YOU ARE IN DARKNESS.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: "Ignorance is an affront."
by Mudarras Kadhir Gaznavi
Mani (Manes, Manys, Manytos, Manentos, Manou, Manichios, Manetis, and in Augustine always Manicheus - born 215/216 A.D.) is the Iranian founder of the Manichean religion. Mani is not a name but a title and a term of respect. The exact meaning is uncertain, but the Babylonian-Aramaic mânâ is proposed as its probable origin, which was a term for the light-spirit, mânâ -rabba is the light king, or light lord. The founder has assumed this title and it has replaced his personal name completely. His father, Fâtâk Bâbâk (Patekios) was a native of Ecbatana (Hamadan - the ancient Median capital and a member of the famous Chascanian Gens (gens is a clan or a family). The boy was born in the village of Mardinu (presently the city of Mardin in south-eastern Turkey). His mother was of noble descent, belonging to the Arsacids, who were a dynasty of Parthian kings who ruled Iran between 247 B.C.-224 A.D. As usual with these stories his mother’s name is not certain; it could be Mes, Utâ chîm, Marmarjam, and Krossa. Choose the one which sounds most plesant. Fâtâk Bâbâk was a strongly religious person, he left Ecbatana and moved south to join the south Babylonian Puritans (Menakkede) or the Mandaeans and also had his son educated in their teaching, which was baptism and abstinence. Here at the age of twelve Mani is supposed to have received his first revelation. The angel Eltaum, (‘twin’; god of the covenant; Tamiel of the Jewish rabbis) appeared to him, bade him to leave the Mandaeans and live a chaste life. He did that and waited for another 12 years as ordered by this angel, before he proclaimed himself to the people supposedly on 20 March 242 A.D., in the royal residence, with the words: “As once Buddha came to India, Zoroaster to Persia, and Yshua to the lands of the west, so came in the present time, this prophecy through me, the Mani, to the land of Babylonia.” He claimed to be the 'Apostle of the true God'.
Mani spoke a form of eastern Aramaic. Information on his life is based on his own writings and the traditions of his church. He travelled to India (probably Sind and Turan) and made converts. Then he returned to his native land and received favourably by the then Persian king, Shapur I. Mani regarded himself as the “seal of prophets,” the last-comer bringing a universal message [After him the Hagarene Messenger ('Muhammad') made an identical claim]. He wrote down his teaching because he hoped to preserve them uncorrupted. He was crucified by Bahram I, successor to Ohrmuzd I, his corpse was flayed, the skin stuffed and hung up at the city gate. The probable year of his death is 276-277 A.D..
Manicheism’s spread to East and West (Africa, Spain, France, North Italy, the Balkans) was very rapid. It has maintained its existence in the West for a thousand years. But it grew mainly in the region where it was born - Mesopotamia, Babylonia, Turkestan - and further to the East, in Northern India, Western China and Tibet. It died out there at an uncertain date.
THE BASIC APPROACH
Manicheism is a dualistic gnostic religion. Its early centre was Babylonia. Babylonia was part of the Persian empire then and a meeting place of faiths. Mani has held that the true religion had been taught by many messengers (among them Adam, Enoch, Buddha, Zoroaster, Yshua). But he claimed that all the early religions were restricted, because they were local; taught in one language to one people; and that each had been distorted by its adherents who had lost sight of its original truth. So, to be an all inclusive religion the teaching of Mani had a bit of everything: Zarathustran dualism, Babylonian folklore, Buddhist ethics, and superficial Christian elements. But its substance was fundamentally Chaldean astrology and folklore in a very strict dualistic mold.
Mani taught a strict dualism (like Mithraism, and Zoroastrianism), affecting spirit and matter. According to Mani his belief system was a religion of pure reason as opposed to the Christian credulity. It has claimed to explain the origin, the composition and the nature of the Universe; it had an answer for everything and slighted Christianity for being full of mysteries. But the answers given by Manicheism were themselves nothing but mystifications and fanciful inventions.
Anyway, according to Mani, good and evil are essentially separate and opposed principles; existing separately before the creation of the world; which have become mixed in the world through the act of the evil principle. Salvation lies in the release of goodness and a return to the original state of separation. This basic teaching is set out in an elaborate mythology, harmonized from many different elements.
In the beginning the good dwelt in the realm of light stretching unbound upward and to left and right (northward and to east and west); below or southward stretched endlessly the kingdom of darkness or the evil. The kingdom of light is ruled by the father of greatness (megethos, abba d’rabbutha). He is also called the father with four faces (tetraprosopon) which may be deriving from the first being of the Zurvanites whose fundamental manifestations were time, light, force, and goodness. The being of this father is expressed in terms of the five powers of understanding: Intelligence, reason, thought, reflection, and will. The father of light together with the light-air (with five attributes) and the light-earth (with the five limbs of breath, wind, light, water, and fire) constitute the Manichean pleroma.
