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Embracing the Journey Within: The Inner Monastery as a Path to Spiritual Awakening

by Archbishop Bill Thomas, M.Div., Ph.D., Th.D.

An illustration of the inner microcosm manifesting in the outer macrocosm

 

The Gnostic Catholic tradition recognizes that the path to spiritual enlightenment and inner peace lies within the depths of each individual's being. True wisdom and understanding cannot be found in the external world but must be cultivated through introspection and meditation. This inner journey is at the heart of Gnostic Catholicism, and through the creation of an inner monastery, practitioners can connect with the divine spark that resides within all beings.


The inner monastery concept is a powerful one. It represents a sacred space within the individual where they can retreat from the distractions and challenges of the outside world. It is a place of solitude and silence, where the Gnostic Catholic can turn their attention inward and focus on the present moment. In this space, they can quiet their minds and open themselves to the wisdom and guidance from within.


To create this inner monastery, the Gnostic Catholic must set aside dedicated time each day for their spiritual practice. This may involve finding a quiet space in their home or nature, where they can sit comfortably and without interruption. They may create a sacred altar or shrine adorned with meaningful objects and symbols that help focus the mind and invoke a sense of reverence and devotion.


One powerful tool for creating and entering the inner monastery is the Gnostic Rosary. This sacred instrument consists of a circle of beads, each representing a different aspect of the Gnostic path. As the practitioner moves through the beads, reciting prayers or mantras associated with each one, they are guided inward, toward the center of their being.


The Gnostic rosary typically begins with a large bead representing the Pleroma, the fullness of divine presence. As the practitioner holds this bead, they may recite a prayer of invocation, calling upon the divine to guide and illuminate their practice. From there, they move to smaller beads representing the Aeons, the emanations of the sacred that bridge the gap between the transcendent and the manifest world.


As they work their way around the circle of beads, the practitioner may recite prayers or mantras associated with each Aeon, such as Sophia (Wisdom), Christos (Anointed), or Logos (Word). These prayers focus the mind and open the heart, creating a receptive state for inner guidance and revelation.


At the center of the rosary lies a final bead, representing the Inner Self or Divine Spark. As the practitioner holds this bead, they may sit in silent contemplation, simply being present within the divine presence. This is the heart of the inner monastery, the place of deep stillness and communion with the Divine.


As they settle into their practice, the Gnostic Catholic begins by bringing their attention to the breath. They observe the gentle rise and fall of the chest and the sensation of the air moving in and out of the nostrils. This simple act of mindfulness helps anchor the individual in the present moment and release thoughts or distractions.


With time and practice, the Gnostic Catholics can deepen their meditation, allowing them to sink into profound stillness and clarity. In this space, they can observe the workings of the mind without judgment or attachment. They witness the constant stream of thoughts, emotions, and sensations that arise, but rather than becoming entangled in them, they allow them to pass by like clouds in the sky.


Another valuable resource for Gnostic Catholics in their inner work is June Singer's "A Gnostic Book of Hours." This modern text, inspired by the ancient tradition of the Book of Hours, provides a structure for daily contemplation and reflection.


Singer divides the book into eight "hours," each corresponding to a different aspect of the Gnostic path. These include the Hour of Wisdom, the Hour of the Cosmos, the Hour of the Soul, and the Hour of the Christos, among others. Each hour includes readings, prayers, and meditations designed to deepen the practitioner's understanding and experience of that aspect of the path.


For example, in The Hour of Wisdom, Singer offers this reflection:


"Wisdom is not a matter of accumulating knowledge, but of letting go of illusions. It is not a matter of striving but of surrender. True wisdom arises in the silence of the heart, in the space between thoughts, in the pure awareness that underlies all experience."

As the practitioner moves through the hours, they are invited to contemplate these profound truths and to bring them into their daily lives. The Book of Hours

becomes a companion on the journey, a guide, and a reminder of the sacred work of inner transformation.


Gnostic Catholics cultivate a sense of inner peace and tranquility as they continue to practice. They develop a greater capacity for compassion and understanding for themselves and others. They recognize that all beings are interconnected and that the divine spark within them is the same spark that animates all creation.


Through this inner work, the Gnostic Catholic taps into a deep well of wisdom and guidance. They learn to trust their intuition and to listen to the still, small voice within. This inner guidance helps them navigate the challenges and complexities of daily life with grace and clarity and make choices aligned with their deepest values and aspirations.


The inner monastery becomes a sacred refuge, where the Gnostic Catholic can retreat from the world and reconnect with their true nature. It is a space of healing and transformation, where old patterns and limiting beliefs can be released, and new insights and understandings can emerge. In this space, the individual can cultivate a more profound self-awareness and self-acceptance and develop a more authentic and empowered relationship with themselves and the world around them.


As Gnostic Catholics continue to deepen their practice, they may find that their inner monastery extends beyond the boundaries of their formal meditation sessions. They may find that they can carry the peace and clarity they experience in meditation into their daily lives and approach challenges and difficulties with incredible poise and resilience.

This inner monastery becomes a constant companion, a wellspring of strength and wisdom that the Gnostic Catholic can draw upon in times of need. It becomes a touchstone, a reminder of their true nature and deepest aspirations. In moments of stress or uncertainty, they can close their eyes and connect with this inner sanctuary, finding solace and guidance in its stillness and clarity.


As the Gnostic Catholic continues on their spiritual path, they may find that their inner monastery begins to transform and evolve. What started as a simple practice of mindfulness and introspection may deepen into a profound experience of unity and oneness with all creation. They may begin to experience states of expanded consciousness, in which the boundaries between self and other, between the individual and the Divine, begin to dissolve.


