Saturday, March 24, 2012

Boehme III

Extracts from "PREFACE TO THE READER" of 'Signature'
(Bohme wrote this preface in straight prose pointing out the use of the "language of Zion", which he used much more often that William Blake did.  He was able to maintain the common devout language to express the divergences that he (and Blake as well) held regarding orthodoxy.)
THIS book is a true mystical mirror of the highest wisdom. The best treasure that a man can attain unto in this world is true knowledge; even the knowledge of himself: For man is the great mystery of God, the microcosm, or the complete abridgment of the whole universe: He is the mirandum Dei opus, God's masterpiece, a living emblem and hieroglyphic of eternity and time; and therefore to know whence he is, and what his temporal and eternal being and well-being are, must needs be that ONE necessary thing, to which all our chief study should aim, and in comparison of which all the wealth of this world is but dross, and a loss to us.
This is that wisdom which dwells in nothing, and yet possesses all things, and the humble resigned soul is its playfellow; this is the divine alloquy, the inspiration of the Almighty, the breath of God, the holy unction, which sanctifies the soul to be the temple of the Holy Ghost, which instructs it aright in all things, 

This is the precious pearl, whose beauty is more glorious, and whose virtue more sovereign than the sun: It is a never-failing comfort in all afflictions, a balsam for all sores, a panacea for all diseases, a sure antidote against all poison, and death itself; it is that joyful and assured companion and guide, which never forsakes a man, but convoys him through this valley of misery and death into the blessed paradise of perfect bliss.

If you ask, What is the way to attain to this wisdom? Behold! Christ, who is the way, the truth, and the life, tells you plainly in these words; "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me;" [*2] or as he

[p. 4]
says elsewhere, "Unless you be born again, you cannot see the kingdom of heaven:" or as St. Paul says, "If any man seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool that he may be wise." [*1]

Herein lies that simple childlike way to the highest wisdom, which no sharp reason or worldly learning can reach unto; nay, it is foolishness to reason, and therefore so few go the way to find it: The proud sophisters and wiselings of this world have always trampled it under foot with scorn and contempt, and have called it enthusiasm, madness, melancholy, whimsy, fancy, etc., but wisdom is justified of her children.

This is the true theosophic school wherein this author learned the first rudiments and principles of wisdom, and to which we must go if we would understand his deep writings: For we must know that the sons of Hermes, who have commenced in the high school of true magic and theosophy, have always spoken their hidden wisdom in a mystery; and have so couched it under shadows and figures, parables and similies, that none can understand their obscure, yet clear writings, but those who have had admittance into the same school, and have tasted of the Feast of Pentecost.

And this does not seem at all strange to the children of divine Mercury; for the mysteries of philosophy, divinity, and theosophy must not be profaned, and laid open to the view of the outward astral reason, which turns all to its selfish pride, covetousness, envy, wrath, and cunning hypocrisy; and therefore a parabolical or magical phrase or dialect is the best and plainest habit and dress that mysteries can have to travel in up and down this wicked world: And thus parable have a double and different respect and use; for as they conceal and hide secrets from the rude and vulgar sort, 

We see here a mixture of New Testament wisdom and esoteric wisdom, such as "the sons of Hermes" and "children of divine Mercury"; this indicates that (like Blake) Bohme did not consider the Bible to be the sole Word of God.
[p. 5]
patient to bear anything but what suits with their common conceits and opinions, so likewise they sweetly lead the mind of the true searcher into the depths of wisdom's council. They are as the cloudy pillar of Moses; they have a dark part, and they have a light part; they are dark to the Egyptians, the pharisaical sons of sophistry, but light to the true Israel, the children of the mystery.

(This also shows the unorthodox way with which Bohme used Scripture; it also gives evidence that he, too was widely read.)
And therefore whoever will be nurtured and trained up by Sophia, and learn to understand and speak the language of wisdom, must be born again of and in the Word of Wisdom, Christ Jesus, the Immortal Seed: The divine essence which God breathed into his paradisical soul must be revived, and he must become one again with that which he was in God before he was a creature, and then his Eternal Spirit may enter into that which is within the veil, and see not only the literal, but the moral, allegorical, and anagogical meaning of the wise and their dark sayings: He then will be fit to enter, not only into Solomon's porch, the outer court of natural philosophy, sense and reason, but likewise into the inward court of holy and spiritual exercises, in divine understanding and knowledge; and so he may step into the most inward and holiest place of theosophical mysteries, into which none are admitted to come, but those who have received the high and holy unction.

