Dec 252012
 

He feels anew the faith of all on earth,
The power of salvation streaming thence;
But as he looks, he feels his very soul
Pervaded by a new and unknown sense:
Who added to the cross the wreath of roses?
It is entwined by blooming clusters dense,
Profusely spreading just as though they could
Endow with softness e’en the rigid wood.

While light and silv’ry clouds, around it soaring,
Seem heavenward with cross and roses flowing,
And from the midst like living waters streaming
A threefold ray from out one core is glowing;
But not a word surrounds the holy token,
The meaning of the symbol clearly showing.
And while the dusk is gath’ring grey and greyer,
He stands and ponders and is lost in prayer.

At last he knocks. The myriad stars above him
Look down with shining eyes as they appear.
The portal opes, and he is bidden welcome
By brethren wont to comfort and to cheer.
So he relates how far by hill and valley
The will of higher Beings led him here.
They stand amazed, for well they see their guest
Was sent to them by heavenly behest.

They crowd around him, and their inmost being
They feel by a mysterious power stirred,
Their breath they hold to listen, for he rouses
An echo in their hearts with ev’ry word.
Like deepest lore, yet uttered by a child,
The wisdom flowing from his lips is heard:
He seems so innocent, like crystal clear,
As though descended from another sphere.

The Mysteries, Goethe

Oct 202012
 

In meditation we turn the searchlight of consciousness off ourselves and that means off a self-centred analysis of our own unworthiness.

‘If memories of past actions keep coming between you and God’, says the author of The Cloud of Unknowing, ‘you are resolutely to step over them because of your deep love for God’.

In prayer we come to a deeper awareness of God in Christ. Our way is the way of silence. The way to silence is the way of the mantra.

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The venerable tradition of the mantra in Christian prayer is above all attributable to its utter simplicity. It answers all the requirements of the masters’ advice on how to pray because it leads us to a harmonious, attentive stillness of mind, body and spirit. It requires no special talent or gift apart from serious intent and the courage to persevere.

‘No one’, Cassian said, ‘is kept away from purity of heart by not being able to read, nor is rustic simplicity any obstacle to it for it lies close at hand for all if only they will by constant repetition of this phrase keep the mind and heart attentive to God’.

Our mantra is the ancient Aramaic prayer, ‘Maranatha, Maranatha’. ‘Come Lord. Come Lord Jesus’.

John Mann, Word into Silence

 

May 262012
 

Doubt is more than a psychological state of indecision; it is the soul’s sojourn in the intermediary sphere between the two fields of attraction – terrestrial and celestial – from which there is no other means of escape than a pure and simple act of faith, issuing from the soul itself without heaven and earth taking any part in it. It is therefore a matter of an act of the free personality in the face of complete silence from heaven and earth. Now, Hamlet is the archetype of this trial, where the following is at stake: either an act of faith, or of despair and madness.

 

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The trial of our times is that of the satisfaction of desires. This applies not only to communists, capitalists and materialists, but also, and no less, to – I shall not say esotericists, but – occultists and magicians. For they are also under the same sign of the [Faustian] trial.

The Arcanum ‘The Fool’ has a double meaning. Indeed, it can be understood in two different ways: as a model and as a warning at the same time. For on the one hand it teaches the freedom of the transcendental consciousness elevated above the things of this world, and on the other hand it clearly presents a very impressive warning of the peril that this elevation comprisses –  lack of concern, inadequacy, irresponsibility and ridicule….in a word, madness.

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The ‘philosopher’s stone’ of spiritual alchemy is described in the Emerald Table of Hermes Trismegistus as follows:

The father thereof is the sun, the mother the moon.

The wind carried it in its womb; the earth is the nurse thereof.

It is the father of all works of wonder throughout the whole world.

The power thereof is perfect, if it be cast on to earth.

It will separate the element of earth from that of fire, the subtle

from the gross, gently and with great sagacity.

It doth ascend from earth to heaven.

Again it doth descend to earth, and uniteth in itself the force from things superior and things inferior. (Tabula Smaragdina).

This means to say the the process of induction (which ‘ascends from earth to heaven’) and that of deduction (which ‘descends to earth’), the process of prayer (which ‘ascends from earth to heaven’) and that of revelation (which ‘descends to earth’) ie human endeavour and the action of grace from above – unite and become a complete circle which contracts and concentrates to become a point where the ascent and descent are simultaneous and coincide.

And this point is the ‘philosopher’s stone’ – the principle of the identity of the human and divine, of humanism and prophetism, of intelligence and revelation, of intellectuality and spirituality. It is the solution of the problem posed by St Paul, or rather the accomplishment of the task given by him, when he wrote of the Cross being folly to the Greeks and a stumbling block to the Jews, but which ‘to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, is the power of God, and the wisdom of God’ (1 Corinthians i, 22-24).

