In the last analysis it is KARMA which is the law governing the adjustment of mutual debts between beings. But the working of the “heaven-earth” balance surpasses the justice of karma; it is that of the justice of grace.
“Gratia gratis data….” the sun shines on the good and wicked alike. Is this morally right? Is it the justice of grace here which is higher than the protective, distributive, punitive justice of the law? This is so. There is the sublime “other justice” of grace, which is the meaning of the New Testament. For the Old Testament is to the New Testament as karma is to grace.
Grace also makes use of the balance, ie justice. It is the balance whose one scale is on the earth and whose other scale is heaven. The Lord’s prayer reveals to us the principle of the justice of grace and the operation of weighing by means of the “heaven-earth” balance.
There it is said: “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” And then the Master adds: “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew vi, 12, 14 – 15).
The sun shines on the good and wicked alike. But it is certainly necessary to open the windows of a dark room in order for light to be able to enter there. The light of the sun is in no way created or merited by us. It is a gift, pure and simple – gratia gratis data. Nevertheless, it is necessary to open our windows in order for it to enter into our abode, just as it is necessary to open our eyes in order to see it. The practical meaning of the “heaven-earth” balance is that of cooperation with grace. Human effort is therefore not for nothing in the domain of the working of grace.
Neither election from above (Calvinism) nor faith alone below (Lutheranism) suffice for the requirements of the “heaven-earth” balance. Chosen or not chosen, having faith or not, it is necessary for us, for example to “forgive those who trespass against us” here below in order for our trespasses to be forgiven above.
Unknown Author, Meditations on the Tarot, Letter VIII Justice
The Card, “The Pope” puts us in the presence of the act of benediction. It is essential to have this in mind when one undertakes the interpretation not only of the structure of the whole Card but also of each of its particular elements.
One should therefore never lose from sight that in the first place it is a matter of benediction and everything associated with it – no matter who the Pope may be or who the acolytes kneeling before him are, and no matter what the two columns behind the Pope signify, and no matter what his tiara and the triple cross he is holding symbolise.
What is benediction? What is its source and its effect? Who has the authority to bestow benediction? What role does it play in the spiritual life of humanity?
Now, benediction is more than a simple good wish made for others; it is also more than a magical impress of personal thought and will upon others. It is the putting into action of divine power transcending the individual thought and will of the one who is blessed as well as the one who is pronouncing the blessing. In other words, it is a sacerdotal act.
The two sides of the Cabbala – the “right” side and the “left” side – and the two columns of the Sephiroth Tree, the pillar of Mercy and that of Severity, and similarly the two pillars of the Temple of Solomon, Jachin and Boaz, correspond exactly the the two columns of prayer and benediction on this Card. Because it is Severity which stimulates prayer and it is Mercy which blesses.
the venous “blue blood” of Boaz ascends and the arterial “red blood” of Jachin descends. The “red blood” bears the vivifying benediction of oxygen; the “blue blood” rids the organism of the “severity” of carbonic acid. It is the same in the spiritual life. Spiritual asphyxia menaces he who does not practise some form of prayer; he who practises it receives vivifying benediction in some form. The two columns therefore have an essentially practical significance – as practically spiritually as rerspiration is for the life of the organism.
Thus, the first practical teaching of the fifth Arcanum – for the Major Arcana of the Tarot are spiritual exercises – relates to spiritual respiration.
Unknown Author, Meditations on the Tarot, Letter V, The Pope
The guardian Angel accompanies as a faithful ally the divine image in man….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, 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 [but] support never signifies substitution of the Angel’s will for that of man. The will remains free, always and everywhere.
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 can he 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 his ordinary post into the domain of human activity. He then visits the human being.
Unknown Author, Meditations on the Tarot, Letter XIV, Temperance
The Arcanum “The World” thus communicates to us a teaching of immense practical significance: “The world is a work of art. It is animated by creative joy. The wisdom that it reveals is joyous wisdom – that of creative-artistic elan, and not that of an engineer-technician or industrial designer.
Happy is he who seeks wisdom in the first place, for he will find that wisdom is joyous! Unhappy is the one who seeks the joy of joyous wisdom in the first place, for he will fall prey to illusions! Seek first the creative wisdom of the world – and the joy of creativity will be given to you in addition.”
From this teaching there results an important rule of “spiritual hygiene”, namely, that he who aspires to authentic spiritual experiences never confounds the intensity of the experience undergone with the truth of what is revealed – or is not revealed – through it, ie, he does not regard the force of impact of an inner experience as a criterion of its authenticity and truth. For an illusion stemming from the sphere of mirages can bowl you over, whilst a true revelation from above can take place in the guise of a scarcely perceptible “inner whispering”.
Far from imposing itself through force, authentic spiritual experience sometimes requires very awake and very concentrated attention so as not to let it pass by unnoticed….For all the exercises that all serious esotericism prescribes are necessary in order to render attention so awake and intense that it is in a position to perceive within the calm and silent domain of the depth of the soul where spiritual truth reveals itself. And this latter has the quite pronounced tendency to work gently and gradually, although – as in the case of St Paul – there are exceptions.
But as a general rule, the spiritual world does not at all resemble the surging of the sea – at work to break down the dams holding it back, so as to inundate the land. No, what characterises the spiritual world, ie, “the sphere of the Holy Spirit”, is the consideration that it has for the human condition.
Meditations on the Tarot, Letter XII, The World, Unknown Author
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’. (I Corinthians 1, 22 – 24).
The historical and evolutionary mission of Hermeticism is to advance the progress of the alchemical work engaged in developing the ‘philosopher’s stone’ or the union of spirituality and intellectuality. It is called to be the crest of the wave of contemporary human effort aspiring to the fusion of spirituality and intellectuality. This effort and aspiration is larger than the group of Hermeticists, properly said, who are dispersed in the world. There are probably more people who are not avowed Hermeticists and who are engaged in this endeavour aiming at the fusion of spirituality and intellectuality than there are Hermeticists, properly said.
The Spirit blows where it will, but the task of the Hermetic tradition is to maintain – without pretension to a monopoly, God forbid! – the ancient ideal of ‘the thelema of the whole world…..which ascends from earth to heaven…..descends to earth, and uniteth in itself the force from things superior and inferior.’ Its task is that of guardian of the great spiritual work.
Meditations on the Tarot, Unknown Author, Letter XXI, The Fool