What is Manicheism, What Does It Mean?July 2, 2021
Manichaeism is a mixed Christian-Zoroastrian dualist religion founded by Mani of Iran. Manichaeism is based on the Zoroastrian principle of good and evil. Two principles dominate the universe; goodness is light and spirit, and evil is darkness and body.
The universe is a mixture of good and evil, which is why man is made of spirit and body. It is necessary to save the souls that are imprisoned in the body and suffer. The goal is to reach together on top of the good-evil battle. Science can lead people to this union, and science is won with love. Love will dissolve evil into good and bring people to unity. In order to reach this goal, it is enough to live by avoiding all kinds of passion and lying.
Mani saw himself as the last link in a chain of prophets stretching from Adam to Buddha, Zoroaster, and Jesus. According to him, past revelations of true religion were not effective because they spoke to a single people in a single language. Also, those who later joined Manichaeism failed to see its original truth. However, he was tasked with spreading a universal religion that would replace these other religions.
Manicha aimed to establish a truly universal world by unifying the partial truths of all previous religions, especially Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, and Christianity, which came with revelation. But this religion had to express a truth that could take different forms according to different cultures, beyond an ordinary additiveness. Manichaeism was essentially a kind of gnosticism. Like all other forms of gnosticism, Manichaeanism taught that life in this world was filled with unbearable pain and evil. Inner enlightenment or gnosis (inner knowledge) showed that the soul, sharing the same nature as God, had fallen into the evil world of matter and had to be rescued from it through the spirit. This knowledge was the only way to attain salvation. Self-knowledge meant regaining one’s true self, darkened by ignorance and lack of self-consciousness, as it was mixed with body and matter in the past. To know yourself was to understand that your soul shared nature with God and came from a transcendent world. Knowledge enabled man to realize that he was not separated from the transcendental world despite the depressed conditions he was in in the material universe, and that he was bound to this world by immortal and immanent bonds.
Manichaeism presents the information it carries on the true nature, destiny, god and giver of humanity through a complex mythology. The sinful soul mingles with the wicked matter and is finally liberated through the spirit. Therefore, mythology takes place in three phases: the first period, when fundamentally opposite essences such as spirit and matter, good and evil, light and darkness are separate from each other; the interim period, when two substances mingled with each other and corresponds to the age we live in; the next period in which the original duality will be reconstructed. The souls of good people return to Heaven upon death. The soul of the person who indulges in bodily things such as adultery, having children, acquiring property, growing crops, eating meat, and drinking wine is doomed to be constantly reborn in new bodies.