The Great Secret or Occultism Unveiled

by Éliphas Lévi

Eliphas Levi

Book Three

Chapter VIIThe Point of Balance

The whole power of magic is in the central point of the universal equilibrium.

The wisdom which strikes this equilibrium is contained in these four dicta: know the truth, will what is good, love beauty, do what is just! Because truth, goodness, beauty and justice are inseparable; so that he who knows the truth must needs will what is good, to love it because it is beautiful and to do it because it is just.

The central point in the intellectual and moral order is the link between science and faith. In human nature this central point is the medium in which soul and body combine to establish the identity of their action.

In physics it stands for the resultant of opposing forces compensated by one another.

Understand this link, take possession of this medium, act upon this resultant!


('And ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil').

The point of balance between life and death is the great secret of immortality.

The point of balance between day and night is the mainspring of the movement of the worlds.

The balancing point between science and faith is the great secret of philosophy.

The balancing point between order and liberty is the great secret of politics.

The balancing point between men and woman is the great secret of love.

The balancing point between will and emotion, between action and reaction is the great secret of power.

The great secret of high magic, the inexpressible, incommunicable secret is nothing other than the balancing point between the relative and the absolute. It is the infinity of the finite and the finite of the infinite. It is the relative almightiness of man balancing the impossibilities of God.

At this point, those who know will understand and the others will use divination to look for the meaning.


('But those who are going to divine are already divine').

The balancing point is the essential monad which constitutes the divinity of God, liberty in the individual and harmony in nature.

In dynamics it is perpetual motion; in geometry it is squaring the circle; in chemistry it is the practical achievement of the great work.

On reaching this point angels can fly without the need of wings, and men can attain any reasonable desire.

We have just said that it is attained by the equilibrating wisdom which may be summed up in four words: to know, to will, to love, and to do what is true, good, beautiful and just.

This wisdom is the vocation of all men, because God has given to all an intelligence with which they may know, a will with which they may resolve, a heart with which they may love, and a power with which they may act.

The exercise of the intelligence applied to the truth leads to knowledge.

The exercise of the intelligence applied to what is good gives that consciousness of beauty which produces faith.

That which is false corrupts knowledge; that which is evil corrupts the will; that which is ugly corrupts love; that which is unjust cancels and perverts action. Whatever is true must be lovely; whatever is lovely must be true; what is good is always just.

The evil, the false, the ugly and the unjust are incompatible with truth.

I believe in religion because it is beautiful and because it teaches goodness. To my mind it is right to believe in it and I do not believe in the Devil because he is ugly and because he delivers us to evil and instructs us in the lie.

If anyone talks to me of a God who misleads our intelligence, stifles our reason, and wishes to torture His creatures for ever, even if they are blameworthy, I regard this as an ugly idea, a wicked fabrication, and would consider this almighty torturer to be supremely unjust; and by a process of rigorous reasoning I conclude that all this is false, that this so-called god has been made in the image and likeness of the devil, and I have no wish to believe in him since I do not believe in Satan.

But here I seem to be contradicting myself. The things I declare to be unjust, to be pieces of ugliness and in consequence falsities, follow from the teachings of a Church whose doctrines I profess to acknowledge and whose symbols I profess to respect.

Yes. of course, they do follow from her teachings when misunderstood, and this is why we are making appeal from the face of darkness to the head of light; from the letter to the spirit; from the theologians to the councils; from the commentators to the sacred texts; and stand in readiness to submit to lawful condemnation if we said anything over which we should have kept silence. Let it be well understood that we are not writing for the profane masses, but for the instructed of a later age than ours and for the pontiffs of the future.

Those who will prepare themselves to know the truth will also dare to will what is good; so they will love what is beautiful and will no longer take people like Veuillot as representatives of their ideals and their thoughts. From the time that a pope who is so inclined feels the force of doing only that which is just, he will no longer have to say non possumus, for he will a able to do anything hc likes and will once more become the monarch, not simply of Rome, but of the world.

What does it matter if Peter's vessel is tossed by the tempest, has not Jesus Christ taught this prince of apostles how to walk on the waves? lf he sinks it is because he is afraid, and if he is afraid it is because hc has doubted his divine Master. The Saviour's hand will be stretched out, will catch hold of him and will help him to the shore. 'O man of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?'

Can the Church ever be in danger as far as the true believer is concerned? lt is not the building itself which is shaky, it is the heterogeneous constructions with which it has been overlaid by the ignorance of the ages.

A good priest told us one day of how, on visiting a Carmelite convent, he was allowed to see an old frock said to have belonged to the sainted founder of the order, and of how surprised he was to see it so filthy. The nun who showed it to him clasped her hands and exclaimed: 'This is the dirt of our holy mother!' The priest thought, as we do, that it would have been more respectful to wash the garment. The body dirt could not possibly be a relic, otherwise things would have to be taken to their logical conclusion and soon the Christians, in their stercoraceous acts of adoration, would no longer have any reproofs for the fetishists of the Grand Lama.

What is not beautiful is not good; what is not good is not just; what is not just is not true.

