The introduction to the Breviculum by Fr. Thomas le Myèsier, giving a succinct summary of the Art

This figure provides an initial step for the rational mind as it becomes disposed to understand the difficult and subtle parts of Raymond's Art. It serves as a prime alphabet and a visible instrument used by the imagination and the intellect to remove that ignorance which negates the human intellect's natural disposition to understand things.

 To address the human intellect as it lies open like a clear table, where few, if any scientific concepts at all are portrayed, I made the visible figure shown here. It serves to facilitate initial learning for those who have not known other lofty sciences, and to have it as a single prime object showing all parts of universal being in united order, for there can be no science of non-being.

 Note that the Figure shown here is not the true Figure, because you have to sublimate it (without physically looking at the Figure, and even in its absence) from the imaginary picture that remains of it, up to the intellectual level.  Imagine, from this flat circular Figure, the very greatest spherical body that can naturally exist, like the sky all the way to its outermost surface, as shown in the Figure. Contemplate it from the center towards the circumference and rise all the way up to the Prime Golden Link. From this vantage point, the intellect, with the senses and the imagination, perceive the entire world as one single sensible and imaginable being, manifested in glorious order.

 All the sages of ancient times discovered the universe in this way, as we will see, God willing, in many places further on in this book. Now the virtue of eyesight does not reach beyond the starry sky. But the imagination, whose power surpasses all the senses, in the absence of any particular act of the senses, and in the absence of anything presented to the sentient being, can imagine things larger or smaller than what was seen and alter what was seen by the eye into another shape and color. Thus, it can act above the senses, for no particular sense can either enlarge or decrease the Figure, its size, color etc.

 Although the eyesight cannot penetrate beyond the starry sky, nevertheless, through the virtue of the imagination elevated above the senses, we can perceive that a greater sky exists beyond the constellations. This is because it perceives an extrasensory, imaginary body beyond the starry sky; even though its virtue does not rise above this ultimate sky, for beyond its outermost surface there is no more body, nor any physical locality or place containing anything, or contained by anything.

 Now the intellect has its real spiritual existence above physical imagination, and so it is truer, more actual, more powerful and far reaching as a human faculty that goes where imagination fails to reach. Moreover, as the imagination is immediately subjected to it, it elevates it as much as it can, by producing a fantastic being or chimera and reaching to things that never existed for the senses. Nevertheless, the intellect cannot carry the imagination either into the void or beyond the physical level. This is where the virtue of imagination fails, and is overtaken by the intellect, and rightly so, for being spirit, intellect reaches to spiritual being beyond the physical planes.

 Through the imagination, the intellect reaches the physical being of nature, which has less form, less actuality, less nobility and is a lesser being than spiritual being. The intellect attains spirit and substance in an extrasensory and extra imaginary way, as sense and imagination cannot go beyond the accidents, and extrasensory imagination cannot go beyond the physical senses or beyond the three dimensions of space.

 Gold is more precious than any other colour and its substance more precious than any other physical substance. As the eye distinguishes and elects the precious, neat, pure, beautiful and delightful color of gold incomparably above other colors, so does the intellect rise aloft, elevating incomparably above the choice of sense, the separate spiritual substances that dwell above all the heavenly bodies.

 Thus, the first circle contacted by the intellect, which is of a less pure and neat golden color, represents reality in a comparative way. This is not a true representation, but only meant to facilitate learning about the nature of the rational soul as it dwells in the nethermost spiritual horizons, where compounded with the body, it is apt to receive the disturbances of human flesh weighing it down. Therefore, the soul is immediately joined to the body, and above it, so that it can be aware of its own lesser nature and of physical nature as well. By the same token, the body that is directly in contact with the soul is the body of heaven, or the astral body, which is a more spiritual, more formal, less compounded and subtler body. Thus, it is elevated above the visible body, and as a spiritual body it is greater, less compounded and simpler than the bodies below it. For these reasons, it is elevated above the heavens and closer to the spiritual entities to which it is joined.

  Above this circle, there is another, neater and purer golden circle, and through its purity and neatness the angels, or simply separated substances, nobler intelligences in no way bound to physical nature are elevated, by their greater nobility, to a higher degree of dignity than the rational soul.