In these moments of transcendence, the Gnostic Catholic may feel a profound sense of connection and belonging, knowing they are part of something greater than themselves. They may experience a sense of awe and wonder at the mystery and beauty of existence and a deep reverence for the sacredness of all life.


As they continue to cultivate this inner monastery, the Gnostic Catholic may find that their outer life begins to reflect their inner journey. They may find themselves drawn to a life of service and compassion, using their gifts and talents to make a positive difference. They may find that their relationships become deeper and more authentic as they learn to relate to others from a place of presence and understanding.


Ultimately, the inner monastery represents the ultimate goal of the Gnostic Catholic tradition—a state of being in which the individual can fully embody their divine nature and live in harmony with the world around them. It is a state of liberation and enlightenment, in which the illusions and limitations of the ego are transcended, and the true self is revealed in all its radiant beauty and perfection.


To reach this state, the Gnostic Catholic must be willing to undertake the inner work with great dedication and perseverance. They must be willing to face their shadows and limitations and do the necessary work of healing and transformation. They must be willing to let go of old patterns and beliefs that no longer serve them and open themselves up to new ways of being and perceiving.


This inner work is not always easy and requires great courage and commitment. It requires a willingness to step outside one's comfort zone, confront the parts of oneself that may be hidden or suppressed, and do the hard work of integration and wholeness.

But for those willing to undertake this journey, the rewards are immeasurable. Through this inner work, the Gnostic Catholic cultivates a deep sense of inner peace and contentment and experiences the world with greater clarity and understanding. They can live a life that is deeply fulfilling and purposeful and make a positive impact on the world around them.


The inner monastery becomes a sanctuary of the soul, a place of refuge and renewal in a world that can often feel chaotic and overwhelming. It becomes a source of strength and resilience, a wellspring of wisdom and compassion that can be drawn upon in times of need.


As the Gnostic Catholic continues on their spiritual path, they may find that their inner monastery begins to radiate outward, touching the lives of those around them in profound and unexpected ways. Their presence may become a source of inspiration and guidance for others, a living example of the transformative power of spiritual practice.

In this way, the inner monastery becomes not just a personal practice but a collective one. It becomes a way of being in the world that is grounded in presence, compassion, and a deep reverence for the sacredness of all life. It becomes a way of living aligned with the highest values and aspirations of the human spirit and contributes to the world's healing and transformation.


The practice of the Gnostic Rosary and the contemplations offered in the Gnostic Book of Hours can be powerful aids in this journey of inner transformation. By engaging with these sacred tools daily, the Gnostic Catholics can deepen their connection to the divine presence within and cultivate a profound sense of inner peace and clarity.


The Gnostic Rosary, with its circular form and symbolic beads, serves as a tangible reminder of the cyclical nature of the spiritual path. Just as the practitioner moves around the circle of beads again and again, so too do they journey inward to the center of their being, only to emanate outward again in service and compassion. The rosary becomes a sacred companion, a touchstone that anchors the practitioner amid life's challenges and reminds them of their true nature and purpose.


Similarly, the Gnostic Book of Hours provides a daily structure for contemplation and reflection, helping the practitioner to integrate the wisdom of the Gnostic path into their daily lives. By setting aside time each day to read, reflect, and meditate on the themes of each "hour," the Gnostic Catholic can cultivate a deeper understanding of the spiritual journey and a greater capacity to embody its teachings.


Ultimately, the inner monastery is a powerful tool for spiritual growth and transformation, and it is available to all willing to undertake the journey within. By creating this sacred space within themselves, the Gnostic Catholics can connect with the divine spark that resides within all beings and live a life that is deeply aligned with their highest truth and purpose.


It is a journey that requires patience, dedication, and a willingness to surrender to the mystery and wonder of existence. But for those who are called to this path, it leads to the very heart of what it means to be human and to realize our most profound potential as spiritual beings.


In the end, the inner monastery is not just a practice or a technique but a way of life - a way of being in the world that is grounded in presence, compassion, and a deep reverence for the sacredness of all things. It is a path that leads us back to our true nature, the divine spark, and the realization of our most profound purpose and potential in this life.


So let us embrace this path with courage and dedication, knowing that it is a journey that will transform us from the inside out and enable us to become a force for healing and transformation in the world. Let us take up the Gnostic Rosary and

immerse ourselves in the wisdom of the Gnostic Book of Hours, using these sacred tools to deepen our inner work and cultivate a profound connection to the divine presence within.


Let us create this inner monastery within ourselves and use it as a source of strength, wisdom, and compassion as we navigate the challenges and opportunities of life. And let us trust that, in doing so, we are aligning ourselves with the highest truth and purpose of our being and contributing to the evolution and awakening of all humanity.


Additional sources that could be relevant for further reading on the topic of Gnostic Catholicism and meditation practices:


Burkett, Larry. "The Path of Gnosis: Gnostic Christianity for the 21st Century." Gnostic Press, 2022.

Hoeller, Stephan A. "Gnosticism: New Light on the Ancient Tradition of Inner Knowing." Quest Books, 2002.

Pagels, Elaine. "The Gnostic Gospels." Vintage, 1989.

Pearson, Birger A. "Ancient Gnosticism: Traditions and Literature." Fortress Press, 2007.

Smoley, Richard. "Inner Christianity: A Guide to the Esoteric Tradition." Shambhala, 2002.

Lanzetta, Beverly. “The Monk Within.” Blue Saphire Books, 2018

Lanzetta, Beverly. “A New Silence.” Blue Saphire Books, 2020

Singer, June. “A Gnostic Book of Hours.” Nicholas-Hays, Inc., 1992

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