Spiritual text 7

Mysteries of God, Cosmos, Humanity: assimilating spiritual powers

Spiritual text: Corpus Hermeticum 7:4-23



Hermes: Man reflected on God’s works and was elated by them and learned to recognize their Creator. Thus, O Tat, God imparted reason to all men, but not the Spirit. Not that He grudged it to anyone, because grudging does not come from above; it comes into being here below, in the souls of those who do not possess the Spirit.

Tat: Why, O Father, did God not impart the Spirit to all men?

Hermes: It was His will, my son, that the link with the Spirit should be obtained by all souls; however, as a prize for the race.

Tat: How did He achieve this?

Hermes: He sent down a great mixing vessel, filled with the powers of the Spirit and He appointed a herald and bade him proclaim to the hearts of men: “Immerse yourselves in this
Mixing Vessel, you souls who can; you who believe and trust that you will ascend to Him who sent down this vessel; you who know for what purpose you were created”.

Those who gave heed to this proclamation and were purified by immersion in the powers of the Spirit, became partakers in the Gnosis, the living knowledge of God, and, as they had received the Spirit, became perfect men. However, those who have sinned against the proclamation by not listening to it, remain within the limits of reason, as they have not received the powers of the Spirit and do not know for what purpose they have been created, nor by whom. The sensorial perceptions of such human beings are almost equal to those of irrational animals; and as their nature is a mixture of passions, they have no admiration for what is worthy of reflection and contemplation; they devote themselves to their bodily pleasures and desires and believe that man has come into being for such things.

However, those who have partaken of God’s gift are no longer mortals, as proved by all their deeds, but divine men who understand with their Spirit-Soul all that is on earth, in heaven and, perhaps, above heaven. Having beheld The Good, those who have raised themselves in this way have learned to consider their sojourn here on earth as a disaster. They repudiate all things corporeal and incorporeal and hasten to reach the One and only. These, O Tat, the manifestation of the Spirit-Soul, the emergence of divine things and the beholding of God are the gifts of the divine Mixing Vessel.

Tat: I, too, want to experience immersion in it, O Father!

Hermes: You cannot love your true self unless you first hate your body, my son. But if you do love your true self, you will possess the Spirit-Soul; once you possess the Spirit-Soul, you will also partake of its living knowledge.

Tat: What do you mean by this, Father?

Hermes: It is impossible, my son, to adhere to both material and divine things. As there are two states of existence, the embodied and the bodiless, the mortal and the divine, you will have to choose consciously between these two, for one cannot adhere to both. As soon as the choice has been made the waning of what has been rejected will be proved in the active force of what has been chosen. Thus the good choice will show its glory not only by the deification of the one who has made it, but also by demonstrating his attachment and devotion to God. The bad choice, on the other hand, leads to the destruction of man and is, moreover, a sin against God. Just as, in processions, people walk in the middle of the road and can do nothing else than hinder others in their movement, so those who have made the bad choice can do nothing else than move in this way through the world, urged on by their bodily desires.

Therefore, O Tat, the gifts emanating from God have always been, and will always be, at our disposal. It is for us to see to it that what emanates from us is in harmony with it and does not fall short. For it is not God who is the cause of our wickedness, it is we ourselves who choose it in preference to The Good. Do you realize, my son, how many vehicular states, crowds of demons, veils of matter and courses of stars we have to pass through during our wearisome ascent to the One and Only? The Good cannot be reached by way of a convenient crossing. It is limitless and without end, and in itself it is without beginning, too, though to us it may seem to have had its beginning in the Gnosis, the All-knowledge of God. Indeed, the Gnosis is not the beginning of The Good, but it imparts to us the beginning of what we will come to know of The Good.