Notable Books 19

Hoeller, Stephan A. The Gnostic Jung and the Seven Sermons to the Dead. Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, Quest Books, 1982, 7th printing, 2009. © 1982. Pp. xxviii + 239. $15.95.

Gnostic Jung

This is exactly the sort of book TPH should be publishing: readable by the general public, authoritative (in that the author knows his subject both deeply and broadly), enriched by personal details, and clearly relevant to traditional Theosophical interests. First, however, a disclaimer: In his preface, Hoeller acknowledges me for having read his manuscript and made suggestions about it. In neither my records nor recollection is any allusion to my having done so; still I must have.

Gnosis is from a Greek work cognate with English know. So it means “knowledge.” But not knowledge about the observable facts of the universe, rather a special knowledge of spiritual mysteries. Historically, the Gnostics were any of several types of first- to third-century AD mystics whom conventional Christians of that time regarded as heretics. Gnosticism includes a “conviction that direct, personal and absolute knowledge of the authentic truths of existence is accessible to human beings, and, moreover, that the attainment of such knowledge must always constitute the supreme achievement of human life” (p. 11). Jung was born synchronistically in 1875.

Of special interest to readers of this Theosophy Forward Web site are the following remarks: “Theo-Sophic tradition was recognized by Jung to have taken many forms throughout the ages, but also to have been particularly manifest in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries within the movement of modern Theosophy, enunciated by the Russian noblewoman and world-traveler, Madame H. P. Blavatsky. In such works as The Undiscovered Self and Civilization in Transition Jung clearly recognized modern Theosophy as an important contemporary manifestation of Gnosticism, and he likened it to a submarine mountain range spreading beneath the waves of the mainstream culture, with only the projecting mountain peaks becoming visible from time to time through the attention received by Mme. Blavatsky, Annie Besant, Krishnamurti and others” (p. 26).

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