We know that it is very difficult to tell from a broken machine how its various parts are intended to operate. One can only learn that by seeing a sound machine in actual operation. The same is true of man, particularly when we are concerned with the most important part of him, namely his soul. In order to become acquainted with all its attributes and functions, it is necessary to study it in its sound condition … ~ Alois Wiesinger, OCSO Occult Phenomena
Fr Alois proposes to study the Adamic state in order to grasp the proper functioning of the soul. First, he takes care to define the natural and the supernatural.
The natural is what constitutes a substance or derives from it. Note that this is not what is commonly meant by “nature” today, which is typically assumed to be how animals in the wild act. On the contrary, man has a specific nature that is more than his animal nature. In this sense, nature means:
- What constitutes it.
Everything that inwardly constitutes the specific essence of a thing, both the essential and integrating parts of its being.
- What derives from it
- Everything that proceeds spontaneously: e.g., aptitudes, talents, and powers
- Everything that proceeds under the influence of another being. That is, things that must be taught such as an art, skill, or craft
- What is required for it. I.e., everything necessary
- for its continued existence (nourishment, light, air)
- for its activity (the will for survival)
- for its development (education, society, government)
- for the attainment of its goal (knowledge of God, free will)
These are called the “demands of nature” as they are owed to man for them to exist as such. The supernatural and the preternatural are beyond nature and are not owed to man qua man. The former is all that transcends created nature and the latter whatever is created, but of a higher nature.
This includes everything of a higher nature. The example Fr Alois gives is this:
If a man makes an act of knowledge without the mediation of the senses and after the manner of the angels, then he transcends his own nature and is permitted to partake in the higher nature of the angel.
The type of knowing is called “intuition”, the direct seeing of higher things. This type of knowing is not based on sense images or the “knowledge” of certain propositions. We can rephrase Fr Alois’ description as man transcends the human state and reaches an angelic state, as Guenon would phrase it; they mean the same thing. There are two types of the preternatural:
- According to the matter, or the thing done. This is a perfection to which we have no claim
- According to the form, the manner of receiving it.
The example above is of the first type, since the matter is from the angels, and man has no natural right to that. An example of the second type is infused knowledge; in this case, acquiring knowledge is natural, but having it infused is not. I would include prophecy or visions in this category.
The supernatural is beyond the natural in that it is not owed to man qua man. The supernatural is beyond all created things, including angels. Man is given a divine nature, beyond his human nature. Since this is freely given, and neither deserved nor earned by man qua man, it is often called a “grace”.
The Edenic State
In the Edenic state, Adam had all that was proper to his human nature as described above. He also was given supernatural grace so he shared the same nature as God. In addition, he was given several preternatural privileges, in particular:
- Freedom from concupiscence
- Freedom from suffering and death
- The power of higher knowledge
- The faculties of pure spirits, i.e., his spirit-soul
In this fully integral state, Adam shared a human nature, a divine nature, and an angelic nature. To grasp this state of being, we need to focus on the part of the soul that transcends the body. St Thomas describes three ways of knowing God:
- After the Fall, we know God only in the mirror of his creatures. This was clearly described by Louis-Claude de Saint-Martin
- In Paradise, God was known via a spiritual light which he infused into the human spirit. This light was uncreated. This doctrine is still remembered in the Eastern churches as the Light of Tabor.
- In the beatific vision, God is known by the light of his glory
St Thomas explains that Adam’s manner of knowing is similar to mystical contemplation and knows God as the angels do, at least in part. St Augustine wrote:
Perhaps God spoke to the first human beings as he does to the angels, by illuminating their spirit with the unchanging light
That is why “reintegration” is often called “illuminism”.
Action follows Being
So Adam had the powers of the corporal soul (tied to the body) and the spirit-soul (free of the body). The body was not a punishment, a prison, or a source of evil; rather, it gave Adam a new form of knowledge that was inaccessible to the spirit-soul. We should clarify Fr Alois’ method at this point. On the one hand, he relies on metaphysical teachings and then draws all the necessary consequences from it. On the other hand, he studies empirical phenomena and works backwards to the kind of being that would produce such phenomena. Hence, by the analysis of mystical and occult phenomena, he is led to the conclusion that the spirit-soul is still active in men, even when dominated by the corporal soul. He sees these as residues of the primordial state and as clues to the attributes of that state.
That is justified on the metaphysical principle that “action follows being”, that is, whatever occurs is the result of the nature of the being. Hence, if Adam had angelic powers, then necessarily they required Adam to have a spirit-soul transcending the corporal soul.
Part III will deal with the characteristics of the Primordial State and what was lost. The connections to Advaita Vedanta will be revealed.