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The union of a Soul with Spirit, in a Form ( flesh ); produces 'Christ-Consciousness'. "

Esoteric Christianity as it appears before and after 5th century AD; NON Biblical writings!
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Pistis Sophia, short.

The Pistis Sophia: An Introduction

by Raul Branco

For over two centuries the third-century Gnostic text known as the Pistis Sophia has eluded students and scholars of the esoteric tradition, who have struggled to apprehend the important message that this text veils. Over the years scholars have either expressed their frustration at its impenetrable language or just advanced broad descriptions of the text, without venturing analytical or hermeneutic comments. This has happened even with some of the most respected scholars in the field, such as Jean Doresse, author of The Secret Books of the Egyptian Gnostics; Kurt Rudolph, author of Gnosis: The Nature and History of Gnosticism; and Wilhelm Schneemelcher, editor of the standard edition of the New Testament Apocrypha.

In recent years some authors have attempted to interpret the text, such as Jan van Rijckenborgh, with his book Les mystères gnostiques de la Pistis Sophia; J.J. Hurtak and his wife Desiree Hurtak; and Samael Aun Weor, a self-proclaimed Gnostic master and supposed member of the Great White Fraternity, who wrote Pistis Sophia develada ("Pistis Sophia Unveiled"), explaining all of the text's mysteries in terms of sexual magic.

In Brazil in 1997, the author of this article published a version of the Pistis Sophia with suggested interpretations of the text and a summary of the cosmology of the work, with the help of some little-known notes of Blavatsky (Blavatsky, "Pistis Sophia"). This article attempts to describe the text in terms of the expansion of consciousness attained by Jesus as part of his supreme initiation.

The Manuscript

The original text of the Pistis Sophia, written in Greek, has been lost; the earliest version we have is an ancient translation into Coptic. The codex containing it was brought to England around 1772 and was later sold to the British Museum. The complete text was translated into Latin in the mid-nineteenth century by M. G. Schwartze, but it was only half a century later that it was translated into modern European languages, such as French (É. Amélineau, 1895), German (Carl Schmidt, 1905) and English (G. R. S. Mead, 1921). A much more recent translation was made by Violet MacDermot and published in 1978.

The text is divided into three major parts. In the first, Jesus is with his disciples for eleven symbolic years (perhaps eleven months) after his return from the dead, at the Mount of Olives. (According to this and other Gnostic texts, the resurrected Jesus spent some time instructing his disciples before making his final ascension to heaven.) Suddenly, in the midst of thunder and lightning, he is elevated to the heights of heaven in the midst of intense, blinding light. After thirty hours, Jesus returns, surrounded by three robes of light, with a brighter glow than when he had ascended. Henceforth he starts to instruct his disciples about his experiences and other occult matters.

The other two components of the text are the narrative of the story of Pistis Sophia and additional instructions to the disciples in the form of a dialogue. This article will endeavor to provide the main features of the Sophia myth, which, like the parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke's Gospel and the Hymn of the Pearl in the Gnostic Acts of Thomas, is a profound revelation of the pilgrimage of the soul.

A Summary of the Sophia Myth

Upon his return from his ascent, Jesus describes to the disciples the hierarchies of the various planes that he has passed through on his way up. This long enumeration of entities is at first quite confusing, since nowhere in the text is there any explanation of this terminology or of the cosmological system into which those entities fit. Nevertheless, it is possible to set out a picture of the cosmic hierarchy of the text (see diagram below).

After several incidents with the entities of the lower planes, Jesus finds Pistis Sophia (whose name means "Faith Wisdom") below the Thirteenth Aeon, her original home. (Aeons, from the Greek aion or "age," are, in this text, entities governing zones of existence, or planes of consciousness, between heaven and earth.) She was alone, without her consort or her brothers, sorrowful and grieving on account of the torments that an entity known as the Authades, the Self-Centered One, had inflicted on her with the help of his emanations and the Twelve Aeons.

It happened that while in the Thirteenth Aeon, Pistis Sophia saw the Light of the Height on the veil of the Treasury of the Light, and started singing praises to that Light. From then on the Self-Centered One started to hate her, as did the Twelve Aeons below him. The Self-Centered One conceived a ruse to trick her. Pistis Sophia was led to look below and there she saw the light of another entity called the Lion-Faced Power. Not knowing that it was an emanation of the Self-Centered One, she decided to go after it, without her consort, to take its light, thinking that it would enable her to go to the Light of the Height. Once she descended from her place of origin, she was dragged further and further down into chaos, with the emanations of the Self-Centered One and the Twelve Aeons constantly chasing after her, trying to take her light away. When she finally saw Jesus surrounded by light, she cried to the Light of Lights and uttered a series of metanoias, often translated as "repentances."

