So, I’ve started to talk about some right proper kookiness these last few posts: giants, PKD, heavenly invasions to save the dead. Do I really believe this stuff? The short answer is yes, the long answer is no. Or the short answer is no, the long answer yes. Or is it short answer, no, long answer no? Those responses should give you a clear idea of what I am getting at–‘believing’ isn’t quite what matters here, though it does come into play. The gnostic work must take for granted that (1) the human understanding is limited but not incompetent and (2) the world is complex, exceeds our understanding, but is not senseless.
When those two things come together, you have to appreciate that understanding will always be inadequate to the universe as a whole but we will be able to grasp fragments of that wholeness. We won’t always be able to connect all of the sensible fragments we have together, but we will be able to grasp that they might just fit together if our understanding were just a little better. The limits of our understanding is two-fold, too; it arises from its dependence on the limited organic-spiritual body for (1) information, i.e. the limits of sensation and (2) for storage and processing, i.e., the limits of cognition.
Some of the kookiness derives from the reception of material through spiritual visions. Visions are complicated and I won’t pretend to explain them here, but the material you receive from visions is kind of hard to shake off, so you do your best to make sense of it with the understanding you have. Oftentimes, that means assuming that the vision is meant for you and that it speaks to the work you are doing. When you cannot make that connection, you tend to assume that the vision has come to you too soon or is just too big for you. When you can make the connection, the visions rarely collapse into your understanding. They rather seem to latch on uncomfortably to some bit of your understanding and magnify it, in ways that you can’t quite hold in your head. You keep the vision because over time more shakes out from it that deepens your understanding.
You can’t really believe in a vision like that. You can’t exactly disbelieve it, either. This is where belief begins to shade into faith. You can’t reduce the vision to something you can believe in but you know that there are aspects of it that are believable, so you welcome the whole package. The giants are kind of articles of faith that help make sense of the understanding I have regarding things like the coil of life and the court of spirits that seems to attend to us. They help make sense of the talk of heaven and hell which is also of a piece with my spiritual experiences. They have helped lever me out of an oppositional mindset that hindered me.
To end on the short answer: if you are going to set out on the gnostic work, you’ll have to get comfortable with not having neat and tidy spiritual beliefs. Visions, both your own and of others, start to play a much larger role in the work and kookiness ensues. You find yourself out there in the mysteries and you do your best.