Empty Days

Sunday, September 11, 2005



Virtual hermetics.

In the last few days I've been a lot on the web (having been deprived of such luxurious internet-usage while in Russia of course) looking to see what's available in terms of eastern orthodox hermetics. Predictably lots is available auf Russisch. And actually - way too much is available. So that a lot of ponderous crap has to be separated from some tangible good. The problem with traditional religion is that so much energy is usually spent loudly defending its rightness against all other religions, while real questions of inner life are taken for granted. One needs a lot of good will and a clear spirit in order to be able to bypass such violent manifestations - literally to forgive the outer visage of church and not get bogged down by it - and look for the little gold hidden inside so many quarrelous words.

The desert fathers were mostly preoccupied with hermetics rather than theological disputes and are thus a better and more valuable read. Also they all have very personal experience of what they're talking about. One saying I liked a lot: "to those pure of heart everything is pure". That's because of the ability to forgive and yet keep to the right way inside oneself.

*

And then I was thinking about those strange hermits of old who chose to go to lonely places in order to pray for years and years and years an unknown entity which they called God. Today it does seem like a very strange thing to do - how can it make sense if there is no one to address, nothing but one's own mind out there? Isn't that the general belief?

And if one tried today and went to a solitary place in the woods - where would one find such faith inside one's own mind not to go completely mad out there, knocking one's head against the wall of inner emptiness - who will one call out to?

And why would one do that in the first place?

There is no tradition and no support for such endeavors anymore. It is public anathema to even envisage such madness. Therefore one needs to hide - and pretend that one doesn't believe - in order to keep a little faith.
It's a pretty drastic situation. Very hard to be left alone and not be sought out with dogs and police by worried relatives.

The other danger of getting so much at odds with the world about these things is that one can set out on false grounds: wishing to affirm oneself against the rest of humanity, instead of demolishing one's self in order to find the way out.

But people who went into the desert, went with heart and not with thought. And maybe that's why they survived out there for so long. The motivation must be pure and strong.

And the question remains: how does one get such motivation today and from what live sources, when literally the whole world around you is hostile to such thinking?





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