St. Paul
The Teachings of San Juan de la Cruz
Love's Living Flame
Dark Night of the Soul
The Affects of the Appetites on the Soul
The Faults of Beginners
The Kinds of Pain Suffered by the Soul
San Juan's Commentary on "Dark Night"
Meister Eckhart
On the Stages of Mystical Unfoldment
Ways in which the Divine Light is Shrouded
The Four Kinds of Ecstasy
The Process of Self-Realization
The Process of Self-Transformation
The State of Being Attached
The Release or Letting Go
The State of Detachment
The Levels of Mystical Experience
The Beginning or Transient
The Intermediate or Birth of the Son
Jakob Boehme
The Way to Christ
Of True Repentance

St. Paul


If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophesy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And if I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profiteth me nothing. Love suffereth long and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not its own, is not provoked, taketh not account of evil; rejoiceth not in unrighteousness, but rejoiceth with the truth; heareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Love never faileth: but whether there be prophesies, they shall be done away; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall be done away. For now we know in part, and we prophesy in part; but when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I felt as a child, I thought as a child: now that I am become a man, I have put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know fully even as also I was fully known. But now abideth faith, hope, love, these three: and the greatest of these is love.

I Corinthians, Chapter 13

If there be therefore any consolation in Christ [the Spirit of Love-Wisdom], if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit; . . . fulfill ye my joy, that ye be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem the other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this Mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus [the perfected and Self-realized man or woman]: who, being in the Image of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon himself the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross [of birth into matter]. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every other name: that at the name of Christ Jesus [the achievement of AT-ONE-MENT] every knee should bend, . . . and that every tongue should confess that Christ Jesus is lord [that the Perfected man is the direct expression of the Inner Lord or Higher Ego], to the glory of God, the Father [the Inner Lord is the direct expression of the Divine Spark].

Philippians, Chapter 2: 1-11

The Teachings of San Juan de la Cruz

(St. John of the Cross -- 1542-1591)

LOVE'S LIVING FLAME (Llama de Amor Viva)
"The soul, taking account of her obligations, seeing that life is short and the path of eternal life narrow . . . that time is uncertain, the account strict, perdition very easy, salvation very difficult; knowing, on the other hand, the great debt that she owes to God for that he has redeemed her for himself alone, for which she owes him all the rest of the love of her will, and the return of His love to her . . . is touched with fear and inward grief of heart at so great perdition and peril, and renounces all things, ceases from all business and delays not a day, neither an hour. Then, with yearnings and sighs that come from the heart, wounded now with love for God, she begins to invoke her Beloved. . . ."
1. "Oh Love's living flame,
Tenderly you wound
My soul's deepest center!
Since you no longer evade me
Will you please at last consummate:
Rend the veil of this sweet encounter!
2. "Oh cautery so tender!
Oh pampered wound!
Oh soft hand! Oh touch so delicately strange,
Tasting of eternal life
And canceling all debts!
Killing, death into life you change!
3. "Oh lamps of fiery lure,
In whose shining transparence
The deep cavern of the senses,
Blind and obscure,
Warmth and light, with strange flares,
Gives with the lover's caresses!
4. "How tame and loving
Your memory rises in my breast,
Where secretly only you live,
And in your fragrant breathing,
Full of goodness and grace,
How delicately in love you make me feel!"

1. "On a dark night,
Kindled in love with yearnings
--Oh, happy chance!--
I went forth without being observed,
My house being now at rest.
2. "In darkness and secure,
By the secret ladder, disguised
--Oh, happy chance!--
In darkness and in concealment,
My house being now at rest.
3. "In the happy night,
In secret, when none saw me,
Nor I beheld aught,
Without light or guide,
Save that which burned in my heart.
4. "This light guided me
More surely than the light of noonday
To the place where he (well I know who!)
Was awaiting me--
A place where none appeared.
5. "Oh, night that guided me,
Oh, night more lovely than the dawn,
Oh, night that joined
Beloved with lover,
Lover transformed in the Beloved!
6. "Upon my flowery breast,
Kept wholly for himself alone,
There he stayed sleeping,
And I caressed him,
And the fanning of the cedars made a breeze.
7. "As I spread his locks,
The fresh wind from the turret
(on high like the early morning breeze of a new day)
Wounded my neck with its gentle hand,
And caused all my senses to be suspended.
8. "I remained lost in oblivion,
My face I reclined on the Beloved;
All ceased
And I abandoned myself,
Leaving my cares forgotten
Among the lilies."
These are the stanzas of the Prologue to "Dark Night of the Soul (Noche Oscura)," one of the grandest of all Christian Mystical writings if not all such writings, in general, by San Juan de la Cruz (St. John of the Cross) born Juan de Yepes near Avila in Spain in 1542. They are entitled: "Songs of the soul delighted at having reached the high state of perfection, the union with God, by way of spiritual negation." Actually, these stanzas, and the commentary written to elaborate upon them, were part of a larger work entitled "The Ascent of Mount Carmel." This work, together with "Spiritual Canticle" and "Love's Living Flame"--two related works of poetry and prose--were written between the years 1578 and 1586, part of this time in prison (San Juan, a member of the Carmelite Order, was imprisoned by a rival faction within the Church).
In these four works, San Juan describes the entrance upon the Spiritual Path of the beginner or spiritual aspirant, the problem of human appetites and how these affect the soul, the shortcomings of beginners, the stages and trials experienced during the Dark Night or Purgation of the Soul, and the way to climb to that high state of perfection or attainment of the Mystic Union of love with God--the Spiritual Marriage.
Before beginning his commentary, San Juan states that:
" . . . the soul that utters [these words] is now in the state of perfection, which is the union of love with God, having already passed through severe trials and straits, by means of spiritual exercise in the narrow way of eternal life whereof our Savior speaks in the Gospel, along which way the soul ordinarily passes in order to reach this high and happy union with God. Since this road (as the Lord Himself says likewise) is so strait, and since there are so few that enter by it, the soul considers it a great happiness and good chance to have passed along it to the said perfection of love, as it sings in the first stanza, calling this strait road with full propriety "Dark Night," as will be explained hereafter in the lines of said stanza. The soul, then, rejoicing at having passed along this narrow road whence so many blessings have come to it, speaks after this manner."
It is generally agreed among spiritual writers that there are definite stages in the development of the spiritual life, and that these may more or less be reduced to three degrees of spiritual maturity, namely: beginner, advanced and the perfect. It is agreed that (1) each degree is concerned with some particular aspect of the spiritual life; (2) that those in a higher degree can practice what others in a lower degree cannot practice consistently; and (3) that persons in each degree need direction which is peculiar to that stage in the spiritual life.
According to San Juan de la Cruz, there are three stages on the road to perfection: purgative for the beginner; illuminative for the advanced; and unitive for the perfect. For now, we will be concerned mainly with the first stage--the purgative or putrefactive way for the beginner. This is the same as the Black or Putrefactive stage of personal transformation in Spiritual Alchemy, in which the old man or woman in us--our old personality--must die and rot away. Before delving into this "Dark Night," the nature of the goal of perfection for which it is to prepare the aspirant should be briefly described. This goal, "the Spiritual Marriage," according to San Juan, is the highest possible state of perfection in this life, for in it, the Human Spirit is:
" . . . united and transformed through love in the Christ [the Solar Logos reflected in the Divine Spark-- the Human Monad], its Spouse."
This union of love, of the purified mind and heart, is described by San Juan as:
" . . . the soul's total transformation, according to the will, in the will of God, so that there may be naught in the soul that is contrary to the will of God [as directed by the Higher Ego through the voice of conscience], but that, in all and through all, its movement may be that of the will of God alone."
In other words, we are to become perfect channels for the expression of the Divine Mind and Heart; this great goal is to be attained by persevering in the practice of spiritual disciplines and exercises, mental prayer (Self-recollectedness), and patient endurance of the passive trials or "nights" of sense and of the spirit brought about by the Spirit of Love-our Highest SELF (the Monad) dwelling in the soul (the Higher Ego).
San Juan emphasizes that only those petty faults and imperfections that are voluntary prevent the soul from attaining this union. As to faults and imperfections which are not voluntary, he says:
" . . . unintentionally and unknowingly, or without having the power to do otherwise, it (the soul) may well fall into imperfections and venial sins, and into the natural desires whereof we have spoken; for such sins (sins of frailty) as these which are not voluntary and surreptitious, it is written that 'the just man shall fall seven times in the day and shall rise up again' (Proverbs 24:16)."
Such sins and faults do not hinder a person from attaining to this union. This, however, does not mean that we should remain unaware of these frailties and weaknesses, and eventually overcome them-not by any means. It does mean that we must endeavor to maintain a certain tolerance and patience with others and with ourselves as to these unintentional and relatively harmless shortcomings; our attention and energy are to be concentrated for a time on the more deliberate and perniciously destructive offenses. As the Christ Spirit declared through the man Jesus:
"Sins against the son of man are forgiven, but sins against the Holy Spirit are not forgiven."
According to San Juan, who was also known as the "Mystical Doctor," there are many characteristics which identify beginners on the Spiritual Path. First, it is assumed that they are in a "state of grace" and free from "habitual serious sin"; that is, they are sincere spiritual aspirants who are not overly materialistic and enamored with mundane activities, and are not malicious and mean-spirited. Anyone so encumbered cannot begin to strive for perfection because he or she is spiritually asleep. Before delving into the faults of beginners, let's first briefly consider the affects of human appetites on the psyche--how these bind and cause anguish in the soul, and how they must be overcome and transformed through the dark night.
The starting point of the "Ascent of Mount Carmel," or the climb to the attainment of spiritual Self-realization, is "desire," the desire of the appetites. The painful and anguishing perception that, ordinarily, desire is at the root of human decision-making compels the soul to look for the way to the original desire of all life, and the life of the soul. This is the starting point of a soul trying to extinguish the anguish resulting from a bad choice.
According to San Juan, the appetites rooted in the desire nature cause two main harms in the soul:
The first harm of the appetites is that "they deprive the soul of God's Spirit"--that is, they prevent the realization of our Inner Divinity by focusing consciousness on the personality, rather than the higher Spiritual Ego which alone can receive directly influences from the Divine Spark (the Monad, our real core SELF). As Jeremiah said: "They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living water, and dug for them selves leaking cisterns that hold no water." This privation of God-consciousness, or Christ-consciousness, occurs because to the extent that the soul is attached to anything pertaining to creatures or things of this earth, and to the degree that this appetite gains a foothold in the soul, to that same degree the capacity of the soul to love God, or the Highest Spirit within, is diminished.
The second harm of the appetites is that they "tire, fatigue, torture, afflict, darken and dirty" the soul. San Juan cites five effects:
(1) "It is obvious the appetites tire and exhaust the soul. They are like ill-bred little children always asking from their mother, but never satisfied. . . . The soul becomes tired and exhausted by her appetites, for she is wounded, moved and disturbed by them like water by the winds, and thus remains in continuous agitation, not being allowed to rest in any one place or in any one thing. As Isaiah wrote (Isa. 57:20): ' The heart of the evil man is like the boiling sea.' Unfortunate is the man who does not conquer his appetites. the soul grows tired and exhausted when chasing her appetites. It is like being hungry and opening one's mouth to fill one's body with air, rather than its proper food. Jeremiah said in this regard (Jer. 2:24): 'In the appetite of its soul it brought to itself the wind of its own affection.' "
(2) "As a second consequence, the appetites cause the soul harm through torture and anguish. It is like someone tied by ropes to a post, suffering a torture that will not end until he is freed from those ropes. The Psalmist said (Ps. 119:61): 'The ropes of my sins [that is, my appetites] have me bound all over.' Something similar happens when one lies naked over thorns and nails, which is the case of the afflicted and tormented soul when she lies over her appetites; they wound, lacerate, scratch and hurt the soul like thorns. In Psalm 118:12, the Psalmist says: ' They surrounded me like bees, stinging me, and turned against me like fire on thorns'; for the fire of anguish and torment grows through the appetites."
(3) "The third consequence of the appetites on the soul is to blind and darken her. It is like fog darkening the air and not letting the clear sunlight through, or like fog on a mirror not letting a face be seen clearly, or like water mixed with slime which does not allow the face looking at it to be clearly reflected. Thus in the soul taken over by the appetites, her intellect is darkened and makes no room for the sun of natural reason nor the Sun of God's supernatural wisdom to come through and spread clarity. Of little use are the eyes of the tiny moth, for its appetite for the beauty of the light drives it unthinkingly to burn in the fire. The appetites appear to the soul to be as close as if they were inside of her, thus the soul stumbles on this first light and feeds on it; no other light is visible from the intellect or anywhere else, nor will it be seen until the soul removes from in front the fatuous lights of the appetites.
"It is, therefore, sad to see the ignorance of those who burden themselves with extraordinary penances and many voluntary exercises; they think this ought to be sufficient to bring them to union with the Divine Wisdom, even if they do not try to deny their appetites with diligence."
(4) "A fourth harm to the soul caused by the appetites is that they defile and dirty her. As is said in Scripture (Ecclesiasticus 13:1): 'Whoever touches tar will get dirty by it.' [A more contemporary aphorism is: "He who lies with dogs rises with fleas."] Whenever we touch another creature to fill the appetite of our will, we touch tar. And notice how Scripture compares creatures to tar . . . ; if we were to place warmed-up gold or diamonds on tar, they would also become ugly and smeared as a result of the attraction of heat, and in the same manner would the soul warm by the heat of appetite toward any creature; all it brings away from such contact is dirt and stains.
"There is, however, an even greater difference be tween the soul and other corporeal creatures than between a very clear liquid and very dirty slime; were we to mix the slime with such clear liquid it would become dirty, as happens with the soul when it becomes dirty through contact with creatures, for in such contact it becomes similar to that creature. . . ." [So then, when the concrete mind becomes attached to bodies of form and the sensations associated with them, it takes on their identity and loses itself in them.]
(5) "The fifth point concerning the way souls are harmed by the appetites is that they weaken the soul and make her flaccid, removing any strength to continue and persevere on the path of virtue. It is the case that the power of appetites becomes divided among the many things it desires, and is less strong than if it remained whole addressing one single thing. The more it shares its power with many things, the less there remains for each. Philosophers say that a united virtue is stronger than a dispersed one. Just as when hot water not contained in a covered pot loses its heat, and just as perfumes from within open bottles lose their strength of fragrance, so the soul when not gathered within the one and only appetite for God loses its heat and vigor toward virtue.
Because the beginner is untried and not strong in virtue, he or she is weak and imperfect in many ways. San Juan enumerates and describes the faults of beginners with great clarity and psychological insight in his commentary. I will quote from an excellent summary* of the chapters in "The Dark Night" commentary dealing with these faults:

