Gnosticism

Gnosticism ("having knowledge") is a modern term categorizing a collection of ancient religions whose adherents shunned the material world-which they viewed as created by the demiurge-and embraced the spiritual world. Gnostic ideas influenced many ancient religions that teach that gnosis (variously interpreted as knowledge, enlightenment, salvation, emancipation or 'oneness with God') may be reached by practicing philanthropy to the point of personal poverty and diligently searching for wisdom by helping others. However, practices varied among those who were Gnostic.

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