Meister Eckhart: Sermon Two

Sermon Two

(Pf 2, Q 102, QT 58 )

UBI EST QUI NATUS EST REX JUDAEORUM?
(Matthew 2:2)

“Where is he who is born King of the Jews?” Now observe, as regards this birth, where it takes place: “Where is he who is born?” Now I say as I have often said before, that this eternal birth occurs in the soul precisely as it does in eternity, no more and no less, for it is one birth, and this birth occurs in the essence and ground of the soul.

Now certain questions arise. First of all, since God is in all things as intelligence, and is more truly in them than they are in themselves and more naturally, and since wherever God is there He must needs work, knowing Himself and speaking His Word—in what special respects, then, is the soul better fitted for this divine operation than are other rational creatures in which God also is? Pay attention to the explanation.

God is in all things as being, as activity, as power. But He is fecund in the soul alone, for though every creature is a vestige of God, the soul is the natural image of God. No creature but the soul alone is receptive to this act, this birth. Indeed, such perfection as enters the soul, whether it be divine undivided light, grace or bliss, must needs enter the soul through this birth, and in no other way. Just await this birth within you, and you shall experience all good and all comfort, all happiness, all being and all truth. If you miss it, you will miss all good and blessedness.

Whatever comes to you in that will bring you pure being and stability; but whatever you seek or cleave to apart from this will perish—take it however you will and wherever you will, all will perish. This alone gives being—all else perishes. But in this birth you will share in the divine influx and all its gifts. This cannot be received by creatures in which God’s image is not found, for the soul’s image appertains especially to this eternal birth, which happens truly and especially in the soul, being begotten of the Father in the soul’s ground and innermost recesses, into which no image ever shone or (soul- )power1 peeped.

The second question is: Since this work of birth occurs in the essence and ground of the soul, then it happens just as much in a sinner as in a saint, so what grace or good is there in it for me? For the ground of nature is the same in both—in fact even those in hell retain their nobility of nature eternally.

Now note the answer. It is a property of this birth that it always comes with fresh light. It always brings a great light to the soul, for it is the nature of good to diffuse itself wherever it is. In this birth God streams into the soul in such abundance of light, so flooding the essence and ground of the soul that it runs over and floods into the powers (of the person) and into the outward man. . . . The superfluity of light in the ground of the soul wells over into the body which is filled with radiance. No sinner can receive this light, nor is he worthy to, being full of sin and wickedness, which is called ‘darkness.’ Therefore it says, “The darkness shall neither receive nor comprehend the light” (John 1 : 5 ). That is because the paths by which the light would enter are choked and obstructed with guile and darkness: for light and darkness cannot co-exist, or God and creatures; if God shall enter, the creatures must simultaneously go out. A man is fully aware of this light. Directly he turns to God, a light begins to gleam and glow within him,2 giving him to understand what to do and what to leave undone, with much true guidance in regard to things of which before he knew or understood nothing.

‘From whence do you know this, and in what way?’

Just pay attention. Your heart is often moved and turned away from the world. How could that be but by this illumination? It is so charming and delightful that you become weary of all things that are not God or God’s. It draws you to God and you become aware of many a prompting to do good, though ignorant of whence it comes. This inward inclination is in no way due to creatures or their bidding, for what creatures direct or effect always comes from without. But by this work it is only the ground that is stirred, and the freer you keep yourself the more light, truth, and discernment you will find. Thus no man ever went astray for any other reason than that he first departed from this, and then sought too much to cling to outward things. Finally they go out so far that they never get back home or find their way in again. Thus they have not found the truth, for truth is within, in the ground, and not without. So he who would see light to discern all truth, let him focus on and become aware of this birth within, in the ground. Then all his powers will be illuminated, and the outer man as well. For as soon as God inwardly stirs the ground with truth, its light darts into his powers, and that man knows at times more than anyone could teach him. As the prophet says, “I have gained greater understanding than have all who ever taught me.”3 You see then, because this light cannot shine or illuminate in sinners, that is why this birth cannot possibly occur in them. This birth cannot coexist with the darkness of sin, even though it takes place, not in the powers, but in the essence and ground of the soul.

The question arises: Since God the Father gives birth only in the essence and ground of the soul and not in the powers, what concern is it of theirs? How do they help just by being idle and taking a rest? What is the use, since this birth does not take place in the powers? A good question. Listen well to the explanation.

Every creature works toward some end. The end is always the first in intention but the last in execution. Thus too, God in all His works has a most blessed end in view, namely, Himself: to bring the soul and all her powers into that end–Himself. For this, all God’s works are wrought, for this the Father bears His Son in the soul, so that all the powers of the soul shall come to this. He lies in wait for all that the soul contains, bidding all to this feast at His court. But the soul is scattered abroad among her powers and dissipated in the action of each: the power of sight in the eye, the power of hearing in the ear, the power of tasting in the tongue – thus her ability to work inwardly is enfeebled, for a scattered power is imperfect. So, for her inward work to be effective, she must call in all her powers and gather them together from the diversity of things to a single inward activity. St. Augustine says the soul is rather where she loves than where she gives life to the body. For example, there was once a pagan master4 who was devoted to an art, that of mathematics, to which he had devoted all his powers. He was sitting by the embers, making calculations and practicing this art, when a man came along who drew a sword and, not knowing that it was the master, said, ‘Quick, tell me your name or I’ll kill you! ‘ The master was too absorbed to see or hear the foe or to catch what he said: he was unable to utter a word, even to say, ‘My name is so-and-so.’ And so the enemy, having cried out several times and got no answer, cut off his head. And this was to acquire a mere natural science. How much more then should we withdraw from all things in order to concentrate all our powers on perceiving and knowing the one infinite, uncreated, eternal truth! 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.

The question arises: Would it not be more valuable for each power to keep to its own task, none hindering the others in their work, nor God in His? Might there not be in me a manner of creaturely knowing that is not a hindrance, just as God knows all things without hindrance, and so too the blessed in heaven? That is a good question. Note the explanation.

The blessed see God in a single image, and in that image, they discern all things. God too sees Himself thus, perceiving all things in Himself. He need not turn from one thing to another, as we do. Suppose in this life we always had a mirror before us, in which we saw all things at a glance and recognized them in a single image, then neither action nor knowledge would be any hindrance to us. But we have to turn from one thing to another, and so we can only attend to one thing at the expense of another. For the soul is so firmly attached to the powers that she has to flow with them wherever they flow, because in every task they perform the soul must be present and attentive, or they could not work at all. If she is dissipated by attending to outward acts, this is bound to weaken her inward work. For at this birth God needs and must have a vacant free and unencumbered soul, containing nothing but Himself alone, and which looks to nothing and nobody but Him. As to this, Christ says, “Whoever loves anything but me, whoever loves father and mother or many other things is not worthy of me. I did not come upon earth to bring peace but a sword, to cut away all things, to part you from sister, brother, mother, child, and friend that in truth are your foes” (Matt. 10 : 34 -36; cf. 19 : 28 ). For whatever is familiar to you is your foe. If your eye wanted to see all things, and your ear to hear all things and your heart to remember all things, then indeed your soul would be dissipated in all these things.

Accordingly a master says: ‘To achieve an interior act a man must collect all his powers as if into a corner of his soul where, hiding away from all images and forms, he can get to work.’ Here, he must come to a forgetting and an unknowing. There must be a stillness and a silence for this Word to make itself heard. We cannot serve this Word better than in stillness and in silence: there we can hear it, and there too we will understand it aright—in the unknowing. To him who knows nothing it appears and reveals itself.

Another question arises. You might say: ‘Sir, you place all our salvation in ignorance. That sounds like a lack. God made man to know, as the prophet says: “Lord, make them know!” (Tob. 13:4). Where there is ignorance there is a lack, something is missing, a man is brutish, an ape, a fool, and remains so long as he is ignorant.’ Ah, but here we must come to a transformed knowledge, and this unknowing must not come from ignorance, but rather from knowing we must get to this unknowing.6 Then we shall become knowing with divine knowing, and our unknowing will be ennobled and adorned with supernatural knowing. And through holding ourselves passive in this we are more perfect than if we were active. . . .

But our bliss lies not in our activity, but in being passive to God. For just as God is more excellent than creatures, by so much is God’s work more excellent than mine. It was from His immeasurable love that God set our happiness in suffering (passivity)7, for we are acted upon more than we act, and receive incomparably more than we give; and each gift that we receive prepares us to receive yet another gift, indeed a greater one. Therefore some teachers say that it is in this respect that the soul is commensurate with God, for just as God is boundless in giving, so too the soul is boundless in receiving or conceiving. And just as God is omnipotent to act, so too the soul is no less profound to suffer (it), and thus she is transformed with God and in God. God must act and the soul must suffer (it). He must know and love Himself in her. She must know with His knowledge and love with His love, and thus she is far more with what is His than with her own, and so too her bliss is more dependent on His action than on her own.

The pupils of Dionysius asked him why Timothy surpassed them all in perfection. Dionysius replied: ’Timothy is a God-suffering man. Whoever is expert at this could outstrip all men.’

In this way your unknowing is not a lack but your chief perfection, and your suffering your highest activity. And so in this way you must cast aside all your deeds and silence your faculties, if you really wish to experience this birth in you. If you would find the newborn king, you must outstrip and abandon all else that you might find. That we may outstrip and cast behind us all things unpleasing to the newborn king, may He help us who became a human child in order that we might become the children of God. Amen.

