Life[ edit ] Until his ordination[ edit ] John had a devout mother, who brought him up in the Catholic faith ; of his father we know nothing. At the age of eleven he left his mother, departing without leave or warning, to place himself under the guidance and tuition of his uncle, Jan Hinckaert , a canon regular of St. Hinckaert was living according to his Apostolic views with a fellow-canon, Frank van Coudenberg. In due course, John was presented with a prebend in St. He continued to lead, together with his uncle Hinckaert and Van Coudenberg, a life of extreme austerity and retirement. At that time the Brethren of the Free Spirit were causing controversy in the Netherlands and one of them, a woman named Heilwige Bloemardinne , was particularly active in Brussels, propagating her beliefs chiefly by means of popular pamphlets.
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Quotes[ edit ] Knowledge of ourselves teaches us whence we come, where we are, and whither we are going. We come from God , and we are in exile. The image of God is found essentially and personally in all mankind.
Each possesses it whole … In this way we are all one, intimately united in our eternal image. God in the depths of us receives God who comes to us: it is God contemplating God.
You are as holy as you wish to be. Thus God is a common light and a common splendour, enlightening heaven and earth, and every man, each according to his need and worth. Wynschenk Dom, p. We come from God, and we are in exile. Unity brings inward peace and restfulness of heart. Unity of heart is a bond which draws together body and soul, heart and senses, and all the outward and inward powers and encloses them in the union of love.
Quoted in Message of the East, Vol. His acting in us is nearer and more inward than our own actions. God works in us from inside outwards; creatures work on us from the outside p.
Each possesses it whole, entire and undivided, and all together not more than one alone. In this way we are all one, intimately united in our eternal image, which is the image of God and the source in us of all our life.
God works in us from inside outwards; creatures work on us from the outside. John of Ruysbroeck Spiritual Espousals, complete works, Mechelen , vol. English version New York The Sparkling Gem, complete works, vol. What is this Light, if it be not a contemplation of the Infinite, and an intuition of Eternity?
All we taste in comparison with that which remains out of our reach, is no more than a single drop of water compared with the whole sea If we would taste God, and feel in ourselves Eternal Life above all things, We must go forth into God with a faith that is far above our reason, And there dwell, simple, idle, without image, Lifted up by love into the Unwalled Bareness of our intelligence.
For when we go out from ourselves in love, and die to all observances in ignorance and darkness, Then we are made complete, And transfigured by the Eternal Word, Image of the Father. And in this emptiness of spirit we receive the Incomprehensible Light, Which enfolds and penetrates us as air is penetrated by the light of the sun; And this Light is nought else but a fathomless gazing and seeing.
What we are, that we gaze at; and what we gaze at, that we are. For our thought, our life, our being, are lifted up in simplicity, And united with the Truth, that is God. Therefore in this simple gazing we are one life and one spirit with God —And this I call the seeing life. When we soar up above ourselves, And become, in our upward striving towards God, So simple, that the naked Love in the Heights can lay hold on us, There where Love cherishes Love, above all activity and all virtue That is to say, in our Origin, wherefrom we are spiritually born — Then we cease, and we and all that is our own die into God.
And in this death we become hidden Sons of God, and find in ourselves a new life, And that is Eternal Life. And of these Sons, St. For the friend makes only loving, Living but measured ascents toward God. But the child presses on to lose its own life upon the summits, in that simplicity which knoweth not itself. In this storm of love, our activity is above reason and is in no wise. Love desires that which is impossible to her; And reason teaches that love is within her rights, but can neither counsel nor persuade her.
The indrawing attraction drags us out of ourselves, And calls us to be melted away and naughted in the Unity. And in this indrawing attraction we feel that God wills that we should be His, And for this we must abnegate ourselves and let our beatitude be accomplished in Him.
But when He attracts us by flowing out towards us, He gives us over to ourselves and makes us free, And sets us in Time. From Evelyn Underhill Ruysbroeck , p. God is a flowing and ebbing sea which ceaselessly flows out into all his beloved. Fervent interior spirits have chosen above all things that dark stillness in which all lovers lose their way. God contemplates Himself and all things in an Eternal Now that has neither beginning nor end.
