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July 31, 2022

Wisdom of the Mystics: Meister Eckhart


In this episode, The Bearded Mystic Podcast discusses the wisdom of the Christian Mystic Meister Eckhart. He had a distinguished career became a Parisian Professor of Theology and took a leading pastoral and organizational role in the Dominican Order.

In the language of the Christian tradition, Eckhart expounds the eternal mysteries in a style that is fresh and original in the best sense. Through the vividness of his use of imagery,  Eckhart paradoxically directs us to that which lies beyond the image - going beyond the name and form of both Christ and God.

The depth and universality of Eckhart's teaching have drawn seekers of truth to the radical notion of oneness. His radical and penetrating insight makes him an interesting mystic to learn from.

In this episode, I go through the mystical sayings of Meister Eckhart that mainly focus on what religion is and the oneness of Truth, beyond traditions and institutions.

I hope you enjoyed listening to the Wisdom of the Mystics series and if you are interested in listening to more episodes about Non-Duality and a deep dive into the Bhagavad Gita, please follow/subscribe to this Podcast.

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Transcript

Rahul N Singh:

Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Bearded Mystic Podcast and I'm your host Rahul N Singh. Thank you for taking out the time today to either watch or listen to this podcast episode today, we will be looking at the Wisdom Of The Mystics. If you would like to support the Bearded Adi Mystic podcast, you can support it through our Patreon page, and you can find the details in the show notes and video description below. And if you are listening to this on apple podcast, You can give a monthly subscription so you can get ad-free content, you can get bonus content like Conversations with the Bearded Mystic and the guided meditations. Also every Saturday, there is a free virtual meditation

class that happens at 11:

