MAN, then, Asclepios, is a great marvel; a creature worthy of respect and adoration. For amid this divine Nature he moves as if he himself were a God. He knows the order of the genii, and, aware that he is of the same origin, he despises the human side of his being in order to attach himself exclusively to the divine element.
How happily constituted and near to the Gods is humanity! In joining himself to the divine, man disdains that which he has in him of the earthly; he connects himself by a bond of love to all other beings, and thereby feels himself necessary to the universal order. He contemplates heaven; and in this happy middle sphere in which he is placed, he loves all that is below him, he is beloved of all that is above. He cultivates the earth; he borrows the speed of the elements; his piercing thought fathoms the deeps of the sea. Everything is clear for him. Heaven does not seem to him too high, for knowledge lifts him to it. The brightness of his mind is not obscured by the thick mists of the air; the earth's gravitation is no obstacle to his efforts; the profundity of deep seas does not disturb him; he includes everything and remains everywhere the same.
All animate beings have as it were roots passing downwards; inanimate beings, on the contrary, have a single root passing from below upwards, and supporting a whole forest of branches. Some creatures nourish themselves upon two elements, others upon one only. There are two kinds of aliment for the two portions of the creature--one for the soul and another for the body. The soul of the world sustains itself by perpetual motion. Bodies develop themselves by means of water and of earth, the aliments of the inferior world. The spirit which fills everything, mingles with everything, and vivifies everything, adds consciousness to the intelligence, which, by a peculiar privilege, man borrows from the fifth element--the ether. In man, the consciousness is raised to the knowledge of the divine order.
Since I am led to speak of the consciousness, I will presently expound to you its function, which is great and holy as that of divinity itself. But let us first complete the exposition already begun. I was speaking of union with the Gods--a privilege which they accord only to humanity. A few men only have the happiness of rising to that perception of the Divine which subsists only in God and in the human intelligence.
Are, then, not all men similarly conscient, Trismegistos?
All, Asclepios, have not the true intelligence. They are deceived when they suffer themselves to be drawn after the image of things, without seeking for the true reason of them. It is thus that evil is produced in man; and that the first of all creatures lowers himself almost to the level of the brutes.
But I will speak to you of the consciousness and all that belongs to it, when I come to my exposition of the mind. For man alone is a dual creature. One of the two parts of which he consists is single, and, as the Greeks say, essential; that is, formed after the divine likeness. The part which the Greeks call Kosmic--that is, belonging to the world--is quadruple, and constitutes the body, which, in man, serves as an envelope to the divine principle. This divine principle, and that which belongs to it, the perceptions of the pure intelligence, conceal themselves behind the rampart of the body. 1
53:1 "The five elements of the Microcosm are here made to correspond with the five elements which the Greeks allotted to the Macrocosm; earth, water, air, fire, and ether. Trismegistos says that man obtains his intelligence from "the ether--the fifth element." Trismegistos includes in the body the physical particles, the exterior consciousness, the magnetic forces, and the sensible or mundane mind. In the fifth element he includes the immortal part--soul and spirit; since he speaks of the "divine principle and that which belongs to it--the perceptions of the pure intelligence." The soul, as we have already seen in the "Virgin of the world," is the percipient principle of man; the spirit is the divine light by means of which she sees. It is advisable, in this place, to point out, for the sake of a clear under-standing of what follows, that Hermetic doctrine regards man as having a twofold nature. For he is in one sense a child of the earth, developed by progressive evolution from below upwards; a true animal, and therefore bound by strict ties of kinship with the lower races, and of allegiance to Nature. In the other sense, man descends from above, and is of celestial origin; because when a certain point in his development from below is reached, the human soul focuses and fixes the Divine Spirit, which is peculiarly the attribute of man, and the possession of which constitutes his sovereignty over all other creatures. And until this vivification of the soul occurs, man is not truly Man in the Hermetic sense.
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