Excerpts from R. A. Schwaller de Lubicz's Esoteric Primer ~ ESOTERISM & SYMBOL ~
Chapter 2 There is in man a cerebral intelligence and also an innate intelligence called “intelligence-of-the-heart.” The latter comes into being through a fusion of the cosmic Cause which is contained in its materialization with the same Cause which is in us. This is possible because the nature of both Causes is identical.
As long as we are placed in duality before Nature, we judge it objectively. “Original sin” is the separation—hence the opposition—of complementary aspects whose merging makes for Unity, just as the superimposed colors red and green result in the “colorless.”
In this Unity, our cerebral intelligence can no longer discern anything, and so has no further role to play. It needs opposition in order to function: we and the object, man and woman, yes and no, night and day, light and shade. Thus is every living organism constituted; a ceaseless oscillation between birth and death, increase and decrease.
The red rods and cones in the retina of the eye intercept the color green, neutralize this color, and excite a complementary reaction of the optic nerve, which sees green as opposed to red.
Thus the cerebral function is entirely based on a principle of crossing, as, for example, the right side of the brain generally controls the left side of the body. Likewise, a concrete image, the vision of an object, evokes its qualification or qualitative description. This is accomplished by abstract elements which are themselves the result of comparisons.
Conversely, it is impossible for cerebral intelligence to conceive an abstraction without defining it by a concrete image. But here we must be aware of distinguishing moments of cerebral intelligence from moments of intelligence-of-the-heart. We will return to this later. The origin of the universe being one single and unique source of energy, there is, owing to this common paternity, a communion among all things in the world. There is a kinship between a certain mineral and a plant and an animal and a man: They are linked by being of the “same nature,” because in the final analysis, there is only a simple series of basic characteristics whence, by combinations, innumerable possibilities emerge. These can, however, be classified in a few large families and their subgroups.
Despite the variety of the races of humanity, each consisting of a multitude of very diverse individuals, all men are organized in essentially the same way. What distinguishes one from another is his state of consciousness and hence his mental control, his particular psychic and sexual life, and consequently his affinities.
The variable moment, therefore, is of an abstract order, but can be perfectly well observed and analyzed in its effects.
On the other hand, the abstract cause in a state of genesis within the concrete—and apparently stable—scheme of man’s organic constitution, is beyond rational analysis. A totality of purely bodily experiences evidently maintains this genesis, but individual and group heredity play a part as well. Here again, one can speak of physiological adaptations transmitted by heredity, but the impulse toward this genesis must nevertheless be provided by an incomprehensible moment which, in sum, could be called formless concentration in the transmitting seed.
Our common origin is by no means remote. It does not take us back into the primeval darkness: It is present and constant in that man feeds directly or indirectly on all the kingdoms, and thus enters into constant exchange with their particular natures and, finally, by way of the mineral origin, with the cosmic energy from which everything arises.
It is completely impossible for our minds to conceive something which is not part of concrete Nature and which we have not experienced through our bodily becoming. The dog cannot understand man; it can be aware of him physically, insofar as he is physical, but it can no more understand him than the mollusk can understand the horse or the plant the mollusk. Is it because they lack the necessary cerebral organ? Most certainly. But what brings about this organ? Does the plant thrusting upward have the mentality to understand the sky? Yet it makes no mistake. There is an innate intelligence which is precisely the characteristic nature of the entity. And man possesses this innate nature himself in the mineral of his bones, in the vegetal matter of the tissues of his organs, which together make up his laboratory of assimilation and transformation as an independent being. We define this innate intelligence too glibly as “instinct.” We would do well to examine what comprises it and whence it comes.
Chapter 3 Cerebral intelligence depends upon the senses, the recording of observed facts, and the comprehension of ideas.
No element of cerebral intelligence is abstract, and every qualitative or abstract idea results from the comparison of concrete elements.
