God Himself is present: Heart, be stilled before Him: Prostrate inwardly adore Him.
The ' shudder ' has here lost its crazy and bewildering note, but not the ineffable something that holds the mind. It lias become a mystical awe, and sets free as its accompaniment, reflected in self-consciousness, that ' creature-feeling' that has already been described as the feeling of personal nothingness and abasement before the awe-inspiring object directly experienced.
The referring of this feeling of numinous 'tremor' to its object in the numen brings into relief a ' property' of the latter which plays an important part in our Holy Scriptures, and which has been the occasion of many difficulties, both to commentators and to theologians, from its puzzling and baffling nature. This is the opyrj torge), the Wrath of Yahweh, which recurs in the New Testament as opyy 6eov, and which is clearly analogous to the idea occurring in many religions of a mysterious ' ira deorum '. To pass through the Indian Pantheon of Gods is to find deities who s|pm to be made up altogether out of such an opyrj; and even the higher Indian gods of grace and pardon have frequently, beside their merciful, their 'wrath' form. But as regards the ' Wrath of Yahweh ', the strange features about it have for long been a matter for constant remark. In the first place, it is patent from many passages of the Old Testament that this ' Wrath ' lias no concern whatever with moral qualities. There is something very baffling in the way in which it ' is kindled' and manifested. It is, as lias been well said,' like a hidden force of nature ', like stored-up electricity, discharging itself upon any one who comes too near. It is 'incalculable' and 'arbitrary'. Any one who is accustomed to think of deity only by its rational attributes must see in this ' Wrath' mere caprice and wilful passion. But such a view would have been emphatically rej< cted by the religious men of the Old Covenant, for to them the Wrath of God, so far from being a diminution of His Godhead, appears as a natural expression of it, an element of ' holiness' itself, and a quite indispensable one. And in this they are entirely right. This opyr'i is nothing but the 'tremendum' itself, apprehended and expressed by the aid of a naive analogy from the domain of natural experience, in this case from the ordinary passional life of men. But naive as it may be, the analogy is most disconcertingly apt and striking; so much so that it will always retain its value, and for us no less than for the men of old be an inevitable way of expressing one element in the religious emotion. It cannot be doubted that, despite the protest of Schleiermaeher and Ritschl,Bhristianity also has something to teach of the ' Wrath of God '.
It v ill be again at once apparent that in the use of this word we are not concerned with a genuine intellectual 'con ceptbut only with a sort of illustrative substitute for a concept. ' Wrath ' here is the 'ideogram' of a unique emotional moment in religious experience, a moment whose singularly daunting and awe-inspiring character must be gravely di.-tui bing to those persons who w ill recognize nothing in the divide nature but goodness, gentleness, love, and a sort of confidential intimacy, in a word, only those aspects of God which turn towards the world of men.
This opyr'i is thus quite wrongly spoken of as 'natural' wrath: rather it is an entirely non- or super-natural, i.e. numinous, quality. The rationalization process takes place when it begins to be filled in with elements derived from the moral reason: righteousness in requital, and punishment for moral transgression. But it should be noted that the idea of the \\ rath of God in the Bible is always a f-ynthesis, in v. hich the original is combined with the later meaning that has come to fill it in. Something supra rational throbs and gleams, palpable and visiblt, in the 'Wrath of God ', prompting to a sense of ' terror' that no ' natural ' anger can arou1 e.
Beside the 'Wrath or Anger of Yahwih stands the related expression 1 Jealousy of Yahweh '. rl he state of mind denoted by the phrase 'being jealous far Yahweh ' i- also a numinous state of mind, in v, l.ieh features of the ' tremendum ' pass over into the man who has experience of it.
2. The element of' 0 verpoweringness' (' to a jest as ').
We have been attempting to unfold the implications of that aspect of the ' mysterium tremendum' indicated by the adjective, and the result so far may be summarized in two words, constituting, as before, what may be called an ' ideogram rather than a concept proper, viz.' absolute unapproachability '.
