In the investigation of this question of the underworld of Being, I recognize that there is a realm from which Being emanates. It is because of this realm that “I,” such as I am exist at all. There are in fact two “I ams” in action: one that is born of the ego, in which I take possession and ownership of everything, and a second one which emanates from the realm of Being. The first of these is a creature of the underworld of Being, a malleable entity capable, chameleonlike, of taking on any form it wishes — a shape shifter.
Shape shifters are always considered to be distrusted, criminal, and even evil entities in mythological traditions: malevolent tricksters. And this is how the I am of the underworld of Being behaves. Always, in its own self-interest; and with a randomly destructive tendency that is deployed almost casually as a means toward its own ends.
Although it appears to behave with intelligence towards its own objectives, it is in fact mindless; it is nothing more than an urge for itself, a craving for gratification. The cleverness that it weaves for itself is never in the service of others.
This is the real realm of demons that St. Anthony struggled against; and it is the realm of demons that we all live in in our day-to-day lives. It stands in opposition to the second “I am,” which belongs to the realm of Being. This realm of Being I speak of, from which our real Being emanates, is a higher realm. I’m reluctant to call it heaven, but this is that same realm. Perhaps the apropos thing would be to call it the city of God, since that is the place from which it emanates, and is located in the heart of every Being.
I’ve been speaking about the City of God a good deal lately, subsequent to the vision that I had of it, which was a fleeting glimpse of this real city that is located in our hearts. Everything that I am that is real is emanated from this place of real civilization, which is, unlike my psyche as it stands today, perfectly organized. All of the order in the material and created universe which I see around me in fact emanates from this City of God; the source of reality itself dwells there. It is the home of The Perfection.
Yet from where I am, this is an impossibly distant place to travel to. If I am fortunate, I’ll catch a glimpse from time to time, but that’s pretty much all I can hope for.
Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.