Tuesday, April 8, 2014

An unsurpassable distinction of Being

But if a man seeks God's will alone, whatever flows from that or is revealed by that he may take as a gift from God without ever looking or con­sidering whether it is by nature or grace or whence it comes or in what wise: he need not care about that... —Meister Eckhart, The Complete Mystical Works, Sermon 55, p.290

Eckhart asks us here for unconditional acceptance; whatever flows from God’s will need not be analyzed, weighed or considered. This is interesting, because here, I believe, he speaks not of material things... which are by their very nature analyzed, weighed and considered... But of the inner state, that is, how we are within in relationship to what I refer to as objects, events, circumstances and conditions.

In a sense this request for unconditionality is interesting, because by its nature, God’s will already defies such classification. To receive God’s will, in a sense, presupposes this suspension of judgment, since it already brings us into an inner realm of mystery, or nothingness, in which such considerations are useless. This is the peculiar mystery of the spirit, which he speaks of at great length elsewhere; so why lend us this word of guidance here? I'm not sure; perhaps because he wants us to see that all ordinary considerations are unnecessary when embracing, and being embraced by, the will of God.

... He should take just one thing from God, and what­ ever comes, accept it as the best for him, having no fear that by this limitation he will be hindered in any way, inwardly or outwardly. Whatever he may do, if only he is aware of having the love of God within him, that suffices. (Ibid)

To live within the certain knowledge of the love of God is our aim; and this certain knowledge is to be aware of the Love of God within us.

This awareness is expressed physically, but the experience is metaphysical; that is to say, the sensation of divinity exceeds ordinary sensation as much as love execeeds contempt; and perhaps this is an apt example. Contempt and love are as far apart as one world from another; in contempt, we know no love, nor even admit to its existence; whereas in love, we can  find no contempt, nor admit to its existence. These things are both inner states, one elevated, the other debased; and it is only by their direct experience that we can know them.

God’s love is the same way; we must know it by direct experience. It banishes all that is not love; comes and dwells in us regardless of our proclivities, preferences or distinctions; we cannot explain it, nor do physiological explanations of it suffice. It is in one part love within mind; also, love within body, and love within feeling, such that mind, body and feeling are called to an unsurpassable distinction of Being.

I use this term unsurpassable distinction of Being because the first instance of experiencing God’s love is that of Being which is distinct. We recognize it- see it- within and understand through the divine and combined action of Grace and Mercy that it is distinct, that is, unquestionably exceptional or notable, apart from what is ordinary.

The second instance, which is coincident with but separated from the first (for we sense several things at once here) is that it is unsurpassed, because we see that there is no state within man that compares to this love of (from) God. We know at once that every one of these sensations and inner actions is higher than we are; the state expresses its divinity without room for argument or doubt. In this way God’s love has what is called authority, since we recognize it, without question, as that which is of God and not ourselves.

I find the mention of this distinction important, since so few seem clear about it. One who knows this truth knows no other truth; for only this one is necessary; and this is the “one thing” one ought to take from God which Eckhart speaks of in this sermon. 

Anything less is not God.


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