This week, Fr. Jerry Maynard will be breaking open the Word, and our Gospel wil be the Beatitudes. These spiritual principles are among the most profound offerings of Jesus to humanity. The spiritual teacher of India Eknath Easwaran considers them a form of spiritual law. Here is an excerpt from Original Goodness: A Commentary on the Beatitudes. Hope to see many of you Sunday!
I have spoken at times of a light in the soul, a light that is uncreated and uncreatable . . . to the extent that we can deny ourselves and turn away from created things, we shall find our unity and blessing in that little spark in the soul, which neither space nor time touches.
– Meister Eckhart
“These words, addressed to ordinary people in a quiet German-speaking town almost seven hundred years ago, testify to a discovery about the nature of the human spirit as revolutionary as Einstein’s theories about the nature of the universe. If truly understood, that discovery would transform the world we live in at least as radically as Einstein’s theories changed the world of science. “We have grasped the mystery of the atom,” General Omar Bradley once said, “and rejected the Sermon on the Mount. . . . Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants.” If we could grasp the mystery of Eckhart’s “uncreated light in the soul” – surely no more abstruse than nuclear physics! – the transformation in our thinking would set our world right side up.
“Meister or ‘Master’ Eckhart – the title attests to his scholarship, but seems even better suited to his spiritual authority – lived almost exactly at the same time and for the same span as Dante, and both seem born to those lofty regions of the spirit that do not belong to any particular culture, religion, or age but are universal. Yet, also like Dante, Eckhart expressed perfectly something essential about his times. The end of the thirteenth century was a period of intense turmoil in Europe, and the Rhine valley, where Eckhart was born, was the breeding ground of various popular religious societies which alarmed conventional Christians. Yet a God who could be known personally and a path by which to reach him were what an increasing number of people yearned for, and Eckhart’s passionate sermons, straining to convey the Absolute in the words of the street and marketplace, became immensely popular. And what did he teach? Essentially, four principles that Leibniz would later call the Perennial Philosophy, because they have been taught from age to age in culture after culture:
- First, there is a ‘light in the soul that is uncreated and uncreatable’: unconditioned, universal, deathless; in religious language, a divine core of person- ality which cannot be separated from God. Eckhart is precise: this is not what the English language calls the “soul,” but some essence in the soul that lies at the very center of consciousness. As Saint Catherine of Genoa put it, “My me is God: nor do I know my selfhood except in God.” In Indian mysticism this divine core is called simply atman, “the Self.”
- Second, this divine essence can be realized. It is not an abstraction, and it need not – Eckhart would say must not – remain hidden under the covering of our every- day personality. It can and should be discovered, so that its presence becomes a reality in daily life.
- Third, this discovery is life’s real and highest goal. Our supreme purpose in life is not to make a fortune, nor to pursue pleasure, nor to write our name on history, but to discover this spark of the divine that is in our hearts.
- Last, when we realize this goal, we discover simultaneously that the divinity within ourselves is one and the same in all – all individuals, all creatures, all of life.”
In gratitude for who you all are in the world,
An Ecumenical Catholic Community