00 AM Eastern standard time. If you've enjoyed the teachings that we've talked about here on the podcast, this meditation session will be something you will really enjoy and the details for that are in the show notes and video description as well. Last month, if you remember, we looked at the Persian Mystic and Poet Rumi and today we are going to be looking at the German, Christian Mystic, Meister Eckhart and we'll be looking at some of the sayings that he has given, and we'll be contemplating upon those very words. The first quote is 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. This is an incredible non-dual line. If you think about it, I mean the whole point of this is really to understand that what is truly seeing what is doing the witnessing, what is doing the watching? When we understand our true nature, that it is this Brahman, this Nirguna Brahman, this Eternal Consciousness, which is Pure Awareness, which is the observer of everything and being the observer, it does not get caught up in the experience of day to day life, rather it enriches day to day life because we see reality as it is. Now what's interesting about this one line here is that Meister Eckhart is already establishing the eye with which I see God is exactly the same eye with which God sees me. This is showing a complete non-dual experience, that now the difference between God and Meister Eckhart has disappeared it's dissolved away. And likewise, when we have truly practiced the teachings and we truly start being in that Formless Awareness more and more, this will be the same experience we have. The second part of that is my eye and God's eye are one eye. Again, establishing there's no such thing as two eyes here, there's this one eye. What is this one eye? That true vision. What is the true vision? That Pure Awareness. And this is something that has to be emphasized by our mystics, because the interesting thing is the mystics from every tradition has come to the same conclusion that there is only one seeing as Meister Eckhart says one knowledge, knowledge of what? The knowledge of what is Real. Yeah. And one love. Again, same thing. When there's one love that means that this love that you have cannot be compartmentalized between your likes and dislikes. Now that doesn't mean that you do not have likes and dislikes, you do, but that doesn't mean that love cannot exist behind the likes and dislikes. This is something that is only understood when you truly, truly practice the teachings. When I talk about it, or whenever you hear it, it can be quite difficult to comprehend if you're not putting it into practice, but with teachings like this, of the Mystics, either you experiment with them and then see if they're true or not, or just don't look at them because the thing is if you read it and you just say, oh, this is just, this is just mystical talking. This is just mumbo jumbo. Then what tends to happen is we then don't practice. We close ourselves off and we haven't gone through a good method of testing things out. that's why it's really important that whenever you're a seeker of any kind, even if it's to seek the truth in science, medicine, spirituality, religion, whatever it is, whatever truth you seek, the first thing is you have to implement and test it out. See if the teaching holds true. I feel what Meister Eckhart is saying, I can 100% resonate with and I can a hundred percent say I agree with him that there is only one seeing and there isn't many types of love. There's only one type of love here, and that is unconditional love. That love that is not only unconditional, but indivisible. That's the first quote. It's a very short quote, if you feel like you wanna meditate upon, it's a very good prayer and meditation, 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. So if you find that you want to just take a quiet moment to just reflect upon that quote, reflect upon that teaching, reflect within and see if you can discover that one eye, that one seeing, that one knowledge, that one love and once you do, everything is completed. What's interesting before I continue on is I never usually talk about God and I try to avoid the word 'God', as much as possible. But today I think I will be using the word God one because of the quotes and two, because I think to explain things, one has to talk about God. But when I talk about God, if you've been listening to this podcast for a while, you know that I'm talking about Nirguna Brahman. If this is the first time you are listening to the podcast, what I'm talking about when I say God, is this Formless Awareness, it doesn't have a form. It's not there high in the heavens. It's right here in existence. It's Sat, Chit, Ananda, (Existence Consciousness, Bliss). The second quote is there is no process of becoming in God, but only a present moment, that is a becoming without becoming, a becoming-new without renewal and that this becoming is God's being. There is in God, something so subtle that no renewal can enter there. There is something subtle in the soul too that is so Pure and fine that no renewal can enter it either, for all that is in God is an eternal present-time without renewal. Very interesting quote, very deep again, something we probably have to break up a little to understand deeply. But what he's talking about, there's no process of becoming in God. What he's truly saying is there is only God, therefore you cannot become God. You cannot become your essential nature, your true nature. You already are your true nature. All that's going to be happening is, is that you're going to discover that you are your true nature. You are this Formless Awareness. Now he talks about it being in the present moment, so it's in the complete now and anyone that knows about Eckhart Tolle, I think whose name is inspired from Meister Eckhart, you can see from this quote 'but only a present moment' is a teaching that Eckhart Tolle talks about a lot. Why in the present moment? Because