Gnosis is the oldest religious experience known to mankind. The original Gnostics were the world's first priests, and the practice of Gnosticism is simply the earth's most ancient religion that precedes all other faiths. Every country and culture had their own secret Gnostic sects and mystery schools, and still do to this very day.
The word Gnosis is a Greek word for knowledge which usually refers to any type of direct communion with the divine. Philo refers to this as secret "knowledge" (gnosis) and "wisdom" (sophia) of God. It is not only knowledge of the divine, but also of thyself, the world, nature and the Great Work (Great Arcanum or magnum opus). The Hebrews describe Gnosis with the Da'at. A Hebrew word for knowledge, that in the Kabbalah describes a mystical state one has as they ascend up the tree of life to then reach the self-giving Divine Light. The ancient Egyptians had described the Gnostic experience in many texts of their proverbs such as; "The body is the house of God," and "Man, know thyself ... and thou shalt know the gods."
Gnosis comes from within each one of us through the secret knowledge of all things hidden. But this knowledge is not something that you will just find outside of yourself. Gnosis in its purest form is the intuitive spiritual knowledge that comes with knowing thyself and thyspirit. Plato describes this process when he says "all learning is remembering." He calls this a recollection and restoration of the views a person once had, and original knowledge that was once lost. Today science describes part of this Gnostic experience that Plato had described as intuition.
The Valentinians (Valentinus) taught that gnosis was the privileged Gnosis kardias, "knowledge of the heart" or "insight" about the spiritual nature of the cosmos that brought about salvation to the pneumatics— the name given to those believed to have reached the final goal of sanctity. The Sethians understood themselves to be children of Adam and Eve, through Seth who had walked the Right Hand Path (RHP) which is the path of the heart. The path of water. All desire, learning and the Great Work is done through our hearts, rather than just the mind.
Here is a Valentinian Gnostic expression that helps capture the essence of true Gnosis:
What makes us free is the knowledge (Gnosis)
of who we were
of what we have become
of where we were
of where we have been cast
of whereto we are hastening
of what we are being freed of
of what birth really is
of what rebirth really is.
It is this path of inner reflection and personal purification that helps us discover the hidden knowledge encoded into our very DNA; with the ultimate goal of our gnosis to lead us down the path of enlightenment. Once we truly begin to know thyself, the world and our mission, we then begin to connect our souls with our Gnosis kardias; "knowledge of the heart" which then connects our soul with our heart, body and mind.
The end result being "human harmony." The marriage of the divine feminine and divine masculine united in holy matrimony. The unification of the soul as Lord of the material body in which only the divine will of the heart will lead us down our paths and through our lives. The same path of Gnosis through the heart in which we flow like water like Saint John, Simon Magus, Jesus, Buddha and many of the other Gnostic saviors have walked.
In the book, the Gospel of Thomas that was found in the Nag Hammadi library, Jesus explains this transformation of the heart into Gnosis when he says: “I will give you what no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, what no hand has touched, what has not arisen in the human heart.”
The musical notes to the harmony of the true Gnostic soul experience that is hidden within each one of us, but it is lost in the Land of Nod until we are able to earn the right to tap our inner wells of Gnosis. Once found, our souls are awakened from our deep slumbers so that we may step down from our crosses in order to be resurrected again in the divine light. This is what it truly means to be reborn, awakened or enlightened. This illuminated state now gives us the spiritual abilities to know thyself in order to fine tune ourselves and our lives so that we can take part in our own evolution.
It is self-knowledge through ongoing self-awareness and self-consciousness that can only be reached by quiet contemplation, and deep thought. Self-Awareness Theory states that when we focus our attention on ourselves, we evaluate and compare our current behavior to our internal standards and values. As Gnostics, we become self-conscious as objective evaluators of ourselves. This is the self-knowledge and intuition of knowing that equals gnosis, and this can only be obtained through a self-understanding and through much quiet contemplation. Gnosis is the self-knowledge that each one of us needs to develop in order to evolve our souls to the next level for our next incarnation.
When we do find ourselves via an inner knowing and self-knowledge of the soul, DNA, body, mind, and spirit, we then reach what is called in classical Greek, "Henosis (Ancient Greek Spelling - ἕνωσις)." Henosis is the word for "oneness," "union," or "unity." This path that we embark on that eventually leads us to this inner place of unity, would be where one can say that we "find God." Plato confirms this in his book the Republic, by stating; "In principal all human have the ability to see through the world perceived by the senses in such a way: those who penetrate to a deeper knowledge of the structures of reality are as like God as it is possible for humans to be."
However, let it be said that there are many who enter the gate on the path to gnosis and enlightenment, but those who find it are few, like it has been said in Matthew 7:13; "Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few."
