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God is my final end;
Does he from me evolve, 
Then he grows out of me, 
While I in Him dissolve
.”
~ Angelus Silesius (The Cherubinic Wanderer)

 

Angelus Silesius was a German mystic born Johannes Scheffler in 1624. Although a Lutheran, he converted to Catholicism and became a priest. After being a physician for a while, he became known for his mystical poetry. He published two poetical works, “The Soul’s Spiritual Delight“, a collection of more than two hundred religious songs, and “The Cherubinic Wanderer“, a collection of over sixteen hundred alexandrine couplets, from which the following selection is excerpted.

These short mystical poems – like spiritual haikus – are like bubbles sparkling with meaning and depth, infused with humour and sweet tenderness, bearing at their core the accents of a true non-dual understanding. I have attempted to give them a loose classification, each theme with a short introductory text, for better access and clarity. Chew them lightly, and they will never fail to deliver, behind their somewhat naive and archaic attire, the honey of their essence. Angelus Silesius died in 1677.

I hope you enjoy this selection from “The Cherubinic Wanderer” by the poet Angelus Silesius…

 

~

God is a big word, and it is important to understand what reality is hidden behind such a word.
The poet warns: “To know Him, Knower must be one with Known.”
Enjoy a taste of the nature of God
:

 

Being is not measured
“Turn wheresoe’er I will, I find no evidence
of End, Beginning, Centre or Circumference.”
~ Godhead, 1.2.188

God is not grasped
“God is an utter Nothingness,
Beyond the touch of Time and Place:
The more thou graspest after Him,
The more he fleeth thy embrace.”
~ Godhead, 5.1.25

The knower must become the known
“Naught ever can be known in God: One and Alone
Is He. To know Him, Knower must be one with Known.”
~ Godhead, 8.1.285

God is without will
“We pray: Thy Will be done! and lo! He hath no Will:
God in His changelessness eternally is still.”
~ Godhead, 12.1.294

The Rest and work of God
“Rested God never hath, nor toiled—’tis manifest,
For all His rest is work and all His work is rest.”
~ Godhead, 13.4.166

Sin troubleth not God
“God feeleth pain for sin in thee
As in His son,
But in His Self of Deity
He feeleth none.”
~ Godhead, 17.5.328

God becomes what he wills
“Eternal Spirit, God becomes
All that He wills to be—but still
Abideth ever as He is,
Without a form, an aim, a will.”
~ Godhead, 24.5.358

The nature of God
“Love is God’s nature. He can do naught else. Wouldst thou
Be God, then likewise love in every instant’s Now.”
~ Love, 231.5.243

The essential man
“The essential Man is like unto Eternity,
Unchanged by any breath of externality.”
~ Accident and Essence, 227.2.71

 

~~~

 

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So is the nature of God that it can be hidden by a single thought or belief.
And the poet says: “‘Tis thou that hast devised a hiding-place for Him.”
This paradox, this shallow veiling or separateness is so expressed
:

 

God cannot hid himself
“God cannot ever hide Himself—if hid He seem,
‘Tis thou that hast devised a hiding-place for Him.”
~ God, 33.5.65

Man is a coal
“Man, thou art like a piece of coal;
And if thou liest not in Him,
Who is thy Fire and thy Light,
Then art thou black and cold and dim.”
~ God, 49.4.133

How is God seen?
“No Way there is by which to go
Unto the Light wherein God dwells:
Thou must thyself become the Light
Or God is hidden from thee else.”
~ Oneness with the Divine, 96.1.72

The sea in a little drop
“Into this little drop, this I, how can it be
That there should flow the whole Sea of the Deity?”
~ Oneness with the Divine, 120.4.153

The worldling is blinded
“Open thine eyes and see! Heaven lieth all unfurled!
Thou seest it not? Then art thou blind drunk with the World.”
~ Nature 276.5.203

Thy prison is thyself
“The World doth not imprison thee.
Thou art thyself the World, and there,
Within thyself, thou hold’st thyself
Thy self-imprisoned Prisoner.”
~ Inwardness, 134.2.85

 

~~~

 

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Though we may fear it, there is nothing in man more sweet
than utter surrendering to the presence of God.
In all eternity there is no lovelier Tone,” asserts the poet:

 

I-hood shapeth naught
“Now this, now that, thou striv’st to shape
With thine own I for instrument.
Ah, wouldst thou but let God shape all
Accordingly to His intent!”
~ God, 47.1.279

The loveliest tone
“In all eternity there is no lovelier Tone
Than when man’s heart soundeth with God in Unison.”
~ God, 48.4.143

God’s lute
“A Heart, as God would have it, wholly still and mute.
Loves to be played upon by Him—it is His lute.”
~ The still wilderness, 69.5.366

All is alike to the wise man
“All things are one to the Wise Man;
He sitteth peacefully and still;
Is his will thwarted, none the less
All things befall as God doth will.”
~ The still wilderness, 74.5.136

The perfect driveth out the imperfect
“When full Perfection comes, the imperfect falls aside:
So fades my human part when I am deified.”
~ Accident and Essence, 211.5.356

