Lester Levenson: Self-Realization

This Session was recorded in New York City, September 21, 1964.

We try not to be intellectual. That knowledge may be gotten from reading books. Most of us already have the intellectual knowledge and yet are not Self-realized. What we want is knowledge through experiencing it, through feeling it, through realizing and integrating it into our very being. The only knowledge that is useful for growth is the knowledge that we realize with our inner sight and feeling. As we contemplate, knowledge should fit in with our feelings, i.e., feel right, and should integrate with our whole Beingness. Then it is a realization, a revelation. Then we know, and we know that we know.

A realization is seeing something really for the first time, although you’ve heard it again and again. When it’s realized, it’s as though you’ve heard it for the first time. It’s like an electric light bulb turning on in the mind and you say, “Oh, now I see.” It is something that you might have heard a hundred times before, but this time, on seeing and experiencing it, it’s a realization. It has become real to you.

This perceived and experienced knowledge is the only knowledge that does us any good. We can read everything on the subject but it doesn’t help and our life doesn’t change much. And it doesn’t because we don’t integrate the knowledge into our beingness through realization.

Realized knowledge is non-intellectual although the means we use are intellectual. We use our mind, we direct our mind toward the answer. But you will discover that the answer does not come from the mind. It comes from a place just behind the mind. It comes from the realm of knowingness, the realm of omniscience. By quieting the mind through stilling our thoughts, each and every one of us has access to this realm of knowingness. Then and there you realize, you make real. You know and you know that you know. Is there any question about what I just said?

Q: Is knowingness and feelingness the same thing?

Lester: No. The feeling comes just before the knowing.

Q: Is knowingness beyond feeling? Is knowledge that which feels true?

Lester: The answer to both your questions is “Yes.” It’s something you’ll have to experience. There’s a feel to things, and also there are times when you just know and you know you know, and there’s no feeling to it. Knowing is really a higher level. We start with reasoning, thinking, in the realm of thinkingness. Then we move into the realm of feelingness. The top realm is the realm of knowingness.

Q: Is ego implied in feeling?

Lester: Yes. The ego does the feeling. It is a higher ego state. Therefore there’s duality: I feel emotion. Knowingness is awareness. When I said: “You know and you know that you know,” you’re aware and you’re aware of the fact that you are aware. There’s nothing conditioning it. The very top state is the state of all awareness, of all beingness. Beingness and awareness turn out to be the same thing when we get there. Before that, it seems as though they are two different things; but when we move to the top, beingness, awareness, consciousness are all the same thing, because the awareness you are aware of is of beingness being all beingness. We see that we are not only this body, but that we are every other body, every other thing and every atom in this universe. So, if we are every being and atom, we are all beingness.

Q: You mean I am That?

Lester: Yes, definitely! It’s “I.” The top state is “I.” That’s all, not even “I am.” Just below the top it’s “I am.” A step below that is “I am what I am.” A step below that is “I am unlimited.” A step below that is “I am great.”

Q: Or one with God?

Lester: Well, where is “One with God?” One with God is not a top state because it’s in duality. If I am one with God, there are “I” and “God.” In the ultimate we discover that “I” is God. There’s only a singular oneness in the universe, and we are, we must necessarily be, that oneness. That’s what we discover at the end of the line, or the beginning of the line, whichever way you look at it. We are unlimited beings covering over this limitlessness with concepts of limitation, the first of which is “I am an individual separate from the all.” That’s the very first and a very big error that we make. “I am separate; I am a personality; my name is Lester; I have a body.” And I spiral right down. After we assume a mind and a body, then we assume all these troubles and all these problems, and they’re nothing but assumptions. They are only a fiction, which we see after we go within, quiet the mind, and discover all this truth right there.

This whole world, as now seen, is nothing but a dream illusion that never was. The truth is just behind the outward world. So why create trouble? The growth is simply the eliminating of all the concepts of limitation. That infinite perfect being that we are must always be infinite and perfect, and therefore is perfect right now. That’s one thing we can never change—our unlimited Self. That is all the time. But I, the unlimited Self, can assume that I am limited, and that I have a mind, I have a body, I have problems. However it is only an assumption.

Q: What’s the technique for cutting through all that, for getting right to that state where you have that total awareness?

Lester: Pose the question “Who and what am I?” and wait for the answer to present itself. The thinking mind can never give the answer, because all thought is of limitation. So, in quietness and meditation pose the questions: “Who am I?” “What am I?” When other thoughts come up, strike them down. If you can’t, ask “Who is listening to these thoughts?” Well, I am. Well then, who am I? and you’re right back on the track of “Who am I?” Continue this until you get the answer to the question “Who and what am I?” regardless of how long it takes.

The answer is the unlimited Self. The only way It becomes obvious is when the mind stills almost completely. The only obstacles to immediate full realization here and now are the thoughts, every one of which is limited. Eliminate those thoughts and you’ll see this infinite Being that you always were and are and always will be.

The difficulty is the past habit-patterns of thought, the unconscious constant turning and churning of thought in a mechanism we have set up that we call the unconscious mind. The unconscious thoughts are simply our thoughts now that we do not look at, and so we call them unconscious. This is the enemy we set up. To lessen these unconscious thoughts, we first make them conscious. When we make them conscious, then we may let go of them and they are gone forever. This quiets the unconscious mind. Now, the more we eliminate the thoughts, the more obvious our real Self becomes. The more obvious our real Self becomes, the more we are able to scorch the remaining thoughts, until the mind is totally quieted.

Q: You have to still the conscious thoughts before you can get to the unconscious thoughts?

Lester: The conscious thought is only the unconscious thought made conscious.

Q: They come through dreams, too, at that state, don’t they? The unconscious thoughts?

Lester: Yes, but it’s only in the waking state that we can eliminate them and thereby grow.

Q: How many minds do we have?

Lester: There’s only one mind. What we are looking at this moment is what the world calls the conscious mind. The part of the mind we’re not looking at this moment the world calls the unconscious mind. It’s the mode of mind that we give a different name to. That which we are talking about now, that which we are aware of now, is what we call the conscious mind, the conscious thought. The unconscious mind is all the thoughts we are not interested in at this moment. What some call super-conscious thought, there’s really no such thing as super-conscious thought. The superconscious, that which is above consciousness, is already out of the thinking realm, that’s the omniscience, that’s the realm of knowingness. The super-conscious realm is all awareness, all knowingness. There is no thinking when you know.

Q: Is unconscious different from subconscious?

Lester: Subconscious and unconscious are the same.

Q: Do you agree with Jung’s collective unconscious theory?

Lester: I only agree with truth. And this is one thing I emphasize: truth is the only authority for truth. Accept nothing until you can prove it for yourself. Don’t even accept what I say, no matter how much I speak as though I know. If it doesn’t fit into your knowingness at present, you can accept it in order to test it. But only that which you can prove for yourself, only that should you accept. This is very important. It is absolutely necessary to prove all of this knowledge for yourself. Otherwise it’s hearsay to you. You must make this knowledge your knowledge.

Now, there’s only one truth, one absolute truth, so putting names to it doesn’t mean anything. Whether so-and-so said it or I said it doesn’t mean anything. Is it true? Does it integrate into your understanding? That’s the only thing that matters. That’s the point in which we [Lester] are different: we try to make this very practical so that you can use this knowledge and move toward total understanding as quickly as possible.

Q: Is it necessary to go through stages?

Lester: No. How long should it take infinite power, infinite knowledge to know that It is infinite?

Q: It wouldn’t take any time.

Lester: Right. When man so wills with full intensity of will it happens quickly. If you would want this more than anything else, you would have it in a matter of weeks or months.

Q: Is there any way of making yourself want it more and more?

Lester: Yes, make yourself want it by experiencing the wonderfulness of it.

Q: Or make yourself more and more miserable?

Lester: Well, there are two incentives; misery is one, but not the best. The sweetness of it, the wonderfulness of it, the glory of it should make us want it more than the misery should.

Q: The glory in what sense?

Lester: The glory of it, of knowing what you are. It’s a tremendous experience, it’s an ecstasy, a euphoria. There are no real words to describe it because, well, we’re in an age where these things are not experienced and therefore not understood, so how can there be words for things that are not understood? There are no words to describe these feelings, they’re so beyond present understanding. So you pick the words you know best to describe it and that’s it. Paramhansa Yogananda uses the words “ever-new joy welling up every second,” and that’s a practical way of describing it. At first it’s a joy that spills over every second, just keeps pouring out, pouring out, you feel as though you can’t contain it. Later on, it resolves itself into a very profound peace, the most peaceful peace you could ever imagine. It’s a delicious peace which is far more comfortable than ever-new joy. But please, get the ever-new joy!

Q: But don’t stay there.

Lester: That’s it. It’s very easy to get stuck in the ever-new joy state. That’s what they call the ananda sheath. It’s the last veil we have to remove. It is the last wall we must break through. When you start this ever-new joy, it’s so good you just want to continue it. Also you have no feeling of need to change, everything is so wonderful. But it isn’t the final state. The final state is “the peace that passeth all understanding.” It’s a deep, deep peace. You move in the world, the body moves, but you have absolute peace all the time. Bombs could be dropping all around you and you have that perfect peace regardless of what’s going on.

Q: How do you maintain that state?

Lester: If you get it you don’t have to maintain it, because you have it, you are it.

Q: Well, in that particular state then, you are really omniscient and all the other things, and there’s no necessity for thinking.

Lester: Right. That’s the top state. Now, it is possible to dip into this state to a certain depth that’s very deep and not maintain it because the habits from the past, the habits of thoughts that have not been eliminated, re-emerge and take over. We can feel this infinite being that we are and it’s a wonderful experience, then the next minute, “Oh, so-and-so wants me to do this and I don’t want to do it,” a thought comes in and there you are, identifying with unhappy limitedness. You, the Self, are trying to be this unlimited being through a very narrow ego, a very limited ego, and it hurts. That’s all it is.

Q: How do you bombard that ego and get rid of it?

Lester: First and foremost, an intense desire to let go of the ego. Second, listening to someone who knows the way and following through on the direction, especially if that one is a fully realized being.

Q: That’s hard to find.

Lester: No, they are available right where you are. Wherever you are, they’re right there. I can name some of them: Jesus, Buddha . . . But there is no need for a physical body when you can get the others wherever you are, because they’re omnipresent. All you need to do is open your mind’s eye and see them. They’re omnipresent so they must be right where you are. Also, they, wanting to help you, must necessarily come to you if you open yourself to them. They have no choice—they have made a commitment. So all you need to do is to ask for their help and guidance and open yourself to it and it is there.

However, since we think we’re physical bodies, sometimes we more readily accept a fully realized being when he is in a physical body. Therefore we will receive more help, because in our physical sensing, he seems to be more real. Because of that it’s good to have a fully realized being in the flesh. However, if we don’t have one, it doesn’t mean we can’t receive the guidance of those who are omnipresent.

