The Life and Doctrines of Jacob Boehme, by Franz Hartmann, , at sacred-texts.com
Man is a product of three worlds His spirit is of God, his soul from the constellation of the astral elements, his body from the elements of the terrestrial plane. In each of these aspects he partakes of the attributes of the principle from which he has originated. As a spirit he is, and has been, and will always be, immortal; and is even now in heaven, from which he has never departed. As a product of the astral plane, he is subject to the conditions existing therein, while his physical form must dissolve again into the elements to which it belongs. With whatever of these three states man identifies himself, that state will be his own.
"God willed to become manifest in all three principles, but the order did not remain as it was originally instituted. The middle went into the exterior, and the exterior into the middle. This is not the order of eternity, and therefore the external and the inner principles must become separated." (Threefold Life, xviii. 3.)
"The life which we receive in the body of our mother is merely from the power of the sun, the stars, and the elements, which not only organise the body of the child and endow it with life, but which also bring it to light and nourish and nurse it during the whole term of its life. They likewise distribute to it fortune and misfortune, and finally they cause it to die and to decompose." (Three Principles, xiv. 4.)
"Behold what you are. Dust of the earth; a corpse. Your life is subject to the stars and elements. It is they who rule you according to their qualities, and they endow you with talents and arts; but when their period and constellation under which you have been conceived and born is ended, then they will forsake you." (Menschwerdung, xi. 6.)
"The corporeal essences return to the earth; the elemental spirit, the air, returns to the air; the water and blood are received by the terrestrial water and earth, and there remains nothing of the external man. He has then ceased to exist. He had a beginning and he had an end." (Threefold Life, xviii. 8.)
"At death the four elements separate from the one element. Then the tincture, together with the shadow of that which constituted the man, goes into the ether and remains within the root of that element from which the four elements were born, and from which they emanated." (Three Principles, xix. 14.)
After the death of the physical form man remains still a being of twofold aspect; namely, as a celestial spirit, according to the divine principle in him (of which he may or may not be conscious); and secondly, as a supersensual, but nevertheless material being, according to his astral body. Each of these essences now gravitates to the plane to which it belongs according to its qualities. From this double but opposite tendency results the rupture or division of the soul and the judgment.
"When a person in this world dies, he then comes before the angel who in his sword carries death and life, the love and the wrath of God. There his soul has to pass through the judgment at the portals of Paradise. If she has been captured by the wrath of God she will not be able to pass through the door, but if she is a child of the virgin and born of the seed of the (celestial) woman, she will then pass through. Then will the angel cut away
from her nature that which has been generated by the serpent, and the soul will then serve God in His holy temple in Paradise, waiting there for the resurrection of her (celestial) body." 1 (Mysterium, xxv. 2.)
During his terrestrial existence man can remain consciously in the three worlds, and by the power of the will with which he is endowed penetrate into either one or the other; but after the separation of the soul from the body has taken place, he can continue to exist as an individuality only in one of these worlds, either within the realm of divine light or within the power of the fire; because together with his physical body he loses the power of self-government. He can then no longer follow his own will, but has to go where he gravitates.
"There are three principles in the constitution of man, either of which he may unfold during his terrestrial existence; but after the body is disorganised, he then lives only in one principle and cannot evolve the other. In eternity he must remain in that state of consciousness which he has acquired here." (Three Principles, Supplement, x.)
"There are not three separate souls in man, but only one. This soul stands in three principles; namely, the realm of the wrath, the realm of the love of God and the kingdom of this world. When the air of the external kingdom of this world deserts the soul, then will she become manifest in either the dark realm of fire or in the holy kingdom of light, which is the kingdom of the love-fire, the power of God. To whatever plane she has
surrendered herself during her earthly existence, therein she remains after the external kingdom has departed from her." (Mysterium, xv. 24.)