It will be felt at once that there is yet a further element which must be added, that, namely, of ' might' power ' absolute overpoweringness'. We will take to represent this the term ' majestas', majesty—the more readily because any one with a feeling for language must detect a last faint trace of the numinous still clinging to the word. The ' tremendum ' may then be rendered more adequately ; tremenda majestas or ' awef ul majesty'. This second element of majesty may continue to be vividly preserved, wlfere the first, that of unapproachability, recedes and dies away, as may be seen, for example, in Mysticism. It is especially in relation to this element of majesty or absolute overpoweringness that the creature-consciousness, of which we have already spoken, comes upon the scene, as a sort of shadow or subjective reflection of it. Thus, in contrast to ' the overpowering' of which we are conscious as an object over against the self, there is the feeling of one's own abasement, of being but ' dust and ashes' and nothingness. And this forms the numinous raw material for the feeling of religious humility.1
Here we must revert once again to Schleiermacher's expression for what we call 'creature-feeling', viz. the 'feeling of dependence'. We found fault with this phrase before on the ground that Sclileiermacher thereby takes as basis and point of departure what is merely a secondary effect; that he sets out to teach a consciousness of the religious object only by way of an inference from the shadow it casts upon Lse//-conscious-ness. We have now a further criticism to bring against it, and it is this. By 'feeling of dependence' Sclileiermacher means consciousness of being conditioned (as effect by cause), and so he develops the implications of this logically enough 1 Cf. R. R. Marett, 'The Birth of Humility,' in The Threshold of Religion, 2nd ed., 1914. [Tr.]
in liis sections upon Creation and Preservation. On the side of the deity the correlate to 'dependence' would thus be 'causality', i.e. God's character as all-causing and all-conditioning. But a sense of this does not enter at all into that immediate and first-hand religious emotion which we have :n the moment of worship, and which we can recover iu a measure for analysis ; it belongs on the contrary decidedly to the rational side of the idea of God ; its implications admit of precise conceptual determination ; and it springs from quite a distinct source. The difference between the ' feeling of dependence' of Schleiermacher and that which tinds typical utterance in the words of Abraham already cited might be expresses! as that between the consciousness of createdness (Ge-schafi'enheit) and the consciousness of < reaturehood (Geschopf-lichkcit). In the one case you have the creature as the work of the divine creative act; in the other, impotence and general nothingness as against overpowering might, dust and ashes as against 'majesty'. In the one ease you have tho fact of having been created ; in the other, the status of the creature. And as soon as speculative thought has come to concern itself with this latter type of consciousness—as soon as it has come to analyse this ' majesty'—we are introduced to a set of ideas quite deferent from those of creation or preservation. We corne upon the ideas, first, of the annihilation of self, and then, as its complement, of the transcendent as the sole and entire reality. These are the characteristic notes of Mysticism in all its forms, however otherwise % arious in content. For one of the chiefest and most general features of Mysticism is just thi ( uelf-depreciation (so plainly parallel to the case of Abraham) the estimation of the self, of the personal ' 1', as something not perfectly or essentially real, or even as mere nullity, a self depreciation which conies to demand its own fulfilment in practice .11 rejecting the delusion of selfhood, and so makes for the annihilation of the self. And 011 the other hand Mysticism leads to a valuation of the transcendent object of its reterence as that which through plenitude of being stands .supreme and absolute, so that the finite self contrasted w ith it becomes con-cious even in its nuility that ' I am nought, Thou art all'. There is no thought in this of any causal relation between God, the creator, and the self, the creature. The point from which speculation starts is not a 1 consciousness of absolute dependence'—of myself as result and effect of a divine cause—for that would in point of fact lead to insistence upon the reality of the self; it starts from a consciousness of the absolute superiority or supremacy of a power other than myself, and it is only as it falls back upon ontological terms to achieve its end—terms generally borrowed from natural science—that that element of the ' tremendum ', originally apprehended as ' plenitude of power ', becomes transmuted into ' plenitude of being
This leads again to the mention of Mysticism. No mere inquiry into the genesis of a thing can throw any light upon its essential nature, and it is hence immaterial to us how Mysticism historically arose. Eut essentially Mysticism is the stressing to a very high degree, indeed the overstressing, of the non-rational or supra-rational elements ill religion; and it is only intelligible when so understood. The various phases and factors of the non-rational may receive varying emphasis, and the type of Mysticism will differ according as some or others fall into the background. What we have been analysing however, is a feature that recurs in all forms of Mysticism everywhere, and it is nothing but the ' creature-consciousness' stressed to the utmost and to excess, the expression meaning, if we may repeat the contrast already made, not ' feeling of our createdness' but ' feeling of our creaturehood that is, the consciousness of the littleness of every creature in face of that which is above all creatures.
