The passions of the soul work magic. This observation, attributed to Albertus Magnus (and loved by Jung) is practical counsel for living fully and creatively.
Our passions can lead us into madness. They can also give us the creative edge to do our best and most original work and the magnetism that generates extraordinary opportunities and serendipity.
The stronger the emotion, the stronger the effect on our psychic and physical environment. This may reach much further, in our nonlocal universe, that we can initially understand. It can generate a convergence of incidents and energies, for good or bad, in ways that change everything in our lives and can affect the lives of many others.
The great French novelist Honoré de Balzac, who knew a great deal about these things, write that “ideas are projected as a direct result of the force by which they are conceived and they strike wherever the brain sends them by a mathematical law comparable to that which directs the firing of shells from their mortars.”
There are two conditions for working positive magic with the passions of the soul.
The first is that we must choose to take the primal, pulsing energy of our strongest passions and direct it towards a creative goal. The passion that is throbbing and surging inside us may be love or lust (or both), the fierce desire to give birth or the desperate wish to end it all. The passion may be wild rage or terrible grief. Whatever its origin, the strongest passions of the soul produce the energy to remake our world – if we choose to direct that energy. Imagine a vast body of pent-up water, engorged by a pounding thunderstorm, that is going to burst through a dam with irresistible power. We can choose to harness that force, turning into hydroelectric power that can light our city and warm our homes. Or we can let it swamp everyone and everything in its path, bringing misery and devastation.
The second requirement for letting the passions of the soul work magic is that we must seize the moment when they are running strongest and give ourselves completely to acting in the power of that moment. The time is always Now; but when the passions of the soul are at work the time is also GO.
I know this as a writer. Often my best work is done when I am in a state of great turmoil, when my passions are running strong but my heart and mind are also conflicted. Such moments give us an edge. I know, from experience, that my best and most original work can come through now – if I use that edge and make myself available to the work any time it is coming through. In these states, like Balzac, I often write for fifteen hours a day, fueled only by coffee, and sleep only a couple of hours out of the 24 – and stream into joy, the joy we all know when we are in the zone whatever our field of endeavor, and are giving our best.
Balzac was a master in his literary depiction of the workings of passion and desire. He understood the fundamental unity of mind and matter, and that there is a law of spiritual gravitation as well as a law of physical gravitation. His view of reality - and his prodigious literary production - were driven by a vitalist belief in the power of will and imagination. His early novel Louis Lambert is a tale of the strange life of a young explorer in consciousness who is awakened by a precognitive dream to the fact that the world is much deeper than can be explained by the reason and Newtonian physics. He comes to believe that man can become a creator by concentrating a whole reality - even an entire world - inside himself, re-visioning it, and then projecting the new image to fill his environment. But he comes unstuck and unhinged because he can’t ground his understanding in the physical world.
The Balzacian hero is a man of desire and imagination who must also ground his passions in the body, in healthy sex, in social engagement with the world - or else go mad.
Balzac's version of what becomes possible through exercising the passions of the soul is wonderful. Acts of mind, fueled by passion, abolish time and space. “To desire is immediately to be where one desires to be, instantaneously to be what one desires to be." Time is devoured by the moment; space is absorbed by the point. “For the man in such a state, distances and material objects do not exist, or are traversed by a life within us.”
What kind of desire makes these things possible? “A desire is a fact entirely accomplished in our will before being accomplished externally.”
The passion that works magic is "the will gathered to one point" so that "man can bring to bear his whole vitality."
The man who carries a great desire is surrounded by a certain “atmosphere”, a “magnetic fluid” that moves in waves, like sound and light, and touches others. He produces “a contagion of feelings”.
Passion of this kind magnifies sensory abilities; we can see and hear and sense things vividly across distance. Women, says Balzac, are especially good at this. Watch out for a woman whose passions are high, because she can see and sense things at a distance very clearly.
Coincidences multiply around such a person, because things now happen through “sympathies which do not recognize the laws of space”.
Text adapted from The Three "Only" Things by Robert Moss. Puiblished by New World Library.
Photo: RM with Balzac's doppelganger at MOMA in New York City