Vice is only appearance
“All naked Virtue stands, Vice doth apparelled go;
Virtue is truly large, Vice only seemeth so.”
~ Accident and Essence, 219.5.45

 

~~~

 

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There is a way, an approach, a means for the accomplishment of God.
The poet warns: “Thou shalt become that thing itself which thou dost deem of dearest worth.”
Indeed, sadhana is all important:

 

God beyond the creature
“Go, where thou canst not go; see, where light never breaks;
Hear, where no sound is heard: then art thou where God speaks.”
~ The still wilderness, 55.1.199

Sameness beholdeth God
“Be naught as all and all as naught, then art thou proved
Worthy to see the face of God, the Well-Beloved.”
~ The still wilderness, 70.2.169

How God’s word is heard
“If thou wouldst hear the Eternal Word speak unto thee,
First must thou wholly lose the hearing faculty.”
~ The still wilderness, 76.1.85

Man learneth by being silent
“Be silent, silent, dearest one,
Only be silent utterly.
Then far beyond thy farthest wish
God will show goodness unto thee.”
~ The still wilderness, 77.2.8

The Divinest of all
“Naught more divine than this — whatever the event,
In this world or the next, to be indifferent.”
~ The still wilderness, 82.2.152

The transformation
“Body must into Spirit pass,
And Spirit into Deity,
If thou wouldst have thy dearest wish
And know the perfect ecstasy.”
~ Oneness with the Divine, 97.4.24

A man is changed into what he loves
“Thou shalt become that thing itself
Which thou dost deem of dearest worth —
God shalt become if thou lov’st God,
And Earth if so thou lovest Earth.”
~ Oneness with the Divine, 100.5.200

How God is found
“Seekest thou God, then must thou, Man,
First lose thy Self-identity,
Nor ever find again the trace
Of Self in all eternity.”
~ Self-abandonment, 147.5.220

 

~~~

 

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How far the way to heaven, how far eternity, how far infinity?
The poet is clear: “Take but one short stride and thou art there.”
It is a timeless lesson to find out how close we are to our true self:

 

Time is not fast
“‘Time flieth fast’ we say, but who
Hath seen the fleeting of Time’s wings?
Time standeth moveless in a view
That visioneth the Whole of Things.”
~ Time and Eternity, 186.5.23

The soul is above time
“The Soul, which is eternal Spirit,
Standeth above Time’s
Already in this present world
She liveth in Eternity.”
~ Time and Eternity, 189.5.127

Place is within thee
“Nowise dost thou inhabit Place,
Place doth inhabit thee.
Cast Place away! — then now and here
Standeth Eternity.”
~ Time and Eternity, 195.1.185

The breadth of the soul
“Heaven is too little for me, Earth a narrow cell:
Where shall I find a space wherein my Soul can dwell?”
~ Time and Eternity, 197.1.187

How far the way to heaven
“Think not the journey overlong if thou wouldst fare
To Heaven — take but one short stride and thou art there.”
~ Time and Eternity, 201.5.67

Death
“Death doth not trouble me. ‘Tis through that door I come
Unto the place which long hath been my spirit’s home.”
~ Time and Eternity, 204.4.81

God maketh nothing new
“God maketh no new thing, though new
It seem to us. We think we see
The act of birth, but what is born
Is birthless in eternity.”
~ Accident and Essence, 214.5.179

God is equally near to all
“God is as near Beelzebub
As He is near the Seraphim,
‘Tis only that Beelzebub
Turneth his back on Him.”
~ Accident and Essence, 222.5.72

 

~~~

 

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There is a reality that we may come to realise,
it is our intimacy with God, or oneness with pure consciousness.
As the poet says, it is easier to come to that realisation “than open a closed eye:

 

God liveth not without me
“I know God cannot live one instant without Me:
If I should come to naught, needs must He cease to be.”
~ Oneness with the Divine, 85.1.

Man is naught, God all
“I am not I nor Thou: Thou art the I in Me:
Therefore I yield the meed of honour unto Thee.”
~ Oneness with the Divine, 90.2.180

Thou must be it thyself
“Ask not what is divine. It were too great a task
To comprehend — unless thou art what thou dost ask.”
~ Oneness with the Divine, 91.2.142

God-man
“That I may come to wealth, God comes to beggary:
That I may become He, lo! He becometh I.”
~ Oneness with the Divine, 94.3.20

Union with God is easy
“’Tis easier, Man, to see thyself and God all one
Than open a closed eye — will it and it is done.”
~ Oneness with the Divine, 103.6.175

Of the blessed soul
“Of Otherness the blessed Soul
Hath lost the very sense;
It is a single Light with God
And one Magnificence.”
~ Oneness with the Divine, 109.4.181

The spiritual alchemy
“Then Lead becometh Gold, then Accident is ended,
When I with God, through God, in God, am wholly blended.”
~ Accident and Essence, 228.1.102

 

~~~

 

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To know yourself is a gift in itself. It brings with it the fruits of peace, love, and beauty.
Life becomes a celebration. “Take, drink, all that thou wilt or canst.” says the poet with trust:

 