Notes
1 . Cf. Sermon 1 , note 9.
2. Cf. Sermon 1 , notes 1 4 and 1 5 .
3. Cf. Eccles. 1 : 1 6 (Q).
4. Archimedes, who is said to have been killed by a Roman soldier while making
geometrical drawings in the dust in his own garden at Syracuse ( 2 1 2 B.C.E.).
5 . I.e., those in heaven, not the ‘saints,’ as Miss Evans translates.
6. This is, as Quint points out, the same as the Docta ignorantia of Nicholas
Cusanus ( 1401-64).
7. MHG ‘Iiden’ means both ‘suffering’ and ‘passivity.’
8. In gate (dative), not, as Miss Evans translates, ‘into God.’

M. O’C. Walshe (1987). Meister Eckhart: Sermons and Treatises Volume I. UK: Element Books Limited (pp. 15-23)

Padmasambhava: Stages of the mystic path

Padmasambhava was an Indian master of the tantric sect who was brought to Tibet in the eighth century by King Trisong Detsen (742 to 797). The king was attempting to build a Buddhist monastery but had met with much resistance; he brought Padmasambhava to assist him, and Samye Gompa was completed. The subject of many myths and legends, little is known about him historically, apart from the fact that he eventually left Tibet.

Padmasambhava’s main consort was said to be Yeshe Tsogyal, another semi-legendary figure who was an important realized teacher in her own right. She received Dzogchen teachings directly from Padmasambhava and a number of important texts are attributed to her.

According to Alexandra David-Neel (1937), Padmasambhava’s reputation for licentiousness may have been no more than wishful hagiography: “Padmasambhava belonged to the degenerate sect of tantric Buddhism. Yet, nothing proves he was naturally intemperate, as some of his followers wish to make us believe to justify their drunkenness.” (p. 13)

 

Stages of the mystic path

1. To read a large number of books on the various religions and philosophies. To listen to many learned doctors professing different doctrines. To experiment oneself with a number of methods.

2. To choose a doctrine among the many one has studied and discard the other ones, as the eagle carries off only one sheep from the flock.

3. To remain in a lowly condition, humble in one’s demeanour, not seeking to be conspicuous or important in the eyes of the world, but behind apparent insignificance, to let one’s mind soar high above all worldly power and glory.

4. To be indifferent to all. Behaving like the dog or the pig that eat what chance brings them. Not having any preference among the things which one encounters. Abstaining from any effort to seize or avoid anything. Accepting with equal indifference whatever comes: riches or poverty, praise or contempt; giving up discrimination between virtue and vice, honourable and shameful, good and evil. Feeling neither grief nor shame for one may have done, and feeling neither elation nor pride on account of what one has accomplished.

5. To view with perfect equanimity and detachment the conflicting opinions and the various manifestations of the activity of beings. To understand that such is the nature of things, the inevitable mode of action of each entity and to remain always serene. To look at the world as a man standing on the highest mountain of the country looks at the valleys and the lesser summits spread out below him.214

6. It is said that the sixth stage cannot be described in words. It corresponds to the realization of the Void, which in Lamaist terminology means the inexpressible reality.215

214. Compare Dhammapada: “When the learned man drives away vanity by earnestness, he, the wise one, climbing the terraced heights of wisdom, looks down upon the ignorant. Free from sorrow, he looks upon the sorrowing crowd, as one that stands on a mountain looks down upon them that stand upon the plain.” The Dhammapada is a work belonging to the Buddhist canonic scriptures in the Pali language.
215. In a general way, one must understand here, the realization of the non-existence of a permanent ego, according to the Tibetan current fomula: “The person is devoid of self: all things are devoid of self.” (David-Neel, pp. 164-165)

David-Neel, Alexandra (1937). Magic and Mystery in Tibet. London: Penguin Books. (https://www.theosophy.world/sites/default/files/ebooks/magic-and-mystery-in-tibet1931.pdf)

Lester: Love, Giving and the Christ Consciousness

SESSION 7: LOVE, GIVING AND THE CHRIST CONSCIOUSNESS

 

It is now the Christmas season so let us direct our attention toward Christmas. Maybe I ought to allow you to lead me into what you would like to hear about Christmas, or should I just talk? All right. Christ-mass, the day when the masses look toward Christ, when mass is held in reverence to Jesus.

When I interpret the Bible, it’s the way I see it, not the way I’ve read it or someone else has said it’s so. Christmas is related to Christ. Christ is not the man Jesus. Christ is the title of Jesus who has attained the Christ Consciousness. And I think if you separate the two, Jesus and Christ, you will far better understand the meaning of His words and the meaning of the Bible. When he says, “I am the way,” he doesn’t mean Jesus; he means Christ. So first I’d better explain what I mean by Christ and Jesus.

Jesus was a man who was born on this earth approximately 2,000 years ago, who through righteousness, or right-ness, rightly used the world to attain the Christ Consciousness. By so doing he showed the way to immortality that each and every one of us must take. We must die to death, that is, eliminate from our consciousness all thoughts of death and hold in its place only eternality and immortality. In order to show us, he allowed himself to be crucified so that he could prove immortality by resurrecting himself. He was a way-shower and dedicated and gave his life only to show us the way.1

Christ Consciousness is the consciousness that saves us from all this mess that we find ourselves in when we try to be worldly man. It is the attaining of the Christ Consciousness that saves us from all the horrors and miseries of the world. It is the Christ Consciousness that gives us liberation from all difficulty and leads us into our immortality. If we were to try to be Jesus, we would have all the trials and tribulations that he went through. However, when we become the Christ, by being Christlike and thereby attaining the Christ Consciousness, we eliminate all misery and have nothing but infinite joy.

So Christhood is a state that was attained by the man Jesus. He attained his Christhood before he was born and he came back to show us the way by example. And if you will keep in mind the meaning of these two as you read the Bible I believe it will make much more sense.

D: Do you think he is the Messiah?
S: He is!
D: Does he know this?
S: Yes. This was taught to him since he was very young, who he was and what was to be. But to announce such would be . . . they would be able to proclaim him crazy or a blasphemer. He tells them he is the Son of Man.
D: What does that mean?
S: He is, as we all are, sons of man and God. I cannot explain this very well. He is God’s son as I am God’s son, but his destiny is to bring light in a greater way than I could. He is closer to his final destiny than I am. I am so far off, but he is almost to the point where we all strive. He is the next closest thing to perfection.
D: If we are all the sons of God and also the sons of Man, what is different about him?
S: He has learned his lessons and he has followed his path to its completion.
D: So you think that this means he is perfect?
S: He shall be. It was his choice to come once again in order to give this light to people. He did not have to come back. (Cannon, 1992, p. 230)

Christmas is known mostly by the spirit of givingness, good will toward all men. Locked up in that word “givingness” is the key to all happiness. It’s in the spirit of givingness that we have and experience the greatest joy. If you’ll think back you’ll see that when you were giving, you were most joyous. “Love” and “giving” are two words that are synonymous. It’s in the spirit of givingness that the secret to joy lies. When we fully have that spirit, we want to give everything that we have to everyone we meet, and we have infinite joy. It’s so important. It’s in the spirit of givingness, not in the giving of things, unfortunately, because Christmas is a great time of gift-giving. People are giving, giving, giving. But it’s not in the giving; it’s in the spirit of givingness that the joy lies. The spirit of givingness is felt more around Christmas time by more people than at any other time of the year. It’s a wonderful thing. We should make every day Christmas. When we get full realization we do just that. There isn’t a moment in which we’re not wanting to give everything we know to everyone.

Q: You mean giving things, or giving of yourself?

Lester: Well, first let me explain givingness. If we give with strings attached, with reservations, with recriminations, there is little joy in it. But when we give freely we have the greatest of feelings. And it’s this constant spirit of givingness that is the secret of eternal joy. Now, the greatest thing we can give, as the Bible says, is wisdom, because when you give one wisdom you give one the method of attaining everything, not just one single thing. So, the greatest of all givingness is giving wisdom, is giving understanding, and is giving knowledge of this subject that we are interested in.

I might explain it this way. If you give a man a meal when he’s hungry, he’s made happy for the moment and he’s satisfied. But three hours later, he needs another meal, and probably thousands of meals after that. So what is one meal that you give to him? Relatively little. However, if you give the man the understanding of how to produce a meal, he will never go hungry! You will give him the knowledge of how to always have all the food he wants. You will have given him sixty thousand meals! So, that’s the greatest givingness, giving understanding and wisdom.

Practicing this would be an excellent method of growth and I think, as a group, you’re ready for it. Give this understanding to everyone whom you meet who asks for it. It’s excellent in that it takes you out of your little self onto others. It’s an act of love. I’m suggesting that this givingness be taken on as almost a way of life from here on, to help others to get this understanding. It will help you to rapidly attain mastership and it will give you the greatest of all joys.

It’s good to give gifts. They should be given from the heart. However, I think we are all at the point where we can give much more than just things. We should try to give wisdom and understanding. Did I answer your question, Lil?

Q: Yes.

Q: This is only if we are asked?

Lester: Yes. If we try to help people who are not asking for it, we are just expressing our own ego. “I know something you should know,” you see? “I” talking down to “you,” trying to teach you something when you’re not asking for it, is just ego-expression on my part. So it should only be given when asked for.

Q: Is there a time when you become sensitive enough so that you do say things to people which they need, even without them asking?

