Entanglement. That’s a good way to describe the human soul’s brief yet seemingly long stay on this warm, wet rock we call “Earth.”
Entanglement by choice, I would say, though I have no proof of this to offer. Just my own experience.
Without a body, the soul is light and free, attached to nothing–at least not in the way that we in the flesh become “attached” during our stay in this physical world. How do I know this? Because I experience it when I dream: living without a (physical) body.
The soul may well be a “body,” but not physical in its substance. The flesh we occupy here on Earth may be an imitation of that wispy form that leaves when we die, or when we dream at night, and which sometimes haunts dark corners and empty houses in the wee hours.
The soul is the cookie cutter and the body is the cookie.
It’s hard to put chains on something that isn’t physical, like the soul. That’s why Thoreau said that even though he was jailed for not paying his poll tax, he was nevertheless free. He identified with his soul more than his body.
This means, by the way, that Thoreau had the “gnosis” for which many have suffered and died at the hands of religious authorities. Luckily for him, he lived in the USA, product of the Enlightenment, under laws that came from that enlightened viewpoint.
Enlightenment and gnosis are the same thing: realization that one is not one’s body, and that life is therefore much grander and at the same time less stressful and serious than one previously thought. It is the realization of the soul.
That soul is you, and me, and the religious authorities, and the dog that gave my cats fleas, and my cats, and the fleas, and the grass in which they live now. It is each one, and every one, depending on how you look at it.
That soul, here on Earth, is wrapped up–entangled–in energy that we can detect as waves and particles, atoms and molecules, cells and fluid. And bone.
By choice? Some say so. I think so, but I have no proof. That’s okay, because in things of the soul proof is moot. You know, or you don’t know. Knowing is gnosis. Not knowing is agnosis, no matter what the agnostic person chooses to think or say about the matter.
Agnosis can appear to be atheism, or secularism, or religious fundamentalism. Agnosis is “not knowing,” which is the state of most of us here in this tangled world of flesh. Agnosis is being tangled and not knowing it. Gnosis is knowing one’s entanglement, and (maybe) becoming untangled.
This is why monks came about. Untanglement.
Monkishness, though, is an attempt to escape from the world, if it’s pursued beyond its initial intention of separating oneself from the entanglement of others (who are also without gnosis) in order to gain gnosis. If pursued in itself, monkishness becomes a cocoon, like playing video games or snorting meth or reading fiction–a way to try to forget one’s own entanglement here.
Trying to forget one’s entanglement is the opposite of gnosis. Gnosis is awareness, not forgetting.
The point, then, is not to be untangled, but to know one’s entanglement, to see it clearly. This is not pleasant. But it means becoming aware of both of our natures: the body and the soul. The eidolon and the daemon, as some early Christians called them, respectively.
What one chooses to do with that gnosis is up to that person, which means that it’s up to the soul, the “Higher Self,” the Real You. One sign of gnosis is obedience to that inner Self, whose directions are not always pleasant.
After all, gnosis or agnosis, we’re all still entangled here in the flesh.
(Written on August 16, 2011 and freshly edited on December 24, 2016)