The kingdom of darkness is an exact parallel of the kingdom of light above. It was divided into five realms, each made up of one of the five dark elements (smoke, devouring fire, tempest, salt water or poison, and darkness). From them grew five trees, and from the five trees came the five species of devils: two-legged, four-legged, winged, swimming and crawling. Each species, ruled by a king, was divided into two sexes, and lived in perpetual lust and strife.
The lord of hell, the satan or ur-devil, combines in his own person features of all five kings: demon, lion, eagle, fish and dragon. Devil is regarded sometimes as the personification of hyle (matter, material), the formatrix corporum, the enthymesis of death, sometimes as her highest manifestation. In the realms of hell were found also the five metals and five tastes etc. etc.
We should cut short this nonsense..
MIXTURE OF THE TWO PRINCIPLES
The prince of darkness decides to invade the realm of light (Echoes from Zoroastrianism and Mithraism).
Thefather of greatness, to protect the eternal calm of the aeons, decides to meet the attack through his emanations, hypostases of his actions, who are the individual gods of Manicheism, distinguished from one another mainly by their functions. The mother of life, the first Man and the five light elements - ether, air, light, water, fire (Echoes from Zoroastrianism and Mithraism), which are also the limbs or substances of the light world, are the first divinities that were created by the father of greatness. The father of greatness, mother of life, and the first man constitute a trinity in unity.
The light elements are represented as the sons of the first man, as his armour and as a bait which he throws at the demons. They swallow it; they are appeased and cease their invasion; but a part of light is thereby absorbed in darkness. This light becomes smothered by the matter which engulfs it; it suffers and loses awareness of its own nature. Matter grows dependent on the swallowed light. Matter has to keep this light to survive.
The first man is left unconscious on the battlefield, after he has cut the roots of the five trees of hell, that evil may grow no more. He recovers awareness and cries for help to father who evokes a second creation of gods to his aid: Thefriend of the lights (whose function is obscure), the great builder and the living spirit with his five sons (splenditenens, king of honour, adamas of light, king of glory, atlas). The living spirit utters a call to the first man, whose answer comes back from the depths etc. etc.
How creative a human mind could get?Who did believe in this nonsense?
CREATION OF THE WORLD
The living spirit overwhelms the devils. From the bodies of those slain, he makes eight earths, from their skins ten skies. Others, he fastens in the firmament. From that portion of the swallowed Light, still undefiled, he makes Sun and Moon; and from slightly impure light, the stars. For the redemption of the light that is retained by matter he creates the three wheels; of fire, water and wind, all of which are controlled by the king of glory. The splenditenens holds up the ten heavens, atlas supports the three upper earths.
PROCESS OF REDEMPTION
The father of greatness then evokes the chief god of his third creation, the third messenger. He evokes the maiden of light, and the two divinities show themselves naked to the devils fettered in the sky. Beholding them the males ejaculate, and with their seeds there falls to earth the light in their bodies. Part of the seed falling into water, becomes a huge sea monster, defeated by the adamas of light. The other part, falling on land, becomes the five kinds of trees and plants (Echoes from Mithraism) The female devils, pregnant from unions in hell, miscarry, and their abortions fall to earth and people it with the five kinds of living creations (You wouldn’t expect another act in the creation of the “filthy, sinful, lowly” humans would you? This time mothers are the devils, not the holy females).
The great builder makes the new paradise or new aeon (con-substantial with the kingdom of light but existing separately from it until the very last day) as a home for the gods and the redeemed light. Its ruler is the first man. The third messenger evokes the column of glory, the complete man who is both a god and the path whereby redeemed souls ascend to the Moon (at the time of its waxing). From there they pass to Sun and to the new paradise. Sun and Moon are set in motion by the third messenger, and with the change of seasons begins the physical redemption of light (through dew, rain etc.).
CREATION OF MAN
To defeat the process of redemption hyle prompts the demons ashaqlon and namrael to devour the offspring of the other abortions. Having thus increased the light in their own bodies, the pair mate (mankind is the consequence of a union between demons) and produce Adam and Eve, in the form of the gods seen by the parent-devils in the sky. The light in the bodies of the demons is transmitted to the first human pair as the soul (here again the soul of the mankind originates from the bodies of demons). Imprisoned in with the soul in the demon-born body is the dark spirit, made up of lust, greed, hate, etc. Lust ensures that humanity propagates itself, and so makes an enduring prison for part of the light in the world.
The god Yshua the splendour (evoked by the maiden of light) awakes Adam to knowledge of the soul’s origin. Adam resolves on chastity. Eve is seduced by a demon. By him she bears Cain and Abel, and later by Adam, Seth. The human bondage of light is thus carried on. This part of light cannot be physically redeemed. Its salvation depends on conscious effort by each individual.
