Friday, 26 April 2019

Jacob Boehme on Spiritual Regeneration

But since thou desirest me to tell thee how to forsake thy own perverse creaturely Will so that the Creatures in thee might die, and how yet thou mightest live along with them in the World, I must assure thee that there is but one Way to do it, which is narrow and straight, and will be very hard and irksome to thee at the Beginning, but afterwards thou wilt walk in it cheerfully.

Thou must seriously consider, that in the Course of this worldly Life thou walkest in the Anger of God and in the Foundation of Hell; and that this is not thy true Native Country; but that a True Christian should, and must live in Christ, and in his Walking truly follow him; and that he cannot be a True Christian, unless the Spirit and Power of Christ so live in him, that he becometh wholly Subject to it. Now seeing the Kingdom of Christ is not of this World, but in Heaven, therefore thou must always be in a continual Ascension towards Heaven, if thou wilt follow Christ; though thy Body must dwell among the Creatures and use them.

The narrow Way to which perpetual Ascension into Heaven and Imitation of Christ is this: thou must despair of all thy own Power and Strength, for in and by thy own Power thou canst not reach the Gates of God; and firmly purpose and resolve wholly to give thyself up to the Mercy of God, and to sink down with thy whole Mind and Reason into the Passion and Death of our Lord Jesus Christ, always desiring to persevere in the same, and to die from all thy Creatures therein. Also thou must resolve to watch and guard thy Mind, Thoughts and Inclinations that they admit no Evil into them, neither must thou suffer thyself to be held fast by temporal Honour or Profit. 

Thou must resolve likewise to put away from thee all Unrighteousness, and whatsoever else may hinder the Freedom of thy Motion and Progress. Thy Will must be wholly pure, and fixed in a firm Resolution never to return to its old Idols any more, but that thou wilt leave them the very Instant they are known to thee, and separate thy Mind from them, and enter into the sincere Way of Truth and Righteousness, according to the plain and full Doctrine of Christ. And as thou dost thus purpose to forsake the Enemies of thine own inward Nature, so also must thou forgive all thy outward Enemies, and resolve to meet them with thy Love; so that there may be left no Creature, Person, or Thing at all able to take hold of thy Will and captivate it; but that it may be sincere, and purged from all Creatures.

Nay further; if it should be required, thou must be willing and ready to forsake all thy temporal Honour and Profit for Christ's sake, and regard nothing that is Earthly so as to set thy Heart and Affections upon it; but esteem thyself in whatsoever State, Degree, and Condition thou art, as to worldly Rank or Riches, to be but a Servant of God and of thy Fellow-Christians; or as a Steward in the Office wherein thy Lord hath placed thee. All Arrogance and Self-Exaltation must be humbled, brought low, and so annihilated that nothing of thine own or of any other Creature may stay in thy Will to bring thy Thoughts or Imagination to be set upon it.

Thou must also firmly impress it on thy Mind, that thou shalt certainly partake of the promised Grace in the Merit of Jesus Christ, viz. of his outflowing Love, which indeed is already in thee, and which will deliver thee from thy Creatures, and enlighten thy Will, and kindle it with the Flame of Love, whereby thou shalt have Victory over the Devil. Not as if thou couldst will or do anything in thine own Strength, but only enter into the Suffering and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and take them to thyself, and with them assault and break in Pieces the Kingdom of the Devil in thee, and mortify thy Creatures. Thou must resolve to enter into this Way this very Hour, and never to depart from it, but willingly to submit thyself to God in all thy Endeavours and Doings, that he may do with thee what he pleaseth.

When thy Will is thus prepared and resolved, it hath then broken through its own Creatures, and is sincere in the Presence of God, and clothed with the merits of Jesus Christ. It may then freely go to the Father with the Prodigal Son, and fall down in his Presence and pour forth its Prayers; and putting forth all its Strength in this Divine Work, confess its Sins and Disobedience; and how far it hath departed from God. This must be done not with bare Words, but with all its Strength, which indeed amounteth only to a strong Purpose and Resolution; for the Soul of itself hath no Strength or Power to effect any good Work.

