White Robed Monks of St. Benedict

Source Document I (A)

Index A of Chapter Subheadings:

Editor's Note:
Jungian Psychology East and West
How the West Was Lost
Chapter 1:
A Tale of Two Heresies
Nag Hammadi Scrolls of the Gnostics
Chapter 2:
Saintly Rebels: The People of the Scrolls
Chapter 3:
Essene Messiah and Gnostic Christ: From Prototype to Archetype
Chapter 4:
The Feminine Wisdom and the Coming of the Knowing Ones
Chapter 5:
Mythological Gnostic Tradition

Index B of Chapter Subheadings:

Chapter 6:
Introduction: Gnosis, Metaphor, and Myth
The Myth of Sophia
The Interpretation of the Myth
Chapter 7:
Introduction: The Alternative Image of Savior
The Myth of the Savior
Interpretation of the Myth
Chapter 8:
Introduction: Creator Gods or Divine Rebels? (non-link)
The Myth of the Tyrant Angels
Interpretation of the Myth
Chapter 9: Traveler from Heaven: The Myth of "Song of the Pearl"
Introduction: The Myth of the Song of the Pearl
The Myth of the Song of the Pearl
Interpretation of the Myth
Chapter 10:
Some Modern Myths

Index C of Chapter Subheadings:

Chapter 11:
The Gospel of Thomas
Sayings Concerning the Human Condition
Sayings Concerning Conduct
Concerning Self-Knowledge
Chapter 12:
The Gnostic Paradox
Chapter 13:
The Gospel of the Egyptians
The Alternative Future of Human History

Editor's Note: Jungian Psychology East and West

Editor's Note: Jungian Psychology, to some, offers a dualistic structure to the human experience: the animus and the anima, the persona and the shadow. Likewise, Gnostic thought to some is equally dualistic in its theo-psychological expositions. Both Jung and the Gnostics taught in metaphor, recognizing that human beings learn first and foremost through metaphor and allegory. In the East, the same dualism might be found in Yin and Yang, also described as an ongoing ebb and flow of opposition between polar opposites: heaven and earth, man and woman, good and bad, day and night. It could be argued that it is a species wide experience for us humans to sense opposition in our own nature as human beings.

It could be said that humans seek out the divine in their natural quest for a sense of unity within their own being coupled with a sense of unification with their world and universe and their fellow human beings. Catholic thought, from its inception in Christ and the Jewish tradition, has acknowledged a unity in the Trinity, one God. Eastern thought acknowledges a unity in the diversity of Yin and Yang in T'ai Chi, the situation where and when Yin and Yang meet in harmony.

Nicholas of Cusa (1401-1464), a Cardinal and Bishop of Bixen, who was educated in the mystical school of Deventer and at the Universities of Heidelberg, Padua and Cologne, generated the principle of coincidentia oppositorum. This principle "maintains that in God's being the various polarities holding sway in the world of actuality converge, or more precisely, exist in unity prior to any division." (Kitaro Nishida. An Inquiry into the Good. New Haven: Yale University Press, l990, n2, p. 168). It is within the context of the coincidence of oppositions — that could be said to exist only in the context of human perception that perceives "opposition" — that the reader could assume when reading the following: from Jung and the Lost Gospels, Stephan A. Hoeller. Wheaton, Ill (Quest Publishing) l989.

(Return to Index A)

Prologue: How the West Was Lost

When people cease to experience God, they are forced to believe in him, implied Tillich — and belief is a commodity subject to loss. The inner sense of God is a quality of the deeper psyche — and not of reason. With the ascendancy of reason over the psychological awareness of archetypal truth, the way for rationalism and ultimately for materialism and atheism became wide open. Thus, say Jung, and agrees Tillich, the West was lost.

When the West was lost to spiritual interiority, all that remained was belief, or the religious euphemism for it, faith. Jung, like the modern Gnostic he was, mercilessly castigated the prevailing religious emphasis on faith over interior experience. It is generally agreed, he wrote, that "faith includes a sacrificium intellectus (sacrifice of the intellect)," and he adds in brackets, "provided that there is an intellect to sacrifice." At the same time, he continues, it is usually overlooked that faith also requires "a sacrifice of feeling." This, he says, is the reason why "the faithful remain children instead of becoming as children, and they do not gain life because they have not lost it." What Jung understands by "sacrifice of feeling" he explains as follows: "Faith tries to retain a primitive mental condition on purely sentimental grounds. It is unwilling to give up the primitive, child-like relationship to hypostatized figures; it wants to go on enjoying the security and confidence of a world still presided over by powerful, responsible, kindle parents."

