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THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MARY MAGDALENE Much is missing from this fragmentary text. As my second in a series of gnostic studies, it merits special attention. Not only does it mirror the results of my study of the canon; not only does it mirror my study of Thomas, but it adds to our understanding things that are new and fresh. This Gnostic Gospel is short, and easily divided into segments by content. They are as follow: 1. What Jesus said. 2. What the apostles said. 3. The question Mary asked Jesus. 4. The story of the wandering soul. The first segment includes grouped teachings, and this is in contrast to the third segment, where Jesus answers the question posed by Mary. The second segment deals with what the apostles said, and we will explore the arguing that goes on between them. Segment four will treat the story of the wandering soul exclusively. My first study looked only at the canon, and that was done without comparisons to any Gnostic work. It was an exercise in what prayer and listening to the Holy Spirit alone could draw from the Bible. My second study had the advantage of the first in that I was able to compare my findings in Thomas to the results of the first study. This second in the series of Gnostic studies, though short, will strengthen the bonds between seemingly disassociated books and times. My first study developed themes that I will continue to use in my quest for truth. One such theme was 'mentality'. I used this catch phrase: “Spiritual is mental is spiritual”. I sometimes used this alternate phrase: “Mental is spiritual is mental”. I cataloged all descriptions of 'heart activity' under the general heading of 'mind activity'. This was based on such canonical phrases as “thoughts of the heart”. In short, a formula emerged that highlighted 'knowledge', 'understanding', and 'wisdom' as spiritual attributes possessed by man. These attributes were shown to be the residual build-up of the process of God 'communicating' his very character and nature into man. My first study focused on all things 'communication', on all things 'mental'. With that in 'mind', I would like to begin this third study with a comparison right out of the Magdalene text that ties canonical truth to gnostic truth. Two phrases: “He who has ears to hear, let him hear”, and “He who has a mind to understand, let him understand” bind together a very common and recognizable canonical Jesus saying to the gnostic 'take' on that phrase. In a larger sense, they connect my quest and subsequent understanding of spirituality with the quest and subsequent understanding of spirituality by the gnostic writers. In an even broader panorama, what is really connected is the isolated individual: first to the God of knowledge through the ministry of the Holy Spirit of Truth, and then one to another, surmounting the vagaries both of time and distance. Mentality, then, is the core issue. It is non-corporeal; it is invisible; it is spiritual. And thus we begin again: bold seekers, boldly going where non-seekers fear to tread.

The Savior said: All nature, all formations, all creatures exist in and with one another, and they will be resolved again into their own roots. For the nature of matter is resolved into the roots of its own nature alone. In

any religious text, from any culture around the world, we are likely to find the occasional passage regarding the nature of the universe. That is, the writers of such texts considered the make-up and mechanics of their known world. Often this crossed over into considerations of worlds less known to them. Please try to see this as a communication to these writers. After all, practice makes perfect; the more one becomes receptive to spiritual communication, the more one receives spiritual communication. This passage speaks of the known worlds and underlying mechanics. Before we examine the passage, I think it wise to thoroughly familiarize ourselves with the terms used in the passage. To this end, I ran the four main words through the filter of a thesaurus. Any one of the alternate renderings can change our perception of the message. The main words with their alternate renderings are: NATURE: spirit, essence, quality, trait, type. ROOTS: condition, source, origin. MATTER: substance, physical being, formations, creatures. RESOLVED: be answered, find purpose, conclude, restore, dissolve. Now, even though we have jumped past the natural tendency to take the message at face value, we still face our tendency to settle on just one alternate rendering just for the sake of simplicity. However expedient that may seem, such a tendency will lead us astray. We may say, “OK! The nature of something is the essence of something.” In doing that, we overlook the possibility that the meaning of a word can change depending on its placement. The essence of something may quickly become a trait that is only like something. It may become a type, thus encompassing an entire group. We, therefore, must allow for the subtle variations of a single word used multiple times and in multiple ways in a single text. I want to concentrate, here, on the phrase “nature of matter”, and this is my take on it: I call it the “essence of physical being”. That will do to begin with. Man is concerned with the world around him. What makes it tick? He notes the inconsistencies, and the consistencies, of the seasons. He wonders about the regular circuit of the stars. He can, by empirical practice, sort through much of it, but still, there seems to be something just below the surface, something that eludes inquiry. That one final piece to his puzzle might open to him the 'big picture'. Man's physical being: his person, the world he inhabits, his connections to others, and the forces that buffet him – all are extensions of that vague 'something' that lies just beneath the surface. Now, we must ask: how are physical eyes opened to invisible issues? Was something (that something?) first communicated to them? If it was, where did it come from? Who sent the message? The structure of such investigation is much like following a river to its head-waters. As an illustration of head-waters, I once was taken aback that 'Mammoth Springs' was no more than a small hole in the ground. When I mentioned that to my guide, he simply cited the great volume of the river which that spring supplied. The essence of our physical being is that 'something' just below the surface. It is the silent ticking of the cosmos. It is our head-waters; the source which man has long pursued. Man heard the message; he looked, but what he thought he saw was vague. He rubbed his eyes and looked again; this time around, what he saw became a thing in focus. So, man practiced seeing. What man regularly sees becomes increasingly clear to him. The essence of our physical being: what do we need to know about it? All physical being, everything that has a form or structure, a function or purpose – all things that we consider as real, not