Now when thou art thus ready, and that thy Heavenly Father shall see thy coming and returning to him in such Repentance and Humility, he will inwardly speak to thee, and say in thee, Behold this is my Son which I had lost; he was dead and is alive again. And he will come and meet thee in thy Mind with the Grace and Love of Jesus Christ, and embrace thee with the Beams of his Love, and kiss thee with his Spirit and Strength; and then thou shalt receive Grace to pour out thy Confession before him, and to pray powerfully. This indeed is the right Place where thou must wrestle in the Light of his Countenance. And if thou standest resolutely here, and shrinkest not back, thou shalt see or feel great Wonders. For thou shalt find Christ in thee assaulting Hell, and crushing thy Beasts in Pieces, and that a great Tumult and Misery will arise in thee; also thy secret undiscovered Sins will then first awake, and labour to separate thee from God, and to keep thee back. 

Thus shalt thou truly find and feel how Death and Life fight one against the other, and shalt understand by what passeth within thyself, what Heaven and Hell are. At which Time be not moved, but stand firm and shrink not; for at length all thy Creatures will grow faint, weak, and ready to die; and then thy Will shall wax stronger, and be able to subdue and keep down the evil Inclinations. So shall thy Will and Mind ascend into Heaven every day, and thy Creatures gradually die away. Thou wilt get a Mind wholly new, and begin to be a new Creature, and getting rid of the Bestial deformity, recover the Divine Image. Thus shalt thou be delivered from thy present Anguish, and return to thy Original Rest. 
(Jacob Boehme, The Way to Christ (1623) Book 4, Part 3, The Way from Darkness to True Illumination)

Monday, 15 April 2019

The Esoteric Meaning of the Crucifixion 2

29. Christ Jesus, then, is no other than the hidden and true man of the Spirit, the Perfect Humanity, the Express Image of the Divine Glory. And it is possible to man, by the renunciation – which mystically is the crucifixionof his outer and lower self, to rise wholly into his inner and higher self, and, becoming suffused or anointed of the Spirit, to “put on Christ,” propitiate God, and redeem the earthly and material. 
30. And that which they who, in the outer manifestation, are emphatically called Christs – whether of Palestine, of India, of Egypt or of Persia, – have done for man, is but to teach him what man is able to be in himself by bearing, each for himself, that Cross of renunciation which they have borne. And inasmuch as these have ministered to the salvation of the world thereby, they are truly said to be saviors of souls, whose doctrine and love and example have redeemed men from death and made them heirs of eternal life. The Wisdom they attained, they kept not secret, but freely gave as they had freely received. And that which thus they gave was their own life, and they gave it knowing that the children of darkness would turn on them and rend them because of the gift. But, with the Christs, Wisdom and Love are one, and the testament of Life is written in the blood of the testator. Herein is the difference between the Christ and the mere adept in knowledge.

