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The Gnostics and Their Remains

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« Reply #60 on: March 11, 2009, 01:22:17 pm »

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"And he is impious in his arrogance which is in him. For he said, 'I am God and there is no other God beside me,' for he is ignorant of his strength, the place from which he had come."- Yaltabaoth
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« Reply #61 on: March 11, 2009, 01:22:36 pm »

Footnotes
33:* The tradition is that it was first committed to writing by Simon Ben Jochai, who, being proscribed by Titus, concealed himself in a cavern for the space of eleven years, the whole of which he devoted to this work, in which he was assisted by the prophet Elias.

34:* The I. H. so conspicuously placed on some Gnostic stones probably expresses this name; as being the nearest equivalents the Greek alphabet could furnish for the Hebrew letters.

37:* The author of the Book of Enoch alludes to the same legend: "Over these fountains also I perceived a place which had neither the firmament of heaven above it, nor the solid ground underneath it; neither was there water above it, nor any thing on wing, but the spot was desolate. And then I beheld seven stars like great blazing mountains, and like spirits entreating me. Then the Angel said, this place until the consummation of heaven and earth will be the prison of the stars and the host of heaven. The stars which roll over fire are those who transgressed the commandments of God before their time arrived, for they came not in their proper season. Therefore was he offended with them, and bound them until the consummation of their crimes in the secret year."--Chap. xviii.

39:* The Book of Enoch thus states the names and offices of the "Angels who watch": Uriel presides over clamour and terror; Raphael over the spirits of men; Ragiel inflicts punishment on the world and the luminaries; Michael, who presides over human virtue, commands the nations. Sarakiel over the spirits of the children of men who transgress; Gabriel over Ikisat, over Paradise, and over the Cherubim.

40:* And again, the "sigil of a man having a long face and beard, and eyebrows raised, seated upon a plough, and holding a fox and vulture, with four men lying upon his neck; such a gem being placed under your head when asleep, makes you dream of treasures, and of the right manner of finding them." Also, "Cepheus, a man girt with a sword, having his hands and legs extended, is held by Aries, and placed in the north. It is of the nature of Saturn and Jupiter, makes the wearer cautious and prudent; and put under the head of a sleeping person makes him see delightful visions."



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« Reply #62 on: March 12, 2009, 01:03:39 pm »

p. 42

INDIAN SOURCES OF GNOSTICISM.--MANES.
The Persian origin of so considerable a portion of the Gnosis having been set forth in the foregoing pages, it remains to show what portion is due to a purely Indian source, and to indicate the channels through which a direct intercourse was carried on between the farthest east and the foci of Gnosticism, Alexandria and Ephesus. For the Christian Gnosis was indirectly the daughter of the Hindoo Gnosis, such as it was taught in the various mysteries; possibly in the Eleusinian and the Phrygian. For universal tradition made the first founder of mysteries, Bacchus, bring them direct from India; and Jove's μῆρος, the fabled birth-place of the god, may have been no other than Mount Meru, the Olympus of the Hindoo Pantheon. *

Certain Gnostic tenets concerning the duality of the Divine emanations, absorption into the god-head, asceticism, penance, and self-collection, are identical with the Buddhistic teaching upon the same points; of which agreement several remarkable examples will be adduced in their fitting place. But we are not left to mere conjecture on this point, for the actual circumstances of their importation from India are minutely detailed, in one case that doubtless had many parallels, by the laborious Epiphanius in his "Life of Manes," (Hæres. lxv.). †

This celebrated heresiarch, equally abhorrent to Zoroastrian and Christian orthodoxy, was by birth a Persian, named Cubricus; but who upon commencing his mission assumed the title of Manes, signifying in the Babylonian tongue "The Vessel," for the same reason, we may suppose, that Dante gives to St. Paul the epithet "Vas Electionis." This Cubricus had



