Browsing through the works of Raymond Lull (Alchemist, and Pre – Renaissance polymath) I stumbled across this little chapter from his ultra rare book, Ars Infusa (The Inspired Art) detailing the procedures of achieving Gnosis through rapture. Ultimately a method which boils down to the thorough permeation of ones soul with the living reality of God through contemplation. But don’t expect to be moved by a casual reading, Lull says himself….
…We want to give a method for the human intellect and will to ascend, with God’s help, to contemplating the divine reasons with all the power and strength of the soul, while the human body is well disposed through reasonable fasting so that all bodily obstacles are removed.
This isn’t the usual preamble one expects from writings, but it gives a clue to the total devotion and effort we need to fully achieve Rapture – transcendent Joy. But why then if we are in total control of our emotions and thoughts do we not allow ourselves to experience these states, instead stopping short at contentment? Lull gives us an Alchemysticaly flavored clue;
…While you, a human, keep your acts of understanding [through contemplation] and love raised to this lofty degree, take care that your intellect and will remain free of any dependence on anything from the imagination or the senses. Rather, strive to strip every corporeal thing away from your acts of understanding and love, so that the virtue that your soul exercises in your body can fold back upon itself and through its inner self remembering ascend more powerfully while the body can no longer resist it.
Our attachment to the sensory and phantasmal realms hinders the souls/Selfs natural course towards Rapture, always falling short. Rapture is of course not our destination, just the burning joy we experience leaving the stratosphere of our ‘mundane’ existence.
It is the Selfs desire to understand (literally, to place under) God, which fuels it’s ascent, this requires not conceptualization, but rather the direct perception of reality through Self, and Self through Divine Reality sometimes called Noesis.
The Ars Infusa like many of Lulls works is mind-blowing stuff, but the effort needed is total, and matched only by the reward of a thorough understanding.