A characteristic common to all types of Mysticism is the Identification, in different degrees of completeness, of the personal self with the transcendent Reality. This identification has a source of its own, with which we are not here concerned, and springs from ' moments ' of religious experience which would lequire separate treatment. 'Identification' alone, however, is not enough for Mysticism ; it must be Identification with the Something that is at once absolutely supreme in power and reality and wholly non-rational. And it is among the mystics that we most encounter this element of religious consciousness. Ri'cejac has noticed this in hie Essai tur h s foiuieme litis de la co una ¿usance mystique (Paris, lh'J7). He writes (p. 90) :
' Le mystieisme conmience par la crainte, par le sentiment d'une domination universelle. invincible, et devient plus tard un desir d'union avee ce qui (lotnine ainsi.'
And some very clear examples of this taken from the religious experience of the present day are to be found in \\ .James (op. cit.., p. Gti):
'The perfect stillness of the night was thrilled by a more solemn -ileuce. The darkness held a presence that v. as all the more felt because it was not seen. 1 could not any more have doubted that lie was there than that I was. Indeed, 1 felt mj self to be, it possible, the less real of the two.'
Phis example is particularly instructive as to the relation of Mysticism to the ' feelings of Identification ', for the experience here recounted was on the point of passing into it.1
o. The Element of' Energy' or Urgency.
There is, finally, a third element comprised in those of ' tre-mendum ' and 'majestas', awefulness and majesty, and this I venture to call the urgency or energy of the numinous object. It is particularly vividly perceptible in the ' opy-fj' or ' Wrath '; and it everywhere clothes itself in symbolical expressions vitality, passion, emotional temper, will, force, movement* excitement, activity, impetus. '! hese features arc typical and recur again and again from the daemonic level up to the idea of the ' living ' God. We have here the factor that has everywhere more than any other tin mpted the fiercest opposition to > the 'philosophic' (!od of mere rational speculation who can be put into a definition. And for their part the philosophers have condemned these expressions of the energy of the numen, whenever they are brought on to the scene, as sheer anthropomorphism. in so fit as their opponents have for the most part themselves failed to recognize that the terms they have borrowed from the sphere of human conathe and allective life have merely ■ alue as analogies, the philosophers are right to
' Complrt too tlie ox] erienee on ]>. 70 : '...What I felt on (Iicfo occiMons was a temporary Iokr of my own identity.'
1 The ' moliilitas 1'ei' of Lac tantiUii.
condemn them. But they are wrong, in so far as, this error notwithstanding, these terms stood for a genuine aspect of the divine nature—its non-rational aspect—a due consciousness of which served to protect religion itself from being ' rationalized' away.
For wherever men have been contending for the ' living' God and for voluntarism, there, we may be sure, have been non-rationalists fighting rationalists and rationalism. It was so w ith Luther in his controversy with Erasmus ; and Luther's 'omnipotentia Dei' in his De Servo Arbitrio is nothing but the union of'majesty '—in the sense of absolute supremacy— with this ' energy ', in the sense of a force that knows not stint nor stay, which is urgent, active, compelling, and alive. In Mysticism, too, this element of ' energy ' is a very living and vigorous factor, at any rate in the ' voluntaristic ' Mysticism, the Mysticism of love, where it is very forcibly seen in that ' consuming fire' of love whose burning strength the mystic can hardly bear, but begs that the heat that lias scorched him may be mitigated, lest he be himself destroj'ed by it. And in this urgency and pressure the mystic's ' love ' claims a perceptible kinship with the opyrj itself, the scorching and consuming wrath of God ; it is the same ' energy ', only differently directed. ' Love says one of the mystics, ' is nothing else than quenched Wrath '.
