Our Christ

Our Christ : the revolt of the mystical genius / Constantin Brunner. Transl. by Graham Harrison and Michael Wex. Ed. by A. M. Rappaport. - Assen : van Gorcum, 1990.
On understanding Christ
How are we to understand Christ, how can we envisage him, this man of Truth, stolen by the men of superstition? No one, for two thousand years, has been the subject of so much talk as Christ has—and mostly on the part of people whose minds are as open to Truth as an owl’s eyes are to the light of the sun. Blind as they are, they have even put scales over the eyes of those who can see. And now, at last, the sighted shall see; let them lose, let them forget what they imagined they possessed, and find what they had never sought! (1)
On mysticism
Christ is a mystic, and his self-consciousness is that of the mystic. (1)
For the fact remains that mysticism is terrifying to the common consciousness and the superstitious mind. It turns the human understanding topsy-turvy. So does philosophy, but mysticism is more frightening than philosophy because its revelations are hurled forth in a harsh, abrupt fashion, the force behind the eruption being defiance and blessed drunkenness. In mysticism, everything is thrown at us directly, without discursiveness and ratiocination, as if it were a matter of course, and we are challenged to follow an unrestrainable will to love, arising out of a tremendously agitated, indiscriminate feeling. Mysticism is and remains terrifying. (2)
Mystics will—rather than know—their thoughts (and we shall come to recognize Christ as the most colossal, the most unrestrained man of will). (6)
Mysticism witnesses nothing but love; mysticism is nothing but love. (6)
Art shows how it loves, philosophy what it loves; mysticism knows only that it loves. (6)
On God
What mischief has been perpetrated by applying the word God to the absolute! Again and again the predicates of the God of superstition are tacked on to the true God, to the absolute to which no predicate applies, since all predicates designate only relative things. Thus, by sleight of hand, the absolute—uncaused and uncausing—changes back into the familiar Cause of the World whom we ourselves in turn can soon manipulate as causers and determiners. This we do by some strange witchcraft—rituals, prayers, etc. The only philosopher who ever came through this confusion with a whole skin and for whom the matter rested with the mere equating of the flatus vocis [The voice’s sound (or bark)] God and God, was Spinoza. And the only mystic who tried to avoid the word God altogether is the perfect mystic, Christ. (7)
Why must people be always making men divine and gods human? O these deafening and deadening words! (9)
Jahveh, Being, is the term for the wholly abstract spiritual; it has no relation to the relative world. (158)
This Cogitant... of which, by which and in which all ideata are, this Ground and condition of everything thought is itself unthought; thinking everything, it does not become anything ideated, never is a party to anything ideated, and is never comparable to anything ideated. It is eternal, infinite Being to which neither time nor space pertain; it is immaterial substance, unlike things and formless, neither seen nor heard nor felt by the senses in any manner…. And although it is only through the Cogitant that the known is made known and the willed is willed, the Cogitant itself knows neither itself nor anything else; it has neither will nor possession nor need. The Cogitant, of itself omnipotent (autodynamic), begets and sustains all ideata and is omnipresent in them, permeating them as light penetrates glass. Yet its relation to the ideatum is not causal: it does not move, does not diversify itself, does not split into as many parts as the things it ideates. It does not entangle itself with, collide with, nor touch the ideatum; it dwells everywhere and yet has no habitation anywhere—its dwelling and its paths are past searching out. Free of all the qualifications of the manifold, being within it and yet above it and outside of it, it remains hidden, effecting everything in incomprehensible fashion and yet not being affected…, existing through itself (Ens a se, not ens ab alio [being by itself not being by another]). It is the pure and faultless, single Oneness itself, immutable, the incomparable, the notion of which alone is present within ourselves in a special and primordial manner and is not first engendered by the senses and logical operations. (20)
Out of Jahveh, out of the Cogitant in the innermost human spirit, religion makes the ideatum of the God-thing. (162)
On the soul
Equating the soul with God means denying God and making the soul absolute. God is alien to it, the world is alien to it; the soul recognizes only itself in its own unity and simplicity. As we have said, this is no more nor less than the core of philosophical truth. (10)
On the spiritual elite
Above all, there are two human races, differing inwardly: the Spiritual Élite and the multitude. (118)
In the end the conclusion cannot be avoided, therefore—and it is confirmed by all experience and thus constitutes a historically secure verdict—that things of the spirit are not for ordinary common sense. They are not available to what is common, nor to all men, but only to uncommon people. (12-13)
Those who do not know absolute Self-consciousness, which is above the sphere of understanding, know nothing of Christ. (130)
On religion
The "spiritual religions" look down on the magical practices of primitive peoples, yet, with their prayers, rituals, ceremonies and sacraments, they too are nothing but magic. (16)
On atheism
Atheism contests the existence of an external God; but there can be no similar argument against the Cogitant in us. (19)
On Christ's divinity
Christ, with whom the multitude could not deal other than by making him into God Himself, thus enabling itself to venerate as God him whom they had loathed as man. (113)
On political parties
Those who have and want to keep, and the others, who don't have and want to get. These are the truly important parties in every land, at every time, despite all changes of form and name. (141)
On Judaism
Prophetic Judaism is not a religion. That which makes it into Judaism consists of something which no religion possesses: the revelatory character of mysticism. (162)
Judaism as a spiritual doctrine is the opposite of religion and a protest against it. (160)
The Pharisees did not know that in Christ they would chop down and destroy the only branch to bloom from Judaism. (160)
On tradition
Tradition is the analogon and the contrary of revelation; where revelation is genius, inspiration from the depth of the Self, from the Spirit of Jahveh, tradition is learned, is sophistry of the mind. (163)
On Christianity
Christianity must rightly bear the name of Judaism. (165)
Christ was the embodiment of Judaism. (165)
On prophecy
Prophecy, in Christ, has nothing but its absolute content of everlasting meaning. More precisely, the difference between Christ and the other prophets is threefold:
1. Unlike the other prophets, he has no connection with politics and is not a people's tribune. In the Gospels, we find temporal circumstances only as background, Christ having no relationship to them at all. He kept his thoughts unmuddled by the world—"Get thee behind me, Satan!"—he was and remained truly free of the world.
