“Early Gnostic writings show that the tendency to isolate Gnostics and repress anyone who did not conform has always existed. … During the third period of the interaction between Gnosticism and Christianity—that is, from the end of the second century to the forth century—there was a significant shift within Gnosticism, In some ways it went back to its roots, for it became increasingly de-Christianised as it began to associate itself more with the esoteric, hermetic, and non-Christian elements within the existent traditions. …
“Gnosticism has always experienced a particular difficulty. Firstly, information must be hidden from those not of like minds; and secondly, the various aspects of knowledge … must also be hidden until such time as the initiate is ready to have it revealed.” ~Bernard Simon
Gnostics and More Gnostics
One problem people have with trying to understand Gnostics and Gnosticism is the idea that all Gnostics are the same. In truth, there were many sects considered Gnostic just as there are many variations of Christianity today. Not only did these different sects teach different things, they often opposed each other. Yet it is possible to go back into early Gnosticism and find the truths in the teachings, many of which have been lost to modern religion.
Gnostics and Christians
Many consider Gnosticism an offshoot of Christianity. This is simply not true. While some Gnostic groups arose from Christianity, there are other who existed for hundreds of years before Christianity. But it is understandable that the two should be associated. The original Christ church started by Jesus and continued by Peter and James was quite Gnostic in its teachings.
We read in the Bible that there were secret teaching that Jesus shared only with the Apostles and the inner circle of disciples. Jesus says those teachings would not be understood by the masses. A very Gnostic idea.
Hidden Teachings in Gnosticism
Like other mystery schools, the Gnostics always had secret teachings that were not shared with others. As Mr. Simon notes, this was on two basic levels. First, much of the teachings were never shared with those outside the group. Only the more superficial parts—the shell, in a sense—was shown to the public. But even among the students, an initiate was not taught everything on the first day.
The student of a Gnostic mystery school spent years studying and practicing the teaching which were revealed to him only when his teacher felt he was ready. There were two reasons for this. First, the student could be harmed by teaching him things he is not yet ready to handle. Secondly, they had to be careful not to reveal too much in the first few years of study in case the student decided to quit, leave the school, and then share the hidden knowledge with others. This hidden knowledge can be very dangerous in the wrong hands, so such precautions were warranted.
Whether they call themselves Gnostics, or not, much of the old teaching are returning to us in modern spiritual schools. Some of these schools are relatively new, other have been around for hundreds of years, but hidden. Now that we are in the so-called End Times, they are coming out of hiding and making an effort to get people to awaken their spirits and souls before it is too late.
Unfortunately, there are also phony spiritual schools to deal with. Some of them are founded by well-meaning groups or individuals, but are based only on the available writings of Gnosticism, and don’t have the hidden teachings. Other are simply money-making scams started by individuals who have no real interest in the spiritual.
So if you decide to join a spiritual school, try to make it a real one. Trust your instinct.