The Fifth Sermon, Seven Sermons to the Dead

Sermones ad Mortuos
Seven Sermons to the Dead

Seven exhortations to the dead, written by Basilides in Alexandria, the city where East and West meet.

The Fifth Sermon

The dead were full of mocking and cried: "Teach us, thou fool, about church and holy community!"

-- The world of the gods is manifest in spirituality and sexuality. The heavenly gods appear in spirituality, the earthly gods appear in sexuality. Spirituality receives and comprehends. It is feminine and therefore we call it MATER COELESTIS, the heavenly mother. Sexuality generates and creates. It is masculine and therefore we call it PHALLOS, the earthly father. The sexuality of man is more earthly, while the sexuality of woman is more heavenly. The spirituality of man is more heavenly; for it moves in the direction of the greater. On the other hand the spirituality of woman is more earthly; for it moves in the direction of the smaller.

Deceitful and devilish is the spirituality of the man who goes toward the smaller. Deceitful and devilish is the spirituality of the woman who goes toward the greater. Each is to go to its own place.

Man and woman become a devil to each other when they do not separate their spiritual paths, for the nature of created beings is always of the nature of differentiation.

The sexuality of man goes to that which is earthly; the sexuality of woman goes to that which is spiritual. Man and woman become devils to each other when they do not discriminate between their two forms of sexuality.

Man shall know that which is smaller, woman that which is greater. Man shall separate himself from spirituality and from sexuality alike. He shall call spirituality mother, and he shall enthrone her between heaven and earth. He shall name sexuality phallos, and shall place it between himself and the earth, for the mother and the phallos are super-human demons and manifestations of the world of the gods. They are more effective for us than the gods, because they are nearer to our own being. When you cannot distinguish between yourselves on the one hand, and spirituality and sexuality on the other, and when you cannot regard these two as beings above and beside yourselves, then you become victimized by them, i.e., by the qualities of the Pleroma. Spirituality and sexuality are not your qualities, they are things which you can possess and comprehend; on the contrary, these are mighty demons, manifestations of the gods, and therefore they tower above you and they exist in themselves. One does not possess spirituality for oneself or sexuality for oneself; rather one is subject to the laws of spirituality and sexuality.

Therefore no one escapes these two demons. You shall regard them as demons, as common causes and great dangers, quite like the gods, and above all, like the terrible Abraxas.

Man is weak, therefore community is indispensable; if it is not the community in the sign of the mother, then it is in the sign of the phallos. Not to have community consists of suffering and sickness. Community brings with itself fragmentation and dissolution. Differentiation leads to solitude. Solitude is contrary to community. Because of the weakness of man's will, as opposed to the gods and demons and their inescapable law, there is need for community.

For this reason there shall be as much community as necessary, not for the sake of men but for the sake of the gods. The gods force you into a community. As much community as they force upon you is necessary, but more than that is evil.

In the community each shall be subject to another, so that the community will be maintained, inasmuch as you have need of it. In the solitary state each one shall be placed above all others, so that he may know himself and avoid servitude. In community there shall be abstinence.

In solitude let there be squandering of abundance. For community is the depth, while solitude is the height. The true order in community purifies and increases. Community gives us warmth, while solitude gives us the light.

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