Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Rosicrucian Enlightenment

I have finally finished reading the book. I don’t think I can describe what I took from it. Instead, I’ll just quote some bits from the last chapter.

“Like archeologists digging down through layers, we have found under the superficial history of the early seventeenth century, just before the outbreak of the Thirty Years War, a whole culture, a whole civilization, lost to view.” (p. 290)

“The Rosicrucian Enlightenment included a vision of the necessity for a reform of society, particularly of education, for a third reformation of religion, embracing all sides of man’s activity – and saw this as a necessary accompaniment of the new science. Rosicrucian thinkers were aware of the dangers of the new science, of its diabolical as well as angelic possibilities, and they saw that its arrival should be accompanied by a general reformation of the whole wide world.” (p. 290)

“The Rosicrucian alchemy expresses both the scientific outlook, penetrating into new worlds of discovery, and also an attitude of religious expectation, of penetrating into new fields of religious experiences.” (p. 284)

“The religious outlook bound up with the idea that penetration has been made into higher angelic spheres is which all religions were seen as one” (p. 282)

“And this illumination shines inwards as well as outward; it is an inward spiritual illumination revealing to men new possibilities in himself, teaching him to understand his own dignity and worth and the part he is called upon to play in the divine scheme.” (p. 291)

“Those who seek above all a regeneration of spiritual life are naturally drawn towards the doctrines which lay the main stress on the idea of life and propose a vitalistic conception of the universe. And the symbolism of alchemy is as apt for translating (into symbolic form) the realities of the religious life, as that of matter and form. Perhaps more apt, because less used up, less intellectualized, more symbolic through its very nature.” (A. Koyrè, La philophie de Jacob Boehme, Paris, 1929, p. 45)”

           “Teach me, my God and King,
           In all things thee to see;
And what I do in anything
           To do it as for thee!

           A man that looks on glass,
           On it may stay his eye
Or if he pleaseth, through it pass,
           And then the heaven espy.

           All may of thee partake;
           Nothing can be so mean,
Which with this tincture, ‘for thy sake’.
           Will not grow bright and clean.

           A servant with this clause
           Makes drudgery divine;
Who sweeps a room, as for thy laws,
           Makes that and the action fine

           This is the famous stone
           That turneth all to gold;
For that which God doth tough and own
           Cannot for less be told.

So sang George Herbert of his Christian religious experiences, and it was such spiritual gold as this that the German Rosicrucian movement sought.” (p. 283, 284)

“Circumstances prevented its application, and after the Rosicrucian, science was allowed to develop in isolation from utopia, and apart from the idea of a reformed society, educated to receive it. The comparative disregard if the social and educational possibilities of the movement was surely unfortunate for the future.” (p. 292)

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