Know Thyself

“Just as a mirror takes on the hues of images, so also the abstract Intelligence assumes the different shapes of objects, by virtue of its holding them within itself.

Abstract Intelligence can thus be made manifest by eliminating from it all that can be known. It cannot be known as such and such, for it is the supporter of one and all.

This, being the Self of the seeker, is not cognizable. Investigate your true Self in the aforesaid manner. [Note: There is no agent other than the Self to know the Self; there is no light other than Its light to illumine It.]

You are not the body, nor the senses, nor the mind, because they are all transient. The body is composed of food, so how can you be the body?!”

Tripura Rahasya, chapter XVI, verses 20-23

On True Love & Untrue Love

When we come to the realm of spirituality and metaphysics there are no words more misunderstood, and hence abused than the words love and heart. We attribute the origin of this misunderstanding of love and heart in the context of spirituality to the modern conception of human being as a purely individual phenomenon. Individualism can have no consequence worse than a pure sentimentality which has already contaminated the religious and the spiritual side of man. As a result of this sentimentality, love cannot be understood but as sentimental love which is by no means the truly spiritual and metaphysical meaning of the word. In fact, sentimentality as such constitutes a downward movement away from the Principle; it is in all its modalities the antitheses to effective spiritual realization which entails transcending the individual order and all its defects one of which is sentimentality, the essence of all passions.

All authentic spiritual traditions consider the Heart to be a symbol for the center of integral human being. Heart in its traditional conception has nothing whatsoever to do with the physical organ, nor does it imply sentimental love. In all spiritual traditions this Heart signifies nothing but the Pure Intellect, not to be confused with mind and the rational faculty the instrument of which is the brain. This Heart as the seat of the Intellect, the Divine spark in man, has nothing whatsoever to do with emotions or human sentimentality as such. In short, true spirituality has nothing sentimental about it, for it concerns only the principial truths of a supra-sensible and supra-individual nature.

Consequently and from the traditional point of view, Love which is the principal function of the spiritual Heart, i.e. the Pure Intellect, essentially signifies Intellectual Intuition, the Eye of The Heart, which is the means of direct and inward realization; it is the only means by which man can transcend his individuality, and hence his sentimentality, and obtain a direct knowledge of transcendent metaphysical truths.

Sentimental love comes from attachment while true, metaphysical love comes from detachment, and hence has nothing sentimental about it. Metaphysical love is a direct and logical consequence of seeing all things on an equal footing and from an absolutely detached point of view, not because of a profane indifference but because of a profound intuition into the nature of things as the manifestations of one and the same Supreme Principle. However, since the phenomenal world which is the domain of individuality manifests only diversity insofar as human sensibility is concerned, it is only by means of Intellectual Intuition, the inward realization, that a person can penetrate the veil of multiplicity and see the one Principle behind its diverse manifestations.

Therefore, this Intellectual Intuition which can transcend the sensible multiplicity and grasp the intelligible unity is a necessary requisite for the practice of metaphysical love, precisely that to which Christ refers, which derives only from discernment and detachment rather than sentimentality and attachment. In the absence of Intellectual Intuition love reduces to mere sentimentality, and detachment reduces to mere indifference which is itself but another face of human sentimentality, namely the principal impediments in the way of transcendence and realization.

Man & Intelligence

The modern conception of human being reduces man to his/her individuality: Human being is an individual being among other beings in the world. The major shortcoming of this conception is its lack of awareness of its own origin; it fails to see that a purely individual being cannot rise above itself and perceive itself as a part in a larger whole. The consciousness that perceives the part in view of the whole cannot itself be a mere part of this whole, for otherwise it would not be capable of apprehending anything beyond itself. This shortcoming of the modern conception of human being and Reality as a whole urges us to take a look at the traditional perspective on the constitution of human being.

From the traditional point of view, human being is understood to be like an iceberg only whose tip, its smallest part, lies in the manifest order which is the realm of individualities. The largest portion of the human person which constitutes the supra-individual core of his being lies in the unmanifest, supra-individual order. Thus, the traditional conception of man always considers his whole being which is always more than his individuality.

The traditional point of view conceives of man as the ternary of Spirit-Soul-Body which correspond, respectively, to his three principal faculties of Intelligence, Sentiment, and Will. While the body which is but an avatar operative in the field of willful action lies in the purely individual order, the Spirit which is the principle behind the avatar lies in the purely spiritual, supra-individual order; it is the spirit behind the letter, the invisible meaning behind the visible word. The soul associated with psyche and sentiment is the principal channel of communication between these two orders of Reality; it is the means or the thread by which the Spirit descends to the body so that the body ascends, i.e. returns, to the Spirit. By the very fact that Spirit belongs to the supra-individual order we can no more speak of my spirit or your spirit; rather, in our individual aspects we are all manifestations of one and the same Spirit, the Supreme Principle behind all manifestations.

