Spiritus Hermeticum: part ten
An investigation of the origins of Hermeticism and an appreciation of the teachings of Hermes Trismegistus
In the first two parts of this 12-part investigation we discussed the origins of Hermeticism, the Greek and Egyptian conceptions of the God variously known as Thoth, Theuth, Tat, and Tahuti, and the origins and extent of the Corpus Hermeticum. This was followed by an examination of the actual teachings of Hermes as they have come down to us in the various Hermetic books and fragments. In parts eight and nine we began a detailed study of the Seven Universal Hermetic Laws which we first discussed over five years ago in our article on the Hermetic philosophy of ancient Egypt. As we said in the first part of this investigation this is far and away the most ambitious and certainly the longest series of articles we have ever published. Our aim is to recover—as far as this is possible—the original truths Hermes taught, and to distinguish these from the half-truths and speculations grafted onto the Corpus Hermeticum over the centuries. For these reasons, we are in no doubt that our contribution will appeal to very few readers. But if our efforts increase these few, if only by a handful, we shall have achieved our objective.
In the twelve afterwords accompanying this investigation we are meticulously dissecting the so-called Emerald Tablets of Thoth the Atlantean written by the 20th century occultist—Dr Maurice Doreal. In this tenth afterword we analyse tablets ten and eleven. If you have not read the previous parts of this investigation now is the time to do so, for it forms an ascending scale of revelation which cannot be understood by skimming through one or more individual articles in a haphazard and piecemeal manner or reading them out of sequence.
The Seven Universal Hermetic Laws summarised
In part eight of this investigation we began our study of the Seven Universal Hermetic Laws which govern all life—material and spiritual, and considered the first two of these laws—Mentalism and Correspondence. Last month we examined the third and fourth laws: Vibration and Polarity. In this part we examine the fifth and sixth laws: Rhythm and Cause and Effect. The seventh and final Law of Gender will be covered in the penultimate part of this investigation to be published in February 2021. To recap, the Laws we are discussing are:
- Mentalism. This Law states that all that exists is derived from Mind.
- Correspondence. This Law is enshrined in the well-known but poorly understood Hermetic maxim: "As above, so below."
- Vibration. This Law tells us that everything is in constant motion, both internally and externally.
- Polarity. This Law states that everything is dual; positive and negative.
- Rhythm. This Law states that everything is subject to rhythm. Up and down, left and right, backwards and forwards, etc.
- Cause and Effect. This Law states that there is a cause for every effect and an effect for every cause.
- Gender or Sex. This Law tells us that gender is a universal principle throughout the manifested Universe.
We will now consider the fifth and sixth of these Laws—Rhythm and Cause and Effect, beginning with Rhythm.
The fifth Universal Hermetic Law is Rhythm, which is one of the first elements of life; for where there is no rhythm, there can be no life at all. Everything flows; in and out, such as breath; backwards and forwards, such as a swing. Everything has its tides; all things rise and fall. This pendulum-like motion manifests in everything. The extent of the swing to the right is matched by the swing to the left which the Law of Rhythm compensates. And so it is with all things and beings of shape and form; they swing from action to reaction; from birth to death; from activity to inactivity—and then back again. Nations, movements, philosophies, creeds, fashions and governments all follow the same Law. The swing of the pendulum is ever in evidence. Night follows day; and day night. The pendulum swings from summer to winter and then back again. There is no such thing as absolute rest, or cessation from movement, and all movement is subject to Vibration, Polarity and Rhythm. The Law of Rhythm may be applied to any question or phenomena on any of the planes of being and to all phases of human activity. There is always the rhythmic swing from one pole to the other; a measured motion, a flow and inflow, a swing backward and a swing forward, a tide-like ebb and flow, a high tide and a low tide between the two poles which exist in accordance with the Law of Polarity we discussed in the previous part of our investigation.
