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The Gnosis of Light

by David Paul Boaz (aka, Dechen Wangdu)

Behold the light! ... the true light which lighteth every one that cometh into the world.
~ Gospel of John

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The Luminous Presence

Inner Light Jesus taught the truth (alétheia) and the goodness/beauty (agathos/charis/kalos) of the ancient mysteries, the Primordial Wisdom Tradition of our species that was the radical nondual wisdom teaching taught by all of the masters of antiquity, and by the great masters who founded the historical religions. This “innermost secret” great tradition of humankind belongs equally to them all.

Esoterically, there is a prior or transcendent unity at the heart of all of the traditions of our Great Wisdom Tradition. This unity is subtler or deeper than the exoteric, moral, theological, epistemological and ontological similarities revealed by philosophy and religious studies.

This unity is the pinnacle where the exoteric traditions merge and is the base or source/ground in whom they all arise. It is the implicate, nondual primordial unity that transcends yet embraces the explicate realities of all our traditions.

It is this unity of ultimate being itself (Interbeing) that is our heart’s desire through the relative becoming process of the interdependent continuum of the outer, inner, innermost secret and nondual religious and philosophical views and practices, albeit expressed through different metaphors, and differing levels of subtlety of understanding.

This Base or “supreme source” (Bathos, shunyata/emptiness, the Trikaya of the Base, Absolute Bodhicitta) in whom everything arises is the nondual intrinsic “Primordial Awareness Wisdom,” the very Gnosis of Light (jnana/yeshe).

The nondual view of the Gnosis of Light -- Christ Consciousness -- is the essence of our Great Tradition. This view is perhaps, best stated in the one gnostic gospel that was included in the New Testament Canon, the Gospel of John: "Behold the light! ... the true light which lighteth every one that cometh into the world."

It is this light, this potential for enlightenment, that is the bright, unrealized "presence that lives 'sleepwaiting' within each human form" (Schofield 1973). It is this light that is the subject of the profound primordial mystery, the subject of the esoteric transcendental aspect of our descent from the primordial source/ground, and our ascending path of return.

This luminous presence (Christos/vidya/rigpa) is the very primordial light of Genesis, arising from the Depth (Bathos, emptiness) and dwelling at the spiritual heart of every human being.

This true Gnosis is more profound than the dualistic doctrines of the Gnostic Christian heretics. It is more profound than the transcendental theology of the great theologians, Clement of Alexandria, and his disciple, Origen; more profound even than the nondual Valentinian and Thomas teaching. Indeed, the true Gnosis of Light is utterly beyond the grasp of human concept and belief, transcending the mind altogether for it is the eternal mystery of the clearlight nature of mind.

It is this Gnosis of Light that arises from and opens into the very primordial ground of being. Therefore, this unity of love and wisdom (philosophy as philos/sophia) is the essence or nature of mind itself (the Primordial Father, Tao, Brahman, Shunyata, Cittata/Sem nyid).

This Gnosis of Light is the primal creative utterance (Logos, the Word), remembrance, recognition and ultimate realization of our inherent primordial “supreme source.”

It is this Gnosis of Light that, according to our Great Tradition, is the actual preconscious motive for all our seeking strategies for happiness. The great adepts and masters of the past and the present have taught and demonstrated this great truth.

And, astonishingly, "It is already accomplished". "For those with ears to hear..." For those who will, surrender and receive this “always already present” presence of the Gnosis of Light.

Why then is this great wisdom teaching absent from exoteric contemporary Islamic, Jewish and Christian spiritual practice?

Our Great Wisdom Tradition assumes that this greatest or subtlest Primordial Awareness Wisdom dimension is hidden from egoic, conceptual mind to varying degrees -- from slightly hidden to deeply hidden.

It is revealed, step-by-step as the spiritual aspirant ascends through the practice of the path of gnosis. And paradoxically, it is given immediately, in this very moment, NOW, to the prepared aspirant who will open to receive it.

This seeming paradox of the hidden gnosis, vis-a-vis, its immediate presence at the spiritual heart is the “paradox of the path.” It defines the “problem of gradualism.” The paradox of seeking happiness, whether relative or ultimate, is this: “We cannot become happy. We can only be happy”.

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Jesus and Paul: the Outer and Inner Teaching

The obscurity and contradictions of the canonical New Testament Gospels, Acts and Epistles clearly show that they have been over-written, re-written, interpolated and revised with the anti-mystical Orthodox intent to de-mystify, de-spiritualize and conceptualize the teaching of Jesus (Pagels, Koester, Robinson, Mack, Funk, Meyer).

To further complicate matters, Jesus (and Paul), like all great spiritual adepts, transmitted the ancient nondual Gnosis mystery teaching both exoterically, to those less well prepared to receive, and esoterically, to those whose karma and spiritual practice had prepared them for the "mysteries of the Kingdom." "I have many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.... These things have I spoken unto you in parables: the time cometh when I shall ... tell you plainly of the Father" (John 16:12, 25).

