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All our efforts at a spiritual life are prompted by self-interest.
The dead filled the place murmuring and said; Tell us of gods and devils, accursed one! The god-sun is the highest good, the devil its opposite. Thus have ye two gods. But there are many high and good things and many great evils. Among these are two god-devils; the one is the Burning One , the other the Growing One. The burning one is EROS, who hath the form of flame. Flame giveth light because it consumeth. The growing one is the TREE OF LIFE.. It buddeth, as in growing it heapeth up living stuff. Eros flameth up and dieth. But the tree of life groweth with slow and constant increase through unmeasured time. Good and evil are united in the flame. Good and evil are united in the increase of the tree. In their divinity stand life and love opposed. Innumerable as the host of the stars is the number of gods and devils. Each star is a god, and each space that a star filleth is a devil. But the empty-fullness of the whole is the pleroma. The operation of the whole is Abraxas, to whom only the ineffective standeth opposed.
Four is the number of the principal gods, as four is the number of the world`s measurements.One is the beginning, the god-sun. Two is Eros; for he bindeth twain together and outspreadeth himself in brightness.
Three is the Tree of Life, for it filleth space with bodily forms. Four is the devil, for he openeth all that is closed.All that is formed of bodily nature doth he dissolve; he is the destroyer in whom everything is brought to nothing.
For me, to whom knowledge hath been given of the multiplicity and diversity of the good, it is well. But woe unto you, who replace these incompatible many by a single god. For in so doing ye beget the torment which is bred from not understanding, and ye mutilate the creature whose nature and aim is distinctiveness. How can ye be true to your own nature when ye try to change the many into one? What ye do unto the gods is done likewise unto you. Ye all become equal and thus is your nature maimed.
Equalities shall prevail not for god, but only for the sake of man. For the gods are many, whilst men are few. The gods are mighty and can endure their manifoldness. For like the stars they abide in solitude, parted one from the other by immense distances. Therefore they dwell together and need communion, that they may bear their separateness. For redemtion`s sake I teach you the rejected truth, for the sake of which I was rejected.
The multiplicity of the gods correspondeth to the multiplicity of man. Numberless gods await the human state. Numberless gods have been men. Man shareth in nature of the gods. He cometh from the gods and goeth unto god. Thus, just as it serveth not to reflect upon the plerome, it availeth not to worship the multiplicity of the gods. Least of all availeth it to worship the first god, the effective abundance and the summum bonum.. By our prayer we can add to it nothing, and from it nothing take; because the effective void swalloweth all. The bright gods form the celestial world. It is manifold and infinitely spreading and increasing. The god-sun is the supreme lord of the world. The dark gods form the earth-world. They are simple and infinitely diminishing and declining. The devil is the earth-world`s lowest lord, the moon-spirit, satellite of the earth, smaller, colder, and more dead than the earth. There is no difference between the might of the celestial gods and those of the earth. The celestial gods magnify, the earth-gods diminish. Measurelesss is the movement of both.
Like mists arising from a marsh, the dead came near and cried: Speak further unto us concerning the supreme god. Hard to know is the deity of Abraxas. Its power is the greatest, because man perceiveth it not. From the sun he draweth the summum bonum; from the devil the infimum malum: but from Abraxas LIFE, altogether indefinite, the mother of good and evil.
Smaller and weaker life seemeth to be than the summum bonum; wherefore is it also hard to conceive that Abraxas transcendeth even the sun in power, who is himself the radient source of all the force of life. Abraxas is the sun, and at the same time the eternally sucking gorge of the void, the belittling and dismembering devil. The power of Abraxas is twofold; but ye see it not, because for your eyes the warring opposites of this power are extinguished. What the god-sun speaketh is life. What the devil speaketh is death. But Abraxas speaketh that hallowed and accursed word which is life and death at the same time. Abraxas begetteth truth and lying, good and evil, light and darkness, in the same word and in the same act. Wherefore is Abraxas terrible. It is splendid as the lion in the instant he striketh down his victim. It is beautiful as a day in spring. It is the great Pan himself and also the small one. It is Priapos. It is the monster of the under-world, a thousand-armed polyp, coiled knot of winged serpents, frenzy. It is the hermaphrodite of the earliest beginning. It is the lord of the toads and frogs, which live in the water and gets up on the land, whose chorus ascendeth at noon and at midnight. It is abundance that seeketh union with emptiness.
It is holy begetting. It is love and love`s murder. It is the saint and his betrayer.It is the brightest light of day and the darkest night of madness.To look upon it, is blindness. To know it, is sickness.To worship it, is death.To fear it, is wisdom. To resist it not, is redemption.
God dwelleth behind the sun, the devil behind the night. What god bringeth forth out of the light of the devil sucketh into the night. But Abraxas is the world, its becoming and its passing- Upon every gift that cometh from the god-sun the devil layeth his curse.
Everything that ye entreat from the god-sun begetteth a deed from the devil. Everything that ye create with the god-sun giveth effective power to the devil. That is terrible Abraxas. It is the mightiest creature, and in it the creature is afraid of itself. It is the manifest opposition to the pleroma and its nothingness.
It is the son`s horror of the mother. It is the mother`s love for the son. It is the delight of the earth and the cruelty of the heavens. Before its countenance man becometh like stone. Before it there is no question and no reply. It is the life of creatura. It is the operation of distinctiveness. It is the love of man. It is the speech of man. It is the appearance and the shadow of man. It is illusory reality.
Now the dead howled and raged, for they were unperfected.
The Dead came back from Jerusalem, where they found not what they sought.