Sep 212014
 

MusŽe national du Moyen-ågeBut I determined this with myself that I would not come again to you in heaviness. For if I make you sorry, who is he then that  maketh me glad, bu the same which is made sorry by me? And I wrote this same unto you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice; having confidence in you all, that my joy is the joy of you all.

For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that you might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you. But if any have caused grief, he hath not grieved me, but in part; that I may not overcharge you all. Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many.

So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him. For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things.

To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also; for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ. Lest Satan should not get an advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices. Furthermore, when I came to Tro-as to preach Christ’s gospel, and a door was opened unto me of the Lord. I had no rest in my Spirit, because I found not Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them, I went from thence into Macedonia.

Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumpth in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place. For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish. To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?

For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.

2 Corinthians 2, St Paul

Sep 142014
 

Judgement20_marseillesThe card that we have before us bears the traditional name “The Judgement”, and what it represents is the resurrection of the dead at the sound of the trumpet of the Angel of resurrection. It is a matter, therefore,  of a spiritual exercise where the use of intuition – that of the nineteenth Arcanum “The Sun” – has to be carried to a maximum, the theme of resurrection being of the order of “last things”, but all the same accessible to intuitive cognition.

Now the “last things” – or the spiritual horizon of humanity – are not the same for the whole of humanity. For some everything finishes with the death of the individual and with the complete dissipation – maximum entropy – of the warmth of the universe. For others there is a “beyond” , an individual existence after death and the existence of a non-material universe after the end of the world. For still others there is not only spiritual life after death for the individual but also his return to terrestrial life – reincarnation – as well as cosmic reincarnation, ie, an alternation of manvantara and prayla. Others, again, see for the individual something beyond repeated incarnations, namely the state of the supreme peace of union with the eternal and universal Being (the state of nirvana). Lastly, there is a part of mankind whose existential horizon goes beyond not only post mortem existence and reincarnation, but also even beyond the peace of union with God – it is resurrection which constitutes their spiritual horizon.

Meditations on the Tarot, Letter XX, The Judgement

Apr 142014
 

soulDuring the period of struggle, questions as to the purpose of life and man’s own being had formulated themselves, but when the answers come they do not answer the questions but rather obliterate them in the experience of the reality itself.

Thus, with regard to the mystery of man’s own being, the answer is not an intellectual exposition of the constitution of man, but rather an awareness of his own inner Self and as a result, the discovery of the world of that Self. When, in that world, we consider the problem of the duality which we all experience in daily life, of a higher Self on the one hand and a lower self on the other, we find a wonderful truth.

Man is essentially divine; as a son of God he partakes of the nature of his Father and shares His Godhead. Man’s own and true home is therefore the world of the Divine; there we live and move and have our own being ‘from eternity to eternity’. In his own world the Ego of man has his own activities and lives a life of joy and splendour beyond all earthly conception. There is, however, one lesson or experience which he cannot learn in his own world, but for which he has to put forth his consciousness into the worlds of outer manifestation where there is manifoldness and the antithesis of “I” and “not I”.

It is there alone that, through the medium of bodies composed of the matter of these outer worlds, the Ego can gain self-consciousness, that is to say, consciousness of himself as a separate individual. The divine world which is the true home of the Ego is a world in which there is not that distinction between Self and not-Self, but in which every part shares of the universal consciousness of the whole. That is why in this world the particular self-realisation which is necessary to the Ego cannot be gained. It is only the three-fold universe of outer manifestation, the physical world, that we find the duality of subject and object necessary for the gaining of self-consciousness.

Thus it is truly for the gaining of knowledge that the Ego puts himself forth into these outer worlds and assumes bodies of the matter of these worlds. It is this going forth of the soul into the worlds of darkness which we find symbolically described in the story of Genesis. Primitive Paradise is not a state which can last, however great its beauty and harmony. The soul must eat of the tree of good and evil, the tree of knowledge, even though at the cost of Paradise.

Having thus become conscious of the desire to know the worlds of matter, the soul is clothed in “coats of skin,” the bodies of matter, and henceforth has to live under the conditions of material existence, “labouring and bringing forth in pain.” The end of this long exile is the redemption or regeneration, which takes place when the soul regains knowledge of her own divinity, and Christ is born in the heart of man. Then Paradise is regained, but now in full self-consciousness, the Ego in his own divine world possessing the fruits yielded by the soul’s descent into the worlds of matter.