The Christ gives and dies in giving, because Love constrains him and no fear withholds; the adept is prudent, and keeps his treasure for himself alone. And as the At-on-ment accomplished in and by the Christs, is the result of the unreserved adoption of the Divine Life, and of the unreserved giving of the Love mystically called the Blood of Christ, those who adopt that Life according to their teaching, and who aspire to be one with God, are truly said to be saved by the Precious Blood of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. For the Lamb of God is the spiritual Sun in Aries, the spring-tide glory of ascending Light, the symbol of the Pure Heart and the Righteous Life, by which humanity is redeemed. And this Lamb is without spot, white as snow, because white is the sign of Affirmation and of the “Yes;” as black is of Negation and of the devil. It is Iesous Chrestos, the Perfect Yes of God who is symbolized by this white Lamb, and who, like his sign in heaven, was lifted up on the Cross of Manifestation from the foundation of the world
31. In the holy Mysteries, dealing with the process of that second and new creation, which – constituting a return from Matter to Spirit – is mystically called Redemption, – every term employed refers to some process or thing subsisting or occurring within the individual himself. For, as man is a Microcosm, and comprises within all that is without, the processes of Creation by Evolution, and of Redemption by Involution, occur in the Man as in the Universe, and thereby in the Personal as in the General, in the One as in the Many. With the current orthodox symbolism of man’s spiritual history, the Initiate, or true Spiritualist, has no quarrel. That from which he seeks to be saved is truly the Devil, who through the sin of the Adam has power over him; that whereby he is saved is the precious blood of the Christ, the Only-begotten, whose mother is the immaculate ever-virgin Maria. And that to which, by means of this divine oblation, he attains is the Kingdom of Heaven and eternal Life. But, with the current orthodox interpretation of these terms, the Initiate is altogether at variance.
For he knows that all these processes and names refer to Ideas, which are actual and positive, not to physical transcripts, which are reflective and relative only. He knows that it is within his own microcosmic system he must look for the true Adam, for the real Tempter, and for the whole process of the Fall, the Exile, the Incarnation, the Passion, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, the Ascension, and the coming of the Holy Spirit. And any mode of interpretation which implies other than this, is not celestial but terrene, and due to that intrusion of earthy elements into things divine, that conversion of the inner into the outer, that “Fixing of the Volatile” or materialization of the Spiritual, which constitutes idolatry. 
32. For, such of us as know and live the inner life, are saved, not by any Cross on Calvary eighteen hundred years ago, not by any physical blood-shedding, not by any vicarious passion of tears and scourge and spear; but by the Christ-Jesus, the God with us, the Immanuel of the heart, born, working mighty works, and offering oblation in our own lives, redeeming us from the world, and making us sons of God and heirs of everlasting life. 
33. But, if we are thus saved by the love of Christ, it is by love also that we manifest Christ to others. If we have received freely, we also give freely, shining in the midst of night, that is, in the darkness of the world. For so long as this darkness prevails over the earth, Love hangs on his cross; because the darkness is the working of a will at variance with the Divine Will, doing continual violence to the Law of Love.
34. The wrongs of others wound the Son of God, and the stripes of others fall on his flesh. He is smitten with the pains of all creatures, and his heart is pierced with their wounds. There is no offence done and he suffers not, nor any wrong and he is not hurt thereby. For his heart is in the breast of every creature, and his blood in the veins of all flesh. For to know perfectly is to love perfectly, and so to love is to be partaker in the pain of the beloved. And inasmuch as a man loves and succors and saves even the least of God’s creatures, he ministers unto the Lord. Christ is the perfect Lover, bearing the sorrows of all the poor and oppressed. And the sin and injustice and ignorance of the World are the nails in his hands, and in his feet. O Passion of Love, that givest thyself freely, even unto death! For no man can do Love’s perfect work unless Love thrust him through and through. But, if he love perfectly, he shall be able to redeem; for strong Love is a Net which shall draw all souls unto him. Because unto Love is given all power, both in heaven and on earth; Seeing that the will of him who loves perfectly is one with the Will of God: And unto God and Love, all things are possible. 

