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ABSTRACT

The Gnostic Mystery:

A Connection Between Ancient and Modem Mysticism

by

Andrea Grace Diem, Ph.D.

 

Comparative studies often reveal similarities between greatly different cultures,, even if those cultures are geographically separated by thousands of miles or historically distinct by thousands of years. This has been especially true in religion, where similar ideas have been propounded by tribes or clans which have on the surface no contact-historically or geographically--with one another. For the phenomenologist this kind of transcultural link or synchronicity is important because it raises the question of how religious ideas emerge and develop over time. Are religious ideas part of an innate, biological, developmental sequence which manifest over the course of human evolution? Or are religious ideas simply the product of historical transfusion, played over the course in time where one tribe touches another tribe thereby transforming concepts in a very material and socially determinable way?

Although this thesis does not answer those profound questions, it does provide a remarkable example of religious synchronicity, where two diverse spiritual traditions Gnostic and Sant--posit very similar ideas about salvation and the nature of God. In this thesis I demonstrate how Gnostic and Sant Mat ideas concerning ontology, cosmology, and soteriology are remarkably close, despite the fact that the Gnostic tradition arose in the Middle East in the first and second century C.E. and that Sant Mat emerged in North India in the 14th and 15th century. My main sources are the Nag Hammadi Library for the Gnostic tradition and the writings of Tulsi Sahib and Shiv Dayal Singh for the Sant tradition.