Q: Some aspect of the Hindu thought says you can’t do it without a living guru, but I think they’ve evolved beyond that now, and you’re confirming it.

Lester: Yes. However, a guru is alive, whether in physical body or not.

Q: Do people need a living guru?

Lester: People need a guru, a teacher. He doesn’t necessarily have to be alive in a physical body, but he has to be accepted as being alive. He doesn’t have to be in a physical body. The reason why we need a guru is that we are in a very difficult age. It’s an age of materialism where everything, everyone, is shouting at us: “This is a material world. This is it!” We have been in this world again and again and again. So we really need the assistance of a fully realized being to counteract that constant weight of the world that says we are physical, limited bodies.

We should want the Truth more than we want air. Then we would get full realization very quickly.

Q: Did you coin that, is that yours, an aphorism?

Lester: Nothing is mine. Anything I say will have always been said before. I might just twist the words around this way or that way, in my own style, but there’s nothing new. Truth always was and always will be.

There’s a story in the Eastern writings of a master and his disciple. They were bathing in a river and the disciple asked: “Master, how can I know the truth?” And the master took him by the hair and held him under the water until he was about to go unconscious, and then he let him up and said, “Now, when you want truth as much as you wanted air, then you’ll have it.”

They have some great stories.That snake and the rope story is an excellent analogy of the physical world. I guess every one knows that, don’t they? A person walks along the road at dusk and sees a rope on the ground, mistakes it for a snake, goes into an intense fear and a complete involvement as to what to do about this awful snake. Well, the snake is only an illusion. The real thing is a rope. So he spends a lifetime of maybe sixty-five years struggling and fighting this snake-world, and then takes a rest on the astral side and comes back and fights it again and again and again until he wakes up to the fact that the snake was only the rope, and it really never was. And that’s exactly what happens to this physical world. It’s just like that snake, it’s an illusion.

The example I like best is that what goes on in this world is exactly the same as what goes on in a night dream. While we’re in the night dream it’s very real, we are there, there are other characters, it’s either beautiful or ugly, and when it’s a nightmare, we’re being killed. It’s a real struggle. All the time we’re in the dream, it is real to us. But when we awaken we say, “Oh, my gosh, it was only a dream; it never really was.” And that’s exactly what happens when we wake up out of this waking-state dream of the world.

* * *

THE RIGHT PATH

https://youtu.be/zvIOuG45r18  (10:50)

Lester: Why do you stop? Why don’t you go all the way?

Q: I don’t know.

Lester: You don’t think it’s so. You don’t think it can be so.

Q: No, I know all things can be so. “As a man thinketh . . .”

Lester: Intellectually, theoretically you accept it’s so; but if you really thought that, you’d never let go until you became desireless, and then you would instantaneously materialize anything and everything you need. Why would you do it the hard way the way you do it now? Why work for a living? Why punch a time clock? Why have difficulties in life?

. . .

Lester: Life in most of the universe is lived the way I’m speaking about.

Q: Robins still go out and scratch for the worm, though.

Lester: He’s like we are, only not nearly so bound—he’s far freer. He never worries about making a living. But he’s in a physical realm, too. He’s in the slowest, densest realm there is.

Q: The hardest one, hand-to-mouth.

Lester: But I’m making a point here of, why don’t we go all the way and have things happen instantaneously, have a constant state of joy with never any sorrow? Why don’t we do this?

. . .

Lester: But you’ve got to see your not wanting it (liberation) before you will let go of your not-wanting it. This is the point I’m trying to make. If we did not not-want it, it would very quickly be. But we’re holding on to not-wanting it all the time: that’s why we’re not getting it. Does that make sense? We’re holding on to the not-wanting of it, of this perfect way of living.

Q: By seeing obstacles, seeing limitations.

L: By seeing that we are limited, and therefore cannot have things instantaneously. Even a little worm—what is it, a glow worm?—they cut it in half and it grows the part of the body you cut away from it. See, now, we all have to learn how to do that before we gain our immortality. We have to learn to be free from this body before we are not compelled to come back in a body through the womb, through nine months’ incubation and then starting off as a totally helpless infant. Here’s a prime example of probably the grossest stupidity in the universe. For an infant who is basically unlimited to be that incapacitated, how silly can we get? But we do it again and again and again. And if you remember back to your first days of life you’ll find it extremely uncomfortable. You can’t get up and you’re totally un-free. And we’ve all done it this lifetime. We’ve made made ourselves totally incapable of doing almost anything except when food is put in our mouth we take it.

And what I’m saying is face these things, confront these things, and maybe you’ll let go of them and go all the way. And you’ll do it very quickly, because you’re unlimited right now. You’re assuming all these limitations. I guess the thing I’m trying to get into you is the desire to go all the way. Because our growth is directly proportional to our desire for it. If we desired to be unlimited as much as we desire to be limited in the world, we’d get it very quickly. Your desire to be in the world is very intense. I’ve said, if you want to find out how attached you are to this body, how would you feel about throwing it in front of an automobile? Then you’ll discover how much you think you are this body. But you’ve got to confront these things; you’ve got to look at them.

Meister Eckhart: Sermon Fifty Six

Meister Eckhart

Portrait of St. Dominic, 1515

SERMON FIFTY- SIX

(Pf 56, Q 1 09, QT 26)
NOLITE TIMER£ EOS QUI CORPUS OCCIDUNT,
ANIMAM AUTEM OCCIDERE NON POSSUNT
(Matthew 10 : 28)

“Fear not those who would kill the body, for they cannot kill the soul,” for spirit does not kill spirit: spirit gives life to spirit. Those who would kill you are flesh and blood, and whatever is flesh and blood, all that perishes. The noblest thing in man is blood, when it wills good. But the most evil thing in man is blood, when it wills evil. When the blood rules the flesh, a man is humble, patient and chaste and has all the virtues. But when the flesh rules the blood, a man is haughty, angry, and lascivious and has all the vices. We are here praising St. John.3 I cannot praise him so much that God has not praised him more.

Now observe: I will now say something I have never said before. When God created heaven, earth, and all creatures, God did not work: he had no work to do, there was no work in Him. God said, “We will make a likeness” (Gen. 1 : 7). To create is easy; we do it when and as we will. But what I make, I make myself and within myself, imprinting my image expressly in it. “We will make a likeness,” not Thou Father or Thou Son or Thou Holy Ghost, but rather We, the Holy Trinity in concert. We will make a likeness.

When God made man, He wrought in the soul His like work, His active work and His ever-enduring work. This work was so great that it was nothing other than the soul, and the soul was nothing less than the work of God. God’s nature, His being and His Godhead depend upon His working in the soul. God be praised, God be praised!

When God works in the soul, He loves His work. Where the soul is in which God performs His work, that work is so great that it is nothing but love, and the love is nothing but God. God loves Himself and His nature, His being and His Godhead. In the love in which God loves Himself, He loves all creatures—not as creations,* but as God. In the love in which God loves Himself, He loves all things.  [Eckhart uses only one word, usually translated as ‘creatures’, to mean both sentient beings and insentient things. The outer man with his mind has no more reality than a man made of wood.]

Now I will say something I have never said before: God savors Himself. In the savoring in which God savors Himself, therein He savors all creatures—not as creations, but as God. In the savoring in which God savors Himself, therein He savors all things. And mark my words: all creatures tend toward their ultimate perfection.

Now I beg of you to attend to my words by the eternal truth and by the everlasting truth and by my soul! Yet again I will say something I never said before: God and Godhead are as different as heaven and earth. I say further: the inner and the outer man are as different as heaven and earth; but God is loftier by many thousands of miles. God becomes and unbecomes.4

But to return to what I was saying: God savors Himself in all things. The sun sheds its light on all creatures, and whatever the sun shines on absorbs the sunshine, yet the sun does not lose its brightness. All creatures give up their life in favor of being. All creatures enter my understanding that they may become rational in me.5 I alone prepare all creatures for their return to God. Take care, all of you, what you do!

Now I return to my inner and my outer man. I see the lilies in the field, their brightness, their color, and all their leaves; but I do not see their fragrance. Why? Because the fragrance is in me. But what I say is in me and I speak it forth from me. All creations are savored by my outer man as creations, like wine and bread and meat. But my inner man savors things not as creations, but as God’s gift. But my inmost man savors them not as God’s gift, but as eternity.

I take a bowl of water and put a mirror in it and set it under the disc of the sun. Then the sun sends forth its light-rays both from the disc and from the sun’s depth, and yet suffers no diminution. The reflection of the mirror in the sun is a sun, and yet it is what it is.6 So it is with God. God is in the soul with His nature, with His being and with His Godhead, and yet He is not the soul.7 The reflection of the soul in God is God, and yet she is what she is. God becomes when all creatures say ‘God’—then God comes to be. 8

When I subsisted in the ground, in the bottom, in the river and fount of Godhead, no one asked me where I was going or what I was doing: there was no one to ask me. When I flowed forth, all creatures said, ‘God.’ If anyone asked me, ‘Brother Eckhart, when did you leave your house?’ then I was in there. That is how all creatures speak of God. And why do they not speak of the Godhead? Everything that is in the Godhead is one, and of that there is nothing to be said. God works, the Godhead does no work. There is nothing for it to do, there is no activity in it. It never peeped at any work. God and Godhead are distinguished by working and not-working.

When I return to God, if I do not remain there,9 my breakthrough will be far nobler than my outflowing. I alone bring all creatures out of their reason into
my reason, so that they are one with me. 10 When I enter the ground, the bottom, the river and fount of the Godhead, none will ask me whence I came or where I have been. No one missed me, for there God unbecomes.” 11

Whoever has understood this sermon, good luck to him. If no one had been here I should have had to preach it to this offertory box. There are some poor people who will go back home and say, ‘I shall settle down and eat my bread and serve God.’ By the eternal truth I declare that these people will remain in error, and will never be able to strive for and win what those others achieve who follow God in poverty and exile. Amen.

Notes
3 . This sermon was given on 29 August, the day the Church commemorates the beheading of St. John the Baptist.
4. Got der wirt und entwirt. This refers, as Clark notes, to the difference between God and Godhead. See note 8 and note 1 1 .
5 . They are illumined by the active intellect (Clark).
6 . I.e., a mirror.
7. As Clark notes, Eckhart here clearly shows he is no pantheist.
8. The explanation of the phrase ‘God becomes and unbecomes” (note 4).
9. If I penetrate beyond ‘God’ to the ‘Godhead.’
10 . Cf. note 5 .
11 . The further explanation of ‘God becomes and unbecomes’ (note 4 and note 8 ) .

