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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!

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