“ There is one petition that we ask: we would be preserved in knowledge. And there is one protection that we desire: that we not stumble in this kind of life.” - The Prayer of Thanksgiving
Those of you who’ve read This Way are already familiar with the idea of moving from emptiness (the Kenoma) to fullness (the Pleroma). For those who haven’t, here’s a short rundown:
The Kenomic Worldview, the default human condition here in the World of Forms, is marked by a deeply embedded sense of existential ennui, manifested especially as a sense of purposelessness. The Greek term “kenoma,” emptiness or void, was used by some Gnostics to describe the World in which we reside. Its opposite is “pleroma,” or spiritual fullness….
If you live in the Kenomic World, you have no idea what you’re doing here. You may have a relatively happy life by your culture’s standards. Nonetheless, the basic routines of life seem meaningless and trite. You likely get up each morning, eat breakfast, drink some coffee, take out the dog, take a shower and head to work. You do your job, perhaps happily– it may even be a job you enjoy very much! You go home to your family, with whom you are deeply in love, watch some television and hit the hay. Or, perhaps you wake up in the morning, do some Yoga, go for a quick jog and shower, eat a healthy breakfast. Then you go to your job at an eco-friendly Ad firm that caters to progressive political causes. You head home, read for a while and meditate, do some gardening and then hit the hay. Nonetheless, in any or all of these cases, a feeling of emptiness and purposelessness abides….
The Pleromic Worldview, the goal of this Way, manifests as a sense and knowledge of purpose and spiritual fullness in the face of the imperfection of the World of Forms. In the Pleromic individual, body, soul and spirit are aligned with the Aeons, or higher aspects of the self, as a manifestation of the perfected human. In contrast to the Kenomic person, whose actions and life seem aimless and listless, the Pleromic person has a heightened sense of purpose. This certainty may not be discernible or recognizable; it may dwell beneath the surface of one’s day-to-day activties. As the hallmark of the Pleroma is shared experience, the sense of purpose of the Pleromic person never materializes as megalomaniacism or egocentricity. There is never a need to “take over the world” or become materially successful in the physical realm. The Pleromic Worldview decreases, instead of increases, a need for power of any kind.
Although unable to completely escape the vagaries of the material world or the tyranny of inanimate objects, the person who lives in the Pleromic World has a heightened sense of awareness of the consequences of his or her actions. Whereas within the Kenomic World one is subject to a singular Fate, the Pleromic individual’s “time sense” expands, allowing him or her to interact with causation and assess the effects of motions within the space/time stream. This allows the Pleromic person to interact with others and the World of Forms fearlessly but cautiously. Pleromic individuals often seem “psychic” or prodigious, somehow more intelligent or wise, but this is the result of the expanded time sense and the projection of potentialities into the atmosphere of the World of Forms.
The earmark of the Pleromic individual is not happiness, but dignity and confidence. You may be depressed and miserable with your circumstances in the World of Forms, but underneath you understand and know that the Good exists, that the Present is temporary and eternal, and– more importantly– what these things mean and how they effect your lifestyle. You carry yourself with a healthy posture, respectful of, and interested in, the experiences you have. The Pleromic Worldview can just as readily manifest as what appears to be foolishness or childishness, but this is rare, and dignity is maintained….
As above, so below. The redemption of the imperfect World of Forms takes place on two levels, Macro- and Microcosmic. The processes mirror one another; what is happening to the Kosmos at large is also happening to each and every individual. If one drafted a ontological map of the Kosmos and laid it over an ontological map of an individual, they’d be exceptionally similar.
The process happens in two “Worlds” or realms: the Kenomic and the Pleromic. The Kenomic realm is characterized by emptiness, existential ennui, a lack of purpose, imperfection. This lack of purpose manifests as adherence to the idea of Fate or Determinism. The Pleromic realm (the Kingdom of Heaven) is characterized by fulfillment, a sense of teleological well-being. This sense of purpose manifests as Self-Individuation or Confidence. This is why when we move to the Pleromic realm we’re said to have been freed from Fate and Determinism.
Every person has his or her foot in both realms, but usually one more than the other (and usually the Kenomic more than the Pleromic). Just as only the individual really knows what happens during ‘gnosis,’ only the individual can decide what realm he or she lives in. You can’t point to someone and say “You’re Kenomic!” because you can only make that assessment for yourself. Nonetheless, everybody who’s walking around falls somewhere on this spectrum between emptiness and a total sense of purpose.
The Kenomic and Pleromic states are independent of mythology, and can’t be induced by another person. For some people, it will never even be an issue, and this is okay; this Way is not for people who are happy and contented and already have a sense of purpose– it’s for people who are living in the Kenomic world….
So how does one move, practically, from the Kenoma to the Pleroma? The answer has to begin with that old beer-pong canard of popular philosophy: “Know Thyself.” It’s about as trite a statement as there is these days, especially in “alternative spirituality” movements, but does anybody actually take it to heart? UhNooooooo. Not very often, anyhow. Why not? You’d think self-knowledge would be the easiest kind of knowledge. Don’t you know who you are? Obviously, most of us don’t; otherwise, goo-roos, con artists and “life coaches” would all be broke and in the gutter.