*Rev. Venard Poslusney, O. Carm. -- "Attaining Spiritual Maturity for Contemplation--According to St. John of the Cross," Locust Valley, NY: Living Flame Press, 1973.

 (1) "Spiritual Pride -- Many beginners are self-satisfied with their works and with themselves. They condemn others in their thoughts when they notice that others do not have the kind of devotion they themselves desire. Some reach such a degree of pride that they would have no one appear good but themselves; they even condemn others in deed and word, and slander them, thus seeing the mote in their brother's eye, and overlooking the beam in their own. They blame their teacher or Guru when these do not approve of their behavior or attitude, and consequently change teachers to suit their taste. Wishing to be esteemed as very devout and spiritual, they plan circumstances that are calculated to show themselves off to best advantage, such as assuming certain postures, ways of speaking, sighs, well-timed "ecstasies"! In order to impress their teacher or preceptor, they do not make a frank and humble confession of their sins and faults with all their attendant motives, usually so petty, and mean and uncharitable. Some beginners overlook faults they should be very quick to notice; at other times, they are over-depressed by their faults, since they think themselves already worthy of the halo. As a result they become angry and impatient with themselves. And how they like to be praised by others! Sometimes they even seek such praise. On the other hand, they have a real dislike for praising others."

(2) "Spiritual Avarice -- Some beginners are discontented and very peevish when they do not find the consolation they seek in spiritual exercises. They spend all their time listening to spiritual conversations, acquiring and reading many spiritual books which treat of spiritual consolations, instead of cultivating a spirit of mortification and detachment. It is a common experience in the spiritual life for beginners to enjoy sensible consolations and to find great sweetness and pleasure in spiritual exercises. This is especially evident during meditation, and many are loath to give it up when God calls them to higher prayer. They become walking piety stores, loaded with pictures, medals, rosaries, chaplets, crosses and relics; these objects must be made of special materials and according to a certain style. Here it is not devotion that attracts them, but the workmanship and variety of religious articles."

(3) "Lust -- On this subject the Mystical Doctor is not considering sins against purity or chastity, but imperfections (such as impure acts and feelings which 'arise and assert themselves in the sensual part of the soul'--the imagination and body), which a person is powerless to prevent, and certainly does not desire. This can occur when a person is deeply recollected in prayer. The first cause of them is that the body also shares in the spiritual pleasures and delights of the soul, but according to its sensual nature. Thus spiritual joy overflowing into the body is experienced by the body in a pleasure that may be called sensual or even sexual. This occurs not only in beginners, but also in those who have made progress. This imperfection will be checked when 'the sensual part is renewed by the purgation of the dark night,' or the passive trials of sense."

(4) "Anger -- When beginners are deprived of spiritual consolations they experience a sense of disappointment, vexation and complaint. These feelings are not sinful, but only imperfections, if they are not deliberately indulged. Some are so irritated by the deprivation of consolations that the smallest things upset them, and this reaches such a level, that no one can put up with them. Another form of spiritual anger is when beginners exercise an unholy zeal toward others, criticizing them angrily in their thoughts, and at times in word, and setting themselves up as 'masters of virtue.' At other times they are so impatient with themselves over their own imperfections that they would wish to become saints overnight. They resolve much, and promise a great deal, but as they are not humble and do not sufficiently distrust themselves, they fall much and accomplish little. This is so because they do not have the patience to wait for the necessary help that God will give when He so wishes." [Impatience has been said to be the "curse of the beginner."]

(5) "Spiritual Gluttony -- Most beginners are guilty of this fault, and are lured more by the desire for spiritual sweetness, than for detachment and discretion. This leads them to be immoderate in the practice of virtues, and they may jeopardize their lives through excessive penances and fasting. They set bodily austerity above the true penance of will, which latter is the more pleasing to God. The same is true of their mental prayer which they think consists in 'experiencing sensible pleasure and devotion, and they strive to obtain this by great effort, wearying and fatiguing their faculties and their heads.' In the end, they fail to persevere in this most important exercise, for they practice it more from inclination and feeling, than from a desire for real progress in virtue and union with God. Such beginners, attached to consolations and sweetness as they are, are loath to practice mortification and detachment in sober earnestness. For them, John of the Cross has this advice:
''The perfection and worth of things consist not in the multitude and the pleasantness of one's actions, but in being able to deny oneself in them.'
The passive night of sense with its temptations, aridities and other trials will eventually heal them of these imperfections."  

(6) "Spiritual Envy and Sloth -- As for envy, beginners experience real annoyance when they notice the spiritual progress of others and actually feel grief at being outdone in virtue. This in turn leads them to depreciate others when these latter are praised for their virtue. And when others fail to praise them, they are much disappointed because this is what they seek. With these faults as companions, it is not surprising that they also desire to be preferred above others.

"Then there is spiritual sloth which manifests itself in flight from spiritual practices which do not bring sensible pleasure and sweetness. Thus, they practice prayer with indifference, and are irregular in keeping the time set aside for it, because it fails to bring them the satisfaction they seek. Consequently, they desert the road to perfection which demands that they give up their own personal will for the good pleasure of the higher Will of God. Being attached to sweetness and consolation, they lack the fortitude needed to bear the trials of perfection. Instead, 'they run fretfully away from everything that is hard, and take offense at the Cross, wherein consist the delights of the spirit.' "

"Such is the description of the chief imperfections to be found in 'the lives of those that are in this first state of beginners, so that it may be seen how greatly they need God to set them in the state of proficients'."

