Apr 28, 2012

The Eight Theses of Giordano Bruno: Point 5

The fifth point, out of eight, brought against Giordano Bruno concerns the movement of the earth:

5) The idea of terrestrial movement, which according to Bruno, did not oppose the Holy Scriptures, which were popularized for the faithful and did not apply to scientists.
 
Basically, the Church refused to accept the assertion that the earth was in motion. The Ptolemaic model said the earth was motionless and that all the other spheres moved around it. They reasoned that, since we are beings created by God, we must be living at the center of creation. The movement began by Copernicus to place the Sun at the center was too much for them to handle.

One would think that, if Church leaders had such high ideals for our planet, albeit in their imaginations, they would so adamantly place a yawning abyss between God and His creation, i.e. the dichotomy between spirit and matter.

The Eight Theses of Giordano Bruno: Point 4


The fourth point formulated against Giordano Bruno reads thusly:

4) The argument according to which "there is no transformation in the substance," since
     the substance is eternal and generates nothing, but transforms.

For these eight points we are discussing, Bruno's executioners drove a nail through his tongue (a common practice for heretics being put to death), and fed Bruno  to a roaring conflagration.

Giordano Bruno denied the Roman Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation, the belief that, during the Eucharist, the substance of the wafer and wine are literally transformed into the substance of the body and blood of Christ. 

Since Bruno believed that all substances are eternal and are accompanied by spirit and intelligence, in essence, divinity, he saw no need for a transformation to divinity of the Eucharistic substances. In his mind, they were already divine.

I have talked much on this blog about the connection between Nature and Soul. I think Bruno was viewing transubstantiation from this viewpoint. He, and I, cannot agree with the position that matter (all substances of Nature) is somehow evil and full of sin and wickedness. If matter possesses divinity, then there is no need for a transformation of substances. The end result of this line of thinking is this: there is no need for an incarnation of God in human flesh. God has always been in human flesh and in all matter. Thus, we have arrived at a major point in the heresy of Bruno. 

I am not of the opinion that Jesus wanted to be a God over us. He was always trying to show what we humans are capable of, if we would only believe and act.
Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God. Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God? If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him (John 10:32-38).
Just prior to this statement, Jesus said, "I and my Father are one." For this claim, his Jewish brethren came down hard on him. I see this as a key passage of scripture in the Gospels. I believe the primary mission of Jesus Christ was to show the world the Truth concerning humanity and Nature. We are destined for divinity! This is the manner of speech that resulted in the death of Jesus, just as it resulted in many deaths of those accused by the Church. Blind eyes will never see the truth of this message. They will always react this way.

Apr 25, 2012

The Eight Theses of Giordano Bruno: Point 3

Photo by jerry sharp

At this point in our project, we have learned that Bruno has no notion of wanting to please the cardinals of the Church. During his trial, which lasted more than eight years, he refused time and time again to recant. He was subjected to daily torture on the rack and other instruments of pain by the so-called Holy Inquisition. Through all of this, he would not betray his ideas.

The third point reads thusly:

3) The idea that every reality resides in the eternal and infinite soul of the world, including 
     the body: "There is no reality that is not accompanied by a spirit and an intelligence."

As we know, the Anima Mundi is a living reality that encompasses all things in the universe. Bruno said (in the guise of Teofilo),
The universal intellect is the innermost, most real and most proper faculty or potential part of the world soul. It is that one and the same thing that fills everything, illuminates the universe and directs nature to produce her various species suitably (Cause, Principle, and Unity, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 1998, pg 37).
And this very powerful statement:
The universe is, therefore, one, infinite, and immobile. I say that
the absolute possibility is one, that the act is one; the form, or soul, is one,
the matter, or body, is one, the thing is one, being is one (ibid.). 
Bruno is claiming that the Anima Mundi and all entities in the universe are one substance. According to this notion, God is in no way distinct from the universe.

The statement, "There is no reality that is not accompanied by a spirit and an intelligence," originates with the following passage. Bruno is here discussing divers kinds of spirits:
These various spirits occupy the bodies of humans, animals, stones and
minerals. There is no body which is completely devoid of spirit and intel-
ligence. Furthermore, no spirit possesses a permanent location for itself.
Rather, spirits fluctuate from one matter to another, and matter fluctuates
from one spirit to another, and from one nature or composition to another.
 So, we have, in these two ideas, 1) that every reality resides in the World Soul, and 2) that every reality is accompanied by spirit and intelligence, the crux of the third point brought against Giordano Bruno. He believes that all Nature is one substance with the Soul of the World. He believes that all of Nature's physical entities are possessed of spirits and intelligences. Even though the term was coined in 1697 by Joseph Raphson in his work De spatio reali, it is fairly clear that Bruno is espousing at least a form of pantheism. And what of it? The terms pantheism and panentheism seem to me just so much rationalistic claptrap! Why are rationalists always bent on distinguishing one reality from another?

To cut through the analytical mess and get to the nitty-gritty of things, here are a couple of questions: Is a rose in full bloom divine? Is there a divine spirit in a baby's laugh? Break free of polarized thinking and see Truth rising like Sol in the east. If God wills it, He can be distinct and indistinct from Nature simultaneously! Polarized thinking gets us nowhere. Bruno was burned to death because puny polarized minds could not comprehend the genius they were dealing with.

Apr 22, 2012

The Eight Theses of Giordano Bruno: Point 2


Our discussion continues with the second assertion of Bruno, which he refused to recant:
2) The doctrine of the infinite universe and infinite worlds in conflict with the idea of Creation: "He who denies the infinite in effect denies the infinite power.
Giordano Bruno was truly a man out of time. He was born in an age when the Church was becoming very restrictive in its views of so-called heretical teachings. If he had lived in Ficino's day, he probably would not have been fed to the flames. At the same time, if he had lived 300 years later, he may have been revered as a brilliant philosopher. True teachers of Soul are always persecuted by those in authority. It has always been the case throughout history. Those who control the masses feel threatened whenever a strong voice speaks out in favor of Truth. It was true in the days of Jesus, and it is true now.