whatever is eternal now in the present moment is eternal forever and to be in this being to be in God's being or to be in this Formless Awareness, to be in that you have to be completely present. You have to be in the now. You can't be in the past or the future. In fact, the past and future is all happening in the now. And then there's something about becoming new without renewal. What is this becoming new? It's just the eradication of the old baggage we have, the old teachings, the old rituals, the old doctrines, the old ideas we had, the old superstitions, all those things are now not there. And without renewal, meaning it's an everlasting place. It's an ever present moment and being, it's not gonna change in any way. The next line is there is in God's something so subtle that no renewal can enter there. That means that this subtlety, this essence of the divine, the essence of Brahman, the essence of the Formless Awareness, nothing of renewal, nothing can be changed there. If it can be renewed, that means it is changing and therefore it can't be true because it's not Changeless but here, Meister Eckhart is very clear that no renewal can enter here. Then he says, there's something subtle in the soul too that is so Pure and fine that no renewal can enter it either. I feel there he's talking about the oneness of the soul and God, and they're one and the same, hence they both do not renew. Then he says, for all that is in God is an eternal present-time without renewal. Again, you could also see this as liberation that once you understand this truth, there's no way you're going to be renewed with another form of any kind. Even if you have a renewed form in heaven, even then, that's not true. As he says, for all that is in God is an eternal present time. It's all in this now. It's all right here. The moment we step out of the Now, and we go thinking about the past and the future, we lose that, which is eternally present. Yeah. It's always here and a true realized being understands this. The third quote, the Father has only one Son and the less we turn our intention and attention to things other than God and the more we turn to nothing external, all the more shall we be transformed in the Son and all the more shall the Son be born in us and we be born in the Son and become one Son. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the sole son of the Father and he alone is both human and divine. But there is only a single Son in a single being, which is divine being. Thus we become one in him when he is the one object of our attention. God always wishes to be alone. This is a necessary truth, and it must always be the case that we should have only God, in our thoughts. Again, very deep and we have to understand, again, the translator has used the word God. And I think the name back then didn't have any baggage that it has today. So I want us to put the baggage to the side for a bit when we are reading this, so we can really understand what he says. He says here, the Father has only one Son and the less we turn our intention and attention to things other than God and the more we turn to nothing external, the more shall we be transformed in the Son. Now, Son, meaning Jesus Christ. Now the reason why Jesus is used here is because it shows a human element of what we are and God being that without form. We have to bring our intention and attention to God rather than to things other than God. So that's constantly having the intention to think about, the Divine, to contemplate on the Formless Awareness, to be in meditation with this Formless Awareness. We have to bring our attention and intention to this. With what intention? To become one, not to worship Jesus or to worship God. No, but to become that one thing that we may refer to as God, or even here, we can say Jesus. Now it says very clearly that all the more shall we be transformed in the Son and all the more shall the Son be born in us and we be born in the Son and become one Son. So it's an eternal play that's going on. There is only one Christ, there is only one Being, one Existence, which is this Brahman. Now, when we understand that this Brahman is one and the sane as us, we go beyond duality and here again, Meister Eckhart, very smartly, maybe understanding the religious fervor at the time doesn't directly say things, but if you read between the lines, you see where he's coming from. He continues on to say that our Lord Jesus Christ is the sole Son of the Father and he alone is both human and divine. Again, showing that being human is the best way to get to divinity and it's also showing how it's in our humanity, that we find the divine. And the very next line is but there is only a single son in a single being, which is a divine being. Again, reemphasizing that there is only one son, which is called Christ. And we are all that same son, when we bring our attention and intention towards the Divine. When we want to be in the presence of divinity, to be divinity itself that is the key. Thus, we become one in him and he is the one object of our attention. Once we become one with this, once there is an established oneness. When that is the only object of our attention, this divinity, this Brahman, then we become one with him and it's not like we become one with him. What we reveal is that there has only been oneness. We have only been one with him. There's been no twoness, there's been no division. There's been no separation. So that's what we understand eventually. Then Meister Eckhart says a very interesting line that God always wishes to be alone. It's an interesting one and you wonder, well, why would God want to be alone? And actually the truth is God alone is, or you could say there's only Nirguna Brahman, nothing else. I think here Meister Eckhart touches the non-dual peaks and probably doesn't know how it's gonna go with the majority but it's very true that God always wishes to be alone. And I think this also has to do with what the