The servile mind
Hello, I have been studying hermeticism for almost 8 years. Initially in a practical way, unconsciously in the spiritual world, until I found the CH which I have been reading and studying for the last 4 years.
My native language is spanish, and there are no good translations of the CH into spanish, so I have dedicated myself to translating the CH from Copenhaver and while doing so I am sharing what I learn with a study group.
Recently I have been developing a deep investigation of what the Decade and the 12 torments mean. I am currently studying the torment of anger, which led me to understand what Heimarmene is, which led me (by providence) to your portal.
The last aspect I have studied was the Good, and each has destroyed a part of my common existence. I am about to enter Light and Life and you appear in the picture. Nice entry by the way 🙂
Before I continue, (for if I have a doubt) after this introduction, I want to thank you for existence and that you exist as you do, in anonymity. I also understood that every hierophant who follows the path of Hermes calls himself Hermes. Recently I also discovered Wouter Hanegraaff and I realized that I am not alone in this discovery, now I find you...
Without any doubt, as soon as I have the possibility, I will take your course, I have reviewed its structure and I see that I will be able to polish many things that I have learned in solitude.
I have a question that I have not been able to solve, since I do not find reference to what it is about, in CH X, 23 Hermes speaks of a servile mind that has been sent down by justice. What mind does this passage refer to, the daemon that punishes the soul, or the mind that like a surgeon seeks to heal the soul?
Thank you very much for existing.
We will read each other more often.
Welcome Sirius, to the forum and the website! Glad you are here. And good to read that you are already walking the Way of Hermes for a couple of years. Your project of translating the hermetic wisdom to Spanish will surely make you a beloved follower of the Great Egyptian.
Yes, we prefer to be anonymous. It cannot be another way as everything we do is not our wisdom but the wisdom of Hermes, which we try to "promote" as best as possible. Doing this under our real names would feel wrong as we cannot claim it as our own.
CH X.23 is a very difficult paragraph to understand. We can see this in how different translators have grappled with the text.
Copenhaver translated it as:
"Do you suppose, my child, that every soul possesses the good mind? Our present discourse concerns this mind, not the servile mind of which we spoke earlier, the one sent below by justice."
Salaman translated it as:
"Do you believe, my son, that every soul has Nous, the Supreme Good? For that is what we speak of now, not about the servant, of which we have spoken earlier, which was sent down to punish."
The Italian translator did this:
"Do you believe son, that every soul possesses an intellect, the good one? On this, in fact, the present discourse is concerned, and not on this servant intellect, of which we spoke previously, sent down here by Justice."
What we see is that Hermes mentions two different minds, the good one (probably Nous as Salaman translates this) and the lesser servile mind which is probably our limited reason+logos. The lesser mind is sent down by Justice (the goddess, as it is translated in Italian).
Maybe we get our lesser servile mind through the goddess of justice so that this mind (reason+logos) can recognize and cultivate moral order and fair judgment, necessary for human existence. The term "servile" sounds negative, but maybe it is meant that through Justice we gain the capacity to have an excessive willingness to serve or please others/society, in other words, "altruism".
I would say that this servile mind is neither the one punished by a daimon (unless you do not use your reason), nor the one that heals our soul as I think that this is Nous.
Here is more information about the goddess Dike:
How are you going to translate X.23?
Thank you very much for the response, still not clear on me what this second mind is, as I thought there is only one, that by function has aspects and I guess a servile mind is an aspect of Nous or the intellect.
Just to be clear, I'm not a scholar so I´m not doing a scholarly translation as Copenhaver or Scott did, as i regret my lack of understanding on greek, and tome to investigate thoroughly.
I am translating from the Copenhaver edition, and try not to change the words from English to Spanish as i respect the immense work of Brian, as the one that so many scribes has done, i did choose Brian version over other as is a recommendation of a dear person to me.
What I am doing is translating and then doing comments on the text that I use on my study group, that's why i inquire in to this subject as there are parts of the text that self refer to others and I haven't found the answer for this one.
Let me try to answer your/my question
If i revise Brians notes he says:
«servile mind: NF I, 125, 135, n. 79, has "intellect serviteur" for nous huperetikos-, on the latter term, see above, section 17.»
