The Cloud Upon the Sanctuary, by Karl Eckartshausen, , at sacred-texts.com
There is no age more remarkable to the quiet observer than our own. Everywhere there is a fermentation in the minds of men; everywhere there is a battle between light and darkness, between exploded thought and living ideas, between powerless wills and living active force; in short everywhere is there war between animal man and growing spiritual man.
It is said that we live in an age of light, but it would be truer to say that we are living in an age of twilight; here and there a luminous ray pierces through the mists of darkness, but does not light to full clearness either our reason or our hearts. Men are not of one mind, scientists dispute, and where there is discord, truth is not yet apprehended.
The most important objects for humanity are still undetermined. No one is agreed either on the principle of rationality or on the principle of morality, or on the cause of the will. This proves
that though we are dwelling in an age of light, we do not well understand what emanates from our hearts—and what from our heads. Probably we should have this information much sooner if we did not imagine that we have the light of knowledge already in our hands, or if we would cast a look on our weakness, and recognise that we require a more brilliant illumination. We live in the times of idolatry of the intellect, we place a common torchlight upon the altar and we loudly proclaim the aurora, that now daylight is really about to appear, and that the world is emerging more and more out of obscurity into the full day of perfection, through the arts, sciences, cultured taste, and even from a purer understanding of religion.
Poor mankind! To what standpoint have you raised the happiness of man? Has there ever been an age which has counted so many victims to humanity as the present? Has there ever been an age in which immorality and egotism have been greater or more dominant than in this one? The tree is known by its fruits. Mad men! With your imaginary natural reason, from whence have you the light by which you are so willing to enlighten others? Are not all your ideas borrowed from your senses which do not give you the reality but merely its phenomena? Is it not true that in time and space all knowledge is but relative? Is it not true that all which we call reality is but relative, for absolute truth is not to be found in the
phenomenal world. Thus your natural reason does riot possess its true essence, but only the appearance of truth and light; and the more this appearance increases and spreads, the more the essence of light inwardly fades, and the man confuses himself with this appearance and gropes vainly after the dazzling phantasmal images he conjures.
The philosophy of our age raises the natural intellect into independent objectivity, and gives it judicial power, she exempts it from any superior authority, she makes it voluntary, converting it into divinity by closing all harmony and communication with God; and this god Reason, which has no other law but its own, is to govern Man and make him happy! . . .
. . . Darkness able to spread light! . . . Death capable of giving Life! . . .
The truth leads man to happiness. Can you give it?
That which you call truth is a form of conception empty of real matter, the knowledge of which is acquired from without and through the senses, and the understanding co-ordinates them by observed synthetic relationship into science or opinion.
You abstract from the Scriptures and Tradition their moral, theoretical and practical truth; but as individuality is the principle of your intelligence, and as egotism is the incentive to your will, you do not see, by your light, the moral law which dominates, or you repel it with your will. It is to
this length that the light of to-day has penetrated. Individuality under the cloak of false philosophy is a child of corruption.
Who can pretend that the sun is in full zenith if no bright rays illuminate the earth, and no warmth vitalises vegetation? If wisdom does not benefit man, if love does not make him happy, but very little has been done for him on the whole.
Oh! if only natural man, that is, sensuous man, would only learn to see that the source of his intelligence and the incentive of his will are only his individuality, he would then seek interiorly for a higher source, and he would thereby approach that which alone can give this true element, because it is wisdom in its essential substance.
Jesus Christ is that Wisdom, Truth, and Love. He, as Wisdom, is the Principle of reason, and the Source of the purest intelligence. As Love, He is the Principle of morality, the true and pure incentive of the will.
Love and Wisdom beget the spirit of truth, interior light; this light illuminates us and makes supernatural things objective to us.
It is inconceivable to what depths of error a man falls when he abandons simple truths of faith by opposing his own opinions.
Our century tries to decide by its (brain) intelligence, wherein lies the principle or ground of reason and morality, or the ground of the will; if the scientists were mindful, they would see that these
things are better answered in the heart of the simplest man, than through their most brilliant casuistry. The practical Christian finds this incentive to the will, the principle of all morality, really and objectively in his heart; and this incentive is expressed in the following formula:—"Love God with all thy heart, and thy neighbour as thyself."
The love of God and his neighbour is the motive for the Christian's will, and the essence of love itself is Jesus Christ in us.
It is in this way the principle of reason is wisdom in us; and the essence of wisdom, wisdom in its substance, is again Jesus Christ, the light of the world. Thus we find in Him the principle of reason and of morality.
All that I am now saying is not hyperphysical extravagance; it is reality, absolute truth, that everyone can prove for himself by experience, as soon as he receives in himself the principle of all reason and morality—Jesus Christ, being wisdom and love in essence.