Bruno's doctrine of an infinite universe was an electrifying idea to have written and spoken about publicly in that day. He was well-schooled in both the prevailing view, the Ptolemaic model of geocentrism, and the view of Copernicus. Bruno was born only five years after the death of the great astronomer. The following description is the teaching Bruno attacked:
The earth was the central ball around which seven transparent spheres glided, carrying the moon, the sun, and the five naked-eye planets. An eighth sphere carried the fixed stars. It would be fruitless to dwell on the picturesque medieval elaborations on this system in which other spheres were added, presumably as the dwelling places of various ranks of angels and archangels. Essentially, the Ptolemaic universe was a closed system with the earth at the center and the stars as fixed points of light on a huge sphere. The earth was motionless; day and night were caused by the revolution of the heavens. All orbits were circles, since according to Aristotle the circle is the perfect figure. Aristotle had also taught that the earth was corruptible, while the regions beyond the sphere of the moon were perfect and therefore unchanging (Giordano Bruno and the Infinite Universe, by Warren Hollister).
The system of Copernicus was an advance on the Ptolemaic system, but it was still, nevertheless, a closed and very finite system. He still hung onto aspects of the Ptolemaic cosmology, having merely switched the earth for the sun. Of course, the Church wanted none of it, except to retain the Ptolemaic system. They reasoned that, if Christ had incarnated on the earth, it must be the center of the universe.

It was actually Bruno who paved the way for modern astronomy. Galileo, for all the wonderful discoveries he made, did not grasp the fact that the universe was a vast, infinite expanse, filled with not only planets, but suns like ours, sitting at the center of innumerable solar systems.
The universe is then one, infinite, immobile. ... It is not capable of comprehension and therefore is endless and limitless, and to that extent infinite and indeterminable, and consequently immobile (In Giordano Bruno and Jack Lindsay, 'Fifth Dialogue', Cause, Principle, and Unity: Five Dialogues (1976), 135.). 
Bruno asserted that the universe didn't even have a center, that the center is everywhere!
To a body of infinite size there can be ascribed neither center nor boundary ... Just as we regard ourselves as at the center of that universally equidistant circle, which is the great horizon and the limit of our own encircling ethereal region, so doubtless the inhabitants of the moon believe themselves to be at the center (of a great horizon) that embraces this earth, the sun, and the stars, and is the boundary of the radii of their own horizon. Thus the earth no more than any other world is at the center; moreover no points constitute determined celestial poles for our earth, just as she herself is not a definite and determined pole to any other point of the ether, or of the world-space; and the same is true for all other bodies. From various points of view these may all be regarded either as centers, or as points on the circumference, as poles, or zeniths and so forth. Thus the earth is not in the center of the universe; it is central only to our own surrounding space (Irving Louis Horowitz, The Renaissance Philosophy of Giordano Bruno (1952), 60). 
With these statements, Bruno effectively laid waste the prevailing cosmological theories of the day.

How did he gain this knowledge? He did not have the tools we have today. He didn't even have a telescope. Remember that Bruno was highly skilled in the arena of human memory. He was a master of mnemotechnics. This skill requires vast imaginative capabilities. I am certain that Bruno had traveled in his imagination to some of those many worlds he discussed. In his imagination, while traversing the mundus imaginalis, he saw the truth of our solar system and the universe. Ideas such as these begin in the imagination. It is the Star in human beings:
Imagination is the star in man, the celestial or supercelestial body (Martin Ruland, Lexicon Alchemiae, 1612).
 What will we see if we ourselves peer into this vast realm, this world with unlimited depth?

I leave you with this astounding statement from a true martyr of Truth, who, apparently saw the possibility of parallel worlds:
I can imagine an infinite number of worlds like the earth, with a Garden of Eden on each one. In all these Gardens of Eden, half the Adams and Eves will not eat the fruit of knowledge, but half will. But half of infinity is infinity, so an infinite number of worlds will fall from grace and there will be an infinite number of crucifixions. Therefore, either there is one unique Jesus who goes from one world to another, or there are an infinite number of Jesuses. Since a single Jesus visiting an infinite number of earths one at a time would take an infinite amount of time, there must be an infinite number of Jesuses. Therefore, God must create an infinite number of Christs (Giordano Bruno, On the Cause, Principle, and Unity, 5th dialogue (1588).

The Eight Theses of Giordano Bruno: Point 1


There were eight philosophical propositions of Giordano Bruno, collected by his tormentor, Cardinal Bellarmine, that Bruno would not recant. In this article, I will discuss the first, and then follow with the remainder in a series of articles. Hopefully, we will be able to understand the value of these teachings, and why Bruno went to a fiery death to defend them.
1) The statement of "two real and eternal principles of existence: the soul of the world and the original matter from which beings are derived."
According to Bruno, existence is comprised of two principles: the Soul of the World (Anima Mundi) and original matter.  I've discussed the Anima Mundi in other articles, especially one entitled, you guessed it, The Soul of the World.

Let us focus on this idea of "original matter." Most translators call it "prime matter." The Latin is prima materia. To delve into this subject, we must make an excursion into the history of matter in Western philosophy. One crucial point to remember is that matter is not necessarily to be understood as something that occupies space. For Aristotle, anyway, matter is the substratum of the change of substances, thus his theory of matter is called hylomorphism. Material objects come into being through a process of change, arising from a substratum. So, for Aristotle, he would say something like, "What is the matter of this apple?" In other words, "What are the underlying constituents of this apple?" Another example may be helpful:
When some X is produced, X's matter is what undergoes the change into X and remains constant throughout the process. For example, consider bronze. Bronze is the matter of both a bronze statue and a bronze sphere. When a bronze statue changes into a bronze sphere or vice versa, the bronze remains constant throughout the change. The bronze is potentially both a bronze statue and a bronze sphere: while remaining bronze, it can become a bronze statue or a bronze sphere. Thus, matter is "potentiality":M is X's matter if and only if M has the potential to be X (Wikipedia)
The Presocratic thinker, Anaximander, posited a very intriguing proposition concerning the origin of matter. As a precursor to our discussion, I suggest you read my  article, Three Images of the Unbound, for background information on this early Greek philosopher. 








