"Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not of those things?"
—John iii. 10.
"Whoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me."—Luke ix. 23.
No man can attain spiritual self-knowledge without being spiritual, because it is not intellectual man that knows the Spirit, but the divine Spirit that attains self-knowledge in man.
"Christ said, 'Unless you become like children, you will not see the kingdom of God.' And again He says (John iii.), 'Unless a person is born of the water and Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God; for that which is born from the flesh is flesh, and what is born from the Spirit is spirit.' It is clearly shown in the Bible that the carnal natural man does not conceive of the Spirit of God. That Spirit is to him a foolishness, and he cannot comprehend it."
"It is self-evident, and requires no further proof, that we are all made up of flesh and blood, and that we are mortal. Nevertheless, we are taught that we are temples of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. We are also taught that Christ must take a form in us, and that He will give us His flesh as our nutriment and His blood for us to drink. He says that he who does not eat the flesh of the Son of Man will have no eternal life. Therefore we ought to seriously consider what kind of a man is within our own self similar to God and capable of becoming divine." (Regeneration, i.)
"For that which is made of mortal flesh will again return to earth. In it dwells the vanity of this world. It is desirous for that which is not of God, and it cannot be said to be a temple of the Holy Spirit. Much less can there take place a spiritual regeneration of this terrestrial flesh, because it dies and becomes dissolved, and is a dwelling for sins. But the true Christian is born out of Christ, and that which is regenerated is a temple of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us." (Regeneration, i.)
For the purpose of understanding the process of the spiritual regeneration of man it is useless to cling to a merely historical belief in a Christ supposed to have died for the purpose of paying our debts to an angry God, but it is necessary to eat of the flesh and drink of the blood of the living Christ within ourselves; that is to say that we must allow our soul to become filled with the divine substantiality of the body of Christ, and experience the paradisiacal power of Christ therein.
"To produce a true Christian it is not sufficient to he satisfied with a merely historical or scientific belief in a Son of God who is said to have once lived upon the earth. It is not that we are to be rewarded by some external God attributing righteousness to us on account of our confessing such a belief, but the recognition of divine truth must be born within us and received by us in a child-like manner. As the flesh is bound to die, so the life and the will of our sinful nature must die, and we must become like a child that knows nothing, but clings (instinctively) to the mother who gave it birth. And thus the will of the Christian must die to its own self-willing and self-assertion, and become like a child in Christ. Then, if the will and desire of the soul is directed only to its source, there will arise from the Spirit of Christ a new will and obedience in divine justice, out of the death of the self-will, and not the sinful will." (Regeneration, i.)
To form a correct conception of the regeneration of man, and of what kind of a being it is which is to be brought to life in us, we must learn to know what is eternity and time, light and darkness, good and evil, and especially the origin and the generation of man. We shall then find that man is of a threefold aspect. In one aspect he dwells continually in heaven, and is a member of the body of Christ; in another aspect he is subject to the powers of darkness, and in his third aspect he is made of mortal flesh. Nevertheless there are not three men in one human being, but he is only one.
It is nowhere stated that God is a temple of man, and that we can enter into Him with our human selfhood, however refined that selfhood may be. The spiritual regeneration of man is brought about by the divine power of God entering and becoming self-conscious in man, so that his whole being becomes filled with God as the darkness becomes filled with light.
"We behold the eternal world with its stars, and the four elements wherein man and all creatures live. This is not God, and is not called 'God.' God dwells therein, but the essence of the external world does not comprehend Him. Likewise the light shines into the darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not."
"God dwells in the world and fills everything; nevertheless He possesses nothing. The light dwells within the darkness, but does not own it; day dwells in night and night in the day, time in eternity and eternity in time; and so it is with man. He is himself time, and lives within it according to his external aspect, and likewise the external world is existing in time; but the inner man is eternity, and spiritual time and world, such as is created in light according to the love of God, and in darkness according to His wrath. His spirit lives in that principle which is manifest in him, either in darkness or in the light. Each of these dwells within itself; neither possesses the other; but if one enters within the other and desires to possess the other, then will the other lose its supremacy and power. If the light becomes manifest in the darkness, then the darkness ceases to be darkness; and if the darkness arises within the light, then the light and its power will be extinguished.
"The eternal darkness of the soul is the kingdom of hell; the eternal light in the soul is her heaven. Man, therefore, is created of, and lives in three worlds. One is the world of eternal darkness that arises from the centre of nature—eternal nature—wherein is born the fire as the eternal torment; the other world is the world of eternal light, wherein resides happiness and the Spirit of God. It is in this world of light wherein the Spirit of Christ assumes human substantiality. The third world wherein man lives, and from which he was generated, is the external visible world, with its four elements, and the visible stars." (Regeneration, i.)
