Geometry of Life

The Geometry of Plants

From Cosmic Core

“Plants are not ‘things’ but ‘energy events’,” Michael Schneider tells us.  “They spiral into existence, resembling whirlpools.”

“The directed, asymmetric, ‘pulsating’ forces manifested in growing living organisms act, or can act, quite differently from the physico-chemical reactions obeying the ‘Principle of Least Action,’ so that the ‘Geometry of Life’ will introduce shapes and volumes not met with in rigorously inorganic systems.”1

“Plants are not objects, and there is no absolute.  They are transient and their form exists within a constant state of flux.  In truth we cannot summarize the design of a plant within a single session of measurement and recording, since even within the space of time between the measuring and the recording enough about the plant may have changed to render the measurement obsolete. Read more here

  • Geometry of Plants – II

 

 

Geometry of Plants – Part 2 –

 

 

 

  • Geometry of Zoology

Geometry of Zoology

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Geometry of Human Life

Human A&P – Part 1 – The Geometry of Human Life – Mitosis, Meiosis & Fertilization

 

 

Human A&P – Part 2 – The Geometry of Human Life – Phi & Body Proportions

 

Human A&P – Part 3 – The Geometry of Human Life – More Body Geometry

 

 

 

 

Human A&P – Part 4 – The Geometry of Human Life – The Heart

 

 

 

Human Life – Mind/Body – Part 1 – Cells & Cellular Memory

 

 

Mind/Body Health – Part 2 – Mind-Body Connection

 

 

 

Read more here

Prayer for our Times


  • Forty rules of love  Persian Sufi – Shams of Tabriz 1185-1248

Rule 1
How we see God is a direct reflection of how we see ourselves. If God brings to mind mostly fear and blame, it means there is too much fear and blame welled inside us. If we see God as full of love and compassion, so are we.

Rule 2
The path to the Truth is a labour of the heart, not of the head. Make your heart your primary guide! Not your mind. Meet, challenge and ultimately prevail over your nafs (self, psyche, soul) with your heart. Knowing your ego will lead you to the knowledge of God.

Rule 3
You can study God through everything and everyone in the universe, because God is not confined in a mosque, synagogue or church. But if you are still in need of knowing where exactly His abode is, there is only one place to look for him: in the heart of a true lover.

Rule 4
Intellect and love are made of different materials. Intellect ties people in knots and risks nothing, but love dissolves all tangles and risks everything. Intellect is always cautious and advises, ‘Beware too much ecstasy’, whereas love says, ‘Oh, never mind! Take the plunge!’ Intellect does not easily break down, whereas love can effortlessly reduce itself to rubble. But treasures are hidden among ruins. A broken heart hides treasures.

Rule 5
Most of problems of the world stem from linguistic mistakes and simple misunderstanding. Don’t ever take words at face value. When you step into the zone of love, language, as we know it becomes obsolete. That which cannot be put into words can only be grasped through silence.

Rule 6
Loneliness and solitude are two different things. When you are lonely, it is easy to delude yourself into believing that you are on the right path. Solitude is better for us, as it means being alone without feeling lonely. But eventually it is the best to find a person who will be your mirror. Remember only in another person’s heart can you truly see yourself and the presence of God within you.

Rule 7
Whatever happens in your life, no matter how troubling things might seem, do not enter the neighbourhood of despair. Even when all doors remain closed, God will open up a new path only for you. Be thankful! It is easy to be thankful when all is well. A Sufi is thankful not only for what he has been given but also for all that he has been denied.

Rule 8
Patience does not mean to passively endure. It means to look at the end of a process. What does patience mean? It means to look at the thorn and see the rose, to look at the night and see the dawn. Impatience means to be shortsighted as to not be able to see the outcome. The lovers of God never run out of patience, for they know that time is needed for the crescent moon to become full.

Rule 9
East, west, south, or north makes little difference. No matter what your destination, just be sure to make every journey a journey within. If you travel within, you’ll travel the whole wide world and beyond.

Rule 10
The midwife knows that when there is no pain, the way for the baby cannot be opened and the mother cannot give birth. Likewise, for a new self to be born, hardship is necessary. Just as clay needs to go through intense heat to become strong, Love can only be perfected in pain.

….. read more here

  •  Prayer for our times

The Prayer is an excellent act, but its spirit and meaning are more excellent than its form, even as the human spirit is more excellent and more enduring than the form. For the human form does not abide forever, but the spirit does. In the same way, the form of The Prayer does not remain,but its meaning and spirit do.

 

From the book Illuminated Prayer Coleman Barks/Michael Green

You are a Christian because you believe in Jesus, and you are a Jew because you believe in all the prophets including Moses. You are a Muslim because you believe in Muhammad as a prophet, and you are a Sufi because you believe in the universal teaching of God’s love. You are really none of those, but you are all of those because you believe in God. And once you believe in God, there is no religion. Once you divide yourself off with religions, you are separated from your fellowman.

 

What is it that we really love? What is the stronger pull? Behavioral scientists believe that immediately after birth, we enjoy a happy blurring of the distinction between “self” and “non-self,” but that before too long in our life-trajectory, we pull our-selves free of such oceanic unity and we individuate.

It’s a fascinating new experience: Me! Years go by, life experience accumulates. We slowly discover that our self-entity exists within an atmosphere of aloneness and separation. Our first instinct is to break out of the isolation with a lot of grasping and pos-sessing—friends, lovers, food, cars, money, land, whatever. We try to dull the ache with entertainment, understand it with philosophy, or accept it in therapy. No matter. Nothing quite delivers the abiding wholeness we sense is really the way we ought to be.

 

The human shape is a ghost made of distraction and pain. Sometimes pure light, sometimes cruel, trying wildly to open,this image tightly held within itself.

“The mystics are gathering in the street. Come out!”

“Leave me alone. I’m sick.”

“I don’t care if you’re dead! Jesus is here, and he wants to resurrect somebody!”

An intuition is awakened within us of the original human experience, of a deep, effortless unity, not with things, but with the ocean of pure love-being within which they exist. A longing and a thirst…

The thirst in our souls is the attraction put out by water itself:

We belong to it, and it to us.

…and a new attraction is felt, a tidal pull toward something deep and unknown. Something shifts inside. Rumi says:

be like a fish on a beach moving toward wave-sound.

The Prayer and the teachings here are tools to nourish and strengthen this pull, this longing to return to the source…

We can’t help being thirsty  moving toward the voice of water.

Milk-drinkers draw close to the mother, Muslims, Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, shamans, everyone hears the intelligent sound and moves, with thirst, to meet it.

These teachings are part of an ancient Way of returning. They go far back before recorded history. The Way is not “religion,” it is the root from which all religions grow.

Signs of this Way can be found everywhere, among all peoples. The Way exists to serve, and chameleon-like, it takes much of its external coloration from whatever culture or religion it finds itself in.

In the world of mystic Islam, the ones who embrace and transmit this way of returning, of knowing themselves, are often called Sufis.

Their “I” is not what most think of as “I.”

I am cloud and rain being released, and then the meadow as it soaks it in.

I wash the grains of mortality from the cloth around a dervish.

                       I am the rose of eternity, not made of water or fire                                                               or the wandering wind, or even earth. I play with those.

I am

a light within his light. If you see me, be careful.

Tell no one what you’ve seen.

The “I” that so many have defended to their dying breath might be likened to a slightly unstable computer operating system. It’s got wonderful features, but it still crashes and needs regular upgrades. Ultimately it is nothing more than a swarm of charged particles, or rather, it’s only the pattern of charges, completely ephemeral, subject at any moment to error messages, erasure, viruses, random power surges . . . even unfixable crashes. The Sufi’s response to such a marginal exitence is simple: abandon the assumption that this pro­gram is who we really are. Marvelous things can now happen. We might identify with wider horizons—like the hard drive, or the processor. Or the network, the World Wide Web, the wide world, or finally, the great sea of being supporting everything.

This opening up of identity is the great work, and no effort in it is ever wasted. Those who find their way to the shore of this sea are ennobled and transformed. Those diving in discover they are no different from the sea. They were God’s secret. Now God is their secret

Dissolver of sugar, dissolve me, if this is the time.

Do it gently with a touch of hand, or a look. Every morning I wait at dawn. That’s when it happened before.

Or do it suddenly like an execution. How else can I get ready for death?

You breathe without a body like a spark. You grieve, and I begin to feel lighter. You keep me away with your arm, but the keeping away is pulling me in.

Where do we begin? The arts of starting out, of soul-turning, of returning to the vast bright waters of universal consciousness are all found in the realm of prayer.

A wicker basket sank in the Ocean,  saw itself full of seawater,

decided it could live independently. Left the ocean, not a drop stayed in it.

But the ocean took it back

For God’s sake, stay near the sea! Walk the beach.

Your face is pale.

I am sinking in the ocean of this subject.

A man in prison receives a prayer rug from a friend. What he had wanted, of course, was a file or a crow-bar or a key! But he began using the rug, doing the Five-Times Prayer before dawn, at noon, midafternoon, after sun-set, and before sleep. Bowing, sitting up, bowing again, he notices an odd pattern in the weave of the rug at the point where his head touches. He studies and meditates on that pattern, gradually discover­ing that it is a diagram of the lock that confines him to his cell and how it works. He’s able to escape.

Anything you do every day
can open
into the deepest spiritual place,
which is freedom.

What nine months does for the embryo

Forty early mornings will do for your growing awareness.

There is no single word in English that conveys the scope of the Arabic word Salat. “Prayer,” “blessings,” “supplication,” and “grace” are implied, but all fail to convey the Salat’s marvelous integration of devotional heart-surrender ‘with physical motion.

In Salat, our entire being is engaged in a single luminous event.

The Salat that we practice begins with the Miraj, the mystic Night Journey of . the noble prophet Muhammad. Called. from his meditation into superconsciousness, he ascends through the heavens and beyond to mingle and merge with the Lord and Creator, light upon Light.

Returning, he brings back the earthly forms of these celestials adorations.

The prayer is gifted not to one tribe or to one race or one religion but to all humanity, and we present it here as such, a treasure for everyone.

Moving with the Prayer as response to inner need draws one into the precious community of mystic lovers everywhere.

At the Call says the Book of Revelation,

leave your trading and hasten unto remembrance.

The Prayer lends a new life to the day, binding it into the rhythm of a sacred circle. Like a waterwheel that ceaselessly catches water out of a stream and spills it into a garden, The Prayer lifts us up again and again out of our preoccupations and sets us into a sacred time. The Prayer empowers us to put aside the ten thousand cares and realign to the unity and blessedness intrinsic to all things.

Be courageous and discipline yourself.
Work. Keep digging your well.
Don’t think about getting off from work.
Water is there somewhere.
Submit to a daily practice.
Your loyalty to that
is a ring on the door.
Keep knocking, and the joy inside
will eventually open a window
and look out to see who’s there.

 

 

The Prayer is a deep psycho-logical  force field to help us over-come our mole-like resistances to the light. The Prayer is an unfolding series of archetypal motions and gestures that appear in endless variation throughout all the devotional practices of the human family.

Salat is a remarkably compact and focused exercise. It gently returns our lives to “that which we really love” five times every day, and grounds that returning in the movements and knowledge of body-wisdom.

The body itself is a screen to shield and partially reveal the light that’s blazing inside your presence.

 

-The Times
Following celestial law, the earth each day performs a complete turning. The light moves through five stages as the sun dawns, climbs to its zenith, descends downward in the slanting rays of aftemoon, sets in glowing colors, and disappears into darkness. For the Sufi, this cycle is a mirror of the human life span: our dawing into the world, our growth, maturation, decline, and death. In these five stages, the soul makes its journey around another sun that never rises or sets.

The Prayer invites us to awaken from the superficial self at these moments of the day. By aligning our devotional work with these natural times of power we start to move with the rhythms of God’s creation in a new way, attuned to the mystical correspondences between outer and inner and to the seasons of life.

see: Hildegard of Bingen: Viriditas – the Greening power of the Divine –

Think of how PHENOMENA come trooping

out of the Desert of Non-existence

into this materiality.

Morning and night,

they arrive in a long line and take over

from each other, “It’s my turn now. Get out!”

A son comes of age, and the father packs up. This place of phenomena is a wide exchange of highways, with everything going all sorts of different ways.

We seem to be sitting still, but we’re actually moving, and the Fantasies of Phenomena are sliding through us like ideas through curtains.

Read more here

A History of the Utopian Tradition: A guide for our times

  • A History of the Utopian Tradition

By Carlijn kingma  CARTOGRAPHY OF SOCIETY

Chinese Ink and dip pen on paper Size original drawing: 1189mm x 841mm
April 2016 -For more information about the prints, please send an email to: carlijnkingma@gmail.com.

Below you can read the introduction of the story:

The urge to transcend and push life ‘as it is’ in order to move towards life ‘as it should be’, is a defining feature of humanity. Utopia is a way of articulating of this urge – a project or vision which provides us with a clear view on an alternative present or future world, through which, although sometimes just for one little moment, we can believe in something extraordinary. Utopia has long been the name for the unreal and the impossible. We have set utopia over against the world as the world of dreams, fantasies and ideas. Thus, sometimes, we seem to forget, that, like Lewis Mumford used to say, the choice we have is not between reasonable proposals and an unreasonable utopianism. Utopian thinking does not under- mine or discount real reforms. Indeed, it is almost the opposite: practical reforms depend on utopian dreaming. It encourages us in our efforts, and sets a beacon in the uncharted seas of the distant future, and in doing so drives to incremental improvements. The world needs utopia, as the cities and mansions that people dream of are those in which they finally live.

For as long as we exist, we have imagined the things that ought to be. The Greeks knew such wise men as philosophers, they allowed them great freedom and rejoiced in the mathematical precision with which their intellectual leaders mapped out those theoretical roads which were to lead mankind from chaos to an ordered state of society. The Old Tes tament used to call such people prophets, insisting with narrow persistence upon the King dom of Heaven as the only possible standard for a decent Christian Utopia. The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries fought many bitter wars to decide the exact nature of a white- washed Paradise, erected upon the crumbling ruins of the medieval church. The eighteenth century saw the Promised Land lying just across the terrible bulwark of stupidity and super stition, which a thousand years of clerical selfishness had erected for its own protection and safety. There followed a mighty battle to crush the infamy of ignorance and bring about an era of well-balanced reason. Unfortunately, a few enthusiasts carried the matter a trifle too far. Napoleon, realist-in-chief of all time, brought the world back to the common ground of solid facts. In response, the twentieth century grew a counter-culture of everything fixed and finite, and presented utopia with its twin brother, the anti-utopia, which by opposing utopia also made her stronger. But in recent decades something has changed. Many observe utopia and their sympathizers as foolhardy dreamers at best and murderous totalitarians at worst. If the utopian spirit has proved to be a tool to trigger progress and improvements, then the recent growing suspicion towards utopia and the growing anti-utopian library is worrisome. Over the last century Utopia has gained a historic record of “anti-utopian” novels and instead of worrying how we can get to the good place we now think about how we can prevent the ‘utopian project’ from being realized. How did this happen? And as the will-to- transcend will always remain, how can we make the utopian project, our beacon leading us to conscious progress and change, legitimate and valuable again?

Understanding where utopia stands today is to understand its past, where it comes from and what ideas it carried. The first part of this thesis is an attempt to set out, mainly in drawing, supported by text, the general pattern of utopian writing in the West. Setting out the history of utopian writing is not meant principally as an historiographical exercise, but is necessary for understanding and thinking about the fate of utopia in our own times, and its possibilities for the future. Through history we learn how utopia always emerges and exists under specific circumstances. At the same time, the content and articulation of utopia has always been bonded to a set of attributes such as the organization of knowledge; power; the interpretation of territory; and time, resulting in the question of finality. Understanding the changing utopian tradition as a result of the changing attributes of the material world in the past, can help us understand the recently emerged suspicion of the utopia today, and hand us the tools to resonate on the possibility of a post-modern utopia tomorrow.

