Info

conjuration, especially when they are heard intoned in the peculiar sacred sing-song in which such lines are commonly recited. The note of magic and mystery is very palpable in them. As for the translation, it is usual to render Ascaryam by ' strange ', ' wondrous ' a thing of wonder ' or ' marvel ' ; but we should perhaps catch the emotional accent in the lines more exactly as follows :

As 'wholly other' doth one gaze upon it (sc. Àtman). He speaketh of the 'wholly other', who speaketh of the Atman. Something ' wholly other ' hath he learned, who hath learned the Atman.

Yet none, albeit he hath learned it, may come to know it.

But, however they be rendered into another language, there is living in these old phrases a profoundly numinous self-feeling, which still retains a trace of the ' stupor ' before an apparition of spirits. And it is continued where the Gita (2. 25) designates the Atman the ' acintya ', i. e. that which is incomprehensible by thought. In this it is exactly like the ' fundus animae ', the 'spark', ' Synderesis', or 'Inner Abyss' of our own Western mystics. In both cases we have, surviving in an ennobled form, the primal awe and shrinking before the presence of ' âicaryam ' and ' adbhutam ', the haunting presence that prompts the earliest numinous feelings. For, as an old mystic tells us, the soul and its bottommost depth lie hidden away, ineffable as God himself— ' so that no human skill ever attains to be able to know what the Soul is in its bottommost depth. For that a supernatural skill is needed. It is what is without a name.' And 'the heights and depths which are disclosed in these Men can be grasped by no human sense or reason, for they surpass in their profundities all understanding

Finally, it may be said that we catch a last reflection of the numinous wonder in the wonder, one might slmost say in the eager curiosity, with which Augustine roves through the chambers of the soul, even when he is pursuing ' psychological ' discussion. He feels that he has a story of marvel to tell when he describes the soul. His psychology is half ' numinology '. Cf. Confessions, x. 6-27.

The clearer insight into the inmost marvel of the soul is not set free as a sort of reflex : it comes in the experience as an uprush,

an irruption, a burst of illumination, ' like a flash '. in the English phrase, as a 'suddmj aperçu ', in Goethe's. And so it easily shows the two elements ; on the one hand there is an entry or penetration into consciousness of inspiration, sudden, unmeditated, once and for all achieved ; and on the other hand there is a reminiscence (anamnesis), a recollection of something that was a familiar possession in the obscurity of feeling even before the moment of insight. Both of these elements are indicated in the old Kena-Upanishad, when (iv. 30), after speaking of the Brahman in the significant verses we have already considered (p. 100), the text goes on at once to speak of the Atman, in words which may be rendered thus :

Now in resjiect to the Atman :

It is as though something forces its way into consciousness And consciousness suddenly remembers—

Such a state of mind illustrates the awakening of knowledge of the Atman.

We may compare the saying of Plato, already quoted (p. 98 n.); and, finally, the words of Meister Eckhart :

' Upon this matter a heathen sage hath a fine saying in speech with another sage: " 1 bocome aware of something in me which flashes upon my reason. I perceive of it that it is something, but what it is I cannot conct ive. Only messems that, could I conceive it, I should comprehend all truth."' (\V. Lehmann, Meister Iùkhart, Güttingen, 1!»17, p. 213.)

And the 'obscure' Ileracleitus says: 'Thou canst nut discover the bounds of the soul albeit thou pacest its every road: so deep is its foundation.'

0 0

Post a comment