Meister Eckhart and Mister Emerson: i am what i want to be

The only thing that burns in hell

is the part of you that won’t let go of your life:

your memories, your attachments.

They burn them all away, but they’re not punishing you,

they’re freeing your soul.

If you’re frightened of dying and you’re holding on,

you’ll see devils tearing your life away.

If you’ve made your peace,

then the devils are really angels freeing you from the earth.

~ Meister Eckhart ~

For many newcomers to the age  of dynamic spirituality, the small colorful book known as, The Secret, swept into the spotlight like Peter Pan flying onto the scene held up by wires that made him look like he was flying across the stage. Wendy was smitten by him & jumps out of her window dressed in only her night gown & a promise that they were headed for Never, Never Land.  I suppose the name of that town ought to have given it away…but the plot unraveled slowly and in the end poor Wendy comes to the conclusion that there is no place like home and she has learned her lesson that being duped by a delusion is not the way of the real world.

I often feel that way when I hear people confusing the deep and powerful laws of spiritual nature with a simple wish that they could fly–they close their eyes and  squish the muscles of the face together real hard and they, wish, wish, wish that they could fly and several week later awake to the consciousness that they have a sore jaw but who they are has flown nowhere except to feel just a little bit more duped or delusional.

Having missed the real spiritual aspect of the dream, people walk around in a false glow pretending that they are now infused with some supernatural power and at any moment their lives will be transformed into some miracle.  They are missing the point.  Their life as it is, is the miracle.  It is very hard to chase after happiness and expect to catch it.  The picture that comes to mind is of a little 4 year old girl in the yard chasing the allusive butterfly.  The very act of chasing it, chases it away.

Least you think, dear reader, that I am heading down a pathway of cynicism, I am going to turn my attention immediately away from what is not, to what is.  The laws of nature are ripe with abundance, prosperity, justice, predictability, & source energy.  I have what I need, when I am what I want to be.

When we are not  thinking about something negative, when  our mind is at rest from negative thoughts, we are in our natural state of well being….despite all of us having a pain body that is not easy to manage, we also each have a capacity to visit realms of the brain that are not as occupied with problem solving a is the ego and the super ego.

Meister Eckhart in the 13th century had this to say on the subject:  When the creator created the universe he needed no help, but when he creates for man a path or righteousness, he needs help from the man.  When He is about to convert a sinner, He always needs the sinner’s help. “He converts thee not without thy help,” as St Augustine says.

I think that one could make the argument the Meister Eckhart was one of the first prophets to divulge the secrets of the natural laws of manifesting and attraction.  It seems that what is fundamental to his view is the idea that Eckhart’s philosophy is that of the “Absolute” or “Abstract Unity” conceived as the sole real existence.  When I found myself reading this early scholarly philosophy,  everything from Oneness Blessings to Wayne Dyer, to Carl Jung & Eckhart Tolle and even the works of Emerson, seemed to me to resonate with what he was proposing some 700 years ago, during a period of history that we consider dark ages.

At that time in the history of philosophy most writing was an at attempt to reconcile the tenants of faith with the tenants of reason.  Again, not much changes in seven hundred years.  His theology is really a form of Pantheism and we can see the influence of Germanic philosophy on writers like Emerson. What follows is a paraphrase from one of Meister Eckhart’s sermons:

Of the Absolute we have no cognizance but only of phenomena, but by the resolute endeavour to abstract ourselves from time and space, we can, at rare moments, attain to the Absolute by virtue of the  “the spark” (Funkelein) (Glimpse) of the soul, which comes direct from God. This is really God acting in man; to know God is to be one with God. This is the final end of all our activity, and the means of attaining thereto is complete quietism.

And more from The Meister:  Therefore deadly sin is a breach of nature, a death of the soul, a disquiet of the heart, a weakening of power, a blindness of the sense, a sorrow of the spirit, a death of grace, a death of virtue, a death of good works, an aberration of the spirit, a fellowship with the devil, an expulsion of Christianity, a dungeon of hell, a banquet of hell, an eternity of hell.

