“Principial” Psychology: The Tripartite Human Psyche in Fall and Restoration
By Charles Upton
The tripartite nature of the human microcosm—Spirit, soul and body—which is directly correlated with the tripartite nature of the created macrocosm—the Celestial/Intelligible/Spiritual plane, the psychic/imaginal plane, and the physical/sensual plane—is reflected on a lower level within the soul or psyche itself. In line with this truth, we can say that the human soul is made up of three primary faculties: the rational mind, the affections, and the will. The rational mind is the psychic reflection of the Intellect; the will is symbolically related to the body, given that it manifests most visibly and concretely as voluntary motion; and the affections are, as it were, the symbol of the psyche as a whole appearing within the psyche. The soul is also host to That which transcends it, the Spiritual Intellect, the Nous. In the original, unfallen soul as God created it, the rational mind turns to the Intellect for its first principles; the will obeys the directives that the rational mind derives from those principles; and the affections empower the will to obey the rational mind both constantly and willingly.
In the fallen soul, however—the soul as conditioned by and identified with the ego—the Spiritual Intellect is veiled; consequently this hierarchy is inverted. The affections are now attracted to inappropriate objects (a state symbolized in Genesis by Eve’s eating of the forbidden fruit) without regard for what the rational mind—in its unfallen state—directs; the will follows these wayward affections by intending and enacting what they have suggested (symbolized Eve’s offering of the forbidden fruit Adam, who also ate); and the rational mind (somewhat like the Serpent in the garden) is pressed into the service of the will, both to suggest to it various ways and methods by which it might transgress, and also to justify and rationalize those trans-gressions. Thus the fallen soul, or addiction to a given vice, is hierarchicalized (in descending order) as Affections/Will/Rationality; the affective/sensual suggestion to sin appears as an impulse that is immediately acted upon, often in almost complete unconsciousness. Temptation to sin on the other hand, not when we impulsively give in to it but when we at least initially resist it (since if we do not resist an impulse we will not recognize it as a temptation), is hierarchicalized Affections/Rationality/Will: the suggestion first appears to the affections, is next “entertained” by the rational mind which will produce arguments for and/or against it, and is finally—unless the temptation is successfully resisted—enacted by the will, either mentally or physically [see extraverted active imagination below]. Karmic culpability only arises when the action enters the third stage; only the will can sin.
But what exactly is this “ego” that defines the “fallen” soul? The ego, in the sense in which I am using the word, is not the conscious personality as it was for Freud and Jung, but rather our attachment to obsessive self-definition, which is inseparable from our act of defining who other people are and what the world is. When the presence and providence of God are veiled for us, self-definition becomes obsessive and fixed; we begin to believe—unconsciously, but nonetheless effectively—that we are self-created; consequently it becomes impossible for us to see that God is continuously re-creating us and the world we live in, and thus to appreciate the uniqueness of each moment. We lose the ability to let the world and other people reveal themselves to us, nor are we really very interested in learning anything new or surprising about ourselves. Life stagnates, and we turn to the various passions, like lust and avarice and anger, in a self-defeating attempt to overcome this stagnation. Furthermore, the knowledge and experience that are necessarily excluded by our fixed definitions of self and world begin to form a large “unconscious mind”—the unconscious being simply all the things about ourselves and the world, and the higher worlds, that we don’t want to be conscious of, individually or collectively, because we don’t want to be conscious of God. Plato’s prescription for dealing with this “unconscious” was anamnesis—”remembering” (or, more literally, “not-not-remembering”). All knowledge is virtually present to us; the need is to actualize it, to return to all we once knew before “heedlessness”, what the Muslims call ghaflah, expelled us from Paradise.