God loves without limit and this puts a loving person most securely at peace. In the deeps of his ground he knows and feels nothing, in soul or body, but a singular radiance with sensible well-being and all pervading savour. This possession is a simple and abysmal tasting of all good and of eternal life; and in this tasting we are swallowed up above reason and without reason, in the deep Quiet of the Godhead , which is never moved And therefrom follows the last point that can be put into words, that is, when the spirit beholds a Darkness into which it cannot enter with the reason.
And there it feels itself dead and lost to itself, and one with God without difference and without distinction. God is a flowing and ebbing sea which ceaselessly flows out into all his beloved according to their needs and merits and which flows back with all those upon whom he has bestowed his gifts in heaven and on earth, together with all they possess or are capable of.
This is that Wayless Being which all fervent interior spirits have chosen above all things, that dark stillness in which all lovers lose their way. If we could prepare ourselves through virtue in the ways I have shown, we would at once strip ourselves of our bodies and flow into the wild waves of the Sea, from which no creature could ever draw us back.
You should watch the wise bee and do as it does. It dwells in unity, in the congregation of its fellows, and goes forth, not in the storm, but in calm and still weather, in the sunshine, towards all those flowers in which sweetness may be found.
It does not rest on any flower, neither on any beauty nor on any sweetness; but it draws from them honey and wax, that is to say, sweetness and light-giving matter, and brings both to the unity of the hive, that therewith it may produce fruits, and be greatly profitable.
Christ, the Eternal Sun, shining into the open heart, causes that heart to grow and to bloom, and it overflows with all the inward powers with joy and sweetness. So the wise man will do like the bee, and he will fly forth with attention and with reason and with discretion, towards all those gifts and towards all that sweetness which he has ever experienced, and towards all the good which God has ever done to him.
And in the light of love and with inward observation, he will taste of the multitude of consolations and good things; and will not rest upon any flower of the gifts of God, but, laden with gratitude and praise, will fly back into the unity, wherein he wishes to rest and to dwell eternally with God. When summer draws near and the sun rises higher, it draws the moisture out of the earth through the roots, and through the trunks of the trees, into the twigs; and hence come foliage, flower, and fruit.
So likewise, when Christ the Eternal Sun rises and ascends in our hearts, so that it is summer in the adornment of our virtues, He gives His light and His heat to our desires, and draws the heart from all the multiplicity of earthly things, and brings about unity and inwardness; and makes the heart grow and bring forth the leaves of inward love, the flowers of ardent devotion, and the fruits of thanksgiving and praise, and makes these fruits to endure eternally, in humble grief, because of our shortcomings.
The inward stirring and touching of God makes us hungry and yearning; for the Spirit of God hunts our spirit: and the more it touches it, the greater our hunger and our craving. And this is the life of love in its highest working, above reason and above understanding; for reason can here neither give nor take away from love, for our love is touched by the Divine love. And as I understand it, here there can never more be separation from God.
The grace of God is to God himself as sunlight is to the sun — a means and a way leading us to the latter. It therefore shines within us in a simple, one-fold way and makes us deiform, that is, like God. This likeness constantly sinks away, dying in God and becoming and remaining one with him, for charity makes us become one with God and causes us to remain living in union with him.
This brightness is so great that the loving contemplative, in his ground wherein he rests, sees and feels nothing but an incomprehensible Light; and through that Simple Nudity which enfolds all things, he finds himself and feels himself to be that same Light by which he sees and nothing else. Blessed are the eyes which are thus seeing, for they possess eternal life. Spiritual inebriation is this: that a man receives more sensible joy and sweetness than his heart can either contain or desire.
Here comes Jesus, and sees the man, and shows to him, in the light of faith, that He is according to His Godhead immeasurable and incomprehensible and inaccessible and abysmal, transcending every created light and every finite conception.
And this is the highest knowledge of God which any man may have in the active life: that he should confess in this light of faith that God is incomprehensible and unknowable.
