The Apocalypse of the Reluctant Gnostics by Stuart Douglas

Consequently, the defining feature of Jungian Gnostic soteriology, one that does not have the same degree of emphasis in the Gnostic texts, is the need for a growth in consciousness in this life.

According to the Gnostics we are, metaphorically, nothing more than a bunch of drunken, somnambulist zombies who have fallen prey to the veil of ignorance spun by the archons that keeps us imprisoned in the world of matter.

Jung, no stranger to bluntness himself, was somewhat more circumspect in regard to our fallen state, and noted that humanity’s worst sin was unconsciousness.

Therefore, the key to salvation in Jung’s Gnostic vision, which would directly influence his psychology, is to become more conscious.

In Gnostic systems, the archons that keep humanity imprisoned are not so much to be seen as evil—although their effects are very much evil—rather they are to be seen as being ignorant, and of a very limited, unfeeling, robotic consciousness.

As a result, the key to achieving salvation is not so much overcoming evil, but about becoming more conscious, and this pursuit of increasing consciousness is certainly the direction taken by the soteriological aspects of Jung’s gnosis.

However, whereas for the Gnostics, gnosis was a means to an end, and that end was escape, for Jung, gnosis, in terms of expanded consciousness, was both the means and the end itself in many ways.

For the Gnostics the return to the Pleroma involved a dissolution of the opposites back to their original, non-differentiated state.

However, for Jung, this dissolution posed a great danger and was the sin of unconsciousness, and a retreat back into nothingness and non-existence, in other words, death.

As has been noted above, in Jung’s view, life is dependent on differentiation.

No differentiation, no life, and without life there can be no growth in consciousness.

Consciousness demands the differentiation of opposites, and growth in consciousness demands the reconciliation and integration of the opposites.

Differentiation of the opposites is what saves humanity from unconsciousness.

Yet, in Jung’s view all of humanity’s problems result from the splitting of opposites in the psyche, both the personal psyche, and the collective psyche.

Reconciliation and integration of the differentiated opposites is what saves. ~Stuart Douglas, Apocalypse of the Reluctant Prophet, Page 126

Given the emphasis on psychological growth in Jung’s Gnostic system, the struggle for salvation does not pit aeons against archons as such, but occurs in the unconscious where psychic factors that will save us are opposed by psychic factors that will condemn us.

This battle of opposing psychic forces is portrayed symbolically in The Matrix in the final showdown between Neo and Agent Smith which begins in the underground (or subway), in other words, the unconscious.

In the denouement of their confrontation, Neo charges headlong towards Agent Smith and dives at him; however, there is no collision, rather Neo merges into Agent Smith as if diving into a pool of water.

A tumult brews within their entanglement before Agent Smith shatters like a shell, out of which a new Neo is born into light.

In Jungian terms, the demiurgic ego dies and the Self is born into the light of consciousness.

The experience of the Self is always a defeat for the ego, said Jung.

In Gnostic terms, the pool of water represents the waters that exist below the firmament in which the conflict of human existence occurs.

Like the light and dark brothers in The Gospel of Philip, Neo and Agent Smith dissolve into one another, finally.

Agent Smith shatters like an empty husk, suggesting that the world of the archons is empty, false, nothing but an illusion, and only the Light remains. ~Stuart Douglas, Apocalypse of the Reluctant Prophet, Page 127-128

To assign the male gender (Father)—or the female gender for that matter—to the One, the Great Invisible Spirit, prior to it having thought Barbelo into being, appears to be ontologically incorrect—not to mention sexist.

The opposites cannot exist without their counterpart, there is no up without down, no hot without cold, and no male without female.

The opposites can only be understood in relation to the other.

If everything was hot and nothing was cold, then hot and cold would be meaningless, indeed, even the concept of temperature would be meaningless.

If we attempt to define one of the twins of a pair of opposites, we will either refer to a synonym (e.g., “up” will be defined in terms of “higher”), which simply avoids the issue, or we will need to make reference to its opposites (e.g., “up” might be defined in terms of moving from “lower” to “higher”).

It follows that the One, on its own, cannot have gender, or any other characteristic for that matter.

