The Life and Doctrines of Jacob Boehme, by Franz Hartmann, , at sacred-texts.com
Everything we see in nature is manifested truth; only we are not able to recognise it as such, unless the truth is manifest within ourselves.
God is the supreme, fundamental, universal, self-existent eternal cause; absolute and unimaginable glory, perfection, goodness, beauty, magnificence, and splendour. He created everything out of His own self, as there was nothing but Himself to create from. It is, therefore, logical to suppose that the first powers which He created and which were nearest to Him must have been divine and spiritual, all lower existences being more remote from His supreme state, belonging to a more " material " condition of creation. The same may be observed in man. His thoughts are nearer to his divine centre and self than his muscles and bones, and the realm of his soul is nearer to his spirit than his material body, and the more holy his thoughts the more will they be capable to communicate with the God in him. Boehme says:—
"God has created the holy angels, not by means of any substance foreign to His own self, but out of His own self, out of His power and eternal wisdom." (Aurora, iv. 26.)
Truly, if there was or is nothing but God, it follows that God is the All, and that there is nothing which is not God. Nevertheless, those creations of God which are in a certain sense remote from the divine centre are not divine, and therefore not God.
"It is said that God is everything, that He is in heaven and earth, and also the external world, and such an assertion is true in a certain sense; because everything
originates in and from God. But of what use is such a doctrine, which is not a religion? Such a doctrine was accepted by the devil, who wanted to be manifest and powerful in everything." (Tilk., ii. 140.)
Such a system of Pantheism may satisfy the rationalistic reasoner, who has no power of spiritual perception, but true divine knowledge has nothing to do with such a Pantheism nor with rationalistic Theism. It does not admit of a confounding of the terms "God" and the "world." The universe is not identical with God, neither is the spirit of man identical with his body. Not even the Christ is identical with God, in so far as He has become human.
"The external world is not God, and will not be God in all eternity. The world is merely a state of existence wherein God is manifesting Himself." (Stief., ii. 316.)
God is not man.
"There will always a distinction have to be made between the Godhead and humanity, between the human will and the will of God." (Stief., ii. 95.)
The moon has no light of her own; she merely reflects the light of the sun. Nevertheless the light coming from the moon is not equal to sunlight. Likewise man's will and consciousness is derived from God; but for all that it is only human, and not divine.
"If a man says of himself, 'I, the living word of God in this my holy flesh and bone, say and do this or that,' he then dishonours the sacred name of God. This is also against the doctrines of the Bible; for whenever the intellect of a man was selected for the purpose of prophecy, the prophet did not say, 'I, Mr. So-and-So, say this or that,' but he said, 'Thus speaks the Lord!' This means that the Lord speaks in and through such a man, and the latter is His medium and instrument." (Stief., i. 84.)
A man can never be God; not even Christ in His human aspect made ever any such claims.
"Christ never said, 'I, in my human selfhood, am the voice of God, I am speaking as God, in or with God,' &c.; but He said, 'The words which I speak are the Father's, who lives in me '—that is to say, who lives in my human or natural self." (Stief., i. 94.)
To the blind reasoner God is an universal blind and unconscious power; the god existing within the imagination of the narrow-minded sectarian is equally narrow; but to the enlightened, God is a personal (individual) God and all-loving Father, residing within His own holy omnipotence, superior to all that can be conceived.
"Do not imagine God to be a blind power, existing and moving in, or beyond, or above heaven, having neither reason nor knowledge, comparable to the sun, who runs around in his orbit, sending out light and heat regardless whether it benefits or harms the earth and her creatures. No! Not thus is the Father; but He is an omnipotent, all-wise, and all-knowing God, in Himself good, kind, and merciful, joyful, and even joy itself." (Aurora, iii. 11.)
"If you consider the depth of heaven, the stars, the elements, and the earth, you will, of course, not grasp with your eyes the pure and clear Godhead, although God is there and within it; but if you rise up in your thoughts and direct your mind to God, who in His holiness rules within the All, you are then penetrating through heaven and grasping the very sacred heart of God Himself." (Aurora, xxiii. 11.)
