The Book of Heresies
by Mary

Permission granted to reprint the Book of Heresies is granted so long
as nothing is ommitted, added or changed, and this notice is included.

The Book of Heresies is apparently authored (edited in the case of the third part) by "Mary", but this is not the same Mary who is the main protaganist of "The Apocrypha". Author-Mary explains that she was named after the protaganist of "The Apocrypha".

The Principles

I have been told that "The Principles" is a shortened form of "The Principles of Living", but this is probably just a supposition.

1-1 Creation
To create a sound one must first destroy the silence that was there before.

Even the Christian Bible starts with creation. The idea here is very reminiscent of Lao-Tzu's "Tao Te Ching".

1-2 Justice
Justice is revenge cloaked in saintly raiment. It does nothing to heal the wound and only sours the healing. Killing the murderers of the world for the sake of vengeance will not bring back their dead, and only stains the hands of the self-appointed righteous with the color of blood.

1-3 Heresy
A heretic is one who chooses for themselves. The meaning of the word has strayed far from its root in ancient Greek, but there is no dishonor in having the strength of self to choose.

This is a reference to the Ancient Greek root airesis or hairesis which means "to choose for oneself". Thus, a heretic (traditionally) was one decided for themselves issues of religious dogma, and in so doing alientated the established religious authorities.

1-4 Honor
Honor is the refusal to surrender a self-affirmed code no matter what the threat to property or life or soul may be.

1-5 Individualism
The associations we choose to make do not define us, nor can they limit us unless we choose to give them that power over us. We are defined by the boundaries that we draw about ourselves.

There is a recurring theme in the Heresies that our definitions of things are not the same as those things.

1-6 Jealousy
Jealousy is a twisted emotion, the feeling that one's own absolute worth or potential is degraded by the worth of another.

1-7 Responsibility
Humans are not sentient. Humans have the capacity to be sentient. The capacity is based not upon intelligence nor courage, but upon the willingness to choose to take responsibility for the world around one.

The definiton of "sentient" here is obviously not exactly the same as is generally regarded. Nevertheless, what is offered here is an interesting re-definition of the word, something that some have argued is true of every word in this part of the Book of Heresies.

1-8 Ritual
Ritual is the symbol of the thing. It gains value in what it represents to those who bear it. It bridges the gap between mind and reality, and forges an unbreakable link between the two. The whole power of a ritual is given up only to its creator.

This is noticeably distinct from Catholicism, where the ritual of Communion is, doctrinely, a literal, miraculous transformation.

1-9 Fear
Fear is the greatest enemy one can ever have; it strikes from the shadows, remorseless, mercilessly, without compassion or distinction. Heroism is not feeling no fear - it is overcoming that fear which we all feel.

Note the difference between this and the recording on fear in 3-11.

1-10 Beauty
Beauty is always subjective. What is beautiful is that which puts into material form a part of the hopes and dreams and feelings that lie within us.

1-11 Control and Influence
Control arises from power. Influence from respect. The first lasts only so long as the knife stands at the throat; the second lasts in all places and in all times.

The key distinction is that by either control or influence you are trying to effect a certain end. This is not so much a moral dictum as a tactical notation. Influence is simply, in the long run, more efficient.

1-12 Confidence
Confidence is both an insiduous trap and the path from it. Confidence in anything other than one's own willingness to adapt and survive is merely arrogance; the failure of arrogance is that it breeds blindness.

1-13 Entropy
Entropy is not chaos - rather, it is the ultimate state of order. Chaos is the ultimate state of infinite possibility.

Entropy is traditionally defined as the tendency of matter to move towards a state where every atom in the universe is spread exactly evenly throughout it. See, "The center cannot hold," (William Blake) for a philosophical angle on this.

1-14 Aggression
Aggression is a reaction against the fear of the unknown; existence threatened, we fight to understand what was not understood before, or we flee, or we destroy if we see no other path. To speak of destroying aggression is to speak not of destroying violence, but of destroying the very will to live.

