Tracing Meister Eckhart’s philosophy using as our guide C.F. Kelley’s Meister Eckhart On Divine Knowledge, we have so far pulled back the veils of creaturely corporeality (5th Veil), sense perception (4th Veil), and even Rationality (3rd Veil). Behind the 2nd Veil (see previous post) we found that our Intuition could take us closer to God than mere Reason. But there is still one more Veil drawn between us and the Godhead…
It is difficult to comprehend completely what Eckhart tries to describe when he speaks of pulling back the innermost Veil, the First Veil Of God. Specifically, I feel Eckhart is unclear what has changed within us on our journey between the Second and First Veils.
Nevertheless, Eckhart says that when a person gets past the Final Veil and beholds “God naked,” he will realize deeply and fully “that God and I are one.” This has the ring of sacrilege, perhaps, to some ears– and, indeed, the Pope at the time labelled Meister Eckhart as a heretic. But here’s where Eckhart is coming from:
For Eckhart, “the knower and the known are one in knowledge,” so that when a “a detached soul dwells in the knowledge and love that God is” he “becomes none other than God.”
Eckhart, thinking very Vedically, describes how he can make so bold a claim:
“As the drop poured into the ocean is the ocean, not the ocean the drop, so the soul drawn into God is God, not God the soul.”
See where’s he coming from here?
We are God’s creation, and all God’s creation is within God, and thus we will forever be God.
“The eye wherein I see God is the same eye wherein God sees me,” says Eckhart. “My eye and God’s eye are one eye, one vision, one knowing, one love.”
With the setting aside of the First Veil surrounding God, we also set aside all distinctions between Subject and Object, and “oneness is effected.”
Stepping behind the Final Veil, we reach “Divine Selfhood,” a state of “pure awareness,” and there we become “the True Man” in our contemplation. Behind the First Veil, “all men are one Man, and that man is Christ eternal.” At that point, “between the only begotten Son and the soul, there is principally no real distinction.” You may can see how Eckhart got himself in trouble with the Pope here. You Swedenborgians out there can also see how Eckhart probably inspired some of Swedenborg’s spiritual ideas.
As Christ is the Eternal Word, the return of ourselves to the Divine Self is none other that “the return of the Word to the Father.”
Here, no longer separated from God, we fully participate in our Being and can “love as God loves.” As Kelley says, we will understand the procession from Unity to Multiplicity, and can follow the recession of Multiplicity back to the Unity.