God is not subject to the law of evolution, but the law has its foundation in Him. God as a Spirit, eternally perfected within Himself, did not need to create for the purpose of perfecting Himself. There is no being who can perfect itself by its own power, or give to itself anything which is not within its reach. The growth of a plant and the unfoldment of the human soul requires the presence of a superior power. A God capable to grow
would presuppose the presence of a superior God from which to draw power. Only that which descends from above can rise again upwards, as is symbolised by the double interlaced triangle.
"Before the time of the creation of heaven, the stars, the elements, and also before the creation of the angels, there was nothing but Deity, reproducing itself for ever sweetly and lovely, and conceiving of its own image." (Aurora, xxiii. 15.)
"God did not create for the purpose of perfecting Himself, but to reveal Himself to Himself in great joy and magnificence. This joy did not begin with the beginning of creation, but it has been from all eternity a subjective state in God." (Signature, xvi. 2.)
God did not make the world out of something intellectually conceivable or out of something that was not Himself; neither does a man create the images which constitute his thoughts out of anything outside of his own mind. Before creation took place it was resting (subjectively) like a seed in His own completion and perfection, comparable to the imagination of a marl whose mind rests in a peaceful slumber, while for all that the divine spirit in him is self-conscious.
"We cannot truly say that this world has been made out of something." (Signature, xiv. 7.)
"We cannot reasonably suppose any formation or differentiation to have existed in the eternal One from which, or according to which (formation) something could have been made; for if such a form, or predisposition to making a form, had existed, there would have been another cause, besides God, from which the form would have resulted, and then there would have been something else (another god), and not the one only and eternal God." (Baptism, i. 1.)
"Creation is nothing else but a revelation of the all-essential, unfathomable God, and whatever exists in His
own eternal evolution, which is without a beginning, is also in that creation. But the latter is in regard to God what an apple that grows upon a tree is to the tree. The apple is not the tree, but grows out of the power of the tree. Likewise all things have their origin in divine desire, and that desire caused them to enter into being. In the beginning there was nothing to produce them, except the mystery of eternal generation (evolution)." (Signature, xvi. 1.)
"Imagine a mother (a womb) having the seed within herself. As long as she contains the seed as such, it belongs to herself, but when it becomes a child then is the seed not hers, but it is the property of the child. Thus it is with the angels. They have all been configurated out of the divine seed; but after this has been done, each one has its own corporeal being to itself." (Aurora, iv. 34.)
"The reason why the eternal and unchangeable God has created the world is an unfathomable mystery; it can only be said that He did it in His love." (Hamberger.)
God, being pure knowledge, does not require to have recourse to reasoning, for the purpose of attaining an object; He being Himself His own subject and object, self-sufficient and eternal. We can, therefore, only say that He creates; because He is an ever-flowing fountain of love, in the same sense as the sun shines; because he is an everlasting source of light.
"How it came to happen that God stirred to produce creation, while He Himself is unchangeable, cannot be discovered, and an attempt to do so would merely produce a confusion of mind." (Menschwerdung, i. 2, 5.)
"We cannot tell how it happened that that which stood eternally in the essentiality of God entered into motion, because there is nothing that could have caused God to move, and the will of God is eternal and unchangeable. We can only say that the Three was
desirous of having children of its own kind." (Forty Questions, i. 273.)
The world could not have been made as it exists now, directly out of the purely divine state of being. In its material aspect it is material and not spiritual. God is unchangeable and independent of external conditions (which do not exist for Him); but the manifestations of His power change according to the conditions that are caused by their mutual relations. Thus the light of the sun remains always the same; but it gives various hues to the flowers, according to their own individual qualities.
"No creature can issue from the purely divine state of being, because this state has neither cause nor beginning, nor can it be brought into a beginning." (Grace, viii. 45.)
"Within the light and the heart of God, as such, there can be nothing created; because the light is the end of nature and has no quality. Therefore it cannot change or be made into anything, but remains for ever the same in eternity." (Three Principles, x. 41.)
Nevertheless it is the Triune God that created all things out of eternal nature. We may say that the world, as we know it, is constituted entirely of forms of heat, or of motion, or of electric conditions, or light, &c., &c. All this is true in so far as it refers to the relations which it bears towards ourselves. All these powers are only modes of manifestation of one primordial and originally divine power, namely, the will of God acting in His own eternal wisdom.