  The purest and most perfect gold of all, gold of absolute purity, dwells infinitely and incomparably above the lower forms of gold, which stand far below it, as likenesses are inferior in their dignity to the thing they represent.  As there is a real difference, between an image appearing in a mirror and the thing that it represents, likewise, and infinitely more so, there is a difference between this purest gold of all and the other kinds of gold. As perfectly pure gold is different from a dye made with gall, which is only a very remote likeness of gold, so does God reach above all other things in his holiness and infinite dignity.

  Consequently, among visible objects and among all kinds of beings, even the most base and vile, a natural order exists, rising in orderly fashion through the simple comparative degrees of great, greater and greatest. For instance, in inanimate bodies, one stone can be naturally more dignified that another due to its beauty, its virtue, or both; and the same applies to inanimate artificial bodies, such as metals, to vegetation, plants and trees and to more or less highly evolved animals. Among humans, the simple order of greater and greatest is discerned by reason. In the world of human activities, this can be observed in the respective worlds of the laity and the clergy and the way that they follow a certain order, as if compelled by some kind of necessity.

  In other words, let us say that in each and every class of being, some primordial and supreme being exists, to which all other things of its own kind are reduced. So in this way, throughout the whole universe, a most natural and necessary order is found, among the positive, comparative and superlative degrees. The necessity of this order is visibly demonstrated by the orderly disposition of the elements, each in its place, ascending and descending along a vertical axis.

  Priscian’s reasoning, when applied to natural things, is a true and necessary one, although it is ignored by many, who do not know how to detect the natural order of things. They do not know how to face things as they really are, but prefer to cast a confused glance at only a few items, without considering likenesses and without finding any differences, and without making any orderly comparisons according to the majority, equality and minority that exist among all classes of natural beings. They easily jump to conclusions, and make pronouncements, as they deem that anything that they do not know must be equally unknown to everyone else. Moreover, they suppose that no one else can possibly know or understand anything that they do not themselves know or understand, and that no one else can ascend above the level of knowledge that they have achieved. This class of individuals can be aptly described as being obstinate purely for the sake of obstinacy.

  Others remain obstinate in believing in some true authorities whose true meaning they have not penetrated, because they prefer narratives and stories, to intellectual debate. These folks have no scientific background, and as they realize their shortcoming, they are less likely to remain obstinate.

  Others remain obstinate in their false principles from false authorities, having been brought up, nourished, and imbibed with sayings handed down from their predecessors. Such people do not want to understand anything that could make them improve their behaviour, and refuse to suppose that anything could be different from what they say it is. It is boring to live and to contend with such people, and difficult to extirpate them from their persistent obstinacy. The only way is to lead them along gradually by applauding them from time to time, when perchance they speak the truth. If they were truly rational human beings, would they not want to know the truth?  Nevertheless, they suppose that they already know enough, if not everything, and invariably see others as ignorant.

  Now let us come back to our previous thread of thought, and say that where sensual knowledge fails, the imagination takes over by reaching beyond the senses, and when the imagination fails, the intellect takes over and reaches above the imagination by attaining truths through rational discourse. A normal eye open before an object at the right distance and with adequate lighting, must see it and cannot help seeing it if no other color or object interferes. Much more so, the intellect naturally well disposed in a naturally well-disposed human body, in the presence of its object, namely a self-evident statement or some demonstration based on principles that are obvious to all, cannot fail to understand its truth.

  The truth of true statements presented to the intellect depends on the truth of objects existing outside the intellect or soul, and a thing that exists in the intellect is not the object itself, but a likeness or a species of that object. If the species is truly governed by the object, the intellect truly attains the object by directing the true species or likeness to its appropriate object. In this manner, it attains objects much better than a mirror reflecting them, if the mirror is straight, clean, and flat and of the right colors. Therefore, a statement that states the truth about an object in this way can be rightly said to express the truth regarding the object, at least to the extent that it one can make a statement about a thing by referring to the likeness that represents it.

  From all this, it is obvious that a stone or a thing is not in the intellect, even though it is an object of the intellect. It is only a species or likeness abstracted by the active intellect. Obviously, this species is something removed from the truth of the externally existing object. Thus, it is clear that intellectual truth depends on real truth. This is why any statement about a real thing is deemed true if it affirms this reality, and false if it negates it. It is also clear that our own affirmations do not add anything new to the reality of an object, nor can they modify it.