The ebb, in the case of man, may last a whole incarnation, however long or short its duration on earth; the same applies to the flow. This Law explains why some people succeed in nothing, and others in everything; why some suffer constant ill-health and others enjoy perfect health. More often, however, the tides swing to and fro more or less regularly in the affairs of man, good and bad, illness and health succeeding one another constantly. All this rules the whole Universe of suns, worlds, men, animals, mind, energy and matter. We see this law in operation in the creation and destruction of worlds, solar systems, and galaxies; in the rise and fall of nations, tyrants and dictators; in the life of all things and beings, and finally in the mental states of man. It is this latter aspect of this Law which is of most interest and utility to the occult scientist. The Hermeticists who have fully grasped the Law of Rhythm and understand its universal application, have also discovered certain means to overcome its effects in themselves and others by the use of the appropriate formulae and methods, of which the rigorous control of the appetites and desires of the body and lower mind is one.
Those of us who are not accomplished Hermeticists may still benefit from the application of this Law by employing the little-known mental principle of Neutralisation, the method of which is Inner Peace. The mind which is truly at peace is perfectly poised in a state of mental equilibrium between any two poles of thought or action. This does not and cannot altogether negate the operation of the Law of Rhythm but it can considerably modify its effects to our advantage. In this way we may learn to use the Law instead of being used by it. Let us give you a simple example of what we mean. Let us suppose that someone should come to us with a tale of woe or loss of any kind. The 'normal' and even usual reaction of a sensitive and kindly person would be to sympathise with the poor unfortunate in question. Such sympathy may range from the mild to the intense. If the latter, we may become just as anxious, distressed, fearful and depressed as the person who came to us with their problem or problems, or even more so! In such a case we have no peace, either mental or emotional, and are in no fit state to render any assistance. Indeed, our thoroughly negative mental state may increase the distress of the person in need and make their problem worse.
But, if instead of being overwhelmed by our emotions, we take firm control of them by adopting a calm and peaceful state of mind, we halt, or at least restrict the violent swinging of the pendulum. We neutralise polarity by reconciling opposing vibrations through the application of the principle of Peace. Neutralization consists in raising our consciousness above the vibrations of the physical plane, so that the motion of the pendulum is restrained. Some have called this process 'thinking through the heart,' others 'positive thinking', but both amount to the same thing: allowing the Higher Mind to take control of our thinking. It is akin to rising above something and looking down upon it from above. The advanced occultist polarizes himself at the desired pole, and by not permitting the backward swing, negates its influence. He or she stands firm in this polarized mental position, peacefully rejecting the pull of the opposite pole.
Those who have attained any degree of self-mastery, accomplish this process more or less consciously, and by refusing to allow their moods and negative mental states to affect them, effectively neutralize them. All this is the practical application of the Law or Rhythm by means of Inner Peace. The Hermetic Master, however, carries this control even further, and by the use of his trained Will he attains a degree of Peace, Poise and Mental Firmness which those who allow themselves to be swayed backward and forward by the mental pendulum of their moods and feelings cannot conceive. Such unevolved ones are the doomed and the lost who must return again and again to this Earth-plane until they too have learned the great lesson of SELF-control. All the Laws we have discussed so far have been closely studied by the Hermeticists, and the methods of counteracting, neutralising, and using them form a most important part of true Hermetic Alchemy. And the Key to it all—as we have explained in so many of our previous articles and stories—is Inner Peace! The neurotic or unbalanced person who flies off the handle at the slightest excuse, or without any excuse whatever, has no inner peace, because they do not really try, being immersed in their own petty, selfish desires without ever thinking of the just claims of others to their rights to consideration.
The Law of Rhythm is well understood by material science, and is considered a universal law in its application to material things. But this is only half the picture as it ignores the existence of Spirit. Occult science goes much further, and knowing that the Hermetic Laws extend to the mental activities of Man, recognises that the Law of Rhythm accounts for the bewildering succession of moods, feelings and other annoying and perplexing changes the lower self is heir to. The importance of this will be appreciated by any thinking person who realizes what slaves of moods, feelings and conventions most people are, and how little mastery they have over themselves. Should you doubt this, pause here for moment and ask yourself honestly how often the instinctive and unthinking emotional reactions of persons have adversely affected your life and perhaps your health too. Consider too, how a feeling of great excitement or happiness is often followed by the opposite mood of boredom or sadness. Similarly, periods of strength alternate with times of weakness, faith is followed by pessimism, hope succeeded by despair, and so on and so forth; a perpetual swing between two opposing conditions. Once we understand the workings of the Law of Rhythm we can take conscious control of our mental activity and avoid being carried away by extremes.
