There are different types of order in the world. When pursuing a list members of a class that are ordered (such as Jesus’ beatitudes or Buddha’s Eightfold path or Aristotle’s intellectual and moral virtues) there can be some confusion. One does not want to mistake the categories of order by miscategorizing one type for another.
Temporal order is easier since it is associated with our experience. Spring precedes Summer which precedes Fall which precedes Winter. Learning to crawl precedes learning to walk which precedes learning to run.
But, focusing on Buddha’s Eightfold path–does right view precede right intention temporally? Does right intention precede right speech?
Focusing on Jesus’ Beatitudes–does poor in spirit precede temporally mourning?
Focusing on Aristotle’s virtues–does intellectual virtue precede moral virtue temporally?
Regarding the virtues there is a famous thesis that virtue is one–this means that though the virtues are distinguishable in thought and talk they are not so distinguishable in reality. The courageous is also temperate is also just and is also prudent. They, as parts of virtue, are distinguishable in thought, but one cannot have one without the other.
I would submit the same to you for the Beatitudes of Jesus or the Eightfold Path of Buddha. We, because temporality is essential to our experience, must elaborate sequentially and in order. But that does not mean that one should expect a moment of poverty of spirit before a moment of mourning.
To Jesus–logically one cannot mourn what one does not recognizes as lacking. But that one can recognize lack in oneself and not mourn it is hardly possible. One would have to say that one does not really recognize to both recognize lack in self and not mourn.
To Buddha–logically one cannot intend well without viewing well what one is aiming at. Logically right view precedes right intention. But one can hardly conceive of viewing without intending to view or intending without viewing.
So, as we move into the beatitudes beware of the pervasive influence of the temporal on thinking and the tendency created in expectation about experience. If you go looking for temporal moments you will miss the path to happiness. It may be that by the time we compare the logical moment of persecution (last) with poverty of spirit (first) there will be temporal distance. But I would still submit that the temporal distance is not necessary and not primary. What is important is noting the logical difference in these moments.
Don’t make the following mistake:
Wayward Student:”I will focus on my poverty now. I will worry about persecution later”.
Master: “No! You have not fully grasped poverty of spirit if you are not fully ready for the onslaught.”
Wayward Student: “But I am not persecuted.”
Master: “Then you are not on the path to happiness.”
Wayward Student: “But no one aggresses against me.”
Master: “What is that voice, then, that calls you back to anger and lust and sloth? Why are you still attacked by pride and envy? From whence these acts of aggression? Who is it that does not recognize your property right over this spirit? Why is this not persecution? You note that these powers and their voices are only screaming loudly because you dared go in a direction which starves them and denies them an abode. You have tried to evict, and this was all motivated by your poverty of spirit. Do not evict and not be prepared for aggression. You have kicked the hornets nest by undertaking repentance which begins with poverty of spirit.
To the beatitudes.