The turning point, when a person becomes a sincere spiritual aspirant and sets foot on the path of perfection of love, or, as it has been called, "the way of attainment (of first-hand knowledge of the REAL)," is described elegantly by San Juan:
"The soul, taking account of her obligations, seeing that life is short and the path of eternal life narrow . . . that time is uncertain, the account strict, perdition very easy, salvation very difficult; knowing, on the other hand, the great debt that she owes to God for that he has redeemed her for himself alone, for which she owes him all the rest of the love of her will, and the return of His love to her . . . is touched with fear and inward grief of heart at so great perdition and peril, and renounces all things, ceases from all business and delays not a day, neither an hour. Then, with yearnings and sighs that come from the heart, wounded now with love for God, she begins to invoke her Beloved. . . .
"The Bride calls him 'Beloved,' in order the more to move and incline him to her prayer, for when God is loved, He responds to the petitions of his lover with great readiness. . . . Some call the Spouse 'Beloved' when he is not in truth their Beloved because they have not their heart wholly with him; . . . wherefore they are not at once granted their petition until they persevere in prayer and, at the same time, come to have their spirit more continuously with God, and their heart more wholly with him in affection of love, for naught is obtained of God save by love.
" . . . it is a characteristic of the lover, when she cannot commune with her Beloved in his presence, to do so by the best means that she may. And so at this point the soul would fain use her desires, affections and sighs as messengers, who are so well able to make known to her Beloved the secrets of her heart."
The first step for the beginner is to undertake an active stage of meditation which San Juan describes as a "discursive action," a form of mental prayer, which involves use of a reasoning process assisted by the imagination. This discursive action, or reasoning step-by-step, is brought about by means of images, forms and figures that are fashioned and imagined by the senses, which he calls "imagination and fancy." This meditation serves, in the words of San Juan, as a "remote means to beginners in order to dispose and habituate the spirit to spirituality by means of sense, and in order to void the sense, in the meantime, of all other low forms and images-temporal, worldly and natural." This technique serves to refocus the concrete mind before entering a state of Self-recollectedness or prayerfulness. It is necessary to pass through this first stage of meditation in order to cleanse the lower mind, this necessity being based upon man's own nature. Accordingly, San Juan writes:
"God brings man to perfection according to the way of man's own nature, working from what is lowest and most exterior up to what is most interior and highest." [This process is an adaptation or conditioning of the senses to the spirit.] "God [through the Higher Self] continues at the same time to perfect the interior bodily senses, such as imagination and fancy, and to habituate them to that which is good, by means of considerations, meditations and reflections of a sacred kind, in all of which He is instructing the spirit."
This meditation or mental prayer, or "affective prayer" as it is sometimes called, is the first step in the process of arriving at the knowledge of God--i.e., SELF-realization or first-hand knowledge of the REAL. Self-knowledge, says San Juan, is:
". . . the first thing that the soul must achieve in order to come to the knowledge of God." Next, one must seek to know the Beloved "through consideration and knowledge of the creatures [all forms of created life: mountains, oceans, plant life, birds, insects, fish, man, and the vast reaches of the space world]. For, after the practice of self-knowledge, this consideration of the creatures is the first thing in order upon this spiritual road to the knowledge of God; by means of them, the soul considers His greatness and excellence, according to that word of the Apostle (Paul) where he says: ' The invisible things of God are known by the soul through the invisible and visible created things' (Rom. 1:20)."
As Paracelsus had said:
"He who would understand the Book of Nature must walk its pages with his feet."
 So we must study and explore the phenomenal world-but more and more from a spiritual attitude of wonder. As San Juan wrote:
"It is to be observed that . . . the question that the soul puts to the creatures is the meditation that she makes by their means upon their creator. (This is a) meditation on the elements and on the other lower creatures, and a meditation upon the heavens and upon the other creatures and material things that God has created therein, and likewise a meditation upon the celestial spirits."
This meditation is only a first stage for beginners and we must not remain in it indefinitely. This stage is necessary for beginners, as San Juan advised,
" . . . in order that they may gradually feed and enkindle their souls with love by means of sense . . . and . . . serve them as remote means to union with God, through which a soul has commonly to pass in order to reach the goal . . . yet they must merely pass through them, and not remain ever in them, for in such a manner they would never reach their goal, which does not resemble these remote means, neither has aught to do with them."
It is like a flight of stairs leading to a pleasant and peaceful room--if one remains on the stairs, he will never get to the room.  
The transition from the active purgation to the passive night of sense is the transition from meditation to contemplation. Thus, when the beginner is near the end of the active purgation, God (through the Higher Nature) begins to purify him or her with the Divine Fire of Love in the passive night of sense, and then he or she arrives at a higher and deeper degree of self-knowledge which reduces him or her to a state of great anguish and affliction. As San Juan wrote:
"In this preparatory state of purgation the flame (of love, Holy Spirit) is not bright to it (the soul), but dark, and if it gives it any light at all, it is only that it may see and feel its own faults and miseries. Nor does it bring it either refreshment or peace, but consumes and proves it, making it to faint and grieve at its own self-knowledge. And thus . . . it makes it miserable and bitter, by means of the spiritual light of self-knowledge which it sheds upon it. . . . At this time the soul suffers great darkness with respect to the understanding . . . and grievous knowledge of its miseries in the memory, in-as-much as its spiritual eye is very bright with respect to self-knowledge."
"This Dark Night is an inflowing of God [Divine Light, Wisdom and Energy] into the soul, which purges it from its ignorances and imperfections--habitual, natural and spiritual-- and which is called by contemplatives 'infused contemplation,' or 'mystical theology.' Herein God secretly teaches the soul and instructs it in perfection of love, without its doing anything, or understanding of what manner is this infused contemplation."
"In the first way, because the light and wisdom of this contemplation is most bright and pure, and the soul which it assails is dark and impure, it follows that the soul suffers great pain when it receives it in itself, just as, when the eyes are dimmed by humors, and become impure and weak, the assault made upon them by a bright light causes them pain. And when the soul suffers the direct assault of this divine light, its pain, which results from its impurity is immense; because, when this pure light assails the soul, in order to expel its impurity, the soul feels itself to be so impure and miserable that it believes God to be against it, and thinks that it has set itself up against God. This causes it sore grief and pain, because it now believes that God has cast it away: this was one of the greatest trials which Job felt when God sent him this experience and he asked: 'Why hast Thou set me contrary to Thee, so that I am grievous and burdensome to myself?' (Job 7:20). In Lamentations (3:1-3, 17-18) Jeremiah says: 'I am the man that hath seen affliction by the rod of his wrath. He hath led me, and brought me into darkness, but not into the light. Surely against me is he turned; he turneth his hand against me all the day. And Thou hast removed my soul far off from peace: I forget prosperity. And I said, my strength and my hope is perished from the Lord.' "
"The second way in which the soul suffers pain is by reason of its weakness--natural, moral and spiritual; for, when this divine contemplation assails the soul with a certain force, in order to strengthen it and subdue it, it suffers such pain in its weakness that it nearly swoons away. This is especially so at certain times when it is assailed with somewhat greater force; for sense and spirit, as if beneath some immense and dark load, are in such great pain and agony that the soul would find advantage and relief in death. This had been experienced by Job when he said: 'I desire not that he should have intercourse with me in great strength, lest He oppress me with the weight of his greatness'."
"The third kind of suffering and pain that the soul endures in this state results from the fact that two other extremes meet here in one, namely, the Divine and the human. The Divine is this purgative contemplation, and the human is the subject-that is, the soul. The Divine assails the soul in order to renew it and thus to make it Divine; and stripping it of the habitual affections and attachments of the old man, to which it is very closely united, knit together and conformed, destroys and consumes its spiritual substance, and absorbs it in deep and profound darkness. As a result of this, the soul feels itself to be perishing and melting away, in the presence and sight of its miseries, in a cruel spiritual death, even as if it had been swallowed by a beast and felt itself being devoured in the darkness of its belly, suffering such anguish as was endured by Jonah in the belly of that beast of the sea. For in this sepulcher of dark death it must needs abide until the spiritual resurrection which it hopes for.
"A description of this suffering and pain, although in truth it transcends all description, is given in Psalm 18 (4-6): 'The lamentations of death compassed me about; the pains of hell surrounded me; I cried in my tribulation'."
"The fourth kind of pain is caused in the soul by another excellence of this dark contemplation, which is its majesty and greatness: this is one of the chiefest pains that it suffers in this purgation. For it feels within itself a profound emptiness and impoverishment of three kinds of good, which are ordained for the soul: these being the temporal, the natural and the spiritual; and finds itself set in the midst of the evils contrary to these, namely, miseries of imperfection, aridity and emptiness of the apprehensions of the faculties, and abandonment of the spirit in darkness."
In the beginning, the aspirant is treated like a little child who needs special care and attention, and many favors (or "sensible consolations") are bestowed upon him or her:
" . . . the soul, after it has been definitely converted to the service of God, even as is the tender child by its loving mother; . . . the loving mother is like the grace of God, for as soon as the soul is regenerated by its new warmth and fervor for the service of God, He treats it in the same way; He makes it to find spiritual milk, sweet and delectable, in all things of God, without any labor of its own, and also great pleasure in spiritual exercises, for here God is giving to it the breast of His tender love, even as to a tender child."
Nourished by divine consolations, love of Supreme Being grows steadily in the beginner to the point where he sets out now in search of the Beloved (Bhakti Yoga). To find this loving God, he must practice an exercise known as "The Presence of God," and its attendant exercise, "Recollection" or "Self-remembering." First, the spiritual person must realize that God is very close to him, in fact, dwells in him, and he, in turn, dwells in God ("I am in my God, and my God is in me!").
"The soul that would find Him must go forth from all things according to the affection and will, and enter within itself in deepest recollection, so that all things are to it as though they were not.
"A great contentment for the soul is to understand that God is never absent from the soul . . . what more desirest thou, Oh soul . . . since within thyself thou hast thy riches, thy delights, thy satisfaction, thy fullness and thy kingdom, which is thy Beloved? . . . There desire Him, there adore Him, and go thou not to seek Him outside thyself, for so shalt thou be wearied and distracted; and thou shalt neither find Him nor rejoice in Him more intimately than within thyself."
The soul asks: "If He whom my soul loves is within me, how is it that I neither find Him nor feel Him?" San Juan replies that
"He is hidden, and thou must hide thyself to find Him and feel Him. Thou must forget all that is thine, withdraw thyself from all creatures, hide in the interior closet of thy spirit, and shutting the door upon thee (i.e., shutting thy will upon all things), pray to thy Father who is in secret. Thus, remaining secretly with Him, shalt thou then experience His presence in secret, and shalt love Him and have fruition of Him in secret, and shalt delight in Him in secret . . ."




"In the first stanza of the Dark Night poem, the soul sings of her joyous chance and good fortune when leaving all things behind to emerge, rid of her appetites and imperfections. To understand how this comes about, it is necessary to know that for a soul to reach the state of perfection she must pass through two different types of "nights." Spiritual fathers call these nights 'purgations' or purifications of the soul. I call them both 'nights' because the soul must travel through both in the dark, as if by night.
"The first night, or purgation, to which the first stanza refers, . . . is the sensory part of the soul. The second night, referred to in the second stanza, is the spiritual part of the soul--and it has an active and a passive phase.
"The first night belongs to beginners, at the time when God introduces them to the state of contemplation. This night extends also to the spirit, eventually. The second night or purification belongs to those already advanced in contemplation, at the time when God introduces them to the state of divine union. This (second) purgation is more obscure, darker and more frightening (as we will in due course point out).
"There are three reasons for calling this journey to union with God a night. The first refers to the point of origin, the point from which the soul comes, for it must deprive itself of appetites (taste) for the things of this world, thus denying them. This negation and privation is like night for the senses.
"The second refers to the means or road taken for the soul to journey to this divine union. This road is faith, and this faith is like dark night to the intellect. The third reason refers to the point of arrival, namely God. And He is actually dark night for the soul in this life.
"These three parts of the night are but one night, but, like the real night, it is divided into three parts. The first one, the night of the senses, is the early part of the night when the soul is deprived of the attraction of things; the second part, faith, is like midnight, totally in the dark; and the third, toward the early morning hours, is God, when the light is about to arrive.
"We call night the privation of taste in the appetite for things of the world. Night is no more than the privation of day and, by extension, of all objects that may be seen by light. . . . We can also say that mortifying our appetites is like night for the soul, for through privation of taste in the appetite for things, the soul remains in the dark and empty.
"This is the reason we call this nakedness 'night' for the soul. We are not dealing here, however, with the actual privation of things--this would not make the soul naked, for the appetite for them would still cover it. We are dealing with the nakedness of the taste and appetite for things. Only this nakedness leaves the soul free and empty of things, even when surrounded by things. The soul, in fact, is not busy with the things of this world, nor do they cause the soul any harm, for the only thing that enters the soul is the will and appetite for them.
"The passive night, which we call contemplation, is the source of two kinds of darkness or purgation in spiritual people, according to the two parts of the soul--the sensory and the spiritual. The first purgation or night is bitterly frightening to the senses. This, however, is nothing in comparison to the second, which is horrible and even more frightening to the spirit.
"Beginners conduct themselves in a lowly way when dealing with the path of God, too close to their own self-love and willfulness (as earlier explained). It is these people God wishes to draw forth from this low way of love and lead to a higher state of love. Thus, He leaves them in such darkness that they do not know which way to turn with the faculty of discursive [roving] imaginings. They are unable to advance one step through their meditation, as they used to before, now that the inner faculty is flooded with these nights. This leaves them with such inner dryness that they not only do not taste and enjoy spiritual matters and spiritual practice as they used to, but they find these practices distasteful and bitter. For, when God sees that they have grown a little, He weans them so that they gain in strength and leave behind their swaddling clothes; He puts them down from His arms so that they grow accustomed to walking on their feet. [i.e., "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I gave up childish things." (I Cor. 13:1)]
"The reason for this dryness is that God changes His gifts and strength from the senses to the spirit. Since the senses are not capable of tasting the gifts of the spirit, they are left famished, dry and empty. The senses have no sensing power for the things of the pure spirit; thus, while the spirit is sensitized, the flesh is starved and turns weak in its activities. But the spirit so sensitized grows stronger and more alert, and becomes more careful than before about not failing God.
"The truth is that the soul did not know of her own misery. When she was walking about as on a cloud, finding great joy, consolation and comfort in God, she believed she was serving God somehow . . . but as soon as the soul dons these other working clothes of dryness and desolation, and her former lights have been darkened, she becomes richer with those very same lights in the most excellent and necessary virtue of self-knowledge. She considers herself to be nothing, and finds no satisfaction with herself, for it is obvious the soul cannot by herself act, is not able to do anything. We conclude, therefore, that self-knowledge flows first from this first dry night. It is from this knowledge, as a foundation, that the other knowledge-that of God, proceeds.
"Such is the night and purgation of the senses in the soul. And for those who are to proceed to that other, more grave night of the spirit [for only the few rather than the many carry on--i.e., "many are called, but few are chosen"] toward divine union, this night is accompanied by heavy burdens and sensual temptations, lasting a long time, for some more than others. For some have constantly present the angel of Satan (II Cor. 12:7), that is, the spirit of fornication, to stir their senses with abominable and strong temptations, stirring their spirit with dirty suggestions and representations vividly imprinted in the imagination to the point of causing more pain to those souls than death itself. At other times, these souls are visited by another spirit which Isaiah calls 'the spirit of confusion' (Isa. 19:14), not because it brings those souls down, but because it keeps them in a state of agitation and indecision. This is the source of the most burdensome stimuli and horrors of this night, very similar to what happens in the night of the spirit.
"Those souls God plans to carry further in the spiritual life, are not immediately placed by Him in this passive night of the spirit as soon as they have left the dryness and obstacles of the first purgation or night of the senses. Rather they usually spend a long time, even years, exercising in this state of proficiency after having emerged from the state of the beginners. These souls feel as if they had just come out of a very narrow jail and walk about the things of God with more ease, feeling more satisfaction and interior joy in the soul than they did at the beginning of the journey, before they entered this dark night. Their discursive faculties and imagination are no longer bound, and they feel as free as they used to. Very soon, they find in their souls a very serene and loving contemplation full of spiritual relish, with no effort whatsoever from the faculties. Nonetheless, since the purgation of the soul is not complete (the purgation of the main part, the spirit, is still lacking, and without it the purgation of the senses, however strong it may have been, is incomplete because of the union between these two parts of the soul--which form one single whole), some desires, aridities, darkness and conflicts are felt. These are at times far more intense than those of the past, and appear as omens or messengers of the coming night of the spirit. . . .
"God purges some souls in this manner, for they are not destined to climb to so lofty a degree of love as other souls. He seems to alternate the night of contemplation and the night of purgation in these souls, where as often as the dawn rises it becomes dark night. This is as the Psalmist said: 'He sends His crystal (meaning contemplation) in tiny bites' (Ps. 147:17). These tiny bites of dark contemplation are never as intense as that frightful night of contemplation into which God purposely places the soul in order to be able to carry her to divine union.
"For God wishes, in fact, to strip these souls of the habits of the old man and clothe them with the habits of the new. The Apostle Paul wrote (Col. 3:9-10): 'Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him.' God, then, strips their faculties, affections and senses, both spiritual and sensuous, interior and exterior; He leaves the intellect in the dark, the will dry, the memory empty, and the affections of the soul in deep affliction, bitterness and indecision, by depriving the soul of the feeling and satisfaction she previously experienced from spiritual practice. This privation thus becomes one of the required conditions for the soul, so that the form of the spirit, which is the union of love, may enter the soul and be united with her. The Lord works all this in the soul through pure and dark contemplation, as is indicated in the poem's first stanza.
"The fire of love burns in the spirit so that the soul caught in the midst of dark indecisions feels itself deeply wounded by a strong, divine love, with a certain feeling and inkling of God. . . . Yet, it is in the midst of these dark pains of love that the soul feels a certain company and energy inside her. This gives the soul so much support and strength that if this burden of the dark night were removed, the soul would feel, as often happens, alone, empty and weak.
"The poem's second stanza refers to the passive night of spirit. The darkness of which the soul speaks relates to the appetites, and to the sensory, spiritual and interior faculties. All these faculties become dark with respect to their natural light in this night, and by purging them they may receive the supernatural light. All sensuous and spiritual appetites fall asleep, and are silenced, unable to taste the divine or the human; the affections of the soul remain oppressed and deadened, unable to move closer or find consolation in anything; the imagination remains bound and unable to proceed, memory is emptied; the intellect is dark, unable to understand anything; and the will dries up and feels bound. All the faculties feel empty and useless. And all over this hangs a thick and heavy cloud on the soul, making her feel anguished and separated from God. Thus, the soul proclaims here that in the dark she moved with security . . . ('In the darkness and secure' summarizes the night with its fears and realities, the return to chaos, and the birth of a new order. Buddha, Christ, the revelation of Koran--all took place in this night.)
"The other reason why the soul walks with security when she walks thus in the dark, and why she keeps on improving and gaining, is because ordinarily all this happens where the soul least expects it, and thus does not understand; the soul usually feels she is losing her way. For the soul has never had this new experience which forces her to come out, blinded and lost with regard to her previous manner of procedure. Thus she thinks she is lost rather than gaining and advancing, for the soul feels a real loss about what she previously knew and liked, and finds herself in a place she does not know or like. It is the same in any task or art: as one keeps on learning more details through practice, one travels in the dark, not because of what one previously knew, but because on advancing one must leave behind what one knew at first. Thus the more the soul advances, the more she walks in the dark.
"The inability to understand this spiritual communion is not the only reason why it is called 'secret'; it is also on account of the effects produced on the soul. When this wisdom of love purges the soul with darkness and predicaments, it is secret because the soul does not know what to say about it. Even after enlightenment, when this wisdom is clearly known, it is still so secret to the soul that it is unable to speak about it or give it names; and it is also true that the soul does not feel like talking about it at all, for she is unable to find any means, any metaphor, adequate to it or able to signify such a high means of knowing and such delicate spiritual feeling. Thus, regardless how much one desires to make it public, or the great variety of metaphors one might use to conjure up meaning, it would always remain secret and unsaid.
"Another reason it is called secret is that this mystical wisdom has the power to hide the soul within itself; for, besides its ordinary effects, it has the power to absorb the soul in such a way, hiding it in its secret abyss, that the soul sees at once that it is placed at the most remote location from any creature. Thus the soul feels itself to be within the deepest loneliness and isolation, where no human may reach. It is like a vast desert with no limits to the eye, but which is the more delightful, joyful and lovable, the deeper, wider and more solitary it is. Here the soul feels herself secret, as she feels raised above all temporal creatures." [This culmination of the passive nights of sense and spirit in the mystic union has been called "The journey of the Alone to the ALONE."].
"We must understand these first stanzas now to refer to contemplative purgation, or nakedness and poverty of spirit (these being about the same). ["Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven." (Sermon on the Mount)] We may now hear the soul speak of it thusly:
"In poverty, abandoned, without any help from the perceptions of my soul (my intellect in darkness, my will undecided, my memory in affliction and anguish), left in the dark with only pure faith (for this is dark night for these natural faculties), with only my will touched by pain and anguish, and anxious for love of God, I came out of myself (my low manner of understanding, my feeble way of loving, and my poor and limited way of savoring God), and I did this unhindered either by my own sensuality or the devil [the temptations of a discarnate human entity (elementary), or a "Lucifer Spirit" (Agnisura or Fire Deva) playing upon the lower nature].
"This was a great joy and my good chance, for as soon as the operations of my faculties stopped, and the affections of my passions, appetites and desires quieted down (upon which I based a low manner my feeling and taste for God) I came out of my human way of operating and acting and began to operate and act with God. That is, my intellect left itself--turning from human and natural to divine--for being united to God and power, but through the divine wisdom to which it was joined. My will left itself and became divine; united with divine love it no longer loves in a low manner through its natural power, but with the power and purity of the Holy Spirit; thus the will set next to God does not operate in a human way. In the same manner, my memory is now touched by eternal perceptions of glory."

