Monday, January 10, 2011

Earth and Heaven in this life

The ideas that Blake had about these two things closely resemble similar ideas by the apostle Paul. What Pauline scholars might call a state of grace Blake called Heaven. For both prophets that meant living in a level of close attention to God and to the Way of God.

Both men were conscious of the two ways of life, and for both men the heavenly way became more and more prominent to them until the end of their mortal lives.

Paul wrote, "I have a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better; Blake died singing, his life heavenly at the end.

Blake taught us about states:
In the Book of Urizen Blake used this exression 7 times:
"a state of dismal woe". "
The book takes its name from the character Urizen in Blake's mythology, who represents alienated reason as the source of oppression. The book describes Urizen as the "primeval priest" and tells how he became separated from the other Eternals to create his own alienated and enslaving realm of religious dogma. (Wikepedia)

The seven 'states of dismal woe' represent the seven acts of creation by Urizen, the demiurge in 'seven ages'. In effect Urizen had created Man (his physical form) concentrating on the five senses. (This section of the book is repeated -with some variation- in Night 4 of The Four Zoas.)

Blake, the man, did not consider the physical body as a misfortune, but an encumbrance.

It's interesting that Blake referred to these processes of creation as states, so we might ask what might that mean? Looking farther we find Blake calling Satan a state:

"There is a State namd Satan learn distinct to know O Rahab
The Difference between States & Individuals of those States

The State namd Satan never can be redeemd in all Eternity" (Erdman 380). Hence the State named Satan will be annihilated (completely)at the Last Judgement:
whenever any Individual Rejects Error &
Embraces Truth a Last Judgment passes upon that Individual" which is to say that the earth (the earthly!) facet of that Individual passes away.

Look finally at this extract from Visions of the Last Judgment: some "
say we will not Converse concerning Good & Evil we will live in
Paradise & Liberty You may do so in Spirit but not
in the Body as you pretend till after the Last Judgment
for in Paradise they have no Corporeal <& Mortal>
Body that originated with the Fall & was calld Death &
cannot be removed but by a Last judgment while we are
in the world of Mortality we Must Suffer 'The Whole
Creation Groans to be deliverd' there will always be as
many Hypocrites born as Honest Men & they will always
have superior Power in Mortal Things..."


Susan J. said...

I really like your opening paragraph of this post. I read it pretty early in the day yesterday, and it stayed with me throughout. At one point during the day, I came across an email from a close friend who practices "Sahaj Marg" meditation - it said in part:

"I received a real gift while I was giving someone a sitting in Delhi. I felt at one point as though I was in the garden of her soul, and it was breath-taking to see how beautiful it was. I heard my master's voice saying, 'All souls are beautiful like this.' It is the layers of experience, impressions, hardened tendencies, scar tissue, and so on that cover up this beauty and make it virtually invisible unless we develop the sensitivity to see beneath the layers. Not an easy thing and one I have yet to learn in my daily interactions. Do you remember Eckhart's words about that very sacred part of the soul that even God in his manifest form cannot see? Maybe we should try to read Eckhart again together."

Beautiful. Beautiful.

Susan J. said...

Who or what functions as "primeval priest" today? Not church dogma, or reason, as far as I can tell... to whom do people look for truth and love and the ultimate? The self (not in Blake's sense), maybe, or media and entertainment....

Larry said...

This is really great, Susan. The more you explore Blake, the more you're convinced how truly biblical he is. As I've said before he enabled me to really get into the Bible, not literally, but in every other conceivable way.

Re the Primeval Priest: in 1827, near the end of his life Blake wrote to his long time friend Cumberland (E784); at the end he spoke of "The Mind in which everyone is King & Priest in his own house."

Susan J. said...

"The Mind in which everyone is King & Priest in his own house."

Interesting. And I'm glad that I'm finally getting some clue as to what Blake means by such statements. Bedard's bio is helping me a lot.

Nowadays we've gone way overboard (imho) with everyone just making up whatever reality suits them... and splitting off into factions according to which version we prefer... Blake's grounding in mysticism and Scripture and really struggling to think things through is very different from most folks' version today, of "I'm OK You're OK" or "whatever anyone wants to believe is equally valid."