I Don't See Any Method At All, Sir
First we must become receptive, or "poor in spirit." Secondly we must avoid what he calls "the most serious spiritual malady," self-complacency.
This latter pneumapathology falls under the rubric of acedia, which has no direct translation but means something like "spiritual laziness." Thus, Tomberg is affirming an orthoparadox here, to the effect that we must be simultaneously active and passive, or one might even say male and female (in the metacosmic sense). Obviously conception -- and the Second Birth -- can only occur with male and female.
This Second Birth has resonance with metanoia (the cosmic turnaround), except that the latter is more "effort based," so to speak. Tomberg refers to "a change of the entire spiritual and psychic motivation," which is obviously more active and related to the will.
However, this willed turnaround is associated with "a complete change of the plane of consciousness," which mere will could never bring about on its own. I would say that the will is necessary but not sufficient. Rather, something else must meet it halfway. The mystery and the mirrorcle is that someone actually does!
This naturally segues into a discussion of what we can do from our end, and what we could never accomplice in the absence of grace. There is no such thing as a do-it-yoursopher, no lifting ourselves by our own buddhastraps. Thus "it goes without saying that nobody initiates anyone else." Rather, the initiation "is operative from above" because "the Initiator is above."
Now, any initiate, to the extent that he is a true initiate, recognizes this simple Law, and this recognition is the very substance of humility (and of the spiritual emptiness alluded to above). A Raccoon, of course, instantaneously recognizes the soul-stench of a fellow Raccoon, but it would never occur to us to suggest that one is the master, the other a disciple. Rather, "there is only one sole Master, who is the Initiator above."
I remember Schuon telling a correspondent something almost identical -- that he would agree to take him on as a student so long as he remembered that Christ is his Master, not Schuon. There is a dangerous temptation at work here for both parties, and it almost defines the newage.
Think of the luminous archetype of John the Baptist, who is obviously a vertical initiate but who humbly insists up front that There comes One after me who is mightier than I.
Compare this with the bloomin' ass darktype of a Deepak, who dumbly boasts -- without irony -- of being one of Time Magazine's "top 100 heroes and icons of the 20th century"; and who, just moments ago, tweeted that "You create the universe in every act of perception," once again proving that cosmic narcissism is as cosmic narcissism does.
Why would state-run media elevate this wicked man to virtual sainthood? The question answers itself. He's like a one man war on spiritual poverty.
So: "Amongst Christian Hermeticists nobody assumes for himself the title and the function of 'initiator' or 'master,'" not even Toots Mondello himself. Rather, everyone learns from everyone, because "each is a master of each in some respect -- just as each is a pupil of each in some respect."
It's not about the master-pupil dialectic, but rather, simply about the circulation and flow of grace, bearing in mind what we said a few posts back about the (↓→) wondercurrent of grace.
I believe that all Raccoons can recognize "quality" in a human being. Yes, a man is a man is a man -- and sometimes even worse -- but there are some men who properly evoke a sense of reverence (not worship) in us. Or, we might say that the proper response to such a lumin being is reverence. This reverence creates a kind of dynamic tension that goes to what was said above about the relationship between effort and spiritual emptiness.
Tomberg makes reference to St. Gregory the Great, who, despite -- or because! -- of his greatness, "subjected himself in all sincerity to the pious men whom he visited and made it his endeavor to learn for his own benefit just how each was superior to him in zeal and ascetic practice." He would then assimilate in himself "what he had obtained from each and devoted his energies to realizing in himself the virtues of all."
Again, it all starts with recognition of spiritual quality, or what I call recognosis (i.e., vertical thou & I sight). This recognosis can never be reduced to some objective standard. Rather, it can only become spontaneously present on an interior level, and it is very important that one follow this "instinct."
Tomberg then goes into an illuminating discussion of head and heart as applied to religion. "Hermeticism," he says, attempts to listen to and hear "the beating of the heart of the spiritual life of humanity." This very much relates to our recent series of posts on right and left brain differences, the former being more oriented to "hearing" in the spiritual sense.
You could say that the exterior church hierarchy is more of a left brain construct, more in the head than heart (and Tomberg is at pains to emphasize that this is by no means to minimize its importance).
But the heart is much more fluid, more interior, more "blowing where it will," so to speak. Therefore, it is spontaneously drawn to and attracted by "the mystery of the communal heart which beats within all religions, all philosophies, all arts and all sciences -- past, present and future." This is because it is oriented to O itself, in whose attractor field all those modes -- truth, wisdom, beauty -- come into view.
Looked at in this manner, almost everything is a theophany and an occasion for inwardness. Put another way, every out has an in and is even the manifestation of a hidden in. We might also say that the In is the Is, or the essence, while the Out is the existence or appearance. Everything is whispering secrets of God all the time! We call it the Gossipel of Nature.
But the bottom line of the card is the First Principle that undergirds all the others, and speaks to the rapport of personal effort and of spiritual reality -- or let us say of (↑) and O. It is not about doctrine as such, but rather, about method. And this method is as follows:
Learn at first concentration without effort; transform work into play; make every yoke that you have accepted easy and every burden that you carry light!
What, work at giving up? Thanks for the tip!
One thing is for sure: if you're going to successfully transform work into play, you're really going to need to get off the hedonic treadmill and reduce your overhead, because a simulated life is quite expensive.
To be continued...