Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The presence of God—II

In Sermon number 2, Meister Eckhart says:

 If someone were to ask me: why do we pray, why do we fast, why do we all perform our devotions and good works, why are we baptized, why did God, the all highest, take on our flesh?—Then I would reply: in order that God may be born in the soul and the soul be born in God.

 I live in the world, and I see something of God in the world. In this way, I see God as relative to the world; the world is not God, and God is not the world, but there is something of God the world. Or, perhaps I think there is something of the world in God. So I think the world is godly; for I think that God is worldly.

 Yet there is nothing but God in the world. The world, and all the works we participate in, are not relatively like God, or do not have "something to do" with God. The world is absolutely God; and God is absolutely the world. Every manifestation is absolutely the manifestation of God. And it is this absolute quality, this inseparability, that escapes me.

 I cannot know God as something relative. If I want to know God, I must know God absolutely, and in order to know God absolutely, the soul must be born in God. The soul cannot be partly in God; there is no small portion of God to be taken away from God and put somewhere else. And if God is only partly in the soul, then God has once again been apportioned. So for as long as I see less than the absolute presence of God, I don't see God. I don't know God.

 To see God absolutely is to see God without restrictions, to be set free. So it is to have the freedom to see God without any limitations. This can't be done with the mind, because the minute that the mind thinks of God, it is already a limitation. To call God “God” is to limit God; so in the same way that Zen Buddhists attempt to go beyond, I don't just seek God, I seek the freedom of the God beyond my God.

 Once again, a koan.

It's my own incapability that enters the picture here. For reasons that can't be explained: reasons that have no words to attach to them here, the way my Being has formed, I perceive separation where there is none. This is called sin, yet it is the effect and not the cause. So even after I have identified the effects—the products—I don't know the cause, and my search is an intimate search for the cause.

This is an anguishing search. I don't know what I am looking for; I have a nostalgia for Being, as Jeanne de Salzmann put it, a wish to return home. But because I'm attached to what I am now, I somehow don't want to go all the way home; I want to go halfway home.

What limits me is my own sense of responsibility. This is confusing, because I know I should be responsible; I'm brought up that way. And truly, God does demand responsibility. But my own sense of responsibility is a separated sense, a relative sense, and the responsibility to God is absolute; I must become free of my own responsibility, because it is limitation. Only in freedom from my own responsibility can I take on the absolute responsibility that belongs to God.

When God is born in the soul, and the soul is born in God, even in one instant, God returns Himself to Himself. And this is, after all, His aim; God wishes to remember Himself in us, just as He remembers Himself in all His creation.

For as long as I am what I am, I stand between God and His wish.

 There is an absolute quality when God is present. I wish to be in relationship to that quality, not my own qualities; and if I sense my own nothingness, that is where I begin to sense it—in this quality of the absolute, this higher energy, which does not have a system of brokerage, which admits no worldly owners, and which transfers an understanding that is not given in words.

 These are the mysteries I seek to participate in.

 I respectfully hope you will take good care.

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