Thursday, December 30, 2010

7 Sermons: Sermo I

I've been wanting to write something, but have been lacking for inspiration.  I want to publish something every Thursday. Thus, I go back to what got me started in the first place.  These will be my meditations on the Seven sermons to the Dead.  To me, these writings are the most accessible gnostic writings out there.  Of course, they're also the most complete, and are translated from a fairly modern language. 

First Sermon, Paragraphs 1-7:
The dead came back from Jerusalem, where they found not what they sought. They prayed me let them in and besought my word, and thus I began my teaching.
Harken: I begin with nothingness. Nothingness is the same as fullness. In infinity full is no better than empty. Nothingness is both empty and full. As well might ye say anything else of nothingness, as for instance, white is it, or black, or again, it is not, or it is. A thing that is infinite and eternal hath no qualities, since it hath all qualities.
This nothingness or fullness we name the PLEROMA. Therein both thinking and being cease, since the eternal and infinite possess no qualities. In it no being is, for he then would be distinct from the pleroma, and would possess qualities which would distinguish him as something distinct from the pleroma.
In the pleroma there is nothing and everything. It is quite fruitless to think about the pleroma, for this would mean self-dissolution.
CREATURA is not in the pleroma, but in itself. The pleroma is both beginning and end of created beings. It pervadeth them, as the light of the sun everywhere pervadeth the air. Although the pleroma pervadeth altogether, yet hath created being no share thereof, just as a wholly transparent body becometh neither light nor dark through the light which pervadeth it. We are, however, the pleroma itself, for we are a part of the eternal and infinite. But we have no share thereof, as we are from the pleroma infinitely removed; not spiritually or temporally, but essentially, since we are distinguished from the pleroma in our essence as creatura, which is confined within time and space.
Yet because we are parts of the pleroma, the pleroma is also in us. Even in the smallest point is the pleroma endless, eternal, and entire, since small and great are qualities which are contained in it. It is that nothingness which is everywhere whole and continuous. Only figuratively, therefore, do I speak of created being as a part of the pleroma. Because, actually, the pleroma is nowhere divided, since it is nothingness. We are also the whole pleroma, because, figuratively, the pleroma is the smallest point (assumed only, not existing) in us and the boundless firmament about us. But wherefore, then, do we speak of the pleroma at all, since it is thus everything and nothing?
I speak of it to make a beginning somewhere, and also to free you from the delusion that somewhere, either without or within, there standeth something fixed, or in some way established, from the beginning. Every so-called fixed and certain thing is only relative. That alone is fixed and certain which is subject to change.

When I confront my ideas of the Pleroma, I come back to this.  It is everything, nothing, eternal, timeless, entire, containing great and small, whole, continuous.   Separation is illusory.  Yet, though contained within the pleroma without distinction, creatura are 'infinitely removed', distinguished by our essence.


The Dead came back from Jerusalem, where they had not found what they sought.  People argue about dualism and monism.  The first sermon says it is nonsense to do so*.  The pleroma goes beyond opposition, it goes beyond wholeness, it goes to infinity, which contains both of these concepts, and neither.  It is quite fruitless to think about the pleroma, as to do so would mean self-dissolution.

Every so-called fixed and certain thing is only relative.  To begin our discussion, the sermon writer posits nothing, and everything.  Every other creatura, every other thing, object, changes.  Change is the only constant, every measurement is relative to something else.  The pleroma is as good a place as any to begin:  An undefinable, infinite concept containing everything and nothing in tandem without time or space.  Everything that exists can be compared to this infinite concept, and found changing, relative, passing.  Even the emanations themselves.

It's enough to make your head spin, and it's fruitless to speculate about it. So we begin here, with fruitless head spinning speculation.

*Nonsense in the context of both the cosmology presented by Jung and to those who accept this cosmology.  In other contexts, it may be quite fruitful to do so.

1 comment:

Marcelo said...

The new look of the page is great! I've always been fond of the Sermon series. For some reason, I thought they were authored by Jung, maybe because my copy of the texts was translated by him... thank you for your reflections on this treasure of Gnosticism.