Paradoxes of the Highest Science
by Éliphas Lévi
Love Is the Realization of the Impossible
LOVE is the Omnipotence of the Ideal. By, the Ideal the soul is exalted; it becomes greater than Nature, more living than the world, loftier than Science, more immortal than Life.
When Jesus Christ said: Love God with all your heart and your neighbour as yourself, this is the Law
and the Prophets, he intended to signify: Love, Love, above everything; for God is infinite Love; further, love your neighbour as yourself, that is to say, love yourself in your neighbour.
Egoism if properly ordered commences with others.33:1
To love is to live, to love is to know, to love is to he able, to love is to pray, to love is to be the Man-God.
The woman dared to ruin herself, in order to pluck Divinity and offer it to Man, and Man, who had no thirst for Divinity, for he had Woman, the Man took it as a simple thing to follow his companion to death.
There commenced the incarnation of God. Eve compelled God to make himself man, for she had become a mother.
* * * * *
Death and Hell had reared themselves, terrible with eternal menace, and one instant of Love had vanquished them.
Love is stronger than Death, says the Song of Songs. It is more insurmountable than Hell. Love is the Eternal Fire, and there is no Deluge which can extinguish this.
Give for a little Love all that you have, all that you hope for, all you value, and all you are. Your blood, your heart, your life and your soul, and you will have purchased it for--nothing!
He who would save his soul from Love shall lose his soul, and he who would lose his soul for Love, shall save it.
Many sins shall be forgiven to the heart that has loved much, it is Jesus Christ himself who said it.
And he had as a companion and friend the Magdalene, and he asked for water to drink from the woman of Samaria, a sinner, and he pardoned the woman taken in adultery, and he said that loose women would enter into Heaven before Pharisees and Doctors of the Law, because the errors of Love are more excusable than those of Pride, because it is better even to love wrongly, than not to love at all.
In Absolute Morality, Good is Love; Evil is Hate. Love must be loved and only Hate hated. One single word of Hate, say the Gospels, deserves Hell, and consequently one word of Love merits Heaven twice over, for Love rewards even more liberally than Hate punishes.
But is not Love itself its own reward? He who loves, has he not found the key of Heaven?
To St. Teresa, the ideal of hell was the impossibility of loving, and this seemed to her so dreadful that she pitied Satan. "The unhappy one," she used to say, "he can no longer love."
The woman pitied the Demon, what a reform of Christianity!
When the world shall have learnt to love, the world will be saved.35:1
The man who knows how to love attracts to himself all souls.
To covet is not to love. To exact is not to love. To enslave is not to love.
Jealousy is the egoism which assumes the mask of love.
Excessive desire produces disgust: exactingness merits denial.
Tyranny excites rebellion in the strong and treachery in the weak.
Jealousy is odious and ridiculous. To hate the heart that no longer loves us, is it not to punish it for having loved us?
Jealous fury is furious ingratitude.
But there is a sublime jealousy, which is but the zeal of love, and which for the honour of Love itself desires the honour of the beloved. For the beloved is ever the supreme Ideal of the Soul, it is. the mirage of the Absolute.
Likings and passing fancies are not Love.
True Love is the apprehension of God in man; it is the essence of religion, of honour, of friendship and of marriage.
Not only is Love immortal, but it is Love which makes the soul immortal. It ages not, neither does it change. Hearts may turn away from it as the earth turns away from the sun when she would sleep, and it is then that the coldness of night seems to fall upon the soul.
In the physical plane Love is the principle of life: in the spiritual or metaphysical plane, it is the principle of Immortality.
Re-ascending to the origin of all things and diffusing itself thence over all beings, it is called Piety, Charity, and, goodness; when it compels respect for duty it is called Honour: it is the mainspring of Human Individuality.
Manifestly it is immortal, for it yields nothing to Death; it braves him, despises him and often makes of him a blessing and a glory; what is a martyr but a witness who affirms the Life Eternal despite tortures and death?
Love affirms itself absolutely; where Love is, there Fear is not. It imposes its own conditions on life, and cannot be conditioned by her.
Love must be free in man: in Nature it is the child of Destiny.36: 1 Like the magnet, it has two forces; it attracts and repels, it creates and it destroys. It is the brother of Death, but it is the elder brother. It is the God of whom Death is the priest, the God who brightens Death with his beauty, while Death glorifies him by eternal sacrifices.
It has a shadow that men call Hate, and this shadow is needed to show forth its splendour.
Beauty is its smile, happiness its joy, deformity its sorrow, and pain its proof.
War is its fierce fever; the Passions, its diseases Wisdom, its triumph and repose.
It is blind, but it carries a torch; it is Lucifer, Angel and Demon, it is Damnation and Salvation.
It is Eros equilibrised by Anteros; it is St. Michael standing on Satan as a pedestal.
The grand arcanum of Magic is the mystery of Love.
Love causes Angels to die and immortalises Demons.
