Gnosis Not the Highest State!

The New Dictionary of Theology writes of Gregory of Nyssa (d. 385-ish), who observed the stages of the ascent of the soul:

Gregory is also noted for his influential mystical writings in which he traces three stages in the ascent of the soul from apatheia, freedom from passion, through gnosis, mystical knowledge in which the senses are left behind, to theoria, the highest stage in contemplation in which (since a created soul cannnot see God) one passes into the limitless ascent into the divine darkness.

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  • Is this a form of Buddhism?
    Doesn’t appear related to our flesh-and-blood existence as disciples of Jesus.

  • Which should signal to us the deep roots that connect what we think are different spiritualities.

  • I don’t feel connected to the “limitless ascent into the divine darkness”. I’m not even sure I want to achieve “freedom from passion”, and I don’t know what is meant by “mystical knowledge”.
    What have I missed?

  • Victor: sorry for any confusion. This kind of language is typical mystical/contemplative language. I guess I’ve been reading this kind of stuff for years so I’m familiar with it. Freedom from passion doesn’t mean what, say, Eldridge, would say it means. It doesn’t mean absence of intensity, but freedom from inordinate attachments. Then mystical knowledge is that which is acquired separate from our attachments. Then darkness is considered by most, if not all, mystical writers, to be that which surrounds God, like the Cloud of Unknowing. Hope that helps.

  • David, thanks for the background. Still not sure where any of this connects with me or the New Testament, but at least I understand more of where you’re coming from.