Now the question may be asked, "By what means can man effect the process of his spiritual regeneration?" The answer is, that man, not being a god, can accomplish nothing whatever of that kind by his own will or power, and that it can only be accomplished by the unmerited grace of the god in him. No one can give unto himself anything which he does not possess; neither can any man attract unto himself by an exercise of his will the sunshine. All that man can do is to employ the powers which he has received from God for the purpose that there may be no impediment created by his self-will which might prevent the action of the Holy Spirit within his own soul. To accomplish this he must rise by the aid of the divine Spirit within himself above the inferior elements within his own nature, and thus surrender his whole self-will to God, an act which is expressed in the original meaning of the word "prayer."
"Spiritual regeneration does not depend on learning and scientific knowledge; but there must be an intense and powerful earnest, a great hunger and thirst for the Spirit of Christ. Mere science is not faith; the latter is the intense hunger and thirst for that which I desire, so that it becomes formed into an image within me, and by grasping it in my imagination it becomes my own property. This hunger and desire moulds the substance of Christ, it being the celestial substantiality, into the weakened image, wherein the word of the power of God is the active life.
"If, then, the soul partakes of this celestial nutriment, she becomes kindled by the great love that dwells in the name Jesus. Then her anguish becomes converted into great joy and a real sun arises within her, while she becomes regenerated into another will. Then takes place the marriage of the Lamb, of which the mouth-Christians talk so much without understanding the meaning." (Regeneration, iv.)
"In the name of Jesus, God has opened a door for us to His ear, whereby we may hear God actually speak within us as in His mercy He speaks to us through this opened portal of thought. Again, the soul speaks through this door to God within herself, and during this inspeaking she is nourished, restored, illumined, and renewed by the outspeaking of God." (Prayer, xxxi.)
"If the soul is to receive actual advantage and fruition from prayer, then must her will turn away from all creatures and terrestrial things and stand pure before God. Let not the flesh with its desires co-operate (in prayer) so that earthly desires may not be introduced into the divine effect in the soul." (Prayer, xxxiv.)
"Every prayer which does not find and take (what it asks) is cold and insipid, and is obstructed by temporal terrestrial things; that is to say, the soul does then not approach God in purity. She does not want to sacrifice herself entirely to God, but clings to terrestrial loves which hold her imprisoned so that she cannot attain the kingdom of God." (Prayer, xviii.)
No man can truly pray in spirit and in truth by his own power, because only that which is divine can enter into relation with the Divine. True prayer is not a mere wishing or desiring, but an action within the power of the omnipotent God.
Prayer is the union with God effected by the sacrifice of the personal will. It is, therefore, the only "Yoga practice" worthy of serious attention. 1
"The will necessary to accomplish prayer is far too weak as long as it is in our own powers that we pray, but if acted upon by divine power it becomes awakened, fiery, and full of desire. Within this desire God Himself is acting. Thus does man speak with God in truth, and God speaks in truth with the soul of man." (Prayer, xxix.)
"He who truly prays co-operates with God internally, while externally he produces good fruit." (Prayer, xxiv.)
"Mere word-prayer without exaltation of thought and divine desire is only an external thing, a mere repeating of words. Nothing pleases God except that which He does Himself." (Prayer, i. 2.)
Christ says (Matt. vii. 21): "Not all who say, Lord! Lord! will enter the kingdom of heaven, but those who do the will of My Father in heaven." It would seem self-evident that no being inferior to the Father in heaven can possibly do the will of the Father, because no one can do the will of God unless he is in possession of God's will, and thus one with God. Therefore he who wants to pray truly or to practice "Yoga" must enter into heaven; that is to say, into the celestial state of will.
The new life which is accorded to man by means of his regeneration in the power of faith and prayer is not a mere spirit, but corporeal and substantial. The "body of the resurrection," even if it is invisible to mortal eyes, is far more durable and indestructible than any imaginable physical form.
"While Christ eats the faith and the prayer of our soul, the human faith, together with the prayer and praise of God, become corporeal in the word of the power, and this new being is then one with the substance of the celestial corporeity of Christ, the eternal body of Christ." (Mysterium, lxx.)
"The poor imprisoned soul, shut up within the darkness of death, is a hungering magical fire, which attracts from the incarnation of Christ the reopened substantiality of God, and out of this swallowing or nourishing she produces a body similar to Divinity. Thus, then, the poor soul will be clothed with a body of light, comparable to the fire in a burning wick." (Letters, xi. 21.)
"The new man is not a mere spirit, but he lives in flesh and blood, comparable to gold in a rock, which is not merely spiritual, but has a body; nut only such a body as that of the gross rock, but a body which can stand the test of the fire." (Menschwerdung, i. 4.)
The creation of this new body is the beginning of the union of man with divine glory, but it is not the perfection of it. The process of regeneration, like that of physical generation, has its stages of development. Upon the baptism by "water" follows that of the "blood," and finally that of the "fire."
"By means of the introduction of the divine will man becomes reunited to God and reborn in his emotional nature. He then begins to die relatively to the selfishness of the false desire (in him) and to be regenerated in new power. There is then still attracted to him the carnal quality, but in the spirit he walks with God, and thus there is born within the earthly man of flesh a new spiritual man with divine perceptions and with a divine will, killing day by day the lust of the flesh, and by divine power rendering the world—i.e., the external life—heavenly, and causing heaven—i.e., the inner spiritual world—to become visible in the external world, so that God becomes man and man God, until finally the tree reaches its perfection, when the external shell will drop off, and it then stands there as a spiritual tree of life in the garden of God." (Mysterium, Supplement, viii.)