The Teachings of Meister Eckhart

(c. 1266-1327)

"The perfected soul cannot remain bound up in anything, but must burst forth out of and over all things to get to divine freedom, in which she takes great delight."
"If [the soul] sees God as He is God, or as He is an image, or as He is three, it is an imperfection in her. But when all images are detached from the soul and she sees nothing but the One alone, then the naked essence of the soul finds the naked, formless essence of divine unity [the 'Journey of the Alone to the ALONE'], which is superessential being, passive reposing in itself. Oh wonder of wonders, what noble suffering that is, that the essence of the soul can suffer nothing but the bare unity of God."
"In the inmost part, where none is at home, there that light finds satisfaction, and there it is more one than it is in itself: for this ground is an impartible stillness, motionless in itself, and by this immobility all things are moved, and all those receive life that live of themselves, being endowed with reason."
"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. . . . 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."
"First, the soul experiences within itself the growth of fear, hope, and desire--i.e., of natural human emotions. Secondly, these emotions are altogether extinguished from the soul. Thirdly, the soul becomes oblivious to all temporal things. And fourthly, it enters into God as he exists and rules eternally. In this fourth state it never thinks about itself or temporal things, being immersed in God as God is immersed in it; whatever it does, it does in God."
"The second way (of seeking) is a wayless way, free and yet bound, raised, rapt away well nigh past self and all things, without will and without images, even though not yet in essential being. . . . St. Peter did not see God unveiled, though indeed he was caught up by the heavenly Father's power past all created understanding to the circle of eternity. I say he was grasped by the heavenly Father in a loving embrace, and borne up unknowingly with tempestuous power, in an aspiring spirit transported beyond all conceiving by the might of the heavenly Father."
In the first stage of development of the mystical life, the person "lives according to the example of good and holy people," though he does so with reservation and needs external motivation to maintain his dedication. In the second stage, he "runs and hastens to hear the doctrine and counsel of God and of Divine wisdom." Here the truth pulls him toward his goal like a magnet. In the third stage, the person increasingly abandons these external gimmicks and aids, and the development becomes an inward process: "He escapes care, throws off fear so that--even if he were able to do wrong and evil without giving offense to anyone--he would nevertheless have no desire to do so, for he is so zealously bound with love to God until God . . . leads him to joy and sweetness and bliss in a place where all is repugnant to him which is unlike or alien to Him (God)." In the fourth stage, one becomes "rooted in love and in God, in such a way that he is prepared to face all temptations, trials and distress and to suffer pain willingly and gladly, cheerfully and joyfully."
The fifth stage is the first stage that can be said to be genuinely mystical. There "he lives in peace with himself in all respects, resting quietly in the richness and fullness of the highest ineffable wisdom."
The sixth stage is when man "is transformed and conformed by God's eternity and has reached full and complete forgetfulness of the transient and temporal life, and is drawn and transformed into the divine image and has become a child of God. There is no stage beyond this or higher, and here there is eternal rest and bliss, for the end of the inward man and of the new man is eternal life."
" . . . if the divine light shines in me, it must be shrouded, as my soul is shrouded."--Pseudo-Dyonysius
The first type of person is "not alive to it [the inner light]. They are like cattle, not capable of receiving it." This first category, then, is as unconscious of the inner light as are the animals. "To the second group a little light appears. Like the flash of a sword being forged." The illumination is perceived for only an instant and then the person is plunged into darkness again. "The third get more of it, like a great flash of lightning, which is bright, and then immediately dark again. They are all those who fall away from the divine light again into sin."
"The fourth group receives more of it, but sometimes He [the inner Light] withdraws Himself for no other purpose but to spur her [the soul] on and increase her desire. The fifth are aware of a great light as bright as day, but still as it were through a chink. As the soul says in the Book of Love: 'My beloved looked at me through a chink. His face was comely.' About this St. Augustine says, 'Lord, thou givest me sometimes such great sweetness that, if it were perfected in me, if this is not heaven I know not what heaven can be.' "
Eckhart describes a sixth group as having cleared away all obstacles to inner realization of the Divine Self through the force of genuine Love:
"Is there then no way of seeing God clearly? Yes. In the Book of Love the soul says: 'My love looked at me through the window'--that is, without hindrances--'and I knew him, he stood by the wall'--that is, by the body, which is perishable--and said: 'Open up to me, my beloved'--that is because she is altogether mine in love, for 'he is mine and I am his alone'; 'my dove'--that is, simple in longing--'my beautiful'--that is, in act. 'Arise, make haste and come to me. The cold is past,' of which everything dies: all things live in the warmth. . . . Here God bids all perfections to enter the soul."
"The first (kind of ecstasy) is that of intention, when one spurns all creatures and is joined to God alone in love. . . . The first is the ecstasy of love, according to Dionysius (1)."
"The second consists in imaginative or spiritual vision, as when one is drawn by some supernatural power to see things supernaturally without the use of the senses or external sensible objects. . . . The second is the spirit in which John (Apocalypse 1:9-10) (2) and Paul (Acts 9:3-9) (3) found themselves."
"The third is when the mind is withdrawn or rapt from sense and imagination to intellectual vision, whereby it sees God by intelligible infusions. . . . The third is the sleep or trance of Adam referred to in Genesis (2:21) (4)."
"The fourth occurs when the mind itself sees God in himself through His essence. . . . The fourth is Paul's ecstasy which we have been discussing. These three terms, ecstasy, trance, and rapture, are frequently understood in the same sense in the Scriptures."