35. We come now to the last and innermost of the fourfold Mysteries of the Cross; the Oblation of God in and for the Macrocosmic Universe. The fundamental truth embodied in this aspect of the holy symbol, is the doctrine of Pantheism; God, and God only, in and through All. The celestial Olympus – Mount of Oracles – is ever creating; God never ceases giving of the Divine Self alike for Creation and for Redemption. God is in all things, whether personal or impersonal, and in God they live and move and have being. And that stage of purification through which the Cosmos is now passing, is God’s Crucifixion; the process of  Transmutation and Redemption of Spirit from Matter, of Being from Existence, of Substance from Phenomenon, which is to culminate in the final At-one-nient of the ultimate Sabbath of Rest awaiting God’s redeemed universe at the end of the Kalpa. In the Man Crucified, we have, therefore, the type and symbol of the continual Crucifixion of God manifest in the flesh, God suffering in the creature, the Invisible made Visible, the Volatile Fixed, the Divine Incarnate, which manifestation, suffering, and crucifixion are the causes of purification and therefore of Redemption.
Thus, in the spiritual Sense, the six days of creation are always Passion Week, in that they represent the process of painful experience, travail, and passing through, whereby the Spirit accomplishes the redemption of the Body; or the return of Matter into Substance. Hence in the sacred writings, God, in the person of Divine Humanity, is represented as showing the Five Mystical Wounds of the Passion to the Angels, and saying: – “These are the Wounds of My Crucifixion, wherewith I am wounded in the House of My Friends.” For, so long as pain and sorrow and sin endure, God is wounded continually in the persons of all creatures, small and great; and the temple of their body is the House wherein the Divine Guest suffers. 
36. For the Bread which is broken and divided for the children of the Kingdom is the Divine Substance, which with the Wine of the Spirit, constitute the holy Sacrament of the Eucharist, the Communion of the Divine and the Terrene, the Oblation of Deity in Creation. 
37. May this holy Body and Blood, Substance and Spirit, Divine Mother and Father, inseparable Duality in Unity, given for all creatures, broken and shed, and making oblation for the world, be everywhere known, adored, and venerated. May we, by means of that Blood, which is the Love of God and the Spirit of Life, be redeemed, indrawn, and transmuted into that Body which is Pure Substance, immaculate and ever virgin, express Image of the Person of God! That we hunger no more, neither thirst any more; and that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any creature, be able to separate us from the Love of God, which is in Christ Jesus. That being made one through the At-one-ment of Christ, who only hath Immortality and inhabiteth Light inaccessible; We also beholding the glory of God with open face; may be transformed into the same Image, from glory to glory by the power of the Spirit. Light inaccessible; We also beholding the glory of God with open face; may be transformed into the same Image, from glory to glory by the power of the Spirit. (Anna Kingsford, The Perfect Way, Lecture 4, Part III, 20)

