49 Days of Definitions: Part IX, Definition 1

This post is part of a series, “49 Days of Definitions”, discussing and explaining my thoughts and meditations on a set of aphorisms explaining crucial parts of Hermetic philosophy. These aphorisms, collectively titled the “Definitions from Hermes Trismegistus to Asclepius”, lay out the basics of Hermetic philosophy, the place of Man in the Cosmos, and all that stuff. It’s one of the first texts I studied as a Hermetic magician, and definitely what I would consider to be a foundational text. The Definitions consist of 49 short aphorisms broken down into ten sets, each of which is packed with knowledge both subtle and obvious, and each of which can be explained or expounded upon. While I don’t propose to offer the be-all end-all word on these Words, these might afford some people interested in the Definitions some food for thought, one aphorism per day.

Today, let’s discuss the thirty-sixth definition, part IX, number 1 of 7:

Every man has a notion of God: for if he is a man, he also knows God.  Every man, by the very (fact) that he has (got) a notion of God, is a man, for it is not (given) to every man to have (such a) notion.  Man and the gods and all things (exist) by God and because of man.  God is everything and there is nothing outside God, even that which does not exist: since as to God, there is no such thing, even one single <that he is not himself>.  Man (comes) from another man, the gods (exist) because of God.  Man (exists) because of God; everything because of man.  God rules over man; man over the whole.

As we get towards the final 14 of these definitions, you’ll note that a lot of them get pretty lengthy, but are no less important.  Sections VIII, IX, and X all have seven definitions each, and every word here counts, just as in all the others.  Don’t let the length of these final few definitions get to you; we’re getting into some of the really juicy stuff now that we’ve tackled the foundations and groundwork of Hermetic philosophy according to the Definitions of Hermes Trismegistus.

Remember that, as human beings made as Man in the image of God, we are bestowed with both body and soul.  Heavenly beings and animals also have body and soul, but we’re different from both; heavenly beings are immortal while we are immortal, and neither heavenly beings nor animals are capable of possessing Nous.  True, Nous dwells within all souls, since not only is God within everything and transcendent of it all, but they are only capable of possessing the Nous that directs them according to their nature.  Man, on the other hand, mortal as he is, is capable of possessing the divine Nous that connects him to God and makes him into a god; this is radically different, and separates us out from the rest of all sensible living creatures.  Because we have that sliver of God within ourselves as well as the capability of understanding God, we’re attuned to the realm of divinity in a way that other creatures are not.

Thus, “every man has a notion of God”.  After all, we naturally according to our soul’s urgings would follow and understand God, so it’s pretty much an inborn quality of Man for us to know God, or at least have opinions of God or gods.  It’s natural for us to think in terms of the divine and heaven, even if by our choices and understanding relegate it strictly to a material point of view (not just modern atheistic physicists, but also classical Stoics held this notion).  We are made in the image of God, after all, and thus, if we have any knowledge of ourselves at all, we have at least some knowledge of God: “if he is a man, he also knows God”.  Further, “every man, by the very fact that he has got a notion of God is a man”, which logically follows; this is just a repetition of the nature of Man, made in the image of God and whose perfection rests in knowing God.

But “it is not given to every man to have such a notion”.  How can this be, if we just said that every man has a notion of God?  We’ve seen a similar backtracking before in VIII.4: “every man has a body and a soul…there are two types of Nous: the one is divine and the other belongs to soul…there are certain men who do not have even that of soul”.  Just as some men are incapable of possessing even soul-Nous, there are some men who are incapable of conceiving of God, i.e. the intelligible, i.e. anything not-sensible.  This sounds unfair, but again it’s a result of the maldevelopment of souls and bodies.  Just as not all souls with soul-Nous yet have divine-Nous, there are some souls who do not have soul-Nous…perhaps yet?  Constant development may be needed to even begin the work of becoming human, or we might better say evolution here.  Just as plants are more complex than stones, and animals more complex than plants, humans are more complex than animals; however, humans with soul and without soul-Nous are relegated to the same qualities as animals, just as humans without notions of God are.  These two qualities or accidents may very well be linked, but there’s nothing concrete in the definitions to say as much yet.  Suffice it to say for now that Man includes only those life forms who are both physically and spiritually mature enough to fall into the category of human beings with the capability of reason or Logos.

