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is weighed down by the anxieties of this world. It is sometimes intoxicated and misled by them, so far that it cannot rightly find out good. Nor yet does it appear to those men that they at all err, who are desirous to obtain this, that they need labor after nothing more. But they think that they are able to collect together all these goods, so that none may be excluded from the number. They therefore know no other good than the collecting of all the most precious things into their power that they may have need of nothing besides them. But there is no one that has not need of some addition, except God alone. He has of his own enough, nor has he need of anything but that which he has in himself. Dost thou think, however, that they foolishly imagine that that thing is best deserving of all estimation which they may consider most desirable ? No, no. I know that it is not to be despised. How can that be evil which the mind of every man considers to be good, and strives after, and desires to obtain ? No, it is not evil; it is the highest good. Why is not power to be reckoned one of the highest goods of this present life? Is that to be esteemed vain and useless, which is the most useful of all those worldly things, that is, power? Is good fame and renown to be accounted nothing ? No, no. It is not fit that any one account it nothing; for every man thinks that best which he most loves. Do we not know that no anxiety, or difficulties, or trouble, or pain, or sorrow, is happiness? What more, then, need we say about these felicities ? Does not every man know what they are, and also know that they are the highest good ? And yet almost every man seeks in very little things the best felicities; because he thinks that he may have them all if he have that which he then chiefly wishes to obtain. This is, then, what they chiefly wish to obtain, wealth, and dignity, and authority, and this world's glory, and ostentation, and worldly lust. Of all this they are desirous because they think that, through these things, they may obtain that there be not to them a deficiency of anything wished; neither of dignity, nor of power, nor of renown, nor of bliss. They wish for all this, and they do well that they desire it, though they seek it variously. By these things we may clearly perceive that every man is desirous of this, that he may obtain the highest good, if they were able to discover it, or knew how to seek it rightly. But they do not seek it in the most right way. It is not of this world.
Modernized from the version of
Alfred the Great.
JEGEL says that philosophy came first to Germany through A Jacob Böhme, the once celebrated mystic, almost forgotten He now by the general reader, but long known as “Philosophus Teutonicus,” the Teutonic Philosopher par excellence. He was born at Altseidenberg, a village of Upper Lusatia, where he began life as a shoemaker. His writings which have greatly influenced metaphysics belong to the same school as those of Swedenborg. It is said that Böhme was himself influenced by the writings of Paracelsus. As far as his teaching can be compressed into an intelligible English sentence, it is that the material world is a manifestation of the spiritual. In this his philosophy is the precursor of that of Berkeley. He died in 1624.
M OSES says that when God had made man, he planted a garden
in Eden, and there he put man, to till and keep the same;
and caused all manner of fruits to grow, pleasant for the sight and good for food; and planted the tree of life also, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the midst.
Here lies the veil before the face of Moses, in that he had a bright shining countenance, that sinful Israel cannot look him in the face; for the man of vanity is not worthy to know what Paradise is; and albeit it be given us to know it according to the inward, hidden man, yet by this description we shall remain as dumb to the beast, but yet be sufficiently understood by our fellow-scholars in the school of the great master.
Poor reason, which is gone forth with Adam out of Paradise, asks where is Paradise to be had or found? Is it far off or near ? Or, when the souls go into Paradise, whither do they go? Is it in the place of this world, without the place of this world, above the stars? Where is it that God dwells with the angels? And where is that desirable native country where there is no death? Being there is no sun or stars in it, therefore it cannot be in this world, or else it would have been found long ago.
Beloved reason; one cannot lend a key to another to unlock this withal; and if any have a key, he cannot open it to another, as antichrist boasts that he has the keys of heaven and hell; it is true, a man may have the keys of both in this lifetime, but he cannot open with them for anybody else; every one must unlock it with his own key, or else he cannot enter therein; for the Holy Ghost is the key, and when any one has that key, then he may go both in and out.
Paradise was the heavenly essentiality of the second principle. It budded in the beginning of the world through the earthly essentiality, as the eternity is in the time, and the divine power is through all things; and yet is neither comprehended nor understood of any earthly thing in selfhood.
In Paradise the essence of the divine world penetrated the essence of time, as the sun penetrates the fruit upon a tree, and effectually works in it a pleasantness, that it is lovely to look upon and good to eat; the like we are to understand of the garden of Eden.
