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Gnosis in the most basic sense is a knowing relation to The Being through which it is sensed and recognised in all its awesomeness - both as a source of inner knowing and as a being quite distinct from the human self and identity we know. The felt character of this relation can be likened to the feeling one might have if a human being towards whom one feels an unbounded awe and respect for had just entered the room. Such a degree of awe and respect that one felt impelled to bow one’s head in humility and reverence, except that for the gnostic the ‘room’ is a space one makes room for in oneself, and the bowing of one’s head is an inner act – the ego turning its gaze inwards, not looking but listening itself into the inner silence of that space and knowing - simply knowing – that there is a being there to listen to. In listening ourselves into this silence and into this space we listen ourselves into The Being. Inward listening of this sort has a distinctly prayerful character, because it has a knowingly relational character. One knows there really is ‘someone there’ – a being that one is listening to. One knows that one is not just listening to ‘oneself’ but to The Being. The essence of ‘gnostic’ prayer is not so much an inward speaking but rather a prayerful listening of this sort - one in which the ego becomes silent and bows its head in silent reverence to a being that it can sense but not see. And yet it is precisely this prayerful inward listening that truly speaks, that silently calls to and addresses The Being, saying to it: ‘I know You are there’, ‘I acknowledge Your reality even though I cannot see You’. A listening that says also: ‘I humbly and respectfully sink myself into Your knowing and Your being, so that I can once again know You as the very ground of my being and my knowing’. In Two Men Gazing at the Moon Friedrich captures the fundamental mood of reverent, prayerful contemplation. In the dim and mysterious light of the Moon the two men are able to meditatively sink themselves into the very ground of their being. They share in an intimate knowing relation to The Being, symbolised by the ghostly apparition of the Moon, a relation which only the sturdy rocks and humbly bowed and uprooted tree bears witness to. One man rests his arm on the shoulder of the other as if to reassure himself of his human being. Does his gaze rest on the Moon or sink into the crevice opened up beneath the roots of the tree? Is ‘The Being’ itself Moon or Man, rock or crevice? Is it illumined by the mysterious light of the Moon, or by the meditative inner gaze of the men? Both and neither.

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