J.J van der Leeuw, God’s in Exile

Jan 312014
 

As soon as ever ofxxx my second age

I was upon the threshold and changed life,

Himself from me he took and gave to others.

When from the flesh to spirit I ascended,

And beauty and virtue were in me increased,

I was to him less dear and less delightful;

And into ways untrue he turned his steps,

Pursuing the false images of good,

That never any promises fulfill;

Nor prayer for inspiration me availed,

By means of which in dreams and otherwise

I called him back, so little did he heed them.

So low he fell, that all appliances

For his salvation were already short,

Save showing him the people of perdition.

For this I visited the gates of death,

And unto him, who so far up has led him,

My intercessions were with weeping borne.

God’s lofty fiat would be violated

If Lethe should be passed, and if such viands

Should tasted be, withouten any scot

Of penitence, that gushes forth in tears.

 

Dante, Purgatorio, Canto XXX

Jan 112014
 

adamandeveAdam and Eve are not just two people. They are a metaphor for the primordial Vessel whose existence preceded creation. Just as all the colours of  the spectrum exist within a single beam of sunlight, the Vessel encompassed all matter, space, time and consciousness. And all the souls of humankind were also present in the Vessel.

The Vessel shattered because of a contradiction in its nature. It had been created only to receive, but, in being filled with the Creator’s Light, it had also received and taken on a degree of the Creator’s own nature: the desire to share. All of our existence now is predicated on the goal of transforming this duality into a single desire, the desire to receive for the sake of sharing, in order to be able to finally reconnect with the Creator and receive the fullness of His Light.

This can happen in only one way. The shards of the shattered Vessel – you and I – must choose to make it happen. We must choose of our own free will to transform ourselves into ‘beings of sharing,’ as the kabbalists say, first on an individual level, and ultimately as a collective transformation of all humankind. Not even God can do this for us. Transformation is the supreme expression and the only expression of free will. It is the choice we make in every thought, feeling and action. Adam and Eve faced this choice in the Garden. They chose wrongly, but, their intentions were good.

*

The allure of evil makes that choice more difficult, and therefore more worthy. Evil, in its way, therefore serves the Creator. Indeed, by understanding this we can free ourselves from its temptations. A parable in the Zohar dramtises this teaching: A king forbade his son to consort with harlots, but the he hired a harlot to test the strength of his son’s character. The son was tempted – until he realised that the harlot was acting in the service of his father. She then lost all power over him.

The serpent in the Garden (acting in the service of our Father) is essential to our final transformation, but he certainly doesn’t make it any easier! At the time of his fateful encounter with Adam and Eve at the Tree of Knowledge, their state of being was fundamentally different from what ours is now. They embodied the pure energy of desire, and Kabbalah teaches that desire is inherently a positive force.

While the conventional view of our first ancestors portrays them as transgressors, the kabbalists point out that their motivation was to serve God. The serpent understood this also. In fact, he used their positive intentions to manipulate them for his own ends. He fostered the transformation of their pure, undifferentiated desire into desire to receive for themselves alone.

And the serpent said to the woman, ‘You are not going to die, but God knows that as soon as you eat of [the tree] your eyes will be opened and you will be like divine beings who know good and bad’. (Genesis 3:4)

*

Because Adam and Eve were not fully constituted to receive the Light – because the Vessel had not yet earned an unmediated connection – they were overwhelmed by the moment in the same way that a weak electrical circuit will flash brightly and then burn out at the sudden infusion of a powerful current. The kabbalists literalise this principle through a startling addition to the narrative:

Adam and Even took a second bite!

In the interval, a fundamental transformation had taken place, but not the positive one that had been envisoned. Rather, their desire had lost its sharing intention and had become self-serving. They were farther than ever away from unity with the nature of God, and this is exactly what the serpent had intended. It is essential to understand, however, that the impasse is also an opportunity. By traversing it, we can truly prepare the Vessel. We can earn the Light. We can receive it and take fulfillment in it. Most important, we can share it.