Monday, 8 April 2019

Reincarnation and Christianity

In the penultimate year of his life, William Q. Judge was preoccupied with the question of reincarnation and Christianity, penning two articles on the topic. He explored the notion of reincarnation in the Kabbalah and the case of Origen. He was a pioneer on this question, and in his various writings on the topic, presented most of the basic arguments and biblical quotations that are used today.
All this is to be had in mind in reading Jeremiah, "Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest out of the womb I sanctified thee"; or in Romans ix, v, 11, 13, after telling that Jacob and Esau being not yet born, "Jacob have I loved and Esau have I hated"; or the ideas of the people that "Elias was yet to first come"; or that some of the prophets were there in Jesus or John; or when Jesus asked the disciples "Whom do men think that I am?" There cannot be the slightest doubt, then, that among the Jews for ages and down to the time of Jesus the ideas above outlined prevailed universally. Let us now come to the New Testament.
St. Matthew relates in the eleventh chapter the talk of Jesus on the subject of John, who is declared by him to be the greatest of all, ending in the 14th verse, thus:
And if ye will receive it, this is Elias which was for to come.
Here he took the doctrine for granted, and the "if" referred not to any possible doubts on that, but simply as to whether they would accept his designation of John as Elias. In the 17th chapter he once more takes up the subject thus:
10. And his disciples asked him saying, Why, then, say the scribes that Elias must first come? And Jesus answered and said unto them; Elias truly shall first come and restore all things. But I say unto you that Elias is come already, and they knew him not but have done to him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of Man suffer of them. Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.
The statement is repeated in Mark, chapter ix, v. 13, omitting the name of John. It is nowhere denied. It is not among any of the cases in which the different Gospels contradict each other; it is in no way doubtful. It is not only a reference to the doctrine of reincarnation, but is also a clear enunciation of it. It goes much further than the case of the man who was born blind, when Jesus heard the doctrine referred to, but did not deny it nor condemn it in any way, merely saying that the cause in that case was not for sin formerly committed, but for some extraordinary purpose, such as the case of the supposed dead man when he said that the man was not dead but was to be used to show his power over disease. In the latter one he perceived there was one so far gone to death that no ordinary person could cure him, and in the blind man's case the incident was like it. If he thought the doctrine pernicious, as it must be if untrue, he would have condemned it at the first coming up, but not only did he fail to do so, he distinctly himself brought it up in the case of John, and again when asking what were the popular notions as to himself under the prevailing doctrines as above shown. Matthew xvi, v. 13, will do as an example, as the different writers do not disagree, thus:
When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, Whom do men say that I am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist, some Elias, and others Jeremias or one of the prophets.
This was a deliberate bringing-up of the old doctrine, to which the disciples replied, as all Jews would, without any dispute of the matter of reincarnation; and the reply of Jesus was not a confutation of the notion, but a distinguishing of himself from the common lot of sages and prophets by showing himself to be an incarnation of God and not a reincarnation of any saint or sage. He did not bring it up to dispute and condemn as he would and did do in other matters; but to the very contrary he evidently referred to it so as to use it for showing himself as an incarnate God. And following his example the disciples never disputed on that; they were all aware of it; St. Paul must have held it when speaking of Esau and Jacob; St. John could have meant nothing but that in Revelations, chap. iii, v. 12.
Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God and he shall go no more out.
Reincarnation In Judaism And The Bible
The Path, February, 1894
The issue of Lucifer for February has valuable contributions under "Notes and Queries" on this subject, and from that I extract something. Beausobre[1] says:
It is a very ancient and general belief that souls are pure and heavenly substances which exist before their bodies and come down from heaven to clothe and animate them. . . . I only quote it to show that his nation (Jews) believed for a long time back in the pre-existence of souls. . . . All the most learned Greek fathers held this opinion, and a considerable portion of the Latin fathers followed them herein. . . . It has been held by several Christian philosophers. It was received into the Church until the fourth century without being obnoxious to the charge of heresy.
Franck's Kabbala is referred to in these answers as saying that Origen taught transmigration as a necessary doctrine for the explaining of the vicissitudes of life and the inequalities of birth. But the next quotation throws doubt again into the question, closing, however, thus:
When the soul comes into the world it leaves the body which had been necessary to it in the mothers womb, it leaves, I repeat, the body which covered it, and puts on another body fit for the life we lead on earth. . . . But as we do not believe in metempsychosis, nor that the soul can ever be debased so as to enter into the bodies of brute animals...
There are several ways of looking at this. It may be charged that some one interpolated the italicized words; or that Origen was referring to transmigrating back to animals; or, lastly, that he and his learned friends had a theory about incarnation and reincarnation not clearly given. My opinion is that he wrote as above simply as to retrograde rebirth, and that he held the very identical doctrine as to reincarnation found in Isis Unveiled and which caused it to be charged that H.P.B. did not know or teach reincarnation in 1877. Of course I cannot produce a quotation.
But how could such a voluminous writer and deep thinker as Origen hold to the doctrines of unity with God, of the final restoration of all souls to pristine purity, and of pre-existence, without also having a reincarnation doctrine? There are many indications and statements that there was an esoteric teaching on these subjects, just as it is evident that Jesus had his private teaching for the select disciples. For that reason Origen might teach pre-existence but hold back the other. He says, according to Franck, that the question was not of metempsychosis according to Plato, "but of an entirely different theory which is of a far more elevated nature." It might have been this.
The soul, considered as spirit and not animal soul, is pure, of the essence of God, and desirous of immortality through a person; the person may fail and not be united to the soul; another and another person is selected; each one, if a failure in respect to union with the Self, passes into the sum of experience; but finally a personal birth is found wherein all former experiences are united and union gained. From thenceforward there is no more falling back, for immortality through a person has been attained. Prior to this great event the soul existed, and hence the doctrine of pre-existence. For all of the personal births the soul was the God, the Higher Self of each, the luminous one, the Augoeides; existing thus from all time, it might be the cause of rebirths but not itself be reincarnated, as it merely overshadowed each birth without being wholly in the flesh. Such a doctrine, extremely mystical and providing for each a personal God with a great possibility held out through reunion, could well be called by Origen "a different theory" from metempsychosis and "of more elevated character."
When once more the modern Christian Church admits that its founders believed in pre-existence and that Jesus did not condemn reincarnation, a long step will have been taken toward uprooting many intolerant and illogical doctrines now held.
Christian Fathers On Reincarnation
The Path, May, 1894

[1] Isaac de Beausobre (8 March 1659 – 5 June 1738) was a French Protestant churchman, now best known for his two-volume history of Manichaeism, Histoire Critique de Manichée et du Manichéisme .