Saturday, July 17, 2010

Gnostic Studies: Buddha Mani-Christ: You Freed Souls from Samsara, Ignorance, and Gave Wisdom

Gnostic Studies: Buddha Mani-Christ: You Freed Souls from Samsara, Ignorance, and Gave Wisdom

(Gnostic Studies: Below is from the Great Song of Mani, from the Manichaean section of, The Gnostic Bible, Gnostic Texts of Mystical Wisdom from the Ancient and Medieval World: Pagan, Jewish, Christian, Mandaean, Manichaean, Islamic, and Cathar, Edited by Willis Barnstone and Marvin Meyer, SHAMBHALA)

Gnostic Bible

The Gnostic Prophet Mani

Unendingly submerged in the dust
of forgetting rebirths
and in a state of poisonous savage animals,
they were always mad.
When the passion of greed 3 poisoned them
and they were dying,
you prepared a medicine for them
from the herb of meditation.


They raved in the passion of anger;
they lacked sense or coherent thought
and you assembled their thoughts,
and so they understood their origin
in the Realm of Light.
Those living beings in the five states of existence 4
you freed from ignorance
and gave them wisdom,
leading them to pari-nirvana.5
Many differing passions -- hatred and bitterness --
troubled these thinking beings
and scattered their thought,
but holy Father, when you descended from the sky,
the families of all thinking beings
reached the peace of Nirvana.6


We who are miserable and with no hope
would have stayed in the torture of samsara,
not finding the end of your path. 8
You set up the ladder of wisdom,
you let us supersede the five forms of being,
and you delivered us.
We who were fettered in suffering
were rescued from rebirth
to see the Buddha-like sun god
who is like you.
For those tied to transitory pleasure,
you preached the true law.
You carried them across the Sea of Suffering
to the good Nirvana.
For those tied to the root of attachment to the world,
you revealed the road to the realm of the Buddhas,9
you raised a Sumeru mountain 10 of virtue,
you let them find endless happiness.
For those plunged in the water of pride,
you showed the bridge of the true law.
You took understanding of the good law into their hearts.
You entrusted them to the holy assembly.
For those confused by the six organs of perception 11
you showed the rising and falling states of being.
You revealed what is the suffering of those in the Avici,
the deepest Buddhist hell.
You let them be reborn in the blessed fivefold heaven 12 of Light.
Look for the ways of salvation,
you crossed lands going to every side.
When you found humans needing salvation,
you rescued all.

1. The Great Song to Mani: translated by Hans-Joachim Klimkeit (Gnosis on the Silk Road: Gnostic Texts from Central Asia, 280-84); revised in verse by Willis Barnstone.

2. Of the next eleven lines, which are badly preserved, five line fragments are here given.

3. The Pali Buddhist term for greed is lobha (a vice also in Manichaeism), for anger dvesa, for ignorance moha.

4. In Buddhism these are the states of gods, humans, hungry spirits (pretas), animals, and beings of hell.

5. This Buddhist Nirvana is the Manichaean Realm of Light.

6. The next six verses are badly preserved and are reconstructed.

7. The cyclical process of metempsychosis, that is, the transmigration of the soul by way of rebirths and deaths, is called samsara. This transmigration extends from the lowest insect to the Brahma, the highest of the gods. The rank of one's new birth, after passing through a hell or a heaven, depends on one's karma in the previous life. In Sanskrit samsara means "the running around."

8. The Realm of Light.

9. Again, the Realm of Light of the previous prophets.

10. The Sumeru mountain is the central mountain of the universe in the Buddhist and Hindu cosmology.

11. The six organs of perception (sadayatana) in Buddhism are the five sense organs and manas, the mind.

12. The Realm of Light.

13. Probably Mani's Living Gospel.

14. The four Buddhas are probably Seth, Zoroaster, Buddha, and Jesus. "Four" is not in the original text.