The Body, the Soul and the Tower

There is in man – notably in his soul, and not in his body – a seed of evil of his own, without which temptation coming from outside would not exert any action on him. Because temptation would be impotent if it did not find a terrain already prepared in the human soul.

The unfortunate misunderstanding locating innate human evil in the body instead of in the soul is due to a tendency towards a materialistic interpretation of our Biblical story of paradise and the Fall. It is the body which, rightly. has more reason to be ashamed of the soul inhabiting it, than the latter of the body.

For the body is a miracle of wisdom, harmony and stability, which does not merit scorn but rather the admiration of the soul. For example, can the soul boast of moral principles as stable as the body’s skeleton? Is it as indefatigable and as faithful in its sentiments as, for example, the heart, which beats day and night? Does it possess a wisdom comparable to that of the body, which knows how to harmonise such opposing things as water and fire, air and solid matter?

Whilst the soul is torn by opposing desires and feelings, this ‘contemptible’ body knows how to unite opposing elements and make them collaborate: the air that it breathes, the solid matter of food, the water that it drinks, and the fire (warmth) that it produces unceasingly within it….and if this does not suffice to change scorn into respect, admiration and gratitude, the one can recall, if on is a Christian, that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, inhabited this flesh and that he honoured it to the point of uniting himself with it in the Incarnation.

Similarly, if one is a Buddhist or Brahmanist, one should not forget that Buddha and Krishna, also, inhabited this flesh and that it served them well in the accomplishing of their respective missions. Negative ascetisism, directed against the body and not for celestial things, is the practical consequence of the materialistic interpretation of paradise and the Fall. However, the fact alone that a Cherubim “was placed at the east of the garden of Eden, with a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life”  (Genesis iii, 24), suffices to drive away any shadow of a doubt: here it is a matter of a plane higher than the terrestrial plane, and it was therefore souls who committed the original sin – and the body had nothing to do with it.

Unknown Author, Meditations on the Tarot, Letter XVI, The Tower of Destruction

Isangelos

Isangelos: “equal to the angels” – a magic word for the early Christians. They envied the angels their ability to  live continually in the light of full consciousness and not let a single drop of grace go to waste.

Hans Urs von Balthasar, The Grain of Wheat

Imaginary Height

The argument from Moscow is always the same: If God exists, he must know that we, the communists, dethrone him. Why does he not give a visible sign, if not of his power, at least of his existence? Why does he not defend his own interests?! This is in other words the old argument: Come down from the Cross, and we will believe in you.

I cite these well know things because they reveal a certain dogma underlying them. It is the dogma or philosophical principle which states that truth and power are identical; that which is powerful is true and that which is powerless is false. According to this dogma or philosophical principle (which has become that of modern technological science) power is the absolute criterium and supreme ideal of truth. Only that which is powerful is of the Divine.

Now there are open and secret worshippers of the idols of power. (for it is an idol and the source of all idolatry) – also in Christian factions or in religious and spiritual circles in general. I am not speaking about Christian or spiritually-minded princes or politicians who covet power, but rather about the adherents to doctrines advancing the primacy of power. Here there are two categories: those who aspire to the ideal of the ‘superman’, and those who believe in a God that is actually almighty and therefore responsible for all that happens.

They build their individual towers of Babel, and experience, sooner or later, a salutary fall…They do not fall from a real height into a real abyss; it is only from an imaginary height that they fall and they fall only to the ground, ie, they learn the lesson that we human beings of today have all learned or have still to learn.

Unknown Author, Meditations on the Tarot, Letter IV, The Emperor

The Essence of Initiation

It is in we ourselves that there is to be found the ‘Edenic’ layer, of that of Paradise before the Fall, of which an account is to be found in the book of Genesis of Moses. Do you doubt the essential truth of this account? Descend into the depths of your own soul, descend as far as the roots, to the sources of feeling, will and intelligence – and you will know.

It expresses in symbolic language the first layer (first in the sense of the root of all that is human in human nature) of human psychic life, or its ‘beginning’. Knowledge of the beginning, initium in Latin, is the essence of initiation. Initiation is the conscious experience of the initial microcosmic state (this is the Hermetic initiation), and of the initial macrocosmic stage (this is the Pythagorean initiation).

The first is a conscious descent into the depths of the human being, to the initial layer. Its method is enstasy, ie, experience of the depths at the foundation within oneself. Here one becomes more and more profound until one awakens within oneself to the primordial layer – or the ‘image and likeness of ‘God’ – which is the aim of enstasy. It is above all by means of the sense of spiritual touch that this experience is effected. One can compare it to a chemical experiment undergone on the psychic and spiritual plane.

The second experience – that we have designated ‘Pythagorean’ from a historical  point of view – is based above all on the auditory sense or sense of spiritual hearing. It is essentially musical, just as the first is substantial or alchemical. It is by ecstasy – or rapture, or going out of oneself – that the macrocosmic layers (spheres or heavens) reveal themselves to consciousness. Pythagoras’ ‘music of the spheres’ was this experience, and it is this which was the source of the Pythagorean doctrine concerning the musical and mathematical structure of the macrocosm.

Christian esotericism unites these two methods of  initiation. The Master had two groups of disciples – ‘disciples of the day’ and ‘disciples of the night’ – the first being disciples of the way of enstasy and the latter those of the way of ecstasy. He also had a third group of disciples ‘of day and night’, ie, those who possess the keys to both doors at once, to the door of ecstasy and that of enstasy. Thus, the apostle, John, author of the Gospel of the Word-made-flesh, was at the same time he who listened to the heart of the Master.

He had a twofold experience – macrocosmic and microcosmic –  of the Cosmic World and the Sacred Heart, of which the litany says: Cor Jesu, rex et centrum omnium cordium. It is thanks to this twofold experience that the Gospel which he wrote is at one and the same time so cosmic and so humanly  intimate – of such heights and depths simultaneously. There, the macrocosmic solar sphere and the microcosmic solar sphere are united, which explains the singular magic of the Gospel.

Unknown Author, Meditations on the Tarot, Letter VI, The Lover

Bowl of Earth

Speaking next, a bearded poet,
Stroked his chin and touched the symbols
Woven on his woollen long-coat:
Winged heart, the moon and lone star.

“Heights are reached by native mystics,
Yet the greatest peak of learning
Is our own, and few have reached it;
Sufi spinners rise by turning.”

“Here upon our cloud, unknowing,”
Sighed the mystic Christian fathers,
“We see how all souls are growing,
Ever upward, past the dawn-star.

“Darkest night will never capture
Those who walk beneath the lantern
That was set by Christ. In raptures
Have our Saints recovered phantoms.”

“Mani of the Moon, the Mirror,”
Spoke his priest. “A silver sliver
Of the lamp which lovers worship;
Shines the light on true believers.”

“Brings to mind the Bodhisatva,”
Spoke the Buddhist, “of compassion.”
“From the Eastern land of ancients,
Where the bowl of Earth was fashioned.”