The Monistic Theory
by Nhân Tử Nguyễn Văn Thọ
Preface | Chapters:
10 11 12
Hermes Trismegistus and
the Monistic Theory
of man was this Hermes Trismegistus thought to be? Was he a god or a
man? If some of the Hermetic writers had been asked this question, he
would, I think, have answered in some such way as this: "Hermes was a
man like you and me - a man who lived in Egypt a very long time ago, in
the time of King Ammon . But he was a man who attained to gnosis
(that is to say, knowledge of God, but a kind of "knowledge" that
involves union with God); and he was the first and greatest teacher of
gnosis. He died as other men die; and after death he became a
god, just as you and I, if we attain to gnosis, will become gods
after our death."
believe that he is only a legendary man, preceding even the first 'great
initiate' of recorded history, Pythagoras. "It is true that the
legendary Egyptian founder of magic, Hermes Trismegistus ('Thrice
Greatest Hermes', 'Hermes the Thrice-Greatest') is supposed to have
preceded him (Pythagoras); but it is doubtful whether Hermes actually
existed (the Egyptians identified him with the God Thoth, who gave men
the art of writing) and the documents relating to him belong to the
post-Christian era. Pythagoras was born about 570 B.C.- a remarkable
era, for it was at about this time that the Buddha was born in India,
and Confucius and Lao-Tzu in China.
says that 'Hermes Trismegistus was an Egyptian by race... He flourished
before the time of Pharaoh, as many chronographi think. Some, among whom
is Cicero, suppose that he is the person whom the Egyptians called
Thoth... He must, therefore, have lived before Pharaoh, and
consequently, before Moses also.
that this Hermes left his own country, and traveled all over the
world...and that he tried to teach men to revere and worship one God
alone... and he lived a very wise and pious life, occupied in
intellectual contemplation, and giving no heed to the gross things of
the material world; and that, having returned to his own country, he
wrote at that time many books of philosophy and theology. Among these
writings, there are two of special importance: the one is called
Asclepius, and the other, Poimandres.'
people believe that he was the Egyptian God, Thoth - the equivalent of
Hermes in Greek, and is the God of Wisdom or the God of Gnosis,
giving to whom who possess it, the true knowledge of himself, and of
God, permitting him to be regenerated, and to be united with God. Thoth
was "the scribe of the gods," "Lord of divine words" and to Hermes was
attributed the authorship of all the strictly sacred books generally
called by Greek authors Hermetic, Hermetic writings, or Hermetica.
Hermes-Thoth was one of the gods to whom men turned for a divinely
ascribed to Hermes Trismegistus were primarily on astrology; to these
were later added treatises on medicine, alchemy (the Emerald tablet, a
favorite source for medieval alchemists) and magic. The underlying
concept of astrology - that the cosmos constituted a unity and that all
parts of it were interdependent- was basic also to other occult
sciences...The aim of Hermetism, like that of Gnosticism (a contemporary
religious-philosophical movement) was the deification of man through the
knowledge (gnosis) of the one transcendental God, the world, and
theological writings are represented by the 17 treatises of the Corpus
Hermeticum, by extensive fragments in the writings of Stobaeus, and by a
Latin translation of the Asclepius, and of the Poimandres.
Hermetic writings, in fact, present a fusion of Eastern religious
elements with Platonic, Stoic and Neo-Pythagorean philosophies.
here a summary of the Poimandres, of the Asclepius (some
excerpts of it) and a study of the Emerald Tablet.
Poimandres records what The Spirit has taught Hermes, before his
illumination. It teaches that man must conquer his passions.
contains the teachings that Hermes gave to his disciple, Asclepius.
It teaches that man must know his real Self, and how to be united with
God. An illuminated man sees that God is in his heart, that he has come
from the Godhead by EMANATION, and contains in himself the force that
governs this world, that he must be united with God and with all the
elements composing this world. He knows also that everything, by a
different way, will be united with God.