The ability to learn to use the Universal Hermetic Laws rather than being used by them depends to a large extent upon the formation of the brain of the individual, and his or her brain, as well as body, depends upon the state he or she has reached in their evolution. This does not mean that a man or woman with a tremendously strong physical body and constitution is far advanced upon the path to the Light. On the contrary, we often find those with iron constitutions and great powers of endurance among the least spiritually evolved most and primitive of human beings. Need we remind you of some of the lowly evolved types we find picking fights on a drunken night out? It is also possible, even quite common for someone with a sickly constitution or physically deformed in some way to be a very mature person with much experience, both mentally and spiritually as far as their Higher Mind is concerned.
The various combinations of body, lower mind and Higher Mind together with the possible variations in experience and intelligence are so very vast that it would require a dozen articles like this one to discuss them all and still not cover all the ground. But there are three things we can and should bear in mind in this connection. The first is that the human brain is divided into three main parts or sections. The lowest part of the brain, that which lies nearest to the palate and just above it, is the purely material brain—the cerebellum as it is termed by anatomists. When someone has a greatly developed cerebellum all their interests in life will be of a material nature. The next important part is the cerebrum which lies behind the forehead and continues above the material part. This is the part of the brain which is, or can be, used by the intellect of the Higher Mind, though it is also used of course by the lower mind in connection with its material abilities or gifts. People in whom this part of the brain is well-developed possess great intellect and generally have excellent memories, being able to bear in mind, ready for immediate use when required, all sorts of facts and figures which the person who is not so endowed forgets, or finds it hard to remember. But the most important part of the brain from our point of view is that which stretches along the top of the head, encompassing the cerebral cortex and containing what are termed the 'areas of association.' This is the portion of the spiritually evolved person, or the man or woman with high ideals of all sorts. If all the three parts are equally great and perfect, then we have the perfect man or woman, who knows how to coordinate these faculties in the best manner possible.
The second thing we can and should bear in mind in connection with the application of the Law of Rhythm is the influence each part of the brain has upon the others. The possibilities of tremendous spiritual understanding on the part of a man or woman with a prominent cerebral cortex can be undermined or even completely annulled by the intellectual and material parts of their brain. Both, or either of these, can and do influence the spiritual part to such an extent that it fails to function properly. Then we have someone who is so blinded by their material and intellectual gifts that the higher Truths remain concealed or are only faintly apprehended by the lower self from the Higher Self whilst on Earth. There are, have been, and always will be such unfortunates, though to worldly eyes they may seem to have reached the very pinnacle of success and status. But worldly success and status are worthless to those whose faculties are of such a kind that they are tasked with delivering a true Message to the few who sincerely long for Light and Liberation from rebirth.
The third aspect of the Law of Rhythm can be found in the so-called 'Negative Confession' which we discussed in our investigation of the ancient Egyptian mystery of the Judgement of the Dead—The Weighing of the Heart. The ancient Egyptians, in common with many other peoples, believed that the soul (Higher Self in our terminology) was judged after death, and depending on the outcome, subjected to one of three fates; to enter into Heaven, to be cast into hell, or be reborn on Earth. In other words when we depart this world we are confronted with the possibility of either Freedom from rebirth, further incarnations on Earth, or to an indeterminate period of dwelling in one of the 'heavens' or 'hells' described in the eschatological literature of all religions. These, of course, are the higher and lower realms or planes of the Astral World we have referred to in so many of our articles, which you can find more information about in The Secret Doctrine and The Golden Star. In order to justify his or her liberation from rebirth on Earth the deceased in the Judgement scene preserved in the Egyptian Book of the Dead exclaims, among other things: "I have not demanded first consideration; I have made no man to weep. I have given bread to the hungry and water to the thirsty; I have not oppressed the members of my family." The bread and water mentioned are not to be taken literally; it is spiritual nourishment which is meant here, not material food and drink. The same applies to 'family' which, in its widest sense means the entire human race of which we are all members.
