As we close in on the 1001 posts at which point Gornahoor will come to its natural end, it is time to focus more clearly on its goals. At the current pace, that end will come in about 10 to 12 months. There are other projects envisioned beyond that, which have been languishing. For example,
- There is much more work to do with the Medtarot discussion list.
- The project to create graphical images for the various figures described in Guenon’s Symbolism of the Cross is on hold. A few years ago, a mathematician from Notre Dame offered to help, but he has since moved on. Perhaps there is someone else who is familiar with ray tracing of mathematical modeling software.
- There are various translations projects pending, mostly of obscure writers.
- The Gnosis group, which is more important than any of the above, needs to expand.
- Finally, of course, there are my own personal meditations which cannot risk being lost in a sea of busyness.
The main point of Gornahoor is to explore Tradition including its social structures, metaphysical principles, and esoteric teachings, with the ultimate aim being its possible restoration. We are not promoting any specific religious teachings, although we will use them to illustrate the manifestations of Tradition. We have been focusing on the Medieval tradition for the practical matter that it is closer to us in time, customs, language, etc., so presumably it will be easier to grasp for the modern mind seeking to understand.
Now the authors that primarily interest us — Rene Guenon, Julius Evola, Guido de Giorgio, Ananda Coomaraswamy — all agree that the European Middle Ages, along with its spiritual teachings, constituted a valid tradition. We have endeavored to explore those. Our aim is not to demonstrate their truth, since that is simply assumed. We have demonstrated that the Medieval tradition was in continuity with the preceding European traditions, although with a deepening understanding.
Properly understood, it provides a complete teaching, so there is no necessity to follow alternative, and alien, traditions. Nevertheless, the variety of religions, with their apparently incompatible claims to truth, has been a scandal to modern man. Science and rationalistic philosophies have not provided the basis for understanding the meaning of life. Various revolutionary movements have caused commotions without increasing human happiness.
At the right moment, then, Rene Guenon arrived with an intellectually and spiritually satisfying teaching. Commonality in symbols, rites, social organization, and metaphysical principles explain spiritual systems better than the alternatives from psychology and anthropology.
Nevertheless, we cannot stop there. It is one thing to announce the “transcendent unity of religions”; specifity is a different matter. Hence, that principle dictated the following subgoals
- To distinguish between exoteric and esoteric. One way is to show how theological concepts can be recast as metaphysical concepts.
- To show that the Medieval Church (or the Nordic-Roman tradition, in Evola’s terms) formed a legitimate tradition
- To highlight the differences between the Medieval and contemporary churches
- To show the continuity of the Medieval church with the historically prior pagan traditions
- To point out the homologies between the Medieval tradition and other traditions
- To show that the Hermetic tradition preserved the essential elements of the medieval tradition
We can use the “fall of man” as an example of a homology between various traditions. Sacred texts have higher interpretations beyond the literal, historical, or scientific interpretation. The esoteric understanding stands at a different level. This does not mean it is the “correct” interpretation in opposition to the “literal” interpretation; viz., it does not assume the literal meaning is false. However, for our purposes, it is primarily the esoteric meaning that is of interest.
So, in this case, the esoteric interpretation of the Fall involves the knowledge of one’s states of consciousness rather than the exoteric knowledge of the activities of the primal couple in the past. According to the Council of Trent, these are the lasting effects of the original fall, which persist to our own times:
- The intellect is darkened. It becomes difficult to grasp the true nature of the Man, God, and the World.
- The will is weakened. It is beset by concupiscence and negative emotions which guide it instead of the higher intellect
This is a simpler way to put it. The fall of man involves man in:
Put this way, this is the summation of Buddhism. The way of liberation begins with “right view” (the elimination of ignorance by seeing reality as it is) and ends with the end of excessive or disordered desire. Similarly, the Vedanta teaches that man is in a state of avidya (ignorance) and limited to the desire for pleasure, worldly success, or sense of duty. The “antidote” is vidya and desire refocused on liberation.
That is not the whole story, of course, but it is the basis for a common understanding.
Regeneration and the Mirror of God
The twin peaks of scholastic metaphysics were Saint Thomas Aquinas and Saint Bonaventura.
In his mediations on the Soul’s Journey to God, Bonaventura uses the six wings of the seraph from Ezekiel as a springboard to a series of meditations on God, similar to the technique used by Valentin Tomberg on the imagery of the Tarot. He begins with the knowledge of God gleaned from the created world. As such, it is a nature mysticism, which many poets, etc., have experienced. Unfortunately, it is usually considered the endpoint rather than the first leg of a longer journey.
It ends with meditations of God as Being and as the Good, before finally resting in God. These meditations are probably far from the typical believer’s understanding of God.
As far as I know, in the 8 centuries since Bonaventura’s meditations were written, the Franciscan orders have never developed a retreat format based on them. He is not describing a psychological process, as some commentators believe. They may advocate some techniques from cognitive psychology or other schools. Stay away.
The soul’s journey is also very unlike the “faith journey” that so many today want to dwell on. Bonaventure is objective, esoteric, and God-centered, whereas the faith journey is often maudlin, emotional, and self-centered.
Bonaventura’s journey is to lead back to the primordial state prior to the fall. Called “regeneration”, this is likewise the goal of Hermetism, not to mention Guenon’s frequent discussions on the primordial state. Another topic mentioned by Bonaventura is the necessity to “polish the mirror” of the soul in order for the soul to better reflect God’s image. Again, this is the absolute starting point for Tomberg’s meditations. So we see the Hermetic tradition has preserved the Medieval esoteric tradition. However, they diverged at some point, even reaching enmity. That rift must be healed.
That is because, in our time, Bonaventura’s ideas are often forgotten. For example, what pope or bishop mentions the desirability of restoring the primordial state? Furthermore, it is simply assumed today that every human is the image of God without making the effort of “polishing the mirror”.
Simon Magus tried to purchase the power of the Holy Spirit. Simony is a perpetual temptation and is considered a serious moral failing. Nevertheless, the sale of “spiritual wisdom” is a big business today. People prefer to pay for some teachings that they can repeat back like parrots. True teachings are priceless, since they require a change in being.