Meister Eckart, The Complete Mystical Works, p. 161
Well, we are not quite stuck here in this condition. The divine inflow (the Holy Spirit, or prana) is already active in us; the difficulty is in our sensory apparatus, which does not receive it properly so that we are consciously aware of it.
This little question lies at the heart of everything Gurdjieff and Mme. Salzmann said about consciousness. Our awareness is deficient; and the deficiency begins at exactly the point where the inflow begins or, as Salzmann would put it, we “receive the higher energy.”
The yogic traditions have a range of bliss-related teachings on this subject which cannot be denied; yet in my opinion they are baroque and subject to a great deal of unnecessary embroidery. Meister Eckhart was aware of this and attempted to describe it more simply by defining the right effort as an unclothed approach to the unclothed God. (Eckhart said so many things about this idea it requires a separate document to recount them, and stands as a study in itself.)
Yet we don’t need to concern ourselves with the complicated nature of these questions, because they all come after the single most essential question, which is how we may discover our value first within God, instead of ourselves.
If one is serious about spiritual effort, one can’t afford to treat this as a theoretical proposition which deserves hypothetical investigations. In this enterprise, our practical receptiveness determines everything.
Now, I will tell you something true: receptiveness is actually the ground of Being, which is why Eckhart said,
“There is still another way of explaining what our Lord terms a noble man. You should know that those who know God naked, also know creatures with Him: for knowledge is a light of the soul; all men desire knowledge, for even the knowledge of evil things is good.” (p. 562.)
Man’s primary purpose on earth is to serve as a vessel that receives the impressions of life, regardless of their nature; in this mystery, which cannot be grasped by the mind or any ordinary part, all things are good within God, even though it’s impossible for all things to be good within man’s sight.
In order to craft—and it is crafted, though in subtle ways—a receptivity to this energy a certain kind of stillness is needed. Yet even this stillness cannot originate from my own sense of value, from where “I am;” instead even this stillness itself arrives from where I am not; and that place exists right next to me, but is not of me.
Eventually, the inner material necessary for perception of this kind can be deposited in sufficient amounts to increase one’s capacity for such work; and this is the real work of a human being, which extends into every corner of life as it expands. One becomes God’s representative, or vicegerent, in the action of perceiving; and this is a matter of the subtle vibrations of Being which have the capacity to form inner relationships in a quite different way than the ordinary parts of being.
It can be fairly said that value itself changes as this begins to take place, because value is inverted; and the perception of life itself is inverted accordingly, so that the equanimity (Gleichgültigkeit) of Eckhart’s teachings and sermons becomes an apparent and inherent property of life’s events, not a premise that needs to be applied.
In this action of finer substances, one is gently drawn nearer to God. This action is a loving action and an action of intimacy that I do not initiate. As I am myself, instead, I become passive towards myself as I am: a part forms that does not participate, but stands aside.
This part has the potential to receive in a new way because already it has separated itself from my false sense of value.
My new book is now available in paperback, and as a PDF. While the book, in its first half, discusses Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson at considerable length, it also looks at the nature of the universe in some depth from a cosmological point of view in the second half, The Information of the Soul.
For the text of the introduction, see the PDF link.
Novel, Myth and Cosmos at Amazon (paperback)
PDF file for digital devices cab be ordered at:
Novel, Myth and Cosmos PDF format
An iTunes bookstore version will be available soon.
Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.