Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Roughly speaking, Eckhart divides the action of intellect — intelligence — into three levels, as follows:
... "a light from heaven shone about him." That means that everything pertaining to his soul was enveloped. A master says that in this light all the souls powers are lifted up and exalted: the outer senses we see and hear with and the inner senses we call thoughts." ( The complete mystical works of Meister Eckhart, page 138.)
We begin here, with the action of both the inner and the outer, from within the material context of our sensory Being. They have the opportunity to be elevated; but they do not do this in and of themselves; nor can they.
Above thoughts is the intellect which still seeks. (Ibid)
In other words, there is a level above the level of ordinary thought in which things search. There is a seeker, and a level of thought which seeks. What it seeks is to return to God.
Our masters say — and it is a knotty question — that even the angels know nothing about thoughts unless they break out and rise into the questing intellect, and this seeking intellect springs up into the intellect that does not seek, which is pure light in itself. This light embraces in itself all the powers of the soul. (Ibid)
At this third level, there is what Jeanne de Salzmann refers to as a passivity. Of course we find this confusing; how can anyone find anything when in a passive state? But this state is one that can receive; it has softened. And the reason it needs to soften is so that the inward flow of God into Being can take place:
A master says that all things that have an emanation received nothing from things below them. God flows into all creatures, and yet remains untouched by all of them. (Ibid)
So we see that the inward flow of the divine force, the energy, takes place throughout all of creation, in its action creating, yet at the same time paradoxically remaining separate from creation itself.
All of this is a work of love, that is, of the heart. The heart represents what is central, and love is always central. Yet the center of the universe and God is not, by itself, the universe or God. This leads us to an interesting understanding:
God gives nature the power to work, and her first work is the heart. And so some masters held that the soul is entirely in the heart and flows out thence, giving life to the other members.
That is not so. The soul is entire in every single member. It is true that her first work is in the heart. The heart lies in the middle, and needs protecting on all sides, just as heaven suffers no alien influence and receives nothing from anywhere else, for it possesses all things. (Ibid)
What I find particularly interesting in this passage is the comment, the soul is entire in every single member. Although Eckhart couldn't possibly have known the terms, it explains quite neatly that the soul is both holographic and fractal, that is, every fragment of an emanation of the divine constitutes the divine in its entirety. We cannot grasp this with the mind, but we can experience it through Being.
Because nature has the power to work, and because her first work is in the heart, the way to the truth is through the heart. Although we can discover the truth through any work, that is, any member, or limb — and I mean here, our organic body and its members, in which the divine energy can become manifest in many ways— the primary path to this truth is through the heart, because it is the first work. If we want to go to the root origin of Being, we must go to the heart. And by this I mean the mystical heart, not a physical location.
Just as the division of intellect into levels takes place starting in the material, progressing through a search, and moving into the unknown, so the search for the heart within takes place according to the same order.