Aggression is being subsumed by "will".

1-15 Denial
Denial breeds hatred. Acceptance breeds understanding and, finally, mastery of oneself. Acceptance entails not submission, but rather an acknowledgement of the existence of the thing. In accepting a weakness in oneself, one is able to take the first step of many towards its mastery.

There are Gnostic resonations with this that are even more explicitly spelled out later in this section and the next.

1-16 Freedom
Freedom is of the mind, not the body. It is the strength of self to choose.

Note the similarity to Milton's Satan in "Paradise Lost" who says, "The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heav'n of hell, a hell of heav'n."

1-17 Violence
Violence is a road, not a place, and sometimes it is the only road one can take to reach the place where one is going.

1-18 Respect
Respect is neither a right nor a privilege. It is something that must be earned a thousand times over, from each person, young or old, wise or foolish, powerful or weak.

Respect becomes a relationship here, rather than a characteristic of an individual. You may respect someone, but I may not, and both are "right".

1-19 Strength
The beginning of the path to strength lies in the admission of vulnerability.

1-20 Identity
The name is not the thing itself. The act of naming defines by drawing a line between what is and what is not.

Here again is the concept that identification is a personal thing, not something that the universe does. A wooden chair is both "a chair" and "a piece of wood" - both are "real". The real power of this idea comes about when one takes this and applies it to emotions, ideas and concepts.

1-21 Humanity
The most dangerous line that can be drawn is the one between who is human and who is not.

1-22 Hate
We hate what we fear in ourselves.

A central Gnostic belief as well.

1-23 Religion
Religion is the set of beliefs upon which we rely.

This is a mixture of reversion to its entymological roots and a redefinition of the word.

1-24 Sacrifice
The greatest sacrifice is giving up oneีs life for another in the darkness, where no one will ever know.

Is the sacrifice of a moment balanced by the potential sacrifices of tomorrow? The magnitude of the choice is irrelevant. The difference is not whether one person or a million is saved, but whether you, who had the capacity to act, acted.

"Men are not potatoes." (Starship Troopers, Robert Heinlein)

1-25 Immortality
What matters is not whether we win, nor how many we save, nor even the joys we cause nor the terrors we banish. What matters is that we fight and try, and try again, and do not let even the fires of hell stay us from our chosen path.

And so we pass on our inheritance, we build our legacy so that something might stand when we are gone. We father children, we bear sons and daughters, we build something that might yet survive that darkness that waits for us all when, at the last, Death opens her arms and welcomes us home. We are strong not from what we build, but what we are. What we build or make will become a truth of its own. Our children, our works, they will be nothing greater and nothing less than themselves.

What we make is not our strength; our strength is the might of the moments of our existence. Though the universe be rallied against us, we are in the end only the sum of our actions. No more, no less, but simply the raging of the light against the darkness that engulfs us all.

1-26 Fate
We think ourselves free because the future is as yet undetermined, but in truth we are free because we cannot know the mind of Fate.

Determinism states that with sufficient computational capability and sufficient information, anything and everything could theoretically be predicted. This goes against current quantum mechanics theories, but the question is really rhetorical. The essential point is that freedom is point of view.

1-27 Action
Life is a losing game, and one day the game will be called on account of darkness. Success is not the product of a lifetime; it is the product of a day.

A day, or a moment. Success is measured by your choices, not your achievements.

1-28 Faith
The ultimate expression of faith is the act of trusting another with no guarantee or expectation beyond that the act of trust is in itself the first step towards the building of a unity greater than the sum of all of its parts.

This redefinition of faith is a central tenet of the Heresies; faith becomes an issue of conviction rather than blind belief. Conviction is essentially a rational choice of aims.

1-29 Gnosis
If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.