Meister Eckhart: When God Shows Himself

When God shows Himself (Sermon Sixty Eight)

ELIZABETH IMPLETUM EST TEMPUS PARIENDI ET PEPERIT FILIUM.

(Luke 1:57)

“Elizabeth’s time of pregnancy was completed and she gave birth to a son. John is his name. Then the people said, What wonders shall come of this child, for the hand of God is with him!” One scripture says, “The greatest gift is that we are God’s children” and that He bears His Son in us.1 The soul should give birth to nothing inside herself if she wishes to be the child of God in whom God’s Son shall be born; in her nothing else should be born. God’s chief aim is giving birth. He is never content till He begets His Son in us. And the soul, too, is in no way content until the Son of God is born in her. And from that there springs forth grace. Grace is thereby infused. Grace does not work: its work is its becoming. It flows out of God’s essence and flows into the essence of the soul and not into her powers.

When the time was completed, grace was born.2 When is the completion of time? When time is no more. If anyone has, in time, set his heart on eternity so that in him all temporal things are dead, that is the completion of time.

I once said, ‘He will not always rejoice who rejoices in time.’4 St. Paul says, “Rejoice in God all the time.” He rejoices all the time who rejoices above time and apart from time. One writer says there are three things that so hinder a man that he cannot know God at all: the first is time, the second corporeality, the third multiplicity.5 As long as these three things are in me, God is not in me, nor is He properly at work in me. St. Augustine says it comes from the greed of the soul, because she wants to have and hold so much that she reaches into time and corporeality and multiplicity, thereby losing what she has.6 For as long as you want more and more, God cannot dwell or work in you. These things must always go out if God is to go in, and then you may have them in a higher and better way, namely, that the many are made one in you. Then, the more there is of multiplicity in you, the more there is of unity, for the one is changed into the other.

I once said, ‘Unity unites all multiplicity, but multiplicity does not unite unity.’7 When we are lifted above all things (stucke), and everything within us is raised up, nothing can oppress us. What is beneath me cannot weigh on me. If my attention were fixed on God alone, so that there was nothing above me but God, then nothing whatsoever would bother me, and I should not be easily distressed. St. Augustine says, “Lord, when I turn to thee, all heaviness, sorrow, and distress is taken from me.”8 When we have gotten beyond time and temporal things, then we are free and always happy, and then there is the “completion of time,” and then God’s Son is born in you.9

I once said, ‘In the completion of time, God sent His Son.’10 If anything is born in you except the Son, then you do not have the Holy Ghost, and grace is not at work in you. The origin of the Holy Ghost is the Son. If it were not for the Son there would be no Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost cannot have his outflowing or his blossoming forth anywhere but from the Son.11 When the Father begets the Son, He gives all that He has of [his] essence and nature. In that giving the Holy Ghost gushes forth. In this way it is God’s intention to give Himself entirely to us. It is like when fire seeks to draw the wood into itself, and to penetrate the wood, finding the wood unlike itself. Therefore it takes time. First it makes it warm, then hot, then it smokes and crackles on account of its unlikeness: and the hotter the wood gets, the more still and quiet it becomes, and the more like the fire, the more peaceful it is, until it becomes all fire. If the fire is to press the wood into itself, all unlikeness must be cast out.

In the truth which is God, if you are intent upon anything but God alone, or if you seek anything but God, whatever your work may be, it is neither yours nor God’s. What you intend to accomplish by the work is the work. That which works in me is my Father, and I am dependent upon Him. It is impossible in nature that there should be two fathers: there must always be one father in nature.

When all other things are finished and complete, then this birth takes place. A thing that fills is everywhere in contact with its boundary and nowhere falls short: it has breadth and length, height and depth. If it had height and no breadth, length or depth, it would not fill. St. Paul says, “Pray that you may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth, the height, the length and the depth” ( Eph. 3 : 14-18). These three things stand for three kinds of knowledge.12 The first is sensible: the eye sees from afar things outside it. The second is rational, and is much higher. The third denotes a noble power of the soul, which is so high and so noble that it takes hold of God in His own being. This power has nothing in common with anything; it makes anything and everything out of nothing. It knows no yesterday or the day before, or tomorrow and the day after, for in eternity there is neither yesterday nor tomorrow, only a present now. That which was a thousand years ago and that which will occur in a thousand years is present there, and so is what is beyond the ocean. This power seizes God in His robing room.13 One scripture says, “In Him, by Him, through Him.”14 “In Him” means in the Father, “by Him” means in the Son, “through Him” means in the Holy Ghost. St. Augustine says something that sounds quite different from this but is very similar: ‘There is no truth but it contains in itself all truth.”15 This power grasps all things in truth. Nothing is hidden from this power. . . .

“What wonders shall come of this child?” Speaking not long ago in opposition to certain people who are very likely here as well, I said, “There is nothing covered that shall not be revealed .” (Matt. 10:26) “Nothings” shall be cast aside and so covered up that they will not be thought of again.  We should have no knowledge of “nothings” and should have naught in common with “nothings.” All creatures are pure nothing.18 That which is neither here nor there and is a forgetting of all creatures, embraces the fullness (pleroma – πλήρωμα) of all being.

I said then that nothing within us should be hidden: we should reveal it all to God and give it all to Him. Whatever state in which we find ourselves, whether in strength or in weakness, in joy or in sorrow, whatever we find ourselves attached to, we must abandon. In truth, if we reveal all to Him, He in return will reveal to us all that He has. In truth He will conceal absolutely nothing of all that He can perform—neither wisdom nor truth nor mystery nor divinity nor anything else. This is in truth as true as that God lives, provided we reveal ourselves. But if we do not reveal ourselves, then it is no wonder if He reveals naught to us, for it must be on equal terms—we to Him as He to us.

It is lamentable how some people think themselves very lofty and quite one with God and yet have not abandoned self, and cling to such petty things in joy and sorrow. They are a long way from where they imagine themselves to be. They are full of notions and wants. I once said, ‘If a man seeks nothings, to whom should he complain if he finds nothing?’19 He has found what he was seeking. Whoever seeks or aims at something is seeking and aiming at nothing, and he who prays for something will get nothing. But he who seeks naught and aims at naught but God alone, to him God will reveal and give all things He has concealed in His divine heart, so that it becomes his own just as it is God’s own, neither less nor more, provided his aim is God alone, without means. (ane mite – see 21)

If a sick man does not relish food and wine, is that surprising? For he does not get the true taste of the wine or the food. The tongue has a coating and a cover with which it tastes, and that is bitter through the disorder of the disease. It never reached the place where it could be properly savored; it seems bitter to the sick man, and he is right, because it must be bitter on account of the coating that intervenes. Unless this hindrance is removed, it cannot taste according to its proper flavor. As long as that which intervenes has not been removed in us, we will never get the proper flavor of God, and our life will often be harsh and bitter.20

I once said, ‘The virgins follow the lamb, wherever he goes, not lagging behind.’21 Some of these are virgins and some are not virgins, though they think they are. Those who are true virgins follow the lamb wherever he goes, in joy and sorrow. Some follow the lamb as long as he goes in sweetness and ease: but as soon as the going leads to sorrow and discomfort and suffering, they turn back and cease to follow him. Assuredly, they are not virgins, whatever they seem to be. Some say, ‘Well now, Lord, I can well come to this in honor, riches, and comfort.’ All right, if the lamb has lived that way and has led you that way, I wish you well in following in his footsteps. But the maidens scramble after the lamb through narrow places and broad, wherever he scrambles.

“When the time was fulfilled, grace was born. ” May all things be fulfilled in us so that God’s grace may be born in us, so help us God. Amen.

Notes
1. Cf. 1 John 3 : 1 . This is the text of Sermon 7 (q.v. ) .
2. John is derived from the Hebrew name יוֹחָנָן (Yochanan), which means “YAHWEH is gracious”
4. Cf. Sermon 27 , on the text referred to.
5. Cf. Sermon 57:
“If the soul is to know God, she must not regard anything in time, for as long as the soul is regarding time and place or any such idea, she can never know God. A master says, if the soul is to know God, she must have nothing in common with anything. He who knows God knows that all creatures are nothing.”
6 . Cf. Confessions 10.41 ( Q ) .
7 . “Multiplicity does not unite unity.” Of course, there is no need to unite what is already one, so this may be Eckhart’s way of pointing out the absurdity of placing one’s faith in religious rites and acts of charity as a way of attaining oneness.
8. Cf. Confessions 4.15 (Clark).
9. Change of pronoun as in the original.
10. Cf. Sermon 29.
11 . In the Pistis Sophia, Mind and Truth are aeons; united as Mind-and-Truth they begat the aeons Christ and the Holy Ghost, also written as a union:
“Mind-and-Truth emanated Christ-and-Holy Spirit for the enforming and elimination of the abortion., and the relief and appeasing of the complaints of Wisdom. Thus with Christ-and-Holy Spirit there are thirty aeons.” (Hippolytus, quoted in Fragments of a Faith Forgotten, p. 341) Perhaps Eckhart had read Hippolytus.
12. Cf. St. Augustine, De Genesi ad litteram 1 2.34 ( Q ).
13. “Thirdly, he must take God not as being good or just, but he must apprehend Him in the pure and naked substance where He is nakedly apprehending Himself. For goodness and justice are God’s garment which covers Him. Therefore, strip God of all His clothing—seize Him naked in his robing room, where He is uncovered and bare in Himself. Then you will abide in Him.” (Sermon 63)
14. Cf. Rom. 11 : 36.
15. A quotation hard to identify. Quint, following Skutella, compares De Iibera arbitrio 1.2 . 12; Clark thinks of Confessions 10.24, last sentence.
18. Cf. Nos. 7 and 13a. A fuller formulation of this was condemned in the bull of 1329.
19. Cf. Sermon 40.
20. Cf. Sermon 53.
21. Cf. Sermon 24a: ‘not lagging behind’ here freely renders ane mite: ‘without means’ or ‘without anything intervening.’ For the previous use of ane mite, “provided his aim is God alone, without means,” this could simply mean that God should be sought directly and not through sacraments.

Paul’s Prayer for the Ephesians (3:14)
“. . . for reason of this I bow my knees to the Father . . . for Christ to dwell in your hearts through faith . . . so that you may be fully able, with all the saints, to comprehend what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ surpassing knowledge, so that you may be filled unto all the fullness of God.” (Berean Literal)

Walshe, Maurice O’C. (2009). The Complete Mystical Works of Meister Eckhart. New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company. (pdf)

Transcending the self through Kabbala

As the En Soph constituted man the microcosm, and as the Deity is reflected in this epitome of the universe more than in any component part of the creation, all things visible and invisible are designed to aid him in passing through his probationary state here below, in gathering that experience for which his soul has been sent down, and in returning in a pure state to that source of light from which his soul emanated. This destiny of man—i.e., the reunion with the Deity from which he emanated—is the constant desire both of God and man, and is an essential principle of the soul, underlying its very essence. Discarding that blind power from our nature, which governs our animal life, which never quits this earth, and which therefore plays no part in our spiritual being, the soul possesses two kinds of powers and two sorts of feelings.