To the spiritually uninitiated and unprepared the mystery of the Gnosis of Light can be given only through allegory, metaphor and symbol. Whether layperson, priest or scholar, the true Gnosis of Light can only be transmitted directly, through the mindstream of an adept master to the prepared mind of the disciple/devotee. The ego-I cannot transcend itself without intervention. The mind cannot come to know itself alone.

This is a vital truth of the meta narrative of our great Primordial Wisdom Tradition, whatever the individual tradition narrative. As to the great Gnosis of Light teaching as it arises in the metaphors and allegories of the canonical and non-canonical Gospels, Acts and Epistles, it is urgent to distinguish the outer, materialistic exoteric from the inner esoteric (secret and innermost secret) connotations of the Christos, the Logos or Christ principle.

While the exoteric view of Jesus is as God incarnate, for the esoteric understanding Jesus is the historical human who "overcame the world" to become Jesus the liberated Christ (the Christos, the initiate adept and anointed one).

In the esoteric understanding, Jesus became a fully realized human avatar who, like Moses, Shankara, Buddha Gautama, Longchenpa, Padmasambhava, incarnated to fully realize the indwelling primordial wisdom, the Gnosis of Light that is the Christos (Logos), Buddhahood, and further, to demonstrate this great truth that the Cosmic Christ or Christ Nature (or Buddha Nature) is the actual design of humanity.

Each human being is a kosmic being, a potential Kosmic Christ or Buddha, and may, in due course, realize the potential of that primordial Christ/Buddha nature within. “The only difference between a Buddha and an ordinary person is that one realizes it, the other does not” (Zen patriarch Hui-neng).

Kosmic here denotes the unbounded whole of the Pythagorean Kosmos (physical, mental, causal, nondual spirit) that transcends yet embraces the merely physical cosmos.

Although the wisdom gnosis is fully awake and present at every moment, we do not see it, so the master reveals it through the stages of the spiritual path as the disciple grows, step-by-step into the Gnosis of light. This ostensible paradox I have elsewhere termed “the paradox of the path.”

For Paul, the great initiate of the Gnosis of light, wrote: "I came unto you, not with the excellence of wisdom (Gnosis, Sophia), proclaiming to you the mystery of God.... howbeit we speak wisdom among the full-grown.... I fed you milk, not with meat; for ye were not yet able to bear it.... The psychic does not discern pneumatic things." (1 Corinthians)

The Gnosis of Light (nondual wisdom, jnana, yeshe) received by faith/pistis (surrender of the ego) is then, the great mystery of the ages. The Gnosis of Light is the Tao that cannot be named. It is the unity of luminous emptiness, awareness and appearance of Buddhist shunyata.

This Gnosis of Light is the direct nondual experience of the divine inner wisdom presence (Christos, vidya, rigpa) of the Cosmic Christ, unseparate from the Primordial Father, the very base, or ground or source in whom energy (spiritus, pneuma, ch'i, lung, prana) arises in space and time as light, mind, matter, breath, voice and all the manifested things of relative, conditional existence.

This great mystery cannot be told. It cannot be grasped by the mind. It is profound. It utterly transcends the conceptual.

This is the "Gospel that has been given in all creation under heaven" (Colossians).

This is the teaching that has "abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel." (2 Timothy).

This is the truth that “existed among the ancients, and never did not exist, from the beginning of the human race until Christ came in the flesh... " (St. Augustine)

Again, such a teaching refers not to the historical human person of Jesus, nor to Jesus as God, but to the Christos, the Gnosis of Light that he realized and demonstrated, not by his death but by his life.

For Paul, as for the Gnostic authors of John and Thomas, the teaching is the esoteric "Gnosis of Light that passeth all understanding." It is indeed, the Christos, the Christ Nature that is that very "light which lighteth every one that cometh into the world."

"The lamp of the body is the mind" (Gnostic Dialog of the Savior). "Enlighten your mind ... light the lamp within you" (Gnostic Teaching of Silvanus).

Alas, even though this Christos dwells now, awake, at the heart within each human form, yet we know it not. “It is spread upon the face of the earth, but you do not see it.” Thus it abides in “The Silence” awaiting the surrender of opening (pistis/faith) that is the sadhana of the spiritual path.

On the road to Damascus, "when it was the good pleasure of God ... to reveal his son in me." (not to me), Paul was initiated (teleosis, anointed) by the Christos, the "Christ that liveth in me," "the mind of Christ," not by the God Jesus, and not by the man Jesus (Paul never met Jesus in the flesh). "For neither did I receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came to me through revelation of Jesus Christ" (Galatians).

In Ephesians Paul states, "How that by revelation was made known unto me the mystery of the Christ." Clearly, Paul understood the distinction between the great manifestation of the Christos-Logos in Jesus the great human teacher, and Jesus as a unique singular god (the present orthodox or exoteric view).

Paul loved the great man Jesus for his demonstration of the realization of the Gnosis of Light. But Paul praised and attempted to realize in himself the nondual divine Logos, the Christos realized by the mortal human Jesus in order to reveal to each one of us our own divine potential or capacity for this ultimate happiness that is liberation/enlightenment.

