Though there be neither hell
nor heaven yet I will love God: thee Father and thy sovran nature wherein the
Trinity abides in the unity whence it gets its power. -- Now you desire to hear
about this hidden and exalted nature of the Trinity. The Persons are God in
their personality, Godhead by nature in their oneness. But you must
know what God and Godhead are. The former has distinctions; which the soul of me
explains by the reflection of the exalted unity. This shines in its own essence
wholly indiscriminate. Therein is contained the unity entire, including
the distinctions of lofty personality. The river is fontal wherein unity
abides; the one alone is unnecessitous, poised in itself in sable
stillness. Incomprehensible and yet self-evident. Light is the first thing
to appear; it beguiles the mind into the unknown without itself, everlasting,
in-drawn, plunged in gloom. There it is befooled, there it is bereft of light's
darkness, losing them both in the abyss; there that mysterious thing the mind is
estranged in the unity which is withal its life.
O unfathomable sink, in thy depth thou art high in thy height profound! -- How so? -- That is hidden from us in thy bottomless abysm. St Paul declares that it shall be made known to us. In this gnosis the mind transcends itself; it has been absorbed into the Trinity. There the mind dies all dying in the wonder of the Godhead, for with that unity it is confused; the personal losing its name in sameness. There mind, atoned, is accounted naught; there it loses the means of divinity. Light and darkness, it is rid of both, matter as well as form. The spark thus bare, made naught from its own naught, is swallowed up in its naught's aught. This same naught is poverty in the Persons, which beguiles the mind and reduces it to unity. In the embrace of this sovran one which naughts the separated self of things, being is one without distinction although a thing created in its individual nature. The one I mean is wordless. One and one united, void shines into void. Where these two abysms hang, equally spirated, de-spirated, there is the supreme being; where God gives up the ghost, darkness reigns in the unknown known unity. This is hidden from us in his motionless deep. Creatures cannot penetrate this aught.
Well that this aught transcends us.
Even so loving it transcendently,
Plunge in: this is the drowning.
THIS IS THE GLOSS ON THE DROWNING
It is true spiritual perfection to
love God for his own sake regardless of hell or heaven. We must love the three
Persons in their unity of nature and their one nature in the three Persons. The
Trinity has its power in the unity and the unity has its dignity in the Trinity.
It belongs, moreover, to the noble mind to perceive the distinctions between God
and Godhead: how it is the three Persons in him have gotten his unity as their
natural being. Each Person has for nature his entire unity, so each of the
Persons is in himself God and in his nature Godhead. God is God in the Persons
and Godhead in his nature: in his impartible nature. The unity shines forth in
the Trinity as articulate speech. But the perfect reflection of the one is
shining by itself in lonely silence, there safely pent as one and
indivisible. Further, the three Persons in their utterance keep their
distinctive properties. The Father is the source of the Son and the Son is the
river abiding within him in essence. The Father and the Son give forth their
breath (or spirit). Thus the originated river with its original source is the
origin of the Holy Ghost. Unity which, logically speaking, is the condition of
the original source is also the condition of the river which, together with its
source, is the source of the Holy Ghost. And as this oneness is the nature of
them both so too it is the nature of the breath exhaled by both. The river then
is fontal. The unity which is in them both is unnecessitous, it has no need of
speech, but subsists alone in unbroken silence. Not that the utterance dies, i.e.
the spoken essence. But where speech beats into the silence of its nature
both have one common character, the character of sameness. What is this? It is
the motionless dark that no one knows but he in whom it reigns: the one with its
selfhood. First to arise in it is light. Lo, this is the originated river, and
origin itself, which has the character of light as proceeding forth in its
individual nature. And what here streams forth to view will reveal itself and
that from which is springs. In its interior procession this originated river,
which is also the origin of itself, has the nature of obscure, unmanifest
intelligence, but the light proceeding froth brings revelation to the mind,
beguiling it out of itself into its mysterious indwelling cause. There it is
shorn of light's illusion. Of everything, that is, which has been revealed to it
in the form of light. Thereof it is despoiled, but now it finds another and
better than this light-like understanding. Light has mode without knowledge.