Lester: Yes, there is. As you let go of your ego you automatically tune in more with others. The less your ego, the more you are attuned to others. You reach a state in which they don’t even have to ask. You’ll discover that some people who ask don’t really want help. Likewise, some people who say “I don’t want any help,” are really wanting it. It takes a little experience to handle situations like that. But it’s true that as we grow, as we let go of our ego, we become more attuned to others and we automatically help them. And we help at all times, no matter what or where the situation is. It could be the cashier in a market, or someone you meet on the street. There’s always a certain givingness that should be going on all the time. And it doesn’t have to (22) be only words of wisdom, it could be a kind word, an expression of love. It wouldn’t hurt to try helping others. That would be the greatest of all givingness. Any more questions?

Q: What is the second coming of the Christ? .

Lester: The second coming of the Christ is not the same as the second coming of Jesus. The second coming of Jesus will be the time when He returns and walks on this earth again in a physical body; and I believe it will be the body that He had the last time He walked the earth. The second coming of the Christ is when we attain the Christ Consciousness.

As a group, we are very fortunate in that we are close to Jesus. This was very evident the very first time we had a meditation when Jesus came into this room and walked around to almost everyone here. It was a very definite and a very important sign that, as a group, Jesus is very interested in us, is trying to help us with all the power that He has. That power is never given unless we are receptive to it. There’s no forcing it. He can only use His power when we open ourselves to Him. If and when we do, He is right there, ready and very capable. Just try Him. We need this direct connection with a master if we want to go all the way this lifetime. As I’ve said, it’s so difficult in these times to achieve mastership, that it is necessary to have this connection with a master, so that when we are ready to leave this plane he will assist us in getting full realization. There isn’t anyone in this room who cannot make it this lifetime, if he or she will just stay faithful to the path until the end. Everyone of us can make it this lifetime if we really want it.

Q: Will you define “making it”?

Lester: Christhood and full realization. “Making it” is becoming a master. What is a master? A master is one who is master over all matter in the universe, and who is master over his mind. A master is one who sees his own infinity right within him. A master is one who has undone all thoughts of limitation, who has ripped off all these sheaths of limitations and is free.

Q: And this we can do in this lifetime?

Lester: Yes, definitely! You must want it more than anything else. You must want it more than you want things of the world. And if you do, when you’re ready to leave this place, you’ll get the assist from the master that you look to and he will help you over. The way he will do it is this way: If you don’t make it before you die, you will make it at the time of your so-called death. When a person dies, all thoughts of this lifetime and all thoughts of prior lifetimes come up for review. The master identifies with us. He sees us as himself, and as these thoughts come up in our mind, it’s like they are coming up in his mind, and he, identified with and as us, helps us undo them. When they are totally undone, we are totally free!

Q: This is what we are doing every day when we say, “We’re not limited. I won’t accept this. I’m not this limited being.” Isn’t this what we should be doing all day long?

Lester: Yes. We should continue it until the end of all thoughts. We should not be limited by anything or any thought.

Q: But this is jumping so far. I’m interested in being able to walk down the street without getting mad at the fellow in front of me.

Lester: I’m trying to show you the entire way. What I’m trying to do is to give you a map that takes you all the way. I’m not saying, “Bob, be this today,” But I think if you have a map that shows the entire route, you can take it all by yourself. You don’t need to have people like me say this to you. Once you’ve got the map, all you need to do is to follow it. I’m trying to give you a complete picture, a complete understanding of what full realization is and the way to accomplish it. And it’s a very difficult thing to do because you’ll never really know what it is until you attain it.

Q: And the ego is simply the feeling that I am not this.

Lester: Right. The ego is a feeling that I am a separated individual, separated from the All and I need a body and a mind to be separate.

Q: That “I” is limited?

Lester: Well, if I have a body and I have a mind, I have thousands of limitations; I have to feed the body, take care of it. I have thoughts. My feelings are hurt. This goes on and on and on. Realize what you are. You’ll see that you are not the body, you are not the ego. Discover what you are and be infinite.

Q: Can Jesus save us?

Lester: Jesus doesn’t save, the Christ Consciousness saves. We should believe not in Jesus but believe as Jesus believed. When we make an effort to attain the, Christ Consciousness, Jesus helps us to realize it. Jesus is always available to anyone who asks and is receptive to His help. You may and can contact Jesus, to the degree you actually accept the fact that you can. Were you to accept that you could talk to Jesus in a physical body, then you would meet with Him in a physical body. If you can accept meeting with Him in a vision or in a dream, then you would meet with Him in that manner. If you can accept Him as a presence ,then you will feel His presence and receive His support. It is all up to you.

This Session was recorded in Los Angeles, December 16, 1965

* * *

1 Dolores Cannon’s Jesus and the Essenes is based on multiple interviews with a subject who, under hypnosis, relived the life of one of Yeshua’s teachers. This was followed by They Walked with Jesus, which is an account of his ministry as told by a girl who followed him from the age of twelve. The crucifixion isn’t as simple as Lester describes it, because nobody wished for him to die in that manner, least of all Yeshua and his Essene masters. However it could not be avoided as long as he continued his ministry, because in those times religion was considered to part of the state, and the Romans would not suffer challenges to their authority.

With regards to Yeshua purifying people of sin, this is what devotion to Amida Buddha does, only in Buddhism sin is called karma, and the stain of sin is samskara. Lester has said that a master can help one to “undo the mind,” and is the same thing. If we believe in the help of a master, we receive the help of a master.

 

Cannon, Dolores (1992). Jesus and the Essenes: Fresh insights into Christ’s ministry and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Bath: Gateway Books.

Levenson, Lester (1993). Keys to the Ultimate Freedom: Thoughts and Talks on Personal Transformation. Phoenix, Arizona: Sedona Institute. ISBN 0-915721-03-1

Meister Eckhart: Sermon Fifty Seven

QUI AUDIT ME NON CONFUNDETUR

(ECCL. 24:30)*

The text that I have quoted in Latin is declared by the eternal wisdom of the Father and it says: “Whoever hears me is not ashamed”—if he is ashamed of anything, he is ashamed of being ashamed—“He that works in me does not sin. He that elucidates me shall have eternal life”. Of these three sayings which I have quoted, each would be sufficient for a sermon. I will speak first of the words of the eternal wisdom: “Whoever hears me is not ashamed”. Whoever would hear the eternal wisdom of the Father, he must be within, and at home, and must be one: then he can hear the eternal wisdom of the Father.

There are three things that prevent us from hearing the eternal Word. The first is corporeality, the second is multiplicity, the third is temporality. If a man transcended these three things, he would dwell in eternity, he would dwell in the spirit, he would dwell in unity and in the desert—and there he would hear the eternal Word. Now our Lord says: “No one hears my word or my teaching unless he has renounced self” (Luke 14:26). For to hear the word of God demands absolute self-surrender. The hearer is the same as the heard in the eternal Word. All that the eternal Father teaches is His being and His nature and His entire Godhead, which He divulges to us altogether in His son and teaches us that we are that same son. A man who went out of self so far that he was the only-begotten son would win all that the only-begotten son owns. Whatever God performs and whatever He teaches, all that He performs and teaches in His only-begotten son. God performs all His works that we may become the only-begotten son. When God sees that we are the only-begotten son, He is in such haste to get to us, and hurries as much as if His divine being would be shattered and destroyed in itself, that He may reveal to us the depth of His Godhead and the plenitude of His being and His nature. God then hastens to make it our own just as it is His own. Here God has delight and joy in abundance. That man stands in God’s awareness and in God’s love and becomes none other than what God is Himself.

If you love yourself, you love all men as yourself. As long as you love anyone less than yourself, you will not really succeed in loving yourself, but if you love all alike as yourself, you will love them as one person, and that person is both God and man. Thus he is a just1 and righteous person who, loving himself, loves all others equally.

Now some people say, ‘I love my friend, who is good to me, better than any other man’. It is not right so, it is imperfect; but is must be tolerated, just as some people sail across the sea with half a wind and still get there. So it is with people who love one person better than another: it is natural. If I truly loved him as myself, then, whatever happened to him for good or ill, whether it were life or death, I would be as glad for it to happen to me as to him, and that would be real friendship.

Man’s ultimate and most costly leave-taking is if he takes leave of God for God. He gives up all that he might get from God as well as all he might give up—together with every idea of God. In parting with these, he pars with God for God’s sake and yet God remains to him as God is in His own nature—not as He is conceived by anyone to be, nor yet as something yet to be attained, but more as an is-ness, as God really is. Then he neither gives to God nor receives anything from Him, for he and God are a unit, that is, pure unity. Here man is true man, for whom there can be no suffering, more than the divine essence can suffer.

As I have said before, there is something in the soul that is so closely akin to God that it is already one with Him and need never be united to Him. It stands alone, it has nothing in common with anything, and nothing created has anything in common with it. All created things are nothing, but that something is apart from and strange to all creation. If one were wholly this he would be uncreated and unlike any creature. If any corporeal or perishable thing were taken into that unity, it, too, would be like the essence of that unity. If I should find myself in this essence, even for a moment, I should have as little regard for my self as for a dung-worm.

