Updated: May 15, 2019
“Jim, I was accused of being “gnostic,” and was told I should be careful because I am treading in very dangerous territory. Can you help me understand this?” * “I put this accusation in the following category: Things people say to discredit and scare you of your path because it threatens their security, which is attached to their belief system. The word “gnostic” has been twisted around by religious people to have the connotation of something dangerous, sinister, evil or demonic. The accusation of being “gnostic” is meant to induce you with fear to dissuade you from the path you are on. This is the most common tactic of people who want to control you… fear.
First off, the word “gnosis” is the Greek word for “knowledge” or “wisdom.” Most commonly the word is used to refer to “spiritual knowledge.”
Those who want to scare you off your path will speak of “Gnosticism” as some sort of diabolical “hidden knowledge” that violates the truth of Jesus. Because we all know that anything that could be described as a “hidden” or “secret” knowledge must be akin to some dangerous spell concocted in Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry!
There are at least four main reasons why the idea of a hidden inner knowledge threatens some religious people:
1. People outsource, externalize or defer their spiritual authority to a religious system. 2. People have been made to mistrust what is inside themselves. 3. People idolize the powers of the mind. 4. People misunderstand how spiritual truth is known.
Here are a few things to ponder…
There is a way that all spiritual knowledge is hidden. Think of Jesus’ illustration of the wide and narrow road. The truth is simple, but it’s difficult because of our own preferences. Most people don’t want to know the truth, they want to be comfortable. It is often the case that the path of truth is very discomforting to the things we think we already know, and therefore it is a road less traveled.
Remember that old Burger King motto – “have it your way”? It is often the unspoken motto of our spiritual journey and pursuit of truth. We want to know the truth on our terms. We have conditions like:
a. It has to nicely fit in, complement, and support our current beliefs and understandings. b. It must provide a sense of certainty and security. c. It must not disturb our lives too much so as to to make us uncomfortable, or push us too far out of our comfort zone.
I wrote an entire section in Notes from (over) the Edge about how the truth is known. Not what the truth is, but how to find it.
Think also of Jesus’ primary message and teaching: “Repent for the Kingdom of God has come.” The word “repent” does NOT mean to be sorry for past wrongs. The Greek word for “repent” is “metanoia,” which means to transform the way you typically understand or process reality. It means to get out of the machinations of your mind, and allow yourself to see things in a way you have never allowed yourself to see before. In other words, Jesus said that God’s kingdom of peace, wholeness, freedom, and well-being is present in every moment, but you won’t find it in the ways you are accustomed to finding things.
I wrote in Notes from (Over) the Edge:
“Your original Self operates with a different mode of knowing than your body and mind. Your original Self has a direct and immediate awareness of the way things really are. We experience this awareness as an intuitive knowing, tacit understanding, or an implicit awareness.
This kind of intuitive knowing goes like this:
I know it I don’t know why I know it I know it as more certain than anything I am certain of It is inexpressible
This way of knowing is how God, Truth, your original Self, and the Nature of all things are known. It’s an entirely different way than the mental processes of the brain. You don’t attain this knowledge. This way of knowing is knit into the essence of your original Self, and your original Self sees the world through this awareness in every moment.”
Truth or the nature of reality is perceptible through intuitive knowing, and tacit understanding or tacit knowledge. This is the “gnosis” we all need.