During his terrestrial life man may live either in heaven or hell, or come out of one of these states and enter the other, because he can then govern his will by means of his intellect; but after the death of the body the function of the brain necessary for that purpose exists no longer, and then the soul is not able to change her will. She therefore becomes absorbed entirely into that principle which has obtained ruling power within her own nature. For this reason, it is of paramount importance for man to seek to unfold during his terrestrial life the love of God; i.e., the appreciation of the ideal and the will to realise all that is noble and good within his soul, so that it will act as his guiding star in eternity.
"Man is in this world already in heaven or hell, wherever he corporeally may be. If his spirit is in harmony with God, he is then spiritually in heaven and his soul is in God. If he spiritually dwells in the wrath, he is then already in hell and in company of all the devils." (Aurora, xx. 86.)
"Here in the life of the soul is the balance. If she is evil, she can be reborn in love; but when the balance breaks and the angle has turned, then will she be in that principle which is prevailing in her." (Forty Questions, xxiii. 10.)
"During her terrestrial life the soul can change her will, but after the death of the body there remains nothing within her power by which she can change her will." (Tilk. i. 267.)
"Whatever the soul during her terrestrial life receives within her will, and wherewith she becomes entangled, that she will take in her will with her after the death of the body, and she can no more rid herself of it, because she has then nothing but that wherein she has entered,
and which now constitutes her very self. But during terrestrial life she may destroy that wherein she has become entangled in her will." (Threefold Life, xii. 25.)
If during terrestrial life the will of the soul has become anti-Christian—that means to say, perverted into an evil spirituality—then will the evil nature of the soul likewise be perverted and anti-Christian, and this perverted essence will manifest itself in the other life as a shape and a power for evil.
"In so far as a person remains in a will foreign to his true nature, and does not want to be cured of it by entering into the holy Word, this foreign being will take substance in him and hold the celestial essence in subjection; so that the latter remains, as it were, imprisoned after death and cannot reach the kingdom of God, and from this results eternal death." (Mysterium, xxiv. 13.)
"Each one needs only to examine his own quality and see in what direction he is carried by his will. He will then know to what kingdom he belongs, and whether he is actually a man (in the image of God), as he fancies himself or pretends to be, or a creature of the dark world, an avaricious dog, a vain peacock, a lewd monkey, or a poisonous snake. If, then, the essence of the four elements departs from him at death, there will remain in him nothing but the internal poisonous and evil consciousness." (Six Theosophical Points, vii. 37.)
On account of the want of plasticity of the matter composing the physical body, the animal characteristics predominant in such a person become never fully expressed in his external appearance during his terrestrial life; but the soul is more plastic, and being likewise a product and expression of her internal character, she will after the death of the body assume the form of that animal or monster whose character is dominant in her.
"If the spirit remains unregenerated within its original principle, then will there appear at the rupture of the form such a creature as corresponds to the quality of the will (character) acquired during terrestrial life. If, for instance, during life you have the envious disposition of a dog, begrudging everything to everybody, then will this dog-character find its expression in a corresponding shape after the death of the body; for according to it the (animal) soul takes (assumes) her shape, and this kind of will remains with you in eternity, for the doors of the depths that lead to the light of God are then closed before you." 1 (Three Principles, xvi. 50.)
If the soul is devoid of the divine light, then will the four lower qualities of eternal nature become active in her and torment her in various ways.
"If you have not during your terrestrial life enlightened your soul, and the eternal spirit that has been given to you by supreme good, in the light of God, so that the spirit has become reborn in that light, in divine substantiality, then will the soul in the Mysterium return to the centre of nature, and enter into the quality of the anguish of the four lower forms of eternal nature. There she will then be in the company of all the devils, and be forced to devour that which she has stirred up." (Menschwerdung, xi. 6.)
"If the soul-fire has not become substantiated in the
[paragraph continues] Spirit of God, nor sought for that substance in its desire, it is then a dark fire, burning in great anguish and terror, because there are in its constitution then only the four lower qualities of nature. If the will has nothing of the divine power of true humility, there can then be no entering of it within itself into the life by means of death; but the soul is then like a furiously turning wheel, seeking continually to rise and continually sinking down on the other side. There is in that state surely a kind of fire, but not a combustion, for there rules the severe harshness and bitterness. The bitterness seeks the fire and wants to increase it; but the acridity keeps it imprisoned, and thus it results in a terrible anxiety and resembles a turning wheel, turning perpetually around itself." (Forty Questions, xviii. 14.)
