Friday, January 9, 2015

The soul is whole, part II

Red Bellied Woodpecker, Sparkill, NY

Some masters would hold that the soul is only in the heart. That is not so, and some great masters have erred in this. The soul is whole and undivided, at once in the foot, in the eyes and in every member.
—Meister Eckhart, The Complete Mystical Works, P. 341

A reader asks: 

I was wondering; what is the connection between this, and when one says that we need to sense every atom of our body? Also, what is the connection between soul, Real I, and essence?

Today we take up Eckhart's second comment:

That is not so, and some great masters have erred in this. 

Eckhart speaks here from experience; and what his experience consists of is the sensation of the soul.

The soul is not an ephemeral or transient entity; it isn’t a feeling, or a thought, or a mere sensation, like burping. It is a living consciousness that expresses itself within the body.

I know some readers may be quite interested in exactly what I mean by this, in the same way that they are interested in what I say about the divine inflow; and so I’ll try to expound on this as accurately as I can.

While the sensation of the soul does indeed consist (as Jeanne de Salzmann advises us) of a sensory impression of a finer energy, it is an impression that carries a wholeness of Being in it. 

This wholeness of Being consists not only of a sensory impression I receive in and of itself, within my body; it is an impression that is infinitely greater than me, and which carries an inwardly formed presence about the nature of divinity, and contact with it, that is so fine as to be beyond expression—except by that tactile moment in which the actual touch of God comes. 

In this instant there is an entire expression of Being which is not my Being; it describes the distinction between what is mine and what is of God. 

There is a fineness to this impression that cannot be countenanced; one cannot put a face on the divine, and the touch itself makes this clear.

So as one receives this impression, one understands at once how the soul is in every part: the foot, the eyes, and every member, as Eckhart says. Each of these members is an actual (not metaphorical) expression of one or another characteristic of heaven, and of God—what Swedenborg called correspondences—and each one is thus fully able to receive impressions of God, and heaven, according to the nature of their correspondence. This means that God speaks differently through each part, and almost never with words—this is not His true language, which is a language of proximity, not verbs and nouns and adjectives. It is as different as saying the words I love you and the actual touch of one’s lover. The one lies as dull and still on the beach as dried seaweed; the other moves from within like a wave with sunlight on it. 

Hence one receives impressions through all of the parts; the soul being in all of the parts, all parts of the body, and of Being, may be touched by God. 

As these contacts arise, by turn, they will test a soul, because God and His angels want nothing more than to see quite precisely what the nature of the soul may be; first, to evaluate it, and second, to educate it. The action requires physical—neurological—contact.

This education is not an occasion for bliss, since God touches us mostly to correct our defects, which are many. (Of course, the reason God does not touch people very often at all is that one can’t be touched without one’s consent, since God will never coerce—and most of us live in perpetual abject terror that God will suddenly come and find us as we are, not understanding how absolutely loving He is.)

Well then. Very few masters, as it happens, understand this aspect of God, which is why they err in establishing His location within the body. They talk well and wisely; but talk isn't enough; and they come to the question first of all limited by tradition, and second by their own thinking; whereas the Lord educates not according to our own thinking, but His own.

Eckhart clearly understood these questions from an entirely practical and experiential point of view, because there is no other way to understand them.  


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