*

We have spoken of Adam and Eve as a couple, but until that second bite of the fruit they were not separate at the spiritual level. This detachment took place at the same instant that the divide widened between the Vessel and the Light. Where there had been unity and equilibrium, there was no dissimilarity and fragmentation. Where there had been eternal existence in Paradise, there was now mortal life in the physical world.

*

After the Fall, immortality consciousness was gone, replaced by a consciousness – a knowledge – of death and evil that instantly expressed itself in the physical dimension of life. But despite all this, the plain fact of immortality remained untouched, but in the same way that the signal that carries a TV programme remains in the air even after the set has been turned off.

With the Fall of Adam, the bad news is that we stopped receiving the programme. But we also began the process of repairing the receiving mechanism and getting it tuned in again. This correction, this tikkun, is our task for however many years it requires and however many lifetimes. When an individual human being truly completes this process, immortality is restored.

The Essential Zohar, Rav P. S. Berg

 

Jan 032014
 

chariot-romanDear Unknown Friend

Like the preceding Arcana, The Arcanum ‘The Chariot’ has a twofold aspect. It represents, from one side, he who – having triumped over the three temptations – remains faithful to the vows of obedience, poverty and chastity; and it represents, from another side, the danger of the fourth temptation, which is the most subtle and intimate temptation, and is the invisible synthesis of the three temptations: the spiritual temptation of the victorious through his victory itself. It is the temptation to act ‘in one’s own name’, to act as master instead of as servant….

When you resist a temptation or renounce something desired below, you set in motion by this very fact forces of realisation of that which corresponds above to that which you came to renounce below. It is this that the Master designates by the word ‘reward’ when he says, for example, that it is necessary to guard against practising righteousness before other people in order to gain their regard, ‘for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven’. (Matthew, vi, 1). Reward is therefore the action that one sets in motion above by the renunciation of desire for things below. It is the ‘yes’ from above corresponding to the ‘no’ from below. And this correspondence constitutes a basis for magical realisation and for the fundamental law of Christian Hermeticism. Let us guard ourselves from taking it lightly, for here is given to us one of the principle keys of sacred magic. It is not desire which bears magical realisation, but rather the renunciation of desire (that you have formerly experienced, of course). For renunciation through indifference has no moral – and therefore no magical – value.
*

The charioteer of the Arcanum is the victor over trials, ie, the temptations, and if he is a master, then it is thanks to himself He is alone, standing in his chariot; no one is present to applaud him or to pay homage to him; he has no weapons….The victory achieved in solitude….what glory and what danger it comprises at one and the same time! It is the only real glory, for it in no way depends on human favour and judgement;it is intrinsic glory – the real radiance of the aura becoming luminous. It is, however, at the same time the most real and the most serious spiritual danger which exists. ‘Pride’ and ‘vaingloriousness’, the traditional names which one gives to it, do not suffice to characterise it in an adequate way. It is more than this. It is, rather, a kind of mystical megalomania, where one deifies the regulating centre of one’s own being, one’s ego, and where one sees the divine only within oneself and becomes blind to the divine above and outside oneself. The ‘higher Self’ is then experienced as the supreme and it is far from the supreme and unique being….far from being God, in other words.

It would be as well, now, to dwell on the problem of identification of the self with the higher Self and of the higher Self with God.

C.G. Jung who, having explored the sexual or ‘Freudian’ layer, and then that of the will-to-power or the ‘Adlerian’ layer, of the unconscious (ie, latent or occult consciousness) of the human being, encountered a spiritual (mystical, gnostic and magical) layer during the course of his clinical and psychotherapeutic experience. Instead of drawing back from it or extricating himself from it through a corrosive ‘explanation’, he had the courage and honest to set himself to the laborious study of the phenomenology of this layer of the unconscious. Now, this work proved fruitful. Jung discovered here not only the causes of certain psychic disorders, but also the profound and intimate process that he designated as the ‘process of individuation’, which is nothing other than the gradual birth of another self (Jung called it the ‘Self’) higher to oneself or one’s ordinary ego. The discover of the process of the ‘second birth’ prompted him to extend the range of his exploratory work considerably notably to include symbolism, mystery rituals and the comparative study of contemporary and ancient religions.