The first important point to make is that Anaximander, with his idea of the Apeiron, is saying that matter is the result of a whirling, infinite, and primal reservoir of patterns or forms. It is boundless, eternal, ageless, indestructible, and encompasses all the worlds (Anaximander believed in many worlds). The Apeiron, through its spontaneous and self-generated spiraling, produces all the material forms that we experience as matter. One could say the Apeiron is a characteristic of God, or as Plotinus would say, The One.

The second point concerns this quote from Aristotle, where he is discussing Anaximander's conception of the Apeiron:
The Unlimited encompasses and governs all things. On this basis, the Unlimited is equivalent to the Divine, since it is deathless and indestructible, as Anaximander says and as most physicists would agree (Physica, 203b, 6). 
Here we have a connection between the Divine and matter, something that, in our day, has been discarded in favor of a dead, inanimate world of dead, inanimate objects. Anaximander's conception of the arche of all things as the Apeiron is an example of what in Greek is called hylozoism. All of the Presocratics exhibited some form of hylozoism in their various ideas of the foundation of all things. Basically, hylozoism says there is no distinction between mind or spirit and matter, thus meaning that matter would possess consciousness. This is the solution to the so-called mind-body problem.




Around one hundred years later, Pythagoras taught that the whirling forms originating from the Apeiron contain sacred geometry, and asserted that these are the very essence of matter. Later, Plato takes this idea, transforms it, and posits a split between perfect forms and imperfect, corrupt matter. He believed matter to be a shadowy imitation of the more perfect Form. 

By the time of Bruno's arrest, the Church had adopted the Aristotelian form of hylomorphism. In this theory, substances are envisioned as composites of form and matter. Matter is seen as entirely passive and dependent on the corresponding Form to give it dynamism and quality.

Against this view, Bruno offered a theory of matter that annihilated the dualistic ideas of Plato and Aristotle. He called his idea mater-materia, or "matter-mattering." Here, matter possesses intelligence; it is the origin of all Forms. This idea could be termed "materialistic," but it would be accompanied by the qualifier, "intelligent materialism," since matter intrinsically possesses intelligence and consciousness. Bruno's idea, here, bears similarity with Anaximander's Apeiron. Also, this means that God is intimately connected with His creation. Mind is not separate from matter; mind is within matter. The phrase "mater-materia" connotes the womb of the Mother. Matter exists as an agent of "mattering;" matter is the matrix of all material forms. Now, we better understand why we say "Mother Nature." We could also say, "Mother Matter."

Thus, we can see, now, why Bruno had no intention of recanting such an eloquent position concerning the existence of all things. He knew God is in all things and that all things are in God. He knew the Anima Mundi is the overarching life force in this world. He was of the mind that death was better than denial of such sacred things.

Apr 21, 2012

The Soul of the World


What is the Anima Mundi, the Soul of the World? The idea harkens back to the days of the ancient Greek philosophers, possibly even further. We know that Plato wrote of it in his day:
Therefore, we may consequently state that: this world is indeed a living being endowed with a soul and intelligence ... a single visible living entity containing all other living entities, which by their nature are all related (Plato, Timaeus, 29/30; 4th century BCE).
The world is a living being and is connected to the natural world as the human Soul is connected to the body. As above, so below. This idea flourished in Neoplatonism and, later, Renaissance Hermeticism. Plotinus honed Plato's idea into a powerful cosmological and metaphysical teaching.
Within the context of his mystical metaphysics, Plotinus developed a clearer concept of "world-soul" (Latin: Anima mundi) than Plato's idea in Timaeus. Plato presented the concept of "demiurge" (from the Greek δημιουργός dēmiourgós, Latinized demiurgus, meaning "artisan" or "craftsman," literally "worker in the service of the people," from δήμιος "of the people" + ἔργον "work"), a creative deity, who designed and structured the order of the cosmos, but not the creator of the cosmos itself.

Plotinus conceived this process of the creation of the cosmos as an "emanation from the One." He argued that "nous" (Greek: νοῦς or νόος; mind or intellect) and "world-soul" were emanated from the divine origin, which he called the One. In the context of the emanation, Plotinus explained the soul of the cosmos. Plonitus's view of the creation of the universe is more naturalistic than the Christian concept of Creation (New World Encyclopedia).
Instead of creatio ex nihilo, Plotinus offered the idea of emanatio ex Deo (emanation from God). The entire cosmological theory of Plotinus involves emanations from the One.

By the time of the Renaissance, the idea of Anima Mundi became a prominent teaching among many thinkers who leaned toward the esoteric. The Roman Church seemed to have problems with this view. In the late 1590's, the Inquisition accused Giordano Bruno of pantheism simply because he espoused the teaching of the Anima Mundi. Earlier so-called heresies, such as the various Gnostic sects, adhered to this view, as well. The alchemists had adopted it too.

The Church Fathers envisioned a world that was not divine, was not sacred. It is difficult to understand how they arrived at this when Christ Himself seemed to honor the natural world. Remember the story,
Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these (Matt 6:28-29)?
Nature is sacred. No doubt about it. One wonders what the Church Fathers were thinking!

Nature is sacred because there is a living Soul connected to it.

Humans are sacred because there is a living Soul connected to them.

Just as I have written concerning our Celestial Twin, who guides us and teaches us as we meander down life's winding road, Nature, too, has a Celestial Twin, the Anima Mundi,  who guides and teaches Her what She needs to do. As above, so below. We are all connected, to each other, to our Twin, and to the Anima Mundi.