Furthermore, the knowledge and experience excluded by the ego is, paradoxically, inseparable from the ego, a part of the ego; it lies under the sign of obsessive self-definition. The ego is like an iceberg, with a relatively small conscious apex and a large unconscious base. And since it is impossible to take responsibility for things we are unconscious of, and consciously place them in the hands of God, our unconscious becomes chaotic and unruly; it appears as the realm of the passions. Sufi psychology names this unconscious ego (comparable in some ways, according to Sufi teacher Javad Nurbakhsh, to the Freudian id) the nafs al-ammara, the “soul commanding to evil”. If the rational mind is cut off from the Intellect, if the affections rule the will and the will dominates the rational mind instead of serving it, this is entirely due to the fact that our obsessive self-definition has relegated most of our psyche, and most of our potential experience of both this material world and the higher subtle worlds, to the unconscious realm. Every psychopathology of whatever description (excluding of course those conditions obviously based on physical causes) ultimately springs from the fact that the ego, not the Spirit of God, has taken possession of the human center of the psyche, the spiritual Heart. Nor does the fact that this or that mental illness is reflected in physiology and brain chemistry prove that physiology and brain chemistry are the necessarily the causes of it. When we are frightened by an inner or an outer event—the sight of an automobile accident, for example—our heart-rate increases. Does this mean that our increased heart-rate really caused the automobile accident?
So the inversion of the hierarchy of psychic faculties and our bondage to the ego are two ways of talking about the same condition. We speak of the “fallen” soul—but where exactly did it fall from? Was there ever a “time” when the faculties of the soul were not inverted, at least partially, when there was no “unconscious”? We speak, in more of less mythic terms, of the Golden Age or the Garden of Eden; and we idealize (or at least we used to) the paradise of childhood and/or the “oceanic experience” of life in the womb. But the fact is that, according to our sense of linear time, no lost paradise is in evidence. Obsessive self-definition was less a problem for us in childhood, but our ability to make rational decisions, control our impulses and consciously submit our lives to God was also less developed (if, in fact, it is any better developed even now!). So we are forced to conclude that if there indeed was a “fall”, it was a fall from Eternity into time, not necessarily a fall from an earlier and better time. In God we were all perfectly as He knew us and created us to be; and given that Eternity is an aspect of God, we are all, in one sense, still there. But when time supervened—when, due to the exclusionary nature of obsessive self-definition, experience ceased to be global and, having become partial, necessarily also became sequential (just as a darkened room after sundown can no longer be seen all at once, but only as a sequence of partial views according to where we shine our flashlight)—the soul fell; the proper hierarchy of the psychic faculties was inverted. “When” or even “how” this happened may ultimately fall under those questions which the Buddha classed as “tending not to edification”: the true question is, not how we got into this prison, but how we can get out again. The answer to this question, this plea, is the spiritual Path, the quintessential expression of God’s “particular mercy”, al-Rahim, In the course of walking this Path all necessary questions will be answered, while all unnecessary and barren questions will be happily forgotten.
In the earlier stages of the spiritual Path—those known as “the lesser mysteries”—the goal is to return the soul to its original nature as God created it, thus re-establishing its proper hierarchy, where the rational mind obeys the Intellect, the will obeys the rational mind, and the affections obey the will. The soul is “edified”, built up as a solid edifice with a wide foundation of strong character supporting a “pinnacle” of exalted consciousness. Such edification represents the re-ordering of the soul in its active mode, the return of its ability to act in line with spiritual principles. The human soul is also capable, however, of operating in receptive mode—as in the case of memory, for example, as well as in the active or objective imagination, which is poles apart from subjective fantasy. When the affections are receptive they regain the ability to reflect the Intellect directly, without the mediation of either the rational mind or the individual will—an ability that defines the whole imaginal aspect of spiritual contemplation, as well as the contemplation of spiritual beauty in nature, art, and the human body. When the will is pacified through obedience to the rational mind, and the rational mind correctly re-oriented in obedience to the Spiritual Intellect, the turbulence of the affections subsides, until the emotional substance becomes like a still lake on a windless day, capable of reflecting the Sun not as a mass of separate and ephemeral points of light, but as a single unified form.