God gives to all things equally, and as they flow forth from God they are equal: angels, men and all creatures proceed alike from God in their first emanation. To take things in their primal emanation would be to take them all alike. If they are alike in time, then in God in eternity they are much more like. If you could take a midge into God, it would be far nobler in God than the highest angel in himself. Now all things are equal in God and are God Himself. Here God delights so in this likeness that He pours out His whole nature and being in this equality in Himself. He rejoices in it, just as if one were to turn a horse loose in a green meadow that was completely smooth and level, and it would be the horse’s nature to let himself go with all his strength in galloping about the meadow—he would enjoy it for it is his nature. In just the same way God finds joy and satisfaction when He finds likeness: He rejoices, pouring out all His nature and His being into His likeness, for He is Himself this likeness.

A question arises about the angels. Do those angels who dwell here with us to serve and guard us suffer a diminution of their joys in comparison with those that abide in eternity: is it in any sense a drawback to them to be engaged in serving and protecting us? I reply, No, not at all. Their joy is no less, and so too their equality: for the angel’s work is God’s will and God’s will is the angel’s work, and accordingly such an angel is not hindered in his joy, his likeness or his work. If Go should tell an angel to fly to a tree and pick off the caterpillars, the angel would be ready to pick them off: being God’s will it would be his happiness.

A man who is established thus in God’s will wants nothing but what is God’s will and what is God. If he were sick he would not want to be well. To him all pain is pleasure, all multiplicity is bare simplicity, if he is truly established in the will of God. Even though it meant the pains of hell it would be joy and happiness to him. He is free and has left self behind, and must be free of whatever is to come in to him: if my eye is to perceive colour, it must be free of all colour. If I see a blue or white colour, the sight of my eye which sees the colour, the very thing that sees, is the same as that which is seen by the eye. The eye with which I see God is the same eye with which God sees me: my eye and God’s eye are one eye, one seeing, one knowing and one love.

That man who is established thus in God’s love must be dead to self and all created things, paying as little regard to himself as to one who is a thousand miles away. That man abides in likeness and abides in unity in full equality, and no unlikeness enters into him. This man must have given up self and all this world. If there were a man who possessed all the world, and he gave it up as freely as he received it for God’s sake, then our Lord would give him back all this world and eternal life as well. And if there were another man who possessed nothing but good will, and he thought: Lord, were this whole world mine, and if I had another world and yet another (or as many more as you please); if he were to pray: Lord, I will give up these and myself as freely as I received them from you; then God would give that man just as much as if he had given it away with his own hand. Still another man who had nothing physical or spiritual to renounce or give up, it is he who would give up the most. A man who completely gave up self for a single instant, to him all would be given. But if a man gave up self for twenty years and then took it back for a single instant, it would be as if he had never given it up. One who has given up self and keeps giving up self, and never casts a glance at what he has given up but remains firm, unmoved in himself and unchangeable, he alone has left self behind.

That we may thus remain firm and unchangeable as the eternal Father, so help us God and eternal wisdom. Amen.

*Ecclesiasticus Biblia Sacra Vulgata (VULGATE)
30 qui audit me non confundetur, et qui operantur in me non peccabunt
31 qui elucidant me vitam aeternam habebunt

30 He that hearkeneth to me shall not be confounded, and they that work by me shall not sin.
31 They that expound me shall have life everlasting (Douay Rheims)

 

1 By ‘just’ Eckhart meant something like equanimous—a person empty of self who abides in God’s will.

The just man has such need of justice that he cannot love anything but justice. If God were not just, as I have said before, he would care nothing for God. Wisdom and justice are one in God, and he who loves wisdom also loves justice. If the devil were just, he would love him in so far as he was just and not a hair’s breadth more. The just man does not love ‘this and that’ in God. If God were to give him all His wisdom and all that He can perform outside of Himself, that man would not care for it or have any taste for it, because he wants nothing and seeks nothing. For he has no why for which he does anything, just as God acts without why and has no why. In the same way as God acts, so the just man acts without why; and just as life lives for its own sake and asks for no why for which to live, so the just man has no why for which to act. (Walshe, Vol. II, Sermon Forty Three, p. 2)

No iniquity or injustice, nothing made or created can grieve the just, for everything created is as far beneath him as it is beneath God; it makes no impression or influence on the just, and is not begotten in him whose father is God alone. Therefore a man should strive earnestly to “de-image” himself of himself and of all creatures, and know no father, but [know] God alone. Then nothing will be able to afflict or sadden him, neither God nor creature, created or uncreated, and all his being, life, knowledge, wisdom and love will be from God and in God, and be God. (Walshe, 2009, “Book of Divine Comfort,” p. 527)

 

Blakney, Raymond B. (1941). Meister Eckhart: A Modern Translation. New York: Harper & Row (pp. 203-206). (download)

M. O’C. Walshe (1987). Meister Eckhart: Sermons and Treatises Volume II. UK: Element Books Limited (pp.83-88)

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

The world seen through the eyes of a master

I see the lilies in the field, their brightness, their colour and all their leaves. But I do not see their fragrance. Why? Because the fragrance is within me. But what I say is within me and I speak it forth from me. All created things are savoured by my outer man as creations, like wine and bread and meat. But my inner man savours things not as creations but as God’s gift. But my inmost man savours them not as God’s gift, but as eternity. – Meister Eckhart (Sermon Fifty Six, Walshe, Vol. II, p. 81)

The divine eye is center everywhere, circumference nowhere. . . . If “escapism” be a need of man, cramped in his narrow personality, can any escape compare with the majesty of omnipresence? – Yogananda

 

Session 26: “Worldliness and Spirituality”

Lester: Any time we see any difference, or a difference between the spiritual and the worldly, it’s because we don’t have enough understanding of the spiritual as yet. We are separating. The highest state is when we are in the world and in spirit at one and the same time and there is no difference. When we’re there, we don’t see it as world and spirit. We see it as one and the same thing. We see a oneness; we see it all as our very own Self. Or, if we want, we see the whole world as being within us, as a dream is within us in sleep. No matter what happens in the dream, we remain the same. We see absolutely no difference in anything; there’s a singular oneness throughout everything. Nothing changes. Ever-the-same is our feeling.

This can be used as a yardstick to know how far we are on the path. Is everything ever the same? Do things really not change? It is a little shocking when we start examining it from this point of view. How far am I on the path toward seeing the sameness, the oneness, the no-otherness, the nothing-but-God, God in all, the God in everyone? When you accomplish that non-duality, you lose the feeling of separation, of “I”. If you want to recognize the apparent others, you use the word “we”. But more than that, you would rather talk about yourself in third person. That is the feeling a master has. And he talks that way. Certain masters will not speak of themselves by name; they’ll speak of themselves in the third person as their disciples do. For instance, if everyone called me what Ken jokingly calls me, I would talk about Father Divine. Instead of saying I, me, or Lester, I would talk about him (pointing to himself), Father Divine. That’s just the way you feel when you’re in the state when all is one and all is the same. You don’t identify yourself with just your body. I’ve been emphasizing this point because quite a few were asking questions and talking about the two, the world and spirit, not knowing that in truth they are one.

Q: There is no difference?

Lester: Right. It’s one and the same, when you see it aright. If you see it through illusion, if you see it wrongly, you’ll see separation; you’ll see the differentiation that this is spiritual and that is worldly; that this is divine and that is mundane.

The “me” is a condescension on the part of a master in order to communicate with the apparent egos. A master sees nothing but masters; specks of infinite light, all looking alike; blazing effervescent radiant beings, points of Beingness all being One. This is the way a master really sees everyone. He doesn’t see people the way ordinary people see them.

Q: Does he see them as different shades, or all one shade?

Lester: Identical points of light, of one ocean of light, brilliant effervescent, emanating, with center everywhere and circumference nowhere. Are you trying to imagine what it is like?

Q: Well, I had an experience of seeing something like that and it’s a light like a bright sun.

Lester: Yes, a bright blazing sun. Masters can see nothing but a master in others, and at the same time they can go through the pretense of seeing it otherwise by saying. “Harry, yes, you do have problems,” or “Harry, you do have a body and you do live in a house.” But as they say it, to them, it’s like a dream voice talking, or apparently talking, and it’s all an apparency. It’s a pretense. They’re actually pretending, because their view of the omnipresent, infinite One never changes.

Q: They are pretending a duality, then, actually, where we’re more or less living it?

Lester: Yes. However, you are pretending it too, but you don’t know that you’re pretending it.

Levenson, Lester (1993). Keys to the Ultimate Freedom: Thoughts and Talks on Personal Transformation. Phoenix, Arizona: Sedona Institute. ISBN 0-915721-03-1

M. O’C. Walshe (1987). Meister Eckhart: Sermons and Treatises Volume II. UK: Element Books Limited.

* * *

Saṃyutta Nikāya 1

25. The Arahant

If a monk is an arahant,
Consummate, with taints destroyed,
One who bears his final body,
Would he still say, “I speak”,
And would he say, “They speak to me”?

If a monk is an arahant,
Consummate, with taints destroyed,
One who bears his final body,
He might still say, “I speak”,
And he might say, “They speak to me”.
Skilful, knowing the world’s parlance,
He uses such terms as mere expressions.

When a monk is an arahant,
Consummate, with taints destroyed,
One who bears his final body,
Is it because he has come upon conceit
 that he would say, “I speak”,
That he would say, “They speak to me”?

No fetters exist for one with conceit abandoned;
For him all fetters of conceit are consumed.
Though the wise one has transcended the conceived,
He still might say, “I speak”;
He might say too, “They speak to me”.
Skilful, knowing the world’s parlance,
He uses such terms as mere expressions.

