Plato, Gnosticism, and the Soul

“In this Gutenberg translation, Timaeus summarizes Plato’s own thoughts:
As I said at first, all things were originally a chaos in which there was no order or proportion. … Of the divine, He Himself was the author, but he committed to his offspring the creation of the mortal. From Him they received the immortal soul, but themselves made the body to be its vehicle, and constructed within another soul which was mortal, and subject to terrible affections: pleasure, the inciter of evil; pain, which deters from good; rashness and fear, foolish counselors; anger hard to be appeased; hope easily led astray. These they mingled with irrational sense and all-daring love according to necessary laws and so framed man.
“Plato then sets out the rationale behind the physical body in very understandable terms and warns:
The truth concerning the soul can only be established by the word of God.”

~Bernarrd Simon in The Essense of the Gnostics

Plato and Gnosticism

What Mr. Simon is telling us first of all is that many of the Gnostic concepts and beliefs that many associate with the Christian Gnostics actually were well known centuries before the birth of Jesus. He gives some examples from the writings of Timaeus regarding the teaching at the academy of Plato (which sadly lies in ruins today and is now a public park in Athens, Greece.) Now let’s look at what Plato was teaching.

Who Created What

According to the teaching of Plato, God, the true God, is not the creator of all that exists, but only the creator of the divine, the spiritual. The lower words, the physical words were created by others, specifically, God’s “offspring”. This offspring is, according to some, Christ and only Christ, but other say it is all of God’s offspring which would include us. Other take a more middle road and say the creation of the physical was done by the group of fallen angels, collectively called “the Demiurge” in most Gnostic literature. Which is true is probably all of them. Christ is the creative force of God, but creates only the spiritual. The Demiurge created the physical plane, or material words, but as they are not true creators who can create from nothing, they “created” the physical by lowering the vibrations of some of the spiritual worlds turning them into the physical. Now once spiritual beings like us descend to the physical plane and take on physical bodies, we continue to function as co-creators with God, but now that creative force results in our creating things of matter:animals, plants, rocks, etc.

The Two Souls

I have wrote about the two souls before on this blog. If it seems like people are talking about two different souls when you read various scripture and inspirational books, that is because there are two souls. There is the completely spiritual, or Divine Soul that comes from God, and the lesser soul, the mundanes soul, that is functional only on the physical and mental planes of existence. The mundane soul is affected by emotions, and it is this soul that spiritual and inspirational writers are talking about when they say a person has an “angry soul” or a “misguided soul” or anything else that is negative. Such things are completely foreign to the higher Soul. The Divine soul is spiritual and not affected to any great degree by the physical, except that when people do truly evil things such as commit murder, the harsh vibrations from this may cause the divine Soul to leave the body and you become a spiritual zombie incapable of being saved.

It is this divine Soul that must be awakened and nourished in order to achieve Gnosis. That is what Plato means when he says that the truth of this soul can come only from the “word of God”. The Word of God is “spoken” only to the awakened divine Soul, and it is that “word” that lead to complete truth and knowledge: Gnosis.

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