Gnostic Gospels: A Look at the Quantum World?
By Lee & Steven Hager
During the last fifty years, major discoveries have been made in two diverse fields, science and religion. Each is destined to bring about dramatic paradigm shifts. In 1945, an earthenware jar containing a collection of writings purportedly scribed by some of Jesus' earliest followers was accidentally discovered in Egypt. Rather than serving as a support to the Bible gospels, these papyrus books painted a decidedly different picture of Jesus. Known as the Gnostic gospels, their contents are bringing into question the veracity of teachings endorsed by organized religion. Likewise, discoveries made by quantum physicists continue to turn Newtonian physics upside down. Mass, once considered separate from energy, is now known to be energy. The universe can no longer be described as a multitude of assembled parts, but is one interrelated, cohesive whole.
When it was proved that the earth orbited the sun, this corrected understanding of the physical universe quickly discredited a primary church teaching; that God had placed man at the center of the universe. The church was no longer considered the sole arbiter of truth, and was forced to accept the ascendancy of scientific thought. Religion and science went their separate ways, but quantum discoveries appear to be closing the gap between these two fields, at least where Eastern traditions are concerned.
Although differences exist in the details of Eastern philosophies, central themes running through every teaching include the unified "oneness" of the universe and the belief that it is a dynamic, living organism. Quantum physicists were not only surprised to discover that oneness existed at the quantum level of the universe; they were shocked to find that this quantum oneness possesses consciousness. But over three thousand years ago, the writer of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad recognized the conscious unity that exists beneath the illusion of form. That ancient writer stated, "As a lump of salt thrown in water dissolves and cannot be taken out again . . . the separate self dissolves in the sea of pure consciousness, infinite and immortal. Separateness arises from identifying the Self with the body, which is made up of the elements; when this physical identification dissolves, there can be no more separate self."
In direct contrast, Western culture has evolved from the concept that God and spirit stand outside a universe that is made up of a collection of separate, static, unconscious parts. It is little wonder that Western religions emphasize individuality and dualism. Undoubtedly, quantum discoveries will render a large percentage of Bible based teachings invalid, but does this mean that all Western belief systems must fall with it? Gnosis, or knowledge gained from a personal experience of the Divine, signifies an open-minded desire for truth. Unlike religious dogma, science poses no threat to gnosis, and in fact should enhance it. When examined from the standpoint of quantum physics, many of the Gnostic Gospels do reflect an understanding of the universe that very closely parallels recent quantum discoveries.
Physicist David Bohm's holographic model likens the material portion of the universe to a three-dimensional holographic image; the image appears to be real, but it's actually no more than a projection, a virtual reality. Unlike photographic film, holographic film spreads the image over the surface of the film in a series of intersecting patterns that appear to have no relationship with the image they produce. Never-the-less, the "real" part of a hologram is the film, not the projected image. Bohm likens the quantum level of the universe to the holographic film and sees it as the source of all potential and the seat of consciousness. The material universe is no more than a virtual reality that's projected from consciousness that exists at the quantum level.
From this perspective, we are not the bodies that we project; we are the mind that exists at the quantum level. Our earthly "lives" are no more real than the action that takes place on a movie screen. The Gnostic Gospel of Truth speaks of just such an illusion, stating that the world of form is, "like a dream in the night," and when the dreamer wakes to that truth they will, ". . . see nothing, they who were in the midst of these disturbances, for they are nothing." Similarly, the beautiful Gnostic narrative poem, The Hymn of the Pearl, tells the symbolic story of a prince of the spirit realms who journeys to a far country of matter and form. The prince falls asleep, forgetting his true spiritual identity, and is rescued by waking up and remembering who he is. Marcus, a second century Gnostic prophet, taught that everyone was part of the same whole, a oneness that will be restored when we choose to see past the illusion of separation. To Gnostic Christians, sin did not exist. It was ignorance of our true identity that kept us trapped in illusion. The Gospel of Truth encourages us to, "cast ignorance aside as sleep, leaving it behind like a dream in the night."
As we look at a starry sky, it may appear to us that a majority of the visible universe is made up of empty space, but physicists now realize that far more energy exists in these "spaces" than exist in all matter. Termed the "zero point field", it is now believed that this vast energy field serves as a repository for all thought, and is perhaps the seat of consciousness. Recent discoveries in neurophysiology agree that the brain is little more than a receiving unit for the true mind, which exists at the quantum level. In essence, there are no private thoughts; the universe itself can be seen as one cohesive consciousness. In Gnostic writings, Jesus encourages each of his followers to tap into this quantum field. The writer of The Gospel of Truth identifies a "living book" that "was written in thought and mind of the Father." Jesus is said to have learned from that book and, "He inspired them with that which is in the mind." In The Testimony of Truth, Jesus differentiated between the brain and the mind that exists at the quantum level when he encouraged every seeker to become the, "disciple of his own mind" because "the Father of the truth" resides in that mind.
Orthodox teachings single out Jesus as the separate and unique only-begotten son of God. Rather than claim any special position, the Gospel of Thomas quotes Jesus as saying, "I am not your master. . . He who will drink from my mouth will become as I am; I myself will become he. . . When you come to know yourselves . . . you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living Father." These statements not only recognize oneness, they clearly demonstrate that each of us has access to the information we need to wake up from the illusion that we are the body we project. Indeed, this is the essence of gnosis, an intuitive and experiential process that cannot be institutionalized.
Rather than see God as an entity that existed outside the universe, Gnostic writers agreed that oneness did not exclude God, who was thought to permeate all things. Identifying God as "All," Jesus makes this point in the Gospel of Thomas, "It is I who am the All. From me did the All come forth, and unto me did the All extend. Split a piece of wood, and I am there. Lift up the stone, and you will find me there." The Gnostic teacher Monoimus expanded on this point by adding, "Look for Him (God) by taking yourself as the starting point. Learn who it is within you. . . you will find Him in yourself."
Many early Christians saw the body as a sinful self that must be disciplined and atoned for; Gnostic Christians saw Divine light that had been imprisoned by matter. Many early Christians likened Jesus' death to the Jewish animal sacrifices said to atone for sin. Gnostic Christians saw the death of the body Jesus had projected as the ultimate demonstration that we are not the body and the body is not real. Gnostic writers reported that Jesus appeared as many different bodies before his death, yet he was always recognized by his followers. This demonstration was clearly designed to encourage his followers to question the reality of the body and their relationship to it. The Apocalypse of Peter states that while a body that Jesus had projected was being crucified; his true Self remained untouched, laughing above the cross. Jesus projected several other bodies after the crucifixion, demonstrating that even the most appalling treatment of the body is an illusion that cannot affect the true Self that exists at the quantum level. As quantum understanding increases, our belief systems will be challenged. Much of Christianity will not withstand the challenge, but Gnosis, based on our innate ability to access the Mind of God at the quantum level, will.
ęcopyright 2007 Lee & Steven Hager
About the Author
Lee & Steven Hager are the authors of Quantum Prodigal Son, an examination of Jesus' life and teaching from the perspective of quantum mechanics and the Gnostic gospels. For more information please go to: http://www.oroborusbooks.com.
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