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« Reply #63 on: March 12, 2009, 01:03:51 pm »

been slave, and subsequently sole heir, to a certain wealthy widow who had inherited all the effects belonging to one Terminthus, surnamed in Assyrian "Buddas." This Terminthus had similarly been the slave of a rich Saracen merchant, Scythicus, who had studied the Greek language and literature in some place on the borders of Palestine (perhaps the school of Palmyra), and who "had there attained to eminence in the empty learning of this world." By constant journeys between his home and India, this Scythicus had amassed a large fortune. With this he settled down in Hypsele in the Thebaid, where he married a beautiful courtezan, whom he had bought and emancipated. "Here, out of sheer idleness and licentiousness, he set up to preach new doctrines, not derived from Scripture but from mere human reason."

These doctrines, from the nature of the case, can hardly have been of his own concoction, but, in all probability, things that he had picked up in India, where all the ancient emporia lay on the Guzerat Coast, the seat of the powerful Jaina (Buddhist) monarchy. A mere Eastern trader, a common Arab merchant who, after making his fortune by long and dangerous travels in the East, who could afterwards in advanced life set himself down to study, nay more, to attain proficiency in the Greek philosophy, must have been a man of no ordinary intellect. Assuredly it was not the mere want of anything better to do, (as his malicious biographer asserts), that made him turn preacher of a new religion. His marriage with the enfranchised courtezan looks like a theological addition, added to the portrait for the sake of so completing his resemblance to Simon Magus. The nature of the doctrines he was likely to imbibe in the great Indian marts, Baroche, Barcellore, Pultaneh, or in the semi-Grecian cities of Bactria, is attested to this day by the innumerable Buddhist temples and topes, with their deposit of relics yet studding the provinces this side of the Indus; and whose contents declare the flourishing state of that religion even when the country had passed under the rule of the Sassanian Kings of Persia.

But to return to Scythicus in his retirement: "Taking Pythagoras for guide, he composed four books, namely, 'The

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« Reply #64 on: March 12, 2009, 01:04:01 pm »

Mysteries,' 'The Summary,' 'The Gospel,' and 'The Treasuries.'" (Pythagoras was then universally believed to have visited India, and there to have obtained the elements of his philosophy, which has a certain Brahminical character.) "After this, Scythicus made a journey to Jerusalem in the very times of the Apostles, and held conferences with the elders of the church upon the Origin of Evil, and such like points. But not being satisfied by their explanations, he took to preaching magic, the knowledge of which he had gotten along with his other wares from the Indians and Egyptians. But as he was showing off a miracle upon the roof of his house, he fell down and was killed. Upon this, his servant and sole disciple, Terminthus, instead of returning to his mistress at Hypsele, ran off with his money into Persia, where, in order to escape detection, he assumed the name of Buddas, which signifies "Wise." (This last fact proves incontestably the nature of the doctrines he and his master had been gathering up in their Indian travels; and the truth lying at the bottom of this story seems to be that he gave himself out for a fresh incarnation of Buddha, of which there had been seven * before his date.)

"This Terminthus was himself a man of learning and conversant with his master's four treatises. He lodged in the house of a widow, where he used to hold conferences with the priests of Mithras, especially with two, Parcus and Labdacus, upon the Two Principles, and similar subjects. He, too, having been killed by accident, like his master, his landlady kept possession of all his baggage, religious books included; and in her turn bequeathed them to her servant Cubricus, the afterwards so celebrated Manes."

It is necessary here to point out a certain violent anachronism in the story as told by Epiphanius. If Scythicus visited Jerusalem at all, he must have done so before the year of its destruction, A.D. 70. His disciple, Terminthus, could therefore not have survived far into the second century. The landlady of the latter could for this reason have hardly had for slave Manes, who flourished about two hundred years later. It is,


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however, possible that the works plagiarised by Manes had been preserved in her family down to the period of his service in it.