Again, how do we evolve so as to be physically and spiritually mature enough to wield Logos, have a notion of God, and “want and understand and believe and love” perfection of knowledge of God (VIII.7)?  We must use that which we have: our natures, the world, and everything that exists.  Everything exists for our sake, after all; “whatever God does, he does it for man” (VIII.2) and “everything came into being for you, so that by means of either one being or of the whole, you may understand [God]” (VIII.6).  Thus, “man and the gods and all things exist by God because of man”.  Everything exists for our sake, not just the world which is “man’s possession” (VI.1), but everything intelligible and sensible.

In a sense, God itself exists for our sake.  Consider that everything God does is for the sake of Man; God cannot act on things other than God, because nothing is not God and everything is within and part of God.  God acts on itself and within itself for the sake of Man.  Everything is within God and part of God: “God is everything and there is nothing outside God”, which accords with much of what we’ve seen before (III.1, III.4).  Moreover, there is nothing outside God “even that which does not exist: since as to God, there is no such thing, even one single (thing) that he is not himself”.  Basically, there is no such thing as something that “does not exist”.  God is literally everything: everything that is, everything that isn’t, everything that was and is no longer, everything that isn’t but yet will be, everything that never will be, everything that ever could be, everything that always is, everything that is some combination of the above, everything that is none of the above, and everything that is something else.  God is infinite, without end, encompassing every possibility.  It’s hard to grasp this without any kind of sensible example (being the sensible creatures that we are), but suffice it to say that no matter what you can imagine or how big you imagine it, God is always going to be that and far more.

As a result, all things come from God, since God is “previous to all the intelligible beings” (III.4) and the intelligible world is “larger than everything [sensible]” (III.3).  Whatever exists does so because of God (as creator) and because of Man (as purpose).  Thus, just as “man comes from another man” through birth, “the gods exist because of God”; God creates all heavenly beings, and indeed all beings that exist (or don’t exist).  Similarly, “man exists because of God”, because God creates all things and is the “father of the intelligible”, which itself is the “maker of the body” (III.4).  However, because all things exist because of God, everything also exists because of Man, because God does nothing that is not for Man.  Man may not be the maker of all things, but we are the beneficiary of all things.

As beneficiaries, we basically own that which exists for us; thus, “man [rules] over the whole”, referring to the whole of existence, including the world.  We already know that “man’s possession is the world” (VI.1), and that Man has as much power as the gods themselves do (VIII.6), especially since we ourselves can become gods (VIII.7).  However, we are not all-powerful; that alone goes to God, and “God rules over man”.  After all, the scope of Man’s action is far less than what God does (VIII.2), as well as our knowledge and understanding of things.  However, God is effectively the only thing that truly rules over the immortal being of Man, since we are made in the image of God by God.

49 Days of Definitions: Part VIII, Definition 6

This post is part of a series, “49 Days of Definitions”, discussing and explaining my thoughts and meditations on a set of aphorisms explaining crucial parts of Hermetic philosophy. These aphorisms, collectively titled the “Definitions from Hermes Trismegistus to Asclepius”, lay out the basics of Hermetic philosophy, the place of Man in the Cosmos, and all that stuff. It’s one of the first texts I studied as a Hermetic magician, and definitely what I would consider to be a foundational text. The Definitions consist of 49 short aphorisms broken down into ten sets, each of which is packed with knowledge both subtle and obvious, and each of which can be explained or expounded upon. While I don’t propose to offer the be-all end-all word on these Words, these might afford some people interested in the Definitions some food for thought, one aphorism per day.

Today, let’s discuss the thirty-fourth definition, part VIII, number 6 of 7:

You have the power of getting free since you have been given everything.  Nobody envies you.  Everything came into being for you, so that by means of either one (being) or of the whole, you may understand the craftsman.  For you have the power of not understanding with your (own) will; you have the power of lacking faith and being misled, so that you will understand the contrary of the (real) beings.  Man has as much power as the gods.  Only man (is) a free living (being), only he has the power of good and evil.

