THE Essential Wisdom copyright 2019 by Sharon Miller
The Essential Wisdom
The Essential Wisdom has to do with some ideas about how the world is created and the role of mankind in that creation. For thousands of years there have been people who have believed there is secret knowledge available about the world which the majority of people do not possess. These have historically even formed into wisdom societies with other like-minded people. Many of them claim that someone called Hermes conveyed the essence of this knowledge in a few short sentences or ‘aphorisms’ carved on an emerald tablet. Where the tablet is, nobody knows. There are various translations available. There is an Arabic version supposedly preserved from a letter sent to Alexander the Great by his mentor and tutor, Aristotle. An English translation was found among the papers of Isaac Newton. Another is said to be a very old translation from ancient Chaldean. Another is from the papers of the philosopher Roger Bacon. The aphorisms are given in Chapter 5.
In order to get an idea of just how old the so-called hermetic cosmology is, it is necessary to understand who Hermes was. Over the last thousand years or so it has been said he was a sage. Before that, during the days of pantheism, he was said to be a god. He was known as Mercury in ancient Rome, as Hermes in Greece, as Hiram in Phoenicia, as Heramba in India, as Thoth in Egypt and as Gad in Canaan. The oldest mention is where Plato speaks of him by the name of Gad in his role as a twin brother to the world-god called Atlas. [According to Plato there was a nation called Atlantis which apparently derived its name from Atlas, and which existed 11,500 years ago (Timaeus 23:e).]
Hermes was spoken of in the old pantheistic religions as a god who assisted the world- god by conveying certain ideas which were essential to mankind’s spiritual development. In the myths Hermes by one name or another is depicted as bringing truth and the understanding of heavenly things down to people while at the same time, via this knowledge, helping humanity raise itself upwards towards a better and more spiritual state of being. Down through the millenniums, this knowledge has been said to hold secrets about the universe which the orthodox religions have known only in part. It is said to provide information about the human role in creation and about the connection between God and the world.
There are a number of secrets which the hermetic aphorisms are said to convey, but the ‘secret of secrets’ is that a person is created in the image of God. Their body is composed of a spiritual substance. It is hence a temple wherein the spirit of God dwells. They are the keeper of that temple, and they are a microcosm of the macrocosm. They are themselves a creator, creating their own life on an ongoing basis.
How people view God has changed through the ages, and at no time was the change in image more drastic than when the old pantheistic nature-astral religions were replaced by the current transcendent monotheisms.
In the old religions God was a Most High being. He was connected to the world because he was in the world as the world. Because the world was a being, in those old religions it was easier to see people as created in the image of God. God might not be a human being, but at least he was a being. The new religions on the other hand began to picture God as someone or something that was transcendent to the ‘gross’ material world.
In addition to God being the world and a being, another very different perspective which the old religions possessed was their view of a world, not only as a god, but as a solar system. The idea that even the local solar system was a world-god made of these religions both nature and astral religions. The personal spirit of the world-god was connected to the sun, and it was through this central point that the local world-sun-god produced the characteristics of his body and hence of the world which people inhabited. Light emerged from that center and the colors which were the parts of that light were the very laws behind creation. To understand these colorful archetypes was to understand how the world was ongoingly produced through the Most High.
These ideas about the world-sun god were standard beliefs within the old religions. What was apparently not an orthodox belief was the idea that a human being was a god using these same principles to create with. The hermetic aphorisms explain that the creation of a world entails ‘solar work,’ but they also claim there are different levels of creation. The most quoted aphorism is, “That which is below is like that which is above, and that which is above is like that which is below.” In the old religions it was the world-sun god who created the world. Hermes, on the other hand, maintained people were creators engaged in solar work of their own. They were each a star—a miniature solar system. They were not only connected to the one above, but actually patterned after the larger one.
For many reasons, some of which are discussed in Chapter 3, the idea of people rivaling the High God, especially in terms of their being their own creator was not acceptable. Because of the dangers attendant upon holding heretical ideas, those who believed in the hermetic view of creation went underground where the concepts were shared and taught under a veil of secrecy.
When theism replaced pantheism things became even worse for those attracted to the idea that people were god-like spiritual beings. Because God was in the world as the world, the old religions at least had believed in the spiritual nature of matter. In the new religions, not only was spirit taken out of matter, God was slowly but surely taken out of the material world. Because people were material beings, it was believed there could be nothing god-like about them. As pantheism evolved into theism the secret wisdom societies remained in existence. They continued to teach that the material body was the temple of God, and that each person was in process of constructing that temple themselves.
Until very recently religions were state religions. Under pantheism the state tolerated the secret societies to some extent, depending upon the political spirit-of-the-times. Over the centuries as theism replaced pantheism, the opposition grew and the tolerance eventually ceased altogether. During the dark and middle ages thousands of people lost their lives for professing a belief in these ideas, and so the wisdom societies truly went underground. They organized into groups like the Knights Templars, the Freemasons, and the Rosicrucians. These and later organizations were founded on the hermetic ideals.
Today, even though the material world is still not seen as spiritual in nature, the religious and political conditions are much better. With the separation of state and religion, in advanced societies it is no longer dangerous to express ideas that oppose orthodox religions. It is time for these ideas to be discussed openly. This book is entitled the Essential Wisdom because there is nothing more important than that people understand the principles of creation, and especially their role in utilizing these principles to create with. These are the laws of nature.
And that is where science comes in. Although people today live in a highly advanced society scientifically speaking, the basic principles underlying the world were in some ways better known in the past. In the old religions each principle was ruled over by a particular god. Each is also directly related to a ‘sign’ in astrology and to the planet which each sign is individually connected to. (Underlying astrology is what is called a ‘rulership’ system. Everything in the world is said to be produced by twelve basic archetypes.)
What the old religions and astrology contribute is the idea that these are spiritual laws which are dependent upon a spiritual substance for their nature and for their very existence. Although these are known in physics as material laws and principles—and are just what is meant by the relative, material world—they reflect and express their origin. In the aphorisms Hermes says that matter is an ‘adaptation’ from spirit. If this is true it becomes possible to link science and spirituality.