The One, and any other concept of ultimate divinity, is beyond gender; to assign it gender is meaningless, and fails to understand the fundamental characteristic of the opposites (which seems rather errant on the part of the Gnostics given how crucial the concept of the opposites is to their thesis).

The concept of opposites, including gender, only arises when the One becomes Two.

Given the ineffability of what is being discussed, gender assignments seem arbitrary and the crucial point, perhaps, is that when the One, the Thinker, thinks Barbelo, the First Thought, into being, there now exists an androgynous pair.

This Mother-Father syzygy is the eternal realm—the One is beyond time and beyond being—and the first and highest of the invisible realms of the Pleroma.

Only once the One becomes the Two can there exist the dynamic potential between them that leads to creation.

Life is born of the spark of opposites according to Jung, and, as the Mother-Father syzygy, Barbelo is the creative power out of which everything else came into being.

Out of the interaction of the twin male/female poles within the Mother-Father the process of emanation began.

The One, prior to thinking, is the Nothingness of the Pleroma; the Mother-Father is the Fullness of the Pleroma. ~Stuart Douglas, Apocalypse of the Reluctant Prophet, Page 134

For Jung, the spirituality of the feminine principle is earthly and descends; therefore, the reclamation of the soul requires a descent into the chthonic depths of the unconscious.

This need for complementary spiritual practice and soul work is symbolised by the tree of which the branches reach up to Heaven, while the roots reach down to the realm of darkness.

Only to the extent to which a tree’s roots dig down into the earth can its branches reach to the heavens.

Without the roots, there can be no branches reaching up to Heaven. The roots come first. In order to ascend, we must first descend.

The image of the tree also points to an overcoming of duality and a return to the Pleroma: it is the same tree above and below the ground.

Authentic spirituality must be founded on a psychology that recognises the soul and works to liberate the living soul from the imprisonment in the world of the animal soul.

This is not to suggest that the psychology must be complete before spirituality can begin, only that psychological development, and soul work, must be one step ahead of spiritual practice.

The bridegroom will only appear to the extent that the bride has been prepared.

Spirit can only be received to the extent that the animal soul has become a living soul.

Without the necessary work to retrieve the soul, any form of psycho-spiritual development is merely a form of what is referred to as spiritual bypassing. ~Stuart Douglas, Apocalypse of the Reluctant Prophet, Page 136

Similarly, Jung taught that we must pass through the inferno of the passions in order to overcome them.

In contrast to the Gnostics, whose goal was to escape from this prison world and return to the Pleroma, Jung believed that life needed to be lived to the full.

Only by living life can we be freed from it (2009).

However, there is no growth in consciousness without pain, and unfortunately, most people will do anything in order to avoid facing their own soul, according to Jung.

Likewise, in The Gospel of Thomas, the saviour says that whoever is near to him is near to the fire.

To realise the reunion of spirit and soul necessitates that one endures the fire.

It is incumbent upon every true Gnostic to burn away all that gets in the way of liberating the living soul.

In a not dissimilar vein, Western Buddhist nun, teacher, and author, Pema Chödrön (2000), teaches that we can only find the indestructible part of ourselves to the extent that we repeatedly expose ourselves to the annihilation of our false sense of self.

In Gnostic terms, the indestructible within is the divine spark and its counterpart is the living soul.

Paraphrasing Chödrön, only to the extent that we descend into the unconscious and expose ourselves over and over to the annihilation of the animal soul can we recover the lost living soul. ~Stuart Douglas, Apocalypse of the Reluctant Prophet, Page 138

Jung identified two dimensions to the shadow: one personal, and the other, archetypal.

The personal shadow consists of the disavowed parts of the individual’s personality, whereas the archetypal shadow is the rejected aspects of the human collective.

The personal shadow is our own private demiurge, and the archetypal shadow is the Gnostic demiurge and his archons.

Recovering the living soul demands that we address not only our personal shadow, but also the darkness of the collective demiurgic shadow to the extent that it touches us.

As noted above, The Gospel of Philip teaches that as long as the root of evil remains hidden, its power over us will persist.