Just as the alchemists sought to extract gold from matter, we are called to bring forth the divine light within us. There is an essence of divinity in matter. It is not an evil prison for the fallen soul. Rather, matter is filled with light, but it is up to us to bring it out of darkness. The Anima Mundi is diffused throughout Nature, where all matter is specked with fiery sparks of divinity. Look closely at  a fully-bloomed rose and tell me Nature is not sacred. It is, indeed!
The World Soul is not a fixed or defined substance, but a living substance made out of the hopes, dreams, and deepest imaginings of humanity and of all creation. This is the home of creation’s collective memories and the myths of humanity. Here are the archetypes and powers that define our life. Here are hidden places of magical meaning, places where dreams can come into being. We have lived for so long in the stark barrenness of a rational landscape that we have forgotten the potency that lies beneath the surface. Flowing through the pathways created by our conscious connection to the anima mundi, our light will find its way to places of power that are within the world, places where deeper layers of meaning are waiting to come alive (Anima Mundi: Awakening the Soul of the World, by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee).
Just as the human Soul is not an objective substance, so also is the Anima Mundi. What James Hillman said about the human Soul applies to the World Soul, as well:
By soul I mean, first of all, a perspective rather than a substance, a viewpoint toward things rather than a thing itself. This perspective is reflective; it mediates events and makes differences between ourselves and everything that happens. Between us and events, between the doer and the deed, there is a reflective moment -- and soul-making means differentiating this middle ground (Re-Visioning Psychology).
The Anima Mundi is reflective of what is occurring in our world, its body. This reflection is mediatorial; as Ficino said, "it may rightly be called the center of nature, the middle term of all things, the face of all, the bond and juncture of the universe." I believe that natural disasters, such as tsunamis and earthquakes, are a direct result of estrangement from the Anima Mundi. The fault of this lies with the Roman Church, for promoting the division between spirit and Nature, then to scientism for de-souling the world. These days, capitalism is the cause of much antagonism between humanity and the World Soul. Oil spills, unbelievable pollution, and countless wars-for-profit desecrate this planet. The church's teaching that man has dominion over the earth has reaped very ugly rewards. Greedy profiteers will stop at nothing to gain more filthy lucre, at the expense of Nature and its Soul.

If we estrange ourselves from our souls, we also estrange ourselves from the World Soul. This will leave us to fall into an fathomless abyss of nihilism, and an empty life.

Begin to free the light of the World Soul from yourselves so that all the earth will be engulfed in its pure light.

Apr 20, 2012

The Tragedy of Giordano Bruno

Giordano Bruno was one of the most important philosophers of the Renaissance period. Born in the small Italian town of Nola in 1548, he entered the Dominican monastery of Saint Domenico at the age of seventeen. In 1572, he finished his novitiate and became an ordained priest.

Giordano was an advocate for free thinking, having a penchant for topics that were quite controversial in the eyes of the church.
Bruno's taste for free thinking and forbidden books soon caused him difficulties, and given the controversy he caused in later life it is surprising that he was able to remain within the monastic system for eleven years. In his testimony to Venetian inquisitors during his trial, many years later, he indicates that proceedings were twice taken against him for having cast away images of the saints, retaining only a crucifix, and for having made controversial reading recommendations to a novice. Such behavior could perhaps be overlooked, but Bruno's situation became much more serious when he was reported to have defended the Arian heresy, and when a copy of the banned writings of Erasmus, annotated by him, was discovered hidden in the convent privy. When he learned that an indictment was being prepared against him in Naples he fled, shedding his religious habit, at least for a time (Wikipedia).
In 1579, he arrived in Calvin's Geneva. Some think he became a Protestant, but that is doubtful because of his disdain for the religious teachings of someone like Calvin. While studying at Geneva University, he made some noise when he attacked, in print, the work of one Antoine de la Faye, a popular professor. This professor has given a series of lectures on Aristotle. Bruno displayed his antipathy, on twenty different points, in the form of a pamphlet. True to his rebellious nature (quite to be admired), he and his printer were both arrested.

After this imbroglio, Bruno decided to relocate to Lyon, and then to Toulouse, where he earned his doctorate in theology. He taught philosophy for awhile here before moving on to Paris in 1581. He had been summoned by Henri III, after the king heard tales of Bruno's prodigious mnemonic skills. Under the king's protection, Bruno stayed in Paris for five years, teaching at the Royal College of Lecturers. This comfortable position was a result of his explication of mnemotechnics in a book published in 1582 called De Umbris Idearum, which had strong Hermetic overtones. The king was delighted with him and allowed him to publish two more important works on memory that same year, Ars Memoriae (The Art of Memory) and Cantus Circaeus (Circe's Song).





Bruno traveled to England in 1583, accompanying the French ambassador, Michel de Castelnau, at the behest of Henry III. In fine style, Bruno mingled with Oxford dons and some of John Dee's acquaintances. Some of the so-called gentlemen were not quite taken with Bruno because of his support for Copernicus' heliocentrism. George Abbot, a fellow of Balliol College, and who later became Archbishop of Canterbury, organized a public debate concerning Bruno's heliocentric views. During this time, Bruno, not being dismayed by the criticism of his ideas, published, in London, some of his most important works, including La Cena de le Ceneri (The Ash Wednesday Supper, 1584), De la Causa, Principio et Uno (On Cause, Principle and Unity, 1584), De l'Infinito Universo et Mondi (On the Infinite Universe and Worlds, 1584) as well as Lo Spaccio de la Bestia Trionfante (The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast, 1584) and De gl' Heroici Furori (On Heroic Frenzies, 1585). Some of these caused great controversy and Bruno was, again, in a tangle with the authorities.

After the French embassy in London was attacked by unruly citizens in 1585, Castelnau, with Bruno in tow, returned to Paris to avoid the sticky wicket in which Bruno had become embroiled. But Paris proved to be troublesome for the free thinker, as well. After losing the support of the king and his patrons over his 120 theses against Aristotle, and pamphlets against mathematician Fabrizio Mordente, he fled France and headed to Germany.

He arrived at Wittenberg, where he lectured on Aristotle for two years. During this time, he offended Danish astronomer, Tycho Brahe, with his ideas on infinite worlds. He then departed from Germany and headed for Prague.

