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Who is Mani? 

Mani was born in the region of Mesopotamia in the Parthian empire, in the town of Mardinu in the Babylonian district of Nahr Kutha; Mani’s father Pātika was a native of Ecbatana and a member of the Jewish-Christian sect of the Elkesaites. His mother was descended from Parthian nobility; her name is reported to have been Maryam. Mani also was lame in one leg, showing the relative unimportance of the concerns of the flesh. At ages 12 and 24, Mani’s life changed forever when he had visionary experiences of a heavenly Twin of his, calling him to leave his father’s Baptist sect and preach the true message of Jesus in a new gospel. Mani then traveled to India, where he studied Hinduism and its various extant philosophies, including Buddhism. Returning in the year 242, Mani presented himself to King Shapur I, to whom he dedicated his only work written in Persian, known as the Shabuhragan. Shapur was not converted to Manichaeism and remained Zoroastrian, but he was friendly to Mani's teachings, which mixed Christianity, Buddhism, and Zoroastrianism, and took him into his court. Mani is said to have performed miracles, including levitation, teleporting, and healing, which helped him to gain converts in the Iranian elite. He was also famed as a painter. Shapur’s successor Hormizd I, who reigned only for one year, continued to patronize Mani, but his successor Bahram I, a follower of the Zoroastrian reformer Kartir, began to persecute the Manichaeans. He incarcerated Mani, who died in prison within a month, in 274. According to sources, he passed his last days comforting his visiting disciples, teaching that his death would have no other consequence than the return of his soul to the realm of light. Mani passe in prison and was crucified by Bahram I; his body was stuck with straw and strewn upon the walls of the city, during his crucifixion, a mighty storm fell on the Persian kingdom and it is said that all those who were present at the crucifixion converted to Mani’s teachings. 

Where did Mani come from? 

Mani was born on April 14th 216 AD to Elkesaite parents in Mesopotamia near Ctesiphon. At ages 12 and 24, Mani received visions from his Divine Twin (Syzygos), the Holy Spirit, telling him to leave his parents’ sect and preach his own religion.

Who is God? 

God is Zurvan, the Father of Greatness, and the Great King of Light. Zurvan is all-good without anything evil within Him, and everything good originates from Him; He dwells in His Light-Kingdom surrounded by many different Aeons and Angels. His opponent is the eternal King of Darkness, who is entirely evil without any goodness within him and is the father and creator of all evil, and dwells within his Dark Kingdom surrounded by many Archons and demons. 

What is the Holy Spirit?

The Holy Spirit also called the Living Spirit, is a Great Celestial Being emanating from the Great King of Light. The Holy Spirit is a manifestation of Pure Light from the very essence of Zurvan. The Holy Spirit is referred to as the “Sustainer of the Universe”; all goodness within creation originates from the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is referred to using female pronouns. 

What is Hell? 

Hell is a place within the Kingdom of Darkness where human souls which are so embroiled in matter and evil that they cannot be reincarnated in the physical world have become unsavable and so are dragged down into Hell by demons that will remain there for eternity and will never again be given the chance of rejoining God. 

What is Gnosis in Manichaeism? 

Gnosis is the development of the Light-Nature of oneself through the practicing of asceticism, pacifism, and religious rituals allowing the Holy Spirit to dwell within you unhindered and becoming one with the Light and thus escaping the fleshly prison. The realization that you are one with the light and that it is your celestial origin. 


Charity is one of the central, fundamental tenets of the Manichean faith. “So too in persecution and freedom in good days and bad, under the eyes of the Elect or out of their sight, the pious Hearer is constant in charity and faith” 

What is the Great Calamity? 

The Great Calamity was the prophecy made by the first Manichaean church that has come to pass; when the church would cease to exist; and the Manichaean texts would be lost, they would be found later and spread once again. The prophecy states: A thousand books will be preserved ... they will come into the hand of the just and the faithful [the] Gospel and the Treasury of Life, the Pragmateia and the Book of Mysteries, the Book of Giants and the Epistles, the Psalms and [the] Prayers of my lord, his Icon and his Revelations, his Parables and his Mysteries ... How many will be lost? How many will be destroyed? A thousand 48  lost, another thousand recovered; for they will find them at the end. They will kiss them, and say: “O Wisdom of Greatness, O Armor of the Apostle of Light! When you were lost ... where did they find you?” ... And you shall find them reading them aloud, uttering the name [of each book] among them: the name of its lord .. and the name of those who gave all [for it to be written] and the name of the scribe who wrote it... and of the one who punctuated it... 

What are the Manichean Holy Books?

Mani wrote many books and letters, but sadly due to the Great Calamity, many parts of his holy works were lost. However, much of what remains today is compiled in the Compendium.

What are the ‘Three Ages?’ 

