Passion of Sophia – Gnostic Creation

crucifiction-in-light-ramon-martinez
In the two slightly different tellings of the Gnostic creation story we have at the center our Divine Mother Sophia. Before we get to the shortened Passion of Sophia we really need to know a little more about Gnosticism, starting with Sant Mat.

The term Sant Mat literally translates as the Path of the God-Realized. A Sant is defined as an individual that has attained to the highest spiritual potential to which any human can aspire – complete self-knowledge and God-realization. This spiritually transfigured being, is commissioned by his own Sat Guru, as the literal embodiment of the Sat Purusha, the True God, sitting in all humility amongst humanity. His way, according to Sant Mat, is that of love, forgiveness and compassion. He teaches the necessity of individual spiritual awakening through certain methods of meditation practice. He also teaches the cultivation of ethical virtues including strict vegetarianism as an essential aspect of ahimsa, the virtue of non-violence.

One of the cardinal functions of a Sat Guru is to absolve through his own grace, sympathy and suffering, the accumulated karma of the spiritual aspirant, referring to the cycle of action and reaction that keeps the soul bound in creation, and is the motor force of the wheel of birth and death, the cycle of reincarnation. Without this forgiveness of the karmas of the past, there can be no liberation, for the soul remains ever bound in the karmic wheel. Therefore the guru, as the Word-made-flesh, the embodiment of Spirit incarnate in human form, plays a critical and central role in Sant Mat, and is regarded as an absolute prerequisite on the path of spiritual liberation.

The spiritual practices taught by the Sant: meditation on the inner spiritual Light and Divine Music. The spiritual practice is based on the belief that creation emerges as a state of vibration having two aspects: Light and Sound, termed the God-Into-Expression power, as its true nature is consciousness itself. The spiritual aspirant is guided into contact with the lowest links of these spiritual principles, as they represent the fundamental and formless nature of spirit and regarded as a direct contact with spirit. The first method involves meditation on the Ajna Chakra or third eye, while repeating a mantra consisting of five names, given by the Spiritual Master. These five names relate to the five major divisions of creation and are imbued with the spiritual power of the Sant who has attained each of these stages. They are also said to confer protection on the inner spiritual planes. Meditation at this center, leads to the awakening of inner vision and revelations of light.

The second spiritual practice is meditation on the inner spiritual sound. This practice does not involve any mantra, but attunement within to inner harmonics that first are heard on the right side, then gradually seems to come from above, changing character at each stage and having the quality of dramatic musical tones.

The practice of meditation on the Light and Sound principle as the fundamental worship of spirit, can be traced through various schools of Sufism, through the ancient Upanishads of India, through the practices and references of the Pythagorans and in the Egyptian Book of the Dead itself. It can also be found in the writings of the Gnostics: “I cast a Sound into the ears of those who know me. And I am inviting you into the exalted perfect Light.” – Trimorphic Protennoia

The Sant’s teach that their path has been maintained in its pristine form, unchanged and unchanging in its spiritual principles and practices, and as ancient as humanity. However, its outer expression and terminology has taken different forms according to the circumstance of the time. Kirpal Singh quoting Hazur Baba Sawan Singh in his biography of Hazur: “True Saints are not fastened to any religious sect or dress. They are free personalities. They are neither a party to one nor a foe to the other.”

In other words, in the mind of the Sants, they regard the spiritual teaching as universal, not a distinct sect or cult, but a basic spiritual dharma or truth teaching that is for all humanity regardless of their cultural/religious background. Therefore, they are not tied to any place, time or religious identity but adapt to the environment of the time.

Gnosis is a term synonymous with the Sanskrit term Gnana, and distinguishes direct spiritual realization from belief based on faith alone. As the Christian church grew and attempted to standardize, socialize and politicize its beliefs and doctrines, these mystic schools of Christian thought were increasingly viewed as heretical. Over several centuries, the church gained political power, suppressed the Gnostics and systematically destroyed their works. It was only in the latter part of the nineteenth century that original Gnostic writings came to light. In the early nineteen forties the remains of an entire library of Gnostic literature was found buried near the village of Nag Hammadi in Egypt.

The esoteric spirituality of the Gnostics existed within the setting of a great cosmic drama in which humanity is held captive by a creator God who functions through the rule of law (karma), and seduces man into his false worship. Yahweh is one of the many names of this false God. The True God on the other hand is a transcendent and Unknowable Absolute whose realm is the true place of spiritual liberation and whose nature is truth, love and forgiveness.