Now, this broadening of his field of exploration also proved fruitful. Jung’s arrival at his discovery (which at first racked him, preventing him from speaking of it to a living soul for fifteen years) had its train of consequences, including the knowledge and description of some dangers or temptations belonging to the way of initiation and the process of individuation which corresponds to it, One of these dangers – which are at the same time trials or temptations – is that which Jung designated by the term ‘inflation’, which signifies the state of consciousness of the self inflated to excess, and which is known in psychiatry in its extreme manifestation by the term ‘megalomania’.

Meditations on the Tarot, Letter VII, The Chariot

Nov 242013
 

soulAnd the God of Gods created the soul, fashioning it for beauty.
He gave unto it the gentleness of a breeze at dawn, the scent of flowers, the loveliness of moonlight.
He gave unto it also the cup of joy, and He said:
‘You shall not drink of this cup save that you have forgotten the past and renounced the future.’
He gave unto it also the cup of sorrow, saying:
‘Drink that you may understand the meaning of joy’.
Then God bestowed within the soul love that would depart with the first sigh of content,
And sweetness that would flee from the first word of arrogance.
He made a heavenly sign to guide it in the path of truth.
He placed in its depths an eye that would behold the unseen.
He created within it a fancy to flow like a river with phantoms and moving figures.
He clothed it in garments of longing woven by angels, from the rainbow.
Within it he placed also the darkness of bewilderment, which is the shadow of light.
And God took fire from the forge of anger,
Wind blowing from the desert of ignorance;
Sand he gathered from the seashore of selffulness
And dust from beneath the feet of the ages;
Thus he fashioned man.
And unto man He gave blind strength that leaps into a flame
In moments of mad passion, and lies down before desire.
God gave him life which is the shadow of death.
And the God of Gods smiled and wept, and He knew a love which hath no bound nor end;
Thus He united man and his soul.

Kahlil Gibran, The Soul

Aug 172013
 

lazarusThe revival of hermeticism in Christianity that, as we said, was foreign to the spirit of the religion of Israel – the latter being based wholly on family and community – was not in any way the result of an ‘Indian influence’ on Christianity. Neither St Anthony of Thebes nor St Paul the Hermit had been influenced at all by India. The same is true for St Jerome and all the other hermits (the Irish Anglo-Saxon hermits included)of whom history has related anything definite.

Christian hermeticism arose out of a profound need of the soul – namely, the need to personally experience the truth of the tradition. And the fact that this need is at the same time the living core of Hindu Buddhist spiritual life, only makes it more plausible that the eternally valid kernel of Hinduism and Buddhism reappeared in transfigured form – that is to say, was resurrected.

Its transfiguration consists in this: the ideal of redemption of the self from the world became the ideal of the redemption of the world: the striving for eternal rest in nirvana became a striving after unity with the living God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; and the  yearning for deathlessness in the world became the hope for resurrection in this world.

The Christianity of the hermits, as the essential core of Indian spiritual life resurrected within Christianity, was no passing phenomenon limited to a few centuries only. Today it still lives with all the intensity of its youth. Though it may not be deserts and thick forests into which one can retire into an undisturbed solitude nowadays, there are still people who have found or created in the deserts of the great cities and among the thickets of the crowds a solitude and stillness of life for the spirit.

And as before, their striving is devoted toward becoming a witness for the truth of Christianity. The way into the depths has not led them to an individualistic brand of belief, but has given them unshakable security in the truth of the Christian revelation as transmitted and taught by the Church.

They know the truth of the following: Extra Ecciesiam non est salus (‘there is no salvation outside the Church’); the Holy Father is not and cannot be the mouthpiece of an ecumenical council; the Holy See alone can make decisions in questions of faith and of morals – a majority of bishops cannot do so, and even less can a majority of priests or congregations do so; the Church is hierarchic theocratic – not democratic, aristocratic, or monarchic – and will be so in future times; the Church is the Civitas Dei (‘the City of God’) and not a superstructure of the will of people belonging to the Church; as little as the shepherd follow the will of the herd does the Holy Father of the Church merely carry out the collective will of his flock; the Shepherd of the Church is St. Peter, representing  Christ – his pronouncements ex cathedra are infallible, and the power of the keys of the kingdom of heaven belongs to him, and him alone.