In this history of Scythicus, however disguised by tradition, we have at one view the complete history of the rise and progress of Gnosticism. We find an Arab merchant of a subtle and inquiring mind, occupying himself during his long and frequent sojourns at the Indian marts in studying the philosophy of these prevailing religionists, the speculations of the Buddhist monks, and equally investigating the secrets of the "wisdom of Egypt," when detained at the other headquarters of the Eastern trade. Then retiring from business, he goes to Palmyra for the purpose of studying Grecian philosophy, as then taught in its school, which philosophy would be no other than Neo-Platonism; thence returning home, he occupies his leisure in reducing to one harmonious system the numerous conflicting theories upon subjects too high for human knowledge, which he had so laboriously collected from the three great fountains of philosophy--India, Egypt, and Athens.

Finally attracted by the fame of a new religion that professed to throw the clearest light upon all things relating to God and Man, being preached at Jerusalem, he immediately starts for the focus of this new light, leaving behind him wife and property, only accompanied by one servant, himself an educated man, and his own treasured theological speculations. On his arriving at the Holy City, we find him (as might be expected from his previous training) grievously disappointed in his hopes of at last obtaining the solution of all the problems that had so long occupied his thoughts--for on subjects of that kind the Christian Presbyters could tell no more than what he had learnt already from the Rabbis of Alexandria, or the Jaina monks of Guzerat. Thus disappointed, he appears to have set up himself for a teacher of a new and higher doctrine, supporting his pretensions (after the customary fashion of the times) by miracle-working; and as a matter of course getting his career speedily cut short, for Jerusalem was not the place where a new religion would be promulgated with impunity by a single individual,

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« Reply #65 on: March 12, 2009, 01:04:13 pm »

and that too an Arabian. His disciple, Terminthus, taking warning by his fate, resolves to try another school of profound wisdom, formed from time immemorial, but as yet unvisited by his master, and proceeds to hold discussion with the Wise Men of the East at their head college in Babylon, seeking for the final solution of his difficulties in the doctrine of Zoroaster. It is very probable that he, as the result of this study, engrafted upon the system of Scythicus whatever features of the Zendavesta appeared to him the most satisfactory, and consistent best with his preconceived ideas of the truth. It would be interesting to know whether he shaped all these fresh acquisitions into conformity with the original Indian groundwork of his master's system. As already observed, such appears to have been his course from the title that he assumed, declaring himself an eighth "Buddha," successor to the famous Guatama, founder of the religion, and like him commissioned to teach a new way of salvation. Terminthus, like his master, came to an untimely end. The Magi were not members of a powerful establishment who would suffer themselves to be puzzled and confuted by an over-wise foreigner, disputing so boldly--


"Of Providence, foreknowledge, will, and Fate,
Fixed Fate, freewill, foreknowledge absolute,"

still less to allow him to go off exulting in his victory, as his asserted follower Manes likewise found to his cost.

Manes himself appears to have belonged to the order of Magi (probably being admitted after gaining his freedom and changing his name), for he is reported to have been famous for his skill in astrology, medicine, magic, and painting! This last is curious; it shows that the Magi, like the mediæval monks, monopolised the arts as well as the sciences of their times. Whether he conceived the scheme from the accidental acquisition of the writings of Scythicus or not (M. Matter supposes him to have got his first inspiration from some Egyptian Basilidan who had found his way into Persia), certain it is that he first gave to these notions a definite shape, and constructed his system with such skill that it spread not merely all over the East but throughout Europe. In the latter region its importance

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« Reply #66 on: March 12, 2009, 01:04:25 pm »

is evinced by the fact (mentioned incidentally by Ammianus) that Constantine himself, before finally changing his religion, following the Apostolical precept "Try all things, hold fast that which is good," carefully studied the Manichæan system under the guidance of the learned Musonianus, whom we must suppose to have been a great doctor of the sect. * Nay more, this religion, after long seeming extinction from the pertinacious persecution of the Byzantine emperors, again blazed forth with extraordinary lustre in the Paulicianism of the Middle Ages.