An inevitable part of the utopian tradition is the art of storytelling, and therefor, this elab- oration on the changing tradition of the utopia of the west is done mainly through image and illustrated with words. Image 1. History of the Utopian tradition, shows an overview of the whole story. Our journey begins in ancient Greece, with the Republic of Plato, as we work ourselves up to the utopian visions of the 20th century. A sequence of fragments, taken from the main image, will guide us through the story, handing us the possibility to not only understand each utopia as a separate entity or a product of its time, but also to understand each story as a part of a changing utopian tradition.

[…] Ch. 1 – Ch. 7 are left out but are available in print.

  • Al-Farabi’s Humanistic Principles and “Virtuous City”

by Anar Tanabayeva

In our time of globalization humanistic principles should be fundamental to the people around the world, otherwise we can not solve the global problems of mankind. At the present time, when the world globalization processes put before mankind new issues and identified the main problem, the study of the works of such thinker as Al-Farabi becomes extremely important. To study Al-Farabi’s philosophy is becoming more relevant in today’s context of increasing democratic reforms, creation of a legal, secular state and approval of harmony in society. In this respect, the study of political philosophy of Al-Farabi, especially his teachings on politics, freedom, happiness, and the need to mutual assistance between people, his appeal to science, intellectual and moral perfection of man and society, over-actualized. Particularly relevant today a thinker’s concept on political leadership, his ideas about the virtuous society, justice, equality, preserving peace, preventing war, condemnation of wars. In this regard, political philosophy and ideas of the thinker can be a valuable source for the education of the younger generation. Read more here

  • Utopian Literature of the Ideal Society:  A Study in Al-Farabi’s Virtuous City & More’s Utopia

Utopian literature in its broadest meaning deals with the idealistic conceptions and themes that are not applicative in real human life. This type of literature and thinking,
though we regard it as imaginative and may be fanciful, yet it embodies great themes, and aiming at noble human goals and purposes.
Al-Farabi in his work the Virtuous City and More in his Utopia present to the humanity through these two magnificent works, under discussion in this research, an example of the virtuous and idealistic community they aspire, as philosophers, to be achieved in real human life, if virtue and goodness guide mankind to its perfection and happiness.
This research discusses these two works as Utopian literature, irrespective to the profound philosophical thoughts they comprise. Read more here

  • AL-FARABI ON THE DEMOCRATIC CITY

This essay will explore some of al-Farabı’s paradoxical remarks on the nature and status of the democratic city (al-madı¯nah al-jamaıyyah). In describing this type of non-virtuous city, Farabı departs significantly from Plato, according the democratic city a superior standing and casting it in a more positive light. Even though at one point Farabı¯ follows Plato in considering the timocratic city to be the best of the imperfect cities, at
another point he implies that the democratic city occupies this position.
Since Farabı’s discussion of imperfect cities is derived from Plato’s Republic and follows it in many important respects, I will argue that his departure from Plato in this context is significant and points to some revealing differences between the two philosophers. In order to demonstrate this, I will first set up a comparison between Plato’s conception of the democratic city and Farabı’s. Then I will propose three explanations for the greater appreciation that Farabı seems to have for democracy, as well as for the apparent contradiction in Farabı’s verdict concerning the second best city. Read more here

  • Al-Farabi’s doctrin: virtuous people and a model of the «perfect man»

On the basis of reasonable activity of a man as his natural prop- erties Al-Farabi made a
number of conclusions about the humanistic equality of all people as a result of the overall reasonable nature of the autonomy of the human being, the creative activity of the person, freedom of the human will, independent of the value of human life. This issue Al-Farabi considered in his «Treatise on the views of the residents of the virtuous city».
Perfect society of Al-Farabi divides into three types: the great, medium and small. Great Society – a collection of companies of all people living in the land, the average – an association of people in some parts of the land, small-a small association of residents.
The greatest good and the highest perfection can be achieved, according to al-Farabi,
primarily the city, but not society, standing on the lower level of perfection. The latter AlFarabi considers the village, district, street and house. This system is a perfect society, drawn by Al-Farabi with strict logical sequence is the result of logical thinking scientist coming from the relationship between the concepts of general and private.
So, the most perfect form of society, by Al-Farabi, is the city. He uses the term city not only represents the city in the modern sense, as a unit of administrative-territorial division, but also to refer to the state and social groups.
An important place in the social and ethical teachings of Al- Farabi is the idea of a
virtuous city. Virtue, according to Al-Farabi, – this is the best moral qualities.  Read More here

  • THE ISLAMIC CONCEPT OF HUMAN PERFECTION*

William C. Chittick

The name `Islam’ refers to the religion and civilization based upon the Qur’án, a Scripture revealed to the Prophet Muhammad in the years AD 610-32. About one billion human beings are at least nominally Muslim, or followers of the religion of Islam. The modern West, for a wide variety of historical and cultural reasons, has usually been far less interested in the religious dimension of Islamic civilization than in, for example, that of Buddhistn or Hinduism. Recent political events have brought Islam into contemporary consciousness, but more as a demon to be feared than a religion to be respected for its sophisticated understanding of the human predicament.

Those few Westerners who have looked beyond the political situation of the countries where Islam is dominant have usually devoted most of their attention to Islamic legai and social teachings. They quickly discover that Islam, like Judaism, is based upon a Revealed Law, called in Arabic the Shari’a or wide road. Observance of this Law — which covers such domains as ritual practices, marriage relationships, inheritance, diet and commerce —is incumbent upon every Muslirn. But western scholars have shown far less interest in two other, more inward and hidden dimensions of the Islamic religion, mainly because these have had few repercussions on the contem-porary scene. Even in past centuries, when Islam was a healthy and flourishing civilization, only a relatively smalt number of Muslims made these dimensions their tentral concern.

The more hidden dimensions of Islam can be called `intellectuality’ and `spirituality’. The first deals mainly with the conceptual understanding of the human situation and the second with the practical means whereby a full flowering of human potentialities can be achieved. They are important in the present context because they provide clear descriptions of human perfection and set down detailed guidelines for reaching it. If we want to discover how Islam has understood the concept of perfection without reading our own theories into the Queán or imposing alien categories on the beliefs and practices of traditional Muslims, we have to pose our question to the intellectual and spiritual traditions of Islam itself. Read more Here

  • An Analysis of Ibn al-‘Arabi’s al-Insan al-Kamil, the Perfect Individual,

with a Brief Comparison to the Thought of Sir Muhammad Iqbal by Rebekah Zwanzig,

This thesis analyzes four philosophical questions surrounding Ibn al-‘Arabi’s concept of the al-insan al-kamil, the Perfect Individual. The Introduction provides a definition of Sufism, and it situates Ibn al-‘Arabi’s thought within the broader context of the philosophy of perfection. Chapter One discusses the transformative knowledge of the Perfect Individual. It analyzes the relationship between reason, revelation, and intuition, and the different roles they play within Islam, Islamic philosophy, and Sufism. Chapter Two discusses the ontological and metaphysical importance of the Perfect Individual, exploring the importance of perfection within existence by looking at the relationship the Perfect Individual has with God and the world, the eternal and non-eternal. In Chapter Three the physical manifestations of the Perfect Individual and their relationship to the Prophet Muhammad are analyzed. It explores the Perfect Individual’s roles as Prophet, Saint, and Seal. The final chapter compares Ibn al-‘Arabi’s Perfect Individual to Sir Muhammad Iqbal’s in order to analyze the different ways perfect action can be conceptualized. It analyzes the relationship between freedom and action.

1) what type/s of knowledge are necessary to gain a complete understanding of the eternal and non-eternal, and how this transformative knowledge leads to perfection;

2) The Perfect Individual as a level of existence, and how the individual fits into the dichotomy of eternal and non-eternal;

3) The Perfect Individual as a reflection of the Divine in the cosmos, or what the transformation and embodiment of perfection entails;

4) the Perfect Individual as an active agent in the world, and how this individual, after reaching perfection, interacts with the world. Some of the problems that will arise in the proceeding chapters and the proposed solutions are outlined below. Read more here

  • On the Relation of City and Soul in Plato and Alfarabi

Abu Nasr Muhammad Alfarabi, the medieval Muslim philosopher and the founder of Islamic Neoplatonism, is best known for his political treatise, Mabadi ara ahl al-madina al- fadhila (Principles of the Opinions of the Inhabitants of the Virtuous City), in which he proposes a theory of utopian virtuous city. Prominent scholars argue for the Platonic nature of Alfarabi’s political philosophy and relate the political treatise to Plato’s Republic. One of the most striking similarities between Alfarabi’s Mabadi ara ahl al-madina al- fadhila and Plato’s Republic is that in both works the theory of virtuous city is accompanied by a theory of soul. It is true that Alfarabi’s theory of soul differ considerably from that of Plato’s Republic. However, we propose that notwithstanding the differences, the two theories of soul do play an identically important role in the respective theory of virtuous city. The present article explores the relationship between the soul and the city in Plato’s Republic and Alfarabi’s Mabadi ara ahl al-madina al- fadhila, and intends to show that in both works the coexistence of the theory of soul and the city is neither coincidental nor a casual concurrence of two themes. Rather, the
concept of soul serves as a foundation on which Plato and Alfarabi erect their respective theory of perfect association. Thus, Alfarabi’s treatise resembles Plato’s Republic not only in the coexistence of the theory of soul and the city, but also in the important role of the concept of soul in the theory of virtuous city. Read more here

  • SEVEN LEVELS OF BEING

The secularity of the society in which we live must share considerable blame in the erosion of spiritual powers of all traditions, since our society has become a parody of social interaction lacking even an aspect of civility. Believing in nothing, we have preempted the role of the higher spiritual forces by acknowledging no greater good than what we can feel and touch.” Vine Deloria Jr

The perspective of modernity where Western Man as the egolatrous being is placed at the top of existence for all others to look towards for recognition.

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The pyramidal construction of Man from an Islamic perspective shifts our understanding of the seriousness of placing the egolatrous Man above God in constructing reality, while simultaneously allowing us to imagine what would be necessary in creating a transmodern critique in constructing the Human.

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THE ISLAMIC CONCEPT OF HUMAN PERFECTION:

Those dimensions of Islam dedicated to providing the guidelines for the development of the full possibilities of human nature came to be institutionalized in various forms. Many of these can be grouped under the name `Sufism’, while others can better be designated by names such as `philosophy’ or `Shiite gnosis’. In general, these schools of thought and practice share certain teachings about human perfection, though they also differ on many points. Here we can suggest a few of the ideas that can be found in most of these approaches.

Look also: Polishing your heart, Virtues Ethic for a modern Devotion in our times

Current decadence, greed, evil, falsehood, corruption, violence, injustice, exploitation, thus have a Cosmic undertone. It is a “Cosmic Law” that civilizations which have become megalomaniacal will inevitably collapse. Because all levels of existence are corroded – including the religious realm – only a Dimension that is beyond  can redeem us.

One of the many disastrous consequences of an ongoing repression of this trans-personal Ground of Being – and the mistaken assumption of the Absolute by a relative entity or self – is epitomized in our techno-industrial pursuit to convert the earth into one large global factory – reinforced by multinational monopoly. Herein, nature is viewed simply as exploitable “raw material” for a “manufacturing” process aimed at churning out “products” for the “consumer.” This apparent narrowing of human perspective is the logical result of paradigmatic trends linking back to the so-called Age of Enlightenment.

  • SEVEN LEVELS OF BEING(NAFS)

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The first verses regarding Jihad were revealed in Makkah before the Hijra to Medina. These verses reference “Jihad al-Nafs” or the struggle against the self (ego/ base desires)

 

  • Al GHAZALI ON JIHAD AL-NAFS [FIGHTING THE EGO] )

Meaning of nafs: It has two meanings.

First, it means the powers of anger and sexual appetite in a human being… and this is the usage mostly found among the people of tasawwuf [sufis], who take “nafs” as the comprehensive word for all the evil attributes of a person. That is why they say: one must certainly do battle with the ego and break it (la budda min mujahadat al-nafs wa kasriha), as is referred to in the hadith: A`da `aduwwuka nafsuka al-lati bayna janibayk [Your worst enemy is your nafs which lies between your flanks. Al-`Iraqi says it is in Bayhaqi on the authority of Ibn `Abbas and its chain of transmission contains Muhammad ibn Abd al-Rahman ibn Ghazwan, one of the forgers].

The second meaning of nafs is the soul, the human being in reality, his self and his person. However, it is described differently according to its different states. If it assumes calmness under command and has removed from itself the disturbance caused by the onslaught of passion, it is called “the satisfied soul” (al-nafs al-mutma’inna)… In its first meaning the nafs does not envisage its return to God because it has kept itself far from Him: such a nafs is from the party of shaytan. However, when it does not achieve calmness, yet sets itself against the love of passions and objects to it, it is called “the self-accusing soul” (al-nafs al-lawwama), because it rebukes its owner for his neglect in the worship of his master… If it gives up all protest and surrenders itself in total obedience to the call of passions and shaytan, it is named “the soul that enjoins evil” (al-nafs al-ammara bi al-su’)… which could be taken to refer to the ego in its first meaning.

7-fereydun

From the beginning of our entrance into the school of Sufism, we have been taught about the seven levels of being. These seven levels are like grades in any educational system which one must pass through in order to graduate. In our system, however, evaluations are made by a Higher Authority than the teacher.

Passing and failing grades are made known through real dreams, through the interpretation of which the teacher gives new responsibilities and duties to the seeker. But what is most important is that the seeker himself should be able to realize his own states so that he can live up to the next level to which he aspires. Obviously, first it is necessary that he be conscious, aware of his character and actions, and be sincere in looking at himself. But it is also necessary to thoroughly know the characteristics of each level, especially the level in which he is presumed to be, and the next level, in which he hopes to be. Read more here

  • To See Yourself within It: Bruegel’s Festival of Fools

by Todd Marlin Richardson

Bruegel’s Festival of Fools

The topics of blindness and self-awareness I discussed in relation to the
Peasant and Nest Robber bring me to the focus of my fourth and final chapter,
Bruegel’s Festival of Fools . In addition, the practices of making and viewing
works of art I have described for all of Bruegel’s later peasant paintings are also
helpful in thinking about this particular design. Nadine Orenstein argues for a late
dating of the print, after the now lost drawing by Bruegel, based on the words Aux
quatre Vents inscribed at the bottom center. This is the form of the publisher’s address
used by the widow of the print’s publisher, Hieronymus Cock, following his death in
1570. Orenstein speculates the drawing was completed in the last years of Bruegel’s
life, during the same time he painted the peasant panels, and the print produced after
his death.

Although fairly subtle, the composition of the Festival of Fools stages a
procession similar to a wagon play. (Wagon plays were processional dramas that took place during Ommegangen (devotional processions) in the 1550s and 1560s. Rhetoricians conceived of wagon plays as didactic episodes that could morally
edify and educate their audience. The plays utilized overt metaphors and personifications to create allegorical productions that focused on collective civic identity. Read more here

  • The Choice for Spiritual Ethics,Virtues and Uprightness in our times

The bivium of Pythagoras, this sign which leaves us free to choose the path of good or the path of evil.

“The letter” Y “represents the symbol of moral life. The question of good and evil arises before the free will of man: two roads open before him: the left, the thick branch of the “Y”, is wide and easy to access, but leads to the chasm from shame, that of the right, the thin branch, is a steep and painful path, but at the summit of which one finds repose in honor and glory. “

The letter “Y”, in antiquity, has often represented a “bivium” (a fork in the road); a point in life where we have to make a vital decision. According to Pythagoras, it represents the paths of virtue and vice. The letter Y is also symbolic of looking within, Inner contemplation, Meditation and inner wisdom.

