Many people write and ask me what I think about events in the world today and the times in which we are living, and specifically, they inquire into the into the Gnostic view of world events and the teachings of Gnosticism on the second coming of Christ; hence, the view Gnostics hold of the Book of Revelation. If we look into the wisdom traditions of the world, we will find that many prophets and sages have spoken about the times in which we are living—both indicating the great challenges of our times and the spiritual hope that is in them. The same is true of Christian Gnosticism. Gnostic adepts and masters speak of these times as a crossroads for humanity, and perhaps even something of an evolutionary crisis for our species and world.
In Eastern traditions these times have been called the Kali Yuga, which means"dark age," and watching the events that are transpiring in the world and the trends we are setting in motion by our reactions, one cannot help but wonder what kind of future we are invoking, nor can one exactly argue with those who feel these times are dark and perverse. Yet, from a Gnostic Christian perspective, truly, these are powerful and precious times in which we are living—as much as there may be great darkness moving in the world, so also is there a potential for greater light.
It is quite true that many things seem very uncertain as we enter into the twenty-first century, and there may well be a potential for far greater darkness and horror than we witnessed in the last century, with two great world wars and the use of the atom bomb. At the same time, however, there is equally the potential for great beauty and light to emerge. In the material world, according to Gnosticism, a greater light only becomes possible along side the movement of great darkness, and the potential for greater good is naturally the potential for greater evil. If we wish to gain insight into this, according to Christian Gnostics, all we need to do is look back into the times of the Christ revelation some two thousand years ago. The tumultuous times surrounding the events of the Gospel and the darkness that was moving in the world were completely integral to the divine revelation—as it was then, so it is now.
We live in tumultuous and uncertain times, yet these are powerful and precious times to be alive. There is a Gnostic revival underway, as more and more people seek the deeper spiritual and mystical roots of their own Western tradition, and there is a revival of interest in all forms of inner and mystical spirituality. In the midst of the present darkness, there seems to be an impulse towards an active and conscious evolution—an impulse seeking to give birth to a New Consciousness in humanity and the world. This, in essence, is the Gnostic Christian view of what is transpiring today—it is akin to the pains of labor in the process of giving birth to Christ Consciousness.
When asked what Gnostics believe about "the Judgment," and if I believe we are entering into the times of the Judgment, in general my answer is, "Yes, I do." I believe we live in a time in which we must choose to invoke and embody the truth and light, and in which we must make wise judgments for our future—a time in which we must struggle to embody a Higher Consciousness, and seek a new orientation and motivation for human life and society. Gnosticism teaches us that we are cocreators of the reality we experience. Rather than live in fear and reaction, or focus upon a doom-and-gloom scenario, Christian Gnosticism proposes that we must choose to consciously respond by focusing on a new vision of humanity and the world—a vision revealed in the Gnostic experience of the Risen Christ.
This does not mean to suggest that we should close our eyes to the sorrow and suffering in the world, nor live in denial of what is transpiring, as though darkness and evil, and all our troubles, will go away by ignoring them—it does not imply that we put on rose-colored glasses and say, "Everything is okay." Rather, it is speaking about an open-eyed optimism and a conscious response. Instead of living in reaction and going along with the herd unconsciously, Gnosticism proposes that we become conscious agents for a greater good in the world—for the sake of the divine will and divine kingdom.
Perhaps one of the greatest dangers we face, the greatest deception of the unenlightened condition, is the idea that we, as individuals, are powerless to make a difference in the world or powerless to bring about any real change. Nothing could be further from the truth! If we give into this, we become part of the problem, rather than the solution. Greater change can only be brought about by larger collectives of people working together in harmony, as one heart and one mind, joined in their focus on a noble ideal or higher purpose. However, such collectives are formed by individuals and are empowered by the individuals composing them. The truth is, what each and every one of us chooses to do matters, and there is an incredible light-power in each and every human being—for better or worse, we are masters of our own destiny, according to the teachings of Gnostic Christianity.
This reflects the Gnostic understanding of the second coming, for the first coming, in the person of Jesus Christ, is the revelation of the divine potential in us, and the second coming is the actualization and realization of our divine potential—an evolution to Christ Consciousness. The Christos is not something isolate to Jesus in Gnostic Christianity, but is the truth and light within each and every one of us. Quite naturally, if this truth and light is to be realized and embodied in us we must actively labor to bring it forth from within us—this is the message of the Gnosticism.
In my book, Living Gnosis, I share essential teachings and practices that anyone can learn and use for the generation of a New and Higher Consciousness—practices that can bring about a radical change in your own life and the world around you. Yet, here in this article, I'd like to openly share the inmost essence of Gnostic Christian spirituality.
Einstein's Theory of Relativity is founded upon one basic conclusion: that light is the constant underlying the material universe, the speed of light being one key movement that does not change throughout our universe. Ironically, the same fundamental idea is at the heart of Christian Gnosticism, as well as other mystical traditions around the world—the most common metaphor for Christ and God is "light" and, in essence, Gnosticism is an "Illuminist" spirituality, focusing on the invocation of Divine Light through various forms of prayer, mediation, and sacred ritual. Essentially, we envision ourselves working with the Light, in the Light and as the Light. In every possible way we seek to remember the Light-presence (Christ) and Light-power (Holy Spirit) in us, and to allow the Divine Light to shine with, in and through us. Of course, you can do this too!
Upon first awakening in the morning, seek to remember the Light; throughout the day, here and there, take time to remember and envision the Light; before going to sleep at night, remember the Light. The following is an example of a simple way you can do this, one that is used by Gnostic initiates:
Take a moment and inwardly focus—envision yourself standing in a pillar of white brilliance, sparkling with rainbow hues of light, and envision the image of a golden sun in your heart. Then, envision your environment filled with light, and everyone and everything filled with light—all in the Divine Light. If you wish, you could add the chant of the name Yeshua Messiah (Hebrew for "Jesus Christ") to this practice, but the visualization and conscious intention to invoke the Divine Light is enough. Though very simple, this is an extremely profound and powerful spiritual practice, one that can bring about a radical change in your consciousness—what may begin as a flight of fantasy can open your consciousness to new dimensions and the experience of Higher Consciousness.
Another simply example is as follows:
When you breathe, imagine that you are breathing light; when you are eating or drinking, envision the substance of the food and drink as light. (This represents an esoteric understanding of the Holy Eucharist among Gnostics.) In a similar way, in every possible way you can imagine, all according to the Creative and Luminous Spirit in you, remember and envision yourself and others in the Light and as the Light—all in the Divine Light.
Does the suggestion of this essential spiritual practice appear in the Bible? Indeed, it does! Perhaps one most famous sayings of Master Jesus on the subject of light, and certainly one of his saying most suggestive of this practice, is found in the Sermon on the Mount, following his utterance of the Beatitudes:
"You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under a bushel basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven" (Gospel of St. Matthew 5:14-16).
Likewise, in the same gospel another saying of Jesus is recorded that might be taken as an allusion to the practice of remembering and envisioning light:
"Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (11:28-30).
Similar sayings appear in other gospels as well, and are very common in Gnostic Scriptures—if we read of the transfiguration, or of the resurrection and ascension, what shall we say of Christ? The Christ is Light, Life, Love, and Liberty—the Spirit of Truth that sets us free! Like the spiritual practices given in Living Gnosis, the practice of remembering and envisioning the Divine Light can be used by anyone, regardless of whether they are inclined to the Gnostic Path or not—it is essential and universal spiritual wisdom found in Gnosticism, as well as in other mystical traditions of the world. Perhaps more than ever before we need to draw upon the spiritual wisdom available to us and integrate that wisdom into our daily living, seeking to embody the Spirit of Truth. Though, indeed, we live in challenging times, there is a growing movement towards the dawn of a New and Higher Consciousness among us; each and every one of us can make a difference if we are willing to the spiritual life and practice, willing to cultivate our humanity and to discover the divinity innate within it. It is simply a matter of remembering and being who and what we most truly are—children of Light.
(Scriptural references used in this article are drawn from the NRS version of the Holy Bible.)