An Audacious Celebration & Hermes Trismegistus

The urge to celebrate and rejoice, to be euphoric, seems to be a need as primordial as food for survival… The caveman dancing in front of the fire, the shaman entranced below a tree, the master writing a haiku – spread all across time are these symbols of joy. And as I wonder why it is that we need to be in bliss, the answer comes: It frees you from your limited sense of self. You expand. For a moment, you feel godly…

It means, then, that you cannot separate the self from the celebration. One is an expression of the other. You can celebrate only to the extent you are ‘available’ to connect.

So, if you wanted the celebration to go on, and at the grandest scale possible, would you need to be godlike…?

Of course… No doubt. Then, what would it take to be god, really…?

This question takes me back to a well-known passage from the controversial and fantastic Corpus Hermeticum. These are texts dating between the 1st century and the 3rd century AD, and are ascribed to Hermes Trismegistus, “the thrice great”. A Hellenistic figure, part god, part saint-scholar, he arose as a syncretic combination of the Greek god Hermes and the Egyptian god Thoth. Alchemy, philosophy, astronomy are some of the subjects dealt within the Hermetica, but what I want to share with you is this. Trismegistus ‘knew’ human beings to be co-creators with god and he declares in no uncertain terms their equal divinity. This excerpt is a gorgeously audacious celebration of the same truth, and here it is for you:

First Latin Edition of the Corpus Hermeticum, translated by Masilio Ficino, 1471 CE.

“If then you do not make yourself equal to God, you cannot apprehend God; for like is known by like.
Leap clear of all that is corporeal and make yourself grown to a like expanse with that greatness which is beyond all measure; rise above all time and become eternal; then you will apprehend God. Think that for you too nothing is impossible; deem that you too are immortal, and that you are able to grasp all things in your thought, to know every craft and science; find your home in the haunts of every living creature; make yourself higher than all heights and lower than all depths; bring together in yourself all opposites of quality, heat and cold, dryness and fluidity; think that you are everywhere at once, on land, at sea, in heaven; think that you are not yet begotten, that you are in the womb, that you are young, that you are old, that you have died, that you are in the world beyond the grave; grasp in your thought all of this at once, all times and places, all substances and qualities and magnitudes together; then you can apprehend God.
But if you shut up your soul in your body, and abase yourself, and say “I know nothing, I can do nothing; I am afraid of earth and sea, I cannot mount to heaven; I know not what I was, nor what I shall be,” then what have you to do with God?
Close your eyes and let the mind expand. Let no fear of death or darkness arrest its course. Allow the mind to merge with Mind. Let it flow out upon the great curve of consciousness. Let it soar on the wings of the great bird of duration, up to the very Circle of Eternity.”

Corpus Hermeticum

“If you then do not make yourself equal to god…” It leaves you shaken like an ancient tree caught in a lordly storm. In every line there is a definite method, a coaxing, a dislodging of conditioning from one’s being. Thus, it is not just high and lyrical prose, but a field guide with a map. Follow it and “then you will apprehend God”

But what stops us? Why do we “abase” and limit ourselves in so many ways, I wonder. We believe in ‘drudgery for freedom’. Weekdays for Friday nights. A lifetime of slavery for a few years on a boat or in a cabin, or on a mountainside. Why not take the whole, when it is yours? Rumi says, “You are the entire ocean in one drop…” And yet, we allow ourselves to be taught that we need qualifications to enter the party – “then what have you to do with God?” Because…becoming godly has nothing to do with any kind of ego-centric quality, however grand it may be. Nothing to do either with humility or self-aggrandizement. Trismegistus wastes no time telling you that you need wait for nothing, care for no distance, work for no improvement – and see immediately that to be god is to take a living and breathing look at the Universe as your own mountainous body.  

Hermes Mercurius Trismegistus,
Floor Mosaic at the Cathedral of Siena, 1480

As if the trees, dogs, cows, wolves, beetles and falcons were your arms, legs and sinews. As if the Moon was your heart and the Sun your soul. The peaks and valleys, the height and depth of your wonder. As if the streets of your town were the pathways of your own knowing, where you meet many ‘others’ through whom to know yourself.

He says, “Find your home in the haunts of every living creature…” For that is how you recognize yourself – in the eyes of the other. That is how you know yourself to be god – in a zillion reflecting eyes. Yes…there’s the long studied strangeness between you. The polarity of opposites. The make-believe wall you put between you and your other selves, so that you could ‘see yourself’…by singling yourself out. What a paradox… 

This kind of a wall doesn’t break. One has to walk through it, because it is an illusion.

And it becomes obvious that, to walk through it, the way is to increase the moments of rejoicing. “Let it soar on the wings of the great bird of duration…” Bliss is the speed which takes one beyond time. Thus, take the celebration a notch higher each time, with each and every being, and every feeling. Be spaced out in meditation. Be gone in pain. Or burn with creativity. And flow with love. All of it is a way to soar, if you let go. For only in your high forgetfulness, in your most voluminous elation, when you “close your eyes and let the mind expand…” – will you become free and enter through the wall. 

Thus, even the stars lend a hand with the forgetfulness, making you feel airy with their beauty. And the lunacy inspiring moon. Entering the forests, the mountains, the higher or deeper you go, the more aware you become of silence. Go to them. They are your map, your geometry, as is a blade of grass, an ant, a raindrop. And especially all broken things, dark, ugly, empty, forlorn – they are the unvisited fields of your own being. What kind of god would it make if it did not celebrate all of itself?

Dogen says, “Enlightenment is intimacy with all things.” 

The celebration is always on. But this is the answer, and the way to get in. And come as you are.

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