The Life and Doctrines of Jacob Boehme, by Franz Hartmann, , at sacred-texts.com
"Our whole doctrine is nothing else but an instruction to show how man may create a kingdom of light within himself. . . . He in whom this spring of divine power flows, carries within himself the divine image and the celestial substantiality. In him is Jesus born from the Virgin, and he will not die in eternity." (Six Points, vii. 33.)
"Not I, the I that I am, know these things; but God knows them in me." (Apology, Tilken, ii. 72.)
"Science cannot abolish faith in the all-seeing God, without worshipping in His place the blind intellect."
"The true faith is that the spirit of the soul enters with its will and desire into that which it does neither see nor feel." (Four Complexions, 85.)
It is self-evident that if we wish to attempt a contemplation of that which is divine and eternal, we must first of all not refuse to believe in the possibility that something divine and eternal exists or may reveal itself in the constitution of man. This spiritual principle in man is superior to the animal and reasoning man; superior to the material body, and superior to the arguing intellect; it does not need to reason and guess; it perceives and knows. Being superior to the intellect, it cannot be conceived intellectually; but it can be perceived by man if he rises above the animal and intellectual plane to the consciousness of his own divine spirit; or to express it in the language of Boehme, if he attains self-knowledge in Christ. The animal instincts in man belong to the animal nature in man, his intellectual faculties belong to his intellectual nature, but that which is divine in him belongs to his God, his own true and real and permanent self.
Merely theoretical speculation in regard to the things that belong to the Spirit in man is therefore entirely inadequate for their true understanding, and is not divine wisdom; it can only lead to the formation of theories and opinions about it, which may or may not be true, but which do not constitute real knowledge, while true wisdom is the result of practical experience,
attainable in no other way than by entering the divine state. In other words, it is the knowledge by which God in "man" knows His own self.
Most surely the attainment of this divine state is not the result of fancy's flights, of pious dreaming, or of allowing the imagination to run away with one's self. There is nothing more positive, real, and practical than the consciousness of being a man, and to find one's centre of gravity in the dignity which arises from true manhood; or in other words, from the knowledge of being a living temple wherein resides the power of one's own immortal self.
Every state of knowledge has its uses in the sphere to which it belongs and not to any other. Jacob Boehme says:—
"I do not say that man should not investigate natural sciences, and gain experience in regard to external things. Such a study is certainly useful to him; but man's own reasoning should not be the basis of his knowledge. Man should not have his conduct guided merely by the light of external reasoning, but he should, with all his reasoning and with his whole being, bow in deep humility before God." (Calmness, i. 3 5.)
As long as a man does not recognise the existence of a divine principle within his own self, it will be of little use for him to philosophise and speculate about the attributes of the Divinity in the universe; he cannot know the Holy Ghost as long as the Spirit of Holiness is not active within himself.
"Natural man knows nothing about the mystery of the kingdom of God, because he is outside and not within the state of divinity, as is daily proved by the action of the philosophisers who are disputing about the attributes and the will of God, and who nevertheless do not know God, because they do not listen to the word of God within their own souls." (Letters, xxxv. 5.)
External man judges according to his external reasoning. Man, depending entirely on his external perceptions, and having neither belief nor confidence in anything except what he sees with his bodily eyes, knows only that which he sees with those eyes, and is not aware that there is anything superior to that.
"When external reason beholds the things of this world, and how misfortunes befall the pious as well as the godless, and that all things are doomed to death and destruction—if it moreover perceives that there seems to be none to save the virtuous from trouble and grief, but that he, like the wicked, sorrowfully enters the valley of death, then man's reason thinks that all things are due to hap-hazard, and that there is no God to take care of those that are suffering." (Contemplation, i. 1.)
If there is no proof of the existence of a benevolent God to be found within the world of phenomena, there is likewise no divine self-knowledge to be obtained by the superficial reading of Holy Writ, nor by an external study of the Bible, or conceiving of its contents from a merely historical point of view. Neither will listening to sermons be productive of self-knowledge, if he who preaches or he who listens has not the living Spirit of Truth within himself.
"All those who desire to speak of or teach divine mysteries ought to be in possession of the Spirit of God. Man should recognise within himself the divine light of the truth, and in that light the things which he desires to represent as being true. He should never be without such a divine self-knowledge, and not make the force of his arguments to depend merely on external reasonings or literal interpretations of the Bible." (Menschwerdung, i. 1, 3.)