only exist side by side, but within, or inside, one another. That will be a difficult notion for some. This is why: the concept of all things within all other things confuses the mind that clearly sees distinctions between all things. We seekers, however, are not limited to the interpretation of a confused state. Rather than a jumble of indistinguishable physical being, we opt to see a whole that is based on the underlying essence. To zero in on a single creature, let man step forward. Of course, man is a multitude. We see stepping forward, the Caucasian, the Asian, and a colorful host of others, black, brown, yellow, red, and gray. Do you think each is really distinct from the other? Well, there are days when I am just as incomprehensible as the Hindu. The black man often has his 'white' moment. The white man will dress in feathers while the red man wears a suit. When our physical being is resolved into its root, it will be neither yellow nor gray, Jew nor gentile; it will be only 'man'. When men and women are resolved into their root, it will be only 'man'. Let us take a moment to focus on the terms 'resolve' and 'root'. First, I would like to draw your attention to a small word that might otherwise be overlooked; it is a word, that being included, drastically changes the direction of investigation. The word is 'again'. The term is 'resolved again', and clearly, this is an indicator of something that is being done once more. If it is being done again, reason tells us it could have been done before. If I say, “Oh look! It's Wednesday again�, reason should kick in and make the proper connections – such as, it was Wednesday last week, too, and - hey! - it will probably be Wednesday next week all over again. So, if the root of all the many men and women on earth is only 'man', then the true man is an essence, or (and here is where 'meaning shift' applies) the true man is a spirit. According to the thesaurus, our root is our source, or, our original condition. We ask: is our existence serial? Do we proceed from Adam to Adam? Will it all just start over again from scratch? Is our end, as in 2012, not an end really, but rather a processing of sorts. What does it mean, after all, to be resolved? We have choices, here, as to how we wish to see this. Take your pick: we can alternately be dissolved into our source, restored to our original condition, find purpose in our origin, be answered in our source (which may actually be a re-source), or simply conclude. There is no sin, but it is you who make sin when you do the things that are like the nature of adultery, which is called sin. That is why the Good came into your midst, to the essence of every nature in order to restore it to its root. That is why you become sick and die, for you are deprived of the one who can heal you. Matter gave birth to a passion that has no equal, which proceeded from something contrary to nature. Then there arises a disturbance in its whole body. That is why I said to you, Be of good courage, and if you are discouraged be encouraged in the presence of the different forms of nature. Every corporeal form, whether a physicality or an action, has a nature. Every nature has an essence. Every essence has a root. Roots can be divided thus: good and bad. Each root works differently through its corporeal host. To begin at the beginning, use of the word 'root' reminds me of the example I used in my first book. The example was that of a tree as representative of the interface between God and man. The point was made that our root, or the origin of our nature on this side, took from where it was (either with God or without God) to build in us who and what we are. At the beginning of the passage, it is stated that there is no sin in and of itself, but rather, it is a construct of mankind, and that should come as no surprise. Sin is an arbitrary fabrication of man, much

the same as the rules of a ball game are arbitrary. Simply put, it is something someone 'made up'. Sin did not pop into existence, A Priori, and God did not create it for all creation exists within a Holy God. No, the problem is that man has disassociated himself from God – in effect, he has pulled up his roots and replanted them in the world. That is to say that man has arbitrarily placed his roots in everything that is not God-centered. Here is the reasoning: if Christ is everything that is, evil is everything that is not. The latter heading is broad, and has plenty of room for the arbitrary creations of man's imagination. The explanation of sin that this passage offers is compelling. What interests me about it is that it is not the action that is said to be sin, but rather the nature from which the action springs. It is man who has issues with his companions (not to mention issues regarding the exercise of power and the possession of control). Man made the laws whereby he could put away or stone a cheating spouse. But, aside from the action, what is the nature of adultery? Is it not the nature of turning away? Is it not the very nature man has arbitrarily created for his own identity? According to the explanation given, if God is light, then man has turned to (or should I say 'into'?) darkness. It is further explained in the above passage that man's nature of pulling away from what is good is the very reason 'good' had to be reintroduced. Man's identity is wrapped up in what he identifies with, and man's identity needs an adjustment. That adjustment can only come from within. God took man from the dirt, cleaned him up, made something special out of him. Then man took the good things out, trampled them underfoot, and made them into dirt. Now, telling man not to do it hasn't worked; external actions are ineffective. Forcefully removing the dirt is also lame, as man has made of himself a gatherer of dirt. Remove his dirt, he will gather more. 'Good' had to be reintroduced as something internal. So, what has God done? He has planted the seed of 'good' in the dirt of man. Man will not get rid of his dirt, so the tree will grow unimpeded. In the end, despite himself, man will find that a mighty tree has grown up from the soil of self. It will be a tree that spreads his soil thin, a tree whose roots pierce through the interface to God, a tree whose fruit proves the good essence in the nature of mankind. Now, there is more to study in this passage. A closer inspection of the wording reveals what was not at first seen within the passage. Take, for instance, “the essence of every nature”. That is redundancy in the buff. It is like saying 'the essence of every essence' or 'the nature of every nature'. Underneath, however, is a true gem; we brush aside the dirt, and marvel. Our physical being has a spirit. Yes. Our spirit has a core. It is our kernel, our center, the seed that was planted within. It is the trickle from that small hole in us that should be named Mammoth. That core essence should, more rightly, be named 'Good'. And why was 'Good' reintroduced into the center of our nature? It was put there to do one thing: as the passage clearly states, it was put there to “restore it to its root”. To clarify: it was so placed to restore our inner man to its original condition. This answer is yet another question: what was our original condition? Yet another answer is this: our original Adamic state was one of balance; that is to say, a condition of spiritual and corporeal equality, or, God in man. It was that very state of balance, although fading after the fall and subsequent curse, that contributed to the longevity noted in certain Biblical ancestors. In the particular type of study presently engaged in, it is often the case that a statement is explained by the one that follows it. In this passage we are given this explanation: “That is why you become sick and die, for you are deprived of the one who can heal you”. The core of the inner man, the center of our very nature, is and should be God. With God there is balance; without him we have little

