The sixth consideration deals with Nature itself and so we must must now define Nature. But Nature is a difficult thing to define, even amongst the wise there was disagreement about which came first, God or Nature. For if Nature came first, then God must have been created, which he cannot have been. But if God came first, then Nature must have been created, for only if Nature can have been born can it really come into existence. But some wise men define Nature as the originator of fire, and it is through fire that it enters sensible matter to enable its reproduction. Indeed it is clear that all things are created principally by fire. But Plato defined Nature as the Will of God, and this is the definition that meets with the most approval amongst the philosophers, for the Will of God is complete Goodness in its entirety and is present in all things. His will is born from his Divinity, so that things may be as they are, as they have been and as they always will be, and that Nature may be proof against aging. Nature, sensation and the whole world contains this Nature within them, in fact every living thing contains it. For each sex is fulfilled through procreation and this joining of the two or, more accurately, this unity between them-which you may well call desire or love (or both) – is quite beyond our understanding, just as much as are desire and love. However if both God and Nature are considered to exist and since neither can come from the other (for it must be that which is born of the first comes second), neither God nor Nature can be considered as having been born. Plato was quite correct when he stated that Nature is the Will of God, for God has always willed and it is necessary that he does so, for this is the truest cause of all things. Since, if it is the Will of God, Nature cannot have been born, then neither it nor God can have been born, and thus we must understand that the nature of the Macrocosm beyond the Microcosm is not Nature at all but God. For this same Nature, by which the world exists, is the Will of God; but the art that pursues Nature (that is, the Will of God) is the true knowledge of the Microcosm, and of what must be done. For it is not Nature that carries the vitriol from the mountain into the furnace, or builds a fire beneath. The true concern of man, his true art, is to prepare and produce the Medicine. Every man who has known that this art is the only true one may then practise it faithfully. He who has learned may then assume control. But whoever tries his skill should take care that he does not sin against the Will of God or the Laws of Nature.

The Consideratio Brevis of Philip à Gabella

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Just in case there are those who refuse to be caught forever by ugliness and seek some alternative, the evil of cruelty makes its claims. Cruelty is something we recognize so easily as a physical activity, yet find so hard to identify in its finer but no less dangerous forms. It is essentially an intentional misuse of power by a strong entity toward a weaker one on the same plant’ of action. For instance, a helpless cripple could scarcely be physically cruel to a strong and healthy person, yet could very well be diabolically cruel mentally to the same person if he were intellectually vulnerable. Cruelty is only possible as a calculated discharge of destructive energy directed at feebler creature unlikely to retaliate effectively. Thus cruelty automatically implies cowardice as well.The motivation of cruelty is commonly again the artificial ego-enlargement resultant from its practice. It makes the little boy feel bigger when he kicks his baby brother. If we can make others frightened of us we seem larger by comparison to their shrinking. That is the secret of cruelty. A false sense of boost because of aggressive action which appears to avoid injurious reprisals. To hurt and kill some helpless and defenseless creature makes cruel people feel enormously powerful by contrast. They may even delude themselves for an instant that they are acting like gods. Taking their pathetic little share of life energy, they are willing to expend this on damaging the lives of weaker beings for the sake of supposing themselves more powerful than they truly are. None cry louder than such cowardly criminals when justified retribution rebounds on them. Nobody hates being hurt more than those who hurt with hate.

We need not always look for evident violence in order to recognize cruelty. It is possible to be extremely cruel in the “nicest and sweetest” ways. Staging little scenes deliberately to humiliate and hurt someone’s feelings while remaining righteously on the side of conventional virtue meanwhile. With the aid of a little intelligence people can contrive all sorts of cruelties yet themselves keep in the clear so far as rule books apply. Attendants in mental hospitals, for instance, have ample opportunity on these lines. So has anyone in charge of children or animals, or whoever is unable to hit back where it hurts most. Let those who think they could not be cruel examine what conscience they have within their own life-frameworks If we are still in human bodies then we are yet capable of cruelty in some degree or another. It is well to see this and convert our energies otherwise as we can.

–William G. Gray (Exorcizing the Tree of Evil)

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