The Labyrinth of the World and the Paradise of the Heart (1901)/Chapter 39



(God's Wisdom directs even our Errors.)

"I accept this from thee, my son," quoth He. "Hold to this, become, call thyself, and remain mine own. Mine, indeed, thou wert and art from all eternity, but thou knewest it not. I have long prepared for thee that happiness to which I will now lead thee; but thou didst not understand this. I have led thee to thyself through strange paths and by roundabout ways; this thou knewest not, nor what I, the ruler of all my chosen ones, intended; neither didst thou perceive by what means I worked on thee. But I was everywhere with thee, and therefore somewhat guided thee through these crooked paths, that I might at last bring thee yet closer to me. Naught could the world, naught thy guides, naught Solomon teach thee. They could by no means enrich thee, content thee, satisfy the desires of thy heart, for they had not that which thou didst seek. But I will teach thee everything, enrich thee, content thee."

(All Worldly Striving should be transferred to God.)

2. "This only I demand of thee, that whatever thou hast seen in the world, and whatever struggles thou hast witnessed among men, thou shouldst transfer it to me, and lay the burden of it on me. This, as long as thou livest, shall be thy work and thy task; of that which men seek there in the world, but find not—to wit, peace and joy—I will give thee abundance."

(The Pilgrim joins Christ only, his Eternal Spouse.)

3. "Thou hast seen in the estate of the married people how those who find pleasure in one another leave everything, that they may belong to each other. Do thus thou also, leave everything, even thyself; give thyself up fully to me, and thou wilt be mine, and it will be well. As long as thou dost not this, thou wilt, I assure thee, obtain no solace for thy soul. For in the world everything changeth; everything beside me for which thy mind and thy desire will strive, will, in one way or another, cause thee toil and discontent; at last it will forsake thee, and the joy that thou hadst found in it will turn to woe. Therefore I faithfully counsel thee, my son, forsake everything and cling to me; be mine, and I thine. Let us shut ourselves up together here in this shrine, and thou wilt feel truer joy than can be found in carnal wedlock. Strive, then, to love me alone; to have me as thy one counsellor, leader, friend, companion, and comrade in all things. And whenever thou speakest to me, say, 'I only and thou, oh, my Lord!' Thou needest not heed any third one. Cling but to me, gaze at me, converse sweetly with me, embrace me, kiss me; expect also all things from me.

(Christ should be considered our only Gain.)

4. "Thou hast seen in other conditions how the men who seek gain busy themselves with endless labours, what artifices they employ, what perils they risk. Thou must now consider all this striving as vanity, knowing that one thing alone is necessary, the grace of God. Therefore, limiting thyself to the one calling which I have entrusted to thee, conduct thy labours faithfully, conscientiously, quietly, entrusting to me the end and aim of all things.

(The Pilgrim is taught to know Christ Himself—the Bible.)

5. "Thou hast seen, when among the scholars, how they strive to fathom all things. Let it be the summit of thy learning to seek me in my works, and to see how wondrously I rule thee and everything. Here wilt thou find more matter for reflection than those yonder,[1] and it will be with unspeakable delight. Instead of all libraries, to read which is endless labour, with little use and often with harm, while there is always weariness and anxiety, I will give thee this little book in which thou wilt find all arts. Here thy grammar will be to consider my words, thy dialectics faith in them, thy rhetoric prayers and sighs, thy physic meditation on my works, thy metaphysics delight in me and in the eternal things; thy mathematics will consist in the weighing and measuring of my benefactions, and, on the other hand, of the ingratitude of the world; thy ethics will be love of me, which will give thee all instructions concerning thy conduct both towards me and towards thy fellow-creatures. But thou must seek all this learning, not that thou mayest please others, but that thou mayest come nearer to me. And in all these things, the simpler thou art, the more learned shalt thou be; for my light inflames simple hearts.

(We must consider Christ Himself our best Leech.)

6. "Hast thou seen how the leeches contrive divers remedies to defend and prolong life? But for what purpose shouldst thou trouble about the length of thy life? Does it, then, depend on thee? Thou didst not come into the world when thou didst wish it, and thou wilt not leave it when thou wishest, for my providence decides this. Consider, therefore, how thou canst live well, and I will consider how long thou shalt live. Live simply and uprightly according to my pleasure, and I shall find pleasure in being thy leech for thy good; for I will be thy life, and the length of thy days. Without me, indeed, medicine also is poison; but if I decree it, poison also must become medicine. Therefore, entrust thy life and health to me only, and be thou in perfect peace as to such matters.

(The Pilgrim holds Christ to be his Counsellor, Guide, and Protector.)

7. "In jurisprudence thou hast witnessed the wondrous and entangled intrigues of men, and how they dispute over their divers affairs. But this shall be thy knowledge of law: not to envy any man either the property of others or his own; to leave everyone what he has; not to refuse to any man that which he requires; to give to each one that which thou owest, and even beyond that, as much as thou canst; to be conciliant in all for the sake of peace. If one takes away thy coat, give him thy cloak also; if one strikes thee on one cheek, put forth the other also. These are my laws, and if thou heedest them, thou wilt secure peace.