more than dying flesh. Here, I add a bit of meaning shift. We have seen our nature as the spiritual component, or counter-weight, of our corporeal existence. Further, we have discovered that our counter-weight has a core element that makes it what it is; that core is God. There is, in our current balance, an imbalance. It is an inequality that is spawned from, and intimately linked to the corporeal side of our being. Two matters should be noted. One, the passions are aligned to the flesh rather than to the spirit, and two, that passion's contrariness to nature must be viewed in the light of a meaning shift applied to the word 'nature'. We have seen 'nature' both as the counter-weight of corporeality and as the core element that contributes to the essence of every nature, but this is not every nature, it is 'nature'; something quite different is being argued. The passion, which has no equal, and I will leave that for others to infer, causes an inequality in the “whole body�. Here, a concept of the body is not taken for granted; rather, the body is taken apart and put back together. Why was the body divided, and into what? Why is it necessary to amend the body concept with the word 'whole'? A common assumption is that the body is the sum of its parts. In other words, it is already a whole. To bring notice to this word begs investigation. Obviously, something 'more' was referred to. Something more than just the body is the 'body plus' or, the body made whole by another element. The only element other than our physical being (matter) is our essence (spirit). Therefore, contrary to nature might well be viewed as contrary to the proper balance. Again, within the passage, a follow-up statement explains the preceding statement. It appears that the imbalance engenders a state of discouragement. We look at all we know about our lives, the dying flesh, the inability of the individual to rise above, the seemingly hopeless downward spiral of society, and we despair. We have removed the light from our lives, and now we cry and complain about the dark. But all is not hopeless; a statement of hope concludes this passage, and it is this. We may not see the proper balance within ourselves, but we can be encouraged to strive and persevere, to reach for the light. We need only look around and see the different garments that spirit clothes itself in. We can see the proper balance in all of what we commonly call 'nature' – and we can be encouraged to press on. Beware that no one lead you astray saying Lo here or lo there! For the Son of Man is within you. Follow after Him! Those who seek Him will find Him. I find this extremely interesting. This passage combines three canonical concepts. They are: One, don't be led astray by men claiming that they know where you need to look, two, the kingdom is within and without, and three, seek and you will find. In the first place, we should never blindly follow what others say; we should test every communication, and know for ourselves. Common sense alone tells us that this is our own responsibility. Secondly, and this ties in directly to the next passage, we are not told here that the kingdom is inside of us, but rather that the Son of Man is inside us. This highlights the concept of who runs the kingdom, and where the kingdom originates. Also, it links the nature of the Son of Man to the nature of the individual. Lastly, when we think of 'seek and find', we may now conceptualize that process more precisely. We are to seek Jesus. Where? We are to look for him inside ourselves; he is the spring from which our identity flows. Go then and preach the gospel of the Kingdom. Do not lay down any rules beyond what I appointed you, and do not give a law like the lawgiver lest you be constrained by it. Have you ever played a game with someone who knew all the rules while you knew none of them? How frustrating is that! This one surprised me. I, like so many others, have seldom considered that this whole religion thing has RULES. As a child we were all aware that the parents laid down the

house rules. There were rules when we went to school. There are rules of conduct in society – just walking down the street involves them. There are rules in football, baseball, basketball, hockey, checkers, and chess. There are rules of engagement for war. So, why have we not considered that we must play by the rules when it comes to faith or spiritual allegiance? This passage has the air of truth about it. Jesus laid down the rules, and commanded that his disciples add no more. Changes are not an option. I recall, as a child involved in all the usual running and screaming, that we all changed the rules as we went. Whatever the game was, we took turns happily making our own rules as we got the chance. But life is a more responsible game. Life may include many games with arbitrary rules, but the rules of life are set, and not to be messed with. No wonder so many people are frustrated or angry – they either do not know the rules, or they stand face to face with the fact that they are powerless to change them. In all the situations I have listed in this segment, people never once stop to question the status quo. The child is stuck with parental rules. The checker player will happily demand that his opponent take his jump. Ball game players all embrace the rules of the game. Why? Because, that is the way it is – all according to Hoyle. I ask, why do people embrace their frustrations when it comes to life and faith? Why not embrace the rules? One thing most of us agree on is that if it is good for the goose, it ought to be good for the gander. None of us wants to see another bring up a law if that person is unwilling to subject himself to it first. So, there you have it – if we would just turn that bit around and apply it to ourselves, the whole issue of embracing the rules of religion would become easy. How do these two passages tie together? It is in the preaching of the kingdom. The whole kingdom scheme has been shifted sideways in the gospel of Mary Magdalene. The apostles already had a kingdom concept, or I should say rather that most people had, and still have, their own preconceptions of what the kingdom should be. In that, all the preaching about the kingdom down through the centuries has been as diverse as its preachers. There need be only one standard for the good news – and that was laid out plainly in this gospel. This is the standard: The son of God exists inside each individual; his truth is our truth. We must seek him there. When we find him, like Jesus said in the passage above, we should Go then and preach the gospel of the Kingdom. When He said this He departed.

