Tuesday, September 25, 2012

To Live Inwardly

"For truly, insofar as it is something external that prompts you to act, to that extent your works are dead, and even if it is God who prompts you to act from outside, then such works too are dead. 

If your works are to be living works, then God must spur you to action from within, from your innermost part, if they are really to be alive. For that is where your own life is, and that is the sole place where you are truly alive."

—Meister Eckhart, Sermon 10

Esau was hairy — and Jacob was smooth skinned, like the beautiful Egyptian woman pictured above. Esau lived according to external characteristics and principles; he acted from outside, was a man of personality. 

Jacob, on the other hand, was devoted to inner qualities, a man in touch with his essence. Thus he deserved and earned the birthright that should have been his older brother's. 

The inner is the higher principle, always.

 Our innermost part is much higher than any other part of us. It's difficult, actually, to speak of this with words, and to discuss it publicly, because in fact our innermost part is so much higher that no words can encompass or convey its qualities. Truly, it has an uncorrupted, intact, and eternal nature; it is nothing like we are as we are. Yet there is a thread that can connect us to it.

Action in life can come from this innermost part, but only if the thread is functional. And that in itself is a big change. Even if I've heard of the thread, to have actual contact with it for anything more than a moment is a big thing; and to truly have this contact turn into a source of information, something inwardly formed that is directed outwardly, is very much different than how I usually am, which is to be outwardly formed and attempt through that to live inwardly.

 I think very carefully about this, because I begin to see my entire life is formed through this being outwardly, and attempting through that to live inwardly. The parts of me that are in need of good food for the soul thus go unfed; because they cannot derive their sustenance from the objects, events, circumstances and conditions of outward life, try though I may to arrange it this way.

 This is truly a mystery, because I don't know any other way of being. What else could there be? 

Things are just the way they are, this way, and that's it. Right?

 Only by opening to a new inward quality of a very different kind can I begin to understand this in another way. It's true; there are times when something outward which was created from an inward influence may suddenly touch me; I may see how something was actually inspired by a force from a higher level, or understand how an idea comes from a place much more powerful than my usual intellectual wiseacrering. Yet this isn't quite enough, because to be exposed to things which arose because of such influences is different than coming under the influence itself. And I need to become open, to come under, such influences from within myself in order for any real action to take place.

This is why Meister Eckhart says that God must spur me to action from within. There is a place within the soul, within the living and organic tissue and structure of a man's Being, that can receive material from God; that can receive an energy that will catalyze a transformation of the inner state. Even a very small amount of this can make a big difference in life; and yet it's so rare to encounter even a little of it.

 The old masters knew that constant prayer was necessary. Not just prayer on my knees; prayer in supermarkets, prayer on highways, prayer in the gardens and prayer in the banks. And prayer cannot just be a repetition of prayer in me. 

I need to begin to understand prayer as a living action that arises within each moment of life.

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