"The four forms of the original state of nature are the source of universal anguish. Each person feels that according to the quality of his Turba, one in one way and another in another. The avaricious soul, for instance, suffers from cold; the angry soul from heat; the envious soul experiences bitterness; the conceited is continually flying and dropping into an abyss." (Forty Questions, xviii. 21.)
Moreover, there is within the consciousness of the soul the memory of past deeds, misdeeds, and the reproaches of those whom she has injured, and as in that subjective condition all these subjective images are seen objectively, the soul lives in the miseries which she has created. In addition to this, the curses of the living (being projections of will) reach the soul and cause her to suffer.
"All sins are objective to the soul in her tincture. If she remembers the kingdom of heaven—which she, of course, does neither see nor know—she then sees the causes why she is suffering; for she has created these causes herself. There are within her tincture all the tears of those whom she has injured, and they are fiery, stinging, burning, and gnawing, and cause an
eternal despair within the essences, and an inimical will towards God." (Three Principles, xix. 24.)
"There the master will have to render account to his servants, if he has, given them a bad example and caused them to enter the way of evil. Then will the poor soul cry out in despair against her master; for all this is objective before her in the tincture." (Three Principles, xxiv. 30.)
"If a godless person has left behind a great deal of falsehood and deceit, so that the tincture of hell is invoked over his tomb, then will that curse penetrate to his soul. This (curse) he will have to eat; for it is his food, sent to him by the living. To send such curses does not, however, belong to the children of God; for by cursing another, man casts seed into hell—into the wrath of God. Let every one beware, for he will reap that which he sows." (Forty Questions, xxiv. 4.)
During terrestrial life the voice of the conscience can be drowned in the turmoil of external life, and the recollection of evil deeds be driven away by allowing oneself to become immersed in sensual pleasures; but after death it does no longer depend on the will of the soul whether or not to remember the past, and her remorse is intensified to an enormous extent, by the absence of all external distractions. Moreover, the desire for gratifying her evil instincts still exists in her, but there are no means for such a gratification.
"During terrestrial life the godless feels the presence of hell within his false conscience, but he does not understand it; for he still lives in earthly vanity, wherewith he amuses himself, and which causes him pleasure and lust. Moreover, his external life is in possession of the light of external nature, and his soul revels therein; so that the internal pain cannot become manifest. But when the body dies, the soul can no longer enjoy such protection and temporal pleasure. In
addition to this, the external light will have been extinguished for her. Then will she be in an eternal craving after such vanity as she indulged in during her life on the earth; but she can attain nothing except her own false conceived will. She has now too little of that of which she formerly had too much, and with which she nevertheless was not satisfied. She would gladly commit still more evil, but has nothing whereby she can accomplish it, and thus she enacts all that within her own self." (Supernatural Life, xxxix.)
Now the godless soul is filled with her own infamy, and there is no room in her for the saving power of faith.
"Man's own sins, his depravity and vices in rejecting God, are his hell-fire, which gnaws in him eternally. His mockeries are now before his eyes, and he does not dare to let even one good thought enter into his soul; for the good is to him like an angel, and on account of his great wickedness he cannot touch it with his soul, much less see it through her; but he must now eat his mockery, together with all his vices and sins for ever within himself, and he must despair eternally." 1 (Three Principles, xxiv. 29.)
"The godless are free. There is nothing imprisoning them. They may go down as far as they like; there will everywhere be the abyss and the darkness, and they are always in the same place. The deeper they desire to go the deeper will they fall, and nevertheless they will arrive nowhere, because there is no bottom or end." (Forty Questions, xxxiv. 5.)
Every being can live only in that element to which it belongs. A fish suffers in the air and a man under water. Likewise the divine light of God is painful
to the devils in hell, and appears to them in an angry aspect.