Mature spirituality, it would seem, requires more than faith, especially when faith is comprised of belief grounded in fear. For the child, faith in the structures of existence is sufficient, because the child is contained in them. For the adult, the perception of order and meaning has to be achieved afresh in the face of great challenges. Increased awareness and actual experience of life's vicissitudes conflict with the faith that was appropriate to the condition of the child. If there should be a new assurance of meaning, even of security, it must come about as an achievement, as the arising of a new kind of certainty wrested from acute insecurity and alienation. Such a mature spiritual state requires a certain kind of inward knowledge rooted in experience. This is what in ancient times was known under the Greek term Gnosis. (p. 5f)

...The question arises, and is being asked by critics of the alternative spiritual currents, whether the attitude of inwardness does not open the door to an unlimited subjectivism of the kind often encountered among the less discriminating devotees of fringe spirituality. It is also feared that preoccupation with the denizens and forces of one's interior landscape may disrupt the orderly pattern of society. Jung has replied to such questions and doubts in the following words:

The prominence of the subjective factor does not imply a personal subjectivism, despite thereadiness of the extroverted attitude to dismiss the subjective factor as 'nothing but subjective.

In fact, says Jung, the subjective is not as subjective as we think, for the deeper we reach into the psychic currents of inner life, the more we leave behind the merely personal and touch those elements of experience that are timeless, unaffected by personalistic factors, and thus in a certain sense truly objective. Imagination is not arbitrary, as many would envision it; on the contrary, it is based on the laws of unconscious apperception, which do not change.

In essence, the Gnosis of old postulates, and Jung also affirms, that the ideas which form the content of every religion are not primarily the product of an externally originating revelation,but of a subjective revelation from within the human psyche. In Answer to Job he says simply: "Religious statements are psychic confessions based on unconscious, i.e., transcendental processes." Do these "psychic confessions" correspond with metaphysical postulates? Jung does not say, and probably he neither knew nor cared.

To the mind of the believer the objects of faith are metaphysical realities. To the Gnostic, and thus to Jung, the phenomena of experience deserve priority over metaphysical speculation. In Jung's view it is more important to recognize the subjective root, in the mind, of our ideas about the Divine than to accept metaphysical and theological statements. It has been said that theologians know a great deal about God but very little of God. This is a condition that can be rectified only by the kind of direct experience advocated by mystics and Gnostics in every age.

What bestows meaning on life is not the kind of condition that was described by William James as "faith in somebody else's faith." Rather, what is needed in this regard is a particular act of perception that grips and taxes our entire being because of its direct impact and numinous quality. Whenever this kind of perception is absent, the inadequate vision of the human being turns against him. In every soul there is hunger for that kind of direct vision that bestows wholeness and true meaning. (p 6f)

The task thus is clear: What must take place, if we accept Jung's judgment, is a restoration of certain approaches to spirituality that contain the necessary compensation for the extroverted, literalist, and one-sided orientation of Western religion. In the age of desacralization, trivializing liturgical reforms, and liberation theologies, Jung points the way toward a restoration theology and psychology designed to appropriate the discarded wisdom of the psychological spirituality known to the Gnostics, mystics, and alchemists throughout the centuries. The stone that the builders rejected can and indeed must return to the structure of our culture if a condition of wholeness is ever to arise therein.

A drive toward wholeness, operating as a unifying process bringing together the many disparate components of the soul of both individual and culture, is one of the great, crucial realities underlying the collective and individual movement of history. The process of individuation, or becoming whole, brings with it the experience of the divine and the perception of transcendence in the symbolic dimension of life. Our culture thus must take heed: Psychological fragmentation can ultimately only lead to dissolution, while potential integration promises the renewal of life, of meaning, of love and creativity. (p. 9)
(Return to Index A)

Part I. The Other Tradition

Chapter 1. A Tale of Two Heresies

Nag Hammadi Scrolls of the Gnostics
Dead Sea Scrolls of Qumran of the Essences (130 B.C. to A.D. 70). Long ago the guardians of Western spirituality unwisely banished an important expression of their tradition from the daylight of religious life. The Essene and Gnostic alternative tradition became the equivalent of the psychological shadow to the Judeo-Christian mainstream religiosity. Yet, the human psyche cannot forgo the effective presence of its shadow for too long. The time always comes when the hitherto rejected and consequently missing portion of our selfhood mightily calls attention to itself. The stone that the builders rejected surfaces once more in order to be incorporated into the structure, indeed, more often to become the cornerstone of the same. (p. 25f)

(Return to Index A)

Chapter 2. Saintly Rebels: The People of the Scrolls

Let us then in conclusion summarize those features of the People of the Scrolls that have a direct bearing on the connections, not only historical but also what might be called psychological, that join the Essene transmission with the new covenant of Christianity, and more particularly within that covenant with the early Gnostic variant of Christianity. It is to be hoped that such a summary will present the reader with a deeper understanding of the genius of the People of the Scrolls and of the culmination of this genius in an approach to the Christian message that found its most complete literary expression in the Nag Hammadi collection of Gnostic scriptures discovered but a few months before the Scrolls of Qumran.

