Jun 21 2017

Hadewijch – You who want knowledge

Published by at 9:38 am under Poetry

You who want
by Hadewijch

English version by Jane Hirshfield

You who want
seek the Oneness

There you
will find
the clear mirror
already waiting

— from Women in Praise of the Sacred: 43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women, Edited by Jane Hirshfield

/ Image by Lea Chvrl /

“You who want

I suppose that is all of us. We all want knowledge.

Society tells us that “knowledge is power,” but we don’t really have a clear sense of what knowledge is. In the modern era, we tend to think of knowledge as information, data. We think of knowledge as the feeding and exercise of the intellect. All of that is certainly important, but real knowledge is something else.

We can’t think our way into heaven.

When mystics speak of “knowledge” they speak of gnosis. This is not information, but a profound Knowing. The knowledge we are talking about has more to do with full awareness. It is as if one floats in the vast ocean of knowingness itself. This “knowledge” is an all-encompassing recognition of meaning and interrelationship. It is direct and permeates one’s whole being. It is the full bodied perception that living meaning somehow flows through all of existence, unifying everything within a living self-awareness.

Information is observational, external, and always limited. This is not to say that gnostic knowledge has nothing to do with informational knowledge, however. In spiritually open states, one’s intuition may be refined and heightened. Clear insight about a certain person or situation may just pop into your mind as a fully formed understanding, as if you suddenly see the whole pattern without having to work so hard to connect all of the individual bits of information. But this is more of a byproduct, an ornamentation on the face of knowledge, not the knowledge itself.

Real knowing, gnosis, is alive, all-permeating, all-unifying. It reconnects us within the living whole… and leads us into ecstasy.

…seek the Oneness

This is why, real knowing is about seeking oneness, turning within, learning to see ourselves honestly, truly, clearly.

Surprisingly, none of this knowledge is ever acquired. It isn’t a new possession or experience or even a new thought. It is already here, at rest in the center of things. When it is found, it is as familiar as our bones. It is our very nature. It is already waiting.

There you
will find
the clear mirror
already waiting

Have a beautiful day!

Recommended Books: Hadewijch

Women in Praise of the Sacred: 43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women The Shambhala Anthology of Women’s Spiritual Poetry Hadewijch: The Complete Works (Classics of Western Spirituality) Christian Mystics: Their Lives and Legacies throughout the Ages Meister Eckhart and the Beguine Mystics: Hadewijch of Brabant, Mechthild of Magdeburg, and Marguerite Porete
More Books >>

Hadewijch, Hadewijch poetry, Christian poetry Hadewijch

Belgium (13th Century) Timeline
Christian : Catholic

Hadewijch — often called Hadewijch of Brabant or sometimes Hadewijch of Antwerp — lived in the 13th century in what is now Belgium. She is rightly called one of the greatest names in medieval Flemish and Dutch literature.

Little can be said for certain about the life of Hadewijch. Unlike many other women mystics of the time, no biography was written about her, so all we know is what scholars have been able to deduce from her writings themselves.

Hadewijch was probably the head of a Beguine community. The Beguines were a sect of devout women in Belgium, Holland, Germany and northern France. Beguines did not take vows, but they gathered together to live in simplicity and service. Many Beguines were mystics and poets of the highest order.

Hadewijch’s poetry has a rich love mysticism. Like her contemporary, St. Francis of Assisi, Hadewijch was clearly inspired by the courtly love poetry of the Troubadours and Minnensingers. The fact that she was familiar with this courtly art form suggests that Hadewijch was probably born to a noble family.

The writings of Hadewijch were gathered and studied by the Flemish Christian mystic John Ruusbroec in the 1300s, but later fell into obscurity until rediscovered in the 1800s by scholars.

More poetry by Hadewijch

4 responses so far

4 Responses to “Hadewijch – You who want knowledge”

  1. Amardeep Singhon 21 Jun 2017 at 11:12 am

    Ivan: Great poem, great commentary, wonderful thought of the day.

    Have a great day!


  2. Cornelia Dobbon 21 Jun 2017 at 1:39 pm

    Dear Ivan – thank you that touched me. So wonderful to connect with feminine mysticism. I wish it were not so absent from our modern era. With love, Cory

  3. Mary Huberon 21 Jun 2017 at 11:59 pm

    I enjoyed this so. Very comforting.

    Is it possible that the Beguines were part of the historical gathering of numerous European noblewomen who formally and informally gathered together in ‘neighborhood complexes’ to support and protect one another while their men left Europe to fight in the Crusades?

  4. Annaon 22 Jun 2017 at 8:51 am

    Empty mind.

    Knowledge flows wordless


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