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Mani

(216 - )

    Biography:

    Iranian Prophet and Founder of Manichaeism, a gnostic religion once widespread but now extinct

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    Hereupon one of those Arch-fiends and [one] of the Stars, and Overmastering Violence, Avarice, Lust, and Sin, copulated, and from their copulation sprang the first man, who is Adam, two Arch-fiends, a male and a female, directing the process. A second copulation followed and from this sprang the beautiful woman who is Eve.
    It is incumbent upon him who will enter into the religion that he prove himself, and that if he sees that he is able to subdue lust and avarice, to leave off the eating of all kinds of flesh, the drinking of wine, and connubial intercourse, and to withhold himself from what is injurious in water, fire, magic and hypocrisy, he may enter into the religion; but if not let him abstain from entering. But if he loves religion, yet is not able to repress sensuality and avarice, yet he may make himself serviceable for the maintenance of religion and of the Truthful [i.e. the `Elect'], and may meet (offset) his corrupt deeds through the use of opportunities where he wholly gives himself up to activity, righteousness, zealous watchfulness, prayer and pious humiliation; for this suffices him in this transitory world and in the future eternal world, and his form in the last day will be the second form, of which, God willing, we shall treat further below.
    Mani imposed upon his disciples commandments, namely, ten commandments, and to these are attached three seals, and fasts of seven days in each month. The commandments are: Faith in the four most glorious essences: God, his Light, his Power, and his Wisdom. But God, whose name is glorious, is the King of the Paradise of Light; his Light is the sun and the moon, his Power the five angels: Gentle Breeze, Wind, Light, Water and Fire; and his Wisdom the Sacred Religion. This embraces five ideas: that of teachers, the sons of Meekness; that of those enlightened by the Sun, sons of Knowledge; that of the presbyters, sons of Reason; that of the Truthful, sons of Mystery; that of Hearers, sons of Insight. The ten commandments are: Abandoning of prayer to idols, of lies, avarice, murder, adultery, theft, of the teaching of jugglery and magic, of duplicity of mind, which betrays doubt on religion, of drowsiness and inertness in business; and the commandment of four or seven prayers. In prayer one is to stand upright, rub himself with flowing water or with something else, and turn while standing to the great light (the Sun), then prostrate himself and in this position pray: Blessed be our Leader, the Paraclete, the Ambassador of the Light, blessed be his angels, the Guardians, and highly praised be his resplendent hosts.
    Mani teaches further: Out of this dark earth [the Kingdom of Darkness] arose Satan, not that he was in himself eternal from the beginning, yet were his substances in his elements unoriginated. These substances now united themselves out of his elements and went forth as Satan, his head as the head of a lion, his body as the body of a dragon, his wings as the wings of a bird, his tail as the tail of a great fish, and his four feet as the feet of creeping animals. When this Satan under the name Iblis, the (temporally considered) eternal (primeval), had arisen out of the darkness, he devoured and consumed everything, spread destruction right and left, and plunged into the deep, in all these movements bringing down from above desolation and annihilation. Then he strove for the height, and descried the beams of light; but they were opposed to him. When he saw later how exalted these were, he was terrified, shrivelled up, and merged himself in his elements. Hereupon he strove anew with such violence after the height, that the land of light descried the doings of Satan and how he was bent upon murder and destruction. After they had been apprised thereof, the world of Insight learned of it, then the world of Knowledge, then the world of Mystery, then the world of Understanding, then the world of Meekness. When at last, he further teaches, the King of the Paradise of Light had also learned of it, he thought how he might suppress Satan, and, Mani adds, those hosts of his would have been mighty enough to overpower Satan. Yet he desired to do this by means of his own might. Accordingly, he produced by means of the spirit of his right hand [i.e., the Gentle Breeze], his five worlds, and his twelve elements, a creature, and this is the (temporally considered) Eternal Man [Primordial Man], and summoned him to do battle with the Darkness. But Primordial Man, Mani adds, armed himself with the five races [natures], and these are the five gods, the Gentle Breeze, the Wind, the Light, the Water and the Fire. Of them he made his armor, and the first that he put on was the Gentle Breeze. He then covered the Gentle Breeze with the burning Light as with a mantle. He drew over the Light Water filled with atoms, and covered himself with the