Each of the most basic laws and principles of physics correlates to a particular sign of the zodiac, and each of these to a particular minister god who in the old religions assisted the world-sun god. The old and new views of creation present on the surface as very different; but the reason astrology refuses to die out, and the reason the myths have such a haunting quality and still call to people is because the principles they speak of are those which literally shape the world, producing its nature and substance via the laws which scientists also study, but from their own perspective.
It is the right time in history for the laws of physics to begin to be seen as spiritual laws. This book is dedicated to bringing together science and spirituality via an amalgamation, with the hermetic aphorisms as a cornerstone and the astrological archetypes as a way to link religion and modern physics. This type of amalgam is what ‘alchemy’ referred to in the past. Alchemy was said to be a hermetic science. And just as was true of the symbolic metallurgy connected to the science of alchemy wherein the metal called mercury was the key to the process, just so the god Mercury (the Hermes of ancient Greece) is the key to the hermetic wisdom.
Amalgamation is about union, and an important truth which a look at the laws of creation reveals is that they are not just types of being, but also types of unity. According to the hermetic cosmology the laws of nature derive from an undifferentiated substance at the base of life which can best be described as pure spirit (variously pure Being, since it is the source of all being). As an undifferentiated substance it is not divided into this and that type of being. Because it is undivided and undifferentiated, it can also be spoken of as pure Unity. It is because the laws of creation express the nature of this substance by being, not only types of being, but also types of unity that people live in a lawful universe. The laws of nature are lawful not just because they are predictable, consistently doing what they are supposed to do, but also because their interactions are incredibly coherent and harmonious with one another. These are the ‘parts’ of systems. In addition to being powers moving matter in certain ways, they are also the substance of creation. These are types of energy, and energy is both a power and a substance. Systems are composed of the laws of nature. Creation is naturally lawful and naturally harmonious, and the creatures of creation are naturally whole when they are composed of coherently interrelated parts. Wholeness is a material way to express the pure Unity at base of life. An understanding of wholeness as it relates to the parts of a system is the essence of the Essential Wisdom.
The Secret of Secret is that people are the source for these laws. They are creators and are the governors over them. Because of the power to literally bring these laws into being, the creative will in a person is stronger than the laws of nature. It is a wonderful and powerful thing to be a creator, but it has its dangers and pitfalls. One is that the very laws of nature can be violated—and the more so by sentient, highly evolved systems like human beings. The second is that there is no way to violate these laws without a system being its own self-undoing. Every human being is not just creating an external world, but an internal one as well—their own self. These are the parts of their body. Whatever they do, think and feel, not only affects their collective, it affects them as well.
This is where ethics, and that which is right and wrong, good and bad comes in. The laws of creation arising from this spiritual substance are naturally harmonious. They are naturally coherent and hence naturally good. [The substrate at base of these laws is not merely pure Being-Unity; it is pure Being-Unity-Goodness. (Spirit is the Good.)]
When the laws of nature are broken, the things created (and the creator) then lack wholeness. In a sentient being a lack of unity in the parts of their body produces a feeling which has come to be called ‘pain.’ This is the suffering which accompanies not being whole. When a person is not whole, they are then not hale, hearty and healthy. (The word ‘hale’ comes from ‘whole.’) Lack of wholeness is just what is meant by illness—be this in the physical, mental or emotional vehicles of a person.
One of the most important teachings within the ancient wisdom schools was that people had at some time in the past disturbed the laws of nature and were currently in process of trying to rectify that situation. Mystery societies like the Freemasons not only taught that the body was the temple of God, and that people were the master builders, they also claimed the temple had been damaged. As free creators, people had made some mistakes. As a result the temple was no longer intact as was the original plan. The wisdom schools were dedicated to teaching people, not just that they themselves were making their world, but also that there had been what the religions spoke of as a Fall. Nevertheless, even within the bad news there was good news, for the esoteric teachings were tremendously empowering. People had the ability to return their world back to the state of harmony it had once enjoyed, and were in process of doing just that. One way to do this was to understand the laws of creation, and to see that these were spiritual laws—that there was Goodness, and hence value in nature. Another was to see clearly that they themselves were both the source of these powers and principles, and responsible for the manner of their use. It was through understanding unity and its relationship to ‘wholeness’ that suffering could be understood—and understood as unnatural and unnecessary. (What was not a natural part of creation could be mitigated and eventually totally eliminated.) It was through the hermetic wisdom that it was possible to learn about these basic truths.
The wisdom societies have traditionally attracted, not just people who want to know the truth, but also those who want to live it. In their desire to promote goodness (and to be the Good) resides a vow to fight for the light and to work for a time when suffering will be no more.
It would seem as though such high spiritual ideals would cohere well with the ideals of the religions of the world, since these deal with ethics, and have even traditionally related the Good to God. Unfortunately spirituality and religion have not always been aligned with one another. These ideas which the mystery schools taught about personal creation and personal responsibly were very unorthodox. From a standard religious viewpoint creation was considered to be the province of God. (In the old religions this was the province of the gods.)
The mystery schools are an important subject in this book for two reasons. One is because of what they have to teach and their relationship to the hermetic philosophy. The second reason is because of the opposition these schools encountered and the trials they endured. It is time for the mysteries to come to light. But people are free, and if the hermetic cosmology is treated in the same way as it has been in the past, that will not happen. For this reason it is important to look at the past and to learn from it.
There have been secret hermetic societies for apparently all of recorded history. This includes those in ancient Persia, Egypt, and Greece. Plato for instance (BC 428-348) is considered to be one of the founders of Western philosophy. The books Plato wrote suggest he may have been a member of the Eleusinian mystery schools which were prominent in ancient Greece, and carried the essence of the hermetic ideas at that time in that area.
Another ancient mystery school was that founded by Pythagoras (BC 570-495) an Ionian philosopher and mathematician whose gift to the world was the Pythagorean theorem. (Plato, who was born a century later, was heavily influenced by Pythagoras.)
