An Earnest Disciple
“Herein is described the manner of passing the Gulf which divides the two principles of states of Heaven and Hell. …
“The disciple being very earnest to be more fully instructed how he might arrive at the Supersensual life, … came again to the master … and thus brake forth:
“Disciple: O my Master! My Master! I have endeavored to recollect my Soul in the presence of God, and to cast myself into that Deep where no creature does, nor can dwell; that I might hear the voice of the Lord speaking in me, and be initiated into that high Life. … But alas! I neither nor see as I should; there is still such a partition wall in me which beats back the Heavenly Sounds in their passage, and obstructs the entrance of that Light by which all Divine Objects are discoverable. … Wherefore be so kind as to inform me what is required on my part, that this partition may be broken or removed.
“Master: This partition is the creaturely will in thee; and this can be broken by nothing but by the Grace of Self-Denial, which is the entrance into the true following of Christ, and totally removed by nothing but a perfect conformity with the Divine Will.
“Disciple: But how shall I be able to break this creaturely will? …
“Master: This is not to be done by thyself; but by the Light and Grace of God received into thy Soul; which will, if thou gainsay not, break the darkness that is in thee, and melt down thine own will.” ~Jacob Boehme
Heaven and Hell
It is worthwhile to note that Boehme does not refer to Heaven and hell as places but as principles or states. This makes sense since, in his time, the concept of a universe of many dimensions was probably unknown, or known only to a limited number of scientific researchers. So he calls these dimensions, principles. Today, we understand the concept of dimensions, and that is what Heaven and Hell are. I won’t go through them all, but we live in the third dimension, Hell is the second dimension, and Heaven is the eighth. Some people think that the fifth dimension Heaven, but it isn’t. It is the lowest of the dimensions of spirit, not the highest. Heaven is the highest, except for the ninth which is the Godhead. For more on dimensions, click here to read an older post. The earnest disciple needs to learn and understand this.
It is an important aspect of these tales from Jacob Boehme that in these dialogs, the disciple is eager to learn from his master. It is only because the disciple is earnest in his desire to learn and become spiritual that the master tolerates his constant questions and answers them. If the master thought this disciple was just a pest for whom there was little hope for any real spiritual development, he would probably tell him to go sit in a corner and meditate on the subject. But the master answers the questions as much as is possible given the student’s level of awareness and ability to understand.
This should be a lesson to all of us. Approach spiritual learning with a strong desire to learn, but with an open mind to new knowledge that may very well shatter beliefs you have held for most of your life. Be eager to learn for your benefit and for the benefit of all humanity. In other words, approach spiritual development with some humility rather than the idea of learning a way to lord over others or feel superior to them. Only the earnest disciple succeeds.
Recollect My Soul in the Presence of God
Here the earnest disciple is saying that he has tried to remember when his Divine Soul resided in Heaven with God and the Angels of Light, but without success. This is not surprising and the master is probably smiling at the statement. He knows that the disciple cannot remember spiritual things with the mind. He must first awaken his soul. Only the awakened soul can remember and understand its time in the presence of God.
The personal will can act as a veil or partition between the material plane and the spiritual. In fact, it does that in most of us. The master advises the disciple to suppress this personal will, and develop a desire to serve the il of God, by “ the Grace of Self-Denial.” That doesn’t mean, as some think, that the disciple must deny himself food and fast for weeks at a time, or deny herself comfortable clothing, or a warm coat in cold weather. He isn’t talking about that kind of self-denial. What he means is more direct. He wants the disciple to deny his self or ego. Not to destroy the ego, but also not allow it to rule over him. This is not an easy thing to do but can be done in time with regular practice.
It seems like a catch-22 to say that the best way to suppress the personal will is to awaken and develop our spiritual faculties, but we need to suppress the personal will in order to awaken those faculties. It isn’t a catch-22 though. What it means is that in most of us, the two things must happen gradually and together. We manage to suppress the will a little bit, and the Soul becomes a little bit more aware, more conscious. Now the more conscious soul can better control the ego so even more spiritual development is possible. And on and on the cycle goes until we are fully awakened and aware of our spiritual self and our oneness with God. The earnest disciple is patient with himself and lets these cycles happen.