Exoterically then, the great man Jesus of Nazareth has been molded by humans to be worshipped as the one and "only begotten Son of God," a separate, (though immanent) transcendent god, a unique spiritual singularity in the history of the world.

In a less parochial, esoteric view, Jesus was one of many historical and pre-historical avatars and Christ-Buddhas, the indwelling, unseparate logos incarnated from the very source of All-That-Is, the “I Am,” to teach and to demonstrate to self-conscious beings that greatest truth: that "No longer I, but Christ liveth in me", and "Wonder of wonders, all beings are Buddhas ... Everything is Buddha from the beginning." It is through this great realization that “Christ shall shine upon thee.”

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The Betrayal of the Gnosis of Light

In the centuries immediately following the death of Jesus, a great misfortune befell 'Christianity'. The betrayal of the Mysteries by the false Gnostics.

The Gnostics, that is, those who came to know the deeper truth, were the initiates of primitive Christianity. Some of these, however, in the course of time, became caught up again in the egoic mind and grossly distorted and misrepresented the nondual Gnosis of Light and caused it to be rejected along with their own fantastic dualistic versions.

They alienated the Church from the supreme truths of the Jewish mystics pointed to in the Kaballa, a work which contains most, if not all, of the secrets of the transcendental theology or Gnosis of Light. (Eliphas Levi, The Mysteries, A.E. Waite, in Kingsland, 1970)

As we have seen, the esoteric understanding of the indwelling, intrinsic, primordial presence became hardened into exoteric, conventional dogmas and the true Gnosis of Light was then thought of as heresy.

The power of the Church became gradually vested in an ambitious, material, priestly hierarchy who, from the earliest apostolic period, established a powerful Orthodoxy, fanatically opposed to the esoteric mystery teaching descended from the prehistoric Christ/Buddhas to Hermes and Moses, to Jesus, to Paul, to Theodus and his disciple, the master Valentinus.

This esoteric mystery teaching was known as the fanatical "Christ Cult" by the Christian Orthodox Church of the first and second centuries. This Orthodoxy included certain Gnostic initiates, Clement, Origen, and Augustine, who had compromised their original understanding. It was the sworn goal of this group to destroy every trace of the Gnosis wisdom texts throughout all Christendom (Mack 1995).

The result was that the Gnosis of Light love-wisdom-unity teaching of Jesus was lost to the world at large until the discovery of the Nag Hammadi scriptures in 1945, and the Essene scriptures at Qumran in 1947.

Today, our conventional religious institutions do not desire to transcend the egoity that obstructs realization of the Gnosis of Light, but seek to serve and exploit it. Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche has termed this egoic motive "spiritual materialism."

Our prevailing global 'mass-mind' ideology is scientific materialism whose legacy emotionally conditions us to accept and cling to a complex of separative, conceptual, belief/belonging systems (“hang ups,” cathexes, samskaras) that deny this supreme identity, this primordial light that we actually and essentially are.

We are reduced by this relentless objectivist materialism to “ghosts in a machine” (Koestler), and the deep subjective realities of God and spirit become no more than “artifacts of neurochemical brain activity.” We feel guilty and unworthy of the love and the wisdom that is our birthright as “god-children” participants being/becoming the Gnosis of Light.

Here, “the sins of the parents are visited upon the children” (Jesus of Nazareth), generation to generation.

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The Nondual Gnostic Christian View

You may be aware that some contemporary scholars (Jonas, Rudolph, Churton) view the Christian Gnostic record of the first two centuries as theologically and ontologically dualistic regarding the separation of matter and Spirit, humanity and God etc. But it isn't so.

Well-developed nondual monistic (all of reality is one substance) teaching arises in the Valentinian literature of the second century C.E. (Schoedel, Dawson, Layton).

For instance, of God, the Prmordial Father, it was written: “He possessed the All dwelling within him” (Valentinian Exposition). And, “In the Unbegotten One, all things exist at once” (Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies).

According to Bentley Layton, this teaching assumes a nondual monistic cosmology characteristic of “Stoic pantheistic monism [where] all is enclosed by God and ultimately all is God” (Layton 1987).

William Schoedel writes: “Such theology presupposes a non-dualistic cosmology. For it does not allow that the God who contains all things is limited by any other reality” (Schoedel, 1972).

The Valentinian first principle, the supreme source of the All, is this Primordial Father, the Depth (Bythos or Bathos cf. Bathosphere). From this masculine aspect of godhead emanates The Son, that is, “The Mind,” -- intrinsic primordial awareness itself descended into mental and physical form. Thus, from the nondual One arises plurality, The Many.

This feminine aspect of godhead is called “The Silence,” the direct experience of the Primordial Awareness Wisdom that is utter equanimity or peace. Thus this androgenous male/female dyad that is The Son descends as The Mind into spacetime as the dimensions (Aeons) of mental and material form.

