Walking with God

Note: Let truth guide you, not us. Our humble disclaimer.

By Meister Eckhart

The righteous man is righteous still in any place and any company, and the unrighteous man is unrighteous still in every place and in all company.

The righteous man truly has God in him. But one who truly has God will have him in all places, in the streets and in the world no less than in the church, in the desert or in the home. If he has gotten Him indeed and gotten Him alone, He is proof against all hindrance. Why? Because having gotten God alone, he is ever bearing God alone in mind, is pregnant with God in all his acts as well as in all places, and all his works are being done by God.

So if we give our whole mind to God, then it is He in fact who is doing all our works, and nothing whatever can disturb Him, not company or place. Nor can anyone disturb the man who minds nothing, seeks nothing, relishes nothing but God, for God is united with this man in all his thoughts. As God is not disturbed by any multiplicity, so nothing can disturb or diversify this man who is one in the One where all multiplicity is one and homogeneous.

Man ought to lay hold of God in everything, and he should train his mind to have God ever-present in his thoughts, his intentions and his affections. Watch your attitude toward God. When you are in church or home, preserve that same frame of mind and take it out into the world, into its turmoil and its fitfulness.

As I often say, speaking of equability, this does not mean putting all action on a par—nor all places, nor all people. That would be quite wrong, for praying is a better act than spinning, and church is a better place than the street. What it does mean is being even-tempered in your dealings, having unfaltering faith, and bringing to God an unwavering devotion. Being in this sense equable, no one, I warrant, could come between you and your God. But anyone for whom God is not really within like this, who must always go and fetch him from outside, from this or that, seeking him in changing modes, perhaps in work or in places or people, that person is easily distracted for he has neither gotten God nor is not seeking him alone nor does not want nor mind him only.

Therefore, he is hindered not merely by bad company but also good, not merely by the streets but by the churches, not by foul words and deeds alone but by fair as well. The hindrance is in him because in him things have not all turned into God. For if they had, all would be well and good with him in every place and in all company. He would have gotten God whom no one can take from him.

Wherein does this true divine possession lie, this real God-getting? This real God-getting is a mental process, an inner turning of the mind and will toward God, not in one fixed and definite idea. It would be impossible for nature to hold it in the mind—or at least extremely difficult. Nor is this the best way.

We ought not to have or let ourselves be satisfied with any thought of God. When the thought goes, our God goes with it.

No, what we want is a real (subsistent) God who far transcends the thoughts of men and creatures. This God does not disappear unless we turn our back on him of our own accord.

He who had God thus, in reality, has gotten God divinely; to him God is apparent in all things. Everything smacks to him of God; everywhere God’s image stares him in the face. God is gleaming in him all the time. In him there is riddance and return; the vision of his God is ever present to his mind. Like a man with a mighty thirst, he may be doing things other than drinking and thinking other thoughts, but whatever he is doing or whoever he is with or whatever sort of temper he is in, no matter what he is working at or thinking, as long as the thirst lasts, the idea of drinking will never leave him. And as his thirst increases, the stronger, more deep-seated, more present, more persistent the notion of drinking will grow.

Or again, the ardent lover, wrapped up in some object and with no heart for other things, cares for that thing alone, not a jot for anything else. Well, wherever that man is and with whomever he is, whatever he is doing or undertakes to do, the idea of his beloved never fades from his mind. He finds it everywhere, and as his love grows stronger it haunts him more and more. Even so, this man will not be seeking rest, for no unrest disturbs him.

He finds more favor in God’s eyes if he takes everything to be divine, higher than the thing is in itself.

I grant you this needs effort, application, careful cultivation of the interior life, and good sound sense and understanding of where to keep the mind in things and with people. This is not learned by flight, nor is it learned by one who runs away from things, who turns his back upon the world and flees into the desert. One must learn to find the solitude within wherever or with whomever he may be. He must discover how to enter things and, seizing God therein, get a clear impression firmly rooted in his mind, just as one learns to write.

In order to acquire this art, a man must practice hard and often, however dull and troublesome it is and however much beyond him it may seem to be. With industry and patience he will get the knack.

True, at first he will have to pay attention to each letter and impress it firmly in his mind. But later on, when he has mastered it, he will pay no attention to those hieroglyphics but will write freely, completely untrammeled by them. Whether it is penmanship or cunning to which he puts his art, it is enough to know that he is going to use it. Though he pays only little attention to his task and things of something else, still he goes on doing it in virtue of his cunning.

And so this man in virtue of God’s presence goes on shining without effort. What is more, he is alive to one pure nature in all things while completely unoccupied with the things themselves. This in its early stages is a matter of attention and forming definite impressions, as it is with the scholar and his art. Finally, the mind of man pervades with a sense of God and thoroughly informed with the form of God and, accustomed to Him, is able to see Him without trying.

Meister Eckhart (1260-1327) was a German Dominican priest whose preaching was greatly popular during his own life and whose work continues today to play an important role for people seeking a direct connection with God.

1 Comment

  1. by Todd

    On November 9, 2014

    Very inspiring. I’ve read the same sentiment in Rumi and in Hindu and Buddhist texts. The Mystic’s experience is definitely universal. I like that he provides concrete advice about how to cultivate this state: mindfulness, applied always, to both the impactful and the mundane.

    It is difficult to maintain this state of mind throughout the day and in all circumstances. Samskaras seem ever lurking behind the corner. I run into the desert. I try to be aware that I am doing so but dont always succeed.

    I think that for some of us the resistance we have to this internal work stems from the pain of facing one’s demons and the challenge of cultivating trust and faith which may have been eroded by our painful experiences. Our pain becomes one major way we come to identify ourselves. So surrendering our pain is painful in itself. We fear how we will be able to define ourselves without it.

    I read somewhere recently that a sign of spiritual progress can be a change in personality. Letting go of our pain and learning to trust more could certainly cause such a change. When I’ve experienced such moments I have found it easier to become absorbed in the primordial Source supporting all things and easier to give, giving flows more freely. I wish this state would be easier to maintain, but I guess its what we are all here to work on.

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