Spiritual text 8

Mysteries of God, Cosmos, Humanity: going the path of godliness

Spiritual text: Corpus Hermeticum 12:51-65


Hermes: The composition of the garments, my son, is realized in the earthly body, since the Spirit-Soul, because of its essence, cannot possibly establish itself in an earthly body without a garment. For the earthly body cannot bear so great a divinity, nor can such a glorious, pure force endure being directly linked to a body, subjected to passions. That is why the spirit has cloaked itself with the soul; the soul which, in a way, is also divine, makes the vital breath subservient, while the vital breath then guides the creature.

Now when the Spirit-Soul has detached itself from the earthly body, it accepts forthwith its proper garment. It is a fiery garment which it could not retain when it took up its abode in the earthly body. For the earth cannot endure fire; even one little spark is enough to set it all ablaze. That is why the earth is entirely encircled by water, as a bulwark, protecting it from the fiery flames.

The spirit, the most rapid of all divine thought-creations, has for its body also the most rapid of all elements: fire. The spirit, the creator of all things, uses fire as an instrument for its creative work. Thus universal thought creates the All. The thoughts of human beings create only what is of the earth. Since man’s cognitive faculty does not possess a garment of fire, it is not capable of calling into being divine things and is confined by its vehicles to what pertains to man.

The human soul – not every soul however, but the soul truly devoted to God – is in a certain sense good-demonic and divine. When such a soul, after having walked the path of true piety – a path that leads to knowledge of what is divine and to refraining from injustice or harm towards any man – has detached itself from the body, it becomes Spirit-Soul throughout.

But the godless soul does not change its nature, it curtails and punishes itself and seeks to enter a new, earthly body; a human body, however, as no other body could house a human soul. Divine ordinance does not permit a human soul to debase itself so as to inhabit an anima! body, void of reason. This is a divine law which protects the human soul from such a great outrage.

Tat: But how, then, is the human soul punished, Father?

Hermes: Is there, my son, a greater punishment for the human soul than godlessness? What fire consumes like the flame of godlessness? What wild animal ruins the body as godlessness ruins the soul? Can you not perceive all the pain the godless soul has to suffer when, crying for help, it exclaims: ‘I am burning, the flames are scorching me. I do not know what to say or what to do. Wretch that I am, I am being devoured by the wickedness that governs me. I no longer see anything, I no longer hear anything’.

Are not these the cries of a soul that is being punished? You, my son, will certainly not believe, as the masses do, that the soul acquires the shape of an animal after it has left the body? That is, indeed, a very great error. For the soul is punished as follows: every time the spirit has become a demon, it is bound to assume a fiery body so as to serve God; and then, when this demon has entered a very godless soul, it punishes this soul with the scourges of sin; subjugated to this scourging the godless soul then plunges into all sorts of human wickedness, such as murder, baseness, godlessness and all kinds of violence.

lf, however, the spirit enters a God-fearing soul, it leads that soul to the light of the Gnosis. Such a soul never wearies of declaring God’s praise in jubilation and, following the example of the Father, of doing good to all men in various ways, in word and deed. Therefore, my son, when you are giving thanks to God, you should pray to be allowed to receive a noble spirit. Thus the soul rises to higher good and its decline becomes impossible.

There exists a soul-community: the souls of the gods are linked with those of men, and the souls of men with those of beings void of reason. The higher beings are set over the lower: gods over men, men over the life forms void of reason. And God takes care of all: He stands above all; all are less than He. So the world is subjected to God, man to the world, the irrational being to man; and God stands above everything and everyone, and includes in his care everything that is.