All together these entities, these “members of the All” constitute the pleroma or “fullness” of the Father that is nondual godhead (Layton 1980, Schoedel 1972, Thomassen in Meyer, 2007). Jesus is the physical embodiment of the Son (Mind), the Christos who incarnates into spacetime in order to teach to suffering, separated human beings the redeeming Gnosis of Light.

Two of the great Nag Hammadi texts, Valentinus’ Gospel of Truth (gnostic) and the Tripartite Tractate (gnostic) explicate this profound, if fantasque, gnostic ontology.

These pivotal texts represent a transition in Christian history from the outer exoteric Hellenistic-Platonic dualism of earlier Egypto-Greek and Gnostic teaching, and from the dualism -- the essential separation of humanity and God, matter and spirit -- of the Hebrew Tanakh (The Old Testament) and the developing Christian Orthodoxy, to the inner esoteric and then radical nondual experiential mysticism of the Kabbalistic, Valentinian and the Thomas teaching.

Exemplars of this transition process include, as we have seen, the great gnostic, turned Orthodox, theologians, Clement of Alexandria (Stromata, Book IV) and his disciple, Origen, and later, Saint Augustine (before his conversion to Orthodoxy).

Both the Gospel of Truth and theTripartite Tractate emphasize inward mystical epinoia (bhavana, dhyana). Epinoia is the penetrating insight of immediate contemplative or meditative, non-conceptual knowing (gnosis) vis-a-vis exoteric, conventional conceptual belief (dianoia, doxa) in the separate Platonic creator demiurge and the exoteric dualistic creator-god of the Hebrews and Orthodox Christians.

Both of these texts utilize the nondual Kabbalistic mysticism of the ancient Raza Rabba (The Great Mystery), and the 2nd century mysticism of the Zohar of Simeon ber Yohai.(The Zohar was probably completed in the 12th century by Moses de Leon.)

These secret teachings are antedated by a thousand years in the Hebrew hekalat, and through the logos/Christos incarnation of Enoch. The Gospel of Truth speaks of redemption (apolytrosis, release or liberation) as "revealed to be perfect through the mercies of the Father” as the hidden mystery, Jesus the Christ. "Through him he enlightened those who were in darkness because of forgetfulness." (Grant, 1961).

This forgetfulness (amnesis) begets the ignorance (hamartia/sin) that perceives the phenomenal world of matter as objectively real and separate from the pleroma, the fullness of spirit, the All embraced by perfectly subjective Bathos, the Depth that is godhead, the Primordial Father.

Valentinus laments this condition in which we arise and dwell within God, yet we don't know it. Through this fundamental ignorance of the nature of reality and our place and participation in it, we see, not the luminous primordial unbounded wholeness, the Bathos of the pleroma, but merely its illusory platonic shadows that constitute the apparently separate material world.

But for the Valentinians, God is the one reality. There is only God. Gnosis is the light that dispels the separative darkness of ignorance that brings suffering and death, so that we may know there is no ultimate separation between humanity and God.

The world of form arises, dwells and decays within the Depth of the Primordial Father God, who transcends yet embraces every participating fragment of that unbounded whole. Such a view is the antithesis of Gnostic dualism.

Again, this Valentinian narrative partakes in the very innermost secret nondual core of our Primordial Wisdom Tradition, whether Buddhist Dzogchen, Advaita Vedanta, or Kabbalah.

For the esoteric oriented Christian pneumatic Gnostic, Jesus demonstrated the logos-Christos that is present as the divine "Gnosis of Light" within each human being, an inherent, already present, divine spiritual potential awaiting recognition, then realization.

For these Christians, neither the human Jesus, the great exemplar and master teacher of the Gnosis of Light, nor Jesus as the Son of God was the object of worship. For the nondual Gnostics, it is the logos-Christos, the Christ Nature, the very presence of God that abides at the human heart that Jesus' realization exemplified.

Thus, in the Valentinian Gospel of Truth and theTripartite Tractate, we see a fully developed nondual, monistic transcendence of the persistent dualism of matter and spirit, humanity and God, body and soul, soul and the divine of exoteric Hellenism, Orthodox Judaism and Orthodox Christianity.

Through the Valentinian texts, and also in the Thomas literature, we discover the "Gnosis of Light" that is nothing less than the nondual wisdom teaching found at the esoteric and nondual heart of all of the traditions of our Great Tradition, as we have seen.

This is the great innermost secret spiritual teaching that was descended to Jesus from Moses, Enoch and the hekalot, to the mystical Zohar and Kabbalah, and from the ancient Orphic/Hermetic mystery religions, and passed forward through the esoteric mystical Gnostic teaching of the Apostle Paul, and on to Paracelsus, Meister Eckhart, Saint John of the Cross and Saint Teresa of Avila etc.

Some of these initiates realized, then actualized, through the Gnosis of Light, the actual Christos, (logos), the Cosmic Christ that abides, according to the Gospel of Thomas, in each human being.