The rational mind, the will and the affections are the three primary faculties of the human psyche. The psyche, however, is also host to a number of composite faculties. Chief among these are memory and imagination, both of which take three distinct forms: passive, active and transcendental, which are related to the three gunas or modes of Prakriti (universal Substance) in Hinduism: tamas, rajas and sattwa. Active imagination may be further divided into introverted and extraverted modes.
In passive memory, the action is hierarchicalized Affections/Will/Rationality, directly in line with the fallen condition of the soul. The affections suggest an impression, the will immediately follows it, and then thought elaborates it. Passive memory—nostalgic reverie—is ultimately based upon the attraction of the affections to the subtle form of material nature, upon the longing to return to our “mother”, our maternal origins in the natural world, apart from the knowledge of the rational mind and the resolution of the will. (People addicted to passive memory will see all life in terms of it, even defining human experience itself as the process of “making memories”.) Such memory becomes an almost necessary “recreational activity” to the soul eaten up by the rational willfulness of modern life, based upon the enslavement of the rational mind to the will, according to which the soul is always trying to put the affections to work to fuel this or that obsession. The crepuscular and putrescent poetry of Georg Trakl is the quintessential expression of this state. In one way it can be looked at as the subtle revenge of the repressed affections upon the willfulness that has repressed them. Our emotional nature, tired of being exploited and drained by our ambitions and obsessions, undermines them by periodically “unplugging” our rationality and will—but as René Guénon pointed out, “bourgeois sentimentality” is nothing but the opposite face of bourgeois rationalistic voluntarism. And to the degree that passive memory is simply a falling back upon “This World” as a protective matrix (however much we may also unconsciously fear this World), it progressively destroys the virtue of vigilance that makes contemplation of eternal realities possible. This unconscious quest for security, or for unconsciousness as security, along with the vices of curiosity and ruthless ambition, is what defines the soul’s conquest by the power of “This World”, the system of collective egotism and illusion. It is better to relate to the natural world through labor, or even through danger, than it is to take it as a kind of vacation resort; if we understand the natural world as rigorous as well as beautiful, then it will not become for us “the darkness of This World” (a darkness enforced by the Ego/World complex because it doesn’t want us to see or believe in anything beyond its horizon or outside its control), but rather the ensemble of the Names and Signs of Allah—a support for contemplation, not a substitute for it.
When William Blake said “Memory is Eternal Death”, he was referring to passive memory. Existence ruled by time and becoming is always passing away into Hades, into the kingdom of ghosts; indulgence in such ghostliness makes us moribund, nearly transforming our souls into ghosts themselves even before physical death, and all but guaranteeing that we will leave much of our human reality behind, in ghostly form, after it. Nor is passive memory really free of willful rationality just because it has the power to temporarily detach us from it; it remains bound to voluntaristic rationality just as the shadow is bound to the solid object. As such it remains under the inverted hierarchy of Affections/Will/Rationality that characterizes the fallen soul per se.
The state of passive memory is well analyzed by William Blake in his poem Tiriel.
Depending upon whether our memories are pleasant or unpleasant, passive memory will call up feelings of nostalgic longing on the one hand, or of regret and/or revulsion on the other. And passive memory, whether pleasant or unpleasant, is the emotional expression of that state of soul characterized by Kierkegaard, in Sickness unto Death, as “despair of necessity” —not that one despairs that necessity is absent, but rather that necessity, seen not in eternal terms as Necessary Being but in temporal ones as irrevocable fate, is the basis of one’s despair. Both pleasant and unpleasant recollections, when under the power of passive memory, generate despair; the classic poetic expression of the conscious recognition of such despair (which, while acutely painful, may also represent a real chance to wake up, to begin the struggle for our freedom) is Francis Thompson’s poem The City of Dreadful Night.