Hermes was an important figure in all these schools, and astrology was part and parcel of what they taught. Like alchemy, astrology has traditionally been referred to as a hermetic science. (Mercury is a planet as well as a name for the god Hermes and for a metal used in alchemy.)
Pythagoras supposedly studied the hermetic wisdom in Egypt for twenty years before returning home to establish the wisdom society which became known as the Pythagorean Brotherhood. While in Egypt Pythagoras is said to have become a member of the Order of the Magi. The magi were originally Chaldean astrologers and had their own version of the hermetic wisdom. (Hermes was called Nabu in Chaldea. He was called Thoth in Egypt, and of course Hermes in Greece. Later under a Greco-Egyptian culture, Thoth bore the title of Hermanubis. That name and title combined the Hermes of three different cultures, and is a tribute to the convergence of knowledge which existed in Egypt.)
As a mathematician Pythagoras believed geometry had the potential to shed light on the manner of the construction of the parts of any system—and hence upon the way in which the material world was created. Although the case is uncertain, Pythagoras is sometimes credited with having discovered the ‘golden mean,’ a geometrical relationship which has a long history in the mystery tradition. It is one of the most aesthetically pleasing proportions in art, and is a very simple expression of the type of harmonious interrelationships between the material parts of a system which make it whole.
As a member of the Order of the Magi, Pythagoras was very interested in the relationships the planets had to one another. It was his belief each planet was connected to the others and to the solar system as a whole in a lawful, harmonious fashion.
Pythagoras taught that harmonious relationships were also harmonic relationships, and were to be found in both music and astrology. Different musical tones have simple mathematical relationships to one another. The planets, as parts of the solar system, also express simple mathematical relationships. According to Pythagoras there was a ‘harmony of the spheres’—a celestial music actually emitted by the planets which could be heard by someone in a higher plane. The harmonies to be found in music—both heavenly and earthly—were believed to be behind all coherent, harmonious relationships, be they expressed through the parts of the solar system or through the parts within a person.
With its ‘as above, so below’ concept hermeticism teaches that the solar system people live within is a microcosm of the universe as a whole. It is a local world. A solar system is a basic unit of creation—a miniature world—and as such is a way to understand the world. A solar system is also a basic unit for creation. Every living system is both a world and a solar system with newly created energy constantly emerging from their sun-center—energy which diverges into twelve basic types of electromagnetic rays. The twelve principles at base of a solar system are the archetypes behind the material qualities in this world—be it those utilized to create the internal self or those which produce the external collective—that which is more commonly referred to as a world. Together the principles comprise a painter’s palette with the basic colors needed to create material reality. According to the Hermetic aphorisms each person is an artist, and the quality of the art they produce is up to them. The academic sciences and the orthodox religions have painted a picture of people as helpless victims of either the laws of physics, or of God, or of other people, depending upon whether it is physicists, theologians or psychologists telling them this. In contradistinction, the hermetic wisdom empowers people but also holds them responsible for their works.
Pythagoras risked his life by teaching the esoteric wisdom. Eventually his school was burned, and he had to escape persecution by fleeing the city. Plato himself fled Athens after his friend and mentor, Socrates, was executed by the Athenian city-state for religious ‘impiety.’ This was the equivalent within the old religions to what became ‘heresy’ under Judaism and Christianity. In Plato’s book called the Gorgias he records a conversation with Socrates in which Socrates speaks almost as though he has a premonition of his impending encounter with the Athenian courts. He speaks of the existence of a higher court and says, “I am considering how to present to my judge the healthiest possible soul, and so I renounce the honors sought by most men and, pursuing the truth, I shall really endeavor both to live and, when death comes, to die as good a man as I possibly can be (Gorgias 526d).”1 [It is in the Gorgias that Socrates speaks of his concerns for another dear friend, Alcibiades, whom he had also tutored (Gorgias 519a). Alcibiades, a famous Athenian statesman, was later himself tried and condemned to death after having supposedly been caught participating in the Eleusinian mysteries in a private home.2]
These ideas about personal creativity and personal responsibility as taught in the old Eleusinian and Pythagorean mystery schools are upheld to this day by organizations such as the Rosicrucians and the Freemasons. The reason I personally am grateful to these groups is because they managed to preserved ideas I would never have heard about if they had not. There are things that are true and that have been preserved from the past thanks to a recognition of the wisdom in these concepts. The hermetic cosmology has been preserved because of these heroes and heroines—men and women who sensed the ideas were important, became determined to preserve and promote them, and were not afraid to risk their lives to do so.
In addition to the hermetic wisdom, this body of ideas has also been called the hidden or occult knowledge. Another term is the perennial wisdom. The latter is especially appropriate because these are truths which have managed to endure for all of recorded human history, often in the midst of extremely adverse circumstances.
This knowledge has stayed alive, not only because of its valiant defenders, but also due to its own nature. There are many criteria for discerning what is true, including empirical evidence and logical coherence. One very important criterion is its living nature. What is true cannot die. That is because truth is connected to reality, and reality to being and existence. What is or has being cannot cease to be. People die and societies die, but these are also reborn. If a set of beliefs stays alive under the worst of circumstances and like a perennial plant, keeps arising again and again, it is important to look at what is being said.
This book is dedicated to the essential wisdom, to the secret of secrets, to the men and woman who have helped keep the hermetic ideas alive down through the ages, and to the belief it is now time for these secrets to be discussed openly.
The Hermetic Journey
Those who follow the stars know humanity is now moving into a new period—the Aquarian Age. Each Age is approximately 2,148 years long, and each has its own emphasis in terms of, among other things, how the world itself is perceived. The way people collectively view creation has been spoken of as a ‘paradigm.’ As people move into the Aquarian Age it is to be predicted that a new paradigm will arise. If things go well it could be a spiritual one in which human beings come to know who and what they are, how the universe is created, and even how they are related to the spiritual substance at base of life. Such knowledge could make a real difference in terms of what people did with their lives.