Peter said to him, Since you have explained everything to us, tell us this also: What is the sin of the world? But they were grieved. They wept greatly, saying, How shall we go to the Gentiles and preach the gospel of the Kingdom of the Son of Man? If they did not spare Him, how will they spare us? Then Mary stood up, greeted them all, and said to her brethren, Do not weep and do not grieve nor be irresolute, for His grace will be entirely with you and will protect you. But rather, let us praise His greatness, for He has prepared us and made us into Men. When Mary said this, she turned their hearts to the Good, and they began to discuss the words of the Savior. Andrew said to the brethren, Say what you wish to say about what she has said. I at least do not believe that the Savior said this. For certainly these teachings are strange ideas. Peter spoke concerning these same things. He questioned them about the Savior: Did He really speak privately with a woman and not openly to us? Are we to turn about and all listen to her? Did He prefer her to us? Then Mary wept and said, My brother Peter, what do you think? Do you think that I have

thought this up myself in my heart, or that I am lying about the Savior? Levi answered and said to Peter, Peter you have always been hot tempered. Now I see you contending against the woman like the adversaries. But if the Savior made her worthy, who are you indeed to reject her? Surely the Savior knows her very well. That is why He loved her more than us. Rather let us be ashamed and put on the perfect Man, and separate as He commanded us and preach the gospel, not laying down any other rule or other law beyond what the Savior said. And when they heard this they began to go forth to proclaim and to preach. This section deals with what the apostles said among themselves after the disappearance of Jesus. First, I would like to state that when I view this text as a whole, it gives me the sense of finality. It is as if Jesus called his core group together one last time during the forty days following his resurrection. Certain matters had to put into context. Jesus left his core group troubled, facing their preconceptions, and having issues yet to be resolved. They had supposed they were ready to go out and preach the kingdom – but that was just another preconception. They certainly had zeal, but that was not enough. There were key ingredients to the whole 'kingdom thing' which they had not yet nailed down, and that, I think, was the point of this final meeting. Jesus concluded by explaining the underlying reason for his mission. Then Peter, zealous to begin his whirlwind campaign against the sinners he would personally snatch back from the flames of perdition, demanded a synthesis of all sins, or, a central condition of sinfulness from which the many sins sprang up. Jesus corrected Peter's limited view, and went on to show that they were not yet ready to preach the kingdom. Why were they not ready? They were not ready because their view of the kingdom still needed to be reversed. They saw the kingdom as outside themselves, and they within it. They needed to view the kingdom as an internal culmination of a Christ-like persona. Jesus told them that only when they found the 'Son of God' inside themselves would they be qualified to go forth in his name and continue his work. The transition would not be easy for them. Too much of themselves had been invested in the old view; their identities were wrapped up in the old view. The arguments that follow the departure of Jesus typify the issues that still needed resolution. The beginning of their brainstorming shows that they refer to Jesus in the past tense. Their concern was just how they would spread a message to a people who regularly killed the messenger, especially if that message portrayed the people with the nature of the messenger. The embers of public opinion were still hot; such a message would only serve to fan the flames. Mary soothed them with the voice of continued faith. Mary was with Jesus from the beginning of his public work. Likely, she was in tow when Jesus called each disciple. Even though she was a woman in a man's world, she had always been a part of the core group. The manner in which she addresses the group indicates how she may have always spoken with them. She included herself easily among them, not only in the preparations they had undergone, but in what they should become in their completion. She it was who reminded them of just who it was that performed the work. At that point, they began to draw themselves toward a coherent game plan. Still, there was some basic, instinctual resistance evinced in their arguments. The first resistance comes from Andrew, and is further expounded upon by Peter. It may only have been that Andrew found the sayings of Mary's vision strange, or hard to swallow. It may be that anything a woman said was met with socially ingrained resistance. Yet, Mary had just calmed all of them with her words and redirected the course of their discussion. Therefore, we must assume she had a certain amount of influence on the men. Still, a woman with authority was a bitter pill. Peter questioned whether they should even listen

to her. He found it hard to believe, in a man's world, that Jesus would have entrusted anything of import to her rather than to one of the men – even a dream or vision. That was an insult to Mary. Peter's words were like an accusation; they caused her to weep. She had to ask if he thought she was one to just make things up off the top of her head, or to lie when it came to matters involving Jesus. Levi was the voice of reason. Peter had to be reminded of his surly nature. He was reminded that Mary was one of them, not an enemy. He was reminded that Jesus had been closely familiar with Mary; their relationship was different from the relationship that Jesus had with the men. Even so, it was not Peter's work, but the work of the Son of Man. Peter was in no position to argue about anything that Jesus did if he was to represent him, and preach the kingdom of the Son of Man. In a certain sense and to a certain degree, this smacks of Peter's discussion with Jesus in the canon – the one in which Peter questioned the justification of John. At any rate, Levi's words seem to have settled the entire issue. If the work could not be that of Jesus, it could not go forward. Each individual had to find Jesus within, for that was prerequisite to communicating Jesus to others.