In 1588, Prague was ruled by Rudolph II, who was the patron of alchemists and astrologers. Bruno, during this time, turned more toward magic and Hermetism. Bruno produced several Latin works, dictated to his secretary Girolamo Besler, including De Magia (On Magic), Theses De Magia (Theses On Magic) and De Vinculis In Genere (A General Account of Bonding). He also published De Imaginum, Signorum, Et Idearum Compositione (On The Composition of Images, Signs and Ideas, 1591).

In 1591, Giovanni Mocenigo invited Bruno to travel to Venice and teach him the magic art of mnemotechnics. Bruno complied, after at first hesitating. He hoped to be given the chair of Mathematics at the university of Padua, but this was not to be. The philosopher departed his host and headed to Frankfurt. Disappointed by Bruno's teaching and doubtful about his orthodoxy, Mocenigo denounced him to the Inquisition. On May, 23,1592, Bruno was arrested and taken to San Domenico di Castello prison.

Bruno's trial dragged on for more than eight years. Basically, it was the entirety of his ideas that would cost him his life. He was accused by the Inquisition for his anti-dogmatic views, which included his rejection of the Trinity, the virginity of Mary, and the teaching of transubstantiation. Also, his heliocentrism was seen as heresy, as well as his attraction to magic and Hermetism.

In 1594, all the works of Giordano Bruno were burned in St. Peter's Square. Bruno presented his final plea before the so-called Holy Office on December 20, 1594. At the end of it all, the accusations came down to eight propositions, which Bruno refused to recant:

1) The statement of "two real and eternal principles of existence: the soul of the world and 
     the original matter from which beings are derived."

2) The doctrine of the infinite universe and infinite worlds in conflict with the idea of Creation: 
    "He who denies the infinite in effect denies the infinite power."

3) The idea that every reality resides in the eternal and infinite soul of the world, including 
     the body: "There is no reality that is not accompanied by a spirit and an intelligence."

4) The argument according to which "there is no transformation in the substance," since
     the substance is eternal and generates nothing, but transforms.

5) The idea of terrestrial movement, which according to Bruno, did not oppose the Holy
     Scriptures, which were popularized for the faithful and did not apply to scientists.

6) The designation of stars as "messengers and interpreters of the ways of God".

7) The allocation of a "both sensory and intellectual" soul to earth.

8) The opposition to the doctrine of St Thomas on the soul, the spiritual reality held
    captive in the body and not considered as the form of the human body.

For these eight points, Giordano Bruno was burned to death in Campo dei Fiori in Rome, after Pope Clement VIII declared Bruno "an unrepentant heretic, tenacious and stubborn." The so-called Supreme Pontiff handed him over to the secular officials who set him ablaze. Prior to his death, Bruno uttered these grave words:

"Maiori forsan cum timore sententiam in me fertis quam ego accipiam (
Perhaps you pronounce this sentence against me with greater fear than I receive it)."

Bruno turned his head away from the crucifix before being consumed by the flames.

The eight propositions given above are, in a nutshell, what myself and many others, discuss on a daily basis in these electronic forums. Thank God the church no longer has control over our lives as they did in Bruno's day.

This article is dedicated to the memory and work of Giordano Bruno, an amazing philosopher and free thinker. You can find a selection of his works online here.

Apr 17, 2012

The Death and Resurrection of Our Myth

The breakdown of a central myth is like the shattering of a vessel containing a precious essence; the fluid is spilled and drains away, soaked up by the surrounding undifferentiated matter. Meaning is lost. In its place, primitive and atavistic contents are reactivated. Differentiated values disappear and are replaced by the elemental motivations of power and pleasure, or else the individual is exposed to emptiness and despair. With the loss of awareness of a transpersonal reality (God), the inner and outer anarchies of competing personal desires take over. The loss of a central myth brings about a truly apocalyptic condition and this is the state of modern man (Edward Edinger, The Creation of Consciousness, pp.9-10).
What was the central myth in Western culture? Christianity, of course. Even though there are many wonderful people attempting to live according to the precepts of Jesus, generally, the West's central myth has been lost. Christianity was once the center of nearly everyone's world. The rise of the Scientific and Industrial Revolutions put empirical knowledge, technology, and capitalism at the forefront of our lives. Perhaps it was necessary for the shattering of sacred cows that had taken on a life of their own. Perhaps the Protestant Reformation was also necessary, even though it, too, led to irreparable damage to our world. 

Nowadays, right-wing evangelicals walk hand-in-hand with wealthy plutocrats, telling us we need to embrace the so-called "free-market" system, when, at the same time, said system is the cause of the polluting of our planet, the horrors of war, and the endless punishment of our impoverished and destitute. How deep into the abyss we have been dragged by the demons of greed!

The prevailing myth today is the fable that all should become rich, be an entrepreneur, invest, invest, invest. As Edinger says, it is truly an  "apocalyptic condition." The "elemental motivations of power and pleasure" have filled the void where Soul once dwelt. When a society loses its myth, it loses its Soul.

Just as a river reroutes itself to avoid obstructions, so the Soul changes course to perpetuate the flow of life and eternity.

We are beginning to realize what has been lost. At last, a great awakening is occurring. As knowledge of Soul expands via the Internet, especially social networks and blogs, a new myth is being born in our hearts. The lies and deceit of capitalism and right-wing radicalism cannot stop it. This is a time of renaissance and the resurrection of myth, the resurrection of Soul. It is gaining strength. Do not become disillusioned with your path. The road has been treacherous and strewn with debris, but the obstacles are clearing. There is light just ahead. If you look closely, you can see it. It is a single point in the distance, but it is growing larger and larger. Eventually, it will engulf the earth.

Edinger goes on to tell us, if it is not power and pleasure that destroys our myth, then it is emptiness and despair.This was the Zeitgeist after the beginning of World War I, when all those, who felt science and reason were leading us down the path to Utopia, were disheartened by the irrationalities of war. Then, there was World War II and its atrocities, which included the development of a weapon that could destroy the earth. From this period until recently, emptiness and despair were very easy to embrace; many did to their destruction. But we have a new paradigm, a new Zeitgeist. There is a flood of Gnosis washing over the earth, bathing its inhabitants in wisdom and truth. There is a new day dawning that we have not witnessed for millenia. Can you see it on the horizon? Look closely and you will.