Source: https://suttacentral.net/sn1.25/en/bodhi

The Diamond Sutra

The Diamond Sutra is part of the Mahaprajnaparamita Sastra written by Nagarjuna in around the second century. Vajra is the hardest substance imaginable; it is also luminous and transparent. The Vajracchedika Sutra is said to cut through illusions just as a diamond cuts through inferior substances.

Vajracchedika Prajnaparamita Sutra

Based on translations from the Sanskrit by Paul Harrison and Edward Conze

Homage to Śakyamuni, Tathagata, Arhat, Completely Enlightened One!

Homage to the Prajnaparamita, the Lovely, the Holy!

1. The Setting of the Sermon

Thus have I heard at one time. The Lord (Bhagavat)1 was staying at Sravasti, in the Jeta Grove, in the garden of Anathapindika, together with a large gathering of monks, consisting of 1,250 monks, and with many Bodhisattvas, great beings.2 In the morning the Lord put on his cloak, took his bowl, and entered the great city of Sravasti to collect alms. When he had returned from going house to house and had eaten, the Lord put away his bowl and cloak, washed his feet, and sat down on his seat, his legs crossed, his body upright, his attention fixed mindfully in front of him. Then a great many monks approached the Lord, and after approaching him they prostrated themselves at the Lord’s feet, walked around the Lord three times, and sat down on one side.

2. Subhuti, Foremost of the Disciples

Furthermore, on that occasion the Venerable Subhuti had joined that assembly and was seated with it. Then the Venerable Subhuti rose from his seat, arranged his upper robe over one shoulder, knelt on his right knee, made obeisance to the Lord with his palms pressed together, and said to the Lord: “It is wonderful O Lord, it is exceedingly wonderful, O Well-Gone, how much the Bodhisattvas, the great beings, have been helped with the greatest help by the Tathagata, the Arhat, the Fully Enlightened One. It is wonderful, O Lord, how much the Bodhisattvas, the great beings, have been favoured with the highest favour by the Tathagata, the Arhat, the Fully Enlightened One. How then, O Lord, should a son or daughter of good family who has set out in the Bodhisattva path stand, how advance, how still his thoughts (cittam)?”3

After these words the Lord said to the Venerable Subhuti: Well said, well said, Subhuti! So it is, Subhuti, so it is, as you say! Subhuti, the Tathagata has helped the Bodhisattvas, the great beings, with the greatest help, and he has favoured them with the highest favour. Therefore, Subhuti, listen well and attentively! I will teach you how those who have set out in the Bodhisattva path are to stand, how advance, how still their thoughts. So be it, O Lord,” replied the Venerable Subhuti, and listened.

3 The vow to save all living beings

The Lord said: Here, Subhuti, someone who has set out in the path of a Bodhisattva should form the following thought: “However many beings there are in the universe of beings . . . all these I must lead to Nirvana, into that Realm of Nirvana which leaves nothing behind. And yet, although innumerable beings have thus been led to Nirvana, no being at all has been led to Nirvana.” And why? If in a Bodhisattva should occur the knowledge (samjna)4 of a being, he could not be called a Bodhisattva. And why? He is not to be called a Bodhisattva in whom occurs the knowledge of a self, nor in whom occurs the knowledge of a being or knowledge of a living soul or knowledge of a man.5

(atman, sattva, jiva, pudgala: “Na sa Subhute bodhisattvo vaktavyo yasya-atma-samjna pravarteta, sattva-samjna va jiva-samjna va pudgala-samjna va pravarteta.”)

4 The perfection of giving

Moreover, Subhuti, a Bodhisattva who gives of himself is not to dwell on anything, nor is he to dwell anywhere. When he gives of himself he is not to dwell on that which is seen, nor on that which is heard, smelled, tasted, felt, or thought. For, Subhuti, the Bodhisattva, the great being, is to give of himself in such a way that he does not dwell on the slightest difference between things. And why? Because the accumulation of merit of that Bodhisattva who gives of himself without dwelling anywhere is difficult to measure.

God is one in all ways and according to every reasoning, so that in him no plurality is to be found, within the mind or without. For he who sees any distinction clearly does not see God. – Meister Eckhart (The Defense)

5 What do you think, Subhuti? Is it easy to take the measure of space in the east?
Subhuti said: Indeed not, Lord.
Likewise, is it easy to take the measure of space in the south, west, north, below, above—in all of the ten directions?

Subhuti said: Indeed not, Lord.
The Lord said: In the same way it is difficult to measure the accumulation of merit of that Bodhisattva who gives of himself without dwelling. That is why those who have set out in the Bodhisattva path are to give of themselves without dwelling on any knowledge of a difference.

6 Subhuti asked: Lord, in the future period, in the last time, in the last epoch, in the last five hundred years, at the time of the collapse of the good doctrine, will there be any beings who, when these words of the Sutra are being taught, will understand their truth?

The Lord replied: Do not speak thus, Subhuti! Yes, even then there will be such beings. For even at that time, Subhuti, there will be Bodhisattvas who are endowed with good conduct, endowed with virtuous qualities, endowed with wisdom, and who, when these words of the Sutra are being taught, will understand their truth.

And those Bodhisattvas, Subhuti, will not be such as have honoured only one Buddha, nor such as have planted their roots of merit under one Buddha only. On the contrary, Subhuti, those Bodhisattvas who, upon hearing these words of the Sutra, experience even a single thought of serene faith, will be those who have honoured many hundreds of thousands of Buddhas, those who have planted their roots of merit under many hundreds of thousands of Buddhas. Known they are to the Tathagata by his Buddha-knowledge; seen they are by the Tathagata’s Buddha-eye; understood by the Tathagata they are. All will generate and be endowed with an immeasurable quantity of merit.

And why? Because, Subhuti, in those Bodhisattvas there occurs no knowledge of a self or knowledge of a being or knowledge of a soul or knowledge of a man. Nor will knowledge of a dharma or an adharma (a non-thing) occur in those Boddhisattvas. No knowledge or non-knowledge (asamjna) will occur in them. And why? If, Subhuti, knowledge of either a dharma or an adharma should occur in those Bodhisattvas, they would thereby seize upon a self, a being, a soul, or a man. And why? Because a Bodhisattva ought not to seize upon either a dharma or an adharma. Thus the meaning of the Tathagata’s words: Those who understand the discourse about the Dharma being like a raft should forsake dharmas, even more so adharmas.6

7 Furthermore, the Lord said to the Venerable Subhuti: What do you think, Subhuti? Is there any Dharma (Reality) that the Tathagata has known as utmost, perfect enlightenment, or is there any Dharma that the Tathagata has taught?
Subhuti said: No, not as I understand what the Lord has said. And why? This Dharma which the Tathagata has fully known and taught cannot be grasped; it cannot be talked about; it is neither a dharma nor an adharma. And why? Because all sages belong to [the realm of] non-doing (asamskara or asamskrta), though [in appearance] they are distinct from one another. (Suzuki, 1935)

9a Subhuti, what do you think? Does a Stream-enterer ever have the thought: “I have attained the stage of Stream-enterer”?
Subhuti said: No indeed, Lord. And why? Because, Lord, he does not enter anything: that is why he is called a Stream-enterer. He does not enter that which is seen, nor does he enter that which is heard, smelled, tasted, felt, or thought. Thus he is called a Stream-enterer. O Lord, if the Stream-enterer were to have the thought: “I have attained the stage of Stream-enterer,” then he would be seizing upon a self, seizing upon a being, seizing upon a soul, seizing upon a man.

9b The Lord said: What do you think, Subhuti? Does a Once-returner ever have the thought: “I have attained the stage of Once-returner”?
Subhuti said: No indeed, Lord. A Once-returner does not have the thought: “I have attained the stage of Once-returner.” And why? Because there is no dharma whatsoever which enters the stage of Once-returner; thus is the Once-returner spoken of.

9c Subhuti, what do you think? Does a Non-returner ever have the thought: “I have attained the stage of Non-returner”?
Subhuti said: No indeed, Lord. A Non-returner never has the thought that he has attained the stage of Non-returner. Why? There is no dharma whatsoever which observes that it is a Non-returner: thus is the Non-returner spoken of.

9d The Lord said: What do you think, Subhuti? Does an Arhat ever have the thought: “I have attained arhatship”?
Subhuti said: No indeed, Lord. And why? Because there is no dharma whatsoever, Lord, which is called an Arhat. If an Arhat were to have the thought: “I have attained arhatship,” then he would indeed be seizing upon a self, seizing upon a living being, seizing upon a soul, seizing upon a man.

9e I am the one, Lord, whom the Tathagata, the Arhat, the Fully Enlightened One has called Foremost Among Those Who Dwell in Peace. I am, Lord, an Arhat, free of passion. But the thought does not occur in me, Lord, that I am an Arhat. If, O Lord, I could have the thought that I had attained arhatship, then the Tathagata would not have called me “Subhuti, son of a good family, Foremost Among Those Who Dwell in Peace.” But a dweller in peace does not dwell anywhere: thus is a dweller in peace spoken of.

14a Thereupon the impact of Dharma moved the Venerable Subhuti to tears. Having wiped away his tears he said to the Lord: It is wonderful, O Lord, it is exceedingly wonderful, O Well-Gone, how well the Tathagata has taught this discourse on the Dharma. Ever since cognition was produced in me, Lord, I have not heard such a discourse on the Dharma. Most wonderfully blessed will be those who, when this Sutra is being taught, have true knowledge. And that which is true knowledge, that is indeed no knowledge (abhuta-samjna): thus the Tathagata speaks of true knowledge.

