RUYSBROEK (or Ruysbroeck), JAN VAN (1293–1381), Dutch mystic, was born at Ruysbroek, near Brussels, in 1293. In 1317 he was ordained priest and became vicar of St Gudule, Brussels. When sixty years of age he withdrew with a few companions to the monastery of Groenendael, near Waterloo, giving himself to meditation and mystical writing, and to a full share of the practical tasks of the society. He was known as the “Ecstatic Teacher,” and formed a link between the Friends of God and the Brothers of the Common Life, sects which helped to bring about the Reformation. Ruysbroek insisted that “the soul finds God in its own depths,” and noted three stages of progress in what he called “the spiritual ladder” of Christian attainment: (1) the active life, (2) the. inward life, (3) the contemplative life. He did not teach the fusion of the self in God, but held that at the summit of the ascent the soul still preserves its identity. His works, of which the most important were De vera contemplatione and De septem gradibus amoris, were published in 1848 at Hanover; also Reflections from the Mirror of a Mystic (1906) and Die Zierde der geistlichen Hochzeit (1901).
See Rufus M. Jones, Studies in Mystical Religion, pp. 308–14 (1909); M. Maeterlinck, Ruysbroek and the Mystics, with selections from The Adornment of the Spiritual Marriage (tr. by J. T. Stoddart, London, 1894); and art. Mysticism.