IMPORTANT GNOSTIC SECTS OF THE WEST ?
The Gnostic Manichaeans
Beginning in the 3rd Century a virtual explosion of Gnosticism took hold of Asia and Europe through the “Religion of the Prophet Mani.” Known as Manichaeism, this planetary gnostic faith would endure for 1000 years and bring gnosticism to countless people living in the lands that stretched from China to Britain.
The Prophet Mani was born in 217 CE to a father of the Gnostic Mandaeans and a Persian Princess. His mission began when his guardian angel, who identified itself as the Paraclete, the “Comforter” promised by Jesus, appeared to Mani and instructed him to complete the work of all the great prophets who had come before him, including Zoroaster, Moses, Buddha and Jesus. They had all brought pieces of the gnostic “puzzle” on Earth, and now it was time for Mani to synthesize all these pieces into one all-encompassing universal faith designed for everyone.
Mani’s religion encouraged the development of both the right and left hemispheres of the brain through both intellectual and intuitive training, thus supporting the development of gnosis. The teachers of his sect were from both sexes; they were highly educated and intuitive, and most were adepts on the gnostic-alchemical path. Besides committing themselves to studying, translating and copying all the available spiritual writings of their era, the priests of Manicheaeism also observed a celibate lifestyle, a vegetarian diet, and long days and nights of meditation, fasting and prayer. They embraced a traditional gnostic ideology which maintained that all humans were divine spirits imprisoned in physical forms, and they followed Mani’s guidance to extricate their souls from the shackles of dense matter. Until their release from matter was permanent they knew they were destined to continue to revolve on the wheel of reincarnation indefinitely.
Manichaeism was composed of lay persons known as Auditors or “Hearers,” and their teachers, priests and adepts were known as the Pure or “Elect.” The Pure lived an intensely austere lifestyle that allowed only one meal per day and required at least 100 days of fasting over the course of a year, with at least one of those fasts continuing for a period of 30 days. They were required to daily chant eight very long hymnal prayers, and when not meditating or studying texts they were enjoined to enroll in service work to benefit their communities. The Elect were supported materially by the lay persons, who lived normal, worldly lives until they were ready to surrender to the life of a Pure. At the time of his or her advancement a Hearer would be absolved of all sin and have the Holy Spirit power transmitted into them by a facilitating Elect to catalyze the awakening of the inner Serpent Power or Kundalini. Any future sin could be rectified with mentanoia, “repentance,” except for one, observes the gnostic author Kurt Rudolph: “Unforgivable is only the sin of the conscious resistance against the redeeming knowledge, the illumination by the light-nous, the Holy Spirit….”
Mani was supported early in his ministry by the Persian King Shappur, but when the King died, his son Bharam colluded with the Persian high priest Kartir to cleanse the world of all “heretical” sects, including Manicheanism. Mani was sent to prison, and after years of torture he died an agonizing death in his cell. In the year 277 his dismembered and flayed corpse was put on public display, which at the time was the traditional fate of all condemned heretics.
From: “World Gnosis: The Coming Gnostic Civilization” by Mark Amaru Pinkham ?