Taoism Virtual Library
ReligiousWorlds: Sources for Religion, Religions, Religious Studies
Gnosticism (from gnostikos, "learned", from Ancient Greek: γνῶσις gnōsis, knowledge) describes a collection of ancient religions that taught that people should shun the material world created by the demiurge and embrace the spiritual world. Gnostic ideas influenced many ancient religions that teach that gnosis (variously interpreted as knowledge, enlightenment, salvation, emancipation or 'oneness with God') may be reached by practicing philanthropy to the point of personal poverty, sexual abstinence (as far as possible for hearers, completely for initiates) and diligently searching for wisdom by helping others. However, practices varied among those who were Gnostic. In Gnosticism, the world of the demiurge is represented by the lower world, which is associated with matter, flesh, time and more particularly an imperfect, ephemeral world. The world of God is represented by the upper world, and is associated with the soul and perfection.
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