"God also dwells in the abyss of the godless soul; but He is not recognisable to her in any other way than as a wrath, and this is the meaning where it is written—'With the saints Thou art holy, and with the perverted art Thou perverted.'" (Mysterium, lx. 44.)
"The same eternally generating and speaking word speaks in heaven—i.e., in the power of the light—as holy wisdom (delight); but in hell, in darkness, it manifests itself as the flames of torment." (Mysterium, lxi. 31.)
As the godless soul finds nowhere relief or aid, she ultimately surrenders herself fully to the devil; that means to say, to her own evil will. 1
"The soul is like a person dreaming of being in great anguish and torture, and that he is seeking for relief everywhere without being able to find it. He then despairs, and seeing no help he surrenders himself to his driver (to the interior impulse that is driving him on), that the latter may do with him as he chooses. Thus the abandoned soul falls into the power of the devil, where she can neither follow nor is permitted to follow her own inclinations; but whatever the devil does, she is compelled to do also. Thus she becomes au enemy of God, and would fain rise in pride and fire over the princely throne of the angels. While on earth and in her physical body she used to make a fool of herself, and now she
remains a fool and a trickster, and whatever folly she has carried on in this life she now enacts it there. The same foolery is her treasure, and therein is, as Christ says, her heart and her will." (Threefold Life, xviii. 10.)
Nevertheless the devilish soul does not find full satisfaction in evil, for she trembles continually in fear of the judgment day, and the only gratification she finds is in her resistance to God, and in encouraging and supporting the evil deeds and inclinations of mankind.
"The pain of the condemned (self-condemned) souls, which they suffer until the judgment day, is like that of an imprisoned convict who continually listens, and whenever something stirs thinks that the executioner is coming to submit him to justice and give him what he deserves. These souls have a perverted conscience, which tortures them; their sins are always before their eyes; they see all their injustice and frivolity, their conceit and the misery which they have caused, their scorn and arrogance, but now their self-confidence flies away." (Forty Questions, xxii. 17.)
"The most depraved souls, however, are very daring. They deny God and curse Him, and are His worst enemies. They lie to themselves, saying that they are in the right, and they rebel against God, and want to rise above Him and perform miracles." (Forty Questions, xxii. 21.)
"The condemned soul enters magically into the godless essence and enjoys it, and she teaches persons in dreams how to perform all kinds of mischief, for she is serving the devil. If a wicked person (earnestly) desires something, the devil is willing to serve him, for he can act more easily through the soul of a human being than if he is left to himself." (Forty Questions, xxvi. 18.)
Thus we have now considered the fate of those unfortunate souls who have become self-conscious in evil; or, to express it in other words, whose spirituality has become,
as it were, imprisoned within their lower qualities, and who are often spoken of as "black magicians" of varying degrees, from a simply malicious soul who performs villainous deeds for the mere sake of the enjoyment she hopes to experience from it, up to the devil incarnate, who has acquired occult knowledge and uses his spiritual powers for evil or selfish ends. But the condition of those who have during their terrestrial life found no internal pleasure in evil, but have fought against their evil desires, and striven to aid the good in them to conquer their evil propensities, is very different from the former when they depart from this world.
"If the inner will daily and every hour battles against the evil qualities with which it is afflicted, if it quenches them and does not permit them to take substance in it, while at the same time those evil qualities hinder the person, so that he cannot act always according to his good will, such a man may believe and know for certain that the fire of God is glowing in him and seeking to become light; and whenever the evil body with its evil conditions is broken up, so that it can no longer hinder the glowing spark from burning, then will the divine fire in its essence burst into a flame, and the divine image will be reconstituted according to the strongest quality which that person has introduced into his desire." (Six Theosophical Points, vii. 41.)
"If a person has a constant desire for God, and if his desire is so powerful as to enable him to break up and turn into mildness the evil essences whenever they begin to burn in him; if he can resign everything that in this world glitters and allures; if he can do good for evil; if he is powerful enough to give to the needy all that belongs to his externals, be it money or goods; and if he is ready willingly to desert everything for the sake of God, and to enter into a state of misery with the certain hope for the eternal; if in him arises divine power, so that he may awaken therein the kingdom of joy and taste God; such
a person carries within himself the divine image with the celestial essence even during his terrestrial life, the image wherein Jesus is born of the virgin. He will not die eternally, but merely let the terrestrial kingdom pass away from him, it having been in this life to him au opposition and hindrance, wherewith God has (not filled but) merely covered him." (Six Theosophical Points, vii. 44.)