It is not difficult for me to accept and believe this discourse on Dharma when it is being taught. However those beings who will be in a future period, in the last time, in the last epoch, in the last 500 years, at the time of the collapse of the good doctrine, and who, O Lord, take up this Sutra, memorize it, recite it, study it, and illuminate it in full for others, those will be most wonderfully blessed. However, no knowledge of a self will occur in them, nor of a being or a soul or a man. And why? That, O Lord, which is knowledge of self, that is indeed non-knowledge (asamjna). That which is knowledge of a being or a soul or a man, that is indeed non-knowledge. And why? Because the Buddhas, the Lords, have left all knowledge behind.

14d The Lord said: So it is, Subhuti. Most wonderfully blessed will be those beings who, upon hearing this Sutra, do not tremble or become frightened or terrified. And why? The Tathagata has demonstrated this to be the highest perfection (parama-paramita). And what the Tathagata demonstrates to be the highest perfection, that also do the innumerable Blessed Buddhas teach. Thus do I speak of the highest perfection.

14e The Perfection of Forbearance (Ksanti Paramita)

Furthermore, Subhuti, the Tathagata’s perfection of forbearance is really non-perfection.7 And why? Because, Subhuti, while my body was being dismembered by the King of Kalinga8 I had no knowledge of a self, of a being, of a soul, or a man. And why? If, Subhuti, I had had knowledge of a self, ill-will would have occurred in me; and likewise if I had had knowledge of a being or a soul or a man. With my supernormal power I remember that I was the Rishi9 of Forbearance for five hundred lifetimes. During that time, too, I had no knowledge of a self or a being or a soul or a man.

Sickness or poverty, hunger or thirst—whatever God sends you or does not send you, what He grants you or withholds, that is best for you. Even should you lack fervour and inwardness—whatever you have or lack, be minded to honour God in all things, and then whatever He sends you will be the best. Be assured, if it were not God’s will it would not be. You have neither sickness nor anything else unless God wills it. And so, knowing it is God’s will, you should rejoice in it and be so content that pain would be no pain to you. – Meister Eckhart (Sermon Forty)

Therefore, Subhuti, Bodhisattvas, great beings, are to separate themselves from all appearances in order to cultivate the mind of utmost, perfect enlightenment. They are to cultivate a mind which does not dwell in that which is seen; they are to cultivate a mind which does not dwell in that which is heard, smelled, tasted, felt, or thought; they are to cultivate a mind which does not dwell in dharmas or adharmas; they are to cultivate a mind which does not dwell in anything. And why? True dwelling is non-dwelling. For this reason the Tathagata teaches that giving is to be practiced without dwelling in forms.

14f Subhuti, when Bodhisattvas give in this manner it benefits all sentient beings. The Tathagata teaches that all distinctions are no distinctions, and all sentient beings are non-beings. And why? Because the Tathagata speaks in accordance with the Dharma, speaks the truth, speaks of what is, not otherwise. A Tathagata does not speak falsely. However, Subhuti, in that Dharma to which the Tathagata has fully awakened and which he has taught, there is neither truth nor falsehood.

14g Subhuti, in the darkness one sees nothing; just so should one should regard a Bodhisattva who has fallen among things and who gives of himself while dwelling among things. When the night sky lightens and the sun rises, a man endowed with sight sees myriad forms; just so, Subhuti, should one regard a Bodhisattva who gives of himself without dwelling among things.

16 Subhuti, those sons and daughters of good family who take up these Sutras and memorize them, recite and study them, they will be humbled, well humbled they will be! And why? Whatever wrongful deeds (karma) leading to evil paths that these beings have done in their former lives, in this very life they will, by that humiliation, exhaust those wrongful deeds of former lives, and they will attain the enlightenment of a Buddha.

17a Subhuti asked: “How, O Lord, should one who has set out in the Bodhisattva path stand, how advance, how still his thoughts?
The Lord replied: Here, Subhuti, someone who has set out in the Bodhisattva path should form the following thought: ‘All beings I must lead to Nirvana, into that Realm of Nirvana which leaves nothing behind; and yet, after beings have thus been led to Nirvana, no being at all has been led to Nirvana’. And why? If in a Bodhisattva knowledge of a being should occur, he could not be called a Bodhisattva, and likewise if knowledge of a soul or a man should occur in him. And why? Because he who has set out in the Bodhisattva path is not one of the dharmas.

17b What do you think Subhuti? When I was with the Tathagata Dipankara, is there any Dharma (doctrine) by which I came to fully know utmost, perfect enlightenment?
Subhuti replied: There is no Dharma by which the Tathagata, when he was with the Tathagata Dipankara, fully came to know utmost, perfect enlightenment.

The Lord said: So it is, Subhuti, so it is: there is no Dharma by which the Tathagata, when he was in the presence of Dipankara, the Tathagata, Arhat, Fully Enlightened One, came to fully know utmost, perfect enlightenment. Moreover, Subhuti, if I had fully known some Dharma, the Tathagata Dipankara would not have predicted of me: “You, young Brahmin, will in a future time be a Tathagata, Arhat, fully Enlightened One, by the name of Shakyamuni!” And why? The name Tathagata is a synonym for Suchness.

17d Should anyone say, Subhuti, that the Tathagata has fully known utmost, perfect enlightenment, he would be speaking a falsehood. There is no dharma (thing) to which the Tathagata has fully awakened as utmost, perfect enlightenment. In the Dharma to which the Tathagata has fully awakened, there is no orthodox and no heterodox. Therefore the Tathagata preaches: “All dharmas are Buddha-dharmas.” And why? Subhuti, the Tathagata has demonstrated that all dharmas are adharmas (non-things): thus all dharmas are said to be Buddha-dharmas.”

17f The Lord said: Subhuti, the Bodhisattva who would say: “I will lead beings to Nirvana” is not to be called a Bodhisattva. And why? Is there, Subhuti, any dharma called a Bodhisattva?
Subhuti replied: No, O Lord, there is no dharma called a Bodhisattva.
The Lord said: Therefore the Tathagata teaches: “Devoid of self are all dharmas: devoid of a being, devoid of a soul, devoid of a man—all dharmas are thus.” (Niratmanah sarvadharma, nihsattvah nirjiva nispudgalah sarva-dharma iti.) However, Subhuti, the Bodhisattva who remains focused on “Devoid of a self are all dharmas,” him the Tathagata, the Arhat, the Fully Enlightened One has declared to be a Bodhisattva, a great being.

18b The Lord said: What do you think, Subhuti? Has the Tathagata used the phrase, “As many grains of sand as there are in the great river Ganges”?
Subhuti replied: So it is, O Lord, so it is, O Well-Gone! The Tathagata has done so.
The Lord asked: What do you think, Subhuti? If there were as many Ganges rivers as there are grains of sand in the great river Ganges, and if there were as many world-systems as there are grains of sand in them, would those world-systems be many?
Subhuti replied: So it is, O Lord, so it is, O Well-Gone, those world-systems would be many.
The Lord said: However many beings are in those world systems, I know, in my wisdom, their manifold patterns of thought (anusaya). And why? Subhuti, the Tathagata has shown patterns of thought to be no patterns of thought: thus do I speak of patterns of thought. And why? Past thought is unattainable, future thought is unattainable, present thought is unattainable.

21 The Lord asked: What do you think, Subhuti? Does the Tathagata have the thought: “I have taught the Dharma”? Subhuti, whosoever were to say, “The Tathagata has taught the Dharma” would speak falsely; he would misrepresent me by seizing upon what is not. And why? The teaching of the Dharma, Subhuti, is that there is no dharma which could be grasped as a teaching of the Dharma.

Subhuti asked: Are there, O Lord, any beings in the future, in the last time, in the last epoch, in the last 500 years, at the time of the collapse of the good doctrine who, upon hearing such teachings, will truly believe?
The Lord replied: Subhuti, they are neither beings nor non-beings. And why? Subhuti, all beings have been shown by the Tathagata to be non-beings: thus do I speak of all beings.

22 What do you think, Subhuti? Is there any Dharma by which the Tathagata has fully known utmost, perfect enlightenment?
Subhuti replied: No indeed, O Lord, there is no Dharma by which the Tathagata has fully known utmost perfect enlightenment.
The Lord said: So it is, Subhuti, so it is. Not even the least (anu) dharma is to be found or grasped there: thus do I speak of utmost (anuttara), perfect enlightenment.”

23 Furthermore, Subhuti, that Dharma is of a sameness (samata), and nothing is therein at variance (vishama). Thus do I speak of utmost, perfect enlightenment. Being of a sameness due to the absence of a self, a being, a soul, or a man, utmost, perfect enlightenment is fully known as the totality of all of the wholesome dharmas. Furthermore, Subhuti, the Tathagata has shown wholesome dharmas to be adharmas (non-things): thus do I speak of wholesome dharmas.

25 What do you think, Subhuti, in the Tathagata does the thought occur: “Beings have been liberated by me?” You should not see it thus, Subhuti! And why? There is not a single being who has been liberated by the Tathagata. Furthermore, if there had been any being liberated by the Tathagata, then surely the Tathagata would be seizing upon a self, a being, a soul, a man. Subhuti, the Tathagata has taught that seizing upon a self is non-seizing, yet the foolish ordinary men seize upon it. Furthermore, Subhuti, the Tathagata has taught that foolish ordinary men are non-men; thus do I speak of foolish ordinary men.