The element of ' energy' reappears in Fichte's speculations on the Absolute as the gigantic, never-resting, active world-stress, and in Schopenhauer's daemonic ' Will'. At the same time both these writers are guilty of the same error that is already found in Myth; they transfer ' natural' attributes, which ought only to be used as ' ideograms ' for what is itself properly beyond utterance, to the non-rational as real qualifications of it, and they mistake symbolic expressions of feelings for adequate concepts upon which a 'scientific' structure of knowledge may be based.
In Goethe, as we shall see later, the same element of energy is emphasized in a quite unique way in his strange descriptions of the experience he calls ' daemonic '.
THE ANALYSIS OF * MYSTKBIUM '
Ein begriflener Gott ist kein Gott.
'A God comprehended ia no God.' (Tersteegen.)
We gave to tho object to which the numinous consciousness is directed the name ' mysterium tremendum', and we then set ourselves first to determine the meaning of the adjective ' tremendum '—which we found to be itself only justified by analogy—because it is more easily analysed than the substantive idea 'mysterium'. We have now to turn to this, and try, as best we may, by hint and suggestion, to get to a clearer apprehension of what it implies.
It might be thought that the adjective itself gives an explanation of the substantive; but this is not so. It is not merely analytical; it is a synthetic attribute to it; i.e. ' tremendum adds something not necessarily inherent in mysterium '. It is true that the reactions in consciousness that correspond to the one readily and spontaneously overflow into those that correspond to the other; in fact, any one sensitive to the use of words would commonly feel that, the idea of ' mystery ' (mysterium) is so closely bound up with its synthetic qualifying attribute ' aweful' (tremendum) that one can hardly say the former without catching an echo of the latter, 'mystery' almost of itself becoming 'aweful mystery' to us. But the passage from the one idea to the other need not by any means be alw ays so ea-y. The elements of meaning implied in ' awefulness ' and ' mysteriousness ' are in then^elves definitely different. 1 he latter may so far preponderate in the religious consciou-ness, may stand out so vividly, that in comparison with it. the former almost sinks out of sight; a case which again could be clearly exemplified from some forms of Mysticism. Occasionally, on the other hand, the reverse happens, and the ' tremendum ' may in turn occupy the mind without the ' mysterium '.
This latter, then, needs special consideration on its own account. We need an expression for the mental reaction peculiar to it; and here, too, only one word seems appropriate though, as it is strictly applicable only to a ' natural' state of mind, it has here meaning only by analogy : it is the word ' stupor'. Stupor is plainly a different thing from tremor ; it signifies blank wonder, an astonishment that strikes us dumb, amazement absolute.1 Taken, indeed, in its purely natural sense, ' mysterium ' would first mean merely a secret or a mystery in the sense of that which is alien to us, uncom-prehended and unexplained ; and so far ' mysterium ' is itself merely an ideogram, an analogical notion taken from the natural sphere, illustrating, but incapable of exhaustively rendering, our real meaning. Taken in the religious sense, that which is ' mysterious' is—to give it perhaps the most striking expression—the 'wholly other' (Qarepov, anyud, alie-num), that which is quite beyond the sphere of the usual, the intelligible, and the familiar, which therefore falls quite outside the limits of the ' canny', and is contrasted with it, tilling the inind with blank wonder and astonishment.
This is already to be observed on the lowest and earliest level of the religion of primitive man, where the numinous consciousness is but an inchoate stirring of the feelings. What
is really characteristic of this stage is not—as the theory of
: Compare also 1 ob^tupefacere'. Still mora exact equivalents are the Greek dappis and Oafxlitiv. The sound 6a¡i¡1 (thamb) excellently depicts this state of mind of blank, staring wonder. And the difference between the moments of 'stupor'and 'tremor'is very finely suggested by the passage, Mark x. 32 (cf. infra, p. 1C3). On the other hand, what was said above of the facility and rapidity with which the two moments merge and blend is also markedly true of flu^Sor, which then becomes a classical term for the (ennobled) awe of the numinous in general. So Mark xvi. 5 is rightly translated by Luther ' und sie entsetzten sich', and by the English Authorized Version 1 and they were affrighted '.