"And therefore, when a man accommodates himself barely to God, with love, he is unformed, then informed, and then transformed in the divine uniformity wherein he is one with God. . . . You must give up yourself, altogether give up self, and then you have really given up."
" 'In the beginning God created heaven and earth.' . . . These words suggest first the production or emanation of the Son and the Holy Spirit from the Father in eternity, then the production or general creation of the whole universe from the One God in time, and many of the properties of both Creator and creature."
The Godhead is a "solitary One," a "darkness or nescience": it is divine "desert"--utterly featureless, a pure untrammeled One without movement or number. Emanating from this desert-like emptiness is the Trinitarian God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, which are the dynamic, differentiated, creative phase of the Divinity. This "production" or "emanation" of the Three Persons out of the silent Godhead is condensed by Eckhart into the term bullitio, literally "boiling," which metaphorically expresses the boiling over into itself of the Trinitarian God out of the One. On the other hand, ebullitio describes the production or general creation of the whole universe from the One God. . . . The key characteristic of bullitio is that while the Trinitarian God involves the activity of emanation, distinction, and numerical diversity, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit never lose their absolute unity with the non-diverse One. There is "unity of substance and a distinction and property of persons in the Godhead."
" . . . the statement 'I am who I am' [Exodus 3:14--more correctly translated "I will be what I will be."] indicates a certain reversion and turning back of his being and into and upon itself, and its abiding or remaining in itself; also a sort of boiling up (bullitio) or giving birth to itself: an inward glowing, melting and boiling in itself and into itself, light in light and into light wholly penetrating its whole self, totally and from every side turned and reflected upon itself. As the wise man says: 'Monad begets--or begot--monad, and reflected its love or ardor upon itself.' . . . This is why John says: 'In him was life' [John 1:4]. Life means a sort of thrusting out, whereby a thing, inwardly swelling up, wholly bursts forth in itself, every part of itself in every other part, before it pours forth and boils over (ebulliat) outwardly."
This idea of the One giving birth to the many while itself remaining an unchanged Unity is stressed in the image of the Godhead or One "boiling into or upon itself." The Trinitarian God is not created outside of the Godhead, but remains fused within it: "The first outburst (uzbruch) and the first effusion God runs out into is His fusion into His Son, who flows back into the Father."
"God and Godhead are as different as heaven and earth. . . . Everything that is in the Godhead is one, and of that there is nothing to be said. God works, the Godhead does no work: there is nothing for it to do, there is no activity in it. It never peeped at any work. God and Godhead are distinguished by working and not working."


The revealed Trinity works. Not only does it create a universe and creatures, but it is the agent of redemption (of the spiritual consciousness from attachment to the form side of nature), acting as a magnet pulling man back toward itself. The Godhead, however, remains a "divine desert," a "prior nothing," a simple unrevealed existence. Though It contains within Itself all possibilities, these remain com-pletely in potential. The Three Persons "remain in the One" because the One is their internal principle (principiat)--the ground of their being.
"The One acts as a principle (principiat) through itself and gives existence and is an internal principle. For this reason, properly speaking, it does not produce something like itself, but what is one and the same as itself. For what is 'like entails difference and numerical diversity, but there can be no diversity in the One. This is why the formal emanation in the divine Persons is a type of bullitio, and thus the three Persons are simply and absolutely one."
"In the Godhead, since every production or emanation is not directed to what is outside the producer, and is not from something that is not an existing being or from nothing, and in the third place is not directed to particular existence, what is procreated does not have the nature of something made or created and is not an effect. It is also clear that the producer does not have the nature of a creator or a cause, and that what is produced is not outside the producer and is not different from it, but is one with it. 'I am in the Father, and the Father is in me' (John 14:11); 'The Father and I are one' (John 10:30). In the Godhead the Son and the Holy Spirit are not from nothing, but are 'God from God, light from light, one light, one God' with the Father. 'These three are one' (I John 5:7)."
Eckhart spoke of the connection between God and the Soul as follows:
"In this Word the Father speaks my spirit and your spirit and every individual human being's spirit equally in the same word. In that speaking you and I are the natural son of God just like the Word [ , the Solar Christ] itself."


"In principio. Here we are given to understand that we are an only son whom the Father has been eternally begetting out of the hidden darkness of eternal concealment, indwelling in the first beginning of the primal purity which is the plenitude of all purity. There I have been eternally at rest and asleep in the hidden understanding of the eternal Father, immanent and unspoken. Out of that purity He has been ever begetting me, his only-begotten son, in the very image of His eternal Fatherhood. . . ."


"All that God the Father gave His only-begotten Son in human nature He has given me: I accept nothing, neither union nor holiness, He has given me everything as to Him."


"The Father gives birth to His Son in the soul in the very same way as He gives birth to Him in eternity, and no differently."
"When the Father begot all creatures, He begot me, and I flowed forth with all creatures while remaining within the Father. It is like what I am now saying: it springs up within me, then secondly, I pause in the idea, and thirdly, I speak it out, and all of you receive it, yet really it is in me all the time. Likewise I remain in the Father."


"Existence is what is first and it is the principle of all intentions and perfections. . . . Second, 'He created in the principle,' that is, he created in such a way that things do not exist outside him. The case is different with every artificer lower than God. The architect makes the house outside himself. . . . [As] Augustine says, 'He did not create and depart, but the things that are from him are in him.' "
Eckhart explains the facts of "sin" or of man's lack of awareness of his connectedness with the Divine in terms of the "Fall": Before the Fall, when man was fully attuned to God, the lower three powers of the Soul (lower mind, anger, and desire) were hierarchically "ordered to" the higher three powers (memory, higher or superior mind, and will), especially to superior reason. This superior intellect was in turn attentive to God--i.e., it constituted a higher awareness or state of consciousness.
" 'This was,' and is, 'man's correct condition,' when the sensitive faculty obeys, looks to and is ordered to the inferior reason, and the inferior reason cleaves and adheres to the superior reason as it in turn does to God. . . . This was and is the state of nature that was set up before sin, 'the state of innocence.' "
The higher Self, then, acts as a magnet to align and order the components of the lower nature to respond to its will and intelligence--or "inner knowing." When the influence of this inner magnet is blocked, the ordering effect is interrupted and the powers of the soul become scattered and misdirected.
"When the bond and order of the height of the soul to God was dissolved through the injury of sundering sin ('Your iniquities have divided you from your God,' Isaiah 59:2), it followed that all the powers of the soul, inferior reason and the sensitive faculty as well, were separated from contact with the rule of the superior reason."
"Sin and evil in general are not things that exist, so they are not made through him [God] but without him. This is the meaning of what follows: 'Without him was made nothing,' that is, sin or evil, as Augustine says. Here it says that all things were made through him, but evil things do not exist [at his spiritual level] and are not made because they are produced as effects, but as defects of some act of existence."
"If [something is] not subject to [God] insofar as he is existence, they are not beings, but are nothing existing at all. All privations, evils, corruptions and defects are of this nature. All of these and things like them are not beings, but lack all existence. They are not effects, but defects, and therefore do not have God as [immediate] cause. All creatures are pure nothing [in and of themselves]. I do not say that they are a little something, or anything at all, but that they are pure nothing."
Eckhart defines next the process of redemption or spiritual regeneration:
"The state of man after sin is when through grace he is redirected to God. Then the more that the height of the soul adheres to God himself, the more what is beneath it, even the sensitive faculty, obeys it. In this state the fullness and perfection of grace give perfect men the ability to have the sensitive faculty [the desire nature] obey inferior reason [the concrete mind] and inferior reason [obey] superior reason [the higher intuitive mind] in such a way that what Isaiah writes is fulfilled: 'The lion and the sheep will abide together, and a little child shall lead them' (Isaiah 11:6). The little child is the superior rational faculty, which cleaves to God and leads together and reconciles the lion (the sensitive faculty) and the sheep (the inferior reason)."
Eckhart describes three states or phases of entanglement or lack of it in the transformation process leading to God-consciousness or "God intoxication":
(1) The State of Being Attached (Eigenschaft) --
In their ordinary state, at present, people's attentions are occupied with creaturely worldly things, or "this and that," and, consequently, they become "attached" (eigenschaft) to these evanescent objects and events--"the work and things to which you are possessively attached."
Some may be attached to their work, others to family and friends, many to worldly fame and honors; some may be concerned with the "failings of other men." Many people "direct all their aims and intelligence toward transient possessions."
"These are the sort of men who never have any thought of God in their actions, who do not care or consider what is good or evil, pleasing God or displeasing. They throw all that behind them as an old woman might throw away bad eggs or rotten apples and their sole concern is how to gain honors, wealth and pleasure."
Persons who are more spiritually-directed may also be "possessively attached" not to wealth or other material concerns, but to a spiritual technique like prayer, fasting, vigils, etc., to the extent that they will care excessively about these. Eckhart frequently declares that the key attachment is to the self: it is "my" worldly gain, "my" wealth, and "my" pleasures that we frequently seek. We run after our own spiri-tual insights. All worldly activities, all sense of personal pride, advantage or satisfaction inevitably revolve around the attachment to self.
"[The Soul's] own honor, her advantage or anything that is hers, she should no more desire or heed than what is a stranger's. Whatever is anyone's property should not be distant or alien to her, be it bad or good. All the love of the world is based on the love of the self."
One becomes enslaved by one's attachments. Attracted to "this or that"--whether it be wealth, honor, sensible or spiritual consolations--the soul pulls those things "into herself through the senses," thereby including those objects, sensations or experiences in her sense of herself. (This is the first way in which we become possessed by attachments.) She comes to feel these objects and experiences as intimately bound up in her. The soul thereby becomes "constricted" and confined into them.
"By focusing on a mere object, one's powers are dissipated toward and into them."
"Now there are some men who completely dissipate the powers of the soul in the outward man. These are the people who direct all their aims and intelligence toward transient possessions. . . ."
One's energies and attentions are used up or "spent" on these things, and as Eckhart said, "For as long as you want more and more, God cannot dwell or work in you." The core of the phenomenon of Eigenschaft or attachment, then, is not mere "possession" or "ownership," but the connection or relationship which a person feels between himself or herself and these possessions.
"A man once came to me--it was not long ago--and told me he had given up a great deal of property and goods, in order that he might save his soul. Then I thought: Alas! How paltry are the things you have given up. It is blindness and folly, so long as you care a jot for what you have given up."
This man had a psychological and emotional attachment to these possessions which was even more insidious than the economic connection with them, and his giving up of them did not cure the problem of his attachment. Such a personal "investment in things," having pro-prietorship over them, causes a person to be possessed in two ways. First, the soul, through attachments, can be emotionally swayed in all directions, and therefore the tides of fortune can dominate one's emotional stability, disrupting one's sense of inner integrity. One becomes overly joyful or overly sorrowful.
"The summit of the soul is . . . brought so low by . . . joys as to be drowned in pleasure. [It does not] rise resolutely above them. . . . Creaturely joys and sorrows [have the power] to drag down the top-most summit of the soul."
Attachments possess a person in the second way such that when someone is concerned about something, he or she will devote themselves to activities which advance and validate it as an agenda, be they for ego boosting or for spiritual advancement. Such activities preoccupy the person with the requirements of the activity and distract him from the more spontaneous life of freedom which leads to Self-realization.
"Your soul will bear no fruit until it has done this work to which you are possessively attached, and you too will have no trust in God or in yourself before you have done the work you embraced with attachment, for otherwise you will have no peace. . . . [Action of the attached man] springs from attachment to the task and not from freedom."
The psyche which is attached is imprisoned because it is preoccupied with accomplishing that to which it is attached. Attached to things, people and circumstances, the eigenschaft person will be emotionally self-centered, a victim of the anger and passions with which his or her over-involvement with others and with things leave him. For him the lower emotional manifestations of desire and anger become actual demons with which he must contend. ". . . if any things anger him, he is not [yet] perfected."
(2) The Release or Letting Go (Lâzen, Gelâzen) of Attachments --
This letting go or withdrawal is not to be a renunciation of the world and its activities, but a breaking up of the attachment to these. "Even if [someone] is given to a life of contemplation, still he cannot refrain from going out and taking an active part in life."
"Whatever state we find ourselves in, whether in strength or in weak-ness, in joy or in sorrow, whatever we find ourselves attached to, we must abandon. . . . You must give up (lâzen) yourself, altogether give up (lâzen) self, and then you have really given up (gelâzen). . . . By renouncing yourself first, you then have renounced all things."
"It is necessary that you should make no distinction in the family of men, not being closer to yourself than to another. You must love all men equally, and whatever happens to another, whether good or bad, must be the same as if it happened to you. . . . 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."
The initial effort always comes out of a religious experience--the aspirant must "prepare himself." This change of attitude initially demands strife and pain, for it is difficult. "The coming of the fire is accompanied with strife, with pain and unrest. . . ." The Soul must be in "labor" to give birth to this new way of being. But with practice and patience, the process of abandoning becomes progressively more natural and easy. The deliberate spiritual resolve accomplishes only the initial releasing. The rest comes seemingly from above, automatically, effortlessly. What began as hard and as a "labor" ends up "a pleasant burden."
"There is still one work that remains proper and [the adept's] own, and that is the annihilation of self. Yet this annihilation and diminution of the self, however great a work it may be, will remain uncompleted unless it is God who completes it in the self. Humility becomes perfected only when God humbles man with man's cooperation."
Eckhart advises caution as regards penitential practices--"fasting, watching, praying, kneeling, being disciplined, wearing hair shirts, lying on hard surfaces or whatever it may be." These can help in the initial transformation process, but they are only preparatory. They are often "harsh" and brutal, and can themselves easily become attachments. One too easily becomes attached to the practice itself, "getting the way and missing God." Following such practices is a mistake; the "mantle of love" is the best way.
"Pay attention. Penitential exercises, among other things, were instituted for a particular purpose: whether it be fasting, watching, praying, kneeling, being disciplined, wearing hair shirts, lying hard or whatever it may be, the reason for that is because body and flesh are always opposed to spirit. The body is often too strong for the spirit, and there is a real fight between them, an unceasing struggle. . . . And so, in order to succour the spirit in this alien realm, and to impede the flesh somewhat in this strife lest it should conquer the spirit, we put on it the bridle of penitential practices, thus curbing it so that the spirit can resist it. All this is done to bring it under control; but if you would capture and curb it in a thousand times better fashion, then put on it the bridle of love! With love you overcome it most surely, with love you load it most heavily. . . . He who has taken up this sweet burden fares further and makes more progress than by all the harsh prac-tices any men use."
The process of lâzen, then, will result in the letting go of attachments to the "required" work and therefore will involve the discovery of a new freedom of possible choices. This process denotes a process of surrendering. A person surrenders both the emotional attachments to things, people, and work, and surrenders the sense of himself or herself vis-a-vis attachments. As a description of the goal, Eckhart uses the term gelâzenheit--or "self-abandonment." In abandoning the self, one surrenders all attachments.
(3) The State of Detachment (Abegescheidenheit) --


