The Definitions of Hermēs Trismegistus to Asclepius: 6 (with quoted footnotes) 

1. Just as the gods are God’s possession, so is man too; and man’s possession is the world: (69) if there were nobody to see it, what would be seen would not even exist. (70Only man understands the intelligible things and sees the visible, for they are no aliens to him. (71Man has at once the two natures, the mortal and the immortal one. (72) Man has the three essences, namely the intelligible, the animated and the material one.(73)

2. Just as you went out of the womb, likewise you will go out of this body; just as you will no longer enter the womb, (74likewise you will no longer enter this material body. Just as, while being in the womb, you did not know the things which are in the world, likewise when you are outside the body, you will not know the beings that are outside the body. Just as when you have gone out of the womb, you do not remember the things which are in the womb, likewise, when you have gone out of the body, you will be still more excellent.(75)

3. The present things follow close upon the past, and the future close upon the present. (76Just as the body, once it has gained perfection in the womb, goes out, (77likewise the soul, once it has gained perfection, goes out of the body. For just as a body, if it goes out of the womb while it is still imperfect can neither be fed nor grow up, likewise if soul goes out of the  body without having gained perfection it is imperfect and lacks a body; but the perfection of soul is the knowledge of the beings. (78Just as you will behave towards your soul when it is in this body, likewise it will behave towards you (79when it has gone out of the body. 

   -Contain yourself, (800 Trismegistus!