As with most of the great myths and “fairy tales” of the old world, story and allegory are meant to speak to the innermost recesses of the heart, mind and spirit. These are esoteric tales regarded as a symbolic/mythic rendering of the actual process and structure of creation. Some of the chief characters such as Sat Purush (The True Form of God/Gnostic: The Only-Begotten) and the opposing force, the energy that gives rise to materiality and rules the realms of karma, known as Kal (Dharam Rai, the Negative Power/Gnostic: Ialdabaoth, the Demiurge, etc.) are a very real presence in the discourses of the Gurus of Sant Mat.

Formless God and the Eternal Realm of God’s Attributes The Eternally Unmanifested Absolute takes form as the Timeless,
Changeless and Perfect Realm, known as Sach Khand (the True Realm) in Sant Mat or the Pleroma (fullness) of the Gnostics. Its inhabitants are the Perfect, Eternal and Distinct Elements of the Divine Totality. According to the teaching of Sant Mat in all ages, it is not given to the hypostasized elements of the Absolute to have the experience of the Wholeness from which their distinction takes its value.

”Only human beings, of all creation, can realize God within their lifetime. In the mystery of humanity is the opportunity for reconciliation between the parts and the whole and in this is hidden the very purpose of creation. It has been said that if even the angels wish to realize God, they too must take on human form, through which the potential for Godconsciousness may be fulfilled.” – Kirpal Singh

“In one there is always the delusion of many, and the totality does signify the existence therein of so many parts. The idea of a part and of the whole go cheek by jowl, and both the part as well as the whole are characterized by the similarity of the essential nature in them. The essence of a thing has its own attributive nature and the two cannot be separated from each other. Just as the essence is both one and many, so is the case with its attributive nature.” – Kirpal Singh

The Gnostic term, Pleroma and the eastern term, Sach Khand, are used interchangeably. These cosmic attributes are known as the Sons of Sat Purush in the East and the Aeons in Gnosticism. Sat Purush or the Only-Begotten is the Aeon that is the Being or the Mind, of the Absolute: pure consciousness and consciousness on all planes, thus also the bridge to creation proper.

“The Only-Begotten Mind alone, having issued from him directly, can know the Fore-Father: to all the other Aeons he remains invisible and incomprehensible.” – Hans Jonas

‘It was a great marvel that they were in the Father without knowing Him.’ – Gospel of Truth 22.27

Creation, Version One:
The myths now run in distinct and precisely opposite directions, at least in the Gnostic forms. The Kabiran version and one of the Gnostic versions states that there was an Aeon that cherished a desire for its own creation as an inherent part of its nature. We could say that the potential for separation from God is itself an Aeon. This leads ultimately to a creation existing in negative polarity with eternal Sach Khand, spinning the universes that exist in Time.

This separative Aeon, known as Mind or Time (Kal), is Sat Purusha’s first expansion in the Gnostic version and fifth in the Kabiran version. Kabir’s Anurag Sagar states that “He is created from the most glorious part of the body of Sat Purush”. Thus Sat Purush is cosmically linked to the “lower” creation, which eventually develops through Kal’s activity. In this we are warned away from value judgements of good/evil, and reminded that this entire process is under Divine Will (Hukam).

This Aeon was female: “Rushing up to the depth of the Father, she perceives that whereas all the begotten Aeons generate by copulation, the Father alone generates out of himself (being in this version without consort); in this she wants to emulate him and also generate out of herself without spouse, so that she may not fall short of the Father’s achievement. She failed to perceive that this is the power solely of the Unbegotten One, and so she managed only to bring forth a formless entity.”

Creation, Version Two:
In the second Gnostic version, the motivation is exactly the opposite; rather than a desire for separation, there is a longing for union. Structurally the tale is very similar in many respects. Here the longing of the Aeon, Sophia, to know the Absolute completely, is the primary force that sets in motion the process that eventually leads to
the development of the lower creation.

So it was that: “The Aeons longed only secretly to behold the begetter of their seed and to search for the root without beginning.” This longing is “the beginning of a crisis in the Pleroma”…since the Aeons “cannot forgo the aspiration to know more than their limits permit and thus to abolish the distance separating them from the Absolute. The last and youngest (and therefore outermost of the Aeons), the Sophia, leapt farthest forward and fell into a passion apart from the embrace of her consort. That passion had originated and spread from the vicinity of the Mind and Truth but now infected
the Sophia and broke out in her so that she went out of her mind, pretendedly from love, actually from folly or presumption, since she had no such community with the Father as the Only-Begotten Mind…The passion was a search for the Father, for she strove to comprehend his greatness. This, however, she failed to achieve, because what she attempted was impossible, and so she found herself in great agony; on account of the depth of the Abyss, into which in her desire she penetrated more and more, she would in the end have been swallowed up by its sweetness and dissolved in the
general being, had she not come up against the power that consolidates the All and keeps it off the ineffable Greatness. This power is called Limit: by him she was consolidated, brought back to herself, and convinced that the Father is incomprehensible. Thus she abandoned her previous intention and the passion engendered by it. These, however, now subsist by themselves as a ‘formless entity.'”