Clearly, the authors of the Valentinian texts, the Gospel of Thomas, and other incipient nondual gnostic texts (e.g. the non-Christian Hermetic Nag Hammadi texts: Discourse on the Eighth and Ninth Asklepios and the Prayer of Thanksgiving) perceived and perhaps even realized in the life-experience the esoteric innermost secret nature of mind that is nondual God the Primordial Father, the ultimate source/ground of all arising space/time phenomena.

Clement of Alexandria speaks of the "Monadic Gnosis," and the metaphysical unity of all relative space/time being in God. Valentinus tells of the "source of the All, the Ineffable One liveth in the Monad ... alone, in the silence ... and none was before him." (A Valentinian Exposition -- Nag Hammadi) "Your Father in Heaven is One" (Interpretation of Knowledge - Nag Hammadi).

The view of the Valentinians and the Thomas Christian gnostics then, was that God -- Abba, the Primordial Father -- was the nondual supreme source of all phenomenal being, and that Jesus, realized as the Christos, was a mortal who, during his human life “overcame the world,” that is he realized, then demonstrated the truth of our inherent indwelling Christ-Nature, our divine-human potential and prior actual identity as "Children of the Light."

When speculating about the “highest” or most subtle nondual innermost secret teaching of any tradition, it may be useful to note that there are levels of depth of understanding of this greatest teaching, from the subtlest conceptual understanding, through the penetrating insight of the union of shamatha/vapashyana (ennoia/epinoia), to the omniscient understanding of a Christ/Buddha.

Such levels or dimensions of understanding are functions of the psycho/spiritual life stage development of the individual. Moreover, with the exception of a Christ/Buddha, the speaker/interpreter introduces a personal subjectivity into the objective unpacking of the teaching.

There seems to be a profound impulse, even a prima facie moral imperative to share our innate Primordial Wisdom with one another. Yet there exists an apparent protean abyss between our view and our conduct. We will not be taken seriously until we practice our praxis. Thus do we proceed.

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Aspects of Knowledge

Gnosis (jnana/yeshe) is the “primordially pure” clearlight of mind that opens into the very ground or source of being.

Gnosis is our innate, indwelling nondual noetic (mind/spirit) primordial wisdom accessed through immediate subjective knowing experience.

Gnosis is not merely belief or conceptual or empirical knowledge (dianoia, episteme). Nor is it the discriminating penetrating wisdom (sophia, prajna, sherab) that consumes the kleshas (obstructive negative emotions) and prepares the mind to open and receive Gnosis.

Gnosis is direct, penetrating nondual meditative or contemplative spiritual insight/intuition (epinoia, vapashyana) of the naked Primordial Awareness Wisdom (jnana/vidya, yeshe/rigpa) of our Supreme Source (Tao, Nirguna Brahman, Mahashunyata, Dharmakaya, Samantabhadra) in whom arises all spacetime phenomena.

Again, this ultimate source/ground -- ”Big Mind” (paramartha) -- transcends yet embraces “Small Mind” (samvriti), relative, perceptual and conceptual knowledge and discursive thinking about arising space/time phenomena.

Gnosis is the knowing aspect (buddhi, jna/shepa) -- “nondual primordial awareness wisdom” (jnana/yeshe) translates as gnosis.

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Discovering That which has Always Been

The primordial wisdom mystery teaching of the Gnosis of Light is this: that humankind has an inherent, indwelling divine nature or “heart essence.”

"The Nature of Mind (consciousness) is primordially pure from the very beginning." Though seemingly separated and descended into the material world of 'flesh' and ego, awakening souls desire to be released, to return to the actual spiritual perfection or wholeness that is, paradoxically, their actual design and identity from the very beginning.

This return to, or realization of, our original inherently divine nature is the great esoteric truth. It is the perennial, mythical archetype of "the eternal return". This truth of our apparent descent into material space/time and the return to essential, nondual spirit is present in the inner esoteric and greater esoteric nondual wisdom teachings in virtually all religious traditions.

This truth is descended to Christianity through the esoteric and innermost secret tradition of the Hebrews and the Greeks (Moses, Pathagoras and Plotinus etc.). This teaching was present in the Hellenistic mysteries which were descended from the Hermetic, Orphic and Vedic mystery traditions and their prehistoric antecedents.

That which is called the Christian religion existed among the ancients, and never did not exist, from the beginning of the human race until Christ came in the flesh (of Jesus), at which time the true religion which already existed began to be called Christianity.
~ Augustine. Epis. Retrac., 1, xiii, 3)

Thus it is the nature and destiny of humanity, according to the teaching of our great Primordial Wisdom Tradition as it is embodied in esoteric Christianity, that "in the beginning" humankind was spiritually divine and whole, not separate from the nondual Father-Holy Spirit-Christos.

Humanity descended from this 'Eden' consciousness, androgenous form polarized into two genders, became clothed in "coats of skin," and became egoically separated and forgetful (amnesis) of its divine source.

This theme is constant in the various creation mythologies of our species. This is the hell of samsara: the sin (ignorance, hamartia, avidya, marigpa), suffering (pathos, duhkah) and death (thanatos) that is the story of the Old Testament, and the ancient Vedas of India.

