The Everlasting Arms

‘Winter Scene’ – Bruce Crane, 1890 – Wikimedia

 

yes is a world
and in this world of 
yes live 
(skillfully curled)
all worlds

~ E. E. Cummings

 

Really, to surrender seems the most difficult thing to do. Even in our most relaxed moments, we are unconsciously holding the show through a subtle kind of effort. And this effort is being maintained throughout our life, even more so in moments of threats and desperation. The consequences of this constant tension is visible in every aspects of our being, physically and psychologically where they shine in an obvious manner, but also in our inward, spiritual life where it has even more devastating effects, keeping us at bay, at distance of any deep understanding or realisation.

At every moment of our lives, we experience at best a subtle if not unnoticed resistance to the propositions of everyday experience. Let’s put it simply: we argue. We argue, complain, judge, evaluate, regret, hope, expect, and so many other gesticulations that we superimpose on reality. Really it sometimes feels there is a madman locked here in the room of existence. The present reality, what is taking place here and now offers nothing less, if you look at it carefully, than a quiet and smooth run. ‘What is’ flows majestically like a large river does. It bears the silence of presence, the quiet inescapability of ‘is ness’, of being just the way it is. So why does life and circumstances expose us to such amount of conflict and resistance? How did it all become such an unsolvable riddle? […]

An exploration into the meaning of true surrender… (READ MORE…)

 

This is Meister Eckhart

‘Trinity’ – Andrei Rublev, 1410-1420 – WikiArt

 

The eye wherein I see God 
is the same eye wherein God sees me; 
my eye and God’s eye are one eye, 
one vision, one knowing, one love
.”
~ Meister Eckhart

 

In the Middle Ages, in the heart of Europe and of the Christian faith, rose a voice of such richness and profusion, of such dumbfounding wisdom and precision of thought, that it is a duty for all serious seekers to be reminded of it. The name shines with a polish of spiritual mastery and authority: Meister Eckhart. Eckhart von Hochheim OP was born in 1260 near Gotha in central Germany. OP stands in Latin for Order of Preachers, which is a mendicant order of the Catholic Church — better known as the Dominican Order — of which Meister Eckhart was a monk and a leader. His teaching and sermons left a deep impression but he was so ahead of his time and of the general understanding of his pairs, that his work went into oblivion only to reappear in the 19th century. His voice and light could not possibly be left unnoticed. He is now accepted as one of the most profound and eminent theologians, philosophers, and mystics of all times.

Little is known about his family and early life. From 1295 onwards, he held many posts of responsibility in various states of central Germany, and as far as Cologne or Strasbourg. Among others, he was a Prior of the Dominicans, managing tens of convents, and was later made Provincial of Saxony. He also travelled around Europe and more specifically to Paris where he studied Aristotle and the Platonists. With the degree of Master of Arts, he later on became a professor of theology at the school of Dominicans in the French capital and was invited as a magister — equal to the doctorate — for two consecutive years. At this time in Europe, during the Avignon Papacy, Christianity was prey to many tensions and confusion, the Inquisition was blowing a wind of suspicion and terror, as a result of which many new groups and movements were forming in search of new avenues of practice and understanding. It goes without saying that Meister Eckhart was a coveted source of wise counsel in these times of darkness. 

Let’s say it plainly: Meister Eckhart was a scholar, but it is as a preacher that he is most remembered. His sermons in the vernacular German were highly unusual for the time and took many a liberties with the conventional church rituals and dogmas. He stated: “When I preach, I usually speak of detachment and say that a man should be empty of self and all things.” […]

 

Blessed, supremely blessed, are they who are installed in the eternal now, 
transcending time and place and form and matter, 
unmoved by weal or woe or wealth or want, 
for in so far as things are motionless they are like eternity
.”
~ Sermon 16 

 

An exploration into the teachings of Meister Eckhart… (READ MORE…)

 

The Poor Man

Reading again this sermon 87 by Meister Eckhart, entitled ‘The Poor Man’, I felt that I had to give it a place in this blog. I was stunned by its qualities, the modernity, profundity, clarity, precision, subtlety that breathes in and out of this piece, and its impeccable construction. We owe this translation to the teacher of nonduality Francis Lucille and I borrow it from the website ‘Stillness Speaks’ that offers wonderful resource for self exploration.

