Gnostic Psychology – part 8 (Knowledge, Being, Understanding and Comprehension)

 

Knowledge and Being

“There are two ways in which a human being’s development proceeds: knowledge and being. In correct development, both knowledge and being develop simultaneously, parallel to, and helping one another. But if knowledge gets too far ahead of being, or if being gets ahead of knowledge, then the person’s development goes wrong, and sooner or later it must come to a standstill.

People understand what ‘knowledge’ means. And they understand the possibility of different levels of knowledge. They understand that knowledge may be lesser or greater, that is to say, of one quality or of another quality.

But they do not understand this in relation to ‘being’. ‘Being’, for them, means simply ‘existence’ (which is opposed to ‘non-existence’). They do not understand that being or existence may be of very different levels and categories.

Take for instance the being of a mineral and of a plant. They are different being. The being of a plant and of an animal is again a different being. The being of an animal and of a man is a different being as well.

And it is said that the being of two people can differ from one another more than the being of a mineral and of an animal. This is exactly what people do not understand.

And they do not understand that knowledge depends on being. And especially in Western culture it is considered that a person may possess great knowledge, for example he may be an able scientist, who makes discoveries, advances science, and at the same time he may be, and has the right to be, a petty, egoistic, caviling, mean, envious, vain, naive, and absent-minded man.

It seems to be considered normal that a professor must always forget his umbrella. And this is his being. And people think that their knowledge does not depend on their being.

People in Western culture put great value on the level of a person’s knowledge but they do not value the level of a person’s being and are not ashamed of the low level of their own being. They do not even understand what it means. And they do not understand that a person’s knowledge depends on the level of their being.

If knowledge gets far ahead of being, then it becomes theoretical, abstract and inapplicable to life, or actually harmful, because instead of serving life and helping people to better struggle with the difficulties they meet, it begins to complicate their life, it brings new difficulties into it, new troubles and calamities which were not there before.

The reason for this is that knowledge which is not in accordance with being cannot be large enough for, or sufficiently suited to, a person’s real needs. It will always be a knowledge of one thing together with ignorance of another thing; a knowledge of the detail without a knowledge of the whole; a knowledge of the form without a knowledge of the essence. Such preponderance of knowledge over being is observed in present-day culture.

In present day culture, the idea of the value and importance of the level of being is completely forgotten. And it is forgotten that the level of knowledge is determined by the level of being. Actually at a given level of being the possibilities of knowledge are limited and finite. A change in the nature of knowledge is possible only with a change in the nature of being.”

-paraphrase from Ch. 4 of In Search of the Miraculous

 

Degrees of Knowledge and Levels of Being

“Knowledge and being are very relative; different DEGREES OF KNOWLEDGE exist.

For example, there are people who may know more about medicine than others; there are dentists who are more learned than others, there are mechanics who know more than others with regard to automobiles; but that is all very relative.

As for Being, it is also very relative; some have developed their Being more than others; there is no doubt, for example, that the being of a Saint is more developed than that of a perverse individual.

So, there are different LEVELS OF BEING, and it is also relative. And yet knowledge and being are different. For someone who has knowledge of geography, we could say that what they know is true or false, that their knowledge is correct, or that it is mistaken.

However, regarding matters of being, the notions of “true” or “false,” “mistaken” or “correct,” cannot be used, because they do not fit, instead, we use “good” or “bad,” we say “so-and-so is a good woman,” or “what’s-his-name is a bad guy,” and if he is a very bright person, but is a bad guy, still one might say of him that, “he is a bad person,” but if he is a good guy, one might say of him that, “he is a good person.”

So then, these things (knowledge and being) are different; and the terms used to designate being, or to designate knowledge, are different.”

-paraphrase from Lecture #48 (‘Integration of Being and Knowledge’) in El Quinto Evangelio

 

The Being of Mechanical People

“Taken in itself, a person’s being has many different sides. The most characteristic feature of a modern person’s being is the absence of unity in them and, further, the absence in them of even traces of those properties which they most like to ascribe to themselves, that is, ‘lucid consciousness’, ‘free will’, a ‘permanent “I”‘, and the ‘ability to do’.

It may surprise you to hear that the chief feature of a modern person’s being which explains everything else that is lacking in them is sleep. A modern man lives in sleep, he is born in sleep and he dies in sleep.

What knowledge can a sleeping person have? And if you think about it and at the same time remember that sleep is the chief feature of our being, it will at once become clear to you that if a person really wants knowledge, then he or she must (first of all) think about how to awaken, that is, about how to change their level of being.

Exteriorly a person’s being has many different sides: activity or passivity; truthfulness or a tendency to lie; sincerity or insincerity; courage, cowardice; self-control, profligacy; irritability, egoism, readiness for self-sacrifice, pride, vanity, conceit, hardworking, lazy, morality, depravity; all these (and much more) make up the level of being of a person. But all this is entirely mechanical in people.