Excerpts from Asclepius
How quickly, Asclepius, you have lost your hold on the true
doctrine! Have I not told you this before, that ALL THINGS ARE ONE, AND
THE ONE IS ALL THINGS, seeing that all things were in the Creator before
he created them all? And rightly has it been said of him that he is all
things; for all things are part of him. Throughout our discussion then,
be careful to remember him, the One who is all things - him who is the
creator of all things.
whole, then, which is made up of all things, or is all things, consists,
as you have heard me say before, of soul and corporeal substance. Soul
and corporeal substance together are embraced by nature, and are by
nature's working kept in movement; and by this movement, the manifold
qualities of all things that take shape are made to differ among
themselves, in such sort that there come into existence individual
things of infinitely numerous forms, by reason of the differences of
their qualities, and yet all individuals are united to the whole; so
that we see that the whole is one, and of the one are all things. The
elements through which all matter has been indued with form are four in
number, - fire, water, earth and air; but matter is one, soul is one,
and God is one.
inasmuch as all things hang on the One, and flow from the One, we think
indeed that they are many when we look at them apart, but when we regard
them as united, we hold them to be one.
sensible Kosmos, then, is the recipient of all the sensible forms or
qualities of bodies; and all bodies can receive life only from God. For
God is all things; from him are all things; and all things are dependent
on his will, and on his inimitable wisdom. And this whole sum of things
is good and beautiful, and is apprehensible by sense and thought to God
alone. Without God nothing has been or is or will be; from God and in
God and through God are all things - all the various and multiform
qualities, the vast and measureless magnitudes, and the forms of every
deem it impossible that he who is the maker of the universe in all its
greatness, the Father and Master of all things, can be named by a single
name, though it be made up of ever so many others; I hold that he is
nameless, or rather, that all names are names of him. For he in his
unity is all things; so that we must either call all things by his
names, or call him by the names of all things.
divine forces are, so to speak, radiations emitted by God; the forces
that work birth and growth are radiations emitted by the Kosmos; the
arts and crafts are radiations emitted by man... There is nothing more
divine than mind, nothing more potent in its operation, nothing more apt
to unite men to gods, and gods to men. Mind is 'the good daemon';
blessed is the soul that is filled with mind, and ill-fated is the soul
that is devoid of it.
excerpts, I have demonstrated that Hermes Trismegistus is conforming to
the Monistic Theory, the essence of which is that all phenomena come by
emanations, from the One, and if so, we are part of the One. In that
case, our self must turn from the unreal world of sense in which it is
normally immersed, first to apprehend, then to unite itself with
Absolute Reality, that is the One. In other words, we are to see the
human mind advance from the mere perception of phenomena, through the
intuition -with occasional contact- of the Absolute, under its aspect of
Divine Transcendence, to the entire realization of, and union with,
Absolute Life under its aspect of Divine Immanence. Therefore, the
Monistic Theory is always linked with Mysticism, and the completed
mystical life, then, is more than intuitional: It is theopathetic. In
the old, frank language of the mystics, it is the deified life.
The Emerald Tablet
Emerald Tablet is a very succinct document, and is very hard to
understand. It contains 12 verses. First, I give the readers, a
translation of it, from a French document.
1. It is
true, without lie, very reliable.
above, so below, as below, so above, to realize the miracles of One
3. And as
everything was and has come from the One, so everything is born in this
One from adaptation.
sun is its father, the moon, its mother, the wind has carried it in its
bosom, and the earth is its wet-nurse.
father of all, the "Thelem" is here. Its strength is entire if it is
converted into Earth.
will separate the Earth from the Fire, the Subtle from the Dense, softly
with great dexterity.
ascends from the Earth to the sky, and over again, it descends to Earth
and it receives strength from things superior and inferior.
will have by this way all the glory of this world and all darkness will
be removed from you.
9. It is
the strength reinforced of all strength, because it will defeat
everything subtle and will penetrate everything solid.
the world has been created.
from that will be and will come out innumerable adaptations, the means
of which is here.
Therefore, I am called Hermes Trismegistus, having the three parts of
the philosophy of this world.
Here is an English
version of The Emerald Tablet
1. It is
true, without falsehood, and most real;
which is above is like that which is below, to perpetrate the miracles
of One thing.
3. And as
all things have been derived from One, by the thought of One, so all
things are born from this thing, by adaptation.