The grand purpose of the scheme of Manes was the reconcilement of the two religions, which had by that time come to dispute the empire of the world--the flourishing, though still unrecognised Christianity of Rome, and the equally vigorous but newly revived Zoroastrism of Sassanian Persia. Calling himself the "Promised Paraclete," Manes accepted the gospel, but only after purifying it from all taint of Judaism, whilst he utterly rejected the Old Testament. But whilst Zoroaster makes all to begin in the harmony, and to end in the mutual reconciliation of the Two Principles, Manes declares these Two Principles immutable and existent from all eternity as they shall continue for ever to exist. His Good is Zoroaster's "Lord of Light"; but his Bad is Satan-Matter, deliverance from whose bondage is to be obtained only through the strictest asceticism. From the Christian Church he borrowed its institution of presbyters and deacons, being sensible how greatly that organisation had conduced to its rapid development, and in his own enterprise it met with almost equal success. Manes was a genuine Pantheist, teaching that God pervaded all things, even plants (of which tenet I subjoin a singular illustration from his once ardent follower, St. Augustine); he also adopted the entire theory of Emanations, exactly


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« Reply #67 on: March 12, 2009, 01:04:38 pm »

as it was defined in the older Gnostic systems. St. Augustine's words are ('Confessions' iii. 10): "And I, not understanding this, used to mock at those holy servants and prophets of thine. * And what was I doing when I mocked at them, except that I myself was mocked at by thee, being seduced gently and by degrees into such absurdities as to believe that the fig weeps when it is plucked, and likewise its parent tree, with tears of milk? Which same fig, however, should any holy man eat, that is to say, after it has been plucked through the sin of another, not by his own, he would mingle with his bowels, and breathe out of it angels, nay more, particles of God himself, in his sighs and eructations whilst praying, which same particles of the Supreme and True God would have been bound up in that fruit, had they not been set at liberty by the tooth and stomach of the chosen saint; and I, like a wretch, believed that greater compassion ought to be shown unto the fruits of the earth than to man, for whose sake they were created. For if any one not a Manichæan, being an hungered, should ask for the same, it would have been thought a crime, worthy of capital punishment, if a single mouthful thereof were given to him." Compare the following rule of the Buddhist priesthood: "They will not kill any animal, neither root up nor cut any plant, because they think it has life." ('Ayeen Akbari,' p. 435.)

Manes invented a theory of salvation, so very whimsical that it ought to be inserted here, to recreate the wanderer in this dreary and dusky theological labyrinth. "When the Son came into the world to effect the redemption of mankind, he contrived a machine containing twelve bowls (cadi), † which being made to revolve by the motion of the spheres, attracts into itself the souls of the dying. These the Great Luminary (the sun) takes and purifies with his rays, and then transfers to the moon; and this is the method whereby the disk, as we call it, of the moon is replenished." Epiphanius triumphantly refutes this theory



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by asking how the moon's disk was replenished during the nine hundred years that elapsed after the Creation before any deaths took place?

But the career of this inventive heresiarch was speedily brought to a close. The Persian king, Varanes I. (about the year 275), alarmed by the rapid spread of these new doctrines, convoked a General Council of the Magi to sit in judgment upon them; by whom the unlucky apostle was pronounced a heretic, and a traitor to his own brethren, and sentenced to be flayed alive.


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Footnotes
42:* The bearer of the phallus (lingam) in the grand Dionysian procession celebrated by Ptolemy Philadelphus was blackened all over with soot, doubtless to indicate the native country of that very equivocal symbol.

42:† The earliest authority, however, (drawn upon by Epiphanius also), is the "Disputation of Archelaus and Manes," held at Charrae in A.D. 275-9. This book was written in Syriac, but is only extant in a Latin version.

44:* The seventh having been that Sakyal who, from Benares, diffused Buddhism all over the peninsula.