"What would it benefit me if I were continually quoting the Bible, and knew the whole book by heart, but did not know the Spirit that inspired the holy men
who wrote that book, nor the source from which they received their knowledge? How can I expect to understand them in truth, if I have not the same spirit as they? "(Tilk. ii. 55.)
Spiritual truths are above and beyond intellectual reasoning, and can, therefore, not be intellectually explained. They can at best be represented by allegories and pictures such as may induce men to give way to exalted thoughts, and thus to acquire a higher state of perception.
"The children of God spake as they were made to speak by the Holy Spirit. Therefore their words remain a mystery to the men of earth; and even if the latter imagine that they understand them, nevertheless they see only the external meaning." (Letters, xi. 40.)
"In all things received by mere hearsay, without self-perception, there still remains a doubt as to whether that which one has heard is actually true; but that which is seen by the eye and understood by the heart carries conviction with it." (Three Principles, x. 26.)
It should never be forgotten that speculative philosophy and theosophy are two entirely different, if not opposite things, and those who clamour for intellectual explanations of spiritual truths that are beyond intellectual reasoning have an entirely wrong conception of the meaning of the term "Theosophy."
"The true understanding must come from the interior fountain and enter the mind from the living Word of God within the soul. Unless this takes place, all teaching about divine things is useless and worthless." (Letters, xxxv. 7.)
"I do not wish to divert men from the Word as it is written and taught; but my writings are intended to lead them from a merely historical belief to a living faith, even to Jesus Christ (the Light and Truth) Himself. All preaching and teaching is in vain if it is mere
talk, and if the preacher or teacher has not the power of Christ, if not Christ Himself by means of the Word acts within those that teach and within those that listen." (Richter, 45.)
By studying a book we may at best imagine what the author believed; but such an imaginary knowledge is not self-knowledge. Real spiritual knowledge comes only from the awakening of the spirit.
"I am not collecting my knowledge from letters and books, but I have it within my own self; because heaven and earth with all their inhabitants, and moreover, God Himself, is in man." (Tilk. ii. 297.)
The essential man is not limited by the visible physical form of his material body; his spiritual substance extends as far as the stars. His true self is the Spirit of God, wherein are existing all worlds.
"The spirit of man has not merely come from the stars and the elements, but there is hidden within him a spark of the light and the power of God. It is not empty talk if Moses (Genesis i.) says God created man in His own image. To be His own image created He him." (Aurora, Preface, 96.)
The divine Spirit, once awakened in the consciousness of man, knows all things by the knowledge of its own self.
"The soul searches into the Godhead, and also into the depths of nature; for she has her fountain and origin in the whole of the divine Being." (Aurora, Preface, 98.)
"As the eye of man reaches the stars wherefrom it has its primitive origin, likewise the soul penetrates and sees even within the divine state of being wherein she lives." (Aurora, Preface, 99.)
"Oh, how near is God to all things. Nevertheless, no thing can comprehend Him unless it be tranquil and surrenders to Him its own self-will. If this is accomplished,
then will God be acting through the instrumentality of everything, like the sun that acts throughout the whole world." (Mystery, 45.)
"Why is it that we cannot see God? This world and the devil (perverted good) within the wrath of God are the cause that we cannot see with the eyes of God. There is no other impediment. If any one says, 'I can see nothing divine,' let him understand that flesh and blood and the craftiness of the devil (perverted desires) are to him an obstacle and an impediment. If he were to enter the new life, if he were to step below the cross of Christ, he would then be sure to see the Father and his Redeemer the Christ, and also the Holy Ghost." (Menschwerdung, ii. 7.)
Let those would-be philosophers who reject God and that which is divine remember that there can be no divine wisdom without something divine, and that man can become divine in no other way than through the power of Divinity.
"There is no spark of divine life in him who is without God. For this it is not God who is to blame, but the person himself. Such persons have themselves, and by their own will, entered into that state, and have themselves drowned their higher consciousness, while the precious jewel, although unknown to them, is still hidden within the centre. Let them, therefore, again go out with their will from their wilful ignorance or malignity and enter again into the will of God." (Menschwerdung, 3, 5.)
