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The Adornment of the Spiritual Marriage, by Jan van Ruysbroeck, [1916], at





Now, through this touch, Christ says inwardly within the spirit: Go ye out with practices in conformity with this touch. For this deep touch draws and invites our spirit to the most inward practices which a creature is able to fulfil in a creaturely way in the created light. Here the spirit raises itself, through the power of love, above all works, into the unity where this life-giving spring or touch gushes forth. And this touch invites the understanding to know God in His brightness, and it draws and invites the power of love to enjoy God without intermediary. And this the loving spirit desires to do, both in a natural and a supernatural way, above all other things. By means of the enlightened reason the spirit lifts itself up in inward observation, and it beholds and observes the most inward part of itself, where this touch lives. Here reason and every created light fail and can go no further. For the Supernal Brightness brooding over all, which gives rise to this touch, blinds in its coming every created sight; for it is abysmal. And all understanding in the created light is here like the eyes of a bat in the light of the sun. Yet the spirit is continually invited and urged anew by God and by itself to sound and to know that which is stirring these deeps, and what God is, and what this touch is. And the enlightened reason ever asks anew, whence this comes, and ever seeks to explore further, that it may follow back this stream of honey to its source. But in this it is, on the first day, as wise as it shall ever be. And this is why reason and all observation say: "I know not what it is," for the Supernal Brightness brooding over all, strikes back all understanding and blinds it whenever they meet.

So God abides in His brightness above all spirits who are in heaven and on earth. And those who have pierced through their ground by means of the virtues and inward practices, to their source, that is, to the door of eternal life, may feel this touch. There the Brightness of God shines so mightily that reason and all understanding fail and can go no further, but must be overcome and give way before the incomprehensible Brightness of God. But when the spirit feels this in its ground, then, though its reason and understanding fail before the Divine Brightness, and must remain outside the door, the power of love desires to go forward; for it too, like the understanding, has been invited and urged. And it is blind and desires fruition; and fruition abides more in tasting and feeling than in understanding. Therefore would love go forward, whilst understanding stays outside.

Next: Chapter LIII. Of an Eternal Hunger for God