47:* "Constantinus enim cum limatius superatitionum quæreret sectas, Manichæorum et similium, nec interpres inveniretur idoneus, hunc sibi commendatum ut sufficientem elegit; quem officio functum perite Musonianum voluit appellari ante Strategium dictitatum." Ammianus xv. 6. The sainted Emperor's eulogists have carefully hushed up this trait of an inquiring spirit, anxious to weigh the relative merits of the existing rivals of Catholicism.

48:* Alluding to the Manichæan rejection of the Old Testament as a divine revelation.

48:† In the notion of this machine may be traced the influence of the study of Plato in the school of Palmyra, for it is unmistakably borrowed from the eight concentric basins set in motion, one inside the other, by the fingers of the Fates, so minutely described in the Vision of Er the Pamphylian.



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« Reply #68 on: March 12, 2009, 01:05:03 pm »

BUDDHISM.
For the sake of comparison with the above-described systems, all based upon the doctrine of successive Emanations from One First Principle, the means of escaping from the bondage of Matter, and the struggles of the souls towards ultimate absorption into its original source, I shall subjoin a very brief sketch of the principal features of the Buddhistic theosophy. * Here also we find a First Buddha in his proper state of eternal repose (the Indolentia of Epicurus) corresponding to the Zoroastrian "Boundless Time," and the Valentinian "Bythos." While in this state termed "Nevriti," wishing to create the universe he produced the Five divine Buddhas, the makers of the Elements, who in their turn produced the Five Buddhasativas, and by their agency created the material world. The grand aim of this religion is to effect the release of the soul from its connection with Matter. All things, according to the Buddhists, exist only in illusion, consequently they can only return into non-existence or repose by means of True Knowledge (compare the Gnosis we


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are considering). * "Illusion" is the belief in the reality of the eternal world; the degradation of the soul towards Matter is the effect of a succession of acts; and therefore its release is effected by relinquishing the belief in the reality of external objects.

The Buddhists of Nepal, who have preserved the original doctrines of the religion in their greatest purity, teach the following cosmogony: Padnapani, one of the original Five Emanations, created Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, or the Principles of Creation, Preservation, and Destruction. Adi-Buddha first created thirteen mansions for his own eternal abode, and for the dwelling-place after death of Buddha's followers. Below these are eighteen mansions made by Brahma; lower yet are six made by Vishnu; and lowest of all--three, the work of Siva. These three series of abodes receive the souls of the followers of their respective creators.

Below all these lie the mansions of the Planetary gods, Indra and Chandra; and after these there comes the Earth floating upon the face of the waters like a boat. Below these waters are the Seven Patala, or regions of Hell, the abode of evil spirits and the damned. This arrangement presents the most striking resemblance to the construction of the Ophite Diagramma (to be given further on), which Origen has described from the original, and which M. Matter has reconstructed from Origen's description to illustrate his treatise in his Plate X.

The promulgation of these Indian speculations from so remote a source--a difficulty at first sight insurmountable--may nevertheless be readily explained. The spirit of this religion was the spirit of proselytism; the Buddhists from the very beginning sent out their missionaries (some of whose narratives, full of interest, are extant and have been translated from the Chinese) with all the zeal of the old Propaganda. From the


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« Reply #69 on: March 12, 2009, 01:05:20 pm »

mainland they converted Ceylon, Japan, and the recesses of Tartary; and penetrated into regions where their former presence and tolerated existence are now little dreamed of. * That Buddhism had been actually planted in the dominions of the Seleucidæ and the Ptolemies (Palestine belonging to the former) before the end of the fourth century, at least, before our era is shown by a clause in the Edicts of Asoka. This prince was grandson to Chandragupta (the Sandracottus of the Greeks, contemporary and friend of Seleucus I.), who, at the head of an army of 60,000 men, had conquered all India within the Ganges. Asoka, at first a licentious tyrant, had embraced the newly preached doctrines of Buddhism, a Brahminical Protestantism, and propagated them by persuasion and by force through the length and breadth of his immense kingdom, with all the usual zeal of a new convert.

