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Thomas Carlyle, Sartor Restorus, Christ's teachings, clothes, graven images, God, and spirit

excerpted from THE WAY OF WONDER: a return to the mystery of ourselves, by Jack Haas




What we find from the words of Western prophets is that, from the outset, they have advised us to travel absolutely naked upon the path back to the Spirit, with neither idea, nor concept, nor understanding of God.

To begin, then, it is arguable that the interpretation of Christ's words regarding how we will know when we have entered the Kingdom of Spirit (that is, “When you take your clothes off, and are not ashamed.”) are in reference either to the loss of physical garments around our beings, or to the dissolution of the ego, or to the evaporation of the mental clothes we wear (points can be made for all of these interpretations, and it is likely that all are valid in one way or another, in the shedding of unnecessary traits)- though I would claim the validity of the third interpretation as a supporting analysis for this work (i.e. the shedding of mental clothes leads to the Kingdom of Spirit), for what we believe we ‘know’ is but a garment over the ‘unknowable’; mystery is hidden behind unmystery. And I would claim corroboration for this interpretation from Thomas Carlyle's book Sartor Restorus (or, The Philosophy of Clothes), which, in its vast and eloquent ramblings, expresses largely the sense that it is our mental accoutrements which need discarding if we are to return to Heaven, for “...all Symbols are properly Clothes; ...all forms whereby Spirit manifests itself to sense whether outwardly or in the imagination, are Clothes... [And so] happy [is] he who can look through the Clothes of a Man...into the Man inscrutable venerable mystery.”

Again, ‘The Fall’ occurs every time we divide ourselves from the unknowable One Mystery (that is, when we clothe ourselves in understanding, thus becoming ashamed of the true nudity of our ignorance) by assuming we understand anything whatsoever of the whole, and especially when we think we understand God.

And so, in attempting to help emancipate us from our mental garments, we are admonished in the second commandment to: “Make not unto thee any graven images...”

And what is a graven image? It is anything that is not fluid, fleeting, and mercurial; any fixed idea, permanent covering, notion, or concept, forming a cognitive wall or filter and inhibiting our perceptual intimacy with the livingness of life.

           All images are dead, whether they are in the mind, or carved in stone. Only the spirit which lives without hindrance from preconception or memory is truly alive; the mind, anchored by concept, ceases to be fluid, and ‘alive’, for it is buried within static thought-structures and therefore has not the plasticity required to engage in the living moment. The supplicant, after all, must be supple.

            Thus we must remain like liquid aspects of the whole (like quicksilver, as it were), without labeling or imagining ourselves as separate, perishable entities. We must see ourselves without the stasis of images- graven images- for these lead to naught but the grave.

            To create static images is to divide the living whole into dying particularities. Thus we must be with God and ourselves, without a concept of what we are nor what God is, for if we have an image, any image, we are bound to that finitude and are not free and infinite.


excerpted from:


way of wonder, sacred geometry, sri yantra



THE WAY OF WONDER: a return to the mystery of ourselves

by Jack Haas

author Jack Haas, Canadian, American writer, artist, photographer














Mystical books, visionary art, and fine art photography by Jack Haas




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