(What the Religion of Christ is.)

8. "Thou hast seen in the world how men imagine vain ceremonies and strife while performing their religious duties. Thy religion shall be to serve me in quiet, and not to bind thyself by any ceremonies, for I do not bind thee by them. If thou wilt—according to my teaching—serve me in the spirit and in the truth, then wrangle no further on these matters with any man, even if men call thee a hypocrite, heretic, or I know not what. Cling quietly to me only and to my service.

(The Government of Christ's Kingdom.)

9. "While among the great and the rulers of human society, thou hast seen how readily men strive to reach the highest places and to rule over the others. But thou, my son, shalt, as long as thou livest, ever seek the lowest place, and desire to obey, rather than to command. For truly it is easier and safer, and more convenient, to be under others than on the heights. But if thou must yet rule and command, then rule thy own self. I give thee thy soul and body to rule as a kingdom. As many limbs as thou hast in thy body, and divers emotions in thy soul, so many subjects shalt thou have; see that thy rule over them be good. And should it please my providence to confide to thee yet other tasks, then fulfil them obediently and faithfully, heeding not thy own fancies, but my call.

(The True Christian's Wars.)

10. "In the estate of the warriors, thou hast seen that destroying and plundering fellow-men is there considered heroism. But I will tell thee of other enemies against whom thou must henceforth prove thy valour: the devil, the world, and the desires of thine own body. Guard thyself against these as well as thou canst, driving from thee the two first, striking down and killing the third. And when thou hast bravely done this, thou wilt, I promise, verily obtain a crown more glorious than those that the world hath.

(In Christ alone there is Abundance of all.)

11. "Thou hast seen also what the men in that castle of feigned fortune seek, and in what they glory: riches, pleasure, fame. Heed thou none of these things. They give not peace but disquietude, and they are but the path that leadeth to sorrow. Wherefore shouldst thou value a multitude of goods; why desire it? Life requires but little, and it is my business to provide for those who serve me. Strive, therefore, to collect inward treasures, illumination and piety, and I will grant thee everything else. Heaven and earth will belong to thee by inheritance; be thou certain of this. Neither will such things vex thee and oppress thee as do the things of the world; rather will they give thee unspeakable joy.

(The Pilgrim's most dear Companions.)

12. "The worldly ones gladly seek companionship; but thou must absent thyself from noisy striving, and learn to love solitude. Companionship is but an aid to sin, or to senseless fooling, idleness, or waste of time. Yet wilt thou not be alone; fear not, even if thou art alone. I am with thee, and the multitude of my angels; with us wilt thou be able to imparl. Yet if at times thou desirest visible companionship also, seek out those who are of the same spirit. Thus will your companionship be a joint devotion to God.

(True Delights.)

13. "These others find their pleasure in plentiful banquets, eating, drinking, laughter. But it shall be thy pleasure, when necessary, to hunger, thirst, cry, suffer blows, and so forth, for my sake and with me. Yet if I grant thee pleasurable things, thou mayest also rejoice (but not because of these things, rather because of me, and for my sake).

(True Glory.)

14. "Thou hast seen how these others strive for glory and honours; but thou must not heed the reports of men. Whether men speak well or evil of thee, it imports not, if but I am satisfied with thee. If thou but knowest that thou pleasest me, curry not favour with men; their good will is fickle, imperfect, perverse; they often love that which is worthy of hate, and hate that which is worthy of love. Nor is it possible to please all; striving to please one, thou disgusteth others. By not considering all these, and by heeding me only, thou wilt fare best. If we both then agree together, the voice of man can neither take anything from you nor from me, nor grant anything. Strive not to know many, my son. Let thy glory be to be humble, that the world may, if possible, know nothing of thee; this is best and safest. My angels, indeed, will know of thee, speak of thee, seek to serve thee; announce, if necessary, thy works to heaven and earth. Be then certain of this. But truly when the time of the amendment of all things comes, all ye who have submitted yourselves to me shalt be led to unspeakable glory before the angels and the whole world. Compared to this glory, all worldly glory is but a shadow.

(This is the Summit of all.)

15. "Therefore, my son, I will say briefly: If thou hast goods, learning, beauty, wit, favour among the people, and everything that in the world is called prosperity, be not too proud; if thou hast not these things, heed it not; forsaking all these things, whether they be with thee or with others, find thy inward employment with me. And then having freed thyself from all created beings, denied also and renounced thy own self, thou wilt find me, and in me the fulness of peace; this I promise thee."

(To give yourself up wholly to Christ is the most blessed thing.)

16. And I said: "Lord, my God, I understand that Thou alone art everything. He who hath Thee can easily lack the whole world, for in Thee alone he hath more than he can desire. I erred—I now understand it—when I wandered through the world seeking solace in created things. But from this hour I will delight in naught but in Thee. To thee I now already give myself up wholly. Deign, then, to strengthen me, that I may not abandon Thee in favour of created things, nor again commit the follies of which the world is full. May Thy grace preserve me! I put my full trust in it."

  1. I.e., those of the world.