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574
MANICHAEISM

primal man free; the latter had already been robbed of part of his light by the darkness, and the five dark elements had already mingled themselves with the generations of light. It only remained now for the primal man to descend into the abyss and prevent the further increase of the generations of darkness by cutting off their roots; but he could not immediately separate again the elements that had once mingled. These mixed elements are the elements of the present visible world, which was formed from them at the command of the God of light. The forming of the world is in itself the beginning of the deliverance of the imprisoned elements of light. The world is represented as an orderly structure of various heavens and various earths, which is borne and supported by the aeons, the angels of light. It possesses in the sun and moon, which are in their nature almost quite pure, large reservoirs, in which the portions of light that have been rescued are stored up. In the sun dwells the primal man himself, as well as the glorious spirits which carry on the work of redemption; in the moon the mother of life is enthroned. The twelve constellations of the zodiac form an ingenious machine, a great wheel with buckets, which pour into the sun and moon, those shining ships that sail continually through space, the portions of light set free from the world. Here they are purified anew, and attain finally to the kingdom of pure light and to God Himself. The later Western Manichaeans termed those portions of light which are scattered throughout the world—in its elements and organisms—awaiting their deliverance, the Jesus patibilis.

It is significant of the materialistic and pessimistic character of the system that, while the formation of the world is considered as a work of the good spirits, the creation of man is referred to the princes of darkness. The first man, Adam, was engendered by Satan in conjunction with “sin,” “cupidity,” “desire.” But the spirit of darkness drove into him all the portions of light he had stolen, in order to be able to dominate them the more securely. Hence Adam is a discordant being, created in the image of Satan, but carrying within him the stronger spark of light. Eve is given him by Satan as his companion. She is seductive sensuousness, though also having in her a small spark of light. But if the first human beings thus stood entirely under the dominion of the devil, the glorious spirits took them under their care from the very outset, sending aeons down to them (including Jesus), who instructed them regarding their nature, and in particular warned Adam against sensuality. But this first man fell under the temptation of sexual desire. Cain and Abel indeed are not sons of Adam, but of Satan and Eve; Seth, however, who is full of light, is the offspring of Adam by Eve. Thus did mankind come into existence, its various members possessing very different shares of light, but the men having uniformly a larger measure of it than the women. In the course of history the demons sought to bind men to themselves by means of sensuality, error and false religions (among which is to be reckoned above all the religion of Moses and the prophets), while the spirits of light carried on their process of distillation with the view of gaining the pure light which exists in the world. But these good spirits can only save men by imparting to them the true gnosis concerning nature and her forces, and by calling them away from the service of darkness and sensuality. To this end prophets, preachers of true knowledge, have been sent into the world. Mani, following the example of the gnostic Jewish Christians, appears to have held Adam, Noah, Abraham (perhaps Zoroaster and Buddha) to be such prophets. Probably Jesus was also accounted a prophet who had descended from the world of light—not, however, the historical Jesus, the devilish Messiah of the Jews, but a contemporaneous phantom Jesus, who neither suffered nor died (Jesus impatibilis). According to the teaching of some Manichaeans, it was the primal man who disseminated the true gnosis in the character of Christ. But at all events Mani himself, on his own claim, is to be reckoned the last and greatest prophet, who took up the work of Jesus impatibilis and of Paul (for he too finds recognition), and first brought full knowledge. He is the “leader,” the “ambassador of the light,” the “Paraclete.” It is only through his agency and that of his imitators, “the elect,” that the separation of the light from the darkness can be completed. The system contains very fantastic descriptions of the processes by which the portions of light when once set free finally ascend even to the God of light. He who during his lifetime did not become one of the elect, who did not completely redeem himself, has to go through a severe process of purification on the other side of the grave, till he too is gathered to the blessedness of the light. It is erroneous, however, to ascribe, as has been done, a doctrine of transmigration to the Manichaeans. Of course men’s bodies as well as the souls of the unsaved, who according to the oldest conception have in them no light whatever, fall under the sway of the powers of darkness. A later view, adapted to the Christian one, represents the portions of light in the unsaved as actually becoming lost. When the elements of light have at last been completely, or as far as possible, delivered from the world, the end of all things comes. All glorious spirits assemble, the God of light himself appears, accompanied by the aeons and the perfected just ones. The angels supporting the world withdraw themselves from their burden, and everything falls in ruins. A tremendous conflagration consumes the world; the perfect separation of the two powers takes place once more; high above is the kingdom of light, again brought into a condition of completeness, and deep below is the (? now powerless) darkness.

Ethics, Social Polity and Worship of the Manichaeans.—On the basis of such a cosmical philosophy, ethics can only have a dualistic ascetic character. Manichaean ethics is not merely negative, however, since it is necessary to cherish, strengthen and purify the elements of light, as well as free oneself from the elements of darkness. The aim is not self-destruction, but self-preservation; and yet the ethics of Manichaeism appears in point of fact as thoroughly ascetic. The Manichaean had, above all, to refrain from sensual enjoyment, shutting himself up against it by three seals—the signaculum oris, manus and sinus. The signaculum oris forbids all eating of unclean food (which included all bodies of animals, wine, &c.—vegetable diet being allowed because plants contained more light, though the killing of plants, or even plucking their fruit and breaking their twigs, was not permitted), as well as all impure speech. The signaculum manus prohibits all traffic with things generally, in so far as they carry in them elements of darkness. Finally, by the signaculum sinus every gratification of sexual desire, and hence also marriage, are forbidden. Besides all this, life was further regulated by an exceedingly rigorous system of fasts. Certain astronomical conjunctions determined the selection of the fast-days, which in their total number amounted to nearly a quarter of the year. Sunday was regularly solemnized as one, and the practice was also generally observed on Monday. Hours of prayer were determined with equal exactness. The Manichaean had to pray four times a day, each prayer being preceded by ablutions. The worshipper turned towards the sun, or the moon, or the north, as the seat of light; but it is erroneous to conclude from this, as has been done, that in Manichaeism the sun and moon were themselves objects of worship. Forms of prayer used by the Manichaeans have been preserved to us in the Fihrist. The prayers are addressed to the God of light, to the whole kingdom of light, to the glorious angels, and to Mani himself, who is apostrophized in them as “the great tree, which is all salvation.” According to Kessler, these prayers are closely related to the Mandaean and the ancient Babylonian hymns. An asceticism so strict and painful as that demanded by Manichaeism could only be practised by few; hence the religion must have abandoned all attempts at an extensive propaganda had it not conceded the principle of a twofold morality. A distinction was made in the community between the electi (perfecti), the perfect Manichaeans, and the catechumeni (auditores), the secular Manichaeans. Only the former submitted themselves to all the demands made by their religion; for the latter the stringency of the precepts was relaxed. They had to avoid idolatry, sorcery, avarice, falsehood, fornication, &c.; above all, they were not allowed to kill any living being (the ten commandments of Mani). They had also to free themselves as much as possible from the world; but in truth they lived very much as their non-Manichaean fellow-citizens. We have here essentially the same condition of things as in the Catholic Church, where a twofold morality was also in force, that of the religious orders and that of secular Christians—only that the position of the electi in Manichaeism was a more distinguished one than that of the monks in Catholicism. For, after all, the Christian monks never quite forgot that salvation is given by God through Christ, whereas the Manichaean electi were actually themselves redeemers. Hence it was the duty of the auditores to pay the greatest respect and most assiduous attention to the