blowing Wind. Hereupon he took the Fire as a shield and as a lance in his hand, and precipitated himself suddenly out of Paradise until he reached the border of the region that is contiguous to the battle-field. The Primordial Devil also took his five races [natures]: Smoke, Burning, Darkness, Hot Wind and Cloud; armed himself with them; made of them a shield for himself; and went to meet Primordial Man. After they had fought for a long time the Primordial Devil vanquished the Primordial Man, devoured some of his light, and surrounded him at the same time with his races and elements Then the King of the Paradise of Light sent other gods, freed him, and vanquished the Darkness. But he who was sent by the King of Light to rescue Primordial Man is called the Friend of the Light. This one made a precipitate descent, and Primordial Man was freed from the hellish substances, along with that which he had snatched from the spirit of Darkness and which had adhered to him. When, therefore, Mani proceeds, Joyfulness and the Spirit of Life drew near to the border, they looked down into the abyss of this deep hell and saw Primordial Man and the angels [i.e., the races or natures with which he was armed], how Iblis, the Proud Oppressors, and the Dark Life surrounded them. And the Spirit of Life, says Mani, called Primordial Man with a loud voice as quick as lightning and Primordial Man became another god. When the Primordial Devil had ensnared Primordial Man in the battle, Mani further teaches, the five parts of the Light were mingled with the five parts of the Darkness.
    Mani teaches: Two subsistences form the beginning of the world, the one light the other darkness; the two are separated from each other. The light is the first most glorious being, limited by no number, God himself, the King of the Paradise of Light. He has five members: meekness, knowledge, understanding, mystery, insight; and five other spiritual members: love, faith, truth, nobleness, and wisdom. He maintained furthermore that the God of light, with these his attributes, is without beginning, but with him two equally eternal things likewise exist, the one the atmosphere, the other the earth. Mani adds: and the members of the atmosphere are five [the first series of divine attributes mentioned above are enumerated]; and the members of the earth are five [the second series]. The other being is the darkness, and his members are five: cloud, burning, hot wind, poison, and darkness. Mani teaches: that the light subsistence borders immediately on the dark subsistence, without a dividing wall between them; the light touches with its (lowest) side the darkness, while upwards to the right and left it is unbounded. Even so the darkness is endless downwards and to the right and left.
    Verily I say unto thee, O Spitama Zarathustra; the man who has a wife is far above him who begets no sons; he who keeps a house is far above him who has none; he who has children is far above a childless man.
    When death approaches a Truthful One (`Elect'), teaches Mani, Primordial Man sends a Light-God in the form of a guiding Wise One, and with him three gods, and along with these the water-vessel, clothing, head-gear, crown, and garland of light. With them comes the maiden, like the soul of this Truthful One. There appears to him also the devil of avarice and lust, along with other devils. As soon as the Truthful Man sees these he calls the goddess who has assumed the form of the Wise One and the three other gods to his help, and they draw near him. As soon as the devils are aware of their presence they turn and flee. The former, however, take this Truthful One, clothe him with the crown, the garland and the robe, put the water-vessel in his hand and mount with him upon the pillars of promise to the sphere of the moon, to Primordial Man, and to Nahnaha, the Mother of the Living, to the position in which he was at first in the Paradise of Light. But his body remains lying as before in order that the sun, the moon, and the gods of Light may withdraw from it the powers, i.e., the water, the fire and the gentle breeze, and he rises to the sun and becomes a god. But the rest of his body, which is wholly darkness, is cast into hell.
    When, therefore, the five Angels saw what had taken place, they besought the Messenger of Joyful Knowledge, the Mother of Life, Primordial Man and the Spirit of Life, to send some one to liberate and save man, to reveal to him knowledge and righteousness, and to free him from the power of the devils. They sent, accordingly, Jesus, whom a god accompanied. These seized the two Arch-fiends, imprisoned them and freed the two creatures (Adam and Eve.)
    Worships two deities, unoriginated, self-existent, eternal, opposed the one to the other. Of them he represents the one as good, and the other as evil, and assigned the name of Light to the former, and that of Darkness to the latter.
    First Name: 
    Mani
    Birth Date: 
    216
    Death Date: 
    276
    Bio: 
    Iranian Prophet and Founder of Manichaeism, a gnostic religion once widespread but now extinct