My churchlessness and agnosticism is adored by God. Yes, God looks upon me with more favor than all those worshipful Christians, Muslims, Jews and other religious types.
For God wants to be forsaken. Happy to oblige, my friend. It’s a pleasure to comply with the divine will.
I learned about what God wants from Meister Eckhart, the German theologian and mystic. He’s got some excellent doctrinal credentials, chief among them being accused of heresy by Pope John XXII.
You know that a Catholic is pointing toward the truth when he’s branded a heretic. So we need to take seriously the advice Eckhart proffered in one of his sermons.
Of course, it sounds astonishing to say that the soul should forsake God, but I assert that it is more important for the soul to forsake God to attain perfection than it is for the soul to forsake creatures, or all will be lost.
The soul must exist in a free nothingness. That we should forsake God is altogether what God intends, for as long as the soul has God, knows God, and is aware of God, she is far from God.
Now, it isn’t easy to understand Eckhart. He recognized that himself, concluding another sermon in this fashion.
Whoever has understood this sermon, I wish them well. Had no one been here, I would still have had to preach it to this collecting-box. There are some poor folk who return home and say, “I wish to sit down, to eat my bread and to serve God.” But I say by the eternal truth that these people shall remain in error and can never attain what those others attain who follow God in poverty and in exile. Amen.
D.T. Suzuki, a teacher of Zen, explains that for Eckhart “God” and “Godhead” are “as different as earth is from heaven.” Godhead is empty of everything that can be known, perceived, understood, comprehended. So, says Suzuki, to Eckhart pure nothing “is the highest point at which God can work in us as he pleases.”
With him God is still a something as long as there is any trace of movement or work or of doing something. When we come to the Godhead, we for the first time find that it is the unmoved, a nothing where there is no path to reach. It is absolute nothingness; therefore it is the ground of being from whence all beings come.
If this isn’t unclear enough, here are some additional Meister Eckhart quotations that have the delicious effect of overturning our unduly stable metaphysical apple cart.
But I say that if someone perceives something in God and gives it a name, then that is not God. God is above names and nature.
Taking leave of God for the sake of God is the greatest act of renunciation that someone can make.
Therefore we ask God to free us from “God” so that we may be able to grasp and eternally enjoy truth where the highest angels, the fly and the human soul are all one—in that place where I desired what I was and was what I desired.
Your soul should lose all her mental nature and should be left non-mental, for if you love God as “God,” as “Spirit,” as “Person,” as “Image,” then all this should be abandoned. You must love him as he is a non-God, a non-Spirit, a non-Person, a non-Image.
You are never better placed than when you are in complete darkness and unknowing.
Ah, thank you Meister Eckhart. I’m reassured that my meditation is going just fine.