pressure that we put upon this idea of God, you know, the fact that we have to keep praying to this God, asking for forgiveness, asking to be in its shelter, to be protected by it, to look out for us, all these things that we put onto this Divine Being when really the Divine Being has invested everything into us. And if we only looked within and we actually took a look and we discovered what we had within us, we wouldn't have to go through these issues. We'll find that being alone is being God. The toughest thing for us to do is to be alone. Here he says, God always wishes to be alone. In today's day and age, most people fear being alone. Why do they fear being alone? Because they fear their thoughts. Why do they fear their thoughts? Because somewhere they fear death. Why do they fear death is because they don't know who they are. Why do they not know who they are? It's because they never searched for it. They never really wanted to know who they are. Outwardly anyone can look spiritual or religious, but it's actually truly imbibing the message that really matters, that really changes things for us. So I think that's a very beautiful line by Meister Eckhart and one that we should definitely contemplate upon. Definitely think about. Definitely meditate upon that. Why would God wish to be alone? And why is being alone so important in our spiritual journey? I'm not saying that one must go to the forest or the caves and just stay there or go to the Himalayas. What I'm saying is you can be alone amongst a crowd. What I mean by that is you can be completely one with the divine, while you're in the marketplace, while you're at work, while you're studying, while you're at a function, anything. You can be alone yet be with everybody. When we say alone, remember, we are not talking about loneliness. Loneliness is that emptiness that you feel when you're by yourself. Here being alone is when you feel complete in yourself, regardless of whether people are here or not, or whether things are here or not, you are completely comfortable being in, for the lack of a better word, emptiness. But what I mean by emptiness is Formless, Imageless, Possession-less, Manifest-less. Just this. It's a very tough concept but a very beautiful one, if we're able to understand. He says, this is a necessary truth and it must always be the case that we should have only God in our thoughts. Once we have more thoughts dedicated to the Divine towards higher thoughts and higher concepts, higher ideas. We naturally are okay with being alone. We naturally feel fulfilled. We naturally feel complete, and that is the purpose behind being one. As Meister Eckhart in this whole quote really is telling us that there's been only one son. Actually the one son is this one God and this one God is what you are and this one son is what you are. We are not different. We're made up of the same atoms, or we will have a bit of Jesus's atoms within us. And if God is the Ground of Being, then that means that God is within everything. The fourth quote. Therefore a master says, if someone is to perform an inner work, they must draw in all their powers as if in the corner of their soul, hiding from all images and forms, and then they shall be able to act. They must thus enter a forgetfulness and an unknowing where this word is to be heard. There must be stillness and silence. We cannot serve this word better than with silence and stillness. There it can be heard and properly understood and there we are in a state of unknowing, where we know nothing, there it reveals itself and makes itself known. This is incredibly deep. Meister Eckhart without talking about God or anything like that establishes the deepest understanding of our true nature and how to get there and what it's like to be there. In one quote, he has explained so much. If someone is to perform an inner work, so first of all, everything that we attain in spirituality is within us. It's looking within, there's nothing outside that's going to satisfy our journey within because eventually everything that you perceive from outside is already starting from here within. So what's the best thing to do? Is go within. If someone needs to perform an inner work, they must draw in all their powers as if in the corner of the soul. you gotta bring your senses in, see if your senses are always being utilized, when are you gonna find peace? When are you going to actually have energy? Energy is being used when you constantly have to look here and there. Then he says hiding from all images and forms. Again, suggesting to us that this awareness or this soul does not have any image and does not have any form. We know this is true because this Nirguna Brahman is without attribute. Without attribute meaning that it is changeless. Changeless meaning it has no form or image or neither does it belong to time and space. Then he says, And then they shall be able to act. Act in what? They should be able to fully perform the inner work and then act in the understanding that the inner work is completed and the Formless Awareness is constantly in front of us. Constantly there. Constantly in our realization in our day to day life. Then he says they must thus enter forgetfulness and an unknowing. Forgetfulness of what? Body and mind. I am the body and mind. We forget that we are the body and mind because now we entered a higher state. These are the lower levels of reality - the body and mind. Now we're going to the higher level of reality, which is this Nirguna Brahman, this Pure Awareness. And for that, you need to forget your body and mind, especially when you're going within. When you enter the state of Samadhi, it is beyond the body and mind. Therefore, what Meister Eckhart is wonderfully saying is that there has to be a forgetfulness and there has to be an unknowing. Unknowing of what? You're not utilizing your mind to know this or that. You are just being totally absorbed in the Atman. Where this word is to be heard, there