The Negative Confession ends with a most significant statement. "Therefore, evil shall not befall me in this world, because I, even I, know the laws of God which are God." If the deceased is telling the truth—and it is impossible not to speak truth when confronted by the stern Judge of our own Soul symbolised by the Egyptian God Thoth—then the Law of Rhythm comes into effect, the deceased swings from the negative to the positive pole and is liberated from rebirth on Earth. The same confession or prayer holds good for our time on earth as a human being. If we wish to be similarly liberated we should remember these great rules at all times—rules established by Hermes the Divine for the salvation of his followers. A distorted version of this doctrine has been preserved by the Christian Church, though very few believe in it today, any more than the average churchgoer believes in heaven or hell. The sincere seeker after Truth knows better, or we hope so, and those who take the time and make the effort to master these good rules, will be well on their way to master the Hermetic Laws we have dealt with so far.
Tuco Amalfi — Love and Empathy — Acrylic on canvas, 2005
Cause and Effect
The sixth Law of Hermes is that of Cause and Effect. How simple all those Laws seem at first sight, remember: Mentalism, Correspondence, Vibration, Polarity, Rhythm, and now Cause and Effect. Many occultists and mystics will be inclined to say there is nothing new in such things so why bother with them? This is certainly the view of the critics and sceptics we mentioned in the previous parts of this investigation who dismiss these Laws as the fanciful invention of the anonymous authors of the Kybalion. Even those who grudgingly admit there may be 'something in it' say everyone has heard of these Laws and knows all about them which, according to these wise pundits, contain nothing of any practical benefit to them. What a shock all these clever folks will receive when the dream of earthly life is ended and they stand before the scales of Maat mentioned above, there to learn the error of their ways!
You—who have followed our discussion attentively from the beginning—will know better of course, or at least we hope you do. So when we say, that, according to Hermes there is a Cause for every Effect, you will know that this goes far deeper than it appears at first glance. This Law explains, for instance, that everything happens according to strict ordinance; that nothing 'merely' happens; and that there is no such thing as 'chance' or 'coincidence.' Nothing escapes this fundamental Law though, since there are various planes or realms of manifestation, the higher dominating the lower, it does not always operate in a manner that we on Earth can foresee. This explains the seeming contradiction in the axiom we have quoted several times in the preceding parts of this investigation, namely: "that which comes up has always been sown; not all that has been sown comes up." This also sheds light on why evil men and women often flourish exceedingly on Earth whilst the good are seemingly punished for their kindness, generosity and compassion.
This Law teaches us that there is a definite continuity between precedent, consequent and subsequent events, even if the original cause of the dependent effect or effects remains unknown. If you hit your thumb with a hammer you may be tolerably certain the effect is due to your inattention, lack of manual dexterity, poor hand to eye coordination, or a combination of these causes. But very few instances of the working of the Law of Cause and Effect are this simple as the following example taken from the Kybalion illustrates. "A stone is dislodged from a mountain side and crashes through a roof of a cottage in the valley below. At first sight we regard this as a chance effect, but when we examine the matter we find a great chain of causes behind it. In the first place there was the rain which softened the earth supporting the stone and which allowed it to fall; then prior to that was the influence of the sun, other rains, etc., which gradually disintegrated the piece of rock from a larger piece; then there were the causes which led to the formation of the mountain, and its upheaval by the convulsions of nature, and so on ad infinitum. Then we might follow up the causes behind the rain, etc. Then we might consider the existence of the roof. In short, we would soon find ourselves involved in a mesh of cause and effect, from which we would soon strive to extricate ourselves." All this is true. To attempt to unravel all the links in any particular chain of Cause and Effect for anything other than the most obvious operations of this Law is well-nigh impossible and certainly pointless.
