Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Brief Message from Beyond the Grave

I don't have much time for a post this morning, so let's get right into it. The foreword to Meditations on the Tarot (and you may want to snap up one of those cheap used copies before they're gone) begins with a letter personally addressed to you, the Unknown Friend for whom the book is written, and through which you will acquire "definite knowledge" of Christian Hermeticism.

This is part of the book's charm, since it's a little like the wisest man you've ever met telling you all he knows about the deepest things. Moreover, the author "has said more about himself in these Letters than he would have been able to in any other way." No, not just via the content, but, as we shall see, via his incarnation right before your three eyes.

And what is Christian Hermeticism? It is none other than the venerable Raccoon tradition through which we unite "a spirit of free research with one of respect for the tradition." In this regard it is very much like jazz, which again requires the strictest adherence to musical principles in order to freely and spontaneously explore musical space, or the phase space of musical possibility.

The author says that his purpose is to "incarnate" into the above tradition by becoming "an organic part of it." This is indeed a key principle, not just for this book but for Christianity as such. After all, what are the key principles of Christianity? One is obviously incarnation, the principle whereby the ultimate Principle takes on human flesh.

Therefore, the "imitation of Christ" is more than just an exterior sort of impersonation. Again, think of a musical analogy. One could imitate, say, John Coltrane, and play a note-for-note copy of A Love Supreme. But in another sense, that would be the exact opposite of imitation, because Coltrane didn't copy anyone, and never played the same way twice. Therefore, a more profound imitation of 'Trane would involve the incarnation of his total approach to music.

Can we usefully apply this analogy to spirit? I think so, so long as we truly respect the tradition, and "play" within its rules and boundaries. Tomberg's purpose is to immerse himself in this "millennial-old current of thought, effort, and revelation," so as to help you do the same: to embody the tradition, not just "think" about or imitate it. To the extent that the book contains a lot of spiritual know-how, its real purpose is to facilitate spiritual be-who.

Another important principle to bear in mind involves the verticality and horizontality of Tradition. Revelation is a quintessentially (↓) phenomenon, but it does not, and cannot, remain there.

Rather, it is "received" by human receptacles, who are not angels but men living in this world. Our task, as it were, is to prolong the vertical message forward (→) into time, history, and culture. Indeed this horizontal prolongation is the very essence of Tradition.

However, at the same time, (→) must never be detached from (↓). This occasionally -- okay, more than occasionally -- happens, and when it does, the message is drained of its transformative and otherworldly power. The Word is reduced to mere words, or pneumababble, and becomes more meaningless than profane language, which is at least still connected to its object.

The solution to this problem is again incarnation. When Tomberg refers to various "masters of the tradition," he doesn't do so in order to impress you with his erudition, but so "they may be present with their impulses of aspiration and their light of thought." In other words, it's not about their words per se, except insofar as the words make the reality they symbolize present.

This reality involves light and aspiration. The former is "free" but the latter will cost you. We -- that is, I -- symbolize aspiration as (↑), whereas the light is a manifestation of (↓).

Right here you can see that we totally avoid the pseudo-conflict between grace and free will, because our task is to freely coupperate with grace in the divine spiral of (↑↓). It is through this spiral that we assimilate so as to incarnate, if that makes sense to you.

The (↑↓) is also the essence of what we call verticalesthenics and gymgnostics. As Tomberg says, the book comes down to "twenty-two spiritual exercises, by means of which you, dear Unknown Friend, will immerse yourself in the current of the living tradition, and thus enter into the community of spirits who have served it and who are still serving it."

In short, this is your esoteric bar mitzvah and baptism, through which you jump into the stream of living waters in order to bring it down and carry it forward. And in order to keep it, you must give it away. But only to the sincere and the qualified. The insincere and unqualified will just make a mess of it.

As an upright and tumescent member of the Mystic Circle of Cosmic Raccoons, you do not internalize a doctrine but I-AMbody "an invisible community of spirits" that persists "from age to age," and will shadow the visible Church until further gnosis. Offer void in academia.

There remains nothing more to say in this introduction to the Letter-Meditations on the Tarot, because all other questions concerning them will find a response in the Letters themselves.

Your friend greets you, dear Unknown Friend, from beyond the grave.


mushroom said...

Our task, as it were, is to prolong the vertical message forward (→) into time, history, and culture. Indeed this horizontal prolongation is the very essence of Tradition.

We can see the Cross in that easily enough, but also I recall that tradition says Peter was crucified upside-down. So, just in case we missed it with Jesus, maybe we would pick up on it if it were made really obvious.

It is good to start with the Foreword because you realize, again, the nature of the message. This is not a religious book in the sense that we often think of it. The Gospels will say that those who heard Jesus were just stunned because He didn't sound like the rest of the rabbis for His words carried the weight of authority.

Maybe light is the heaviest thing in the universe.

DeAnn said...

wow ... that is heavy

I was tempted to scoop up a copy before, it is becoming a must.

robinstarfish said...

The first trip through was illuminating to say the least. I can't wait to be further cracked open.

julie said...

This is part of the book's charm, since it's a little like the wisest man you've ever met telling you all he knows about the deepest things.

I bet he has an amazing way of tying his shoes...

julie said...

Therefore, the "imitation of Christ" is more than just an exterior sort of impersonation.

I'm reminded of the popularity of "WWJD." On the one hand, it seems like a good question, but it always gave me the Jesus Willies, and often seemed to become a tool for bludgeoning people into one person's (the person who asks the question, of course) idea of Christianity. And anyway, there's a lot that He did that his followers neither would nor could. A much better question, I always thought, is what he would have us do.

Christina M said...

By the way, thank you to commentors for the Fr. Robert Barron "Catholicism" recommendation (watched videos 1 & 2 today = outstanding) and the online link to MOTT. My husband asked me, "Why do you have that look on your face?" I replied, "The whole MOTT is online."

Oh the trouble I will get into with that. *arched eyebrows* Oh boy!

JP said...

There's an online MOTT?

John Lien said...

I found it online about a year and a half ago. The copyright page had been replaced by some screed about freedom and love and free knowledge and whatnot.

Anyway, I bought the book. What I found didn't look like a sanctioned act. I have not checked these recent links.

Christina M said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christina M said...

Both links have the same copy of MOTT with the copyright page replaced with the screed John Lien mentions.

Van Harvey said...

John & Christina, I don't have any other info for you, but it sure is nice to see your concern.

Gagdad Bob said...

I am quite certain that our Unknown Friend would want you to have the information by whatever means necessary if it is out of print.

Magnus Itland said...

I am pretty sure most people who have downloaded MOTT will buy it when it is back in print, possibly even before, if they knew what it was at the start. I am surprised there aren't more used copies by people who thought it was an ordinary New Age book and want to get rid of it. Evidently buyers are more careful than I thought.

Andrew MacDonald said...

You guys! Just downloaded MOTT today and thanks for the pointer, and here I was thinking of some MOTT the Hoople reference . . .
And I live up north in a land of many l'il racoons but probably not . . . oh never mind.