  1. Just as the gods are God’s possession, so is man too; and man’s possession is the world: (69: stuc’uac = ‘possession’ [ktêsis – κτῆσις]can also mean ‘creature [which is founded from nothing]’ (or the act and/or the product of creation) [ktisis – κτίσις]; some manuscripts close to F punctuate the text differently, from the end of 5.3 up to the first sentence of 6.1: “Only man has Nous and speech (6.1), just like the gods. Man is a possession of God and the world a possession of man.” This might make sense. But in a wider hermetic context, we can hardly admit that man shares the privilege of Nous with the astral gods. Indeed we read in NH 6.67, 12-15 “that, unlike man, gods are deprived of gnosis and epistime [science].”if there were nobody to see it, what would be seen would not even exist. (70: CH 10.4 “Hermēs: ‘So it is, then, for one who can see. For god also wishes this seeing to happen, and it happens for him too and chiefly, and all else happens because of it. . . . For being recognized is characteristic of the good. This is the good, Tat.’ Tat: ‘You have filled us with a vision, father, which is good and very beautiful, and my mind’s eye is almost blinded in such a vision.’ Hermēs: ‘Yes, but the vision of the good is not like the ray of the sun which, because it is fiery, dazzles the eyes with light and makes them shut. On the contrary, it illuminates to the extent that one capable of receiving the influence of intellectual splendor can receive it. It probes more sharply, but it does no harm, and it is full of all immortality.’”Only man understands the intelligible things and sees the visible, for they are no aliens to him. (71: CH 4.9 “Thus, knowledge is not a beginning of the good, but it furnishes us the beginning of the good that will be known. So let us seize this beginning and travel with all speed, for the path is very crooked that leaves familiar things of the present to return to primordial things of old. Visible things delight us, but the invisible cause mistrust. Bad things are the more open to sight, but the good is invisible to what can be seen. For the good has neither shape nor outline. This is why it is like itself but unlike all others, for the bodiless cannot be visible to body.”; CH 13.3 Tat: ‘Father, what you tell me is impossible and contrived, and so I want to respond to it straightforwardly: I have been born a son strange to his father’s lineage. Do not begrudge me, father; I am your lawful son. Tell me clearly the way to be born again’ Hermēs: ‘What can I say, my child? I have nothing to tell except this: seeing within me an unfabricated vision that came from the mercy of god, I went out of myself into an immortal body, and now I am not what I was before. I have been born in mind. This thing cannot be taught, nor can it be seen through any elementary fabrication that we use here below. Therefore, the initial form even of my own constitution is of no concern. Color, touch or size I no longer have; I am a stranger to them. Now you see me with your eyes, my child, but by gazing with bodily sight you do not understand what I am; I am not seen with such eyes, my child.’”Man has at once the two natures, the mortal and the immortal one. (72: CH 1.15 “Because of this, unlike any other living thing on earth, mankind is twofold – in the body mortal but immortal in the essential man. Even though he is immortal and has authority over all things, mankind is affected by mortality because he is subject to fate; thus, although man is above the cosmic framework, he became a slave within it. He is androgyne because he comes from an androgyne father, and he never sleeps because he comes from one who is sleepless. Yet love and sleep are his masters.”; AH 7.22 “Mankind is the only living thing that is twofold: one part of him is simple, what the Greeks call ousiodes, what we call a form of divine likeness.”; NH 6.67, 32-34 “God has brought human mortality into immortality, and humanity has become good and immortal, as I have said. So God has a created a twofold nature in humanity, immortal and mortal.”) Man has the three essences, namely the intelligible, the animated and the material one. (73: CH 10.13 “A human soul is carried in this way: the mind is in the reason; the reason is in the soul; the soul is in the spirit; the spirit, passing through veins and arteries and blood, moves the living thing and, in a manner of speaking, bears it up. Some hold, therefore, that the soul is blood, mistaking its nature and not seeing that the spirit must first be withdrawn into the soul and then, when the blood thickens and the veins and arteries are emptied, this destroys the living thing; and this is the death of the body.”)
  2. Just as you went out of the womb, likewise you will go out of this body; just as you will no longer enter the womb, (74: CH 11.20 “See what power you have, what quickness! If you can do these things, can god not do them? So you must think of god in this way, as having everything – the cosmos, himself, the universe – like thoughts within himself. Thus, unless you make yourself equal to god, you cannot understand god; like is understood by like. Make yourself grow to immeasurable immensity, outleap all body, outstrip all time, become eternity and you will understand god. Having conceived that nothing is impossible to you, consider yourself immortal and able to understand everything, all art, all learning, the temper of every living thing. Go higher than every height and lower than every depth. Collect in yourself all the sensations of what has been made, of fire and water, dry and wet; be everywhere at once, on land, in the sea, in heaven; be not yet born, be in the womb, be young, old, dead, beyond death. And when you have understood all these at once – times, places, things, qualities, quantities – then you can understand god.“; 13.11 “Since god has made me tranquil, father, I no longer picture things with the sight of my eyes but with the mental energy that comes through the powers. I am in heaven, in earth, in water, in air; I am in animals and in plants; in the womb, before the womb, after the womb; everywhere…“likewise you will no longer enter this material body. Just as, while being in the womb, you did not know the things which are in the world, likewise when you are outside the body, you will not know the beings that are outside the body. Just as when you have gone out of the womb, you do not remember the things which are in the womb, likewise, when you have gone out of the body, you will be still more excellent. (75: So in Greek. The Armenian reads: “You will remember nothing of what belongs to it”, which may be better.)
  3. The present things follow close upon the past, and the future close upon the present. (76: So in Greek. The Armenian reads: “As to those who care for the present things the future ones follow close upon the present.” This difference is likely due to a misreading of the Greek text: [pronoousi instead of proousi].Just as the body, once it has gained perfection in the womb, goes out, (77So in Greek. The Armenian reads: “the child, once it has gained perfection, goes out of the womb”; “child” is sure to be wrong when we compare with the next sentence.) likewise the soul, once it has gained perfection, goes out of the body. For just as a body, if it goes out of the womb while it is still imperfect can neither be fed nor grow up, likewise if soul goes out of the body without having gained perfection it is imperfect and lacks a body; but the perfection of soul is the knowledge of the beings. (78: CH 1.3 “Hermēs: ‘I wish to learn about the things that are, to understand their nature and to know god. How much I want to hear!’ I said. Then he said to me: ‘Keep in mind all that you wish to learn, and I will teach you.’“Just as you will behave towards your soul when it is in this body, likewise it will behave towards you (79: CH 10.21 “For the soul is punished in this way: the mind, once it has become a demon, is directed to acquire a fiery body in order to serve god, and, having entered into the most irreverent soul, mind afflicts that soul with scourges of wrongdoing; thus scourged, the irreverent soul takes to murders and outrages and slanders and the diverse kinds of violence by which people do wrong. But when mind has entered a reverent soul, it leads it to the light of knowledge. Such a soul as this never has its fill of hymning and praising, always blessing all people and doing them good in every deed and word, in memory of its father.“when it has  gone out of the body. 

              -Contain yourself, (80: CH 1.22 “Hermēs: ‘All people have mind, do they not?’ Poimandres: ‘Hold your tongue, fellow. Enough talk. I myself, the mind, am present to the blessed and good and pure and merciful – to the reverent – and my presence becomes a help; they quickly recognize everything, and they propitiate the father lovingly and give thanks, praising and singing hymns affectionately and in the order appropriate to him. Before giving up the body to its proper death, they loathe the senses for they see their effects. Or rather I, the mind, will not permit the effects of the body to strike and work their results on them. As gatekeeper, I will refuse entry to the evil and shameful effects, cutting off the anxieties that come from them.’“0 Trismegistus!


-Footnoted quotes from the CH, AH and NH are by Copenhaver, Litwa, and Meyer unless specified.

Similar Posts

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments