Eckhart’s “Five Veils Of God”: The Fifth and Fourth

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Still following Kelley’s Meister Eckhart On Divine Knowledge, we find Meister Eckhart describing the ultimate reality of the Divine as being hidden by the Five Veils Of God.

The Fifth Veil, the outermost, is the Veil of basic Life– encompassing little more than nutriment and digestion.  Algae, starfish, oak trees, human beings… all living creatures share in this Veil at their most fundamental level.  Things here participate in Being, yes, but not a whole lot else, spiritually speaking.

“Life is common to me and the trees,” says Eckhart.  “I have Being in common with all creatures.”

As God is hidden behind all five Veils at this level, beings remaining at the Fifth Veil basically have no idea of God–  yet here, behind all the veils, God most certainly Is.

The Fourth Veil, says Eckhart, is the Veil of sensory perception– including not only the world as sensed by life, but also the awareness of these physical cues.  Thus, the Fourth Veil is higher than, or embraces more than, the Fifth Veil in at least two ways:  1) here, we are not just functionally alive, but perceiving the world around us, and  2) we possess the “thinking power” and are aware of these perceptions and can, and do, react to them.

“Bodily nature, itself, does not distinguish between the thing and the idea,” says Eckhart, but it is the thinking power that “gives form to sense presentations and associates one with another.”

God is still very much hidden as we pull back the Fourth Veil, but we are getting closer.  My next post will be about peering behind the Third Veil Of God.

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