Active memory is something higher than passive memory. It is the willful use of the rational mind to access this or that item of factual information (true information, not fantasy) by employing the affections, putting to use their power of sympathy. Active memory is hierarchicalized Will/Affections/Rationality: the intent to remember something employs the affections as its “search engine”, after which the rational mind fixes the results as conscious knowledge. Active memory thus represents a partial redress of the fallen condition of the soul, which is hierarchicalized Affections/Will/Rationality; it is a step toward edification.
In searching the past, active memory is looking not for potentials but for facts, for things already actualized; consequently it is operating, imperfectly but validly, in the realm of Necessary Being. Insofar as facts inhabit the past, they are alienated from the metaphysical order, which subsists in the eternal present; but insofar as they are actualities, not mere potentials or possibilities, they partake of that order—given that, according to the Scholastic philosophers, God is both Necessary Being and Pure Act. Insofar as history is over, it is finished; insofar as it is finished, it is perfect. It is no longer subject to becoming. Thus an understanding of past events is a real approach to the intuition of eternity, which is the metaphysical sense. And this is even more true of the study of physical laws and mathematical axioms, which are the same in all places and times; this is why Plato considered the study of mathematics as the best preparatory course for an understanding of metaphysics.
Transcendental memory draws upon realities situated beyond the hierarchy of the psychic faculties; it may be seen as the higher octave of the active memory. In terms of the spiritual Path, the transcendental memory is a higher function than the search for objective facts—which is, nonetheless, good preparatory training for it, since the essence of the Path is to overcome egoic subjectivity and reach Objective Truth. In the traditional terminology applicable to the spiritual Path, transcendental memory is recollection, whose highest form is the remembrance of God (dhikr; japam; mnimi Theou). To remember God is to recognize Him as the One Absolute and All-encompassing Fact, of which all other facts are mere reflections—which is why the true facts of any situation, past or present, are one mode of the actual presence of God in that situation. The remembrance of God is “memory” in the sense that it recalls, or calls-back, a forgotten Reality—forgotten, however, not in the past, but in (or beneath) the present. A memory we are searching for will have as its content some past event, but the actual form of it already lies below the surface of consciousness, in this very moment.
The remembrance of God invokes pre-Eternity, which is often experienced as nostalgia for a lost Paradise—not the natural paradise of passive memory, however, but the celestial Paradise of the Eternal Human Form. To remember that we were once united with God in pre-Eternity is to begin to remember that pre-Eternity is not fundamentally past, but present. God is here; Eternity is now. (The Kabbalists say, “what is here is elsewhere; what is not here is nowhere”. This can be paraphrased, in temporal rather than spacial terms, as: “What is real now always was and always will be real; what is not real now never will be, and never was”. In light of this, William Blake’s “alchemical” demand, “what can be destroyed must be destroyed!”, makes perfect sense.)
To the degree that we recognize God as present in this moment, we begin the process of “withdrawing projections”. Projection is the tendency to falsely see what is really in oneself as being in some thing, person or situation in the outer world, or as the world as a whole. But since God is infinite and absolute, and since “the Kingdom of Heaven is within you”, the realization of His presence cuts all ties with memory and anticipation; what has been, is now, and so the past is obliterated—as past, that is—not by forgetting it but by remembering it, given that all things are present in God. Furthermore, what will be is here already as well, and so the future too is obliterated: all that could ever be desired (by the Heart) or feared (by the ego) is here in the One Presence.