Generally speaking, the being of a modern person is of very inferior quality. If you think of this you will understand why only few can receive real knowledge: their level of being prevents it. Generally speaking, the balance between knowledge and being is even more important than a separate development of either one or the other. Although it is precisely one-sided development that often seems particularly attractive to people.

If knowledge outweighs being, then a person knows but has no power to do. It is useless knowledge. On the other hand if being outweighs knowledge, then a person has the power to do, but does not know what to do.

The level of being they have acquired becomes aimless and efforts made to attain it prove to be fruitless.”

-paraphrase from Ch. 4 of In Search of the Miraculous

 

Imbalance of Knowledge and Being

“The development of knowledge without changing one’s level of being gives a scoundrel (an unprincipled person) or, what is also called, a weak yogi, that is to say, a person who knows a great deal but can do nothing, a person who does not understand what they know, a person without appreciation, a person for whom there is no difference between one kind of knowledge and another.

And the development of being without knowledge gives what is sometimes called a stupid saint, that is, a person who can do a great deal but who does not know what to do nor why (nor with what object or aim); and if this “stupid saint” does anything, then he acts in obedience to his subjective feelings which may lead him greatly astray and cause him to commit grave mistakes, that is, actually to do the opposite of what he wants.

In either case both the scoundrel and the stupid saint are eventually brought to a standstill. Neither one can develop further.

In order to understand this and, in general, the nature of knowledge and the nature of being, as well as their interrelation, it is necessary to understand the relation of knowledge and being to ‘understanding’ or what is called “Comprehension” in Gnosis.”

-paraphrase from Ch. 4 of In Search of the Miraculous
and Ch. 11 ‘Wisdom and Love’ of Fundamental Education

 

Knowledge, Being, Understanding and Comprehension

“People often confuse knowledge with understanding and do not clearly grasp what is the difference between them.

Knowledge by itself does not give understanding. Nor is understanding increased by an increase of knowledge alone.

Understanding depends upon the relation of knowledge to being. It is the result of both knowledge and being. And knowledge & being must not diverge too far, otherwise one will lack understanding.

At the same time the relation of knowledge to being does not change with a mere growth of knowledge. It changes only when being grows simultaneously with knowledge. In other words, understanding grows only with the growth of being and knowledge together.

In ordinary thinking, people do not distinguish understanding from knowledge. They think that greater understanding depends on greater knowledge. Therefore they accumulate knowledge (or that which they call knowledge), but they do not know how to accumulate understanding and do not bother with it.

And yet a person accustomed to self-observation knows for certain that at different periods of their life they have understood one and the same idea, one and the same thought, in totally different ways.

It often seems strange to them that they could have understood so wrongly what they now (in their opinion) understand so rightly. And they realize, at the same time, that their knowledge has not changed, and that they knew as much about the given subject before as they know now.

What, then, has changed? Their being has changed. And once being has changed then understanding must change also.”

-paraphrase from Ch. 4 of In Search of the Miraculous

 

Understanding and the Three Brains

“The difference between knowledge and understanding becomes clear when we realize that knowledge may be the function of one center. True understanding, however, is the function of the Three Brains. This is what we call Comprehension.

Thus the thinking apparatus may know something. But comprehension appears only when a person feels and senses what is connected with it.

We have spoken earlier about mechanicalness. A person cannot say that they comprehend the idea of mechanicalness if they only knows about it with their mind. They must feel it with their whole mass, with their whole being; then they will comprehend it.

In the sphere of practical activity people know very well the difference between mere knowledge and comprehension. They realize that to know and to know how to do are two different things, and that knowing how to do is not created by knowledge alone. But outside the sphere of practical activity people do not clearly understand what “understanding” or “comprehension” means.

As a rule, when people realize that they do not understand or comprehend a thing they try to find a name for what they do not ‘understand’, and when they find a name they say they ‘understand’. But to ‘find a name’ does not mean to ‘comprehend’. Unfortunately, people are usually satisfied with names.

A person who knows a great many names, that is, a great many words, is seen as understanding a great deal… again excepting, of course, any sphere of practical activity wherein their ignorance very soon becomes evident.”

-paraphrase from Ch. 4 of In Search of the Miraculous

 

The Level of Being

So if we want to change our level of being, if we want become something different, then we need to ‘want to be better’.

“We must long for a real change; we must get out of this boring routine, out of this purely mechanical and wearied life: and we must create a permanent center of gravity or magnetic center in order to do this.

What we must first clearly comprehend is that each one of us is at one Level of Being or another…

The Level of Being of the drunkard is different from that of someone who does not drink, and the Level of Being of the prostitute is different from that of the virgin.

