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Barclay PowersBarclay Powers is an author and futurist filmmaker. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in East Asian Studies from Columbia University and has an extensive background as an independent scholar. He has studied Chinese, Tibetan and Indian meditation, yoga and martial arts traditions for more than 30 years. Powers is currently releasing multiple media projects worldwide in film and print, related to the evolution of consciousness based on his studies with numerous masters of ancient wisdom traditions. His most recent film, The Lost Secret of Immortality, based on his book, won best spiritual/religious/Christian film at the Great Lakes International Film Festival, 2012, the Silver Palm Award at the Mexico International Film Festival, 2012 and best spiritual documentary at the New York International Film Festival, 2011. See his website at for information on the book, graphic novel and film.


Gnosis and the
Inner Science of
the Golden Flower

Barclay Powers

The study of non-ordinary states of consciousness has led to an interesting collection of theories, which often mix science and occult spiritual perspectives. Science itself is an evolving creature of habit, which cannot explain consciousness and is often impeded by the shallowness of the reductionist mechanistic worldview of materialism. However, the image of the illuminated human being that has achieved gnosis or spiritual awakening by pineal gland activation exists cross-culturally. A scientific explanation of gnosis or enlightenment that goes beyond material brain functions could eventually change the definition of what it means to be a fully conscious human being. This transhuman transition to super consciousness is the goal of Asian systems of consciousness evolution, which exist in both theistic and non-theistic versions. The question, which emerges when confronted with the bewildering assortment of theories, is when is gnosis real, and when is it imaginary like conventional made up religious myth? Is there a real story that can be explained scientifically underlying the narrative of inner illumination?

Kundalini Serpents and Chakras

The problem with the accepted definitions of mystical experience is that neuroscience is mechanistic while Asian contemplative traditions are vitalist. If gnosis is a vitalist phenomenon that is based on a partial or complete kundalini activation, which activates the pineal gland, conventional science does not have a materialist framework that can explain it. The Golden Flower or Infans Solaris thus represents the rediscovery of the Philosopher's Stone, while solving many of the major conflicts between science and religion. The theory of gnosis is one in which the purpose of being human is to achieve spiritual awakening beyond the veil of ordinary consciousness by opening the third eye. From the perspective of the contemplative traditions normal waking consciousness is actually similar to the unconsciousness of sleep. What is interesting is that the higher Tantric systems are based on the assumption that gnosis is the inseparable essence of consciousness itself, which has an enlightened origin within human beings.

Third Eye

What esoteric systems of consciousness evolution have in common is the vitalist belief that the human reproductive system contains a dormant mechanism of transcendence that can open the third eye when successfully activated. The question that remains is what is the difference between illuminated and conventional consciousness after the pineal gland is awakened by a complete kundalini activation, which is classically known as the Coniunctio, the inner alchemical conjunction of solar and lunar subtle bodies? The solar subtle body, the Golden Flower or Spiritual Embryo, the goal of the spiritual alchemists, was known as the Filius Philosophorum or Infans Solaris. Two other terms, Filius Sapientiae and Infans Noster, were also used to describe the solar subtle body in Europe six hundred years ago. It could be hypothesized that a scientific explanation of this lost subtle body, which is the true narrative underlying the myth of religion, might change science completely in the 21st century.

The Golden Flower/Spiritual Embryo

Conventional science is radically impeded by a model dependent reductionist perspective, which cannot acknowledge the validity of gnosis or spiritual awakening without substantially altering its own narrative of origin. The alleged convergence of neuroscience and Buddhism has the potential to solve the question of gnosis in many civilizations. The Bodhisattva, the altruistic character that points consciousness towards the embryonic enlightenment of the Dharmakaya reality body, may emerge as the dominant archetype of the 21st century when Infans Solaris is explained by science. A neuroscientific explanation of the Dharmakaya/Infans Solaris is the rediscovery of the Hermetic Androgyne/Philosopher's Stone.

The Philosopher's Stone
(note the 'embryo' in the lower abdomen.)