Sun is its Father, the Moon is its Mother. Wind has carried it in its
belly, the Earth is its nurse.
is the father of every perfection in the world. His strength and power
are absolute when changed into earth.
wilt separate the earth from fire, the subtle from the gross, gently and
ascends from earth to heaven, and descends again to earth to receive the
power of the superior and the inferior thing.
this means, thou will have the glory of the world. And because of this,
all obscurity will flee from thee.
this is the power, most powerful of all powers power. For it will
overcome all subtle things, and penetrate every solid thing.
the world was created.
this will be, and will emerge, admirable adaptations of which the means
for this reason, I am called Hermes Trismegistus, having the three parts
of the philosophy of the world. What I have said of the Sun's operations
Essay of interpretation
of the Emerald tablet, based on the Monistic Theory
1. It is
true, without falsehood, and most real that:
world is created on the same model. The above is like the below, and
vice-versa to illustrate this mystery that all is one.
world has been created from one same Substance, from one same Cause.
One begets the world, with the collaboration of the whole environment.
One can be called "Thelem".
improve himself, man must know how to distill the Subtle from the Dense,
how to become pure.
must take profit from the two sides of the generating force of this
world, that is the Extrovertive side and the Introvertive side.
Knowing how to improve himself, one can conquer glory.
result will be the going back to the One, to the Source of the Life .
sum, this world has been created
emanations, and by adaptation from One Substance.
Understanding this, is to understand the sky, man and the earth.
Pike comments on Tablet of Emerald as follows:
surpasses and nothing equals, as a Summary of all the doctrines of the
Old World, those brief words engraved by Hermes on a stone, and known
under the name of "The Tablet of Emerald: "The Unity of Being and the
Unity of the Harmonies, ascending and descending, the progressive and
proportional scale of the Word; the immutable law of the Equilibrium,
and the proportioned progress of the universal analogies; the relation
of the Idea to the Word, giving the measure of the relation between the
Creator and the Created, the necessary mathematics of the Infinite,
proved by the measures of a single corner of the Finite; - all this is
expressed by this single proposition of the Great Egyptian Hierophant:
Superior is as that which is Inferior, and what is Below is as that
which is Above, to form the Marvels of the Unity."
short synopsis we can learn:
Trismegistus is declared to be the first man attaining to Gnosis,
even before Pythagoras.
Gnostic should know that he has God in himself, that he is of the same
nature with God.
must know that he emanates from this Original Stuff.
must conform himself to Him who will receive everything back to Him.
must know that all men are divine, that the world is divine.
Hermetica, Vol. 1: Introduction, Text, and Translation, Edited and
translated by Walter Scott, Shambhala, Boston, 1985, Introduction, p. 6.
Occult, Colin Wilson, 1973, Vintage Books Edition, p. 192.
Hermetica, Edited and translated by Walter Scott, 1982, Shambhala,
Boston, 1985, p. 33.
Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1929, Article Hermes Trismegistus, p. 505,
and Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1979 Article Hermetic writings p.
En attendant, l'initié trouve Dieu en soi-même. Il sait qu'il est émané
de cette Unité absolue; qu'il porte en soi une parcelle de cette force
qui régit les mondes. Il sait que son devoir est de se rendre le plus
possible conforme à ce Dieu qui doit l'accueillir et s'unir par avance à
lui, avec toutes les êtres dont la palpitation commune est comme un
vaste coeur tout plein de sa presence... Pour l'Egyptien, tous les
êtres, par divers chemins, tendent vers un même but: devenir Osiris,
c'est-à-dire un Dieu, une parcelle consciente et divine du Tout divin.
Durville, La Science sécrète, p. 179.
Corpus Hermeticum, Libellus X, p. 203.
est vrai, sans mensonge, très veritable.
qui est en bas est comme ce qui est en haut, ce qui est en haut est
comme ce qui est en bas pour faire des miracles d'une seule chose.
comme toutes choses ont été et sont venues d'Un, ainsi toutes choses
sont nées dans cette Chose Unique par adaptation.
soleil en est le père, la lune en est la mère, le vent l'a porte dans
son ventre, la terre est sa nourrice.
père de Tout, le Theleme est ici. Sa force est entière si elle est
convertie en Terre.
sépareras la Terre du Feu, le subtil de l'épais, doucement avec grande
monte de la Terre au Ciel et derechef, il descend en Terre et il recoit
la force des choses supérieures et inférieures.
auras par ce moyen toute la gloire du monde et toute obscurité
s'éloignera de toi.
la force forte de toute force, car elle vaincra toute chose subtile et
pénétra toute chose solide.
Ainsi le monde a été créé.
ceci seront et sortiront d'innombrables adaptations desquelles le moyen
C'est pourquoi, j'ai été appalé Hermes Trismegiste ayant les trois
parties de la philosophie du monde.
Preface | Chapters:
10 11 12