The Third Sermon
The dead approached like mist out of the swamps and they shouted: “Speak to us further about the highest god!”
—Abraxas is the god whom it is difficult to know. His power is the very greatest, because man does not perceive it at all. Man sees the summum bonum (supreme good) of the sun, and also the infinum malum of the devil, but Abraxas he does not see, for he is undefinable life itself, which is the mother of good and evil alike.
Life appears smaller and weaker then the summum bonum (supreme good), wherefore it is hard to think that Abraxas should superseded in his power the sun, which is the radiant foundation of all life force.
Abraxas is the sun and also the eternally gaping abyss of emptiness, of the diminisher and dissembler, the devil.
The power of Abraxas is twofold. You cannot see it, because in your eyes the opposition of this power seems to cancel it out.
That which is spoken by God-the-Sun is life;
That which is spoken by the devil is death.
Abraxas, however, speaks the venerable and also accursed word, which is life and death at once.
Abraxas generates truth and falsehood, good and evil, light and darkness with the same word in the same deed. Therefore Abraxas is truly the terrible one.
He is magnificent even as the lion at the very moment when he strikes his prey down. His beauty is like the beauty of a spring morn.
Indeed, he is himself the greater Pan, and also the lesser. He is Priapos.
He is the monster of the underworld, the octopus with a thousand tentacles, he is the twistings of winged serpents and of madness.
He is the hermaphrodite of the lowest beginning.
He is the lord of toads and frogs, who live in water and come out unto the land, and who sing together at high noon and at midnight.
He is fullness, uniting itself with emptiness.
He is the sacred wedding;
He is love and the murder of love;
He is the holy one and his betrayer.
He is the brightest light of day and the deepest night of madness.
To see him means blindness;
To know him is sickness;
To worship him is death;
To fear him is wisdom;
Not to resist him means liberation.
God lives behind the sun; the devil lives behind the night. What god brings into birth from the light, that devil pulls into the night. Abraxas, however, is the cosmos; its genesis and its dissolution. To every gift of God-the-Sun, the devil adds his curse.
All things which you beg from God-the-Sun generate an act of the devil. All things which you accomplish through God-the-Sun add to the effective might of the devil.
Such is the terrible Abraxas.
He is the mightiest manifest being, and in him creation becomes frightened of itself.
He is the revealed protest of creation against the Pleroma and its nothingness.
He is the terror of the son, which he feels against his mother.
He is the love of the mother for her son.
He is the delight of earth and the cruelty of heaven.
Man becomes paralyzed before his face.
Before him exist neither question nor answer.
He is the life of creation.
He is the activity of differentiation.
He is the love of man.
He is the speech of man.
He is both the radiance and the dark shadow of man.
He is deceitful reality.
—Here the dead howled and raved greatly, for they were still incomplete ones.
But when their noisy cries had faded away; I said to Diahmon:
“How, Oh my father, should I understand this God?”
Diahmon answered and said:
“My son, why do you want to understand him? This God is to be known but not understood. If you understand him, then you can say that he is this or that and this and not that. Thus you hold him in the hollow of your hand and therefore your hand must throw him away. The God whom I know is this and that and just as much this other and that other. Therefore no one can understand this God, but it is possible to know him, and therefore I speak
and teach him.”
“But,” I retorted, “does this God not bring despairing confusion into the minds of men?”
To this Diahmon said, “These dead rejected the order of unity and community since they rejected the belief in the father in Heaven who ruled with just measure. They had to reject him. Therefore I teach them the chaos that is without measure and utterly boundless, to which justice and injustice, leniency and severity; patience and anger, love and hate, are nothing. For how can I teach anything other than the God whom I know and whom they know, without being conscious of him?”
I replied, “Why; Oh solemn one, do you call the eternally incomprehensible, the cruel contradictoriness of nature, God?”
Diahmon said, “How should I name it otherwise? If the overpowering essence of events in the universe and in the hearts of men were law, I would call it law. Yet it is also no law, but chance, irregularity; sin, error, stupidity; carelessness, folly; illegality. Therefore I cannot call it law. You know that this must be so, and at the same time you know that it did not have to be so and that at some other time it will not be so. It is overpowering and occurs as if from eternal law, and at another time a slanting wind blows a speck of dust into the works and this void is a superior strength, harder than a mountain of iron. Therefore you know that the eternal law is also no law. So I cannot call it law. But how else should it be named? I know that human language has forever named the maternal womb of the incomprehensible
God. Truly, this God is and is not, since from being and non-being everything emerged that was, is, and will be.”
But when Diahmon had spoken the last word, he touched the earth with his hand and dissolved. ~Carl Jung; Red Book