The garden of Eden was a place upon the earth where man was tempted; and the Paradise was in heaven, yet was in the garden of Eden; for as Adam before his sleep, and before his Eve was made out of him, was, as to his inward man, in heaven, and, as to the outward, upon the earth, - and as the inward, holy man penetrated the outward, as a fire through heats an iron, so also the heavenly power out of the pure, eternal element penetrated the four elements, and sprang through the earth, and bare fruits, which were heavenly and earthly, and were qualified, sweetly tempered of the divine power, and the vanity in the fruit was held as it were swallowed up, as the day hides the night, and holds it captive in itself, that it is not known and manifest.
The whole world would have been a mere Paradise if Lucifer had not corrupted it, who was in the beginning of his creation an hierarch in the place of this world; but seeing God knew that Adam would fall, therefore Paradise sprang forth and budded only in one certain place, to introduce and confirm man in his obedience therein. God nevertheless saw he would depart thence, whom he would again introduce thereinto by Christ, and establish him anew in Christ to eternity in Paradise.....
There is nothing that is nearer you than heaven, Paradise, and hell; unto which of them you are inclined, and to which of them you tend or walk, to that in this lifetime you are most near. You are between both; and there is a birth between each of them. You stand in this world between both the gates, and you have both the births in you. God beckons to you in one gate, and calls you; the devil beckons you in the other gate and calls you; with whom you go, with him you enter in. The devil has in his hand power, honor, pleasure, and worldly joy; and the root of these is death and hell fire. On the contrary, God has in his hand crosses, persecution, misery, poverty, ignominy, and sorrow; and the root of these is a fire also, but in the fire there is a light, and in the light the virtue, and in the virtue the Paradise; and in the Paradise are the angels, and among the angels, joy. The gross fleshly eyes cannot behold it, because they are from the third principle, and see only by the splendor of the sun; but when the Holy Ghost comes into the soul, then he regenerates it anew in God, and then it becomes a paradisical child, who gets the key of Paradise, and that soul sees into the midst thereof.
But the gross body cannot see into it, because it belongs not to Paradise; it belongs to the earth, and must putrify and rot, and rise in a new virtue and power in Christ, at the end of days; and then it may also be in Paradise, and not before; it must lay off the third principle, namely, this skin or covering which father Adam and mother Eve got into, and in which they supposed they should be wise by wearing all the three principles manifested on them. Oh! that they had preferred the wearing two of the principles hidden in them, and had continued in the principle of light, it had been good for us. But of this I purpose to speak hereafter when I treat about the fall.
Thus now in the essence of all essences, there are three several distinct properties, with one source or property far from one another, yet not parted asunder, but are in one another as one only essence; nevertheless, the one does not comprehend the other, as in the three elements, fire, air, water; all three are in one another, but neither of them comprehend the other. And as one element generates another and yet is not of the essence, source, or property thereof, so the three principles are in one another, and one generates the other; and yet none of them all comprehends the other, nor is any of them the essence or substance of the other.
The third principle, namely, this material world, shall pass away and go into its ether, and then the shadow of all creatures shall remain, also of all growing things [vegetables and fruits] and of all that ever came to light; as also the shadow and figure of all words and works; and that incomprehensibly, like a nothing or shadow in respect of the light, and after the end of time there will be nothing but light and darkness; where the source or property remain in each of them as it has been from eternity, and the one shall not comprehend the other.
Yet whether God will create niore after this world's time, that my spirit doth not know; for it apprehends no further than what is in its centre wherein it lives, and in which the Paradise and the kingdom of heaven stand.
THE SUPERSENSUAL LIFE THE Disciple said to the Master: How may I attain to the supersensual life, that I may see God and hear him speak ?
The Master said: If thou canst raise thyself for a moment thither, where no creature dwelleth, thou shalt hear what God saith.
The Disciple said: Is that near or far ?
The Master said: It is in thee, and if thou canst be silent and cease, for an hour, from all thy willing and brooding, thou shalt hear unspeakable words of God.
The Disciple said: How may I hear, if I cease from all willing and brooding?
The Master said: If thou wilt cease from all brooding and willing of thine own, then the eternal Hearing and Seeing and Speaking shall be revealed in thee, and shall discern God through thee. Thine own hearing and willing and seeing hinders thee, that thou canst not see nor hear God.
The Disciple said: Wherewith shall I hear and see God, seeing he is above nature and the creature ?
The Master said: If thou keepest silence, thou art what God was before nature and the creature, and out of which he made thy nature and creature. Then shalt thou hear and see with that wherewith God, in thee, saw and heard, before thine own willing and seeing and hearing did begin.
The Disciple said: What doth hinder me that I cannot attain thereunto?
The Master •said: Thine own willing and hearing and seeing, and because thou dost strive against that whence thou hast pro