are the poor in spirit, for
theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn, for
they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek, for
they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for
they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful, for
they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for
they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for
they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of
theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
I know many theosophists, including myself, have been thrown
off balance by the phrase "poor in spirit". There has been
much written on this topic. What do members think Jesus is
alluding to with this term?
Well, let's throw something a little different in here. We
all know how poorly the bible tends to be translated. Here
are the "beautitudes" from James Pryse's "New Testament
Restored", a theosophical translation.
Beautified are the supplicants in the Air: for theirs is
the kingdom of the skies.
Beautified are the mourners: for they shall be
Beautified are the meek: for they shall inherit the
Beautified are they who hunger and thirst after justice:
for they shall be feasted.
Beautified are the merciful: for they shall find mercy.
Beautified are the pure in heart: for they shall see
Beautified are the peacemakers: for they shall be called
Sons of God.
With this translation, we eliminate entirely the English
ideas that tend to arise from the phrase "poor in spirit".
The original Greek of this phrase is "πτωχοι
τω πνευματι" or "ptóchos to pneumati", "pneuma".
HPB says this about "pneuma":
ever been synonymous with every nation. Pneuma (Spirit)
and Anemos (the wind) with the Greeks,SpiritusandVentuswith
the Latins, were convertible terms even if dissociated
original idea of the breath of life." (SD
"This Breath, Voice, Self or “Wind” (pneuma?) is the
Synthesis of the Seven Senses, noumenally all minor
deities and esoterically—the septenary and the “Army of
the Voice.”" (SD 1:96)
"Thus here again divine Spirit is symbolised by the Sun
or Fire; divine Soul by Water and the Moon, both
standing for the Father and Mother of Pneuma, human
Soul, or Mind, symbolised by the Wind or air, for
Pneuma, means “ breath.”" (SD 1:113)
And so on.
So, those poor (or lacking, or destitute of) the "breath of
life", or "human soul", or "mind", etc. inherit the kingdom
of "heaven" or the "skies", etc. Or again, those who are
"poor" in that which represents the synthesis of the seven
senses, inherits a kingdom beyond those senses....
Further, the "kingdom" mentioned here is the "kingdom of
Orounon" in the Greek text of the verse, this being the
Greek god Ouranos, Uranus (Latin).
Ouranos (Greek) Uranus (Latin) [cf SanskritVaruṇa]
Originally the celestial spaces of the starry deep, its
spiritual, invisible fullness. Heaven or Ouranos is
sometimes represented as the son of earth and sometimes
as her husband; but earth may stand for Aditi
(mulaprakriti) or for prakriti, unformed matter, in
which case Ouranos, as chief of the adityas or seven
planetary and solar gods, is a son; but Ouranos
afterwards, with the Greek Gaia, becomes parent of many
titans. (Encyclopedic Theosophical Glossary)
There's likely a good deal of potential esoteric symbolism
embedded in the idea that those who are "poor" or "destitute
to the kingdom of Ouranos. I'm sure if we searched, we could
find a thing or two on the subject in the Secret Doctrine,
or in the works of the neoplatonists, etc. If, as many
people suspect, the "gospels" are veiled symbolic stories
containing esoteric truths, this method of exploration is
likely the way to uncover some of those truths.
Humility, or poor in pride, may make more sense. St
Philotheos of Sinai gives a description and references to
other Gospels on this subject in Texts on Watchfulness
" Our Lord Jesus Christ himself, being God incomprehensible,
unknown and ineffable, wishing to show us the way of eternal
life and holiness, was clothed in humility during His whole
life in the flesh...Let us humble ourselves in soul and
body, in thought and will, in words and ideas, in our outer
bearing and our inner state. For unless we strive to do this
we will turn our advocate, Jesus Christ, the Son of God and
God, against us."
St Peter of Damaskos (Twenty-four Discourses) has a chapter
on humility where he gives some advice's :
"Yet let no one think that it is a simple, casual matter to
become humble. It is something beyond our natural powers;
and it is almost true to say that the more a person is
gifted, the harder it is for him to attain humility."
There has been many different idea's and interpretations of
this verse, and the one which resonates with me the most
would be thus;
In this verse, I feel Jesus is pointing to the
"Spiritualized Ego", or the trap of believing we of "our own
power" can do anything.
He is reminding us God is the only power, presence, and real
"doer" of ALL, and to surrender to this Truth.
One of the cardinal idea's put forth in A
Course in Miracles, Jesus continually reminds us
that it has been our own false idea's about life and God
which we have put in place of Truth that has caused our
This from Emmett Fox founder of The Divine Science and
theologian during the Great Depression in the US
Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of
To be poor in spirit does not in the least mean the thing we
call 'poor spirited' nowadays. To be poor in spirit means to
have emptied yourself of all desire to exercise personal
self-will, and, what is just as important, to have renounced
all preconceived opinions in the wholehearted search for
God. It means to be willing to set aside your present habits
of thought, your present views and prejudices, your present
way of life if necessary; to jettison, in fact, anything and
everything that can stand in the way of your finding God.
The words 'ego', 'will' and 'poor' have strong and sometimes
negative connotations in Western culture.
Maybe the idea here is not putting ourselves above others. A
person who does this does not have to be poor, wilful or
egotistical. IMHO there might be great strength of heart in
not putting ourselves above others?
Yes indeed. If we have control over self-desires
(ego-will) and base our choices and path upon universal
principles (back to the Kant quotes we have been talking
about in another discussion) we will naturally put the human
race and others before the personal self. This is what
is called selflessness particularly in Eastern traditions.
In the west we call it altruism. So I think you hit
the nail on the head in my book at least. (But
as you mentioned it earlier it is important not to
under-estimate the magnitude of this task. It requires
a complete self-transformation, that no doubt will take
"The one thing you should always be on guard against is the
reading of any line of these Christian Scriptures as
recounting an actual historical physical event. Every main thought
or idea in the Christian Scriptures is allegorical, and
refers directly to the cycle of initiation and to some of
the teachings given during the initiation ceremonies."