Such souls are during this terrestrial life, and still more after the death of the body, filled with the light and the power of God. This light moderates the action of the fiery will still active in them, the blessings of their good deeds surround them, the hope for still greater glorification is their life, and from the trouble and persecution which they have suffered there arises for them pure joy.
"The principle of the father wherein the soul has her basis is a burning fire, giving light, and in this light rests the noble image of God. This light moderates the burning fire by means of the substantiality of love, so as to render it beneficent for nature and life." (Letters, viii. 78.)
"Those earnest souls that have worked the wonders of God in His will at the foot of the Cross, having received the body of God, i.e., of Christ, and who have walked therein in justice and truth, all their doings also follow them in their strong will and desire, and they experience inexpressible joy in the love and mercy of God, by which they are continually surrounded. The wonders of God are their nutriment; they are living in glory, power, strength, and majesty such as is beyond all description." (Threefold Life, xviii. 12.)
"The blessed souls are rendered happy by the works which they have performed while here, and those who have suffered much persecution for the sake of the truth will behold the wreath of victory which is to crown their new body on the judgment day. There takes place in them a continual uprising of joy whenever they contemplate
the future. As their deeds have been varied, so is their hope. A day-labourer having gained much is glad of the reward. Thus it is there. A joyful consciousness abides in them. All the scorn to which they were submitted and all the accusations that have been falsely brought forward against them are to them a great honour of victory. Their frequent prayers, good thoughts, and good works in behalf of their neighbours are the nutriment which they take until the time when their (celestial) body will eat of the fruits of Paradise." (Forty Questions, xxii. 4.)
"He who aids the degraded blesses himself, for he wishes him everything good, and prays to God to bless him in body and soul. Thus his desire and blessing returns to the giver in the Mysterium and surrounds him, and follows him as a good work born in God. This is the treasure which man takes with him; his earthly treasures he will have to leave behind." (Menschwerdung, cxi. 4.)
There is no man without sin, and as he is followed to the other side of the grave by all of his works, his sins go with him, but if he has known how to obtain forgiveness for his sins, then his happiness will not be infringed upon by them. 1
"Man is followed by all of his works, and he has them eternally before his eyes and lives therein, unless he has out of his malice and falsehood been newly born by the blood of Jesus Christ. If so, he will then break through the earthly and hellish image and enter into an angelic
one, and come into another kingdom, to which his imperfections cannot follow him, and thus will the image of God be restored out of the terrestrial and hellish form." (Three Principles, xvi. 47.)
The departed blessed souls trouble themselves neither about that which belongs to hell nor about terrestrial matters of any kind. Their existence resembles that of a man enjoying a happy dream.
"The rest of the soul is like that of one who rests in a sweet sleep." (Forty Questions, xxix. 1.)
"Those happy souls that are resting in Abraham's bosom, in Christ—i.e., in the heavenly essentiality (Devachan)—cannot be disturbed by anybody, unless they should wish it themselves, in case that they were very favourably inclined towards some particular soul in harmony with their own. They do not trouble themselves about terrestrial things, unless it be for the glorification of God. In that case they will be indefatigable in revealing things in a magical way." (Forty Questions, xxvi. 22.)
In regard to the intercourse between mortals and that class of spirits Boehme says in a letter:—
"You are asking questions of things which I cannot know, because for that purpose I would have to be myself within the departed soul, and the spirit of that soul would have to be my own; but as we are all having one body and one spirit in Christ, therefore all of us may see in Christ out of one spirit and enjoy His knowledge. Thus our soul is in relationship with the souls of the dead. They cannot come to us, but we may penetrate unto them." (Forty Questions, xxv. 1.)
Fully sanctified souls are in possession of an enormous amount of self-knowledge; others have less.
