THE SPIRITUAL MINISTRY OF MAN
THE MINISTRY OF THE SPIRIT-MAN
FIRST PART - On Nature
Man, not outward nature, the true witness of Divinity
The human understanding, by applying itself so exclusively to outward things, of which it cannot even yet give a satisfactory account, knows less of the nature of Man's own being even than of the visible objects around him; yet, the moment man ceases to look at the true character of his intimate essence, he becomes quite blind to the eternal Divine Source from which he descends: for, if Man, brought back to his primitive elements, is the only true witness and positive sign by which this supreme Universal Source may be known, that source must necessarily be effaced, when the only mirror that can represent it to our minds, disappears.
Then, when praiseworthy writers and well-meaning defenders of truth try to prove that there is a God, and deduce from His existence all its necessary consequences, as they no longer find this human soul sufficiently in harmony to serve as a witness, they go back to Nature, and to speculation taken from the external order. Hence, many excellent spirits in modern times have made use of all the resources of logic, and put every external science under contribution in their endeavours firmly to establish the existence of Divinity; and yet, notwithstanding these numerous testimonies, never was atheism more in fashion.
It must surely be to the glory of our species, and show the great wisdom of Providence, that all the proofs taken in the order of this world are so defective. For, if this world could have truly shown the Divinity, God would have been satisfied with that witness, and have had no need to create Man. In fact, Man was created merely because the whole universe, notwithstanding all the grandeurs it displays to our eyes, never could manifest the riches of Divinity.
A far different effect is produced by those great writers who, in maintaining the existence of God, take Man himself for their proof and the basis of their demonstrations: Man as he should be, at least, if not as he is. Their evidences acquire force and fulness and satisfy all our faculties at once. The evidence drawn from Man is gentle in its effect, and seems to speak the language of our own nature.
That which is drawn from the outside world, is cold and arid, and like a language apart, which requires a laborious study: besides, the more peremptory and decisive this kind of evidence is, the more it humbles our antagonists, and disposes them to hate us.
That which is taken from the nature of Man, on the contrary, even when it obtains a complete victory over the unbeliever, causes him no humiliation, because it places him in a position to feel and partake of all the dignity which belongs to his quality as Man.
And one who is not vanquished by this sublime evidence might, at most, deride it sometimes; but, at other times, he would very likely be sorry not to be able to reach so high a ground, and would certainly never take offence at its being offered to him; and this is enough to show how carefully we ought to sound the depths of Man's being, and affirm the sublimity of his essence, that we may thereby demonstrate the Divine Essence, for there is nothing else in the world that can do it, directly.
………I repeat, that, to attain this end, every argument taken from this world and nature, is unsatisfactory, unstable. We suppose things for the world, to arrive at a fixed Being, in whom every thing is true; we lend to the world abstract and figurative verities, to prove a Being who is altogether real and positive; we take things without intelligence, to prove a Being who is Intelligence itself; things without love, to demonstrate Him who is only Love; things circumscribed within limits, to make known Him who is Free; and things that die, to explain Him who is Life.
Is it not to be feared, that, in committing ourselves to such an undertaking as this, we may imbibe the very defects which are inherent in the means we use, instead of demonstrating to our opponents the treasures of Him we wish to honour?
Two worlds, outward and inward
From the foregoing, we shall see a light arise, which may at first seem strange, but it will not be the less real: it is, that, if man (who, be it remembered, is not of this world) is a sure and direct means of demonstration of the Divine Essence; if proofs taken from the external order of this world are defective and incomplete; and if the hypotheses and abstract truths, which we impute to this world, are taken from the metaphysical order, and have no existence in nature; it clearly follows, that we comprehend nothing in the world we are in, but by the light of the world in which we are not; that it is much easier to attain to the light and certainty which shine in the world in which we are not, than to naturalize ourselves with the shadows and darkness which envelope the world we are in; in short, since it must be said, that we are much nearer to what we call the other-world than we are to this.
It will not even be very difficult to acknowledge, that, to call the other world the world in which we are not, is an abuse, and that this world is the other world to us.
For if, strictly speaking, two things may be respectively the other to each other, there is, nevertheless, a priority between them, either in fact, or conventionally, which requires the second to be considered as the other in respect to the first, and not the first as the other in respect to the second; for, that which is first is one, and can offer no difference, having no point of comparison anterior to itself, whereas that which is second finds that point of comparison before it.
Such is the case with the two worlds in question; and I leave it to the reader to compare the light and certainties we find in the metaphysical order, or what we call the other world, with the obscurities, approximations, and uncertainties we find in the one we inhabit; and I also leave it to him to pronounce whether the world we are not in has not some right to priority over that we are in, as well on account of the perfections and science it affords us, as of the superior antiquity it seems to have over this world of a day in which we are imprisoned.
