Spiritual text 3

Mysteries of God, Cosmos, Humanity: consciously perceiving, thinking and acting

Spiritual text: Corpus Hermeticum 11:1-13


Hermes: Yesterday, Aesclepius, I taught ‘the words of maturity’. And now I deem it necessary, in that connection, to speak in detail about sensory perception. It is thought that sensory perception and mental activity differ in the sense that the former is material and the latter spiritual. I, however, hold that both are most closely connected and by no means different, at least, in human beings. Just as, in the other animals, sensory perception is bound to nature, so, in human beings, the mentality too is bound to it.

The cognitive faculty is to mental activity as God is to divine nature. For the divine nature is brought forth by God and mental activity by the cognitive faculty, which is related to the Word. Or better still: mental activity and the Word are each other’s instruments, for the Word does not find utterance without mental activity, and mental activity is not manifested without the Word.

Sensory perception and mental activity thus enter human beings together, intertwined as it were. For there is no mental activity without sensory perception and no sensory perception without mental activity. Nevertheless, it is possible to conceive a form of mental activity without direct sensory perception, like the images that present themselves in dreams. I hold that both activities are set in motion by images making their appearance in dreams.

Perception takes place in both the physical and the astral bodies. As soon as the two  components of perception have become one, thought, called forth in the mentality, is given voice by means of the consciousness. The mentality brings forth all thought-images: good images when it has received the seeds from God, unholy images when they have originated from one of the demons. For there is no place in the world where there are no demons, that is, demons that lack the light of God. They penetrate into man and sow in him the seeds of their own activities. The mentality is then impregnated with adultery, murder, ungracious treatment of parents, sacrilegious acts, impious deeds, suicide by hanging or casting oneself down from a cliff, and a variety of other things which are the work of demons.

As far as the seeds of God are concerned, they are few in number, but great and fair and good. They are called virtue, moderation and piety. Piety is Gnosis, the knowledge that is of and with God. He who has this knowledge is filled with all that is good and receives his thoughts, which differ entirely from those of the masses, from God. Hence it is that those who walk in the Gnosis are not pleasing to the masses and, on the other hand, the masses are not pleasing to them. They are considered foolish, they are the target of ridicule and mockery, and they are hated and despised, and sometimes even put to death because, as I said before, evil must necessarily dwell here as it originated here. Thus, its domain is the earth, and not the world as some blasphemously maintain.

But he who loves and is devoted to God will endure all things, because he participates in the Gnosis. To such a person all things work together for the good, even those things that are evil to others. And when ambushes are laid against him, he conveys everything, as a sacrifice, to the Gnosis, and he, alone, transforms evil into The Good.

I now return to my discussion of perception. It is characteristic of man to combine perception with mental activity. As I have mentioned before, however, not every human being has an intellect at his disposal, for there are two kinds of men: physical man and spiritual man. The physical man, connected with evil, receives, as I have said, the seed of his thoughts from the demons; the spiritual man is connected with The Good and is kept by God in His grace.