It is natural that the Spirit and spiritual truths must belong to the invisible order. Spiritual truths are eternal and immutable forms immune to all change and decay while worldly facts are by their very nature contingent and relative and hence subject to change and decay. Invisibility, thus, is a necessary precondition for immutability. Note that visibility and seeing in the ordinary sense of visual perception, and any human perception for that matter, entail perspective and hence relativity and contingency. Therefore, no immutable and absolute truth can belong to this contingent order of Reality. It is a matter of logical necessity that nothing of a supra-individual order can be susceptible to mundane perception and profane knowledge.

However, as we mentioned above the human person whose whole being is more than his individuality is equipped with a faculty capable of transcending the individual order and apprehending the immutable truths of a supra-individual nature. This faculty is nothing but human Intelligence which originates not from the brain or the mind but from the Pure Intellect of the Divine Principle. Intelligence has nothing to do with human individuality and is not correlated or associated with any physical or mental aspect of the human person; instead, it is the direct and sacred link between the soul and the Spirit. Intelligence is that sacred thread emanating directly from the Spirit, a thread whose principal function is the provision of the means of ascent and hence return to the Spirit Itself. It is the perverted version of this intelligence, that is, its reflection in and distortion by individual subjectivities, that has made possible the emergence of modern science, a science that by its very nature is nothing but profane knowledge.

Intelligence in its pure form and supremely objective character is that which makes man capable of intellectual intuition the result of which can only be the Sacred Science or science par excellence, namely Metaphysics. Here by metaphysics we do not mean the vulgar interest, so fashionable today, in flying spirits and angelic beings and channeling media, and in general in any supernatural power or phenomenon; nor do we imply by metaphysics the modern western sense of the word as in speculative philosophies which are purely rationalistic and thus wholly lacking in intellectual depth.

Metaphysics in its etymological and original sense of the word, the only sense in which we are interested here, is nothing but the sacred science of the universal principles, a science whose method is intellectual intuition and inward realization and whose aim is the attainment of the Supreme Identity, namely Deliverance. It is Intelligence alone that is capable of metaphysical knowledge and hence of assisting the being in its return to the Principle Itself. Intelligence in this sense is nothing but the Intellectus Archetypus, the Divine Intellect, which constitutes the only infallible means of knowledge in man.

The grave mistake of the rationalists in their confusion of reason with Intellect originates precisely from their failure to recognize the supra-individual element in man and his Intelligence, a confusion that has led to reducing the Intellect to human reason which is only capable of discursive thought and profane knowledge of an individual and contingent nature. This confusion is due to their total lack of comprehension of the traditional distinction between the Intellectus Archetypus, the supra-human and purely intellectual faculty, and the Intellectus Ectypus, the merely human and purely rational faculty. It is no surprise that modern science and philosophy which lack an intellectual dimension are completely oblivious to the “metaphysical transparency of phenomena”, phenomena that by their very nature prove nothing and are worthless in and by themselves compared to the spiritual truths they symbolize and of which they are only outward manifestations. This lack of intellectual depth is characteristic of the modern West whose sciences are insanely obsessed with phenomena in themselves rather than with the Principle on and for which phenomena stand, the Principle which is graspable only in light of a refined and highly objective intellectual intuition and which doesn’t lend itself to the indirect and discursive modes of knowing of the rational faculty. In spite of this, man through his/her Intelligence which constitutes his/her intellectual/spiritual dimension is made capable of participating in the Divine Knowledge whose content are the absolute and the immutable truths of a supra-individual nature.

Intellectual intuition devoid of prejudice and not contaminated by individual subjectivity and sentimentality, a contamination so characteristic of modern science, is precisely the inner eye, the Eye of The Heart, that penetrates and perceives the mundanely invisible truths of the spiritual and supra-individual order of Reality. Since the physical order, which is the realm of shadows and reflected forms, is nothing but the descending reflection of a metaphysical order, which is the realm of immutable forms, then it is natural that every visible form of the manifest order must communicate to us an invisible, and hence immutable truth of the unmanifest order. More precisely, every visible form in the individual order has only a symbolic function and is but a channel into the invisible truths of a supra-individual order, and it is only in virtue of his/her objective Intelligence that man can penetrate the veils of ignorance and at last get a glimpse of The Face.

Truth & Intelligence

We superimpose our human rigidity on God, making Him judgmental and ourselves fearful. While we must fear God, our fear of Him should be a humbling awe with utmost veneration before His infinitude rather than a childish fright before His revengeful wrath.