The Edicts referred to are graven on a rock tablet at Girnur in Guzerat. To quote the words of the Indian Archæologist Prinsep, to whom the discovery is due, (article xvii. 'Indian Antiquities'). "I am now about to produce evidence that Asoka's † acquaintance with geography was not limited to Asia, and that his expansive benevolence towards living creatures extended, at least in intention, to another quarter of the globe, that his religious ambition sought to apostolize Egypt, and that we must look hereafter for traces of the introduction of Buddhism into the fertile valley of the Nile, so productive of metaphysical discussions from the earliest ages. The line which I allude to is the fifth from the bottom. 'And the Greek King (Yoniraja) ‡ besides, by whom the Chapta (Egyptian) Kings, Ptolemaios,




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and Gonkakenos (Antigonus Gonatas) have been induced to allow that both here and in foreign countries everywhere the people may follow the doctrine of the religion of Devanipya, wheresoever it reacheth." The "Essenes," so like to Buddhist Monks in many particulars (for which see the minute description of this ascetic rule as given by Josephus, 'Antiq. Jud.' xv. 10), had been established on the shores of the Dead Sea for "thousands of ages" before Pliny's time. "On the West its shores, so far as they are unhealthy, are shunned by the Esseni, a solitary race, and wonderful beyond all others on the globe; without woman, renouncing all usual enjoyment, without money, associates of the palm-trees, from day to day they are recruited by the flocks of new-comers: all those flocking in numerously whom the world drives from itself, all tempest-tossed by the waves of fortune. In this way, incredible to tell, the race wherein no birth ever takes place, has endured for thousands of years, so prolific for them is other people's disgust at the world" (Hist. Nat. v. 15). The great Naturalist's "thousands of years" must be allowed as one of his favourite oratorical tropes, but nevertheless serves for testimony to the belief in the great antiquity of the sect. Perhaps they may have been a continuation of those early ascetic associations known as the "Schools of the Prophets."

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« Reply #70 on: March 12, 2009, 01:05:48 pm »

The influence of Jewish Essenism upon primitive Christianity (as to rules of life at least) is a thing that will not be disputed by any who have read, with a wish to learn the truth, not to evade it, the account of it given by Josephus. But over the semi-Christian Gnostics of Syria such long-established authority must have had a still stronger influence. It is easy to discover how the source of the slavish notions about the merits of asceticism, penances, and self-torture (of which Simon Stylites is the most conspicuous illustration), was the same one whence the Indian fakirs drew their practice--for even in their methods they were identical. Simon's celebrated life-penance (which gives him his title), undergone upon the summit of a lofty pillar, had been practised in the same regions many generations before his time. The pseudo-Lucian, in his amusing description of the famous Temple of the "Syrian

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[paragraph continues] Goddess" at Emesa ('De Dea Syria'), particularly notices the phallus or obelisk, 300 feet high, planted in front of the edifice, upon the apex of which the devotee sat without sleep for one and twenty days and nights, keeping himself awake by constantly ringing a handbell. Ideas like these pervade the Christianity of the Lower Empire, nay, they constitute the very essence of the religion. Neither is it difficult to see upon how many points Manes, with his rigid Buddhistic tenets, came into collision with the humane and rational law of Zoroaster (the brightest system of natural religion ever promulgated), and what good causes Varanes, with his spiritual advisers, had for condemning his heresy.

