“Study hard, party hard.” That’s one good way to interpret Hermeticism from our point of view as incarnate humans in our material reality. It also describes my entire college career.
I went to a party school, not gonna lie, but it was a damned good party school. Highly accredited, good marks, good programs, good location; hell, it’s been put into the so-called Kudzu League, being one step under Ivy League colleges. I applied knowing that a good number of my friends were going to the same college, moved into the dorms my first year, met a bunch of people, drank a lot of booze, hooked up with a lot of boys, coded a lot of programs, passed and failed countless assignments, and learned a fuckton about computer science, linguistics, Asian culture, and ethics. It was an awesome time, and I loved it.
I went to college in the first place because, well, it was the proper thing for me to do. I’ve always had an academic streak, I wanted to get out of the house, my family brought me up to go to college, and a lot of the things I wanted to do could be accessible only through college. All things considered, it was the thing I should have done, so I did it. When I applied, I got in with nary a hitch or delay (though FAFSA and student aid forms were and always will be a bitch). I was accepted and was given a student ID and email which I then promptly linked up to my Facebook account; this gave me a kind of “body” to come in contact with the world, both academic and social, at college. I moved in, did my work, did my play, graduated, and moved out of my last college apartment. Now that college is passed and in the past, I’ve stopped using my student ID and email, and my Facebook is now deleted; my “body” I used to interact with the world is effectively dead, but I still keep in contact with my friends and professors. In other words, I’m still me, but I’ve got a new place and “body” now, and new things to do and learn.
College was awesome, but sometimes I had to remind myself why I was there. Some weeks, I’d do too much partying, drinking, staying out late, and hooking up. It took a toll on my grades and ability to function properly, and sometimes affected my ability to stay out and party later on. Other weeks, I’d do too much studying, staying up late in libraries, and focusing on coding and cramming. It kept me a shut-in, I’d drop off the face of the earth to my friends, and eventually burned me out from doing much of anything besides sleep. I came to college to do both: I came to college to learn about computer science and other things, and also to learn about people and how to interact with them (sober or otherwise). If I stayed up all night every night partying, I’d’ve gotten nowhere, and I’d’ve forgetten that I came to college to learn. If I stayed up all night every night studying, I’d’ve gotten nowhere, and I’d’ve forgotten than I came to college to learn. I had to do both, because both were part of the college experience, the experience that I wanted for myself.
In a sense, the desire to learn and experience life in college in a fantastic part of Virginia with awesome people studying amazing subjects? That could be called a kind of love. A love for the place I was in, a love for the things I was doing, a love for the world I found myself in. I went there for a purpose, and Lord knows I enjoyed myself while accomplishing that purpose. That said, I still did my work and graduated on time, accomplished my purpose and ended my time at college. I went home, told a bunch of great stories to my parents (who gave me incessant and unending amounts of aid, financially and otherwise), and then moved out again to start a new life with a new purpose. My love is shifted for another experience and another world.
Some people, though, don’t do the same thing I did. Some people’s love leads them to other paths that don’t include college. Some people get hooked on the partying and drinking and fucking, which leads them to failing classes and spending more time than they should at a four-year university, or flunk out entirely. Some people get hooked on the studying and learning and research, which leads them to pursue more degrees than they intended or than they have money for. Some people just get dealt a bad hand and get caught up in issues not of their own creation, and something happens to their four-year term that expands, contracts, or stops it entirely. Some people get sent to college for their own good instead of out of their own goodwills, That’s just life, after all, and different people get caught up in different things.
Now, all that above? That’s one giant metaphor for human existence, according to some versions of Hermetic philosophy.
According to the Divine Poemander, the text describing the experience that really started Hermes Trismegistus off on his huge godly kick, mankind was made in the image of the Nous, the Mind, the First Father who thought up all of existence in all its forms on all its levels, from the highest and most ethereal to the lowest and most vulgar. The Nous is all-knowing and ubiquitous, since that’s just its job. We’re children of the Nous, so we take after our parent in that we want to know and want to be everywhere, but being only parts of the All, we can’t simply do that by simply knowing and being. To that end, we have to go out into the cosmos from our parent’s wing, we have to explore new places, we have to learn new things, so that we can keep exploring and learning later on.
When we, as ethereal forms fresh from our parent’s house, came upon the district of the cosmos known as Material Reality, we peeked our heads in and wondered what the hell was going on here. The boss of the place, Nature, saw us peeking in and welcomed us onto her turf, giving us material bodies to move around in and get used to her place. While here, Nature played the good hostess and offered us whatever we can take grasp of. “You asked for it.” After all, we came here to explore and figure out what this place was all about, and while we’re here, we’re getting everything we want. That’s pretty damn awesome. We love it here. It’s, literally, love that brought us here, love that created all this for us. It’s the same love that brought mankind here that it was which brought me to college: I wanted to go, I was meant to go, it was good for me to go, so I went.
Of course, we can’t stay here forever. The cosmos in its infinity is big, and Material Reality is only one part of it. We can’t take our bodies with us after we die, and that’s probably a good thing: although having a body helps us in getting around this place, it might just be extra luggage in other places, if not a dead weight that hurts more than helps. Even though this is an awesome place with all manner of fun and games, that’s all it is, and we can’t lose sight of the fact that we’re here to learn and get our Work done. If we dawdle too much enjoying the drinking, partying, and fucking, then we forget that we came here to learn. If we try to get out without actually experiencing this place and getting to know what Material Reality is all about, then we forget that we came here to learn. The whole point of Hermeticism is to learn, do your work, and GTFO, but the thing about your work is that it involves all kinds of learning and in proper amounts. Do that, leave, let your trappings of Material Reality die, and move on to more and different places of the cosmos to keep learning. How else can we figure out what else there is if we don’t explore?