Thursday, February 12, 2015

A single and most perfect act, part II: a syllable from the mouth of God

Meister Eckhart goes on to say, of the nature of the soul as a receptacle,

Since this work of birth occurs in the essence and ground of the soul, then it happens just as much in a sinner as in a saint, so what grace or good is there in it for me? For the ground of nature is the same in both - in fact even those in hell retain their nobility of nature eternally.

Now note the answer. It is a property of this birth that it always comes with fresh light. It always brings a great light to the soul, for it is the nature of good to diffuse itself wherever it is. In this birth God streams into the soul in such abundance of light, so flooding the essence and ground of the soul that it runs over and floods into the powers and into the outward man.

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

Eckhart himself answers our question for us here; because he refers to the nobility of nature.

Why is nature noble? If nature were a mere thing, it could have no higher qualities. Yet nature in all its variety—by which we are to understand, the universe—is a created thing, which, while lower, consists of a single and most perfect act of God.

This single and most perfect act manifests as a multiplicity, yet although, to creatures in time, it appears to have sequence and hierarchy, is in fact one whole thing. In the beginning was the word; and in a perfect sense the universe is that word, which cannot be uttered and instantly and forever transcends all creation. So the universe is a syllable from the mouth of God, a single utterance; so perfect and so divine is that utterance that it contains within itself all things. Thus is the nature of the Lord; and when we extoll the virtues of silence (if we do) it is only in the hopes of hearing the echo of that syllable, which reverberates in all things eternally. This is why all things consist, in the end, of vibration; and why prayer is the most sacred form of contact we can initiate with God, insufficient though we are.

In this sense, the universe, and material things, all mediate for God by their very nature; in mediating, they not only mediate by receiving the divine in and on behalf of themselves, they receive and mediate in and on behalf of all things; all receives all on behalf of all.

In this way it is not wrong to seek God in all things! For He is there; and is speaking to us always. This is a miraculous truth which cannot be understood with the mind alone, and so we shall leave it. Yet we might want to remember that it is the mind (the intellect) alone that doubts.

I speak of this single and most perfect act because of the hope that all of us may yet come, in this life, to know that singleness of purpose and that wholeness of Being which the Lord bestows upon us inherently, within the soul, at all times. We are fallen creatures; yet we have the capacity, if only we reach deep enough within ourselves. God's Love is there; and it never abandons us, no matter how far we fall, because God loves even the devil himself. God crafted the devil from his own Love, as he did all other things; and gave him his powers, too, out of love and kindness. 

Why would God do such a thing, you may ask? How can a single and most perfect act embody evil in this way? It is a question that has haunted mankind for ages; and yet, as I have said before, the answer is quite simple. The good cannot exist without evil as its servant: every name of God as it arises can only know itself through the names which oppose it.


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