The cerebral organ is formed by stages. For this, the organism must develop three faculties: that of the senses, that which records observations, and that which compares the recorded ideas, namely, memory. Reason, about which we shall speak later, is of a different order. For now, we are still speaking only of the human animal. The senses are the elements by which the “principial elements” are perceived. Touch, the tactile sense, is of the Earth, that is, of everything forming a material obstacle to the matter of the body. The body of the wind is Earth, as is the body of water, or stone. The senses are aware of an activity only by opposing it with a resistance of an identical nature. Taste is related to water, and nothing, be it a gas or a solid, can be tasted unless it be slightly dissolved. Thus there is a Water principle in everything. The sense of smell belongs to Air because nothing can be smelled unless it be volatile, or made so, as, for example, by heat. And so there is an Air principle in all things. Sight belongs to Fire: nothing can be seen without the radiance of Fire, just as a piece of iron, dark in the darkness, becomes dull red then dazzling white if heated by an invisible energy.
The heat of ordinary fire belongs to touch and not to sight. Thus the Fire principle exists in all visible things.
Hearing belongs to the quint-element, the Word, which becomes perceptible physically and tangibly through sound. The first four senses pass through the brain; the fifth sense, hearing, passes through the “heart” without speaking directly to the brain. It is the spiritual sense, the door to intelligence-of-the-heart.
Each thing has its own sound.
All things communicate with one another through the principial elements. The spheres to which our human genesis has not yet attained escape us, as long as we cannot transform them and reduce them to the principial element of the spheres of our inborn intelligence. All scientific instrumentation is but a reduction of this kind. There are aspects of Fire, Air, Water, and Earth which we have not yet experienced in the realms preceding us. It is therefore perfectly reasonable to admit the possible existence of a world interpenetrating the aspect of things now perceptible to us, a world composed of exactly the same principial elements, just as there are light waves which our eyes cannot perceive (infrared and ultraviolet). This still only concerns the possible expansion of the sensitivity of our senses, but the existence of the hearing faculty also allows us to believe in the existence of a principial or ideal state corresponding, like the principial elements, to principial forms.
The fact that there is in man, once he has passed beyond the simple human-animal stage, the possibility of conceiving abstractions which the cerebral intelligence cannot understand as such, demonstrates the existence of a world parallel to ours in constitution but entirely different in aspect, extent, and genesis. This genesis would then be a genesis of return, just as, from the source to ourselves, there is a genesis of bodily becoming.
Cerebral intelligence, which we see developed in the higher animal aspect of man, is strictly limited by the boundaries imposed on the senses. Intelligence-of-the-heart, to the contrary, is independent of them, and belongs to the great complex called life.
The fundamental character of cerebral intelligence is that it is born of duality, the complementing which may also be called the sexualization of the universe. Quality is comprehensible only through this opposition of complementaries; moreover, the idea of quality exists in Nature only, that is, in the dualized universe.
Quality defines quantity, and, inversely, quantity compared with another quantity defines quality. Any so-called abstract idea exists only if we can limit it by a quantity. We can be satisfied with words and say, for example, “horizon,” or “axis,” and construct sentences with these words, but as soon as we try to analyze their meanings, we are bound to make them objective: otherwise, our cerebral ability comes to a halt. An abstraction must be made concrete or else it will be impossible for us to understand.
The word “axis” is a typical example, since this idea, which we qualify as imaginary, cannot be imagined, that is, made objective. Yet the axis (not to be confused with “axle”) is a fundamental characteristic of every rotating body. This again confirms the probability of an intelligence different from that of our cerebral possibilities since our corporeal world shows us the indisputable existence of functions and even of forms which unquestionably exist, and yet always have been and will remain entirely beyond the grasp of this single cerebral instrument alone.
We have borrowed the term “intelligence-of-the-heart” from the ancient Egyptians in order to designate that other aspect of man which allows us to penetrate beyond our animal limits and which, in truth, makes for human man’s characteristic progression toward divine Man: the awakening of this original principle that lies dormant in every living human being.
Chapter 4 Intelligence-of-the-heart is purely a function of experienced innate consciousness.
