Meditation on the Incarnation

At this time of year, it is certainly de rigueur to meditate on the meaning, actuality, or possibility of the Incarnation of the Logos in Jesus Christ. This will involve brief excursions into the implications for a spiritual path, metaphysics, and the radical change in the world process in the current cycle.

Of its actuality, I am sure all readers are familiar with the story; if not, it is easy enough to find. There will be objections to the story as miraculous and incredible, but these objections can only arise from an a priori commitment to a positivist world view that cannot prove itself to be true. If, on the other hand, one is ready to accept the actuality of unusual preternatural or supernatural phenomena, e.g., miraculous cures, amazing powers of yogis and tulkus, the skills of magicians, etc., then the story of the birth of Jesus cannot be so easily rejected. There is only the “vexed theological question of grace”, as Julius Evola called it in a recent translation; some will be willing to see it, others will not.

However, in this meditation, we are not as interested in the Incarnation as a matter of faith, but rather as gnosis. We will stipulate it as a given, and move on. As one of our mottos indicates, “truth lies in the interior of man” (St Augustine). Augustine moved beyond Neo-Platonism when he came to the realization that the Logos of the Greek philosophers, understood in an objective and exterior way, was actually the same Logos Who was incarnated and is known in man’s interiority.

The Path of Affirmation

This is expressed in the Path of Affirmation that is conceivable in the Incarnation. All previous forms of spirituality follow the path of denial. Specifically, these would include Advaita Vedanta, Buddhism, and Neo-Platonism. This path ultimately tries to transcend the material conditions of life, including the human person, by the realization of one’s true identity as Brahman or the One. In this path, any determination is a limitation.

In the Path of Affirmation, on the contrary, God is approached through these determinations. St Athanasius describes the Incarnation: Not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking of the Manhood into God. This differs from Oriental the idea of an Avatar in which a god takes on the appearance of a man for a specific purpose, e.g., Parashurama, an avatar of Vishnu, appeared to overcome the rule of the Kshatriyas.

Rather, the Logos raised up the human to God, once and for all. Christ, as the second Adam, restored the possibility of the Primordial state to man. In this Path, man is not annihilated, so that only God remains, but instead there are two who are united. Although largely ignored in common practice, this is an essential element of the catholic, apostolic, Roman religion. Some quick examples, although many more can be found, including the official Catechism:

Irenaeus: The Word of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, who did, through His transcendent love, become what we are, that He might bring us to be even what He is Himself.

Clement of Alexandria: The Word of God became man, that you may learn from man how man may become God.

Of course, the premier example of this teaching is Dante’s Divine Comedy, where he shows us the path to union with God through the rich imagery of his poetry.

In Christian Hermetism, particularly as evidenced in Valentin Tomberg in our time, the birth of the Logos in consciousness is the result of the alchemical marriage between the Holy Spirit and the purified soul. That becomes the new, or absolute self, in union with the Father, or absolute being.

So, the goal of this path is the spiritual and alchemical transformation of man, and even the world. Ultimately, no one can be convinced of this through any type of rational argument, so this is only an invitation to follow that path. Once any type of realization of this nature is reached, one’s faith is secure.

The World Process

In the literature on tradition, most of the attention is focused on metaphysical teachings that aim to transcend all material circumstances. There is lip service to social organization, viz., the idea of castes and hierarchy, as well as the notion of cycles of the four ages. However, the relation of metaphysics to the world process is often left unclear; to those who are striving to be liberated from all worlds, what difference would it make?

But, if the real path is the Path of Affirmation, then it does indeed make a difference. In the idea of the four ages, there is often the misconception that the ages run according to some independent and objective cosmic clock. If that is true, then one can be passive and simply wait for events to occur. In particular, the end of the Kali Yuga comes at the prescribed moment apart from any consciousness of it. That is indeed odd for a teaching that regards consciousness as primary over the physical and material. If that were true, then Guenon’s call for the establishment of a new elite would make no sense.

All traditions recognize three forces: the three gunas in the Vedanta, or the Great Triad of Taoism. We will stick to the Western formulation of Providence, Will, and Destiny. Destiny is the automatic and deterministic element of the world process. Its law is that of increasing entropy; left to its own devices, the world winds down, ultimately to a totally undifferentiated state. This is compatible with profane science.

Of course, such a state is impossible, since nothing could occur in it and God is Infinite possibility. Providence is God’s or Heaven’s influence on the process, not through force, but rather through suggestion and persuasion.  This opens up new possibilities, especially the possibility for a new world to follow the old when all its possibilities have been exhausted. The middle term in this is the Will of man, responding to Providence and transforming his being and that of the world.

Creation and Redemption

The pagan view of cycles was defective. It regarded the world as uncreated with no beginning and man as perpetual. Hence, cycles reoccurred, in perpetual return, the same thing over and over. Even Guenon rejected this, since, in his view, a world had a beginning and an end, the end of one being the beginning of another, much different, world.

