It is with particular joy and gratitude that we may once again place the ancient message of the Egyptian Gnosis in the full light of day, now that world and mankind have reached a periodic turning-point in the great cosmic tides.
This message, which was and is the foundation of all liberating activity in the Aryan period of humanity, irrespective of when and where and under what name it is given, is directed to all those who perceive the tragedy of human events. It is intended for those who, with deeply disturbed hearts, still try to find a sure way out of the fatal cycle of death which, irresistibly, causes mankind to perish in the immeasurable darkness of the falling cosmic night.
By the nature of its contents, this book speaks directly to those who, as pupils of the gnostic Spiritual School, endeavour to go the path to the true destiny of humanity. Through this, all serious seekers of the liberating truth are able to approach the Spirit of gnostic pupilship in the purest manner possible and in this self-orientation discover whether they are also called to this path.
J. van Rijckenborgh
CHAPTER 1: HERMES TRIMEGISTUS
At the end of April 1956, during a meeting with many pupils in our conference-centre Renova, at Lage Vuursche, the Netherlands, we asked the participants to reflect upon the new development in our work which would begin in June 1956, after the month of May, which is always so important for the Spiritual School. The great gnostic work for mankind was to begin in the following months.
Most of the pupils knew to what a great extent the fivefold Living Body of the School shuddered, as it were, under the increasing tensions of the coming events. They were conscious of the glorious times we had entered, times which would reveal to which camp each one would belong: to the camp of the Gnosis, or to that of ordinary nature. A very remarkable separation would take place.
The gnostic council had to be established, a council rooted in the Arch-Gnosis — the Gnosis of Hermes Trismegistus. It is evident that all who seek the light of the liberating Truth must profoundly reflect on this Arch-Gnosis. This is the reason why we make known the instructions, given to the pupils of the Spiritual School, to all those who are as yet outsiders but who are called to the harvest of this time according to their inner state of being.
Who was, or rather who is Hermes Trismegistus? In answer to this question one can of course visualize an exalted divine envoy. There is no objection to this as long as you do not think of one historical person but rather of a number of envoys. For, according to the custom of the ancients, powers and manifestations were symbolically indicated as gods in a human form.
Therefore, one should say: Hermes is. Hermes is the true heavenly man who passed through the portals of the Golden Head. For this reason he is called ‘Trismegistus’, ‘the thrice Great One’ or ‘the thrice Exalted One’, for heavenly man is exalted in a threefold sense: religious, scientific and artistic. Religion, science and art constitute a perfect equilateral triangle in him.
When we speak of religion we understand by this that heavenly man lives and experiences his religion in the only true form, out of the absolute link with the original divine being. A pupil on the path who aims towards spirituality demonstrates the fact by a great purity, love, veracity and earnestness. He shows that he has been touched in his whole being by the great love that is God and that he wishes to live by this love, that he is longing for it, that he is striving after perfection. Even in this love, in this one aspect, a majestic equilateral triangle is to be seen. For he who wishes to receive the love of God and so desires to be a true gnostic should, firstly, empty himself of I-centredness and earthly ambition and action. Secondly, he will then receive and be filled with the light radiations of divine love and thirdly, he who receives these radiations through this emptying will also radiate the love of God.
By this clear-cut liberating action the pupil proves that he is on the path. This is the first hermetic aspect of sublimation. The second is its result. When a pupil receives the love-light of the Gnosis, which occurs to the extent that he has conquered I-centrality and has broken through to self-emptying, a great change takes place in the five fluids of his natural soul-state. Neutralisation is an absolute condition and the endura is the basic formula, otherwise the Son of Man, the light of the Gnosis, can find no dwelling-place in the human system. However, when a human being's heart is open and the gnostic light can dwell therein, then it circulates daily in him.
One of the first characteristic results of this is enlightenment, illumination, as the ancients called it, a change of consciousness. New possibilities of consciousness then awaken. These already existed potentially in the system, but were unable to come to life until that moment. However, as soon as the new possibilities of consciousness become active, intellectuality recedes and wisdom is born. The science arising from this wisdom is the second hermetic aspect of sublimation. This second hermetic aspect of greatness is rightly called the Rosicrucian aspect, for the true Rosicrucian is wise by the grace of God; he is a sage in a new sense. He is the man of Golgotha who, in dying daily, fastens the Rose to the cross and so passes away in Jesus the Lord.
