Transfiguration

The following by Raymond Abellio was privately released in the 1954 publication Cahiers du Cercle d’Etudes Metaphysiques. It is reprinted here from The Morning of the Magicians: Secret Societies, Conspiracies, and Vanished Civilizations by Louis Pauwels & Jacques Bergier (Destiny Books, 2008) When, in the natural attitude which is that of all “normal” existing beings, I “see” a house, my perception is spontaneous, and it is that house that I see, and not my own perception of it. On the other hand, if my attitude is “transcendental”, then it is my perception itself which is perceived. But this perception of a perception radically changes my primitive approach. The state of actually experiencing something, uncomplicated to begin with, loses its spontaneity from the very fact that the new contemplation has for its object something that was originally a state, and not an object, and that the elements which make up my new perception include not only those pertaining to the house “as such”, but those pertaining to the perception itself, considered as an actually experienced flux. And an essentially important feature of this “alteration” is that the concomitant vision I had, in this bi-reflexive state of the house that was my original “motif”, so far from being lost, displaced or blurred by this interposition of “my” second perception in front of “its” original perception, is, paradoxically, intensified, becoming clearer, more “actual” and charged with more objective reality than before. We are here confronted with a fact that cannot be accounted for by pure speculative analysis: namely, the transfiguration of the thing as consciously experienced, its transformation into a “super-thing”, its passage from being something “known about” to something “known”. This fact is insufficiently appreciated, although it is the most remarkable in the whole field of phenomenological experimentation....

Eros & Gnosis: A Gnostic Study of Human Sexuality...

By DR. STEPHAN A. HOELLER Human beings are not only the funniest monkeys: they are the sexiest ones as well. In many ways we are a species singularly devoted to sex. We talk, write, read, joke and argue about it; we dress and undress for it, and, given favourable circumstances, we perform it regularly. More importantly, and sometimes lamentably, we have innumerable laws and commandments to organise, punish, curb, repress and otherwise influence sexual actions and feelings and have devised psychological penances of guilt and shame which we come to attach to our sexuality. Because of these and related circumstances, most people are confused and bewildered about sex much of the time, and those who profess not to be thus flummoxed tend to take umbrage under clichés and half truths which they have consciously accepted, but which are not in harmony with either their instinctual or their spiritual natures. It goes without saying that if the Gnostic worldview is any kind of a worldview at all, it must be able to address itself meaningfully to this predicament and thus to suggest spiritually sound ways in which men and women might successfully extricate themselves from the same. The present essay is an attempt to suggest some Gnostic ways of viewing and dealing with sexuality, and in offering it to the reader, the author is not unmindful of certain hazards. Psychoanalyst Edward Glover once suggested that writing on psychologically charged subjects should be classified as a dangerous occupation. When in the course of such writing one happens to expose the unconscious motives of some persons, pandemonium is certain to follow. The psychologically exposed individuals frequently relieve their anxiety by attacking the writer who has presumed to disturb their precarious and cherished peace of mind. Martyrdom is...

The Mystery of Iniquity: Does Evil Exist or Do Bad Things Just Happen?...

By DR. STEPHAN A. HOELLER On June 10, 1991, a cover story appeared in Time magazine on the topic of evil. The author, Lance Morrow, did not argue for a particular thesis and did not reach any conclusions. What he did, however, was in a sense more important. He began by stating three propositions: God is all-powerful. God is all-good. Terrible things happen. Citing several sources, Morrow said that you can match any two of these propositions, but not all three. You can declare that there is an all-powerful God who allows terrible things to happen, but this God could not be all-good. On the other hand, there might be an all-good God who lets terrible things happen because he does not have the power to stop them; thus he is not all-powerful. This analysis might easily have been stated by a Gnostic of the first three or four centuries of the Christian era, or for that matter by a contemporary Gnostic, such as the present writer. Not that Gnostics were the only ones who recognised this uniquely monotheistic predicament. The supreme medieval luminary of Catholic theology, St. Thomas Aquinas, admitted in his Summa Theologiae that the existence of evil is the best argument against the existence of God. If the concept of the monotheistic God is to be accepted, then the issue of evil has no viable explanation. Conversely, if evil exists, then the monotheistic God as presented by the mainstream religious traditions cannot exist. Whence Cometh Evil? Throughout history, religious traditions have accounted for the existence of evil in a number of ways. In primeval times, the undifferentiated nature of human consciousness allowed people to say that both good and bad come from the Divine. Thus archaic shamans would not have found...