Meditations on the Tarot, Unknown Author, Letter XXI, The Fool

 

 

Apr 222012
 

Note, lastly, what the Truth must be;

1. In the first Hierarchy:

evoked by the utterance of prayer, work of the Angels;

heard in study and reading, work of the Archangels;

announced through example and preaching, work of the Principalities.

2. In the second Hierarchy:

joined with refuge and place of indulgence, work of the Powers;

apprehended through zeal and emulation,

work of the Virtues;

conjoined with self-deprecation and mortification,

work of the Dominions.

3. In the third Hierarchy:

worshipped through sacrifice and praise,

work of the Thrones;

admired through ecstasy (going out of oneself)

and contemplation,

work of the Cherubim;

embraced in kiss and dilection (amplectanda per osculum et dilectionem),

work of the Seraphim.

Note diligengly what I say here,

because this is the fountain of life.

St Bonaventura, De triplici via, iii, 14

Nov 172011
 

Starlight is the love inflection; Flame, Air, Water, Earth, Reflection

The setting sun saw the Master facing East in a seemingly effortless but distinctly prayerful posture; calling the Earth to witness. In time the Moon rose and Venus emerged triumphant like a diamond on its band of gold.

Looking up at the sky, the Master saw how the quintessential force of the evening star was thrown into relief by the glowing pharos of Mars, silently beckoning his paramour as he bequeathed to her the dark and endless night. The imperator of war was in a state of surrender at the temple of beauty, but he also had a message to impart:

Here in orbit turn the star-lings – planets binding, suns inclining – in such ways that whole dimensions fold inside the vaults of Heaven.

The Master wondered about the possible effects of Mars’ conjunction with Venus, pouring out onto Earth the magnified force of a sublime alchemical wedding.

This compelling planetary event was irresistibly conspiring with the imminent precession of the equinoxes to create the most potent cosmic conditions that had ever been witnessed from Earth; at least since the Star of the Magi had heralded the turning point of history. Or so it seemed.

How could the signs at this time be ignored? Thought the Master. The answer was that they could not! That the divine plan might remain unfulfilled was inconceivable, but how, precisely, it would manifest was nonetheless a mystery of Mysteries.

When the ears of the student are ready to hear, then cometh the lips to fill them with Wisdom.

Aug 032011
 

His thoughts and actions continually surprise her, so that, increasingly, she “does not understand” his meaning, as for instance when, in the Temple, he leaves her without warning; when he fails to receive her when she visits him; when he refuses to manifest his power in the public ministry, squandering his life and ultimately slipping from her on the cross, substituting the stranger, John, for himself.

With all the strength she can muster she listens to this Word as it grows more and more vast, divine and seemingly alien; its dimensions almost tear her asunder, yet it is for this, for everything, that she gave her consent right at the start. She lets herself be led where she “does not wish to go” – so far is the Word she follows from being her own wisdom. But she consents to this leading; it is a measure of the fact that the Word, which she loves has been “implanted” in her heart (Jas 1.21).

The Christian who tries to be a hearer of the Word can only experience  these hard, ineluctable and ever-increasing demands in his life if he unreservedly  exposes himself to the Word. On the one hand, certainly, he must genuinely listen to the voice within, to God’s voice in his conscience, to the exhortation of the “interior teacher” (as Augustine  calls Christ’s indwelling in us as Word), in an attitude of docility vis-a-vis  the inspirations of the Holy Spirit.

Such an inner listening would correspond in some way to Mary’s inwardly directed contemplation. But it would not be of the same order as her beholding of the Son, bodily present with her, living, acting, challenging her. Without this second element our communion with the Word – hard of hearing and fond of comfort as we are – would be in danger of being stifled.

Hans Urs von Balthasar, Prayer

 

May 292011
 
flowers of summer

flowers of summer

When love beckons to you, follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams
as the north wind lays waste the garden.

For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.
Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,
So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.

Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself.
He threshes you to make you naked.
He sifts you to free you from your husks.
He grinds you to whiteness.
He kneads you until you are pliant;
And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God’s sacred feast.

All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life’s heart.

Burne-Jones

But if in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure,
Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor,
Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.
Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.
Love possesses not nor would it be possessed;
For love is sufficient unto love.

When you love you should not say, “God is in my heart,” but rather, “I am in the heart of God.”
And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.

Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself.
But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.

Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

May 092011
 

We have spoken here of the Buddha-Avatar to come, because he will be the guide in the transformation of potential schizophrenic madness into the wisdom of the harmony of the two worlds and of their experience. He will be the example and living model of realisation of the Arcanum which occupies us.

For this reason he is represented as a Buddha in canonical Buddhist art not in a meditation posture with crossed legs, but rather seated as a European – this latter posture symbolises the synthesis of the principle of prayer and that of meditation.

And for this reason also, he is imagined in Indian ‘mythology’ (as an Avatar) as a giant with the head of a horse, ie, as a being with the human will of a giant and, at the same time, intellectuality placed completely in the service of revelation from above – the horse being the obedient servant of its rider.