Read more here

 

  • To Become a “Refugee”: Emigration to Sincerity or “uprightness” of Love

What the Emigration to Sincerity demands of us

Emigration: Historical Hijra

Starting from a narrow family-tribal environment Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) underwent 13 years of hardship and torment in Meccan society; with the immigration (Hijra) to Medina, a new stage began. This stage, if one takes into consideration the time that it took all religions to spread, is the starting point of one of the fastest religious developments in recorded history. In this sense, when one speaks of the Hijra one is not merely speaking of a journey from Mecca to Medina, or the starting point of a calendar; one is speaking of a new start for humanity.

The Hijra is symbolic of changing those conditions that cause problems and that clash with ideals and beliefs, as well as the search for new opportunities. ..

…The most important principle to learn from the Hijra is the constant observation of intention. In particular, Sufis consider the constant observation and control of intent to be a basic principle for attaining ikhlas (sincerity). From this aspect, Sufism can be considered to be a total investigation and interrogation of intention.

Goethe and his poem “Hegir” : Hijra

When one speaks of the Hijra one is not merely speaking of a journey from Mecca to Medina, or the starting point of a calendar;  but one is  also speaking of a new start for humanity. And Johann Wolfgang von Goethe make his Hijra, his emigration and take refuge in Islam. He became a “Refugee”.

The Hijra is symbolic of changing those conditions that cause problems and that clash with ideals and beliefs, as well as the search for new opportunities.

In this caravan poem, Goethe gives us a picture of the restless nomad existence which early Arabian poetry had enabled him to envision.

The whole “West-East Divan” is shot through with something of this nomadic restlessness. Already in the first great poem entitled “Hegir” the poet alludes to Arabian life and traditions. He is a True Pelgrim. He turns to the wisdom of the Sufis as Hafiz.

His own “Hedschra” is an inteliectual emigration to a simpler state of existence which seems to him to be purer and righter than his own immediate world. Thus he calls out to himself:

“Hegira”

North and South and West are quaking,

Thrones are cracking, empires shaking;

Let us free toward the East

Where as patriarchs we’ll feast:

There in loving, drinking, singing

Youth from Khidr’s well is springing.

His goal: to discover and reconcile in himself in a new, higher unity the multiplicity of monotheism’s divine expressions.  Such unity was always Goethe’s goal, for he well understood the alchemical truth that unity only divides in order to find itself again in a higher sense. As he wrote:

Anything that enters the world of phenomena must divide in order to appear at all. The separated parts seek one another again, and may find each other and be reunited: in the lower sense by each mixing with its opposite, that is, by simply coming together with it, in which case the phenomenon is nullified or at least becomes indifferent. But the union can also occur in the higher sense, whereby the separated parts are first developed and heightened, so that the combination of the two sides produces a third, higher being, of a new and unexpected kind. Read more here

The Babylonian Tower of Modernity

  • The Babylonian Tower of Modernity

By Carlijn kingma  CARTOGRAPHY OF SOCIETY

How our religion of capitalism and central believe in mechanical progress has led again to confusion of speech, and how society, accordingly, ends up divided in multiple romantic reactions. Or, a map to find our way home within the modern dream of progress.

In collaboration with Piet Vollaard and Edwin Gardner
Rotterdam 2017

Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”
— Genesis 11:4

Why does a man build a tower? To fight off enemies? To transmit TV programs? To house more inhabitants and to economize high costly earth? No, no and no! That’s a lie, and the masking of the real and the only true function of a Tower – to shout as loud as possible “Here I am! Look how strong and mighty I am!

This time we are building a tower to reach for the heavens of progress. Organized around an oil engine, we deploy, we produce and continue to grow. But somehow along the way, dissonance emerged on the exact direction we are heading. And while trying to reach for these heavens of progress, we forgot why we actually wanted to go there in the first place. And once we finally reach the skies, our sight is clouded with smog.

Almost everyone inside the tower – or maybe even everyone – secretly dreams of being better. To be smarter, richer, more liked or more powerful. And in order to become this better person, and move up inside the hierarchy of our society, a man will face competition. Most of us get stuck somewhere in some layer of accomplishments/success, but for the lucky little few, who can make it to the top, the world beneath is a playground.

But first of all, down in the center of the drawing, to be able to enter the tower at all, a man has to have the right papers. Like the lottery you can win a ticket for access, if born in the right country at the right time. If not, we are very sorry to tell you, but I’m afraid today we are full. But if you happen to win and you have made it inside, you can walk the ramps, that circle up, and eventually aim for the skies. But again, like everything else in this world, not without resistance.

Inside the tower, at the bottom of it all, we find the working class. We call them the lower educated, and they perform practical tasks, such as taking the oil from the earth. To transcend and move up inside the tower of success, perhaps to the service based practices, you need first to pass through an educational gate, to prove you are worthy of the task. But to reach for the skies, it doesn’t stay there, there are multiple thresholds and gates. Although the gates of global borders now seem permanently open, you will soon walk upon some more, judging your ethnical background, your gender and family name. And finally, for the engineers and programmers who work inside the building for bigger trade, to become a god in our own little world, to become director of the the political muppet show and to rule, point and divide, there is a gate to pass only with money.

view here ( in Dutch)

It all might seem unbelievable maybe, but don’t think for a moment we are non-believing men. For all I know there is much and more to say about our central believe in mechanical progress. We have gods of progress to turn to and to worship. Zeus, with his pointy arrow in arm, ripped right of the growth chart. Or Hermes, playing an arithmetic song about how we can reach for the innumerable/uncountable.

Imprisoned within the eternity of our daily routines, in fear of losing our spot in the line to another person or to a robot perhaps, we solemnly move from one task to the next. In blind procession, trying to keep the engine of capitalism running and do what is expected of us, we have all become creatures of habit and convention.

We work eight hours, we sleep eight hours, and in the eight hours left we work a little more. While night we secretly dream of descending, up to nobody knows where. Inside our man made dream of housing, we happily decorate the concrete cells like cabinets of homely attributes. But somehow, everywhere within the tower, from the exiled migrant to the footloose networker, people have lost their notion of home. Our bedrooms become a product on the market, while work has been move to the kitchen table. Home has been displaced by an idea that’s both elusive and contested. And we feel lost and displaced inside this rational concrete dream.

Note: The Tower of Babel by Breughel

Building the Tower of Babel was, for Dante, an example of pride., Canto 12.

 Purgatory in the poem of Dante Divine Comedy  is depicted as a mountain in the Southern Hemisphere, consisting of a bottom section (Ante-Purgatory), seven levels of suffering and spiritual growth (associated with the seven deadly sins), and finally the Earthly Paradise at the top. Allegorically, the Purgatorio represents the penitent Christian life In describing the climb Dante discusses the nature of sin, examples of vice and virtue, as well as moral issues in politics and in the Church. The poem outlines a theory that all sins arise from love – either perverted love directed towards others’ harm, or deficient love, or the disordered or excessive love of good things.

The gate of Purgatory, Peter’s Gate, is guarded by an angel bearing a naked sword, his countenance too bright for Dante’s sight to sustain. In reply to the angel’s challenge, Virgil declares that a lady from heaven brought them there and directed them to the gate. On Virgil’s advice, Dante mounts the steps and pleads humbly for admission by the angel, who uses the point of his sword to draw the letter “P” (signifying peccatum, sin) seven times on Dante’s forehead, bidding him “take heed that thou wash / These wounds, when thou shalt be within.”

With the passage of each terrace and the corresponding purgation of his soul that the pilgrim receives, one of the “P”s will be erased by the angel granting passage to the next terrace. The angel at Peter’s Gate uses two keys, silver (remorse) and gold (reconciliation) to open the gate – both are necessary for redemption and salvation. As the poets are about to enter, they are warned not to look back. Read more here

World on Fire

In his essay “World on Fire” Charles Eisenstein describe the situation as follow:

I can’t easily draw a causal connection here, but it seems significant that uncontainable wildfires are contemporaneous with inflammatory rhetoric, heated debates, flaring tempers, burning hatred, seething distrust, and smoldering resentment. Just as dried out, fuel-laden forests burned out of control with a mere spark, so also have our cities burned as the spark of police murders touched the ready fuel of generations of racism; decades of economic decay, and months of Covid confinement. Our social ecosystem is as damaged and depleted as the forests that are so prone to fire“.

  • Reverence and Relationship

While engineers, ecologists, and especially indigenous people can offer techniques to properly steward forests and restore them to resiliency, the transition to a healed world requires something much deeper than better techniques. More important is to learn to inhabit the source from which indigenous land stewardship practices arise. That source is a way of seeing, conceiving, and relating to nature. It is also a way of understanding ourselves: who we are and why we are here.

Fundamentally, the source of wise forest management is to see and know nature as a being, not a thing. That’s the best I can put it, but it isn’t good enough. The words themselves entrap me in error. Nature is not something separate from ourselves, and not even “things” are just things. Let me say then that traditional and indigenous cultures live in a world where being is everywhere and in everything, and humans are no more or less sacred than trees, mountains, water, or ants.

On the most obvious level, the view of nature-as-thing greatly facilitates the clearcutting, mining, stripping, and profiteering, just as dehumanization of other people allows their exploitation and enslavement. It’s the same basic mindset. But there is another problem too: the mindset of nature-as-thing prevents us from coming into the intimacy of relationship that is necessary to tend, heal, and cocreate with it to mutual benefit. It is like the difference between a doctor who treats you impersonally, as a “case,” and one who sees you as a full human being.

Last month, the state of California committed to a 20-year program of forest thinning which seeks to reduce fires through brush clearing, logging, and prescribed burns. This program is fraught with possible unintended consequences. When we understand a forest as an organism, a being, rather than an engineering object, we recognize engineering concepts like reducing fuel load as, at best, a first step. After all, a healthy forest requires rotting vegetable matter to nourish fungi, invertebrates, etc. that are crucial elements of forest ecology. How do we know how much brush to clear and how many logs to remove? We can only learn that through attentive observation and long relationship. Here, the experience of local first peoples can be invaluable, as they have built up that knowledge over countless generations. To learn from the inevitable mistakes that will occur in the forest thinning program will require humility, the kind that comes when one knows one is relating to a complex living being. Otherwise, we stumble from one error to the next, as when, in an effort to increase carbon sequestration, we plant ecologically and culturally unsuitable trees that end up dying a few decades later, leaving conditions even worse than before.

Another word for the attitude that I named as the source from which indigenous land stewardship practices arise is “reverence.” To revere something is the opposite of reducing it to a thing. Modern, educated people have long lived in an ideological matrix that says nature, at bottom, is merely a whirl of generic particles bumping around according to mathematical forces. What is there to revere? It says that purpose, intelligence, and consciousness subsist in human beings alone. The burning of the world calls us to awaken from this delusion.

From the attitude of reverence, we see things invisible to the engineer’s eye. We ask questions the utilitarian never asks. Paradoxically, in the end, the knowledge thus gained we be more useful – not just to the forest, but to ourselves – than anything we could accomplish from the exploitative mindset.

In truth, we are not separate from nature. What we do to the other, we ultimately do to ourselves. When the forests are sick, we are sick. When they burn, even if we escape the flames, something burns within us too. The social climate mirrors the geological climate. We may not recognize this truth as indigenous people do, but we are the land. Is it not obvious, looking at today’s political landscape, that a fire rages out of control?

I can’t easily draw a causal connection here, but it seems significant that uncontainable wildfires are contemporaneous with inflammatory rhetoric, heated debates, flaring tempers, burning hatred, seething distrust, and smoldering resentment. Just as dried out, fuel-laden forests burned out of control with a mere spark, so also have our cities burned as the spark of police murders touched the ready fuel of generations of racism; decades of economic decay, and months of Covid confinement. Our social ecosystem is as damaged and depleted as the forests that are so prone to fire.

The matrix of complex relationships that we call community has to a great degree collapsed into simplified relations with impersonal institutions, mediated by money and technology. Social networks may give the appearance of community, but they lack the interdependency that marks a real community (or ecosystem). We can see now how fragile – or how inflammable – such a society is.

I won’t be so bold as to say that addressing our social separation will quell the fires. Yet, one can see how the project of land healing through reverence and relationship is congruent to the project of social healing, which, too, depends on restoring reverence and relationship.

———————————–

Note: Compare with 500 years ago:

Bruegehel : the Apocalypse within

The absurdity of Bruegel’s characters comes straight out of Erasmus’ Praise of Folly, a fantasy and satire on the self-deception on much of human endeavour, mocking human pretensions, monks and theologians, the scholastic intellectual substructure that supported late Medieval piety.

Erasmus cites Democritus who was supposedly constantly amused by the spectre of humanity. The book first appeared in 1511, and underwent numerous revisions and additions until the last corrections in 1532. It was an instant success. The book’s narrator is Folly who portrays life as an absurd spectacle lambasting the foibles and frailties of mankind, only to praise the ‘folly’ of simple Christian piety, the pious ideals in which Erasmus had been educated, and spirituality of The Imitation of Christ, four treatises from the 15th century attributed to Thomas â Kempis.

Erasmus and À Kempis were both Augustinian canons, more importantly both had their roots in the devotio moderna to which Erasmus remained faithful to the end of his life.

The text of Folly is a potent mix of wit, wisdom and wordplay, but it culminates in a serious indictment of churchmen, and sets out the virtues of a Christian way of life that St Paul says looks to the world like folly: “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not in wisdom of speech, less the cross of Christ should be void. For the word of the cross, to them indeed that perish, is foolishness; but to them that are saved, that is, to us, it is the power of God”.

This is the crossroads of belief where Renaissance Christianity and Medieval religion collide, and evangelical humanists take the turning signposted scripture. The pilgrim’s way had forked and despite the lure of side roads such as ‘theological backlash’ and ‘millenarianism’, two major routes had opened up, and remained open, to choose from.

Bruegel stood at that crossroads and  seemed never quite made up his mind which direction to go in. As he wavered in his decision, he was also sensibly never open about exactly what he believed. “He lived at a time and place in which free and open expression of certain ideas could mean death.Read more here

 ————————————–

The Doorway Called Enchantment

I live in the northeast of the land people call the United States. Here, fire is not much of a threat, yet. A few weeks ago I was walking with my brother in the woods behind his Pennsylvania farm, where the sloping land gives way to mountainside. We crossed a creek, a bare trickle in some places, dry in others. John told me that he had been here with an old-timer who said that in his youth, this creek was so deep and strong, even in August, that there were only a few places one could cross it. What happened to this being, this creek? Some locals say it is because too many wells were dug, drawing down the water tables and drying out the springs that feed the creeks. Others say it is because of the repeated logging of the mountain, going back to colonial times. Or maybe, I thought, it is again a long-delayed result of the cascade of changes following the extermination of wolves, cougars, and beavers. All these activities are an insult to the land and to the water, oblivious to reverence.

Ultimately, to stop the fires and turn onto a world-healing path, we must turn from domination and subjugation to reverence and respect. Sometimes that means adopting the role of a protector for vulnerable, precious beings, like Marina Silva is doing in Brazil. (Here is an organization she works with, along with others I mentioned in my 2019 article on the Amazon fires.) Sometimes it means stepping into the role of nurturer or healer, like the people reintroducing beavers, practicing regenerative agriculture, and building water retention landscapes. For someone in the corporate or financial world, reverence might steer them to choose life over profit in a moment where it takes a little courage to do that. That courage is a dilute version of the courage of South American indigenous activists who risk torture and murder by landowners, logging companies, mining companies, and their paramilitaries, because it puts something else above maximizing personal self-interest. It is thus an important act of solidarity.

Reverence brings courage. Reverence brings knowledge. Reverence brings skill. Reverence brings healing. It is the fulcrum of the great turning of civilization toward reunion with nature. Today the word has religious connotations, but this is not the kind of reverence that worships an idol. It is the reverence of the lover who looks into the eyes of the beloved and sees infinity.