Apr 14, 2012

The Mandorla: The Eye of Soul


When I wrote the original Eyes of the Soul article, I missed a very important idea behind the mandorla symbol. Again, a mandorla is the intersection of two overlapping circles:

                         
The word, mandorla, means "almond" in Italian for obvious reasons.

Recently, I've been writing much about the idea that all entities that are part of this material world have a counterpart on a higher, more subtle layer of reality. Humans, as well, have a Fravashi or Daimon. I don't really like to use the word "angel" because it dredges up all the images of winged men, women, and babies that artists have created through the centuries. I think our Counterparts are the perfected images of ourselves. But, I digress.

Back to the mandorla. I believe the two circles represent the human and its Daimon. The mandorla is the area of intersection, which, of course, is Soul. The Soul of the Daimon and the Soul of the human inseparably linked together throughout the earthly life of the human. It also represents the common point of meeting between the Anima Mundi and the human Soul.

This intensifies the meaning of the mandorla symbol, which, by the way, contains myriad meanings, as any powerful symbol does. We usually see it in Christian art with Jesus and the Virgin Mary, but the mandorla has been a religious and spiritual symbol for millenia.

Here are some words of inspiration from the blog, Simple Mind Zen:
Some of the most beautiful mandorlas in European monuments feature this particular subject. "The mandorla is so important in our torn world" that re-examining it is of great significance. There is a tendency to divide the self, to banish elements of self and let them live unobserved alongside the "known" self. However in doing so, considerable energy is sidelined into what is sometimes called the "shadow." But they will not stay hidden forever and have the habit of returning; asserting their energy, like it or not.

When that day of reckoning comes, and there may be many over a period of time, the mandorla is a wonderfully healing help. It begins to focus one upon the self and the re-emerging split. Mandorla starts first as something very tiny, a sliver really, and as it grows, greater overlap occurs; the self is re-made more whole, stronger and more complete.
Binding together, making holy the unholy; mandorla is a profound religious and spiritual experience. It is the place of poetry, where the fire becomes the rose, where this is that, where transformation is great synthesis.
So, the mandorla represents the link between he Self, which I believe is the connection netween our Daimon and our Soul. It is also the link between the Wordl Soul and the collective Soul.

We have forgotten these ancient symbols  in our materialistic culture of today, but they are bubbling back up from the collective unconscious of humanity. It is for good reason, for we live in a time of great awakening as to who we are as humans and where we are headed.

We are not destined for a dystopian world of corporatocracy. We cannot allow a handful of insidious financiers to rule our planet. We are divine. It is not a matter of violent revolution; it is a matter of a revolutionary outlook on life that, at the forefront, is love for our fellow humans.The goal is to merge the two circles together as One.

We are inextricably linked to divinity. If we choose a planet where love is predominant, our Counterparts will fulfill their roles as our guides and helpers. It is up to us. Pray for peace.

Apr 11, 2012

Not Conscious

We treat the term, the unconscious, as a place or thing when, in reality, sometimes we're just not conscious. During that time, we're unconscious. Not very hard to understand, but lots of people who are interested in the human mind, and especially Jungian and post-Jungian psychology, make this mistake. In fact, some seem to speak of the unconscious as a divine entity, even capitalizing the word and attributing all sorts of powers to it.

Unconsciousness is simply a lack of consciousness. For example, I am trying to remember the name of someone I went to school with when I was a child. I can see her face clearly in the imagination, but I am unconscious of what her name is. I don't remember her name. But, if I think of her face for awhile, the name usually comes to me. Does this mean that lost memories are stored in a compartment of the mind called the unconscious? No, it simply means I was momentarily unconscious of the name. There is no sense in reifying the concept. It is not a metaphor for Soul. It's just a concept.

Consciousness and unconsciousness are not polarized. In our experience, they walk hand-in-hand.
In today's language, we cannot be conscious without at the same time being unconscious; the unconscious is always present, just as the past is always present. To say it another way: we cannot will (voluntas) or love (amor) or form a notion (notitia) or understanding (intelligentsia) without imaginal fantasies going on simultaneously. So, we never cease projecting. We are dreaming all the time (James Hillman, The Myth Of Analysis, p 177).
Imaginal fantasies are the bases for memory. I was always a good speller. It is because I can see the words in my mind as pictures. There is a remarkable relationship between unconsciousness and memory. We remember by seeing the memory as an image in the mind. It seems that Memory and Soul have much in common.

Apr 10, 2012

The Fravashi

In Zoroastrian tradition, life is a temporary state in which a mortal is expected to actively participate in the continuing battle between truth and falsehood. Prior to being born, the soul (urvan) of an individual is still united with its fravashi, of which there are very many, and which have existed since Mazda created the universe. During life, the fravashi acts as a guardian and protector. On the fourth day after death, the soul is reunited with its fravashi, in which the experiences of life in the material world are collected for the continuing battle in the spiritual world  (Wikipedia article on Zoroastrianism).
Continuing with the idea of the Celestial Twin, another example is found in Zoroastrianism: the Fravashi. This is a guardian spirit who guides and protects each person. In Zoroastrianism, Soul is called urvan. The urvan is sent out into the world to battle against evil, defeating it with good. Four days after death, the urvan reunites with its Twin, the Fravashi, and its experiences are gathered together and evaluated.

The image above is of what is called a Faravaha. It is a carving from Perspolis in Iran. Persepolis was the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire (First Persian Empire).  A Faravahar is commonly regarded as a depiction of a Fravashi.

The philosophy of the Fravashi seems to have much correlation with what I've been discussing recently about the Celestial Twin. This is also the same idea as Socrates' Daimon, which I've spent considerable time researching and writing about. 