Meister Eckhart was a Christian theologian and mystic born in 13th century Germany. He became famous as a talented preacher and his sermons, unusual and disruptive to the church dogma and ritual, caused him troubles. Largely forgotten until the 19th century, he is now appreciated as one of the foremost exponent of the spiritual endeavour. The universal qualities of his message extend far beyond the usual Christian jargon and make it accessible for all who have a deep interest in these matters.

Starting with the famous biblical expression ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit’, he endeavours to describe the qualities that are to be found in a truly poor man, and that are a prerequisite to any real understanding of truth. In his own words, and in just a few passing sentences, he exposes nothing less than the nature of our true being, of free will, the pervading presence of consciousness in all beings, the blissful nature of God’s presence, the non-objective and empty substance of God, Its timeless and immortal nature, and the oneness that pervades all and everything. Be this piece a prayer illuminating these few Latin words contained in the picture above: ‘Trahe nos post te’, ‘Draw us to you’

~

Whoever is to be poor in spirit 
must be poor in all his own knowing 
so that he knows nothing of God, 
nothing of any created object, 
and nothing of himself
.”
~ Meister Eckhart

~

 

Beati pauperes spiritu, quia ipsorum est regnum coelorum.

Ultimate bliss speaking in its wisdom, said: ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’ (Mathew 5,3). All angels, all saints, and all creatures that have been born, must be silent when this eternal wisdom of the Father speaks, because all the wisdom of the angels and all creatures is as pure nothing when compared to the limitless wisdom of God. This wisdom has said that the poor are blessed.

Now, there are two kinds of poverty. The first is an external poverty and it is good and very much to be praised in one who accepts such poverty willingly, out of love for our Lord Jesus Christ, because He, likewise, was poor on earth. I will not speak of this poverty any further. Then, there is yet another poverty, an internal poverty, which underlies each word of our Lord when He says ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit’.

Now I beg you to be likewise so that you can understand his words; for I tell you by the eternal truth: if you are not identical with this truth about which we will now speak you cannot possibly understand me.

Some people have asked me what poverty is in itself, and what a poor man would be. We will now answer them. […]

Continue reading this sermon by Meister Eckhart… (READ MORE…)

 

A Prayerful Mind

When I pray for aught my prayer goes for naught; 
when I pray for naught I pray as I ought
.”
~ Meister Eckhart

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This prayer is borrowed from a treatise allegedly attributed to Meister Eckhart, ‘The Rank and Nature of the Soul’, in the translation of Miss C. de B. Evans, 1924. The authenticity of these treatises is discussed, but it appeared to me like a beautiful prayer well worth sharing here. I have adapted it in a more modern English, sometimes taking some liberty with the original, and other times leaving it as it is. Its authenticity goes inasmuch as it is speaks to our hearts and reveals the fragrance of the divine presence it prays…

Meister Eckhart was a Christian theologian and mystic born in 13th century Germany. He is nowadays appreciated for the universal qualities of his message. For Meister Eckhart, the most powerful form of prayer is “the outcome of a quiet mind” where there should only be “a pure going out of what is our own”. Such a mind, in his own words, is one that “is forever immersed in God’s most precious will, having left its own.” A prayer is an invitation to rest or abide in what is most essential in our being, it is “the practice of pure being”. I hope this prayer will find a resting place in your heart…

~

O divine presence, supreme fragrance,
Show me the way to your most precious nature
That in your wisdom you have sent my way
To be seen and recognised as my own self;
To be loved as my being beyond earthly manners;
To be enjoyed in this new birth as happiness.
To be owned in thy perfect wisdom.