Atimism would have us believe—that men are here concerned with curious entities, called ' souls' or ' spirits', which happen to be invisible. Representations of spirits and similar conceptions are rather one and all early modes of 'rationalizing' a precedent experience, to which they are subsidiary. They are attempts in some way or other it little matters how, to guess the riddle it propounds and their effect is at the same time always to weaken and deaden the experience itself. They are the source from which springs, not religion, but the rationalization of religion, which often ends by constructing such a massive structure of theory and such a plausible fabric of interpretation, that the ' mystery ' is frankly excluded.1 Both imaginative ' Myth ', when developed into a system and infcel-Sctualist Scholastic! m, when worked out to its completion are methods by which the fundamental fact of religious experience is, as it were, simply rolled out so thin and tlat as to be finally eliminated altogether.
Even on the lowest level of religious development the essential characteristic is therefore to be sought elsewhere than in the appearance of 'spirit' representations. It lies rather, we repeat, in a peculiar ' moment' of consciousness, to wit, the stupor before something 'wholly other', whether sueh an other be named 'spirit' or 'daemon' or 'deva', or be left without any name. Xor does it make any difference i:i this re pect whether, to interpret and preserve their apprehension of this 'other', men coin original imagery of their own or a lapt imaginations drawn frum the world of legend, the fabrications of fancy apart from and prior to any stirrings of daemonic dread.
In accordance with laws of which we shall have to speak again later, this feeling or consciousness of the ' wholly other' will attach itself to, or sometimes be indirectly aroused by means of, objects w hich are already puzzling upon the ' natural' plane, or Ire of a surprising or astounding character; such as extraordinary phenomena or astonishing occurrences or things
1 A spirit or soul that lias been conceived and comprelii nded no lunger prompts to ' shudderingaB is profed b) SginU»»K*m. Iiut it thereby ceases to be of interest for the psychology of religion.
in inanimate nature, in the animal world, or among men. But here once more we are dealing with a case of association between things specifically different—the ' numinous ' and the ' natural' moment of consciousness—and not merely with the gradual enhancement of one of them—the ' natural'—till it becomes the other. As in the case of ' natural fear' and ' daemonic dread' already considered, so here the transition from natural to daemonic amazement is not a mere matter of degree. But it is only with the latter that the complementary expression ' mysteriuin ' perfectly harmonizes, as will be felt perhaps more clearly in the case of the adjectival form ' mysterious '. No one says, strictly and in earnest, of a piece of clockwork that is beyond his grasp, or of a science that he cannot understand : ' That is " mysterious " to me.'
It might be objected that the mysterious is something which is and remains absolutely and invariably beyond our understanding, whereas that which merely eludes our understanding for a time but is perfectly intelligible in principle should be called, not a ' mystery', but merely a ' problem But this is by no means an adequate account of the matter. The truly ' mysterious' object is beyond our apprehension and comprehension, not only because our knowledge has certain irremovable limits, but because in it we come upon something inherently ' wholly otherwhose kind and character are incommensurable with our own. and before which we therefore recoil in a wonder that strikes us chill and numb.1
This may be made still clearer by a consideration of that degraded offshoot and travesty of the genuine ' numinous' dread or awe, the fear of ghosts. Let us try to analyse this experience. We have already specified the peculiar feeling-
1 In Confessions, ii. 9. 1, Augustine very strikingly suggests this stiffening, benumbing element of the ' wholly other' and its contrast to the rational aspect of the numen ; the 'dissimile ' and the ' simile '.
■ Quid est illud, quod interlucet mihi et percutit cor meum sine lacsione ? Et inhorresco et inardesco. Inhorresco, in quantum dissim<lis ei sum. Inaidesco, in quantum siinilis ei sum.'
