The Origin of Cosmic Ignorance

On the most basic level, if one seel.- :o find the cause of cosmic ignorance one will not be able to discover its beginning. Potentially it has always existed, just as the potential of enlightenment has always existed. In fact, the potential of the unenlightened condition and enlightenment are one and the same. In Sophian tradition, rather than speaking literally of a "beginning" of ignorance, all teachings on the origin of the demiurgos are meant to point to the way ignorance is put to an end—this end of ignorance being the beginning. This gives a subtle illumination of a saying from the Gospel of St. Thomas, in which it is written:

The disciples said to Jesus, "Tell us how our and will be." Jesus said. "Have you discovered, then, the beginning, that you might look for the end? For where the beginning is, there will the end be. Blessed is he who will take his place in the beginning, he will know the end and will not experience death."'

Whiie this alludes to the teachings on the light-continuum and person of light, it also implies an awareness of the "beginning of ignorance," which is the end of ignorance.

According to the Kabbalah, cosmic ignorance is the natural product of the process of creation. In essence, creation begins with Cod constricting Godself to make the space in which creation will transpire. Basically, God withdraws into Godself, making a womb, as it were, in which creation can be conceived. For, at the outset, "God fills all space' as a singularity, which will not allow for individuation and multiplicity, and, likewise, the Pleroma of God's presence and power would not allow for creatures and creation to come into being. It is similar to the principle of the Big Bang, of which modern scientists speak as the cause of the material universe—the instant "before" the Big Bang is an inconceivable singularitv that had to give way in the explosion that originated our material universe. Fundamentally speaking, from a constricted state of matter, energy and light, our material universe explodes and continues to unfold to this very day. What the Kabbalah is talking about in metaphysical terms is very similar to this idea.

This withdrawal of God into Godself, or what is called tzimtzum in the Kabbalah, produces various gradations of God's presence and power, each emanation being more restricted than the emanations preceding it. This process of constriction creates an appearance of dualism between God and creation. At the inmost metaphysical levels of creation, this fundamental dualism is most subtle and sublime. Progressively, it becomes increasingly more radical and distinct, until, at the level of the material dimension, the creation appears almost completely separate and apart from God—the source of all. This appearance of separation in consciousness, of course, is cosmic ignorance, which on one hand facilitates individuation and multiplicity to arise and on the other hand prevents realization of tne underlying sacred unity. Thus, what gives riv to creatures and creation, facilitating the process of an involution and evolution of life, becomes a cause of the bondage of spirits and souls. This is what is meant by the demiurgos among Sophians, and the ar-chons represent cosmic forces manifest under the dominion of this cosmic ignorance.

According to the Kabbalah, this restriction of God is, essentially, a restriction of God's will or desire, which opens the way for a creation to comc into substantia! being that is imbued with free will. Cosmic ignorance is nectary in order for this to take place, because if from the outset all creatures were aware of their absolute unity with the One life-power -bey would have no choice but to do . will 01 desire oi Cod and would not be empowered to individuate and evolve to restore themselves to the sacred ucitv. Originally nil spirits ana souls existed in an unconscious unity with Cod and Godhead, but through the process of creation, that sacred unity is becoming conscious. In that originally everything was actually unconscious, there really is no beginning to cosmic ignorance. Yet, as creation unfolds, it becomes distinctly manifest, along with ail other potential aspects of the One being-consciousness-force, and thus is spoken of as "created. This is the subtle esoteric meaning of the words written by the prophet Isaiah according to the tradition, when he wrote in the name of Yahweh, "I form the light and e darkness, I make weal and woe; I the Lord to all these things.

Often, when horrible things happen in the world many people will ask, "How could God let this happen?" Yet, this question comes from ignorance itself, for evil and all kinds of admixture is the natural consequence of free will. One might dare say that i- is the price of freedom For tree will means that spirits and souls can enact whatever >he' desire to enact, whether it is in harmony with the Spirit of truth, a manifestation of the Spirit of falsehood, or is some admixture of truth and falsehood, which is more often the casec if by "God" we iean "enlign^enment," then evil does not come from God, but rather comes from cosmic ignorance. Yet, if the root of enlightenment and ignorance is the same being-consciousness-force, then even evil is not ultimately separate from God. but rather is a gross manifestation of cosmic ignorance, the tine nature and essence of which is divine— only its divinity is completely obscured and hidden.

It is in this sense that Sophian teachings speak about the demiurgos and the origin of evil, though as characteristic of many Gnostic schools, the Sophian view is not as simple or linear as good versus evil. The

Sophian view indue!'.-, an entire spectrum of admixture between absolute good and absolute evil, and ultimately questions the existence Á anything "absolute" within the fields of sentient existence or creation After all, creation is the realm of ever-becoming, according to Gnostic teachings, and in creation everything is in a constant state of flux or change. Thus, all appearances are relative and, in this sense, illusory. God is absolute, but exactly what that means is subject to question, t'ur God may well be the principle of constant change itself—hence the infinite and eternal power within, yet ever beyond the continuum of endless change v/e call "creation."

There is a very interesting teaching within the Sophian tradition about the demiurgos, which is partly reflected in certain teachings that appear in the Order of St. Martin.1 In the Sophian view, we are all individuations of the One being-consciousness-force, and thus we are all centers of the One. Therefore, we are all akin to quantum mtr: ifestations of God. Previously we have spoken of our souls as being like cells in the body of Adam Kadmon, who is the "image and likeness of God." As we awaken individually, the body of the primordial human being is awakening one cell at a time, and it is as though God is awakening with, in, and through us. In this context, it may be said that, in the unenlightened condition, the collective consciousness of creatures is the demiurgos and, that when enlightened, the collective consciousness ot creatures is God. In this sense, some teachings in the tradition allude to Adam Kadmon as both the emanation of God and as the demiurgos. In speaking of Satan or the evil one, these teachings propose that Satan is the shadow of Adam Kadmon—a collective shadow self-produced by cosmic ignorance. This can prove an illuminating contemplation, and it is good to bear in mind as we continue to explore the dominion oí the demuirgos and archons in the teachings of Sophian Gnosticism.

3. Another living Gnostic tradition

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