POSTCARD#499: Bangkok: [Continuing with last week’s theme: “The Divine in us”] I was amazed to ‘hear the voice’ of Meister Eckhart reaching out to me from the 14th Century with observations on life that could have been expressed in recent times. All the more amazing to read his words on the subject of time and discover this was even more in context than I thought:
A day, whether six or seven (days) ago, or more than six thousand years ago, is just as near to the present as yesterday. Why? Because all time is contained in the present Now-moment. Time comes of the revolution of the heavens and day began with the first revolution. God makes the world and all things in this present now. Time gone a thousand years ago is now as present and as near to God as this very instant.
For me, also strangely synchronistic, are the words: the ‘Now-moment,’ because, without knowing or having read Eckhart before, I decided only a few years ago to name one of my Blog Categories: ‘The Now Moment.’ Another thing I find to be a remarkable coincidence is that my post of October 10, 2016 contains the following: ‘Language gives everything names, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday… different ways of describing present time. It’s always today, no matter if I call it yesterday, tomorrow or next week – today is every day.’ Perhaps not so unusual when you think of the social construct that surrounds us now and would have in Eckhart’s day: “The world we have experienced (since we were children), has been psychologically, socially, and linguistically constructed. As we (become adults), we learn to see the world in the way that everyone else does, but we don’t realize that’s what’s happening. We think we are seeing reality itself.”[David Loy, the interview with Insight Journal] It’s possible Eckhart wouldn’t have wanted to call it a construct, without it being in some way, God’s construct.
Being is God… God and being are the same. Everything that is has the fact of its being through being and from being… there is nothing prior to being because that which confers being creates and is a creator. To create is to give being out of nothing.
And here is Eckhart’s 14th Century Fundamental Truth, ‘Being is God.’ Even though I might be inclined to separate ‘God’ from ‘Being,’ I can’t. Maybe I need to change the word ‘God’ to something less emotive… I’m used to the Buddhist no-self (anatta) but it doesn’t convey the same breathless urgency of Eckhart’s sermon.
What is life? God's being is my life, but if it is so, then what is God's must be mine and what is mine God's. God's is-ness is my is-ness, and neither more nor less. They just live eternally with God, on a par with God, neither deeper nor higher. All their work is done by God and God's by them.
The Buddhist experience is this ‘is-ness’ or suchness (tathatā) and the idea of God creating the world out of nothing, in absolute present time is familiar to the Buddhist point of view in the context of Emptiness (śūnyatā). There are other connections between Eckhart and Mahayana Buddhism but I must leave that for another time. What I’ve been most taken with is the approachability of Eckhart’s God.
“I am as sure as I live that nothing is so near to me as God. God is nearer to me than I am to myself; my existence depends on the nearness and the presence of God.”
What jumps out at me here is the following: ‘God is nearer to me than I am to myself.’ Time and space disappear and I have an immediate closeness with this 14th Century Christian mystic.
The eye with which I see God is exactly the same eye with which God sees me. My eye and God’s eye are one eye, one seeing, one knowledge, and one love
The universality of this statement is that much more effective than other metaphors on the Eye. This is the eye that sees ‘me,’ and I am seen by God, just as I see God and God is seen by ‘me.’ I’d like to close with another non-dual quote by David Loy, in the interview with Insight Journal:
“We are not in time because we are time. Our nature is temporal which means we are not things; we are bundles of physical and mental processes. And when we become nondual with those processes, the past is not something that falls away, and the future is not something that’s coming. Then we live “in” what is sometimes called the eternal present. Etymologically the word “eternity” means without beginning and without end. What is without beginning and without end? It’s always now.”
Image: File:Rathausturm Köln – Meister Eckhart – Johann I. (Brabant)-4871.jpg
From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository
Photo credit: Maria Clementine Martin