Mary said, What is hidden from you I will proclaim to you: I saw the Lord in a vision and I said to Him, Lord I saw you today in a vision. He answered me, Blessed are you that you did not waver at the sight of Me. For where the mind is there is the treasure. (Here, one must ask: why would someone waver at the sight of him, and what does such wavering involve? In which direction does wavering, or not wavering, lead an individual? To what is the sight of Jesus compared?) I said to Him, Lord, how does he who sees the vision see it, through the soul or through the spirit? The Savior answered, He does not see through the soul nor through the spirit, but the mind that is between the two that is what sees the vision and it is [‌] This section of the study centers on the question that Mary asked Jesus. Her concern was just how a person perceived a vision. She wanted to know the mechanics of the process. We also want to know. What mechanism of our being does it come through? Mary's question indicated a preconception on her part concerning the make-up of the human machinery. That preconception was that the individual is composed of two 'engines': one part being the soul, and the other part being the spirit. In that a vision was received into or through one or the other, we might be more nearly correct to call them receivers rather than engines. I ask at this point that the reader take a moment and note the polarities of these two concepts, for indeed, they are presented in contrast to one another as if they are opposites. I am reminded here that the two sides of a coin are opposite, and yet, the edge of the coin joins them together. That seems to be what Jesus told Mary, that the soul and the spirit are joined by the machinery of the mind. Before I go further, we should consider the opposition of the two concepts. In other words, why are soul and spirit set in contrast to one another? Many of our day and age might see both concepts as vague and fuzzy notions, but that was not the case for those who wrote of such issues. Many of us might not be able to differentiate between a soul and a spirit, but the writers made a daily practice of such differentiations. Consider this: when Adam was created, God breathed life into the body, and thus by the addition of life, Adam was afterward referred to as a 'living soul'. For this reason, I suggest that the soul that Mary mentions in her question is actually better stated as the body. When we think of the two opposite sides of the coin, we can ask two questions. We can ask: does the front face wrap around to

join itself to the back, or does the back wrap around to join itself to the front? Or, we can take the stand of the cop-out and dismiss the matter by saying they meet in the middle. My point is that between the body and the spirit, the machinery that joins them is more aligned to one side than to the other. When Jesus answered Mary, he told her that the mind was the actual receiver for vision transmissions. So which came first – the body or the spirit? Well, the body had to be created; the spirit was already there to be breathed into it. My reasoning: God, by the same process, had already created all the animals before creating Adam. The mind is a function of spirit. Some may ask, what about the brain? They may argue that visions, like dreams, could be the result of just so much neural discharge. I answer, if the spirit can communicate to dead flesh, that is absolutely marvelous. Cut out a brain and lay it on a table – we will all see how much it communicates. The brain does the grunt work of the mind, is useless without the mind, and in our daily experience, struggles to keep up with the mind. In other words, what good is a dollar bill without gold in reserve to make it viable? That, I think, is what Jesus meant when he said “Where the mind is, there is the treasure”.

The story of the wandering soul. And desire said, I did not see you descending, but now I see you ascending. Why do you lie since you belong to me? The soul answered and said, I saw you. You did not see me nor recognize me. I served you as a garment and you did not know me. When it said this, it (the soul) went away rejoicing greatly. Again it came to the third power, which is called ignorance. The power questioned the soul, saying, Where are you going? In wickedness are you bound. But you are bound; do not judge! And the soul said, Why do you judge me, although I have not judged? I was bound, though I have not bound. I was not recognized. But I have recognized that the All is being dissolved, both the earthly things and the heavenly. When the soul had overcome the third power, it went upwards and saw the fourth power, which took seven forms. The first form is darkness, the second desire, the third ignorance, the fourth is the excitement of death, the fifth is the kingdom of the flesh, the sixth is the foolish wisdom of flesh, the seventh is the wrathful wisdom. These are the seven powers of wrath. They asked the soul, Whence do you come slayer of men, or where are you going, conqueror of space? The soul answered and said, What binds me has been slain, and what turns me about has been overcome, and my desire has been ended, and ignorance has died. In a aeon I was released from a world, and in a Type from a type, and from the fetter of oblivion which is transient. From this time on will I attain to the rest of the time, of the season, of the aeon, in silence. This section of the text has missing parts. Fortunately for us, however, there is enough redundancy present that we may reconstruct the commencement by use of the conclusion. So, let us lay each card upon the table – we will discover that while we have not a full deck, there are still enough cards to remain in the game. The first power. Darkness. The soul begins its ascent. {In a aeon I was released from a world} (darkness was upon the face of the deep) We may view this as a model based in creation. That is to say, self-awareness arises from the murky depths. The light, or lights, rise up through darkness in the fashion of God causing the dry land to rise up from the deep. Let us conclude, then, that our protagonist has arrived on the scene. To have transcended darkness, to have overcome the first power means that an identity has been realized. Man says: 'I think, therefore I am', God says, 'I Am (because) I Am'.