"The soul which in this body has entered into the new birth and penetrated to God through the doors of
the depth has great wisdom and knowledge, even as regards the heavens; for she has come from the womb of the virgin, wherein have been unfolded the eternal miracles of God, and the splendour of the Holy Trinity shines out of her. But we err if we attribute great wisdom to a soul that has hardly escaped from the clutches of the devil, after having left a world wherein she cared nothing about divine wisdom, but merely followed her own desires." (Three Principles, xix. 61.)
It is an absurdity to believe that the departed souls of God, the saints, could petition God in regard to our necessities, or argue the case with Him, or that they could put into motion the eternal and infinite mercy of God.
"The departed souls do not petition God on our behalf. Why should they do so? Our salvation does not depend on their begging, but on our entering. If any one puts his will into God, then will God help him. His arms are outstretched by day and night for the purpose of aiding man. Should then a soul be so presumptuous as to make out of God an over-severe Judge, unwilling to receive a converted sinner?" (Forty Questions, xxvi. 23.)
It is explainable that the souls of deceased saints have performed what is called "miracles;" but this did not take place after the manner in which it is commonly believed, but by a conjunction of the faith (will) of the living with the faith of the departed.
"We do not deny that (as it is taught by Popery) great departed saints have appeared to many persons and performed miracles. This is true, although it is now denied by many; but it belongs to a different A B C (to another department of occult science) than is known to those who affirm it, or to those who deny." (Forty Questions, xix. 63.)
"The reason why our forefathers have sometimes appeared after death in some wonderful manner is to be found in the faith of the living; for faith is a power that may move mountains. The faith of these living persons was still good and pure, and they did not worship their bellies or adore earthly show. Therefore their faith penetrated into heaven; i.e., into the one element, to the saints. Thus one faith grasped the other; for the saints also were reacting upon that strong faith, especially those saints who while upon the earth had converted many to God. Thus some wonderful works have been accomplished by invoking their memory." (Three Principles, xviii. 80.)
"One faith grasps the other. The faith of the living caught that of the saints, and the faith performed the miracle. Faith can overthrow mountains. It could destroy the world, if God were so to direct it." 1 (Forty Questions, xxvi.)
In the above we have considered two different classes of human spirits or souls; namely, those in whom the principle of darkness and evil has become manifest, and who ultimately become identified with that principle which is called "the devil," and we have also investigated the fate that awaits those in whom the principle of light, or good, becomes manifest; but there is to be met a vast number of souls in whom the division of good and evil, within the fourth form of eternal nature has not yet taken place, and who are in that state which is called Kama loca in the East and Purgatory in the West, although the meaning commonly attached to these terms is not quite identical.
"The souls in which doubt and faith are mixed have
their basis neither in heaven nor in hell, but they stand in the middle of the portal, where fire and light become separated from each other. They are held by the Turba. Many a soul is held there for a considerable time; the wrath, however, cannot devour the little spark of faith which the soul possesses, and has ultimately to release her. What (suffering) this implies, I leave those to experience who remain wilfully in sin to the end, and then wish to be saved." (Forty Questions, xxiv. 5.)
"It is not possible to describe what kind of a purgatory such a soul will have to pass through before, by means of her little spark (of love), she can enter (into eternal life). The world would not believe such a description; the world is too clever, and likewise too blind, to understand it. People cling for ever to the letter. I wish to God that no one would have to pass through that experience; I would then gladly keep still and say nothing about it." (Forty Questions, xviii.)
A soul from which the higher principles have entirely departed will, of course, suffer nothing, because she has no (spiritual) intelligence. Such an entity is merely an astral corpse, which is no more affected by the destructive influence of the astral elements than the unconscious physical body by its own decomposition; but if there is still any spiritual intelligence left in that astral form, it will then have to pass through a painful and forcible separation.
"Many a soul will, after taking leave of this world, have to remain for a considerable time in purgatory, if she has stained herself with gross sins, and if she has never truly entered into regeneration, but merely tasted of it to a certain extent, as is sometimes the case with persons that are here loaded with temporal honours and power, in which case personal claims being substituted for justice, malice, but not wisdom, is the judge.
