Valentinus the learner? LO27300

From: Mark (
Date: 09/27/01

Hi At and all

Thank you for your reply. I'm often in awe of the ground you encompass in
your responses, and appreciate your efforts to reach out of your frame of
reference to meet in the space in between. I have briefly responded to
your message with some further points and questions.

You wrote:

>Gnosticism was a philisophical system based on the claim that knowledge
>(Greek: "gnostikos") and only knowledge was the way to salvation.

In my understanding Gnosticism as you state it therefore requires "belief"
in direct knowledge as the way to salvation (and perhaps only knowledge -
although I think that I do not see the same exclusivity in what I have
explored of Gnosticism). I presently hold the view that to cultivate a
learning orientation in a world where Gnostic beliefs conflict with other
beliefs, I find that I need to hold them softly. I find that such softness
is often not seemingly available to people who appear to have given their
allegiance to a particular set of beliefs (as embodied in a religious our
spiritual tradition). So perhaps some Gnostics will make exclusive claims,
whereas others will not. But for me this does not make Gnosticism any less
valuable, particularly given that most of these belief systems seem to
share in common the attribute of making exclusive claims. What it does
cause me to come back to is this view to a particular set of exclusive
beliefs (such as are represented by religious and spiritual traditions)
tend to get in the way of a learning orientation.


>The fundamental claim of Gnosticism makes it a rationalistic reduction.

I find this difficult to reconcile with your view that knowledge (direct
knowing is perhaps more the flavour of it) is a rationalistic reduction.
The way I understand it rationalisation requires a separation between the
rationaliser and the rationalised whereas Gnosticism, and other paths
advocating direct knowing, tend to advocate that we human beings are
capable of moving beyond this separation. It is this tendency towards
promoting the value of direct knowing that leads in that direction that I
was suggesting as being supportive of a learning orientation.


>Gnosticism impairs the wholeness of the spirit by fragmenting knowledge
>from all other levels of spirituality, including the level of believing.
>As such I am convinced that it is not marginally relevant to a learning
>orientation. Wholeness is for me in the learning individual and in the
>Learning Organisation a key to their survival. I have often stressed that
>questioning itself is the best tool for authentic learning.

Perhaps we mean different things by the term "a learning orientation". Is
it not possible that the wholeness of spirit is fragmented by beliefs
about spirit - in the sense that spirit can be understood as the ground of
being and that beliefs about the ground of being only fragment me from
that ground, whereas entering into that ground enables me to participate
in that wholeness? Of course this contradicts my earlier statement about
the requirement to believe in the pathway of direct knowing. But then
perhaps I could pass through this filter by suggesting that through
separation from this belief, and the adoption of what I understand as a
learning orientation, I can treat the belief as a theory which I can then
test and refine according to the results.


>As I now understand it, the public/collective
>("mitsein") dimension of religion is open to be misused by rote learning.
>The effects of this on the personal/individual ("dassein") dimension of
>believing is disastrous. It destroys the guiding capacity of the higher
>ordered level of believing on the lower order level of learning. As a
>consequence the guiding capacity of learning on the even lower level of
>creativity is destroyed. Humans with unguided creativity can then easily
>become criminals, terrorists, etc.

Can you share a bit more about "the higher ordered level of believing"?
This seems to be essential to your frame of reference, but is not explicit
in ways that I can understand. Is this a bit like intuition or perhaps
conscience? I seem to see a glimpse of what you are pointing towards in
terms of how the mitsein dimension of religion can be misused by rote
learning. But I don't see where the guiding capacity of belief comes from,
except where the learner assumes that there is some direct connection
between themselves and spirit through which such a higher order guidance
can flow. Then I would say that this comes back to direct knowledge at
some level. But perhaps I misunderstand.

Thankyou for sharing in this exploring with me.

Warm regards


Mark Feenstra
DDI +64 9 912 7373
PO Box 99193, Newmarket
Auckland, New Zealand


"Mark" <>

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