The Essential Wisdom & the Hermetic Cosmology
‘Cosmology’ is the science of the origin and nature of the universe. It is a way of viewing the world. Lately it is scientists who formulate cosmologies. In the past philosophers did so as well, utilizing reason as well as empirical data to create their own view of how the world is constructed. Rather than being newly formulated The Essential Wisdom is a description of and a defense of a very old cosmology—the hermetic cosmology. This explanation of creation comes from two main sources which in this book are referred to as the ‘aphorisms’ and the ‘archetypes.’
The aphorisms are a set of twelve simple statements supposedly given to people by Hermes himself. A synthesis of these is taken from five ancient sources and is provided in Chapter 5, Hermes and the Emerald Tablet. The five complete translations are themselves given in Appendix A.
In the aphorisms Hermes says his name is Chiram. Most people are more familiar with the Greek name Hermes. What became ‘h’ in Greece in other lands was ‘ch,’ pronounced like a ‘k’ with an added throaty ‘h.’ (The Greeks also tended to put an ‘s’ after names, as in Hermes.) Hermes says his full name is Chiram Telat Mechasot. He says this means he is one in essence, but three in aspect.
The twelve aphorisms are deeply mystical with layers of meaning within them. There are for instance several ways in which Hermes is a three-in-one. First of all, he is composed of a personal spirit, a personal soul, and a personal body, All three are said to be ‘aspects’ of or ‘adaptations’ from a spiritual substance at the base of life. Many names have been given to this spiritual source including Ein Sof, the Silence, and pure Being. In this book it is most often spoken of as the substrate because, as pure Being, it underlies the creation of all the beings in the world and all the types of being, and contains within it infinite potentials for creation.
As for the three adaptations, the personal spirit of Hermes is a spark of the divine at the very center of his body. That point itself has many names including the ‘life’ of the body and (in Judaism) the ‘shekinah.’ From that point spirit is turned into energy to create the parts of the body of Hermes, and on an ongoing basis. The soul of Hermes is different from his spirit and yet not so. It is the scope and power of his personal spirit at any one moment in time. It is hence like a bridge between the substrate and his personal spirit and is a set of personal potentials. According to the hermetic cosmology, when a system arises from out of the substrate, a certain set of potentials relevant to the elements for a particular world are singled out. This is what the soul consists of. Like the personal spirit, the soul is a spiritual substance, not just because it is the scope of the personal spirit, but also because, as a specific set of potentials, it is a ‘piece’ of the substrate—the latter of which contains an infinite number of potentials. The material body of Hermes is the last of the three adaptations, and is the process of the actualization of the potentials in his soul. The body of Hermes is a spiritual substance.
Another way in which Hermes is a three-in-one is that he is a person, but he is also a world and a solar system. Like spirit, soul and body, these three things cannot be separated from one another. From the hermetic perspective there are many worlds, even worlds within worlds; but every world is set apart from every other because and only because it has the capacity to be an individual. (Conversely an individual to be a true individual must be a world.) As for how a solar system is connected to being a world, each solar system is its own little world. Solar systems are primary units of creation. The center of a solar system is its personal spirit. The solar system as a whole is the extent of the power of the personal spirit at any one moment in time. That creates a world.
In addition to being primary units of creation, solar systems are also primary units for creation. The hermetic cosmology is a constant creation one. In other words, creation was not a one-time thing, but rather is ongoing and taking place right now at the center of every system. Every world—every system—has a (sun) center where energy is emerging from the personal spirit of that individual. The soul (via what Hermes refers to as ‘soul-work’) is a process of that energy being actualized, and in the process diverted into secondary centers—into different types of energy. Those secondary centers are exemplified by the planets above. (Every system has a ‘sun’ and ‘planets’ but the ones above are utilized by the collective of systems within this solar system.) Hermes is a creator and the various types of energy he uses to create with are different types of electromagnetic (light) waves.
In this cosmology there are many levels of worlds and of solar systems. These range from the miniscule sub-atomic level of particles, to atoms, to human beings, and beyond. Each person is like Hermes. They are a ‘twin’ to this god who himself was said in antiquity to be a twin to the world-sun god. They are themselves a world-sun god.
In addition to higher and lower worlds, there are also inner and outer worlds. Every true independent system is an internal world so to speak; but there are also external worlds. An external world is a collective of systems. An internal world is more often spoken of as a system or a being, and an external world as a world, but from the hermetic perspective these two are created the same way. (An external world like the solar system above has a temporary spirit, soul and body which the systems it encompasses bring into being through creating a collective.)
There is another three-in-one characteristic which Hermes possesses, and that is three types of Unity. Relative to Being, the personal spirit, soul and body of Hermes are all three adaptations from the pure spiritual substance at base of life—pure Being. In terms of Unity, this substance, because it exists, and yet is not individuated into systems, nor differentiated into the qualities which a system possesses, can be spoken of as pure absolute Unity as well. For this reason, the three adaptations which Hermes manifests in the form of a spirit, soul, and body are not just three types of being, but also three types of unity. The personal spirit is the ultimate source of the unity of a system. As a spark from the substrate it is pure Unity and centralizes the parts. The soul is the bridge between pure Unity and the body. It provides for the wholeness of a body. The wholeness imparted to the material body by the soul makes it possible for many different parts to work together in an orderly coherent fashion. This produces harmony in the body of a system. The parts of either an individual or a collective are just what is meant by a material world. The material world expresses the pure Unity of spirit and the wholeness of soul via harmony. These three—pure Unity, wholeness and harmony—are three types of unity. Chiram ‘Three-in-One’ expresses these three types of unity via his spirit, soul and body. So also does every person.
The spirit, soul and body of Hermes are three types of Being, and they are three types of Unity. They are also three types of Goodness. That is because pure Spirit—the substrate—is the Good. It is easy to visualize the personal spirit and the soul as good things—less so the material body. But according to the aphorisms all three are adaptations from the substrate and naturally good.