What has dawned? Man has established an internal (as in 'I think') and defining ('I Am') relationship with God. In the beginning, man may have existed, in form, bound by the world – in effect, no different than an animal. God breathed into him his spirit and man became a living soul. Man was set on a higher road. So, what was the exact duration of man's release from the world? When we read the term aeon, what are we to think? Are we to think that it took an eon? Can we view this as 'stage one', or must we think in terms of literal years, as in a thousand years? Are we to view aeon as a generic spiritual, or a supernatural being? We may, indeed, view man as an augmented creature, as an animal combined with traits that are above the natural. Man was imbued with a spiritual component, an 'I think' component, and placed on the road from I am to 'I Am'. The second power. Desire. {What binds me has been slain} {(my(possessive)) desire has been ended} Having overcome the first power, darkness, man has yet to take the first step on his journey along the higher path. His breaking free is a feat impossible on the corporeal level alone. His freedom was, in fact, a gift that was added, or breathed into, his basic nature. That augmentation was just a small addition, but one that was necessary if man was to have any chance of defeating the second power. The first power was all around him, but the second power was inside of him. It was one of the chains that anchored him into the world – man was, at that point, only free on the outside. He still shared the worldly nature with every other beast of the world. To continue along the path upon which he had been set, man had to take the first step of overcoming desire: his animal nature. Man was dominated by desire; it was a troll demanding tribute. It was a chain, and an anchor buried deep in the world. Desire was a monster that had to be slain; man had to rest domination from the cold scaly claws of the beast. As long as man bowed to desire, the journey could not continue. Man had to take the crown as his own. The third power. Ignorance. {what turns me about has been overcome} {ignorance has died} {from the fetter of oblivion which is transient} Man looked back and detested his lower state. He had been nothing, and indistinguishable from all other nothingness. The light had shined on him and shown him that he was special; it had distinguished him from darkness. It had freed him from the endless cycle of oblivion by the internal strength of self-restraint. He was now well along the highway of transcendence. He found, however, that he often strayed from the path, and the more he strayed, the harder it was to find his way back to the high road. He was a vessel that ran wherever the rudder of ignorance turned him. As an individual, and as a society, man was a creature without standards. Despite his advance, man was shackled to the oblivion of death. Death came and came again; it robbed man of all gain, and made his existence as vain as the life of any mindless beast. Mankind had been set apart, but it was no better than predator and prey. Ignorance devoured man with all his hopes. How could the journey continue if men were constantly at each others throats? So here, along the highway, was another beast to be slain. Man raised the sword of law and killed ignorance. Man's advance was no longer meaningless; progress was no longer a lost cause. This victory may never have been. In order to wage a war, one must clearly see the vulnerability of the enemy. Man could have seen oblivion as a constant, but he did not. Sure, it came again and again – but so did man. Oblivion was not written in stone, but law was. The fourth power. [Appearing in seven forms] The excitement of death. We do not use the word 'excitement' as did those of former eras. When I look at the word, I see the juvenile excitement of discovery and acquisition by which, for example, a young man may have his way with a young woman. That is not, however, what is meant here. A better word than excitement, for our purpose, would be furor. We might also use the word frenzy, the word fear, or even the word preoccupation. This preoccupation appears in seven forms; it comes to us in seven guises. We may view these forms as

seven more literal applications of the powers, and this fourth power is the hinge where the internal and external issues swing together. Let me stop to remind the reader that I am reconstructing missing segments of text using what remains. The ending text lists forms that, for the most part, are duplications of the list of powers. I have simply filled in the blanks. The powers are not mentioned as forms, and the forms are not, per se, mentioned as powers, except that the power of the excitement of death is mentioned as having seven forms. The text plainly states that the seven forms are the seven powers of wrath. Dare I dive into duality? I dare. It is part of my sojourn on the high road, for I am the incumbent sojourner. Duality – I am the low beast with the transplanted nature of the high God. Now, back to the practical applications. The powers appear to the sojourner on the high road; the forms appear as physical markers. In defeating any spiritual power, a physical form is also resolved. Take a moment to compare the first three powers with physical forms. Look, for instance, at In a aeon I was released from a world. Compare that to the creation story found in the first chapter of Genesis. Death is the pivotal issue. How shall man surmount it? Transcendence comes through battle and victory. The battlefield, it seems, is our relationship to our supernatural, spiritual self. But the seven guises of death accost us in our physical reality – in all attempts to halt our victorious advance along the higher path. The fifth power is the kingdom of the flesh. It is not mentioned as a power; I am simply filling in the blanks, as I say. The shift in my thinking has already accepted the possibility that every power has its concomitant form, and every form has its concomitant power. Still, it is the nameless fourth power that has taken on the seven forms. It is, therefore, only my opinion that both the seven forms and the three remaining powers stem from the fourth. So, the form and power of the excitement of death places in our paths certain hurdles, the first of which is the kingdom of flesh. Of flesh, we know much. Yes, we are well acquainted. How powerful is the tug of flesh upon our will! It is so strong an influence, we actually bend our reasoning around it. Our lives are shaped by it. As a very small and simple example of how our lives are shaped by reasoning that serves the flesh, I submit the 'Movie Pause'. Scores of people bow to the 'Movie Pause' as if it was an idol cast in gold. I, too, at one point in my life, regularly performed this obligatory genuflection. You may know it well – you go to a movie, you pass the popcorn and cola to your mate and excuse yourself in the best part of the film, you rush to the toilet not to pee, but to fire one up. You puff at it hurriedly for five to ten minutes, depending on the strength of your lungs, and return to ask “What did I miss?”. Sadly, most people on the face of the earth let their flesh call the shots. There is great agitation in one missed cigarette – you can well imagine what goes on at the approach of major change. The sixth power. The foolish wisdom of the flesh is not mentioned as a power; it is listed as a form. My argument, here, is that it is the intrusion of the power into the corporeal form. It is, perhaps, the natural manifestation of such a power that it works through physical limitations. On the physical plane it may not seem foolish at all, but such reference may come by way of comparison to a brighter path. Wisdom of the flesh is a belief system, a system of values and philosophies that have actually proven themselves to the worldly. For an example: some people believe that you have to break some eggs to make an omelet. That is to say, it's OK to hurt people for the greater cause. It has worked for many: hurting people is how they get what they want out of life, however, just because it works, that does not mean it is the only viable system. As long as there is freedom to choose, there is another way. Sadly, the world is populated with die-hard Thomases: those who refuse to believe unless they see