All this goes to show that it is useless and vain to seek for divine wisdom, meaning a true realisation of eternal truth in outward things, in external observations, in the reading of books, or in the sayings of the sages, if we do not recognise the truth that exists within our own self. All dependence placed upon external things and persons or gods outside of our own true self, is
merely idol-worship and deceptive if we do not recognise the God that exists within ourselves. The words, "Thou shalt worship no strange gods or idols, but have only one God," mean, Thou shalt have faith and confidence and trust in no other God than in the one whose temple you are, and who resides within your own self.
"God," according to Boehme, is "the will of eternal wisdom." To become strong in God is to become strong in that will which renders one wise. This is the true faith, of which Boehme says that "it is not merely a certain method of thinking, or a belief in certain historical occurrences, but the receiving of the spirit and the power of Christ within one's self." (Letters, xlvi. 39.)
"This light and this power of Christ arises in His children within their interior foundation, and illumines the whole of their life. Within that foundation is the kingdom of God in man." (Communion, v. 18.)
But what is it that prevents man from recognising God within his own self? What hinders him from seeing the light of the truth, and hearing the voice of the Divinity? To this Jacob Boehme answers, "Thy own hearing, willing, and seeing prevents thee from seeing and hearing God. By the exercise of your own will you separate yourself from the will of God, and by the exercise of your own seeing you see only within your own desires, while your desiring obstructs your sense of hearing by closing your ears with that which belongs to terrestrial and material things. It overshadows you so that you cannot see that which is beyond your own human nature and supersensual. But if you keep quiet, and desist from thinking and feeling with your own personal selfhood, then will the eternal hearing, seeing, and speaking become revealed to you, and God will see and hear and perceive through you."—(Supersensual Life, 1–5.)
Here it may be asked by some, "Is it then necessary
for us, if we want to attain divine wisdom, that we should sit down, and think, and feel, and do nothing at all?" Those who ask such a question do not realise that, as there is a region below all feeling and thought, in which man resembles an animal, if not a corpse, there is also another state, beyond all speculative thought, a state of divine being. Not a state in which man imagines himself to be divine, but a condition in which the will of man, having stripped off all that is earthly, becomes divine and absorbed in the self-consciousness of divinity.
"The only true way by which God may be perceived in His word, His essence, and His will, is that man arrives at the state of unity with himself, and that—not merely in his imagination, but in his will—he should leave everything that is his personal self, or that belongs to that self, money and goods, father and mother, brother and sister, wife and child, body and life, and that his own self should become as nothing to him. He must surrender everything and become poorer than a bird in the air that owns a nest. Man must have no nest for his heart in this world. ' Not that a person should run away from his home, and desert his wife, child, or relatives, commit suicide, or throw away his property, so that he may not be therein corporeally; but he should kill and annihilate his self-will, the will that claims all these things as its possessions. He should surrender all this to his Creator, and say with the full consent of his heart, Lord, all is Thine! I am unworthy to govern it, but as You have placed me therein, I shall do my duty by surrendering my will wholly and entirely to You. Act through me in what manlier You will, so that Thy will shall be done in all things, and that all that I am called upon to do may be done for the benefit of my brothers, to whom I am serving according to Thy command. He who enters into such a state of supreme resignation enters into divine union with Christ, so that he sees God Himself. He speaks with God and God speaks with him, and he thus
knows what is the Word, the Essence, and the Will of God." (Mysterium, xli. 54–63.)
"Follow my advice, and leave off your difficult seeking for the knowledge of God by means of your selfish will and reasoning; throw away that imaginary reason, which your mortal self thinks to possess, and your will shall then be the will of God. If He finds His will to be your will in His, then will His will become manifest in your will as in His own property. He is All, and whatever you wish to know in the All is in Him. There is nothing hidden before Him, and you will see in His own light." (Forty Questions, i. 36.)
All of one's own seeking and investigating of divine mysteries in a spirit of selfishness is useless and vain. The self-will cannot comprehend anything of God, because that will is not in God but external to Him. The will in a state of divine tranquillity comprehends the divine, because it is an instrument of the Spirit, and it is the spirit wherein the will is tranquil that has the faculty of such a comprehension. There are many things, undoubtedly, that may be investigated and learned and comprehended in a spirit of selfishness, but the conception thus formed by the mind is merely an external appearance, and there is no understanding of the essential foundation." (Signature 15, 33.)