But the eye of the man of sensuous perception only is firmly closed to the fundamental basis of all that is true and to all that is transcendental.
The intelligence which many would fain raise to legislative authority is only that of the senses, whose light differs from that of transcendental reason, as does the phosphorescent glimmer of decayed wood from the glories of sunshine.
Absolute truth does not exist for sensuous man;
it exists only for interior and spiritual man who possesses a suitable sensorium; or, to speak more correctly, who possesses an interior sense to receive the absolute truth of the transcendental world, a spiritual faculty which cognises spiritual objects as objectively and naturally as the exterior senses perceive external phenomena.
This interior faculty of the man spiritual, this sensorium for the metaphysical world, is unfortunately not known to those who cognise only outside of it—for it is a mystery of the kingdom of God.
The current incredulity towards everything which is not cognised objectively by our senses is the explanation for the misconception of truths which are, of all, most important to man.
But how can this be otherwise? In order to see one must have eyes, to hear, one must have ears. Every apparent object requires its appropriate senses. So it is that transcendental objects require their sensorium—and this said sensorium is closed in most men. Hence men judge the metaphysical world through the intelligence of their senses, even as the blind imagine colours and the deaf judge tones—without suitable senses.
There is an objective and substantial ground of reason, an objective and substantial motive for the will. These two together form the new principle of life, and morality is there essentially inherent. This pure substance of reason and will, re-uniting in us the divine and the human, is Jesus Christ, the light
of the world, who must enter into direct relationship with us, to be really recognized.
This real knowledge is actual faith, in which everything takes place in spirit and in truth. Thus one ought to have a sensorium fitted for this communication, an organised spiritual sensorium, a spiritual and interior faculty able to receive this light; but it is closed to most men by their senses.
This interior organ is the intuitive sense of the transcendental world, and until this intuitive sense is effective in us we can have no certainty of more lofty truths.
This organism is naturally inactive since the Fall, which degraded man to the world of physical senses alone. The gross matter which envelops this interior sensorium is a film which veils the internal eye, and therefore prevents the exterior eye from seeing into spiritual realms. This same matter muffles our internal hearing, so that we are deaf to the sounds of the metaphysical world; it so paralyses our spiritual speech that we can scarcely stammer words of sacred import, words we fully pronounced once, and by virtue of which we held authority over the elements and the external world.
The opening of this spiritual sensorium is the mystery of the New Man—the mystery of Regeneration, and of the vital union between God and man—it is the noblest object of religion on earth, that religion whose sublime goal is none
other than to unite men with God in Spirit and in Truth.
We can therefore easily see by this how it is that religion tends always towards the subjection of the senses. It does so because it desires to make the spiritual man dominant, in order that the spiritual or truly rational man may govern the man of sense. Philosophy feels this truth, only its error consists in not apprehending the true source of reason, and because she would replace it by individuality by sensuous reason.
As man has internally a spiritual organ and a sensorium to receive the true principle of divine wisdom, or a true motive for the will or divine love, he has also exteriorly a physical and material sensorium to receive the appearance of light and truth. As external nature can have no absolute truth, but only phenomenally relative, therefore, human reason cannot cognise pure truth, it can but apprehend through the appearance of phenomena, which excites the lust of the eye, and in this as a source of action consists the corruption of sensuous man and the degradation of nature.
This exterior sensorium in man is composed of frail matter, whereas the internal sensorium is organized fundamentally from incorruptible, transcendental, and metaphysical substance.
The first is the cause of our depravity and our mortality, the second the cause of our incorruptibility and of our immortality.
In the regions of material and corruptible nature mortality hides immortality, therefore all our trouble results from corruptible mortal matter. In order that man should be released from this distress, it is necessary that the immortal and incorruptible principle, which dwells within, should expand and absorb the corruptible principle, so that the envelope of the senses should be opened, and man appear in his pristine purity.
This natural envelope is a truly corruptible substance found in our blood, forming the fleshly bonds binding our immortal spirits under the servitude of the mortal flesh.
This envelope can be rent more or less in every man, and this places him in greater spiritual liberty, and makes him more cognisant of the transcendental world.
There are three different degrees in the opening of our spiritual sensorium.
The first degree reaches to the moral plane only, the transcendental world energises through us in but by interior action, called inspiration.
The second and higher degree opens this sensorium to the reception of the spiritual and the intellectual, and the metaphysical world works in us by interior illumination.
The third degree, which is the highest and most seldom attained, opens the whole inner man. It breaks the crust which fills our spiritual eyes and ears; it reveals the kingdom of spirit, and enables
us to see objectively, metaphysical, and transcendental sights; hence all visions are explained fundamentally.
