Hermes Trismegistus (Thrice Great) and the Lost Wisdom of Humanity

Posted by on May 31, 2013 in Cosmos, Humanity, Our Future | 0 comments

Hermes Trismegistus (Thrice Great) and the Lost Wisdom of Humanity

In this and a number of future blogs, I will be considering how humanity has come to the point we are at today. It is a point that some have called our “evolutionary crossroads” as a species. How did our humankind get so out of balance, so materialistic, and so short-sighted in our thinking that we are now in an accelerated process of destroying ourselves and most of life on Earth?

Most of this ongoing process has taken place over the last 2,000 years, and especially over the last few hundred years beginning with “Scientific Revolution” in the 16th Century with its main focus on materialism and measurability. I see it as a process of our collective thinking becoming ever narrower, and thus more and more limiting upon our individual lives and humanity’s collective prospects.

The reasons for this ongoing constriction of the human mind are numerous in my view. They include the institutional suppression of the feminine and the deification of Jesus as the “Son of God” by the original Roman Catholic Church beginning some 1,700 years ago essentially in order for it maintain sole religious authority. The actual teachings of Jesus became much less important and much text was then re-written to follow the ‘party-line’. These narrow and misguided views become  the “religious canon” throughout all of Europe in the 4th Century when the Roman Emperor Constantine made “Christianity” the sole and official religion of the then Roman Empire in order to politically unify it. Any other views of Jesus or Christianity were deemed “heretical” and its proponents were either killed or exiled, while almost all original written source texts, beyond the proclaimed ‘religious canon’ were destroyed and mostly lost to history.

Another major factor was the ‘Scientific Revolution’ of the Middle-Ages in Europe where the backlash against such imposed religious doctrine resulted in a belief system that stated that nothing we could not measure with our five physical senses did not and could not actually exist.  The immaterial along with consciousness and the true nature of the Cosmos was essentially banished from all rational thought and dialogue. It was an absolute ‘materialist’ revolution with every other kind of knowledge that had existed for millennia suddenly becoming pure ‘superstition’. These “Western” concepts became globalized over the ensuing years.

However, newer scientific evidence from the 20th Century, and now the 21st Century, including Quantum Theory in Physics, New Biology, Consciousness, Cosmology, etc. have powerfully now returned the ‘immaterial’ to the Cosmic equation. Our thoughts are immaterial of course. We can’t see them unless and until we make them material. That doesn’t mean our thoughts do not exist. On the contrary our thoughts are the primary evidence that we do indeed exist! See Descartes.

Looking back over this 2,000 year process it is apparent to me that humankind has lost almost all of its ancient knowledge and deep wisdom over these millennia. That great loss has led us to be so out of balance and so limited in our thinking of what it means to be human and our true potential that we are now on the verge of massive self-destruction of ourselves and Mother Earth. Can this older human knowledge and wisdom now be restored to us and in sufficient time to have a major impact on our future?

I certainly hope so and believe so as despite the efforts of the forces of religious and political domination over the centuries a good deal of that ancient knowledge and wisdom is still available today! Much of these texts such as the Gnostic Gospels, the Dead Sea Scrolls and other “lost knowledge” were re-discovered in the 20th Century. While oral traditions over thousands of years old were preserved until written down in later times. The Qabala and Hermetica being prime examples.

And most amazingly, what was passed down millennia ago and only then accessible to Pharaohs, Kings, High Priests and High Priestesses after decades of intensive initiation can now be purchased online or is available freely on the Web today for anyone who has the needed web access! Recently I purchased what is reputedly one of the oldest texts in existence –  the Sefer Yetzirah or “Book of Creation” that Hebrew lore attributes to having been written by Adam, the first Man. I have also purchased The Hermetica and The Kybalion which claim to record the ancient wisdom of Hermes aka Thoth. All from Amazon!

Both Hermes and Thoth were revered as Gods of the Ancient World. Thoth was the original Egyptian God and Hermes was a Greek God who had the same attributes as Thoth which is why their names eventually became synonymous. One of Thoth’s titles, “Three times great, great” was translated to the Greek “Trismegistos” making Hermes Trismegistus. ‘Thrice Great’ as the greatest priest, philosopher and king.

It is a possibility but not known if prior to being claimed to be a God, Hermes/Thoth was a man who held a very high position in Ancient Egypt for many years perhaps even as a Pharaoh. What is known however is that some of the writings attributed to Hermes/Thoth have survived until today. There is considerable historic controversy over when these writings, such as the Hermetica, were actually first written down and also as to whether Hermes was once an actual human being or was a mythic figure, however such compiled wisdom could be over 5,000 years old. This original “perennial wisdom” may have been passed down for generations orally in Mystery Schools before ever being written down first some 1,800 years ago. Therefore, this wisdom may pre-date many of humanity’s “sacred scriptures”, and may well have been a source of much of humanity’s original sacred knowledge.