This we take as closer to the truth. Hence, we must understand the cycle, from a perfect age to an ever more degenerate one, and finally to the birth of a new age that is both in continuity with and different from its predecessor. This must be understand as a drama involving God, man, and the earth, not as the predetermined result of a mindless process, or even worse, some demiurge.

Hence, the transition from a golden age to a lesser one, did not happen according to some calendar, but was rather the result of man’s will. On the other side, the transition from the kali yuga to a golden age cannot happen from within the world process but rather it must be interjected into it from a transcendent or providential source, to then be adopted by the Will of man, at least by some who will be the leaven.

So the Incarnation is the beginning of the process of Redemption, that is, the regeneration of man and the world in a world to come. That is why Valentin Tomberg could regard Creation and Redemption as the two great magical acts since magic “requires the perfect union in Love between two distinct and free wills: the divine and the human”.

We know creation interiorly through the memory of the Primordial state and its loss. There is the testimony of saints and mystics, there is the evidence of it through perduring vestigial preternatural powers of the soul; ultimately, conviction comes through our own remembrance of that state.

Similarly, for the Incarnation. We know that there have been saints who have reached the divine union in this live, the Western equivalent of the jivan-mukti. We, too, may have been graced with a taste of that union.

A follow up will deal with the scientific and metaphysical issues involved with this.

13 thoughts on “Meditation on the Incarnation

  1. A child might live happily without worries, almost not even conscious of himself. But he still wishes to grow up, know and do things. We must not necessarily regard the processsion of the ages of the world as a degeneration. It depends on perspective. Through the different qualities of time we can know the whole like a child gets to know himself as he grows older. If as an old man he still remembers how it is to be a child in his heart, he is beyond time and can see all in a single instant. There is a purpose to living which can only be found and fullfilled by living.

  2. I have been away visiting family and am just now catching up on comments, for whose civilized tone and intelligence I am grateful, even those who respectfully disagree. Of course, I have no desire to be “original”; rather, I want only to bring to light what has been forgotten and perhaps re-express it in contemporary terms. If anyone is still confused by this post, please ponder these words from St Augustine (Confessions, Book XI, Ch 8):

    Thus, in the gospel He speaks through the flesh; and this sounded outwardly in the ears of men, that it might be believed and sought inwardly, and that it might be found in the eternal Truth, where the good and only Master teaches all His disciples.


  3. Oh that with yoke tender,
    Realize thy burden great bull,
    Plough thine fields strangely,
    With the fierceness of a thousand suns,
    Subtly dancing to finer hymns,
    Pouring as gentle streams from breaking skies,
    Arise thou Great Morning Star!
    Seize thy rightful place stolen from thee,
    Fly thou blithe spirit, in swirls of liquid burning,
    Embrace The Son of like particle,
    Ever galvanized, progenitor of Thee once silent,
    Now e’er flaring Blazing Song.

  4. Speaking of Gnosticism, not only as historical sect, but primarily as an eternal tendency (or current) within the human heart, either dormant or active, one that occurs in the context of many religious different traditions, and which finds not only spiritual, but also political expression, I was glad to see two articles on Gornahoor that mention Voegelin. I stumbled across him before ever hearing about Evola or Guenon.

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    “The death of the spirit is the price of progress. Nietzsche revealed this mystery of the Western apocalypse when he announced that God was dead and that He had been murdered. This Gnostic murder is constantly committed by the men who sacrificed God to civilization. The more fervently all human energies are thrown into the great enterprise of salvation through world–immanent action, the farther the human beings who engage in this enterprise move away from the life of the spirit. And since the life the spirit is the source of order in man and society, the very success of a Gnostic civilization is the cause of its decline.

    “A civilization can, indeed, advance and decline at the same time—but not forever. There is a limit toward which this ambiguous process moves; the limit is reached when an activist sect which represents the Gnostic truth organizes the civilization into an empire under its rule. Totalitarianism, defined as the existential rule of Gnostic activists, is the end form of progressive civilization.”

    – Eric Voegelin

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    “One comment I should make right now. Obviously the title ‘Gnosticism and Modernity’ is, at least partly, inspired by my own work in the field. But when I hit on this problem, that was 25 years ago. In the meantime, science in this matter has advanced. And today I would have to say that Gnosticism is one component in the historical structure of modernity but no more than one.”

    – Eric Voegelin

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    “I have been called every conceivable name by partisans of this or that ideology… a Communist, a Fascist, a National Socialist, an old liberal, a new liberal, a Jew, a Catholic, a Protestant, a Platonist, a neo-Augustinian, a Thomist, and of course a Hegelian.”

    – Eric Voegelin

  5. I’ve been wondering how Tomberg’s path relates to Guenon’s idea of the elite. Thank you for clarifying. Those who follow the path outlined by Tomberg are those who cooperate with the providential spark (“Thy will be done”) that will bring about the golden age.

    It seems that Catholicism is both exoteric and esoteric at the same time, and the esoteric can be uncovered by those who approach from both a hermetic or exoteric angle.

    Merry Christmas!