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The Descent and Ascent of All-Embracing Spirit

Our perennial Great Wisdom Tradition teaches the dialectic of the “Two Truths”:

Relative Truth (samvriti), the finite, objective, relative, conventional, empirical reality with its (outer) physical and (inner) mental/emotional phenomena.

Ultimate or Absolute Truth (paramartha), is the infinite, nondual, perfectly subjective, unbounded whole -- the Ultimate Reality that transcends yet embraces the phenomenal world of Relative Truth.

Our life-experience includes both the outer exoteric dimension and inner esoteric dimension.

The esoteric dimension includes yet deeper or subtler strata (vidya) of the nondual essence of mind, beyond the duality of subject and object, prior to the discursive and emotive function of mind (manas, namshe, vijnana).

Thus Gnoisis is primordial, capacious wisdom in that it transcends, yet includes, any temporal relative knowledge (samvriti) of space/time phenomena.

"To know oneself at the deepest level is to know God" (Monoimus). Here, knower (gnostikos) and known (gnosis), subject and object, spirit and matter are not separate, but participate together as the unbounded whole in a relationship of identity.

Exoteric religionists (especially Jews, Christians and Muslims) have assumed a dualistic separation of humanity and God for centuries. Again, such a view represents the ignorance (avidya) that is hamartia (sin), literally “missing the mark.”

The gnostic Gospel of Thomas speaks not of sin and repentance, but of ignorance (avidya, alogos, marigpa) and enlightenment (vidya, rigpa, logos), and liberation, (bodhi, moksha, apolytrosis).

It is this liberation/enlightenment that is, according to the pith teaching of our Great Wisdom Tradition, the end of all our seeking, and the finding of “Happiness Itself”, which is uncaused joy, peace and love. It is the innermost secret, -- and, of course, the Ultimate, Reality.

Again, the realization of these ascending levels of knowledge is a function of the psycho/spiritual life/stage development of the spiritual aspirant.

As to the experience of these hidden dimensions, whether conceptual dianoia or direct contemplative epinoia/gnosis, it is most important to maintain the understanding/awareness that these dimensional reality realms -- these “many mansions of the Father’s house” -- arise in a relationship of interdependence with one another and with the whole, and therefore possess no inherent, independent existence in themselves; not even the nondual, ultimate Reality itself.

Indeed, our Great Wisdom Tradition views all entities, objective and subjective, as ultimately having no inherent existence (shunyata, pratitya samutpada). It does not, however, deny their objectively reality in the realm of Relative Truth, that is their empirical, relative, conventional, space/time reality.

The initiatory levels or degrees of depth of realization of this esoteric perennial mystery teaching remain, of course, merely exoteric conceptual understanding until actually realized and demonstrated.

In everyday life, the disciple/devotee proceeds gradually, step-by-step, then perhaps suddenly, from initiation and baptism, to enlightenment, to the realization of the Christos and its actualization in the world through compassionate activity, and beyond.

Such a one, according to the gnostic Gospel of Philip, “is no longer merely a Christian, but a Christ.”

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The Heart-Seed of the Gnosis of Light

The Seed of God The heart-seed or seed is a gnostic term that has been used when referring to the impersonal, formless Christ Consciousness or Christos, (ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ in Greek).

This is NOT the person or personality of Jesus, and not Jesus as God, but the transformative Christ Consciouswness that is to be realized by each human being through the teaching and the yoga or spiritual practice of the Gnosis of Light.

It is the Christos that is the luminous Cosmic Christ presence, "the living Christ", "the living Buddha", that dwells within, and yet envelopes, the heart/mind of each human being and shall, in due course, be germinated and realized by divine grace.

The geminating of this seed of divine potential which facilitates the return to consciousness of our primordial source/ground is the esoteric teaching of the New Testament, and of nondual Buddhism (Essence Mahamudra, Dzogchen), Hinduism (Advaita Vedanta) and Taoism (the yoga of the Returning of the Light).

This inherent, primordial spiritual nature (“I Am” nature, Christ nature, Buddha nature), is the seed that is always and already present at the heart of each human being.

Esoterically, this is the old news and the good news of the Great Wisdom Tradition inherited and transmitted by Gautama, Jesus and all the enlightened sages (and sagesses) down througl the centuries of human existence.

This is the ancient Gnosis of Light revealed and demonstrated in or through the historical person of Jesus, as a full flowering of the divine seed, and through Gautama, Shakumuni as the Tathagatagarbha (the seed of Buddahood).

This Christ/Buddha Nature is our actual "supreme identity." To the soul's earnest inquiry, "Who am I?" the awesome answer inevitably comes, "I Am That I Am" (Tat Tvam Ami/That I Am), without a single exception.

This is the Great Primordial Wisdom mindstream of the Cosmic Christ that has been realized and actualized in the world by Jesus the Christ and by each of the Buddhas and mahasiddhas of the past, and of the present, and will be realized by untold numbers of Christs or Buddhas (perhaps appearing as ordinary people) yet to come.

