Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A single and most perfect act, part I

Can the material mediate the divine?

God is in all things as being, as activity, as power. But He is fe­cund in the soul alone, for though every creature is a vestige of God, the soul is the natural image of God. This image must be adorned and perfected in this birth. No creature but the soul alone is recep­tive to this act, this birth. Indeed, such perfection as enters the soul, whether it be divine undivided light, grace, or bliss, must enter the soul through this birth, and in no other way. Just await this birth within you, and you shall experience all good and all comfort, all happiness, all being and all truth. If you miss it, you will miss all good and blessedness.

...in this birth you will share in the divine influx and all its gifts. This cannot be received by creatures in which God's image is not found, for the soul's image appertains espe­cially to this eternal birth, which happens truly and especially in the soul, being begotten of the Father in the soul's ground and innermost recesses, into which no image ever shone or (soul-)power peeped.

Meister Eckhart, The Complete Mystical Works, sermon two, p 39-40

The material has been created by the divine as a receptacle for it. Into the material pours all of the goodness of the divine, which is a goodness first of laws and of orders. In the natural sciences, we call these laws physics, chemistry, and so on; yet all these natural laws are the expression of a higher good which, at its root, is one thing, Love, although it divides naturally into three parts at once in its first contact with the material.

It divides into these three essential natures because the nature of the material is that it can only refer to awareness of itself by tripartite sensation; and that tripartite sensation consists of a mind of the intellect, a mind of the emotions or feelings, and a mind of physical sensation. In man, as in other living creatures, the physical body is created so that these three minds can arise and exist; and it does so through the fine and ineffable substance of the soul, which itself touches God.

In this way there is a bridge to the divine, which can only exist insofar as man is a peninsular entity that protrudes the nature of God Himself into the material world.

Man's soul can never entirely separate from God, being as it is a vestigial expression of His nature; and so we are never very far from God, no matter how far we may stray from Him in our thoughts and actions. This is because our soul is a tiny particle... an atom... of God Himself.

This is well enough then, of man, but it is necessary to understand that all the other parts of creation receive the essence of divine expression as well, because all matter arises, at its root, from the substantial expression of the divine. This is why all things are whole; and although we perceive of separation, as though it were logical, understood, and natural, there is in fact nothing logical at all about it; it is not even real.

When Buddha spoke of the world of illusion, it was this world of separation he spoke of, for there is no separation in the dharma. The world is whole in Christ and whole in God; and although the Buddha could not express it in those terms, he would have understood it the same way within his nature of being awake, since there can be no other understanding.

Now, one may ask oneself how this can be anything more than the thinking of it, because as one reads this one thinks; and it is a good question. The difficulty is that one cannot think of anything whole, because thinking itself is only one-third of the capacity needed for a right understanding; this is why the Lord divides Himself into three parts which are not separated and not distinct, even though we call them separated and distinct by convention. 

If one were to sense this organically, and feel this, in the same way that one thinks it, then one would be sensing according to what Gurdjieff called three-brained Being, which is, at it happens, the only possible form of Being which can begin to comprehend this question from a right point of view.

Until this kind of three-brained understanding arises, one is trapped, more or less, inside a theological bottle. 


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