If reverence brings all these things, then what brings reverence? It will not do merely to exhort people to be more reverent. The gateway to reverence is enchantment. A few days ago I stood with my son Cary, age seven, at Rhode Island’s last undeveloped coastal pond watching turtles. We felt what it was like to be those turtles. We could hardly stop watching them. In that moment, the thought that we would harm them for anything less than a sacred purpose was horrifying and absurd. We knew them as precious in and of themselves, not for any use to us. Few people, dropping into that moment, could escape that enchantment. Yet, every day, we participate in systems that treat turtles and much else as resources to exploit, or make them collateral damage in other exploitation. We cannot avoid this participation, for we live in that system, and that system lives in us. More and more of us no longer feel at home in it though. It cannot easily accommodate our reverence, our enchantment, and our true purpose of service to life.

Mining company executives or members of ranchers’ death squads might be far away from the doorway of enchantment. The principle of enchantment-borne reverence does not substitute for legal action, nonviolent direct action, and so on. However, a healed planet will not result from a succession of desperate holding actions. We need to ground ourselves in directly experiencing earth as obviously precious as the turtles were to Cary; to know her as a being and as an organism, and we need to spread that knowledge. Then we will have the clarity, the courage, the skill, and most importantly, the allies in unlikely places, to defend her vulnerable parts, to preserve and strengthen her organs, and to transition away from systems built on the mythology of earth-as-thing.

Note: The Tower of Babel by Breughel

Building the Tower of Babel was, for Dante, an example of pride., Canto 12.

 Purgatory in the poem of Dante Divine Comedy  is depicted as a mountain in the Southern Hemisphere, consisting of a bottom section (Ante-Purgatory), seven levels of suffering and spiritual growth (associated with the seven deadly sins), and finally the Earthly Paradise at the top. Allegorically, the Purgatorio represents the penitent Christian life In describing the climb Dante discusses the nature of sin, examples of vice and virtue, as well as moral issues in politics and in the Church. The poem outlines a theory that all sins arise from love – either perverted love directed towards others’ harm, or deficient love, or the disordered or excessive love of good things.

The gate of Purgatory, Peter’s Gate, is guarded by an angel bearing a naked sword, his countenance too bright for Dante’s sight to sustain. In reply to the angel’s challenge, Virgil declares that a lady from heaven brought them there and directed them to the gate. On Virgil’s advice, Dante mounts the steps and pleads humbly for admission by the angel, who uses the point of his sword to draw the letter “P” (signifying peccatum, sin) seven times on Dante’s forehead, bidding him “take heed that thou wash / These wounds, when thou shalt be within.”

With the passage of each terrace and the corresponding purgation of his soul that the pilgrim receives, one of the “P”s will be erased by the angel granting passage to the next terrace. The angel at Peter’s Gate uses two keys, silver (remorse) and gold (reconciliation) to open the gate – both are necessary for redemption and salvation. As the poets are about to enter, they are warned not to look back. Read more here

Assumption, Dormition of Virgin Mary – 15 August

August 15th is the Feast of the Assumption. Around this feast cluster so many associations that a wide variety of images can prompt meditation. From the Orthodox Church comes another name for the Assumption: the Dormition of Mary.

The word dormition means sleep; icons portray Mary as falling asleep in the Lord. With roles reversed, Christ holds her wrapped in a burial sheet as if she were a newborn child. Christians remember how she held him, wrapped in swaddling clothes, newly born into this life. “Your grave and death,” they sing on August 15, “could not keep the Mother of Life.”

In St Luke’s Gospel on this Solemnity of the Assumption, the Evangelist records the words of Our Lady as she prays: “My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour”. Before reciting the Angelus, Pope Francis reflected on the two verbs in that prayer: to rejoice and to magnify.

To rejoice
“We rejoice when something so beautiful happens that it is not enough to rejoice inside, in the soul, but we want to express happiness with the whole body”, said the Pope. “Mary rejoices because of God… she teaches us to rejoice in God, because He does “great things”.

To magnify
“To magnify means to exalt a reality for its greatness, for its beauty”, continued Pope Francis. “Mary proclaims the greatness of the Lord… she shows us that if we want our life to be happy, God must be placed first, because He alone is great”. The Pope warned of getting lost in the pettiness of life, chasing after things of little importance: “prejudices, grudges, rivalries, envy, and superfluous material goods”. Mary, on the other hand, invites us to “look upward at the ‘great things’ the Lord has accomplished in her”.

The Gate to Heaven
“Mary, who is a human creature, one of us, reaches eternity in body and soul”, said Pope Francis. This is why we invoke her as the “Gate of Heaven”. “There she awaits us, just as a mother waits for her children to come home”. We are like pilgrims on our way home to Heaven. Seeing that “in paradise, together with Christ, the New Adam, there is also her, Mary, the new Eve, gives us comfort and hope in our pilgrimage down here”.

Heaven is open
For those who are afflicted with doubts and sadness, “and live with their eyes turned downwards”, the Feast of the Assumption is a call to “look upwards” and see that “Heaven is open”. It is no longer distant, and we need no longer be afraid: “because on the threshold of Heaven there is a Mother waiting for us”. Mary constantly reminds us that we are precious in the eyes of God, and that we are made for the great joys of Heaven. “Every time we take the Rosary in our hands and pray to her”, he said, “we take a step forward towards our life’s great goal”.

The greatness of Heaven
“Let us be attracted by true beauty”, “let us not be drawn in by the petty things in life, but let us choose the greatness of Heaven”. Pope Francis concluded by praying that the Blessed Virgin Mary, Gate of Heaven, may help us daily to fix our gaze with confidence and joy “on the place where our true home lies”.

The Assumption signals the end of Mary’s earthly life and marks her return to heaven to be reunited with Jesus. While the bodies of both Jesus and Mary are now in heaven, there is a difference between the Assumption and the Resurrection.

Where Jesus arose from the tomb and ascended into heaven by his own power, Mary’s body was taken up to heaven by the power of her Son.

For this reason we use different words to describe each event. One is the Ascension of Christ and the other, the Assumption of Mary.

The Assumption of Mary Feast Day dates back to earliest Christian times.The first believed to have asked what had happened to Mary’s body was St Epiphanius, a 4th Century bishop who devoted himself to the study of Mary’s death and believed Our Lady did not die but instead was recalled to heaven.

The feast day of this holy and momentous event stems from the middle of the 5th Century when the Commemoration of the Mother of Jesus was celebrated each year on 15 August in a shrine located near Jerusalem.

More than 100 years later, the feast also commemorated the end of Mary’s sojourn on earth and was known as the “Dormition of Our Lady.”

“Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory,” Pope Pius told the masses.

For many, the most telling verification of the Assumption can be found not only in learned theological studies or definitive doctrinal statements, but in the medium of Mary’s many apparitions which the Church has declared worthy of belief. Where these apparitions have appeared have become beloved Holy shrines visited by millions each year.

Read more here :The Assumption and the World

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  • The Dormition of Mary

The Dormition of the Mother of God is a Great Feast of the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches which commemorates the “falling asleep” or death of Mary the Theotokos (“Mother of God”, literally translated as God-bearer), and her bodily resurrection before being taken up into heaven. It is celebrated on 15 August (28 August N.S. for those following the Julian Calendar) as the Feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God. The Armenian Apostolic Church celebrates the Dormition not on a fixed date, but on the Sunday nearest 15 August.

The death or Dormition of Mary is not recorded in the Christian canonical scriptures.

Hippolytus of Thebes, a 7th- or 8th-century author, claims in his partially preserved chronology to the New Testament that Mary lived for 11 years after the death of Jesus, dying in AD 41.[1]

The term Dormition expresses the belief that the Virgin died without suffering, in a state of spiritual peace. This belief does not rest on any scriptural basis, but is affirmed by Orthodox Christian Holy Tradition. It is testified to in some old Apocryphal writings, but neither the Orthodox Church nor other Christians regard these as possessing scriptural authority.  And It was knew by Bruegel though  the Golden Legends as we have seen ealier.

  • Difference of denomination Assumption, Dormition and Death of Mary

In Orthodoxy and Catholicism, in the language of the scripture, death is often called a “sleeping” or “falling asleep” (Greek κοίμησις; whence κοιμητήριον > coemetērium > cemetery, “a place of sleeping”). A prominent example of this is the name of this feast on 15th of August: Dormition; another is the Dormition of Anna, Mary’s mother.

  • Theological symbolism

The “Dormition of the Mother of God” is one of the most revered icons in Russia. It is this icon that was first miraculously delivered from Constantinople to Kiev where it consecrated with its divine presence not only the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra, but all of Holy Rus, the new (and final) bastion of Orthodoxy.

In the traditional depiction of this icon, we see on the lower level the Virgin falling into slumber on her deathbed surrounded by saints, and on the middle level we see the figure of Jesus Christ standing, holding the soul of the Virgin Mary in the form of an infant in his hands.

In considering the symbolism of this depiction, it is necessary to immediately point to the reverse analogy between the central figure of the Dormition of the Mother of God and the classical “Mother of God” icon. If in the traditional depiction of the Mother of God (for example, the “Vladimir Mother of God”, “Kazan Mother of God,” etc.) we see the ‘adult’ Mother of God holding Jesus, then in the Dormition of the Mother of God we see the inverse: the ‘adult’ Jesus Christ and the ‘infant’ Virgin Mary.

Explaining this contrast will help us discover the universal, ontological character of the Christian tradition which, like any fully-fledged tradition, in addition to a historical aspect bears a deeply metaphysical, supra-historical charge directly tied to the spiritual understand of reality at large.

Thus, the very fact of the Incarnation of the God-Word in the material, human universe necessarily implies a certain “diminishment” of the fullness of the second hypostasis of the Holy Trinity, not an essential “depreciation” (the Trinity always remains self-resembling), but an external, apparent, visible depreciation.

Christ is described in the Gospel as “suffering.” In the First Coming, the true nature of the Son remains veiled, hidden, and can only be guessed by chosen disciples. But for subsequent generations of Christians, defining this divine nature becomes the basis of Faith – Faith, not Knowledge, since Knowledge is associated with the ontological obviousness of a certain sacred fact, and the obviousness of the Son’s divinity manifests itself only at the moment of the Second Coming, the Coming of the Sacred in Power, in Glory, i.e., in his original ‘non-diminished’ quality.

Therefore, the classical image of the Mother of God with the infant has a symbolic meaning that is central to prayer and Church practice.

In this icon, as in the sacred map of reality, a ‘diminished’ spiritual center is shown surrounded by the human or, more broadly, material cosmic nature which externally ‘surpasses’ this center, is ‘predominant’ compared to it, and is ‘bigger’ than it is.

The Mother of God with the infant describes the ontological status of the world between the First and Second Coming where the Son is already revealed to the world, but in a ‘diminished’ quality thereby demanding Faith, personal effort, and spiritual devotion on the part of believers for ‘dynamic,’ willed transformation of Faith into Confidence.

The Dormition of the Mother of God icon presents us with the inverse proportion. Rising above the concrete historical fact of the Virgin Mary’s personal death, the Orthodox tradition here offers a prototype of an eschatological situation, valuably pointing to the meaning of the sacraments of the End Times.

The depiction of Christ holding the infant Virgin in his arms describes the true proportions of the spiritual world in which the Center, the Pole of Being, the God-Word is presented not as  diminished, but in its full metaphysical extent.

In the heavenly world, the ‘diminished’ is the  ‘material,’ the ‘earthly’ cosmic portion, while the Spirit itself appears in its entirety.

Here the Word is  omnipresent and obvious and all-fulfilling.But the material world is not simply destroyed in heavenly  reality. It is transformed, it is ‘drawn’ to the spiritual regions and rises to its heavenly and supra-material archetype.

Hence, in fact, the special term ‘dormition’ (a calque from Greek “koimesis,” or sleep, rest, lie; in Latin ‘assumptio”) in contrast to the usual word ‘death.

Dormition means ‘solace’, i.e., the transition from the state of ‘unrest’ inherent to material, physical reality to a state of ‘peace,’ in which all things abide in the regions of Eternity.

Thus there is not ‘destruction,’ but ‘final disappearance’ understood by the word ‘death.’ It would be interesting in this regard to pay attention to the Russian etymology of the word ‘uspenie’ (dormition), which is akin to the Ancient Indian term ‘svapiti’ (literally ‘to sleep’). This Indian term literally means ‘to enter oneself’ or ‘dive into one’s inner self.’

As follows, our word ‘uspenie’ etymologically means ‘entering the inner world’, the ‘inner ‘world’ being a synonym for the ‘spiritual’ or ‘heavenly’ world.

In the troparion for the celebration of the Dormition of the Mother of God, it is said: “in falling asleep she did not forsake the world.”

In giving birth thou didst preserve thy virginity;

in thy dormition thou didst not forsake the world, O Theotokos.

Thou wast translated unto life,

since thou art the Mother of Life,

and by thine intercessions doest thou deliver our souls from death.

This refers not only to the compassionate participation of the Mother of God in worldly affairs after her departure, but also the fundamental ontological event of the ‘casting of the material world’ into the spiritual sphere as a result of a special, unique sacred event.

What metaphysical event is symbolized by the Dormition of the Mother of God?

This event is the End Times. It is at this moment, the moment of the Second Coming, that happens the final affirmation of true spiritual proportions in correlation to the material and the spiritual.

The ‘material’ (the Virgin Mary) turns out to be an infinitesimal point in the Infinity of spiritual Light, the Light of the God-Word, Christ.

Consequently, the Dormition icon reveals to the Christian the deep mystery of the End Times, which is not a global catastrophe, not the destruction or disappearance of the physical world as is seen most often by those who are only superficially familiar with Orthodox eschatology, but the essential and total restoration of the normal, natural, harmonious ways of being where the spiritual, heavenly Light completely incorporates the physical, material darkness.

Therefore, from a Christian perspective, the End Times is the single most important event of an entirely positive, salvational meaning. The End Times is not a catastrophe, but the end of catastrophe since, from a spiritual point of view, any ‘unrest’, ‘worrying’, or ‘movement’ is essentially catastrophic for the spirit and, in addition, signifies the triumph of inferior, Satanic forces.

The End Times, the End of the World, and Judgement Day act as something repulsive and negative only for the enemies of God, only for those who identify their fate with the dark course of restless, demonic fate.

For believers, on the contrary, this is salvation, a celebration, and transformationthe universal and final ‘dormition’ of matter together with the universal and final ‘awakening’ of the spirit.

Thus, we can now distinguish three levels in this spiritual teaching manifesting such abundant wisdom in the icon of the Dormition.

  • Historically, this icon tells of the death of the Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ and her subsequent mercy for the believers and suffering of this world.
  • Ontologically, it embodies the affirmation of true spiritual proportions of material reality in the larger picture of being, where the spirit fills everything while physical reality is ‘diminished’ to an infinitely small point.
  • Eschatologically, it points to the meaning of the End Times, i.e., the restoration of true existential proportions and the affirmation of the absolute triumph of the Heavenly, Divine element. The ‘diminishing’ of matter in the End Times does not mean its destruction, but its ‘induction’ into the fulness of light and peace.

 

  • Universal symbolism

The symbolism of the Dormition icon (if we juxtapose it to the Mother of God icon) also has analogies outside of a Christian context. The clearest such similar spiritual concept of the structure of being is reflected in the Chinese symbol of Yin-Yang, in which the white dot against the black background signifies the diminishing of the spirit in matter, while the black dot against the white background is, conversely, matter in spirit.

However, the Chinese tradition is characterized by contemplation and and the absence of an eschatological orientation. Thus, the Chinese are inclined to  consider this symbol as a sign of eternal harmony while  Christians see ontological plans in an historical and eschatological perspective, hence Christianity’s distinctly  ‘dynamic’ character supposing the personal, volitional  engagement of man in the outcome of the fate of the spirit. 

