"Paradise is yet in the World, but Man is not therein, unless he be born again of God;
then as to that new Regeneration he is therein,
and not with the Adam of the four Elements.
O that we would but once learn to know ourselves…."
Signaturum Rerum, 42
Translated by John Ellistone 1651
Revised for the 1764 “William Law Edition”: The Works of Jacob Behmen, Volume IV
Transcribed by Wayne Kraus for Jacob Boehme Online
After aeons of choosing to tell a story of separation from God, the story seems choiceless. It seems choiceless, but it is not.
You have simply been continuing to choose the story that was passed on to you by your ancestors, by your past lives, by your past mistakes, by your past desires. What is choicelss is the truth of who you are.
Choice lies in the mind's ability to either deny that truth or to embrace it.
That choice is free will - the freedom of choice.
You have no free will regarding who you are. You are that fully and completely. But you do have free will regarding the powers of mind and imagination.
You can play as if you are not who you are. You can play any number of variations and permutations of choosing or denying who you are.
- Gangaji from Freedom & Resolve:
The Living Edge of Surrender
Who is in the house of my heart,
I cried in the middle of the night.
"It is I, but what are all these images that fill your
I said, they are the reflection of your beautiful face.
"But what is this image full of pain?"
I said, it is me lost in the sorrows of life
and showed Love my soul full of wounds.
Love offered me one end of a thread and said:
"Take it so I can pull you back
but do not break the delicate string."
I reached towards it but Love struck my hand.
I asked, why the harshness?
"To remind you that whoever comes to Love's holy space,
proud and full of himself
will be sent away.
Look at Love with eyes of your heart.
Consciousness has told me that Spirit is within us tonight..
Such an occasion should be celebrated..
Let us celebrate by flowing the blood of God called Love..
" This is My body and blood" said the Nazarene..
Blood in Reality is the flow of Love, Light, and Consciousness..
You Mystics will understand these words..
In Divine Consciousness, You are within the flow of Love, Light, and Consciousness..
And yet, a higher call enters Your Consciousness..
Pure Awareness calls You by name..
You say, " I am ready to return to complete Love"..
So difficult to say, but Love is strong..
The sacrifice of Self is the Greatest Gift..
And yet, We hesitate, because Divine Consciousness is the Bliss of Love..
This decision is left to You...
Seeing the world as it is is Right View, with an understanding of the Three Marks of Existence, and the Four Noble Truths. When you fully understand the marks and truths, then you see the world and yourself without delusion, hatred, greed, etc.
Some of the traditions also include karma (kamma) here, but most secular Buddhist view kamma as intention or action, so we place it under Right Action. Additionally, with secular Buddhists, kamma is not believed to be a system of justice that goes from one life to the next, but instead is about developing wholesome intention behind our actions so we behave ethically in this life, with Right Action.
Right View also touches on our own views of the world, how we may cling to them, how we may consider them permanent, when they are really impermanent, and how we can get caught up in a “thicket of views”. Exploring the Three Marks of Existence helps you see through getting caught in your own views.
In order not to create more suffering, we need to rely on paying attention (mindfulness) to what our intentions are with others and with our actions. If our intentions stem from anger, resentment, or greed, then we are more likely to do harm than if our intentions are driven to help, to understand, to better our actions in the world. We also need to use intention when we sit for meditation, when we want to speak or act effectively, etc. and to practice the path. Learning how to be mindful to intentions before you act, speak, or write takes some time to learn. But it’s fascinating once you start digging deeply into this area. Once you are aware of your intentions, you sometimes need to consciously set new intentions and let go of the old ones. This is a big part of practice. And it takes practice!
With wholesome intentions, our actions are more likely to be skillful as well. This part of the path asks us to pay attention (mindfulness) to how we act or behave in the world, that our actions go towards helping and not harming, that what we do is skillful and don’t do what leads to more suffering. Keep in mind, we are not giving you specifics of what you should do or shouldn’t do. Instead, you learn to develop an ethics meter so to speak, good judgement, based on whether or not your action will bring harm or suffering to yourself or others. You learn to make sure your actions don’t cause suffering.
From the above, you probably figured out already that Right Speech is talking, and includes emailing/messaging, in such a way that you don’t hurt feelings, you don’t lie, don’t use deceptive or intentionally confusing language, that you don’t gossip, or intentionally make people angry with your speech. Why? Because doing so causes suffering to the people you speak or write harshly too. That doesn’t mean you have to withhold your opinion. It does mean, learning to pay attention (mindfulness) to the intention behind what you are saying, and deciding if it’s going to do more harm than good.
Intention plays a big role here. Examine your intentions for wanting to share your opinion, for wanting to correct or criticize, etc. Right Speech, can also be thought of as Right Writing as well, because what we are really talking about here is communication. We want our communications to be of benefit, not harm. This can be tricky in a world where we come across a multitude of opinions and ideas daily. Sometimes we know people’s views are skewed, wrong, delusion, or divisive. Set an example for healthy, helpful communications.
Right Livelihood addresses how we earn a living and more. I’ve seen a lot of debates online where people argue about whether it’s ok or not to work at certain places. Again, this is another part of the path that asks us to determine for ourselves if what we do for a living is causing suffering, or whether what we do is neutral or helping. It’s not a matter of this place is bad and that place is good. Mindfulness and intention come into play in how we interact with our coworkers (action), what our jobs ask of us, how we approach our work ethics. You could be working at a place that does service to others, but if you are treating coworkers unfairly, or you are cheating your employers out of hours or money, then you might want to examine your intentions. This is an area that is worth deep and detailed exploration. The Eightfold Path helps us learn to make our own judgement calls on where we work, how we can make the most of it, and how we interact with others while doing our jobs.