The trained Hermeticist who understands this Law is able to mentally rise above the physical plane of Cause and Effect, and by mentally rising to a higher plane he or she can become Causers instead of Effects. Those who know how to rise above earthly conditions, if only for a short while, become free from the Effects from Above which cause the Effects below. The reason for this is that, as we learned from our discussion of the Law of Polarity, a higher state is positive in relation to a lower one, and therefore productive of greater power. Being mentally 'Above' the Hermeticist can send down certain forces, or causes, whose effects will be manifested upon the plane to which they are directed. Do not fall into the error of thinking that a Cause can Effect the Earth Plane only; it can go far deeper if the Cause, or Causer, is strong enough to penetrate through the successive layers, or planes, below him. On the other hand, no cause from a lower plane can affect any person or condition which is not attuned to that plane. In this little-known fact lies the origin of much mental and physical disease for which no earthly cause can be found. Hence, such forces can and do cause anxiety in the minds of those who suffer from any form of fear or worry, which then brings them into direct mental rapport with the evil cause which seeks to rise upwards.
Fear is always a great danger to the well being or progress of any person affected by it, and the same applies to worry of any kind. Fear and worry attune us with a lower condition of life, whilst Peace and Faith help us to rise above such negative conditions and influences. Inner Peace, as we explain in our article on this vital Principle, is the master-key which opens up the gates of Heaven. Fear not, lest fear becomes your destroyer; have courage and trust in the ministering Angels of Heaven—the Servants of God the Father and the Mother—who behold us at all times in their divine omniscience. Fear on the other hand, acts like an impenetrable, leaden wall which shuts out the heavenly Realms of Light and their Lords, and is the gate through which the devil enters to snatch his prey! The concessions of the weak are always the concessions of fear, which has many searching, eyes that glare in the darkness of the troubled mind. Fear always springs from ignorance—the only 'sin' acknowledged by occult science—all the rest of the vices man is heir to falling under the category of wrong thinking and action. And the less we know—or care—about the true Laws of God the Father, such as we are discussing with you now, the greater our ignorance.
The little-known Chinese Sage, Li Wang Ho, who taught the Eternal Verities long after the Divine Hermes had departed this Earth, warned his disciples against ignorance in words that should be engraved upon the tablets of the memory of every sincere seeker after Truth. "Ignorance," he said, "is the greatest Sin of all, for it implies an utter lack of the Wisdom of the Universal Laws, immutably fixed and Holy. It shows the failure of the mastery of all the inner and outer Principles laid down by the Creators of all under the direct supervision of God. It prevents the acquisition of a Memory of all sublime and elevated States of Being; and it presents the mind with a Gate which is closed for ever—as if it had been once the passage-way of an Emperor, no longer fit to be trodden by the unworthy feet of those of the lower grades."
Fear has many aspects as well as uses which the cunning demons described so truly by Dr Michaud in Symphonie Fantastique handle with dark mastery. Fear is the tax which a troubled conscience pays to guilt; it is the parent of cruelty and the basest of all passions for it cancels out love. There is a limit to even the most unbearable grief; fear has no limit. Fear feels no pity; though blind, it is swift and strong to strike. Fear is the unmistakable proof of a degenerate mind. Where there is Fear, the comforting voice of Faith is silenced and stark despair rules the citadel of the mind plunged in darkness. Fear is the enemy of duty; it dishonours divine grace under the influence of Hell; and so there are many things connected with Fear which show its tyranny and evil nature. Did not John—Jesus' favourite disciple—teach us that there is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment? And what greater love may a man or woman embrace than the love of God for His children?
Well, then—Fear not—"For I am with you always," said the Prince of Peace to his disciples. Howsoever we may regard that Prince, whether as Hermes the Thrice Great, as Jesus the Christ, as Horus, or as any other of the Holy Messengers from God to man who have blest this sorrowing Earth with their presence, the message is ever the same. It is God in whom we should place our utter trust, for he does not forsake the faithful and true. What a wonderful thing is Faith and what a pity so few have it or even wish to have it, preferring to trust governments or science to save them from the vicissitudes of earthly life. Behold how the masses are carried along, swayed by the opinions, conventions and attitudes of others, and also by the emotion of the moment, by instinctive desire and passion as we saw earlier when discussing the Law of Rhythm. They show no mastery, worthy of the name, least of all, of themselves. Some readers may indignantly refute this assertion, insisting they are free to think and act as they like, when they like and how they like. But they fail to explain the 'why', 'whence' and 'whither' of the impulses which make them want to think or do one thing in preference to another.
