|Big Reichenbach, by JMW Turner|
In my article, Two Kinds of Gnosticism, I distinguish between a pessimistic Gnosticism and an optimistic Gnosticism. We are most familiar with the pessimist type, the kind that portrays matter as a prison for the Soul. In this view, matter, including the human body, is tainted with evil. It is sinful and in need of redemption. This view is to be rejected.
Matter, including the human body, is divine. God permeates every fiber of our being and that of the material world. The word “matter” has its origins in the Latin word, mater, which means “mother.” Matter is the Mother of all corporeality, the womb from which all forms emerge.
We think of “materialism” as something negative because it is based on the Cartesian worldview where mind and matter are dichotomized. We need to adopt a materialism based on a monistic view, where all of Nature is alive with the resplendence that illuminates our world. We need to recognize the wonder of the Divine that is our universe, and then to protect it from harm.
Our view of matter will determine our basic philosophy of life. If it is disparaged, then we will think of ourselves as corrupt, sinful beings being punished by a spiteful god. This has been the result of over two thousand years of Plato’s view of matter. Basically, he saw it as a cheap imitation of the Forms, which he believed existed in an otherworldly realm. If we possess a viewpoint that holds the Universe as divine and sacred, it changes our entire outlook on life! In Descartes’ pessimistic view, everything in the Universe is a mere cog in a huge machine, even humans and animals.This idea must be stamped out permanently, for it damages us and our world.
Giordano Bruno sees the Universe as composed of homogenous atomic matter, which has its own internal principle of motion and energy. For Bruno, the font of activity for his atoms was none other than Soul. Every atom in the Universe is brimming over with dynamic Soul. Every atom is divine and has purpose.
Bruno influenced many thinkers, and was even a precursor to Marx’s and Engel’s dialectical materialism. Bruno had an enormous influence on Hegel. After his death, The Hegelian Left made the primacy of matter a foundational stone for their political philosophy. In the end, however, these men did not see the amazing potential of Bruno’s view of matter, for to them it remained dead and lifeless, since they removed the Divine from the equation.
We are now ready to explore and tap the power of a Brunian-like theory of matter. Our world is finally coming to terms with the latent energy in Nature. Atomic energy is just a metaphor for what really is innate to every bit of matter in our Universe. This is a mere representation of the power of Soul, for it burns brighter than any atomic explosion. If we all saw ourselves as being permeated with this Soul energy, just think what we could do!
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