To express the above in other words, we might say that the selfish will of man, being limited, cannot conceive the universal will of God; it must give up its selfishness and limitation, to become one in the Spirit of God and understand its own self. Neither can the self-will know even a part of God, because God is one and a Unity, and cannot be conceived in parts.
"The will should strive after or desire nothing but the mercy of God in the Christ; it should continually enter into the love of God, and not permit anything whatever to turn it away from that object. If external reason
triumphs and says, 'I have the true knowledge,' then should the will make that carnal reason bow down to the earth, and cause it to enter into the highest state of humility, and always repeat to it the words, 'You are foolish. You have nothing whatever except the mercy of God.' Into that mercy you must seek to penetrate and to become entirely nothing within yourself, and step out of all of your own selfish knowing and desiring, regarding it as an entirely impotent thing. Then will the natural self-will enter into a state of helplessness, and the Holy Spirit of God will take a living form within yourself and ignite the soul with its flame of divine love. Thus the high knowledge and the science of the Centre of all being will arise and appear. The human selfhood will then follow in its perceptions the Spirit of God, tremblingly and in the joy of humility, and become able to see what is contained in time and in eternity. Everything is near to a soul in that state, for the soul is then no longer her own property, but an instrument of God. In such a state of calmness and humility should the soul then remain, like a fountain remains at its own origin, and she should without ceasing draw and drink from that well, and nevermore desire to leave the way of God." (Calmness, i. 24.)
As the worm, crawling in the dust of the earth, cannot rise like the eagle above the clouds, so the self-willing thought of man, wandering in the labyrinth of conflicting opinions, does not enter the realm of eternal truth. But when man attains freedom by giving up self-will and selfish desires—or, to express it in other words, when by means of the Christ (eternal Light and Truth) he arrives at that state of oneness (at-one-ment) with God, which renders his soul godlike and divine, he then also receives in the Christ a true and essential knowledge of God and of Nature.
"As soon as the newly-regenerated man becomes manifest, will he attain real knowledge. As the
external man sees the external world, likewise the regenerated man sees the divine world wherein he dwells." (Letters, xxvii. 3.)
This spiritual world, wherein the regenerated ones consciously live, is not an imaginary or illusive world, but perfectly real; neither has it anything in common with the vulgar conceptions of heaven, which are merely the products of fancy.
"It is to be regretted that men are led so blindly by those that are blind, and that the truth is stopped from manifesting itself to us in its glory and purity by our conceptions of external pictures and forms; for when the divine power in all its splendour becomes manifest and active within the interior foundation of the soul to such a degree that man earnestly desires to depart from his godless ways and to sacrifice his whole being to God, then will the whole of the triune Deity be present within the life and the will of the soul, and the heaven, wherein God resides, will be open to her." (Mystery, lx. 43.)
This is the only way in which a knowledge of God can be attained, and there is no other way.
"Christ says: The Son of Man does nothing except what he sees that the Father is doing. If the Son of Man has become our body and His spirit our own, shall we then not be able to know God? If we live in the Christ the Spirit of Christ will see through us and in us whatever it desires, and that which the Christ desires we will see and know in Him. The world of the angels is easier and more clearly comprehensible to the regenerated man than the terrestrial world. He also sees into heaven, and beholds God and eternity." (Menschwerdung, ii. 7, 3.)
"Our seeing and knowing is in God. He reveals to every one in this world as much as He wills, and as much as He knows will be useful to him. We are not in possession of our own selves. We know nothing of God.
God Himself is our knowing and seeing. We are nothing, so that He may be All in us. We should be blind and deaf and mute, and know nothing and know of no life of our own, so that He may be our life and our soul, and that our work may be His." (Menschwerdung, ii. 7, 9.)
Seen in this true light, how foolish appear the practices of those who seek to obtain spiritual power and greatness by their speculations and mental efforts, without the light of God. It is well known that the light of the sun does .not shine upon the earth because we desire it to shine, neither can we attract the sunlight to us. All we do is to step out of the darkness, or climb to the top of. the mountain which rises above the clouds. Likewise the sunlight of divine wisdom does not enter the mind because the mind wills it to enter; but if our soul rises up to the mountain of the true faith, whose top reaches above the clouds of fear and superstition, and idle speculations and conflicting opinions, then will that light come to us by its own sweet grace, and without any merit or effort on our part to attract it.