This imbibing of the "Elixir of Life" no man can accomplish by his own mortal power. All he can do is to render himself receptive for the divine power. The rest is done by the Spirit of God.
The new life of the regenerated is during his terrestrial existence continually exposed to great dangers, arising from three sources, namely, from the selfishness of human nature, from the devil (evil will), and from the desires of the mortal flesh and blood.
"No one should imagine himself to be secure after having once obtained the crown of pearls, for he may lose it again. The soul is during her terrestrial life fettered by three fearful chains. First, by the severe wrath of God, the abyss and dark world, which is the centre of the created life of the soul, whose innermost root is desire. The second chain is the fiery longing of the devil for the soul, in consequence of which he tempts the soul and incessantly seeks to throw her from her rest in divine truth down into vanity—i.e., into pride, avarice, envy, and anger; and these evil propensities he continually seeks to fan the fire in the soul, and thus the will of the soul is made to turn away from God and to enter into selfishness. But the third and most dangerous chain, to which the whole of the soul is tied, is the corruptible, vain, earthly, and mortal flesh and blood, which is full of evil desires and inclinations, together with the star region (astral plane), wherein, like in a great ocean, the soul is floating, and which causes her to become daily infected and inflamed in sin." (Three Principles, xxv. 7.)
There is a continual danger for the soul of sinking back into the acrid root of her existence, and at the same time she is continually exposed to the aggressions of the devil.
"If a person is in the anxiety of enmity, and the sting of death and anger is moving in him, so as to render him avaricious, envious, angry, and irritable, he ought then not to remain in that evil essence, but stop to consider and draw (from the eternal fountain) another will, namely, the will to go out of malice and enter into the freedom of God, wherein is perpetual rest and peace. If then his anguish tastes the freedom, then will the torture of the anguish become terrified, and in this terror death will be broken up; for this terror is of great joy and consists in a kindling of the life of God. Thereby the branchlet of pearls appears, and this now stands in trembling joy, but also in great danger; for death and the torture of anguish are its root; as also the anguish in external nature has the quality that out of evil, i.e., out of the anguish, the great life is born. Out of a manure, for instance, a beautiful green branch grows, it having, of course, a constitution, odour, and state (life) different from that which produced it." (Menschwerdung, xi. 8.)
"The poor soul is so much blinded as not even to recognise the heavy chains wherewith she is bound. The whole world is full of traps set by the devil for the purpose of capturing her. If the outer man could have his eyes (spiritually) opened he would be terrified. Whatever a man sees or touches, therein is a devil's trap, and if the Word of the Lord, having become human, were not occupying the middle, the devil would capture and devour all souls." 1 (Menschwerdung, xi. 6.)
"As long as earthly man lives the soul will be in continual danger, for the devil is at enmity with her, and shoots his rays with a false imagination into the spirit of the stars and elements, and he therewith reaches out after the soul-fire, and desires to poison it with an earthly and devilish desire. Then must the noble image (in the inner consciousness in man) stand up in defence; much fighting for the crownlet of the angels is then required, and there often arises doubt and unbelief within the old Adam." (Menschwerdung, xi. 6.)
"Even after the precious jewel is sown it does not immediately become a tree. Often the devil blows over it, and wishes to exterminate the mustard-seed. Many storms has the soul to suffer. Often she is deluded with sin, and everything seems to be against her. You must continually battle against the devil. Then will the pearl-tree grow like grass in storm and rain; but when it becomes big and brings forth flowers, you may then be sure of obtaining the fruit." (Three Principles, xxiv. 37.)
The new life of the Spirit unfolds itself within the innermost being, and the terrestrial man is only rarely pervaded by the divine luminosity.
"Not the mortal soul, but the inner (spiritual) soul from the eternal Word of God is to be married to Sophia. The external soul is wedded to the constellation (mental functions) and elements. This external soul only rarely obtains a glance at Sophia, for she has death and mortality within herself. After this time she is to be again transformed into the first image which God created in Adam." (Mysterium, lii. 13.)
"While the mortal house exists our soul does not dwell in the fountain of God, so as to apprehend that fountain in her selfhood. The sun shines through a glass and renders it luminous; nevertheless the glass does not become the sun. It merely remains (for a while) in the light and power of the sun, and the latter shines to and through its substance. Thus it is with the soul in her terrestrial state." (Mysterium, lii. 3.)
"As fire glows in hot iron, so are the rays of the Holy Spirit sometimes penetrating the other principle; namely, the new man penetrates the old one. But as iron, whether within or without the forge, always remains iron, likewise it is with the terrestrial man. He undoubtedly has to become a servant for the inner man, whenever the latter penetrates him with his glowing divine fire; and he is willing that this should be so as long as the glow of that fire is within him, but he cannot transform himself into the interior kingdom. 'The external flesh and blood,' says Christ, 'shall not inherit the kingdom of heaven.' It shall and must dissolve, like the husk of the kernel sown into a field." (Stiefel, i. 24.)