The great nous, evocation of Yshua the splendour, sends messengers to mankind, to bring gnosis to Adam’s descendants. With knowledge comes the will to redemption; and through the five virtues of love (agape), faith, perfection, patience and wisdom, with which gnosis clothes the soul, man are able to withstand evil. Hyle seeks always to overwhelm the soul with forgetfulness. Religion strives to keep it aware and resolute. Using Pauline imagery, Mani called the unawakened soul the old man, and the awakened soul the new man. Punishment for the sin follows automatically, in a postponing of the return to paradise. Only those souls which reject the teachings of the nous commit deadly sin. They deteriorate and in time may become assimilated to matter and hence damned eternally.
FATE OF THE INDIVIDUAL SOUL AT DEATH
There exists two symbolisations of the fate of the soul at death: The soul goes before the just justice (an evocation of the nous) and having been judged takes one of the three paths: to life (new paradise); to mixture (back to the world, that is, to a period of reincarnation); or to death (hell); or the soul of the righteous man leaving its body is met by a redeeming god accompanied by three angels, bearing insignia of victory, which they bestow upon it. It then ascends to the new paradise by the column of glory, Moon and Sun.
END OF THE WORLD
The end of the world will be foreshadowed by the great war, followed by the second coming of Yshua, who will establish his judgment seat and separate righteous from sinners. He will then withdraw to the new paradise. Thereafter the gods supporting the cosmos will abandon their tasks, and heavens and earths will collapse in the great fire, lasting 1468 years, in which the last particles of light will escape from matter, ascending to paradise as the last man.
Hyle will be imprisoned, and the prison sealed with a great stone. Finally the new paradise with all its inhabitants will be joined again to the world of light.
MANI AND YSHUA
Mani recognized three Yshuas. The redeeming god, Yshua the splendour; the Yshua patibilis also called the living self, that is, the light suffering or crucified in matter; and Yshua the messenger and son of god who had, as divinity, taken on the appearance of man and had seemed to suffer death on Earth. As a messenger, Yshua was regarded by Mani as his own immediate forerunner. Mani with his abhorrence of matter, rigidly opposed the doctrine of Christ’s incarnation. Mani has called himself the paraclete (holy spirit; advocate; intercessor), but has claimed no divinity. He has styled himself as the Apostle of Yshua (Jesus Christ) by the providence of god the father. In the Buddhist lands Mani is represented as the maitreya (Mithra, maisha, mesiah, messiah)
At the head of the community was its leader, Mani’s successor. Under him there were five grades: 12 teachers; 72 bishops; 360 elders; the general body of the elect (to which woman were admitted), and the hearers. The ‘elect ’ were sealed with the three seals of mouth, hand and breast. They were bound to chastity, poverty and abstinence from flesh and wine. Food for the elect was prepared by hearers. The chief religious duty of the hearers was to care for the elect.
Manicheans appear to have had no sacramental rites (since knowledge and virtue alone could win salvation). The essentials of their cult lay in prayers, the singing of hymns, fasting and confession. Seven daily prayers were enjoined on the elect, four on the hearers (midday, mid-afternoon, just after nightfall and three hours after sunset (this fits exactly the pattern of the daily prayers in Islam with the exception of the morning prayer, which they added). Prayers, with prostrations, were uttered facing the Sun or Moon; if the Sun and Moon were invisible they turned to North - to the throne of the light king. They purified themselves with water, and if there was no water they cleaned themselves with other substances like earth, sand etc. ( Muslims must have taken over their cleaning habits, teyemmüm, from Manicheans).
Fasting was enjoined on the hearers each Sunday, on the elect each Monday. In addition there were five two-day fasts which are observed through the year (calculated from solar, lunar and zodiacal data). The fourth of these fasts were followed by 26 fast days, thought to be representing the days of Mani’s suffering in prison. During this period the hearers, like the elect, eat only once a day, after nightfall (like Muslims). On the next days fell the fifth two-day fast, probably commemorating Mani's death. This was followed by the chief event of the Manichean year, commemorating Mani’s ascension (to where?).
THE ‘BUDDHA YSHUA’
With the arrival of Manicheism Yshua was once again brought back to that spiritual place where he has originally set out to assist the suffering on their way towards redemption. This was not done by Christians of course, but by the heretics - as the Christians viewed them - who followed one of history’s most interesting founders of religions: Mani. In the Book of the Coming of the Buddha the return of Mani as Yshua is prophesied. Among the blossoms that were produced through Buddhism and Christianity from the Gnostic-Manichean system were Mani, addressed as ‘Buddha Yshua’ and the realm of the redeemed, conceived as a sphere of light where the king of Nirvana reigned. The king was seen as the father of light, composed of the four dharma bodies of purity, light, energy, and wisdom. The Iranian concept of the fourfold god was thus interpreted in Buddhist terms and integrated in a Christian context.
A ludicrous doctrine like the one summarized above could only be the product of a seer’s or a messenger’s imagination. No one who has a reasonable amount of intellect could even dream of such a thing.
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