Humanity, Environment & Spirit...

By DR. STEPHAN A. HOELLER During the last few decades, many people have become justifiably alarmed by the continuing growth of technology. In recent years this has been augmented by the concern over global warming, which may be at least in part caused by human activities. We may observe a certain anxiety arising from such concerns that impels many to defend what is paradoxically called the “environment.” (The paradox derives from the fact that “environment” is a thoroughly anthropocentric term, since it defines the natural world as something that surrounds human beings). The growth of environmentalism has come about in at least partial conjunction with the growth of a secular, i.e., nonreligious mindset in Western society. The British author G.K. Chesterton is credited with the saying that when people cease to believe in God, they don’t believe in nothing: they believe in anything. Thus, as support for traditional Judeo-Christian religiosity has declined, people in Europe and America have begun to look elsewhere to meet the very basic human need to revere something outside of themselves. In the comparatively recent past, Nazism and Marxism filled this gap in the lives of many people. After it had become obvious that these substitute religions were cruel disappointments, environmentalism provided a new god. The environmental writer Richard D. North gave expression to this truth in the following paragraph: An awful lot of us just need to worship something. But in order to be able to worship, you have to be able to find something outside of yourself – and better than yourself. God is a construct for that. So is nature. We are falling in love with the environment as an extension to and in lieu of having fallen out of love with God. As it happens, it...

Kindling the Divine Spark: The Secret to Awakening...

By TIM BOUCHER Blessed is he who has a soul, blessed is he who has none, but woe and grief to him who has it in embryo.1 – G.I. Gurdjieff The United States Declaration of Independence proudly proclaims the mystical truth that “all men are created equal.” What happens after that, though, is anybody’s guess. Once we’ve been created equally, does that mean all our lives are the same? Do the essential differences between us come from genetics, environment, free will, the soul? Do we all end up in the same place again when we die? These questions have excited the myth-making faculties of humankind from antiquity down through to the present day. Working for a Soul The esoteric teachings of G.I. Gurdjieff, in many ways, fly in the face of traditional Western religious thought. Whereas it is accepted as a given within Judeo-Christian tradition that each human is born with a soul, Gurdjieff does not let us off so easy. Active in the early part of the 20th century, this Greek-Armenian mystic travelled the world, synthesising spiritual disciplines into a unique path called The Fourth Way. He taught that human existence is a kind of waking sleep, in which we live more or less automatically, unconscious and unaware of ourselves. He even went to the extreme of suggesting that humans are not born with souls at all, and that we can only create one while alive through intense personal suffering and what he called “work.” If we are not successful in this venture, he taught that our identities would not survive the shock of death, that we would “die like dogs” and that the ever-hungry Moon would gobble up our energy as part of its own evolution of consciousness. It’s a teaching which...

A Way to Live: The Path of Self-Knowledge...

By RICHARD SMOLEY For all the scarcity in the world, one thing we never seem to be lacking is advice. We’re constantly deluged with exhortations of one sort or another – for diet, exercise, health, wealth, happiness, spiritual illumination. Of course these pieces of advice often conflict. The question then becomes, whose advice do we take? There are few, if any, sources of authority that have not been called into doubt: church, society, government, the media, even the grand edifice of science itself. Consequently we’re thrown back on ourselves as the final arbiters of our own decisions, and while this may give a sense of freedom, that very freedom can feel dizzying and disorienting. In putting together some brief suggestions about how to live one’s life, I’m making no claim to grand success or touting myself as a model, but having looked at many of these things from the perspective of the Western esoteric traditions, I can at least offer a few thoughts. To my mind, there is one and only one universal and inflexible commandment that is to be applied at all times and in all situations: it is the old Greek axiom inscribed in Apollo’s temple at Delphi, Gnothi seauton: “Know thyself.” This exhortation has many levels of meaning. At the most basic level, it calls us to understand the truth about ourselves and our actions in daily life – such as knowing how many cups of coffee you can drink without facing insomnia tonight, or recognising how far you can be trusted (or trust yourself) in a delicate moral situation. Could you spend a weekend alone with your best friend’s spouse and keep everything above board? Maybe you can, maybe you can’t. Knowing yourself in this relentlessly honest way, making what...