O God! Grant me understanding and teach me how to speak of Thy enlightenment, and give me enough and to spare of truth!
To calculate, know and express the number of the dwellings of the Saints is impossible.
They occupy an immeasurable expanse, and comprise what seem ranks or lines, each raised above the other: and this not figuratively but by a kind of shadowing.
It is only from within their very midst, which is the realm of Love and Light to which they all turn and from which they are quickened, and before which they are opened up and laid bare, only from this centre that they may be perceived truly and without error, and from whence one might speak of their beauteousness of form and declare, in unbefuddled joy: wondrous are Thy works, Lord, and their contemplation, that is, seeing them in Thy light and penetrating their brilliance and beauty, naught but joy is to be gained!
Above and beyond this, it is also possible to see them peripherally, as though from the side or askance, and in a most wondrous manner. A certain distorted perception may be had of them, or, I know not how to say it, one that is perverted or deformed, going against the central experience, and in thus wise it is possible to describe them and assert visions of them without falsehood. In this way they are seen too by Satan, and it is from this NB peripheral awareness that he has fashioned for himself his own wisdom and his own light, through which he can open up even to us (may God preserve us!) great mysteries in nature, in Holy Writ, and even mysteries concerning God, Christ, and the Holy Trinity: though this be not as it is so in the revelation of Love and Light, but only in such a way as Satan from his own point of view perceives them.
It is from this and from the lofty and subtly-false light and wisdom that there emerge false prophets, false apostles, false theologians and even martyrs and miracle-workers, to make up the church of the antichrist.
Many are those who are deceived by them and who will be dazzled by their teachings and the revelation of many mysteries; which is why they apostatise from the true, humble, manger-born, spat-upon, tortured and crucified One who died on the cross, that is, from the true Christ, Son of God, (at this word there unfurled before me a wing bearing a depiction of the entirety of the sufferings and death of Christ), and His church, and submit to the false christ, to his church and to other scriptures which, although replete with Holy Scripture, the most refined teachings and interpretation of the Trinity, of Christ and of His church, remain false nonetheless and, alas! written by the spirit of Satan himself.
These anti-prophets and anti-apostles will spring forth, however, from among the sons of the true church of Christ, and even from among those chosen for anointing in the kingdom of Love and Light. They are overzealous of their perceptive enlightenment, more so than of their actual success in the cross of Jesus. In this condition they will pass through many abodes of the Saints, looking without seeing and listening without hearing, but failing for all this to enter the human heart: for this (*) awareness is central, note it well, and consists not of visions and heard things, but of power; but all that they see is seen no longer from the centre of Love and Light, but in a manner peripheral and tangential.
(*) which does not enter the human heart.
It is at this point that there opens up within them an immaturity (an unripeness), that is a self-sense or selfhood, imperfectly deadened, and not having had all its vital and most infinitesimal specks annihilated on the cross of self-renunciation; a selfness that takes on a life of its own and remains lodged there steadfast, drawing into its core that love which hitherto had been directed toward the centre of Love and Life. This same sense of self abides at first as if somewhat wonder-struck, but begins with time to bestir itself of its own accord. From this stirring of selfhood there is formed within them [the anti-prophets or anti-apostles] a sphere of a certain peripheral illumination, which waxes and wanes therein according to the degree of strength or weakness of agitation or, so to speak, of the chafing of its sapient part by the peripheral light of the secondary, created world, or by beyond-earthly beauty
O mighty God! Thou seest that my soul, stirred by Thy power, is possessed of weak flesh, that neither its tongue nor its hand are capable of depicting even a hundredth part of that which Thou hast revealed unto me; yet channel Thy power into the weakness of Thy unworthy slave, for the glorification of Thy name, and that Thy people might be preserved from devilish snares.
