The Imperishable Ocean of Light

The following passages are taken from L’homme de désir (The Man of Desire) by Louis-Claude de Saint-Martin.

Happy is he who is filled with courage and confidence, and whose past sorrows and iniquities do not retard him in his work!

You ask how to pray. Does a sick man ask what how he must express his pains? Always command evil to go away, as if you were being regenerated in your powers.

Always call upon the good, as if the highest favors had not abandoned you. No longer consider if you are impure and if you are weak. No longer look backwards, and no longer prescribe for yourself any other plan but that of perseverance.

You can, by your obstinacy, recover what the divine goodness has granted you by your nature.

Say then without ceasing: I command iniquity to flea far from me; I command all natural and spiritual aids to gather around me.

I beg all the pure elect to lead and protect me. I bow down before the one who alone can reestablish all my relations.

Each one of his words give birth to a world: each one of his words can place the legions of living beings around me: because he does not speak without giving birth to life and to spread it in the souls who seek it.

Alas! We can anoint the Lord with our prayer, like that holy woman who anoints him with perfumes in front of his tomb! We can make it so that the stay in the tomb is less bitter to him.

Do you want to know your superiority over nature? See how much you extend or strengthen the faculties of the animals as you wish. You perfect, if you want, all substances; you are a king, you are an angel of light, or at least you should be.

Do you know why the more elevated are the objects of your studies, the easier it is for you to make discoveries in them? It is because, like your spirit, they are closest to the truth. Hesitate no more. The sciences of the spirit are much more certain than those of matter.

That is why all the sacred authors say the same thing; whereas the scientists of the lower order are all fighting amongst each other.

Look even around yourself and at the simplest laws of the physical world. The astronomers predict the eclipses and revolutions of the heavens several centuries in advance; and they could hardly predict whether the weather tomorrow will be clear or cloudy.

Man, be filled with trust in your nature and in the one who gave you thought. Let that faith not be a vague and sterile belief in vain doctrines. It is necessary for it to be active and swift like a torrent; but it is necessary that that torrent be inflamed, so that it can illuminate itself in your heart.

The reason man carries his head in the skies is because he does not find here anywhere to rest his head. And why would he look here to rest his head? Doesn’t he cling to unity? And can unity find its rest in the order of mixed things?

Soul of man, know the repose that is made for you. It is that which is characteristic of unity itself: it is to feel that you are separated from that which is disorder and corruption; it is to feel that you swim in freedom in the imperishable ocean of the light of order and life.

Secret Movements of the Heart of Man

Translated from Letter to a Friend, or Political, philosophical, and religious considerations on the French Revolution by Louis Claude de Saint-Martin. (French title: Lettre à un ami ou Considérations politiques, philosophiques et religieuses sur la Révolution française.

Here he points out that the Truth must be first found in the spirit and heart of man, by introspection; this Truth is anterior to the traditions, and confirms what he is taught in Tradition. This comes without effort.

[25] So the elements, air, sound, time, weather, languages, math, the close alliance which is found among the good and base customs of natural and civil society, the political institutions whose invention belongs to us less that we believe, since we can create nothing, history of the human race, the same scene of his prejudices and his universal errors in which one would have probably found a fixed residue, if one gave himself the necessary time and attention to let its volatile and the heterogeneous parts evaporate, the inexpressible and secret movements of the heart of man, especially that type of holy veneration by which he is seized when he contemplates his own grandeur, and which, in spite of his crimes, darkness, and deviations, reveals it to himself like a naked God, (allow me the term) like a God ashamed, who blushes to find himself exiled on the earth, who weeps from the inability to show himself in it in his true and sublime form, and who is more reserved and more embarrassed again in the face of virtue. Here are the paths in which the thought of man had been able to find as many religions, that is, as many of the means to unite to himself his intelligence, his spirit, and his heart as the only source from which he descends, and without which there is no peace for him; because while carefully roaming over these paths, he could not fail to meet the one who belongs to him, and who would have led him infallibly to his end.

[26] I warn you, my friend, that with so many gifts which are offered to the observers to support their religious principles, I am pained by never seeing them employ any of them, and abandon them all to resort to books and miracles. The sacred books that they quote to us, are naturally at such a distance from the belief and thought of man, that it is not astonishing to see them miss their target with identical weapons. The verities which he is concerned about are anterior to all books: if one does not begin by teaching man to read these verities in his being, in his mysterious circumstances in opposition to the thirst of his heart for the light, finally in the movement and the play of his own faculties, he grasped them poorly in his books: instead that if, by the active inspection of his own nature, he already saw himself as what he is, and foresaw what he can be, he receives without effort the confirmations that he can find of them in the traditions, and which serves only as the support of an already existing fact and recognized by him.

[27] All the more, it is also like that with miracles: I believe that it is a word that one would never have pronounced before man without having previously begun to attempt to discover the key to his being. One can never repeat it too much, it is in him, and in him alone, that man can find the understanding of all miracles; because if he had once glimpsed the miracle of his own nature, there would no longer have been anything about them which can surprise him.

The Tableau of God

Translated from Letter to a Friend, or Political, philosophical, and religious considerations on the French Revolution by Louis Claude de Saint-Martin. (French title: Lettre à un ami ou Considérations politiques, philosophiques et religieuses sur la Révolution française

In a wide ranging discussion of the French Revolution written in the form of a letter to a friend, Louis Claude de Saint-Martin turns, in these passages to the question of demonstrating the existence of God. Moving beyond the philosophical arguments, Saint-Martin is intent on demonstrating the God who is active in the soul and in the world.

The atheist is unable to see that God is reflected in the human soul. In denying that, the atheist is veiling the very thing that brings attention to his existence, replacing it with the darkness of nothingness. Unlike the Gnostics or the Platonists, Saint-Martin does not see the material world as a prison, since it, too, passively reveals the creative power of God.

An important point he makes is that there must be some common essence between God and man as the basis any possible communication. Ultimately, this can only be recognized and cannot be demonstrated to everyone’s satisfaction. The translation follows.

[12] The true atheist, if there is one, and consequently the truly impious man, is the one who, turning his gaze on the human soul, is unaware of its grandeur and disputes its spiritual immortality, since it is only in the character and the immensity of the gifts and virtues, of which the soul of man is susceptible, that we can see reflected, as in a mirror, all the pure and sacred rays, of which the tableau of God must be composed: thus, to extinguish the human soul is to cover the Divinity with a lugubrious veil that this soul alone has the power to bring to attention in all worlds; it is to extinguish that eternal sun whence everything originates, and to immerse it, with the universality of things, in the mourning and the obscurity of nothingness.

[13] The only means that we would therefore have of proving the true God, the God ruling over free beings, finally the loving God and source of a joy that can be communicated to other beings, would be without doubt to demonstrate in his creature the existence of some base or some essence similar to his, and even to obtain and to feel this joy of which He is the principle; finally, it would be to demonstrate the spiritual and immortal existence of the human soul which, in its radical and integral nature, is fully desire and fully love, finding itself to be then the active witness of the holy and loving God, as physical nature is the passive witness of the powerful and creator God, we would have placed thereby all the foundations of the building, and it would only be a question of working on its construction: for it is very much without doubt that the immortal existence of the human soul has been recognized, as several good spirits have done on earth; but to recognize a thing, is not always to demonstrate it.