Here is an excellent definition from a modern dictionary: "Gno·sis (nō-sĭs): Intuitive apprehension of spiritual truths, an esoteric form of knowledge sought by the Gnostics."
There are two ways of knowing, two kinds of knowledge: direct and indirect. For example, you could read many books about a foreign country, gather a tremendous amount of information about that country's language, culture, customs, geography and climate, and develop many opinions and beliefs about what that country and its people are like; but that knowledge will always be indirect until you actually visit the place, and better yet, live there for a time. Direct knowledge comes from direct, personal, face-to-face experience.
"Gnosis", a Greek word which means "knowledge" or "knowing", is the direct knowledge of the truths of life and life's mysteries, captured or apprehended through one's own direct experience. And those who seek that direct experience of those truths, right here and right now, are "Gnostics".
Furthermore, this "Gnosis" starts with the understanding that all true knowledge begins with self-knowledge, because the great mysteries of life are, have been, and always will be the same, and the direct knowing of their truths must be discovered anew by every new generation: "Who are we? Where do we come from? Where are we going? Why do we live? What are living for?"
Gnosis is a science of inner development, a natural art, a universal and perennial philosophy, and a spiritual/mystical tradition, whose echoes down through the centuries are heard in the esoteric traditions of the medieval Alchemists and Kabbalists, the Gnostic Christians, Sufis, Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhists, Native American religions, and indeed, in the Mystery traditions of all times and places.
The Meetups of the Portland Gnostic Association are for anyone interested in learning and understanding, in a thoroughly clear and contemporary way, how to develop those inner capacities that we all have, that bring us to the experience of this "Gnosis" for ourselves.
If you are interested in finding out more, please don't hesitate to join us at one of our upcoming Meetup events!