must be stillness and silence. What is this word? In my opinion, this word will be Aum and it's true because when you hear Aum, one, it has arised from silence and takes you to a place of complete stillness within. Now the interesting thing is that he also emphasizes there's stillness and silence, and that's also in the mind. So for example, you won't be jumping from one thought to another or one desire to another or one emotion and another, what will be happening is you will have silence in your thoughts. No thoughts will have a word or have any image of any kind that will constitute as noise. There also will be only stillness. There will be not moving here or there, there's a complete inner stillness. You're completely still, the mind has come to a stand still and is able to absorb that deep wisdom, absorb that deep level of understanding, and then to live in that understanding. Then he says, we cannot serve this word better than with stillness and silence. Another thing to emphasize is that in the Bible, it is said in John that in the beginning was the word and the word was with God. So again, what is this word? I think it's that Aum and I would refer to it as Aum because Aum really comes from the soundless sound. It's so Pure. What he says is we cannot serve this word better than with stillness and silence. That you have to be in complete silence. You have to be in complete stillness and the best way to be paying your respect to it is by allowing it to be. Then he says there, it can be heard and properly understood and there we are in a state of unknowing. So it's in that state, we can hear that Aum sound, the word, whatever you may feel the word is. At the same time, it's heard and properly understood. How is it properly understood? You know, that first of all, you have to enter forgetfulness and unknowing. So in a way, what has to happen is you have to get rid of all your preconceived notions, your ideas, you have to go beyond memory. All these things have to happen and that's in the state of unknowing and that is when we properly understand it and how we also properly understand it is we've grown our discernment to understand what is Real and what is unreal. What is real is changeless and if this word, if this soul is truly beyond all images and forms, then that means that it has to be changeless. And the last line of that quote is that where we know nothing, there it reveals itself and makes itself known. So it's self revealing. And again, this is things that are said in the Upanishads as well. So it's really good that there is correlation. And he says where we know nothing, the wise person is that one that says they know nothing. What is nothing? We do not know no-thing meaning there is this essence that we talk about, this essential nature, this Formless Awareness has no being, no thing, it cannot be defined in any way. It cannot be explained in any way. It reveals itself and makes itself known. We don't have to put any effort in revealing it. All we have to do is unlearn things, unknow things and clean ourselves from any preconceived notions, ideas, concepts, and then we see the truth as it is, as it should be. The last quote. This cannot be learned by taking flight, that is by fleeing from things and physically withdrawing to a place of solitude, but rather we must learn to maintain an inner solitude regardless of where we are or who we are with. We must learn to break through things and to grasp God in them, allowing him to take form in us powerfully and essentially. Thus we should be permeated with the sense of a divine presence and be in-formed with a form of our beloved God and be so established in him that we see his presence effortlessly and more than this remain unencumbered by anything, free of all things. But this will initially demand of us much application and concentration, as any art does of one who will learn it. This cannot be learned by taking flight, that is by fleeing from things and physically withdrawing to a place of solitude. We can't just run away to the jungle, to a cave and then get to it. No, it has to be done, while we are in the marketplace, while we are in the world, while we are in the concrete jungles of this world, that's where we gotta be and that's where we are gonna find our peace. Say if we go to the forest or we go to a cave, that's just an outward solitude, right? You're in a situation now where there is little or no distraction but is there really inner solitude? Are you truly alone within? Have you truly got your mind to be silent and still, so there is no thought? No thought meaning that there is now just inner solitude. That is what it is meant by inner solitude when there is nothing, but this. What he says is, but rather we must learn to maintain an inner solitude regardless of where we are or who we are with. Even if you're with someone that you find completely annoying, your inner solitude should remain as it is. It shouldn't be disturbed in any way. If it is disturbed, that means we haven't got to that place. And it doesn't matter if we are around so many people, we don't have to be influenced by them. We can be completely strong in ourself because we know who we are and what we are. So this is something that we can do, that we can practice. Then he says we must learn to break through things and to grasp God in them. That's a very beautiful metaphor. We must learn to break through things. What does it mean by that? So when we see something, we must break its form and allow it to show the Formless. We should break the image and reveal the imageless, break the color and show the colorless. Then it says to grasp God in them, allowing him to take form in us powerfully and essentially. Therefore break your own form and allow this truth to be self revealed, allowing this God that once we thought was separate to be in complete oneness with us and therefore it takes our form. We see this as it functions in this world and we see It so powerfully