The remembrance of God thus effects the recollection of the human form. The human being immersed in becoming, bound to the wheel of birth and death, is dismembered—not spacially but temporally; the dismemberment of Osiris and his reconstitution by Isis is a symbol of this condition, and the Power which overcomes it. He leaves the past strewn with his experience, the future littered with his intent. But when the Presence of God is remembered in the present moment, and this remembrance stabilized, then the scattered limbs of the remembrancer magically reassemble themselves, like the dry bones in Ezekiel’s vision; in the words of Rumi (addressed to God) from one of his Quatrains, “When You return, everything returns.” Detachment from past and future, when this is where the bulk of our identity has been placed, is experienced as annihilation, the Sufi fana. And the return of our psychic self-projections out of past and future, when complete, is experienced as the Sufi baqa, subsistence in God—subsistence as the integral human form residing in the eternal present, that reality the Sufis refer to as al-insan al-kamil, the Perfect Man. The return of those projections is legitimately symbolized by the Resurrection of the Dead—at which point, in Blake’s words, “the Daughters of Memory [the Muses] become the Daughters of Inspiration”. This is the realm of Tantra, the dimension in which our passions and obscurations (our fears and desires, our revulsions and our longings, our projections), rather than being suppressed or cut off, undergo a metanoia, until they are revealed as the very substance of God’s universal manifestation, which is equally the Shakti or Power of Attention by which we contemplate Him.
When active memory culminates in the remembrance of God and passive memory is consequently overcome, the nostalgic longing and/or revulsion of passive memory are transformed into gratitude—gratitude for the Mercy of God. And this transformation takes place, precisely, through the medium of disgust. Disgust is one of the most unpleasant feelings we can experience, but also among the most hopeful signs of catharsis, of spiritual purification.
Passive imagination, like passive memory, is hierarchicalized Affections/Will/Rationality; its other name is “fantasy”. (Here we can see how the passions of the fallen soul are directly related to passivity, and hence how deliberate, principled action, even though it may have certain negative consequences, is still a real step toward redemption.) Our affections are attracted by this or that set of impressions within the subtle realm; our will is appropriated by them and engages with them; our thinking mind (largely mediated by unconscious speech) elaborates them, forms them into articulate images; this is what it is to fantasize. Passive imagination is like passive memory except that it deals with things which have never existed in the material world, and may never come into this world—with possibilities, that is, not necessities.
Passive imagination has to do not with facts but with potentials. We may never intend to bring these potentials into the real world, opting to indulge in them as if they were a world in themselves, but nonetheless they are always pressing for incarnation, which is why fantasies of lust or anger often lead to lustful or violent actions. And if we indulge in potentials which we never intend to realize, our lives become unreal; thus passive imagination may be accurately compared to sexuality when divorced from either reproduction or contemplation, both of which represent the actualization of the potentials inherent within it. (The resistance of passive imagination to the concrete realization of potentials is analyzed by William Blake in The Book of Thel.)
Passive imagination, since it has to do with Possible Being rather than Necessary Being, exists on a lower ontological level than passive memory. It shuns actuality, both practical and metaphysical, and thus tends to replace it. It is a parasite on reality. It can give one a sense that so much is possible, that one’s life and one’s soul are so rich in potential that one can take one’s own sweet time in realizing this potential, since one is virtually immortal. The drawbacks of this illusion are analyzed in the Japanese Nō play Kantan and the Simon and Garfunkel song “Hazy Shade of Winter”.
Passive imagination, of course, is also subject to nightmare, to the apprehension of negative potentials; the rich, inviting contemplation of what we would like to see happen, or simply to see, is inseparable from the fearful contemplation of what we are afraid might happen, or what we are terrified of ever witnessing, even on the imaginal level. The irresponsibility that positive passive imagination feeds is always eventually compensated for by the creeping insecurity that invites negative passive imagination; if we are not fulfilling our duties, we may legitimately fear that life will deal us a serious blow. Passive imagination (especially in its positive form) is analyzed by Kierkegaard in Sickness unto Death as “despair of possibility”—not the despair that nothing is possible (which would be his “despair of necessity”), but the despair that hides itself in the fantasy of possibility itself. Yet despair of necessity often underlies despair of possibility. The false hope which likes to say “everything is possible!”, while not taking even the first step toward realizing the possibility at hand, is usually nothing but a denial of an underlying feeling that “nothing is possible”, that if one were to take the concrete steps necessary to realize a given potential, one would inevitably find the door of reality slammed in one’s face.
