“Since the time of Adam, Christ, the Wisdom of the Father, has said to all men, and He says so still, inwardly according to his divinity: Behold. And this beholding is needful. … If a man will see bodily, and outwardly, he must have the outward light of heaven, or some other material light, to illuminate the medium. … The second thing is that he must permit the things which he wished to see to be reflected in his eyes. Ant the third thing is that the organs, the eyes, must be sound and flawless. …
“Of this sight, we will say nothing more; but we shall speak of a ghostly and supernatural sight, in which all our bliss abides. For all who wish to see in a ghostly and supernatural manner three things also are needful. The first is the light of Divine grace; the second is a free turning of the will to God, the third is a conscious clean from and mortal sin.” ~John of Ruysbroeck
A lot of great spiritual knowledge is found within that relatively brief quote. The terminology used several centuries ago may be confusing, especially to those who are new to spiritual studies, so lets break it down as much as we can.
First, Ruysbroeck tells us that Christ is “the Wisdom of the Father”. This is not the typical description we get of Christ. Most Christians thing of Christ and Jesus as the same thing, but Christ is an eternal spirit, while Jesus was a man in whom that eternal spirit lived for a time. Ruysbroeck brushes over this as an obvious thing, and moves on to tell us that Christ has told us to “Behold,” a simple, one-word command, yet an important one. It says open your eyes and look, see what is around you, see all of it, not just that limited portion that is part of your everyday life. When harvesting in your fields, don’t just see your crops and the cart you are putting them in, see the forest beyond, see the birds flying over, see the worms and bugs in the soil, and so on.
With All Eyes
But Ruysbroeck goes even beyond that and tells us we have another set of eyes to see with, another way to Behold. He calls this other vision “ghostly and supernatural”, neither of which is a very accurate or flattering way to describe it. In today’s language, we say these are spiritual “eyes” that give us spiritual vision.
Ruysbroeck says we open these eyes and make use of them through three things. First, what he calls “the light of Divine grace”. We would say that we see on a spiritual level using spiritual Light, and we awaken spiritual faculties using that spiritual light, which flows to us mainly through the spiritual sun. He then says we must turn to the Will of God. In other words, we must give up our own egotistical desires, and turn to helping achieve the Divine Plan of God, if we want to see that hidden world of spirit. Finally, he tells us to clean our consciousness of sin, but doesn’t define what he considers sin. Of course, in his time he had to be careful what he wrote or he might have been accused of blasphemy. The real “sins” we need to get out of our consciousness are those of false beliefs, limitations, and “knowledge” that is really more opinion than knowledge. Cleanse ourselves of false beliefs and concepts, and our spiritual eyes will see things that our ego thought were impossible.
Ruysbroeck says this second sight, this spiritual sight, is what brings us true bliss, and he is correct. When you are trapped in a word where you only see a small part of what is around you, like those living in Plato’s Cave, you seldom experience bliss, because everything that remains strange and unknown is frightening and often assumed to be dangerous. The real key to world peace and happiness is awakening those spiritual eyes of the soul and gaining the true Knowledge of All called Gnosis. Behold truth, behold Light.