Meeting Notes from 9 January 2017
We read from the bottom of page 607 to page 611.
The mission of Hermetism – both in the past and to come – is the union of spirituality and intellectuality.
However, not everyone who has contributed to that work is explicitly a Hermetist. Tomberg provides a short list of such thinkers. It is obviously helpful to study one or more of them, although their spiritual paths differed and the intellectual interests were quite disparate.
- Vladimir Solovyov: In “Lectures on Divine Humanity”, Solovyov offered an intellectual understanding of the dogmas of Chrisitianity, e.g., the Trinity or the Incarnation. He incorporated ideas from the Kabbalah, Neoplatonism, Boehme, Swedenborg, and the German philosopher Friedrich Schelling. In his lectures, he mentioned the connection between Alexandrian theosophy and Christian doctrine. Spiritually, he was highly influenced by the Divine Sophia, having had several experiences of her presence. Those writings are collected in a book in English titled “Divine Sophia”. Solovyov was highly influential on Tomberg.
- Nicolas Berdyaev: Berdyaev was another Russian who reconciled his intellectual interests in philosophy with a deep spirituality based on the creativity and freedom of the human spirit.
- Pierre Teilhard de Chardin: Teilhard was a French Jesuit and paleontologist. In “The Phenomenon of Man”, he created a sweeping vision of evolution of higher and higher layers; from life to thought to the centrality of Christ. He looked for the eventual culmination in God.
- Carl Jung: Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist, who combined the scientific method of his profession with a gnostic spirituality. His discovery of the archetypes was expanded on by Tomberg.
The guardians of the Hermetic tradition have two tasks:
- The study and practical application of the heritage of the past
- Continuous creative effort aiming at the advancement of the work
This spiritual work, on the historical plane, reconciles two opposing notions, described in several ways
- One source is from above, the other from below
- The action of continuous revelation and the effort of human consciousness
- Revelation and humanism
- Avatars and Buddhas
- Saints and the righteous
Job, Socrates, and Immanuel Kant are examples of righteous men. Kant, with the discovery and description of the categorical imperative (which Tomberg equates with the notion of Dharma), leads to faith in the nobility of human nature. Tomberg gives us a deeper understanding of the God-Man Jesus Christ. Since He is completely both natures, faith in Jesus Christ should unite both faith in God and faith in man, and love for Jesus Christ unites love of God and love of neighbor.
Jesus Christ, then, unites the Avatar and the Buddha. The corollary of this is that the simplistic notion — popular in some circles — that all “spiritual teachers” including Krishna, Buddha, and Jesus Christ somehow “taught the same thing”. Tomberg, on the other hand, brings out their distinctiveness, while also uniting them.
We discussed the idea of the Avatar and Buddha, particularly why Tomberg chose them as exemplars. The conclusion was that they are not mere ciphers, or placeholders, for his argument. Rather, they bring real revelations to the Hermetist. Hence, we will be making efforts to understand precisely what Krishna (in the Bhagavad Gita) and Buddha taught. And not simply in an intellectual way, but in terms of states of consciousness.
Our task is to be sure to make meditation and prayer part of our daily schedule. Avoid meditations that are based solely on sounds of untranslatable mantras, or those that concentrate on nothing or perhaps just the awareness of breath. Prayer should include both vocal and mental prayer. Also during the day, be sure to awaken yourself several times and observe what you were considering. In mental prayer we are considering God. Dom Lehodey describes it this way:
The considerations are not a mere speculative study; they are not made in order to learn or to know, but to inflame the heart, and set the will in motion. The mind’s eye is fixed
- upon some truth in order to believe it
- upon some virtue in order to love and seek it
- upon some duty to fulfill it
- up moral evil to detest and fly from it
- upon some danger to avoid it
The fruits of mental prayer are these:
Little by little, mental prayer well made
- will render our faith more lively
- will strengthen our conviction
- will penetrate us deeply with the things of God
- will keep the supernatural always present to our mind.
Then there will be no more forgetfulness, no more sleep
Upcoming schedule: In addition to the text on Bodhisattva, we will bring in supplementary material:
- An essay on the Bodhisattva by Fritjhof Schuon
- A summary of the Bhagavad Gita
- An essay on The Essence of the Prayer of the Heart
After that, we will do for Lent a series of seven meditation on the Passion of Jesus Christ as described by Tomberg.