Here is an excerpt from the Egyptian deity Thoth page on Wikipedia: “Thoth was the master of both physical and Divine law, making proper use of Ma’at.  He is credited with making the calculations for the establishment of the Heavens, Stars, Earth, and everything in them. Compare this to how his feminine counterpart, Ma’at was the force which maintained the Universe. He is said to direct the motions of the heavenly bodies. Without his words, the Egyptians believed, the gods would not exist.  The Egyptians credited him as the author of all works of Science, Religion, Philosophy, and Magic. The Greeks further declared him the inventor of Astronomy, Astrology, Mathematics, Geography, Medicine, Botany, Theology, Civilized Government, the Alphabet, reading, writing, and Oratory. They further claimed he was the true author of every work of every branch of knowledge, human and divine.”

The Hermetica are Egyptian-Greek wisdom texts, written by Hellenistic Greeks in the 2nd and 3rd centuries CE, which are mostly presented as dialogues in which a teacher, identified as Hermes Trismegistus, enlightens a disciple. The texts form the basis of Hermeticism. The Teacher and Disciple discuss the Divine, the Cosmos, Mind, and Nature. Some texts also consider Alchemy, Astrology and related concepts. I recently picked up a copy of a wonderful book that summarizes the wisdom of The Hermetica in a modern and easily accessible way. This book is entitled “The Hermetica; The Lost Wisdom of the Pharoahs”, co-authored by Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy, and the initial edition was published in 1997. Anyone who reads the wisdom contained therein will greatly benefit by it.

While “The Kybalion” is a book claiming to be the essence of the teachings of Hermes Trismegistus, published anonymously by a group or person under the pseudonym of “The Three Initiates”, originally in 1908. The following quote is from the Introduction to the Kybalion by The Three Initiates:

“There have always been a few Initiates in each generation, in the various lands of the earth, who kept alive the sacred flame of the Hermetic Teachings, and such have always been willing to use their lamps to re-light the lesser lamps of the outside world, when the light of truth grew dim, and clouded by reason of neglect, and when the wicks became clogged with foreign matter. There were always a few to tend faithfully the altar of the Truth, upon which was kept a light the Perpetual Lamp of Wisdom.”

The Kybalion contains Seven Hermetic Principles upon which the entire Hermetic Philosophy is based. These principles are summarized as follows:

I. THE PRINCIPLE OF MENTALISM

The All is Mind; The Universe is Mental.

II. THE PRINCIPLE OF CORRESPONDENCE

As above, so below; As below so above.

III. THE PRINCIPLE OF VIBRATION

Nothing rests; everything moves; everything vibrates.

IV. THE PRINCIPLE OF POLARITY

Everything is Dual; everything has poles; everything has its pair of opposites; like and unlike are the same; opposites are identical in nature, but different in degree; extremes meet; all truths are but half-truths; all paradoxes may be reconciled.

V. THE PRINCIPLE OF RHYTHM

Everything flows, out and in; everything has its tides; all things rise and fall; the pendulum-swing manifests in everything; the measure of the swing to the right is the measure of the swing to the left; rhythm compensates.

VI. THE PRINCIPLE OF CAUSE AND EFFECT

Every Cause has its Effect; every Effect has its Cause; everything happens according to Law; Chance is but a name for Law not recognized; there are many planes of causation, but nothing escapes the Law.

VII. THE PRINCIPLE OF GENDER

Gender is in everything; everything has its Masculine and Feminine Principles Gender; manifests on all planes.

These principles may well have been set out in their original form thousands of years ago yet there is something very striking about them even beyond the universal wisdom they contain. It is that these principles also seem completely modern and scientific! They are so as our newest scientific knowledge is now confirming them to a great extent which is truly amazing! Regardless of whether this wisdom, set out as the Hermetic Principles, is sourced back to a particular individual who lived in the ancient world or not, the wisdom stands on its own as the “Perennial Philosophical Wisdom” closely aligned with the Gnostic Christian tradition and perhaps even its forerunner.

Humankind’s philosophical history on a global level can be summarized in my view, as follows: Original “Eastern” thought presumes that consciousness or the immaterial world is primary and the material world secondary descending from the immaterial.  While later “Western” thought presumes that the material world is primary and the immaterial world secondary arising from the material. Two diametrically opposed philosophical perspectives. Two polar views.

However in the late 20th and early 21st Century it is Western new science proving that the Eastern view is the correct one. Science is now restoring the lost knowledge and wisdom of humankind! I believe this is a great source of hope for our future. I will expand on these statements in next week’s blog.

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