The very idea of something being good speaks of value. By value is meant preference in the sense of singling out a particular state of affairs rather than some other, or being composed of one thing rather than another. The material world manifests value because it is created from Being, not non-being. It manifests value because it is created from Unity, not disunity. Material unity is expressed via the order and harmony of the parts of a body. It is ‘good’ for a system to have coherent, orderly parts, and to be whole.
It is ‘not good’ for the parts of a system (or a collective) to interact together in ways which are not coherent and harmonious with one another. What the hermetic cosmology teaches is that the parts of any system are naturally intended to express harmony. That which is good is natural. That which is not good is not natural. ‘Nature’ is that which is ‘natural.’ Nature is composed of the laws of nature. These laws are just what is meant by order and harmony. Every good thing in the material universe arises from the spiritual substance at base of life. As the source of Being, Unity and the Good, anything material which lacks unity lacks goodness and even being. There is value in the world because there is no non-being. That which is not-good is a potential in a particular system which is not being fulfilled. Because there is no non-being, the potential to fill in a missing spot still exists, and that potential is real. It is pure Being, waiting to be materially actualized so that a particular part in a particular system can catch up with where it is supposed to be at the current moment in time. The missing spots are what people experience as wounds.
These are the three-in-one things which as a living system Hermes expresses. He has a spirit, soul and body which are all three adaptations of Being, Unity and Goodness, and he is a world, a solar system and a person. Because he is a person, what the aphorisms teach people is that this multiple sense of the trinity is expressed, not only through the god called Hermes, but through themselves as well. They are expressions or Words of the substrate—the voice of the Silence so to speak. Furthermore, they speak words. They are creators. Their words are everything they not only speak, but everything they think, feel and do. These must express Being-Unity-Goodness if the worlds they create are to be good worlds.
The letters which the gods use to form their words are basic principles of creation. In addition to the hermetic aphorisms, the hermetic cosmology is also based on twelve formative principles which can be spoken of as archetypes. The archetypes are a set of potentials being actualized at this moment in time by every three-dimensional system in this world. The world is produced through these archetypes. Studying them helps explain creation because they give details not present in the hermetic aphorisms. At the same time they support that cosmology and confirm everything Hermes says about his three-in-one characteristics, from his being a person, a world and a solar system, to his having a spirit, soul and body, to all three of these being expressions of Being-Unity-Goodness.
What is important about these archetypes is that they show, not just how the world is created, but that there can be no material world—no body—without a spirit and a soul to create it, give it form, and ongoingly sustain that form. Even an external world (including the solar system above) has these three things. It utilizes the archetypes to do what in the aphorisms is spoken of as ‘soul work.’
In a three-dimensional world a set of twelve archetypes is being actualized. The archetypes derive from light, or what is spoken of as electromagnetic energy. Different types of energy are expressed via different frequencies (and different phases within those frequencies). These various types of energy are just what is meant by the laws of nature.
Most scientists agree everything is composed of energy, and that the objects which are composed of this energy ‘obey’ the laws of nature; but physicists do not know where these laws come from. And only some of them have been discovered. Furthermore science does not yet realize the laws are an internally interrelated set. There is hence little understanding of how the basic principles interact with and augment one another, not to mention how they collectively arise from a spiritual source.
It is possible now—today—for the laws of nature to be known and understood in their entirety by scientists. Currently the archetypes as a complete set are to be found in only two places. The first is astrology and the second is in the old religions—those now spoken of as the myths. In those religions there was a God who reigned over the world. He was a being but was also the world as a whole. The attributes of his body were the twelve archetypes. Furthermore, just as atoms are both individuals and the parts of people, the attributes of the world-god were beings in their own right with each assigned to a specific archetype. These ministers helped the world-god with his creative efforts. In Rome the twelve great minister gods were called Mercury, Mars, Venus, Uranus, Jupiter, and so on, just as our planets are today.
By studying the areas of life and the various things these minister gods ruled over it becomes possible to see they are the same things said to be ‘ruled’ in astrology by the twelve signs of the zodiac and their ruling planets. These twelve are basic laws of nature. The irony is that, until science sees a solar system as a primary unit of creation, and until physicists learn more about the laws and principles of nature, including how they correspond to phase and frequency differentials within electromagnetic vibrations, it will be difficult for them to believe that a study of astrology could assist them with their scientific efforts, much less some old myths.
Astrology itself has been a little behind in this respect. The philosophy of astrology—hermetic astrology—entails a deeper look at the principles than that which takes place within regular astrology. It leads to a cosmology, and one which speaks of a person as being both a solar system and a world as well as a being. Anyone who decides to study astrology will most likely not find a teacher who has studied the hermetic aphorisms or would even suggest to their student he or she might be a solar system much less a world. Astrologers are not philosophers. They have seen that astrology works and are simply using it to look at character traits and predict events.
Despite this limitation in modern astrology, the hermetic idea that a person is a solar system is not new. As early as the second century A.D. an early Christian theologian and philosopher by the name of Origen Adamantius (184-253) claimed that people were miniature solar systems.1 So did the Swiss physician and astrologer Paracelsus (1493-1541 ).2 A few other hermetically oriented astrologers have suggested the same thing.3 Some have said that even an atom is a solar system.4
The aphorisms and the archetypes taken together are like a foundation stone upon which the hermetic cosmology rests. The title for this book is the Essential Wisdom because the essence of the truth can be found in a few simple aphorisms and archetypes. The title is also used because it is essential that people come to know and embrace these truths. These are self-evident truths and to find them and live them is to find the essential self—the true self.
The Hermetic Journey
The goal of the Essential Wisdom is not just to further the truth in regards to the spiritual nature of the world and the people in it. The hope is that the knowledge of their spiritual nature will help people find their way home. Home is not a place. Home is the recovery by a person of their true self. Home is a state wherein people are healthy and whole and can enjoy life to the full—a state of being which is their natural heritage.
The method utilized to understand these things is to begin with the aphorisms and archetypes as a base. These two together are the touchstone.