For none but slaves of ignorance and hasty judgments could think of making mind descend from matter, and, therefore, what we call the other world, from this; whilst this, on the contrary, seems to derive from the other, and come after it.
Thus then, if the world where we are not, the one we call the other world, has, in all respects, the priority over this, it is truly this world, the one where we are, which is the other world, since it has a term of comparison before it, of which it is the difference; and what we call the other world, being one, or the first, carries with it all its relations, and can be a model only, and not another world.
This also shows how much the Spirit-Man must be out of his line of descent, imprisoned in these material elements, and how far these material elements, or this world, is from sufficing to show the Divinity: moreover, strictly speaking, we never do go out of the other world, or the Spirit-World, though so few people believe in its existence. We cannot doubt this truth, since, to give value to the proofs we draw from matter, or this world, we are obliged to lend it the qualities of mind, or the other world. The reason is, every thing depends upon Spirit, every thing corresponds with Spirit, as we shall see in the sequel Thus, the only difference between men is, that some are in the other world, knowing it, and the others are there without knowing it; and, on this head, there is the following progression.
God is in the other world, knowing it, and He cannot but believe and know it; for, being the Universal Spirit Himself, it is impossible that, for Him, there can be any separation between that other world and Himself.
Pure spirits feel well enough that they are in the other world, and they feel it perpetually, and without intermission, because they live by the life of that world
only; but they feel that they are only the inhabitants of that other life, and that another is its proprietor.
Man, although in the terrestrial world, is still in the other world, which is every thing ; but, sometimes he feels its sweet influences, and sometimes he does not; often, even, he receives and follows the impulse of this mixed and dark world only, which is like a coagulation in the midst of that other world, and, in respect to it, a sore, a boil, an ulcer. Hence it is that there are so few men who believe in that other world.
Lastly, lost spirits, whose existence the reflective man can demonstrate to himself beyond all question, by the simple light of his understanding, and without help from tradition, by probing to the quick, those sources of good and evil which combat each other within him, and disturb his intelligence; these lost spirits, I say, are also in that other world, and believe in it.
But, not only do they not feel its sweet influences, nor enjoy the rest and refreshment which even this apparent world affords to man, but they know the other world only by the endless suffering which the acrid source they have opened causes them. If man, through negligence, allows them to enjoy a moment's respite, it is only for a time, and they have always to restore their ill-gotten goods a hundredfold.
What idea, then, should we form of this Nature, or this universe, which makes us so blind to that other world, that spiritual world,-be it good or evil,-which we are never out of? The answer is brief.
Without the evil spiritual world, nature would be an eternity of regularity and perfection; without the good spiritual world, nature would be an eternity of abomination and disorder. It is Supreme Love or Wisdom, who, to assuage the false eternity, has thought right to oppose a ray of the true eternity to it. The mixture of these two eternities composes time, which is neither one nor the other, and yet offers an image successively of both, in good and evil, day and night, life and death, etc.
Supreme Love could employ for this work, powers only which descended from the true eternity, for this reason, on the one hand, everything in time is measured, and, on the other, time itself, both general and particular, must necessarily pass away.
But, as the true eternity has, so to speak, come out of itself to contain the false, and the false eternity, on the contrary, has been thereby forced to draw back; this is the reason why we find it so difficult, in time, to distinguish these two eternities, neither of which is here in its place; and this is the reason why it is so difficult to prove God by nature, in which all is frag-mentary and mixed, and in which the two eternities show themselves only under the outward veil of corruptible matter.
Man buries himself in the external world
In the state of apathy into which man sinks, through his daily illusions, and studying only the external order of Nature, he can see neither the source of her apparent regularity, nor that of her disorders; he identifies himself with this external Universe; he cannot help taking it for a world, and even an exclusive and self-existing one.
And, in this state of things, the idea which has the most difficulty of access into man, is that of the degradation of our species, and the fall of Nature herself; he has lost the rights he ought to have had over her, by allowing them to fall into disuse, and ended by confounding this Man: His True Nature & Ministry, L.-C. de Saint-Martin trans. Edward B. Penny blind dark nature with himself, with his own essence.
Yet if he would, for a moment, take a more correct and profitable view of the external order, a simple remark would suffice to show him, at once, the positive degradation of his species, the dignity of his being, and its superiority over this external order.