Only rarely, but especially in the moment of regeneration, there is within the human self the living sensation of a celestial existence.
"No one must ever think that the tree of the Christian faith can be seen or known in the kingdom of this world. External man does not recognise it, and even if it happens that the Holy Spirit manifests itself in the external mirror, so that the external life is glad and trembles for joy, and thinks that now it has received the esteemed guest, and that it would now believe, nevertheless there is no perfect duration therein; for the Spirit of God does not remain constantly within the terrestrial mind. It wants to have a clean vessel, and whenever it returns into its principle—this being the true image—then the external being becomes doubtful and full of fears." (Menschwerdung, cxi. 8.)
"The soul puts on her wreath; but it is again taken away from her and put aside. Thus it is with a crown with which a king has been crowned, and which is afterwards kept in the treasury. This is done to the soul because she is still surrounded by a house of sin; so that if she should fall again, her crown may not become soiled." (Repentance, i. 27.)
The first and greatest danger for the new-born being arises from pride; as is illustrated in the New Testament, for hardly is the new-born Saviour laid in the cradle, standing between the ox of self will and the ass of ignorance in the stable, represented by the animal constitution of man, when the king of pride (Herod) finds his kingdom endangered, and seeks to kill the child, which is to become the ruler in the new Jerusalem within the consciousness of man. 1
"The enlightened children of God are threatened by a great danger; namely, in many of them who enjoyed the great sight of the holiness of God, wherein the triumph of life is attained, carnal reason mirrors itself therein and seeks to intrude its selfishness into the interior centre from whence the light shines. From this results miserable pride and self-conceit; and selfish reason,—being, moreover, nothing but a reflection of the eternal light,—fancies itself to be more than that. It thinks that it may now do as it pleases, and that, whatever it does, it is the will of God doing it in it, and it believes itself to be a prophet. Nevertheless it enters nowhere except within its own self, and moves within its own desire, whereby the centrum naturæ soon begins to arise. Then the devil of flattery comes forward, and man becomes drunk with self-conceit, persuading himself that it is God who compels him to act as he does. Thus he ruins the good beginning, during which the light of God began to shine within nature, and then the light of God departs from him. There is then nothing left but the light of external nature within the creature, but self-assertion puts itself therein and fancies that it is the original light received from God." 1 (Calmness, i. 8.)
Within the human constitution the old terrestrial and the new celestial states are dwelling together, and this necessarily causes within the regenerated a continual battle during the term of his terrestrial life. This battle between the higher and the lower consciousness, between earthly desires and celestial joy, is experienced by every one, but it is especially marked in those in whom, on account of a higher degree of spirituality, the spiritual sensitiveness is more keen.
"Not in the terrestrial essence does God become manifest in us, but in the true image that became weakened in Adam; but the external thing clings to the internal, the inner man manifests the divine mystery, and the external one the external mystery or the mirror of wonders. From this results the battle in the new-born man. The new man wants to be lord, for he perceives the divine world; but the terrestrial man is opposed to him, and wants to rule also, for he perceives the external world." (Forty Questions, xvii. 14.)
"The cause of the antagonism between the flesh and the spirit can easily be found without much seeking, for the inner spirit has the body of God, born from the sweet essentiality, and the external spirit has the body of the fiery mirror of wrath, which continually seeks to awaken wrath; namely, the great wonders which are in the Arcanum in the sternness of the soul. The inner love-spirit protests and will not let the external spirit arise and fire the soul; because it would cause it to lose its own happiness and form, which would then be destroyed by the wrath." (Forty Questions, xvii. 14.)
"There are two kinds of will to be distinguished in the constitution of man. One arises within the lily and grows in the kingdom of God; the other sinks into the darkness of death and desires for the earth, she being its mother. This latter will continually battles against the lily, and the lily flies from its roughness. A sprout grows from the earth, and thus the substance of which it is formed flies from the earth and is attracted towards the sunlight until it becomes a plant or a tree. So does the divine Sun draw the human lily, i.e., the new man in his power, out of the substance of evil, until he finally becomes a tree in the kingdom of God. He then lets the evil tree or the husk wherein the new tree grew drop into the earth, its mother, for which that husk was longing." (Menschwerdung, xi. 8.)
Trees do not grow in the air, but require the dark soil and manure to take root and draw nutriment from the earth, and likewise the inner man requires the outer one for the purpose of gaining experience and self-knowledge.
"In the rough rock precious gold may be found growing, and the roughness of the rock aids it to grow, although the roughness is not like the gold. Likewise the terrestrial body must aid in generating Christ within itself, even though that body is not Christ, and never will be Christ in eternity." (Grace, viii. 94.)
"We are of an earthly nature, but we have also a celestial existence within the terrestrial one. During temporal life both are mixed with each other, but they do not act upon each other; each one is merely the dwelling of the other, as is the case with gold-bearing rock. The rock is not the gold, but merely its vehicle. The roughness of the rock is not that which produces gold, but this is done by the tincture of the sun acting therein." 1 (Menschwerdung, i. 14.)