The next step is then to use three of the foremost human institutions existing today in order to verify the truth of the ideas set forth. These three are philosophy, science and religion.
Philosophy is the first of the three. Philosophy has two important branches—metaphysics and epistemology. Metaphysics studies things above and beyond (‘meta’) the physical world—spiritual things. Metaphysically oriented philosophers the world over have thought about the issues discussed in these chapters.
In addition to trying to understand spiritual concepts via its metaphysical branch, philosophy has also, through its arm called epistemology, given the world the words needed to designate and define the various criteria for truth. Philosophy is like first base on the hermetic journey. People get nowhere if they do not understand what truth entails.
Two major criteria for truth include the ‘empirical’ requirement—sometimes referred to as the ‘correspondence’ guide to truth—and the even broader ‘rational’ requirement—spoken of as the ‘coherence’ guide. Relative to the first, what is true must correspond to what is seen via empirical observation. Reason on the other hand entails the power of the mind to think and form judgments by a process of logic. What this means is that all the pieces of the data being analyzed will fit together in a coherent fashion like the parts of a whole—almost like a living body. Next in line after these two criteria are those of comprehensiveness and simplicity. The hope is to be able to explain everything observed, not just in a coherent, but also in a complete and, if possible, a simple manner. (The most powerful theories in physics have been simple.) Closely related to these criteria is the ability to solve paradoxes. In a paradox there are two opposing sides or ideas. At first glance it seems they could not both be true and yet, as it turns out, they are. In these pages this type of reconciliation is referred to as the ‘both-and’ guide to truth. As with the others it is an important criterion since, among other things, the hermetic aphorisms and archetypes teach that the material world is both finite and infinite—both relative and absolute. How can it not be if people are gods like Hermes? Gods have qualities which make them meta-physical. Metaphysical qualities include being absolute, infinite and eternal. Matter on the other hand is relative, finite and temporal. If there is such a thing as gods the very fact of their having form to them—individual natures—and being plural gods (with an ‘s’) would seem to require their being finite. The hermetic teachings show how this important paradox is reconciled.
A number of philosophers are referenced in the Essential Wisdom but Plato most of all. Other very good philosophers have worked to articulate what it means for something to be infinite, absolute and eternal. They have tried to find grounds to account for the reality of the infinite, sometimes so as to offer a proof for the existence of God. What makes Plato stand out is his efforts to understand what it is in people which makes them divine—especially their body. One answer he came up with was their embodiment of a ‘divine proportion’—the golden mean. This is a way to see how parts are related to oneness or wholeness (even to the ultimate ‘whole’). The secret of personal divinity resides in how the many different material parts in a system are related to the one. In the Philebus, Plato’s primary work on the nature of the infinite, he says this secret of how the many are related to the one was given to mankind by Thoth—the Egyptian Hermes (Philebus 14c-18). Plato is very much a hermetic philosopher and his ideas are helpful on the journey.
After touching first base via philosophy, science is like second base on the hermetic journey. Physicists gather data, attempt to make sense of it, and then utilize the information to create a scientific view of creation. The disciplines of philosophy and science are not separate from one another. Not only can runners not get to second base without passing first, both disciplines use empirically observable data about the world to try to create a simple, comprehensive, rationally coherent cosmology. Scientists may not dig as deeply into the nature of truth per se, but they utilize the criteria which philosophers delineate and define. In a reciprocal manner, philosophers utilize new data arising in science to better their own cosmologies.
Science is constantly evolving. Thanks to the work of 20th century physicists after the nature of Albert Einstein (1879-1955) and David Bohm (1917-l992) mankind is now much closer to understanding the hermetic cosmology in scientific terms. Bohm for instance believed that the presence of so much order in the world pointed to the existence of some sort of unformed but implicit order at the base of life—what he referred to variously as the vacuum and the quantum potential. Bohm helped promote understanding of this ‘potential’ for order—that which in the hermetic cosmology is spoken of variously as the substrate, as pure Spirit, or as pure Being-Unity.
The work of Einstein has also been incredibly helpful, especially via what has come to be called the general theory of relativity. The general theory explains the nature of gravity through a look at space. The space of the world presents as both limited (finite) in extent and yet somehow also unbounded (unlimited). The work of this physicist has been a major step towards understanding how a material world can be both finite and infinite.
In the pages to follow the work of Bohm, Einstein, and other famous 20th and 21st century physicists after the nature of Hermann Minkowski, Thomas Young, and Max Planck are brought together. The new insights these physicists have provided testify to the truth of the archetypes and the aphorisms. An unbelievable amount of new data is now emerging, and converging, right at the heart of the hermetic cosmology.
In addition to science, the Essential Wisdom utilizes mathematics to confirm the truth of the hermetic cosmology. Science may be second base, but mathematics is like a first base coach telling the runner when it is safe to go on to second base. The general theory of relativity for instance began as a set of equations formulated by Einstein. When applied to worldly phenomena those equations indicate among other things that space is infinite in extent. What is paradoxical about this is that the extent of the world has been theoretically measured and deemed to be finite. What is a person to believe? Mathematics when applied to science can show the way to the truth of the matter.
The Essential Wisdom looks at areas of verification as they exist both in geometry and in so-called pure mathematics (number theory). Chapter 6 for instance looks at the link between set theory and the hermetic cosmology. This new area of mathematics was brought to the fore by Georg Cantor (1845-1918). His work helps show that the infinite is real, and not just as a potential, but as a real ‘actual’ infinity.5 The role and reality of the finite in mathematics has always been well established. It was Cantor who provided a proof that the infinite is also real.6 [When ‘applied’ this area of pure mathematics can help verify the existence of real (material) infinities, and this is what a person is.])
