Gnostikos—The Text

The full title of Evagrius’ Gnostikos is The Gnostic: To the One Made Worthy of Gnosis. In this context, a “Gnostikos” is a form of exegete and teacher who empowers others on the contemplative path to add as one of their resources for inner-growth and development pertinent scriptural passages. In a comparative context, for example, a Gnostikos within Unborn Mind Lankavatarian Zen  searches Buddhist sutras and other pertinent texts for sharing Buddhagnosis. The intent for both paths is to meet the adept “where they are at”:

The gnostikos, then, must be aware not only of his own partial ignorance, but of the degrees of others’ ignorance; in practice, this means that he deals with two kinds of students: those still undergoing purification, who are not capable of the most profound meaning to which scriptural texts point, and those who have reached apatheia, and are prepared to be taught by the spiritual father. (Robin Darling Young, Evagrius the Iconographer: Monastic Pedagogy in the Gnostikos)

“In summary, Evagrius’ gnostikos must constantly exercise the virtue of prudence and the art of discernment in determining what his hearers may profitably be taught” (from the section on Gnostikos, L. Dysinger, Psalmody and Prayer in the Writings of Evagrius Ponticus). We will now turn to the text itself, choosing those verses which are pertinent to the Unborn. Firstly, the verse from Evagrius is presented (highlighted in bold), which is then followed by comparative texts from Unborn Mind Zen, such as the Dharmakaya Sutra, The Dhammapada in Light of the Unborn, The Unborn Bhagavad-Gita, or a reflection that is germane to the Way of the Unborn. It needs to be noted that like Evagrius’ text, this blog essentially addresses the gnostikos, or spiritual teachers themselves.


The ascetics will understand the deep purposes of asceticism; the knowers [gnostikoi] will behold matters of knowledge.

The Gnostikos can be considered as an esoteric text (Robin Darling Young) in that the passages offered reflect deeper spiritual truths that are not known on the surface, but must be discerned inwardly before these truths can be revealed.

But the knower [gnostikos] has the significance [logos] of salt for the impure and light for the pure. (cf. Mt 5:13-14)

[Perhaps Paul himself knew Jesus’ description of his disciples as salt of the earth and light of the world, and meant to reinforce his implied warning about the salt’s losing its taste and the light’s hiding itself– Robin Darling Young]

Tozen’s closing reflection, Choosing between the Body of Wisdom and Ignorance, from The Dharmakaya Sutra:

In the Unborn Mind school we have a saying; What your mind focuses on, determines its [body of] reality. What this essentially means, is that if your spirit (your present will) is divided and thus mundane and impure, the desired and arisen defilements generates an artificial matrix of self-confusion [the skandhas]—a mind field based on the defiled (divided) wisdom power from such an impure spirit. Due to this spiritual inertia your spirit is bound, by deep habit energy, to focus its mind on worldly and impermanent things in a temporal continuum of the three times (samsara) and thus reaps the fruit of each thing found in such an impure (divided) and impermanent reality.

On the other hand, if your spirit is pure (divine), then this awakened and imageless power of the supreme [the undivided light of the root-buddha] will allow your mind to reveal a body of a deathless and permanent reality that is the shining dominion of absolute truth—the Dharmakaya; indeed, the very nirvanic land of the Buddhas.

If the Mind is not pure, then Spirit [your will] cannot be pure; and unless the Spirit is pure, then Mind will never reveal itself as pure [undivided] and thus truly reveal what is found in this imageless power of unparalleled perfection.

All virtues clear the road before the gnostikos; but above all else the freedom from anger. Indeed, one who has touched gnosis yet is easily moved to anger is like a man who pierces himself in the eyes with a metal stylus.

From the Dhammapada in Light of the Unborn:

Entertaining anger is like accompanying Icarus on his fateful flight round the Sun.

Hate is not pure but draining, indeed it is Mind turned against itself.

Being free from hate and all abusive thoughts is the beginning of purification and the embrace of sweet peacefulness.

The self-realization of Noble Wisdom is never brought to Light through words of anger or self-righteousness

Only through quiet surrender to the Light is kindness rendered, and it is here that the deathless path of the Tathagata is revealed.

