Allogenes is the third tractate of Codex XI from the Nag Hammadi Library.
The Greek original is lost and the Coptic version is in poor condition.
Allogenes, which means ‘stranger’, referring to the spiritually mature person who becomes a stranger to the world, describes in detail the process of attaining gnosis.
Here Messos, the initiate, at the first stage, learns of “the power that is within you.” Allogenes explains to him his own process of spiritual development:
“My soul went slack and I took flight; I was very disturbed. And I turned to myself and saw the light that surrounded me and the good that was in me, and I became divine.”
Then Allogenes continues, he receives a vision of a feminine power, Youel, “she who belongs to all the glories”, who tells him:
“Since your wisdom has become complete and you have known the Good that is within, hear concerning the Triple-Powered One, things you shall guard in great silence and great mystery, because they are not to be spoken to anyone except those who are worthy and able to hear.”
“The power uttered a sound in this fashion: ‘ZZA ZZA ZZA.”
As in the Discourse on the Eighth and Ninth, this suggests a meditative technique which includes chanting.
Allogenes advances to the second stage – to know oneself.
“And then I prayed that the revelation might happen to me…I did not despair…I prepared myself and deliberated with myself for a hundred years. And I rejoiced greatly that I was in such a great light and such a blessed path…”
Allogenes considers the revelations made to him for one hundred years.
Following this, Allogenes says he has an out of the body experience, and sees “holy powers” that offer him specific instruction:
“O Allogenes, behold your blessedness, how silently it abides, by which you know your proper self, and seeking yourself, ascend to the Vitality that you will see moving. And even if you cannot stand, fear not. But if you wish to stand, ascend to the Existence, and you will find it standing and stilling…And when you receive a revelation…and you become afraid in that place, withdraw back because of the energies. And when you become perfect in that place, still yourself.”
Messos describes his response:
“While I was listening to these things as those there spoke them, there was within me a stillness of silence, and I heard the blessedness whereby I knew myself as I AM.”
Following the instruction, the initiate says he was filled with “revelation…I received power…I knew the One who exists in me, and the Triple Power, and the revelation of his uncontainableness.”
Ecstatic with this discovery, Allogenes desires to go further:
“I was seeking the Ineffable and Unknown God.”
But at this point the “powers” tell Allogenes to cease in his futile attempt. They command him to write down what he has learned and to place it on a mountain, under guard, with an oracle. Allogenes dedicates the work to his initiate Messos,
“These were the things that were disclosed to me.”
The purpose of Allogenes is to teach that one can come to know oneself and the “one who exists within”, but one cannot attain knowledge of the Unknown God. Any attempt to do so “hinders the effortlessness which is within you.” Gnosis involves recognizing the limits of human knowledge and experience.
“Whoever sees God as he is in every respect…or would say that he something like gnosis, has sinned against him…because he did not know God.”
Allogenes infers complete intuition of the Unknowable One is achieved only at the point where one abandons any active attempt to know him – characterized by a non-knowing knowledge.
So, Allogenes records specific techniques of initiation for attaining that self-knowledge of the divine power within.
I believe Allogenes, along with the rest of Codex XI (The Interpretation of Knowledge, An Exposition and Hypsiphrone) was written by Jude, son of Sarah and grandson of Mary Magdalene, at the Lake Mareotis community near Alexandria, Egypt in the late 1st – early 2nd century.
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