Personal Certainty: On the Way, the Truth, and the Life (Hardcover)
On the Feast of the Assumption in 1956, Valentin Tomberg began to work on the hitherto unpublished text which is set before the reader in this book. Written in the second half of his life (a decade or so following his conversion to Catholicism), this text documents an essential, transitional stage in the development of his work. Here Tomberg gives an account of how far, and in what way, he might be truly certain of matters pertaining to the great questions humanity faces. He wanted to discover and set out the method by means of which other seekers might also arrive at authentic certainty regarding the great questions.
Personal Certainty strikes me as a work of astonishing maturity, humility, texture, and insight. It maps the human-making curriculum required of and inhabited by a specific writer of consummate merit and unique destiny. Tomberg consistently moved forward-evolved-through internal and external experience of war and upheaval, turbulence and concentration, migration and choice, ideals and possibilities, hope and disappointment, truth and deception, strength and fragility, hypocrisy and integrity. Most of all, he was able to share intimately regarding the mystery of prayer, meditation, contemplation, liturgy, the rosary, while reflecting upon the communion of saints, the Risen Christ, Mary and all that is Sophianic, and more. As his perspectives widened and deepened, Certainty traces how and why new capacities rooted and were liberated in his life and how he sustained human, intellectual, psychological, and spiritual growth. In tracing how he learned to diagnose personal error, how he learned to change, how he found the courage to reconsider his personal religious commitment, how he learned to re-adjust and self-correct, we learn of the consciousness required to actually inhabit and shoulder freedom in a new and living way. Were he here today, he would face similar difficulties, requiring other conscious and costly "free" decisions, each heroic, valoric, and loving. Since history has labeled this the post-truth era, the testimony of one man's Personal Certainty could not be more urgently needed. As such, it is sacred medicine. -Therese Schroeder-Sheker, Chalice of Repose Project
In his late work, Valentin Tomberg makes much clearer the relationship of his orthodox Christian esotericism to ancient and modern philosophical traditions. Somewhat like Vladimir Solovyov, he points to the paradox of invisible explanation of visible experience as something that unites science with religion. Out of this insight he develops a symbolist metaphysics that refuses any sundering of the personal from the cosmological, albeit in a distinctly post-Kantian fashion. No one concerned with philosophical theology should ignore this attempt at a rather more speculative Grammar of Assent-John Milbank, author of The Future of Love: Essays in Political Theology
In Tomberg's view, personal certainty is not a science. It is wisdom, which for him is not compelled by "proofs" but is born and grows in the soil of freedom. Wisdom shows itself to be true in the course of life: it is not a matter of firmly circumscribed concepts, but of growth, achieved by what he called the "total method," which leads to the symbol. We find this emphasis on the symbol and the attendant method of analogy vastly expanded in the author's later, magisterial Meditations on the Tarot, now considered one of the classic spiritual texts of the twentieth century.-Michael Frensch, author of Weisheit in Person