Sophia’s return to harmony in the Pleroma is, as noted by Jonas, “..the first restoration and salvation in the spiritual history of total being, and it occurs entirely inside the Pleroma, though as we shall see it is the cause of a chain of events outside it.”

The image of what has taken place in the Pleroma itself, indicates that the Aeon’s longing, which will ‘later’ lead to the lower creation, is eternally latent, eternally activated, and eternally reconciled. This certainly casts the mold for the triune attributes of creation described by Hinduism, that is, the triple Godhead and the three gunas. However, Kabir and Soami Ji assert that Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, satogun, rajogun, and tamogun come much later, far outside Sach Khand. In the meantime, ‘the formless entity’ created by Sophia’s passion, as we shall see, becomes the basis of all subsequent creation outside the Pleroma.

Creation Born of Sophia’s Passion
Once the “integrity of the Pleroma” had been restored and Sophia rejoined to her consort, she contemplated on her fate and the ‘formless entity’ to which her passion has given birth. This gives rise to various emotions, which also become embodied in the formless. The emotions evoked vary according to different Gnostic authors, but include grief, fear, bewilderment, shock, and repentance. A lesser Aeon is thus created out of the admixture of the Sophia’s longing for union, as well as her emotions in the wake of her failure.

The residue of this disturbance in the Pleroma “has become hypostatized as a positive realm by itself. Only at this price could the Pleroma be rid of it.” Thus the Limit (‘which separates the Aeons from the unbegotten Father” above and the ‘formless entity’, soon to be below – NT.) was not planned in the original constitution of the Fullness, i.e., of the free and adequate self-expression of the godhead, but was necessitated by the crisis as a principle of consolidation and protective separation.”

As ignorance and formlessness had appeared within the Pleroma, deep perturbation remained among the Aeons, who no longer felt safe, fearing like happenings to themselves.” A collective prayer to the Father invokes a new pair of Aeons whose purpose is to restore true serenity to the Pleroma and take care of the residual formlessness. These are Christos and Holy Spirit. The Christos imparts to the Aeons knowledge of their relationship to the Father that leads them to perfect repose. “As a fruit of their new unity, they all together, each contributing the best of his essence, produce an additional (and unpaired) Aeon, Jesus, in whom the Fullness is, as it were, gathered together and the regained unity of the Aeons symbolized. This ‘perfect fruit of the Pleroma,’ who contains all its elements, has later, as Savior, to carry in his person the Fullness out into the Void, in which the residue of the past disturbance, meanwhile
“formed” by Christos, still awaits salvation.”

The new Aeon, the Desire of the Sophia, is now separated as an entity unto itself, is called the Achamoth or the lower Sophia. Together with the Passions she is cast “outside” the Pleroma. Energized by the Christos reaching out from the Pleroma, she is left “with the awakened awareness of her separation from the Pleroma and the aroused longing for it. This initiates a redemptional task whose accomplishment requires a long detour of suffering and successive divine interventions.” In other words lower creation now becomes an inevitable development, yet paradoxically essential for
the higher purpose of reconciliation.

“The deserted Sophia impetuously sets out to seek after the vanished light, but cannot reach it, for the Limit obstructs her forward rush. She cannot penetrate through him, because of her admixture of the original Passion, and forced to remain alone in the outer darkness she falls prey to every kind of suffering that exists. In this she repeats on her own level the scale of emotions which her mother in the Pleroma underwent, the only difference being that these passions now pass over into the form of definitive states of being, and as such they can become the substance of the world… grief, because she could not get hold of the light; fear, lest besides the light also life might leave her; bewilderment, added to these; and all of them united in the basic quality of ignorance (itself counted as an ‘affection’). And still another state of mind ensued: the turning (conversion) toward the Giver of Life.”

The essential ignorance of the Demiurge, which leads him to declare himself to be the “unique and highest God”. “Ialdabaoth was boastful and arrogant, and exclaimed: ‘I am Father and God, and beyond me is none other.’” However, the processes he sets in motion, believing them to be his own, are in fact, fashioned by his mother. In this it is again suggested that no matter how ‘fallen’ creation ultimately becomes, the entire process is an expression of Divine Will.

