Over the course of the past three hundred years there have been numerous finds of ancient sacred literature. While on the surface the circumstances of the most significant discoveries seem coincidental or random chance, one cannot help but think of the terma' tradition in Tibet. In Vajrayana Buddhism, it is believed that enlightened masters of the past buried and hid special wisdom teachings for future genera-s. When it is time for a terma to be found, enlightened beings and intuition guide a holy person . discover a terma and to receive and transmi; the wisdom it contains. Though the individuals who have discovered sacred literature of Western wisdom traditions and those who have made these sacred writings available may not exactly qualify' as ''holy people,'' as are the tertons4 of Tibet, nevertheless there seems to be a movement of the Spirit and, perhaps, the influence of enlightened or divine beings behind the discoveries. After all, it is only now in our modem era that the stranglehold of orthodox Christianity has been broken, to allow such ancient sacred texts to see the light of day without being hidden away in some secret vault of the Vatican or destroyed altogether. Likewise, it is now, with our general standard of education hieher than ever before., that these sacred texts can benefit more individuals. Also, if at any time we have needed an extension of light and truth and a restoration of true spirituality and enlightenment in Western culture, it is now as we face what may well be our greatest evolutionary challenge: with growing psychic tension due to an acceleration of consciousness, access to increasingly greater technology and power, environr. :ntal issues and development towards global culture,
3 Literally, wisdom treasury
4 Spiritual adepts and masters who discover termas in Vajrayana Buddhism all of which must be managed and integrated, we are in need of spiritual wisdom. Considering the significant role of the West in this inevitable process, die timing of these discoveries could not be more perfect than the present.
The two most significant finds, without a doubt, were the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi library. The Dead Sea Scrolls themselves are not directly Gnostic, but they represent the library of a Jewish Essene community that very likely existed during the life of Jesus of Nazareth. The Essenes were a mystical sect of Judaism of the time, and the Dead Sea Scrolls provide evidence of a current of mystical thought among Jewish peoples distinct fro:; the Merkavah Mysticism5 common to the Pharisees. Gnosticism itself represents a mystical and magical form of spirituality, and in general, Christian Gnosticism views Jesus as a mystic and magician who taught a mystical path to higher consciousness and self-realization. Evidence of diverse mystical trends of thought among Jewish peoples lends great support to this view. Such teachings and practices would not at all have been strange or out of place in the lifetime of Jesus.
The Nag Hammadi library, however, is beyond any doubt the most significant find in the context of Gnosticism and insight into original Christianity, for among the many different sacred texts it contains are holy books of pagan Gnosticism, such as those of the Greek-Egyptian magical tradition of Hermes Trismcgistus, along with many mystical writings of Jewish Christian and Gnostic Christian origin. Essentially, there are numerous traditions of mystical and Gnostic Christianity represented in the Nag i lammadi library. It is seems safe to say that the Nag Hammadi library is a great wisdom treasury of Western spirituality and enlightenment.
Lineages" of Gnostic Christianity that existed as secret societies before the discovery of the Nag Hammadi library have their own oral
5. The Jewish mystical tradition from which the Kabbalah emerged
6. A successive line of initiates, specifically adepts and masters, representing a specific tradition of Wisdom Teachings
Otif tradit. n of teachings and practices independent oi the acred texts that form this library. Some of the texts in the Nag Hammadi directly support and prove relevant to these older Gnostic Christian traditions. The Nag Hammadi, as a whole, supports and celebrates a diversity of views on the Christ event and is useful in this wny. However, lor lineages preexisting the Nag Hammadi, having their own foundation of living tradition. much of the Nag Hammadi library is spiritually and practically irrelevant and is not used. Only selected works from the Nag Hammadi are absorbed into their teachings. This is not the case for most newer •-torrents of Gnosticism, for most of them have arisen since the publication of the Nag Hammadi and rely more heavily upon t: sacred texts of the various traditions that appear in the library. In general, from a Gnostic Christian perspective, each current or tradition draws w' at is useful to it from the Nag Hammadi library, whether the older or newer Gnostic schools. This, in itself, reflects the classical Gnostic approach in which the knowledge and experience of each individual is more valued than any fixed view of dogmatic doctrine and creed. To both old ¿nd new schools of Christian Gnosticism, the Nag Hammadi is certainly part of the inspiration to teach and initiate openiy, and it has, in effect, sparked a Gnostic revival in the West.
Was this article helpful?