26 What do you think, Subhuti? Is the Tathagata recognized by the marks of a Buddha?
Subhuti replied: No indeed, O Lord.
The Lord said: If, Subhuti, the Tathagata could be recognized by the marks of a Buddha, then a wheel-turning sage king would also be a Tathagata.10 Therefore, the Tathagata is not recognized by the marks of a Buddha.

Further, the Lord spoke on that occasion the following verse:

Those who by my form did know me
And those who followed me by my voice
Engaged in wrong efforts
Those people will not see me

By the Dharma [taught] does one recognize the Buddhas
From their Dharmabodies comes their guidance
Yet the Dharma’s true nature cannot be discerned
And no one can be conscious of it as an object

27 “Subhuti, No one should say to you: ‘Those who have set out in the Bodhisattva-path have conceived the destruction of a dharma, or its annihilation’. Not so should you see it, Subhuti. For those who have set out in the Bodhisattva-path have not conceived the destruction of a dharma or its annihilation.”

28 Subhuti, suppose a Bodhisattva, in the practice of giving, filled as many world realms with the Seven Precious Treasures as there are grains of sand in the Ganges River. If there is a man with the awareness that all dharmas are void of self, and if he accomplishes their complete extinction, then this is superior, and the merits attained by this Bodhisattva surpass those of the former. Subhuti, this is because Bodhisattvas do not receive merit.
Subhuti asked the Buddha: Lord, why do you say that Bodhisattvas do not receive merit?
Subhuti, in order for Bodhisattvas to generate merit they should not covetously wish to acquire it; therefore it is said that they do not receive merit.

Now listen to a true saying! If a man gave a thousand marks of gold for building churches and convents, that would be a great thing. Yet that man would give far more who could regard a thousand marks as nothing; he would have done far more than the other. – Meister Eckhart (Sermon Forty)

29 Whosoever says that the Tathagata goes or comes, stands, sits or lies down does not understand the meaning of my teaching. And why? Tathagata is the title given one who has not gone anywhere, nor come from anywhere: therefore is he called Tathagata, Arhat, Fully Enlightened One.

31 What do you think? Subhuti, if someone said that the Tathagata had taught a view (drishti) of a self, a view of a being, a view of a living soul, a view of a man, would he be speaking right?
Subhuti replied: No indeed, O Lord, no indeed, O Well-Gone, he would not be speaking right. And why? The Tathagata has taught that [the proper] view of a self is no view: thus has he spoken of a view of a self.
The Lord said, Subhuti, regarding all dharmas, one who is developing the mind of utmost, perfect enlightenment should thus know, thus see, and thus believe, not allowing knowledge of dharmas to occur. Subhuti, the true characteristics of dharmas are non-characteristics; thus do I speak of the characteristics of dharmas.

32 And finally, Subhuti, if a Bodhisattva, a great being had filled world-systems immeasurable and incalculable with the seven precious things, and gave them as a gift to the Tathagatas, the Arhats, the Fully Enlightened Ones, and if, on the other hand, a son or daughter of good family had taken from this Prajnaparamita Sutra but one stanza of four lines, and were to memorize, teach, recite and study it, and illuminate it in full for others, on the strength of that this latter would beget a greater quantity of merit, immeasurable and incalculable. How should he or she illuminate it? By not illuminating it. This is what I mean when I say he or she should illuminate it.

As a shooting star, spots before the eyes, a lamp
A fantasy, dew drops,  a bubble,
A dream, a lightning flash, a cloud,
So should one view what is conditioned.

Thus spoke the Lord. Enraptured, the Elder Subhuti, the monks and nuns, the pious laymen and laywomen, and the Bodhisattvas, and the whole world with its Gods, men, Asuras and Gandharvas rejoiced in the Lord’s teaching.

This completes the Diamond-hard Cutter of Perfect Wisdom.

Footnotes:

1 The title of Lord: see Why is the Buddha called Bhagavat

2 The Bodhisattvas are called Mahasattvas because they take the great vow, because they want to do the great work, and because they want to arrive at the great place. – The Mahaprajnaparamita Sastra

3 samjna: knowledge of characteristics, of differences; relative knowledge.

4 Citta (pl. cittam) means consciousness, awareness. No dharma or nature can know anything including itself, but citta can know everything possible, including cittam. Cittam always precede the appearance of phenomena (nama-rupa). A citta arises, it passes away immediately after its arising. Another citta arises, and again it falls away. The next arises and passes away immediately. There are immediate causes for the arising of cittam, and these are themselves cittam, namely nama-rupa. (Wisdom Library)

5 With respect to the doctrine of ‘no-self’, Edward Conze (1975) states,

It is noteworthy that the ontology of the Prajnaparamita is represented here and elsewhere as a continuation or extension of the traditional Buddhist doctrine of “not-self ” (an-atta). It is supposed to be well known and agreed upon that the self, and other expressions which imply a self, such as ‘being’, ‘living soul’, ‘person’, ‘organism’, ‘individual’, ‘one who feels’, ‘agent’, or ‘thinking subject’, etc., are mere words to which in ultimate reality nothing at all corresponds. What is true of the self is now said to be true also of all other supposed entities which, in their differentiation, are data which somehow imply a separate self, and therefore will be unreal on the level of accomplished self-extinction on which alone the truth becomes discernible. (p. 3)

6 Adharma is the negation of the word dharma. Literally a non-thing, it refers to things that exist only in the mind, such as ‘the Buddha’ and ‘the Dharma’ (doctrine). As the Lankavatara Sutra explains, these thought-objects are just as impossible to grasp or apprehend as physical phenomena. The simile of the raft is that just as one abandons a raft as soon as one has crossed a river, one abandons doctrine as soon as one has had a realization of the truth.

7 True perfection is no perfection because there is no such thing as a self that is perfected.

8 Kaliraja, or King Kalinga: In a previous existence, when the Buddha was a Bodhisattva, he dwelt in a certain mountain. The king went on a hunting trip to this mountain, bringing along his concubines. While the king was off hunting, the women found the Buddha and stayed to listen to him speak. The king came upon the scene and accused the Buddha of harboring passions. When the Buddha denied knowledge (samjna) of any passions the king cut off first his ear, then his nose, then his limbs in order to test him. Every part of his body grew back, which proved that the Bodhisattva had not experienced any passions. The tale illustrates that the Buddha had let go of desire (attachments), anger (aversions), and delusion — the three hindrances.

9 Rishi: A sanctified sage, saint, an ascetic, anchorite. (https://www.wisdomlib.org/definition/rishi)

10 The thirty-two features and eighty auspicious characteristics are various unusual physical marks possessed by a buddha. They derive from earlier Indian thought, where they were said to distinguish a wheel-turning king [Chakravarti Raja] or ideal ruler. (Burton Watson: Lin-chi)

References:

Conze, Edward (1958). Buddhist Wisdom Books: Containing the Diamond Sutra and the Heart Sutra. Translated and Explained by Edward Conze. London: Allen & Unwin. (Diamond-Sutra-Conze)

Conze, Edward (1975). The Large Sutra on Perfect Wisdom. University of California Press.

Paul Harrison, from two oldest surviving Sanskrit manuscript copies:
1. MS 2385, Schøyen Collection, edited by Harrison & Watanabe, is presumed to have come from Afghanistan, possibly the Bamiyan area, and is dated on paleographical grounds to the 6th–7th centuries.
2. The Gilgit Vajracchedikā, discovered in Northern Pakistan in 1931, and subsequently
edited by Chakravarti (1956), Dutt (1959), and Schopen (1989), and is dated 6th-7th centuries. (VajracchedikaSutraHarrison)

Also available, translated from the Chinese:

Hsuan Hua (2001). A General Explanation of the Vajra Prajna Paramita Sutra. San Francisco: Sino-American Buddhist Association, Inc. (Diamond-Sutra-BTTS)

Hsuan HuaConze Humphreys Suzuki

Dhyana Master Hsuan Hua              D. T. Suzuki, Christmas Humphreys, Edward Conze

Meister Eckhart: Sermon Eighty Seven

He becomes a monk in all the different creeds of the world
so that thereby he may free others from ignorance
and save them from falling into erroneous beliefs. – Vimalakirti Sutra

Question: “It said that the Great Way is very easy to find and easy to follow, yet no one who is in the world is capable of finding it and following it.”
Bodhidharma: “These words are true. Being above the world, unmoved, letting go, indifferent to it, not doing a single thing, is called following the Way. Not seeing a single thing is called seeing the Way. Not knowing a single thing is called cultivating the Way. Not practising a single thing is called practising the Way. Thus it is said to be easy to enter and easy to follow.” (Bodhidharma’s Method for Quieting the Mind)

 

Sermon Eighty Seven

Beatitude itself opened its mouth of wisdom and said: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”. All angels, all saints, and everything that was ever born must keep silent when the wisdom of the Father speaks, for all the wisdom of angels and all creatures is pure folly before the unfathomable wisdom of God. This wisdom has declared that the poor are blessed.

Now there are two kinds of poverty. The one is external poverty, and this is good and much to be commended in the man who practises it voluntarily for the love of our Lord Jesus Christ, for he himself possessed this on earth. About this poverty I shall say no more now. But there is another poverty, an interior poverty, to which this word of our Lord applies when he says: “Blessed are the poor in spirit”.

