The term Monad comes from the Greek feminine noun Monas (μονάς), “One unit.”

As originally conceived by the Pythagoreans, the Monad is the Supreme Being, divinity or the totality of all things.

In some gnostic systems, the Supreme Being is known as the Monad (The One, The Absolute). It is related to Aiōn Teleos (the Perfect Aeon, αἰών τέλεος), Bythos (Depth or Profundity, Βυθός), Proarchē (Before the Beginning, προαρχή), Hē Archē (The Beginning, ἡ ἀρχή), the Ineffable Parent, and/or the primal Father.

Early Christian gnostics like Valentinus taught that the Monad is the high source of the Pleroma, the region of light constituting “the fullness of the Godhead.” Through a process of emanation, various divine entities and realms emerge from the One, but progressively degraded due to their remoteness from the Father. The various emanations of the One, totaling thirty or 365 in number are called Aeons. According to Theodoret’s book on heresies (Haereticarum Fabularum Compendium i.18), the Arab Christian Monoimus (c. 150–210) taught that Monad means the highest god that created lesser gods and elements (similar to Aeons). Apocryphon of John tells that The Monad is a monarchy with nothing above it. It explains that he is the invisible One who is above everything, who exists as incorruption, which is in the pure light into which no eye can look. According to Hippolytus of Rome, this view was inspired by the Pythagoreans, for whom the first existing thing was the Monad, which begat the dyad, which begat the numbers, which begat the point, begetting lines, and so on.). For a long time, legend persisted that a young man by the name of Epiphanes, who died at the age of 17, was the leader of Monadic Gnosticism.

At the top of Origen’s pyramid the Monad is God, who is later revealed as the Triad, the Trinity, the Godhead, which cannot be imagined without creative energy. The knowledge of the Monad is enjoyed by the world of pure spirits until some of them, due to boredom, go into apostasy. As a punishment, God persecutes them specifically for that purpose and only for that purpose, created matter, and the deeper the fall, the rougher the matter, until the stage in which from a fallen spirit he becomes a man. Aeons pass, new spirits fall away, try to rise, then fall again. Over all cosmic events, God’s providence reigns, thanks to which all fallen beings will find their way to bliss in the Monad. This return is the only real task set for a human. The mediator is the Logos of God, who allows him to be a man among other people and by his example shows the way of return. The first step towards the return is asceticism, the mastering of passions that leads to a person becoming a pneumatic and finally being overwhelmed by the greatness of God. Origen was cursed by the church in 553.

Origen’s thoughts were continued by Gregory of Nyssa (died about 394). According to Gregory, God is constantly moving away as we get closer to him, but he is also close at the same time, because in Christ he became a man and thereby revealed an infinite amount of his being. He sees the benefit of all this searching in the search itself. Finding consists in searching, and one should constantly enjoy finding and searching.

A contemporary of Gregory of Nyssa, Evagrius of Pontus (345-399), a Byzantine monk and writer, in his work The Spiritual Head, further elaborates Origen’s thought. Evagrius divided the world into three. At the top is the Monad, which in faith reveals itself as the Triad. In second place is the Kingdom of the spirit, to which, according to what is best in it, man also belongs. In third place is the Realm of Matter. The monad is characterized by absolute immobility. Movement is the very essence of sin and falling away from the Monad. When the spirit falls, it loses the unity of its being and is divided into mind (nous), soul (psyche) and physical body. As a result there is sluggishness, narrowing of consciousness and limited senses. Man’s real task is to return to unity. It begins with ascetic action, purification and preparation for higher knowledge. Evagrious compiled a list of categories of different types of temptation and a list of eight evil thoughts: greed, fornication, avarice, regret, acedia (carelessness, laziness – especially pronounced among monks), anger, arrogance and pride. Higher knowledge leads to the expansion of consciousness, which results in the disappearance of passion and freedom of spirit. The transformed mystic now stands to God in the same relation as Christ to the Father. The perfect mystic thus becomes an Isochrist (equal to Christ). Evagrius’ teaching was declared pantheism and treated as heresy.

Evagrius’ spiritual doctrine influenced Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite (6th century) and Maximus the Confessor (7th century). Pseudo-Dionysius Aeropagita was a supporter of institutions and a critic of Evagrius. In the writings On the Names of God and On Mystical Theology, he elaborated on the nature of contemplative prayer of disciplined renunciation of the senses in order to prepare for the immediate experience of “light from divine darkness.” He compiled the systems of angelic hierarchies that very quickly became accepted as an integral part of Catholic doctrine, and they also influenced the later works of Thomas Aquinas. According to him, demons are angels who have betrayed their prior, but who are not evil either by origin or by nature: “The race of demons is not, therefore, evil because it obeys its nature, but because it does not obey it.” At the top is the Monad, and below it is the Trinity of emanations: wisdom, power and peace. Then follow the nine choirs of angels: Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Dominions, Powers, Authorities, Principalities, Archangels and Angels. After them, the degrees of the church hierarchy follow until the pastorate, where the monk is below the priest. The question of how an individual can rise, which was of primary interest to Evagrius, remained unanswered.

In the philosophy of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, there are infinite monads, which are the basic and immaterial elementary particles, or simplest units, that make up the universe.

According to some newer Hermetic school of thinking Monad is our own personal God. In this sense, Monad is beyond Holy Guardian Angel.

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