“When the air is filled with the brightness of the sun, the beauty and the wealth of the whole world are revealed, and the eyes of men become enlightened and rejoice in the manifold diversity of colors. And so it is, when we are onefold within ourselves, and our power of understanding is enlightened and the Spirit of Understanding shines through it. Then we can become aware of the high attributes which are in God, and which are the cause of all the works which flow forth from Him. Although all men may understand the works, and God through His works; yet no one can truly understand, neither in their appearance nor in their reality, the attributes of the works of God as they are in their ground, save by means of this gift. For this teaches us to seek out and to recognize our own nobleness, and it gives us the power to discern the virtues and all practices, and the way in which we should live without error in accordance with eternal Truth: and they who are enlightened by it can dwell in the spirit, and can, with enlightened reason, rightly apprehend and understand all things in heaven and on earth.” ~John of Ruysbroeck
Worldly Wealth and Beauty
The wealth and beauty that Ruysbroeck is talking about aren’t found in banks and beauty salons. H is talking about the beauty and abundance of Nature, not the synthetic version created by men.
The false beauty fades and has to be replenished with chemicals and surgery. The wealth of money and stocks has to be kept growing or its value in comparison with the overall material wealth of the world drops. Yet foolish people get trapped in the game and illusion of pursuing such wealth and beauty.
The beauty and wealth of the whole world are found in fields and gardens, on mountains and in the sea, in the wild places unchanged by man. It is true that such places are not really from God since the physical realm is the creation of the Demiurge, yet they are closer to the original creations of God than are the manmade treasures and edifices found in cities and museums. And their value is certainly greater than that of money and stocks. Many seem to forget that the only value money actually has is in buying the things that make up the wealth of the whole world. If you hoard the money and don’t buy things with it, you are just letting it go to waste. It is like putting a dam in a clean, flowing river, and turning it into a stagnant pond. And the wealthy who do that wonder why people dislike them for making stagnant ponds of wealth, when a flowing wealth could do so much good in the world, even that false manmade wealth. If nothing else, that money can be used to protect nature and wealth of the whole world, but few rich people see it that way.
Brightness of the Sun
The beauty and wealth of the whole world is indeed greater and more beautiful when the sun shines on it. This isn’t just because it is easier to see in bright sunlight,
though that is part of it. And there are naturally beautiful things in the world that can only be seen at night, like this picture I took myself of living coral under a dock on the Caribbean island of Bonaire. If you visited the same spot in the daylight, you would not see any of that moving, living, orange coral.
But there is more to it than just sunlight making things easier to see. Sunlight itself contains information. This is a fact stated by modern Quantum Physicists, not just a belief of spiritual people. If we learned how to tap into that information whenever we wanted to, we could all become geniuses.
Beyond that information found in the light of the physical sun, there is an even greater source of energy and knowledge found in the Spiritual Sun. It is this knowledge and energy that awakened St. Francis when he was watching a sunrise through his bedroom window. It is what awakened Jacob Boehm when his eyes were struck by a reflection of sunlight off a metal bowl. And many others were awakened in similar ways, though the fact of it may not be well known. So the brightness of the sun illuminates the beauty and wealth of the whole world in more ways than one.
Onefold Within Ourselves
What Ruysbroeck is telling us here is not that we need to withdraw into a private world within ourselves and hide from the outer world. He didn’t hide from the outer world, but say his obligation to help make it better. What he is telling us is that we need to unite the various aspects of our complete self, the physical, mental, psychic, and spiritual. When we do that, we become a complete being that is capable of eternal life and eternal knowledge. We become part of the beauty and wealth of the whole world. And we can then help others do the same.
Seek Out Our Nobleness
An early step in that process of becoming a Onefold Being is awakening our spiritual faculties and helping them grow and mature into full consciousness. That is what Ruysbroeck means by seeking out our nobleness.