The narrative, which emerges from a scientific explanation of Tantric Buddhism, suggests an enlightened origin of consciousness in human beings. The gnostic Anthropos/kundalini actually exists as a divine spark of light dormant within the reproductive system of all human beings. Essentially, the first human from the beginning of time remains unchanged and androgynous within Homo sapiens as a dormant body of light. Buddhism calls this the embryo of Buddhahood. The Dharmakaya, the goal of Tantric alchemy, was the original goal of early science for more than five hundred years when it was known as the Hermetic Androgyne/Philosopher's Stone. The Coniunctio represents the goal of esoteric gnosis in many civilizations, the union of the subtle body and the Infans Solaris, the Golden Flower or Spiritual Embryo. This union of solar and lunar subtle bodies is believed to reverse the fall of man and restore the primordial illumination of divine origin. The meditation process of inner alchemy corresponds to the myth of the eternal return to a golden age. This golden age is a mythic narrative, which accurately describes the enlightened origin of human consciousness as well as post-Coniunctio awakening.

Hermetic Androgyne/Rebis

Gnosis represents the complete individuation of a human being that has fully activated the pineal gland. The union of solar and lunar subtle bodies within the physical body was the esoteric goal of many civilizations whose religions were originally based on this inner alchemical experience. The solar subtle body represents a dormant structure of super consciousness created during the first forty-nine days of human embryonic development. The classical Chinese medical definition of gnosis, or awakening, has been accurate for thousands of years the union of pre-birth and post-birth consciousness or chi. The fact that chi/prana or internal energy refinement is the key to permanently opening the third eye cannot be acknowledged or considered by science because vitalism has been rejected, although it is the basis of meditation, qi gong and kundalini activation.

Pituitary and Pineal Glands in the Human Brain

The consequences of a scientific explanation of the Golden Flower are staggering in terms of the advancement of the cultural definition of human potential. Instead of materialist reductionism emerging victorious from the war between science and religion, the Philosopher's Stone has been rediscovered in the 21st century. Gnosis represents the goal of the contemplative traditions, which neuroscience is allegedly in the process of validating. The union of the three bodies, physical, subtle and super subtle, the Trikaya of Buddhist awakening/enlightenment, may very well be the future of science. Essentially, corpus, anima, and spiritus have been resurrected, alive, and well.

Buddhist Three Bodies

The reason that gnosis has not been understood by neuroscience is threefold secrecy, vitalism and rarity. This combination of obscurations is particularly difficult to navigate scientifically because there is nothing that can be observed or measured. The idea that the Anthropos, or Golden Flower, represents a lost subtle body that fully activates the pineal gland, when a complete kundalini activation occurs, cannot be considered because it challenges the scientific materialist narrative of human origin. The starting point of the kundalini in the body represents a dormant structure, which corresponds to the religious idea of the divine spark of light within man. This implies that the origin of the species, the first human, Adam Kadmon or the Anthropos, is still present but unconscious within the body, like a mummy within a tomb waiting to awake according to gnostic writings.

Spiritual Embryo/Infans Solaris

Many of the problems with current research occur because of specialization. The convergence of Buddhism and neuroscience has the potential to eventually explain the super consciousness and ultimate freedom that is promised by the union of the subtle body structures of the meditator. What is interesting is the process of progressive amnesia that led to science losing the Holy Grail, Infans Solaris or Infans Noster, the solar subtle body that has been ignored in modern times because of scientific reductionist bias. This phenomenon of the Coniunctio, which united the solar and lunar subtle bodies, often by sexual yoga, is actually the basis of Tantric Buddhism and its Taoist alchemical precursors. If you look up Mahamudra, a core Indo-Tibetan lineage, you find the astral body is described as the illusory body, which is united with the holographic Dharmakaya ultimate reality body when enlightenment is achieved. Embryonic enlightenment, or gnosis, results in a clear understanding of the Trikaya, physical, subtle and super subtle bodies, that result in the integration of the microcosm and macrocosm when they are fully united by the inner alchemical firing process. Infans Solaris, the Golden Flower or Spiritual Embryo, is still being regularly achieved in China and is well known as the goal of meditation and qi gong.