It is from within that we know thyself, and to know thyself truly, we Gnostics have to develop not only our abilities to quiet thyself, but we also have to develop our inner knowing that comes from intuition. It is this never-ending process of quiet contemplation of looking within and then intuiting these inner signals that helps us to not only know thyself, but also to understand thyself-- for you cannot have one without the other.
Knowing thyself and understanding thyself is unique to each one of us. It is each our own paths that we must individually embark on to reach our intended destination of enlightenment. It is through gnosis that we reach enlightenment. This occurs when we humans combine gnosis with living through the love of the heart in harmony with nature and our environments that surround us. We become Henosis, one and in unity with our true realities and nature in order to see through the man-made illusion that we know of today as "the system (demiurge or matrix)."
This story of gnosis and our lost selves can be found in The Allegory of the Cave—also known as the Analogy of the Cave, Plato's Cave, or the Parable of the Cave. Plato lets Socrates describe a group of people who have lived chained to the wall of a cave all of their lives, facing a blank wall. The people watch shadows projected on the wall by things passing in front of a fire behind them and begin to ascribe forms to these shadows. According to Plato's Socrates, the shadows are as close as the prisoners get to viewing reality. He then explains how the philosopher is like a prisoner who is freed from the cave and comes to understand that the shadows on the wall do not make up reality at all, as he can perceive the true form of reality rather than the mere shadows seen by the prisoners.
It is through gnosis (knowledge of thyself), that one can break the chains of the illusion (society) which enslaves them in mental chains in order to become the philosopher (a lover of wisdom) like in the story above. Once the chains are broken (mental freedom), the newly born gnostic can tap this inner knowledge and knowing of wisdom in order to become a true philosopher, rather than just "another prisoner or citizen" of the illusion (matrix) that we know of today as "the system."
Gnosis is a unique place that we humans find pure love of thyself, thy world and thy brother, in order to live in harmony with one's self and one's environment. This is the language of the self that makes a man a master of himself, and thus a king of his own domain. The end result of the great work is inner peace.
As the great gnostic Jesus said in the Gospel of Thomas; "Know what is in front of your face and what is hidden from you will be disclosed to you. For there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed. And there is nothing buried that will not be raised."
This when you become a born again modern Gnostic Warrior!
Here are some more explanations on the meaning of Gnosis and Gnosticism by some of the world's top scholars:
In the Secret Teachings of All Ages, Manly P. Hall said: "An effort was made during the middle Ages to resurrect the principles of Gnosticism, but owing to the destruction of their records the material necessary was not available. Even today there are evidences of Gnostic philosophy in the modern world, but they bear other names and their true origin is not suspected. Many of the Gnostic concepts have actually been incorporated into the dogmas of the Christian Church, and our newer interpretations of Christianity are often along the lines of Gnostic emanationism."
Elaine Pagels had written in The Gnostic Gospels: “Gnosis is not primarily rational knowledge. The Greek language distinguishes between scientific or reflective knowledge ('He knows mathematics') and knowing through observation or experience ('He knows me'). As the Gnostics use the term, we could translate it as 'insight', for Gnosis involves an intuitive process of knowing oneself. Yet to know oneself, at the deepest level is to know God; this is the secret of Gnosis.”
In Gnosticism: New Light on the Ancient Tradition of Inner Knowing, Stephan Hoeller had said, “Salvific knowing, arrived at intuitively but facilitated by various stimuli, including the teaching and mysteries brought to humans by messengers of divinity from outside the cosmos.”
Author and modern Gnostic, Miguel Conner describes Gnosis as: “Salvific knowledge that ignites a cosmic awakening of an individual’s indwelling divinity, as well as stimulates the realization of surrounding false realities crafted and ruled by oppressive forms of consciousness (gods, the ego, earthly establishments, etc.). Ultimately, Gnosis is ultimately a personal experience that is best transmitted through the more subjective and even blurry mediums of art, allegory, and mythology.”
Andrew Phillip Smith, had written in A Dictionary of Gnosticism: “Direct knowledge of the divine, which itself provides salvation. For the ancient Gnostics, Gnosis existed within the framework of cosmology, myth, anthropology, and praxis used within their groups. There Gnosis was not only illumination but was accompanied by an understanding, as expressed in the Excerpta de Theodoto (see above).”
Jeremy Puma had written in his book, This Way, Gnosis is not the result but brings the results. Knowledge of any kind serves to expand awareness and consciousness, but lasting transformation happens beyond or at the end of processing all information and data.
In Gnosticism from its Origins to the Middle Ages, Gilles Quispel said: “Gnosis is a knowledge that sends one to the Inferno of matter and the Purgatory of morals to arrive at the spiritual Paradise.”