In our investigation of this particular subject it must never be forgotten that so long as philosophy was cultivated in Greece; (even from the times of the Saurian sage, inventor of the name), India was often regarded as the ultimate and purest source of the "True Wisdom," the knowledge of things divine. Even so late as Lucian's time, the middle of the second century, that author concludes his evidently true history of Antiphilus and Demetrius, by making the latter, a cynic philosopher by profession, resign all his property to his friend, and depart for India, there to end his life amongst the Brachmanes, ('Toxaris,' 34). In the same century the well-known pilgrimage of Apollonius of Tyana, and his deep conference with the Indian philosophers, as recorded by his companion Damis, go to prove the same thing; and although the meagre journal of the sage's travelling companion may have been largely supplemented and embellished by the fancy of his editor, Philostratus, * the main features of the narrative are doubtless authentic. The great thaumaturgist's proceedings, as there detailed, show how the apparent difficulty of such a pilgrimage vanishes upon a better knowledge of the circumstances. Apollonius presents himself, first of all, to the Parthian Ring, Bardanes (a "Philhellene" as he yet boasts himself upon his coinage), and as warns an admirer of Grecian savants as any of his Achamænian predecessors,


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δημιουργός (dēmiourgós, latinized demiurgus δήμιος


« Reply #71 on: March 12, 2009, 01:05:54 pm »

from whom he obtains a firman securing to him protection and entertainment, everywhere within the limits of his rule, which extended then, probably, as far as the Indus. Thenceforward his letters of recommendation from the "King of Kings" to the various native princes his allies, secure to the traveller an equally favourable reception. A safe and regular communication between the extreme points of the Persian Empire had been from the beginning the great care of its mighty rulers (the first institutors of highways, posting-stages, and post-horses), passing through what was not, as now, a series of deserts infested by robber-tribes, but a populous and well-cultivated country; so favoured, with a passport from the sovereign, the pilgrim would find his journey both expeditious and agreeable.

The same facilities were necessarily made use of by the natives of Hindustan. It is curious to observe how the occasional "Brachman" who found his way into Greece was received as a model philosopher--like that Zarmanes Chagan, who, coming from Bargose (Baroche), finally burnt himself alive upon a pyre at Athens, in the reign of Augustus; of which edifying spectacle Nicolaus Damascenus was eye-witness (Strabo XV.). Before him, we have Calanas the "gymnosophist" (a happy Greek expression for fakir) in high repute at Alexander's court, and who similarly chose to leave earth in a "chariot of fire." Their example was followed by the "Peregrinus Proteus," so happily ridiculed by Lucian in his book thus entitled; Proteus, to give his apotheosis as much celebrity as possible, chose for its scene the occasion of the Olympic games. This last worthy had been a philosopher, then a Christian teacher, and lastly had started a new religion of his own invention. That the sect so celebrated by the ancients under the name of "Brachmanes" was Buddhistic, not Brahminical, may be inferred from their locality, Bactria; and yet more from a circumstance mentioned by Strabo (Book XV.). He speaks of their devoting thirty years to the study of Theology, living in a community (a vihar or monastery), sequestered from the world in the midst of forests in the neighbourhood of the different cities, and totally abstaining from sexual intercourse,

p. 55

and all animal food; on the contrary, the Brahmins hold that to leave children behind them is a most sacred duty, and one upon which their admission into heaven depends. Whether the Buddhists be the true representatives of the primal religion * of their country, or only the Reformers of the more ancient Brahminical Church, it is the natural weapon of all dissenters from an established creed, to ridicule and even to pronounce damnable, the favourite tenets of their adversaries. Witness Martin Luther with his invectives against vows of virginity, and his well-known motto


"Wer nicht liebt Weib, Wein and Gesang,
Der bleibt ein Narr sein Leben lang."
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"And he is impious in his arrogance which is in him. For he said, 'I am God and there is no other God beside me,' for he is ignorant of his strength, the place from which he had come."- Yaltabaoth
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δημιουργός (dēmiourgós, latinized demiurgus δήμιος


« Reply #72 on: March 12, 2009, 01:06:04 pm »

Similarly we find the Essenes running counter to the ancient prejudices of their nation, and spontaneously embracing what the Mosaic Law had denounced as the greatest of curses--the leaving no offspring behind to keep up their name in Israel.