It changes into women the Sylphs, Undines and Gnomes, and draws the elementaries 37:1 down to earth.
Love has promised Pandora to Prometheus; it is for Pandora that the heart of Prometheus ceaselessly re-grows beneath the vulture's talons, and for Prometheus that Pandora still guards Hope.
Heaven is a song of Love fulfilled; Hell, a roar of Love deceived but, as has said a great Poet, the shadows of Hell are visible darknesses, since there is always some light in the night.
If Hell had not a valid cause of existence in Love, it would be the crime of God.
Hell is the laboratory of Redemption, and it is eternal, so that the work of reparation may be eternal, for God has always been, and always will be, what he is.
Eternal suffering is the cry of the eternal bringing forth.
At the foot of the Saviour's cross, in evangelical representations, appear two women. One stands erect and veiled, motionless and pale as a statue in the majesty of her grief; this, the Virgin without stain, the mother who. conceived without sin. The other, prostrate and wailing, her hair and garments in wild disorder, her eyes red with weeping, her bosom heaving with sobs: this is the sinner, Mary Magdalene, reprobated by the world, blessed by him who dies.
On either side of Christ two men writhe in agony, two malefactors--the one repentant, the other hardened.
To the one Jesus said, I pardon thee, but to the other he did not say, I condemn thee, but he suffered in silence with him and for him.
Irrevocable damnation is the eternal reprobation of Hate; the irremediable suffering of the being who will never love.
Involuntary Love is not a sentiment peculiarly human; it is the universal instinct of all Nature. The animal makes no choice of allurements; man alone holds in his hand this golden apple destined by Heaven for the most beautiful. Would he be wise, he will choose Minerva; would he have power, Juno will be his choice; but if the gratification of the senses suffice him, it will be to Venus that he will offer the apple.
This did the poltroon Paris. Agamemnon would have chosen Juno, and was assassinated by Clytemnestra. Ulysses admired only Minerva; so had he Penelope as spouse, so triumphed he over the Sirens, over Calypso and Circe, escaped from Polyphemus and Neptune, trampled beneath his feet his enemies and rivals, and thus reconquered his nuptial couch and his throne.
The poems of Homer are divine teachings, whose characters are types. Agamemnon and the two Ajaxes are the triple pride of Power, of Valour and of Rebellion. Achilles is Wrath, Paris is Pleasure, Nestor is the Experience that speaks, Ulysses is the Intelligence that acts. His labours are the trials of the initiation, corresponding with those of Hercules, but Hercules succumbed to a fatal Love, and died the victim of Deianeira. Ulysses enjoys possession of Calypso and Circe without allowing them to possess him; he loves what he ought, and what he wills to love; his country is his spouse, and this single-hearted love bears him victorious through all.
Love is the greatest power of man, when it is not the most unworthy weakness. He is weak if an egotist; he is strong if he is self-devoted. Hercules buys at the feet of Omphale the voluptuous joys of which he is the slave. With his eyes, his honour, and his liberty, Samson pays for the treacherous kisses of Delilah; Orpheus must not glance at Eurydice if he would tear her from the grasp of Hell; conquered by the thirst for that beauty which he yearns to look upon once more, he turns, and all is over--never will be look on her again.
It is that the true Love binds himself not to the beauty which passes away; beauty for him is eternal, and can escape him never, since he is strong enough to create her. The sage loves not a woman because she is beautiful; he holds her beautiful because he loves her, and because he has good reason to love her.
Animal love is of evil omen. Human love is a providence. Ulysses in the arms of Calypso and Circe was not unfaithful to Penelope, because his only thought was how to escape from them to rejoin his wife; he sinned only against the delicacies of love, and he will be punished for it by the son of Circe. The grain of illegitimate children is the seed of parricides.
When there is not the faith, or at least illusion and the desire of eternity, sexual love is a glutting of animality or a fantasy of debauch. Lechery is a desecration of love that nature punishes and wounded love avenges. Sooner or later Don Juan must meet the terrible statue of the commander. But can we always preserve ourselves from this ill-omened love? Can we irrevocably devote the heart to love the free and the legitimate?
We can, by knowledge and by will; when we know what we ought to will, then we love what we ought to love.
Footnotes (page number:note number)
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33:1 In other words Altruism is the highest form of Egoism.--Trans.
35:1 That is to say when love of self shall have given place to love of neighbour and of all neighbours--E. O.
There is a terrible apparent confusion in many passages of this discourse between that love which is of the spirit, and that which is of the flesh; the Divine and earthly, the love which is animal egoism, and that which is the highest form of altruism. But it is more apparent than real as will be seen later on.--Trans.
36:1 Here again I can find no translation for the word "fatal" which, as contrasted with "libre," means p. 37 the result of fate a thing that takes place without the option of intelligence-a blind result of blind, unintelligent, irresistible forces.--Trans.
37:1 Eggrégons, in the original.--Trans.