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Theosophical Encyclopedia

Nicholas of Cusa

(Nikolaus von Cus, Nicolaus Cusanus) (1401-1464). Scholar, Church cardinal, mathematician and philosopher who advocated a view of the universe that did not have the Earth as the center, anticipating Copernicus. Helena P. Blavatsky considered him an Initiate, and called him an Adept (CW XIV:378).

Born in 1401 in Kues, Trier, Cardinal Nicolas Cusa was the son of a boatman named Krebs. He was ordained as a priest in 1440 and made a bishop ten years after. He was a multi-faceted person who exhibited vast learning. In addition to theology and philosophy, he was skilled in astronomy, botany, and medicine. He regarded the earth as one of the heavenly bodies just like other stars and is not the center of the universe, as believed by the Church of his time. He wrote:

For in the same way that our earth cannot be in the centre of the Universe, as thought, no more could the sphere of the fixed stars be in it. . . . Thus this world is like a vast machine, having its centre [Deity] everywhere, and its circumference nowhere. . . . Hence, the earth not being in the centre, cannot therefore be motionless. (The Learned Ignorance, quoted in CW XIV: 378)

Blavatsky wrote that Cusa was reincarnated as Nicolas Copernicus (born in 1473 in Poland), nine years after the death of Cusa. It is an example of the reincarnation of an Adept “who has been greatly trammelled during life in his study and in the use of his powers, to choose after death another body in which he could go on with his interrupted studies, though ordinarily he would lose in it every remembrance of his previous incarnation” (CW XIV:377). “Karma, due to his [Cusa’s] wonderful devotion to Esoteric study and the Kabalah, led the suffering Adept to seek intellectual recuperation and rest from ecclesiastical tyranny in the body of Copernicus” (ibid., pp. 377-8). This accounts, she wrote, for extraordinary parallelism in the astronomic writings of the two.

V.H.C.

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