The Fravashi, or Daimon, is distinct from the human Soul. It is its higher potential, already fully individuated and complete. Its purpose is to guide us in our quest for ascension up the spiraling coil of higher and higher consciousness.

Saint John Climacus wrote of the scala paradisi, or ladder of divine ascent. This idea is very popular in both Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. He used Jacob's Ladder as inspiration for this work, which is a spiritual ascent through asceticism.

Such an ascent seems overly linear to me. There doesn't seem to be any idea of cyclical movement here. I see spiritual progress as more of a twisting and coiling, eventually snaking its way upward, but, more often than not, falling downward and then upward again. The Soul and its Fravarshi are behind this. We are guided and nudged (not against our will) through life so that we may gain the necessary experience that will assist us after this mortal body turns to dust. After we die, we are reunited with this Guardian.

I leave you with this wonderful bit of information from a most interesting article:
What exactly is a fravashi? The origin of the word, as has been said here, relates either to divine protection or to one's moral choice of Good or Evil, and one's choice of the Good Religion. But there is much more to it than that. The concept of the fravashi as guardian spirit does not occur in the Gathas of Zarathushtra. But in later Zoroastrianism, it becomes a most important idea. The Fravashi is the part of the human soul that is divine, unpolluted, and uncorrupt. It is not only our divine guardian but our guide; its perfection is always within us, as an ideal towards which we can reach. Every human being has a fravashi; even the divine spirits have them. Once a human being has finished life on earth, the fravashi, the higher individuality of that person, returns to Heaven. The fravashi may be the inspiration for the Jewish and Christian belief in the "guardian Angel," which always beholds the face of God (Matthew Gospel, 18:10) (Faravahar).

Apr 7, 2012

Henry Corbin On The Shadow


As you know, I've been discussing the idea of the Celestial Twin, the perfected and thoroughly individuated celestial personage of each and every human being on Earth. This is a very old idea, possibly having its origins in ancient Egypt with the Ba and Ka souls (The Egyptians believed the soul has five parts). The Celestial Twin, as I understand it, is an angelic entity who is a paredros for all humans. The term paredros literally means "one who sits by the side of” and is a legal term from ancient Greek. It is similar to a judges’ assistant in the Athenian court system. This term denotes the relationship of the Celestial Twin to an individual as a "guardian angel, guide and companion, helper and savior" (Henry Corbin, Avicenna). 

Corbin saw the unity of the human Soul and its Twin as a living unity of wholeness, but only if we choose to seek the Light. There are dark powers, as well, and these will also fill the role of companions and guides, if we wish. The Darkness is very real.
The totality represented by their bi-unity is therefore "light upon light"; it can never be a composite of Ohrmazdian light and Ahrimanian darkness, or in psychological terms, of consciousness and its shadow (Corbin, The Man of Light in Iranian Sufism).
In other words, Corbin is radically departing from Jung's idea of integration with the Shadow archetype. Corbin is more concerned with defeating the powers of Darkness than integrating the human psyche.

Of the Shadow, Jung said,
It is a frightening thought that man also has a shadow side to him, consisting not just of little weaknesses and foibles, but of a positively demonic dynamism. The individual seldom knows anything of this; to him, as an individual, it is incredible that he should ever in any circumstances go beyond himself. But let these harmless creatures form a mass, and there emerges a raging monster; and each individual is only one tiny cell in the monster's body, so that for better or worse he must accompany it on its bloody rampages and even assist it to the utmost. Having a dark suspicion of these grim possibilities, man turns a blind eye to the shadow-side of human nature. Blindly he strives against the salutary dogma of original sin, which is yet so prodigiously true. Yes, he even hesitates to admit the conflict of which he is so painfully aware (On the Psychology of the Unconscious" (1912). In CW 7: Two Essays on Analytical Psychology. P.35).
 If one were to give oneself over to this kind of Shadow, in Corbin's mind there would be no place for the Celestial Twin. Rather, there would be an Infernal Twin alongside one. This would mean the destruction of a human life; we see it everyday on the news.

So, Corbin did not see that an integration with such a dark force was possible or necessary. Jung, on the other hand, believed it was most necessary for the wholeness of the psyche. I am aware that Jung's idea of evil was that it is most certainly a real force and not simply the privatio boni (the absence of good), as many theologians have taught over the centuries, originating with St. Augustine. Sometimes, I wonder, too, how someone like Hitler could have possibly integrated his shadow.

Corbin, the theologian, looks at the situation differently than Jung, the psychologist. That's understandable. Each man had their insights. They are not required to agree on every point.

In essence, the sum of the matter is that we live our lives in such a way that we allow the power of Light, our celestial counterpart, to guide us through this vale of tears. God knows, we need all the help we can get.

Apr 6, 2012

Bringing Forth the Light in Matter

We have learned there exists in Nature, in all material things, a divine spark, the Lumen Naturae, the Light of Nature. Our world is not a plethora of dead, lifeless objects, waiting to be dissected by the local disciples of scientism. On the contrary! The Earth is filled with scintillating, soulful beings, full of vibrance and vitality. Western society once thought that material objects were without life until the discoveries of quantum physics. Now, we know, through the work of dedicated seekers of Truth, scientists not concerned with scientific dogma, that matter is quite lively, indeed!

We have learned that spiritual alchemy, inner work, active imagination, etc. nurture this light and bring it forth from our own material abode. Our Twin Soul, what twelfth century philosopher, Averroes, calls "Active Intelligence,"  is a unique celestial Individual who is our counterpart and who is the perfected and timeless fulfillment of each individual Soul dwelling on this planet. It is this Being's Light which comes to pour forth from us.
At the moment when the soul discovers itself to be a stranger and alone in a world formerly familiar, a personal figure appears on its horizon, a figure that announces itself to the soul personally because it symbolizes with the soul's most intimate depths. In other words, the soul discovers itself to be the earthly counterpart of another being with which it forms a totality that is dual in structure. The two elements of this dualitude may be called the ego and the Self, or the transcendent celestial Self and the earthly Self, or by still other names. It is from this transcendent Self that the soul originates in the past of meta-history; this Self had become strange to it while the soul slumbered in the world of ordinary consciousness; but it ceases to be strange to it at the moment when the soul in turn feels itself a stranger in this world. This is why the soul requires an absolutely individual expression of this Self, one that could pass into the common stock of symbolism (or into allegory) only at the cost of its painfully won individual differentiation being repressed, leveled, and abolished by ordinary consciousness (Henry Corbin, Avicenna, pg. 20-22).
It is to be noted that Corbin's entire campaign of Soul is based on the ontological ramifications of the state of individuality humans find themselves in. The Being of this Being, who is our Celestial Twin, makes possible all that we experience in this world. As we work inwardly, as our Soul-house is constructed in this realm, we begin to allow the effusion of Light to radiate from us, to our fellows, to the world. This Twin is the Archetype of our individual Soul. 

