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The Paradise Augustinians
70,1. Behold, there is an open doorway leading into a fairly large garden, opposite this large monastery courtyard. We want to go there and see what happens in the garden. Well, the garden is already spread out before our eyes. How do you like it? You say, dear friend, surely one would have to be an enemy of all higher aesthetics if one were not to like this garden. These splendid arcades, along with the high garden walls, the water-features, the splendid columns, and then the most splendid flowers, as well as the fruit-trees in the most beautiful order, must be said: art and higher taste are united here. Nature is everywhere well-calculated and in the most beautiful harmony with art. There rises over the garden wall a very splendid palace, which, in its grandeur, leaves nothing to be desired. We believe if the spirits living in this garden would represent only a few of these splendid features, they could not be fully corrupt yet. Yes, I tell you, my dear friends and brethren, it does look good, but you must never forget the following rule:
70,2. Where there is a lot of splendor among men, there is also a great deal of waste, where there is much waste, there is a great deal of lust for power; where there is a lot of lust for power, there is much self-love, where there is much self-love, there is much self-interest. And therefore, the external splendor is never a favorable sign for the one who is attached to it. Just look for once at your earth. Who lives in the grand, magnificent palaces? Rarely someone other than a rich and powerful. Whom does this splendor benefit? No one except the owner himself. How does it benefit him? It does so in different ways. Firstly, it is a sign of either his prosperity or of his state power, putting any passing people in a state of awe and makes them shy, causing them to avoid such a mansion and shall not easily approach it for any reason. Secondly, such splendor deters the poor of humanity to approach the owner and ask him for some alms. And thirdly, such a splendor is an inexhaustible source for the constant feeding of arrogance, and thus also for the continual contempt for the poor human class. Such splendor is also the best means of keeping the poor humanity continually in its proper blindness.
70,3. You ask why? Because the simple countryman holds the owners of such a great splendor for beings of a higher kind. At the sight of such grandeur, he cannot shake this feeling. Yes, I must say to you that if St. Peter's and the papal Vatican were not built in such splendor and grandeur, exceeding all human understanding, many would not find it such a grace to be admitted to the papal slippers of the Pope. The blind indulgences, granted from a peasant hut, would never have produced this profitable effect as it does from the earthly, marvelous splendor of the Vatican. But you have always seen that any religion when it passes over into the materialistic, it begins to use external splendor to exploit the blindness of man for a long time. But the question can be asked whether such impressing of people has ever been of any use to mankind?
70,4. Even the temple of Solomon was essentially nothing but a silent prophet, who, by his existence from Solomon's time, showed to the whole Israelite people how the spiritual had transcended into the material, and, had in the end, nothing good or true left in the whole temple. And the Lord gave the Jews themselves the testimony of the temple that they made the house of prayer a murder pit! Yes, in this temple atrocities without names have been committed. The people have been blinded so much by the temple, that they did not know the Lord of glory, and have even decided upon His crucifixion in the temple. Judas, too, was paid with the money in the temple, and in the end, threw down this blood-money again in the temple, unto a great testimony that the temple had always been a murdering-pit of the Spirit of God.
70,5. If you consider this a little, this splendor will not appear to you in a too favorable light; and how things are in this respect, we shall at once get a little taste of when we enter the first garden temple.
70,6. Just look, there are already two white-dressed monks coming to meet us. You ask: Are they Dominican or Cistercians? Oh, no, my dear friends and brethren, these are merely paradisiac Augustinians, for in paradise they take off the black robes and dress in white. Why are you looking so attentively towards the palace? I know what is in your eyes: the angels, jumping around with pairs of wings attached to the shoulders, made of white feathers. Of course, you ask whether they can fly? Oh, no, they cannot do it, for the wings do not grow on them, but is only artificially attached as if in a theatre. The leaping is intended to represent the liveliness of these angels, and how they are willing to serve this paradise on the slightest hint. Behold, half a dozen is alreadyrunning after the two paradisiacals who are approaching us; And you will soon see that these paradise angels are even provided with cudgels and sabers to drive away any unsolicited guests from this paradise, in a not very paradisiacal way.
70,7. You ask who were such angels on the earth? Have you ever heard of the so-called laity brothers, or rather, monastic housekeepers? Here, too, they are ministering spirits of the monastery. But for them to like their ministry, they are assigned to be angels. This is all due to the erroneous justification in which such men have exchanged the temporal with the eternal. The great love and mercy of the Lord, however, leave these beings long enough in such reasoning, for as long as they have not begun to realize that something is wrong with their circumstances, for they firstly can never fully satisfy themselves with all these beautiful fruits. The food and drink seem to them as if they are eating and drinking in their dreams. Secondly, they also continuously see white clouds floating above them; but they cannot see where these clouds get their light from. Thirdly: it would only gradually dawn on them that, knowing that they were in the spiritual world, there is nowhere a saint to be seen, not even the Virgin Mary, nor Peter, nor archangel Michael. And a fourth, a very fatal situation to them is that, if they look down over this garden wall, which they usually climb on with ladders, they see nothing but barren plains; only their garden is fruitful. Fifthly, they are gradually becoming conscious of the fact that their monastic church is never visited by anyone other than them. And so there are still several such means by which the mind can be made aware that something is amiss with this paradise.
70,8. These paradise-dwellers indeed still maintain their monastic heaven, which we shall only get to know later, but they have considerable doubt about their skies. These heavenly inhabitants must, therefore, be very political, and keep their suspicion about heaven as secret as possible, lest the paradise which also must provide for heaven would soon be miserable, and our spirited angels would not cultivate the vast garden anymore. For you should know, that the Lord allows for a good reason that these spirits must, as they have upon the earth, acquire their bread with the work of their hands, and in the sweat of their faces. They thus must work if they want to eat something.
70,9. But see, our paradise dwellers are approaching us. Therefore, let us be still and see how they are going to receive us! Behold, a man of paradise is beckoning an angel bearing a cudgel to his side, that he may approach us safely. The other man of paradise, together with four sable-bearing angels, makes up the rearward protection for the vanguard, should he be too weak against the enemy.
70,10. Well, the first paradise man opens his mouth already and asks us: where are you from, from above or from below? I say, from above. He asks us: Where is up? I show him with his hand on his chest and say right here in the heart, the sole love of the Lord is from above! He says, "What do you think you're a silly thing?" Do you not know where the sky is, and do you not know that you find yourself here in the paradise of God? I say to him, I know where heaven is, and know very well the paradise. But this paradise here and your heaven I do not recognize as a haven and as a heaven, but I recognize such only for the truth, and in this, the sky and this paradise is nothing but a figment of your and your utter worldly folly. He said, "What a speech! So, are those who come from above? No, just wait for a little, we'll show you where it's downstairs. Come, ye angels of God, take at once these three infernal gallows-rascals and escort them to the safehouse, you know what place I mean; the school where they will learn to distinguish above from below.
70,11. Behold, the angels take hold of us, and we will not defend ourselves this time, but let us be brought in by them. It is only when they have executed upon us a very humane judgment that we shall begin to stir a little, for all this belongs to the cause. You would not have a complete knowledge of this spiritual situation, and we could not easily get to these spirits in any other way, and then, for their own good, would convince them of their delusion. So, as I have said, let us allow ourselves to be taken with good-naturedness, so that you may see in how many endless ways the Lord knows to continually provide His servants with the fruitful labor of love.
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