The Paradoxes of the Highest Science
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Pages (PDF): 109
Publication Date: 1883, this translation published in 1922
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This was the first of Lévi's books to be translated into English. The original French version was published in 1856. This translation (by an unknown hand) was first published in 1883 by the Theosophical Society, and re-issued in 1922, with additional extensive footnotes by 'an Eminent Occultist' (herein, E.O.). The identity of E.O. is unknown, but it is believed from the style and views expressed that it was none other than Helena P. Blavatsky.
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MAGIC is the divinity of man conquered by science in union with faith; the true Magi are Men-Gods, in virtue of their intimate union with the divine principle. They are without fear and without desires; they are dominated by no falsehood; they share no error; they love without illusion and suffer without impatience, for they leave all to happen as it may, and repose in the quietude of the eternal thought. They lean upon religion, but religion does not weigh on them; religion is the Sphynx which obeys, but never devours them. They know what religion is, and they feel that it is necessary and eternal.
For debased souls religion is a yoke imposed, through self-interest, by the poltrooneries of fear and the follies of hope. For exalted souls religion is a force, springing from an intensified reliance in the love of humanity.
Religion is the collective poesy of great souls. Her fictions are more true than Truth itself; vaster than Infinity; more lasting than Eternity; in other words, they are essentially paradoxical.
They are the dream of the Infinite in the Unknown, of the Possible in the Impossible, of the Definite in the Indefinable, of Progress in the Immutable, of Absolute Being in the Non-existent.
They are the ultimate rationale of the Absurdity, which affirms itself, to deny doubt; they are the science of foolishness, the embrace of Folly and Knowledge. They are the cries of the eagle mounting above the clouds, the roar of the lion of the Apocalypse, that takes to itself wings and flies away; the bellowing of the bull beneath the sacrificial knife, and the never ending moan of mankind before the portals of the tomb.
For man, God is, and can only be, the ideal of man. In himself, he is the unknown, but in his revelation, at once divine and human, he is paradoxical man, the substantial without substance, the personal without definition, the immutable which transforms itself but has no form, the omnipotent ever struggling with the weakness of man, the serenity which thunders, the mercy which damns, the infinite goodness which tortures, the eternity which perishes; an infinite contradiction; the abyss of the human heart, serving as a world for an insatiable and terrifying idol; the cruelty of Nero, the policy of Tiberius drinking the blood of Jesus Christ, a pope emperor, or an emperor antipope, the king of kings, the pontiff of pontiffs, the executioner of executioners, the physician of physicians, the liberator of the free, the inflexible master of slaves.
God is everywhere the ideal of those who ignorantly adore him; ferocious amongst savages, instinct with human passions amidst the Greeks, an Oriental despot for the Jews, jealous and merciless for the Ultramontanes as a celibate priest. One and all create a personage whom they endow in an infinite degree with their own characteristics and their own defects. Every man adores the God whom he has made for himself in his own image, or has allowed authorities, who have more or less an interest in his ignorance and weakness, to impose upon him. To adore in fear and trembling is almost to hate, though the fear disguises the hate; to adore fearlessly is to love.
True piety, which is the foundation of religion, is the exaltation of love, for love raised to a high pitch admits no longer the barriers of the possible; the impossible is its dream, and miracle, for it, reality. What would avail a religion that did not give us the infinite? What is Protestantism with its sacrament devoid of reality? Sad as an extinguished taper or a dismantled church! How can the bread consecrated by the word represent Jesus Christ if it be not Jesus himself? What folly if the Christ be not divinity! A fine piece of worship, truly, to chew a mouthful of bread--alas for him who cannot feel the necessity for miracle here. One can love a human being to the death, to the forgetfulness of self, to madness, but can one immortalise him and make him divine, in faith in the making him divine, and immortalising oneself along with him? Can one incorporate him in oneself? Eat him altogether and feel that he lives more than ever, that he lives in us and outside of us, that he absorbs us in him, as we absorb him in us, in bringing us into communion with his vast being, and his eternal love? Alas! we feel that he is neither eternal nor vast! Why is he not God? Why, because God alone is God! and this is how the God comes to us, veiled under the appearance of bread! We see him, we touch him, we taste him, we eat him, and his eternity trembles within our mortal flesh. The blood which palpitates in our heart is his. Our bosom swells, it is he who breathes. Ah! these Protestants with their mouthful of bread and sip of wine, truly a fine Sacrament they have there!
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