I found a very interesting (but demanding) article in the 4th Volume of
Arthur Versluis excellent Esoterica Journal, which addresses some of my chief interests in the work of Henri Corbin.
Tom Cheetham`s Within This Darkness:Incarnation, Theophany and the Primordial Revelation. What haunts me somewhat is the preface to the article which is a quote from a
fragment which Henri Corbin wrote, 29 years old, at his visit to Lake Siljan
in Sweden, Theology by the Lakeside:
“Everything is but revelation; there can only be re-velation. But revelation comes from the Spirit, and there is no knowledge of the Spirit.
It will soon be dusk, but for now the clouds are still clear, the pines are not yet darkened, for the lake brightens them into transparency. And everything is green with a green that would be richer than if pulling all the organ stops in recital. It must be heard seated, very close to the Earth, arms crossed, eyes closed, pretending to sleep.
For it is not necessary to strut about like a conqueror and want to give a name to things, to everything; it is they who will tell you who they are, if you listen, yielding like a lover; for suddenly for you, in the untroubled peace of this forest of the North, the Earth has come to Thou, visible as an Angel that would perhaps be a woman, and in this apparition, this greatly green and thronging solitude, yes, the Angel too is robed in green, the green of dusk, of silence and of truth. Then there is in you all the sweetness that is present in the surrender to an embrace that triumphs over you.
Earth, Angel, Woman, all of this is a single thing that I adore and that is in this forest. Dusk on the lake, my Annunciation. The mountain: a line. Listen! Something is happening! The anticipation is immense, the air is quivering under a fine and barely visible rain; the houses that stretch out along the ground, their wood red and rustic, their roofs of thatch, are there, there on the other side of the lake. Something will begin this evening, something promised, in that I believe. Ah! This evening? When, then, this evening? If it were truly in a few hours, it would never be, because it would be necessary to finish and then begin again, and that would always end and never begin. Do you know what it means to wait, and do you know what it means to have faith?
The Mystery of Holy Communion where you will be ushered in, where all the beings will be present, yes, you can only say it in the future. Because at each moment where you read in truth as now what is there before you, where you hear the Angel, and the Earth and Woman, then you receive Everything, Everything, in your absolute poverty. But as soon as you have read and have received, as soon as you consider, as you want to understand, as you want to possess, to give a name and restrain, to explain and recover, ah! there is only a cipher, and your judgment is pronounced.
For at every instant you are judged, and someday you will die. So you die, when your existence is decided and realized, for then its is over: what was is not, you want without renouncing, renounce without wanting.
No, you are the poor one, you are man; and he is God, and you cannot know God, or the Angel, or the Earth, or Woman. You must be encountered, taken, known, that they may speak, otherwise you are alone, and perhaps it is better thus, and will be always thus, always, that is, there would be no eternity for you. Because you were born in a sin that was sinned before you, and Thou you have had fear, great fear, and you have cried, cried because the Earth is immense, cried because the Woman was too beautiful, cried because the Angel was invisible, and because Thou you were Adam, and Adam would want to live.
Adam established Love, poetry, religion, for he wanted life, he wanted that is, to be God, and then to speak as he would want to three beings. To Question; Alas! and he alone responded. To listen; Alas! to give a concert to himself alone.
But then, surely comes surging suddenly from this lake a cortege of beautiful beings. They sing the funeral chant of Adam; and because Adam is dead, it will be sung in a chorale where more voices will be raised than there is anguish in all its guises: “Christ is born! Christ is Risen!”
Here he addresses seeing without object and classification, the young man were an initiate of the intelligentsa of the Universities, with a poetic heart – confronted with the Theophany of the scenery, he became intoxicated and lucid at once.
I remember my own experiences by the small lake which were right outside of my door the summer of 2002, how awake I felt sitting at the edge of the lake at 5am, watching the sun rise above the forest behind it. Similarly, in such an solitude and quiet, you loose appetite for the conquest of things pertaining to Nature. We observe, when we have let our eyes become accustomed to actual sight, that Nature is change and room for change, forms as such, are interchangeable with eachother. Funny I should write this in view of the exhibition in the Museum right now, where a Swedish artist have made animals out of common houshold objects and cartyres – with a precision revealing a unconscious coincidence of man-made materials with organic structures in animals of every kind and variation. Strange I should concur so much with Henri Corbin in these ecstatic observances and his orientation, when I am a Gnostic and am accused from every kind of polemists for hating Nature,
but I don`t – and neither did my brethren in the Gnose for over two thousand years ago, but this business with Creator and the arrogance of all possible systems claiming to be whole,total,perfect and capital letter “t” True is what
we, including me, rage against. Which is restriction, bondage and subservience
to Death as the High Lord of the Universe. Nature is not to be confused with
Matter, because once you remove the forms – from the cell to the molecule,
– then you have removed Matter from Nature and it becomes the total abstract
with which we have no associating personally, before we somehow become the corpse. But having become the corpse, we are nothing but the residue of an organic life, when that echo ceases there is nothing more.
If we believe in Spirit, there exists an absolute and irreversible distinction between it and Body. If we are confused and believe in the bodily
resurrection as read from the book of materialistic literalism; which is to say – that we believe Spirit is nothing without the body of matter, and somehow doubt
that there is anything, anywhere – into which the memory of the being we have been and what we essentially are – can go, when the physical world have managed to forget – we harbour an actual superstition that the Matter, not the form, is that which is alive, and again that this material could reconstruct out of nothing. As such, let me ask those who are very literal in the issue of “bodily resurrection” – how is it possible of not confessing in sincerity adherence to
an absolute faith and confidence in Positivistic Atheism and radical materialism?
Corbin`s theological fragment contains the seeds of the core and centre of Christianity neglected by literalists who adhere to flesh and error – preoccupied with the body, and with sin – as centred in the body – at the end of
the fragment we find his appreciation of the Hope of Glory, In the death of the mortal selves in the Baptism, which here is his vision at the lake containing nativity and annihilation at the same time – and the resurrection of Christ on the third day: …surely comes surging suddenly from this lake a cortege of beautiful beings. They sing the funeral chant of Adam; and because Adam is dead, it will be sung in a chorale where more voices will be raised than there is anguish in all its guises: “Christ is born! Christ is Risen!”.
Both the nativity and the resurrection, and between it the Cross. This is the Journey of the Soul. Every ecstatic theophany contain within itself a map, a pattern which has all three.