At last, Hermes takes on the role of Captain Planet and tells us definitively that the power is ours!  What power is that?  That of “getting [ourselves] free”.  But free from what?  That’s something that’s only been hinted at before: lack of divine-Nous (VIII.4, V.2), which is that which we seek in order to perfect ourselves by means of perfecting our souls (VI.3).  After all, our deficiency or evil is ignorance of God, since our grace and good is in knowledge (VII.5) of the world (VI.3, VIII.4).  We free ourselves from being deprived of and separated consciously from God to rejoin God as God, while those who are not (yet) free are those who “have gone astray” and worship human opinion (VIII.1, VIII.3) instead of worshiping truth and God reasonably (V.2, V.3, VIII.3).  By being in our current body-soul state, we end up with good and evil (VII.4), and having to choose between them.  While this choice is apparent down here, it’s only a reflection of true existence of God (VIII.5), and it’s ultimately a false choice, since such things only exist down here in this material realm.  By freeing ourselves of this false choice, we return to the original grace and plenitude of real knowledge, of harmony with the divine.

But how can this be accomplished? We must strive to become godly by emulating and becoming close to God because we “have been given everything”; after all, our possession “is the world” (VI.1), and it’s our duty to fully explore and understand the world to complete ourselves (VII.2), by means of which we understand our body, thence our soul, thence God (VIII.4).  Literally everything that exists, especially within the world but also beyond it, exists for our own sake (VIII.5), because Nous dwells within us and wants us to rejoin fully with Nous.  See how all these definitions are to building upon itself into a cohesive philosophy and guide to salvation?  It’s been taking some time, but now we start to see how we’re able and meant to do the Work we’re called to do.

Does that make us, as humans and part of Man, special?  After all, we’re the only beings capable of being endowed with Nous.  In a sense, yes, but not in the sense that we have to jealously guard our specialness.  “Nobody envies [us]”, but what does that mean, really?  People often confuse jealousy and envy, but the two are subtly different: jealousy is desire to keep others from possessing something of our own, while envy is desire to obtain something that someone else has that we lack.  Thus, if someone were to envy us, they’d envy us for either our capability of having Nous or our actual obtaining of Nous, but Hermes tells us that nobody envies us for that.  Why?  Well, other beings without the capability of Nous don’t know any better.  Of the animate creatures, animals only concern themselves with themselves and don’t process death or birth like we do, and the heavenly beings are already immortal and detached from the material realm; while they are part of God, they are without the reason that enables them to realize it or perform acts that only humans can.  Of the inanimate creatures, plants and stones…well, they’re plants and stones.  They don’t do much of anything in terms of motion, since they have no animating soul.

But what about other humans?  Well, other humans are similarly capable of possessing Nous and themselves have soul-Nous to link them back to the divine Nous/God, so they can’t envy anyone else for something they already have.  (The humans who lack soul-Nous, like those mentioned in VIII.4, are basically relegated to the realm of animals, which sounds cruel, but that’s just a result of the maldevelopment of body and soul.)  We’re all given the starting chance, capability, and resources to apply ourselves to our goal and to our Work, so we’re all on the same starting line, more or less.  The only thing that some of us might envy others is the possession of divine-Nous within ourselves, those who have been bestowed Nous through their use of reason.  But then, they worked for it.  They used the chances and resources they had that everyone has.  They earned what they did and completed their objective.

Why should other people who strive for obtaining divine-Nous envy those who have already obtained it?  They shouldn’t; to do so is unreasonable, and inhibits their progress towards obtaining divine-Nous through reasonable work.  Thus, if they do, they’re not really striving for divine-Nous as they ought, and end up going astray and ending up content in their own world of human opinion and unreasonable speech.  What about those who don’t bother striving for divine-Nous?  These people (and I have materialist atheists who call all religion and spirituality hokum in mind) don’t see the point in any such endeavor, and thus mock those who strive and have striven for divine-Nous; they find that the Nous-strivers and their worldview are mockeries, and they “will be mocked at” in turn (VIII.5).  These, too, end up in a world of human opinion and unreasonable speech (as far as Hermes is concerned), and they will have their own rewards in time; they don’t care nor work towards Nous, so they don’t envy the Nous-strivers anyway.  Thus, nobody can really envy those who strive for Nous, either for their starting point or their destination.

