How the work GNOSIS is presented
It is in order to answer to the spiritual needs of our time that Boris Mouravieff presents GNOSIS, as a deep study of the esoteric doctrine, found at the base of the Christian Tradition of Eastern Orthodoxy. In his Warning to the Reader, which is at the beginning of the book, the author states his sources:
"The study we are presenting here is directly drawn from the sources of the Christian Oriental Tradition: the sacred texts, the commentaries written around these texts, especially in that summa represented by the Philocalia, finally the teaching and the discipline such as they were transmitted by the persons who were regularly invested to do so." Those who have read P. D. Ouspensky's Fragments of an Unknown Teaching will find in Gnosis, notions and terms already familiar to them, for they come from the same source. However, the work of P. D. Ouspensky, as its title indicates, is fragmentary and therefore incomplete.
Herein is the incomparable merit of the three volumes of Gnosis, which provide an integral and systematic exposition of the doctrine, bearing on Man, the Universe, and the Way. Particularly and for the first time, is the doctrine relevant to the Universe (which was previously always given in a symbolic and veiled fashion) given openly and in depth, to answer to the needs of modern man and the present times.
In conformity with the nature of esoteric teaching, Gnosis' three volumes elevate the student through a concentric approach on three levels. This the author shows is analogous to the method of modern positive teaching:
The first stage, the exoteric cycle, (Gnosis I) "corresponds to primary esoteric teaching. As such, it aims at providing the student with an instrument of work. In a certain way it constitutes the A.B.C. of the Doctrine."
The second stage, the mesoteric cycle, (Gnosis II) "as in secondary education, seeks to communicate to the student the elements of a general culture and to teach him a method ." The third stage, the esoteric cycle strictly speaking (Gnosis III) "corresponds to higher education." "The latter is always specialized, and the same applies in Esoterism." In committing to writing a teaching that is habitually the object of an oral transmission, the author was particularly careful in his choice of form, as much in the work's perfectly controlled structure, as in his selection of clear, simple and exact terms to portray some of the deepest meanings accessible to man.
More than once Boris Mouravieff explains to the reader these choices:
"The scriptures do not have a specialized terminology. That is one of the reasons for their popularity: they are accessible to all. The Christian Esoteric Tradition follows their example and avoids creating a specialized vocabulary, for it would in fact constitute an additional difficulty on a path, which in itself is not so easy. It starts from the principle that if we take the trouble to think deeply, everything can be expressed without having recourse to neologisms. Nevertheless, it is necessary to make clear the meanings of the words used."
"A study in depth of the Doctrine exposed in "Gnosis", conducted with the required attention, care and assiduity, would allow the student to learn and comprehend many things, as much on himself as on his likes and on the Universe in the bosom of which we live; besides it would place him at the measure of discovering in the sacred Scriptures a complimentary meaning, ever deeper and ever more general, which cannot be grasped by those who tackle these texts while calling strictly on their under developed Personality, even if their intellectual faculties are great and refined."
"The method exposed in GNOSIS is a psychological method of esoteric work. Accordingly the study of the doctrine does not place any special conditions and exigencies on the student, nor does it require any radical modifications to his life, besides setting aside at least a quarter of an hour daily for the practice of ascertainment (fr. Constatation)"
"To ascertain (fr. constater) means to recognize the state of a thing or of a phenomenon, to establish a fact, without applying any personal judgement whatsoever. The act of ascertaining therefore implies, a simple observation of the fact, as well as taking consciousness of oneself, at the same time. Thus - and there is its esoteric meaning - ascertainment demands a double application of the attention, to the object and to one's own self..."
One will have understood that GNOSIS is not a book for erudition but a working tool, even though it contains a great deal of facts on Man and the Universe - even though it comes as a revelatory work shedding full light on what only yesterday belonged to the domain of faith; even though it speaks in a contemporary manner, using simple expressions to reveal the Christian esoteric Doctrine - yet the author of GNOSIS has conceived his work precisely as a working tool intended to aid those who have the will to become active elements in the transitional period where we find ourselves. The book and the teaching given in Geneva as well as the creation of the C.E.C.E. testify to the author's profound conviction that today "esoterism has become a public matter."
Published more than fifty years ago, the message given in GNOSIS to aid humanity in overcoming the crisis in which it finds itself, remains ever more real and actual.