Tom Cheetham puts it this way:
The unity, individuality and Presence of "every being...belonging to the world of Light," depends upon the connection with the Angel, the archetype in Heaven.This guarantees that every such being can be more itself, more real, more alive, to the degree that it is in contact with this celestial Presence. We misunderstand Presence if we restrict it to human persons, though they can express it more perfectly than any other beings. It is a potential lying within all created things of the world of Light. But it is also true that we can perceive this quality in the world around us only to the degree that we have come to live it ourselves. The ultimate source of this Living Spirit is the same for all the beings of Light (The World Turned Inside Out, by Tom Cheetham, pg 90). 
How do we allow the divine Being to shine forth from us? By choosing, foremost of all, love. Then, put into practice what we have learned from the teachers of Soul we have come across. They have been sent to bring us closer to the Light. For myself, personally, there are many. These would include Carl Jung, James Hillman, Henry Corbin, Martin Heidegger, Soren Kierkegaard, Imannuel Kant, and a host of others. From each teacher we encounter, we learn a little more about ourselves and our heavenly counterparts. No, I am not perfect; neither are you. We will never be perfect in this realm. The striving for Light in this mortal body is, however, our destiny.

It is not just we humans that emanate this heavenly Light; all of creation has this potential. A flower is a perfect example. Remember what the Buddha said:
If we could see the miracle of a single flower, our whole life would change.
 Nature is replete with an effulgence of Light. Isn't it wonderful to be a part of it all?

Apr 4, 2012

The Hidden Light In Matter

There is a spark of divinity in all material phenomena. Alchemists know that the inner transformative process, which Jung called individuation, reveals the hidden light within matter. It is the inner work that reveals matter's divine light. Jung, and many others, refer to this as lumen naturae, the Light of Nature. Jung claims it is this Light that illuminates consciousness (C. G. Jung, On the nature of the psyche, Collected Works vol. 8 (Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, 1967), p. 192).

 If this is true, and I think it most certainly is, then Nature is not a mass of dead matter. We know, since the advent of quantum mechanics, that matter is anything but dead. On the contrary, it is quite dynamic! Nature is living Soul! Listen to the wisdom of Paracelsus:
That of which we now tell is called lumen naturae and is eternal. God hath given it to the inner body, that it may be ruled by the inner body and in accordance with reason. Therefore all that Man does and should do, should be done from the light of nature. For the light of nature is reason and nothing else (This translation was partly based on the translation in C.G. Jung, On the nature of the psyche, Coll. Works, vol. IX, paragraph 390)...
The following is Jolande Jacobi's commentary on Paracelsus' use of the phrase, "light of nature:"
Intuitive knowledge gained by the experience of nature and implicit in all beings at their birth, in contrast to the knowledge given by revelation [i.e., the light of the Holy Ghost]…In a cosmological sense, it is a secret radiation of nature and makes possible the discovery of the natural mysteries. In an anthropological sense, it is man’s active intelligence (Paracelsus also calls it “reason”), a kind of knowledge guided by intuition and developed by experience. The light of nature belongs to the sphere of creation and operates only within it; it originates in the spirit of God. As Paracelsus says: “the light of nature was kindled by the Holy Ghost.” But although the natural light is inseperably bound to the Holy Ghost, it constitutes an independent source of knowledge (Paracelsus: selected writings, edited with an introduction by Jolande Jacobi, translated by Norbert Guterman, Bollingen Series XXVII, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 289 pp (hereafter called Jacobi, Paracelsus). This quote is from page 255).
There are actually two Great Lights: one we have briefly discussed; the other is the Lumen Dei, the Light of God. According to Stephen A. Hoeller, noted Gnostic scholar and Regionary Bishop of Ecclesia Gnostica,
With Paracelsus, Jung held that in human life we possess two sources of Gnosis, or salvific knowledge. One of these is Lumen Dei, the light proceeding from the unmanifest Godhead, the other is Lumen Naturae, the light hidden in matter and the forces of nature. While the Divine Light may be discerned and appreciated in revelation and in the mystery of the Incarnation, the Light of Nature needs to be released through alchemy before it can become fully operative. God redeems humanity, but nature needs to be redeemed by human alchemists, who are able to induce the process of transformation which alone is capable of liberating the light imprisoned in physical creation (C. G. Jung and the Alchemical Renewal).
Isn't that amazing? Nature needs us to save it from the clutches of those who would harm it and treat it as something dead and lifeless. Just as we are to bring forth the light of Soul in our bodies, so we are to unlock the light within Nature so that it is readily available to humanity for the wondrous and amazing tasks that lay before it. So let it be come to pass!

Z

Apr 1, 2012

Archetypal Brain: Epilogue

The brain is a computing machine connected with a spirit. Consciousness is connected with one unity. A machine is composed of parts. The active intellect works on the passive intellect which somehow shadows what the former is doing and helps us as a medium. I don’t think the brain came in the Darwinian manner. In fact, it is disprovable. Simple mechanism can’t yield the brain. I think the basic elements of the universe are simple. Life force is a primitive element of the universe and it obeys certain laws of action. These laws are not simple, and they are not mechanical (Godel, Originator of The Uncertainty Theorem).
 Fascinating, no?

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