"The eternal Triune God created all things by and through the eternal Word out of His own self, namely, out of His two aspects or qualities; out of eternal nature, the fury or wrath, and out of His love; by means of which the wrath or "nature" was pacified. Thus He created them, and caused them to enter into existence." (Stief., ii. 33.)
"The Father, being primordial Will, speaks out all things by means of the Word, out of the centre of freedom; but the issue from the Father by means of the Word is the spirit of the power, and this spirit gives form to that which has been outspoken, so that it appears as a spirit." (Threefold Life, ii. 63).
This magic power, or "Word," has been in God from all eternity, and as such it is God and the "Christ" in its purely divine aspect.
There is not any time during which "God goes to sleep" or loses His self-consciousness; neither does the idea to create come to Him from some outside influence; but God beholds the universe from all eternity in His wisdom as a mirror, and by the act of creation He projects into objectivity (so to say) the image existing subjectively in Him. It is, therefore, Nature and not God that goes to rest during the "nights of creation," in the same sense as the body of a man goes to sleep, while his spirit remains self-conscious in its own sphere.
"Wisdom is a divine imagination, wherein the ideas of the angels and souls have been seen from eternity; not as substantial, actual creatures, but non-essential, like the images in a mirror." (Clavis, x. 5.)
"The likeness of God, having been seen in the wisdom of God from all eternity, and in which God created Man, was without life and substantiality before the beginning of the time of this world. It was merely a reflection of the image wherein God saw how He would be in an image." (Stief., ii. 123).
"Man has not been from eternity; but only like a shadow stood the image, wherein God in His wisdom knew all things from eternity, in the mirror of His own wisdom." (Stief., ii. 143.)
The will of God is only one; but by its action within eternal nature a great many divine powers are produced.
[paragraph continues] The ideas existing in the universal mind are innumerable, and therefore there is the possibility of innumerable different forms coming into existence by the action of the divine will. There is, however, nothing fully perfect besides the Godhead, and consequently there exist on all planes beings of different states of perfection, and capable to become more perfect by means of the will of God, which is the law of evolution.
"The kinds of creatures are as varied as are the eternal thoughts in the wisdom of God." (Three Principles, ix, 37.)
"As the divine powers are manifold, even innumerable, so there is a differentiation of ideas and a difference among the angels; in consequence of which some appear like kings or rulers and others as servants." (Theosophic Questions, v. 9–12.)
"There being nothing perfect except the divine Three, consequently all things differ from one another, and likewise the angels have different qualities." (Threefold Life, v. 90.)
These "angels" (good or evil) are living and conscious powers existing in nature. Neither the power of God nor any angel, or devil or creature of any kind, can have any existence outside of Nature, i.e., outside of the dark fire-ground, the will of God, out of which everything is born.
"No created spirit can exist without the fire-world. Even the love of God could not exist, if not the wrath of God, or the world of fire, were existing in Him; for the wrath or the fire of God is a cause of light, strength, power, and omnipotence." (Stief. ii. 4.)
"The wrath (the fire) is the root of all things and the origin of all life; in it is the cause of all strength and power, and from it are issuing all the wonders (manifestations of power). Without that fire there would be no consciousness, but everywhere a mere nothing." (Three Principles, xxi. 14.)
"No being can be born unless it has within itself the fiery triangle, i.e., the first three natural forms." (Grace, ii. 38.)
Every form is the product or manifestation of a power which is building up such forms. Without the presence of such a power there could be no manifestation of it; neither can any form exercise or know any power except that which resides therein.
Therefore a being incapable of any emotion would be unable to rise above the sphere of emotions; a being without any energy to commit evil would have no energy to accomplish anything good.
The foundation from which all powers and ideas spring is eternal; but the created beings as such have a beginning in time.
"Everything has been from all eternity, but merely as ideas, and not as corporeally existing things. Only incorporeal spirits existed (as ideas) in eternity, as in a world of magic, where one thing contains the other in potentiality." (Forty Questions, xix. 7.)
"The creation of the angels has a beginning, but not that of the powers whereof they have been created. The latter are co-eternal with the eternal beginning." (Mysterium, viii. 1.)