(Blake said:

    "Ive a wife I love and that loves me.
    Ive all but Riches Bodily"
Paul, the apostle wrote in Philippians 3:
"What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ"


I will now endeavour briefly to hint to the reader what this book contains, though in it the spirit of wisdom cannot be delineated with pen and ink, no more than a sound can be painted, or the wind grasped in the hollow of the hand: But know, that in it he deciphers and represents in a lively manner the Signature of all Things, and gives you the contents of eternity and time, and glances at all mysteries.
In a word, his intent is to let you know the inward power and property by the outward sign;
But the proud scorner that will take no warning is of Lucifer's regiment, who saw the mystery of God's kingdom to stand in meekness, simplicity, and deep humility, and therefore out of his pride would aspire to be above the divine love, and harmony
[p. 7]
of obedience to God's will, and so fell into the abyss of the dark world, into the outmost darkness of the first principle, which we call Hell, where he and his legions are captives; from which the Almighty God of Love deliver us.

I will end with the words of the author at the conclusion of the book, where he says thus; "I have faithfully, with all true admonition, represented to the reader what the Lord of all beings has given me; he may behold himself in this looking-glass [*1] within and without, and so he shall find what and who he is: Every reader, be he good or bad, will find his profit and benefit therein: It is a very clear gate of the great mystery of all beings: By glosses, commentaries, curiosity and self-wit, none shall be able to reach or apprehend it in his own ground; but it may very well meet and embrace the true seeker, and create him much profit and joy; yea be helpful to him in all natural things, provided he applies himself to it aright, and seeks in the fear of God, seeing it is now a time of seeking; for a lily blossoms upon the mountains and valleys in all the ends of the earth: 'He that seeketh findeth.'" And so I commend the reader to the grace and love of Jesus Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.


^3:1 Cor. ii. 10.

^3:2 Luke ix. 23.

^4:1 1 Cor. iii. 13.


forrest said...

It isn't that Truth needs to be concealed in fanciful and mysterious language, as some of these posts suggest... If I strive with all the power I'm given to say simply how things are, the result will be largely unintelligible to anyone who doesn't already Know.

'Know about'? No, 'know'.

I'm not even sure why I'm reading these... We've got all these various semi-muddled past accounts by people who saw God in some measure-- but should we be collectors of Sightings?

Good to see you dropping in on what's become, by default, my Bible blog... I think I'm going to leave more gaps, in future, so feel free to post there on anything important I skip!

Reading the Bible is turning out a lot like learning a strategic game: You need experience to understand the rules that you need to understand the experience.

A Friend left a pretty good comment on "Kingdom of God," which he relates to "love". But what "is" love? I don't think that I can, or should, hog-tie the concept and lay it out for exhibit-- but perhaps some wrestling-with will clarify Itall? What an old, dead friend used to call "Spontaneous Natural Affection" seems to be part of it, though not precisely the same... Sincere and impersonal, though utterly personal, well-wishing? Help?

Larry said...

Thanks for your comment, Forrest.
You asked about Truth: well Truth means many things to many people, and in Christian Community we share our various points of view and each learns from and grows spiritually thereby.

I can imagine a spectrum of attitudes about truth, from the man who says 'every word of the Bible is the literal truth' (although he likely may have read precious few words from the Word) to the man who says 'every word of the Bible is poetry, and poetry is the highest form of truth'.

Your comment provoked me into the idea of feeding the Kwaker Bible Study blog with some Blakean interpretations of the Bible.

Thanks again Forrest for you fertile thoughts.

forrest said...

This would be a good time... because "religion and psychology" have gotten quite bewildered in my latest post... about the relationship of God and God's people, as traditionally interpreted by the prophets.

That is, ~'Isn't it a bit odd?-- that people keep misbehaving, that God keeps whacking them for it, that they keep misbehaving-- and while new twists develop in that series of transactions, the pattern has persisted, so far.'