In this battle between the terrestrial and celestial nature we need not be aggressive, but merely on the defence. This means that it is useless to resist evil or to combat it by remaining on the same level with it. We render ourselves free from the conflict by rising above the place of contention, and this rising is accomplished by surrendering ourselves to the Supreme; or, to express it in other words, we conquer the flesh by sacrificing ourselves to the eternal spirit in Christ.
"Adamic man may live in Paradise according to the inner element which is unfolded within his mind, provided he does not permit himself to be affected by malice and surrenders himself fully to the heart of God. Then will the virgin within the inner element receive him and illumine his heart, so that he may master the Adamic body." (Three Principles, xv. 20.)
"We are always exposed to temptations, but we can be victorious in Christ who has conquered, for His soul is our soul and His flesh is our flesh, provided that we trust in Him and surrender ourselves to Him entirely, as Christ surrendered Himself to His Father." 1 (Forty Questions, i. 10.)
Far easier is it to overcome the desire for evil than to destroy it after it has become embodied by being enacted.
"Desire is the introducing (of the will) into a thing, and from the desire results the formation of a corporeal being (in the astral plane). Therein is hidden the source of sin. It is far easier to ward off the desire than to destroy the body (formed by the act). The latter is far more difficult. Therefore it is advisable to turn away one's eyes from evil desire, so that the tincture (the life-principle) may not enter the essence and the mind be filled with that whereby the desire becomes substantial and which will require a (forcible) breaking up." (Three Principles, xx. 28.)
"It is far better to demolish the desire than to demolish afterwards the substance with great pains. If the free will already in the beginning (of a desire) destroys the desire, so that it does not become substantial, then is the physician (for the cure of that disease) already born, and there will not be needed such great earnestness as will be required by him who wants to come out of the company of the monsters which he has created, and who will have to destroy the being which he has brought into shape within his own soul." 1 (Mysterium, xxiv. 25.)
If men were realising their true nature as vehicles of the divine spirit, they would see the utter folly of their craving for that which is agreeable or useful for the material self alone, without benefiting the spirit. From a spiritual point of view, external pleasures which are not instructive are not merely worthless, but actually an impediment to the attainment of our permanent treasure; because in strengthening the ties which bind us to matter they loosen the link that connects us with heaven.
"It is the greatest folly for man to crave for things which are not his own (but which are merely attractive to the being with which he is connected during his earthly career), and to introduce into his desire that which infects him with disease, and which even ultimately drives him away from God, excluding him in body and soul from his celestial state." (Mysterium, xxiv. 16.)
"He who wants to become a master over himself and a celestial citizen must not be a great sleeper, nor fill his abdomen with an abundance of food or drink, wherefrom the elements of the devil begin to qualify; but he must be temperate, sober, and wakeful, like a warrior before the enemy, for the wrath is continually against him, and he has enough to do to defend himself (without creating artificial obstacles)." (Six Theosophical Points, x. 23.)
"Over-eating and intoxication cause sin, because the pure will which emanates from the fire-life becomes imprisoned and drowned in desire, so that it is rendered impotent in the battle." 1 (Six Theosophical Points, cxi. 29.)
As the power of the inner man over the outer man increases, the former changes the qualities of the latter to a certain extent. Nevertheless the physical body cannot be completely changed into the spiritual body of Christ, it being far too gross for that purpose. As long as it exists in the physical world it will be burdened with physical substance.
"We must continually die in Christ and continually kill the man of sin within us, so that the new man may live; but we cannot entirely destroy the former; we can merely keep him imprisoned, and continually pour into his fiery essence water from the mildness of God." (Stiefel, i. 63.)
"The will, if it goes straight forward, is faith, and as such it can give the body another shape, according to the external spirit; for the inner man is the lord of the outer one; the latter has to obey the former, and the inner one can put the outer one into another figure, but not permanently." (Forty Questions, vi. 10.)
"If man enters into regeneration he may succeed in subjecting the external man to his power to such an extent that the latter must do that which he does not desire, because the former takes away the strength of the latter, and penetrates him; but as the gold dwells in a coarse rock, and nevertheless the coarseness of the rock does not become gold, so the earthly man does not become God." (Stiefel, i. 59.)
"The inner man continually kills the outer one by means of the love and sweetness of God, so that the external one cannot introduce into the soul-fire his earthly poisonous desire, which is infected by the devil; but the external man cannot be entirely destroyed, for if this were to take place the kingdom of this world would depart from him entirely." (Stiefel, i. 51.)
"Even if Christ is born in us, nevertheless we cannot say, in speaking of ourselves as a whole, 'I am Christ,' for the external man is not Christ. We can only say honestly, 'I am in Christ, and Christ has become human in me.'" (Stiefel, i. 54.)