The Chinese believe that this volitional aspect is not so  important insofar as the Tao ultimately arranges everything  in the best way.

Undoubtedly, similar symbolism can be found in many other traditions in reference to  the correlations between the material and spiritual worlds, but the Chinese example represents  something so clear and comprehensive that all similar parables can be reduced to it.

Read more here

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  • Bruegel: The Dormition of  Virgin Mary

The Death of the Virgin, 1574

(On behalf of himself and his friends Abraham Ortelius took care of the production.); at bottom center below line of cartouche in lower margin:1574; in lower margin: Gnati certa tui Virgo cum regna petebas/ Complebant pectus gaudia quanta tuum?/ Quid tibi didce magis fuerat quam carcer[a]e terre/ Mi grare optati in templa superna poli?// Cumqkel sacram turbam,fieras cui prfidesidium tu, / Linquebas, nata est qu[a]e tibi maestitia/ Quam mk_lestus quoq[ue], quam lkietus .spectabat eunte[m] /Te, nati atq[ue] idem grex tuus ille pius?// Quid magis his gratutn, quam te regnare, quid faleque/ Triste fuit, facie quam caruisse tried/ M[a]estiti[a]e Ifidetos habitus, vultusqzie proborum/ Artci monstrat picta tabella manui”

( Virgin, when you sought the secure realms of your son, what great joys filled your breast! What would have been sweeter for you than to migrate from the prison of the earth to the lofty temples of the longed-for heavens! And when you left the sacred group [of followers of Christ] whose mentor you had been, what sadness sprang up in you. How sad as well as how joyful was that pious gathering of you and your son as they watched you go. What was a greater joy for them than for you to reign [in heaven], what greater sadness than to miss your appearances? This picture, created by a skillful hand, shows the happy bearing of sadness on the faces of the just.)

  • In several respects The Death of the Virgin is an extremely unusual engraving after Pieter Bruegel. It was not made until five years after Bruegel’s death in 1569, and it reproduces a grisaille painting by the master that was not meant to be engraved.

Executed as a result of the efforts of two eminent men who were close friends of Bruegel, it inspired two illustrious contemporary scholars to pen appreciations—which are among the very few commentaries written on prints in the sixteenth century.

And finally The Death of the Virgin is simply one of the best prints engraved after a composition by Bruegel.

The renowned Antwerp humanist and geographer Abraham Ortelius owned Bruegel’s grisaille Death of the Virgin, painted about 1564:

As one of the inscriptions in the lower margin of the print tells us, he had the engraving made for himself and his friends; in 1574 he asked Philips Galle to copy the composition in copper so that he could give away printed reproductions of his admired possession.

It is generally assumed that the erudite Ortelius himself wrote the unsigned Latin verses in the margin, which dweil on the religious content of the image.

That the scholar did present friends with impressions of the print is known from the written testimony of two men. In July 1578 the Dutch moralist, playwright, and engraver Dirck Volckertsz Coornhert thanked Ortelius for sending it to him and offered elegant words of praise for all concerned: “from top to bottom I viewed [the sheet] with pleasure, and in admiration for the artful drawing and the meticulous engraving. Bruegel and Philips [Galle] have surpassed themselves. I do not think that either has ever done better. Thus their friend Abraham [Ortelius] with his favors [in acquiring the painting and ordering the print] encouraged both their arts. Never did I see, such is my opinion, a better drawing, nor an engraving of the same quality than this sorrowful chamber.

Some twelve years later the Spanish theologian and royal librarian Benito Arias Montano appealed to Ortelius for an impression as a token of friendship, recalling in a letter of March 1590 that he had seen the grisaille at his friend’s house and describing it as “painted in the most skillful manner and with the greatest piety“; the next year, in April 1591, he gratefully acknowledged receipt of the engraving.

 The death of the Virgin is not recorded in the Bible. Only in the Middle Ages was the theme gradually incorporated into what were for the most part apocryphal accounts of the life of Mary.

The subject became increasingly popular, due especially to a detailed narrative in the Golden Legend by Jacobus de Voragine, a much-read compilation of writings from the second half of the thirteenth century on the lives of Christian saints and martyrs.

Although it never found as much favor as stories about other moments from the life of Mary, the theme of The Death of the Virgin was taken up by some of the greatest northern European artists of the fifteenth century. Paintings by Hugo van der Goes and Dieric Bouts and prints by Martin Schongauer and Albrecht Durer on the subject established a pictorial tradition that Bruegel embraced.

Indeed, for his own Death of the Virgin Bruegel borrowed specific compositional elements from engravings by Schongauer and Durer

Like most artists (here Rembrandt) of his time, Bruegel derived his conception of the death of the Virgin from the Golden Legend. read here: The Assumption of the Glorious Virgin our Lady S. Mary from Golden legend

While other artists based their representations of the subject quite directly on the account in that volume, however, he introduced highly unusual, innovative features into his scene.

According to tradition, he chose to show the sad event at night, which enabled him to dramatize the composition by means of emphatic chiaroscuro effects especially appropriate to the grisaille technique of his painting.

In Galle’s powerful translation of Bruegel’s image, the bedroom is dimly lit by a fireplace, a few candles, and the light radiating from Mary.

Bruegel filled the room—which literary sources tell us is in the house of the apostle John—with furniture and household utensils, creating an unusually domestic setting, replete with homey details such as the table in the foreground with the remains of a meal.

Whereas the Golden Legend speaks only of the apostles present, here many individuals pay their respects to the dying Virgin. Dressed as a priest, the apostle Peter, the first leader of the Christian community after the death of Christ, stands at Mary’s bed as if he were administering extreme unction; an acolyte holding a cross-staff appears behind Peter; and a friar kneels at the edge of the bed in the right foreground: like the numerous guests in the background, these are elements that are new to the story and suggest that the events shown could just as easily have taken place in Antwerp in the sixteenth century as in biblical times.

It seems probable that here Bruegel chose a familiar contemporary setting, as he did in other religious works, to bring his image close to his viewers so that they could identify with those attending Mary on her deathbed and thus elicit from them strong spiritual feelings.

As one scholar has recently pointed out, Bruegel’s reading of the event as taking place in his own time is close to that of roughly contemporary Jesuit texts on the meaning and interpretation of the Virgin’s death.

 The only inexplicable detail in his composition is the sleeping man in the left foreground. He is generally considered to be John the Evangelist, although there is no evidence to confirm this identification, nor has anyone yet convincingly accounted for why he is so conspicuously sleeping at the verg moment of the Virgin’s death.

May Be we can find an answer in tis passage of the Golden Legend:

And St. Cosmo, in following the narration, saith: And after this a great thunder knocked at the house with so great an odour of sweetness, that with the sweet spirit the house was replenished, in such wise that all they that were there save the apostles, and three virgins which held the lights, slept. Then our Lord came with a great multitude of angels and took the soul of his mother, and the soul of her shone by so great light that none of the apostles might behold it. And our Lord said to St. Peter: Bury the corpse of my mother with great reverence, and keep it there three days diligently, and I shall then come again, and transport her unto heaven without corruption, and shall clothe her of the semblable clearness of myself; that which I have taken of her, and that which she hath taken of me, shall be assembled together and accord.

That same St. Cosmo rehearseth a dreadful and marvellous mystery of dissension natural and of curious inquisition. For all things that be said of the glorious virgin, mother of God, be marvellous above nature and be more to doubt than to enquire. For when the soul was issued out of the body, the body said these words: Sire, I thank thee that I am worthy of thy grace; remember thee of me, for I ne am but a thing faint, and have kept that which thou deliveredst me.

And then the other awoke and saw the body of the virgin without soul, and then began strongly to weep and were heavy and sorrowful. And then the apostles took up the body of the Blessed Virgin and bare it to the monument, and St. Peter began the psalm In exitu Israel de Egypto.

It is usually assumed that Ortelius was the first owner of Bruegel’s grisaille of The Death of the Virgin and that he may have helped to conceive its innovative iconography. His involvement on this level is certainly plausible, for he belonged to a circle of learned friends in Antwerp that included Bruegel as well as Galle and Arias Montano.

It was in this circle of humanist scholars and a few artists, with the publisher Christophe Plantin and his press, Officina Plantiniana, at its heart, that Bruegel’s Death of the Virgin originated and was circulated by means of Galle’s engraving. Ortelius’s tribute to Bruegel, written in his Album Amicorum about 1573, is both brief and apt: “That Pieter Bruegel was the most perfect painter of his age, no one—unless jealous or envious or ignorant of his art— could ever deny.”

The names of Galle, Bruegel, Coornhert, Montano and Ortelius all come together in the story of the engraving of The Death of the Virgin.

The painting, a haunting work in grisaille that hangs today at Upton House near Banbury, had originally belonged to Ortelius. A large number of Bruegel’s drawings were done specifically for the popular market in engravings but his paintings were private commissions and were not produced as editions of prints. The print of The Death of the Virgin is an exception and, even so, there was never a popular edition. Some years after Bruegel’s death Ortelius engaged Galle to produce a very limited edition intended for members of the intimate circle that had constituted the Hiël group.

A letter (dated 1578) exists from Coornhert to Ortelius thanking him for his copy and in 1591 Arias Montano wrote having received his. (See Manfred Sellink in Nadine Orenstein, Pieter Bruegel the Elder: Drawings and Prints, New York: The Metropolitan Museum, 2001, pp. 258-261

Coornhert openly acknowledged a spiritual outlook formed under the influence of Franck and, like his mentor, devoted energy to translating great masterpieces of the perennial tradition including Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy, Cicero’s On Duties, Erasmus’ Paraphrases of the New Testament and Homer’s The Odyssey.

At first, as a humanist, he was passionately committed to the cause of freedom of religious thought and opposed the rigidity and doctrinaire stance of Calvin. Later he came under the influence of Franck as well as other spiritual reformers such as Hans Denck and Sebastian Costellio and received from them formative influences which turned him powerfully to the cultivation of inward religion for his own soul and to the expression and interpretation of a universal Christianity‘. Coornhert makes a distinction between the forms of institutional religion, which he calls outer or external religion’, which he allows as a preparatory stage and inward religion’ which is the establishment of the kingdom of God in men’s hearts. Only God has the right to be master over man’s soul and conscience; it is man’s right to have freedom of conscience”. With his intransigent defense of tolerance, even toward nonbelievers and atheists, the Dutch Catholic humanist and controversialist Coornhert made a substantial and permanent contribution to the early modern debate on religious freedom.

Rejection of the institutionalized reform movements on the basis of their new dogmatism and formalism … motivated the believers in a more “inward” spiritualized faith. Like the reformers, Spiritualists advocated free Bible research, but as a result of the notion of a direct personal relationship with God – and individual approach that we also find in Erasmus – they attach great importance to an unimpeded access to the Spirit of the individual.

At the same time they tend to minimize the importance of “externals”: ceremonies, sacraments, the church, often also the supreme authority of the Bible, for they consider the Spirit of prior significance; the Bible without the Spirit becomes a “paper pope” as Frank put it.

The same author points out that while Erasmus and humanism were a significant influence on men like Sebastian Franck, spiritual seekers were also influenced by late-medieval mystical traditions found in Eckhart and Tauler. Voogt acknowledges the importance for 16th century exponents of radical dissent of the anonymous Theologia Germanica (German Theology) which they frequently used and quoted from.

Henry Niclaes, founder of the Family of Love was profoundly influenced by this work (and by Thomas â Kempis‟ Imitation of Christ). He, and his main disciple (and later rival) Barrefelt, felt attracted to the Theologia’s theme of the return to a Platonic oneness and of the freedom of the will. They embraced the notion, found in this small book, that incarnation continued after the Ascension of Christ. This incarnation – known among Familists as Vergottung (godding) – takes place, they believed, whenever the spirit entered the individual.

One element of the Theologia that does leave a strong imprint on Coornhert … mostly through the mediation of Sebastian Frank … was the idea of the invisible church, vested in the hearts of true Christians wherever they may be found.

  • Convivium

By the early sixteenth century, the upper classes began to pattern their activities during mealtime after those that occurred in the dining halls of monasteries or courtly circles. Primarily, it was an occasion not only to eat one’s fill but also to express one’s thoughts. Since Plato’s Symposium, the convivium had been an established literary genre ideally suited for discussion of a variety of topics. Founded on further descriptions of feasts in classical texts such as Cicero, Macrobius and Plutarch, the nourishment and self-cultivation that took place at dinner parties was provided in equal measure by food, drink and conversation. For example, the Ancients wanted both Bacchus and the Muses to preside at banquets, for “learned and entertaining words…delight the body and mind as much as wine does, or more.” Athenaeus constantly plays with the idea that words, not just food, provide the “satisfaction” of the meal: “we brought as our contribution not delicacies, but topics for discussion.”Montaigne praises the Greeks and Romans for setting aside “for eating, which is an important action in life, several hours and the better part of the night,” because the meal is an opportunity for total pleasure thanks to “such good talk and agreeable entertainment as men of intelligence are able to provide for one another.” Edere et audire,” to eat and listen; in Erasmus’s Fabulous Feast, this is the goal of a few friends sitting around a table—to cultivate the mind by taking in stories while nourishing the body with dinner. In the “Sober Feast,” when deciding how to properly dedicate the garden where their dinner will take place, the character Albert suggests that each one make a contribution of his own. Aemilius questions, “What shall we contribute who’ve come here empty-handed?” Albert replies, “You who carry such riches in your mind? Let each offer to the company the best thing he’s read this week.” As we will see, these convivial conversations were spurred on by scripted topics, texts read around the table or paintings hanging on the wall.

That was also the case with the Convivium intended for members of the intimate circle of the Family of Love, that had constituted the Hiël group. And sure for the the Onze Lieve Vrouw ommegang” which is held on 15 August for the Assumption of Mary.

In the 15th, 16th and 17th century the Ommegang of Antwerp was the most important in Flanders. The “Onze Lieve Vrouwommegang” consisted originally of two events: the first celebrated the religious feast of the Assumption of Mary.

 

The second was a large, opulent secular participation of the guildsas the Guild of Saint Luke ( where Bruegel was member), crafts and chambers of rhetoric, each of which contributed a float to a procession through the streets of Antwerp[ Some floats contained references to events of the preceding year. There was considerable rivalry between the guilds in their efforts to provide the most splendid display.

For the intimate circle of the Family of Love that had constituted the Hiël group, the Assumption of Mary had sure a deep spitiural meaning.

  • Bruegel the Apocalypse Within:

In an introductory passage to his commentary on Revelation which appeared in 1627 the Flemish Jesuit Cornelius a Lapide mentioned the only inward interpretation he seems to have known of — that of the Spanish Biblical scholar Benito Arias Montano — and, although he acknowledged slight differences, he placed it in the medieval tradition of spiritual commentaries.

Certainly the patristic and medieval exegetes quoted by a Lapide,Ticonius,
Primasius, Bede, Anselm, Hayrno, the Victorines, Rupert of Deutz and Denys the Carthusian — have something in commonwith the inward commentators. They either rejected a historical-political significance outright or added a spiritual interpretation to persons and places existing in history. For Primasius and Bede Asia is thus equated with pride; BabyIon is commonly interpreted as the sum of all evil, the beast as the devil and the whore as the rejection of God. At the same time, however, the Book was invariably regarded as prophesying the triumph of the Church’ of Christ. Chapters 4 and 5 were seen as a description of this Church, and the last chapters as an account of its victory. In the inward interpretations which I shall be discusring the Church of Christ disappears and is replaced by the human soul.

Benito Arias Montano was the first to admit that his interpretation of the Book of Revelation in his Elucidationes in omnia S. Apostolorum scripta of 1588, original though it might seem, was not of his own devising. He had taken it from the Dutch spiritual writer Hendrik Jansen van Barrefelt who wrote under ‘the pseudonym of Hiël, ‘the uniform life of God’, and Hiël, in his turn, leads us to a particular attitude towards the Scriptures, which had developed in Northern Europe in reaction to Luther’s ideas.