As a necessary condition of free existence and of moral being, the souls are endowed by the Deity, from the very beginning, with the power of adhering in close proximity to the primordial source of infinite light from which they emanated, and of alienating themselves from that source and pursuing an independent and opposite course. . . . So complete is their independence that even in their pre-existent state souls can and do choose which way they intend to pursue. “All souls which are not guiltless in this world have already alienated themselves in heaven from the Holy One, blessed be he; they have thrown themselves into an abyss at their very existence, and have anticipated the time when they are to descend on earth. . . . Thus were the souls before they came into this world.” (Sohar, iii, 61 b.)  (“The Destiny of Man and the Universe”, Ginsburg, pp. 118-119)

Gain for yourselves, ye sons of Adam, by means of these transitory things which are not yours (the mind and body), that which is your own, and passeth not away. (Mead, p. 599) 

The Kabbalistic Way of Character Refinement

By Rabbi DovBer Pinson (Chabad.org)

It only takes a short glimpse into the work of the great masters of the theoretical Kabbalah to notice that the mass majority of the texts do not deal at all with transformation of character. While it is true that Chassidic mystical literature is geared toward taking the highly theoretical and relating it to one’s day-to-day life, the Kabbalah itself seems not to care so much about the person. But rather, it seems to be interested in explaining the heavenly spheres, angels, souls, and ‘things’ of this sort, not how one is to conquer negative behavior.

Notwithstanding, this does not imply that the Kabbalah is not interested in the person per se. To the contrary! In fact, there are countless remarks throughout all the works of Kabbalah regarding the negativity of bad character traits, such as anger, laziness, depression, and others. The harshest condemnation of depression, anger, and other negative counter-productive emotions are found within the works of Kabbalah. Yet, the Kabbalistic method of character refinement is quite a different approach than the approaches that we are accustomed to encountering. It is not a head-on battle of countering negativity on its own turf, but neither is it to overwhelm the negative with the positive. Its approach is to come from another vantage point and see things from another perspective.

[T]he world as we tend to perceive it, as separate, independent of a creator, is but an illusion, and in reality there is nothing other than the infinite light

The primary objective of mystical thought is to make the person understand that there is nothing else besides the Infinite. Reading the various configurations, maps, and diagrams the Kabbalah presents, the person is supposed to be awakened to consciousness that all that really exists is the Ein Sof. There is a feeling tone that is to be aroused when we penetrate the truths of Kabbalah, and that is the feeling that the world as we tend to perceive it, as separate, independent of a creator, is but an illusion, and in reality there is nothing other then the infinite light. Having this notion in mind, consciously or even subconsciously, we are then able to conquer all our personal negative emotions and traits.

The Ego / False Sense of Self, as the Source of all Negative Emotions

It is the ego which give rise to all negative emotions. For example, when a person becomes angry, it is the ego’s way of showing its objection that it is not happy. The ego, when it feels it is threatened, is the one who protests: ‘How can you do this to me!’ which arouses the anger. The fear of annihilation is the constant condition with regards to the ego. Anger is but a manifestation of a person’s preoccupation with his imaginary presumptions of survival. The total involvement with the illusory ‘self’ is the root of all negative emotions.

The total involvement with the illusory self is the root of all negative emotions.

R. Eliyahu ben Moshe Di Vidas, a 16th century Kabbalist, posits that there are three primary negative traits, which may be considered the ‘principal traits’ from which all further dissension occurs. They are haughtiness, stubbornness, and anger, all of which claim origin in the same source, that is, the ego. Ego is the fountainhead from which all negativity stems. The core of all corruption is that false sense of self/ego, which lives in an incessant state of [grasping for] what it thinks will ensure its survival.

By overcoming this false sense of self, which stems from one’s false estimation of survival, one’s negative emotions are conquered. Through the study of the Kabbalah, we come to the realization that the false sense of self/ego is but a masquerade of our true and inner dynamics, our transcendent soul. The feeling tone we get when contemplating Kabbalah is that all that exists is Ein Sof. We ought to feel this on a cosmic level, and then understand it on our own level. Consequently, the illusion of separateness/ego and the preservation of this mirage will slowly begin to fade, and with it will fade the negative emotions which are the ego’s manifestation.

Instead of seeing the ego as a real enemy who needs to be engaged in battle in order to be overcome, we begin to realize that there is nothing besides the Light, and everything else is simply a concealment of that truth. Such is the Kabbalistic approach for self-perfection. It does not deal with the negative head-on, nor does it deal with it at all. Rather it goes to the source of all problems, the I/ego, and by extension, the entire physical reality, and it demonstrates how, in fact, these seemingly independent realities are but a camouflage. By realizing this, our negativity is more easily overcome.

Rabbi DovBer Pinson, Rosh Kollel of IYYUN, is a world-renowned scholar, kabbalist, and spiritual teacher. Through his books and lectures he has touched the lives of tens of thousands, and serves as a mentor to many across the globe. He has authored over 30 books, many of which have been translated into multiple languages.

* * *

The Kabbalah was first taught by God himself to a select company of angels, who formed a theosophic school in Paradise. After the fall the angels most graciously communicated this heavenly doctrine to the disobedient child of earth, to furnish beings with the means of returning to their pristine nobility and felicity. From Adam it passed over to Noah, and then to Abraham, the friend of God, who emigrated with it to Egypt, where the patriarch allowed a portion of this mysterious doctrine to seep out, and the other Eastern nations could introduce it into their philosophical systems. Moses, who was learned in all the wisdom of Egypt, was first initiated into it in the land of his birth, but became most proficient in it during his wanderings in the wilderness, when he not only devoted to it the leisure hours of the whole forty years, but received lessons in it from one of the angels. He covertly laid down the principles of this secret doctrine in the first four books of the Pentateuch, but withheld them from Deuteronomy. Moses also initiated the seventy elders into the secret of this doctrine, and they in turn transmitted them mouth to mouth. Of all who formed the unbroken line of transmission, David and Solomon were most initiated into the Kabbalah. No one, however, dared to write it down till Simon ben Jochai, who lived at the time of the destruction of the second Temple. (Ginsburg, pp. 84-85)

From what has been said it will be seen that the followers of this secret doctrine claim for it a pre-Adamite existence and maintain that, ever since the creation of the first man, it has been received uninterruptedly from the hands of the patriarchs, the prophets, etc. It is for this reason that it is called Kabbala, which primarily means reception, and then a doctrine received by oral tradition.

The cardinal doctrines of the Kabbalah are mainly designed to solve the grand problems about (I) The nature of the Supreme Being, (II) The cosmogony, (III) The creation of angels and man, (IV) The destiny of man and the universe, and (V) To point out the import of the Revealed Law. Assenting and consenting to the declarations of the Hebrew Scriptures about the unity of God, his incorporeity, eternity, immutability, perfection, infinite goodness, the creation of the world in time according to God’s free will, the moral government of the universe and special providence, and to the creation of man in the image of God, the Kabbalah seeks to explain the transition from the infinite to the finite; the procedure of multifariousness from an absolute unity, and of matter from a pure intelligence; the operation of pure intelligence upon matter, in spite of the infinite gulf between them; the relationship of the Creator to the creature, so as to be able to exercise supervision and providence. It, moreover, endeavours to show how it is that the Bible gives names and assigns attributes and a form to so spiritual a Being, how the existence of evil is compatible with the infinite goodness of God, and what is the Divine intention about this creation. (Ginsburg, pp. 86-87)

The Supreme Being

Being boundless in his nature—which necessarily implies that he is an absolute unity and inscrutable, and that there is nothing without him, or that the το παν is in him,1—God is called En Soph, meaning Endless, Boundless. In this boundlessness, or as the En Soph, he cannot be comprehended by the intellect, nor described in words, for there is nothing which can grasp and depict him to us, and as such he is, in a certain sense, not existent, because as far as our minds are concerned, that which is perfectly incomprehensible does not exist.

  1. This doctrine, however, that everything is in the Deity is not peculiar to the Kabbalah. It has been propounded by the Jews from time immemorial,  as may be seen from the following passage in the Midrash:

The Holy One, blessed be he, is the space of the universe, but the universe is not his space. R. Isaac submitted: From the passage (Deut. xxxiii, 27), we do not know whether the Holy One, blessed be he, is the habitation of the universe or the universe his habitation; but from the remark Lord thou art the dwelling place (Ps. xc, 1), it is evident that the Holy One, blessed be he, is the dwelling place of the universe, and not the universe his dwelling place.” (Bereshith Rabba)(Ginsburg, pp. 87-88)

Ginsburg, Christian D. (2005). The Essenes: Their History and Doctrines and the Kabbalah – Its Doctrines, Development and Literature (pub. 1864). New York: Cosimo (pp. 84-88).

Mead, George Robert Stow (1900). Fragments of a Faith Forgotten. London: Theosophical Publishing Society.

Lester Levenson: Be Not the Doer

Lester began teaching about this practice by telling the group: “Whatever you want, get it by releasing only. No effort, no doing, just releasing.” But by the next day he realized his mistake, and he changed the practice to “Be not the doer.” What he is teaching here is called in Zen tso-ch’an (literally “sitting meditation”); it is also called mindfulness.

* * *

“You are at peace when you are established in witness consciousness.” – Deepak Chopra

“Supernatural power and marvelous activity: Drawing water and carrying firewood.” – Layman P’ang

“When thus the Bodhisattva, discarding all effortful works (sarvdbhogavigata), attains to the effortless state of consciousness, he enters upon the eighth stage known as Acala, the Immovable.” – Suzuki (1929, p. 225)

“With regard to the Way, the worthy man in every age is he who has nothing to do. With regard to the Way, when one is mindless, all things proceed effortlessly.” – Seng-chao (The Pao-tsung lun)

“The Almighty God is present everywhere with infinite strength and grace. We too are empowered by that same infinite power, but our addiction to sensory pleasures and material greed negates our entire strength and turns us into slaves of meanness. Otherwise man is also immensely powerful, as God Himself is the source of power of his creations. The man who know this truth and honors this power within can do anything easily without fail.” – Swami Trailanga

In the truth which is God, if you are intent upon* anything but God alone, or if you seek anything but God, whatever your work may be, it is neither yours nor God’s. What you intend to accomplish by the work is the work. That which works in me is my Father, and I am dependent upon Him. It is impossible in nature that there should be two fathers: there must always be one father in nature. – Meister Eckhart (Sermon Sixty Eight)   (*giving all of one’s attention and effort to a specific task or goal)

I took out of Ramana Maharshi something that I’ll give you now. “Work is no hindrance to realization. Doing things does not block you from realization. It is the sense of wrong identification that is the source of all your trouble. Get rid of the false identification.” And what’s the false identification? That you are the doer. And you have all experienced from releasing that when you’re released, it happens. You’re not the doer. Like when Yogananda was sitting in a bed, he was very high, and trying to get his balance he raised his hand, and it went up effortlessly. When you’re not the doer and you want your hand to go up, it just floats up with no effort. In everything you do the same thing happens. No energy, no effort is necessary. So, being in action is no hindrance; the hindrance is identifying as being the limited body-mind, is identifying with the ego.