Almost verbatim from "The Gospel of Thomas", one of the Gnostic gospels. The Gospel of Thomas was unearthed in the middle part of the 20th century, but was not actually made widely available in English until the 70's.

1-30 Ignorance
Self-ignorance is a form of self-destruction.

Also from "The Gospel of Thomas".

1-31 Success and Failure
We are remembered by our successes, but we are defined by our failures.

Society remembers us by our successes, but it is how we learn from our failures that we become who we are.

1-32 Luck
Luck always favors the best horse.

1-33 Sentience
We are trained to think of our skin as the boundary between what is "us" and what is "everything else".

Are "you" the microrganisms that assist your digestion?
Are "you" the T-cells that attack unfamiliar elements?
Are "you" the things that you see?

The answer is simple: You are the thinking of the machine.

Sentience is the waking from the slumber of instinct; it is the ability to see the universe in both its singularity and its multitude of consciously defined patterns.

We are all of us the sum total of all existence. We are the hands of the universe building the furtherance of life itself. We are the hands of order; we are the hands of chaos. We are capable of miracles, for everything we can do is a miracle.
A continuation of the earlier redefinition of "sentience".

1-34 Love
Who you choose to love shapes who you are. What you choose to love shapes what you are.

1-35 Surrender
Only by being willing to surrender all that we are can we hope to gain all that we might become.

In a sense, this is a pesonal continuation of 1-1, "Creation". You have to give up your preconceptions about everything before you can understand anything.

1-36 Emotion
The struggle for survival births all other struggles. We live, learn, and love through this single reality. In other animals we call it instinct. In ourselves we call it emotion.

That this is so does not damage the value of emotion. The source does not change what it has become; love is no less great for having reason and purpose beyond the fact of its existence.

The equation of "instinct" with "emotion" states that while we, as humans, see ourselves as something distinct from the rest of the animal world, the distinction is one we have made up ourselves.

1-37 Time
Time is an abstraction; we chop it up into little pieces, calling this one a year, another one a day, this one over here a minute. The truth is that the divisions are of our own devising. What exists for a breath is as great as what exists for a century. Existence is the crucial distinction; all else are mirages born of our own imagination, distracting us from that which is.

Einstein argued that time was simply another dimension.

1-38 Defilement
What is done to us does not defile us. What defiles us is what we choose to do to others.

You are not defiled by being raped. The rapist is defiling himself by his choice to commit rape.

1-39 Loss
It is only after we have lost everything that we can gain anything.

See 1-35 Surrender.

1-40 Perspective
A chair is a piece of furniture designed to be sat upon; if it is cold enough, that same chair is so much firewood. Identity is determined by necessity.

1-41 Knowledge
Knowledge not acted upon is merely a collection of facts.

This comes from Sufism.

1-42 Roads
Roads are for journeys, not destinations.

1-43 Possession
We own what others agree that we own. The tree recognizes no master. Cut down the tree, but still it will not recognize you as its master, only as the stronger of the moment.

1-44 Expectation
Good things will happen to you and bad things will happen to you, but the choices you make should be independent of the expectation of reward or the fear of punishment.

Hell or Heaven are non-concepts to a heretic. It is not a case of lack of belief, but rather an issue of relevency. A heretic does what he or she does because of the action and because of the choice, not because of the promise of reward or punishment.

1-45 Death
Existence has no beginning and no end. Time is as much a dimension as location. What has existed once, will exist always; death is another word for change.

Existence is the important distinction. How long something has existed for is no more important that being here rather than being there at a particular moment in time.

1-46 Apotheosis
The action of awakening to our own sentience, the recognition of ourselves as the universe and the universe as ourselves is the first statement of apotheosis. The conscious choice to commit oneself to whatever choices the world presents to us, great or small, is the second statement of apotheosis. The act within the moment of the doing is the third statement of apotheosis.

"Apotheosis" means "becoming as a god". The Heresies are intrinsically pantheistic; they equate the universe with god.

Click for The Apocrypha