The Great Beast and the Final Conflict

Previous'y, ^^ spoke of the play of cosmic forces within and behind what transpires in the world, and the connection between spiritual forces and our own thoughts, feeling-emotions, words, and actions, w'hjle Gnostics point to an acceleration of consciousness as the fundamental causc of the Apocalypse and an internal conflict as the cause of. rmageddon, at the same time Gnostics also speak of a conflict of cosmic forces of which humanity is the principal channel or vehicle in the material world.

In the Gnostic view, the human mind, heart, and life is a battle-giound in a conflict of cosmic forces. On the most basic level, because humanity remains largely unaware of the play of cosmic forces, on a collective level we are compelled by the demiurgos and archons and by dark and hostile forces. According to Gnostic teachings, the forn, .r seeks to maintain the status quo and the latter seek to upset the balance and lead toward- chaos and destruction. In this mix, there are a so divine forces seeking to enlighten and liberate humanity from i:s bondage to the demiurgos and the violent inclination. Thus, as mil h as the climax of an internal conflict, Armageddon is also viewed as a final confl'ct within human consciousness between cosmic forces.

Today, in the eyes of Gnostics we have a rather blatant example of admixed, titanic influences of dark and hostile forces. On the one hand, there are greedy nations bleeding the world dry. who enact wars in the name of "freedom," 'democracy," and "God",- on the other hand, there are terrorists seeking to bring about destruction and chaos in the nar .e of "tme religion" and "God." In truth, both represent forms of cosmic ignorance, the God of the former being akin to the demiurgoc, and the God of the latter being akin to Satan. Both lead us on a path to darkness and destruction as they wage war against one another.

This reflects the Gnostic view of the world bound to the dominion of the demiurgos and archons, not in terms of nature and this Good Earth being inherently negative or evil, but rather in terms of human minds, hearts, and lives ruled by selfishness, lust-greed and fear-hatred, and ail of the establishments of unenlightened human society born of this fundamental ignorance. In the Book of Revelation, this collective ignorance of herd consciousness that runs pell-mell to its own destruction is called the C<-eat Beast. Thus, Gnostic Christianity speaks of the Apocalypse as a process of individuation from herd con sciousncss and a transition away from the unenlightened establishment towards a new world order founded upon divi"'* illumination.

The term "new world order" can prove somewhat deceptive in Gnostic teachings, however, because the divine order envisioned is not of this world. It represents an ascent beyond the material dimension int ) more subtle and sublime dimensions, thus a transcendence of the world. Yet. as is common among Gnostics, the idea of a new order that is tra - -scendent and not of this world is neither creed nor doctrine. There ai also trends of thought among Gnostics who feel a transformation and evolution on the material level is quite possible. Thus, among Gnostic Christians, a new world order is envisioned as occurring in this world by some initiates, and it is envisioned as occurring in a completely different dimension by others.

What allows such radically different views to exist side by side in the Gnostic tradition is the awareness of evolution in creation and an ongoing divine revelation. While some keys and mysteries are known and understood, there is also an awareness of certain keys and mysteries as yet unknown. Thus, although each Gnostic initiate holds a view according to the truth and light revealed in her or his own experience, Gnostics seek to remain open to new gnosis that may reveal missing keys and disclose further mysteries. After all. if all the keys and all the mysteries to what will happen were known, then the fruition of the Apocalypse in the Second Coming would have already transpired. Part of an actual conscious evolution is the discovery of new keys to the process of evolution itself, as well as the revelation of mysteries that naturally occurs in this process. In much the same way that every Gnostic acquires her or his own knowledge and understanding of the Gospel, so each Gnostic initiate will have her or his own knowledge and understanding of the Apocalypse and Second Coming.

Instead of looking into the Book of Revelation or other prophecies seeking a literal interpretation of historical events- and characters heralding the end of days, Gnostics are actually looking into prophe-r: s to understand the piocess of the psychic and spiritual evolution they depict and to acquire knowledge of the metaphysical dimensions behind it. More than looking into the prophecies of the past, Gnostics are seeking to enter into states of prophetic consciousness themselves, so that they might receive revelations from the Spirit about what is transpiring in the present and how it will shape the future. It is through their own experience of the spirit of prophecy that Gnostic adepts and masters come to understand the prophets and the prophecies that have been spoken and written previously. Thus, aside from teachings exploring the deeper metaphysical dimensions related by prophecies, most Gnostic traditions tend only to a general and loose interpretation of prophetic books, such as the Book of Revelation, leaving it open to each initiate's own interpretations and inspirations.

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