This hasty descent, to which he is summoned by God, is nothing else than a descent through desire and through love into the abyss of the Godhead, which no intelligence can reach in the created light. But where intelligence remains without, desire and love go in. When the soul is thus stretched towards God, by intention and by love, above everything that it can understand, then it rests and dwells in God, and God in it.
When the soul climbs with desire above the multiplicity of creatures, and above the works of the senses, and above the light of nature, then it meets Christ in the light of faith, and becomes enlightened, and confesses that God is unknowable and incomprehensible. When it stretches itself with longing towards this incomprehensible God, then it meets Christ, and is filled with His gifts. And when it loves and rests above all gifts, and above itself, and above all creatures, then it dwells in God, and God dwells in it.
There the spirit is caught up in the embrace of the Holy Trinity and eternally abides within the superessential Unity in a state of rest and blissful enjoyment. In this same Unity, considered now as regards its fruitfulness, the Father is in the Son and the Son in the Father, while all creatures are in them both. James A. Whosoever wishes to understand this must have died to himself, and must live in God, and must turn his gaze to the eternal light in the ground of his spirit, where the Hidden Truth reveals Itself without means.
The incomprehensible richness and loftiness of the Divine Nature, its outpouring generosity toward all in common, fills a man with wonder. Compassion is a wound in the heart whence flows a common love to all mankind and which cannot be healed so long as any suffering lives in man.
As long as we dwell in the shadow, we cannot see the sun itself; but Now we see through a glass darkly, says St. Yet the shadow is so enlightened by the sunshine that we can perceive the distinctions between all the virtues and all the truth which is profitable to our mortal state.
But if we would become one with the brightness of the Sun, we must follow love, and go out of ourselves into the Wayless, and then the Sun will draw us with our blinded eyes into Its own brightness, in which we shall possess unity with God.
In his outpouring, He wills to he wholly ours: and then He teaches us to live in the riches of the virtues. In His indrawing touch all our powers forsake us, and then we sit under His shadow, and His fruit is sweet to our taste, for the Fruit of God is the Son of God, Whom the Father brings forth in our spirit. This Fruit is so infinitely sweet to our taste that we can neither swallow It nor assimilate It, but It rather absorbs us into Itself and assimilates us with Itself.
From Evelyn Underhill,  Adornment of the Spiritual Marriage The inner lover of God, who possesses God in enjoyable rest, and himself in devoted, working love, and his entire life in virtues with justice, this inner person then comes, by means of these three points and the hidden revelation of God, into a God contemplating life, at least the lover who is pious and just, whom God in His freedom wishes to choose and to elevate to a superessential contemplation in divine light and according to the way of God.
This contemplation establishes us in purity and in limpidity above all our understanding, for it is a special enrichment and a heavenly crown, and in addition, an eternal reward for all virtues and for all lives. And no one can arrive at this by means of science or subtlety, nor by any practice, but only he whom God wishes to unite with His Spirit and to illumine with Himself may contemplate God, and nobody else. The hidden divine nature is eternally active, contemplating and loving with respect to each person, and always enjoying the embrace with each person, in unity of essence.
In this embrace, in the essential unity of God, are all inner spirits one with God in loving transport, and they are the selfsame one that the essence itself is in itself. And in this sublime unity of the divine nature, the heavenly Father is the origin and the beginning of every work that is done in heaven and on earth Now, if the spirit is to contemplate God with God, without intermediary, in this divine light, three things are necessary for a person.
The first is that he must be well-ordered from without in all virtues and unhindered within, just as empty of all outward works as though he were not working. For if he is busy within by any work of virtue, then he is assailed by images. As long as that is going on in him, he cannot contemplate.
Secondly, he must cleave to God within by devoted intention and love, just like a kindled, blazing fire that can no longer be extinguished. During the time that he feels himself to be in this state, he can contemplate. Thirdly, he must have lost himself in a waylessness and in a darkness in which all contemplatives wander around in enjoyment and can no longer find themselves in a creaturely way.
John of Ruusbroec
Jan van Ruysbroeck
Jan van Ruysbroek
Jan Van Ruysbroeck (religieux)