Amare Videre Est

“A god is a metaphor that illuminates existence. No man and no woman is yet wise enough to say if such metaphors are invented or discovered. We know only that they illuminate us by beauty, by power, by coherence.

Beauty is not sufficient to manifest a living god, a metaphor that illuminates us. Beauty manifests nymphs and sirens and various elementals: but a god is known also by power and coherence.

Power, similarly, may not manifest a living god. Power manifests demons and satyrs and monsters: but a god is known also by beauty and coherence.

Coherence, in like fashion, may not manifest a living god. Coherence manifests temples in which gods may dwell. These temples need not be architectural in the strict sense: Bach’s music, the multiplication table, the Tarot cards, Periodic Table of Elements, great paintings, and many similar artifacts, are temples in which a living god may dwell.

One knows that a god is in the temple when, after contemplating the coherence of the structure, one is seized, violently, by the power and beauty of it, as by a light or a flame or an effulgence. This illumination is a discharge of compressed energy and information.

A god may be present in a temple for one viewer and not for another. This is a common occurrence, because men and women are various, and differ in their capacity to apprehend beauty and power and coherence.

One may learn to apprehend beauty more fully; this is the function of the arts. One may learn to apprehend power more fully; this is the function of technology. One may learn to apprehend coherence more fully; this is the function of pure science and philosophy.

Those who apprehend beauty only are said to be seduced by the nymphs or sirens. Those who apprehend power only become possessed by demons, and they are figuratively said to give birth to monsters. Those who apprehend coherence only become empty shells and mausoleums, ruins and labyrinths.

One may understand a god partially or fully. Those who understand gods harshly may think of them as linguistic constructs, or information systems, or psychological complexes, or historical laws, or in other partial ways. To understand a god fully is to become one with the god. This cannot be achieved without balance.

It is far easier to become one with a nymph, an elemental, a demon, a monster, or an empty mausoleum. All mystics of all traditions agree that a god may not be exploited.

Organized religions are conspiracies to exploit various gods, by flattering them, by compelling them through ritual, or by bribing them. Experience indicates that these techniques do not work, and the would-be exploiters are merely seduced by sirens or possessed by demons or otherwise become themselves the exploited.

A god is not shown or manifest, a theophany does not occur, until exploitation is abandoned for simple love. There may be beauty and power and coherence, but the god is only apprehended dimly, not comprehended fully, until the mind is enflamed by love.

This is the meaning of Spinoza’s remark that “the intellectual love of things consists of understanding their perfections”; and of Richard St. Victor’s “Amare videre est” (To love is to perceive). A god is known by beauty and power and coherence, but a god is only known through love. This is the essence of the mystics’ saying, “the door opens inward.”

It is possible, and even probable, that nymphs and satyrs and such are only gods who have been apprehended without love—partially, obscurely, distortedly.”

“All gods are quite mortal, and yet immortal. They are betrayed and condemned and destroyed, and it must be so; but they live again, in more subtle forms. This is the meaning of Resurrection, and of Reincarnation, and of Progress; it is the meaning, too, of the Rosicrucian motto: “Ex Deo nascimur, in Jesu mortimur, per spiritum sanctum reviviscimus.” (From God we are born, in Jesus we die, by the Holy Spirit we live again.)

There are gods many, as there are beauties and powers and coherences of various orders, but they culminate in unity. Where there is no love, the gods do not disappear; but they are apprehended grotesquely, as contraptions or automatons. All forms of Determinism are based on misapprehending the gods as contraptions or automatons.

The gods are liberators, because they manifest the power of Mind over contraptions and automatons. A god, a metaphor that prevails, contains information but radiates energy; which is why one cannot separate language from Mind, or poetry from being.”

Robert Anton Wilson (1982), from “Credo” in Right Where You Are Sitting Now, pp. 195-198

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