As a result of the process of letting go (lâzen), one approaches increasingly a state of awareness which Eckhart calls Abegescheidenheit--detachment. This term is a composite of the prefix ab, designating a separation, and the verb scheiden or gescheiden, to isolate, separate, or depart. Put together, abegescheiden means 'cut off from' or 'away from.' The modern German Abegescheidenheit denotes 'the departed' in the sense of the deceased. Eckhart used his Middle High German term to designate, in an abstract sense, that which is removed from materiality and its limitations. Thus Eckhart's most frequent usage of Abegescheidenheit is a vague "detached from things" or "pure detachment . . . unable to stoop to anything." Such ambiguous usages, however, are deceptively simple. For being "detached from things" has great ethical, mystical, and spiritual connotations.
In the new "detached" way of relating to the world, a person can "love God as much in poverty as in riches." Even after giving all one has to the poor, one no longer "prizes" the goods and possessions one has given up. Eckhart's emphasis is not on the giving away of things but on the ease one feels in so doing, that is, one's emotional relationship with the things given up.
"For such a man it would be as easy to give up everything as a pea or a lentil or as nothing--indeed upon my soul to that man all things would be as nothing."
"A man who loves God could give up the whole world as easily as an egg."
As a result of such detaching, objects can take on a life and purpose of their own--i.e., they exist for their own sake. No longer concerned with an object's usefulness for ourselves, we may begin to think of someone or something in terms of its usefulness to itself. This stage of the transformative process has been described as "the attitude of a human who no longer regards objects and events according to their usefulness, but who accepts them in their autonomy. This attitude makes him renounce influences, and it produces equanimity." This equanimity is a symptom of nonattachment. Without personal attachment to things one is no longer governed by one's emotions. Hence one can confront the world calmly. Motivated now by an inner quiet, such a changed Soul will maintain inner peace and satisfaction while immersed in the most hectic outer situations.
"I call that mental satisfaction when the summit of the soul is not brought so low by any joys as to be drowned in pleasure, but rises resolutely above them. Man enjoys mental satisfaction only when creaturely joys and sorrows are powerless to drag down the topmost summit of the soul."
"To the just man [the fully-transformed man] nothing gives more pain or distress than when, counter to justice, he loses his equanimity in all things. How so? If one thing can cheer you and another depress, you are not just: if you are happy at one time you should be happy at all times. If you are happier at one moment than another, that is not just."
In this new mode of living, "detached fully from my own," a person's own needs, incentives, and even his or her very individuality will be forgotten. The man will have "no will at all." Rid of his personal in-vestment in possessions, fame, and the self, he will be able to act in the world, doing what is necessary and appropriate, while remaining free of any personal motivations for his actions. Eckhart encourages his listeners to transform not what they do but their relationship to their actions. The "perfected" man can play any necessary and appropriate role in his life while remaining emotionally and mentally detached from the drama. He just does it as part of the natural flow of life.
"And so, if you were to ask a genuine man . . . 'Why do you act,' if he were to answer properly he would simply say, 'I act because I act.' "
". . . nor should one work for any 'Why,' neither for God nor one's honor nor for anything at all that is outside of oneself, but only for that which is one's own life within oneself."
"The just man does not love 'this and that' in God . . . 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."
"Some people want to have their own way in all things--that is bad, there is fault in that. Those others are a little better who truly want what God wants and don't want anything against His will, but if they should fall sick they would wish it were God's will that they should be better. These people, then, would rather that God willed according to their will than that they should will according to His. This may be condoned, but it is not right. The just have no will at all: whatever God wills, it is all one to them, however great the hardship."
"The lucky man who is attachment-free and therefore content with whatever befalls him--sickness or health, weal or woe--must be very comfortable indeed. For the will that things should be otherwise simply does not arise. Abegescheidenheit denotes such an easy restfulness: it represents the affective sense of being uninvested in external and conditioned things. It denotes one's 'detachment' from personal aggrandizement and the insidious will to better oneself."
It has been said, from the standpoint of psychology, that:
"The central task of the mystic is that of achieving an unusually strong ego within an unusually well-integrated personality. This implies maximal ego-autonomy and neutralization of drives, and it implies minimal conflict, anxiety and defense."

(1) The Beginning or Transient Mystical Experience: Rapture (GEZÜCKET)--the Actualization of the Inner Silence (the Blooming of the Desert) --
"Whatever the soul effects, she effects with her powers. What she understands, she understands with the intellect. What she remembers, she does with the memory; if she would love, she does that with the will, and thus she works with her powers and not with her essence. Every external act is linked with some means. The power of sight works only through the eyes; otherwise it can neither employ nor bestow vision, and so it is with all the other senses. The soul's every external act is effected by some means."
"[As the active mind continually wanders] . . . the more completely you are able to draw in your powers to a unity and forget all those things and their images which you have absorbed, and the further you can get from creatures and their images, the nearer you are to this and the readier to receive it. If only you could suddenly be unaware of all things, then you could pass into an oblivion of your own body as St. Paul did. . . . [In this experience] memory no longer functioned, nor understanding, nor the senses, nor the powers that should function so as to govern and grace the body. . . . In this way a man should flee his senses, turn his powers inward and sink into an oblivion of all things and himself."
"If a person wanted to withdraw into himself with all his powers internal and external . . . then he will find himself in a state in which there are no images and no desires in him and he will therefore stand without any activity, internal or external. . . . Withdraw from the unrest of external activities, then flee away and hide from the turmoil of inward thoughts. . . ."
"[The first way is seeking God] in all creatures with manifold activity and ardent longing. The second way is a wayless way, free and yet bound, raised, rapt away (Gezücket) well-nigh past self and all things, without will and without images, even though not yet in essential being. . . . St. Peter did not see God unveiled, though indeed he was caught up by the heavenly Father's power past all created understanding to the circle of eternity. I say he was grasped by the heavenly Father in a loving embrace, and borne up unknowingly (unwizzende) with tempestuous power, in an aspiring spirit transported (entzücket) beyond all conceiving by the might of the heavenly Father."
"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 (unwizzen). There must be a stillness and a silence. . . . [The truly detached (abegescheiden) man is sometimes] gezücket into eternity in such a way that no transient thing can move him and he experiences nothing at all that is physical. He is said to be dead to the world, for he savors nothing worldly."
"There is something that transcends the created being of the soul, not in contact with created things, which are nothing; not even an angel has it, though he has a clear being that is pure and extensive: even that does not touch it. It is akin to the nature of the deity, it is one in itself, and has naught in common with anything. It is a stumbling-block to many a learned cleric."
Eckhart describes most elegantly the innermost man--the Experiencer of the Bhagavad Gita--with terms such as "the ground of the soul" or "the spark of the soul." Within the depths of the psyche there is an ineffable fortress, a place of refuge, an "inmost man," a "silent middle." This closely approaches one's true Being or Essence. Some of the many names used by Eckhart for this special center of consciousness are: "in dem hôchsten der sele," (what is highest in the Soul); "der sele geist," (the spirit of the Soul); "das innigeist," (the inward spirit); "der grunt," (the ground); "das burgelin," (the little castle); etc. Most often, however, he uses the "scintilla animae" or "das funkelin der sele," (the spark of the Soul.)
A person becomes centered in this inner fortress or refuge when he or she retires temporarily from inner and outer activities--i.e., he or she withdraws to the inner silence. Eckhart describes this special "place" thusly:
". . . It is a strange and desert place, and is rather nameless than possessed of a name, and is more unknown than it is known. If you could naught yourself for an instant, indeed I say less than an instant, you would possess all that this is in itself. But as long as you mind yourself or anything at all, you know no more of God than my mouth knows of color or my eye of taste. . . ."