The low cannot produce the high; neither can anything give birth to something higher than that which it contains. Neither animal nor reasoning man can create God, but the lily-bud of divinity unfolds itself in man by its own power. The divine man creates himself outside of man's willing. He is a god, and therefore self-created and self-existent; he does neither grow greater nor lesser; he is what he is; all that he requires is the conditions necessary for his revealing himself, and this condition is a pure will and a mind undisturbed by passions and idle thoughts, a heart full of calmness and peace.
Few indeed are the persons capable of entering into such a state of humility that divine and eternal truth can manifest itself in them without being distorted by selfish thoughts and desires. Not that not all human
beings have not within themselves the inherent capacity for seeing the divine image that exists within themselves; but the truth is so simple and uncomplicated that it will not be accepted by those whose ways are complicated, and who therefore seek for complexity everywhere.
Jacob Boehme was of a simple and unsophisticated nature. Having received but little external education, there was not for him the necessity of unlearning ingrafted errors, and erasing misconceptions and acquired prejudices from his mind. Leading a pure life, his soul was like a clear mirror, in which he could perceive the image of the Godhead reflected therein, and his mind was like an unsoiled page, whereon the word of truth was plainly written. Nevertheless he, like all other persons similarly situated, had to overcome a certain amount of illusion arising from external observation, and from the reflections of the generally prevailing ideas within his own mind. He says:—
"Before I knew that which I deeply know now, I, like others, thought that there was no other true heaven than that which as a blue circle encloses the world high above the stars; thinking that God had a separate existence therein, and that He was ruling this world by means of His Holy Spirit. But after I had met with many a hard obstacle in following out this theory, I fell into a state of deep melancholy and grief in beholding the great depth of this world, the sun and the stars, the clouds, rain and snow, and in fact the whole of creation. I compared all that with the little speck called 'man,' and how insignificant he is before God, if compared with this great work of heaven and earth. 1 Finding, moreover, that there is good and evil in all things, in the elements as well as
in creatures, and that in this world the wicked meets with the same fate as the pious, having good and ill luck; furthermore, that barbarous people occupy the best countries of the world, and are more favoured by fortune than those that are pious, I became very melancholy and dejected, and could find no consolation in Holy Writ, although I knew the Bible from beginning to the end. Perhaps it may be that the devil played a part in all that, for I often had heathenish thoughts, of which I will, however, say nothing at present. 1
"When my spirit, full of sorrow, earnestly, and as if moving in a great storm, arose in God, carrying with it my whole heart and mind, with all my thoughts and with the whole of my will, and when I would not cease to wrestle with the love and mercy of God unless His blessing descended upon me—that is to say, unless He illumined my mind with His Holy Spirit, so that I could understand His will and get rid of my sorrow, then the light of the Spirit broke through the clouds. While in my zeal I powerfully stormed against the portals of hell, as if I had more strength than was in my possession, and willing to risk even my life (all of which would have been impossible to me without the aid of God); then after some hard fights with the powers of darkness, my spirit broke through the doors of hell, and penetrated even into the innermost essence of the newly-born Divinity, where it was received with great love, such as is offered by a bridegroom welcoming his beloved bride.
"No words can express the great joy and triumph which I then experienced, neither can I compare this gladness to anything except to a state in which life is
born in the midst of death, or with a resurrection of the dead. While in that state, my spirit immediately saw through everything, and recognised God in all things, even in herbs and grasses, and it knew what is God and what is His will. Then very soon my will grew in this light, and received a strong impulse to describe the divine state." (Aurora, xix. 4.) 1
Truly, none can enter the kingdom of heaven (meaning spiritual self-knowledge and unspeakable joy) than he who is reborn in the Spirit; but no one can be reborn unless he dies entirely to all sense of self-will, and he then ceases to be a person and becomes pure joy, pure knowledge itself.