Again, we humans have the power to free ourselves from mortality and lack of God.  Everything that exists exists, in effect, for us: “everything came into being for you, so that by means of either one being or of the whole, you may understand the craftsman”.  Nothing in this cosmos or Creation was created in vain or for uselessness, because “whatever God does, he does it for man” (VIII.2).  Further, by inspecting the nature of the world, we come to know truth, and truth is the existence and body of the intelligible without body.  Truth is God, and truth was made by God; God is the “craftsman” (VIII.5), and by understanding God’s work, we understand God.  This, again, is both “knowledge of the beings” (VI.3) and knowledge of God (VII.5), and this is the perfection of the soul, our aim and directive.  We can either inspect just one thing that exists, such as ourselves or the nature of a particular function of the world, or we inspect all things that operate as a whole, but either way it leads to God.  Inspecting any nature leads to truth (VIII.5), and since truth is intelligible, truth has no body, no quantity nor quality as bodies do.  Truth is, in effect, divinely simple: there are no parts to Truth, but there is only Truth.  It’s like understanding the entirety of the human body to understand how it develops, or a single cell and its DNA which represents all of it in a compressed manner; both represent human nature in their own ways at different levels.  All of the things that exist are not really distinguished from each other except in appearance, since all things are part of and within God, and also God itself.  So long as we actually do the work of understanding, we’ll get to our goal.

Of course, we have the choice to do the opposite, as well: “for you have the power of not understanding with your own will”.  Remember that as a soul descends into the body, it gains good and evil as well as quantity and quality (VII.4), and we can be good and choose knowledge or we can be evil and choose ignorance (VII.5).  Further, we have the “faculty of killing”, which is to say that we have the ability to continue death and mortality for ourselves or we can shed it by returning to our immortal natures.  It’s all up to us, really, and goes hand-in-hand with what we understand and what we choose to understand: “you have the power of lacking faith and being mislead, so that you understand the contrary of the real beings”.  If the perfection of the soul is knowledge of the beings, then the imperfection of the soul is the lack of knowledge of beings, or believing other things that aren’t real or true.  In either case, we unreasonably distance ourselves from knowledge, and therefore lengthen our path to perfection or shut it down entirely into perdition (V.2).

We can choose salvation and knowledge or perdition and ignorance; we can choose Heaven or Hell for ourselves; we can choose Life or Death.  This is no trivial thing; these are things that were only ascribed to major powers before Hermeticism, and indeed, Hermes says that “man has as much power as the gods”.  We are powerful in similar, though not the same, ways as the gods are; we own and use and work with and live in the world because it is our possession, just as we and the gods are God’s possession.  The world is the lot of Man, and we essentially rule it and manage it.  Our powers are vast, and incredibly potent, though they should not be confused with that of the other gods or heavenly beings.  For instance, Venus is the goddess of love, lust, beauty, and luxury; she bestows these things, because she is these things.  She does what she is, and thus acts according to her nature.  We have our own natures and our own powers, and we use them in similar ways on our own targets.

However, unlike gods, Man is different in that we don’t always act for the Good like other living creatures do: “only man is a free living being, only he has the power of good and evil”.  Venus does what she does because that’s what she is; she can do no other, and she can choose no other thing to do.  She has her own mode of operation, her own directive, and nothing that inhibits her from doing it.  Man, however, doesn’t have to follow his nature and soul-Nous; we can choose good and evil, knowledge or ignorance, life or death.  In that sense, Man is given free will in a manner utterly unlike other living creatures.  Plants can only grow and synthesize energy; animals can only act according to instinct; gods can only act according to their divine natures.  Man, however, can act according to or against his nature, for better or for worse.  And it’s pretty clear at this point what those choices are and manifest as, and which of those choices we should be picking.

49 Days of Definitions: Part VIII, Definition 3

This post is part of a series, “49 Days of Definitions”, discussing and explaining my thoughts and meditations on a set of aphorisms explaining crucial parts of Hermetic philosophy. These aphorisms, collectively titled the “Definitions from Hermes Trismegistus to Asclepius”, lay out the basics of Hermetic philosophy, the place of Man in the Cosmos, and all that stuff. It’s one of the first texts I studied as a Hermetic magician, and definitely what I would consider to be a foundational text. The Definitions consist of 49 short aphorisms broken down into ten sets, each of which is packed with knowledge both subtle and obvious, and each of which can be explained or expounded upon. While I don’t propose to offer the be-all end-all word on these Words, these might afford some people interested in the Definitions some food for thought, one aphorism per day.

