The way of the stars – introduction from the book ‘Mysteries and Hymns of God, Cosmos, Humanity’

 

‘What a great miracle is man, Asclepius.’ Any right-minded person will be able to confirm this statement attributed to the Egyptian sage Hermes Trismegistus, regardless of his or her origin, background, philosophy of life and religion. Over the past thousands of years, humanity has gained much knowledge about itself and about the phenomena on the earth and in the universe. Countless studies have been conducted that offer impressive insights into the functioning of the mineral kingdom, the plant kingdom, the animal kingdom and humanity.

Researches within the sciences extends ever further, both to the infinitely large – the universe with the planets, moons, stars, galaxies and black holes – and to the infinitely small – the molecules, atoms and elementary particles from which all matter is built up, particles that can be regarded as solidified energy. The more knowledge we obtain about the universe and everything that is part of it, the greater our wonder will be about the design, the functionality and the perfection of the cosmos. The processes of life are also being described and explained with increasing accuracy. Scientists are developing increasingly effective methods to influence these processes in directions that they consider valuable.

Over the past century, great progress has been made in all sciences that investigate and describe humanity and human action, such as biology, psychology, sociology, anthropology, economics, political science and theology. Would all those sciences together be able to give a complete picture of the human phenomenon? Scientists look at people in an objective way, looking at aspects that can be sensed and often measured. Because of that restriction, they ignore the essence that truly makes people human, the essence that is related to the conscious, living experience, also referred to by the word ‘soul’. Thus they do not gain access to the mysteries of humanity, and certainly not to the mysteries of the cosmos and of God.

It seems that the more we learn more about the what and the how of life and being human, the further distant we become from fundamental questions such as: What is the meaning of our existence here? What has brought us into this strange world? What is our destination? Through such questions, we can come into contact with the mysteries of life, mysteries that our intellectual thinking cannot penetrate. The Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu wrote a few centuries before the beginning of the era in verse 14 of his Tao Te Ching:

‘Look at Tao and you don’t see it; it is called colorless.
Listen to Tao and you don’t hear it; they call it soundless.
Try to touch Tao and you will not touch it; it is called immaterial.’

Whoever wants to penetrate into the essence of life needs something that all over the world is designated by the Greek word gnosis, which means ‘knowledge’ and refers to inner knowing. This name is consistently used to make it clear that it concerns the knowledge of the heart and not the knowledge that results from our intellectual thinking.

Is it possible to acquire something of that knowledge, of that gnosis? The answer is: yes! But it is essential to realize that gnosis cannot be obtained with the familiar intellectual methods of acquiring knowledge as applied everywhere. Gnosis manifests itself in the person in whom a special process has begun. We could say that obtaining such inner knowledge is a kind of fermentation process that starts as soon as a divine principle becomes active within an individual.

This divine principle is known throughout the world in religions, myths and philosophies, because it is the basis of all spiritual striving. The German poet Friedrich Schiller wrote in his poem ‘Ode to Joy’ about the divine spark. In the east it is referred to as the jewel in the lotus, as atman or as the spirit in the valley, as Lao Tzu calls it. And the Rosicrucians speak of the rose in the heart, which is present within human beings as a flower bud, but can bloom when a person knows how to open up to the spiritual light. The Bible uses the symbol of the seed that is sown in the earth and grows into a tree of life whose fruits can be harvested.

Real gnosis comes from within, often manifesting itself as the result of an inner touch after an extensive search. Every person searches, has searched or is starting to search. The entire reality of being human is connected with the search for fulfillment. We are missing something, we are limited, finite, incomplete. What can we do to escape from this inner turmoil? We can numb ourselves with everything that this world offers us. Then we look for oblivion. We can also make every effort to live a pleasant life. Then we seek happiness. Or we can be dissatisfied with our material living conditions. We then look for wealth and property.

So the human search has all kinds of gradations. Driven by the feeling of being ignorant, unable to control the world, not knowing how to create perfection, man seeks. He searches for the higher, the deeper, for the truth, because there must be a secret, a key. There must be a truth, perhaps hidden somewhere in the form of science, religion or art, a truth that represents the perfect. Sacred scriptures, legends and stories about it do not appeal to us for nothing, and sometimes they evoke a feeling of nostalgia in us.

Since times immemorial, searches have been undertaken for the missing link that is designated by several names. People look for the elixir of life, for the philosopher’s stone and for the holy grail, because it is said that they lead to the good, the true and the beautiful. What is the missing link, the link that connects us to the higher reality, whose existence we sometimes feel intuitively, but which keeps escaping us over and over again? Our state of being human is incomplete, imperfect, because the connecting link with our divine origin is no longer there. Basic science, true religion and the royal art of construction have been abandoned, forgotten, faded. The return to that divine – the restoration of the connection with the divine – that is the secret, the mystery.

There is a key that opens the door to that original state, that original realm, that kingdom. It is gnosis, the mysterious power of the divine realm, to which this book ‘Mysteries and Hymns of God, Cosmos, Humanity’ is dedicated. It is the inspiration from an invisible reality of life, which can manifest itself in humans as wisdom, inspired by gnosis, love and vigor – attributes that are bestowed upon a person when the latent divine principle awakens in the heart and one begins to follow the silent voice of the innermost self.

Following the voice of the roseheart is like going a path that is also called the path of transfiguration, because the person is then subjected to a fundamental change. It is the path of initiation, traditionally compared to the metamorphosis of the caterpillar into the butterfly. Within the medieval gnostic movement of the Cathars, it was referred to as the way of the stars, on which man is symbolically liberated from the gravitational force of the earth. That thought was propagated some thousand years earlier in a number of manuscripts written in Greek in the Egyptian harbor city of Alexandria and attributed to Hermes Trismegistus in the first centuries of this era.