This is a totally passive and subjective state, inde scribable by any construct or activity whatsoever, completely and utterly silent and peaceful. It comes close to the Shanta Atman or Peaceful Self--the Silent Witness--of the Eastern Scriptures.
". . . in the soul's ground and innermost recess, into which no image ever shone or (soul) power peeped. . . . In the summit of the soul . . . where time never entered, where no image ever shone in. . . ."
"In the soul's essence there is no activity, for the powers she works with emanate from the ground of being. Yet in that ground is the silent 'middle': here [in the ground is] nothing but rest and celebration. . . . There is the silent 'middle,' for no creature ever entered there and no image, nor has the soul there either activity, or understanding, therefore she is not aware there of any image, whether of herself or of any other creature. . . . When the soul comes to the nameless place, she takes her rest. There . . . she rests."
And further:
"Here [in the ground] God's ground is my ground and my ground is God's ground. . . . There is something in the soul [namely, the ground] in which God is bare and the masters say this is nameless, and has no name of its own. . . . God is always present and within it. I say that God has always been in it, eternally and uninterruptedly. . . . God is nowhere so truly as in the soul, and . . . in the inmost soul, in the summit of the soul."
"The soul has something in her, a spark of intellect, that never dies. . . . But there is also in our souls a knowing directed toward externals, the sensible and rational perception which operates in images and words to obscure this from us."
As to Paul, a prime example of a gezücket experiencer, Eckhart wrote:
" 'Paul rose from the ground and with open eyes saw nothing.' I cannot see what is one. He saw nothing, that is: God. . . . When the soul is unified and there enters into total self-abnegation, then she finds God as in Nothing. It appeared to a man as in a dream--it was a waking dream--that he became pregnant with Nothing like a woman with child, and in that Nothing God was born. He was the fruit of Nothing. God was born in the Nothing. Therefore he says: 'he arose from the ground with open eyes, seeing nothing.' "
Eckhart did not emphasize or advocate rapture or gezücket as an ultimate goal for the aspirant. Rather than disowning it completely, Eckhart considered gezücket as a preliminary form of contact with Divinity, but not worth pursuing deliberately as a spiritual exercise. Its failing stems from the temporary nature of the experience it produces--it provides no permanent or enduring realization. It is a spontaneous occurrence, at best only preliminary to a genuine God-consciousness. After the rapture or ecstasy passes, it remains only as a more or less vague memory.
"I say truly, as long as you do works for the sake of heaven or God or eternal bliss, from without, you are at fault. It may pass muster, but it is not the best. Indeed, if a man thinks he will get more of God by meditation, by devotion, by ecstasies or by special infusion of grace than by the fireside or in the stable--that is nothing but taking God, wrapping a cloak round His head and shoving Him under a bench. For whoever seeks God in a special way gets the way and misses God, who lies hidden in it."
"It is true that you may receive the gifts of the Holy Ghost, or the likeness of the Holy Ghost, but it does not abide with you--it is impermanent. In the same way a man may blush for shame or blanch, but that is accidental and it passes. But a man who is by nature ruddy and fair, remains so always. So it is with a man who is the only begotten Son, the Holy Ghost remains in his being."
"Not that one should escape from the inward man, or flee from him or deny him, but in him and through him, one should learn to act in such a way that one breaks up the inwardness (innicheit) into reality and leads reality into inwardness, and that one should thus become accus-tomed to work without compulsion."
This is the actualization of the inner silence--it is what is called "Self-recollectedness" or "Self-remembering"--true prayerfulness. "Eckhart instructs his listener to drag the inwardness outwards, as it were, bringing it into activity. One is to learn to act in such a way that reality (würklicheit)--activity, thought, perception, etc.--is perceived and undergone while not losing the interior silence encountered in contemplation. Simultaneously one is to lead 'reality into the inwardness,' i.e., make the silent inwardness, if you will, dynamic. In other words, the advanced adept is to learn to think, speak, walk, and work without losing the profoundest quietness inside. However active, the interior silence is not lost. The silence becomes, to coin a term, 'dynamized'. This a reflexive process--a breathing in and out of the attention between the experience of the external (or internal) event and a higher awareness of the experience from the standpoint of the Higher Self or innermost Spiritual Soul (the Ruach and/or Neshamah of the Kabbalah). We experience something and at the same time are vividly aware of ourselves experiencing--including our attitudes toward the experience.
"For the first thing on which blessedness depends is that the soul should contemplate God unveiled. In this experience the soul receives all her being and her life, and draws all that she is from the ground of God, and knows nothing of knowledge, or of love, or of anything at all. She becomes entirely and absolutely passive in the being of God. There she knows nothing but being and God."
"But when she knows and recognizes that she contemplates, knows and loves God, that is a breaking out and a reversion to the previous stage, according to the natural order. . ."
"If any one knows himself to be white, he is building and making a foundation on whiteness, and he does not receive his knowledge without medium, nor unknowing direct from color, but he receives the knowledge of color and about color from that which is now white [i.e., himself]. He does not draw knowledge from the color alone in itself, but he draws knowledge and cognition from that which is colored, or that which is white and knows itself to be white."
"Hence I say that beatitude cannot exist unless man knows and is aware that he contemplates and knows God. . . . Hence our Lord says very rightly: 'A nobleman went out onto a far country to obtain for himself a kingdom and returned.' For a man must be one in himself and must seek this in himself, and in One and receive it in One: that is to contemplate God alone. [This is like the first capacity, that of being white.] And then he must return, that is to know and to be aware that one knows and is aware of God. [This is like the second capacity, that of knowing that one is white.]"
"One should learn to be free and unimpeded in one's activities. . . [so that] God can be present to us continually and can shine unveiled at all times and in all surroundings. . . . [For this] a man should be locked up internally, that his heart should be protected against the images that stand outside, to see that they remain outside him and that they do not in any unbefitting manner wander and associate with him. He must see that they find no place in him. . . . A man should not allow himself to be distracted or disturbed or exhausted by multiplicity, either in the shape of internal images, such as fancies or pride of the heart or external images or whatever it may be that is present in a man. He should devote all his energies to fighting them and should have his inwardness present (gegenwartig haben sine inwendicheit)."


"And the man who thus stands in complete detachment (ganzer abegescheidenheit) is rapt (gezücket) into eternity in such a way that no transient thing can move him and he experiences nothing at all that is physical. He is said to be dead to the world, for he savors nothing worldly."
"What is the prayer of the detached heart? I answer that detachment and purity cannot pray. For if anyone prays he asks God that something may be given to him, or asks that God may take something away from him. But the detached heart does not ask for anything at all that it would like to be rid of. Therefore it is free from all prayer [i.e., free from all desire and cognitive activity]."
(2) The Intermediate Mystical Experience: The GEBURT--the Birth of the Son (or Word) of God, of the Little Child, in the Soul --
This stage of the Birth, as well as the final or advanced stage--the Breakthrough--differs from the initial level of rapture or gezücket in that it occurs as a continual and permanent process:
"And so I say, if this child is born in you, then you have such great joy in every good deed that is done in the world that this joy becomes permanent and never changes. . . . Cast out all grief so that perpetual joy reigns in your heart."
". . . God gives birth to Himself fully in me that I may never lose Him, for whatever is born to me [spiritually] I cannot lose. . . . The soul that gives birth spiritually . . . gives birth every moment. The soul that has God is fruitful all the time."
The Birth and the Breakthrough experiences are the ultimate result--the ultimate reward--of the process of freeing ourselves from attachments, discussed previously. Indeed, they can only occur after complete detachment has been achieved. Even attachments to one's most cherished possessions and associations must, apparently, be abolished before the Birth can be experienced:
"If you grieve in your heart for anything, even on account of sin, your child is not yet born. If your heart is sore you are not yet a mother--but you are in labor and your time is near. . . . But the child is fully born when a man's heart grieves for nothing. . . . Cast out all grief so that perpetual joy reigns in your heart. Thus the child is born. And if the child is born in me, the sight of my father and all my friends slain before my eyes would leave my heart untouched. For if my heart were moved thereby, the child would not have been born in me, though its Birth might be near."
Paracelsus had written that "God created man in order to provide a dwelling place for His Spirit." God's Spirit takes birth on both the Macrocosmic scale of the Solar Logos (Word or Verbum), and the Microcosmic scale of Man as Persona or Son--the first Individuality or I AM I. The Geburt, then, represents the great mystical experience of man's true nature as a Divine Individual.
"He [God] has borne him in my soul. Not only is she [the soul] with Him and He equally with her, but He is in her: the Father gives birth to His son in the soul in the very same way as He gives birth to him in eternity, and no differently. He must do it whether He likes it or not. The Father begets His son unceasingly, and furthermore, I say, He begets me as His son and the same son. I say even more: not only does He beget me as His son, but He begets me as Himself and Himself as me, and me as His being and His nature. . . . All that God works is one: therefore He begets me as His son without any difference."*
"All that God the Father gave His only-begotten Son in human nature He has given me: I accept nothing, neither union nor holiness, He has given me everything as to him." *
"Everything that Holy Scripture says of Christ is entirely true of every good and holy man." *

*Statements like these led to Eckhart being tried for heresy by the church.

The Birth (Geburt) is a true inner experience or "initiation"; it is the first real existence for a human being because it is the sharing of the divine existence of the Logos.
"What does it avail me that this birth is always happening, if it does not happen in me? That it should happen in me is what matters. We shall therefore speak of this birth, of how it may take place in us and be consummated in the virtuous soul, whenever God the Father speaks His eternal Word in the perfect soul. For what I say here is to be understood of the good and perfected man who has walked and is still walking in the ways of God."
That the birth can be so consummated leads [Eckhart] to use the term with an experiential meaning. In a passage like the following, geburt suggests principally an experience. That experience is a Birth of emptiness within.
"The soul should give birth to nothing inside herself, if she wishes to be the child of God in whom God's Son shall be born--in her nothing else should be born."
"It appeared to a man as in a dream--it was a waking dream--that he became pregnant with Nothing like a woman with child, and in that Nothing God was born, He was the fruit of Nothing. Therefore he says: 'He arose from the ground with open eyes, seeing nothing.' "
At a certain level within ourselves, God is "ever begetting the Son." There He is "verdant and flowering." When we are able to raise our waking consciousness to this level, we will find "heartfelt delight and inconceivably deep joy." We may undergo this Birth and it would feel "inconceivably lovely."
". . . There is a power in the soul which touches neither time nor flesh, flowing from the spirit, remaining in the spirit, altogether spiritual. In this power, God is ever verdant and flowering in all the joy and all the glory that He is in Himself. There is such heartfelt delight, such inconceivably deep joy as none can fully tell of, for in this power the eternal Father is ever begetting His eternal Son without pause."
As a result of the "Fall" of man's center of consciousness from the higher abstract "Mind of the Heart" or Higher Ego into the lower concrete mind of the Personality, he has lost the unfocused synthetic vision of the former and is now enshrouded in the focused, but limited, vision of the latter. The higher abstract mind is able to see the inter-connectedness of everything--i.e., is synthetic--and is able to see the "birth of the Son" or Divine Light within, is able to genuinely love. The lower concrete mind can only see separateness--is analytical, capable only of serial logic and ratiocination--and identifies or becomes attached to whatever it focuses upon (it functions as a lens to focus consciousness into specifics). It therefore is incapable of love, compassion and faith--of seeing the "big picture." By raising one's consciousness beyond or above this "focus of mind," one becomes free of attachments. This is the essence of "personal salvation."
". . . 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 [i.e., the union with God], and then sought too much to cling to outward things. . . . [Such people] 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 watch and become aware of this birth within, in the ground. Then all his powers will be illuminated, and the outer man as well."
The experience of the Birth has a certain dualistic aspect to itself: it has a dichotomy in the realization which it imparts. Eckhart's descriptions of the Birth imply two distinct perceptions which occur simultaneously. The dichotomy is between the inner and the outer man, the spiritual or subjective and the material or objective dimensions. There is something which occurs inside the soul and is more or less clouded or obscured by the preoccupation with the external world.
"[Grace] flows out of God's essence and flows into the essence of the soul and not into her powers."
"The soul has two eyes, one inward and one outward. The soul's inner eye is that which sees into being, and derives its being without any mediation from God. The soul's outer eye is that which is turned toward all creatures, observing them as images and through the 'powers' [i.e., the senses and their instruments or organs]."
When he describes the spiritually-regenerated or reborn man, this dualism is stressed. In the following passage Eckhart uses Jesus as the "paradigm of the union of human and divine." Since "everything that holy Scripture says of Christ is entirely true of every good and holy man," it is appropriate to take Jesus here as the model for the ideal type. When Jesus said "My soul is grieved unto death" (Matthew 26:38),
"He did not mean his noble soul according as this is intellectually contemplating the highest good, with which he is united in person and which he is according to union and person: that, even in his greatest suffering, he was continually regarding in his highest power, just as closely and entirely the same as he does now: no sorrow or pain or death could penetrate there. So it is in truth, for when his body died in agony on the cross, his noble spirit lived in this presence. . . and the soul's life was with the body but above the body, immediately in God without any obstructions."
One of the clearest descriptions of this life in the rebirth makes use of the analogy of the two aspects of man's conscious awareness with a door and its hinge pin:
"And however much our lady lamented and whatever other things she said, she was always in her inmost heart in immovable detachment. Let us take an analogy of this. A door opens and shuts on a hinge. Now if I compare the outer boards of the door with the outward man, I can compare the hinge with the inward man. When the door opens or closes the outer boards move to and fro, but the hinge remains immovable in one place and it is not changed at all as a result. So it is also here. . . "
Eckhart speaks of this equanimity amidst the turmoil of outer life in terms of being rocked by water but not being "carried away by it"; or of being "equally distant" from all earthly things and remaining aloof from them:
"The soul that is to know God must be fortified and established, so that nothing can penetrate into her, neither hope nor fear nor joy nor grief nor suffering or anything that could disturb her. Heaven is at all points equidistant from earth. Likewise the soul should be equally distant from all earthly things, from hope, from joy and from sorrow: whatever it is, she must rise superior to it."
When the soul is "collected into the single power which knows God," His grace is "impressed without cooperation in the soul with the Holy Spirit, and forms the soul like God." For this to occur the soul "must exalt herself and shut herself away from all that is creaturely." "Within, one enjoys the divine essence. It is pure, clear, and silent: 'a desert place.' Outside, however, the world is unconnected with it and so retains a bitterness or a nauseous quality":
"To the soul that has received the infusion of divine grace and tasted divine perfection, all that is not God has a bitter, nauseous savor."
Meister Eckhart describes his own experience in the following passage:
"This constant state (like a sheet of water that I can feel under the bark) does no harm to my critical faculties and my freedom to exercise them, even against the immediacy of this interior experience. Thus I lead at the same time, without discomfort or pain, a 'religious' life (in the sense of this prolonged sensation) and a life of critical reason (which is without illusion)."
In conclusion, Eckhart says about the Birth or the Geburt:
"St. Augustine speaks--and with him another, pagan master [Avicenna]--of the two faces of the soul. The one is turned toward this world and the body; in this he works virtue, knowledge and holy living. The other face is turned directly to God. There the divine light is without interruption, working within, even though she [the soul] does not know it, because she is not at home. [That is, God is present in the soul in theory, though one may not be conscious of this in fact. Now Eckhart turns to the Birth:] When the spark of intellect is taken barely in God, then . . . the Birth takes place, then the Son is born. [One becomes aware of this presence. Furthermore, it is permanent.] This Birth does not take place once a year or once a month or once a day, but all the time, that is, above time in the expanse where there is no here and now, nor nature nor thought."