It is not difficult to extract the seeds of the Law of Attraction, or to recognize the sacred stillness that Eckhart Tolle wants to awaken us to, or  even the aspects of detachment so revered in eastern philosophy and theology.  “The two eyes of the soul of man cannot both perform their work at once: but if the soul shall see with the right eye into eternity, then the left eye must close itself and refrain from working, and be as though it were dead. For if the left eye be fulfilling its office toward outward things, that is holding converse with time and the creatures; then must the right eye be hindered in its working; that is, in its contemplation. Therefore, whosoever will have the one must let the other go; for ‘no man can serve two masters.’

Again to fast forward 700 years into current writing on brain biology and mindfulness, it is nearly plain to see that the origins of our new age wisdom were squarely planted at least 700 years ago.  The metaphor of the eyes is almost a word for word coloration to our modern day study of the corpus colosseum and its role in right and left brain thinking.

For my own personal interest, I am struck by the historical perspective that this gives to Emerson and the American Transcendentalist.

“I have a capacity in my soul for taking in God entirely. I am as sure as I live that nothing is so near to me as God. God is nearer to me than I am to myself; my existence depends on the nearness and presence of God. He is also near things of wood and stone, but they know it not. If a piece of wood became as aware of the nearness of God as an archangel is, the piece of wood would be as happy as an archangel. For this reason man is happier than the inanimate wood, because he knows and understands how God is near him. His happiness increases and diminishes in proportion to the increase and diminution in his knowledge of this. His happiness does not arise from this that God is near him, and in him, and that He possesses God; but from this, that he knows the nearness of God, and loves Him

Both in his essay, Nature, and in his address to the senior class of the divinity school at Harvard, Emerson promoted the need for man to have a direct relationship with his God.  Emerson wanted to dismantle the notion that God had to be brought to us by anything except our own senses and our own soul.  His premise was that morality, the sense of the existence of God and our human capacity to know right from wrong, was born into the organism as surely was flight was born into the organism of a bird.

Meister Eckhart in yet another sermon proclaims, “In whichever soul God’s Kingdom appeareth, and which knoweth God’s Kingdom, that soul needeth no human preaching or instruction; it is taught from within and assured of eternal life.” And from Emerson, “Nobody can bring you Peace but yourself.” And, we do not need the religion of our ancestors to know God.

In this essay this morning, I wanted to to touch on the historical perspectives that may have given rise to some of our more contemporary ways of thinking about want I call Dynamic Spirituality.  For me Dynamic Spirituality is a form of openness to what we perceive from looking at the world and a form of openness that we perceive from looking at our souls, our spiritual selves that live just outside the egoic functions of the mind.

I am troubled by the idea that the ego needs or should be abandoned in order to discover our more instinctual abilities with regard to careening our way through life picking and choosing from the low hanging fruit that the universe has so generously provided for us.  Our aim need not be a material aim, but when we act as a total person part form, part ego and part soul we enter a balance that we experience as well being.

It is that very phenomenological experience of “well-being” that we must be aiming for.  Manifesting or attracting what we need and want from the universe, from our lives, is only possible when we are in a state of grace.  Grace, or loving-kindness, is a condition of well-being that alerts us to the idea that we are being right minded, that we are on target, that we are on the road that we need to be on.  Those conditions give rise to a feeling state that makes one feel empowered, make one feel as if anything is possible.  Once in this state we are ever so much less likely to be dismantling our own goals or dreams.

Manifesting and attracting according to this spiritual dynamic is not magic, is not a thought-form that transforms us into another kind of being.  It is just that when we are as equally conscious of our form, our ego and our soul we enter into a balance that gives one the feeling of steadiness & security.  We are operating out of a triune condition out of a trinity that gives rise to a sense of truthfulness and clarity that assist us in moving ever and ever closer toward what we want…to harken back for a moment to our 13th century friend Meister Eckhart, he would say that grace and well-being is our movement toward God, our desire to be more one, more full and in unity with the divine.

I am nonetheless encouraged that as I finish this essay, all that is good and powerful is equally secular and needs no religious cloaking–It works historically, it works as a rendition of the divine and it works equally well as a  secular metaphor.  In the beginning there was The Word………..


One comment on “Meister Eckhart and Mister Emerson: i am what i want to be

  1. Wow. I feel connected to you on this one. I was reading on of Eckhart’s Sermons when you sent me this. I have found different translations which drives me crazy.

    “DEADLY sin is a death of the soul. To die is to lose life. But God is the life of the soul; since then deadly sin separates us from God, it is a death of the soul.”

    Kind of makes you want to clean up your act, doesn’t it? LOL.

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