  6. I try to avoid posts that contain just praises, but this was was such a great post IMO. The comments were very interesting a well. There did not seem to be anything Gnostic in the post to me. In fact, as Cologero said the Clementine initiation post is a great post on Gnosticism. Still, I think even things connected to Gnosticism are useful insights as long as they can be separated from the specifically heretical teachings. I mean, I don’t think anyone who is actually informed on these things would say using Meister Eckhart’s teachings are a bad idea, although he ran into trouble with ye inquisition. The Templars and the Jesuits as well had their problems.

    Anyway, Merry Christmas everyone.

  7. No talk of the act of creation being fundamentally misguided and/or evil, no talk of the world being created by a being/principle opposed to the True God; I fail to see how the post is gnostic in the historical-religous sect sense, nor do I see a supposed initiatic fetishism.

    Merry Christmas.

  8. “Ultimately, no one can be convinced of this through any type of rational argument, so this is only an invitation to follow that path.”

    In the previous posts on Evola and Coue, we have seen that Faith is certainly a necessary begining condition. Yet ultimately faith must be resolved in certainty. What the discursive mind believes upon faith must be seen and verified within. When one sees the truth in this fashion, there is no more need to argue or attack the assertions of others. One can perform spiritual works of mercy out of love for ones neighbor though.

    When Faith stagnates, when it is not resolved in certainty, it becomes rigid dogma, it becomes the empty worship of the Pharisees. Thus one feels the need to “protect” the truth, when in reality, the truth is and always will remain without your help. Certainty from within is the way to spiritualize matter and to establish truth in the midst of this world. This is the ultimate support of Orthodoxy.

  9. Gnosis is not heresy, heresy is denial of the true facts as given in the Creed and as taught by the Councils and the Magisterium. Gnosticism denies Christ came in the flesh.

    Catholicism is an elitist religion, read the book Nobility by Dr Plinio if you doubt that.

    “taste of union”……….so Cologero, you have achieved theosis ?

    Blessed Christmas, my brother in Christ !

  10. Thanks, V.O., it is interesting to be “attacked” from that flank, rather than the other side. I’m afraid, however, that whatever is of value in your comment is also in the post itself, should you decide to read it carefully. I never mentioned “initiation” in the post, so I urge you to be cautious about “bearing false witness”, a serious sin. (My thoughts on initiation are explained elsewhere and are related to the night time conversation with Nicodemus, probably not different from yours.) Your quibbles about satanic “becoming God”, using intemperate language surely for mere dramatic effect, are really addressed to the saints and Fathers of the Church that I quoted, not to me. As for another objection, as best as I can understand it, I suggest you consider this quote: “perfect union in Love between two distinct and free wills: the divine and the human” … there is nothing about a democracy of equals implied in that.

    Merry Christmas!

  11. “love of knowledge” is “philosophy”; I am not promoting a philosophy. Knowledge (=”gnosis”) is a gift of the Holy Spirit; so gnosis in itself is not a heresy, on the contrary it is a necessity since we are commanded to know God. Nor am I promoting the heresy called “gnosticism”, since I am not denying the material facts. Perhaps there is some specific point that is problematic?

  12. agree with the first comment regarding gnosis. the interpretation in this post stresses a particular inversion of Athanasius, which corresponds to some of the gnostic satanism and initiatic fetishism that this site originates and indulges in.

    What does the Orthodox theosis mean? the very next line in Athanasius after “God becomes man, so that man may become God” helps clarify this: “and He manifested Himself by a body that we might receive the idea of the unseen Father”, namely, that because of the non-worldliness of God, the logos made flesh means that we “know” of the unseen Father, we know that there is that which is impossible for us to know.

    Knowing of the unseen father annihilates the illusory autarchy of this world -when we know that this world is not all, this world is in a profound sense destroyed. The Orthodox Christian in accepting Christ thus always lives beyond this world, not because he has become God, which is satanism, but because he lives with the knowledge of the heart that the source of this world is not the world, but God, and he himself is therefore dependent on God. He “becomes” God to the extent that he knows that he, man, is not, but he does not become God. mystical union with God does not mean some “democratic” becoming God, the same status as God, but in union there is still a clear hierarchy, the union has its monarch, the monarch creates the unity. From another perspective, there is union, because this formulation essentially means that there is only God.

    The initiatic gnostic fetishism, attempting to create a place for “elites”, overlooks the destruction of the esoteric and exoteric split in Christ. This of course does not mean that all are capable of contemplating the mysteries or want to contemplate the mysteries; even this contemplation, however, is in Orthodoxy not subjective. The placing of the decisive initiation at the beginning of life , baptism, is intended to eviscerate the initiatic fetishism by giving it to all; at the same time, the hierarchy remains in place because Christ is also Rex; yet he is at once Akra Tapeinosis, the man of sorrows, for all. Pantocrator of all, and all can see that he is king for all in his suffering and overcoming of the world, that is of man through resurrection.

  13. Actually, gnosticism was one of the first heresies. You are confusing love of knowledge with knowledge. Not the same.

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