Thus it is, according to the innermost secret teaching of our Great Wisdom Tradition, and thereby, the collective whole of humanity may be released, liberated and returned in spirit to the pre-fall Eden consciousness of the nondual divine mystery that is our essential or supreme Source.

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The Solar Logos

"I lost my world, my fame, my mind --
The Sun appeared, and all the shadows ran.
I ran after them, but vanished as I ran --
Light ran after me and hunted me down."

~ Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi (1207 - 1273),


trans. Andrew Harvey, The Way of Passion: A Celebration of Rumi

As far into antiquity as we may go, it is told of "that One that dwelleth in the sun." The various mythic sun gods are for the awakened simply expressions of that bright One who is the very source or base of everything that is, whose luminous body is of pure clear light.

It is this sunlight of Gnosis that arises and shines in the heart of awakening beings and brings to life the seed of divine potential.

The Christos or Cosmic Christ is the Solar Logos aspect or expression of the Primordial Godhead, our very source/ground, primordial Spirit Itself. In other words, the Christos is as the rays of the sun are to the sun itself.

For the Vedic tradition, this nondual primordial expression of That-That-Is is known as Kham Brahm, "The Bright” that is Nirguna Brahman, in whom Krishna and Shankara incarnate.

I know that Great Person of the brightness of the sun beyond the darkness. Only by knowing him one goes beyond death. There is no other way to go. ~ Svetasvatara Upanishad

In Egypt it was Osiris in whom appears the divine son Horus; in Greece it was Apollo; for Kabbalists it is the unspeakable En Sof (One Point); in Persia it was Ahura-Mazda (Ormazd).

For Taoists, it is the ineffable stillness of the Tao that cannot be told.

For the Buddhist tradition, it is mahashunyata, the union of phenomenal appearance and primordially pure luminous emptiness in whom/which everything arises and participates, embodied as Samantabhadra (Tibet. Kuntuzangpo, Japan. Fugen) the primordial Adi Buddha.

For the Hebrews, it is the unspeakable nondual God of Abraham and Moses, El‘elyôn, the "I Am That I Am," that incarnates in Jesus. (Yahweh-Elohim is its outer, exoteric, creator aspect just as Ishvara and Suguna Brahman are the relative, creator aspects of Nirguna Brahman, the nondual unqualified Absolute.)

"And God said unto Moses, I Am That I Am (‘eh yeh aser ‘eh yeh): and he said, thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I Am hath sent me unto you" (Exodus).

That "I Am" is eternally present as the Solar Logos, the Christos presence that lives as potential to be realized at the spiritual heart of each human being. Thus Jesus spoke to the Pharisees: "Before Abraham was, I Am."

From El, the perfectly subjective, utterly ineffable, primordial Absolute Source in whow/which arises all of phenomenal reality, and the sentient beings, and which incarnates as all of the Christ-Buddhas and mahasiddhas of the past, and of the present, and of the future.

According to our Great Tradition, the liberation of humanity from our seeming descent into the suffering of this material world requires nothing less than the periodic manifestation and intervention of the Solar Logos,

This Light of Consciousness breaks into the world through available human beings who become totally 'transparent' for this luminous presence. By grace, they “overcomes the world” not by force, but by realizing and then demonstrating divine wisdom and compassion.

Of these it is said by the discerning, "The Word (logos/Christos) was made flesh and dwelt among us... full of grace and truth" (The gnostic Gospel of John).

According to our Great Tradition then, the Solar Logos has manifested through many incarnations throughout human history: Jesus, Gautama, Garab Dorje, Padmasambhava, Longchen Rabjam, Tsongkapa, Bodhidharma, Dogen, Ramakrishna, Shankara, Lao Tzu, Ramana Maharshi, and many others.

All these incarnated manifestations of nondual timeless Spirit into the space/time material dimension of existence. From its primordial source the Logos incarnates again and again into human form to realize, then teach the true Gnosis of Light, our indwelling Christ/Buddha Nature in order to enlighten and liberate all who will listen, surrender (in faith) and follow The Way.

This "true Gnosis of light" is the peace and equanimity of samadhi, moksha, satori/kensho, apolytrosis, the realization of that luminous interior immediate presence of the logos-Christos (vidya, rigpa) that is our actual “supreme identity” and that is not other than, or separate from the all embracing great expanse of the supreme source itself: Tao, Brahman, Shunyata, Dharmakaya, Abba the Primordial Father that is That “I Am That I Am,” of Moses and Jesus.

Esoterically, the teaching is about the same truth. Exoterically, what is taught appears a little different. Buddha emphasized wisdom and compassion. Jesus emphasized love and self-surrender.

Esoterically understood, the truth of the Gnosis has its wisdom aspect and its love aspect. Wisdom is manifested as Love, kindness and compassionate service to others. In our Great Tradition, love and wisdom are as one.

The dialectic of the nondual primordial wisdom teaching appears differently in different times, for different peoples, through different metaphors, but the nondual heart essence of the teaching is always the same.

At the apex, where exoteric differences merge into the greater esoteric or innermost secret identity, all differences are transcended in their nondual primordial source, a prior metaphysical unity. 