How can men deny the degradation of their species, when they see-that they can neither exist, nor live, nor think, nor act, but by combating a resistance? Our blood has to defend itself from the resistance of the elements; our minds, from that of doubt, and the darkness of ignorance; our hearts, from false inclinations; our whole bodies, from inertia; our social state, from disorder, etc.
A resistance is an obstacle; an obstacle, in the order of spirit, is an antipathy, an enmity; and an enmity in action is a hostile combatant power: now this power, continually extending its forces around us, holds us in a violent and painful situation, in which we ought not to be, and, without which, this power would be unknown to us, as if it existed not, since we inwardly feel that we were made for peace and quiet.
No! Man is not in his proper proportions; he has evidently undergone a change for the worse. I do not say this of him because I find it in books; it is not because this idea is generally entertained amongst all people; it is because man, everywhere, seeks a place of rest for his spirit; it is because he wants to master all knowledge, even that of the infinite, and although it escapes him continually, he had rather distort it, and make it bend to suit his dark conceptions, than do without it; it is because, during his transient existence on earth, he appears to be in the midst of his fellow-creatures, like a ravenous lion amongst sheep, or like a sheep amongst ravenous lions; it is because, amongst that vast number of men, there is hardly one who awakes for anything but to be either the victim or the executioner of his brother.
Man's titles higher than Nature
Nevertheless, Man is a great being; if he were not, how could he be degraded? But, independently of this proof of the former dignity of our being, the following reflection ought to convince us of our superiority over Nature, even now.
Astral earthly Nature works out the laws of creation, and came into existence by virtue of those laws only.
The vegetable and mineral kingdoms have in them the effect of these laws, for they contain all the elementary, astral, and other essential properties; and that with more efficacy, and in greater development, than the stars themselves, which contain only one-half of these properties, or than the earth, which contains the other half.
The animal kingdom has the use of these laws of creation, since animals have to feed, maintain, and reproduce themselves; and they contain all the principles which are necessary for this. But the Spirit-Man has, at once, the effect, the use, and the free direction or manipulation of these laws. I will give only one material example of this, and that a very familiar one, but, by its means, the mind may rise higher.
This example is: First, a corn-field, which has in it the effect of these laws of Nature; Secondly, a granivorous animal, having the use of this corn, and may eat it; Thirdly, a baker, who has the control and manipulation of the corn, and can make bread of it; which, though in a very material manner, shows that the powers of Nature are possessed but partially by the creatures which constitute it ; but, that the Spirit-Man alone, and in himself, embraces them all.
As for those material rights which man possesses, and which we have summed up above, in the manipulations of the baker, if we rise in thought to Man's true
region, we shall, no doubt, find these rights proved more virtually, and on a grander scale, by sounding the wonderful properties which constitute the Spirit-Man, and exploring the high order of manipulations which these properties may lead to.
If Man has the power to be the workman and handicraftsman of earthly productions, why should he not be the same of a superior order? He ought to be able to compare those divine productions with their Source, as he has the power to compare the total effect of Nature with the Cause that fashioned and guides her, and he alone has this privilege.
But experience alone can give an idea of this sublime right or privilege; and, even then, this idea will ever appear to be new, even to him who is most accustomed to it.
But, alas! Man knows his spiritual rights, and he does not enjoy them! What need is there of any other proof of his deprivation, therefore, of his degradation?
Man may recover his titles
O, Man! Open, then, your eyes for an instant; for, with your rash judgments, you will not only never recover your rights, but you run the risk of annihilating them. You might take a lesson from the physical order: animals are all heart; and it is clear that, though they are not machines, they are without mind (esprit), for this is distinct from them, outside. For this reason, they have no alliance to establish, as we have, between themselves and their principle; but, seeing the regularity of their march, it cannot, to man's shame, be denied. that, taken altogether, these creatures, which are not endowed with freedom, manifest a more complete and constant alliance with their principle than we can form in ourselves, with our own. We might, even go so far as to say, that all creatures, except man, manifest themselves as so many hearts, of which God is the mind or spirit.
In fact, the world, or lost man, would be all mind (esprit), and thinks he can do without his true heart, his sacred divine heart, if he can but protrude his animal heart, and his vainglory.
In God, there is also a sacred heart and mind. Since we are his images, but they are one, as all the powers and faculties of the Sovereign Being are one.
Now, we have the prerogative of forming, after the similitude of the All-Wise, an indissoluble, eternal alliance between our minds (esprits) and our sacred hearts, by uniting them in the principle which formed them; and it is only on this indispensable condition that we can hope to become again the images of God; and in striving for this, our conviction is confirmed, as to the painful fact of our degradation, and, at the same time, of our superiority over the external order.