In addition to complex theories like Einstein’s field equations and the ideas of Cantor, the chapters to follow look at the simplest processes in mathematics and the simplest numbers, such as zero and one, and what these imply. The number one for instance is connected to the meaning of a world as a ‘whole’—and in the process to the nature of an individual. (In line with the general theory of relativity, the Pythagoreans viewed the ‘one’ as both limited and unlimited.7) By understanding one as it relates to zero and the infinite it becomes possible to see why the world (and a person) is both limited and unlimited, both finite and infinite. For every living system, the number one is their symbol. It makes them a unique individual—a singularity (as symbolized by ‘1’). It also makes them a living whole (as also symbolized by ‘1’).
Thanks to philosophy as a starting place, and science as the next important base (along with the first base coaches) there is more than enough information to confirm beyond a reasonable doubt the truth of the hermetic cosmology. But there is more. The third base on the hermetic journey is religion with its third-base coaches. Religious institutions believe it is possible to be told what the truth about creation entails. If the involved revelation comes from someone who can see farther than the runner, and someone who can be trusted, they can assist with getting the runner closer to home. (In the esoteric tradition the third base coaches have often been referred to as ascended ‘masters.’) Science has disdained the role of religion, but what the hermetic cosmology teaches is that all the major religions of the world—old and new—have important truths to convey.
The old pantheistic, polytheistic nature-astral religions are especially helpful because they give details about the archetypes. Chapter 12, The Old Religions, takes an in-depth look at the stories of the basic principles of creation as told in the myths. The presence of these archetypes in the religions of the world goes back as far as recorded history, even to the time of the mythical city of Atlantis where, according to Plato, Atlas was the world-sun god. Atlas had twelve helpers one of whom was his twin brother Gad (Hermes).
The longevity of these stories attests to the power of the criterion for truth called perennialness mentioned in Chapter 1. What is true corresponds to real being. Philosophers and physicists utilize other well-known criteria for truth, but they do not fully appreciate the power of being. Because even material being has its roots in pure Being, what is true cannot die. Even when thoughtless attempts are made to stamp it out, what is true will arise again from its roots, much like a perennial plant which seemingly dies in the winter but has the strength to rise again. This is why it is so important to respect the past and not denigrate information just because it is old or at first glance seems nonsensical.
In addition to testifying to the perennial nature of the truth, there is a special type of comprehensiveness in the myths in that the archetypes in those myths do not merely account for all material phenomena in a comprehensive manner, but also that data in regards to these archetypes is to be found everywhere. The twelve great minister gods, by different names, were revered all over the world for thousands of years, possibly tens of thousands. The areas of life they ruled over represented specific laws of creation even then. Today they can be correlated to the basic laws in modern physics.
And as if the aforementioned degree of comprehensiveness and longevity were not enough, these archetypes are not just present in the old religions. They are still there in the so-called monotheistic modern religions of today. Like science, religion is in a state of growth. The polytheistic religions evolved into monotheisms for many reasons—some high, some low. The archetypes were too important to be left behind and so the minister gods eventually came to be called patriarchs. Chapter 13, The Current Religions, is devoted to showing how Abraham the great father of the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim religions is present in the old religions. Abraham’s grandson Jacob is there as well. The twelve sons of Jacob, as can be seen through their names and roles, are expressions of the twelve minister gods of antiquity—the archetypes. (The archetypes are there in the names and roles of the great archangels as well, and that too is discussed in Chapter 13.)
As for the place of astrology in all this, in terms of religion it survived the death of the ancient myths. The archetypes representing the twelve minister gods are the twelve signs of the zodiac. Those archetypes are the basis of the laws and principles producing the material world. Among other things those twelve show how and in what way each is related to their spiritual source. Everything is affected by and produced by one of those twelve. In astrology everything is said to be ‘ruled by’ one of the twelve. Because modern astrologers have continually worked to clarify the rulership system at base of the twelve archetypes, it can today serve as a type of bridge between the present and the past, not to mention between religion and science by showing how matter is related to spirit. In terms of science, it is not only the science of sciences, but a science in and of itself. Ordinary astrology as it is utilized by astrologers has the potential to one day be verified as actually working, thus proving that its rulership system—the archetypes and the way they explain the laws of creation—is valid. The nature of astrology is discussed in Chapter 11 and in that chapter a thesis is given relative to how astrology works. There is enough new data arising in science to set forth a rational hypothesis.
Home Plate and the True Self
This then is the overall methodology. The strategy used is to begin with the aphorisms and archetypes and add to this the most current information available in philosophy, science, and religion. The goal is to help verify the truth of the hermetic cosmology.
The ultimate goal is to help those who search find their true self. This is home plate. People have lost their way home. As the hermetic cosmology comes into focus a realization arises. It comes via indications that something seems to be wrong with the world and the people who are that world. Given what the archetypes teach, conditions are not what they can be and should be. It then becomes imperative, for both practical and theoretical reasons, to look closely at what seems to be wrong. This has been touched on a little in the paragraphs proceeding. It is broadly spoken of in philosophy as the ‘question of evil.’ In religion this is referred to as the Fall.
When the laws of physics are studied in the light of the archetypes they verify that each fundamental law is a specific type of unity as well as a basic type of being. The world and every living system is created from Unity. This is why the parts of the world (and of people) are harmonious with one another—why they are lawful in their interactions. What becomes evident on the hermetic journey is that something has happened to this natural harmony producing disharmony in its wake. Even though religion says there has been a fall, to say something is not to explain it and ultimately to provide proofs. The hermetic cosmology teaches that if something is true in religion, science will attest to that truth.
There is evidence emerging in science right now that the world is not as it should be or can be. This is examined in the pages to follow via the work of major physicists, and especially that of modern biophysicists—researchers like Fritz Popp (1938- ), Brain Goodwin (1931-2009) and Mae-Wan Ho (1941-2016). The presence of disharmony in the world is especially visible in the bodies of living systems. The task of biophysicists is to connect biology to physics. Ho for instance, not only points out that there is disharmony in the bodies of biosystems, she then tries to understand its origin in terms of atomic-level physics, including the question of whether or not disharmony is natural.