This legendary initiate describes the way of the stars as it ascends through several heavenly spheres. The first seven spheres are still strongly connected to the earth and are related to the seven classical planets, but from the eighth sphere on, everything is completely different. Today we would say that from the eighth sphere on, we are referring to a different dimension or a totally different field of life, one that we cannot imagine with our ordinary thinking capacity, but which can nevertheless be experienced intuitively by humans. Characteristic of the hermetic writings, also called the hermetics, is that they assume that there is an unbreakable coherence and connectedness between God, cosmos and humanity, and also that human beings have the task to allow the divine within to awaken and grow so that they become fit to cooperate in the execution of the divine plan underlying the cosmos. Even now people can still be inspired by those ideas that originate from inner knowing, from gnosis.

Astronomy is one of the oldest sciences. From the earliest times onward humanity has looked up at the wonderful starry sky with respect and fear. Throughout the ages there have always been people who had a great interest in the laws and the order that we can see in the celestial phenomena, persons who found great satisfaction in acquiring knowledge about the celestial bodies and their movements. Today three forms of wisdom of the stars that are distinguished, clearly differing from each other, which in the old days still formed a unity: astronomy, astrology and astrosophy. These three all presuppose that system and order reign in the universe.

Astronomy or astronomical science charts the organisation of the visible part of the universe and tries to explain it. With the help of increasingly sophisticated instruments, a part of the universe is being explored to the extent possible. The instruments being used are currently so precise that instead of speaking about the visible universe, we can better talk about it being observable.

Astrology reflects the influence of the positions of stars and planets exerted on people and the world in successive periods. From an individual point of view, this concerns the period of life from the first birth cry until the last breath. In addition, it is common practice for the person who practices astrology to try to create as much harmony as possible in his world of opposites by taking into account the positions of the stars. Thus humanity maneuvers as circumspectly as possible between good and evil, between what has already been determined by fate and what choices we may still have, trying to make the best of it. However, living by the laws of fate through astrology does not diminish the fear and anxiety of man. On the contrary, by being so intensively occupied with it, a person becomes even more strongly attached to self-maintenance. And that self-maintenance is a major barrier on the path that Hermes calls ‘the way of devotion’.

Astrosophy assumes that the influences of galaxies and planets affect us on the basis of imperishable, supernatural laws. This science of the stars is not limited to the visible and measurable universe. It is based on divine revelation. It shows the systematic nature of everything that takes place in the universe. And it states that this systematic nature is based on a divine plan with humanity and the world. Behind the reality that is visible to us floats an invisible reality, the true reality that influences the visible.

This book, ‘Mysteries and hymns of God, Cosmos, Humanity – realizing the plan of God’, is not about astronomy and astrology, but rather is rooted in astrosophy. The hermetic writings quoted in this book are of a philosophical nature and are, moreover, inspired by a higher, inner knowing. When these  writings were rediscovered in the Renaissance, many scholars were particularly enthusiastic about it because they discovered great similarities with Christianity. They thought they held in their hands the key to what we might call the universal doctrine of wisdom.

It can be deduced from the manifestos of the classical Rosicrucians from the beginning of the seventeenth century that they knew the hermetic writings and attached great value to them. They considered Hermes to be the primal source of all wisdom. In particular they derived an aspect from the hermetic teachings that played a central role in their plans to achieve a complete renewal of man and society: the insight that man is a microcosm, a reflection of the macrocosm. This is also an essential principle within todays’ International School of the Golden Rosycross. As a microcosm and as a miniature solar system, a human being belongs to an eternal nature of divine origin.

Humanity emerged from that divine nature as microcosms and we must again become aware of that origin. The current reality of humanity, however, shows that he has been severed from this consciousness, his being is beclouded, misted, and because of his I-centrality he can no longer perceive the divine field of life. However, through the ages, mankind has been pointed at the divine spark that he carries in his heart. In that spark lies – as a seed – the possibility of being re-born, of returning to the origin. For that reason a human being is a dual being, he belongs to two natures: the earthly, mortal nature with all its facets; and the supernatural nature, the divine nature. Therefore, the microcosm is simultaneously included in two developments.

Firstly, there is a path of development as a divine being within the original nature, a nature that is not subject to the factor of time, which ends everything. And secondly, we see a temporal-spatial development in which the microcosm is led to a fullness of experience, to a nadir, from which he could rise up again from material servitude and then, enriched with the treasure of gained experience, continue the path of the first development. In this way, humans and microcosms will eventually come to fulfill their original destiny as a unity.

Humanity is currently at a turning point in its development. Having reached the lowest point, the nadir, now the path of ascension must be realized with the help of the mortal personality. A change of consciousness, thinking, willing and feeling can arise from a new inspiration by divine power; yes, the entire being can change. New forces of the stars are currently driving all of humanity into a different direction. A higher order sends out an appeal to people to react. For centuries this has been passed on to humanity through the universal doctrine of different cultures, and many people have listened and responded to it. Every person is facing the necessity to respond to that call more and more strongly. When that happens, the old world of images also changes. Great perspectives open up to those people who begin to understand the meaning of their life.

Finding and serving God resides as a possibility in the heart of every person. Its realization requires that the divine principle must grow and the I-centrality must diminish. He or she who has brought about this change in one’s own self has become a traveler in eternity from that moment on. Such a person undergoes the truth of the divine plan for world and humanity, the truth that manifests itself in macrocosm, cosmos and microcosm.

Jan Schoeber,
Hilversum, July 2018

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