  From all this, it is clearly obvious that a real object contains more real truth than does everything that the intellect can draw from it. Reasoning can vary, as it can freely affirm, deny, proclaim or express things differently from what is in the mind, which is commonly known as lying, and the thing or the object does not change but permanently remains in its true reality.  The truth of the real thing surpasses and transcends the truth that the intellect understands about it as much as a likeness differs from the thing that it represents. For the intellect does not reach to the real object. In addition, the real object does not reach the intellect, but only the species through which the intellect understands it.

 There is yet another degree of distance. Now the intellect uses the species that it holds within itself as a sign or likeness of the objects or of the things objectified by it. A sign held in the human mind cannot be expressed or pronounced without passing through a further sign of this impression or likeness that exists in the soul, namely through a meaningful vocal expression, which designates the mental concept. Thus, the voice is a second sign following upon the first.  The likeness of a thing first emanates from the thing itself. Then, the active intellect attracts it and reproduces it until the sign is ultimately imprinted in the passive intellect. Next, from the passive intellect, the sign of the mental concept and not the concept itself, is reproduced and transmitted by the voice that carries and expresses it, and it stands as far away from the sign first received in the passive intellect, as far as any likeness stands from the real thing it simulates.

  The ear receives a meaning through a vocal sign that is subsequently imprinted upon the mind or the passive intellect of the listener. This sign is imprinted twice. First, it is imprinted in the speaker from the immediate likeness or species of the external object. Secondly, the listener receives it through some sign that conveys the meaning of the concept that the speaker has in mind.

 This mental concept was previously the immediate species or likeness of the external object, and now the listener detects the original species or sign through a subsequent sign that does not come straight from the object, but from a species previously derived from it.

   The speaker's voice carries this second sign all the way to the listener's ear, and the listener attracts the meaning conveyed by the voice and knows that this meaning comes from an object through the distance of two intervening steps, as explained. However, the listener refers and directs the meaning of the voice to the real object from which it first arose. If this meaning was properly expressed by the voice conveying its intimate sense, it is sufficient to provide for a good understanding of the signified object.

 Now we cannot understand things any better than this, as we cannot always carry them around with us or point them out with gestures. We can only designate them with meaningful vocal expressions, and these are merely signs of further signs previously imprinted on the passive intellect.

  The expression of meaning therefore presupposes understanding, and understanding presupposes being. Understanding depends on real things, and the conveying of meanings depends on the intellect and its act of understanding. Therefore it is most necessary to express mental concepts with the vocal signs that convey the most intimate reality of the object in the most intimate and vehement manner.

 Now we can see the need for a good knowledge of meanings when naming things and using vocabularies to clear up doubtful questions both substantial and accidental. Accidents do play a large role in identifying things, and terminological disputes are avoidable. This is why anyone ignorant of the meanings of words, can easily go astray in logic. The cause of error lies in the fallacies that are latent in words.

 Consequently, even though not all voices sound the same, nonetheless, when their meanings are understood, the meanings do not stray from the things that they signify.

 Following these useful comments, let us now come back to the Figure that is at the root of our digression, and let us consider the order of the universe. First, as we descend from the top in orderly fashion, let us see how creatures descend from God in an immediate way, following their greater likeness to God. Then, let us descend from greater likenesses to lesser ones and from more subtle, pure and lucid likenesses to ones that are less subtle, pure and lucid, and thus proceed through a process of involution through the spiritual planes, until finally we arrive at a nature that is simply of another order, namely physical nature.

  The involution of created spiritual substance takes place in the rational soul, which stands at the lowest horizon of intelligences, as the dregs of spiritual being with respect to the angels above it. For it is in touch with physical nature, without being physical in itself, but only endowed with an aptitude for entering into composition with a body as one of two parts of a compound, thus producing a third entity. Thus, the rational soul is on the one hand, at the bottom of the scale of intelligences and on the other hand, it stands immediately above, and in continuous contact with the body of heaven, or the universal astral body. Here, the rational soul is in contact with the prime universal body, which is subtler than any heavenly body.

  From this ninth heaven, and from the prime mobile sphere, the spheres descend in their successive involutionary order. Nevertheless, they all consist of one and the same celestial or astral nature, homogeneous through the whole natural body of heaven down to the sphere of the Moon, which is lumpier and gross than the spheres above it. Looking closely at the Moon's body, we see that it is not uniform, as stains and blemishes cover it. For the lunar sphere is tinged with the likeness of the spheres immediately below it, namely the elements with their perturbations and impurities, their generation and decay, all signified by the waxing and waning of moonlight.