The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of people are not free to think or act as they like. They are slaves to their environment; to the wills and desires of others stronger than themselves; to heredity; to suggestion; and other outward causes who move them hither and thither, like pawns on the chessboard of Life. Never has this been more true than today, when countless millions are gripped by the fear of the coronavirus; afraid of being killed or killing others, or simply desperately afraid. What a dreadful spectacle it is to see the Children of the Most High brought so very low, and what is worse, revelling in their subjugation and their abnegation of their God-given Freedom, the greatest gift the Creator has granted to them, though they know it not in their fear and ignorance!
But the Hermetic Masters of the Law of Cause and Effect, rising to a higher plane, can dominate the mood of the masses if they wish it, and with it their characters, qualities, and such feeble powers as they may possess without knowing what to do with them. They can also dominate the environment in which they dwell, and so these same Masters become Movers instead of pawns. They help the worthy ones to play the game of life, instead of being played with and moved about at the behest of other, less noble wills and negative, material conditions. These Masters use the Law instead of being its tools. They obey the Causation of the higher planes, but they help to rule on their own plane, so benefiting all mankind by means of the Light and Love they send forth. Were it not for the efforts of these unknown and unsung benefactors of mankind—past and present—conditions in this world would be a good deal worse than they are.
There is yet another aspect of the Law of Cause and Effect which is worthy of consideration and that is the phenomena of illusion, or 'Maya' as it is called among Eastern mystics and occultists. In the Fifteenth Book of the Poemander, Hermes talks to his son, Tat, about Truth, saying: "But things down here, O son, thou seest what they are, not able to receive this Good, things which are corruptible, dissolvable, ever passing away, changeful, and ever altering in a thousand ways, also being born from one another, taking on at each birth the faults and blindness of those and that which came before. Things, then, are not true even to their own selves, how can they therefore be true in any way whatsoever?"
And Tat asks in turn, "And even man—is he not true, O Father?" And the Divine Hermes replies: "As man—he is not true, O son. For the real and actual True is that which has its composition from itself alone, and in itself stays as it is, unalterable, everlasting, and True. But man has been composed of many things, and does not stay in his own self, as that self appears to him and his beholders, nor even does it stay True to those who do not see him, but know him by repute and by his works alone. To all those he appears in a different guise, a different conception, none of which are true. He changes and he alters, from age to age, from form to form, even when he seems to remain for a time, a further illusion, in his own bodily vehicle. Nay, many there are who fail to recognise their own children, when a space of time comes between; and so it is with children who do not know again their parents after a time of separation. That, then, which changes so that it is no longer truly recognised—can that be true, O Tat?"
"What, then, O Father, should'st thou say is the First Truth?" And Hermes answered: "The One and Only, Tat, he is the first Truth, for He is not of matter, or in body, colourless and figureless, and changeless; He who doth not alter, who ever is and was not at any time. But we know not who or what He is, for He is far beyond the ken of all the ken of all the Universes, and even the Supreme God of our Universe is not to be compared with Him, who is beyond comparison. All else perishes or changes, on Earth and in the Realms beyond, which are subject to divine evolution when on high, or dissolution when below. An awesome thought to the unthinking, if think they could, but they are stifled by appearances and lost in the depths of the Unknown Darkness, which engulfs the blind and heedless one, to be changed into another form of illusion, which hath not Truth. Thus, the untrue one shall perish, O son, for that is the Law. All things, however, the things of earth which perish—the Forethought of the True hath comprehended them and doth and will encompass them by taking them unto its bosom."
May this blessing be ours when the time comes that we have finally done with the illusions of Earth and are ready to take our rightful place among the Causes Above who rule the Effects below in Wisdom and Love. In the penultimate part of this series of articles we consider the Law of Gender, perhaps the least known and most misunderstood of all the Seven Universal Hermetic Laws which enshrine the Wisdom of Hermes the Thrice Great.
© Copyright occult-mysteries.org. Article published 17 January 2021.