Human selfhood is thus a stem grafted onto the tree of selfhood originating from the primaeval enemy of God (Lucifer), which so speedily blooms in them (that is, in those fallen from the elect) or, as is said, is brought to life; that it begins at once to feed from that in which it grows, branching out and bringing forth many fruits of the spirit of the foe, of the spirit of the deceiver; by these fruits, many may be fed and made (I know not how to say it, but subdued) spiritually twisted, or made spiritually pretentious, i.e. they lose simplicity in all things and lose humility, and through their twistedness or arrogance, will not pass through the world-disdaining and humble, lowly, simple and true gates of the kingdom of God.
NB. I have, in spirit, seen this pretentiousness in a most vivid manner, and heard these words (at a time of some agitation or development of my own): “children would be better for you than books!”
And it is wondrous that this (the above-described diffusion of evil) is effected in such a subtly spiritual manner that they themselves (i.e. those who bring forth such fruits) in no wise see what they are in spiritual essence, and may even abjure the devil, zealously engage in good works, attend divine service, pray to God, take part in the holy Sacraments, read the Holy Writ, or write and speak of the highest mysteries and of their revelation; nonetheless being in essence not of the spirit of God, for those alone are true and pleasing to God which are created solely in self-negation and such absence of selfhood, be it earthly or heavenly, not vouchsafed unto the children of God.
By means of this graft, Satan has, does, and will continue to ape the works of God, which God has created, creates and will create for the salvation and redemption of the human race; and for the sake of which neither divine service, nor prayer, nor devotion, nor fasting, nor sharing out of worldly goods among the poor, nor prophecy, nor faith, nor the knowledge of the most highest mysteries, nor even martyrdom, whether bodily or spiritual, wheresoever man might be drawn into this poor imitation, his selfhood being imperfect and not having, according to the example of Jesus, been deadened and utterly annihilated on the cross.
From the manger the path is paved to the Holiest of Holies: this only is the final state, i.e. meekness and self-denial, in which and from which, on the wings of faith and love, the elect of the elect (not the wider throngs of the elect) rise up without danger from among the wider elect to the centre of Love and Life, where all else is opened up and rendered unto them as it truly is; and where they are anointed in the true works of God (in the service of God), to wit; preaching the word of God and the mysteries of the heavenly kingdom, in teaching the word of God, and in preserving it and cleansing it of the infernal weeds which the devil sows and will sow through his prophets and apostles; all that along with the preservation of God’s people: in a word, where they are anointed as priests and kings.
Finally, it was said that the centre is also to be found in the word of God.
Reading it for its own sake, for it is the word of God; loving it for its own sake, for it is that which flows from the centre of love, summoning and saving mankind; cleansing and enlightening oneself from its word and for its sake, for darkness and light can have no intercourse, only by this alone can its centre be attained, and the wondrous, beautiful and unspeakable Divine abundance of love and sweetness; to put it briefly: perfectly, with complete continence and without selfhood, reading the word of God, or journeying to His centre of light and life, lost to mankind through the fall of the first sinner, approaching that centre alone, comprehending the mysteries of the kingdom of God and obtaining it, together with all that it betides.
Whosoever has not, for the sake of selfhood, reached his central light, in which alone can all the superfluously wise and wondrous word of God be seen without distortion, will penetrate into the depths of mysteries solely by means of that rational part of their being which has not yet attained true purity (such sad and sorrowful examples have been and are many); such a one cannot penetrate them truly and centrally, but penetrate them only peripherally; and not in such a way as to perceive their real essence, but only to look upon them from the point of view of his own chaotic understanding.
It is to this that we owe the existence of false scriptures which do not belong to the true scriptures of the church of Christ; and it is from all these weeds, so cunningly sown by the adversary of God (Lucifer) through the selfhood of those who serve him and build his church, from these that the word of God and church of Christ must be cleansed and protected by the anointed priests and kings.
O God! Grant the reader understanding and permit him to see this truth, not as I reveal it, but as Thou hast revealed it unto me!
Note on the account given in the third epistle.