Darkness is knowledge without mode, a thing, that is, we can in nowise have. The
mind is rid of light when it is rid of mode; and it is rid of darkness when
letting go of all natural things, it sinks in nameless actuality. Then it loses
both light and darkness in the abyss that creature in its own right never
plumbs. Such is the estrangement in one as foreshadowed in the ordinary mind,
but the realization of unity which the blessed have lies in the exquisite
consciousness of another than themselves.
O unfathomable void, bottomless to creatures and to thine own self, in thy depth art thou exalted in thy impartible, imperishable actuality; in the height of thy essential power thou art so deep thou dost engulf thy simple ground which is there concealed from all that thou are not; yet those whom thou wouldest commune with shall know thee with thyself. As St Paul declares, 'Then shall we know as we are known.' This knowledge the mind gets not from its individual nature: the unity hales it to the Three into itself, that is, to its true and natural abode where it transcends itself in what it inhales; where 'the spirit dies all dying in the wonder of the Godhead.' This dying of the spirit means its confusion with the one essential nature though it remains discrete in the Persons of the Trinity. This shows the activity of spirit; its having variety of Persons. But by their union is shed a single light, for the three Persons are aglow with one intrinsic nature, like three lights with one shine. According to St Augustine this essential light is cast by the Persons into the pure spirit. At its glance the spirit forfeits self and selfhood and the uses of its power. Such is the effect of the shaft of pure impartible light of unity which this spirit is rather than itself when it is reduced to nothing but the same. We call the unity naught because mind has no notion of what it is; What the mind does know is that it is upheld by another than itself. Its upholder then is aught rather than naught, though mind has no idea what it can be. It is more real to him than his own self in that it belies his personal naught. For mind, as actually dwelling there, loses every means of divine nature, which to him is all things. He loses his individual nature and yet he does not die; he wins the nature of divinity although not God by nature but by grace. Now remember, he is something created out of naught. Yet he, a mere created wight, is drawn by the power of God's essence into his unity, a thing unknown in anywise to any creature. This unity which is in nowise creaturely is poverty, for it is poor of creatures, its content being that of simple actuality. This modeless creature-essence is the being of the Persons who alone contain it in its most primitive and simple form as their nature. This knowledge de-ments the mind. This spiritual dementia means the absolute modeless of the unity which the Persons have in actual mode. The spirit broods in sameness without light or darkness. Sans light, in its impenetrable actuality; sans darkness in its lack of any special name. The spirit free from matter and from form has taken on the form of God. Thus the mind attains to its eternal image which is one in its essential nature and threefold as uttered in the Persons. Though the spirit of this image has entered of its own yet in itself it is a thing created. This created thing is mens; by mens being meant the spark, the living principle of spirit. This is the spirit in itself. Its eternal image is another; this is really God. When the spirit in itself turns from all things becoming into the not-becoming of its eternal object in the Persons, whence it comes, then the mind is said to return to its exemplar. Then void shines into void; the purified becomingness of mind turns to the pure not-becoming nature of its eternal idea. In this embrace is consummated the exalted union wherein at length the spirit at one with all its nature is in divine atonement. Where these two meet in one, equally spirit and not-spirit, there is beatitude.
Now consider what the spirit of God means. The most significant and subtile word that creatures can employ is spirit (breath or ghost) and that is why we call God spirit. But creature has no proper name for the nameless God and therefore to our mind God is not spirit.
Mark too the meaning of spirituality of soul. It means that, aloof from the coil of nether things, she is living at her summit in thought and love. Here she is one spirit with God. Spirituality of soul, besides, means that in her aught she is no more material than in her naught wherefrom she was created. Such is the spiritual nature of the soul. But she is de-spirited (de-mented) when, at her absorption, she is what is his rather than her own, and, this is the perfection of her sanity. The interior spiration of God, again, is his hidden nature, the quarry of the mind which it escapes; for this mysterious and silent one lies hid in depths of stillness that no creature ever plumbs. This being is beyond our grasp, whereat, rejoicing greatly, let us hasten to seize it with itself: this is our highest happiness. So be it, by thy help, O divine Trinity. Amen.
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