Preserve me from all separation, for you have raised me above myself;
You have exalted my soul beyond the grasp of ego;
You have sealed me with the seal of your eternal image;
Have made nothing more like yourself than a man in his soul.

Teach me to live so that I may never want you; 
So as never to hinder the working of your love-stream in me; 
So as never to lend myself to any outward pleasure without you;
Nor occupy my mind with any creature other than you. 

You are that pure consciousness incomprehensible by ego,
Inspiring the soul and raising her above entanglement
So that she can do thy will only, O Eternal Wisdom;
So that in grace she can be freed from all that comes uninvited.

You have made the soul to suit yourself in her nature and her laws
And she maintains she has no room for anyone but you.
O Almighty! Most Merciful Creator!  Dear Lord!
Help me to overcome the pitfalls of my egoistic tendencies.

Help me to believe, to hope, to love; to live and feel exactly as you will,
And as much as you will and what you will. Lord, grant me 
The sorrow of the humble; a mind escaped from mortal body; 
To love, to laud and to behold you and cherish every act and thought that is toward you. 

Grant me a clear, sober and genuinely prayerful mind 
With real intuition of thy will, together with the love and joy 
Which make it easy to perform. Lord, grant me always modest progress 
Towards better things and never to backslide in any harmful way. 

And, O my Lord, condemn me not, as I deserve, 
To rely on my own powers, or my human weakness and foolishness,
But on your good providence alone. Direct me Lord to the Good itself;
Command my every thought and act to your own liking.

Make so happen that on my part, in me, your will is always being done,
And that I can be saved from evil and brought to the eternal life.
Make me be one where thou are three in Person, in the essence of thy divine nature: 
Father, Son and Holy Ghost and the ever blessed almighty God. 

Amen. 

.

~~~

Prayer by Meister Eckhart
(adapted from a translation by Miss C. de B. Evans)

Photo by Elsebet Barner

~~~

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The photo represents a painting by Joakim Frederik Skovgaard (1856-1933)

Bibliography :
– ‘Meister Eckhart, Selected Writings’ – by Meister Eckhart – (Penguin Classics)
– ‘Conversations with Meister Eckhart’ – by Meister Eckhart & Simon Parke – (White Crow Books Ltd)

Website:
Meister Eckhart (Wikipedia)
Joakim Skovgaard (Wikipedia)

Suggestions:
This is Meister Eckhart (Homage to Meister Eckhart)
The Poor Man (a Sermon by Meister Eckhart)
– The Quiet Mind (a quote by Meister Eckhart)

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Fragrance

Prayer is our one link with the real 
– if by ‘prayer’ we mean simply an attention 
both extreme and careless of any result, 
an attention so pure that the one who practises it 
is not even aware of doing so
.”
~ Christian Bobin

 

The other day, I found the old, beautifully handmade prayer book of my grandmother, and skimmed through it. Prayer has always been to me something of a difficulty and I think the time has come to seriously address it. I’m intending to share prayers on this blog, making it the subject of a new category. 

There seems to be two habitual ways of praying. The main one is to beg, implore, request – positively or negatively, asking for something objective, however refined this object can be. The second way is devotional, contemplative, but often turns out to be a repetitive, compelled form of recitation. Both forms are unsatisfactory, ranging from being naive, belief-based, self-concerned, to just lacking efficacy. 

A good prayer is a totally non-objective one, at least in spirit if not in words. Rupert Spira says: “The turning of the mind away from the objective content of experience towards the source or essence from which it has arisen is the essence of meditation or prayer.” And Meister Eckhart says nothing different when stressing that the most powerful form of prayer is “the outcome of a quiet mind” or that there should only be “a pure going out of what is our own.” And such a mind, in his own words, is one that “is forever immersed in God’s most precious will, having left its own.” A prayer is an invitation to rest or abide in what is most essential in our being, and in that it can be equated with meditation, which is originally the Hindu or Buddhist form of prayer, or with the koan of zen. 