Active imagination is a step above the “infra-psychic” fantasy world of passive imagination. It is hierarchicalized (like consciously resisted temptation, its negative partner) as Affections/Rationality/Will; consequently it too is a partial step toward edification. It takes two forms. In introverted active imagination, we consciously interact with the symbolic images our psyche presents us with, interrogating them, challenging them, in order to reach greater psychological (and even sometimes spiritual) insight. The affective substance of the soul receives the imprint of an inner symbolic image; the rational faculty interrogates this image and thereby transforms its evocative aura of hidden significance into conscious knowledge; the will then intends to existentially realize the psychospiritual consequences of the knowledge thus gained. This is one of the major tools in the psychoanalytic method of Carl Jung and his school. In its extraverted form, active imagination represents the process of bringing potentials out of the imaginal realm and into concrete physical manifestation in this world. The affections “attract” and “entertain” the potential in question, the rational mind turns this potential into an effective plan; and the will carries it out
Transcendental Imagination, like transcendental memory, draws upon realities that exist beyond the psychic hierarchy. It is the Eternal Imagination of William Blake, in line with which he characterized the Holy Spirit as “an intellectual fountain”. Ibn al-‘Arabi speaks of two discrete levels of the world of imagination, the alam al-mithal. The lower arises from the stored impressions of sense experience; the higher (al-Malakut) receives direct impressions from the Intelligible Plane of the eternal Archetypes or Platonic Ideas (al-Jabarut), and clothes them in imaginal form. That the lower form of imagination draws upon the impressions of past sense experience shows the hidden identity or affinity between passive memory and passive imagination. That the higher form of imagination emanates directly from the Intelligible Plane, and thus represents the closest, the most fully incarnate relationship (in the subtle sense) between the human psyche and the world of metaphysical principles, mediated not by abstract rational discourse but by the concrete imaginal reverberation of direct Intellection, establishes the identity between Ibn al-‘Arabi’s higher imaginal plane and Blake’s Divine Imagination or Poetic Inspiration. These two levels of imagination, however, are not entirely discrete, given that an inspiration emanating from the higher level must clothe itself with the substance of the lower one; we could not imagine Wisdom as a beautiful woman if we had never seen beautiful women. It is true that the archetype of feminine beauty exists on a higher plane than the material, and that all feminine beauty in this world is derived from it. Yet if this archetype were to attempt to manifest directly in this world in the absence of any memories of feminine beauty, or the present contemplation of this beauty in human form, it would be unrecognizable and thus unintelligible. Dante’s Beatrice was a ray of Divine Beauty whose proper home was Paradise—yet if he had never seen her, however briefly, in this world, he could never have recognized her in her Celestial environment. (Herein, incidentally, may lie the truth behind Thomas’ Aquinas’ problematic assertion, which seems to deny the reality of direct Intellection, that knowledge can reach the soul only through the senses.) Nonetheless, while the ta’wil (exegesis in the sense of “return-to-source”) of the higher imagination leads to the plane of the eternal metaphysical principles, the ta’wil of the lower, unless it carries some of the higher along with it, leads only to the darkness of the material world, cut off from the more elevated levels of the Ontological Hierarchy and thus virtually non-existent. (For the best introduction to Ibn al-‘Arabi’s doctrine of the imagination, see Imaginal Worlds by William Chittick. We should also note that Ibn al-‘Arabi posits a third level of imagination, the universal, which is simply to say that all the worlds, celestial, psychic and material, spring from and constitute the Universal Imagination of God.)