Thus, he represents in prodigious measure three activities of human will: seeking, knocking and asking – conforming to the saying of the Master of all masters, “Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” (Matthew vii, 7).

At the same time, he will not put forward personal opinions or reasonable hypotheses; for his intellectuality – his “horses head” – will be moved solely by revelation from above. Like the horse, it will be directed by the rider. Nothing arbitrary will issue forth. This is the Arcanum at work on the historical plane.

Concerning its application in the domain of the individual’s inner life, it is analogous to the work of spiritual alchemy which operates on the historical plane. This means to say that the individual soul begins initially with the experience of separation and opposition to the spiritual and intellectual elements within it, then advances to – or resigns itself to – parallelism, ie, a kind of ‘peaceful coexistence’ of these two elements within it.

Subsequently it arrives at cooperation between spirituality and intellectuality which, proving to be fruitful, eventually becomes the complete fusion of these two elements in a third element – the ‘philosopher’s stone’ of the spiritual alchemy of Hermeticism. The beginning of this final stage is announced by the fact that logic becomes transformed from formal logic (ie, general and abstract logic) – passing through the intermediary stage of ‘organic logic’ – into moral logic (ie, material and essential logic).

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Moral logic, in contrast to formal logic and organic logic, operates with values instead of notions of grammar, mathematics or biological functions. Thus, if formal logic can go only so far towards the idea of God as to postulate the necessity of admitting a beginning in the chain of cause and effect – postulating a First Cause (primus motor) – and if organic logic, that of functions, cannot come further than postulating in the order of existing in the world of existence of God as the ordering principle – the ‘law of laws’ of the world – moral logic comes to the postulate that God is the ‘value of values’, that he is love.

Unknown Author, Meditations on the Tarot, Letter XXI, The Fool

Nov 062010
 

A man must have gazed long at the face of incarnate, crucified Love and pondered deeply on Love’s actions if, when it comes to the point, he can speak of his own failing love in thise terms: “love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all thigns.” (1 Cor 13.7).

In such love, however, contemplation comes to blossom in the truth of a human life; it shows whether he has really acted so as to allow God’s word to be paramount in his life, God’s truth and love to triumph over his untruth and egoism.

That is what is meant by worshipping in spirit and truth; it also involves renouncing “ultimate knowledge” for the sake of “ultimate love”. For as knowledge, it will pass away…but love never ends.” (1 Cor 13.8).

The love which “surpasses knowledge” can only be “known” (Eph 3.19) in something more-than knowledge, which is in fact love itself, a loving together with God and from God, just as God’s truth is one with his life of love which pours forth in a threefold stream.

Hans Urs von Balthasar, Prayer

Sep 262010
 

There is certainly something added to man’s functional organism to play in it the role of a counterweight to the leverage of vicious inclinations and habit which have become established since the primordial Fall. This is the guardian Angel.

The guardian Angel accompanies as a faithful ally the divine image in man, just as vicious inclinations have made their way into the human functional organism which was, before the Fall, the divine likeness. The guardian Angel undertakes the functions, destroyed by original sin, in the likeness, and fills the breach wrought by them. He substitutes himself for functions destroyed through the Fall.

In praying to God “to deign to send from heaven his holy Angel to guard, cherish, protect, visit and defend all those who are gathered together in this place,” the Angel acquits his charge in five ways:  he guards, cherishes, protects, visits and defends. He is therefore a “flaming star”, a luminous pentagram, above man.

He guards memory, ie, the continuity of the great past in the present, which is the preparation for the great future. It is the guardian Angel who takes care that there is a connection between the great “yesterday, today and tomorrow” of the human soul. He is a perpetual “memento” with regard to the primordial likeness, with regard to the eternal mission assigned to the soul in the cosmic symphony, and with regard to the special room for the soul “in my Father’s house, where there are many rooms” (John xiv, 2).

If it is necessary, the guardian Angel awakens recollections of the soul’s previous earthly lives, in order to establish continuity of endeavour – of the quest and aspiration of the soul from life to life – so that particular lives are not merely isolated episodes but constitute the stages of a single path towards one sole end.

The guardian angel cherishes the endeavour, quest and aspiration of the soul engaged on this way. This means to say that he fills in the breaks in the psychic functional organism due to the disfigurement of the likeness, and makes up for it failings – given the soul’s good will towards it. For support never signifies substitution of the Angel’s will for that of man. The will remains free, always and everywhere. The guardian Angel never touches on man’s free will and resigns himself to await the decision or choice made in the inviolable sanctuary of free will – in order to lend his assistance immediately if it is just, or to remain a passive observer reduced alone to prayer if it is not.

Just as the guardian Angel is sometimes constrained not to participate in the soul’s activity – this activity not being in accord with the divine image of the soul – so also he can sometimes take a greater part in human activity than usual – this activity being of a nature not simply permitted but also called for. Then the guardian Angel descends from the point of the ordinary post into the domain of human activity. He then visits the human being.

Unknown Author, Meditations on the Tarot, Letter XIV, Temperance