Saint Bernard born in 1090, was abbot of the Cistercian Abbey of Clairvaux. From a young age he had a strong sense of purity from which René Guénon drew comparison to Galahad, a “knight without blemish.” I will return to Guénon later in this discourse as his writings on Saint Bernard are invaluable to anyone who seeks to understand Christian Esotericism et al. It is significant that Bernard was not only author of the Rule of the Order of the Temple, a Papal reformer, a harmoniser, and a bringer of unity, “finding a median way” allowing for the development of the classical rule of virtue; moderation in all things. Elizabeth T. Kennan recognised that though Bernard scarcely referenced pre Christian writers “…the aesthetic sense of balance and rhythm in his language and rhetorical structure of his arguments are unquestionably classical.” I wish to draw attention to Bernard’s Five Books on Consideration.
Bernard defines “consideration” as “thought searching for truth, or the searching of a mind to discover truth.” This differs from “contemplation” as that is concerned more with “what is known about something” contrary to what is “unknown.” Bernard lists four ways in which “the fruit of consideration” can be achieved. These are:
- What is below you,
- Around you,
- And above you.
Bernard begins with “yourself” as to do so is to follow in the footsteps of wise men, for your wisdom should benefit you, and if it does not, you lack everything. Bernard is paraphrasing Matthew 16:26.
Self-knowledge is the necessary first step in Bernard’s mystical theology. Knowledge of self brings personal shame, but at the same time allows awareness of your own creation in God’s image. From this double realisation comes humility and faith, the twin elements with which begin all knowledge in Bernard. The secure foundations that the virtuous citadel is built on, so to speak.
Expanding on the first step, Bernard writes “there are three divisions in knowing yourself,” these are; “what you are, who you are, and what sort of man you are: what you are in nature, who you are in person, and what sort of man you are in character.” To use the example of Pope Eugene III to whom Bernard is addressing his book, it follows that Eugene is;
- A rational mortal animal e.g. man.
- Kind, gentle etc.
- Supreme Pontiff.
After you have knowledge of yourself Bernard asks you to consider what is below you, then the things that are around you, and finally those things that are above you. If one wishes to tread the steps of Galahad in search of the Grail, one would do well to have a pure heart, for that was the kernel of his success.
Clearly most readers of this will be men as defined above (this could be a whole other topic for discussion regarding philosophy but I will take the Christian conception based on the work of Aquinas and pre-Christians such as Aristotle). It is largely up to your own make up what kind of man you are, at least materially, and there are guides to help you to determine your core values.
In terms of spirit, there is Julius Evola’s conception of the differentiated man, which is well-read here at West Coast Reactionaries and has been carefully explicated by Mark Citadel writing for Social Matter. Adam Wallace — in his recent article on the Jewish Question — quoted Jonathan Bowden’s interpretation of Evola’s theory, giving a hypothetical response to a man claiming protection because of his “whiteness.”
It is not surprising that a recurring theme in our circles (of mostly (angry) young men) is knowledge of oneself. I was particularly taken by Jack Donovan’s expression that one should be training for a spiritual army which — as the Empire no longer exists, and has become invisible — makes a lot of sense.
Considering a link between Bernard’s way of thinking — a mystical doctrine — and the Hermetic meditations or to the Vedanta — which Guido de Giorgio’s Christianity is said to have been influenced by — we arrive at a possibility of the continuation of Tradition. Bernard was, to quote Guénon;
… a knight of the Virgin; and he calls the Virgin “his Lady,” the origin of the expression “Our Lady” [Notre Dame] even having been attributed to him. She is also Madonna, and in one of her aspects is identified with Wisdom, hence the same Madonna of the Fedeli d’Amore…
Here we have the link with Dante too, drawing us back to de Giorgio, who sees hope in the restoration of Europe through Dante to the spirit of Rome:
[To save Europe and the West from catastrophe,] it would depend not as much on the external material things that are of scant value in themselves, but on those deep, internal, spiritual values … the catastrophe of the life of the spirit, the collapse of the truth.
To echo Cologero Salvo — this is a common conception among Traditionalists such as Guénon, Evola etc. — not everyone can achieve and indeed should strive to be the “differentiated man.” If we are to reach the heights we are aiming for it would be prudent to remind ourselves here of what Abraxas tells us of the Solar race:
- Become innerly detached from yourself and from what surrounds you; maintain a sober, effortless, neutral, and well-balanced lifestyle, without excesses. Sleep only as needed and eat little.
- Let your body be whole, calm, harmonized. Temper your soul with the power that is in you; cleanse it from impulsiveness, passions, restlessness, and then stabilize it and amalgamate it with your body.
- Other beings do not exist. Do not let their actions, thoughts, or judgments affect you, no matter what they are.
- Make sure that nothing will secretly creep into you: watch over everything that comes from the outside and that emerges from the unexplored depths of your consciousness. Observe all things in silence with your mind and remain unperturbed, stopping every judgment with a firm hand.
- If passions bother you, do not react or become perturbed. Bring them deliberately to satisfaction, and then get rid of them.
- Grow in this direction until you are able to realize the frivolity, uselessness, and the threat of every thought, so that your mind, too, may slowly calm down and silently crouch at your feet.
- In this way you can slowly build up a strength inside you, similar to a lord whose glance instils silence, respect, or confusion in the servants around him.
To maintain your life by following even half of these points would be a huge leap forward. Perhaps the ideal could be summarised — if made profane — with the words of E.H. Looney;
Men who raise families that remain in fidelity to tradition will end up with descendants ruling the world.
By living Tradition you are acting as a conduit for an invisible spiritual force, which given time, will materialise at the coming of a new age. One hopes that this sense of duty will overcome some of the more difficult aspects of our lives in the modern world.
 Elizabeth T. Kennan, Five Books on Consideration: Advice to a Pope (Kalamazoo 1976), Introduction.
 Rene Guénon, Insights into Christian Esoterism (Hillsdale 2004), Chapter 10.
 Kennan, Five Books on Consideration.
 Bernard of Clairvaux, Five Books on Consideration: Advice to a Pope (Kalamazoo 1976), Book Two.
 See Bernard of Clairvaux, Five Books on Consideration: Advice to a Pope (Kalamazoo 1976), Book Three, Four and Five.
 Matthew 5:8; Galahad — upon seeing the Grail for a second time — chose to end his life so that he could remain pure.
 Guénon, Insights into Christian Esoterism, p. 41.