('What is that which gleams through me and smites my heart without wounding it? 1 am both a-shudder and a-glow. A-shudder, in so far as I am unlike it, a-glow in so far as I am like it.')
element of ' flrea<l ' aroused by the ghost as that of ' gvue ', grisly horror (i/rusfhi, (jr"k<t n). Now this 'grue' obviously contributes something to the attraction which ghost-stories exercise, in so far, namely, as the relaxation of tension ensuing upon our release from it relieves the mind in a pleasant and agreeable way. So far, however, it is not really the ghost itself that gives us pleasure, but the fact that we are rid of it. But obviously this is quite insufficient to explain the ensnaring attraction of the ghost-story. The ghost's real attraction rather consists in this, that of itself and in an uncommon degree it entices the imagination, awakening strong interest and curiosity ; it is the weird thing itself that allures the fancy. But it does this, not because it is ' something long ami whit«' (as some one once defined a ghost), nor yet through any of the positive and conceptual attributes which fan"ies abnut jrhosts have invented, but because it is a thing that 'doesn't really exist at all', the 'wholly other', something w hich bus no place i:i our scheme of reality but belongs to an absolutely different one, and which at the same time arouses an irrepressible interest in the mind.
But that which is perceptibly true in the fear of ghosts, which is, alter all, only a caricature of the genuine thing, is in a far stronger sense true of the 'daemonic' experience itself, of which the fear of ghosts is a mere off-shoot. And while, following this main line of development, this element in the numinous consciousness, the feeling of the - wholly other', is heightened and clarified, its higher modes of manifestation come into being which set the numinous object in contrast not only to everything wonted and familiar (i.e., in the end, to nature in general), thereby turning it into the ' supernatural', but finally to the world itself and thereby exalt it to the 'supramundane', that w hieh is above the whole world-order.
In Mystici-m we have in the ' Beyond' ((nixttya) again the strongest stressing and over-stressing of those non-rational elements which are already inherent in all religion. Mysticism continues to its extreme point this contrasting of the numinous object (the numen), as the ' wholly other with ordinary exper once. Not content with contrasting it with all that is of nature or this world, Mysticism concludes by contrasting it with Being itself and all that ' is', and finally actually calls it ' that which is nothing '. By this ' nothing' is meant not only that of which nothing can be predicated, but that which is absolutely and intrinsically other than and opposite of everything that is and can be thought. But while eroggerat-ing to the point of paradox this negation and contrast—the ordy means open to conceptual thought to apprehend the 'mysterium'—Mysticism at the same time retains the 2^>ositive quality of the 'wholly other' as a very living factor in its over-brimming religious emotion.
But what is true of the strange ' nothingness ' of our mystics holds good equally of the ' sunyam' and the ' sunyatathe ' void ' and ' emptiness ' of the Buddhist mystics. This aspiration for the ' void' and for becoming void, no 1ms than the aspiration of our western mystics for ' nothing ' and for becoming nothing, must seem a kind of lunacy to any one who has no inner sympathy for the esoteric language and ideograms of Mysticism, and lacks the matrix from which these come ncccs-sarily to birth. To such an one Buddhism itself will be simply a morbid sort of pessimism. But in fact the ' void' of the eastern, like the' nothing' of the western, mystic is a numinous ideogram of the ' wholly other'.
These terms, ' supernatural ' and ' transcendent' (literally, supramundane : uberweltlich), give the appearance of positive attributes, and, as applied to the mysterious, they appear to divest the ' mysterium ' of its originally negative meaning and to turn it into an affirmation. On the side of conceptual thought this is nothing more than appearance, for it is obvious that the two terms in question are merely negative and exclusive attributes with reference to ' nature ' and the ' world ' or cosmos respectively. But on the side of the feeling-content it is otherwise; that is in very truth positive in the highest degree, though here too, as before, it cannot be rendered explicit in conceptual Berms. It is through this positive feeling-content that the concepts of the ' transcendent' and ' supernatural' become forthwith designations for a unique ' wholly other ' reality and quality, something of whose spccial character we can feel, without being able to give it clear conceptual expression.
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