It is powerful because we do not recognise it.

When it is recognised, in other words, when it is brought into the light of consciousness, it dies.

Philip exhorts us to dig down to get at the root of evil and pull it out of our hearts by the root. Its uprooting is in its recognition.

As long as it is ignored, it takes root in our heart and dominates us.

We become its slaves, and such is our enslavement that we are compelled to do things that we do not want to do, and are unable to do the things we want to do.

If we are not conscious of the archons within us, they fall into the shadow, and that suits the archons just fine.

From there they can carry on their diabolical activities unhindered.

Liberating the soul begins with recognising the darkness.  ~Stuart Douglas, Apocalypse of the Reluctant Prophet, Page 142

Like Jung’s concept of the human mind as the gateway between the outer and the inner, the mundus imaginalis exists both within and without.

It is the world in which our dreams take place, or it can be engaged with more consciously through Jung’s practice of active imagination.

Corbin made the distinction between what he considered to be true imaginations from the imaginal realm, which he referred to as imaginatio vera, and personal fantasies in which we can create anything we desire to experience imaginatively (in the commonly used sense).

Like-wise, Jung stressed that during active imagination it is imperative to let the images of the unconscious speak for themselves, rather than allowing the ego to direct them, and risk the experience turning into mere fantasy.

According to Lachman, by letting go of bodily sensations and entering into a meditative state, a voyager into the mundus imaginalis may encounter a supernatural being who will ask the voyager who she is and where she comes from.

The voyager then replies that she is a traveller seeking to return to her true home, which lies beyond the world of the senses (2015, loc. 3488).

Similarly, in The Gospel of Thomas, Christ teaches his disciples that if they are asked where they have come from, they are to reply that they have come from the light.

It is through the intermediary realm of the mundus imaginalis that the Gnostic must pass during visionary ascension to the Pleroma. ~Stuart Douglas, Apocalypse of the Reluctant Prophet, Page 154-155

 

 

 

 

 

Consequently, the defining feature of Jungian Gnostic soteriology, one that does not have the same degree of emphasis in the Gnostic texts, is the need for a growth in consciousness in this life.

According to the Gnostics we are, metaphorically, nothing more than a bunch of drunken, somnambulist zombies who have fallen prey to the veil of ignorance spun by the archons that keeps us imprisoned in the world of matter.

Jung, no stranger to bluntness himself, was somewhat more circumspect in regard to our fallen state, and noted that humanity’s worst sin was unconsciousness.

Therefore, the key to salvation in Jung’s Gnostic vision, which would directly influence his psychology, is to become more conscious.

In Gnostic systems, the archons that keep humanity imprisoned are not so much to be seen as evil—although their effects are very much evil—rather they are to be seen as being ignorant, and of a very limited, unfeeling, robotic consciousness.

As a result, the key to achieving salvation is not so much overcoming evil, but about becoming more conscious, and this pursuit of increasing consciousness is certainly the direction taken by the soteriological aspects of Jung’s gnosis.

However, whereas for the Gnostics, gnosis was a means to an end, and that end was escape, for Jung, gnosis, in terms of expanded consciousness, was both the means and the end itself in many ways.

For the Gnostics the return to the Pleroma involved a dissolution of the opposites back to their original, non-differentiated state.

However, for Jung, this dissolution posed a great danger and was the sin of unconsciousness, and a retreat back into nothingness and non-existence, in other words, death.

As has been noted above, in Jung’s view, life is dependent on differentiation.

No differentiation, no life, and without life there can be no growth in consciousness.

Consciousness demands the differentiation of opposites, and growth in consciousness demands the reconciliation and integration of the opposites.

Differentiation of the opposites is what saves humanity from unconsciousness.

Yet, in Jung’s view all of humanity’s problems result from the splitting of opposites in the psyche, both the personal psyche, and the collective psyche.

Reconciliation and integration of the differentiated opposites is what saves. ~Stuart Douglas, Apocalypse of the Reluctant Prophet, Page 126

 

Given the emphasis on psychological growth in Jung’s Gnostic system, the struggle for salvation does not pit aeons against archons as such, but occurs in

the unconscious where psychic factors that will save us are opposed by psychic factors that will condemn us.