God denieth himself to none
“Take, drink, all that thou wilt or canst — ’tis given thee free,
Thou hast the whole of Godhead for thy Hostelry.”
~ Godhead, 26.2.17

Naught existeth without joy
“Naught that is joyless can endure.
Even the Being of God would pass,
Had He no pleasure in Himself,
And wither like the new-mown grass.“
~ God, 36.5.75

Thou thyself art all things
“How is it possible for thee
To feel desire or suffer dearth?
Thou canst be all things in thyself—
A thousand Angels, Heaven and Earth!”
~ Inwardness, 132.2.149

Equal estimation maketh peace
“Canst thou divest from diverse things
Their aspect of diversity,
Come Love, come Pain, thou standest fast,
Poised in thy equanimity.”
~ Accident and Essence, 218.1.38

The more loving, the happier
“Love is the measure of the heart’s Felicity;
The more ’tis filled with Love, the happier thou wilt be.”
~ Love, 233.5.295

Beauty cometh from Love
“Beauty is born of Love alone.
The Countenance Divine
Hath all its Loveliness from Love —
Else it would cease to shine.”
~ Love, 232.5.292

 

~~~

 

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Of all of God’s gifts, love seems to be the most celebrated.
It is, according to the poet, “the shortest way to God”,
and the password “to cross the frontier-line of Heaven.”:

 

Man must be Essence
“To practise love is burdensome. ‘Tis not enough
Merely to love — we must ourselves, like God, be Love.”
~ Accident and Essence, 215.1.71

The highest good
“What is the highest Good? Much talk hath been hereof
And high debate: I swear the highest Good is Love.”
~ Love, 229.5.242

The shortest way to God
“Pass through Love’s gate if thou wouldst go
The shortest way to God:
Who takes the Path of Knowledge, long
Must tarry on the road.”
~ Love, 234.5.320

Love seeketh not reward
“Man, if thou lovest God and seekest hire for this,
‘Tis plain thou tastest not what Love and Loving is.”
~ Love, 236.2.47

The token of false love
“Wouldst thou discern false Love from true, the token’s this —
False Love seeks self and fades under adversities.”
~ Love, 237.5.303

The spiritual password
“Love is the password. He to whom it is not given
Must never hope to cross the frontier-line of Heaven.”
~ Love, 244.6.204

God cannot be loved without God
“Did not God love Himself through thee and in thee, Man,
Thy love for Him would ever fail of its full span.”
~ Love, 245.5.297

Of Love
“He wills and loveth right who wills and loveth naught:
Who loveth what he wills, loveth not what he ought.”
~ Love, 249.2.60

Seraphic Love
“The purest Love — seraphic —
Is not easy to divine,
Because it is so quiet,
By any outward sign.”
~ Love, 256.5.211

 

~~~

 

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There is sheer sweetness and loveliness in these poet’s lines.
They are our last reminders that “who climbeth higher unselfs himself, drops count of I’s and Thou’s.”
and that “Heaven is within thee.”:

 

Not perfectly dead
“If over this and that thou makest such a stir,
Then art thou not yet laid with God in the sepulchre.”
~ The still wilderness, 80.1.134

Five degrees in God
“Five ladder-rungs there are in God —
Slave, Friend, Son, Bride and Spouse.
Who climbeth higher unselfs himself,
Drops count of I’s and Thou’s.”
~ Oneness with the Divine, 98.2.255

Heaven is within thee
“Heaven is within thee. Stay! Why runn’st thou here and there?
Thou seekest God in vain seekest thou Him elsewhere.”
~ Inwardness, 122.1.82

Sameness
“I know not what to do! All things are one to me:
Place, Unplace, Day, Night, Joy, Pain, Time, Eternity.”
~ Time and Eternity, 208.1.190

The sunflower
“Friend, marvel not that I behold
Naught that my eyes can rest upon,
For I must turn myself
And gaze all day upon my Sun.”
~ Nature 267.2.231

God doeth it all Himself
“God, God is All, All utterly,
The lute-strings tremble at His touch;
‘Tis He that plays and sings in us —
Is therefore thy performance much?”
~ Nature 280.3.216

Spirit is as Essence
“My Spirit is a partial Being:
It yearns to be recentred in
That Essence whence it broke away,
Its primal Root and Origin.”
~ Oneness with the Divine, 105.2.159

 

~~~

 

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It is revealing to see that when we have listened to the master, or the poet,
the conclusion of that is really the beginning,
for the word is only pointing to a living reality:

 

Conclusion
“Friend, it is now enough. Wouldst thou read more, go hence,
Become thyself the Writing and thyself the Sense.”
~ Thought and deed, 355.6.263

~

 

~~~

Poems by Angelus Silesius (1624-1677)

Photos by Alain Joly

~~~

 

This selection of poems by Angelus Silesius is excerpted from the website Internet Sacred Text Archive, where you can read more about Angelus Silesius, and many more topics about religion, mythology, or spirituality…

Bibliography:
– “The Cherubinic Wanderer” – by Angelus Silesius (Translated by J.E. Crawford Flitch) – (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform)

Websites:
Angelus Silesius (Wikipedia)
Internet Sacred Text Archive

 

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