Wednesday, February 9, 2011
The Secret Library of Dr. Honigsberger
by Mircea Eliade
In exchange, apart from Fabre d'Olivet and Rudolf Steiner, apart from Stanislas de Guaita and Hartmann, the library was extremely rich in the classics of occultism, Hermetism, and traditional theosophy. Old editions of Swedenborg, Paracelsus, Cornelius Agrippa, Boehme, Della Riviera, and Pernety stood beside the works attributed to Pythagoras, the hermetic texts, the collections of the famous alchemists, both in the old printings of Salmon and Manget and in the modern edition of Berthelot. Also present were the forgotten books of physiognomy, astrology, and chiromancy.
"Later, when I had the opportunity to take my time to research those shelves, I discovered extremely rare works, such as De aquae vitae simplici et composito by Arnaud de Villeneuve, or Christian apocrypha, like for instance that Adam and Eve which Strindberg had so long pursued in his quest. One could say that a secure thought and a precise target had urged Dr. Zerlendi to collect this rich occult library. As I realized step by step, no important author, no significant book was missing. Undoubtedly, the doctor had not just looked for superficial information, to assimilate the basic issues of the occultist doctrine and terminology, in order to write with a certain degree of competence the biography of Honigberger he was preparing. His books proved to me he wanted to see for himself the truth kept so well hidden in the hermetic tradition. Otherwise, it would have been useless to read Agrippa von Nettesheim and the Bibliotheca Chemica Curiosa."
"It was difficult for me to answer. I suspected what kind of explanations the old lady wanted from me, and I did not know whether I could ever reveal such things to her. The cases of "apparent death," Yogic trance, levitation, incombustibility, or invisibility Honigberger referred to, and which Dr. Zerlendi had studied in-depth, are very hard to explain to someone who does not theoretically understand the possibility of their occurrence."
"Adau vada asit, sa cha vada ishvarabhimukha asit, sa cha vada ishvara asit!"
"I had never imagined, though, that one can go so far and with such little relative effort. Because only after you acquire the first powers and the veils that cover your eyes fall suddenly, do you comprehend the extent of people's ignorance and the painful illusion that deceives them every day, to the threshold of their death. The will and energy man consumes to satisfy his social ambition or scientific vanity are perhaps even stronger than what is required in order to achieve this extraordinary thing: your own salvation from pettiness, ignorance, and pain."
Astonishing as these experiences may be, Dr. Zerlendi did not think they were all that important. "You can reach the same result even without stern asceticism, but only by a maximum mental focus. Although I am perfectly aware of the fact that modern men are no longer capable of such a mental effort. They are dissipated or in a continuous state of evanescence.
"Asceticism is useful not to acquire these powers, but to keep you from falling prey to them. The exploration of the unknown states of consciousness can tempt you so much, that you run the risk of wasting your life without reaching the end. It is a new world, but it is still a world. If you are content just to explore it, without seeking to transcend it – the way you have tried to transcend the states of wakefulness – it is as though you learned a new language and you took up reading all the books written in that language, but, because of that, you gave up learning other languages."
"However, it was ordained for me never to penetrate it, but, rather, to hold it in my melancholies until my death –"
"For the first time, I was able to personally check egression out of time. Because, although my spirit remained active, my body no longer participated in the flow of time. Before I provoked my trance I shaved, and, thirty-six hours later, my cheek was as smooth as the moment I fell into my trance. It was a natural thing to happen. Because man experiences time through his respiratory rhythm. With any man, several seconds are spent between inhaling and exhaling; life coincides in man with time."
"The most difficult thing, better put, the impossible thing to achieve now in the West is an impersonal consciousness. These past centuries, only a few mystics have achieved such a consciousness. All the difficulties that modern man faces post-mortem, all the infernos and purgatories where we are told the spirits of the dead are tormented are caused precisely by this incapacity to achieve an impersonal consciousness while still alive. The drama of the soul after death and the atrocious purifications it goes through are nothing but the stages of the painful passage from the personal to the impersonal consciousness –"
"Actually, in the world of myths, we find that those who have "fallen" to the lowest depths are the ones who had managed to come closest to the Divine. The vanity of Lucifer, too, is a form of the obscure forces you unleash through your own progress, and which finally succeed in crushing you."