(3) The Advanced Mystical Experience: The Breakthrough (DURCHBRUCH) of the Soul to the Godhead--the Journey of the Alone to the ALONE --
"Durchbruch means literally a breakthrough . . . the movement beyond the distinctions in the drive toward the One. Eckhart uses the term in several related senses. As a verb, it meant breaking through boundaries, a bursting of limits like physical borders. Things once impenetrable become penetrated, as when one bursts through a shell: 'The shell must be broken (zerbrechen) and what is inside must come out.' A similar meaning is seen in the quotation 'one must learn to break through things (durchbrechen) and to grasp one's God in them . . .' In another analogy with a material bursting through, Eckhart suggests a breaking through topsoil to reveal what lies hidden beneath: the intellect is said to 'burst through' the ground and 'break through' (durchbrechen) to the roots from where the Son 'wells up' and the Holy Spirit 'blossoms forth.' Elsewhere, the term appears not in a quasi-physical context but in a moral one. One 'breaks through' (durchbrechen) what seem to be the limits of virtue established by the saints."*

*This and other paragraphs marked with the asterisk are quotations from "Meister Eckhart--The Mystic as Theologian" by Robert K. C. Forman. Rockport, MA: Element, Inc., 1991.

"Now attend closely: Neither John nor anyone else among all the saints has been put before us as a limit, or as a compulsory goal beyond which we may not go. . . . In very truth, if there were a single man who could go beyond the measure of the highest saint whose virtuous life has brought him to blessedness--if there were a single man who could in any way at all transcend (durchbrechen) that measure of virtue . . . there is no saint in heaven who is so perfect but that you could transcend (durchbrechen) his holiness by the holiness of your life, and come to stand above him in heaven and eternally remain so."
In his second sense of durchbruch Eckhart implies a penetrating and being penetrated by. "Speaking of physical heat, the midday heat is said to 'durchbrichet the air and [make] it hot.' According to such a medieval scientific image, heat is presented as penetrating the air and filling it with its substance. Where air is, there is the stuff of heat; where heat is, is air. Drawing out the analogy, Eckhart says that a man must be 'thoroughly penetrated (durchbrechen) and made incandescent with divine love.' Here it is man, not air, which is penetrated and filled with something. Elsewhere the Meister uses related terms to communicate such an interpenetration: 'A man should be so penetrated (durchgangen) with the Divine presence and transformed into (durchformet) the form of his beloved God and be essential in Him. . . .' Finally, mutual interpenetration is sometimes depicted in terms of a reflexive activity: 'Just as He breaks through to me, so I break through in turn into Him.' "*
The relationship between the Birth (Geburt) and the Breakthrough (Durchbruch), and the transition from the state of consciousness of the one to that of the other is dealt with next, beginning with the suggestion that "God must become internalized, and that the process will take on the character of a reflexivity of awareness" [i.e., Self-recollectedness or Self-remembering]:
". . . God should be brought down, not absolutely but inwardly. . . . This means that God is brought down, not absolutely but inwardly, that we may be raised up. What was above has become inward. You must be internalized, from within yourself and within yourself, so that He is in you. It is not that we should take anything from what is above us, but we should take it into ourselves, and take it from ourselves, and take it from ourselves into ourselves."
This statement is a typical description of the Birth (Geburt); "but, Eckhart now continues, to discover that one has the Son of God within is not enough [i.e., this is not the highest level of realization possible]: 'And yet the noble and humble man is not satisfied to be born as the only-begotten Son whom the Father has eternally born. . . .' One is not satisfied to have this born 'within' only. That is, one wants to enter into a complete equality with God--both within and without. When this is established, the (aspirant) begins to find God 'in his path.' The Godhead becomes known as the beginning and end of 'all your activity.' The (aspirant) then knows his or her actions as, if you will, shot through with divinity. 'Whatever that man performs, God performs.' The activities of the powers, which previously had been juxtaposed with the divinity within, become 'broken through' by the Divine Light. One begins to live in and through the divinity, through all of one's activities."*
[This is the essence and ultimate goal of Bhakti Yoga--the Yoga of Devotion.]
"Then He will be the beginning and the end of all your activity, just as His Godhead depends on His being God. To that man who thus in all his actions means and loves nothing but God, God gives His Godhead. Whatever that man performs, God performs, for my humility gives to God His Godhead. . . . God is not only a beginning of all our acts and our being, He is also an end and a repose to all being."


"In the Birth one discovers an expanse within oneself, at the 'head of the soul.' In the Breakthrough this expanse comes to be seen to pervade even one's powers and actions (and indeed . . . even to pervade the objects one encounters in the world). . . . The movement is from the Birth (one remains yet unsatisfied with it) toward the Break-through (marked by a new relationship with our actions and all being)."*
"Therefore I say, if a man turns away from self and from all created things, then--to the extent that you do this--you will attain to oneness and blessedness in your soul's spark, which time and place never touched. This spark is opposed to all creatures: it wants nothing but God, naked, just as He is. It is not satisfied with the Father or the Son or the Holy Ghost, or all three Persons so far as they preserve their several properties. I declare in truth, this light would not be satisfied with the unity of the whole fertility of the divine nature."
"In fact I will say still more, which sounds even stranger: I declare in all truth, by the eternal and everlasting truth, that this light is not content with the simple changeless divine being which neither gives nor takes--rather it seeks to know whence this being comes, it wants to get into its simple ground, into the silent desert into which no distinction ever peeped, of Father, Son or Holy Ghost. In the inmost part, where none is at home, there that light finds satisfaction, and there it is more than it is in itself: for this ground is an impartible stillness, motionless in itself, and all those receive life that live of themselves, being endowed with reason."
Additional statements by Meister Eckhart hopefully will throw further light upon this final stage of Self-realization, and the attainment of the highest state of consciousness possible for a human being at the present evolutionary phase. One important idea put forth in this regard is that when the soul becomes firmly committed to the process of spiritual regeneration, the inner Divine Spark (the Monad) Itself assumes the job of doing the work--i.e., becomes the inner warrior.
". . . a man might become truly rich in virtues by finding out his weakest points so as to mend them, and diligently striving to overcome them. . . . God performs this work in the inmost part of the soul so scretly that neither angels nor saints know of it, and the soul herself can do nothing but suffer it to happen: it is God's province alone. She [the soul] does not know when He comes or when He goes, though she can sense when He is with her. A master says His coming and His going are hidden."
"Let me explain. When you have completely stripped yourself of your own self, and all things and every kind of attachment and have transferred, made over and abandoned yourself to God in utter faith and perfect love, then whatever is born in you or touches you, within or without, joyful or sorrowful, sour or sweet, that is no longer yours, it is altogether your God's to whom you have abandoned yourself."
"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, and thus she is transformed with God and in God. God must act and the soul must suffer, 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 grace which the Holy Ghost brings to the soul is received without distinction, provided the soul is collected into a single power that knows God [i.e., the soul has accomplished the work of preparation]. This grace springs up in the heart of the Father and flows into the Son, and in the union of both it flows out of the wisdom of the Son and pours into the goodness of the Holy Ghost, and is sent with the Holy Ghost into the soul. And this grace is a face of God and is impressed without cooperation in the soul with the Holy Ghost, and [it] forms the soul like God. This work God performs alone, without co-operation. . . . God leads His bride [the soul] right out of all the virtues and nobility of creaturehood into a desert place in Himself, and speaks Himself in her heart, that is, He makes her like Himself in grace."
"Without any doing from my side, God enters, speaks, impresses Himself and does the work in my Soul. I am passive, He is active. . . . This is a theme of the Birth. But now as one 'quests to find out what it is that God is in His Godhead and in the Oneness of His own nature,' things change. One element that seems key here concerns the di-chotomy between the individual's passivity and the divinity's activity, for a divinity which is opposed to something--the creaturely, the inac-tive individuality--is yet truly One.*
"Perhaps the first aspects of the person to resolve this dichotomy (and thus become reactivated) are the powers: the intellect (and hence the thought processes), senses, etc. In Eckhart's typical Birth grammar . . . these are excluded from the Divine Light. But with practice the pow-ers can become receptive. . . . the Birth occurs within and then it runs over or wells over into the powers."*
"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 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.
"So he who would see light to discern all truth, let him watch 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."


"Though one receives the internal 'influx of grace from the personal being in many infestations of sweetness, comfort and inwardness, and that is God,' this 'is not the best.' The outer man, too, must come to find himself supported 'on' the Divinity."*
"The inner man, who is spiritual, would have to come out from the ground where he is one, and would have to be directed by the gracious being by which, through grace, he is supported. Therefore the spirit can never be perfect unless body and soul are brought to perfection. Thus just as the inner man, in spiritual wise, loses his own being by his ground becoming one ground, so too the outer man must be deprived of his own support and rely entirely on the support of the eternal personal being which is this very personal being."
"The formless one, first found only inwardly, must come to be encountered in and through the body as well. The outer man must come to 'rest entirely' on the being first encountered within."*
"Typically Eckhart uses the term durchbruch in conjunction with the term Godhead, or when not using this Neo-Platonic term, simply 'God' (without speaking of Father, Son and Holy Spirit). What does the use of such terms indicate about the character of the Breakthrough experience?"*
"The Godhead is the terminus a quo [origin] and the terminus ad quem [destination] of the pendular [like the back-and-forth motion of a pendulum] process Eckhart speaks of as the exitus [emanation or unfoldment] out of the divine silence into the world and the reditus [return] of the created soul back into God. In the exitus process . . . the Godhead is pictured as the silent, unmoving, unchanging One which boils up within Itself to create the active Trinity and through its agency the world. The reditus process essentially retraces those steps. All creatures are called to return back into the Godhead from which they came. [This describes the alternation between the greater and lesser cycles of objective manifestation or creation (Manvantaras) or cosmic "days," and the corresponding cycles of withdrawal back to the completely subjective states (Pralayas) or cosmic "nights."] The Godhead, toward which all things, especially human souls, are called back is beyond all change, diversity, and multiplicity; beyond even the bare threeness of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is 'a non-God, a non-spirit, a non-person, a non-image, rather . . . He is a sheer, pure, limpid One, detached from all duality.' To encounter the Godhead would be to encounter just such a formless limpid One."*
"If [the soul] sees God as He is God, or as He is an image, or as He is three, it is an imperfection in her. But when all images are detached from the soul and she sees nothing but the one alone, then the naked essence of the soul finds the naked, formless essence of divine unity [the 'Journey of the Alone to the ALONE'], which is superessential being, passive reposing in itself. Oh wonder of wonders, what noble suffering that is, that the essence of the soul can suffer nothing but the bare unity of God."
"In the inmost part, where none is at home, there that light finds satisfaction, and there it is more one than it is in itself: for this ground is an impartible stillness, motionless in itself, and by this immobility all things are moved, and all those receive life that live of themselves, being endowed with reason."
"The Breakthrough to the Godhead is apparently to directly perceive just this: all things are moved by that which I myself am. It is coming to see and encounter all things as having God at [the core of their being]."*
"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 you could take a fly in God, it is in God far nobler 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."
"To Breakthrough to the Godhead is to perceive that Godhead giving rise to all things. It is to see that all things are the One by means of the One alone. It is to find oneself amidst the ontological core [the ground of all being] of the cosmos. It is to confirm the One's nature":*
"There is One in which the entire multitude participates, through which the multitude is one and is whole, and this One is God. Moreover the multitude is in it alone. Therefore all things are the One by means of the One alone."
"When Eckhart speaks of the Breakthrough in the first person, he suggests that it involves perceiving the unmoved mover which stands at the source of both 'myself' and the world. This entails the perception that self and other are One."*
"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. . . . 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."

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