By David Halpin
Enlightenment does not lead to an easier life. In fact, mindfulness is often the cause of
depression and personal chaos. It is not a place of candy-floss clouds and My Little
Pony wisdom. It is brutal and cruel, performing a seemingly never ending repetition
of insights that can often be difficult to face.
As Miguel Conner observed about Neo’s awakening in The Matrix, the red pill
doesn’t bring you to paradise, it shows you exactly where you really are: "Oh my God,
there is something greater inside of me than I could ever have thought, but also I’m
living in the middle of a false reality. A construct, whether it’s by governments, gods,
people, or my own ego and I have to get out of this."
One of the first realizations people have when breaking out of an old paradigm is that
you don’t need to discover you’ve been living in a science fiction dystopia or
holographic reality; it is the psychological leveling up that contributes to the
breakthrough. It is the transformation of the self which brings gnosis. But this can also
bring a sense of psychological vertigo if a person is not adequately prepared.
When the 14th century scholar Petrarch famously climbed Mount Ventoux he
discovered a new perspective on his life and environment up to that point.
Coincidentally, he then opened up a book by the early Manichean Gnostic St.
Augustine, where it said: “And men go about to wonder at the heights of the
mountains, and the mighty waves of the sea, and the wide sweep of rivers, and the
circuit of the ocean, and the revolution of the stars, but themselves they consider not.”
Petrarch had a moment of gnosis which led him to later write: “We look about us for
what is to be found only within. [...] How many times, think you, did I turn back that
day, to glance at the summit of the mountain which seemed scarcely a cubit high
compared with the range of human contemplation.”
Alas, there was no going back for poor old Petrarch. Maybe if he’d had Netflix,
Facebook or a Playstation he might have found a way to unlearn his revelation but for
Petrarch instead it was a case of fleeing the plague and living in religious
contemplation for the rest of his years.
So, we swallow the red pill. Then what? Often, seeing reality in all its existential
bleakness leads a person to instantly desire to return to their previous state of
ignorance. They want to follow the football team, they want to get lost in soap operas
or they want to fall into substances and activities that occupy or destroy their minds
completely. They want to get out! Forget Huxley’s Doors of Perception, some people
end up wishing they had never even looked out the window.
Gnosis, then, rather than being a destination might often be better described as a way
of travelling. When we shake ourselves loose of the expectations of archonistic,
corporate society and the instinctive societal responses like the average brainwashed
church goer we will find ourselves alone. We can’t bring our previous life with us.
We must learn, as all secret wisdom teaches, to die before we die.
This essential truth appears in the earliest mystical writing, The Pyramid Texts, and
appears throughout history, whether in Masonic doctrine or the shamanistic utterances
of indigenous tribes-people.
This is enlightenment. This is gnosis.
This…is often hard to accept!
Ego death means cutting the emotional strings of all we have connected to. It means
becoming aware of the illusion all around us.
“Beware that no one lead you astray, saying ‘Lo here!’ or ‘Lo there!’ For the Son of
Man is within you. Follow after him! Those who seek him will find him.” - The Gospel of Mary
Before we read a saying like the one above and apply it in a conventional
anthropomorphic sense, it is worth remembering that when Gnostics refer to the ‘Son
of Man’ they are referring to the divine within or the potential for enlightenment.
They are most definitely not referring to a figure who will decide your worthiness
based upon how many church commands you obeyed or whether you ate fish on a
The Logos, in Gnostic terms, is the pattern, it is the way. A relationship to the Tao is
unequivocal and most apparent in this context. We must understand that this is a new
way of being and interacting with the world.
Enlightenment can never be found by following the words of another; this is servitude
and archonistic. True Gnosticism demands that we write our own gospel and see the
world beyond human made illusions and constructs.