January 5, 2013

An Excerpt From Meister Eckhart's Sermon "Jesus Entered"

"Do you want to know correctly if your suffering is your own or God's? You can tell it in this way: if you suffer for the love of yourself, in whatever way it be, this suffering hurts and is hard for you to bear. But if you suffer for the love of God and for God alone, that suffering does not hurt and is not hard to bear, for it is God who carries the burden. In all truth! If there were a man who liked to suffer for God and purely for God alone, and if on this man fell in a single blow all the suffering that all men have ever suffered, and all the suffering the entire world bears, it would not hurt him and would not weigh him down, for it is God who would carry the burden. If a hundredweight were placed on my neck, but someone else supported it above my neck, I should load myself with a hundred hundredweights as willingly as with a single one, for this would not weigh me down and would not hurt me. Briefly, those things a man suffers for God and for God alone, God makes light and gentle for him. As I have already said at the beginning of the sermon: "Jesus went up into a little castle and was received by a virgin who was a wife." Why? It was necessary that she be a virgin and at the same time a wife. Now I have told you that Jesus was received. But I have not yet said what this little castle is. So at present I wish to speak of it.

I have sometimes said that there is a power in the mind, the only one that is free. Sometimes I have said that it is a guardian of the mind; sometimes I have said that it is a light of the mind; sometimes I have said that it is a spark. Here is what I say now: it is neither this nor that, and yet it is a something. It is raised above this and that, higher than the sky is above earth. This is why I designate it now in a nobler way than I have ever done before, though it resists nobleness and fashion, and surpasses them by far. It is free of all names and devoid of all forms, entirely bare and free, as void and free as God is in himself. It is perfect unity and simplicity as God is unity and simplicity, so that in no way can one peer into it.

In this same power of which I have spoken, in which God is verdant and flowering with his entire divinity, and the spirit in God---in this same power, I say, the Father begets his only Son as truly as in himself, since he truly lives in this power; and the spirit, in harmony with the Father, begets the same sole Son and itself as this same Son, and it is this same Son, in this light, and it is the truth. If you could grasp this with my heart, you would understand well what I say, for it is true and the truth says it itself.

Look and see: this little castle in the mind of which I am speaking and which is my intention, is so one and simple, elevated above every fashion, that the noble power of which I have spoken is not worthy to pry, were it only once for a moment, into this little castle; and also the other power of which I have spoken, in which God does not cease to grow and burn with all his riches and all his delight, would not dare to ever cast a glance into it: this castle is one and simple, an identical unity so highly elevated above every mode and above every power that no power nor any mode can ever look into it, not even God himself. In all truth and as truly as God lives! God himself will never peer into it, not even for an instant, and has never looked into it insofar as he possesses attributes and according to the propriety of his Persons. This is easily understood, for this identical unity is without mode and propriety. This is why, if God is ever to catch a glimpse of it, it will cost him all his divine names and the propriety of his Persons; he will have to leave all this outside, if he ever wishes to look inside. Rather, insofar as he is simple and one, without any mode or propriety, he is neither the Father, nor the Son, nor the Holy Spirit in this sense, and yet he is something that is neither this nor that.

You see, insofar as he is one and simple, he penetrates into this unity that I call the little castle in the mind, but otherwise he will not enter into it in any way; it is only thus that he penetrates into it and is already within. With this part of itself the mind is equal to God and not otherwise. What I have told you is the truth; I give you truth itself as witness and my soul as pledge.

May we so be a little castle in which Jesus ascends and is received and abides eternally with us the way that I have said: may God help us in this, Amen." - Meister Eckhart, "Jesus Entered." Translated by Reiner Schürmann. Source: Wandering Joy: Meister Eckhart's Mystical Philosophy. 2001. Lindisfarne Books: Great Barrington, Massachusetts. Pg. 6-8.

An excerpt from Reiner Schürmann's commentary on Meister Eckhart's sermon, "Jesus Entered":
"This interpretation of the word "virgin" calls upon a philosophical rather than a biblical tradition. The "necessity" which Meister Eckhart evokes contains an allusion to the theory of the imprint which a representation places upon the intellect.

The reception of Jesus by a "virgin" can be compared to that of an image by the intellect: if the intellect is to receive an image, it is necessary that it be empty of the determination that the image brings: entbildet. When the image enters into you, God must withdraw with all his divinity; then you belong to the images, and no longer to God. The adult "knows many things, and all these are images." This is why the intellect must be entirely empty, in a state of pure receptivity, to completely accommodate the whole Jesus. This receptivity is the meaning of Eckhart's concept of virginity." Pg. 10-11.