synergy explorersThis text by Marguerite Porete was condemned by the Church and burned, although it resurfaced years later purportedly authored by someone else. It was not until the 20th century that it was again correctly attributed to Porete.

As a Beguine, Porete (and her male counterparts known as Beghards) imitated Jesus’ life through voluntary poverty, care of the poor and sick, and religious devotion. The Beguines/Beghards were active in the Low Countries in the 13th-16th centuries. They lived in semi-monastic communities. They swore not to marry as long as they lived as Beguines, but could leave at any time.

Porete wrote her oblique dialogue between the Soul and various other entities (Love, Reason, etc.) in the courtly love style of romantic poetry. Its passages seem deliberately ambiguous enough to permit varying interpretations.

The excerpts below evoke the possibility that Porete pointed to the spiritual potential in the sacred union of partners. Porete distinguishes between marriages of the will and spiritual unions that are not subject to convention. She hints at a role for a beloved and a selfless union that apparently dissolves lovers into one – joined in wholeness with no further longings. She also mentions spiritual “food” that makes possible non-dual perception. And she highlights the need for mastery over the body in order to free the mind.


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Now indeed it is you who are in debt to me, says the Soul to Reason, and rightly so, for my spouse’s noble courtesy would not deign to leave me any longer in your bondage nor in anyone else’s; for the spouse must needs also free his bride whom he has chosen by his will. … What is done Love’s own self does, for of myself I can do nothing, unless my beloved himself do it in me.

You have indeed entered into that one free dwelling place where no-one enters if he is not of your kind … The Soul speaks of her beloved and says: He is, says this Soul, and does not lack this; and I am not, and so I know no lack. And he has given me peace, and I do not live except by peace, which is born in my soul of his gifts, without any thought; and so I can do nothing if this be not given to me. This is my all and my better. Such a state of being makes one love and one will and one work to be in two natures. (emphasis supplied)…

Chapter 58. How the Souls brought to Nothing are in the fifth state with their beloved

Ah, for God’s sake, says Reason, what have Souls so brought to Nothing to give?

To give? says Love. Truly, Love says, whatever God possesses. The Soul who is such is neither lost nor forlorn but rather is in rapture with her lover in the fifth state of being. There she does not falter; indeed, often she is rapt up into the sixth state, but this does not last with her for long. For it is an opening swift as a lightning flash and a rapid closing in which one cannot remain for long, nor could she ever have a teacher able to speak of this. The rapture of this opening as it is made, and widens by the peace of its work, makes the Soul, for as long as that peace lasts which is given to her in this opening, when once again it closes up, so free and so noble and unburdened by all things that, whoever preserved herself in freedom in this fifth state after this had befallen her and did not fall back into the fourth would find herself in great peace, for in the fourth state there is willing, and in the fifth state there is none. (emphasis supplied)…

This love of which we speak is the union of lovers, and the kindling of fire which burns without breath. (emphasis supplied)

…In my secret chamber, there where no-one enters unless he is well fitted, as you will hear me say. No-one is my beloved, says Divine Love, except her who does not fear to lose or to gain, except only to please me, for otherwise she would be concerned with herself and not with me, whom she would not be with; and no spouse of mine could be concerned with herself.

Her name is ’Pure’ ’Celestial’ and ’Bride of Peace’. For she is seated in the depths of the valley, whence she sees the peak of the mountain, and from there she sees the summit of the peak. No interloper can break in there, and there the wise one places his treasure of safety: that is divine Love’s gift of union, and this union gives her the peace, and his lordship gives food only to those in the life of glory, and this is the food of my elected bride, says Love, who is ’Mary of Peace’ and she is ’Mary of Peace’ because she is fed by Perfect Love. (emphasis supplied)…

To those who are the slaves of Nature … Ah, you sheep, says this Soul, how like that of animals is your understanding! … No-one can see things which are divine so long as he is concerned or involved in temporal things.

Is Porete also teaching that achieving non-dual perception through union with the divine renders past sins meaningless because the material plane is now seen as no more than a play?

The Soul has no shame for its sins.

Is Porete warning that freedom of the mind requires mastery over the body? Without mastery over the body the initiate remains troubled and doubting and cannot have freedom. Was she protesting a partner’s detours, and lamenting what they could have achieved together with mastery? Or preparing her readers for the inner conflict that initially attends learning to make love without climax? Or?

And also let all those to whom Love sends her messengers know that if they then refuse what the Virtues ask by their inward being, which must have mastery over its body, they will never make their peace with the ruler who sends the message, but they will be smitten and troubled in their knowledge and burdened down with themselves, because of their lack of trust.

And because you did not obey my messengers and the Virtues, when through them I wanted to subject your body and set free your spirit, and also, says Love, because you did not obey them when I asked you by the subtle Virtues which I sent to you and by my angels through whom I charged you, I cannot give you rightfully the freedom which I have, for it would not be just to do so. And if you had obeyed, says Love, when I asked you, the wishes of the Virtues which I sent and my messengers through whom I urged you, you would have as a right the freedom which I have.

…Truly, says this Soul, my body is weak and my soul is fearful. For I am often troubled, she says, whether I seek it or not, by these two natures, when those who are free do not and cannot have such trouble. (emphasis supplied)..

Chapter 78. How those who have not obeyed the teachings of perfection remain encumbered by themselves until death.

You have not obeyed the teachings of perfection, with which I urged you to set you free from your burdens in the flower of your youth. And yet you have never been willing to change, and you never have been willing to do anything about this. Rather, you have always refused what I asked, which I made known to you by such noble messengers, as you have heard before. And such men, says Love, remain encumbered by themselves until death.

Ah, truly, says Love, if they had been willing, they would have been set free from that through which they are and will be in such great bondage and with so little profit; from which, had they been willing, they would have been set free at so small a cost. Truly, so small, says Love, as to set themselves where I wished them to be, as I showed them through the Virtues, whose function this is.

I say, Love says, that they would have all been free in soul and in body, if they had followed my counsel relayed by the Virtues, who told them my will and what they needed to do, says Love, before I could enter into them with my freedom. … And when such a sun is in the soul, and such rays and such resplendence, the body has no more weakness and the soul no more fear.

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