This battle of opposing psychic forces is portrayed symbolically in The Matrix in the final showdown between Neo and Agent Smith which begins in the underground (or subway), in other words, the unconscious.

In the denouement of their confrontation,

Neo charges headlong towards Agent Smith and dives at him; however, there is no collision, rather Neo merges into Agent Smith as if diving into a pool of water.

A tumult brews within their entanglement before Agent Smith shatters like a shell, out of which a new Neo is born into light.

In Jungian terms, the demiurgic ego dies and the Self is born into the light of consciousness.

The experience of the Self is always a defeat for the ego, said Jung.

In Gnostic terms, the pool of water represents the waters that exist below the firmament in which the conflict of human existence occurs.

Like the light and dark brothers in The Gospel of Philip, Neo and Agent Smith dissolve into one another, finally.

Agent Smith shatters like an empty husk, suggesting that the world of the archons is empty, false, nothing but an illusion, and only the Light remains. ~Stuart Douglas, Apocalypse of the Reluctant Prophet, Page 127-128

 

In accord with Jung’s dictum that what we resist, persists, PKD thought that those who fight against the Empire become “infected by its derangement” (2001, p. 264), ~Stuart Douglas, Apocalypse of the Reluctant Prophet, Page 129

 

To assign the male gender (Father)—or the female gender for that matter—to the One, the Great Invisible Spirit, prior to it having thought Barbelo into being, appears to be ontologically incorrect—not to mention sexist.

The opposites cannot exist without their counterpart, there is no up without down, no hot without cold, and no male without female.

The opposites can only be understood in relation to the other.

If everything was hot and nothing was cold, then hot and cold would be meaningless, indeed, even the concept of temperature would be meaningless.

If we attempt to define one of the twins of a pair of opposites, we will either refer to a synonym (e.g., “up” will be defined in terms of “higher”), which simply avoids the issue, or we will need to make reference to its opposites (e.g., “up” might be defined in terms of moving from “lower” to “higher”).

It follows that the One, on its own, cannot have gender, or any other characteristic for that matter.

The One, and any other concept of ultimate divinity, is beyond gender; to assign it gender is meaningless, and fails to understand the fundamental characteristic of the opposites (which seems rather errant on the part of the Gnostics given how crucial the concept of the opposites is to their thesis).

The concept of opposites, including gender, only arises when the One                                                                                       becomes Two.

Given the ineffability of what is being discussed, gender assignments seem arbitrary and the crucial point, perhaps, is that when the One, the Thinker, thinks Barbelo, the First Thought, into being, there now exists an androgynous pair.

This Mother-Father syzygy is the eternal realm—the One is beyond time and beyond being—and the first and highest of the invisible realms of the Pleroma.

Only once the One becomes the Two can there exist the dynamic potential between them that leads to creation.

Life is born of the spark of opposites according to Jung, and, as the Mother-Father syzygy, Barbelo is the creative power out of which everything else came into being.

Out of the interaction of the twin male/female poles within the Mother-Father the process of emanation began.

The One, prior to thinking, is the Nothingness of the Pleroma; the Mother-Father is the Fullness of the Pleroma. ~Stuart Douglas, Apocalypse of the Reluctant Prophet, Page 134

 

For Jung, the spirituality of the feminine principle is earthly and descends; therefore, the reclamation of the soul requires a descent into the chthonic depths of the unconscious.

This need for complementary spiritual practice and soul work is symbolised by the tree of which the branches reach up to Heaven, while the roots reach down to the realm of darkness.

Only to the extent to which a tree’s roots dig down into the earth can its branches reach to the heavens.

Without the roots, there can be no branches reaching up to Heaven. The roots come first. In order to ascend, we must first descend.

The image of the tree also points to an overcoming of duality and a return to the Pleroma: it is the same tree above and below the ground.

Authentic spirituality must be founded on a psychology that recognises the soul and works to liberate the living soul from the imprisonment in the world of the animal soul.

This is not to suggest that the psychology must be complete before spirituality can begin, only that psychological development, and soul work, must be one step ahead of spiritual practice.