Transcendental imagination is supremely active; it is not our action, however, but that of God, Who impresses directly upon the affective substance of our soul in its quintessential state the truths He wishes us, not to merely fantasize about or think about, but to realize. When the affective layer of the psyche is polarized and differentiated into various specific emotions, it cannot receive the impressions of the transcendental imagination. When, however, it returns to
its undifferentiated state through the virtue of apatheia or spiritual impassivity, which may be represented as the resolution of the Four Elements or four primal emotional qualities [see Chapter II] into their common source in the Aether, which is their Quintessence (“emotions” being specific determinations of the affective substance that are on their way to becoming “impulses”, “motives” or “motivations” in their interaction with the will), it becomes receptive to impressions emanating not from the surrounding psychic environment but directly from the Spiritual or Intelligible Plane. Passive imagination is passive, not receptive; it is not properly intentional. Active imagination is indeed active and intentional, but only on the individual plane, although the symbols it individually interacts with may also have their transcendental aspect. Transcendental imagination is activity per se, the union of a given truth eternally actualized in the Mind of God with the active willingness of the human subject to both receive and conceive (not simply remain passive to) that truth. When the Virgin Mary said, in Luke 1:38, “Be it done unto me according to Thy Word”, she was opening not only her psyche but her body itself to the transcendental imagination of God.
As we have seen, passive imagination is ontologically lower than passive memory because it deals with unrealized potentials, not actualities. Likewise active imagination is ontologically lower than active memory, but it is spiritually higher, in the sense that contemplation of Necessity via memory, though higher than the entertainment of Possibility via imagination, is not always fertile for us in spiritual terms since it is an attribute of God, not of the human psyche, and consequently may sometimes have a paralyzing effect on our spiritual lives. A contemplation of the eternal Truth as Necessary Being alone, complete in an eternal Past ruled by the Ancient of Days, will—unless our own future becomes spiritually pregnant with it, unless Possibility is activated by it—make spiritual progress impossible. In one sense, Necessary Being is God Himself, Who alone cannot not be. In relation to the human ego, however, Necessary Being is transformed into the despair of necessity, the bonds of fatality and karma. Likewise, though Possible Being is not what must be but only what might be—merely contingent, not absolute—in relation to the human ego it may, God willing, be transformed into the virtue of hope. We may certainly hope that one of the things that might be is our own realization of God. To the degree that we are immersed in the possibility of becoming, not the Necessity of Eternal Truth, only the manifestation of that Necessity as a concrete possibility in our own lives can offer any hope of liberating us. So we might say, paraphrasing the Eastern Fathers, that “Necessary Being becomes possible being so that possibility might become Necessity.” What only “might be” is perpetually uncertain and unreliable—and yet the other meaning of the word “might” is precisely power. The mighty one is he who has the power to actualize possibilities, to transform possible being into Necessary Being; hence “With God, all things are possible.”
Active memory and transcendental memory are respectively an approach to, and an arrival at, Eternity through the past; active imagination and transcendental imagination are an approach to and an arrival at Eternity through the future—or rather, they are the future in the act of approaching us, and becoming present to us as Eternity, beyond fear and desire. When the pre-eternity of Memory and the post-eternity of Imagination are united in the eternal present, this is Eternity per se, in which the remembrance of God as Eternal Actuality and the self-revelation of God as the Mercy of Possibility are one and the same.
When transcendental Memory and transcendental Imagination unite, the Divine Intellect is unveiled; when the Divine Intellect us unveiled, the fallen soul is edified, its inverted hierarchy of faculties set right—or rather upright. The faculties are correctly hierarchicalized along the axis mundi and consequently oriented to what the Sufis call the Qutb, the Pole of the Spiritual Intellect, both cosmological and personal—the reality that T.S. Eliot called “the still point of the turning world”, and which appears in the person of the spiritual Master. We become edified, upright, righteous human beings— tzaddikim. (The Hebrew letter tsade symbolizes, among other things, “the north”—the quarter of the Pole.) Rationality serves Intellection directly; will serves Intellection indirectly by obeying the dictates of reason; the affections empower the will to so serve, thus purifying the rational mind as well and opening it more fully to Intellection; they also gain the power to directly reflect spiritual Intellection on the plane of the psyche, just as a mirror reflects light. This is the completion of the “lesser mysteries” which, in the context of the spiritual Path, is the proper object of Principial Psychology. Beyond this, beyond psychology, beyond the psyche itself, lie the “greater mysteries” which constitute the final union of the soul with God.