To exemplify the severe discipline maintained in the Brahman communities, Strabo mentions that the mere act of blowing the nose, or spitting, caused the offender to be excluded for that day, as incontinent, from the society of his fellow-recluses. Similarly Josephus particularises, amongst other Essenian rules, the obligation of abstaining from all natural evacuations upon the Sabbath day. But even their rigour is surpassed, and in our day too, by a certain sect of Indian Yogis, who profess to have completely emancipated themselves from all such defiling necessities of nature. This they effect by living entirely upon milk, which, after retaining a short time in the stomach, they throw up again by swallowing a ball fastened to a string; and maintain the animal expenditure solely through the nutriment imbibed by the system during the continuance of the liquid in the stomach; and which consequently leaves no residuum to descend into the lower bowels. A doctrine this, the finest


p. 56

possible reductio ad absurdam of the notion of meritorious continence, and exhibiting on the ludicrous side the mischief of being too logical in matters of religion.

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"And he is impious in his arrogance which is in him. For he said, 'I am God and there is no other God beside me,' for he is ignorant of his strength, the place from which he had come."- Yaltabaoth
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δημιουργός (dēmiourgós, latinized demiurgus δήμιος


« Reply #73 on: March 12, 2009, 01:06:18 pm »

As for the profundity of the philosophical speculations of the Orientals, even at a very late period, the Byzantine Agathias quotes a very remarkable example. Chosroes (better known to us as Nushirwan the Just), besides giving an asylum, as to his brethren, to the last Athenian philosophers, when expelled from their chairs by the stupid bigot Justinian, caused all Plato's works to be translated into Persian, and professed to be himself able to comprehend even the mysteries of the 'Timæus.' The Greek sophist is naturally indignant at the impudence of the foreigner who could pretend that "his own barbarous and rustic language" was capable of expressing the divine thoughts of the Athenian sage; for he little suspected that the great King, or at any rate the Magi and "Sufis" about him, were masters of the sources whence Plato may have ultimately drawn his inspiration whilst planning that inscrutable composition. The religious instruction of the Persian princes had from the beginning been carefully attended to, and proficiency therein was a matter of pride: thus Cyrus the younger puts forward his superior knowledge of Theology (in his manifesto upon claiming the kingdom) as a just cause why he should be preferred to his elder brother.

Leaving out of the question the now received theory as to the immigration of the "Indo-Germanic" race into the farthest recesses of Europe, modern history furnishes the example of extensive migration, effected under infinitely greater difficulties, by the hordes of low-caste Hindoos, who, flying from the invasion of Tamerlane, spread themselves all over Europe as Gipsies, still retaining their native language and habits, and to the present day claiming "Sind" or "Sindha" for their national name.

The facts adduced in the foregoing sketch will suffice to indicate the manner in which the germs of the various Gnostic doctrines were imported from the East, how they were engrafted upon previously existing notions, and how vigorously they flourished when transplanted into the kindly soil of Alexandria and Ephesus. To complete the general view of the subject,

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before proceeding to consider the tangible monuments left us by these ideas, it will be necessary to give some account of the forms in which they attained to their fullest development. For this purpose I shall select the three principal systems, represented by historians as the parents of all the rest, those of Simon Magus, Basilides, and the Ophites; the most satisfactory manner of doing which will be to transcribe the exact words of the well-informed and impartial Hippolytus.

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"And he is impious in his arrogance which is in him. For he said, 'I am God and there is no other God beside me,' for he is ignorant of his strength, the place from which he had come."- Yaltabaoth
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δημιουργός (dēmiourgós, latinized demiurgus δήμιος


« Reply #74 on: March 12, 2009, 01:06:35 pm »

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"And he is impious in his arrogance which is in him. For he said, 'I am God and there is no other God beside me,' for he is ignorant of his strength, the place from which he had come."- Yaltabaoth
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