Friday, March 7, 2014

Even a stone has a soul

This morning I was reading  Meister Eckhart's sermon 31, which has some striking material related to my post of February 19.  All the quotes in this piece are taken from that sermon.

The first gift that God gives is the Holy Ghost. Therein God gives all His gifts: that is the "living water; to whom I give that, he shall never thirst again. "

 In this passage, Meister Eckhart speaks specifically of that flowing presence of God, the inward flow, which fills us directly with the knowledge and presence of God, the divine energy that inwardly forms our Being. To know this energy is to understand what it means to have an inner thirst, and to have it quenched. This is the secret meaning of this passage.

 Coincidentally, this morning, a friend of mine asked me whether people have souls. I told him that in a sense everything has a soul — even a stone has a soul. I have felt this. Bosch even touched on this question in The Garden of Earthly Delights.

Our fellow companion in the search for Being reminds us:

As the soul gives life to the body, so God gives life to the soul. 

It seems as though perhaps its time to dispense with this foolish idea that men are not born with souls. The idea is already not properly understood, because people want to think about it, whereas they should just sense it. Then they would know something; for common sense (the sense of the whole body) is far more important than theorizing, in this case. 

Otherwise all of this talk about souls is just conjecture, and conjecture is as far removed from truth as Being is from not being.

As the soul flows into all members, so God flows into all the powers of the soul and suffuses them so that they overflow with goodness and love over all about them, so that all things become aware of Him. Thus He flows all the time, that is, above all time, in eternity and in that life in which all things live. Therefore our Lord said to the woman, "I give the living water. Whoever drinks of it will never thirst again and he will live in eternal life. "

 This is the passage from the sermon that particularly interests me, because it makes so clear what I meant by my remarks of February 19. Nothing can flow into the members if it is not the soul; and nothing can create soul if it is not God. These things are real, not mere ideas that Meister Eckhart brings us on a sheet of paper for the edification of our intellectual being. 

The intellect — that part of intelligence which is capable of touching God — needs to be inwardly formed by the divine energy, so that it reaches upward, not downward.

In point of fact, this particular sermon does an excellent job, if one understands the question of intellect, of explaining the difference between Being as it looks upwards through intellect towards God, which is in the nature of essence, and being as it looks downward into associative and ordinary thinking, which is in the nature of personality. But above all, it does the most excellent job of explaining how God flows into the body through the power of divine sensation and fills us with goodness and love. 

To be filled with goodness and love is to know the soul; and it is so different and so apart from ordinary being that one might as well speak about honey and sand. One is sweet and flows on the tongue; the other one fills the mouth, but there is no satisfaction in it.


1 comment:

  1. When you say the "foolish idea that men are not born with souls," are you referring to the Gurdjieffian idea that men are not born with souls (possibly as distinct from their essences) but instead must create them through conscious efforts?

    From Views from the Real World:

    "There is no master in ordinary man. And if there is no master, there is no soul."

    "A child is never born with a soul. A soul can be acquired only in the course of life. Even then it is a great luxury and only for a few. Most people live all their lives without a soul, without a master, and for ordinary life a soul is quite unnecessary."

    "But a soul cannot be born from nothing. Everything is material and so is the soul, only it consists of very fine matter. Consequently, in order to acquire a soul, it is first of all necessary to have the corresponding matter. Yet we do not have enough materials even for our everyday functions."


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