The Knower can remain secure in going down among [the brethren] because he does not make a habit of going down among [them].

The Gnostikos teaches the Buddhadharma to the lesser-able, but in doing so never descends to the level of the puthujjana.

* The puthujjana does not comprehend True Spiritual Reality As It Is: Yathabhutam

Knowledge, when it is preserved, teaches the one who possesses it how it may be safeguarded and progressively increased.

From the Dharmakaya Sutra:

4.7 “To taste this incomparable wisdom of all Buddhas and bodhisattvas is to instantly know the true nature of the deathless; hence, one is no longer easily deceived by the decaying and ever-changing nature of the temporal consciousness that is nothing more than the self-empty realms of the evil one disguised as a substitute for your noble wisdom.”

4.8 “Verily, as this right knowledge increases in strength, the grip of the evil one decreases and soon vanishes like a self-empty shadow beneath the ascension of a vibrant sun. Indeed, such a shining body of truth is the unfixed and perfect mark of the buddhadharma, one that comes directly from you, devoid of shadow, and acts instantaneously and flawlessly without any trace of evil in itself.”

Learn to know the logoi and the laws of circumstances [“fitting times”], [ways of] life, and occupations, so that you can easily tell each what is useful for him.

From the Dhammapada in Light of the Unborn:

Faith and ardent fidelity in Divine Logos accompanied with diligent sutra study and disciplined dhyana are prerequisites for clear sailing through the churning samsaric sea, a foundation from which Bodhipower is released thus nourishing the Dharma Child’s appetite for the full flavor of Tathagatahood.

Bearing the shield of Faith and Logos and armed with firm technique in the  Antecedent Recollective Resolve those Resilient Residents of Illumined Vidyaa are forever perched atop the Olympian Mount of Primordial Perfection where the surveillant Dragon Eye Alone surmounts the creeping forest of desire.

It is necessary also to know the definitions of things, especially those of the virtues and vices; this, indeed, is the source [and the beginning] of knowledge and ignorance, of the kingdom of heaven and of torment.

From the Dhammapada in Light of the Unborn:

Through ignorant, discriminate eyes the kingdom of death is real; but through Right Knowledge painful discord is allayed through the creative power of the Unborn Mind, and as such, is now self-awakened and therefore purified from all ignorant, discriminate notions like the power of death.

It is good to know also the customary [terminology] of the sacred Scriptures, and to establish them as far as possible by means of proofs.

From The Unborn Bhagavad-Gita:

2.33 If you continue to refuse to acknowledge your noble-position you will surely lose your sacred-honor and incur great sin.

Sin means [separation] from the Unborn. Should one who was once graced to uphold this sacred banner of Unborn Light put that banner down, one’s spiritual inner-light would be quenched and the way forever darkened in ignorance.

4.7 Whenever the Sacred Dharma is in decline and the inevitable Dark Chaos prevails, I will then once again send-forth my Self to intervene.

Truly a prophetic voice, one in which is presently manifested through the form of Krishna. Tozen, in his Dharmakaya Sutra, has Maitrya descending from the Tushita Heaven to engage the vast assembly in the hall of Sambhogakaya. His role was to herald a “final revelation in the Dharma-Ending-Age”—to help awaken the Undivided and Nirvanic Union of Mind within the Dharmakayic-Self.

It is necessary that the Knower be neither gloomy nor intimidating. For the first is ignorance of the logoi of things which have come into existence; the second is not desiring “that all men be saved and come to Knowledge of the truth.” (1Tim 2.4)

Tozen’s closing reflection, Choosing between the Body of Wisdom and Ignorance, from The Dharmakaya Sutra:

Truth itself has no position, no form, and much less mystical rituals. It does not need fancy robes and letters of confirmed transmission [inka]; such trifles are nothing more than false presumptions of a confused mind, like an empty head wearing a fool’s crown that is mired with myriad desires and self-delusions, and believing that if such thought patterns are constricted—then the desirous delusions will be dropped forever, since the bearer of the crown seems to possess a mysterious transmission that emanates from the awesome wisdom power of the Buddhas.

The truth of the Absolute is pure, direct and uncompromising. You either see it and accept it as it is or you do not—thus you fear it [due to separation from the desired] and repel it.

