Sunday, November 21, 2010

Man and Angels in Pico's Oration

little lower than the angels

God bestowed seeds pregnant with all possibilities, the germs of every form of life. Whichever of these a man shall cultivate, the same will mature and bear fruit in him...if rational, he will reveal himself a heavenly being; if intellectual, he will be an angel and the son of God.

even the esoteric theology of the Hebrews at times transforms the holy Enoch into that angel of divinity which is sometimes called malakh-ha-shekhinah and at other times transforms other personages into divinities of other names

Moses loved the Lord Whom he saw and, as a judge, he administered to the people the things that he earlier saw on the mountain as a contemplator.
Hence the Cherub, located in the middle position, prepares us for the Seraphic fire and likewise illuminates us for the judgment of the Thrones.
This is the bond of the First Minds, the order of Pallas, the guardian of contemplative philosophy. First we must emulate him, thirst after him and to the same degree understand him in order that we may be raised to the heights of love and descend well taught and prepared to the duties of action.
And so it is valuable, if our life is to be modeled on the example of the Cherubs' life, to have before our eyes an idea of what their life is and what it is like, what their actions are and what works are theirs.
Because we, who are flesh and know only earthly things, are not permitted to follow their model of our own accord, let us consult the ancient Fathers for they, to whom these things were common and well known, can provide us with certain and abundant evidence of its nature.

Let us ask the Apostle Paul, that vessel of election, in what activity he saw the armies of the Cherubim engaged when he was rapt into the third heaven. He will answer, according to the interpretation of Dionysius, that he saw them first being purified, then illuminated, and finally made perfect. We, therefore, imitating the life of the Cherubim here on earth, by refraining the impulses of our passions through moral science, by dissipating the darkness of reason by dialectic --- thus washing away, so to speak, the filth of ignorance and vice --- may likewise purify our souls, so that the passions may never run rampant, nor reason, lacking restraint, range beyond its natural limits. Then may we suffuse our purified souls with the light of natural philosophy, bringing it to final perfection by the knowledge of divine things.

Let us also cite Moses himself, who is but little removed from the living well-spring of the most holy and ineffable understanding by whose nectar the angels are inebriated.

If, by moral philosophy, the power of our passions shall have been restrained ... raised to the most eminent height of theology, ... we shall become the winged lovers of theology... smitten by the ineffable love as by a sting, and, like the Seraphim, filled with the godhead, we shall be, no longer ourselves, but the very One who made us.

Once we, inspired by the Cherubic spirit, have reached this point through the art of speaking or of reasoning, that is, philosophizing according to the grades of Nature, penetrating the whole from the center to the center, we will then descend, dashing the one into many with Titanic force like Osiris, and ascend, drawing together with Apollonian force the many into one like Osiris' limbs6 until at last, resting in the bosom of the Father Who is at the top of the ladder, we will be made perfect in theological bliss.

For we, raised to her most eminent height... roused by ineffable love as if by a sting, and borne outside ourselves like burning Seraphim, filled with the godhead, we shall be no longer ourselves, but He Himself Who made us.

These are the books of cabalistic wisdom. In these books, as Esdras unmistakably states, resides the springs of understanding, that is, the ineffable theology of the supersubstantial deity; the fountain of wisdom, that is, the precise metaphysical doctrine concerning intelligible and angelic forms; and the stream of wisdom, that is, the best established philosophy concerning nature.

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