For the great majority of people the celestial inner man is either not perceived at all, or assumes a merely vague and nebulous appearance; but there are others who are aware of the divine qualities of the inner man, and who desire to enter into harmony with him, but they are often so constituted as to be powerfully attracted by the outer life, and they do not know how to overcome the external and sinful man of flesh.
"Sometimes a person is externally so badly constituted by the influence of the stars as to experience much trouble therefrom. Whenever he stops to consider, he then enters within himself and abstains from sin. Nevertheless he does not know how to get rid of the outer malicious man." (Three Principles, xx. 83.)
In external nature we see that the more the sunlight and rain favour a field the richer will be the vegetation growing thereon, not only in regard to wholesome plants, but also in regard to such as are noxious. Thus the power of the spiritual sun, acting within the soul of man, will cause the germs therein, whether good or evil, to sprout and grow. For this reason persons endowed with great spiritual power are sometimes inclined to evil practices, while there are others leading a blameless life merely because they have no power or virtue in them, neither for evil nor good.
"Many of the saints that were driven on by the Spirit of God went afterwards from that state of submission again into selfishness; namely, to their own reasoning and self-will." (Calmness, i. 34.)
During our terrestrial life it is not possible for us to become entirely rid of the old sinful Adam, but we should continually try to live above his plane; that means to say, we should maintain our point of gravitation in God.
"Man's life during his present existence is like a turning wheel, which suddenly turns uppermost what was below. It kindleth itself in every substance and defileth itself thereby; but it is purified in the water of meekness, wherein moves the heart of God, and out of that its fire-life may evolve celestial substance." (Six Mysterious Points, ii. 13.)
"Our whole life ought to be a continual repentance, because it is also a continual chain of sin. Truly the noble lily-branch, newly born in Christ, does not sin; nevertheless the terrestrial man sins in body and soul, and seeks to spoil the noble flower." 1 (Stiefel, xi. 537.)
"A true Christian hates the will of the flesh and rejects it. He is continually his own accuser, and considers himself unworthy, and with his whole heart will he wish to enter into the mercy of God. He will never boast and say, 'I am a Christian;' but he will strive to enter into the mercy of God and desire His grace, so that he may become a true Christian. His whole life is a continual repentance, and he continually desires to grasp divine grace as that grace grasps him." (Communion, iv. 27.)
No Christian should contemplate his own holiness, or fancy himself to be better than others; but he should rather realise his own unworthiness, and regret the perverted state of himself and of humanity as a whole.
"No one should want to know his state of holiness while he lives in this world, but he should keep on drawing the sap of Christ from his own tree, and leave it to that tree to bring forth from him whatever branch or bough it may choose." (Stiefel, cxi. 345.)
"An earnest Christian does not wish to know his own sanctity; he sees only his imperfections, in which the devil battles against him. His imperfections are always before him, but his sanctity he does not know while he lives in this world. That sanctity is hidden by Christ at the foot of His Cross, so that the devil may not perceive it." (Threefold Life, xv.)
"A real Christian loves truth and justice, and hates hypocrisy." (Communion, iv. 228.)
The new-born internal and spiritual life is benefited by trouble and suffering.
"To the pious, light arises out of darkness and day out of night. For them fortune results from misfortune, and out of the curse and malice of this world there grows for them a paradise. Paul says, To those who love God, all things are for the best.'" (Mysterium, lxvi.)
"Whenever God leads His children into trouble and anguish, they are then every time to produce a new branch on the tree of faith. Whenever the Spirit of God appears it always presents a new out-growth, of which the noble image is exceedingly glad." (Menschwerdung, cxi. 8.)
The conditions by which man is surrounded during his terrestrial life may not permit the effect of his spiritual unfoldment to become fully manifest during that time, but at the time of the death of the physical body, when the obstacles presented by the flesh disappear, then will the inner man enjoy his perfections.
"The celestial kingdom in the saints is active and conscious within their faith, whereby their will surrenders itself to God; but the natural life is surrounded by flesh and blood, and is related to the contrarium in the wrath of God. Thus the soul is often in anguish when hell rushes upon her, and desires to manifest itself in her; but she sinks within the hope of divine grace, and stands like a beautiful rose among the thorns, until at the death of the body the kingdom of this world drops away from her. Only then, when there is nothing more to hinder it, will she become truly manifest in the love of God." (Supersensual Life, xxxix.)
The object of our life should be to die continually in regard to our human selfhood, and to live only in the love of God, labouring in His service. Thereby our activity will become blessed. 1
"I am not rejoicing because I am living within my own sense of self, but because in my selfhood I am in the death of Christ and am dying perpetually, and I wish to die entirely in regard to my selfhood, and to leave it entirely in God, so as to be nothing whatever except an instrument of God, and know nothing any more about my (separate) self." (Stiefel, xi. 527.)
"Wherever self dwelleth not, there love has her dwelling. In the tranquillity at the bottom of the soul, where she dies as to her own selfhood, and where she does not will anything except what God wills (in her), there love resides. To the extent in which the self-will is dead within itself, to the same extent is the place occupied by love. In the place which formerly was the seat of self-will there is now nothing, and wherever there is nothing there the love of God is solely active." (Supernatural Life, xxviii.)