Having accepted the word exaltation in the sense that man is snatched up by another from out of his own self and swept aloft, I cannot say that the visitation of the Spirit of God was like this with myself when it came; for it was like this:
I customarily awaken at such a time in the morning when no other in my household has yet arisen, at around two hours before dawn. At one such time, during the very moment of prayer, somebody encouraged me to partake through various spiritual movements and their striving towards faith in the unseen subjects of internal worlds, that I might then also be able to see those things in the original that I had seen there and only there in the word depictions of the pen of the Author.
I took this thought for a welcome and kindly guest; and that very instant, being in a deep sabbatical state, began to spoil. The heavens wept, seeing me in this mindlessness which, on the passing of half an hour in time, ended only with my having wounded my conscience with a new sin worthy of the tears of myself and my brethren.
It was not yet dawn. I lay on a divan and began to tearfully repent what I had done. In this my penitence I envisioned my worthlessness and reproached myself for having dared importune upon that Holiness which is forbidden to the likes of dogs. The more that I, seeing my grave impurity, humbled myself, shrove, and pitied not the stings to my conscience; the more I suddenly began to feel a certain pouring down onto me of well-being, a humble, peaceable and unspeakably sweet warmth.
This warmth, according to its increase, worked in me a certain spiritual straightening out, and the more I was straightened (humbled) and stretched, it seemed that I was released from distortion, or from my own twistedness, the more it warmed me. Finally, it appeared that I had been restored even to childish simplicity, in which I felt for myself neither repentance nor abhorrence at all, and in which, in a word, I felt nothing save the loftiest and most indescribable in words simplicity and meekness. In this state, that warmth poured over me to the extent that I, being in perfect wakefulness, felt most abundantly alive, as this warmth drew and absorbed bodily life into itself, and made it sensitive, alive and sprightly in itself and from itself. Here my words must be cut short: for it is impossible to depict the harmonious and, one might say, immortal state that my body then found itself. It seems as though in this state, neither death nor injury were even possible. I say only under the seal of modesty that it was through this that the most exalted spiritual phenomenon was revealed unto me, whereby death is swallowed up by life and darkness by light; and whereby corruption is clothed in incorruption. May God permit the reader to comprehend this!
Babbling in this wise on the corporeal state and of its warmth, is the only way I can – and must – speak of my soul, which in its penetration and vivid awareness of certain things, and so on and so forth, exceeds my art of description! It was in this state, which seemed to me one of semi-wakefulness, that everything occurred which is told of in the account; and when I stood before the gates and the wing, there took place in my soul a certain engraving of those truths of which in my impurity and illegitimacy I can now reveal but a shadow, amen.
N. A. KRAYEVICH
Excerpts from Nicolai Krayevich’s 1790 work Ray of Grace, selected by Alexandra Sukhareva, translation from old Russian by Ben McGarr. This text is featured in an artist’ book specially conceived for Joseph at Galería PM8.
Short biographical sketch
Nikolai Alexandrovich Krayevich (1757/8 – 1780) – free mason, assessor in the Oryol Criminal Court Chambers in the 1780s.
Together with his brother, the Oryol landowner K. A. Krayevich, N. A. Krayevich was a member of the local masonic lodge of the Ascending Eagle. This lodge was founded in 1784 under the leadership of I. V. Lopukhin and its parent lodge of the Three Banners, and continued in existence until 1792. Its membership chiefly comprised local officials led by Lopukhin’s friend and vice-governor, Z. Ya. Karneyev, who went on to become master of the lodge.
Being of poor health (suffering from fits resembling those of epilepsy, accompanied by visions), Krayevich was compelled to leave service at a relatively young age.
In the late 1780s, he lived in a village near Moscow, relying on the moral and material support of his masonic brethren and of Lopukhin in particular. In one of his letters to the latter, Krayevich thanks him for sending furniture, tea and money.
To judge from remarks made by Lopukhin, many of Krayevich’s writings included in the book “Ray of Grace” were composed in the last few months of his life (no earlier than the spring of 1789). Krayevich died on the 24th June 1790 and was buried in Moscow’s Novospassky Monastery.