Let’s imagine the numerous rungs of a ladder, which extends itself upwards, vertically… Unquestionably, we find ourselves on any one of these rungs. On the lower rungs will be people worse than us, and on the higher rungs: persons better than us will be found…

On this extraordinary Vertical, on this Marvelous Ladder, it is clear that we can find all the various Levels of Being… each person is different; this is something that no one can dispute…

Undoubtedly, we are not talking about pretty or ugly, nor is this a question of age. The subject of time and of years, of being born, of maturing, developing, marrying, reproducing and aging belongs exclusively to the Horizontal… On the “Marvelous Ladder”, on the Vertical, the concept of time does not fit in. On the rungs of this ladder we can only find “Levels of Being”…

The mechanical hope of people serves no purpose; they think that with time things will get better; our grandfather and great grandfathers thought this way; however, facts have arrived to precisely demonstrate the contrary… What counts is the “Level of Being”, and this is the Vertical; we are on a rung, but we can climb to another rung…

The “Marvelous Ladder” which we are talking about and which concerns the different “Levels of Being” certainly has nothing to do with linear time… A higher Level of Being is directly above us from moment to moment… It is not in any remote horizontal future, but here and now within our own selves, on the Vertical.

It is apparent, and anyone can understand, that the two lines – the Horizontal and the Vertical – intersect from moment to moment in our psychological interior and form a Cross…

The personality develops and unfolds on the Horizontal Line of Life. The personality is born and dies with its linear time; it is mortal. A “tomorrow” does not exist for the personality of the dead person.
The personality is not the Being.

The Levels of Being are not of time. Since Being itself is not of time, It has nothing to do with the Horizontal Line. It is found within our own selves. Now, on the Vertical…

It would be absurd, obviously to look for our own Being outside of ourselves… Therefore, it is not irrelevant to establish the following as a deduction: titles, ranks, promotions, etc., in the external physical world cannot in any way originate authentic exaltation, reevaluation of the Being, or a move to a higher rung in the “Levels of Being”…

-paraphrase from Ch. 2 (The Marvelous Ladder) of Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology

 

The Two Lines of Life

“A mathematical point exists within ourselves. Unquestionably such a point is found neither in the past nor in the future…

Whosoever wants to discover that mysterious point must look for it here and now, within themselves, at this exact moment, not a second earlier, nor a second later…

The two horizontal and vertical lines of the Holy Cross intersect at this point… Thus, we find ourselves from moment to moment before two Paths: the Horizontal and the Vertical.

It is obvious that everyone travels the Horizontal path, it is traveled by those who are juvenile and by those who are senile. It is evident that the Vertical is different; it is the path of intelligent rebels, of Revolutionaries.

When one remembers oneself and works upon oneself, when one does not become identified with all the problems and sorrows of life, it is a fact that one is traveling along the Vertical path.

Certainly, it is never an easy task to eliminate negative emotions, to lose all identification: with our trend of life, with all types of problems, with business, debts, loan payments, mortgages, telephone bills, water and power payments, etc.

Unemployed people (those who have lost their position or job for one reason or another), evidently suffer because of lack of money and for them to forget their situation and not worry or identify themselves with their own problem becomes tremendously difficult.

Those who suffer and those who cry, those who have been: victims of some betrayal or injustice, victims of ingratitude, defamation or fraud, really forget themselves; they forget their Inner Being; and they totally identify themselves with their moral tragedy. But, the fundamental characteristic of the Vertical Path is the work on oneself.”

-paraphrase from Ch. 3 (Psychological Rebellion) of Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology

 

The Work upon Oneself

“Nobody treads upon the Path of the Great Rebellion if they never work upon themselves…

The work to which we are referring is of a psychological nature; it deals with a certain transformation of the moment in which we find ourselves. We need to learn to live from moment to moment.

For example, a person who is desperate about some sentimental, economic or political problem has obviously forgotten about themselves. If such a person would stop for a moment, observe the situation, try to remember him or her self and then try to understand the reason for their attitude.

If they would reflect a little and think that everything passes away, that life is fleeting, illusory, and that death reduces all the vanities of the world to ashes…

If they would understand that their problem, in reality, is nothing more than a match flame that soon dies, then they would suddenly see (with great surprise) that everything has changed.

It is possible to transform mechanical reactions through logical confrontation and the Intimate Self-Reflection of the Being…

Whosoever learns how to transform mechanical reactions is in fact entering onto the “Vertical Path”. This represents a fundamental change in the “Level of Being” an extraordinary result of the “Psychological Rebellion”.”

-paraphrase from Ch. 3 (Psychological Rebellion) of Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology

 

Wisdom and Love

“It is necessary to study much and acquire knowledge, but it is also urgent to develop the spiritual being within ourselves.