A prayer comes from the heart, and points to something that is beyond words and meaning. Its only function is to throw you back to yourself, to silence. It must be devoid of demands, which can only be objective and an expression of separation. In prayer, the result precedes the wish. Rupert Spira sums it up in a beautiful way: “Let what you become be an expression of the source.” Love is all, and love is prayer.

~

In the existence of your love, 
I become non-existent. 
This non-existence linked to you 
is better than anything 
I ever found in existence.

~ Rumi

~

 

Here is a beautiful prayer that I heard from Francis Bennett. It was originally composed by John Henry Newman, a 19th century poet and theologian, and is known as the ‘Fragrance Prayer’:

Dear Presence so divine 
Help me to spread Your fragrance everywhere I go.
Flood my soul with Your spirit and life.
Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly,
That my life may only be a radiance of Yours.
Shine through me, and be so in me 
That every soul I come in contact with 
May feel your presence in my soul 
Let them look up and see no longer me, but only You!

Stay with me and then I shall begin to shine as You shine,
So to shine as to be a light to others;
The light, O Lord, will be all from You; none of it will be mine;
It will be you, shining on others through me.

Let me thus praise You the way You love best, by shining on those around me.
Let me preach You without preaching, not by words but by my example,
By the catching force of the sympathetic influence of what I do,
The evident fullness of the love my heart bears to You.

Amen.

 

~~~

Introductory text and photo by Alain Joly

Prayer by John Henry Newman (1801-1890)
(Adapted by Francis Bennett)

~~~

 

This article is the first that appears in a new category called ‘Fragrance of Love’. This is the place to share a prayer or meditation – this fragrance of ourselves – as the main feature.

Suggestion:
The Quiet Mind (Meister Eckhart)
– Watch Francis Bennett’s video on YouTube: Integrating Humanity with Divinity, a Science and Nonduality Conference…

Bibliography:
– ‘Conversations with Meister Eckhart’ – by Meister Eckhart & Simon Parke – (White Crow Books Ltd)
– ‘The Very Lowly: A Meditation on Francis of Assisi’ – by Christian Bobin – (New Seeds)

Websites:
John Henry Newman (Wikipedia)
Francis Bennett (finding grace at the center)
Rupert Spira
Meister Eckhart (Wikipedia)
Rumi (Wikipedia)
Christian Bobin (Wikipedia)

 

The Quiet Mind

Meister Eckhart was a Christian theologian and mystic born in 13th century Germany. He became famous as a talented preacher and his sermons, unusual and disruptive to the church dogma and ritual, caused him troubles. Largely forgotten until the 19th century, he is now appreciated by contemporary spirituality, for he is speaking a universal message that many can understand beyond the usual Christian jargon. Simon Parke, who wrote the beautiful ‘Conversations with Meister Eckhart’, says: “Here we have a teaching open to all, but possessed by none, and therefore free like a butterfly in the garden of the soul.”

~

.

The most powerful prayer,
one well nigh omnipotent,
and the worthiest work of all
is the outcome of a quiet mind.

The quieter it is
the more powerful,
the worthier, the deeper,
the more telling and more perfect the prayer is.

To the quiet mind all things are possible.
What is a quiet mind?

A quiet mind is one
which nothing weighs on,
nothing worries,
which,
free from ties and from all self-seeking,
is wholly merged into the will of God
and dead to its own. 

~ Meister Eckhart 

.

~~~

Text by Meister Eckhart (1260 – 1328)

Photo by Elsebet Barner

~~~

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Bibliography :
– ‘Meister Eckhart, Selected Writings’ – by Meister Eckhart – (Penguin Classics)
– ‘Conversations with Meister Eckhart’ – by Meister Eckhart & Simon Parke – (White Crow Books Ltd)

Website:
Meister Eckhart (Wikipedia)

.Suggestions:
– Other articles from the same category ‘Shreds of Infinity
This is Meister Eckhart (Homage to Meister Eckhart)
The Poor Man (a Sermon by Meister Eckhart)

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