something solid with their own eyes. To have such a wisdom precludes higher forms of wisdom simply because it has not allowed for or included the necessary machinery by which higher wisdom may be established. As an example: microbes did not exist in established science until the inclusion of the microscope. People did not believe men could fly until the inclusion of the airplane. Higher wisdom does exist, but like distant galaxies, they will not exist for those unequipped with telescopes. In order for man to know spiritual wisdom, he must accept and use a spiritual means to that end. The seventh power inhabits the form of wrathful wisdom. It is an offshoot of fleshly wisdom. When Jesus instructed us to 'turn the other cheek', he espoused a wisdom opposite to the norm. Wrathful wisdom dictates that we must make all the jokers in life pay dearly for their effrontery. The other cheek must belong to 'them'. Just the thought of what someone might do to annoy me is enough to conjure up all the ways in which I will resist, fight, outwit, overcome, and punish the offender. Those who act on such notions often find themselves in trouble. Imagine the checker player: “Aha!” he proclaims as he, with sage bravado, takes his jump. To his dismay, his opponent jumps all his remaining pieces in succession and takes the board. On the other hand, imagine a player of chess – one who is under no pressure to take a jump – he has the elbow room he needs to achieve his goal, and he allows himself the luxury of placing his chess pieces in the order that best serves him. Wrathful wisdom, on the low end, often shows an adherent with his own foot in his own mouth. Sadly, people do not see that there is another way, that there is a higher wisdom. Christ often contradicted the wisdom of the world in his teaching, then finally showed us by accepting the cross. The first form. Darkness. The combining of the powers to the forms is my own notion. It is, for me, the most suitable avenue for the reconstruction of the whole. While the text is missing from the beginning, and basically depicts the action whereby each power is overcome, there are to be found enough clues to piece together that process of ascension. I have attempted to place those clues where they make the most sense. The clue for how the soul ascended above, and thus conquered the power and form of darkness is this: “In a aeon I was released from a world.” It would seem, therefore, that the first rite of passage was patience. Being released presupposes doing the time in the first place. The soul was imprisoned in a world – a small member trapped within a large corporeal organization. In the beginning, it would seem that the soul was bound to all worldliness: sort of thrown into the pool and told to sink or swim. So the soul patiently waited, and eventually was set free from that world – or, one should say, was allowed to stand on its own, and become its own entity. Note that the word 'aeon' has two meanings. The first is time; geologically, an eon is roughly half a billion years. The second is a spiritual being. When I combine these two thoughts, the result is a gestalt of some form or fashion – something that developed over a long period of time while subordinate to corporeality, then realized finally in its own right, with its own character, and under its own authority to act independently. As related to life, and the living, it is a wonder how something set free, and something so independent, can infuse what once was so binding to become its most defining characteristic. The second form. Desire. In terms of sentient life, man in particular, the rite of passage second to the prison of physicality is desire, or the basic instinct of the host. In order for a thing to be fully free, it must become completely independent. The first rite of passage was the continuation of the soul beyond the life of the host: “What binds me has been slain.” The second rite of passage, then, would need to be the soul's complete independence in opposition to the body's natural, and heretofore overpowering, desire: “my desire has been ended.” In order for the soul to continue its ascension, it

needed to gain the mastery over desire. In early man, the soul (this interpretation being that of self awareness) had to become what it already was. In other words, it could not just stop at being, it had to exercise itself. As an example, an infant kicks and rolls around and cries. Soon enough it is able to grasp, to focus its attention, and act upon what it sees. Next comes crawling, then walking, then running, etc. In similar fashion, the soul begins with what it has, but still needs to exercise what it has. In early man, we see this exercise; we see the muscle of self awareness pushing the envelop. We see the soul rise up above natural desire in acts of will power such as fasting. We also take note of a call to arms in early religious texts, for example the admonitions, within the book of Proverbs, to abstain and avoid temptations in the effort to rise above desire. The third form is ignorance, and, what is ignorance to self-awareness? Early man made great strides in self-awareness. He looked at the ignorant masses who were doomed to make the same mistakes again and again. It scared him. It was like finding oneself too near the flame, or on the brink of quicksand, or even in the mouth of the beast. Then, he saw a darker, more sinister level of ignorance; he saw man doomed to repeat the same life again and again. It scared him. He was, therefore, the more determined to fight against ignorance. See multitudinous warnings against the fool and sluggard in the book of Proverbs. See the great gaping maw of ignorance depicted in the book of Ecclesiastes. Now, in the overcoming of ignorance, we find this clue: “what turns me about has been overcome”. We look at what turns about the ignorant life. It is a smallness, as in the helm of a ship described in the book of James. Likewise, the ignorant life is not controlled by its greatness, but by its smallness. So, how does one overcome smallness? Smallness can only be defeated by greatness; ignorance is swallowed up in knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. In other words: “ignorance has died”. Self-awareness must arise “from the fetter of oblivion which is transient”. That is an interesting statement. Oblivion is given a dual depiction. First, it is a chain – a thing that holds down or holds back. With a fetter, there is no freedom, no progress, no self-determination. With oblivion, one is neither here nor there, but somewhere in between, in a sort of limbo. Oblivion is obscurity, the total opposite of self-awareness. More importantly, the second depiction of oblivion is its true nature. That nature is recognized as both its strength and its weakness. Its nature is not linear but cyclic. The ignorant masses will perish, but will always return. There is no gain. However, when self-awareness, by knowledge, understanding, and wisdom, maintains its identity in the face of cyclic slate wiping, the strength of oblivion has, itself, been wiped away. The fourth form is the excitement of death. As I said above, a better word than excitement, for our purpose, would be furor. We might also use the word frenzy, the word fear, or even the word preoccupation. The soul is preoccupied with its struggle; it tumbles head over heel down a steep incline, desperately clutching at anything that might stay, or at least slow, its descent into oblivion. Indeed, the very connection self-awareness has to its physical half threatens all gain. Self-awareness is unaware of any tool by which it might anchor its hope. All the tools are physical, and it must re-learn everything it knows by and through its worldly half. What it already knows are merely works, and works are a weight that runs counter to spiritual progress. As a spiritual entity, self-awareness must become a type free of all previous type-casting. It faces the peculiar task of maintaining the old in such a manner as to foster the growth of the new. However, that maintenance is a work – a weight, and thus the soul finds itself constantly off balance. “I know I'm on the right track, but will I live long enough to nail it down?” Yes, I'm fearfully preoccupied. The fifth form is the kingdom of the flesh. We cannot deny our close familiarity with the dominion of flesh. What a powerful hold it has upon us! We look in any direction and see that we are

