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LightintheBridalChamber

o
V.W.FraterWilliamJ.Morris,VII

"Ifanyonebecomesachildofthebridalchamber,hewillreceivethelight.Ifanyone
doesnotreceiveitwhileheishere,hewillnotbeabletoreceiveitintheotherplace.He
whowillreceivethatlightwillnotbeseen,norcanhebedetained.Andnoneshallbe
abletotormentapersonlikethis,evenwhilehedwellsintheworld.Andagainwhenhe
leavestheworld,hehasalreadyreceivedthetruthintheimages.Theworldhasbecome
theAeon(eternalrealm),fortheAeonisfullnessforhim.Thisisthewayitis:itis
revealedtohimalone,nothiddeninthedarknessandthenight,buthiddeninaperfect
dayandaholylight."
Thisquotationistakenfromtheeditionof TheGospelAccordingtoPhilip,edited
byJamesM.Robinson, TheNagHammadiLibrary,revisededition
(HarperCollins,SanFrancisco,1990).Whatfollowsaremycommentsonthis
passage.
Tome,thispassagesoundslikemanyothersinthemysticaltraditionspeaking to
therealityofinnervisionsofLight.TheJewishandChristianformsofgnosis
believedthatGodisaGodofLight,andthatChildrenoftheLightaredestinedto
reconnectwiththisdivineorheavenlyLightagain.IknowofmanyGnostic,Sufi,
andChristianmysticswhodescribereachingalevelincontemplativeprayer
wheretheDivineLightbecomes
visibletothem.Theyconceiveofthesoulasbeingthe"bride,"andGodasbeing
the"Bridegroom."Whenthetwobecomeoneinthebridalchamberofmystical
union,theLightappears,thensoulandoversoularetrulyoneintheMysteryof
Light.
Orthodoxmysticism,tothisday,viewscontemplationofthedivineLightasaway
toexperienceunionwithGod.Theycallit"Theosis."Sufisalsosaythat:"Bythe
LightofAllahIseeAllah."ByseeingGod'sLight,thesoulisdrawnlikeamagnet
backtothePlaceofthelight.
ThisparagraphfromPhilipalsospeaksofdivineprotectionasaresultofseeing

theLightofheaven.Oneisprotectedfromtheforcesthatseektokeepthesoul
confinedtothelowerplanes.Thesewouldbethearchons(rulers),principalities
andpowers,theDemiurge(falsegod),thehierarchyofnegativeordarkspirits
that,inthegnosticsystem,trytopreventthesoulfromascending throughthe
heavens.IntheEast,thesewouldbetheforcesofMayaorillusion,Yama(thegod
ofdeath),andtheKalNiranjan
(LordofTime).TheKalistheeasternnamefortheverysamegnosticDemiurge,
theuniversalmindgodwhowantedhisownrealm toruleover.
TocontemplatethedivineLightduringthislifeispreparationfortheafterlife,
andlikeotherschoolsofmysticism,thecommunitythatwrotePhilipadvocated
seeingthelightnow,inorderforonetobeassuredthatonewouldgotothe
placeoftheLightinthenextlife.St.SymeontheNewTheologianoftheOrthodox
traditionexpressedthesameideaafoundtheGospelofPhilip.Thisisapoint
thatbothGnosticsandtheEasternOrthodoxChristiansagreedupon.
TheGnosticswhowroteand studiedthebooksoftheNagHammadiLibraryvery
muchsawheavenasapresenttenserealityforthemystictheveilbetween"this
life"and"thenextlife"wasmuchthinnerintheirviewthanitistodayin
conventionalChristianityoftheWestwherethat veilseemstobealmost
completelyimpenetrable,madeofconcrete.Notsofortheancientshowever,who
thoughtthatitwaspossibleforlivinghumanbeingstoseeGod,seevisionsof
Light,conversewithangels,andtravelinspirittotheheavenlyrealms while
aliveinthehumanbody.
Heavenisalsofortheliving,infactonemust,insomeGnosticsystems,have
accesstotheheavensnow,makingjourneysofmysticalascentwhilealive,in
ordertoassuresafepassageintheafterlife.Thus,thegnosticwritingsfocusupon
thejourneyofthesoulascendingthroughseveraldifferentheavenlyrealmson
thewaybacktotheSupremeBeing.Thisconceptofsoulstravellingthrough
severalheavensonthewaybacktotheOneisnotconfinedonlytognostic
literature,it'salsofoundintheNewTestament,booksofEnoch,DeadSea
Scrolls,and,infact,manyoftheapocryphalbooksthatdidn'tmakeintothe
fourthcenturybiblecanonpresentedtheviewthatthereareseveralheavensand
thathumanbeings:Enoch,Isaiah,Baruch,Moses,Paul,Thomas,James,Peter,
Mary,John,other
ChildrenofLight(youandme)canexperiencethisaswell."ButwhenIcame,I
openedthewayandtaughtthem,thechosenandthesolitary,thepassageby
whichtheywillpassthosewhoknowtheFather...."(DialogueoftheSavior,Nag
HammadiLibrary).
AstotheirmethodshowGnosticsdiditthatinformation,forthemostpart,is
notwrittendown.BookslikePistisSophiaandtheGospelofThomasspeakofthe
"MysteriesoftheKingdomofGod,"alludingtothings"taughttothedisciplesin
private.""Jesussaid,'Idisclosemymysteriestothosewhoareworthyofmy
mysteries."(GospelofThomas,saying62)

ThewritingsofDionysiustheAreopagiteandothermysticalJewish,Christian,
Gnostic,andSufitexts,suggestaneedforspiritualKnowledgetobetransmitted
fromteachertostudentviaaprocessofinitiation.Then,likenowintheschools
ofspirituality,theviewwasthatthisKnowledgeisonlysomethingthatafew
peopleareinterestedin,soismeantonlyforthosewhoarereadyforit.
Somethinglikethefamiliaraxiom:"Whenthestudentisready,theMasterwill
appear."
Isuspectthesemysticswantedtokeeptheircontemplativepracticesquietasthey
wouldseemwaytoo"scifi,"to"farout"tomostpeople.Somepartsofthe
GnosticandMandaeanscripturesresembletheneardeathexperiencesthat
peoplereportthesedays:Light,tunnelofLight,BeingofLight,lifereview,
revelations,visionsoftheheavens,soulsassparks ofLightorpureenergy,
angels,beautifulheavenlymusic,anduponbeingreturnedtothewakingstate,a
majorrepentanceorchangingofone'slifetakesplace,withthevisionarybeing
transformedintoalovingandcompassionatesoulasaresultofthesekindsof
encountersintheworldsofLight.