Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Every human life is precious

Corpus Hermeticum:

Of all beings that have Soul,
only man has a two-fold nature.
One part, called 'The Image of Atum,'
is single, undivided, spiritual and eternal.
The other part
is made of the four material elements.
One comes from the Primal Mind.
It has the power of the Creator,
and is able to know Atum.*
The other is put in man
by the revolution of the heavens.

Man is the most divine of all beings,
for amongst all living things,
Atum associates with him only --
[. . .]

To speak without fear,
human beings are above the gods of heaven,
or at least their equal --
for the gods will never pass
their celestial boundaries
and descend to Earth,
but a man may ascend to heaven,
and what is more,
he may do so without leaving the Earth,
so vast an expanse can his power encompass.
[. . .]

Man is a marvel,
due honour and reverence.
He takes on the attributes of the gods,
as if he were one of their number.
He is familiar with the gods,
because he knows he springs
from the same source.
He raises reverent eyes to heaven above,
and tends the Earth below.
He is blessed by being the intermediary.
He loves all below him,
and is loved by all above him.
Confident of his divinity,
he throws off his solely human nature.
[. . .]

There are then these three --
Atum, Cosmos, man.
The Cosmos is contained by Atum.
Man is contained by the Cosmos.
The Cosmos is the son of Atum.
Man is the son of the Cosmos,
and the grandson, so to speak, of Atum.
Atum does not ignore man,
but acknowledges him fully,
as he wishes to be fully acknowledged by man,
for this alone is man's purpose and salvation --
the ascent to heaven
and the Knowledge of Atum.

-- The Hermetica, new version by Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy (1999), 73 - 76.

* "Although we have used the familiar term 'God' in the explanatory notes which accompany each chapter, we have avoided this term in the text itself.  Instead we have used 'Atum' -- one of the ancient Egyptian names for the Supreme One-God.  We felt that using this unfamiliar Egyptian name would allow the reader the opportunity to build up their own conceptual picture of what Hermes means by the term, free of any associations they may have with the word 'God'" (Freke and Gandy, xxxiv).