"A true Christian knows himself to be a servant of God, whose duty it is to attend to the works of God properly. He is not his own property, and the terrestrial body which he inhabits is not his true home. He may seek and plant, cultivate, strive and act as he pleases, but he is always aware that he is doing it for God, and that he will have to render account for it. He should always remember that among these works he is a stranger, a guest, and a servant." (Signature, xv. 44.)
"He who hopes to perform something perfect and good, wherein he may rejoice eternally and enjoy it, let him come out of his egoism and self-will and enter into submission within the will of God. Even if the terrestrial desire for selfhood clings to him in his flesh and blood, if only the soul-will is not infected by that desire for self, then will that self not be able to produce anything; for the (inner) will of the soul, resting in submission to God, continually destroys the essence of the self-assertion, and thus the wrath of God cannot reach her. If the wrath should reach that essence, then the submitted will rises up in its power therein, and stands there in shape before God as a production of victory that will inherit the in fancy." 1 (Calmness, xi. 1.)
It is self-evident that no terrestrial possessions of any kind will benefit the spirit, but the acquisition of such possessions will not be an obstacle for us, provided that we possess them, and do not permit ourselves to be possessed by them.
"Dear soul, if you desire the light of God, and also the light of this world, if you desire to feed your body (and mind), and (at the same time) to seek for the mysteries of God, do as God Himself does. One of the eyes of your soul looks into eternity, the other one into nature. The latter goes on continually seeking in desiring and creating one mirror after another. Let that be so. It must be so, for God wills it. But the eye for eternity must not be turned (away from God) into desire; but by means of that eye you should seek to turn the other one towards you, and not let it turn away from you; i.e., not let it turn away from the eye that looks into freedom. Put one will into that which you are doing, thinking that you are a servant in the vineyard of God; i.e., into the Eternal. Sink your will every hour into humility before God; then will your image walk in humility with your will in the majesty of God, and be illumined perpetually by the triumphant light of God." (Forty Questions, xii. 28.)
All terrestrial fortunes or misfortunes with which we may possibly meet do not concern our real divine self, but merely the personality with which we are connected during our earthly life. This personality is given us for the purpose of gaining experience, be it good or evil, and therefore we should always be satisfied and remain contented in God.
"Ultimately all things must be one and the same to man. He is to become one with fortune and misfortune, with poverty and riches, joy and sorrow, light and darkness, life and death. Man is then to himself nothing, for he is dead relatively to all things in his will. God is in all and through all, and nevertheless He is nothing in regard to all, and nothing can comprehend Him. Everything becomes manifest through Him, and He Himself is everything. Nevertheless he has nothing (objectively), because that which is before Him is nothing in His comprehension, for it does not comprehend Him. Likewise will this be the state of a person according to his submitted will if he entirely surrenders himself to God. Then will his will drop back into the unfathomable will of God, wherefrom it came in the beginning, and it will then be in the form of the unfathomable will, wherein God resides and wills." (Mysterium, lxvi.)
"The will, surrendered to God, says, 'Lord, if Thou wishest me to be imprisoned or in misery, I shall willingly be so. If Thou takest me to hell I will go with Thee, for Thou art in heaven. If I have only Thee, what should I care for either heaven or hell? Even if my body and soul were to perish, I shall remain in Thee and Thou in me. In possessing Thee, I have all that I want. Use me as Thou wilt." (Mysterium, lxvi.)
By conquering the terrestrial desire and entering into submission to Christ, we shall attain the internal power over external nature, first over our own and afterwards over "outside" nature, the latter being, after all, also within God, our own divine self.
"If you rule merely externally (by external means) over all creatures, you are then with your will in an animal quality, and your rule is of an external kind, dealing only with forms. Your desire will then be carried into the animal essence, which will infect and capture you, and you will receive animal qualities. But if you leave that which merely relates to forms, you will become superior to it, and able to rule over all creatures within the foundation wherefrom they have been created." (Supersensual Life, viii.)
"If you allow nothing to enter your desire, you will then be free from all things and possess power over all. You have then nothing within your receptivity, and are as nothing to all things, and all things will be nothing to you, in the same sense as God rules over all things and sees them all; but there is nothing that comprehends Him." (Supersensual Life, ix.)
"By your own power you cannot attain such a tranquillity that no creature can touch you. You must give yourself completely into the life of our Lord Jesus Christ, and surrender to Him all your own willing and desiring, so that you desire nothing without Him. Then will you be in this world and in its qualities, as far as your body is concerned. With your will you will be at the foot of the Cross of Christ, and with your will you will walk in heaven, at the goal from whence all creatures come, and to which they all return." (Supersensual Life, ix.)
The celestial body is formed by means of the terrestrial body. There is no regeneration after the body has died.
"The soul proper is nothing corporeal.; but the body in the tincture grows either celestial or infernal. It is not a tangible body in an external aspect, but a power-body; the body of God; the celestial body of Christ." (Forty Questions, vii. 18.)
"After this life there is no regeneration, for the four elements with their principles have departed." (Threefold Life, i. 1.)
