The Number Nineteen

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IT is the number of light.

It is the existence of God proved by the very idea of God.

Either one must say that Being is the universal tomb where, by an automatic movement, stirs a form for ever dead and corpse-like, or one must admit the absolute principle of intelligence and of life.

Is the universal light dead or alive? Is it vowed fatally to the work of destruction, or providentially directed to an immortal birth?

If there be no God, intelligence is only a deception, for it fails to be the absolute, and its ideal is a lie.

Without God, being is a nothingness affirming itself, life a death in disguise, and light a night for ever deceived by the mirage of dreams.

The first and most essential act of faith is then this.

Being exists; and the Being of beings, the Truth of being, is God.

Being is alive with intelligence, and the living intelligence of absolute being is God.

Light is real and life-giving; now, the reality and life of all light is God.

The word of universal reason is an affirmation and not a negation.

How blind are they who do not see that physical light is nothing but the instrument of thought!

Thought alone, then, reveals light, and creates it in using it for its own purposes.

The affirmation of atheism is the dogma of eternal night: the affirmation of God is the dogma of light!

We stop here at the number Nineteen, although the sacred alphabet has twenty-two letters; but the first nineteen are the keys of occult theology. The others are the keys of Nature; we shall return to them in the third part of this work.

Let us resume what we have said concerning God, by quoting a fine invocation borrowed from the Jewish liturgy. It is a page from the qabalistic poem Kether-Malkuth, by Rabbi Solomon, son of Gabirol:

"Thou art one, the beginning of all numbers, and the foundation of all buildings; thou art one, and in the secret of thy unity the most wise of men are lost, because they know it not. Thou art one, and thy unity neither wanes nor waxes, neither suffers any change. Thou art one, and yet not the one of the mathematician, for thy unity admits neither multiplication, nor change, nor form. Thou art one, and not one of mine imaginations can fix a limit for thee, or give a definition of thee; therefore will I take heed to my ways, lest I offend with my tongue. Thou art one indeed, whose excellence is so lofty, that it may in no wise fall, by no means like that one which may cease to be.

"Thou art the existing one; nevertheless, the understanding and the sight of mortals cannot attain thine existence, nor place in thee the where, the how, the why. Thou art the existing one, but in thyself, since no other can exist beside thee. Thou art the existing one, before time, and beyond space. Thou art indeed the existing one, and thine existence is so hidden, and so deep, that none can discover it, or penetrate its secret.

"Thou art the living one, but not in fixed and known time; thou art the living one, but not by spirit or by soul; for thou art the Soul of all souls. Thou art the living one; but not living with the life of mortals, that is, like a breath, and whose end is to give food to worms. Thou art the living one, and he that can attain thy mysteries will enjoy eternal delight and live for ever.

"Thou art great; before thy greatness all other greatness bows, and all that is most excellent becomes imperfect. Thou art great above all imagination, and thou art exalted above all the hierarchies of Heaven. Thou art great above all greatness, and thou art exalted above all praise. Thou art strong, and not one among thy creatures can do the works that thou dost, nor can his force be compared with thine. Thou art strong, and it is to thee that belongs that strength invincible which changes not and decays never. Thou art strong; by thy loving-kindness thou dost forgive in the moment of thy most burning wrath, and thou showest thyself long-suffering to sinners. Thou art strong, and thy mercies, existing from all time, are upon all thy creatures. Thou art the eternal light, that pure souls shall see, and that the cloud of sins will hide from the eyes of sinners. Thou art the light which is hidden in this world, and visible in the other, where the glory of the Lord is shown forth. Thou art Sovereign, and the eyes of understanding which desire to see thee are all amazed, for they can attain but part of it, never the whole. Thou art the God of gods, and all thy creatures bear witness to it; and in honour of this great name they owe thee all their worship. Thou art God, and all created beings are thy servants and thy worshippers: thy glory is not tarnished, although men worship other gods, because their intention is to address themselves to thee; they are like blind men, who wish to follow the straight road, but stray; one falls into a well, the other into a ditch; all think that they are come to their desire, yet they have wearied themselves in vain. But thy servants are like men of clear sight travelling upon the highroad; never do they stray from it, either to the right hand or the left, until they are entered into the court of the king's palace. Thou art God, who by thy godhead sustainest all beings, and by thy unity dost being home all creatures. Thou art God, and there is no difference between thy deity, thy unity, thy eternity, and thy existence; for all is one and the same mystery; although names vary, all returns to the same truth. Thou art the knower, and that intelligence which is the source of life emanates from thyself; and beside thy knowledge all the wisest men are fools. Thou art the knower, and the ancient of the ancient ones, and knowledge has ever fed from thee. Thou art the knower, and thou hast learned thy knowledge from none, nor hast acquired it but from thyself. Thou art the knower, and like a workman and an architect thou hast taken from thy knowledge a divine will, at an appointed time, to draw being from nothing; so that the light which falls from the eyes is drawn from its own centre without any instrument or tool. This divine will has hollowed, designed, purified and moulded; it has ordered

Nothingness to open itself, Being to shut up, and the world to spread itself. It has spanned the heavens, and assembled with its power the tabernacle of the spheres, with the cords of its might it has bound the curtains of the creatures of the universe, and touching with its strength the edge of the curtain of creation, has joined that which is above to that which was below."—(Prayers of Kippour.)

We have given to these bold qabalistic speculations the only form which suits them, that is, poesy, or the inspiration of the heart.

Believing souls will have no need of the rational hypotheses contained in this new explanation of the figures of the Bible; but those sincere hearts afflicted by doubt, which are tortured by eighteenth-century criticism, will understand in reading it that even reason without faith can find in the Holy Book something besides stumbling-blocks; if the veils with which the divine text is covered throw a great shadow, this shadow is so marvellously designed by the interplay of light that it becomes the sole intelligible image of the divine ideal.

Ideal, incomprehensible as infinity, and indispensable as the very essence of mystery!

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