On the Nature of Initiation and Incarnation
>> I've read IIH and think I understand that steady progression through the exercises in the book is like peeling an onion to get to the core of our true natures. <<
The thing about an onion is that once you get the dried skin off, the rest is pretty much all the same between the outer layer and the inner core. It's all 'onion'.
I prefer the analogy of building a house. First we excavate (introspection, the making of the Soul Mirrors) so that we can create a firm foundation. The we build our foundation (the work of Self-Transformation of the character). Then come walls, roof, plumbing, wiring, etc. (Steps Three through Five). Then when the basic structure is complete, we decorate the interior (Steps Six through Eight). Then we invite others into our new home (Step Nine and beyond). To my mind, initiation is not a matter of 'peeling away' as much as it is a matter of 're-creating anew'.
>> We are not our thoughts, emotions, personalities, bodies (matter), etc., which can be controlled or changed, so these are not our permanent real selves. <<
An important aspect of the Hermetic Mystery is that our temporal bodies are an integral part of our "real" selves. They are the temporal medium through which we express our eternal core. In Hermetics, they are not discarded -- they are transformed. They are crucial aspects of initiation.
Initiation is not just an inward process, it's also an outward process. We look inward to discover our core selves, but then we must also look outwards and learn to manifest that which we find inside. To manifest our core being we must employ our temporal self. Thus we discard nothing, for how could we manifest our core if we have discarded our extremities? Instead of devaluing our extremities, an Hermetic must give them a new, higher value.
>> If our true nature is total identification with God/All, why did humans become "separated" in the first place? Would anyone really want to do that voluntarily? Or somewhere way back was there a difference of opinion, a split of God-consciousness, and the All said "OK, you want to know what it feels like to be alone? Go become human"? <<
There are several issues here.
#1) "If our true nature is total identification with God/All . . ."
Our true nature *includes* identification with God/All, but it also includes this all too mortal coil. I say this because God/All includes us, in our temporal form. The one does not preclude the other. In fact, the nature of Unity is that it includes All, without exception.
#2) "why did humans become 'separated' in the first place?"
Our essential or core Self never became separated. It's only at the temporal level as 'human beings' that we perceive separateness. Since this is what we normally perceive, this is what normally shapes our experience. But beneath that temporal perception lies the essential truth that we are also not-separate. Both of these realities exist simultaneously and neither have beginning or end.
The temporal perception and experience of separateness is part of the essential reality of Unity. Separateness is an aspect of Unity.
What humans 'became', through time, was not 'separated' -- we became forgetful of the simultaneous reality of our Unity. We forgot half of our reality. Initiation, temporal evolution itself, is the process of our remembering and recognizing this deeper reality.
#3) "Would anyone really want to do that voluntarily? Or somewhere way back was there a difference of opinion, a split of God-consciousness, and the All said "OK, you want to know what it feels like to be alone? Go become human"?"
This interpretation implies that the Unity (God/All) acts with humanoid personality traits and with motive. Motive implies incompleteness, want, need, etc. But Unity is Completeness, Perfection, and these are eternal things. In other words, eternal Unity never was, never is, and never will be, incomplete, unfinished, imperfect.
Yet simultaneous to this eternal truth is the temporal truth of experiential incompleteness and imperfection. Within the temporal realm, true completeness and perfection cannot exist all at once. It takes the whole infinite span of time for true completeness and perfection to be manifest. In other words, these are things that exist only in the eternal realm.
The temporal realm is the sequential enactment, through infinite imperfection, of this eternal truth. The eternal Perfection of Unity is made manifest incrementally through the temporal realm of sequence. In other words, the temporal realm as a whole IS the eternal Perfection of Unity. But, each finite moment of the temporal realm manifests only a minute part of the eternal Perfection and is thus itself imperfect.
It's normal, considering the nature of human consciousness, for us to try to understand Creation in the sequential terms of "first 'x' happened, followed by 'y', then 'z', etc.", but this is part of our forgetting. It ignores the fact that Creation is an eternal thing. It has no temporal beginning and end. It has no sequence. It simply IS.
I think the Jewish Kabbalists have the best handle on this when they express Creation (Briah) as the eternal act and Formation (Yetzirah) as the temporal en-act-ment of that eternal Creation.
Where we get confused is when we try to juggle our temporal experience with this concept of eternity. Our every moment is involved with the finite and the sequential and so we forget that we also have the infinite and non-sequential. It is very difficult for us to understand how a thing can simultaneously be without beginning and end, yet still be enacted through sequence (beginning, middle and end).
So we come up with certain un-provable theories about what came first, second, etc. To do so, and to make any sense out of things through this process, we must invariably resort to ascribing the equivalent of human emotion and motivation to Deity. The big problem with this is that it doesn't work and to make it work we have to accept things on blind faith. Many of these blind faiths have proven to be very destructive over time.
An Hermetic is never satisfied with blind faith. She might use it as a launching point for exploration, but she does not use it as her foundation and build herself upon it. The Hermetic will always look for the deeper truth hidden beneath the blind faith. Once found, this deeper truth transforms blind faith into Knowing and Understanding.
>> Sorry, I'm new here so I don't know how we got ourselves into such a mess in the first place. <<
;-) My point is that it's not a "mess". Certainly, it is messy at times, but it's not intrinsically a mess. It is simply what IS and we must make the absolute best of it.
The universe is not our foe. It's our Pathway to Perfection.
My best to you,
:) Rawn Clark
21 Nov 2001