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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Eckhart on Cleaving to God

To the man who cleaves to God, God cleaves and adds virtue. Thus, what you have sought before, now seeks you; what once you pursued, now pursues you; what once you fled, now flees you. Everything comes to him who truly comes to God, bringing all divinity with it, while all that is strange and alien flies away.

In many ways, I can say that this has been my experience, except with one pattern that seems outside of this truth. I'll discuss that seeming exception another time. Let me just say that throughout my life I have attracted to me a small series of people who have been difficult teachers for me; people who seem to have their darkness drawn out of them when in my presence. But that is not the subject of today.

So, it seems to me that Meister Eckhart is saying that the more we turn to God, the more God turns to us. Perhaps there is a tipping point, when we have turned so much that we are more or less permanently turned, and we experience God in our lives fairly consistently. At first it may have been an effort as we rose out of our pain and sense of separation from God. Eventually it becomes more and more natural until it is the way we are. The darkness flies away. It has no home in the Light.

I have turned to God ever since I can recall. Even when I was a child, my mother said that I was so spiritual it scared her. After decades of devotion to study, prayer, meditation, spiritual practices such as forgiveness, I can say that I am a different person. Once the pain was so immense it was hard to rise above. Only with the help of my brother, Jesus, was I able to navigate those times. Nowadays is quite different for the most part. Most of the time my mind is still, without that out of control mind racing about. I receive guidance in the shower just as easily as in prayer. I watch the dramas of others in fascination as they struggle to find God under the emotion packed story of their lives, remembering my own struggle. Each moment is an opportunity to deepen my walk with God, to learn more, to heal more, to give something of benefit to wherever I find myself. I wonder what next vista is about to unfold on this journey of awakening. I am incredibly thankful to find myself where I am, and very excited about where I shall be as I continue to turn to God. What will God draw to me next? I trust and walk forward.

Dear heavenly Father, I have not thanked You enough for the guidance, comfort and strength You have given me these 70 years. Out of deep darkness and pain You have led me. Together we have walked through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. Today I know You in a very personal way. Thank You, God. I turn to You daily, moment by moment. Lead me to be the person You created me to be, to do the things that glorify You and lead others to You, even as I am led even closer into Your divine heart. With uplifted soul, I give you thanksgiving and welcome Your will in my life. I seal this with the ancient seal of faith, Amen, Amen & Amen.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Eckhart on Self-will and Peace

Let's consider some of what Meister Eckhart said on this topic. Be prepared to be amazed that he wrote in the 1200's & 1300's, & yet speaks as if he were a contemporary of us.

People say: "Alas sir, but I would prefer to stand well with God, to have the devotion and the divine calm of some people," or "I wish I could be like this or as poor as that." Or they say: "It will never do if I cannot be here or there and do thus and so. I must get away - or go into a cloister or a cell."

The truth is that you yourself are at fault in all this and no one else. It is pure self-will. Whether your realize it or not, there can be no restlessness unless it comes from self-will, although not every person understands this. This is what I mean: people fly from this to seek that - these places, these people, these manners, those purposes, that activity - but they should not blame ways or things for thwarting them. When you are thwarted, it is your own attitude that is out of order.

Begin, therefore, first with self and forget yourself! If you do not first get away from self, then whatever else you get away from you will still find obstacles and restlessness. People look in vain for peace, who seek it in the world outside, in places, people, ways, activities, or in world-flight, poverty and humiliation, whatever avenue or degree; for there is not peace this way. They are looking in the wrong direction, and the longer they look, the less they find what they are looking for. They go along like someone who has missed his road; the farther they go, the more they are astray.

So much to think of here. The multiple things come to my mind as if at once. One of the thoughts is about Jesus telling us about people going here and there, but the kingdom of heaven is within. I know people who seek all over for THE answers, for enlightenment, for communion with God. They go to this guru and that, this book and then the next, this personality and the next, from country to country, yet they still hunger. Some seem satisfied for a short time sometimes, but the satiety is temporary at best. They are doing just what Eckhart speaks of - they look in the wrong direction so they cannot possibly find that for which they are looking. I think his ending line in this quote speaks to us so clearly today. How often have we been lost in a strange city or countryside and yet kept going astray? Likewise, we spiritual beings who are having a human experience are often lost in the strange land of earth and search in vain for our way by looking in all of the wrong places.

Eckhart again alludes to surrender, for he places our restless, rather blind, search on the shoulders of self-will. When our egos rule, we are led on a fascinating, dark, often painful, chase. When we let go and listen and follow, we are led on an amazing and beautiful path. I wonder what perversity in us refuses to surrender until we go so far astray?

We come to You this day dear Lord to turn self-will over to You. We are weary of the dead-end chase through life. We are ready to stand still in Your Light and Peace and listen to You. We have come to realize that Jesus told us where to look, and we now realize he is right, for we have looked everywhere else. We now understand there is no where on earth, no other person, no thing that can give us that for which our deep interior hungers and thirsts. We let go of the busyness of this world and turn to the quiet of spiritual communion. We now turn within to You Lord, and we listen and we surrender this day to follow You. Let Your will be done. Amen!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Beginning Eckhart

The inspiration has come to me to spend a little while exploring Meister Eckhart, the medieval mystic. His writings came into my awareness in the 70's. His thoughts have so often inspired me, given me fodder for journaling & some were included in my new book "Our Spiritual Ancestors Speak to Us Today," which I hope to get published one day. Right now it is in spiral binding in English & in the process of being translated & printed in Russian for our workshops this fall over there.

So I selected a quote from one of his talks of instruction to begin.

The strongest prayer, one well-nigh almighty in what it can effect, and the most exalted a man can do proceed from a pure heart. The more pure it is, the more powerful, and the more exalted, laudable and perfect is its prayer and work. A pure heart is capable of anything.

What is a pure heart?

A pure heart is one that is unencumbered, unworried, uncommitted, and which does not want its own way about anything but which, rather, is submerged in the loving will of God, having denied itself. Let a job be ever so inconsiderable, it will be raised in effectiveness and dimension by a pure heart.

We ought so to pray that every member and faculty, eyes, ears, mouth, heart, and the senses shall be directed to this end and never to cease prayer until we attain unity with him to whom our prayers and attention are directed, namely, God.

The first thing that I hear Meister Eckhart saying to me is to surrender. The way to a pure heart is to surrender fully to God. Let go and let God. Stop trying to be in charge of the universe. And, by surrendering, even the simple things we do will be raised. From a pure heart we can also do greater things. He says a pure heart is capable of anything. Anything!!! Is this the way to do as Jesus asked? Greater things than this shall you do.

Our prayers need to be aimed at this surrender, and they will lead not only to a pure heart and our lives and activities being raised, but also to unity with God. I might say conscious unity with God if I were saying it, for I believe even though we may forget and stray, God is still with us, waiting for us to turn and remember --- maybe rather like the story of the prodigal son Jesus told us.

Dear God, we present ourselves to You this day wanting to surrender. We may not be certain how to do this. So, God, show us the way to surrender to You. Help us welcome You into our lives at every level from the surface to the deepest levels. Every fiber of our being seeks You. Lead us to be so fully surrendered that we do in fact have pure hearts. Show us Your Way. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ and seal this prayer with the ancient seal of faith as we say, Amen, Amen & Amen