  1. The Qumran community was located on a site that eminently lends itself as a backdrop to the growth and development of a heresy of a generally Gnostic character.
  2. The influence of the Essene Teacher of Righteousness created a predisposition among the Essenes toward dualism, a rejection of the existing world order the identification of the world as evil — all positions that later became associated with the Gnostics.
  3. The inspiration derived by the authors of the Scrolls did not originate primarily in Jewish dogma and law but in vivid, emotionally charged personal experiences of a mystical nature.
  4. The specific variety of messianism developed by the Essenes in conjunction with their attachment to the tragic figure of their mysterious Teacher of Righteousness prepared the way not only for the messianic career of Jesus, but also for the mystical and cosmic messiahship embodied in the figure of the Gnostic Christ who speaks to us and is extolled in the Nag Hammadi Gnostic gospels. This circumstance may have been greatly reinforced by the likely possibility that a large number of the earliest converts to Christianity were Essenes.
The final point of our summary brings us quite directly and logically to the consideration of the figure of Jesus and to the ways in which this figure may be related to the most intriguing though elusive character within the Essenic drama: the Teacher if Righteousness. Assuredly it is in the relationship of these two immensely important figures that we may find the most important indications of how the "pre-Christian Judaism of Gnostic character" (gnostisierendes Judentum) recognized by Bultmann came to serve as the principle fountain and origin of Gnosticism. It is in the relationship of the Essene Messiah to the Christian Jesus, and beyond him to the Gnostic Christ, that the link may be discovered which joins the Dead Sea Scrolls of Essene origin eighth the collection of Gnostic gospels found in Nag Hammadi. (pp. 39ff).

(Return to Index A)

Chapter 3.

Essene Messiah and Gnostic Christ: From Prototype to Archetype
It is somewhat difficult for us today to appreciate the import of the archetypal element in connection with such figures of religious lore as Joshua, Joseph, Asaph, the Teacher of Righteousness, and Jesus. An insightful Jungian writer, Lucindi F. Mooney, wrote concerning this:

Archetypal symbols, primordial images, actually do have the same meanings as always. What has changed in the Christian world is the Westerner's religious attitude toward them. For example, the form or physical representation of the symbols, created by our earlier fathers in an effort to express externally an internal drama, is almost universally rejected as a mere piece of carving or plaster. Nothing else. Once such symbols are seriously questioned as being indicators for something beyond rationality, they die. Thus, our culture is one commonly referred to as stripped of its symbols, as floundering between two myths, as rejecting its own hereditary home.

As in the Gospel of Matthew (16:13) quoted at the outset of the present chapter, so today we may be justly reminded that flesh and blood cannot reveal the true nature of the archetype to us. "Flesh and blood" are represented in our contemporary world by our alienated egos enmeshed in an alienated culture. Still, there is hope. Much of this hope seems to be embodied in the documents of the Essenes and of the Gnostics, restored to us after a period of many cultures.

When conjoined with an insightful psychological understanding of their meaning, these scriptures may yet reverse the sad trend of spiritual impoverishment alluded to by the quotation above. The messianic archetype declares to us, as it did of old, that it seems to us like a stranger, for it is of another race, but 20th century depth psychology fortified by the authentic heritage of the long-lost Essene and Gnostic core of Western spirituality increases our familiarity with the shining and mysterious stranger. The old religious keywords salvation, sin, fear of God, blind obedience to dogma, and commandment are losing their influence upon the growing edge of the culture.

New hallmarks of spirituality have arisen, mostly deriving from psychological theory: self-knowledge, integration, authenticity, spiritual growth, wholeness. In spite of confusion, reaction, and an often childish naivete, a certain Gnosis has appeared in our midst. An image, a persona that characterizes the people who are responsive to this Gnosis has begun to constellate itself. It is an image that is in itself archetypal in nature and thus may be said to resonate with all that possesses the radiance of that other, archetypal reality. This new image may indeed be the harbinger of a newly dawning and more adequate myth for the West, a myth that would supply the missing compensatory elements Jung felt our culture desperately cried out for under the fateful, overriding imperative for wholeness.