Something lives within you that lives longer than the suns. It resides at the place in the heart.... What that subtle Being is, from which all that is arises, that is the Real, that is Spirit, that thou art (Tat tvam Asi)...
~ Chandogya Upanishad (Samaveda)

A billion stars spin through the night
blazing high above your head.
Deep within you is the presence that
will be, when all the stars are dead.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke

It is "That I Am" (Tat tvam Ami) that is the great "I Am" of Israel, of Moses and of Jesus, and of all the buddhas and mahasiddhas of the past, and of the present, and of those yet to come. It is That I Am that is the presence of the Gnosis of Light abiding at the heart of each human form.

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The Resurrection of the Cosmic Christ

The resurrection does not consist merely of the appearances of Jesus to his disciples after his death. Many think that these appearances in Galilee and Jerusalem are the resurrection. But they are simply to confirm the faith of the disciples.

The real resurrection is the passing beyond the world altogether. It is Jesus' passage from this world to the Father. It was not an event in space and time, but the passage beyond space and time to the eternal, to reality. Jesus passed into reality. ~ Bede Griffiths

Throughout the canonical New Testament and the non-canonical Gnostic Scriptures, Christ Consciousness -- Christos/logos -- as the potential realization of the Gnosis of Light is presented continuously in outer exoteric symbol and allegory as the fall and resurrection of each individual, and thereby of humanity collectively.

Humanity has been crucified upon the cross of material form. Today we see this in scientific and spiritual materialism. Once again, our spiritual ascent -- resurrection, liberation and return -- is accomplished through the practice of the spiritual path, the yoga of Christ Consciousness, the realization of the indwelling Cosmic Christ or Christos that is, and always shall be, our original divine Self nature.

From the Fifth Gospel, the gnostic Gospel of Thomas, Jesus speaks:

If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.... There is light within a being of light, and it lights the whole world. If he does not shine, he is darkness.

It is the luminous Christ Presence then, that is to be realized through the radical (return to roots) Gnosis of Light, the promethean “clear light” teaching of our Primordial Wisdom Tradition.

The realization of the non-separate Cosmic Christ is the realization of our own essential Christ Nature, the Buddha Nature, Krishna Consciousness, that primordial presence that is, by whatever name, our divine 'original face' and of all other sentient beings, and indeed, of all relatively manifested space/time reality.

Thus, there is the implicate order of perfectly subjective "Big Mind," (Susuki Roshi), the mindstream of the Christos, the Buddha, that transcends and embraces everything. And there is included within this the relative, conditional world of space/time reality -- "Small Mind" -- the explicate order of the objective world of related things.

Again, it is this Christ-Buddha mindstream that is, according to our Great Tradition, the luminous presence (Christos, vidya, rigpa) of the Primordial Awareness of our supreme source -- Bathos, the Depth in whom this all arises.

The realization of the Cosmic Christ, according to Paul, must be "found and brought to birth" as the "Christ in you" in order to be lifted up from "this ocean of incarnation and death."

Jesus' resurrection is for Paul, not a temporal "judgment day," but a transcendent gnostic/mystical awakening or enlightening: "Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall shine upon thee" (NT. Eph. 5:14).

The great truth "Christ is Risen" is, esoterically, the personal realization that the conditional ego-I of every human being has already been resurrected into the Gnosis of Light that is the "I Am" presence, the Christos (vidya, rigpa) that is not other than, nor in any way separate form, our source, Abba or God the Father, Primordial Spirit/Being itself.

"Christ is Risen" is inseparable from the truth that "it is already accomplished" (Garab Dorje); that each one is already resurrected into the light, here, now, at the heart.

The Great Wisdom Tradition gently urges us listen, open our heart and mind, recognize and then realize -- THAT (tat) -- the truth that we always actually ARE this primordial Gnosis of Light. It reminds us that this recognition, this remembrance, can occur at any moment ... that it can occur right NOW.

The realization and actualization -- the embodyment -- of THAT through consistent, kind, compassionate acts takes a little longer. “The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step” (Lao Tzu).

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  ~ From: Gnostic Christianity and the Gnosis of Light
Excerpted from: The Nature of Mind: The New Reformation in Religion, Science and Culture. (Ch. V)
(Edited and arranged for this page only by Pete Sumner)

David Paul Boaz David Paul Boaz (aka, Dechen Wangdu) is the author of many essays and the forthcoming books, The Nature of Mind: The New Reformation in Religion, Science and Culture, Phenomenology of Transcendental Consciousness and Pictures From Cathedral Peak -- a book of poems.

David has studied with Eastern and Western meditation masters and teachers, and has taught philosophy, meditation and religious studies for over thirty years.

He has lectured in philosophy at California State University, and at the American Institute of Oriental Medicine.

He is president and CEO of HydraTech of New Mexico. He is a student of Adzom Paylo Rinpoche.

For book excerpts and selected essays, visit >>>his Web site.

If you found this text on The Gnosis of Light of value, you may also enjoy our other page on The Light of Consciousness.

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