If you tried to do no action, you wouldn’t succeed, because your karma is driving you now into action. So if you tried to do nothing, you wouldn’t succeed. Whatever your karma is, you would do. So, trying to do nothing doesn’t help. Only releasing helps. And only releasing will get you all the way—as fast as you will do it. So, the action, rather than being a hindrance, is really a help. Because as you’re in action, you’re being pushed by your feelings, which bring up more feelings while you’re in action for you to release all your feelings. So you must do it in the world; you must do it in action. You cannot do it isolating. When you isolate you’ll just escape.

Every man is where he is by the law of his being; [his] thoughts have brought him there, and in the arrangement of his life there is no element of chance, but all is the result of a law which cannot err. As a progressive and evolving being, man is where he is that he may learn that he may grow; and as he learns the spiritual lesson which any circumstance contains for him, it passes away and gives place to other circumstances. – James Allen (“As a Man Thinketh”; 1903)

So, the next major point to write down is “Whatever you do, do it to perfection.” That’s behaving like a master. Behaving like a master brings up the objections to it for your releasing. If you don’t do things to perfection, it’s because— actually, your destructiveness, your non-constructiveness, causes you to not do it to perfection. But if you make it a point to do it to perfection, up will come these feelings of “I can’t” for your releasing. So, make it a point to do whatever you’re doing very successfully. That word “perfection” might not be understood; “success” might be better understood. Whatever you do, you should be successful in doing it.

Q: I still get confused about the action part of it. You’re saying it’s effortless. You still—the body acts to [accomplish] it, but it’s without . . .

Lester: Yes, it’s without effort. It’s like floating through the air, floating through the thing. As I explained, if you wanted to lift your arm up, it takes no effort: it just floats up. No energy is required. So, effortlessness is when I say, “I am not the doer” and I let it happen. Another way of expressing it is letting go and letting God. But your actual experience is [that there is] no effort.

Q: That makes it a lot clearer, because the body could go through all of the actions of the day, doing things, and yet be effortless if we stay released.

Lester: Right. That’s it. I think the last time I read something that Ramana Maharshi said: “Action doesn’t stop one from realization; identifying as the doer does.”

So, bottom line, it all adds up to “I am my beingness.” And when you come from your beingness, you’ll just watch the bodies float around, including your own, exactly as you would watch them on a movie screen. And when bodies on a movie screen start shooting bullets and wiping each other out, you know it for what it is—just an imagined thing. There’s no death. You can imagine a death, but actually there’s no thing as death. Get rid of the image, get rid of the mind. And, again, you’ll never stop struggling until you go all the way to freedom.

Maybe we ought to continue where we left off last night. It was, “Be not the doer.” Who wants to be a door? (Laughter) So I’ll say, “Be not the door.” (Laughter)

And in general there were a lot of questions on what it means to “Be not the doer.” So I think I started off by saying, well, I told you to release to get everything you want. When you are released, you have no sense of doership—everything falls into line. When you are released you experience the sense of being not the doer. So that ought to connect for every one of you. When you’re completely released, it just happens with no effort. And so you just sit back and watch it happen, is the experiencing you go through. That’s being not the doer.

Now, you cannot go into inaction because of your karma. But you should use the action to grow by, and one of the big things is “Be not the doer.” Watch it happen. When you are being not the doer your sense is [that] you’re sitting in a theater watching the show go on. Do you have any question on the sense of being in action and being not the doer?

Q: I got to the point where even my will seems senseless.

Lester: It is, if you can “Be not the doer.” But if you cannot “Be not the doer” then will is useable. Will is effort; it’s making an effort to undo the effort. But there’s a power in you, it’s a willpower, where you can decree if you will. So that now willing is good, because you could will out the whole thing if you so decided. I have yet to see the first one do it. Okay, so, what’s your question now?

Q: You just answered it. Thank you.

Lester: See, with Alan I was able to explain it relative to something that was going on. He wanted to make a preparation for somebody to do something that he would like them to do. And he asked me if I would call that [unintelligible] and I said, No. Well, in his idea you had to go “da, da, da, da” to get ready for it. My concept was, in a matter of thirty seconds I’ll have the whole thing completed when I see this person. Because I’m not the doer; it happens right away if I continue to be not the doer. If I am the doer then I gotta make preparations, I gotta do convincing, I gotta do asking—a lot of roundabout stuff. But when you’re not the doer, it’s the sense of letting go and letting God do it. You actually sit by and watch the body action go on, just as you would [watch] a moving picture of your body.

I think you have all experienced times when you were not the doer and you saw things happen, right? So you’ve all experienced it, and experience is the main thing that we need to use to learn. We cannot learn intellectually through the mind, through the head. The mind is the enemy; the mind is the obstacle. The only way we can learn is through experiencing. And each and every one of you has experienced being not the doer and watching the thing fall into line without effort. All right. Now, the thing to accomplish is to have that happen all the time. When it did happen, was it miserable? (Laughter) But every time you make an effort, you’re unhappy. You’re striving, you’re struggling. Every time you make an effort, you’re not happy. But the moment you let go of identifying yourself as being the body, things are effortless. I should say “body-mind.” They’re opposite sides of the same coin, the mind and the body. The mind says the body is there.

(8:00) So, experiencing, there’s something you should know: the difference between the intellect and experiencing. Everything you accumulate even now in the intellect, you’re going to have to drop [in order] to get that intellect, that mind, totally quiet. Everything you’ve learned in your lifetimes, you’re going to dump. Afterwards, you’re omniscient. Afterwards, you’re in touch with your beingness, which is omniscient. And what thinking would omniscience require? If everything is known, what is there to think about? So you shift from using your head, which is your block, to quieting that head, so only your beingness remains. And everything is effortless, everything falls perfectly into line, and you’re in the perfect happiness that there is, that’s really your basic nature.

You should be unattached in your works. But for an unpractised man it is an uncommon thing to reach the point where no crowd and no task hinders him. It calls for diligent application, so that God is ever present to him and shines before him completely unveiled at all times and in all company. Skilful diligence is required for this, and in particular two things. One is that a man has shut himself off well inwardly, so that his mind is on its guard against the images without, that they remain without and do not unfittingly keep company and walk with him, and that they find no resting-place in him. The second is that he should not let himself be caught up by his internal imagery, whether it be in the form of pictures or lofty thoughts or outward impressions or whatever is present to his mind; nor [should he let himself] be distracted nor dissipate himself in their multiplicity. A man should train and bend all his powers to this and keep his inner self present to him. – Meister Eckhart, The Talks of Instruction (Walshe)

(10:49) I remember in the early days they’d put a tape recorder on, and it meant to me, “Oh, I wish that were not on.”

Question: It would stop.

Lester: No, it would go, and when I’d replay it, it was blank. There’s nothing out there but your picture. And for some years, when anyone took a picture of me, I wasn’t in the picture. And if it was a crowd, everyone would come out but me. Until Neva Dell [phonetic] came to town and had a national conference here. She kind of put me up high, and “Oh, I must be in the picture.” So I said, “Oh, Lord, it had better come out this time.” And from that time on, my picture comes out now when people shoot it. But it’s just another example that there’s nothing out there but your consciousness. I know what did it: “Oh, I’m not that body. That body is just imagination.” And so it didn’t come out on the negative—nor on the positive.

Q: I have a question. How do I get myself into the place of being not the doer?

Lester: Practice. Of course, the very best way, as I said before, is releasing. When you’re released, you’re not the doer. And that bothers you sometimes!

Q: Well, it seems that things happen. You don’t really—

Lester: That’s it—things happen. You don’t have to do them. . . . But the sense is that released sense: you let go, and it happens, in the sense of letting go and letting God. You don’t have to do a thing. You just watch it happen. You’re not the doer. Does that answer your question? It’s experiential. You’re not going to get it in the head; you’re going to get it in the experience.

Saraswati, Paramanand (2013). Trailanga Swami and Shankari Mataji. Kolkata: Amar Nath Poddar.

Suzuki, D. T. (1998). Studies in the Lankavatara Sutra. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers. (originally published in 1929)

 
 

To this end, then, assemble all your powers, all your senses, your entire mind and memory; direct them into the ground where your treasure lies buried. But if this is to happen, realize that you must drop all other works—you must come to an unknowing if you would find it. – Meister Eckhart, Sermon Two

Lester Levenson: Purpose

See the real purpose of your life and make it your own

(1958) Peace, friends. Our next word is purpose. Now, purpose is that which one sets before himself as an object to be attained. It is the end or aim to be kept in view in any plan. It is resolution, determination.

Now, purpose is the word that gives us the power we need to propel ourselves to our destination. It is purpose that gives the impetus. It comes to us when we release our brakes, step on the accelerator, move out into greater and more expansive realms with a feeling of lightness, of gaity, of levitation. When we are levitating high above the usual levels of Earth we get a much different perspective. We get sort of a bird’s-eye view of this thing called life. We have moved ourselves way up above the noise and din of the narrow, petty and small living, into the higher and loftier places, into thoughts more about people—the people all about us and even the people all around us on other planets.

From this high vantage point we see that the purpose of life and living is to make us realize the real wondrous and unlimited being that we are. [We see] that we have turned away from this infinity, and that we must now return home to that abode that was always awaiting us, always beckoning us to come back home. We see that we have been prodigal sons and daughters, that we strayed from the rich and rightful mansion of the Lord, or Law, and that now we want to do a turn-about as quickly as we possibly can to reclaim the bountiful heritage that always was ours. We see the Lord, or Law, and know that by simply living in accord with this divine Law we acquire the fastest means of returning home to our godhood. Then we see it as it was seen in a story of one of the gods in which he made himself into a pig. He took for himself a pig’s body, and then [he took] a she-pig, and then had many, many little baby pigs. And he romped and he rooted and he wallowed in the mud with great delight.

One day one of the other gods came and saw his plight. They came to him and said, “Brother god, what are you doing in a pig’s body? What are you doing in a pig sty?”

He said, “Go away and do not bother me! I am very happy here with my she-pig and all the little pigs. And look at the wonderfully soft mud I have to roll in.”