We, and especially we religious and spiritual people, and even more so myself, constantly judge ourselves, and that is our egos behind all judgment since ego is always concerned with my individual perfection, and then we assume this judgment to be God’s as if God expected perfection from that which is essentially non-God, namely creation. God’s infinitude projects in the plane of existence as boundless, unconditional, pure love. God loves us even when we hate ourselves, and He gives Himself to us whenever we call on Him. He forgives us and yet we punish ourselves. When we obsessively judge and slash at ourselves for our imperfections we are in fact judging God’s creation and hence Him by association.

We are by nature imperfect and yet expect perfection from ourselves; God is by nature perfect and He doesn’t expect anything from us. From God’s point of view, as if there were others, we are always already perfect, for we are nothing but the manifestations of his perfection and infinitude. We are deluded into thinking that God has given us an awareness of our imperfections; but what we perceive, due to ego’s self-obsession, as the awareness of our imperfections is in fact nothing but the awareness of God’s perfection. It is only in light of our consciousness of God that we feel small and imperfect.

The awareness of our imperfections, which is the other face of our awareness of God’s perfection, is a saving thread graced upon us to redirect our attention away from ourselves and toward God. When we are instead preoccupied with our spiritual imperfections we are not being spiritual at all, for we are distracted from the Truth and the Way by constantly diverting our consciousness from its sole purpose of absorption in God to absorption in ourselves under the name of spiritual perfection.

God, being Absolute and Infinite, is the endless source of generosity. It is our egos, especially in our spiritual paths, that is obsessed with our own perfection, and particularly with our spiritual perfection, the ego that constantly finds faults with us without ever accepting us the way we are. God, however, accepts us, always and forever, as who we are with all our imperfections and shortcomings, for He is the source of our very Being; God is our very Being itself. We forget this basic truth that our spiritual journey is never about us; it is, and always should be, about God and Him alone: Our spiritual journey begins by finding ourselves in the midst of our imperfections and it ends by losing ourselves in the midst of God’s perfection. Instead of focusing on our own imperfections we must contemplate His perfection.

We limit His infinitude with the finitude of the vessels that we are. The traditional man used to view God as the final station to which he had to ascend; but now we look at ourselves and our own level as the final station to which God must descend. We no more strive to rise up to truth but instead bring truth down to our own little and pitiful level. This is the predominant attitude of modernism and symptomatic of all modern educational systems, the insistence on bringing everything down to man instead of pushing him up to truth, the urge to dilute everything great and of high value so to make it suitable for our weak digestion, and hence making it weaker and weaker.

The result is a modern man with watered down intelligence incapable of grasping anything beyond himself, anything beyond the mental and the physical, anything that doesn’t guarantee instant gratification. Modern man, a species reduced to a mere psycho-physical phenomenon, utterly lacks the intelligence and intellectual intuition capable of perceiving eternal truths. The natural consequence, and the more profitable road, is for this modern man to define his/her own commonsense and crooked intelligence as the final and the only truth and the absolute criterion of all other truths, if at all he believes in any truth. In modern man intelligence has hit its rock bottom with a loud bang that we hear as the babbling of its militant atheists and liberals.

This modern man is confused and hopelessly disoriented; he confuses things of the high planes with things of the low grounds, the archetypes with brain chemistry: He confuses true knowledge with mere information, intuition with mere computation, intellect with reason, intelligence with memory and book knowledge, philosophy with sterile mental masturbation, science with dogma, rational judgment with sentimental prejudice, degradation with evolution, regress with progress, and above all he confuses objective truths with his own subjective preferences as a result of which we have been dragged into a new Dark Age, the Age of Dogma, an age marked with the reign of irrational beliefs, superstitious opinions, and wild sentiments, and worst of all an unprecedented treason against human intelligence, and intelligence as such.

Since this modern man, this little man of intellectual and spiritual retardation, cannot conceive of anything above himself he must look for something below himself, perhaps he must be a descendant of apes, and he really is nothing more as long as he considers himself to be that; and what is ironic about this man is that he takes so much pride in boldly standing up for these modern superstitions that pass for scientific facts!

But how can we take serious the sciences of a species which claims himself to be nothing more than a sexually repressed ape of no freewill?! How can we expect any objective knowledge from a species hopelessly conditioned by its animal drives and the purely self-interested motive for mere survival?! You see, this modern man cannot open its mouth and say something without contradicting himself: He claims that he is nothing but a “small phase of an evolution going from the amoeba to the superman,” and yet in some mysterious fashion he can at once objectively know where he stands in all this! He asserts with absolute certainty that there are not absolute truths and yet makes an irrational exception in favor of this assertion itself elevating it to the status of an absolute truth, and hence excluding himself and his sciences from the consequences of his own scientific conclusions!