Scoundrels are the result of knowledge without the harmonious development of the spiritual being within ourselves.

On the other hand, the Being well developed within us but without intellectual knowledge of any kind gives rise to Stupid Saints. A Stupid Saint possesses a very developed spiritual being but since he does not have intellectual knowledge, he cannot do anything because he does not know how…

Intellectual knowledge without the spiritual being well developed produces intellectual confusion, perversity, pride, etc. During the Second World War, thousands of scientists devoid of any Spiritual element committed terrible crimes with the purpose of carrying out scientific experiments in the name of science and humanity.

Unfortunately, because of lack of Love, people use the Intellect in a destructive way.

We need to acquire a powerful intellectual culture, but it must be very well balanced with true Conscious Spirituality. It is necessary for us to acquire the Spiritual Being, to develop the TRUE Being in ourselves, in order for us to be transformed into responsible individuals, and not into Scoundrels.

It is necessary to acquire vocational skills with the purpose of being useful to our fellow beings. It is necessary to study. We are not against the experiences of practical life or against the cultivation of the intellect but what we condemn is the lack of Love.

Knowledge and life experiences become destructive when there is a lack of Love. The Ego usually traps intellectual knowledge and experiences when Love is absent. The Ego abuses experiences and the intellect when it uses them to grow stronger.

We need a Revolutionary Ethic and a Revolutionary Psychology if we really want to dissolve the Ego so we can develop (within ourselves) a Level of Being which is genuinely Spiritual.

It is necessary to study professional and spiritual subjects in order to have a balanced mind. It is Urgent to arrive at an intellectual Synthesis and a spiritual Synthesis if we really want a balanced mind.

Wisdom without love is useless. Intellect without Love only produces Scoundrels. Wisdom and Love should mutually balance each other.

Wisdom without Love is a destructive element. Love without Wisdom can lead us into error: “Love is law, but conscious love”.

Wisdom should only be administered by individuals filled with true Love.”

-paraphrase from Ch. 11 ‘Wisdom and Love’ of Fundamental Education

 

Comprehension: The Unification of Knowledge and Being

“We must comprehend the work we are carrying out upon ourselves.

In Gnosis, above all, it is necessary to develop consciousness of what the Gnostic Esoteric Initiatic Knowledge is and of what understanding or comprehension is.

Only by properly uniting BEING and KNOWLEDGE will the flame of CREATIVE COMPREHENSION arise within us….

If we took a common person from the street, and wanted to make out of them something better, then where should we start?

If that person is full of anger, resentment, enviousness, etc., then what can we do to make that person better?

Well, obviously a lot of patience would be necessary and we would have to awaken the ‘longing to be better’ in them; then the gnostic knowledge could be taught.”

This “longing to be better” is very important if we actually want to succeed on this path, because without it, we do not seek to overcome any obstacles and we just return to our habitual ways of thinking, feeling and acting.

If we study these subjects just for the purpose of gaining knowledge, but without changing out ‘level of being’, then what is the point?

“Being and Knowledge are different. Someone may know a lot, they may have a lot of knowledge, but this person could have a low sense of morality or ethics.

What good is it to know a lot if we have not developed our BEING, if we have HORRENDOUS DEFECTS? It is good for nothing, right?

Someone who has studied many books about the esoteric path and still is able to steal, to slander, to fornicate, to be an adulterer, might know a lot about Yoga and Chakras, they might know a lot about Kabalah, and they could have read a lot of Theosophy, etc., but what good is it?

In Gnosis a very special equilibrium is necessary and that’s why one comes to these kinds of studies.

For this equilibrium it is very important to have a MAGNETIC CENTER already formed.

What we want is to reach is the UNITY OF LIFE FREE IN ITS MOVEMENT, to integrate ourselves, to become sacred individuals, and this is only possible by working on ourselves, eliminating our own psychological mistakes; if we accomplish with that, then we will become Sacred Individuals.

The difference between two persons is in the different Levels of Being.

The closer one is to Sacred Individuality, the more naturally exalted one is; the farther one is from one’s Sacred Individuality, the lower a Level of Being one has.”

-paraphrase from Lecture #48 (‘Integration of Being and Knowledge’) in El Quinto Evangelio

 

Note: In relation to Buffers (the previous class) we cannot change our Level of Being if we do not remove Buffers, because Buffers keep us the same. Buffers allow us to accept a perception of the world which is filtered through inconsistencies and contradictions (hypocrisy).

And it is only by facing these contradictions that we are able to discover our mechanicity and the egos behind them, so that (if we have the “longing to be better”) we can comprehend them and eliminate them (which is what we are going to study next: Comprehension and Elimination of the Egos).