When the brother gods saw they could not reason with him anymore, they decided to take a drastic step: they took a sharp knife and cut open his pig’s body. Out he jumped out and exclaimed, “What a nightmare! All that time I thought I was well-off and happy. Thank goodness you brought me to my senses!”

Friends, that is exactly what we are now doing. We have [made] little pig bodies and think ourselves to be pigs, limited to a world of sense-satisfaction that gives us only a tiny, tiny part of the unlimited joys that are ours for the mere seeing it and taking it. Think of it: we are giving up untold joys beyond joys only to partake of pathetically small, limited and non-satiable pleasures. Is there anyone here who can say that he has had pleasure to the point where he is now totally satiated, satisfied? I doubt it. You will never find the joy that satiates in your present attempts to find it in the sense-world. No. We must let go, rise above it, get our heads above the clouds to see the vast new horizons. And when we do, we see the purpose. We take off the blinds, we take off the closures on our minds, and we see the purpose. And from then on, friends, we are impatient to return to the unlimited expressions of joy, those that are rightly ours by our very nature, which is the godhood that we are seeking.

Now, the power behind the purpose is the wisdom that is expressed by the Law, and it is intensified by the responsibility and the freedom with which you use it. This means that we are as successful insofar as we live by the divine Law, receiving its wisdom and expressing it. And the more we take this responsibility, the more it works for us. But we must put it into action. We must take on the purpose, the power, the responsibility. We must learn the Law, and we must use it and live by it. Every time we do not, every time we break the Law, we are rudely reminded of it by what we call a problem, a sickness, a difficulty. Any of these obstacles are merely blocks or bars that we put in our way. They should serve as reminders to us to wake up, to break the bar, to live in accord with the Law. In this way we get in tune with the divine, in time and in step with the Law. We get into what is called harmony, harmony of life. It is living in accord with the Law that gives us a harmonious life.

So, friends, release your breaks, accelerate, expand, levitate, and see your purpose, and propel yourself to the godhood that is yours.

I will close with a poem entitled “The Power and Purpose of God.”

The Power and Purpose of God

Choose this day whom ye will serve;
Cast out wrong thoughts that bind:
Feelings and thoughts that are unlike God;
Make a channel for God of your mind.

The capacity of the instrument
Through which the power must flow
Controls the amount of power received,
Intake and resultant outgo.

If a boiler built only to handle
A fifty-pound pressure-load
Were forced up to five hundred pounds,
It would probably explode.

So with humans, formed to be channels
For the power of God on Earth:
Those with channels corroded by hate and fear
Have always, indeed, a power dearth.

Only a trickle of life can flow
Through channels weakened by wrong,
But the power of God is mighty in those
Whom purity has made strong.

The power of God is mighty
And is the only reality;
Choose this day whom ye will serve,
Let the power of God set you free.

Peace, Friends.

Lester Levenson: The most effective way of releasing

Remember, if you seek anything [for yourself] you will never find God, for you are not seeking God alone. You are looking for something with God, treating God like a candle with which to look for something, and when you have found what you were looking for, you throw the candle away. That is what you are doing. Whatever you look for with God is nothing. All creatures are pure nothing. I do not say they are a trifle or they are anything: they are pure nothing. What has no being, is not. All creatures have no being, for their being consists in the presence of God. If God turned away for an instant from all creatures, they would perish. I have sometimes said, and it is true, that he who possessed the whole world with God would have no more than if he had God alone. All creatures have nothing more without God than a midge would have without God—just the same, neither more nor less. – Meister Eckhart, Sermon Forty (Walshe, Sermon Forty)

Ego is the cause of all misery.

(4:31) The reason why you’re not going free quickly is you’re releasing to feel good. And that causes you to stop when the goal is accomplished, whereas if you were releasing to go free, you wouldn’t stop. You would bless every opportunity that came your way to gain an additional piece of freedom. Every down would be a wonderful opportunity to you. Every down is a marvelous opportunity to release and go up.

You’re not falling into the later steps of the six steps [see below] because you’re missing the number-one thing—wanting to go free—and replacing it with wanting to satisfy the ego, the “I” personality sense. Chasing after the high state externally in the world, where for each ounce of pleasure you take you get pounds and pounds [of pain]. You get pounded with pain. This is so obvious if you just look at it. The things you thought were most pleasurable in life have given you the greatest agonies—basically, the opposite sex. As you move up, your sex desires should be released, and you reach a place where there is no sex, there is no male and female. You’ll look at souls without a tag [of] male or female.

(6:40) But every desire is an extreme bondage. Every desire is saying, “I lack that.” The All lacks nothing. The All is everything. The oneness includes every last atom. And so you pull yourself away into a new personality, and you are trying to keep that personality surviving. And that’s more important to you than taking this tremendous high state, which is yours by nature, which is inherent, which you cannot change. But you can look away from it and assume this little ego-body-mind.

You’re not looking to go free, and that’s why a whole gang of you are not all the way by now. You’re looking to satisfy this body-mind, thinking [that] therein lies your welfare. And every day it’s proven to you that your welfare does not lie there. You never win! For each ounce of happiness you take via the body-mind you get hit with so much pain!

(8:10) Every thought has a certain amount of pain to it. Why? It pulls your attention away from your beingness. When your mind is quiet, you’re in the most wonderful place there is. But every time you put a thought into it, it’s a disturbance of the inherent natural total peace, equanimity, tranquillity, that is natural. But again, the reason why you’re not establishing that tremendous state is you’re looking for it where it isn’t. You don’t want freedom, you want that terrible game of playing ego, and having moments of pleasure with long periods of pain. So I’m suggesting that you wake up to this fact. Release when you’re high. That ought to be put down in your notes with big capital letters: RELEASE WHEN HIGH. GO HIGH TO RELEASE.

(9:40) The mind is only creative. When you [have a will for] freedom, you’re going to get it quickly—and I say months—because it’ll be your number-one priority, and regardless of what’s going on in your life, you’ll keep releasing. All that suppressed energy is trying to push up now, and you’re trying to hold it down. Stop holding it down, and every bit of it would leak out. It would push right out. Holding it down is holding on to the ego programs. You’ve got to recognize that first you want to be a limited ego. Then you’ve got to accept that that isn’t it, just by looking at your life. It’s been miserable for millions of years. We all think we’re so smart, and boy, are we dumb. For an infinite being to live in the extreme limitations that we do—how smart is that? But that [intelligence] that we feel and think we are is subconsciously knowing our beingness, and the [stupidity] is forgetting that: [forgetting] that it is our beingness that is omniscient and [intelligent].

(11:38) So we must get to the place where we identify all the time with our beingness. And when you do that, you see the mind, body, world as an out-projection of your mind that you set up. “And, so what?” will be your attitude. And good and bad are exactly alike in that projected movie. It’s a projection! That’s the thing you’ve got to get to know. What’s the difference whether it’s black or white, good or bad, hot or cold? It is a projection out there, an imagination, an imaging in my mind, a thing that I set up. “I am not that; I am my beingness.” When you identify with your beingness, the mind matters not because you know it for what it is. When you identify with your beingness, the mind and all its garbage matters not because you know the mind for what it is.

(13:00) The sense of ego contains all likes, dislikes—all thoughts. You must get your attention off it and put it on your beingness, which is there all the time. Is there any time when you are not? No. This infinite beingness that you are is there all the time. Identify with It. Hold, “My mind is not It. My body is not It. My mind and body are out-projections from It.” Identify with your beingness.

(14:06) Release when you’re high. The higher we are, the closer we are to our beingness. Highness and quietness [are the same thing]. When you go high, you’ve got the energy up here. Here you have the least energy; in apathy [pessimism] you’ve thrown in the towel [given up]. Up here you’ve got the highest energy. So move up into this area, and then dig for the fear of dying. Down here you’re drowning in it, and you cannot let go. Up here you can confront the fear of dying. And when you get that out, most of it, you can clean out the remainder relatively easily. Aim to go up here to release from.

(15:25) If I had said these things to you some time ago it would have been meaningless, because you’re so drowning in your AGFLAP that you just can’t see straight. The only thing you see is the AGFLAP. But every one of us has moved up into this area, knows what it’s like, can put ourselves there and then dig down deep and confront the fear of dying, the insecurity, the fear of living. And by so doing you’ll get rid of all fear. Fear is not natural. What does an eternal being have to fear—about dying, especially? So, from here on, make it a point to get up here. Feel high, and then dig for the fear of dying and release it.

(16:50) Your point of focus shifts from body-mind just onto beingness only. You stop thinking about whether this chemical or that chemical is going to do this or that to me. You don’t think, “Am I going to get approval or control?” No matter what anyone says to us, it does not hurt us, because we are infinite beingness. How can what someone says interfere with that? They cannot. And so you move toward the imperturbable state. And I know of no better yardstick of checking where you are at now than by the degree to which you can be bothered. Move to that place where no one and no thing can bother you any more. And remember that the ego is the mind-body; and the mind has to be quieted, and then you identify only with your beingness, and that’s the ultimate state.

(18:26) And that’s what I wanted to say to you today. Get out of the pits, go up here, complete the job! It only takes months or less. If step one is in there—wanting freedom more than you want the ego nonsense—the other steps fall into line. And you get down to step six where it’s a delight all the time, because you just go higher and higher and higher and higher, until you can’t go higher anymore. There’s no place to go: you’re all over the universe. You’re infinite. And that’s simply, all the time, identifying with your beingness, “I-am-ness.” Then you’ll see the whole truth that there is. There’s nothing but I, my beingness. Everything else was an imagination, an illusion.

(19:47) So, I say, Go for it. Keep it in mind. Go high and release. Of course, if you’re down, release to go high so you can release more deeply. Don’t stay there; move on from there to higher. You’re right: most of us have been using it to escape the misery. I’m saying, don’t stop. Go higher until there’s nowhere to go anymore; you’re all over the universe. Use the highness to release. You have been using releasing to feel good, that’s it; and you stop. You’re ridding yourself of millions of years of accumulation, but it can be done in months. How do I know? I did it back in ‘fifty-two, not knowing what you know. Had I known the method, instead of taking three months I really believe it would have taken one month. Because for the first month I just released on approval, love. And then I was spending the second month releasing on wanting control, change. And then the last month I saw the fear of dying and I worked on that. So I was really going one at a time: approval, control, security.

(21:41) The aversions to the world are difficult to see. Your attachments are obvious, and you’re chasing them all the time, but the aversions you push out of the way. So when you go for a goal, up come the anti’s—“Oh, I’m afraid,” “I can’t,” and all that stuff. So, it’s a gimmick for [bringing] up the aversions to the world, getting them up into sight so you can let them go. If you don’t get a thing into consciousness, you cannot see it or handle it. So, achieving in the world is a way of bringing up the negative. The only reason why the world doesn’t serve you with affluence and abundance of everything is because you have thoughts to the contrary, and they’re suppressed. Moving to get things in the world, the contrary feelings come up, and you release them. Because if you cannot be successful, it’s because you’re holding on to programs that are holding you down, and you don’t see them.