The Symbolism

In all esoteric traditions the most important inner instructions are always transmitted in symbolic language (Hodson, 85-99), thus veiling the sacred from the eyes of the profane. At the same time the unveiling of the instructions offers a method for training the disciple's understanding.

In Theosophical terms, Pistis Sophia represents the soul, or more specifically, the part of the soul that incarnates; namely, the monad of consciousness in the concrete mind. Her name is a key to her role: Pistis is the Greek word for "faith." Not blind faith, but faith arising from total conviction of inner knowledge. Sophia is Greek for "wisdom." Thus her compound name indicates the fundamental principle (faith in the Light—an aspect of God) that enables her to undertake her mission, namely, the development of wisdom in both worlds. Her consort is Jesus, the aspect of the soul that unfolds the triple-natured higher Self in line with Pistis Sophia's progress in the material world. Jesus remained behind in the higher planes when she descended into chaos. This separation expresses the split in consciousness between the higher and lower nature of man. Although man is really one with his divine Self, the usual level of his consciousness cannot reach the spiritual planes; thus in the myth Pistis Sophia and Jesus are presented as separate entities.

The villain of the story is the Self-Centered One, standing for the ego, an appropriate name for the vain and egotistic "I," which always demands to be the center of attention and strives for the gratification of the senses, thus causing great affliction for the soul. The regents or archons of the Aeons are the main allies of the Self-Centered One, and they stand for the emotions and passions of man. Leading them is the Lion-Faced Power, an emanation of the Self-Centered One, standing for egotism, the strongest force driving man away from God and into chaos.
These evil and dark powers are not so much outer demons as they are inner aspects of man. Their role is to seize and fix the consciousness onto the strong, heavy vibrations of emotions, passions, and fantasies associated with sense gratification and mental delusions such as attachment, pride, and ambition. Thus they are described as actively engaged in trying to pull man down, or in the language of the text, in taking away Pistis Sophia's light. This goes on unremittingly until Pistis Sophia's final liberation from chaos.

While chaos, in the system of this text, is a region of the underworld, the term is mostly used to convey the image of a psychological state of disorder. Since Pistis Sophia is the monad of consciousness, when it is said that she falls into chaos, it means that she becomes prey to mental disorders resulting from emotions, desires, and passions. She becomes conditioned by names and forms, by cultural values and mores, by a whole gamut of conditions that represent a virtual prison to the incarnated soul—in short, the delusion of separateness. Thus Pistis Sophia's descent into chaos is a symbolic description of man's entrance into the cycle of incarnation, where he will remain until his mission is accomplished.

The Cosmology

The cosmological system of the Pistis Sophia is presented in summary form in the diagram. It should be kept in mind that an entity can be active in its own plane as well as in the regions below it. Thus Pistis Sophia and the Self-Centered One, whose region of origin is the Thirteenth Aeon (left of the Psychic Plane), are seen quite active in the Hylic Plane (the Astral Plane) just below. The same can be said of Jesus acting as the First Mystery Looking Without (buddhi), who is active all the way along the three planes below its original region.

One novel feature of the Pistis Sophia's cosmology is that each plane is divided into three regions: right, middle and left. The right is superior and the left is inferior. The entities of the right have the function of establishing ideals or archetypes; those of the middle, of sustaining or ensuring proper conditions; and those of the left, in implementing the functions set for that plane. Their roles could be seen as that of father, mother, and son, or alternatively, as the seed, the earth, and the fruit. Moreover, each plane is a reflection of the planes above it. Thus the entities of the right in every plane act as delegates of the Logos, unfolding the fundamental model or archetype for its own plane. From this model the process of manifestation takes place, from ideation to creation, at every ensuing plane.

The unmanifest Godhead is not called God, but simply the Ineffable, the One about whom nothing is known and who is infinitely beyond any characterization by man.

The highest entity on the Divine Plane is called the Mystery of the Ineffable or the Logos. He is the source of all that exists, visible and invisible, having established the archetype of the whole plan of manifestation. Immediately below him is found the First Mystery, in its double aspects as Looking Within and Looking Without. The First Mystery is the mystery of unity, and its aspect as First Mystery Looking Within is atma or spirit, which encompasses and interpenetrates all that exists, providing the divine characteristic of immanence. The First Mystery Looking Without is the vehicle of atma, namely buddhi, also known in the Western tradition as the Christ.

The plane below is the Spiritual Plane, the Pleroma (from the Greek word for "fullness") or Treasury of the Light, which corresponds to the plane of abstract or superior mind. It corresponds also to the orthodox concept of heaven, where souls finally liberated from the world find their bliss. The supreme entity of this plane is Ieu, referred to by the titles of Supervisor of the Light and First Man. Also in the right of the spiritual plane is Melchizedek, the Great Receiver of Light, the Manu of the fifth, present Root Race.

Pistis Sophia: Book One to Six long version.

Reposted under: Canadian Fair Dealing 29.1 and 29.2

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