The heart beats its rhythm, not because it is driven by a motor, but because it is itself the motor of blood circulation. Each cell of the heart beats this rhythm, and Dr Carrel’s experiment demonstrated what was well known to ancient wisdom concerning innate intelligence and consciousness. Each organic being (and even each cell of the organs of an organized being) has its part in the general life which is its personal specification. Man’s heart is not alone in beating rhythmically like a motor; there are aquatic beings that are entirely a heart of this kind and represent the awakening of consciousness which will become “heart.” Another consciousness will become liver, another will become lung, and thus each function has its organ. Compared with an apparently inert mineral, for example, such an organ is the incarnation of a consciousness, of a cosmic function which has received corporeal life. A museum accordingly classifying “The Evolution of Consciousness” or “The Becoming of Life” as natural history would be much more authentic than our displays of dead specimens.
Every natural object in the universe is a hieroglyph of divine science. Each animal, each species of plant, each mineral group, is a stage of “becoming aware” of the cosmic Cause, culminating in the complete organism of human man, the microcosm*—“man in His image.”
The whole, thus formed into a complete living being, is a language that speaks. It expresses itself ceaselessly in its living function, and represents the basis of intelligence-of-the-heart, which is the fact that remains related to all of nature and consequently knows Nature.
Knowledge of this kind cannot be objectified, but it is real. Reality is a fusion of consciousness with the object: there is identity. It is function experienced all by itself and innate in the organism which constitutes intelligence-of-the-heart. Obviously, therefore, we must be able to transcribe what is in us into our mental and objective consciousness, by establishing a relationship between the life in us and observation of that life in Nature. This we find supremely well expressed by the ancient Egyptians. It is a knowledge of magic, pure and sane, which can lead rapidly toward the spiritual goal of our lives, owing to the fact that we can evoke, by means of the sympathies of analogies in our surroundings, the consciousness of the heart latent in us.
*In reality, man is the universe and not a miniature universe in the image of a large one.
Chapter 5 Fundamentally, consciousness has two aspects: one is the result of comparisons, the other of identification. Both aspects need to be inscribed: one is an organic or cerebral inscription, the other is vital or functional.
It would be absurd to expect an identical functioning for cerebral consciousness and innate consciousness. The meaning of the term “consciousness” must be outlined and defined. We lack a suitable vocabulary for this meaning as we find it established in the ancient Egyptian and Hindu languages by masters of wisdom.
So let us say that cerebral consciousness is the result of quantitative experience, a mechanical consciousness resulting from comparison. Memory in itself is no more than a phonograph record or cinematographic film. A single impression is no more than an isolated groove of this record or one frame from this film. Functional memory, the definition of an impression recorded in this fashion, begins only with comparison. Even mechanically, one has to resort to “magic,” that is, to giving an impulse by evoking impressions. For example, a particular flash of lightning evokes an entire scene from the past. A scent recalls an impression experienced long ago; a word ignites remembrance of a thought heard or read, and may give rise to a long series of “thoughts,” of concordances. A fact recorded by the senses is what triggers recollection, and agreement or disagreement results in logical or illogical thought or sophistry. The entire cerebral mechanism can be reproduced mechanically. So much the better, as this will show the most obtuse of us where the error lies. But when we want to go beyond academic know-how—that sclerosis of the spirit—to fertile thought, the cerebral mechanism is no longer adequate. When we just said that we must necessarily turn to what constitutes true magic, namely, evocation, and that there is agreement or disagreement in the assemblage of recalled ideas, we were appealing to another power in us which comes from our innate consciousness, the source of the sense of harmony. If it is effective, this power will be the reason for genius, for creative thought, creative in the sense that it works ahead of the known, the classified.
Isn’t it this consciousness of a new way, dictated to today’s decadent world, which impels artists to destroy the idols of yesterday in order to attempt irrational expressions?
They seek a concordance of the elements of “sensations,” ignoring the rational combinations which only satisfy the inertia of acquired habit. Atmospheres, images, and forms are created to evoke a feeling, an emotion, to provoke a vital reaction. Art is the herald of the mentality of a period, the harbinger of its innermost tendency. Intelligence-of-the-heart, which establishes the relationship between innate consciousness and observation of fact, is identification.
Identification means to live with and to live in the observed fact, to be that fact oneself, to suffer it, to act in it, rejoice with it. It is sympathetic consciousness, not a subjective consciousness such as logic would like to oppose to objective consciousness. Yet confusion between the two is easy: cerebral consciousness is graphically inscribed in the cerebral matter, as we have just stated. Innate consciousness is inscribed in the nature of the organism, meaning that the motive power of its function is the impulse of its necessity, the Idea, or principle of harmony. In man, as already in the higher animal, this creates emotivity.