The polarity between an ignorant creator God, well removed from even his Mother, and a far distant Eternity of Consciousness, i.e., the True God, is at the center of Gnostic and Sant Mat theology. Soami Ji repeatedly asserts, as did the Gnostics, that the God of the various world religions is none other then Kal or the Demiurge. Therefore, his worship is false and leads to ever-greater enmeshment rather than true liberation.

The Achamoth, the lower Sophia, leads the Demiurge into the knowledge of what is above him; “however, he keeps to himself the great mystery of the Father and the Aeons into which the Sophia has initiated him and divulges it to none of his prophets.” Imparting knowledge of the Father to the lower creation itself is left to “the incarnation of the Aeons Jesus and Christos from the Pleroma in the person of the historical Jesus.” This, at least, is an interpretation of
the Valentinian perspective, that being the Christian Gnostic tradition from which this story is derived. However, the extension of this concept in other Gnostic circles and so essential to Sant Mat, is that the incarnation in the world of “the common fruit” of the Pleroma, to bring salvation to the lower creation, is a perpetual manifestation,
somehow essential to the structure of the world. This is none other then the Living Master, the Grace bearing manifestation of Sat Purush. In this conception, the Godman, or Word-Made-Flesh, is ever present in the world, not a periodic incarnation as with Vishnu, or one that appears once in history and then again at the end of time, returning as judge and savior, as in the Christian conception.

Unwittingly, the Demiurge, (also known as Ialdabaoth), is led to the creation of godlike, yet innocent primal humanity, but leaves them in ignorance of their true origin and potential. His mother, the lower Sophia, however, working through the snake of wisdom, imparts Adam with gnosis, the spiritual knowledge of his true station. Seeing this awakened state, the jealous and angry Demiurge casts humankind farther into matter, where human nature recapitulates the passions and longing of its high progenitors. This, of course, is the tale of Adam and Eve turned on its head. The first children are
banished, not by God, but their apparent creator, who is, in fact, an impostor.

Despite the jealous machinations of the Demiurge it is the destiny of humanity to be the receptacle of the highest mysteries.

“…Listen to me, the Sound of the Mother of your mercy, for you have become worthy of the mystery hidden from the Aeons..” – Trimorphic Protennoia Nag Hammadi Library p.467

“Behold, Zostrianos, you have heard all these things of which the gods are ignorant..” – Zostrianos Nag Hammadi Library p.392

According to the Gnostics, the hope for salvation from the bondage of Time proceeds from the original passion for mergence in the Absolute God of the primal Sophia, which necessitated creation in the first place.

“Since Oblivion (the lower world) came into existence because they (the Aeons) did not know the Father, therefore if they attain to a knowledge of the Father, Oblivion becomes at that very instant nonexistent”

“Thus the world, unbeknown to its immediate author, is for the sake of salvation, not salvation for the sake of what happened within creation and to creation.” – Gospel of Truth 18. 7-14

In Gnostic theology there is no primal act, such as Eve’s so-called sin against God’s commandment, for which, all of humanity collectively partakes in guilt and for which salvation exists as a path to restoration, according to Christian doctrine. Indeed, true Gnosis is not the reconciliation of God and his rebellious creation, but in the poignant metaphor of the Gnostics, the vicarious fulfillment of the longing of the eternal Children of God, the Aeons, to merge in the Absolute. In this noble vision, though creation is a bridge extending from the fully illuminated realms to the dark, density of matter, this long journey out into Time and Mind generates a path of return transcending all attributes and merging in the undifferentiated Source.

“In Your Absence,
where is the once blooming
and ecstatic state of my heart?
I’m afraid lest the secret of our love
may be disclosed now.
Otherwise, who knew this hidden tale besides You.” – Sant Kirpal Singh

Source used: Dr. Neil Tessler’s book Sant Mat and the Gnostic Myth of Creation
If this resonates with you I recommend the Gnostic book Pistis Sophia (http://gnosis.org/library/psoph.htm)

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4 thoughts on “Passion of Sophia – Gnostic Creation

    • Thank you, I know it’s a long post and only those with an interest will read it, but it’s what I’ve been into for years. and want to share with other like minded ppl. Really appreciate you taking the time to read this :)

      Like

  1. In the last paragraph “a path of return transcending all attributes.” Puzzled as to what the writer actually meant by “attributes”, the meaning of which (at least for me) is essential to understand the spiritual concept there. The dictionary/attribute, “ascribe, credit, impute, special quality, aspect, etc.” So, looking for a long and detailed explanation of what the writer meant by “attributes.” You get ten minutes. :)
    Thanks,
    Jerry

    Like

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