The Three Ages also referred to as the three creations, are stages in the history of the war and creations of the Light and Darkness.  

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 that 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 realize their true origin and liberate the Light within from the darkness.  

Third Age:  The Third Age is the future. Mani 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 be returned to God in the Celestial Kingdom of Light. 

Is God omnipotent? 

The answer to this question is different based on how you would define the term ‘omnipotent’ because God is all-powerful and all-knowing within His own Nature and Kingdom, but the King of Darkness is likewise omnipotent within his own nature and Kingdom, and both have equal power when it comes to the physical world, for both Light and Darkness are present in the physical world. God is not omnipotent by the definitions of omnipotence you may know from Christianity or Islam however; the two Gods of Manichaeism are both omnipotent and thus locked in an eternal struggle with one another. 

Who are the main Prophets of Manichaeism? 

The four main Prophets are Zoroaster, Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha), Jesus, and Mani. 

Are there any sects within Manichaeism?

No, there are no sects currently within Manichaeism; the only real difference between eastern and western Manichaeism is the cultural appearances, words, and phrases. For example, western Manicheans usually refer to God as or Zurvan, the Chinese Manicheans refer to God as Shangdi or Ming Zun, and the terms ‘Buddha’ and ‘Prophet’ are often used interchangeably. 

How does one convert to Manichaeism? 

Becoming a Manichaean involves acknowledging one’s faith in the Prophethood of Mani and professing the Ten Commandments and the Virtues of love and faith, patience, wisdom, truth, peace and joy, kindness, temperance, goodness, gentleness, self control and chastity, publicly to a Church member. As well as believing in the holy Elect and a desire and willingness to further the church and the teachings of our prophet Mani. 

1. How did this universe come into existence?

It has always existed on the subtler planes: Two Realms, one of Light ruled by God, and one of Darkness ruled by the Evil Spirit. After Evil invaded the Light-Realm, resulting in the mixture of elements, the physical universe was designed for their gradual separation. 

2. What are the ‘Two Sources?’ 

All existing things derive from one of these two: the infinite Light of spiritual Goodness (Pneuma), and the bottomless Darkness of evil Matter (Hyle), coexistent and totally opposed to one another. 

3. What is God? 

The infinite and ineffable beneficent King of the Light, manifesting Himself  in vast cosmic Powers or Emanations to overthrow the aggression of evil Darkness on His spiritual Realm, and also immanent throughout the universe. 

4. Does the physical world have any real existence? 

Certainly, it is real, but it exists only until its purpose is achieved by the separation of the Light and Darkness. Compared with the eternity of the LightWorld, it is only a fleeting shadow dissipated by the dawn. 

5. Is it Good or Evil?

It is a mixture of Good and Evil, Spirit and Matter, Light and Darkness. Thus it will dissolve when these eternal opposites are separated from each other, the Light having been cleansed of all contaminating shadows. 

6. Why was it created, and by whom? 

The Divine Mind, or ‘Living Spirit’ fashioned it as a means of liberating the Soul from Matter, the Light-Sparks of God from the enslaving Darkness, through the ascetic and dietary practices of the elect. The practice of the virtues and the loving intercessions of the Luminaries and Saviours. 

7. What is Man? 

Man is a divine Spirit imprisoned in a body of flesh created by the demons to ensnare his divinity in their world of darkness. 

8. What is the Individual Soul? 

The Soul is a Spark of God's Light, a part of His very Being, separated from Him and allowed to be absorbed into the darkness of Matter to neutralize the darkness and now we must gradually refine and purify as much of the light as possible. Divine in source and end, its powers are limited while held captive in the body. 

9. What brought the body into being? 

The soul was willingly sacrificed by the Primal Man and afterwards, Charmed by the spiritual beauty of the Light, the demons of the Darkness tried to capture it for themselves; so they made the body, in order to keep the light imprisoned and serve as a distraction to keep them from seeking their heavenly origin.  

10. What is Sin?

sin is any act that proceeds from negligence on the part of the soul, whereby it failed to guard itself against the flesh which continually fights against the spirit, seeking to regain control over the human person, a control that is made manifest when we commit acts of violence, lust, selfishness and other sins. 

11. How did Sin come into existence? 

Intoxicated by the Light of God, the Evil Spirit sought it for himself. This was the origin of all Sin and suffering. 

12. Is Matter eternal? 

Yes, it has existed from before time and will survive time itself. But it is only now that it is in revolt; it will, at last, be vanquished by the Spirit, bound forever in the Abyss, its Powers destroyed. 

13. What are the ‘Three Times?’ 

The Past, wherein Evil and Good were wholly separate from each other; the Present, wherein the former’s aggression has caused a mingling and confusion of the two; the Future, wherein they shall again be separated — the Light in eternal peace and bliss, the Darkness in the ruin of perpetual captivity. 

