Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom
Excerpts about Gnosis
Direct Knowledge of Reality
In reality, basic knowledge is gnosis -- the common word for direct knowledge of Reality -- especially when it is not patterned by ordinary knowledge. Gnosis can possess degrees of discrimination, depending on how much we focus on the discriminating outlines in the field of knowledge. The less we focus on these demarcations and the more we are immersed in the direct feel of the field, the more that gnosis will be mysterious, intuitive, even vague and indiscernible. Gnosis can be divested of its discriminating characteristics such that only a bare minimum remains; this involves deep direct experience, usually without the capacity to say much about it. This movement toward knowledge without discrimination goes as far as total mystery, where we are touched deeply, totally immersed in the depth of awareness with no content, or even with no sense of awareness.
The Inner Journey Home, pg. 60
Fundamental Gnosis, the Origin of all Knowing
Since there is no differentiation in pure presence, its knowing is the first knowing, the origin of cognition. We see that the origin of cognition is the experience of being, or more precisely, the dimension of pure presence. Knowing begins with being, which is the knowing of being. It becomes clear to us in the realization of the dimension of pure presence that the origin of the cognitive capacity of mind is the knowing of Being. This means that knowing begins as immediacy of experience, a directness of consciousness with a discrimination of the condition of consciousness. Knowing begins as completely inseparable from what is known. Even more, knowing begins with the nondifferentiation of known, knower, and knowledge. Furthermore, knowing begins with the knowing of Being, where Being is known, knower, and knowledge. The timeless truth here is that fundamentally the knower is Being, the known is Being, and the knowledge is Being. We see of course that as cognitive differentiation develops and expands, knowing tends to develop in the direction of discrimination so completely that what is discriminated is experienced as not only discriminated but separate; ultimately this separateness develops to such an extent that knower, known, and knowledge become three distinct things. Thus we see that at the beginning of mind there is being, which we experience as undifferentiated presence. We can say that true nature reveals itself at some point in its ontological manifestation as the beingness of all things by clothing itself with the concept of Being. It manifests its nature beyond mind as being-knowing by manifesting the first concept, a concept that pervades the entirety of its manifold. It is then pure being, which is pure knowing, which is pure knowing of being, which is pure being of knowing. Such is the fundamental gnosis, which is the origin of all knowing. To put it succinctly, with being, mind begins.
The Inner Journey Home, pg. 309
Gnosis Can Possess Degrees of Discrimination
The question of the status of mystical knowing is clarified when we appreciate basic knowledge. Becoming aware of what is called mystical knowledge is the opposite operation from the development of discursive knowledge. Basic knowledge is being and discrimination at the same time. Discursive knowledge develops by emphasizing the discrimination aspect of basic knowledge, while mystical knowledge emphasizes the direct feel and touch of basic knowledge. It focuses on its Being side. In reality, basic knowledge is gnosis—the common word for direct knowledge of Reality—especially when it is not patterned by ordinary knowledge. Gnosis can possess degrees of discrimination, depending on how much we focus on the discriminating outlines in the field of knowledge. The less we focus on these demarcations and the more we are immersed in the direct feel of the field, the more that gnosis will be mysterious, intuitive, even vague and indiscernible. Gnosis can be divested of its discriminating characteristics such that only a bare minimum remains; this involves deep, direct experience, usually without the capacity to say much about it. This movement toward knowledge without discrimination goes as far as total mystery, where we are touched deeply, totally immersed in the depth of awareness with no content, or even with no sense of awareness.
The Inner Journey Home, pg. 60
Identifying Consciousness with Consciousness is the Experience of Presence
The dissociation of Being from the self or soul has separated rational/representational knowing from spiritual/mystical knowing. The articulation of rational thought characterizes our logical and discursive knowing, which relies primarily on thinking; and spiritual knowing is now thought of as involving nonrational, direct experience. In our modern understanding, what we think of as knowing is only knowing that relies on the discursive rational mind; we have largely forgotten that direct and mystical experience is also knowing, or gnosis. Gnosis is knowing by being, by identifying with what we know. This kind of knowing has for the most part in modern culture been relegated to religious and spiritual teachings. And since consciousness is the very faculty of knowing, the only way we can truly know it is through gnosis. We can only know consciousness purely by being it, by identifying consciousness with consciousness. This is the experience of presence, which we know by being the presence.
The Inner Journey Home, pg. 34
Knowing by Being What We Know
In other words, we can move, by following the thread of our meaning, from the normal knowing, which is mediated and representational, to the immediate knowing of presence, where knowing and being are the same thing. This is what is traditionally known as gnosis—knowing by being what we know. When we are secure in this more basic level of knowing, we feel relaxed about knowing. We feel that we do not need to hold on to knowing in order to be ourselves, for knowing is part of our inherent potential, a facet of our being. Then it becomes possible to relax to the point where the knowing capacity itself dissolves.
The Unfolding Now, pg. 192
No Barriers Between You and what it is You are Knowing
You can know your body through being intimate with it, you can know your feelings through being intimate with them, you can know your inner state by being intimate with it. Intimacy means that no barrier exists between you and whatever you are knowing. It’s a direct in-touch-ness, a direct contact. More than that, it is a mixing of your consciousness with whatever it is you’re knowing. There are no barriers, no walls, between you and what it is that you are knowing. This has been traditionally termed knowing through identity, that is, knowing by being what you know. It has also been termed gnosis (jnana in Sanskrit; yeshe in Tibetan; ma‘rifa in Arabic). For example, you know anger by being anger, by experiencing it as part of you when your awareness and consciousness pervade the experience of anger. The nature of the soul is such that when a feeling arises, we can experience that feeling from within the feeling itself. We can intimately mix our consciousness with the specifics of our experience and recognize directly what the experience is. This is the ground of knowingness, which is direct knowing, and it is necessary in the process of understanding. Without this kind of knowingness, this gnosis, there is no possibility of real understanding; understanding remains only a mental operation, which is good for mathematics but is not enough for spiritual transformation.