When looking at a living system, what becomes obvious is that these are basically composed of cells. When cells are destroyed the parts of the cells drop down to the molecular or even to the atomic level of being. This is what happens when a person is wounded in a particular area of their body. There is a fall in the level of being. It is not that all things are not composed of the same substance (light vibrations), but that there are different levels of these vibrations—some appropriate for a system, some too low and hence inappropriate. If information to be found in the archetypes is added to the ideas of people after the nature of Mae-Wan Ho and David Bohm, including the latter’s concept of a potential (the ‘quantum potential’), the concurrence of ideas indicates there can be a case in which potentials within a system which are supposed to be activated at a particular level at a particular moment in the history of that system are not being activated. (This fall in level is why religions speak of this as the Fall.)
Ho came to believe that disharmony was abnormal, and she approaches the question via the best that is available in physics today. It includes looking at the role of the second law of thermodynamics as it relates to disharmony. This so-called law of entropy states that when interactions between the parts of bodies are not harmonious and coherent what occurs is a slight loss in what could be (and should be) a situation which produces good-form—especially given that everything with form is apparently composed of coherent light energy. What is important is that, as a physicist and not just a biologist, her work includes bringing the subject of light into the picture, and it includes relating disharmony to lack of resonance (lack of connections) between different levels of electromagnetic vibrations (in this case the atomic level and the bio-level). The religions of the world have long spoken of a battle between the forces of darkness and the forces of light. Since form occurs via light energy (and people see only certain levels of light) shadows are created whenever there are conditions which promote disharmony—conditions under which form cannot manifest at a level which people can see and which is appropriate for them.
Ho talks about how entropy is related to friction. If the parts of a system are not spatially and qualitatively united and do not fit well together what arises is a frictional interaction. Friction can occur between the parts within a body (called deformative friction) or between the ‘parts’ in an external world. It can damage form in either inner or outer worlds. The result of friction is entropy. The system loses some aspect of its form to some degree.
What modern physicists and mathematicians are beginning to discover are truths which astrology and the myths explain in detail. The archetypes underlying creation—these words the gods create with—are types of unity intended to produce wholeness and harmony both within systems and in the collective external worlds they co-create.
Something has happened to affect that natural harmony—something unlawful and hence unnatural. And what is unnatural can be eradicated—changed back into that which is natural, coherent, right and good. The goal of the Essential Wisdom is not just to advocate for a particular way of explaining creation. In line with the hermetic teachings it has a deeper purpose, and that is to advocate for a better world—and most of all for the empowering belief that the world can be changed by the people who have created it.
The aphorisms and archetypes teach that every living system is created in the image of God—a Word of God expressing the nature of Being-Unity-Goodness. To be a god just like God is to possess the power to be a creator. To lose that godhood is to lose power and substance. And the substance lost is not just in terms of things in the external world; it is to lose parts of one’s self. Spirit manifests as light. People are created from light.
Throughout the world there are story of the gods who fell. There is an old Chaldean word ‘sarku’ which literally means the race of light beings. The story of the sarku compares mortal men to these beings of light.8 It is said that people are a race of gods, but that they lost their godhood and their immortality. In the process they lost pieces of the light from which they were created. At some time in history they lost their original illumination, in the process becoming shadow people in a shadow world.
Mystics claim the Fall is still going on and that every time a person thinks, feels, does or says something which is not positive and good, they add to the shadows in themselves and their world. The hermetic cosmology affirms this view, but it also teaches that each person has within them the power to change the world—precisely because they are the creator of that world. The goal of the hermetic journey is to eliminate the shadows—to reach home plate. Because all true power resides in Being-Unity-Goodness, it is possible to know that the Good will prevail and that all living systems will be resurrected back to their former estate as beings of pure light expressing good-form in their mental, emotional and physical bodies—and of course good-form in every interaction with other systems within their external world. People will become gods again. The path to be found and followed is the journey home—back to a state of full and complete being—a state of wholeness, of health, and of happiness.
Each and every person is a powerful, shining, being of light. Currently there are shadows obscuring that light. Those shadows obscure the truth about the gods, including the knowledge of who and what they are. Truth is real being. Each person must find their true self and embody the truth. This is why the knowledge of what truth entails is first base on the journey home. The most important guide for truth is not the coherence or the correspondence criterion. It is to be true to one’s self and to find that true self. This is what it means to reach home plate.
This then is an overview of The Essential Wisdom including the Secret of Secrets. There is enough data within all the sources utilized to establish the veracity of a new paradigm. When that data is brought together, the amalgamation produces an essence. If the essence of The Essential Wisdom were to be summed up in a few words, it might be somewhat as follows:
(a) There is a spiritual source of life. This source has been called by many names in many lands, including (in its unexpressed form) the ‘Silence.’ In an expressed form, as the Words of the Silence, this spiritual substance has again been called by many names, but names usually attached to a high god and not to people.
(b) People (and all living systems) are created in the image of this spiritual substance at the base of life, and even in the image of any level of material or expressed god that exists, from the highest to the lowest. They are themselves Words of God and are made to be creators, to create their world, and to create a world that is good and beautiful.
(c) Human beings have made some mistakes during their processes of creation. The world is not as it should be and can be.
(d) People are powerful spiritual beings, and are in process of rectifying their errors.
(e) The timetable for the restoration depends upon people coming to understand who and what they are, and upon the efforts they put into the work of restoration.
Footnotes, Chapter One
1. All references to the books of Plato are from Hamilton and Huntington, an excellent translation which also has a good index by subject matter since Plato often discussed a particular subject in many different books.
2. Waterfield, Ch. 6, “The Rise and Fall of Alcibiades,” pp. 85-102.
Footnotes, Chapter Two
1. Cavendish, Vol. 12, “Macrocosm and Microcosm.”
3. Rudhyar, Man as a Solar System.
5. Mayberry, The Foundation of Mathematics in the Theory of Sets.
6. See Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia: ‘Finite Set’ and ‘Infinite Set.’
7. Craig, Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “Pythagorianism,” pp. 859-860.
8. Blavatsky, Theosophical Glossary, ‘sarku,’ p. 292.