This attitude, fostered by Thomas Miintzer and shared by Sebastian Franck, Sébastien Castellion, Valentin Weigel and others, was based on the belief that the Spirit was of far greater importance than the Letter and that the Scriptures could only be understood by the man enlightened by that same Spirit with which they had been written. To this must be added a further conviction, held by such men as David Joris and Hendrik Niclaes: the world had entered the last of the three altes of time, the age of the Spirit corresponding to the theological virtue of Charity, in which the seventh seal on the Scriptures would be removed for the spiritual man .

Hiël, a native of Gelderland, had been a weaver, and he prided himself on his ignorance of any language except Dutch’ . He had once been an Anabap­tist and had then joined the Family of Love shortly after its foundation by Hendrik Niclaes in Emden in 1540.

The Family of Love, whose ideas  are central to Bruegel‟s intellectual and religious outlook, was not an isolated phenomenon and can be shown to be a link in the chain of schools – more or less hidden – stretching alongside the more visible history of Christianity in Europe . Read mor about the movement at The Spiritual Message of Bruegel for our Times

Despite his professed ignorance of languages and an apparent lack of education Hiël was profoundly imbued with the spiritual ideas circulating in the Low Countries and Germany, and above alI he venerated the medieval tract which all the spiritual writers in Northern Europe claimed as one of their main sources, the Theologia Germanica. In 1573 Hiël, who by this time resided chiefly in Cologne, broke away from Hendrik Niclaes and, in the years following, he devoted himself to writing his own books. These included his commentary on the Book of Revelation, the Verklaring der Openbaringe Johannis In het. ware Wesen Jesu Christi.

Refusing to commit himsejf to any visible church but displaying a certain preference for Catholicism rather than for Protestantism, Hiël carried to its extreme conclusion the attitude of the ‘spirituals’ towards the Letter. Rather than attempting any philological interpretation of the Bible he used the Bible as a text illustrating his own doctrine. To it he applied a single scheme of interpretation: throughout the Scriptures, he maintained, there could be detected a figurative indication of the eternal struggle in the soul of man between the sinful earthly being or nature, dominated by earthly wisdom, and the divine nature of God.

Only by killing earthly wisdom and the lusts and properties in his soul would man enable Christ to be reborn within himself and be united with God, thereby restoring that `oneness’ referred to at the beginning of the Theologia Germanica: 

“Sin is selfishness:Godliness is unselfishness:A godly life is the steadfast working out of inward freeness from self:To become thus Godlike is the bringing back of man’s first nature”.

Read more here

Praise of Folly Anno 2020: ‘keep your mouth shut’

  • Allegory of Folly:

In the early sixteenth century when Quentin Matsys painted his Allegory of Folly, likely around 1510, fools were still commonly found at court or carnivals, performing in morality plays. Sometimes a fool would be mentally handicapped, to be mocked for the amusement of the general public. Matsys has chosen to represent his fool with a wen, a lump on the forehead, which was believed to contain a “stone of folly” responsible for stupidity or mental handicap. In other instances, however, the fool would be a clever and astute observer of human nature, a comedian who used the fool’s robes as a pretext for satire and ridicule. Matsys’s fool was nearly an exact contemporary of Erasmus’ Praise of Folly, in which the character of Folly is in fact a wise and astute commentator on folly in others. Fools were a popular subject in both the art and literature of this era and Erasmus’ work was particularly important to the sixteenth-century Humanist circles in Antwerp.

The traditional costume of the fool includes a hooded cape with the head of a cock and the ears of an ass, as well as bells, here attached to a red belt. The fool holds a staff known as a marotte, or bauble, topped with a small carved figure of another fool – himself wearing the identifying cap. This staff would have been used as a puppet for satirical skits or plays, and the figure’s obscene gesture of dropping his trousers, symbolic of the insults associated with fools, was once overpainted by a previous owner who found it overly shocking.

The gesture of silence, with the fool holding a finger to his lips, refers to the Greek god of silence, Harpocrates, who was generally depicted in this manner. Silence was considered a virtue associated with wise men such as philosophers, scholars, or monks. Here, however, Matsys turns the gesture into a parody by juxtaposing it with the inscription ‘Mondeken toe’, meaning ‘keep your mouth shut’, beneath the crowing cock’s head. Matsys is drawing our attention to the Fool’s indiscretion. A later hand has added the word ‘Mot’ above, likely a later sixteenth or seventeenth century reference to a prostitute – this may have been an attempt to turn the present allegory into the figure of a procuress.

Matsys’ fool is made even more grotesque by his hideous deformities – an exaggerated, beaked nose and hunched back – and thin-lipped, toothless smirk. Grotesque figures were a favourite theme of the artist, making regular appearances in his paintings as tormenters of Christ or in allegories of Unequal Lovers. This reflects an awareness of the grotesque head studies of Leonardo da Vinci, whose drawings had made their way northward from Italy. Indeed, of all Matsys’s other works, the fool in the present painting is perhaps closest in type to the tormenter directly behind and to the right of Christ in the Saint John Altarpiece – which is, itself, a direct quotation from Leonardo’s own drawing of Five Grotesque Heads.

Quinten Matsys’ early training is a matter of speculation, with scholars suggesting variously that he may have been apprenticed in Antwerp to Dieric Bouts; trained as a miniaturist in his mother’s native town of Grobbendonk; or possibly worked for Hans Memling’s studio in Bruges. We do know for certain that in 1494, Matsys was admitted to the Antwerp Guild of Saint Luke as a master painter, and by the end of the century he was operating his own studio with several apprentices, among them his sons Cornelis and Jan. Matsys is known for both religious and secular works, and his style became increasingly Italianate in his later career; in turn he is recognized as an influence on such painters as Joos van Cleve, Joachim Patinir and Lucas Cranach the Elder.

  • Folly ’s ‘keep your mouth shut’, Anno 2020

Based on economic growth, financial hegemony of the “happy few”” and abuse or rape of cheapest labor workers in Low-cost country or homeland, the democracy of Modern man shall never succeed  to recover his soul with fake “sincere political change” or  with fake “concern”.

Folly ’s ‘keep your mouth shut’ about all the abuses of the systems and is silent about Ethics, Virtues and uprightness… Silence about spiritual grow, honesty and respect of differents communities…

Prophets of doom now abound and “green parties” have mushroomed everywhere. The moving force for those movements remains, however, by and large purely external. For a humanity turned towards outwardness by the very processes of modernization, it is not so easy to see that the blight wrought upon the environment is in reality an externalization of the destitution of the inner state of the soul of that humanity whose actions are responsible for the ecological crisis.

Many claim, for example, that if we could only change our means of transportation and diminish the use of fossil fuels as a source of energy, the problem would be solved or at least ameliorated. Few ask, however, why it is that modern man feels the need to travel so much?

The wisdom of the 21th  century or the Foffy of our times say: ‘keep your mouth shut’,

But can we ask Why?

                                                          Ship of Fools

-Why is the domicile of much of humanity so ugly and life so boring that the type of man most responsible for the environmental crisis has to escape the areas he has helped to vilify and take his pollution with him to the few still well-preserved areas of the earth in order to continue to function?

-Why must modern man consume so much and satiate his so-called needs only outwardly?

-Why is he unable to draw from any inward sustenance?

We are, needless to say, not opposed to better care of the planet through the use of wiser means of production, transportation, etc. than those which exist today. Alternative forms of technology are to be welcomed . But such feats of science and engineering alone will not solve the problem.

There is no choice but to answer these and similar questions and to bring to the fore the spiritual dimension and the historical roots of the ecological crisis which many refuse to take into consideration to this day.

Democracy:

Oligarchy then degenerates into a democracy where freedom is the supreme good but freedom is also slavery. In democracy, the lower class grows bigger and bigger. The poor become the winners. People are free to do what they want and live how they want. People can even break the law if they so choose. This appears to be very similar to anarchy.

Plato uses the “democratic man” to represent democracy. The democratic man is the son of the oligarchic man. Unlike his father, the democratic man is consumed with unnecessary desires. Plato describes necessary desires as desires that we have out of instinct or desires that we have to survive. Unnecessary desires are desires we can teach ourselves to resist such as the desire for riches. The democratic man takes great interest in all the things he can buy with his money. Plato believes that the democratic man is more concerned with his money over how he can help the people. He does whatever he wants when ever he wants to do it. His life has no order or priority. So can a happy few ( 1% of the world population) try to dictate the rest of the human and using them as robotic slaves and wanting them to live without a soul.

Vandana Shiva On the Real Cause of World Hunger

Oneness vs. The 1%: #VandanaShiva at the United Nations Office at Geneva.

  • Technocracy: Amazon, Google, and Apple have moved past monopoly status to competing directly with governments… and winning

Amazon’s cloud servers host the CIA, the Department of Homeland Security, the Defense Department, and other US agencies, for example..US Senator Josh Hawley is demanding a criminal antitrust probe of Amazon as the e-commerce behemoth’s powers grow to rival the government’s own. Google and Apple, too, are now ordering governments around.

Data centers can be thought of as the “brains” of the internet. Their role is to process, store, and communicate the data behind the myriad information services we rely upon every day, whether it be streaming video, email, social media, online collaboration, or scientific computing.

Data centers utilize different information technology (IT) devices to provide these services, all of which are powered by electricity. Servers provide computations and logic in response to information requests, while storage drives house the files and data needed to meet those requests. Network devices connect the data center to the internet, enabling incoming and outgoing data flows. The electricity used by these IT devices is ultimately converted into heat, which must be removed from the data center by cooling equipment that also runs on electricity.

On average, servers and cooling systems account for the greatest shares of direct electricity use in data centers, followed by storage drives and network devices (Figure 1). Some of the world’s largest data centers can each contain many tens of thousands of IT devices and require more than 100 megawatts (MW) of power capacity—enough to power around 80,000 U.S. households (U.S. DOE 2020).

As the number of global internet users has grown, so too has demand for data center services, giving rise to concerns about growing data center energy use. Between 2010 and 2018, global IP traffic—the quantity of data traversing the internet—increased more than ten-fold, while global data center storage capacity increased by a factor of 25 in parallel (Masanet et al. 2020). Over the same time period, the number of compute instances running on the world’s servers—a measure of total applications hosted—increased more than six-fold (see Figure 3) (Masanet et al. 2020).

These strong growth trends are expected to continue as the world consumes more and more data. And new forms of information services such as artificial intelligence (AI), which are particularly computationally-intensive, may accelerate demand growth further. Therefore, the ability to quantify and project data center energy use is a key energy and climate policy priority.

  • The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times

The Reign of Quantity gives a concise but comprehensive view of the present state of affairs in the world, as it appears from the point of view of the ‘ancient wisdom’, formerly common both to the East and to the West, but now almost entirely lost sight of. The author indicates with his fabled clarity and directness the precise nature of the modern deviation, and devotes special attention to the development of modern philosophy and science, and to the part played by them, with their accompanying notions of progress and evolution, in the formation of the industrial and democratic society which we now regard as ‘normal’. Read more here

  • In Praise of Folly by Erasmus

In Praise of Folly, also translated as The Praise of Folly (Latin: Stultitiae Laus or Moriae Encomium; Greek title: Μωρίας ἐγκώμιον (Morias enkomion); Dutch title: Lof der Zotheid), is an essay written in Latin in 1509 by Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam and first printed in June 1511. Inspired by previous works of the Italian humanist Faustino Perisauli [it] De Triumpho Stultitiae, it is a satirical attack on superstitions and other traditions of European society as well as on the Western Church.

Erasmus revised and extended his work, which was originally written in the space of a week while sojourning with Sir Thomas More at More’s house in Bucklersbury in the City of London.[1] The title Moriae Encomium had a punning second meaning as In Praise of More.

Read more here

The Choice of our Times

  • The Choice for Spiritual Ethics,Virtues and Uprightness in our times

The bivium of Pythagoras, this sign which leaves us free to choose the path of good or the path of evil.

“The letter” Y “represents the symbol of moral life. The question of good and evil arises before the free will of man: two roads open before him: the left, the thick branch of the “Y”, is wide and easy to access, but leads to the chasm from shame, that of the right, the thin branch, is a steep and painful path, but at the summit of which one finds repose in honor and glory. “

The letter “Y”, in antiquity, has often represented a “bivium” (a fork in the road); a point in life where we have to make a vital decision. According to Pythagoras, it represents the paths of virtue and vice.

The letter Y is also symbolic of looking within, Inner contemplation, Meditation and inner wisdom.

Text of TERRA PACIS and commentary relating to ideas of the Perennial Philosophy and to paintings by Peter Bruegel and Joachim Patinir .

N.B. The writer has kept the 17th century spelling.

  • The Spiritual Land of Peace of the “Holy Refugees”

It also considers the tradition of religious mysticism in Germany, the Netherlands and Flanders throughout the late Middle Ages that led up to the Reformation and points out that this movement is also an expression of the Perennial Philosophy, citing the works of Meister Eckhart, the Rhineland mystics and the schools that came out of the Devotio Moderna.

The work considers the esoteric, ‘heretical’ school called the Family of Love that claimed among its adherents a number of highly illustrious artists, thinkers and politicians. Such men as Christoffe Plantin, Abraham Ortelius and Justus Lipsius spurned the religious turmoil of the period and rejected Catholics, Lutherans and Calvinists alike in favour of an inner mystical state they called the ‘invisible church’. They were close to Bruegel, bought his paintings and, it cannot be doubted, shared his thought.

It brings us to immediate and direct influences on Bruegel. These were free thinking humanists and mystics who occupied the no-man‟s-land between Catholics, Lutherans and Calvinists; men like Sebastian Franck, Dirck Volckertz Coornhert and Abraham Ortelius were adherents of the „invisible church‟ where God was understood as „an event in the soul‟ which could be independent of external forms, rites and doctrines.  Many of them, such as Ortelius, Christophe Plantin and perhaps Justus Lipsius belonged to the sect known as the Family of Love whose leader, Hendrik Niclaes, was the author of the mystical allegory Terra Pacis that recounts the journey from the „Land of Ignorance‟ to the „Land of Spiritual Peace‟. Bruegel was closely associated with, if not a full member, of this group.

See : PETER BRUEGEL THE ELDER AND ESOTERIC TRADITION

The Spiritual Land of Peace:

  • Look and behold: there is in the world a very unpeaceable Land and it is the wildernessed land wherein the most part of all uncircumcised, impenitent and ignorant people do dwell and in which is, the first of all needful for the man; to the end that he may come to the Land of Peace and the City of Life and Rest.

The same unpeaceable land hath also a City, the name of which they that dwell therein do not know, but only those who are come out of it, and it is named Ignorance.

The people that dwell therein know not their original or first beginning; also they keep not any Genealogy or Pedigree; neither do they know from whence, or how, they came into the same. And moreover then, that they are altogether blinde, and blinde-born.

The forementioned city, named Ignorance, hath two Gates. The one standeth in the North, or Midnight, through the which men go into the city of darkness or ignorance.

This gate now, that standeth to the North, is very large and great, and hath also a great door, because there is much passage through the same; and it hath likewise his name, according to the nature of the same city.Foreasmuch as that men do come into Ignorance through the same gate, therefore it is named Men Do Not Know How to Do. And the great door, wherethrough the multitude do run is named Unknown Error; and there is else no coming into the City named Ignorance.

The other gate standeth on the one side of the City, towards the East or Spring of the Day, and the same is the Narrow Gate, through the which, men travel out of the city and do enter into the Straight Way which leadeth to Righteousness.

Now when one travelleth out through the same Gate, then doth he immediately espie some Light, and that same reacheth to the Rising of the Sun.

