Gods in Exile

Ch. 1, pp. 3-5

J.J. Van Der Leeuw

"The Awakening of the Soul: As long as man, in his pilgrimage through
matter, identifies himself entirely with his bodies and follows entirely
their dictates, in utter oblivion of his own true, divine nature, he does
not suffer, but is contented in an animal way. It is only when the soul in
her earthly prison begins to recall the divine home from which she lives
exiled, when through love, beauty or truth, consciousness of her own true
nature awakens, that suffering begins. We are like Prometheus, chained to
the rock of matter, but is not until we become conscious of what we truly
are, that we are at all aware of being prisoners, of being exiles. Thus
might one live who, in the days of his youth had been banished from his
native land and who, for many years had been among strangers, hardly
remembering, in the privations and miseries of his exile, that once he knew
different surroundings. But some day, perhaps, he hears a song which he
knew in his youth, and in sudden agony remembers all he has lost, realizing
in pain that he is an exile, far from all that was dear to him. In that
memory the yearning for his native land is born again and becomes stronger
than it ever was. It is only then that suffering and struggle begin;
suffering because of the knowledge of what he has lost, struggle in the
attempt to regain that which once he possessed.

In a similar way, the awakening of the soul, when it comes in the
course of human evolution, brings not only joy, but also suffering in its
wake. As long as man lived the animal life of his bodies, he knew
contentment of a sort; but with the remembrance of his true nature, with the
vision of the world to which he belongs, there is born that age-long
struggle in which he tries to free himself from the entanglement with the
worlds of matter which he has brought about by identifying himself with his
bodies. Where up to this moment he was not conscious of his bodies as a
limitation, they now become to him as the burning garment of Nessus,
clinging to him the more he tries to free himself from their contact. From
now onwards, he is to know himself as two persons in one; he is to be
conscious of a higher divine Self within, ever calling him back to his
divine home; and a lower animal nature, which is his consciousness bound to
and dominated by the bodies."

With thanks for selecting this and typing it out to Jim Rodak