Why don’t we, who are all infinite beings, who have all the power there is in the universe behind us, know that we are that way? Why don’t you know that you’re infinite? You’ve heard it again and again and again. You’re inherently totally free, perfect, all-glorious, all-everything. You’ve heard it, some of you, for years. Why don’t you see it?
Isn’t it ridiculous? Isn’t it stupid? Why do infinite beings like you come to hear another being talk to you? Because in the first place you do not believe that you are; you will not accept that you are. You think, “Yes, it sounds nice, but . . .” There’s always a “but,” “but,” “but,” “but” going on, and this “but” is butting you down all the time. If you only wouldn’t “but” it, if you would only accept it, from that moment on you would put all your effort, all your energy, into seeing this terrific being that you are.
I say you don’t want it, you tell me you do. And this is the important point: you don’t want it. And until you face up to this, until you confront it, you can go on forever and ever and a year more saying, “Oh, this is what I want, I’m on the path, I’m seeking freedom.” And you can do this lifetime in and lifetime out forever, until you will actually accept the concept intellectually that, “I am infinite, and therefore it is ridiculous and stupid to live the way people live in this world.”
You happen to be in the most hellish hell there is in the universe, and fortunately so, at the same time. We are living in almost the most limited state possible unto beings anywhere in the universe. We could go down lower—we could become animals, and animals are beings who also eventually discover their limitlessness.
Earth realized that it was by nature alien and unlike to heaven, and so it fled from heaven to the lowest place. And that is why the earth remains motionless, so as not to approach near to heaven. And the celestial nature grew aware that the earth had fled and occupied the lowest place, and that is how the heavens came to empty themselves out in fruitful fashion over the earth. – Meister Eckhart, Sermon Sixty
But isn’t it stupidly stupid to live a life with the extremest of limitations if you believe that your natural state is infinite? This is why I say you don’t really believe that there are no bounds on you, and you prefer to be an extremely limited physical body, to be cherished, to be— well, I don’t want to get you women angry with me, but I was going to tell you what you do. You know what you do all the time, and the men are not far behind you—they’re very vain. We put on nice clothes, and we dress ourselves, we scrub the body, and we paint it in the morning—men do these things too—and we put the less-liked part of it, and we take it off to work. Why? So you can maintain that extremely limited state of needing food and clothing in order to survive.
Working is only a concept of limitation—“I must work in order to live.” If we had the conviction that “I must sleep eight hours a day in order to live and survive,” that’s the way it would be. You would just sleep and everything would come your way. Because whether you like it or not, you’re unlimited beings; whatever the mind holds becomes so. The mind is only a creator. The only creator in the universe is you. You think, things happen. And you’re “happening” everything that you’re meeting with every day. You have established this extremely limited state of beingness called a physical body, and you’re holding on to it for dear life.
I’m trying to point out to you that you really don’t want to be this unlimited being. You really don’t want to be totally free. You want to have this limitation, and you want the limitation to be nice, delightful, entertaining. And it just can’t be. And you struggle your entire life trying to make it so, and then you die, and then you have a vacation on the other side, where you’re far better able to think and immediately have things happen. And then you come back into a physical body, and you keep working through this physical body until you are able to free yourself from the physical body while you are in the physical body. You can never get free of it anywhere else but from within it.
So the thing to do is to recognize how much you don’t want this state of freedom. It’s the first thing you must do—you’ve got to confront it. Because if you really wanted it, it would take you weeks, maybe months, to become totally free, to become omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent. So, I’ve answered the question. The reason why you don’t get it is that you don’t want it. All right, now you’re going to say to me, “But I do want it.” And I’ll say, “Yes, you tell me that but you don’t show me that.” You say you want to be totally free; you don’t want to be this limited vehicle, and the next moment procede to be this limited vehicle—the next moment and every moment. It’s very rare that you don’t think, “I am this body.” And being this body confines you to it. Change the temperature 40 degrees, it dies. Give it a chemical called a poison, it dies. Don’t give it oxygen, it dies. Why do we want to be this terribly limited thing? You’ve gotta confront these things before you’ll ever let go of it.
Are there any questions on this point? I think it’s a very powerful point. If you will get to see what I’m presenting to you, it will only be a matter of weeks or months before you can, and will be, what you really are: totally free, limitless.
Question: Isn’t it fear, fear of the unknown that holds us? Or is it a feeling that we don’t deserve it? An old childish feeling that we don’t deserve this?
Okay, asking me, I would say it’s a conviction that I’m a body that does it. And therefore if I am a body, anything can hurt it, and therefore I am very fearful. Somebody might hit me with a car, or I might eat the wrong food, or a little cool breeze might come on me and do away with me. It’s the conviction that you’re the body that makes you fearful.