266:1 In the German language the word Gebet (prayer) originates from geben (to give), and means, therefore, a gift or sacrifice to God. It does p. 267 not imply the offering of selfish petitions or the asking for personal favours. However, if we give ourselves fully to God, and are accepted by Him, we then become, as it were, a part of God, and consequently a partaker of His divine powers. It would then be easy for us to grant our own desires, if in that divine state there could be room for personal desires of any kind.
268:1 True prayer is the bringing of will, thought, and word into one Δ by the power of the Spirit of God.
272:1 Here it may be useful to remark that if a person cannot perceive these dangers of the devil which are lurking in everything, it would be folly for him to imagine all sorts of dangers in his own fancy, whereby he would merely create for himself innumerable fears and perplexities, and become afraid of the world, instead of superior to it. The main paint for the seeker of divine enlightenment is, and remains, to put his "point of gravitation" into the divine self-reliance, and remember that he who has found his true dignity and manhood in God is superior to the devil, and there is nothing in the universe which could give him just cause for fear.
274:1 See "Jehoshua, the Prophet of Nazareth."
275:1 The human intellect, in its relation to the divine spirit, may be compared to the moon that receives her light from the sun. In either case the former is merely a reflection, while in the latter rests the true light. Thus there are many who mistake the reflection for the true light and their own fancies for the wisdom of God, and from this arises that self-conceit which is never more repulsive than if found among those who boast of being the servants of God.
277:1 There are many "Christians," "Buddhists," &c., who imagine that they could attain the apex of perfection if they were only getting rid of their physical body. Some even go so far as to object to having a soul. Surely the Divinity per se does require neither a physical body nor a soul to be self-existent and eternal; but man requires all this to enable the light of Divinity to become revealed in him. Without that, man, even if he could continue to be, would be unconscious of his existence; a spirit without knowing or experiencing anything about it. Immortality is not attained by merely fancying oneself to be immortal; neither can there be much satisfaction for man to believe that God is immortal as long as he is godless himself. Gautama himself could not have become a "Buddha"—i.e., an enlightened soul—if he had not been in possession of a soul which could be enlightened. This divine soul is the body of Christ.
278:1 The very same idea is expressed in the Bhagavad Gita, where man is advised to seek to realise that he is one with Krishna, and having realised it, he will be no longer a partaker, but merely a spectator, in the battle, which after all does not concern the Divinity in him, his own real self. No man can, however, identify himself by his own human power with Krishna or Christ; this always requires the presence and the power of Christ or Krishna Himself. In other words, it requires, as Boehme expresses it. "the grace of God, which, however, can be found within every person who ceases to desire evil." (Mysterium, lxi. 57.)
Boehme says: "No man can make himself a child of God, but he must throw himself entirely into a state of complete obedience to God. Then will God make him His child. He must be dead (to all sense of self), then will God in the Christ live in him." (Tilk. i. 398.)
"No man can by his own power raise himself into the light which is extinct within his will, but he may enter the ground that produces the light and wherein is hidden neither evil nor good, because he is himself that foundation (cause). If he then, in his imagination, sinks himself into the abyss, he is then already there, and in this abyss is his pearl (the celestial jewel)." (Grace, ii. 43.)
279:1 This may be expressed in other words by saying that desire gives rise to the formation of a thought, and this thought is made alive by the will, and obtains substantiality and the right to live by being acted out. It is easier to avoid creating such an Elemental than to kill it after it has been created; because such a being is a part of our own self, and its destruction involves suffering.
280:1 Here it may be remarked that it will hardly be sufficient to have merely a theoretical knowledge of the uselessness of material attractions to cure the desire for them. In this, as in all other cases, there can be no true self-knowledge except that which arises from practical experience.
282:1 True "repentance" does not consist in fancying oneself to be sorry on account of the consequences to be expected from sins committed in the past, or in worrying about what has been done and cannot be undone now, while perhaps the heart still craves to sin again; but it consists in a turning away from that which is sinful and evil, and in forming the firm resolution to sacrifice and surrender oneself, faults and all, to the immutable will of God. (Compare True Repentance, i.)
283:1 No man can truly realise his own unworthiness so long as the light has not become active in him.
284:1 We cannot labour in the service of God without dying to our human selfhood. To "labour in the service of God" does not mean that, for instance, "I, parson, or professor, or author So-and-so, in my human personality, considered as something separate and distinct from God, could with my human smartness render a service to some outside god, or please him, or advise him what to do;" but it is God Himself rendering the service to Himself through our instrumentality, provided that by rising above all conception of self and personality we become identified with Himself. For this reason all clerical assumption and pretence, by which is assumed an authority apart from that of the God to whom they profess to serve, is repulsive to the religious instinct of man.
285:1 If the saints or "adepts" are often addressed as "children," this is not a mere invented figure of speech, without any adequate cause, but has p. 286 a deep signification; for no one can inherit the kingdom of heaven, i.e., divine self-knowledge, unless he becomes like a child that of itself knows nothing in the realm of the spirit.
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