14. Why did God create the Individual Soul? 

To cooperate with Him in freeing all Light or Spirit from its slavery to Matter, herself the first, by warring ceaselessly with spiritual weapons on Evil everywhere, and by helping to refine and uplift all beings — human, animal, plant, and even mineral — through intimacy with the holiness of Saints. This, then, is our duty on earth. 

15. How was Soul imprisoned in the flesh? 

Sent forth by God to enter and subdue rebellious matter from within, the Soul is caught and swallowed up by the evil powers of Darkness and forgets its real nature and its mission. Thus it becomes a miserable and helpless slave. 

16. How can it become free? 

By uprooting the desires those evil powers personify, and by gradually refining and spiritualizing itself from all that is gross and material, by keeping the three seals and living the Elect life, it will, at last, be freed. 

17. Can it do this unaided? 

No, without the assistance and intervention of the Light Mind, the soul would certainly stay in a state of slumber. It is important to emphasize, however, that the Soul is helped at every stage of his/her spiritual life, by God's grace and the assistance of His Saints. 

18. How does God help it to be free? 

Manifesting as Intuition in the Soul, as the light of Conscience and Grace, He works from within, eliminating the vices and dark desires, and planting the fragrant flowers of every virtue in the heart. He also assists us through his messengers and the holy church. 

19. What disciplines should the Soul follow?

The mortifying of the flesh by chastity, prayer, and fasting, the observance of total harmlessness, and a life of humility and loving-kindness, following the ten commandments, the confession of sins, the giving of alms, and the purity of thought and diet. 

20. How does the Evil Spirit gain control of a man?

When his mind is off its guard, evil thoughts and desires enter in through some weak point in his nature, opened by some sense-impression; then they encroach gradually until everything has been corrupted.

21. How is the Divine Mind freed from that control? 

Entering the heart through the spoken and written word of God’s Messengers, the dominion of darkness is broken, and the divine soul once again aware of itself begins its fight to restrict the destructive impulses of the flesh which it rightly perceives as an alien will in opposition to itself. it replaces all downward with upward tendencies, all vices with the opposite virtues, until the whole nature henceforward is a pure throne for Christ to reign upon over his life

22. Does Man have the power to choose the Good? 

Man according to his divine nature, not only can choose good but is only able to choose the good. Man however as an entity that exists on the physical plane is not simply a divine soul, but also a demonic flesh. Man therefore is a mixture of fleshly and divine substances. The behavior of man is largely determined by which of these forces is in ascendancy at the moment. By the fruits or behavior of a man we will know which substance is at work and in control. When a person is kind, loving and compassionate simply for the sake of being kind, loving or compassionate for instance we know that such things are the product of the light within them and vice versa. 

23. Is there such a thing as ‘Fate?’ 

There is no absolute fate but there is divine providence. 

24. What causes unstable moods? 

The Soul is sometimes nearer to Spirit, at times to Matter, according to the prevailing planetary aspects in its horoscope, and to the purity or coarseness of the foods, it allows the body to consume. 

25. What is the reward for righteousness? 

The righteous soul is ferried by the light ships to the new Aeon, where it will wait until the end time to be merged with the realm of light and reunited with The Father. 

26. Who are the wicked and what happens to them?  

The wicked, when it comes to human beings are those who are not simply in the grip of darkness, but are those who have at least once been reawakened by the messengers of God and divine assistance, but who have nevertheless through restfulness allowed the darkness to resume control to such an extent that they, returning to a state of forgetfulness can no longer be redeemed in this life, and as the darkness solidifies its grip they run the risk of possibly being lost eternally. 

27. So Manichaeism teaches Reincarnation? 

Yes, however it is rather called Metagismos, transfusion, or reshuffling. At death the elements that comprise the human being, both light and dark come apart to various degrees and are reshuffled into other organisms. This often results in the end of our personality as those elements that made us who we were are redispersed and become part of various other entities.  One of the primary goals of Manichaeism is to collect in our lifetime as much light as possible within ourselves becoming ever more conformed to the image of Christ "the New Man" who is capable of surviving death and the more successful we are at this, the more our individuality as a light being is able to cohere at death. 

28. How do rebirths come to an end? 

When the Soul perfectly turns from bodily desires toward cultivating the Spirit, from worldly pleasures to devotion for God, His Messengers, and His Church, it can no longer be born on a material plane, nor even wish to be. 

29. What is Death? 

Death is the temporary or final release of the Light from its fleshly prison. When the Light-Spark is purified, death leads to its temporary bliss and glory in God’s New Aeon. 

30. What happens to the Soul at death?

The good, pure and righteous Soul is adorned by the Angels in its robes, crowns, and garlands of light, and led into the Light Kingdom; ordinary Souls are driven back on the paths to rebirth in the physical world. 

