wait upon the Spirit of the LORD to answer one’s prayer. This is the foundation and aim of all spiritual practices in Gnostic Christianity – the very essence of the Gnostic Path, which may be properly called a “Yoga of Grace.”
One enters the heart by way of kavvanah, which is focus of one’s attention (concentration) on the heart center and the conscious intention to enter the sanctuary of the heart. With intensity of faith, the intensity of feeling and emotion, and intensity of contemplation, one focuses the full force of one’s being and consciousness and energy on the heart, and thus the heart opens and one finds oneself in the heart. When this transpires one will experience the descent of Light from above, and Fire and Light will be kindled within – living within one then lets this Fiery-Light completely consume and transform oneself into the Image of Christ. This Supernal Light is like a spiritual nuclear fire that transforms everything into the Image of Itself, which is Christos – Logos (Word) and Sophia (Wisdom).
The kavvanah of the heart goes hand in hand with the contemplation of the love of Christ and active aspiration to Spiritual and Unconditional Love. While actively engaged in the kavvanah of the heart, one also contemplates Christ’s love and seeks to embody it; hence one seeks to live according to the love of Christ. But this labor to love and to be loving must be centered within, and joined with the kavvanah of the heart – for the fullness of the love of Christ only comes into being through the opening of the heart center, yet apart from the active aspiration to love the kavvanah of the heart is incomplete. Thus, in practice, they are inseparable.
There are many practices given in the Tradition for the kavvanah of the heart, but the very essence of how to enter the sanctuary of the heart is given to the novice initiate, when the Elder or Tau advises the initiate: “Invoke often, and enflame yourself with prayer.” Following this simple advice given to novices, along with visualizing the Christ Presence as a Spiritual Sun in the heart and gathering themselves into it, many have acquired the Gnosis of Yeshua Messiah.
Likewise, here we may give even a simpler way by which even a little child might gain entrance to the heart. We know that when we breathe we inhale and exhale air, and that our breath is connected to the Spirit. For when the Lord imparted the Holy Spirit upon his disciples he breathed upon them. The lungs, which are the organs of breath, surround the heart, so that the air, as the Spirit, passing through them thus enshrouds and pervades the heart. Therefore, breath is a natural vehicle for entering into the sanctuary of the heart. Thus, aware of the breath as the Spirit, and inwardly gathering one’s mind, and having the conscious intention of entering the heart, through breathing one can enter the heart. As one inhales, one gathers oneself into the heart, and once in the heart, one simply remains there in prayer and contemplation. If one does this with faith the Light will come and the Living Yeshua will appear.
In speaking about entering into the sanctuary of the heart we must speak also of the natural barrier one shall encounter, for at first we are not accustomed to going within and living within. Before the heart opens it can be a very lonely place, as though one is secluded in solitary confinement and completely alone and empty, as though there is nothing to be found within oneself. It can be tedious and boring, and unpleasant and wearisome at first, and even for a long while. Yet it will eventually become quite the opposite for one who endures the pains of labor to know the joy of having given birth. The profound peace and sublime joy that comes from entering the heart, and the awareness of the kingdom of heaven within oneself that dawns with the opening of the heart, is well worth every effort and whatever suffering must be endured. What at first seems a restriction or constriction will become an experience of true freedom, and one will know that living only on the surface, and clinging to the world and things of the world, is a living death of slavery.
Nothing in this world will encourage one in this spiritual labor, and to people of the unenlightened society one will surely seem strange, if not mad, for seeking transcendence of the world. Likewise, there are admixed and dark forces that will try to bring you out of the womb of the heart prematurely – but if you endure and continue to abide in the heart you will experience consciousness beyond the body and will not taste death; while yet in life you will experience the resurrection and be established in the World of Supernal Light.
Entering into the sanctuary of the heart and receiving the Light from above is only the beginning – through spiritual practice and spiritual living, centered within, we progressively open ourselves fully to the Light-Presence, seeking to allow the Light to pervade and transform every level of our being and consciousness, even our physical bodies. Thus, we labor continually for a “better resurrection,” while also seeking to uplift others and the world. Though centered within, it is not for ourselves alone that we labor, but rather for the freedom of all beings from sorrow and suffering. Thus we seek to be in the world, though not of the world, so that like Yeshua Messiah, we might also be a Light-bearer in the material world and a co-worker in the harvest of souls. We seek our own enlightenment and liberation – Supernal or Messianic Consciousness – because we know that through it we are empowered to be of the greatest possible benefit to other beings: hence we seek Christ Consciousness on account of love, and it is the Perfection of Love.
Though, indeed, we make a conscious effort to go within and live within, and we engage in the good works of spiritual practice and spiritual living, truly nothing that we do brings about the state of Divine Illumination. As every apostle of Light will bear witness, it is the Holy Spirit who accomplishes everything and our Illumination is the manifestation of Divine Grace. On our part we merely open and surrender ourselves to the Grace that flows from Yeshua Messiah and from the Holy Bride. It is an active and dynamic surrender which reflects the Truth and Light revealed in our experience and it is as though the Light-Presence enters in and takes up our life. One can only speak of this experience of Pure Supernal Grace.
Few are able to enter into the sanctuary of the heart without the help of an experienced teacher and guide – hence a holy tzaddik or apostle, and the wise seeker will do everything in his or her power to seek out and find a true teacher of the Way. Yet, if one is unable to find such a holy person, but with full faith one goes within and lives within, then, indeed, the Living Yeshua and Holy Spirit will guide and instruct one in the Way, Truth and Light. The evidence of this exists in the outer and unspiritual church wherein, here and there, one finds individuals having some degree of Divine Illumination, even amidst the corruption of dogmatic doctrines and creeds, and without any clear instruction to go within. Through faith in Yeshua Messiah and following the essence of the Gospel, which is love, many among the assembly of the faithful have been made elect by Divine Grace. Yet we must also say this: Beware of the pride and arrogance of unwillingness to seek out and receive a holy apostle as one’s teacher and guide, for this itself is a product of the ego-illusion that prevents a true entrance into the sanctuary of the heart. If one loves Christ, would one not receive the messenger and guide Christ sends? The Christos or Enlightenment may well be one’s inmost nature, yet if it were so easily recognized and realized without reliance on a teacher and guide, surely many in this world would be Christed or Enlightened and the world would not be what it is: a place of extreme sorrow and suffering, devoid of Light and Love.
Let the seeker cleave to Christ inwardly, and in this sense have divine pride, yet let the seeker also have spiritual humility – such is the perfect desire to receive, and receiving one shall be fit to share and impart. Amen.
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