Today, let’s discuss the thirty-first definition, part VIII, number 3 of 7:

Those who worship idols (worship plain) pictures.  For if they worshipped with knowledge, they would not have gone astray, but since they do not know how they should worship, they have gone astray, (far) from piety.  Man has the faculty of killing, God of giving life.

More about gods and divinity in this definition, to follow up with the previous one.  In the previous definition, we talked about the difference between the “body” of God and other bodies: other bodies have things external to them, so they sense external things.  God, however, has nothing external to itself, and so by definition cannot sense anything external nor does God have a means to do so, but still has sensations (literally all the sensations) within itself.  God wants us to know God, and to do that we have to properly listen to our souls’ needs to understand Logos, by which we come to attain Nous, by which we know God.

However, if we distract ourselves with “human opinion” (VIII.1) and talk without reason for the sake of other humans (“speech without Nous is a finding of man”, V.3), then we end up getting mislead.  We end up mistaking our human opinions and human talk for true divinity, and end up mixing IHVH or Jesus or Aten with God who’s actually, truly, wholly the Whole.  We shouldn’t confuse the two, since the Whole/God/Nous is far more than any one entity (and, for that matter, all possible entities), but that’s where human speech without Nous can lead us.  If we consider any such human creation to be a human construction, then we can liken these not-God gods to idols, and “those who worship idols worship plain pictures”.  God is not in an idol or any one god; God is God, and nothing else is God though is a part of God.

Why would we get gods and God mixed up?  Because of our lack of knowledge and Nous, which leads us to say unreasonable, non-Logos things (V.2), which leads our bodies astray despite the urgings of our souls (VII.3).  Thus, “since they do not know how they should worship, they have gone astray, far from piety”.  Those who have knowledge, and therefore Logos and potentially Nous, worship God, either by means of the idols or through some other means, but they do not worship the idols themselves.  In more Christian terms, that’d be like worshipping a saint, which is a big no-no.  You may venerate saints, but you never worship a saint; worship goes to God, and the saints are approached to get to God through intercession and aid.  In this worldview, then, only God is worthy of worship; all else is not God, so why should we worship it?  Just because it may be a god does not make it the God, in the Hermetic sense.

Compare what the Asclepius says (chapter XXXVII, parts 1 and 2):

Less to be wondered at are the things said of man,—though they are [still] to be admired. Nay, of all marvels that which wins our wonder [most] is that man has been able to find out the nature of the Gods and bring it into play.

Since, then, our earliest progenitors were in great error,—seeing they had no rational faith about the Gods, and that they paid no heed unto their cult and holy worship,—they chanced upon an art whereby they made Gods [for themselves]. To this invention they conjoined a power that suited it, [derived] from cosmic nature; and blending these together, since souls they could not make, [they set about] evoking daimons’ souls or those of angels; [and thus] attached them to their sacred images and holy mysteries, so that the statues should, by means of these, possess the powers of doing good and the reverse.

Again, even if our human opinion of divinity is good, it itself is not the end goal of it all.  That’d be like confusing a raft to cross a river en route to a city as the end destination itself.  If we worship idols for the sake of their own worship, we end up worshipping things that are not God, and that’s no bueno, since this is how people “have gone astray, far from piety”.  Humans worshipping, effectively, their own opinions of divinity is effectively humans acting for the sake of humans; “what man does, he does it for soul/himself” (VIII.2).

The thing is, though, that we have a choice in this.  We don’t have to end up with our opinions of divinity as the end result of all this philosophy and sophistry; we can heed our soul and act properly according to it for the sake of Logos and Nous, or we can ignore it or distort the urges of our soul and act for the sake of ourselves and humanity.  The former leads us to Nous, while the latter leads us back to the world (V.2).  The realm of Nous, the immortal and eternal realm of God, is knowledge and therefore perfection; ignorance and going astray from God, however, leads us back to the world, and therefore to death and destruction and perdition (VII.5).  If we keep talking without Logos and are content with it, we then are complacent with the mortal, destructible realm and are headed right back to it.  If we conceive speech with Nous and Logos, we end up with knowing God, and then while our bodies may die (as they should), that which is the essence of Man will live forever as opposed to enduring death.