Here the symbolism, taking up the theme of the ‘bread of life’, i.e. spiritual nourishment, employs the images of ‘corn’ and ‘seed’ whose esoteric meaning was discussed earlier and which will be met again in the paintings by Bruegel of the Harvest and the   Ploughman (Fall of Icarus).

The importance of spiritual nourishment – or rather the lack of it – is discussed in the section dealing with the Peasant Wedding Feast (Marriage at Cana) where the lack of wine is shown to correspond, by rhetorical imitation, with famine imagery in the Old Testament where the sense is that of ‘famine for the word of God’.

  • In this land of Ignorance, for the food of men, there groweth neither corn nor grass. The people of this land live in confusion or disorder and are very diligent in their unprofitable work and labor. And although their work be vain or unprofitable yet hath everyone notwithstanding a delightful liking to the same.
  • Forasmuch as they all have such a delight to such unprofitable work, so forget they to prepare the Ground for Corn and Seed to live thereby. And so they live not on the manly food but by their own dung, for they have no other food to live by, for their stomach and nature is accustomed and naturally inclined thereto.
  • They make there diverse sorts of Puppet works for Babies for to bring up the children to vanity. There are made likewise many kinds of Balls, Tut-staves, or Kricket-staves, Rackets and Dice; for the foolish people should waste or spend their time therewith in foolishness.

  • There be made also Playing Tables, Draft-boards, Chess-boards, Cards and Mummery or Masks, for to delight the idle people with such foolish vanity. There are made likewise many Rings, Chains, and Gold and Silver Tablets and etc … all unprofitable and unneedful merchandise.
  • They build there likewise divers houses for common assembly, which they call Gods houses; and there use many manner of foolishness of taken on Services which they call religious or godservices whereby to wave or hold forth something in shew before the ignorant people.
  • In this manner are the vain people bewitched with these things, wherethrough they think or perswade themselves that their godservices, and knowledges, which they themselves do make, or take on in their hypocrisie, that must needs be some holy or singular thing, and so honor the works of their own hands.
  • They make there also many Swords, Halberds, Spears, Bows and Arrows, Ordinance or Guns, Pellets, Gunpouder, Armor or Harness, and Gorgets and etc., for that the tyrannical oppressors, and those that have a pleasure in destroying, should use war and battel, therewithal, one against the other.

The people of this strange land have strange names, according to their nature. As their nature is such are their names written upon them. Whosoever can read the writing let him consider thereon. They are gross letters; whoso hath but a little sight and understanding, he may read them, whose names are there. Highmindedness, Lust of the Eyes, Stoutness, Pride, Covetousness, Lust or Desire to Contrariness, Vanity or Unprofitableness, Unnaturalness, Undecentness, Masterfulness, Mocking, Scorning, Dallying, Adultery or Fornication, Contemning, Lying, Deceiving, Variance, Strife and Contention, Vexing, Self-seeking, Oppression, Indiscreetness, etc.

  • Their dealings or manner of life is also variable; for now they take on something, then they leave somewhat else; now they be thus led, then they be so driven; now they praise this, then they dispraise that. So, to be short, they are always inconstant.
  • Their Religions or godservice is called the Pleasure of Men. Their doctrine and ministration is called Good Thinking. Their King is called the Scum of Ignorance.
  • Whosoever findeth himself in this dark land full of ignorance and desireth to go out of it, and forsake the same, and hath a good liking towards the good land of Rest and Peace; he must go through the other gate that lieth towards the East, that is named Fear of God.
  • But in travelling forward upon the Way for to come to the good land of Peace, so do the perils first make manifest themselves. Therefore must the Traveller keep a diligent watch in the said grace of the Lord; otherwise he becometh hindered and deceived upon the Way. So we will mark out both the perils of seduction, and also the means unto preservation for that no man should err upon the Way, nor be seduced or deceived by any false ends.
  • not very amiable or pleasant (according to the minds of the flesh) to behold, nor yet his sayings and counsels to be obeyed, because that he is contrary to all minds and knowledge of the flesh (notwithstanding, if the traveller have no regard for him, neither daily receive any counsel of him unto obedience, nor yet follow his counsel, then shall he not come to the Rest). And he is named the Law or Ordinance of the Lord.
  • The other wise one cometh before him out of the thoughts of mans good thinking, to draw him away from the Way that directeth to the Land of the Living. And his form is sweet and friendly (according to the minds flesh) to behold, and his sayings and counsels delightful. And he is named the Wisdom of the Flesh.
  • These two wise ones do give the traveller several counsels.
  • The traveller who abjures the Wisdom of the Flesh and who accepts the discipline of the Law or Ordinance of the Lord receives ‘two instruments’: a compass called the Forsaking of Himself for the Good Lifes Sake. The other instrument overcomes temptation and hindrance and it is called Patience or Suffrance.
  • the death and burial of all the lusts and desires of the sinful flesh and all the flesh’s wisdom or good thinking.

Again, this should not be understood literally but seen as the transition from the material to the spiritual, the soul’s liberation from its entanglement in the world.

Now the ‘traveller’, following the counsel of the Law of the Lord, finds himself

  • in an unpathed land where many manner of temptations and deceits do meet with him, and coming into the same there appeareth unto him immediately a star out of the East, named Belief and Hope. This great unpathed land is named Many manner of Wanderings. And there is not one plain paved way.

The names of the Travellers are:

Stricken in Heart, Cumbered in Minde, Wofulness, Sorrowfulness, Anguish, Fear, Dismaidness, Perplexitie, Uncomfortablness, Undelightfulness, Heavy-mindedness, Many Manner of Thoughts, Dead Courage.

This is reminiscent of the group consisting of Jesus’ mother and her entourage in the foreground of Bruegel’s Road to Calvary (1566) in Vienna. There we see the expressing just these emotions while the vast crowd constituting the main descriptive parts of the picture are oblivious and display all the characteristics, described by H. N., of those who live in the Land of Ignorance or, as he says elsewhere, the ‘Land of Abomination and Desolation’. But also the Flight or Refuge to Egypth:

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  • St. Augustine: The Two Cities The City of God, XIV, 1

St. Augustine is remembered for bringing into philosophy from the Judeo-Christian tradition a sense of history and novelty which the Greeks and their philosophers had never had. This comes out particularly as he reflects on the fall of Rome all around him. His philosophical/theological doctrine is couched in terms of the “two cities:” Rome (or the new Babylon), which symbolizes all that is worldly, and Jerusalem (the city of heaven), which symbolizes the Christian community. Our world was created in the beginning, fell away from God, and then was redeemed by Christ; thus Augustine sees the world in which he lives as a mixture of the two cities. But the temporal city of this world will eventually perish, giving way to the eternal city. As he introduces this idea, he draws on Paul’s notion of “original sin” derived from the rebellion of Adam and Eve to explain how the lesser, flawed “city” came into being.

What does he say God’s purpose was in creating all of humanity out of one single original being? Greed (and perhaps price), envy, and power characterize the “second city” (or the second way of life). What are their positive counterparts in the “first city”?


Two loves make two cities

Literal Commentary on Genesis, XI, 15,20

These are the two loves: the first is holy, the second foul; the first is social, the second selfish; the first consults the common welfare for the sake of a celestial society, the second grasps at a selfish control of social affairs for the sake of arrogant domination; the first is submissive to God, the second tries to rival God; the first is quiet, the second restless; the first is peaceful, the second trouble-making; the first prefers truth to the praises of those who are in error, the second is greedy for praise, however it may be obtained; the first is friendly, the second envious; the first desires for its neighbor what it wishes for itself, the second desires to subjugate its neighbor; the first rules its neighbor for the good of its neighbor, the second for its own advantage; and these two loves produce a distinction among the angels: the first love belongs to the good angels, the second to the bad angels; and they also separate the two cities founded among the race of men, under the wonderful and ineffable Providence of God, administering and ordering all things that have been created: the first city is that of the just, the second is that of the wicked. Although they are now, during the course of time, intermingled, they shall be divided at the last judgment; the first, being joined by the good angels under its King, shall attain eternal life; the second, in union with the bad angels under its king, shall be sent into eternal fire. Perhaps, we shall treat, God willing, of these two cities more fully in another place.

Translated by Marcus Dod (1876)


How the Two Cities Differ

We have already stated in the preceding books that God, desiring not only that the human race might be able by their similarity of nature to associate with one another, but also that they might be bound together in harmony and peace by the ties of relationship, was pleased to derive all men from one individual, and created man with such a nature that the members of the race should not have died, had not the two first (of whom the one was created out of nothing, and the other out of him) merited this by their disobedience; for by them so great a sin was committed that by it human nature was altered for the worse, and was transmitted also to their posterity, liable to sin and subject to death. And the kingdom of death so reigned over men, that the deserved penalty of sin would have hurled all headlong even into the second death, of which there is no end, had not the undeserved grace of God saved some therefrom. And thus it has come to pass that, though there are very many and great nations all over the earth, whose rites and customs, speech, arms, and dress, are distinguished by marked differences, yet there are no more than two kinds of human society, which we may justly call two cities, according to the language of our Scriptures. The one consists of those who wish to live after the flesh, the other of those who wish to live after the spirit; and when they severally achieve what they wish, they live in peace, each after its kind.

Translated by Marcus Dods (1876)

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Chap. III.—Of the Ways, and of Vices and Virtues; And of the Rewards of Heaven and the Punishments of Hell.

There are two ways,[1] O Emperor Constantine, by which human life must proceed—the one which leads to heaven, the other which sinks to hell; and these ways poets have introduced in their poems, and philosophers in their disputations. And indeed philosophers have represented the one as belonging to virtues, the other to vices; and they have represented that which belongs to virtues as steep and rugged at the first entrance, in which if any one, having overcome the difficulty, has climbed to the summit, they say that he afterwards has a level path, a bright and pleasant plain, and that he enjoys abundant and delightful fruits of his labours; but that those whom the difficulty of the first approach has deterred, glide and turn aside into the way of vices, which at its first entrance appears to be pleasant and much more beaten, but afterwards, when they have advanced in it a little further, that the appearance of its pleasantness is withdrawn, and that there arises a steep way, now rough with stones, now overspread with thorns, now interrupted by deep waters or violent with torrents, so that they must be in difficulty, hesitate, slip about, and fall. And all these things are brought forward that it may appear that there are very great labours in undertaking virtues, but that when they are gained there are the greatest advantages, and firm and incorruptible pleasures; but that vices ensnare the minds of men with certain natural blandishments, and lead them captivated by the appearance of empty pleasures to bitter griefs and miseries,—an altogether wise discussion, if they knew the forms and limits of the virtues themselves. For they had not learned either what they are, or what reward awaits them from God: but this we will show in these two books.

But these men, because they were ignorant or in doubt that the souls of men are immortal, estimated both virtues and vices by earthly honours or punishments. Therefore all this discussion respecting the two ways[2] has reference to frugality and luxury. For they say that the course of human life resembles the letter Y, because every one of men, when he has reached the threshold of early youth, and has arrived at the place “where the way divides itself into two parts,”[3] is in doubt, and hesitates, and does not know to which side he should rather turn himself. If he shall meet with a guide who may direct him wavering to better things—that is, if he shall learn philosophy or eloquence, or some honourable arts by which he may turn to good conduct,[4] which cannot take place without great labour—they say that he will lead a life of honour and abundance; but if he shall not meet with a teacher of temperance,[5] that he falls into the way on the left hand, which assumes the appearance of the better,—that is, he gives himself up to idleness, sloth, and luxury, which seem pleasant for a time to one who is ignorant of true goods, but that afterwards, having lost all his dignity and property, he will live in all wretchedness and ignominy. Therefore they referred the end of those ways[6] to the body, and to this life which we lead on earth. The poets perhaps did better, who would have it that this twofold way was in the lower regions; but they are deceived in this, that they proposed these ways to the dead. Both therefore spoke with truth, but yet both incorrectly; for the ways themselves ought to have been referred to life, their ends to death. We therefore speak better and more truly, who say that the two ways[7] belong to heaven and hell, because immortality is promised to the righteous, and everlasting punishment is threatened to the unrighteous.

But I will explain how these ways either exalt to heaven or thrust down to hell, and I will set forth what these virtues are of which the philosophers were ignorant; then I will show what are their rewards, and also what are vices, and what their punishments. For perhaps some one may expect that I shall speak separately of vices and virtues; whereas, when we discuss the subject of good or evil, that which is contrary may also be understood. For, whether you introduce virtues, vices will spontaneously depart; or if you take away vices, virtues will of their own accord succeed. The nature of good and evil things is so fixed, that they always oppose and drive out one another: and thus it comes to pass that vices cannot be removed without virtues, nor can virtues be introduced without the removal of vices. Therefore we bring forward these ways in a very different manner from that in which the philosophers are accustomed to present them: first of all, because we say that a guide is proposed to each, and in each case an immortal: but that the one is honoured who presides over virtues and good qualities, the other condemned who presides over vices and evils. But they place a guide only on the right side, and that not one only, nor a lasting one; inasmuch as they introduce any teacher of a good art, who may recall men from sloth, and teach them to be temperate. But they do not represent any as entering upon that way except boys and young men; for this reason, that the arts are learned at these ages. We, on the other hand, lead those of each sex, every age and race, into this heavenly path, because God, who is the guide of that way, denies immortality to no human being.[8] The shape also of the ways themselves is not as they supposed. For what need is there of the letter Y in matters which are different and opposed to one another? But the one which is better is turned towards the rising of the sun, the other which is worse towards its setting: since he who follows truth and righteousness, having received the reward of immortality, will enjoy perpetual light; but he who, enticed by that evil guide, shall prefer vices to virtues, falsehood to truth, must be borne to the setting of the sun, and to darkness.[9] I will therefore describe each, and will point out their properties and habits.

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 Paradise : Eternity (out of time)                              Hell: infinite stasis (time frozen)

                Purgatory: Here and Now, in time and space, a dynamic time, dedicated to change and transformation

When Joachim Patinir (d. 1524) painted his vast cosmic panorama Charon , he
situated the decisive moment of choice in a sailing vessel on a great river (the classical Styx) but poised it midway between the realms of Heaven and Hell. The small figure in the boat, dwarfed by the giant ferryman, is a solitary human soul, who already glances nervously over toward the mouthlike dark gateway of Hades, guarded by the triple-headed dog, Cerberus. Even the boat itself inclines slightly in the same direction, the unfavorable sinisterside of the viewer’s right, long familiar from medieval Last Judgment scenes (and more recently in Judgment scenes by Rogier van der Weyden and Dieric Bouts in the south Netherlands) as the side of Hell and damnation.


Of course, that anxious inclination toward the dark means that the soul figure fails to turn to the dexter side, that of Heaven, opposite, where angels are visible below the trees
and unearthly crystalline structures tower above at the horizon level. Closer inspection of the entire painting shows that the very skies echo this antithetical structure: reading from
left to right, the cloudless blue sky gradually gives way to dark storm clouds above the fire and brimstone of Hell.

For we see divine retribution revealed from heaven and falling upon all the godless wickedness of men. In their wickedness they are stifling the truth. For all that may be known of God by men lies plain before their eyes; indeed God himself has disclosed it to
them. His invisible attributes, that is to say his everlasting power and deity, have been visible, ever since the world began, to the eye of reason, in the things he has made. There is therefore no possible defense for their conduct…. For this reason God has
given them up to the vileness of their own desires, and the consequent degradation of their bodies, because they have bartered away the true God for a false one…. Thus, because they have not seen fit to acknowledge God, he has given them up to
their own depraved reason. This leads them to break all rules of conduct.

-Romans 1:18-28

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood.

-I Corinthians 13:12

“in Hell there is no time, there is only infinite stasis; in Paradise there is no time, but rather the dynamic over-abundance of eternity; only in Purgatory is there time,because only here is there the possibility of change and growth”.