If this truth is once realised, if it is known that a limited personality, subject to the conditions of time and space, cannot embrace infinite wisdom and joy, then it appears self-evident that all the attempts for the attainment of divine wisdom, as long as one clings to self, must necessarily be unsuccessful. In fact no one should seek for spiritual knowledge for the purpose of rendering himself knowing and wise, but he should strive after dying within the Christ—that is to say, to become entirely one with divine truth, so that it is not any longer "he" who lives, but the truth living in him. He should not wish to become celebrated or renowned or self-satisfied, but rather pray that his knowledge should be taken away from him, unless it would lead to the glorification of God in him. In short, he should not wish to become anything, but he should be all knowledge, all joy, wisdom, and glory itself. Boehme says—
"I have never desired to know anything about divine mysteries, neither did I understand how I might seek or find them. I sought for nothing except the heart of
[paragraph continues] Jesus Christ (the centre of truth), wherein I might hide myself and find protection from the fearful wrath of God, and I asked God earnestly for His Holy Spirit and mercy, that He might bless and conduct me, and take away from me all that could avert me from Him, so that I might not live in my own will but in His. While engaged in such an earnest seeking and desiring, the door was opened to me, so that in one quarter of an hour I saw and learned more than if I had studied for many years at the universities." (Letters, xii. 6, 7.)
"I am not a master of literature nor of arts, such as belong to this world, but a foolish and simple-minded man. I have never desired to learn any sciences, but from early youth I strove after the salvation of my soul, and thought how I might inherit or possess the kingdom of heaven. Finding within myself a powerful contrarium, namely, the desires that belong to the flesh and blood, I began to fight a hard battle against my corrupted nature, and with the aid of God, I made up my mind to overcome the inherited evil will, to break it, and to enter wholly into the love of God in the Christ. I therefore then and there resolved to regard myself as one dead in my inherited form, until the Spirit of God would take form in me, so that in and through Him I might conduct my life. This, however, was not possible for me to accomplish, but I stood firmly by my earnest resolution, and fought a hard battle with myself. Now while I was wrestling and battling, being aided by God, a wonderful light arose within my soul. It was a light entirely foreign to my unruly nature, but in it I recognised the true nature of God and man, and the relation existing between them, a thing which heretofore I had never understood, and for which I would never have sought." (Tilk. 20–26.)
The realisation of the truth that we are nothing, but that God is all, constitutes the beginning of the true
faith, which forms the basis of true knowledge and the first step on the road to spiritual unfoldment.
To wish, to will, to desire, to know, to do nothing except what God desires, wills, wishes, knows, or does in and through man is true resignation; it is the deepest humility for the carnal mind, while at the same time it is the glorification of God in man, and therefore the highest attainable state.
"I am continually waiting for my Redeemer, willing to submit myself entirely to Him, whatever He may do. If He wants me to know a certain thing, then do I want to know it; but if He does not, then am I not desirous of knowing it. In Him I have put my will, my knowledge, my science, my desiring and doing." (Letters, viii. 60.)
"Hundreds of times have I prayed to God, begging Him to take away from me all knowledge, if it did not serve for His glorification and for the amelioration of the condition of my brothers, and that He should only retain me within His love. But the more I prayed the more the internal fire within myself became ignited, and in such a state of ignition did I execute my writings." (Letters, xii. 60.)
This interior illumination of the mind by the light of eternal Truth alone, and not any other state or condition, is that which constitutes the true theosophy. Therefore true theosophy does not consist in intellectual learning of any kind, nor in morality, nor in being pious or virtuous, nor in belonging to any Church or society, nor in humanitarianism, or in anything that can be accomplished by man, but theosophy is the self-knowledge of God in man, the illumination of the mind by the light of the Christ, the eternal Truth itself. Such theosophy is not as some have claimed, "a branch of theology," nor any system of thought, nor a certain school, in which heretofore unknown secrets are divulged, but it is divine
wisdom itself, without any other qualification. It is beyond all merely human conception, inconceivable to the reasoning intellect, and can therefore not be explained. It is itself the most secret thing, which can be known by no one except by him who has experienced it; neither do those that live entirely within the realm of animality, or within that of the speculating intellect, believe that such a state is possible, and in fact it is unattainable for any person; because he who enters into it, ceases to be a person, except in regard to his external appearance and form—that is to say, all sense of personality is lost to him, and has ceased to exist in the field of his inner consciousness.