Modern man performed a miracle that even God cannot perform: He made a fashionable commonsense out of the absurd! This is genius, and in fact his only genius. It is as if he secretly enjoys having come from the ape instead of the apex. His irrational insistence on being closer to chimpanzees than to transcendent archetypes, despite lack of scientific evidence, is really nothing but an adolescence rebellion of a reverse puberty that we know of as the Renaissance and its Age of Enlightenment which gave us the last kick into an irremediable darkness.

This modern man is more arrogant than ever, but this outward arrogance is nothing but the reflection of an inward ignorance and insecurity that befell upon him when he washed off the sense of the sacred from nature and himself and replaced it with the illusion of evolution and endless progress, and hence he destroyed the very ground upon which he was standing. Modern man is not standing anymore; he is crawling like a worm in his own filth made of synthetic ismisms and a whorified consumerism with the sole end of welfare and instant gratification. But we’re being too charitable here, too optimistic in our view of modern man. This modern man’s crawling is in truth a sliding backwards into a Godless oblivion.

Truth & Intelligence

There are two classes of species when it comes to intelligence:

The first class are the extremists who are of two types: There are those who never question the world, and there are those who never question their intelligence. Religious fanatics are of the first type. Ideological fanatics such as Richard Dawkins and the atheists, and the rest of the animal kingdom are of the second type; they suffer the worst kind of ignorance according to Socrates because they are hopelessly blind to the possibility that they do not know. These evolve only in the physical plane but remain stoned in the department of intelligence.

Evolution proper applies to the second of species, the superior ones, which are again of two types: Those who question both the world and their intelligence without constantly ejaculating judgments all over the rest, and those who trust both the world and their intelligence, hence leaving it to Him to lift them up; and they shall be lifted up. These two types are destined for evolution in the true sense of the world, that is the vertical evolution which takes them from earth to heaven rather than merely from birth to death.

The difference between the two classes lies not in the object of their belief; the religious seeker who has beliefs and the honest agnostic who avoids all beliefs are equally close to The Center though one calls that center God and the other has no name for it.

What distinguishes between the two classes of species is their inclination toward judgment. The inferior type, being essentially insecure because they believe in nothing greater than themselves, are those inclined towards judgment; they are egocentric and inferior precisely because they assume the position of God, the Ground of Being, The Abyss, The Nameless, you name it.

The second class knows it is not for him to judge, that reality is determined from above and not by him or her. The second class is always a truth-seeker while the first is only a self-seeker, the judge; the former can transcend itself while the latter cannot even pass a kidney stone. The superior kind knows that “to know is to be able to learn” while the inferior kind thinks he knows because he is done learning. The higher species is humble, loving, and intelligent; the lower one is rude, arrogant, and stupid.

And when it comes to destiny of our higher and lower classes, the truth-centered species merges and converges to The Center while the self-centered diverges and submerges in oblivion.

Intelligence is not the capacity to pile up information and carry around a bagful of opinions. To be intelligent is to be able to be and remain open to fact and experience as they present themselves, that is to say to be objective pure and simple. The simple peasant of yesterday was much more intelligent and objective than the complicated scholar of today, though the scholar has managed to change the meaning of intelligence and objectivity to suit his egocentric ends without being noticed by the consciousness of the mass.

The common misunderstanding is that religion is only a matter of faith and opinion and unquestioned devotion. Religion is first and foremost a matter of intelligence; it is founded upon Pure Intellect and demands the same thing from the serious seeker. Faith and devotion are only the protective layers of truth, the sources of divine perfume, the means to an intuitive end. But the string that is holding man during his fall is after all the intellect, the Axis Mundi.

Intelligence is the divine spark in man, whether we understand by divinity a personal God or the impersonal principle underlying the universal manifestation. To see Satchidananda, the divine hand, in all beings is only a seeing of and by the intelligence. It is the intellect that sees and directs the operations of reason which belongs to the lower sphere. The faith of the true devotee arises from his/her intelligence; it is a faith rooted in trust and intuition, unlike the whorified idolaters of scientism and atheism who are in blind faith, or bad faith as Sartre puts it, and whose objects of worship are nothing but the non-intuitive abstractions of the true scientist who stays out of publicity and is himself only after truth, however misguided.

Thus, the salvation of mankind is a function of his objectivity which is the essence of intelligence. The more objective we are, the closer we become to The Center. Objectivity is the sole virtue that guides all other virtues, and especially those stated or implied in the scriptures:

What is humility but objectivity toward oneself, seeing oneself like we see everyone else.

What is charity but objectivity toward the other, seeing him/her as oneself.

What is love of the neighbor but objectivity toward manifestation as such, understanding that the neighbor is a concept encompassing all beings, including ourselves as God’s neighbors. Without this objectivity one cannot love without destroying, for love without objectivity will make either a master or a slave.