Hegel - On the nature of ecstasy
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
If we want to see the consciousness of the One—not as with the Hindoos split between the featureless unity of abstract thought, on one hand, and on the other, the long-winded weary story of its particular detail, but—in its finest purity and sublimity, we must consult the Mohammedans. If e.g. in the excellent Jelaleddin-Rumi in particular, we find the unity of the soul with the One set forth, and that unity described as love, this spiritual unity is an exaltation above the finite and vulgar, a transfiguration of the natural and the spiritual, in which the externalism and transitoriness of immediate nature, and of empirical secular spirit, is discarded and absorbed.
In order to give a clearer impression of it, I cannot refrain from quoting a few passages, which may at the same time give some indication of the marvellous skill of Rückert, from whom they are taken, as a translator.
[Note For Rückert's verses the translator of Hegel substituted his own translation ‘in which I have been kindly helped by Miss May Kendall’.]
I saw but One through all heaven's starry spaces gleaming:
I saw but One in all sea billows wildly streaming.
I looked into the heart, a waste of worlds, a sea,—
I saw a thousand dreams,—yet One amid all dreaming.
And earth, air, water, fire, when thy decree is given,
Are molten into One: against thee none hath striven.
There is no living heart but beats unfailingly
In the one song of praise to thee, from earth and heaven.
As one ray of thy light appears the noonday sun,
But yet thy light and mine eternally are one.
As dust beneath thy feet the heaven that rolls on high:
Yet only one, and one for ever, thou and I.
The dust may turn to heaven, and heaven to dust decay;
Yet art thou one with me, and shalt be one for aye.
How may the words of life that fill heaven's utmost part
Rest in the narrow casket of one poor human heart?
How can the sun's own rays, a fairer gleam to fling,
Hide in a lowly husk, the jewel's covering?
How may the rose-grove all its glorious bloom unfold,
Drinking in mire and slime, and feeding on the mould?
How can the darksome shell that sips the salt sea stream
Fashion a shining pearl, the sunlight's joyous beam?
Oh, heart! should warm winds fan thee, should'st thou floods endure,
One element are wind and flood; but be thou pure.
I'll tell thee how from out the dust God moulded man,—
Because the breath of Love He breathed into his clay:
I'll tell thee why the spheres their whirling paths began,—
They mirror to God's throne Love's glory day by day:
I'll tell thee why the morning winds blow o'er the grove,—
It is to bid Love's roses bloom abundantly:
I'll tell thee why the night broods deep the earth above,—
Love's bridal tent to deck with sacred canopy:
All riddles of the earth dost thou desire to prove?—
To every earthly riddle is Love alone the key.
Life shrinks from Death in woe and fear,
Though Death ends well Life's bitter need:
So shrinks the heart when Love draws near,
As though 'twere Death in very deed:
For wheresoever Love finds room,
There Self, the sullen tyrant, dies.
So let him perish in the gloom,—
Thou to the dawn of freedom rise.
In this poetry, which soars over all that is external and sensuous, who would recognise the prosaic ideas current about so-called pantheism—ideas which let the divine sink to the external and the sensuous?