Category: Blog

What are the “three worlds” in Manichaeism?

In Manichaeism the “three worlds” are also referred to as the “three ages” or “three eras.”

First Age
In the beginning the Spiritual World of Light and the Material World of Darkness were separate.

Second Age
Disciples of Mani believe humanity currently exists in the Second Age which is characterized by the mixing of Light and Darkness. Manichaeans believe Light has been trapped in a physical body which was designed by the forces of the World of Darkness. According to divine revelatory texts, it is during the latter part of the Second Age that a Messenger will appear in the world of mankind to help bring a message of hope to the world. Manichaeans believe that his teaching will help individuals realise their true origin and liberate the Light within from the darkness.

Third Age
The Third Age is future. The Church teaches that this age will bring about the division of Light and Darkness once again. The Light that is trapped in the physical body will be separated and return to God in the Celestial Kingdom of Light.

Did Mar Mani reject the Old or New Testament?

Manichaeans believe that Mar Mani only rejected rabbinical law where it was not in harmony with the plain teaching of the Law of Israel. He also rejected much of the rabbinical interpretation of the Law. He never rejected the purity of the Law of Moses or the Old Testament. He quoted from the Psalms and based some of his own psalms on those of the Old Testament. He also quoted Paul and was in fact fond of the Apostle and his teaching style. It is also believed by Manichaeans that Paul did not reject the Law.
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What is Alms-giving?

Alms-giving is an ancient practice of the Church where Hearers bring food offerings to the Elect Intercessors for propitiation of sins and other violations of the Precepts or Teachings.

Is Alms-giving the same as tithing?
No, Alms-giving and tithing are two completely different practices. Manichaeans offer ten percent of their income to the Church for purposes such as missionary work, various costs of Church business travelling, etc. Tithes can also be paid in the form of labour in behalf of the Church.

Alms-giving on the other hand, is specifically a form of food offering, or sacrifice with food items that contain no type of animal products. If one is unable to offer fruits, vegetables, grains or breads, the Hearer can provide funds so that food may be purchased. The food is then presented to the Monks at a sacrificial table where it is consumed.
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What are the Twelve Virtues?

In the Manichaean faith one often hears of the “Twelve Virtues.” These Virtues are listed below. Our religious leaders have encouraged us to seek to perfect ourselves and the soul by practising the Virtues because it is believed that liberation is achieved through the worship of the One God, acceptance of His Divine Messenger, and cultivation of the Twelve Virtues and Holy Commandments. The cultivation of the Twelve Virtues will draw us closer to God.

  • Great Royalty
  • Wisdom
  • Victory
  • Contentment
  • Purity
  • Truth
  • Faith
  • Patience
  • Sincerity
  • Virtue
  • Justice
  • Light

What is a manistan?

The term “manistan” designates a monastery, or convent. Most manistans are cloistered, which allows for plenty of time for prayer and meditation.

The manistan is also a place of worship for its residents and those who are invited on occasion, but it is generally not open to the public.

Do your churches use crosses and crucifixes?

Manichaeans in all cultures have used some form of a cross. In fact, all communities of the Religion of Light throughout the ages have used the cross as a symbol of life. It is one of the most important symbols in the Manichaean Faith as it not only represents all of life, but also the hope of deliverance from the darkness for humanity.

In the Manichaean faith there are two different crosses: 1) Cross of Light and Life which symbolises life being trapped in matter; 2) the crucifix
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Babylon is the rendering of Akkadian Babilum (Babilim), the city that for centuries served as capital of the ‘land of Babylon’ (Jer. 50.28). Cuneiform sources interpret its name as bab-ilim, “gate of the deity.” The Bible rejected this popular etymology in favor of a more scurrilous one that linked the name to the confusion of tongues (Gen. 11.9, Hebr. balal, “[God] confused”), and so the city is called Babel…

Under Persian rule, Babylon continued to flourish as the seat of one of the most important satrapies of the Persian empire (cf. Ezra 7.16; Dan. 2.49; etc.), and the Achaemenid Artaxerxes I could still be called “king of Babylon” (Neh. 13.6)

Oxford Companion to the Bible, “Babylon”, William W. Hallo, 1993, Oxford University Press, Inc.
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What does the word “Arkhegos” mean?

The term “Arkhegos” is a Greek word indicating “chief leader.” Duncan Greenlees, in his presentation of the Gospel of the Prophet Mani defines the term “arkhegos” as meaning “Leader”, “High Prelate” and compares it to the Arabic term “imam” and the Chinese term “fatchou”, the “King of Religion.”

“His diocese was the world from Spain to China, where the Faith had penetrated; his work was to encourage amid persecution, to prevent corruption of the Teaching, to guard against falling away from the Founder’s lofty ideal of life. The first seven Leaders died as martyrs, and then some fixed place where the supreme authority could be found was needed, so their successors cam to reside at the capital Ctesiphon, and then at Baghdad – until they were forced by prudence to withdraw to the safer Samarqand, and finally, so it seems, to the Chinese borderlands.” (Gospel of the Prophet Mani, Duncan Greenlees, 1956, the Book Tree, San Diego, CA)

In its original Manichaean usage, it referred to the earthly head of the Manichaean Church appointed by Mar Mani as his successor. During the time of Mar Ammo, there were two such persons using this title, one in Babylon and the other in Turkistan due to geographical divide and persecution of the Church.

Who is Ahriman?

Ahriman (Syriac: ܡܠܟ ܚܫܘܟܐ melech kheshokha: king of darkness) is the name of an entity also called “evil.”

Ahriman is a conscious entity, not simply a concept, but a sentient and malevolent force opposed to the will of God. Another name or term that Manichaeans often use to reference the evil one is the King of Darkness.

Manichaeism teaches that the reason we grow old, get sick and die is because the physical shells we inhabit were designs of Ahriman and not because of God.
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