[paragraph continues] When the hour of death approaches and the conscience awakens, such a soul trembles in great fear of hell, and would like to be saved; but there is only very little of the saving power of faith within her, while before her is nothing but injustice and falsehood, earthly lust, and the tears and sighs of the down-trodden. Her desire turns to a certain extent towards God, but the sins she committed are in her way, and there arises in her a great doubt and unrest. Many a soul then clings to the saving power as it were by a thin thread. When, then, death actually takes place, and separates the soul from the body, the poor soul will then cling to that thread and refuse to let go her hold of it, but all her essences are still deeply immersed in the wrath of God; she is tortured by her gross sins, and the thread of faith (the umbilical cord) of the new-born being is very feeble. 1 Therefore when the bridegroom says 'Come!' the poor soul answers, 'I cannot; my lamp is not yet ready;' but she clings to the thread and puts her imagination into the heart of God, and thus she becomes ultimately redeemed by the suffering of the Christ (in her) from the pool of putrefaction; i.e., from her fearful sins that are burning in the wrath of God and wherein she is immersed." (Three Principles, xix. 41.)
A soul that has gathered her divinity around herself like a garment of light and cut loose from all earthly attractions will have no desire to return to the earth and takes no interest in terrestrial affairs, which in fact she has forgotten, like a person who forgets his external circumstances after he goes to sleep; but a soul still held captive by the terrestrial essence or state may reappear among mortals in her sidereal (astral) body for the purpose Of seeking gratification for some personal wish. Such souls sometimes return for the purpose of asking the living to aid them with prayer.
"When a person dies the external body becomes decomposed and returns to that of which it has been formed, but the soul born from eternal nature, and having been introduced into the Adamic essence by the Spirit of God, cannot die; for she has not originated in time, but from the eternal generation. If the soul has introduced her will into temporal things, she has then conceived of the quality of those things in her desire, and holds to them magically, as if she were possessing them corporeally. Of course she cannot keep the elementary (physical) body, but she may retain her sidereal body until it leas been consumed by the constellation (the astral elements). Thus it happens sometimes that persons after death are seen in their houses, in their own body, but that body is cold, dead, and stiff, and the soul-spirit attracts it only by means of the astral spirit, until the (physical) body is decomposed." (Letters, xxii. 8.)
"Souls that have not yet reached heaven have still the human state, with its deeds, clinging to them, and therefore many a soul of that kind returns in her sidereal form and haunts her house, and is seen in human form. She may then ask for this or that, and think to be able to obtain the blessing of the saints for her rest (by means of the prayers she asks), and she may likewise concern herself about children or friends. All this, however, does not last any longer than until her astral spirit has been consumed, and then she will enter into rest. After that all leer sorrow and trouble is over, and she has then no more knowledge of it; only that she sees it in the wonders, in the magia (of the spirit)." (Forty Questions, xxvi. 8.)
"Christ says, 'Wherever your treasure is, there is your heart.' Thus it has often happened that unfortunate souls have reappeared in their community and asked for help by way of prayer, and that they fancied that in this way they might find relief. Out of such facts the doctrine of the purgatory has originated." (Threefold Life, xii. 24.)
As a matter of course, no dead soul can be made alive by prayer, neither can mere lip-prayer or any empty ceremony aid the soul in freeing herself from the bonds of matter, but the living may aid the "dead," and especially the dying, by means of true prayer; i.e., by an exercise of the spiritual will (divine aspiration) in them. Thus prayer may aid them to combat the powers of darkness, provided that the prayer of those persons is earnest and full of faith.
"We acknowledge that the community of Christ has great power in redeeming a soul, provided that they do their work earnestly, as it used to be done among the primitive Christians, when there were still saintly persons and saintly priests in existence. They surely did succeed, but not those who assert that they carry the keys and could let souls out of purgatory according to their pleasure and according to the amount of money received for it. For such persons, it would be better if they were never given any money, so that they would not cling to it with their desire." (Forty Questions, xxiv. 12.)