31. How does God prevent a victory of Evil? 

He Himself comes forth in some Divine Emanation to war upon and overthrow the Evil, or He sends a Messenger of the Light to encourage and strengthen men in resisting it. He also grants us a degree of internal grace and uses the Church to help prevent evils victory. 

32. Can true Knowledge be given by another? 

The Saint or Messenger of God comes to enlighten men with the Teaching and the Ethics, the ‘Wisdom’ and the ‘Righteousness’ which lead to freedom. But only those in whom the Intuition or ‘Light-Mind’ is awakened by grace will welcome or benefit from his Message. 

33. What, then, is the Teacher’s part? 

To awaken the Soul to its own latent divinity, to guide it on the path of purity, to carry it through the liberating door of death into the endless glory of the Spirit. 

34. What are the qualifications for this Path? 

The knowledge that one is the Soul and not the body, a firm resolve to live only for spiritual aims, devotion to God and His Church which keeps that resolve alive, loving humility and gentleness to all, and persevering effort for self-purification. 

35. Is it necessary to renounce the world? 

Yes, for its attractions must be overcome and ultimately its standards and ways of living abandoned; but no, in the sense that it is here and in the world that the Church, and each Soul which is part of it, must labor for God’s plan of liberation until its purity has set it free forever. 

36. Is there only one code of life for all Manichaeans? 

The ordinary moral and religious law of the 10 commandments is binding on everyone, but the ‘Elect,’ who have resolved to tread the Path more rigorously, have voluntarily embraced for themselves the three seals. 

37. How does man find God? 

Awakened by God's Messenger from the drunken sleep of fleshly ignorance, he realizes his identity with Spirit and his temporary bondage to the body; then he resolves to be free and patiently works at his own liberation by refining his thoughts and practicing all spiritual virtues until he is pure enough to retain himself in the hour of death and travel to the New Aeon. 

38. Where then is God? 

As eternal King of the spiritual Light-Realm, He dwells transcendent over everything; as manifest in the Powers of the Light, He wars for its total liberation from the aggression of Darkness; as immanent in every atom of Matter everywhere, He awaits that liberation which He alone can bring about. In his highest personification He dwells veiled upon His throne in the kingdom of Light awaiting the day when the time of mixture ends and his veil can be lifted and he can once more enjoy the presence of his children, for at present he sits veiled since his heart cannot bear to witness our suffering 

39. Where is the Temple of God? 

He is immanent in everything and manifested there to the seeing eye; therefore God's Temple is the universe and every particle within it, sacramentally, but more especially is it within the Saints who long for Him. Traditionally Manicheans can meet anywhere or within Manistans. 

40. What are the Gods and Aeons? 

They are Emanations or Expressions of the nature of the One God, the King of Light and Father of all, coming forth from Him to bring about His final victory over Evil. 

41. What is our relationship with them? 

They aid our struggle to escape the darkness of Matter, and we must revere, love, and worship them as our Champions, Protectors, and Friends. 

42. Who are the ‘Messengers of the Light?’ 

Saints and Prophets were sent by God in every age to teach men the truths of life and how they can attain to Him in whom alone all happiness is found. Chief among them The Manichean church reveres Jesus, Mani, Zoroaster and Buddha among many others. 

43. What is the Church?

It is the organized assembly of the faithful Souls called by God and His Messenger to be the Light and to labor for its freedom everywhere from the Darkness. It is a wonderful Unity in Him, based on Love and Wisdom fully shared. 

44. What happens when the Soul is freed? 

The physical world is burnt up and ceases to exist. The light becomes supreme, and the darkness along with the demonic forces who are of the substance of darkness are sealed eternally within a prison called "the pit" or "the bolos". Alongside these demonic forces and the darkness, it is possible too that some light may be lost ... this light would be the souls of the negligent who having realized their true nature, nevertheless through idleness allowed darkness to dictate their actions to such a degree that they eventually fell back asleep forgetting themselves once more. 

45. What is the final goal of all life? 

The freeing of the Soul from all darkness defilement, so that it shines with God's pure glory and can live eternally in the bliss of His realized Presence and a sort of mystical unity with Him. 

46. Is this a dualist religion? 

Most certainly it is. Manichaeism is a species of radical dualism, where good and evil, spirit and matter, light and darkness were originally eternally independent and self-existent forces. These two forces being of different natures are in inherent opposition, and their present mixture is abhorrent and unnatural. It is the mission of the church of light, and of awakened individuals (hearers and elect) to assist in the process whereby these two substances might again become separate. 

47. Can you sum up this Religion in a few words? 

It is the teaching of God's messengers designed to awaken the soul to knowledge (Gnosis) of its divine nature so that it will strive to purify and liberate itself and the light in its surroundings from the contamination and bondage of matter (Hyle) which is itself the substance of darkness and the demons. 

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