Before I stepped into direct perception of the mysteries – the Gnostic path of liberation, I had to understand several concepts. One of those early concepts was the idea of Gnosis and how it varies from the idea of Faith. As it turned out, I had already a glimpse of this concept from my history with Buddhism. Buddhism rejected the idea of Faith based ideology, in favor of the direct experience (Gnosis).
In a lesser known work comes this phrase, “Gnosis is the death of faith and the birth of power.” For some, calling for the death of Faith, is perhaps blasphemous. Yet when understood in the context of what Faith is, we see it is a fragile concept, easily replaced once the direct experience is achieved.
Never had I thought this would be a tricky concept and yet it’s now a delicate matter to discuss. The reason for the tip toeing around the topic is that the definition of Faith from the Golden Rosycross (Jan van Rijckenborgh’s view of Faith) is quite different than that of everyone else.
Typically, Faith is defined as a belief (in fact it is synonymous with Belief) in something unseen. Whether one is Catholic, Evangelical, Muslim, Hindu or a member of a modern religion, faith is conceived in this way. One believes the doctrines, the pastor/iman/rabbi/master/guru because they have Faith in such people. They believe in the teachings because they have Faith in the ideologies from their Holy books.
Faith defined in this way is bound to error. Faith, you see, can be wrong. It was the Faith of the Catholic Church that demanded people believe the Earth was flat, or that it was the center of the solar system. My 3 year old daughter has faith in Santa Claus delivering presents on Christmas Day, while my wife has faith that Big Foot exists in the woods. The point here, is that faith may be right or may be wrong. As it is a belief, it has no special authority.
Because of this, Faith has led many to ruin. Buddhism came about because of Faith. Rather than utilize Faith in dogma, Holy Books or teachers, Buddhism taught reason and logic. But reason and logic wasn’t enough, and Buddhism expanded to include the act of Direct Experience. In Buddhism this “direct experience of emptiness” was described as the “Flash of lightning in the darkness of sky.” It is direct and immediate illumination one achieves through experience.
The Golden Rosycross on Faith
The Golden Rosycross uses the concept of Faith throughout their literature. Jan van Rijckenborgh makes great use of the word. As it turns out, their view of faith is quite different than the commonly understood definition.
Rather than faith being a starting point, a point of belief, that may turn into a direct experience of spiritual Truth, Rijckenborgh uses the concept of Faith in an almost opposite way. Rijckenborgh views faith as the acceptance of Gnosis and making this Gnosis real in one’s life.
In my personal experience, Gnosis is like the Buddhist concept of direct perception. It is not a logical knowing, or a dogmatic faith in a truth, but a direct experience of reality (Spiritual Reality). Faith is like the man who hopes and believes God is real, Gnosis is when the man has a direct experience of God (which is often divergent from the stated dogma).
From The Chinese Gnosis, Jan van Rijckenborgh writes:
To the extent that you, too, are engaged in this process, you no longer need to waste time and energy searching for books and manuscripts on which you pin all your hopes of liberation. Tao can neither be spoken nor written. Tao, the way, the path, can only be experienced.The Chinese Gnosis p. 16
In the quote above, the word Tao is used to express the concept of Gnosis. The Tao is not written or spoken but directly experienced. Consider this in the light of Rijckenborgh’s other work, The Universal Gnosis:
Therefore, it is out of the question that the Gnosis could be revealed as a totality and presented as a system…. The Gnosis comes to every single person in a language that can be understood by him or her; it shows the Path to everyone and is approachable by everyone through basic intelligent action.The Universal Gnosis, p. 15-18
This is the thread that binds the two concepts of Tao and Gnosis. Gnosis is personally revealed, not through a system or book or teaching. Instead Gnosis is understood personally in a language of the individual.
The Problem of Conventional Faith
Conventional ideas on Faith are problematic. Pure faith is uplifted and talked about as though it is a glorious thing, but what faith is in actuality is blind obedience – it is the antithesis of Gnosis.
What is faith? It is often said that faith is believing in something unseen. Meaning, you do not yet have a direct experience of the thing, the situation. You believe, you hope something to be true – but you don’t KNOW it to be true.
I would ask anyone who values faith to sit with the above paragraph for a moment. Faith is hope, it is belief, but it isn’t direct experience.
My son had faith that Santa Claus came every Christmas morning. I know people who have faith that Bigfoot lives in the woods, and I know others who have faith that UFOs are actively abducting people. Their faith is based on the stories of others passed down to them. But none of it is from direct experience. My son never directly saw Santa Claus, my friends never directly experienced Bigfoot, nor were abducted by aliens – yet they have faith these things are real. But what if they aren’t real? What if it is either the ego, or simply an error?
Conventional faith fuels the sails of many ships that crash on distant reefs.
The Solution of Gnosis
I first came to understand gnosis as a solution in 2019. I met a fellow who was a solo practitioner. He was done with organizations and told me that the most important thing to do was find truth on my own. Not by faith, but through Gnosis. But what is Gnosis?
Gnosis, Greek for wisdom or knowledge, refers to knowledge that is known directly. It is the direct experience of Truth. It is personal, and as such no one can take it from you. Others may read in a book, or quote a leader that the world is such and such, but if you have the Gnosis to know something different you can smile and nod but realize the truth within is quite different.
Gnosis is not meant to be preached to others, lest they trod upon it and push it into the mud. As Gnosis is personally revealed, it can not be taught as dogma. Each person comes to Gnosis in their own way, in their own time.
Therefore – Gnosis solves the problem of Faith. Where faith can lead people astray, into the arms of a Jim Jones or into the grip of a modern day guru, Gnosis reveals Truth through direct and individual effort. Gnosis removes the need for faith (once Gnosis of a topic is found) and from that is the power by which we can live the Truth.
The Other Faith
The unique defining element of the Golden Rosycross reveals Faith as the action of Gnosis. In this way Faith is a product of Gnosis. Gnosis coming first, faith is the act of making the Gnostic element real. What exactly does that mean? I am uncertain.