It is therefore unnecessary to repeat that this state cannot be entered by the exercise of the self-will of animal man; neither can it be produced by him by means of any intellectual study; nor is it dependent on his social condition, or education, profession, or external qualifications in life, but it comes to man solely and alone by the mercy and grace of God. It means the presence of the divine light, and that presence depends on nothing else than on that presence itself. Boehme says—
"It pleases the Supreme to reveal His secrets by means of the foolish, who are looked upon by the world as being nothing; so that it may be seen that their knowledge does not come from these fools, but from Him. Therefore I ask you to regard my writings as being those of a child in which the Supreme has manifested His power. There is in them so much, that no kind or amount of argumentation and reasoning can comprehend or grasp it; but to those that are illumined by the Spirit their understanding is easy and merely child's play." (Letters, xv. 10.)
"The understanding is born of God. It is not the product of the schools in which human science is taught. I do not treat intellectual learning with contempt, and if I had obtained a more elaborate education, it would
surely have been an advantage to me, while my mind received the divine gift; but it pleases God to turn the wisdom of this world into foolishness, and to give His strength to the weak, so that all may bow down before Him." (Forty Questions, xxxvii. 20.)
The reasoning intellect has nothing to do with originating perceptions, but is used for the purpose of bringing the ideas received from the clear perception of truth into a requisite form; and as the mind is then in a higher than the normal condition, it often happens that on returning to the lower state it does not understand, and perhaps not even remember, the ideas which it expressed during that time.
"I say it before God, and testify before His judgment-seat, where everything must appear, that I in my human self do not know what I shall have to write; but whenever I am writing the Spirit dictates to me what to write, and shows me all in such a wonderful clearness, that I often do not know whether or not I am with my consciousness in this world. The more I seek the more I find, and I am continually penetrating deeper; so that it often seems to me as if my sinful person were too low and too unworthy for the reception of knowledge of such high and exalted mysteries; but in such moments the Spirit unfolds His banner and says to me, 'Behold! in this shalt thou live eternally, and be crowned therewith. Why art thou terrified?'" (Letters, ii. 10.)
"I might sometimes perhaps write more elegantly, and in a better style, but the fire burning within me is driving me on. My hand and my pen must then seek to follow the thoughts as well as they can. The inspiration comes like a shower of rain. That which I catch I have. If it were possible to grasp and describe all that I perceive, then would my writings be more explicit." (Letters, X. 45.)
From this it appears that truly inspired writings are quite different from those produced by ordinary mediumship; because in the former instance the seer perceives the truths which he is to express, while in the latter case the medium is either an unconscious machine, or feels an inspiration without knowing the nature of the source from which that inspiration comes.
It is also not to be supposed that any person, as long as he inhabits a physical body, and is to a certain extent dependent on external conditions, should be at all times in that superior spiritual state necessary to realise fully the eternal glory of the kingdom of God; but that there must necessarily be a return of the lower state of consciousness. Boehme says—
"As the lightning-flash arises within the centre, and disappears again in a moment, so it is with the soul. When during her battle she penetrates through the clouds, she sees the Godhead like a flash of light; but the clouds of sin soon gather again around her and cover her sight." (Aurora, xi. 76.)
"The soul has her origin partly from nature and partly from God. There is good and evil in nature; and man, by means of his sinful tendencies, has become subject to that which is fiery in nature, so that his soul becomes daily and hourly spotted with sin. Therefore the power of the soul to recognise eternal truth is not perfect." (Aurora, Preface, 100)
"As long as God watches over me with His protecting hand, I understand that which I have written; but whenever He becomes hidden before me, I then no longer recognise my own work, and this proves to me the impossibility of penetrating into the mysteries of God unless by the aid of His Spirit." (Letters, x. 29.)
If the carnal mind cannot understand the language of the Spirit, how then could that mind arrive at a true recognition of the truth by its own reasoning, that reasoning
leading at best only to an opinion of what the truth cannot be, but not to a perception of what it is? Those who wish to understand such writings must enter into the spirit of the author. Mere reasoning will not serve the purpose.
"These writings transcend the horizon of intellectual reasoning, and their interior meaning cannot be grasped by speculation and argumentation; but it requires the mind to be in a godlike state, and illumined by the Spirit of Truth." (Letters, xviii. 9.) 1
"If any one desires to follow me in the science of the things whereof I write, let him follow rather the flights of my soul than those of my pen." (Three Principles, xxiv. 2.)