  • At the the cross road  of Y , Migration is a form of Purgatory

Paul A. Camacho in his paper ” Educating Desire: Conversion and Ascent in Dante’s Purgatorioasks our attention “Why the Purgatorio? As first-time readers discover with surprise in the closing cantos of Dante’s Inferno, Hell is defined primarily by stasis. Where there is motion in Hell, it is only the tormented self-circling of a will that cannot love anything beyond itself. Hell is the place that Dante scholar Peter Hawkins has memorably described as “repetition-compulsion, an endless replay of the sinner’s ‘song of myself.’” It is certainly true, as Dante saw, that conversion requires an underworld itinerary: we can no overcome the drive to get what we mistakenly think will bring us happiness through intellectual understanding or sheerwill-power alone. But to journey throug hHell as Dante would have us do,one must experience one’s sin and failure without getting trapped in it; and this means one must face all the darkness in oneself without becoming entombed by fear, despair, or gawking fascination. This is a heavy task for anyone, let alone for the average undergraduate. By contrast, Purgatory is, in Hawkins’ words, “dynamic, dedicated to change and transformation. It concerns the rebirth of a  self free at last to be interested in other souls and other things .” It is fruitful to dwell in Purgatorio with students because it is in Purgatory that we now reside. I mean this: in Hell there is no time, there is only infinite stasis; in Paradise there is no time, but rather the dynamic over-abundance of eternity; only in Purgatory is there time,because only here is there the possibility of change and growth. If we read the Commedia to learn how to love better here and now, in this world, it is the Purgatorio that will provide the blueprint.”
In Cantos 17 and 18 of the Purgatorio, Dante’s Virgil lays out a theory of sin, freedom, and moral motivation based on a philosophical anthropology of loving-desire. As the commentary tradition has long recognized, because Dante placed Virgil’s discourse on love at the heart of the Commedia, the poet invites his readers to use love as a hermeneutic key to the text as a whole. When we contextualize Virgil’s discourse within the broader intention of the poem—to move its readers from disordered love to an ordered love of ultimate things—then we find in these central cantos not just a key to the structure and movement of the poem ,but also a key to understanding Dante’s pedagogical aim. With his Commedia, Dante invites us to perform the interior transformation which the poem dramatizes in verse and symbol. He does so by awakening in his readers not only a desire for the beauty of his poetic creation, but also a desire for the beauty of the love described therein. In this way, the poem presents a pedagogy of love, in which the reader participates in the very experience of desire and delight enacted in the text. In this article, I offer an analysis of Virgil’s discourse on love in the Purgatorio, arguing for an explicit and necessary connection between loving-desire and true education. I demonstrate that what informs Dante’s pedagogy of love is the notion of love as ascent, a notion we find articulated especially in the Christian Platonism of Augustine. Finally, I conclude by offering a number of figures, passages, and themes from across the Commedia that provide fruitful material for teachers engaged in the task of educating desire. Read more here

  • With the help of Al Khidr, St George, St Christopher and the Holy Refugees

Al Khidr : The Spiritual “greenness”:

Khidr is not an abstract mystical figure, but an archetype of something essential within us.The Green One’ images a natural aspect of our divinity, something so ordinary that we overlook it. To follow the way of Khidr is to awaken to our own natural state of being with God and with life. In this natural state of being we know how to respond to the real need of the moment. Read more

 

 

 

St George and Al kidhr;

At first sight there seems to be little connection between Elijah, George and Khidr, apart from the fact that in the Middle East they are frequently associated with the same place by different religious traditions. Is it then a simple case of overlapping traditions, Jewish, Christian and Muslim, all of whom focus on the Holy Land as part of their own heritage and take Abraham as their forefather?

Certainly there is a view which suggests that Khidr is to Muslims what Elijah is to Jews, in respect of them both acting as initiator to the true believer, and which in itself is testimony to attempts to find common ground between the three traditions. Read more here

Prayer of Intercession to Saint George:

Faithful servant of God and invincible martyr, Saint George; favored by God with the gift of faith, and inflamed with an ardent love of Christ, thou didst fight valiantly against the dragon of pride, falsehood, and deceit.

Neither pain nor torture, sword nor death could part thee from the love of Christ. I fervently implore thee for the sake of this love to help me by thy intercession to overcome the temptations that surround me, and to bear bravely the trials that oppress me, so that I may patiently carry the cross which is placed upon me; and let neither distress nor difficulties separate me from the love of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Valiant champion of the Faith, assist me in the combat against evil, that I may win the crown promised to them that persevere unto the end.

 

St Christopher:

With the help of St Christopher we make the Migration, Crossing from the Land of Ignorance to the Spirittual Land of Peace

St. Christopher prayer:

O Glorious St. Christopher you have inherited a beautiful name, Christ-bearer, as a result of the wonderful legend that while carrying people across a raging stream you also carried the Child Jesus. Teach us to be true Christ-bearers to those who do not know Him. Protect all of us that travel both near and far and petition Jesus to be with us always. Amen.

Read more here about the great martyr St Christopher

  • The Refuge: Pilgrimage

To Become a “Refugee” means to make a migration to Sincerity or to the“uprightness” of Love.

 

Brueghel used the personnage of “Dulle Griet’ to express this kind of stubbornness . It shows the intellectual rebellion of our Ego. Progress came with a price. The new world had not yet made a Faustian pact with the Devil to gain its brilliant advances in science, exploration and industry but it had swept away some of the traditional cures for the depression that those achievements brought in tow.

Modern Man with all his “economical grow- energy” knowledge and scientifical research based on rebellion against his Soul, wants to find (without his soul) the solutions to all the problems he created and  is landed in an apocalyptic “theater” prophesying the complete destruction of the world.

 

To take refuge asThe Holy Refugees: “Rest on the Flight into Egypt” by Joachim Patinir: to make the Pelgrimage to become The Twice Born Man

Man as stubbornness of the intellectual rebellion of our Ego  / The Twice Born Man

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Refuge: Pilgrimage to Reconciliation with his Soul

The Choice:

Man as  Man as stubbornness of the intellectual rebellion of our Ego                                                                                                        The  Twice Born Man

The Refuge: Pilgrimage

The Freedom of  choice of the “Refugee”:

Read more on: Landscape of the soul, as an Image of the Pilgrimage of Life

We are not the first generation to know that we are destroying the world, many communities and civilisations collapsed before us.  But  we could be the last that can do anything about it, not with the vanity of  earthly knowledge and so called democratic solidarity and wisdom here on earth  as this commercial of WWF wants to convince us, but with asking humbly the help of Divine Wisdom so realising in us the image of the man who painfully transcends his material ego: The birth of his soul. It is a test. It’s time to decide! 

  • The Soul That Does not Live in God is not Alive

Spring makes red and white flowers appear on the trees,

But the spring that is the origin of colors is colorless.

Understand what I have said, and give up all talk;

Run to the Origin without color and unite yourself to it.

Annihilate yourself before the One Existence

So that thousands of worlds leap out of you

And your pure existence flames out of itself

And goes on and on birthing different forms.

Of course, none of these forms will last.

Happy is the one who knows this mystery!

Happy is he who gives his life to know this!

He leaves this house for another far more radiant.

You cannot understand this mystery through reason;

The Way to Knowledge winds through suffering and torment.

If you do not feel pain, you do not look for healing.

The soul that does not live in God is not alive.

She seems like a soul, but does not deserve the name:

She has not been made alive by the Beloved.

The soul is given life by the four-elements

Like a lamp that burns through the night:

The light is from oil and wick, it is not eternal.

While the oil exists, the lamp burns, but then goes out.

The one made alive by God will never die.

He lives through God and not through gold or bread.

God is the Light, the Eternal Source of Lights.

The Light is causeless, as is His fiery radiance.

Like gold, God’s value comes from His pure, perfect essence.

Sultan Valad

Migration to the Spiritual Land of Peace

Migration to the Spiritual Land of Peace

Part I: Introduction

  • The Coronation

For years, normality has been stretched nearly to its breaking point, a rope pulled tighter and tighter, waiting for a nip of the black swan’s beak to snap it in two. Now that the rope has snapped, do we tie its ends back together, or shall we undo its dangling braids still further, to see what we might weave from them?…

Covid-19 is like a rehab intervention that breaks the addictive hold of normality. To interrupt a habit is to make it visible; it is to turn it from a compulsion to a choice. The phenomenon follows the template of initiation: separation from normality, followed by a dilemma, breakdown, or ordeal, followed (if it is to be complete) by reintegration and celebration. Now the question arises: Initiation into what? What is the specific nature and purpose of this initiation? The popular name for the pandemic offers a clue: coronavirus. A corona is a crown. “Novel coronavirus pandemic” means “a new coronation for all.”

Already we can feel the power of who we might become. A true sovereign does not run in fear from life or from death. A true sovereign does not dominate and conquer (that is a shadow archetype, the Tyrant). The true sovereign serves the people, serves life, and respects the sovereignty of all people. The coronation marks the emergence of the unconscious into consciousness, the crystallization of chaos into order, the transcendence of compulsion into choice. We become the rulers of that which had ruled us. The New World Order that the conspiracy theorists fear is a shadow of the glorious possibility available to sovereign beings. No longer the vassals of fear, we can bring order to the kingdom and build an intentional society on the love already shining through the cracks of the world of separation. Read more: The Coronation with Charles Eisenstein

  • Modern man is ignorant about his own ignorance

see also:“I can’t Breathe” is the expression of the Crisis of the modern world.

  • The Migration to the Spiritual Land of Peace  is an universal theme to find Wisdom.

In all religious of the world we find the quest to Sincerty and Uprightness and is part of the Unanimous tradition. the search for the now apparently forgotten meaning of Tradition and the significance of the perennial philosophy needs to be  pursued with an ever—increasing sense of urgency in the highly materialistic West. see The Unanimous Tradition: Essays on the essential unity of all religions Tribute to Ananda Coomaraswamy

At Sacred Web Conference 2006 on Rediscovering the Sacred in our Lives and in our Times,. HRH The Prince of Wales said:

 

This wisdom was told not only in all the spiritual Traditions of the world, but surely by all the Prophets from the birth of Adam ( see the Tales of the Prophets) till the Last prophet Mohammed(a.s.)( see MUHAMMAD THE MESSENGER OF ISLAM His Life & Prophecy)

This wisdom is still told and used every day with the stories the Lifes of the saints in the Christian tradition-( see  the Golden Legend) and the liturgical calendar that indicates the dates of celebrations of saints , or the Lives of the Saints in the Orthodox Church. For the lives of the Sufi Saints  in the Islamic Tradion look also The Tadhkiratu ‘l-awliya – the” Memoirs of the saints” by Attar, Farid al-Din, d. ca. 1230  .Or look to The Naqshbandi Sufi Way: History and Guidebook of the Saints of the Golden Chain.

  • “Rebel in the Soul”

But to start our Migration to the Spiritual Land of Peace – Exercise, we look  at an old text  known as papyrus 3024 from the Berlin Museum, known  as “Man arguing with his Soul” or the “Rebel in the Soul” we can perhaps study one of the earliest accounts of the confrontation with the ego.

 – Rebel in the Soul: An ancient Egyptian dialogue Between a Man and his Soul

This controversial text, that was meant for initiates at the threshold of the Ancient Egyptian Inner Temple, speaks to us with intriguing relevance to the problems of today. Taking the form of a dialogue between a man and his soul, this sacred text explores the inner discourse between doubt and mystical knowledge and deals with the rebellion and despair of the intellect at a crucial stage of spiritual development.
The first complete and consistent translation of the Berlin Papyrus 3024, which is thought to be nearly 4,000 years old:

“The man’s soul tells him that men of greater value than he have suffered from the world, and advises him to gain an insight from his attitude and search to overcome his despair.

It is An Egyptian temple text, related with the God IAI, an aspect of the Solar God, the stubborn donkey. It shows the intellectual rebellion of our Ego.

 

 

 

 

 

“The stubborn, passionate, long-suffering ass is the perfect natural symbol of our rational personality. It bears, like the ass, the weight of all our suffering, and carries us through life. It is stubborn, selfish and refuses to go where we think we best…

Carrot and stick:


….Yet paradoxically, it is the same stubborn ass, and only the ass, that can carry the Rebel to salvation; mounted upon the ass, man is mounted upon his own rebellion. The ass is the father of all rebels, but also the carrier of redemption.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Ancient Egypt, Iai, the Great Ass, is the aspect of the Sun God with Ass’s ears.  This is Osiris in his listening state; listening equalled wisdom to the Ancient Egyptians. The Book of the Gates depicts the progression of the sun through the night. The Twelve Hours of Night are depicted as regions of the Underworld. Each region is an Hour, and each Hour has its gate through which to pass. To pass, we must know the name of the gatekeeper, or guardian.

This is the same as identifying the layers of egos we each have within – an ego is what others might call one of the deadly sins, Pride, Envy, Greed…all those different aspects of the personality that can prevent us from progressing through the gates or stages of spiritual development.  When we look inwardly at the aspects of our personality that rule or affect our lives, we need to recognise what is affecting our spiritual progress; if we learn to use it wisely and become its master, instead of it being master over us, we then recognise the Guardian of that Gate – can name the Guardian, and can “pass through the Gate”. Consciousness moves from Gate to Gate.

In the argument with his Soul, the man is bargaining for the right to die because he can no longer face the suffering of living in this world without his mentor. In Ancient Egypt, it was believed that a man and his Soul would be judged together in the afterlife; the Soul can make appeals on his behalf.  So the man is arguing with his Soul to persuade it that killing himself is the correct thing to do, as he wants it to accept his reasons, and agree with him so that it will stay with him after death and make favourable appeals. However, his Soul has other ideas..

“I spoke to my soul that I might answer what it said:

To whom shall I speak today?

Brothers and sisters are evil and friends today are not worth loving.

Hearts are great with greed and everyone seizes his or her neigh­bor’s goods.

Kindness has passed away and violence is imposed on everyone.

To whom shall I speak today?

People willingly accept evil and goodness is cast to the ground everywhere.

Those who should enrage people by their wrongdoing

make them laugh at their evil deeds.

People plunder and everyone seizes _his or her neighbour’s goods.

To whom shall I speak today?

The one doing wrong is an intimate friend and the brother with whom one used to deal is an enemy.

No one remembers the past and none return the good deed that is done.

Brothers and sisters are evil

and people turn to strangers for righteousness or affection.

To whom shall I speak today?

Faces are empty and all turn their faces from their brothers and sisters.

Hearts are great with greed

and there is no heart of a man or woman upon which one might lean.

None are just or righteous and the land is left to the doers of evil.

To whom shall I speak today?

There are no intimate friends

and the people turn to strangers to tell their troubles.

None are content and those with whom one used to walk no longer exist.

I am burdened with grief and have no one to comfort me.

There is no end to the wrong which roams the earth.

When we consider the age of this text, from  XII Dynasty  Egypt (approx 1991-1783 BC), we can see that the nature of the woes and troubles of humankind have changed very little.

The man’s soul tells him that men of greater value than he have suffered from the world, and advises him to gain an insight from his attitude and search to overcome his despair.  It tells him some allegorical stories – the first being the “mythical field of transformations”; both the field AND the plough are to be found within man. The field is the ground; the earth, where the soul of the man dwells, and is to be cultivated by the ploughman – the man must “cultivate” himself.

The harvest is what is then offered back to the soul. The “harvest”, what is left of the man after his life, is in dangerous hands if left uncultivated. It is exposed to a “storm from the North” said to indicate the Head (Reason); the storm is consciousness threatened by intellectual rebellion.
The man at this point in the story, when his Rebel/ego is arguing for survival, is not yet ready to let the wisdom of his heart rule his intellect, and this is symbolised by the crocodile. The man’s heirs, in the story he is told by his soul, are eaten by a crocodile whilst still in the egg, before they are fully formed, before they have lived, and will never realise their potential.  Read more here