Now I beg you to be like this in order that you may understand this sermon, for by the eternal truth I tell you that unless you are like this truth we are about to speak of, it is not possible for you to follow me.

Some people have asked me what poverty is in itself, and what a poor man is. This is how we shall answer.

Bishop Albert [Albertus Magnus] says a poor man is one who finds no satisfaction in all things God ever created, and this is well said. But we shall speak better, taking poverty in a higher sense: A poor man is one who wants nothing, knows nothing and has nothing. We shall now speak of these three points, and I beg you for the love of God to understand this wisdom if you can. But if you can’t understand it, don’t worry, because I am going to speak of such truth that few good people can understand.

Firstly, we say that a poor man is one who wants nothing. There are some who do not properly understand the meaning of this: these are the people who cling with attachment [Eigenschaft – possessiveness] to penances and outward practices, making much of these. May God have mercy on such folk for understanding so little of divine truth! These people are called holy from their outward appearances, but inwardly they are asses, for they are ignorant of the actual nature of divine truth. These people say that a poor man is one who wants nothing and they explain it this way: A man should so live that he never does his own will in anything, but should strive to do the dearest will of God. It is well with these people because their intention is right, and we commend them for it. May God in His mercy grant them the kingdom of heaven! But by God’s wisdom I declare that these folk are not poor men or similar to poor men. They are much admired by those who know no better, but I say that they are asses with no understanding of God’s truth. Perhaps they will gain heaven for their good intentions, but of the poverty we shall now speak of they have no idea.

If then, I were asked what is a poor man who wants nothing, I should reply as follows: As long as a man is so disposed that it is his will with which he would do the most beloved will of God, that man has not the poverty we are speaking about, for that man has a will to serve God’s will, and that is not true poverty! For a man to possess true poverty he must be as free of his created will as he was when he was not. For I declare by the eternal truth: as long as you have the will to do the will of God, and longing for eternity and God, you are not poor, for a poor man is one who wills nothing and desires nothing.

While I yet stood in my first cause, I had no God and was my own cause: then I wanted nothing and desired nothing, for I was bare being and the knower of myself in the enjoyment of truth. Then I wanted myself and wanted no other thing. What I wanted I was and what I was I wanted, and thus I was free of God and all things. But when I left my free will behind and received my created being, then I had a God. For before there were creatures, God was not ‘God’: He was That which He was. But when creatures came into existence and received their created being, then God was not ‘God’ in Himself: He was ‘God’ in creatures.

Now we say that God, inasmuch as He is ‘God’, is not the supreme goal of creatures, for the same lofty status is possessed by the least of creatures in God. And if it were the case that a fly had reason and could intellectually plumb the eternal abysm of God’s being out of which it came, we would have to say that God with all that makes Him ‘God’ would be unable to fulfil and satisfy that fly! Therefore let us pray to God that we may be free of God that we may gain the truth and enjoy it eternally, there where the highest angel, the fly and the soul are equal, there where I stood and wanted what I was, and was what I wanted. We conclude, then: if a man is to be poor of will, he must will and desire as little as he willed and desired when he was not. And this is the way for a man to be poor by not wanting.

Secondly, he is a poor man who knows nothing. We have sometimes said that a man should live as if he did not live either for himself, or for truth, or for God. But now we will speak differently and go further, and say: For a man to possess this poverty he must live so that he is unaware that he does not live for himself, or for truth, or for God. He must be so lacking in all knowledge that he neither knows nor recognises nor feels that God lives in him. More still, he must be free of all the understanding that lives in him, for when that man stood in the eternal being of God, nothing else lived in him: what lived there was himself. Therefore we declare that a man should be as free from his own knowledge as he was when he was not. That man should let God work as He will, and himself stand idle.

For all that ever came out of God, a pure activity is appointed. The proper work of man is to love and to know. Now the question is: Wherein does blessedness lie most of all? Some masters have said it lies in knowing, some say that it lies in loving; others say it lies in knowing and loving, and they say better. But we say it lies neither in knowing nor in loving, for there is something in the soul from which both knowledge and love flow, but it does not itself know or love in the way the powers of the soul do. Whoever knows this, knows the seat of blessedness. This has neither before nor after, nor is it expecting anything to come, for it can neither gain nor lose. And so it is deprived of the knowledge that God is at work in it; rather, it just is itself, enjoying itself God-fashion. It is in this manner, I declare, that a man should be so acquitted and free that he neither knows nor realises that God is at work in him; in that way can a man possess poverty.

The masters say God is a being, an intellectual being that knows all things. But we say God is not a being and not intellectual and does not know this or that. Thus God is free of all things, and so He is all things. To be poor in spirit, a man must be poor of all his own knowledge, not knowing any thing–not God, nor creature nor himself. For this it is needful that a man should desire to know and understand nothing of the works of God; in this way a man can be poor of his own knowledge.

Thirdly, he is a poor man who has nothing. Many people have said that perfection is attained when one has none of the material things of the earth, and this is true in one sense–when it is voluntary. But this is not the sense in which I mean it. I have said before, the poor man is not he who wants to fulfil the will of God but he who lives in such a way as to be free of his own will and of God’s will, as he was when he was not. Of this poverty we declare that it is the highest poverty. Secondly, we have said he is a poor man who does not know of the working of God within him. He who stands as free of knowledge and understanding as God stands of all things, has the purest poverty. But the third is the straightest poverty, of which we shall now speak: that is when a man has nothing.

Now pay earnest attention to this! I have often said, and eminent authorities say it too, that a man should be so free of all things and all works, both inward and outward, that he may be a proper abode for God where God can work. Now we shall say something else. If it is the case that a man is free of all creatures, of God and of self, and if it is still the case that God finds a place in him to work, then we declare that as long as this is in that man, he is not poor with the strictest poverty. For it is not God’s intention in His works that a man should have a place within himself for God to work in: for poverty of spirit means being so free of God and all His works, that God, if He wishes to work in the soul, is Himself the place where He works–and this He gladly does. For, if he finds a man so poor, then God performs His own work, and the man is passive to God within him, and God is His own place of work, being a worker in Himself. It is just here, in this poverty, that man enters into that eternal essence that once he was, that he is now and evermore shall remain. [. . . ]

So we say that a man should be so poor that he neither is nor has any place for God to work in. To preserve a place is to preserve distinction. Therefore I pray to God to make me free of God, for my essential being is above God, taking God as the origin of creatures. For in that essence of God in which God is above being and distinction, there I was myself and knew myself so as to make this man. Therefore I am my own cause according to my essence, which is eternal, and not according to my becoming, which is temporal. Therefore I am unborn, and according to my unborn mode I can never die. According to my unborn mode I have eternally been, am now and shall eternally remain. That which I am by virtue of birth must die and perish, for it is mortal, and so must perish with time. In my birth all things were born, and I was the cause of myself and all things; and if I had so willed it, I would not have been, and all things would not have been. If I were not, God would not be either. I am the cause of God’s being God: if I were not, then God would not be God. But you do not need to know this.

A great master says that his breaking-through is nobler than his emanation, and this is true. When I flowed forth from God, all creatures declared: ‘There is a God’; but this cannot make me blessed, for with this I acknowledge myself as a creature. But in my breaking-through, where I stand free of my own will, of God’s will, of all His works, and of God himself, then I am above all creatures and am neither God nor creature, but I am that which I was and shall remain for evermore. There I shall receive an imprint that will raise me above all the angels. By this imprint I shall gain such wealth that I shall not be content with God inasmuch as He is God, or with all His divine works, for this breaking-through guarantees to me that I and God are one. Then I am what I was, then I neither wax nor wane, for then I am an unmoved cause that moves all things. Here, God finds no place in man, for man by his poverty wins for himself what he has eternally been and shall eternally remain. Here, God is one with the spirit, and that is the strictest poverty one can find.

If anyone cannot understand this sermon, he need not worry. For so long as a man is not equal to this truth, he cannot understand my words, for this is a naked truth which has come direct from the heart of God.

That we may so live as to experience it eternally, may God help us. Amen.

 

M. O’C. Walshe. Meister Eckhart: Sermons and Treatises Volume II. UK, Element Books Limited, 1987.

 

Q: What happens when you reach the desireless state?
Lester: Well, what is desire? Desire comes from thinking we are not the All. When you reach the desireless state, you see yourself as the All, as the sum total, and there’s no more need, there’s no more lack, everything is you. It’s not yours–you are it!
Q: So, it’s really a state of “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all this shall be added unto you.”*
Lester: Everything, every last atom in the universe. Please note that most of your questions have been on possessing, the possession of things. This indicates what you think happiness is. However, you will discover that should you obtain all the things you desire, you would still find yourself unhappy. You must go beyond the possessing state and reach the beingness realm where you only are. There you know that you lack nothing and that you are the infinite All. There lies the ultimate joy which is a deep and a most profound peace, the ultimate satiation.

*Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, How shall we be clothed?

For after all these things do the Gentiles seek: for your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things.

But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Take therefore no thought for tomorrow: for tomorrow shall take thought of the things for itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. (Matt 6:31)

***
Levenson, Lester (1993). Keys to the Ultimate Freedom. Phoenix, Arizona: The Sedona Institute (p. 85). (Recorded in Los Angeles on February 10, 1966. “Mastering mind and matter”)