and essentially, it is our essential nature. It's what makes us powerful. Hence, we can be in inner solitude. Then it says, thus, we should be permeated with a sense of a divine presence. So constantly, we should feel the essence of divinity around us. We should feel that Formless around us, this awareness is here, there, everywhere we go. No matter what, this presence remains with us. When we go to sleep, when we go to work, when we go to school, when we go to college, when we go for a drive, when we go on holiday and vacation, this divine presence is always here, always with us and this is what is being talked about. And be in-formed with the forms. In-formed. Be complete in that nature of our beloved God. He says our beloved God. Our shared being. It's our Formless Awareness. It is not just for the clergy. It's not just for the priest. It's not just for the higher ups in spirituality, the Guru and the sages. No, the shared being is everybody's. Anyone can access this. It doesn't matter what caste you are, what class you are, what race you are, what nationality you are, what gender you are, what sexual preferences you have. None of those things matter in this awareness. This divine presence can be felt in this, this Formless can be felt in this, this God that is ours belongs to everybody. Whenever someone tells you, this is what makes me laugh, that when religions say that this group of people should have less rights or this group of people aren't deserving. This group of people are not seen in the same eyes of God, or God does not approve of these people. Those people do not understand the 'our beloved God' bit. They don't understand how it's our shared being. They are so divided, they can never understand the oneness of God. So those people are not the ones that we should admire or even look up to. The moment any spiritual tradition or religious tradition or secular tradition takes you away from the oneness of being, consider that place to be something to stay away from. If something creates a separateness in you, a division in you and others because of the categories, in which they describe themselves, stay away from that tradition because only oneness is accepted in this and oneness is the only experience in this. Be so established in him that we see his presence effortlessly. We don't have to put any effort in, it just happens. It's as natural as breathing, you don't consciously have to keep breathing throughout the day. It's automatically happening. Likewise, this presence you can see, perceive, feel, experience effortlessly, and this can be done when you witness others, when you see others in that oneness. And then he says, and more than this remain unencumbered by anything. So do not be burdened by anything. Do not have the baggage of anything meaning the baggage of tradition, the baggage of culture. You don't need those things. That has nothing to do with spirituality. Those are nice additions maybe, but you don't need them. They're not essential. They're not necessary. What you can say is they're the non-essentials. The essential is just being Formless Awareness. So free of all things. Be free. Don't take anything that will be a burden upon you. Meaning a burden upon your spiritual journey, your spiritual pursuit. That is what is being meant here. And then the final line, but this will initially demand of us much application and concentration as any art does of one who will learn it. As we know, whenever we learn an instrument or we have to learn writing or learn editing or recording, any art, anything we do, even a degree of computer science or engineering or medicine, anything we need to put our complete attention and focus on it. We must apply those things and therefore the more we apply, the more we concentrate, the better we get at that skill. If we are to improve our spirituality, if we are to go further, we have to be completely committed to applying the teachings and concentrating on the teachings. So today, whatever we've learned from Meister Eckhart, it's not just about, you know, me talking about it and then editing, listening to it and then going off and doing whatever I please, no, I have to really work on this. I have to look within myself and say, do I experience the presence of this Formless Awareness effortlessly? If not, what can I do? Maybe I need to keep trying more in the day, be aware of this Formless Awareness, this presence, and the more I can, the better. I will conclude here is that these are very great words by Meister Eckhart and one that needs us to really focus upon, really think about, and if we've learned anything today, it's about applying the teachings, applying that oneness within. And really, I pray with this in the nature of the Christian tradition, I pray that we all understand our true nature and we understand what we truly are. That really there is a oneness between us and the one that reveals the truth, our Guru, our teacher, and in that oneness, what is also established is the oneness of what we may refer to as God or Nirguna Brahman or this Formless Awareness and that is the end of the episode. Please do share this podcast with your friends and family who may enjoy this content or this episode. Do follow me on social media to keep getting updates, subscribe to the monthly Bearded Mystic newsletter. Join the Bearded Mystic Podcast Discord channel, the details for all this are in the show notes and video description below. If you would like to support the Bearded Mystic podcast, do check out the podcast Patreon page, the details are in the show notes and video description below. Please do rate and review this podcast on our website, www.thebeardedmysticpodcast.com and the link for that is in the show notes and video description below. Do like and comment on this video and subscribe to this YouTube channel. I'd like to thank you again for listening and I wish you a wonderful week. Aum Shanti Shanti Shanti, Aum Peace Peace Peace. Namaste