On the notes of section 17 says:
«"Garment" and "shroud" seem better suited to the related ideas of chiton and ochema, as does "armoring-servant" for huperetes, the normal sense of which is simply "servant," but see LSJ s.v. huperetes, II.2.a, and TDNT VIII, 530-3.»
The X.17 in question is:
«"What do you mean, father? How is mind parted from soul and soul from spirit when you say that soul is the garment of the mind and spirit
the garment of the soul?"
 "The hearer must be of one mind with the speaker, my son, and of one spirit as well; he must have hearing quicker than the speech of
the speaker. In an earthy body occurs the combining of these garments, my son, for the mind cannot seat itself alone and naked in an earthy
body. The earthy body cannot support so great an immortality, nor can so great a dignity endure defiling contact with a body subject to passion. Mind, therefore, has taken the soul as a shroud, and the soul, which is itself something divine, uses the spirit as a sort of armoring-servant. The spirit governs the living being."»
So there art 2 things that take my attention here, «The hearer must be of one mind with the speaker, my son, and of one spirit as well», And the servile spirit that the mind uses to governs the living being.
So could spirit actually be the substance of mind? the substance of everything, because to really hear God, the message is everywhere, so, could it be that the servile mind is the one that allows the synchronization of the senses of the living being with of this rendering of reality, the Logos with the Nous, as one thing?
"The Key" to this is reason, the power of Thoth-Thought, the Gnosis.
Maybe we get our lesser servile mind through the goddess of justice so that this mind (reason+logos) can recognize and cultivate moral order and fair judgment
To be at service is to be at service to the will of God, the hearer to be one with the speaker, service to God is service to everything, without distinction, the power of reason is to distinct from what is mortal and what is eternal and even beyond the eternal, the timeless.
That would be my interpretation of this matter. (wasn't prepared, your question actually allow me to answer my own question, if its a viable answer :P)
In Hermeticism, Nous is the most important concept, but the least understood as it is difficult to translate.
The hermetic authors used the Greek term Nous, which in normal Greek and Greek philosophy means mind or intellect. But this is in Hermeticism the wrong translation, at least sometimes.
Here is an article explaining important hermetic terms like Nous: https://wayofhermes.com/hermeticism/some-important-technical-hermetic-terms/
This is maybe also an interesting article: https://wayofhermes.com/hermeticism/imagination-and-the-way-of-hermes/
"Unfortunately, this difficult term is often misinterpreted in modern translations. Almost always Nous, which is central to Hermeticism, gets translated either as “intellect” or as “mind” (see above). The problem with this translation is that if modern readers hear about the intellect or mind, they think it is about things like the human intellect, intellectual thinking, intellectuals, rational thinking, scholarship, or rational philosophy."
That is why Wouter Hanegraaff thinks we should not translate Nous, and I agree.
I see where you are heading here as there is a source definition that creates the distortion on the text, hence our ability to define this particular aspect. I do take in to consideration that the concept of Nous is more gracious and complete, I too agree with Wouter on the matter, but I'm no one to affect the work of another scholar. That's why I write poems on this matters and create study groups on this subjects.
To go on with the inquiry
I'm gonna stick with the Light pouring out from the mysterious fountain as Nous, and I can interpret the broader sense of this, as a non mechanical light but an intelligent light, it doesn't burn the eyes. It illuminates the entire being. It's a light that engender his child, that mix out with caos and creates Life.
I follow the teachings of another Hermetist called Schwaller de Lubicz and the term Symbolique it's a key aspect on how I have come to understand things, nothing is divided all is One and there is where my attention resides. Nous, Gnosis and Logos are one and the same, that comes from the mystery of the heart but our rational faculty tends to divide this in to parts...hence killing what's alive.
In this terms is not actually important to divide things, as it will get confused, and the energetics of the Egyptian lenguage would die on the process.
But here we are, writing about it and living it anyways, still what's the servile mind? The servile Nous? The light that serves a purpose? The fire of spirit alive in matter? The Light of God moving through resistance? The action of Phi serving the spinning of creation?
It seems that is not the fire that punish the irreverent, but is send down by Justice, wich is harmony of the energies, the lightness of the heart when is being weighted against the feather.
I'm still inquiring on this matter not clear yet it will come to be clear for sure.
I will follow up on the lectures and come back after the course to see if got cleared.
CH X has been for me my most inspiring of all.