Samantabhadra in Sexual Union with Consort
Tibetan Depiction of the Coniunctio as the First Primordial Buddha

The problem with conventional research on reincarnation, OBEs and NDEs is that they don't reveal the key premise of inner alchemy, the Anthropos, the first human being of light which is dormant in the reproductive system of every human being. The scientific rejection of kundalini/vitalism is also the rejection of gnosis or enlightenment, which is the goal of meditation. The shaman, the yogi and the alchemist represent three archetypal illuminated characters that challenge the paradigm of materialist reductionism. Scientific close-mindedness currently prevents a neuroscientific comprehension of spiritual awakening based on Infans Solaris, the embryonic solar body of light. Fortunately, the Golden Flower has been well known in China as the goal of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism for thousands of years. The creation of the classical medical system attributed to the Yellow Emperor is based on the practice of sexual yoga, which has an ancient history as one of the key methods of inner alchemy. The well-known Rosarium Philosophorum demonstrates the knowledge of Tantric science was known in Europe in the 16th century. The ancient wisdom underlying shamanism, yoga and inner alchemy is the divine spark of light that activates the pineal gland at the completion stage of the gnostic process. A complete kundalini activation is the method of achieving the Coniunctio, the union of solar and lunar subtle bodies that reverses the fall of man by opening the third eye. A cross-cultural explanation of embryonic enlightenment, the real goal of the convergence of Buddhism and neuroscience, may eventually result in gnosis uniting science and spirituality in the 21st century. The rediscovery of the Filius Philosophorum, the solar subtle body within, changes the scientific narrative completely. Inner illumination results in the conclusion that the origin of the human species is based on a common enlightened ancestor, which gnosis reveals as the Dharmakaya ultimate reality body.

Twin Kundalini Serpents that Represent the Coniunctio and DNA

Let's get back to our original question when is gnosis real or imaginary? Human imagination and language itself are often constrained by the cultural narratives and model dependent belief systems, which create the ideology of the particular civilization. The central problem with the reductionist neuroscientific definition of consciousness and gnosis is that super consciousness is the unknown core hidden identity of the human being. This is the basis of many Asian systems of consciousness evolution that are based on using the chi/prana of the body to awaken the third eye and restore the original enlightened state of consciousness permanently. Western bias prevents the reductionist paradigm from considering the two most accurate explanations of gnosis the classical Chinese and Indo-Tibetan medical definitions of enlightenment that are based on a vitalist perspective of spiritual awakening. Integral theorists often attempt a synthesis but miss the key fact that the Anthropos or Dharmakaya reality body, the embryo of enlightenment, Infans Solaris is the basis of many religions, and is actually the oldest science as Hermetic, Chinese and Indian alchemical traditions have always insisted. This means that science is actually proving, through the convergence of neuroscience and Buddhism, that the esoteric spiritual traditions are largely accurate in terms of their appraisal of the human condition of dormant genius. Science lost its soul when it lost the Filius Philosophorum, which is theoretically in the process of rediscovery in the 21st century.

Taoist Three Bodies

Noted Integral theorist, Ervin Laszlo, is one of the few philosophers of science who has understood that the leading edge of science is compatible with the highest level of authentic spiritual experience. This is corroborated by the neuroscientific quest to discover the origin of religion in the brain. Gnosis means that the human body and brain have dormant physiological structures, which result in the actual liberation of consciousness when the physical, subtle and super subtle bodies are united by the Coniunctio, the classical alchemical marriage. This was the original goal of science and many of the contemplative wisdom traditions.

Oroborus, the Cyclical Symbol of Gnosticism and Hermeticism

The Infans Solaris, the dormant super subtle body, may theoretically radically change the scientific narrative of brain, consciousness, and evolution. Although shrouded in secrecy the Six Yogas of Naropa are a good example of a collection of Indian methods of achieving the union of the subtle illusory (astral) body and the Dharmakaya reality body, which represents real gnosis. There is nothing more threatening to conventional science and religion than the fully awakened pineal gland, which remains the real goal of meditation and spiritual experience. It should be noted that the entire narrative of Western civilization and its suicidal goal of dominating and destroying Nature changes abruptly when the Anthropos is scientifically validated. Gnosis becomes the goal of the evolution of consciousness in the 21st century.

Infans Solaris/Spiritual Embryo

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