Let’s look at this. First of all, what do we mean by “Self”? In Buddhist phenomenology, the Self isn’t even something that exists. Although the Gnostic way doesn’t go that far, it does recognize that what we think is the Self is typically buried under an accumulation of lots of stuff that we can’t generally control, or even really see through. We talked about that quite a bit in the Worldview series, but haven’t yet had a chance to address what you can do in order to dig though and fly past those Archonic zanies. So, the next series will present some technical exercises that deal with The Redemption of the Self Through Self-Knowledge, or what I like to call The Premiseless Imperative or RIGHT THERE UNDER YOUR GNOSIS.
Why bother, you may ask? I often ask myself the same question. I think it’s because we have an inherent (premiseless) need (imperative) to move from the Kenoma to the Pleroma. Maybe you’re looking for some kind of “Grand Truth,” some reason for being, some answers to the Big Questions. Maybe you’re dissatisfied with the way your life has been going lately and you’re interested in creating something of value within your daily routine. Maybe you want to be successful, confident, well-liked, less anxious or depressed. Or, maybe you’re simply looking for a greater proportion of satisfaction or happiness within the life you’ve already chosen for yourself. It could be any one of these things, or a combination of them, or something completely different.
(If you’re not searching for anything or looking for some answers to some major questions or trying to discover Truth in some form or another, then you don’t need to keep going. Stop reading this and go spend some time with your dog or child or friends or family or something. I can’t stress enough that these thoughts and practices aren’t for people who are doing just fine thank you.)
Regardless of what you’re searching for, it boils down to an absence, a void, some missing information that you assume you lack. Whether you want to be spiritually enlightened, culturally successful, or simply content, there’s something that’s blocking your way. That thing may be very real and very dangerous, or it may be completely imaginary. This series is going to try to help you get rid of said thing and attain whatever you’re looking for by helping you enlighten yourself.
To that effect, each section of this series will contain homework, actual exercises that require you to do them. Simply thinking about them won’t work. I promise none of them will be terribly difficult, but they might take some time, might mean you’ll have to say some weird words or do things you might find silly, or think critically of yourself. And yes, they’re based in the Gnostic Worldview, so if you think the Gnostic Way is a bunch of dumb insanity, this won’t be for you.
Let’s face it: people get turned off when they’re told that they have to work for enlightenment. They think, “gee, I’d like to experience gnosis, but there’s so much to *read*” or “golly, I sure would like to get enlightened like those Zen masters, but if you have to meditate so much, forget it!” That’s why I’m hoping this little series will illustrate that if you do it right, if you actually *do these exercises,* then it’s actually pretty easy to get enlightened. If you don’t, I can’t help you.
Now, before we start, let’s just wait one god-danged minute. I’m not some genius who has some kind of mystical secrets. I’m just a guy who has some opinions and wants to try to help people as much as possible. I’m no great enlightened saint. I use cursewords, and I’ll be using some in here shitfuckdamn. I’m a real asshole sometimes who can be crude and insulting. I like to drink wine more than I should, I don’t get enough exercise, I talk way too much and there are people out there who really don’t like me.
If you’re okay with that, and with trying some interesting things, you might like what goes on here. If not, if you’re more attracted to systems that use other kinds of reality maps, by all means, seek them out. My system is no better than any other similar system, *provided you do the exercises.*
This is going to be a crash-course in hardcore gnosis, gnosis-or-bust. This ain’t no Valentinianism. This ain’t no Sethianism. This ain’t no silly psycho-deliac “neo-Gnosticism.” This ain’t no churchy “sacramental Gnosticism.” This is pure Path of Radical Inquiry, pure sit-down, shut-the-hell-up-and-get-enlightened-or-stop-trying.
Some questions from you to me:
Q: Say, what the heck are you selling here, anyhow? What the devil is this “gnosis” thing, and what is enlightenment, and why should I even bother looking for it?
A: Again, if you’re not already interested in getting enlightened, we’re not here for you. If you’re okay without it, that is totally awesome, because it means you’re pretty satisfied and contented with yourself, which is something we’re all trying to get to. Congratulations!
But, if you’re interested in knowing (yes, *knowing*!) who you are, where you came from, where you’re going and the role you play in the Grand Scheme of Things, then boy howdy is gnosis the thing for you!
Q: Say, what the heck are your qualifications for even writing this?
A: I don’t really have any. You can stop reading, which is fine, or you can trust me and keep reading and do the exercises and see if they work. Honestly, writing this stuff is no big deal for me because it’s constantly on my mind and written on my soul. I’m not the one who’s going to be working, here– *you* are. So if you don’t trust that I know what I’m talking about, then that’s fine– go find somebody you do trust!
Q: Say, I object to your use of the patriarchal word “God” and/or your Christian Gnostic background. Christianity is a terrible, bloodthirsty, awful religion and/or Jesus never existed and/or he made babies with Mary Magdalene and/or he was actually a pagan deity.
A: Oh, grow the hell up. Seriously. HAVE SOME DIGNITY.
Q: Say, I disagree with about half of what you’ve written so far and want to point out your errors to you!
A: That’s fine, go for it. I most likely won’t respond, though, because I’m too busy doing stuff.
Otherwise, feel free to post away in the ‘comments’ section with suggestions, criticisms, introductions, requests for clarifications, or progress reports.
Now then, sit back, and buckle up, because we’re going to start the Premiseless Imperative by diving into the deep end of the pool of self-knowledge with The Knowledge of the Body: Kimetikos.