The greater the sensitivity of the emotional faculty, the better innate consciousness can express itself. If, then, the observed fact provokes a sensation, an emotional reaction of an egocentric order, this will be subjective consciousness. If the fact is observed by an individual in a state of neutrality, an impersonal state, this will be sympathetic consciousness. All these problems thus have their solution in the cultivation of self, in detachment from egoism, in the mastery of thought, of mentation, the cerebral cinema.
The inscription of innate or sympathetic consciousness is vital or functional, if life as such and function as such are considered the very principle of living Nature. This principle is a reality beyond corporeal matter, but it assumes a body; it incarnates by means of the harmony of the ambient elements.
When a certain number of elements exist, their relationship brings one or another function into play. For example, the earth breathes, the crab emerges from the sea, a plant germinates, the male palm tree grows toward the female palm tree….Function is a necessity, and the latter pertains to the living law or genesis whose order effectuates the entire play of Nature, inborn knowledge of which is sacred science. Everything, absolutely everything, obeys this divine mandate, which is a simple set of functions imposed on the universe. And no intelligence can resist it, no power can hinder it; it is order, the harmony of the causal Cause working through the cosmic Cause.
The incarnation in man of all the necessities or functional orders of world harmony is the temple, where the original creative energy connects the intelligence-of-the-heart’s innate consciousness with the universe. This comes about through objective observation of fact, in order to arrive at a cosmic consciousness independent of destructible or mortal components.
The science of this conscious return to the source (Christ arisen to the right of his Father, not into his Father) is spiritual psychology, and it speaks to us in this life, through Life.
Chapter 6 Everything that lives, moves. This movement is either quantitative in space and time, or qualitative or formal; that is, it defines space and time. Force, in this case, is considered as Idea prior to formed substance or matter. Thus there is apparent life and the life which causes what is apparent.
Many attempts have been made to define life, but the only perfect definition would be that of life as divine Presence. The term “dead body” is applied to a mineral, a dead plant, an inert animal that neither moves nor breathes, incapable of assimilating food, of experiencing an outer action, of expressing a feeling, a thought—in short, a cessation of the conscious relationship of the being with the environment. But anesthesis or catalepsy brings about all this to some extent, as does natural sleep.
Actually, a body is not dead until it decomposes into its constituent elements.
Thus, after cerebral consciousness has disappeared, there is still a possible vital subconsciousness within apparent death, and an innate life of matter after suppression of the subconsciousness.
Consequently, there is a continuation of “dying” during bodily decomposition.
In fact, it is impossible to kill a being born within nature, be it mineral or man.
Life is immanent in everything, from the indestructible fixed salt of the bones to complex consciousness.
For once, Lavoisier was correct, but not in the sense he intended, for if nothing can be lost, that which cannot be lost is always the same and unique thing, and everything, ultimately, is reduced to that same and unique thing.
We must speak about death in order to understand life. Definitive death does not exist: there are only changes of nonpermanent states. Permanence resides in the original Cause; the transitory is in the phases of self-awareness. The impulse toward this universal genesis is the life which causes what is apparent.
If definitive death does not exist (and this refers only to the natural being and not to animated man) it is because everything is life, whether this life has bodily form or whether it be metaphysical or form without body; that is, the idea of the form becomes embodied. In the same way, the energetic lines of force of a “mother solution” are necessary to the crystal or assemblage of dispersed molecules. But there is also the ovum from which the fetus is generated. This no longer pertains to an assemblage of molecules dispersed in a solution: it is the corporeal formation of energy-elements selected by the Idea within the nutritive medium. The seed or paternal impulse is the Idea.
Spirit, the divine Cause, is much closer to us than our poor brains can imagine.
Is the seed anything but the metaphysical Idea of the corporeal form it is going to generate? Is a catalyst anything other than the energetic Idea of the compound it brings about?