2. He preaches no religious superficialities whatsoever, nothing at all of worship, nothing of God; he is truly godless.
3. Neither for earth nor heaven does he preach any coming kingdom. "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Mt. 6:33). The kingdom, however, is nothing that is to come; it is here, it is within you (Lk. 17:21). It is the Spirit of innerness as it is alive in him, the truly blessed man; it is the essence, ever being and never changing. It is also the essence of this our life, not merely an appendix granted it by some other essence, for which we would have to fulfill certain conditions. It is our Being, ever existing and always the same in the depth of our innerness; it is our essence and the one essence which alone is really Being. (165-6)
On anger
Christ has been spoken of long enough as the child of love and peace; the whimpering love of Christ has been spoken of long enough, and nothing has been said of his wrath. Let us begin to speak of his wrath as much as of his love, and of his wrathful love. His love is falsely defined if it is defined only as the love of mankind and if Christ is reduced to such a love. Great, strong, spiritual love—which is always at the same time a genuine, unsentimental love of man—cannot be without wrath.... For the world does not know that anger can no more be separated from love than flame and heat can from fire. Love and anger are a single fire of the Spirit. (169)
On genius
Christ is against human reason! From the midst of the flat plain of human reason, there arises the terrible, fire-spewing mountain of genius. (168)
Christ ordained himself a rabbi, the only rabbi. (176)
No man on earth was so impudent as this one or came in such a way, always with lightning and thunder, no man was ever so little suited to see other men as his equals and to speak to them accordingly; nor did any man so deeply provoke the whole culture of his time, the whole populace of his time and, above all, he made the blood of the specialists and leading spirits, the representatives of the people boil with his battle-cry: "I", "I", "I"! and provoked the enraged counterblast: We, We, We! (179)
Socrates, too, had to die for his Self-consciousness, which did not permit him to take those about him seriously. (179)
He who has a noble-natured, yearning spirit comes to the peace of the innermost depth, overcomes the barriers and restraints of the soul, its gloomy heaviness and its torments, and is adorned, becomes new in mind, game for Truth and firm in distinguishing light from dark and dream, life from death and from that which is neither death nor life. (182)
And so, from this day forth, we want all the more to let our thoughts revolve around and hover over Socrates and Christ at all times, openly taking pride that they are more alive for us than all those living today and that we listen to and love them as we do none of the living. Only then will there come the day of grace, bringing us a new man, greater than any in worth and power. Then Truth can open our eyes, that we might clearly behold and recognize him and surrender ourselves to him as completely as to the Truth itself. (188)
Socrates and Christ speak to us everlastingly of mankind—they ought to speak to us of mankind, they know human nature. They know when man is right and when not. It belongs to the great, to the greatest men to say how things are with mankind, how they stand in its innerness and which way it is going; it belongs to Socrates and Christ. These absolutely extraordinary, eternally alive people penetrate to the groundless depth of human nature and understand the speech of ordinary people, of those who are scarcely alive from one day to the next, those of whom Christ and Socrates speak. (189)
On education
Whatever names the representatives of education in any age may bear, with respect to the sole matter under consideration here, its relationship and falling out with the Spirit, they are one family, like to one another, and their own names could be substituted for those of the Pharisees and Sophists. (185)
Because they were the most self-aware, the Sophists and Pharisees were the most dangerous of the multitude, and in this respect were also its corrupters. (189)
No one can think unless he has revolted against the contemporary state of mind; for as a child of his times, to which he had to pay expensive tuition fees, he must first break with what he learned in public school, must finish with its whole way of thinking, before he can begin with any real thinking of his own.... Whoever wishes to be more than modern, more than just another bleater in educated modern society; whoever wants to put himself on the right ground and be on his guard lest the general imitation of the surrounding multitude force his consciousness in the least; cannot immerse himself often enough in the great images and reflections in which the Spiritual Élite and the multitude and examples of the eternal course of events between the two are brought most clearly before his eyes. In the sharpest tension of contrasts the highest and purest spiritual power and the love in the most perfect activity imaginable, are answered with an enmity extending to murder. (190-1)
On moralism
Christ remained estranged from the most righteous, the best, the most able, the most educated and learned, the most admired and most beloved men of his time; he remained irreconcilably opposed to them in the most wounding and piercing words of all, while he led his life with the ammé haáretz, with publicans and sinners. (191-2)
Christ forgave the sin of adultery and forgave the murderer on the cross his sins, but did not forgive the moralistic criticism, the quarrelsomeness and the presumption of human beings upon one another. (192)
The sinful deeds of a few sinners—when one of these shows himself touched by the good in Christ—then he forgives the sinners their sins, and in his enormous naïveté does not understand that a sinner should be more lowly than himself. The same Christ who does not understand that God should be higher than he is. He understands everything as One, as the one Spirit. (193)
All men were equal to Christ, not by democracy but by aristocracy—since he stood outside of all, equally far from high and low, rich and poor, educated and uneducated, pious and sinful—equally far and equally near to all. And let no one imagine that there is any other equality of men beside this one. (194)
On the Holocaust
Wickedness needs to combine with the right kind of nonsense, otherwise it will not achieve the right result: the God, the God who was different—there was a thing! And today it is the race, the race that is different; there's a thing that will prove fateful again for the Jews—and this is one case when we really can hear the grass of history growing. (388)