The Fate of a Mystic

The eye with which I see God is the same eye with which God sees me. Meister Eckhart

On March 27, 1329, Pope John XXII accused Johannes Eckhart of heresy and condemned him to death. Why was Meister Eckhart condemned as a heretic? He dared to make the startling declaration that God and human beings are already bonded together, already in intimate contact. The only obstacle is our consciousness and the construction of dualism that constricts our ongoing divinization. His experience led him to believe that in the secret recess of the soul is the spark of the divine, which is participating in the timeless existence of God. This mystical understanding got him in trouble with the Catholic church and condemned to die as a heretic.

The "myticism" of Meister Eckhart:

To be full of things is to be empty of the divine. To be empty of things is to be full of the divine.

God is a great underground river that no one can dam up and no one can stop.

God is creating the entire universe, fully and totally, in the present now.

There exists only the present instant... a Now which always and without end is itself new. There is no yesterday nor any tomorrow, but only Now, as it was a thousand years ago and as it will be a thousand years hence.

On this anniversary of his death, his cogent and soul-stretching words, are invigorating. They nourish me and challenge me to step into the spiritual adventure in which he lived.


World Water Day

Each year more than one billion of our fellow human beings have little choice but to resort to using potentially harmful sources of water. This causes a silent humanitarian crisis that kills some 3,900 children every day.

Nearly two in ten people in the world have no source of safe drinking water.

• One billion people worldwide have no access to clean water within a 15-minute walk of their homes.

• 25 million people die each year from contaminated water (that's the equivalent of the entire population of Canada.)

• 1.4 billion people lack access to clean drinking water.

• Americans empty 2.5 million plastic water bottles an hour. Each one takes 500 years to decompose if not recycled.

• The average American home uses 293 gallons of water a day, the average African family used 5 gallons of water a day.

(Troubled Water, Anita Roddick)

Water is symbolic of our relationship with the divine, carrying the image of renewal, promise and hope. We are called to live in right relationship with the rest of the world and with creation, and our lives should reflect that. "We need to be careful that our vineyards aren't watered with the water of those living in poverty around the world. The wine of the body of Christ is meant to be enjoyed by all. "


A Two-Faced Divinity

January, a month named after an ancient Latin divinity, Janus. It is believed that Janus had two faces, back to back, so that he could look ahead toward the future and back at the past. He was said to be the god of doors and journeys, endings and beginnings, transition and change... an appropriate personification for the start of a new year.

It often seems that as I enter a New Year I begin to feel an upsurge of spirit; a sense of new beginnings, doors to be opened. I'm not so good at resolutions, but I do fairly well at reflection. As I make my way into 2010 I can value the symbols of Janus. I will will take moments to think quietly on my personal journey, the continuum of life, of doors opened and closed, transitions and the miracle of self-renewal.


The Devastating Beauty of This Life

Tradition teaches that Soul lies midway between understanding and unconsciousness. It is that earthy, complex and often mysterious realm of essence. Thomas Moore in his book, Care of the Soul, writes, "Care of the soul is not a project of self-improvement nor a way of being released from the troubles and pains of human existence."

The path of the soul takes us to the brink of precipices and sometimes over them...

This Life

Like you, I go on living as though this life
is not utterly horrific and utterly exquisite.

As though this life does not bring you to your knees
again and again,

Does not give you wings to soar over the canyons with ecstasy.

I, for once,
want to run to the village square
tear my clothes in fury
shake my fists to the heavens
and roar with rage
foaming at the mouth.

I want to fall on my knees in gratitude
let the rain of Grace fall upon me
turn my tear-washed face
towards the sky,

And sing the devastating beauty of
this life.

Mary Papacostaki in, Sister'sSinging


The Tiniest Generosity


You are assigned to be a beautiful, good, kind, awakened, soulful person, a true work of art as they say, a true human being. In a world filled with so much darkness, such a soul shines like gold; it can be seen from a far distance; it is dramatically different.

Anything you do from the soulful self will help lighten the burdens of the world. Anything. You have no idea what the smallest word, the tiniest generosity can cause to be set in motion. Be outrageous in forgiving. Be dramatic in reconciling. Be off the charts in kindness. In whatever you are called to, strive to be devoted to it in all aspects large and small.

Be brave, be fierce, be visionary. Mend the parts of the world that are "within your reach." To strive to live this way is the most dramatic gift you can ever give to the world.

"At this moment you can choose kindness or cruelty, love or fear, generosity or scarsity, joy or bitterness." Rabbi Rami Shapiro, the Sacred Art of Lovingkindness


O All-Nourishing Holy Abyss

From the National Catholic Reporter:

Inside this visible world is another hidden world, the subatomic world. The term used to describe what happens inside this subatomic world is quantum vacuum. Amazingly, 90 percent of each atom is empty space, a vacuum. And the electrons and particles inside each atom appear to be whirling around as they come forth from “nothingness,” only to again disappear back into it.

Brian Swimme, a mathematical cosmologist, explains this action as “elementary particles crop up out of the vacuum itself — that is simply an awesome discovery…that the base of the universe seethes with creativity.” He continues, “I use ‘all-nourishing abyss’ as a way of pointing to this mystery that is the base of being.” Has Brian Swimme’s “all-nourishing abyss” given to us a new wonder-soaked name for the Divine Mystery we so casually call God?

Hidden within everything
is a second energetic cosmos,
all-nourishing wonder
at the heart of all life.

(From A Book of Wonders by Ed Hays)


Better Than Before

One night four Rabbinim were visited by an angel who awakened them and carried them to the Seventh Vault of the Seventh Heaven. There they beheld the sacred Wheel of Ezekiel. Somewhere in the decent from Paradise to Earth, one Rabbi, having seen such splendor, lost his mind and wandered frothing and foaming until the end of his days. The second Rabbi was extremely cynical: "Oh I just dreamed Ezekiel's Wheel, that was all. Nothing really happened." The third Rabbi carried on and on about about what he had seen, for he was totally obsessed. He lectured and would not stop with how it was all constructed and what it all meant... and in this way he went astray and betrayed his faith. The fourth Rabbi, who was a poet, took a paper in hand and a reed and sat near the window writing song after song praising the evening dove, his daughter in her cradle, and all the stars in the sky. And he lived his life better than before.
Jewish Folktale

Who saw what in the Seventh Vault of the Seventh Heaven? I don't know. But I do know that "contact with the world wherein the Essences reside" causes me to know something beyond my usual hearing, and fills me with a feeling of expansion and grandeur. Carl Jung talks about "the moral obligation"... the idea that we must live out and express what we learn in our decent to soul or ascent to spirit. What do I do with the gift of being breathed upon or touched by, "The One Who Knows"? What is my moral obligation? Maybe its fairly simple. Maybe my work is to show it, give it out, sing it out and live out my life like the fourth Rabbi... better than before.