There is a book that has come down to us from hoary antiquity. It is The Divine Pymander of Hermes, translated from the Arabic by Dr. Everard (1650) and published anew in 1973 (Secret Doctrine Reference Series, Wizards Bookshelf, San Diego). What emerges from it is so inspiring that it is small wonder that the book has been time and again translated now in this, now that country, and in times different from ours. It is a precious link with the far, far past, the Egypt before the Pharaohs.
When we read the book only with our brain-mind, much in it seems incomprehensible. However, if we approach it intuitively, one of the first things that comes over to us is the thought of the existence of intelligences possessing an immense direct knowledge with regard to the universe in which we live: who know how it came into being, know the causes which bring forth all the effects on our earth. Further, these intelligences also know what way humanity has still to go and how every individual can pursue his way more quickly by conforming to the light side of nature, by moving in the direction of those who are in the possession of this knowledge.
And then, suddenly, there is a direction, an assistance from out of that world of Knowledge that can serve as an Ariadne's thread to find our way out of the labyrinth of our present existence:
Ascend with the greatest sagacity from the earth to heaven, and then again descend to the earth, and unite together the powers of things superior and things inferior. Thus, you will obtain the glory of the whole world and obscurity will fly away from you.
Part of an inscription of the "Smaragdine Tablet" found in very early MSS., this is an injunction to let our aspirations soar to the highest regions in ourselves which we know are there: "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?"
When we have strengthened ourselves by realizing our kinship with our higher inner center, we have to see to it that the strength thus gained is not lost but is consciously directed to our natural tasks in this world. This direct instruction leads us anew to the understanding that all the Great Teachers are evoking in us — that the purpose of life is to drench the lower spheres of our cosmos with the forces of divinity and thus refine them.
Another important fact that issues from this quotation is that we as human beings are in the middle of this cosmic process. In our own dominion we have to suffuse the lower parts of ourselves with our inner divine powers. And if we consciously aspire to do this in such a way that nothing can deflect us, we will gradually become one of the creative hierarchies of our universe. "Help Nature and work on with her; and Nature will regard thee as one of her creators and make obeisance" (H. P. Blavatsky, The Voice of the Silence).
The way Hermes Trismegistus indicates is so simple that every human being can understand it: Evoke that which is higher in yourself — and be sure it really comes from your higher inner source and not from a lower part of yourself that masquerades as such — and use the given strength to overcome the resistance of the lower, material world. This way of life could also be called the path of Raja Yoga.
It's wonderful that thoughts conceived thousands of years ago could reach us now, in this time, and be just as inspiring as if they were spoken in our presence. We today can no longer express our thankfulness to Hermes for this practical guidance in handling our lives. He must have been one of the Great Ones who fulfill the immense task of permeating our human world with their compassion, their knowledge, that can reach us only as we in our turn follow their lead.
(From Sunrise magazine, December 1981/January 1982. Copyright © 1982 by Theosophical University Press)