thoroughly boxed in. This is not an easy thing for self-awareness to overcome; it must, in effect, divorce itself from and deprive itself of all tangible identity. This is how the individual knows itself from its youngest days; one of the first things a baby will do is grab its foot and begin to identify with its flesh. At play, the young child will push the boundaries of flesh to see how high it can climb, how fast it can run. As an adolescent, the thing that occupies the individual is the flesh of the opposite sex. We develop our associations and keep them the rest of our lives. The things we do without thinking link directly to the flesh; things that are important to us, such as eating and sleeping and procreating take on a life of their own, dominating our will and leading us through life by the nose. How can selfawareness distinguish itself from such as that? How can the soul make a name for itself? Most people will never rise above the flesh; those who try have their work cut out for them. Every institution of the flesh resists the will at every turn. Every thought and response will resist the ascendency of the soul. Here is an example: there is a humble person who lives a quiet life. This person is poor, and has learned to be frugal with income. Money is stashed here and there for emergencies, and while the savings may be adequate to have a life of some kind, the person has sacrificed that possibility out of fear of loss. Tell this individual certain spiritual truths like “the love of money is the root of all evil” and this person will reason in this manner: “am I evil? I have done well; I have saved where others have wasted. If that makes me evil, oh well!” A person has to have things; bills have to be paid, etc. We see in this that the kingdom of the flesh has a broad foundation – that foundation manifests in the form of worldly reasoning that has proved itself to the worldly-oriented. It is a supporting lattice of wisdom that is the sixth form. The foolish wisdom of the flesh is that sixth form. The soul will need some pretty good spiritual tricks to overcome such a complex network as that. So, how does the soul conquer the kingdom of the flesh? To answer that question, we must return to the fourth power. The perceived limit of life is death. That's what all the fuss is about. That is why we busy ourselves with the acquisition of corporeal experience. Physical life comes to an end. Even for those of us occupied with higher matters, an end looms menacingly in our near future. Of course, that is only the linear view. Those of us who are occupied with weightier matters can be just as off the track as the rest. Given that existence is non-linear, a linear view will lead thinking astray. In religion, one of the main areas where matters of the soul are considered, a linear view has fundamentally thwarted its better intentions. A philosophy has evolved to counter the foolish wisdom of the flesh. That philosophy calls for abstinence and separation from all that is worldly. The problem with that is, in a cyclic universe where life always comes again, the two identities are thrown back in the mix together. Seems to me we should learn from that. If the corporeal identity and the spiritual identity are always found together, must be they were meant to be so. The spiritual is not meant to exist apart from the corporeal any more than the corporeal is meant to exist apart from the spiritual. They are two legs of the same beast, and neither can walk forward on its own. A new strategy is called for. The seventh form, wrathful wisdom, is the enforcer of the corporeal identity. Where the foolish wisdom of the flesh is more or less accepted law, wrathful wisdom is judge, jury, and executioner. Wrathful wisdom defends ones place in the pecking order. If you punch my face, I punch you twice: once for the unwarranted physical contact, and once for the insult. If you steal from me, talk about me, touch or threaten any part of my corporeal existence, punishment must be dispensed. 'From whence come wars among you?' It's like taking your jump in checkers. Just dare to place your piece in front of mine! The soul, here interpreted as self-awareness, struggles to make a place for itself, but not in a vacuum. It must fight the good fight against the flesh by anchoring itself firmly within the flesh. That is the new strategy. One does not master a thing by avoiding it. Victory defines itself as the Phoenix immersed in the ash of defeat. The patient, quiet work of rising up has only just begun – again.

Whence do you come slayer of men, or where are you going, conqueror of space? In a aeon I was released from a world, and in a Type from a type, From this time on will I attain to the rest of the time, of the season, of the aeon, in silence.

Question: how are we to view the soul? Should we view the soul as the 'living soul' found in the book of Genesis? If so, we must keep in mind that a living soul is a synthesis of the functional and the empowering – just as an electrical lamp may be viewed as a synthesis of the functional bulb and the empowering electricity. Spirit plus flesh is the true identity – which must necessarily include a renewable sense of self-awareness: that is, a cumulative or over-all identity that rises up from the ash of corporeal limitations. This has been a small study of a small book, held in little regard by the world at large. Likewise, the spirit-oriented identity of physical man is held in small regard. Those of us who would rise above truly have our work cut out for us. The 'worldly' reject the spiritual while the so-called 'spiritual' reject the worldly. The rest of us are caught between a rock and a hard place. It might be said that we live life on the edge, where the two opposites collide. Then again, it might be said that we are the edge, and those warring opposites find synthesis in a brave new breed.

Gospel of magdalene  

A close study of the work, with special attention given to the wording.