The fool that is satisfied with the supposed treasures of what only confirms a higher understanding and insight into his or her body consciousness is still a prisoner of Mara, the great deceiver.

Truth of your Real Self and absolute reality as such, can only be recalled as it already IS, not as you imagine it or desire it.

You can never force yourself into the buddhic land of truth, you can only surrender that within you, which is unwholesome and obstructive to truth and thus open up yourself to the incorruptible and undivided light of the truth.

When you seek for the proof of the Truth behind all things, you seek for the proof that precedes such things and not in the induction process that is forever in need of evidence.

It is necessary sometimes to feign ignorance because those who question are not worthy of an answer: and [in this] you will be truthful, since you are linked to a body and you [thus] do not yet possess complete knowledge.

It is always the prerogative of the Spiritual Director to discern and monitor the progress (or lack thereof) of their spiritual devotees; they are never to reveal higher truths until such time that the novice is ready. Evagrius here, in addressing his fellow teachers, reminds them to always be mindful of this since they, too, are still in an embodied state and may remain ignorant of certain higher spiritual realities themselves.

From Tozen’s, The Quest for the Unborn (The Dragon Mind of Zen Tarot series):

To those whom are new to the dharma and confused into the nature of things, I will say that things exist, thus be careful in what you say or do towards each other.

To those whom are advanced in terms of practice I will say that things do not exist.

To those whom seek only the element of truth, AS SUCH, I will say the element of truth is as SUCH and nothing else.

To those whom engage in a no-position of the Mind, I will say that this itself is already an engaged position [thus again erroneous].

One either fully understands the ONE law and precept of the Unborn, or does not.

When I say that there is only ONE law and one precept to take refuge in, I mean that this nirvanic element has only in itself ONE law of suchness [true reality].

Do not, without [careful] consideration, speak about God [in Himself]; nor should you ever define the Deity: for it is only of {things which are made or} are composite that there can be definitions.

Best rule of thumb: one can never pin-down or define the Unborn AS IT IS IN ITSELF.

Dionysius the Areopagite writes in his Mystical Theology:

[The Divine] is neither soul nor mind; neither has it imagination, nor opinion, nor reason, nor intuition, neither is it reason nor intuition, nor can it be reasoned or intuited…it is neither life nor does it live; neither is it essence, nor eternity, nor time…it is neither one nor oneness, nor deity, nor goodness. It is not spirit, as we know it, nor is it sonship, nor fatherhood….it is no one of the things which are not, nor is it any of those which are…beyond all affirmation…and beyond negation is the transcendence of him who, simply, is free of all things and beyond them all. (Translation found within The Mystagogy of Dionysius Areopagita, with special reference to its predecessors in the Eastern Christian tradition, by Hieromonk Alexander Golitzin. Pg.46)

Close your mouth to those babbling in your ears, and do not be astounded at being denounced by many, for this is a temptation from the demons. For it is necessary for the gnostikos to be free from hatred and memory of evil, even when this is not what he wants.

Always remember that those who are denouncing your efforts in the Unborn are mere “babblers”, spouting nonsense emanating from darkness; rouse not to denounce them in return since this is what the demons want: agitation. The Unborn Spirit never reacts to slander…in all that you do, speak through the hallowed voice of the Unborn Spirit.

A bitter accuser of the gnostikos is his own conscience, and he cannot hide anything from it because it [sees] into the [secret] knowledge of the heart.

The body-consciousness is your self-made executioner. Pander not to this soiled villain and choose instead to remain steadfast in the Unborn, regardless of what is being thrown your way by this ignominious demon.

The sin of the gnostikos is false knowledge concerning matters themselves or their contemplations, which is caused by some passion or because this is not in sight of the good that is being [investigatively] discussed.

Refrain from the sin of false-gnosis that emanates from the diseased passions of the body consciousness that cloud the mind from its Rightful Resolve…

From the Dhammapada in Light of the Unborn:

Remaining faithful to the Unborn Resolve quietens the anxious mind and assures a temperate spirit as the mundane world with all of its pettiness and false hopes and empty promises disappears into the sorrowful void like a burst bubble.

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