(23:02) That which you don’t like, don’t want to see, don’t want to be, you want to avert it: that which you want to avert. And the opposite side is attachment: that which you want to hold on to. Those are two big words: attachments and aversions. They keep us bound. If you are the All, how can you have an attachment or an aversion? There’s nothing apart from you. And you end up with the feeling, “The universe is mine. From infinity to infinity, the universe is mine.” And it is!

Six Steps to Freedom

(This particular list is from https://youtu.be/jSO1IwMcMAY,  beginning at 18:05 minutes)

1. You must want your freedom more than you want the world.

     — Take all your joy from yourself by releasing

2. Make the decision to go free and then do it.

     — If you make the decision, you will go free.

3. Beneath the desire for approval and control is the fear of dying, so go directly to the fear of dying and release it.

4. Make releasing constant.

5. If you are stuck, let go of wishing you could get past being stuck.

6. From now on, get everything you want by releasing.

     — You will still engage in activity, but there is no effort in it.

     — Action doesn’t prevent Self-realization; identifying oneself as the doer does.

     — If you tried to do no action, you wouldn’t succeed because your karma is driving you into action. Whatever your karma is, you would do. So, trying to do nothing doesn’t help; only releasing helps, and only releasing will take you all the way.

Meister Eckhart: “Learn to acquire an inward desert”

From The Talks of Instruction

6. On Detachment and on Possessing God

I was asked, ‘Some people shun all company and always want to be alone; their peace depends on it, and on being in church. Was that the best thing?’ And I said, ‘No!’ Now see why. He who is in a right state is always in a right state wherever he is, and with everybody. But if a man is in a wrong state, he is so everywhere and with anybody. But if a man is in a right state, in truth he has God with him. Now if a man truly has God with him, God is with him everywhere, in the street or among people, just as much as in church or in the desert or in a cell. If he possesses God truly and solely, such a man cannot be disturbed by anybody. Why?

He has only God, thinks only of God, and all things are for him nothing but God. Such a man bears God in all his works and every­where, and all that man’s works are wrought purely by God—for he who causes the work is more genuinely and truly the owner of the work than he who performs it. If we then have none but God alone in mind, then He must really do our work, and God’s work can be hindered by none, nor by any company or place. Therefore no one can stop such a man, for he regards, seeks, and tastes nothing but God, for God is united with that man in all his aims. And just as no multiplicity can scatter God, so nothing can scatter or diversify that man, for he is one in the One, where all multiplicity is one and is nonmultiplicity.

Entering all kinds of circumstances, he is never affected by them. In an instant he descends to the lowest realms. Meeting the Buddha, he talks with the Buddha; meeting patriarchs, he talks with patriarchs; meeting arhats, he talks with arhats; meeting hungry ghosts, he talks with hungry ghosts. He goes everywhere, roaming through the realms and talking with living beings, yet never strays for a single thought from his shining purity. Penetrating the ten directions, to him the ten thousand things are of one suchness. – Lin-chi

A man should receive God in all things and train his mind to keep God ever present in his mind, in his aims, and in his love. Note how you regard God: keep the same attitude that you have in church or in your cell and carry it with you in the crowd and in unrest and inequality. 7 And, as I have often said, when we speak of ‘equality’, this does not mean that one should regard all works as equal, or all places or people. That would be quite wrong, for praying is a better task than spinning, and the church is a nobler place than the street. But in your acts you should have an equal mind and equal faith and equal love for your God, and equal seriousness. Assuredly, if you were equal-minded in this way, then no man could keep you from having God ever present.

But if God is not thus truly in a man but has to be got from with­out, from this and that, if he seeks God in unequal fashion, whether in deeds or in people or in places, that man has not got God. And that man may easily be distracted, since he has not got God and does not seek God only, or love and strive for God only. Accordingly, not only is he put off by bad company, but even goodness is a hindrance to him. Not only the street, but even the church; and not only evil words and deeds, but even good words and deeds; for the blockage is within himself because in him God has not become all things. If this were so, then he would be happy and at ease everywhere and with everybody, for he would have God, whom none can take from him, nor could anyone hinder his work.

Wherein lies this true possession of God, this really having Him? This true possession of God depends on the mind, an inner mental turning and striving toward God—but not in a continuous and equal thinking of Him, for that would be impossible for nature to strive for, very difficult and not even the best thing. A man should not have, or be satisfied with, an imagined God, for then when the idea vanishes, God vanishes! Rather, one should have an essential God, who far transcends the thought of man and all creatures. Such a God never vanishes unless a man wilfully turns away from Him.

He who has God thus essentially takes Him divinely, and for him God shines forth in all things, for all things taste divinely to him and God’s image appears to him from out of all things. God flashes forth in him always. In him there is detachment and turning away, and he bears the imprint of his beloved, present God. It is just like a man who is terribly thirsty: he can do other things beside drinking and can even turn his mind to other thoughts, yet whatever he does and in whatever company he finds himself, whatever he intends, whatever he thinks or does, he never loses the thought of drinking as long as his thirst lasts; and the greater the thirst, the greater and deeper and more present and persistent will be the thought of a drink. Or if there is a man who is so passionately devoted to a thing that nothing else interests him or touches his heart, he is intent on that thing and nothing else. Quite certainly, wherever or with whomever that man is, and whatever he takes up or does, the image of what he loves never fades in him, and he finds its image in everything. And it is ever the more strongly present to him the more his love for it increases, and that man will not seek rest, for no unrest disturbs him.

That man finds greater praise before God, for he takes all things as divine, and as greater than they are in themselves. Indeed, this requires zeal and love and a clear perception of the interior life, and a watchful, true, wise, and real knowledge of what the mind is occupied with among things and people. This cannot be learned by running away, by fleeing into the desert away from outward things. A man must learn to acquire an inward desert, wherever and with whomever he is. He must learn to break through things and seize his God in them, and to make His image grow in himself in essential wise. It is just like learning to write: truly, if a man is to acquire this art, he must apply himself and practice hard, however heavy and bitter a task it seems to him, and however impossible. If he is prepared to practice diligently and often, he will learn and master the art. Of course, at first he has to remember every letter and fix it firmly in his mind. Later on, when he has acquired the art, he will be completely free of the image and will not have to stop and think, but will write fluently and freely. And the same with playing the fiddle or any other task that requires skill. All he needs to know is that he intends to exercise his skill, and even if he is not paying full attention, wherever his thoughts may stray, he will do the job because he has the skill. Thus a man should be pervaded with God’s presence, transformed with the form of his beloved God, and made essential by Him, so that God’s presence shines for him without any effort. Rather he will find emptiness in all things and be totally free of things. But first there must be thought and attentive study, just as with a pupil in any art.

* * *

7. Sermon 65, note 10:  The problem of translating glich becomes acute here. It means not only ‘like’ and ‘equal’, but it also involves Eckhart’s conception of justice outlined above. The ‘just’ man, as we have seen, does not choose and does not favour himself. Quint also notes the difficulty the Cologne censors, and even Eckhart himself, had in translating glich into Latin. [See the Glossary for the word, samata—sameness.]

M. O’C. Walshe (1987). Meister Eckhart: Sermons & Treatises Volume III. UK: Element Books Limited (p. 16).

Lester Levenson: Meditation with a quest

Session 11: Meditation with a Quest

The primary purpose of meditation is to quiet the mind. When we hold one thought with interest, as we hold it other thoughts keep dropping away. Thoughts of the day, what he did to me, what she did, what I should have done, etc.—all these thoughts are active on a subconscious level. As we hold to one thought, these subconscious thoughts become quiet; they become still. They drop into the background, and that quiets the mind.

Now, the most important thing in quieting the mind is interest. When you are very interested in something, you’ll override all other thoughts. Likewise, if with intense interest you want to know: What am I? What is this world? What is my relationship to it? —if there’s a real burning desire to get the answer, then all other thoughts drop away and the mind becomes extremely concentrated. Then the answer shows itself. It comes from within. The answer is there all the time! The quieting of the thoughts allows us to see it, to see the answer that was there all the time, there in the realm of knowingness, the Self.

The starting point should be a strong desire for the answer. When that desire is strong, we get the answer. That’s why man’s extremity is God’s opportunity: extreme adversity causes us to desire to get out of it with such intensity that we concentrate our mind and discover the answer.

When I started my quest I thought that thinking would give me the answers. I had a mind that was as active as any mind could be. But I was at the end of the line. I had had a second heart attack and they told me I was finished, that I had only a short time to live, and so I had to have the answers. And even though my mind was far more active than the great majority of minds, the intensity of the desire for the answers caused me to hold to one question at a time, obliterating all else. This concentration did it.

I started seeking with no knowledge of metaphysics, no knowledge of the way. In fact I was against all religion and all metaphysics. I thought it was nonsense for the weak-minded, for people who believed in fairy tales. But it was only because of the intensity of the desire to get the answers—I had to have the answers—that they began to come; and they came relatively quickly. Over a period of three months’ time I went from an extreme materialist to the opposite extreme: the material is emptiness and the spiritual is the All.

The wish to get the answer was so strong that in spite of my mind being one of the noisiest of minds, the answers began to come. I automatically fell into things (I knew no words for them) like samadhi. I would concentrate on a question with such intensity that I would lose awareness of this body, and then I would be aware of just a pure thought; the thought itself would be the only thing existing in this universe. That’s absorption, when the thinker and the thought become one. One loses consciousness of everything but that one thought. That’s a very concentrated state of mind and the answer is always discovered right there.

I started out with “What is happiness? What is life? What do I want? How do I get happiness?” I discovered that happiness depended upon my capacity to love. At first I thought it was being loved. I reviewed my life and saw that I was very much loved by my family and friends and yet I was not happy. I saw that was not it. Continuing, I realized that it was my capacity to love that gave me happiness.

The next question was, “What is intelligence?” I persisted until, Ah! I saw it! There is only one intelligence in the universe and we all have a direct line to it.

Then I worked on responsibility and discovered that I was responsible for everything that happens or had happened to me. Creation was something I created!

Finally, I held the question, “What am I?” until the answer presented itself.

And this went on, and in a matter of three months’ time I believe I saw the entire picture, went all the way, only because of the concentrated approach. I knew nothing about the subject; I knew nothing about the direction, the way, the path, but I wanted to know: What am I? What is this world? What’s my relationship to it?

You discover that the whole world is nothing but you, that there never was anything but you all along, because there’s only One and you are it! But that isn’t the final state. You come out of it and there’s still a certain amount of mind left. So you go back into the meditative quest until there is no more mind controlling you. When you’ve eliminated all the habits of thought, all the tendencies of mind, you are free. Then you can use your mind and you are the master and director of it. It no longer determines you—you determine it.

