Saturday, July 13, 2013

Words of Hermes

Excerpts from The Corpus Hermeticum

If you do not make yourself equal to God you cannot understand Him. Like is understood by like. Grow to immeasurable size. Be free from every body, transcend all time. Become eternity and thus you will understand God. Suppose nothing to be impossible for yourself. Consider yourself immortal and able to understand everything; all arts, sciences and the nature of every living creature. Become higher than all heights and lower than all depths. Sense as one within yourself the entire creation: fire, water, the dry and the moist. Conceive yourself to be in all places at the same time: in earth, in the sea, in heaven; that you are not yet born, that you are within the womb, that you are young, old, dead; that you are beyond death. Conceive all things at once: times, places, actions, qualities and quantities; then you can understand God.

But if you lock up your soul in your body, abase it and say “I understand nothing; I can do nothing; I'm afraid of the sea; I can't reach heaven; I don't know who I was or who I shall be.” You cannot conceive anything beautiful or good while you are attached to the body and are evil. For the greatest evil is to ignore what belongs to God. To be able to know, and to will, and to hope, is the straight and easy way appropriate to each that will lead to the Supreme Good. When you take that road, this Good will meet you everywhere and will be experienced everywhere, even where and when you do not expect it; when awake, asleep, in a ship, on the road, by night, by day, when speaking and when silent, for there is nothing which it is not.

Eternity is the image of God; the cosmos of eternity, the sun of the cosmos; and man, of the sun. People call transformation death, because the body is dissolved, but in fact life withdraws into the unmanifest. All these things that have been thus dissolved and indeed the cosmos, are transformed. Each day a part of the cosmos withdraws into the unmanifest.

The source of all is God, the essence of all is eternity, the substance of all is the cosmos; the potentiality of God is eternity, the work of eternity is the cosmos, which is never born, but is always coming into existence through eternity. Therefore it will never be destroyed, for eternity is indestructible; nor does anything in the cosmos perish, as the cosmos is encompassed by eternity.

Generation and time are both in heaven and earth and have two forms, in heaven they are unchangeable and incorruptible; on earth they are both changeable and corruptible. God is the source of eternity; eternity of the cosmos; and heaven of earth. God is in Nous, Nous in the soul, soul in matter; and all these things exist through eternity.

… to open the eyes of the mind and to behold the beauty of that Supreme Good, the experience of it is the silence of God and the withdrawal of all the senses.

Ceasing from all bodily movement and sensation, he stays still. When it has illumined the whole mind, and the whole soul, it flames up again and draws the entire man out of the body and transforms him into his essential being.

But when the body has grown large and drags the soul down to its grossness, the soul separates itself, forgets and does not partake of beauty and goodness. Forgetting becomes her corruption. This also happens to those leaving the body. When the soul returns to itself, the breath withdraws into the blood and the soul into the breath, but Nous, being freed from covers and being godlike by nature, takes on a body of fire and ranging everywhere, leaves the soul to the judgment and justice it deserves. Nous has taken the soul as a cover and the soul, being itself divine, uses breath as fire and the breath governs living beings.

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