  Next, in descending order comes the sphere of things subject to generation and decay, the confused disturbance and chaos of the elements, which likewise follows an order based on the nature of each element. Now fire is the element possessing the highest level of form, subtlety, rarity, actuality, and purity, and the least amount of physical matter, and it belongs in the first closest region to the heavens, as the element that comes nearest to reaching celestial nature. Fire is luminous, and extremely light, which gives it a natural tendency to rise toward the clarity and light of heaven; thus, it belongs to the uppermost sphere closest to the heavens where it is joined to the concavity of the lunar sphere. 

 After fire, in descending order comes air that is grosser and less pure than fire. Thus, it belongs below fire, and as it is lighter, purer and subtler than water, it rises above water. Moreover, water is more subtle, pure and beautiful than earth, so it is above earth; and as water is more gross, compact and material than air, it is placed beneath air. Earth is the dregs and the ultimate involution of the other elements. As such, earth is the most gross, thick, and impure of them all. Now the elements can be considered as the dregs of astral bodies. Astral bodies can be considered, comparatively, as the dregs of the intelligences. The intelligences are clean, pure creatures, sublimated above every kind of uncleanness.  As intelligences descend through involution, their dregs are found in the rational spirit that does not exist as an end in itself, has no purpose on its own and reposes only in man, for whom it is ultimately meant.

  As we said above, God the Holy One projects away from Himself the effects that He derives from Himself, by putting a distance between Himself, and the things least similar to Him. He situated a place for the damned in the nether abyss of earth, amid the collective uncleanness of all creatures, in a place that is at the greatest distance from God in all directions. Then He called His creatures back to Himself from the lowest element and from the place found furthest away from Him because He created them and brought them all into being for Himself through the generous grace of His love. So that His operations do not proceed in vain, He set a gradual ascending order among creatures, whereby they can ultimately attain the end of perfection ordered for them, and repose in this end. Thus, God has bestowed on creatures virtues that indicate their orderly ascent to their creator, for they were created by the creator in a descending order, as stated above.

 Therefore, let every creature rejoice and exult in Him, as creatures cannot possibly be ordered to a greater and more perfect purpose. Let all rational creatures rejoice and exult most of all, because they can understand and know this truth; and most of all man, as he is the medium through which this orderly ascent back to Godhead takes place, and as such, man is the focal point of all creation.

 The return to the Origin takes place within a sphere full of disturbances, confusion, chaos, contrariety and corruption. In comparison to other, higher creatures, it may seem like a divine condemnation; but such is not the case. Rather, it is a just action on God's part. In his infinite wisdom, God, the supreme operator created the worlds for himself to manifest his presence through his works and reveal through them the purpose and final perfection of his divine work, which is meant without doubt for rational creatures. He created confusion, so that order could better and more perfectly shine forth in contrast. He placed order among similar and dissimilar things in the world, to create a medium for acts of cognition, clear awareness and the removal of doubt. The reason why He introduced this most excellent operation and many other super excellent and supremely dignified operations into this place of exile, decay and confusion, was to compensate for the exalted and lofty position of the higher creatures. Now He created all creatures equally with the same love, He destined every one of them to one end, and in this end, the entirety of His effect, which is the world, comes to perfection.

 What a marvellous, supernatural and infinite operation it was, to create a great work out of nothingness, like the sensible world with its intelligences. In addition, to make two things that are so naturally remote, and naturally so distant from each other, like spiritual nature which is God’s greater likeness, and physical nature below it, which is entirely, essentially and naturally diverse and separated from spiritual nature. Also, to create within physical nature, two things so essentially different in nature, as are the perpetual celestial cycles, and the corruptible things made of elements?

 Even more marvellous was the conjunction or union of two such distant and diverse natural extremes, as the body, which is entirely subject do decay, and spirit, which can neither be neither generated nor corrupted. They join in such an entirely perfect composition, that they result in one, singular and natural substantial being, which is neither of the two said things, but something essentially different. Nevertheless, both remain intensively what they are in themselves, without any corruption of their own natures either in composition or in simplicity, all this in the present valley of tears!

 The most marvellous of all, was to see infinite being assume finite being in such a manner as to make a single substantial being without any composition. Both retain their past, present and future identity; through this operation, God became everything while making everything over to himself, as He made the creator into a creature, and the creature into the creator! Is it any wonder that rational man should most ardently and fervently desire to know this?

