Saturday, April 5, 2014

An inescapable love

It's one thing to talk about influences in general; but let us examine a specific question on influence. In order to do this, we will return again to Eckhart's sermon 53.

I was thinking on the way, when I was supposed to come here, that I did not want to come here because I should become wet with love. Perhaps you too have been wet with love, but we shall not discuss that. Joy and sorrow both come from love. (The Complete Mystical Works, p. 282)

Eckhart means something specific with this phrase, wet with love. This is an influence he speaks of, a higher influence; and this is why he doesn't discuss it: it's complicated.

Readers have, over the centuries, presumed that he must have been speaking about tears; but these are only an outward expression, a material thing, a physical manifestation. As such, they can't possibly have anything to do with what he was referring to, except that they represent its presence. Eckhart, as always, is speaking of an inner event, not an outer one; yet we can be bold enough to speak about this inner experience, in so far as we understand it.

When Eckhart says that joy and sorrow both come from love, what he refers to is the fact that love,  in its entirety, completely encompasses both joy and sorrow. That is to say, love is just as much sorrow as it is joy. It is possible to have an experience of love that is completely joyful, which is the way we understand it; but it is also possible to have that same experience in a way that is completely sorrowful. In general, human beings experience joy and sorrow as egoistic experiences, that is, things that affect them, and are related to their own experience. But the higher experience of love is an experience of joy or an experience of sorrow that does not belong to he or she who experiences it. This is a metaphysical experience of love, that is, a love that exceeds objects, events, circumstances, and conditions. And indeed, to experience such love is to become "wet" with love, because the love is like water, that is, it is a substance that fills every cranny, nook, and crevice, suffuses the entire being, and cannot be escaped.

In fact, Eckhart refers to this quite precisely later in the sermon. Of particular importance are the words, The earth can never flee so low but heaven flows into her and impresses his power on her and fructifies her, whether she wishes it or not. 

 This flowing in of heaven is, to be precise, a flowing in of love; heaven and love are not distinct from one another, but rather, reciprocal entities, as Swedenborg explained. And it is flowing in of love that creates Being. Eckardt repeatedly uses the Latin words in principio  to describe this Genesis, words that mean in the beginning. The meaning is specifically assigned to the inward flow of love. In this same passage, the earth refers to mankind, or, ourselves. Love is the beginning of all things.

 Coming back to this metaphysical understanding of love, that is, love that exists outside the body and is greater than the body, love that exists outside the mind and is greater than the mind, and love that exists outside feeling and is greater than feeling, we see that we speak of a love that exceeds all of our ability to understand, that, in fact, emanates from outside our own Being and creates it. Although we experience this love with our senses, because the only way for it to be sensed is through the material, the love itself is extrasensory. Because it is transcendental, it flows into us like water and it makes us "wet;" that is, it imparts its quality to all of our Being, in the same way that water wets everything it touches.

In this way, love transforms us by turning us into love itself, since it universally imparts its quality to all that we are and everything we can think, feel, or do. This is an unusual state and has nothing whatsoever to do with our ordinary experience of Being; yet, as Eckhart points out, it ought to be inescapable.

 The next post will discuss this in some greater detail.


1 comment:

  1. If thou be wet with love; let me be saturated unto drowning in both suffering and bliss; let me suffice to live under your waterfall, falling under the wings of intrinsic virtue and diving into the pool of thy mercy.


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