The search for the archetypes and prototypes of Essene and Gnostic lore is not without a vital contemporary meaning. The ancients wisely held that the gods are immortal, referring thus to their polytheistic vision of archetypal powers of the soul. Beginning in the dim mists of ancient Semitic lore, the transformative and redemptive image of messiahship moves on the pathways of history.

From Joshua and Joseph to Jesus and beyond him to the mystical and cosmic-hero God of the Gnostics, we see the unfolding of a mighty principle of redemption and wholeness, which has not lost its urgency for us even today. The diminished recognition given to this messianic image in recent times is not a circumstance to be accepted or condoned. Referring to this very condition, Jung warned us: "For it seems to me that the world, it should lose sight of these archetypal statements, would be threatened with unspeakable impoverishment of mind and soul."

Happily we now possess means for the prevention of such an impoverishment in the form of the evidence in behalf of the spiritual importance and distinguished archetypal history of the Messiah-Christ image. The nearness of the redemptive power of the Living God as evidenced by the prototypes of the Christ image among the Essenes is but one important component within this evidence. The inescapable nearness of Divinity reaches new and even greater heights of recognition in the flowering of Gnostic tradition proper, to the investigation of which we shall devote ourselves.

(Return to Index A)

Chapter 4. The Feminine Wisdom and the Coming of the Knowing Ones

Sophia, Wisdom, has become manifest under the guise of a woman and has become a partner, even an equal partner, in the task of redemption. The notion of a solitary male savior, as taught in later mainstream Christendom, is contrary to the vision of such knowing ones as Simon and his successors. The Gnostics made their appearance as the apostles not merely of the man of light (Simon, Jesus) but also as the woman of light (Sophia, Helen, Mary Magdalene) as co-redemptrix, or partner in the work of salvation.

The knowing ones had come and with them Wisdom, the feminine Word, had begin her march in history. Resented and persecuted, combated and repressed from age to age, she came to enjoy a period of manifestation through the agency of her Gnostic devotees that was to leave its mark on the turbulent tale which constitutes the history of Christendom and of Western Culture. Again and again the voice of the eternal feminine was to go unheard and crying in the wilderness, but she was assuredly wooed, prayed to, and revered by her friends the Gnostics. With Simon the Magician, the tradition of the knowers emerged from the shadows of Hebrew patriarchy AND declared its uniqueness, its power to enchant and transform the hearts and souls of those who long desired to know the face of Lady Wisdom, Jacques Lacarriere, the French poet and admirer of the Gnostics, summed up their intentions well when he wrote:

The essential point about everything concerning Simon Magus (and Gnosticism) is the image of the primordial Couple, the image of Desire ... exalted as the primary fire of the world and the source of liberation, which is the image of Wisdom, incarnate in the body of Helen, who has fallen from the heights of heaven into the depths of history to teach men that the way to salvation is through union with that reflection of the divine splendor that is the form of woman. (pp 76f)

(Return to Index A)

Chapter 5. The Mythological Gnostic Tradition

The heart and soul of the Gnostic tradition is mythological. Beginning with its hoary origins in the deserts of Judea and Egypt among the pious Jewish heretics called Essenes, and continuing with the great luminaries of the Gnosis such as Valentinus, Basilides, and Mani, the other tradition winds its way not unlike a great underground river right into the landscape of the contemporary world with its jet planes, computers, and increasing spiritual rootlessness owning to the loss of its once nourishing myths.

It is time now that we examine the principal myths of this other tradition, so that peradventure we may find there what our official myths were lacking. Tennyson wrote: "God fulfills himself in many ways, lest one good custom should corrupt the world." Assuredly, the alternative myth carried by the other tradition represents one of the ways in which such divine fulfillment may save us from the depredations brought upon us by the one-sidedness of the traditions and myths of the mainstream. It is with such expectations that we may address ourselves to the mythic images that together present us with the consciousness of the other reality. (pp. 94f)

(Return to Index A)
Source Document I (B)

The Order's Brochure
The Network's Brochure

White Robed Monks of St. Benedict
Post Office Box 27536
San Francisco CA 94127-0536 USA
Phone: 415-292-3228
Page URL: http://www.whiterobedmonks.org/osbsor1a.html
Copyright © 1995 White Robed Monks of St. Benedict
Valid HTML 4.0!