At present we are  controlled by the unconscious mind over ninety percent of the time. We really don’t want thoughts so we push them away into the background. We are happiest when there are no thoughts. Thoughts are the things that make us unhappy; even the happy thoughts make us unhappy because we know the pleasure is not going to last. Even thoughts of happiness are limited. The really happy state is the no-thought state; it’s the state of knowingness and is beyond thought.

We started with the subject of meditation. Meditation does seem to be a question in many people’s minds who have meditated for years and years. The best type of meditation is with a question. When you just drop into a nice quiet state without a question, you get a good feeling but no progress of getting the knowledge.

The only problem we have now is called ignorance. We’re ignorant of the fact that we are infinite. To get rid of ignorance we need the knowledge of our infinity. To get the knowledge we have to enquire. So when we go into a meditation and just get peacefully quiet, that’s good, but don’t stop there: then get the answers. It’s necessary to get quiet to get the answers. Only the answer to “What am I?” gets us to the top. So if we want to take the quickest way, we start with the question, “What am I?”

Here’s where the jnani (seekers of knowledge) have the advantage over the bhakta (those who practice devotion). Surrender and devotion throw us into nice feelings and they’re good, but a jnani goes further. He says, “All right, don’t stop there, get the answer.” It’s only when we fully know who and what we are that we’re at the end of the road. So the fastest and best way to meditate is to pose a question, get quiet, and stay quiet until the answer shows itself. Then go to the next one until all the answers are there.

Recorded on July 22, 1970, Los Angeles

Levenson, Lester (1993). Keys to the Ultimate Freedom: Thoughts and Talks on Personal Transformation. Phoenix, Arizona: Sedona Institute (p. 100). ISBN 0-915721-03-1. (http://www.freespiritualebooks.com/keys-to-the-ultimate-freedom.html) (download)

Meister Eckhart: Sermon Seven

SERMON SEVEN (Pf 7, Q 76, QT 35)

VIDETE QUALEM CHARITATEM DEDIT NOBIS PATER,

UT FILII DEL NOMINEMUR ET SIMUS

(1 John 3:1)

You must know that this is in reality one and the same thing — to know God and to be known by God, to see God and to be seen by God. In knowing and seeing God we know and see that He makes us know and see. And just as the luminous air is not different from the fact of illuminating, for it illumines because it is luminous, so do we know by being known, and because He makes us know. Therefore Christ said, “Again you will see me” (John 16:16). That is to say, by making you see, you know me; and then follows, “Your heart shall rejoice,” that is, in the vision and knowledge of me, “and your joy no man takes from you” (John 16:22).

St. John says, “See how great is the love that the Father has shown us, that we are called and are the children of God” (1 John 3: 1-2). He says not only “we are called” but “we are.” So I say that just as a man cannot be wise without wisdom, so he cannot be a son without the filial nature of God’s son, without having the same being as the Son of God has — just as being wise cannot be without wisdom. And so, if you are the son of God, you can only be so by having the same being of God that the Son has. But this is “now hidden from us.” And after that it is written, “Beloved, we are the children of God.” And what do we know? That is what he adds: “and we shall be like him” (1 John 3:2). That is, [we shall be] the same as he is — the same being, experiencing and understanding, everything that he is, when we see him as God. So I say God could not make me the son of God if I had not the nature of God’s son, any more than God could make me wise if I had no wisdom. How are we God’s sons? We do not know yet: “It does not yet appear” to us; all we know is that he says we shall be like him. There are certain things that hide this knowledge in our souls and conceal it from us.

The soul has something in her, a spark of intellect, that never dies; and in this spark, as at the apex of the mind, we place the image of the soul. But there is also in our souls a knowing directed toward ex­ternals, the sensible and rational perception, which operates in images and words to obscure this [spark of intellect] from us. How then are we God’s sons? By sharing one nature with Him. But to have any realisation of thus being God’s Son, we need to distinguish between the outward and the inward understanding. The inward understanding is that which is based intellectually in the nature of our soul. Yet it is not the soul’s essence but is, rather, rooted there and is something of the life of the soul. In saying the understanding is the life of the soul we mean her intellectual life, and that is the life in which man is born as God’s son and to eternal life. This understanding is timeless, without place — without Here and Now. In this life all things are one and all things are common: all things are all in all and all in one.

I will give you an example. In the body, all members are united and one, such that eye belongs to foot and foot to eye. If the foot could speak, it would say that the eye which is in the head was more its own than if it were in the foot, and the eye would say the same in reverse. And so I think that all the grace which is in Mary is more and more truly an angel’s and more in him — that which is in Mary! — than if it were in him or in the saints. For whatever Mary has, a saint has: the grace in Mary is more his, and he enjoys it more, than if it were in him.

But this interpretation is too gross and carnal, for it depends on bodily imagery. So I will give you another sense, which is more subtle and spiritual. I say that in the heavenly realm all is in all, and all is one, and all ours. The grace of our Lady exists in me (if I am there), not as welling up and flowing out of Mary, but rather as in me and as my own, and not of foreign origin. And so I say that what one has there, another has, not as from the other or in the other, but in himself, so that the grace that is in one is entirely in another as his own grace. Thus it is that spirit is in spirit. That is why I say that I cannot be the son of God unless I have the very same nature the Son of God has; and having this same nature makes us like him, and we see him as he is God.

“But it is not yet revealed what we shall be.” And so I say that in this sense there is no likeness and no difference, but rather, wholly without distinction we shall be the same in essence, in substance and in nature as He is in Himself. But that is “not yet revealed”: it will be revealed “when we see him as he is” — God.

God causes us to know Him, and His being is His knowing, and His making me know is the same as my knowing. Therefore, His knowing is mine, just as what the master teaches is one and the same as what the pupil learns. And since His knowing is mine, and since His substance is His knowing, and His nature and His essence [as well], it follows that His essence and His substance and His nature are mine. And if His substance, His being and His nature are mine, then I am the son of God. “Behold, brethren, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us that we should be called and should be the Son of God!”

Note how we are the Son of God — by having the same essence that the Son has.

But, ‘How can one be the Son of God, or how can one know it, since God is not like anybody?’

That is true, for Isaiah says, “To whom have you likened Him or what image will you give Him?” (Isa. 40:18). Since it is God’s nature not to be like anyone, we have to come to the state of being nothing in order to enter into the same nature that He is. So when I am able to establish myself in nothing and nothing in myself, uprooting and casting out what is in me, then I can pass into the naked being of God, which is the naked being of the spirit. All that smacks of likeness must be cast out that I may be transplanted into God and become one with Him: one substance, one being, one nature, and the Son of God. Once this happens, there is nothing hidden in God that is not revealed, that is not mine. Then I shall be wise and mighty and all else as He is, and one and the same with Him. Then Sion will become truly seeing and true Israel, a God-seeing man, from whom nothing in the Godhead is hidden. Then man is directed into God. But so that nothing may be hidden in God that is not revealed to me, there must appear to me nothing like; no image, for no image can reveal to us the Godhead or its essence. Should any image or any likeness remain in you, you would never be one with God. To be one with God there must be in you nothing imagined or imaged forth, so that nothing is covered up in you that is not discovered or cast out.1

Observe the nature of want: it comes from nothing.2 So what comes of nothing must be purged from the soul, for so long as there is such want in you, you are not God’s son. Man laments and is sorrowful solely on account of want. And so for man to become the Son of God, all that must be purged and cast out, so that there is no more sorrow and lamentation. A man is not stone or wood, for that is all want and nought. We shall not be like Him until this nothing is expelled, so that we are all in all as God is all in all.

Man has a twofold birth: one into the world, and one out of the world, which is spiritual and into God. Do you want to know if your child is born, and if he is naked — whether you have in fact become God’s son? If you grieve in your heart for anything, even on account of sin, your child is not yet born. If your heart is sore you are not yet a mother — but you are in labour and your time is near. So do not despair if you grieve for yourself or your friend — though it is not yet born, it is near to birth. But the child is fully born when a man’s heart grieves for nothing: then a man has the essence and the nature and the substance and the wisdom and the joy and all that God has. Then the very being of the Son of God is ours and in us and we attain to the very essence of God.

Christ says: “Whoever would follow me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matt. 16:24, Mark 8:34). That is, cast out all grief so that perpetual joy reigns in your heart — thus is the child born. And then if the child is born in me, the sight of my father and all my friends slain before my eyes would leave my heart untouched. For if my heart were moved thereby, the child would not have been born in me, though its birth might be near.

I declare that God and the angels take such keen delight in every act of a good man that there is no joy like it. And so I say, if this child is born in you, then you have such great joy in every good deed that is done in the world that this joy becomes permanent and never changes. Therefore he says, “Your joy no man takes from you” (John 16:22). If I am fully transported into the divine essence, then God and all that He has is mine. Therefore He says, “I am the Lord thy God” (Exod. 20:2). That is when I have true joy, when neither pain nor sorrow can take it from me, for then I am installed in the divine essence, where sorrow has no place. For we see that in God there is no anger or sadness, but only love and joy. Though He seems sometimes to be wrathful with sinners it is not really wrath, it is love, for it comes from the great divine love: those He loves He chastens, for He is love, which is the Holy Ghost. And so God’s anger springs from love, for His anger is without passion. And so, when you have reached the point where nothing is grievous or hard to you, and where pain is not pain to you, when everything is perfect joy to you, then your child has really been born.

Strive therefore to ensure that your child is not only being born, but is brought to birth, just as in God the Son is always being born and is brought to birth. And that this may be our lot, so help us God. Amen.

Notes

1. This presumably means that the entire contents of the unconscious must be cleared. (Walshe)
2. (Walshe) Middle High German niht (nicht) = ‘nothing’, intensified nihtes niht.
2. (Editor) Want or lack is “nothing”: could Eckhart mean that these are dharmas and therefore not real?

M. O’C Walshe (2009). The Complete Mystical Works of Meister Eckhart: Translated and Edited by Maurice O’C Walshe. New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company.

1 John 2

28 And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.

29 If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone that does righteousness is born of him.

1 John 3

1 Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the children of God: therefore the world knows us not, because it knew him not.

2 Beloved, now are we the children of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

3 And every man that has this hope in him purifies himself, even as he is pure.

4 Whosoever commits sin transgresses also the Law: for sin is the transgression of the Law.

5 And you know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.

6 Whosoever abides in him sins not: whosoever sins has not seen him, neither known him.

7 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that does righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.

8 He that commits sin is of the devil; for the devil sins from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

9 Whosoever is born of God does not commit sin; for His nature remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil; whosoever does not righteousness is not of God; neither he that loves not his brother.

11 For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.

14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love our brethren. He that loves not his brother abides in death.  (King James 2000)