Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sweetness and the Lord, part I

 'I sometimes experience such sweetness in me that I forget myself and all creatures and wish to dissolve right into thee.' But when I want to seize it, Lord, you snatch it from me. Lord, what do you mean by this? If you would entice me, why do you take it from me? If you love me, why then do you flee me? Ah, Lord, you do this so that I may receive much from you.

The first phrase in this passage is attributed to St. Augustine (confessions); and the balance, according to Josef Quint, is Eckhart's own.

It's interesting that we hear little or nothing of this sweetness in the Gurdjieff ouevre; yet the sweetness of the Lord is often spoken of in Christianity. The concept is not foreign, either, to esoteric Islam; and although Buddhism may come to expressions in a different way, its iconography leaves little doubt that the matter is familiar to the discipline.

Is this sweetness, as some might presume, an invention, an imaginary experience? Is it purely conceptual, a product of the wishful mind? Or does it have a real and meaningful place in the actual, objective manifestation of spiritual work; and ought it be sought for, lauded, or otherwise integrated into an organized, scientific, and objective body of understanding on esoteric spiritualism and the essential nature of inner work itself?

Those bereft of this sweetness, those who have never experienced it, cannot qualify to approach such questions or write on them; and this is exactly the problem, because so few come to this sweetness in their own real life, or routinely experience it. It is merely something heard about or written about; a tradition passed on in word that becomes a dismissable tradition, that is, a set of events or reports based strictly on hearsay. How many philosophers speak directly of such things? It isn't in the canon; and in the Gurdjieff work, despite Gurdjieff's tantalizing allusions to the bliss of the second Being-food, so much emphasis is placed on Ouspensky's inherently reductionist analysis of Gurdjieff's methods, and the structural, workmanlike application of said methods to a conceptual architecture, that the sweetness of the Lord- the very thing that any spiritual structure ought properly to house-  is very nearly forgotten.

It is left to the few fundamental mystics with some direct experience to resurrect this subject; and it is perhaps one of more than passing interest, because it touches not only on the deepest spiritual traditions of the actual Presence of the Lord—as opposed to discussions about it—but, parenthetically (or, perhaps, inevitably) the question of what Gurdjieff called "higher hydrogens."

Speaking of the sweetness of the Lord, which was something common to the mystics of the middle ages, has fallen out of favor, because as humanity's inner spiritual conditions have steadily deteriorated, so has its ability to receive such sweetness. You will note that Eckhart refers to this sweetness as that which is received; and a culture which is not open to God will receive little of Him. Our grasping nature (again, alluded to by Eckhart) only increases with time; and that which grasps cannot receive. 

Yet as a confirmed Marian (disciple of the blessed Virgin) I will now venture to speak on this sweetness, since there are times when such witnessing is necessary, lest the entire tradition be abandoned and perhaps even destroyed. And it is presumably of interest to readers to attempt to understand something true about this sweetness.

So in the next few posts we will examine this question of the sweetness of the Lord without, insofar as may be appropriate, resorting to the exercise of my poetic muscles, which are in fact a superior tool for communicating the sweetness itself, insofar as that may be possible.



  1. This is one reference in Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson to the sweetness of the Lord:

    "Our COMMON-FATHER-CREATOR-ENDLESSNESS appears there so often only because this holy planet is the place of the existence of the, in the highest degree, unfortunate 'higher-being-bodies,' who obtained their coating on various planets of the whole of our Great Universe.

    "The 'higher-being-bodies' who have already merited to dwell on this holy planet, stiffer, maybe, as much as anybody in the whole of our Great Universe.

    "In view of this, our ALL-LOVING, ENDLESSLY-MERCIFUL and ABSOLUTELY-JUST CREATOR-ENDLESSNESS, having no other possibility of helping these unfortunate 'higher-being-bodies' with anything, often appears there so that by these appearances of His HE may soothe them, if only a little, in their terrible inevitable state of inexpressible anguish."

    All & Everything: An Objectively Impartial Criticism of the Life of Man, or Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson, Chapter 39, "The Holy Planet Purgatory," p. 745.

  2. Another:

    "'Sources of Divine
    , revolts and sufferings,
    Direct your action upon us.'"

    p. 752.

  3. Agreed there are references in Beelzebub's Tales to comfort, bliss, and rejoicing. The post (and the following posts which will publish through Wednesday) are, however, quite specifically about sweetness, for reasons which will be come apparent tomorrow, and in future posts through the end of the month.


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