“Beloved Soul, there is Earnestness required to do this, and not a bare rectal of words only! No, the earnest resolved will must drive on this work, else nothing will be effected. For if the Soul will obtain the triumphant Garland of Christ from the noble Sophia or Divine Wisdom, it must woo her for it in great desire of love. It must entreat her in her most holy name for it, and come before her in most modest humility, and not like a lustful bull or a wanton Venus. For so long as any are such, they must not seek these things; for they shall not obtain them …” ~Jacob Boehme
We need to be earnest in seeking enlightenment if we are to truly achieve it. When he says that, Boehme doesn’t just mean that we really want it. The reasons we want it are also important. If we are seeking it with the idea of getting something to make us better than others, we will not find it. If we seek wisdom and knowledge so that we can use it to make a great deal of money, it will stay hidden from us. The earnest seeker is trying to better himself for the benefit of all. He wants to help the world, not just himself. The earnest seeker desires wisdom for its own sake, and to guide him on the path. He doesn’t seek it as a commodity he can sell.
If there was any doubt that Jacob Boehme was a latter-day Gnostic, this sentence in the quote should change that. His reference to “Sophia or Divine Wisdom” makes it clear that he was a true Gnostic.
He tells us here, in an allegorical way, that Divine Wisdom is not something just handed out to anyone who asks. It’s not like a coupon dispenser at the supermarket. You have to work for it. You have to earn it. Just declaring yourself spiritual and ready for it won’t make it happen. The earnest seeker moves forward step by step like climbing a steep mountain. She does not seek shortcuts, for shortcuts get short results. That is to say that when we try to take shortcuts, we may be granted a quick glimpse of that Wisdom, but we don’t get it all. Not even close. Years of hard work, years of climbing that metaphorical mountain a step at a time is how the job gets done.
It is also important to understand that it would be dangerous to let someone who is not ready receive that divine Gnosis. Therefore, it doesn’t happen. The Army doesn’t send a soldier out to fight a battle until he has at least completed basic training. A hospital doesn’t let a medical student operate until he has enough training and experience. And Sophia doesn’t grant the earnest seeker Divine Wisdom until he has earned it and can handle it. So if you don’t succeed today or tomorrow, you must just keep going forward and upward until you do.
Humility of the Earnest Seeker
Boehme is using allegory again when he talks of being a “lustful bull or a wanton Venus.” What he means it that we must seek with the proper motive and with humility. The bull doesn’t ask the cow if she wants to mate, he just mounts her. He assumes that he is such a great stud that no female can resist. That is the way some of us approach Divine Enlightenment. We think we are special and deserve it. We feel we are entitled to it. No one is entitled to Gnosis. It is granted as a gift to one who is ready for it and will use it wisely. The earnest seeker, therefore, approaches the throne with humility, not expecting the Gift, but hoping that he will be deemed worthy this time and granted it.