Also, in the second hermetic aspect we see how the equilateral triangle radiates. Wisdom must first be born out of the heart, out of the Rose of the heart, out of Bethlehem. It comes to maturity in the head sanctuary and just as Love, is diffused as a radiation by the whole being. So we should now clearly see the third hermetic aspect.
The art referred to is the Royal Art. Firstly, the Art of being able to live as a liberated man; secondly, the Art of becoming truly invincible as a heavenly, liberated man; thirdly, the Art of serving, through this life, God, world and mankind.
So, we see before us the magician by the grace of God, the brother or sister of the Holy Grail; the man who serves, illuminated by the wisdom of the Rosycross and the love-power of the Gnosis. The one who has become perfect by these three times three aspects is a Hermes Trismegistus, a heavenly man. He who begins to live by these nine aspects and who aims at this in complete self-surrender, goes the hermetic path, has become a child or son of Hermes. He approaches the state of the heavenly genesis of man, which arises from the threefold exaltation, also guaranteed by the classical Rosycross.
Firstly the candidate, after having purified the heart-sanctuary by the emptying of the I, is touched by divine Love via the gate of Bethlehem and is thereby ignited by the Spirit of God; secondly, he will receive wisdom through this light of Love, not as traditional intellectual knowledge, but because the Fire circulates through him, from Bethlehem to Golgotha, due to his complete passing away in Jesus the Lord. Then, thirdly, he demonstrates this sublimity in daily, magical priesthood. This is the rebirth out of the Holy Spirit.
Rebirth as understood in the gospel naturally involves complete sacrifice. You who are awaiting sublimity, you who are awaiting the touch of the Gnosis and the results of your going the path, should bear this in mind. Above all, the secret of your success is to be found in complete sacrifice. Therefore, when we speak of Hermes Trismegistus you will know that we do not wish to draw your attention to mankind's ancient past, to prehistoric times when the teacher spoke of most sublime things to mankind, but that we are dealing here with the living present of the Gnosis of all time.
In this living present dialectics, the ordinary state of nature, speaks most clearly and with its forces it claims our attention, wishing to absorb us completely and leading us to believe that there is nothing else. Perhaps you have sought the Light — the Mystery — all your life. That is why we say to you that in the living present there are mysteries which you will have to approach with a total reversal in your attitude of life, if you really wish that their veils be rent and truth radiate from them.
The nature of dialectics is sometimes indicated as ‘Herod’ in the Bible. But the secret that must be unveiled, and has been omnipresent since the dawn of times; that has dug itself — bored itself — into dialectics, is sometimes indicated as ‘Egypt’ in the Bible.
When, in the early pupilship of the Holy Gnosis, you are touched by the light of the secret so that the mystery can be unveiled, the Herodian force of nature will try to kill this element, which is foreign to it, before the unveiling is completed.
Therefore, every serious pupil is told to flee to Egypt, just as the Child Jesus. That is, the serious pupil is told to penetrate deeply into the mysteries of the true life, if only we are able to see it, if only we are able to penetrate into it. For we say to you: the Holy Grail lives.
Finally, you will now understand why it is said that many great teachers of mankind, such as Pythagoras and Plato, obtained their knowledge from Hermes Trismegistus and why it appears that the hermetic wisdom is wholly identical to, for instance, the sacred doctrine of the East. For there is but one wisdom that has always been preserved and on which man has drawn, whenever and wherever in the world he might be.
It is also clear, now, why numerous books are ascribed to Hermes. One author even speaks of a hundred thousand parchments containing Hermes’ wisdom. However, all the books in the world could not contain the hermetic wisdom because it is free from all traditional knowledge. In fact, this wisdom cannot be found in any book, but it will become a possession of one who really fastens ‘the Rose’ to the ‘cross’.
After having provided an introduction, through the Tabula Smaragdina, which is the foundation and the synthesis of the original wisdom, we now invite your attention to the book, Corpus Hermeticum. However, by this we certainly do not suggest that: ‘This is wisdom’. Rather, we wish to make you conversant with the testimony of the ancient wisdom, which should also be assimilated by us in the living present.
Therefore, we do not stop at the sight of ruined sanctuaries or yellowed parchments, although we salute them with reverence. We thank God for the preceding Brotherhoods, who have borne and suffered so much for us, for through their love-power, it is now permitted us to approach the Gnosis. However, we must never forget that, as a young gnostic Brotherhood, we are to do in the living present what the ancients did in the past.
We compare their testimony with our experience. As touched ones, as young shoots off the ancient trunk, we 'flee to Egypt' together. We immerse ourselves in the mystery that as children of God we may accomplish our task in the present.