“The soul was ensnared by the Devil, and brought into the lust of the flesh, and earthly desires; and so bound as it were with fetters and strong chains that it did not know what to do. It looked back a little into the world and the pleasures thereof, but still felt in itself a hunger after Divine Grace, and would rather enter into repentance and favor with God. For the Hand of God had touched and bruised it, and therefore it could rest nowhere. …
“The Soul being thus heavy and sad, and finding no remedy or rest, began to cast about where it might find a fit place to perform true repentance in, where it might be free from business, cares, and the hindrances of the World.” ~Jacob Boehme
Ensnared by Earthly Desires
The Devil does “ensnare” us and get us caught up in material concerns to keep us away from spiritual development, but one thing Boehme says must be corrected. It is not the soul, but the mind which listens to the Devil and his minions. By doing so, the brain/mind remains in control and the Divine Soul remains dormant (chained). Once the Soul is awakened, it seeks to know only God and to return to heaven (the spiritual realms), but the mind—or more accurately, the ego—doesn’t listen to it. So part of a good spiritual training is to discipline the mind and ego and get them to listen to the Soul.
Boehme says that the Devil ensnares with the “lust of the flesh” which most people would think means sexual activity, especially sexual activity outside of marriage. While that is true, I think he means it in a more general way. The lusts of the body and mind do include sex, but there are those who lust for food, wealth, fine clothing, luxury cars, and so on. Lust of the flesh simply means getting caught up in material desires, especially those that go well beyond actual need. We all need clothing, for example (unless you live in some place where nudity is the accepted norm,) but we don’t need $2000 suits or $5000 dollar designer dresses. We all need some food to nourish the physical body, but if we choose food for its taste, appearance, or because it is considered a luxury, rather than for its nutritional value, then we are engaging in food lust.
Touched By God
It is certainly true to say that the Soul is touched by the hand of God, but it is more than that. The Divine Soul is created by God and is a gift to man which gives us the ability to return to our original state of spirit in the world of spirit (paradise). But when we enter the world of matter, our spirit and soul are in a kind of suspended animation like a coma. They must be awakened and nourished so they are not only touched by God, but nourished and strengthened by God, or at least by God’s Divine Light found in the spiritual sun.
A Sad Soul
The Divine Soul is “heavy and sad” in the material world, especially if it is not cared for and nourished with the Divine Light. I found it interesting that Boehme says a soul that finds itself in such a state will seek “a fit place to perform true repentance”. Boehme had to be careful what he wrote for fear that if he said too much, he could be accused of blasphemy, or worse. To those of us who have been engaging in spiritual growth techniques for years, it is obvious that using those techniques is exactly what Boehme was talking about. Boehme says the place to do this should be away from the business and cares of the material world, and we in Cosolargy completely agree with that. Like the Essenes, we go to a private place well away from cities and crowds to practice, when possible.
Illustration: Stained Glass Hand of God in Saint Mary’s Catholic Church, Dayton, Ohio. Photo by Nheyob.