Now, beingness has no form, no action. It’s static; it’s changeless. And yet this is the thing you’re holding on to when you say “survival”: it’s the “I” continuing. That beingness is the infinity. But when it tries to be a limited vehicle and keeps its attention on the limited vehicle, it thinks it’s that limited vehicle all the time. And this is what we’re doing. We’re looking at this body every moment, saying that this body is “I”. It’s very simple. And what I’m suggesting is, let it go and concentrate on discovering your Self. If you would put your attention only on your Self, you would very quickly discover it. Weeks, months, that’s all. Anyone can do it. And the reason why we don’t do it is because we don’t believe it, we don’t accept it; we hear it and we say, “Yeah, yeah,” and the next moment we go all-out in being a very limited vehicle called the body.
To help you not fear so much, I can tell you that you don’t lose the body after realization. Christ had a body—Jesus walked around. He had full realization—in fact he had it before he was born. When you get realization, you don’t lose the body. You lose your concepts of limitation of being only a body. In place of it you first see that you are every body, then you see that you are every thing, then every atom, and then in the ultimate you see that you are all beingness, and that all energy and matter was an illusion, a fiction that you created and set up. And after that you look at your own body the same way you look at other bodies—objectively. And the body can never again disturb you. It can never again disturb the deep, wonderful, profound peace that you are
So you don’t disappear upon realizing who and what you are. You don’t lose a body. First you gain every body in the universe. So I’m trying to bait you now—since you love the body so much, be a million bodies. And when you are a million bodies you are close to seeing your ultimate state of pure beingness. But I hope I’m leaving you with a provocation. I’m trying to provoke you into looking at yourself and recognizing that you really don’t want this infinite being that you are, that you really want to play as though you are a limited body. And therefore, you’re not quickly discovering who and what you are.
If there are any questions I’d be very happy to help you if I can.
Question: How did you arrive at the fact that we have to gain realization in the body? Why can’t we just die and be [Self-]realized?
Because as long as you are a body, you have very strong convictions that you are a body, and you’re holding it in your mind, and you’ll always be a body again and again and again, until you let go of the desire to be a body. So, it’s while you are in the physical body that you have to let go of all desire to be a physical body. Now, that word “desire” is a very powerful word. The only reason why we have bodies is because we desire them. The only reason why we are limited in any way is because we desire limitations. Become desireless and you are unlimited.
Question: Is it all that we can conceive? Do we conceive we have to have a body because we always had one, and so it goes on and on?
It’s a matter of choice. Whether you face it or not, you’ve chosen to be a body. If you will dig within you, you will discover this.
The real culprit is the thing called the unconscious mind. The unconscious mind is a storage closet of thoughts. We create thoughts, we put them back in the subconscious, and then we act as though they are not there. Every subconscious thought is just as active as any conscious thought is. But we have created this mechanism of subconscious thinking. And the subconscious thoughts are only the conscious thoughts that we’re not looking at at this moment. And right now there are millions of thoughts going on in your mind. You bring to consciousness a few of them at a time, but all those millions back there are active. And this is the greatest difficulty. It was a very handy mechanism in the beginning—it was an automatic pilot. When we became more and more involved with thoughts, we put them on automatic and stopped looking at them. And we are now running on automatic, called the subconscious mind. And this is your greatest difficulty. If you could make the subconscious conscious right now, you would be [Self-]realized, because you would see all this limitation that you set in motion in the past that is now continuing invisible to you all. And by making it visible, naturally you’re going to drop all the limitation.
Keep your attention focused on you. If you would do this only for weeks or months, you would get full [Self-]realization. I say “only,” which means not stopping it and looking at, “I am a body with problems.” It would be very quick.
Question: Are there degrees of Self-realization?
No. There are degrees of letting go of self-imposed limitations. You see, you’re Self-realized here and now, holding on to concepts of “I am not realized.” So, there is no growth into the unlimited state: that is. here is an apparent growth of letting go of the self-imposed limitations.
You’ll never ever be satisfied living life in the world—or in any other world, or in the heavens. There are heavens on top of heavens on top of the heavens. We happen to be in the hell-realm of the heavens. And you’ll never ever be satisfied until you go to the ultimate. Until you recognize it.
Question: How can we know we’re [Self-]realized when we are?
By being it you’ll know it. When you’re Self-realized, you see no otherness: there is only “I all alone.” It’s a point of view that you will have that will be just that way, even though that apparency of a body will be moving around on an apparent earth, talking to apparent other bodies. But you’ll know it as an apparency, as an illusion. And you will see only oneness. But, again, it has to be experienced. You can experience beingness.
Question: Doesn’t it get boring after awhile?
No, it’s what everyone wants more than anything else in the world. It is the most satisfying; it’s the greatest satiation possible. You’re looking for it all the time and you’re asking me, “Will it be boring”—you’re seeking it in everything you do. Your every act is seeking this. You’d be surprised how simple everything is that seems to be complicated, once you see the truth. If we wanted the ultimate truth as much as we want to be a body, we’d have it in a matter of days. That’s how simple it is.
Walshe, Maurice O’C. (2009). The Complete Mystical Works of Meister Eckhart. New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company. (download)