Without effort, our practice is toast. Of course, we all know that to accomplish anything we need to put effort in. For our practice, however, this effort has the motivation/intention of lessening suffering. So, the effort we put into our practice is the impetus for dropping whatever gets in the way of our developing ethics, compassion, and it motivates us to let go of greed, fear, angst, hatred, self loathing, etc. By practice, I mean all your interactions in the world. Being mindful of where we put our effort in our actions and speech each day is really important. And, of course, we need to apply effort toward other areas of our practice, such as developing mindfulness in meditation so that we can put it to good use throughout our days.
Mindfulness in a nutshell is paying attention, but it stretches beyond that. The norm for many of us is to go through our days, living mostly in our heads, with thoughts of the past or future, in conversation with people who aren’t present, ruminating over and over problems. Now, that’s not to say thinking and problem solving aren’t necessary. They surely are, but there is a time and place for thinking and musing, and it’s not all day long. Mindfulness helps keep us anchored in the present, so we can interact in the world appropriately, so we can apply just the right effort to various tasks, and to help prevent from creating and worsening problems. Living entirely in our heads is a habit that is hard to break. Living in our heads can cause us to do poorly in our jobs, distract us from driving on the road well, and in general can just cause a lot of angst.
But with proper intention, effort, and mindfulness, you can train yourself to be present, and deal with whatever arises appropriately. You’ll find over time, mindfulness becomes the new mode of being, a new healthy habit, and you’ll find yourself lost in thoughts much less frequently. Meditation is the tool to develop mindfulness. As you develop mindfulness in the quiet, still environment of meditation, you then extend mindfulness to include all your daily life.
Right Concentration, sometimes called Right Meditation, and is the practice of focusing the mind solely on one object. Where mindfulness is open to whatever arises, concentration is focusing on one thing to the exclusion of everything else. Both concentration and mindfulness are tools to sharpen the mind, and bring it out of the shadows of discursive thinking and root us in the present. In some traditions, concentration is developed through the practice of the jhanas. This is not a common practice in western Buddhism, but as neuroscience finds benefits to meditation, there seems to be renewed interest in using jhana techniques to develop very specialized forms of concentration.
Concentration also improves naturally through mindfulness meditation. Concentration requires use of Right Effort, Right Intention, and Right Mindfulness. Some argue that you can’t have really good concentration until you’ve developed the ability to let go of anger, hatred, discursive thinking, negativity, etc. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try developing concentration until you have a free mind. Indeed, working on concentration is what helps you to learn to drop unskillful thinking. Once mindfulness and concentration are established, then you can develop greater insight overall because your mind is cluttered with thoughts that inhibit wisdom.
The teaching of Gautama the Buddha
The Long Path is needed to make a man or woman ripe for receiving truth,
but only the Short Path can lead to it.
This is the answer to the dilemma created by the claims of the Wu Wei school.
Its practical application is:
act as the Long Path requires by working on and improving the self,
but think as the Short Path enjoins by holding the attitude
"There is nothing to be attained.
Realization is already here and now!
Nowhere is a place of No-Thing..
You are No-Thing ( Nothing)
Do you understand?..
The Mountain to climb is the understanding of Reality..
It is the mental activity to eliminate the desires of ego and earth..
If you truly understood Reality, You would fly to the top of the Mountain..
Enlightenment provides the wings to the top of the Mountain..
This is the Mystic path to Reality..
You bypass the fifty dimensions of egoic attachment because there is Nothing to be trapped within these dreams..
You should entertain Contemplation upon the reason that you are climbing the Mountain..
Consciousness tells me to add this request..
Yusuf, if you are reading this, I advise you to leave the 'Long Path' of the mountain and enter the 'Short Path' of Mysticism by reading the teachings of Islamic Sufi Master, Hazrat Inayat Kahn...
The First Noble Truth: Dukkha
Life is full of suffering. Dukkha usually is translated as suffering. In life, we have illness, poverty, disease, old age and death. We cannot keep what we like and can not avoid what we do not like. If this is all we know we suffer.
The Second Noble Truth: Samudaya
There is a cause for suffering. The cause of suffering is desire and illusions that are based on ignorance. Because of ignorance, wanting something leads to clumsy actions, which in turn lead to suffering. Wanting life, wanting death, wanting things, wanting pleasure - all lead to suffering.
The Third Noble Truth: Nirodha
There is a state of mind free from suffering. By stopping the cravings, the suffering is stopped.
The Fourth Noble Truth: Marga
There is a way to end suffering. To end suffering we must end our cravings. The way to end cravings is the Eightfold Path ..
The Teaching of Gautama the Buddha
"Cast away your existence entirely,
For it is nothing but weeds and refuse.
Go, clear out your heart's chamber;
Arrange it as the abiding-place of the Beloved.
When you go forth, He will come within it,
And to you, with self discarded,
He will reveal His beauty."
_The Secret Rose Garden_
Rendered form the Persian by Florence Lederer
Grand Rapids, MI: Phanes Press, 2002, p. 85