"The prayer of the living for the dead may be useful in so far as those who pray are truly Christians (in their hearts), and in a state of regeneration. If the poor soul has not become entirely brutalised into a worm or au animal, but if she still enters into God with her desire, and is therefore still connected with Him by the thread of regeneration, and if the soul-spirit of those who pray, together with the poor soul herself, turns in fervent love, towards God, then will the former aid the latter to wrestle with the elements of darkness and to burst the chains of the devil. This is especially possible at the time of the separation of the spirit from the body, and eminently so in the case of parents, children, or blood relatives; for among those who are related with each other by blood the tinctures enter easier into the necessary harmony (co-vibration), and then the spirit is more willing to enter
into the battle, and there is then more facility of conquering than if only strangers are present. All this is, however, useless unless these persons are themselves in the state of regeneration, for one devil cannot destroy another devil. If the soul of the dying is entirely separated from that which links her to Christ, and if she reaches not by her own efforts for the thread, then will the prayers of the others avail nothing." (Three Principles, xix. 55.) 1
291:1 It will hardly be necessary to state that this is not to be taken in an external and superficial sense, as if the soul were waiting for the resurrection of that physical body which has then already been decomposed and passed into other organisms according to its constituting elements; but, like all other writings of occult nature, this has to be taken in an internal spiritual meaning, which we must seek to grasp with the spirit rather than with the sceptical brain. It refers to the unfoldment of the third principle, which remains latent in the soul during that state.
294:1 There are not animals enough in the world to represent all the combinations of evil characters which may be formed within the soul of man; neither could such monstrous shapes exist in the physical plane, on account of anatomical and physiological laws; but in the hellish world, where the human element becomes mixed with the animal essence, all kinds of monsters, half human, half animal, may be found. The horrors of hell are, therefore, not mere inventions of poets and visionaries, but there is no reason why they should not actually exist. Certainly, from the point of view of the divine spirit, all forms are merely illusive, and as long as man is rooted within that spirit he may recognise them as such; but for the godless they are horrible realities, as real as the images of the terrestrial world appear to us.
297:1 The word "eternally" does not mean a succession of periods of time without any end, but a state in which there exists no conception of time.
298:1 To the child of God, God is not anything objective, but exists within His own centre. Terrestrial man, in search of God or salvation, ultimately arrives, through disappointment and suffering, at the realisation that God, the true life and the truth, can be found for him not anywhere excepting within his own divine self. He then seeks for God within himself, and in finding Him he becomes identified with Him and is God. Likewise the godless soul, seeking for relief and comfort in external things or beings, ultimately returns within her own self, and finding no good within her, she necessarily identifies herself with her own evil will, and becomes a devil.
302:1 This "forgiving of sin" has a meaning very different from that which is commonly accepted. Nobody can forgive the sins of another man; the sinner himself must free himself of his sins.
"Sin is like a shell, out of which the new man grows, and he then throws the shell away. This is called 'forgiveness,' because God (in man) gives that which is sinful away." (Menschwerdung, xi. 10.)
"Nobody can forgive sins except Christ in man. Whenever Christ lives in man, there is the absolution." (Grace, xiii. 11.)
305:1 If there is nobody living to-day able to perform a miracle by the power of faith, this does not disprove that the true living faith is a spiritual power, capable of manifesting all the qualities that are claimed for it, but it is, rather, suggestive of the degraded state of the present generation.
307:1 Such souls are called "sutratma's" (thread souls) in Eastern books.
310:1 The bond that connects the soul with the divine state is the power of spiritual love. If at the time of death there is only a thread of that power strong enough to attract the soul to the Divinity, then will the soul tear herself loose from her sinful self and enter into heaven; and therefore it is written that the sins of the woman (the soul) were forgiven, because she had loved much. An ignorant man, having the love of God in his heart, will gain eternal life according to the degree of his love and enlightenment; but he who has much enlightenment, but without any love, is a child of the devil.
"The ways of God are different from the ways of man. That which man loves, therein God hides Himself." (Myster. Magn., lvii, 17.)