Sunday, August 24, 2014

Eckhart, on sensation

But you might say, 'Alas, sir, I feel so bare and cold and lazy that I dare not face our Lord !' 

I reply, All the more need for you to go to your God, for by Him you will be enflamed and set afire, and in Him you will be sanctified and joined and made one with Him, for you will find such grace in the sacrament, and nowhere else so truly, that your bodily powers are there united and collected by the precious power of the physical presence of our Lord's body, so that all a man's scattered senses and his mind are here concentrated and unified, and those which especially were too much inclined downward will be lifted up and duly offered to God. 

And by the indwelling God they will be so inwardly trained and weaned of the bodily hindrances of temporal things and limbered up toward divine things, and so, strengthened by God's body, your body will be renewed. 

For we should be turned into Him and become fully united with Him, so that His own becomes ours, and ours all becomes His: our heart and His one heart and our body and His one body. Thus our senses and our will, intention, our powers and our limbs are borne into Him so that we sense and become aware of Him in all the powers of body and soul.

—Meister Eckhart, The Complete Mystical Works, P. 509.

Only a proper and practical understanding of the organic sense of Being and the inward flow of the Divine Presence will reveal how precise Eckhart's words are here.

He is describing, in a few brief paragraphs, everything Jeanne de Salzmann attempted to transmit in her own notes; and the unity he speaks of is directly related to Gurdjieff's explanation that sensation is the source of one's sense of individuality. We cannot mistake, here, the gathering of attention within the body and within Being; and its uplifting effect upon the soul.

It's impossible to divorce any of this understanding from Swedenborg's explanations regarding the inward flow of the Divine; there can be only one understanding on these issues, even though words always come to it from so many different directions. The inward sense of God's Presence is an objective quality; and no matter how it is described it is always sensed in exactly the same way, just as each man who reaches for an object in the darkness will sense that object through touch in exactly the same way. This is why sensation (and the subtle yet pervasive sense of touch itself, which is a part of sensation) is such an important factor in the understanding of God's Presence; unlike thought, which can turn and twist in many ways, sensation is a straight thing which under any ordinary circumstances does not deviate.

This is also why pain and pleasure can be such accurate teachers; a man or woman can think anything he or she likes, and recast it in a thousand different lights, but we all feel pain the same way.

And again, in a different manner, sensation always begins in silence; for silence is its nature, and silence is by its nature the most feminine and receptive of qualities.

Things that are sensed, in other words, carry a truth the mind cannot interfere with; and perhaps this is why God comes to us so certainly, first, within sensation; whereas in our beliefs and in our minds, there is no such quiet, and hence no unerring chance of experiencing His Presence.


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