The bridegroom will only appear to the extent that the bride has been prepared.

Spirit can only be received to the extent that the animal soul has become a living soul.

Without the necessary work to retrieve the soul, any form of psycho-spiritual development is merely a form of what is referred to as spiritual bypassing. ~Stuart Douglas, Apocalypse of the Reluctant Prophet, Page 136

 

Similarly, Jung taught that we must pass through the inferno of the passions in order to overcome them.

In contrast to the Gnostics, whose goal was to escape from this prison world and return to the Pleroma, Jung believed that life needed to be lived to the full.

Only by living life can we be freed from it (2009).

However, there is no growth in consciousness without pain, and unfortunately, most people will do anything in order to avoid facing their own soul, according to Jung.

Likewise, in The Gospel of Thomas, the saviour says that whoever is near to him is near to the fire.

To realise the reunion of spirit and soul necessitates that one endures the fire.

It is incumbent upon every true Gnostic to burn away all that gets in the way of liberating the living soul.

In a not dissimilar vein, Western Buddhist nun, teacher, and author, Pema Chödrön (2000), teaches that we can only find the indestructible part of ourselves to the extent that we repeatedly expose ourselves to the annihilation of our false sense of self.

In Gnostic terms, the indestructible within is the divine spark and its counterpart is the living soul.

Paraphrasing Chödrön, only to the extent that we descend into the unconscious and expose ourselves over and over to the annihilation of the animal soul can we recover the lost living soul. ~Stuart Douglas, Apocalypse of the Reluctant Prophet, Page 138

 

Jung identified two dimensions to the shadow: one personal, and the other, archetypal.

The personal shadow consists of the disavowed parts of the individual’s personality, whereas the archetypal shadow is the rejected aspects of the human collective.

The personal shadow is our own private demiurge, and the archetypal shadow is the Gnostic demiurge and his archons.

Recovering the living soul demands that we address not only our personal shadow, but also the darkness of the collective demiurgic shadow to the extent that it touches us.

As noted above, The Gospel of Philip teaches that as long as the root of evil remains hidden, its power over us will persist.

It is powerful because we do not recognise it.

When it is recognised, in other words, when it is brought into the light of consciousness, it dies.

Philip exhorts us to dig down to get at the root of evil and pull it out of our hearts by the root. Its uprooting is in its recognition.

As long as it is ignored, it takes root in our heart and dominates us.

We become its slaves, and such is our enslavement that we are compelled to do things that we do not want to do, and are unable to do the things we want to do.

If we are not conscious of the archons within us, they fall into the shadow, and that suits the archons just fine.

From there they can carry on their diabolical activities unhindered.

Liberating the soul begins with recognising the darkness.  ~Stuart Douglas, Apocalypse of the Reluctant Prophet, Page 142

 

Like Jung’s concept of the human mind as the gateway between the outer and the inner, the mundus imaginalis exists both within and without.

 

It is the world in which our dreams take place, or it can be engaged with more consciously through Jung’s practice of active imagination.

 

Corbin made the distinction between what he considered to be true imaginations from the imaginal realm, which he referred to as imaginatio vera, and personal fantasies in which we can create anything we desire to experience imaginatively (in the commonly used sense).

 

Like-wise, Jung stressed that during active imagination it is imperative to let the images of the unconscious speak for themselves, rather than allowing the

ego to direct them, and risk the experience turning into mere fantasy.

 

According to Lachman, by letting go of bodily sensations and entering into a meditative state, a voyager into the mundus imaginalis may encounter a supernatural being who will ask the voyager who she is and where she comes from.

 

The voyager then replies that she is a traveller seeking to return to her true home, which lies beyond the world of the senses (2015, loc. 3488).

 

Similarly, in The Gospel of Thomas, Christ teaches his disciples that if they are asked where they have come from, they are to reply that they have come from the light.

 

It is through the intermediary realm of the mundus imaginalis that the Gnostic must pass during visionary ascension to the Pleroma. ~Stuart Douglas, Apocalypse of the Reluctant Prophet, Page 154-155