If the esoteric teaching of sacred science did not make it possible to prove that spirit is a fact, or to demonstrate what occurs in consciousness and in the successive phases of the “dying” of the body and of the form, then all this teaching would be but gratuitous philosophical speculation devoid of value.
We say “God” and do not know what this means; we say “spirit” and do not understand this abstraction; we say “energy” and know nothing whatever of its nature.
We see effects and attribute to them a cause which is sometimes God, sometimes Spirit-Word, and sometimes Energy—words which take the place of ignorance but posit hypotheses we cannot avoid formulating.
Mere speculation cannot resolve these problems. It can only collect concrete, material elements perceived by the senses. Metaphysics makes no sense to the mind’s reasoning.
On the other hand, once abstraction is hypothesized as a premise, we must seek the solution by the means at our disposal. These means are simply the teaching of Nature –of which we are the ultimate product-- and our natural communion with her. When we want to express our knowledge, we must be able to translate or reduce it to concrete terms, accessible to our senses and through the cerebral function. “Sympathetic” experience always remains uncertain and open to discussion as long as it is not “objectified” experience.
Thus, to be as certain of our innate knowledge as we are of our learned knowledge, we must search for the experimental proof demonstrating that spirit, the abstract, actually becomes concrete by a definite route.
Sacred science affirms that this is possible. It teaches this through its “esotericism,” which is “hermetically” sealed only from cerebral intelligence, and which will remain so unless we cultivate another aspect of intelligence and a mentality other than those sweepings off the granary floor which are our schools.
This is why the sages leave speculation to the idle, and contemplate Nature. Nature teaches everything. A sound evokes all its harmonics; an acorn evokes the oak—a harmonic complex which, in the plant kingdom, is oak. But musical harmonics are bodily vibrations of aquatic nature. The seed (sound or acorn, grain or spermatozoon) is of a specified nature, and this specification is the genesis of seeds from mineral to man, the spatial reduction of substance without form.
There is no “first seed,” and the egg preceded the chicken. The substance of this egg has always existed as substance without form, the Cosmic Virgin. The sperm of the rooster, to the contrary, became, generated in the passage from cosmic nebula to itself.
The Christic principle, on the other hand, is direct fertilization without specific seed, a leap from the abstract origin to the ultimate human product: Man-God.
Chapter 7 Appearance is the dualization of a single Principle and defines Nature, or living spirit. The causal Cause is incomprehensible Unity and, metaphysically, from one becomes two, which results in the cosmic Cause, threefold in one Unity, the latter thus being accessible.
It is beyond our power to imagine anything that would not be possible in fact; that is, imagination [or any compilation of ideas] can only be composed from simple elements which are cerebrally accessible. Thus materialistic philosophy, when it is logically consistent, has a real basis in Nature. But one unknown fact will mean an error in logic. It may be said: everything has always existed, and the varieties are the object of an evolution. This statement is both true and false. It is false if considered by bodily senses and cerebral intelligence alone; it is true spiritually, because spirit, or substance without form, is eternal. It is that from which every body is formed. Evolution also is real, starting from the original energetic impulse, but it always obeys a ‘law of universal genesis’ and not fortuitous conditions.
Surely the function does not create the organ. How could it act before existing? Adaptation is not creation, and what is not created—that is, contained in the harmonic order of the Law of Genesis— will never be incarnated.
As for the evolutionist theory of materialism, it is bankrupt for most thinkers.
Besides, what is the good of philosophizing as our world has done for so many centuries? All our ‘philosophies’ are but personal speculation compared with natural philosophy, the philosophy of living Nature and its summary as it is found in all sacred texts.
In the beginning, there is separation: this we still see always and everywhere. We need the number Two, in order to define the number One, which as indivisible Unity, is impossible for us to understand. The grain decomposes in the earth, the seed in the ovule. When we can no longer divide, we are beyond Nature and approach the causal Cause, the abstract Cause.
This is why the whole of metaphysics, all creation, is situated between the numbers One and Two. Then the threefold Idea forms an accessible Unity which can be divided and added. The Chinese sages said: One always equals three. The Egyptian sages placed the triad at the origin of each line, as they placed the triangle at the origin of geometric forms. Two irreducible magnitudes are necessary to determine a third. The sages have never taught otherwise.
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