In other words, those who become solitary in order to seek profundity may reach on their path of spiritual experience to the unshakable insight that the dogmas of the Church are absolutely true. And so it can happen that, as they did at the time of the Arian darkening of the Church, the ‘hermits’ of today may again come to the assistance of the Holy See, leaving their solitude to appear in witness to the truth of Peter’s Throne and its infallible teaching.

In those times it happened that St Anthony of Thebes left the desert and hurried to Alexandria to support St Athanasius with the weight of his moral authority – St Athanasius who became the standard-bearer for the divinity of Christ. The darkening that today is described as ‘the present crisis of the Catholic Church’ can lead to the necessity for the solitary sons of the Church to hurry to the aid of the Holy Father, the most solitary of solitaries, in order to save the Church from the abyss toward which she is moving.

Valentin Tomberg, Lazarus Come Forth!

 

Jun 262013
 

MusŽe national du Moyen-ågeAnd when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; Saying, blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.

And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples. And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.

And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.

Apr 162013
 

Rossetti_maryIt came to pass then, when the First Mystery had finished setting forth these words unto the disciples, that he said unto them: “Who hath understood the solution of these words, let him come forward and say it in openness.”

Mary again came forward and said: “My Lord, concerning these words with which Pistis Sophia hath sung praises, thus thy light-power prophesied them through David:

Mary interpreteth from Psalm cii.”‘1. My soul, praise the Lord, let all that is in me praise his holy name. My soul, praise the Lord and forget not all his requitals. Who forgiveth all thy iniquities; who healeth all thy sicknesses; Who redeemeth thy life from decay; who wreatheth thee with grace and compassion; Who satisfieth thy longing with good things; thy youth will renew itself as an eagle’s.’

“That is: Sophia will be as the invisibles who are in the Height; he hath, therefore, said ‘as an eagle,’ because the dwelling-place of the eagle is in the height, and the |164. invisibles also are in the Height; that is: Pistis Sophia will shine as the invisibles, as she was from her beginning.”

It came to pass then, when the First Mystery had heard Mary say these words, that he said: “Well said, Mary, blessed one.”

Sophia is led to a region below the thirteenth æon and given a new mystery. It came to pass then thereafter, that the First Mystery continued again in the discourse and said unto the disciples: “I took Pistis Sophia and led her up to a region which is below the thirteenth æon, and gave unto her a new mystery of the Light which is not that of her æon, the region of the invisibles. And moreover I gave her a song of the Light, so that from now on the rulers of the æons could not [prevail] against her. And I removed her to that region until I should come after her and bring her to her higher region.

“It came to pass then, when I had removed her to that region, that she again uttered this song thus: She continueth to sing. “In faith have I had faith in the Light; and it remembered me and hearkened to my song. It hath led my power up out of the chaos and the nether darkness of the whole matter and it hath led me up. It hath removed. me to a higher and surer æon, lofty and firm; it hath changed my place on the way which leadeth to my region. And it hath given unto me a new mystery, which is not that of my æon, and given unto me a song of the Light. Now, therefore, O Light, all the rulers will see what thou hast done unto me, and be afraid and have faith in the Light.’

This song then Pistis Sophia uttered, rejoicing that she had been led up out of the chaos and brought to regions which are below the thirteenth æon. Now, therefore, let him whom his mind stirreth, so that he understandeth the solution of the thought of the song which Pistis Sophia hath uttered, come forward and say it.”

Andrew came forward and said: “My Lord, this is concerning what thy light-power hath prophesied aforetime through David: Andrew interpreteth from Psalm xxxix.”In patience I tarried for the Lord; he hath given heed unto me and ear unto my weeping. He hath led up my soul out of the pit of misery and out of the filthy mire; he hath set my feet on a rock and made straight my steps. He hath put in my mouth a new song, a song of praise for our God. Many will see and be afraid and hope in the Lord.'”

It came to pass then, when Andrew had set forth the thought of Pistis Sophia, that the First Mystery said unto him: “Well said, Andrew, blessed one.”

GRS Mead, Pistis Sophia, Chapter 74