When Voltaire. that over-enthusiastic friend of justice, chanted his rallying cry - 'Crush the Beast!' - do you think he intended the Gospel or its adorable Author? Was he thinking of attacking the religion of Saint Vincent de Paul and Fénelon? No, of course not, he was rightly indignant at the follies, the incredible stupidities and the impious persecutions with which the quarrels of Jansenism and Molinism filled the Church of his times. For him, as us, distorted religion was an infamy, an impiety which is the worst of all impieties.

Also, when he had done his work, when the revolution had proclaimed in accordance with the Gospel and in spite of the interested parties: 'liberty of conscience, equality before the law and the brotherhood of man', Chateaubriand made his appearance and showed how to the spirit religion was beautiful, and the world of Voltaire, having been rectified by the Revolution, was once again ready to recognize that religion was true.

Yes, beautiful religion is true religion and ugly religion is untrue. Yes, it is true, the religion of Christ the consoler, of the Good Shepherd carrying the lost sheep on His shoulders, of the immaculate virgin, the nurse and restorer of sinners; it is true, the religion which adopts orphans, which embraces the criminal at the foot of the scaffold; which welcomes the poor as well as the rich, the servant as well as the master, to the table of God, and coloured men side-by-side with the white. It is true, the religion which orders the sovereign pontiff to be the servant of the servants of God, and the bishops to wash the feet of beggars!

But the religion of those who trade in the sanctuary, which compels Peter's successor to kill in order to eat, the rancorous and commonplace religion of Veuillot, the religion professed by the enemies of science and progress, this is false because it is ugly, because it opposes itself to what is good and favours injustice. Let us take care not to say that these mutually contradictory religions are the same. It would be like saying that polished iron or dross are silver or gold and that leprosy is the same thing as normal skin.

There is a need for religion in man: it is an incontestable fact which science is compelled to recognize; this need is felt by a special inner sense: the sense of eternity and infinity. Some emotions when once experienced are never forgotten: those of devotion.

The Brahmin discovers them when lost in the contemplation of Iswara; the Israelite is possessed by them in the presence of Adonai; the devout Catholic nun sheds tears of love on the feet of her crucifix. Do not try to tell them these are illusions and lies: they would give you a pitying smile, and rightly so. Each of them has been filled with beams of light from the Eternal Thought. They behold it; and the feelings they must experience in the presence of those who deny are the feelings of sighted people who hear a blind man deny the existence of the sun.

So faith has its own evidence. Now here we have a truth the knowledge of which is indispensable: a man without faith is incomplete; he lacks the first of all the interior senses. Morals will be limited for him of necessity and will amount to very little. It is possible for morals to be independent of this or that dogma, of the prescriptions of this or that priest; but they cannot exist without the religious sentiment, because without that sentiment human dignity becomes a matter of dispute or quite arbitrary. Lacking God and the immortality of the soul, what is the best, the most loving and the most faithful of men? He is a talking dog; and many will find the morals of the wolf prouder and more independent than those of the dog. We have only to refer to La Fontaine's fable.

True independent morals are those of the Good Samaritan, who tended the wounds of the Jew in spite of the religious hatred between Jerusalem and Samaria; they are those of Abd-el-Kadir risking his life to save the Christians of Damascus. Alas, venerable Pius IX, that you, Holy Father, were not able to risk yours to save those of Perugia, of Castelfidardo and of Mentana!

It was Jesus Christ who said, in speaking of the priests of His own times: 'Do what they say, but do not do as they do.' And then the priests said that Jesus Christ must be crucified - and crucifed He was! The priests, however shameful their works may have been, were infallible in their words.

On the other hand, did not the same Jesus Christ heal the sick on the Sabbath day, scandalizing the Pharisees and the doctors of the law?

True independent morals are those which are inspired by independent religion.

Now, this independent religion must be a manly one: the other sort is only good for children.

We could not have, in religion, a more perfect example than Jesus Christ. Jesus practised the Mosaic religion, but was not its slave. The law, He said, was made for man, not man for the law; He was rejected by the synagogues and spent little time in the temple; He took the side of the spirit against the letter on every question; unselfish love was all He enjoined on His disciples. His dying moments were spent in giving absolution to a penitent sinner and in commending His mother to the care of His beloved disciple, and the priests only assisted at His last hour in order to curse Him.

The point of balance in religion is the most absolute liberty of conscience and voluntary obedience to the authority which regulates public instruction, discipline and worship.

In politics, this point of balance is that despotism of the law which guarantees the liberty of all men within the most perfect hierarchic system.

In dynamics it is the central balance of a system.

In the Qabalah it is the marriage of the Elohim.

In magic it is the central point between resistance and action; it is the simultaneous employment of the ob and the od to create the aour.

In alchemy it is the indissoluble union of mercury and sulphur.

In all things it is the alliance of the true, the good, the beautiful and the just.

It is the proportionate measure of existence and life, it is eternity in time, and the power which generates time within eternity.

It is the part of the whole and the whole of the part.

It is the idealism of man meeting the realism of God.

It is the connection between the beginning and the end, and exhibits both the Omega of the Alpha and the Alpha of the Omega.

Finally, it is what the high initiates have designated by the mysterious name Azoth.

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