Thursday, June 9, 2011

Balancing logos and gnosis



"The Greeks have two words for knowledge: logos and gnosis.  What can be learned through education and scientific inquiry is logos.  What can be known through intuitive feelings and spiritual or mystical experiences is gnosis.  Logos is rational, objective, logical, expressible in words or numbers, while gnosis is subjective, nonrational, nonverbal, feeling-tinged, expressible through poetry, images, metaphor and music, and is often unproveable by its very nature.  

Every sacred experience is subjective: the sense of oneness with the universe, or with divinity, a spiritual epiphany, a timeless moment infused with beauty, spiritual insight, and grace is gnosis.  Ineffable yet profoundly transformative -- these are soul experiences.  Trust what you know in your bones from experiences such as these."
  -- Jean Shinoda Bolen, Crones Don't Whine

Those of us who are familiar with this way of knowing -- through images and poetry, intuition and insight -- can sense the wholeness behind the linearity of words and numbers; can occasionally feel trapped, unable to acknowledge, express, or trust what we know to be true.

But it's also the case that our intuition sometimes plays us false, springing out of old patterns and expectations rather than from actual viable reality.  And so we need, as much as possible, the whole picture, the both/and, the structure and the color, stasis and movement, left and right brain, male and female, logos and gnosis, yin and yang...

We need, therefore, to be kind to the parts of us that hide behind the words and logic of experience; to invite them into awareness and pay attention to what they have to tell us; their stories are certain to add depth to the picture.  But that doesn't mean we abandon the framework of our lives -- we just open it up a bit, so we can see the depth and richness that lies within...

2 comments:

Maureen said...

Love the title of Bolen's book.

I've been wondering how your images might look in a kind of shadow box-style book as unique piece of art. This image has so many layers; I can imagine it as a very tactile panel in an installation of some kind.

drw@bainbridge.net said...

Ooh, cool idea, Maureen. I have, in the past, created pieces where parts of the piece are applied as separate layers, lifted away from the page; this one would definitely lend itself to that treatment!