This flight into the regions of eternal freedom is impossible for him who is bound by the chains that are forged by the illusion of "self," and is therefore unattainable to those who seek for a knowledge of God with the object of gratifying their curiosity, or with any other selfish object in view.
"Above all, examine yourself for what purpose you desire to know the mysteries of God, and whether you are prepared to employ that which will be received for the glorification of God and to the benefit of your neighbour. Are you ready to die entirely to your own selfish and earthly will, and do you earnestly desire to become one with the Spirit? He who has no such high purposes, and merely seeks for knowledge for the gratification of self, or that he may be looked upon as something great by the world, is not fit to receive such knowledge." (Clavis, ii. 3.)
1 "If you once understand the true meaning of what I have written, you will then be released from the conflict of opinions and possess self-knowledge; but, as a matter of course, this is not to be accomplished by the mere reading of the letters, but by the living power of the Spirit of Christ." (Apologia.)
Neither is such a state attained without a hard fight against the powers of darkness.
"If any one desires to follow me, let him not be intoxicated by terrestrial thoughts and desires, but girded with the sword of the Spirit, because he will have to descend into a terrible depth, even into the midst of the kingdom of hell. It indeed requires hard labour to fight with the devil between heaven and hell, as he is a powerful lord. During such battles I have often made many bitter experiences, which filled my heart with sorrow. Often the sun has disappeared from my sight, but then he rose again, and the oftener the sunset occurred, the more beautiful, clear, and magnificent was the sunrise." (Aurora, xiii. 20.)
He who desires nothing for himself, to him everything shall be given. The infinite cannot be made to contract, to be comprehended by the finite mind of man; but let the mind of man expand by the power of the Spirit, and become conscious of its infinity, and it will then conceive of infinite truth.
"Spiritual knowledge cannot be communicated from one intellect to another, but must be sought for in the Spirit of God. Truly theosophical writings will even to the intellect convey here and there a ray of recognition; but if the reader is found worthy by God to have the divine light kindled within his own soul, then will the inexpressible words of God be heard by him." (Letters, lv. 8.)
"He who reads these writings and cannot understand them, should not throw them aside, imagining that they can never be understood. He should seek to change his will, and elevate his soul to God, asking Him for grace and understanding, and then read again. He will then perceive more truth than he did before, until at last the power of God will manifest itself in him, and he will be drawn down into the depths, into the supernatural foundation—
that is to say, into the eternal unity of God. Then will he hear actual but inexpressible words of God,
which will conduct him through the divine radiation of the celestial light, even within the grossest forms of terrestrial matter, and from thence back again unto God; and the Spirit of God will search all things in and with him." (Clavis, Preface, 5.) 1
47:1 At that time Boehme, like other persons, mistook his terrestrial personality for his real self, because he had not yet learned to know the God within his own heart, and therefore he felt the insignificance of the former, if compared with the grandeur of the universal power of p. 48 God manifested in nature, until at last he awoke to a realisation of the fact that the universal God and the God within his heart were one, and that his own personality was merely one of millions of similar instruments or organisms through which God is manifesting His power.
48:1 The "devil" and the "powers of darkness" are the perverted fiery will, with his evil productions, originating from Lucifer, the "Dhyan-Chohan" of evil; the greatest angel before he fell.
49:1 "Rejoice and be glad, and praise the Lord above all; for His name arises in glory above all the mountains and hills. It grows up like a sprout and performs great miracles. Who will hinder it?" (Apologia.)
57:1 This may perhaps be also expressed in the following words:—It is not the mortal intellect, but the divinity in man, which is in possession of divine knowledge.... A man knowing nothing of God, and having no faith in the power of anything divine, which may become revealed in him, cannot be in possession of divine self-knowledge; but if man, by being obedient to the law, enters into a state of harmony and union with God, then may God become revealed in him, and the mind being penetrated by the light of the divine spirit, man may partake of the knowledge of divinity. In this way he may learn all about everything in the three kingdoms; for the Spirit of God pervades the All. Occult knowledge, therefore, does not consist in gathering information or opinions from books and authorities, but its foundation is the recognition of the divine will in man.