So what do we choose?  Do we choose to seek life, or seek death?  Seeking death is effectively the natural course of Man without Nous, but God chooses to give Nous to those who earnestly seek it and are worthy of it.  Thus, “man has the faculty of killing, God of giving life”.  Yes, humanity has the power to kill whatever’s mortal, but it also has the power to kill off ourselves through our own action or inaction.  We, however, do not have the power of giving (eternal) life, which is something that only God does by bestowing Nous upon Man.  If we follow this comparison through, though, we end up saying that God does not have the power to kill.  But if God is all things, God is therefore in control of it all, isn’t it?  Shouldn’t offing something be within the power of God, especially if by God’s own choice God does not give Nous to Man?

Not at all, actually.  “Whatever God does, he does it for Man” (VIII.2); God does nothing except to benefit us.  If God does not bestow Nous upon someone, it’s because that someone has not yet earned it or is turning it away; according to the definitions, God is precluded from acting against Man, even by God’s own inaction.  After all, if we are made in the image of God, why should God maim or prevent us from becoming God, which is our own perfection?  For us to not reach perfection is out of God’s power; we have that power, and it’s up to us to willingly (whether in these terms or not) turn away from Logos and Nous or to accept it by acting according to how we ought according to our souls’ directives.  We have more to listen to than the chatter of humans, after all.

49 Days of Definitions: Part VIII, Definition 2

This post is part of a series, “49 Days of Definitions”, discussing and explaining my thoughts and meditations on a set of aphorisms explaining crucial parts of Hermetic philosophy. These aphorisms, collectively titled the “Definitions from Hermes Trismegistus to Asclepius”, lay out the basics of Hermetic philosophy, the place of Man in the Cosmos, and all that stuff. It’s one of the first texts I studied as a Hermetic magician, and definitely what I would consider to be a foundational text. The Definitions consist of 49 short aphorisms broken down into ten sets, each of which is packed with knowledge both subtle and obvious, and each of which can be explained or expounded upon. While I don’t propose to offer the be-all end-all word on these Words, these might afford some people interested in the Definitions some food for thought, one aphorism per day.

Today, let’s discuss the thirtieth definition, part VIII, number 2 of 7:

Divine bodies do not have access paths for sensations, for they have sensations within themselves, and (what is more) they are themselves their own sensations.  What God does, man does not do it; and whatever God does, he does it for man; but what man does, he does it for soul.

This definition shifts gears a bit from the previous one, but it helps to form an overall thesis with the rest of the definitions in set VIII.  In the last definition, Hermes mentioned that there “is a god who has come into being according to human opinion”: much as we have set up laws and regulations for ourselves in our endeavor to be human, we have also set up religions and gods for ourselves for the same endeavor.  This need not be any one god or pantheon of gods, but any concept of divinity that we have is an artifice like our own laws.  However, these are just gods that have arisen out of human opinion, not by Divinity itself, and our own knowledge of Divinity is stunted to say little, so how can we make something comparable?

Basically, we can’t.  This definition describes some of the qualities of divinity by talking about “divine bodies”, which is a term I understand to be a synonym for the Whole of creation itself, which is God.  We read that “divine bodies do not have access paths for sensations, for they have sensations within themselves”.  Basically, God himself does not sense though he has sensations inside.  The use of a sense to sense sensations (sorry for the unfortunate phrasing) implies that there is something that senses and that there is another thing that is sensed.  In other words, there is a duality set up here: sensor and sensed.  The sensed has to be external to the sensor in order for the sensor to sense the sensed; otherwise, there’s nothing to sense.

Consider humans: humans exist in the world, and there are lots of things in the world that humans are not.  Humans can sense these things because they themselves are external of other things, just as those other things are external of humans.  We can sense cold water, because cold water exists outside ourselves.  We can sense material processes going on inside us, too, like the passage of gas and food waste through the intestines or the pressure of blood in our heads, but that’s because the actual sensory organs that deliver this information to the brain are separate from the things that produce these sensations.  In other words, human bodies are not one cohesive undifferentiated unit, but a mass and combination of many different parts that interact with each other to form something resembling a whole.

