I know that Candlemas was last Sunday (1.February) that this celebration all around the Christian world commenced. But I still have some impressions and thoughts around the theme.
The Gnostic Lectionary, used by the contemporary Gnostic Church for which I am called to serve in the capacity of servant (Deacon); Ecclesia Gnostica – offers this reading of the Gospel (In the Eastern Church at the time the Evangel is to be uttered, the congregation cry for “Wisdom!”, very appropriate!), The Gospel according to the Apostle Thomas:
Jesus said: I shall choose you, one out of a thousand, and two out of ten thousand, and they shall stand as a single one.
His disciples said: “Show us the place where thou art, for it is necessary for us to seek it.” He said to them: “Whoever has ears let him hear. Within a man of light there is light and he lights the whole world. When he does not shine, there is darkness.” Jesus said: “Love thy brother as thy soul, guard him as the apple of thine eye.”
At the time I read this I had been studying Henry Corbin`s classic The Man of Light in Iranian Sufism, a lot of that which he gave me in that book jumped back up at the recognition of the text I read.
This is my understanding; that this Light is established In Man, with Man is meant the particular and the sum of the parts, rather than dissolving into it in an absolute manner, we amplify and extend it through our own individuation,
in receiving and giving. Each one of us is thus, in that we are Man, each on our own, and we constitute Man, in our communion as humanity -are “lights to the world”; the world itself would not receive it because it did not recognize it, rather we became the recipients of such lamps.
In Corbin`s book The Man of Light in Iranian Sufism pp.18 , he reproduces an excerpt from the Ghàyat al-Hakîm (Goal of the Sage) of Majriti :
“When I wished to bring to light the science of the mystery and modality of creation, I came upon a subterranean vault filled with darkness and winds.
I saw nothing because of the darkness, nor could I keep it alight because of the violence of the winds. Lo and behold, a person then appeared before me in my sleep in a form of the greatest beauty. He said to me: “Take a lamp and place it under a glass to shield it from the winds: then it will give thee light in spite of the winds. Then go into the underground chamber; dig in its center and from there bring forth a certain God-made image, designed according to the rules of Art. As soon as you have drawn at this image, the winds will cease to blow through the underground chamber. Then dig in its four corners and you will bring to light the knowledge of the mysteries of creation, the causes of Nature, the origins and modalities of things.” At that I said: “Who then art thou?” He answered “I am thy Perfect Nature. If thou wishest to see me, call me by name.”
From a Gnostic`s perspective, to recognize is to receive, in the manner of an embrace, not a passive and cold intellectual “observation”. The specific type of Love, determined by the interior relationship and proper occasion, between the two; would reflect and refract the essences between them, in such a way that indeed the “Two become One”; so there is talk of a Man of Light, who is Light to others and to the world in the same capacity that the Heavenly Light, embodied by Christ and emitted at the event of the Transfiguration at the Mount (to which we now hasten) is Light to Him.
This receiving vs. “not receiving” is reflected, I feel, in this saying from the Gospel according to Philip:
“Jesus took them all by stealth, for he did not appear as he was, but in the manner in which they would be able to see him. He appeared to them all. He appeared to the great as great. He appeared to the small as small. He appeared to the angels as an angel, and to men as a man. Because of this, his word hid itself from everyone. Some indeed saw him, thinking that they were seeing themselves, but when he appeared to his disciples in glory on the mount, he was not small. He became great, but he made the disciples great, that they might be able to see him in his greatness.
He said on that day in the thanksgiving, “You who have joined the perfect light with the Holy Spirit, unite the angels with us also, as being the images.”
which also reflects upon the mystical epistemology of the Gnostic:
“It is not possible for anyone to see anything of the things that actually exist unless he becomes like them. This is not the way with man in the world: he sees the sun without being a sun; and he sees the heaven and the earth and all other things, but he is not these things. This is quite in keeping with the truth. But you saw something of that place, and you became those things. You saw the Spirit, you became spirit. You saw Christ, you became Christ. You saw the Father, you shall become Father. So in this place you see everything and do not see yourself, but in that place you do see yourself – and what you see you shall become.”
Sight,Knowledge and Being are directly related to the reality of our spiritual self. It is not bereft of sight, when it approaches the One.
That we take care to thus recognize eachother – as realities, as mysteries, as plenitudes – not in poverty and misery, witholding love, but rather – in the love which embrace our visions highest and loftiest, appears to me to be the practical application of this loving our brother as our soul.
Concerning this Light, the Gospel of Truth has this:
“He labored even on the Sabbath for the sheep which he found fallen into the pit. He saved the life of that sheep, bringing it up from the pit in order that you may understand fully what that Sabbath is, you who possess full understanding. It is a day in which it is not fitting that salvation be idle, so that you may speak of that heavenly day which has no night and of the sun which does not set because it is perfect. Say then in your heart that you are this perfect day and that in you the light which does not fail dwells.”
I am now the voice of these words which has been handed down to us with such care, such love (So very true of this “hidden gospel” in its writing, in its transcription – and in its protection from the book pyres of the Fourth Century!)
, Corbin opined “To speak, is truelly to translate – from a language of angels to the tongue of men” – to speak truelly, which is to address from a position of the newly born wisdom, to draw up from the deepest well, a serving of living water.
According to the Revised Common Lectionary a progression including 8 liturgical “occasions” is incorporated in the one and same Ecclesiastical/Calendric “season” – from January 4th (The Epiphany) to February 28th (Transfiguration). Apparently this follows the pattern discerned from the Synoptic Gospels, to which is added the Gospel according to John.