Friday, March 21, 2014

The inmost part

I once said whatever can be truly put into words must come from within, moved by its inner form: it must not come in from without, but out from within. It truly lives in the inmost part of the soul. There all things are present to you, living within and seeking, and are at their best and highest. Why are you unaware of this ? Because you are not at home there.

Meister Eckhart, The Complete Mystical Works, P.225 (Sermon 40)

 This inmost part of the soul is the place where being arises. Inside of us, there is a living quality that is eternal and generative which begins at the point where the sacred force of the divine, of love, flows into what Eckhart calls the soul, which is the part of us that actually lives. Without this part, we would be dead; it animates everything that we are and everything that we do.

Yet we are not at home there. 

What does this mean?

If we awaken to this inward quality, absolutely nothing changes — but at the same time, absolutely everything changes. And it is this change of everything into nothing, and nothing into everything, that reverses the confusion we live in in our lives, where everything just happens outside of us and we respond to it. We are caught in the literalism of what is outside; and it confuses us mightily inside, because the outside doesn't seem explicable. It never occurs to us that we start out with a telescope and (like a child) at once look through the big lens because it looks big, not realizing that all the big lens does once it is done with us is shrink everything down to a tiny and inexplicable image.

In a certain sense, the little lens is the lens we need to look through, and that lens begins in every cell. If we could learn to see through our cells first, then through our body, our ears and eyes, our view would be far more precise and unusual. Suddenly, seeing through our cells first, events are magnified and we can see quite exactly what they consist of; whereas the other way around, events are so tiny they nearly cease to exist, and whirl around us like midges or gnats that we can't get a grip on. Individually, they are still tiny, but collectively, they form a swarm we bat at frantically, or spray repellent at, metaphysically speaking, that is. Taking the metaphor one amusing step further, our negativity is the insect repellent. Think about it.

This organic state of being, this cellular means of perception, begins with the energy that flows into the body at the point where the divine meets the material. 

Now, it is absolutely true that every object has this property: 

In the Father are the primal images of all creatures. This bit of wood has a rational image in God. It is not only rational, it is pure reason. (Sermon 53, p. 279)

Yet not all objects manifest this property in the same way, because life is expressed on many levels, each one of which carries its own responsibility. Man's level carries a much greater responsibility than the level of a crystal, or of wood; and to the extent that the divine energy is imparted and can be digested, so to that extent is the responsibility formed. 

Mankind, in other words, has a much greater responsibility. Yet he is not at home in that responsibility. Strangely, wood or stone is more at home within its portion of the divine Presence, because it is unable to choose and unable to abandon its relationship with God. Much of creation is like that; angels can't abandon relationship with the ease that mankind can, either. It is at this level, where agency emerges and first arises, that the possibility of choice is made; below it, the possibility of choice does not exist yet, and above it, choice has already been exercised.

Dwelling within this inmost part, we come to a relationship where choice can make quite the difference. And this is what we need to see.


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