Thus we have an internal sense of objectivity as well as externally. Only the objects and the senses are different. Exteriorly animal and sensual motives act in us and corruptible sensuous matter energises. Interiorly it is metaphysical and indivisible substance which gains admittance within, and the incorruptible and immortal essence of our Spirit receives its influence. Nevertheless, generally things pass much in the same way interiorly as they do externally. The law is everywhere the same. Hence, as the spirit or our internal man has quite other senses, and quite another objective sight from the rational man; one need not be surprised that it (the spirit) should remain an enigma for the scientists of our age, for those who have no objective sense of the transcendental and spiritual world. Hence they measure the supernatural by the measurement of the senses. However, we owe a debt of gratitude towards the philosopher Kant for his view of the truths we have promulgated.
Kant has shown incontestably that the natural reason can know absolutely nothing of what is supernatural, and that it can never understand analytically or synthetically, neither can it prove the possibility of the reality of Love, Spirit, or of the Deity.
This is a great truth, lofty and beneficial for our
epoch, though it is true that St Paul has already enunciated it (1 Cor. i. 2–24). But the Pagan philosophy of Christian scientists has been able to overlook it up to Kant. The virtue of this truth is double. First, it puts insurmountable limits to the sentiment, to the fanaticism and to the extravagance of carnal reason. Then it shows by dazzling contrast the necessity and divinity of Revelation. It proves that our human reason, in its state of unfoldment, has no other objective source for the supernatural than revelation, the only source of instruction in Divine things or of the spiritual world, the soul and its immortality; hence it follows that without revelation it is absolutely impossible to suppose or conjecture anything regarding these matters.
We are, therefore, indebted to Kant for proving philosophically now-a-days, what long ago was taught in a more advanced and illuminated school, that without revelation no knowledge of God, neither any doctrine touching the soul, could be at all possible.
It is therefore clear that a universal Revelation must serve as a fundamental basis to all mundane religion.
Hence, following Kant, it is clear that the transmundane knowledge is wholly inaccessible to natural reason, and that God inhabits a world of light, into which no speculation of the unfolded reason can penetrate. Thus the rational man, or man of human reason, has no sense of transcendental reality, and
therefore it was necessary that it should be revealed to him, for which faith is required, because the means are given to him by faith whereby his inner sensorium unfolds, and through which he can apprehend the reality of truths otherwise incapable of being understood by the natural man.
It is quite true that with new senses we can acquire sense of further reality. This reality exists already, but is not known to us, because we lack the organ by which to cognise it. One must not lay the fault to the percept, but on the receptive organ.
With, however, the development of the new organ we have a new perception, a sense of new reality. Without it the spiritual world cannot exist for us, because the organ rendering it objective to us is not developed.
With, however, its unfoldment, the curtain is all at once raised, the impenetrable veil is torn away, the cloud before the Sanctuary lifts, a new world suddenly exists for us, scales fall from the eyes, and we are at once transported from the phenomenal world to the regions of truth.
God alone is substance, absolute truth; He alone is He who is, and we are what He has made us. For Him, all exists in Unity; for us, all exists in multiplicity.
A great many men have no more idea of the development of the inner sensorium than they have of the true and objective life of the spirit, which
they neither perceive nor foresee in any manner. Hence it is impossible to them to know that one can comprehend the spiritual and transcendental, and that one can be raised to the supernatural, even to vision.
The great and true work of building the Temple consists solely in destroying the miserable Adamic hut and in erecting a divine temple; this means, in other words, to develop in us the interior sensorium, or the organ to receive God. After this process, the metaphysical and incorruptible principle rules over the terrestrial, and man begins to live, not any longer in the principle of self-love, but in the Spirit and in the Truth, of which he is the Temple.
The moral law then evolves into love for one's neighbour in deed and in truth, whereas for the natural man it is but a simple attitude of thought; and the spiritual man, regenerated in spirit, sees all in its essence, of which the natural man has only the forms void of thought, mere empty sounds, symbols and letters, which are all dead images without interior spirit. The lofty aim of religion is the intimate union of man with God; and this union is possible in this world; but it only can be by the opening of our inner sensorium, which enables our hearts to become receptive to God.
Therein are mysteries that our philosophy does not dream of, the key to which is not to be found in scholastic science.
Meanwhile, a more advanced school has always
existed to whom this deposition of all science has been confided, and this school was the community illuminated interiorly by the Saviour, the society of the Elect, which has continued from the first day of creation to the present time; its members, it is true, are scattered all over the world, but they have always been united in the spirit and in one truth; they have had but one intelligence and one source of truth, but one doctor and one master; but in whom resides substantially the whole plenitude of God, and who alone initiates them into the high mysteries of Nature and the Spiritual World.
This community of light has been called from all time the invisible celestial Church, or the most ancient of all communities, of which we will speak more fully in our next letter.