"In eternity, in eternal Will, there was a nature, but it existed therein only as a spirit, and its essentiality was not manifested except in the mirror of that Will, i.e., in eternal wisdom." (Signature, xiv. 8.)
"The mysterium magnum is the chaos wherefrom originates good and evil, light and darkness, life and death. It is the foundation or womb wherefrom are issuing souls and angels and all other kinds of beings, and wherein they are contained as in one common cause, comparable to an image that is contained in a piece of wood before the artist has cut it out." (Clavis, vi. 23.)
In the soul of man exists potentially the whole of the
universe—heaven and hell, God and the devil, angels and spirits, the whole of the celestial, terrestrial, and infernal kingdoms, with all their powers and essences; but unless these powers become manifested as forms (created beings on the spiritual, astral, or terrestrial plane), they can have no existence recognisable to his internal senses.
Creation was an act of the free will of God, and not induced by any inferior cause. The will of God would not be divine if it were not free. It is itself the law, and therefore not subject to " natural law," or the law of mechanics. Creation took place by means of God unfolding His eternal nature, whereby through His active love or desire He caused that which heretofore had been in Him merely as a spirit (subjectively) to become substantial and corporeal (objective).
"The created world was before the mysterium magnum, for all things were then in a spiritual condition in wisdom, as in a continual play or wrestle of love. The one only Will conceived this spiritual form into the Word, and permitted the intelligence (the separate consciousness—i.e., the acrid and astringent quality), to act without restraint, so that each power could enter or build itself a form according to its own specific quality." (Grace, iv. 12.)
"The eternal Mind is always desirous for the power, and the power is the astringency, and the astringency is the contraction, attraction, or the eternal fiat, which creates and renders corporeal that which the eternal Will desires in its own benevolence. The Will desires by means of the keen fiat to bring into substantiality (render objective) that which it beholds in eternal Wisdom." (Three Principles, xiv. 74.)
Thus the divine spirit in man, by means of the thoughts of the latter, brings the powers which exist in his microcosm into shapes which are objective to him, and which form the soul world wherein he resides.
Creation could, however, become actually complete only by means of the activity of all the seven divine spirits. It is therefore true that in one sense it was not God, the primordial Cause, that directly created the world, but the elohims or "powers" that created it by means of the power received from the fundamental causation.
"The universe with all its beings has been created out of eternal nature, out of the seven spirits of eternal nature." (Threefold Life, iii. 40.)
"Whenever anything is born out of the divine Essence, it is brought into form, not merely by one spirit, but by all the seven." (Aurora, x. 4.)
"When the Godhead stirred for the purpose of creating a world, it softly moved within the acrid quality and contracted the latter within the divine sal-nitre." (Aurora, xiii. 94.)
In the formation of beings, their own spirit co-operates with the universal Spirit. The universal Life could not produce a tree out of the four elements if there were not a seed containing the qualities necessary to grow into a tree. Nevertheless, by the expression "their own spirit," it is not to be understood as if these spirits were anything essentially different from God. They are merely individual centres, receiving their power from the universal Fountain of love.
"Originally the spirit is a magic gush or outburst of fire and desires for substantiality—that is to say, 'form.' This is then caused by that desire, and constitutes the corporeity of the spirit, and the spirit is then called a created being." (Tilk. i. 186.)
Every human being has within himself the capacity to create, but not every one has that power developed. Everybody can imagine, but not every one is artist enough to bring the objects of his imagination into an external objective form by painting or sculpture. Likewise every
one has good and evil powers within himself, but not every one has his spiritual strength sufficiently developed to create of them living and conscious forms.
"The centre of each thing is spirit, co-existing with the Word. The separation (differentiation) of a thing (by which it distinguishes itself from other things) is in the quality of its will, by means of which it assumes a form or state of being according to its own essential (predominating) desire." (Letters, xlvii. 5.)
"Even to-day the act of creation still continues, and it will not end until the judgment of God arrives. Then will that which has grown in the holy tree of life become separated from the unholy thistles and thorns." (Three Principles, xxiii. 25.)
"Whether or not God will create something more out of His will after the end of this time is not perceptible to my spirit, for it does not penetrate deeper than within its own centre wherein it lives, and therein is the paradise and the kingdom of heaven." (Principles, ix. 41.)