 I do not intend to deal here with all the things that I just mentioned, or to delve into their causes, so as to leave some room for wonderment and thirst for knowledge. However, I do intend to delve into the source and origin of all knowable causes, as there can be no science if the principles are ignored. As the principles of knowledge are identical to the principles of being, and being precedes knowing, we can first gaze upon the world as it is in its goodness and its greatness, and admire its order and beauty. As we admire the world in this, and many other ways that we cannot grasp or comprehend through the senses and the imagination, we are moved by reason to say that the world is not its own cause. If the world had existed before coming into existence, it would have existed even before existing, and it would have existed even while it did not exist, and thus it would have both existed, and not existed at the same time, which is plainly impossible.

 Therefore, we say that the world has a cause, and a maker. Optimally, should an effect that is so good, great, durable and powerful, endowed with such wisdom and instinct, such will and appetite, such virtue, truth, delight and glory, not have a maker who has always been, and is now supremely good, great and durable, powerful, wise, willing, virtuous, true and glorious, eminently above and beyond the effect produced by him?

 Did Aristotle, the philosopher, in the beginning of “The Heavens and the World” not clearly state that all things are threefold, and divide into three dimensions?  All Pythagoreans likewise say that all reality is encompassed by three dimensions, namely the end, the middle and the beginning; and this number applies to all things, and signifies the threefoldness of all things. And the Philosopher immediately goes on to say: "And so, having taken these three from nature as (so to speak) laws of it, we make further use of the number three in the worship of  one God, our Creator, Who eminently possesses all the properties of all created things".

 Therefore, as any effect as such must necessarily be finite, since it precedes nothing else, but proceeds from something else, so any effect is either nothing at all, or something that follows upon something else. Therefore it must necessarily follow, that the being which stands above effects and finiteness, must itself be infinite, otherwise it would not stand above finite being. Therefore, whatever stands above and beyond finite being, must be either infinite, or nothing at all. Therefore, infinite goodness stands eminently above created goodness, through its infinite magnitude, duration, power, wisdom, will, virtue, truth and glory.

 This is really the original location, in which and from which Raymond Lull first began to contemplate, as we see in his Biography, and seek out the true causes of all knowable truths. By divine grace, suddenly, through an unknown shepherd who told him many great and wonderful things about the Creator and his creatures, the Lord fully enlightened his intellect. From then on, he never stopped inquiring and writing, so that God might act through him as an instrument. By God’s action, and with the God-given art as an instrument, he hoped to extirpate the errors, opinions and falsehoods that have always existed, and still exist in this rational world, by the grace of God and with pure and simple truth applied with the Art.

How sad it is that everything nowadays deemed most true and necessary is also most deeply ignored, and most remotely hidden away from the wise of this world! How many periods of history have passed in their ceaseless search, and nonetheless truth is still more and more a matter of opinion, without anyone daring to stand up and determine, or assert the truth, or say anything more than: "Here is what others think of it", and this is where it stops. These errors exist for a cause: namely the ignorance of causes and of the principles of causality. To be called wise, or knowledgeable, you must be able to use your intellectual virtue with assurance on your own for attaining difficult subjects and their causes. We can consider that we really know something once we are sure of its causes. Knowing something is nothing more or less than knowing the causes of its effect, in a way that cannot possibly be otherwise.

Proclus put it so well in the beginning of his Book on Causes. "The prime cause has greater influence on its effect, and is more of a cause than the immediate or secondary cause. Because any cause of another cause, is also the cause of what is further caused, we can say that 'whatever operation is performed by a second cause, is performed by the first cause to an even higher degree'.  For the first cause operates from a more elevated and sublime level. When the second cause is removed from what it has caused, the prime cause is not removed, because the prime cause adheres to a thing more greatly and more vehemently, than does the immediate cause; and the effect of a cause cannot be caused without the participation of the prime cause. This is because while the second cause is not producing any effect in an object, the higher prime cause influences the object with its virtue adhering vehemently to it and serving it". In addition, he gives the example of rational man: the first cause produces being, the second cause: life and the third cause: reason. He says, "If reason is removed from a man, what is left is no longer a man, but merely a living, breathing and sentient being. And if life is taken away, then although no longer alive, the thing still has being, and being is not removed from it, since a cause is not removed by removing the effect it has caused."  

To next page, and the rest of the Introduction