God, however, is much different.  God himself does not sense things; what would there be to sense?  “Nothing is uninhabited by God” (III.1); “God is within himself [and] the world is in God” (VII.5).  There is nothing external to God, because God is literally everything that is and could be, everything actual and everything potential.  Because there is nothing external to God, there is nothing that God can sense externally; there is no means by which God can sense something else, because there is no “something else”, and therefore no means by which he can sense (my interpretation of “access paths”).  However, on the other hand, everything that exists exists within God, including things with sense.  All possible sensations, all sensors, all the sensed things, every means of sensation exists within God.  Add to it, God “sees everything” (V.1), and to God “nothing is incomprehensible” (V.2).  However, everything that exists is only part of God, thus God only sees, comprehends, and knows itself.  Because of that, God is constantly experiencing and knowing itself; thus, it can be said that God senses himself, and therefore God is God’s own sensations.  Everything exists in God to be experienced by God; it’s like a weird bird’s-eye recursive exploration of all possible configurations of matter and energy and thought.

So, that which is God only ever experiences itself, since there’s nothing else that can be experienced by anything.  However, the gods that have come into being “according to human opinion” aren’t presented that way at all; they fight amongst each other, they listen to other things, they’re swayed by drink and dance and sex and war, they live in only one part of the world.  The gods of humanity are much closer to humanity than they are to God, and do many of the same things as humans do.  In this way, then, according to the definition of “divine bodies” given above, the gods of humanity aren’t truly divine, not in the same sense that God is.  I don’t intend for this to be a discouragement or refutation of non-Abrahamic or pagan gods in any way.  Any god that does not act and have the qualities of God according to the Definitions is, simply, not God.  They’re still gods and heavenly beings with bodies, sensations, and the rest, but are not God.  Thus, Dionysus, Osiris, IHVH, and all the rest of the gods invented and named by humanity are all gods but are not God, though they exist within him and as a means to him.  God is something far bigger and far more encompassing than any one concept, entity, name, or act.

It is the acts of God that transcend all other acts; God literally does everything all the time, across all of creation.  There’s a lot more that God does that Man cannot do: we cannot move the stars, nor create the weather (no matter how much technology we try to throw into faking it), nor absolutely control nature.  These things are not in the realm of Man to do; thus, “what God does, man does not do it”.  Moreover, “whatever God does, he does it for man”; this is a profound statement, and is one of the clearest pointers to the fact that all of the cosmos, all of creation is geared…for us.  For humanity.  For Man.  We are alone in the cosmos to be made in the image of God, we alone given Nous, we who can be both mortal and immortal.  And God favors us with this, and with the rest of the cosmos as well.  After all, we are alone among the living creatures to belong to all the parts of the world (VII.2), and it is our job to perfect ourselves by living as such and coming to know all the things that are, i.e. God.  And, since God knows everything inside itself, God therefore knows (only) God; God helps us to know God by giving us Nous, which is also God, thus making us into God.  Though it seems cyclical, what this all boils down to is this: God wants us to excel and works everything in the cosmos toward that end because we are, in effect, God.  God experiences itself, after all; why wouldn’t God also work for itself to benefit itself?  By benefitting Man, God benefits God.  God wants us to become God.

However, we humans don’t always see it that way.  While God acts and does everything for humanity, “what man does, he does it for soul”.  That last part, “for soul”, can also be translated “for himself”; in either case, the gist is that we humans act for ourselves and for our own good, whatever we think that good might be (which might be good or bad towards our souls, depending on whether we listen more to our souls and Logos than to external humans).  We don’t often consider the bigger picture, generally because we lack the sense to know what the bigger picture holds.  We don’t necessarily act for God, because we lack knowledge of what God is, though we have some ideas and opinions about it (the “god who has come into being according to human opinion”).  Because we’re so individualized and seemingly separated, and because we have such an external-centric view of the world (“I am not that”) rather than a cohesive unified Whole (“tat tvam asi“), we think in terms of me-first and not All-first.  Thus, what we do, we “do it for [ourselves]”.

Keep in mind that what we said about the divinity of God not sensing but having sense doesn’t just contrast with what we consider to be gods.  It also contrasts with humanity ourselves.  We sense other things that we perceive to be not-us; God has no such means since there is nothing not-God.  Sense is important here, because it’s sense that helps to direct our actions.  Because we sense things to be external to us, we perceive it better to act for ourselves than for others for various reasons (avarice, gluttony, self-preservation, etc.).  Likewise, we act for our own opinions of the gods, rather than God itself.  God, however, has all sensations in itself, and so is not able to act for itself in opposition to anything else; God acts for God, because that’s all there is.  Because Man is made in the image of God and bestowed with the Mind of God, God can be said to act for God by means of acting for Man; thus, “whatever God does, he does it for man”.