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Meister Eckhart

The Process of Self-Transformation

or Spiritual Regeneration

Eckhart describes three states or phases of entanglement or lack of it in the transformation process leading to God-consciousness or "God intoxication":

1- The State of Being Attached

In their ordinary state, at present, people's attentions are occupied with creaturely worldly things, or "this and that," and, consequently, they become "attached" to these evanescent objects and events--"the work and things to which you are possessively attached."

Some may be attached to their work, others to family and friends, many to worldly fame and honors; some may be concerned with the "failings of other men." Many people "direct all their aims and intelligence toward transient possessions."

"These are the sort of men who never have any thought of God in their actions, who do not care or consider what is good or evil, pleasing God or displeasing. They throw all that behind them as an old woman might throw away bad eggs or rotten apples and their sole concern is how to gain honors, wealth and pleasure."

Persons who are more spiritually-directed may also be "possessively attached" not to wealth or other material concerns, but to a spiritual technique like prayer, fasting, vigils, etc., to the extent that they will care excessively about these. Eckhart frequently declares that the key attachment is to the self: it is "my" worldly gain, "my" wealth, and "my" pleasures that we frequently seek. We run after our own spiri-tual insights. All worldly activities, all sense of personal pride, advantage or satisfaction inevitably revolve around the attachment to self.

"The Soul's own honor, her advantage or anything that is hers, she should no more desire or heed than what is a stranger's. Whatever is anyone's property should not be distant or alien to her, be it bad or good. All the love of the world is based on the love of the self."

One becomes enslaved by one's attachments. Attracted to "this or that"--whether it be wealth, honor, sensible or spiritual consolations--the soul pulls those things "into herself through the senses," thereby including those objects, sensations or experiences in her sense of herself. (This is the first way in which we become possessed by attachments.) She comes to feel these objects and experiences as intimately bound up in her. The soul thereby becomes "constricted" and confined into them.

"By focusing on a mere object, one's powers are dissipated toward and into them."
"Now there are some men who completely dissipate the powers of the soul in the outward man. These are the people who direct all their aims and intelligence toward transient possessions. . . ."

One's energies and attentions are used up or "spent" on these things, and as Eckhart said, "For as long as you want more and more, God cannot dwell or work in you." The core of the phenomenon of Eigenschaft or attachment, then, is not mere "possession" or "ownership," but the connection or relationship which a person feels between himself or herself and these possessions.

"A man once came to me--it was not long ago--and told me he had given up a great deal of property and goods, in order that he might save his soul. Then I thought: Alas! How paltry are the things you have given up. It is blindness and folly, so long as you care a jot for what you have given up."

This man had a psychological and emotional attachment to these possessions which was even more insidious than the economic connection with them, and his giving up of them did not cure the problem of his attachment. Such a personal "investment in things," having pro-prietorship over them, causes a person to be possessed in two ways. First, the soul, through attachments, can be emotionally swayed in all directions, and therefore the tides of fortune can dominate one's emotional stability, disrupting one's sense of inner integrity. One becomes overly joyful or overly sorrowful.

"The summit of the soul is . . . brought so low by . . . joys as to be drowned in pleasure. [It does not] rise resolutely above them. . . . Creaturely joys and sorrows [have the power] to drag down the top-most summit of the soul."

Attachments possess a person in the second way such that when someone is concerned about something, he or she will devote themselves to activities which advance and validate it as an agenda, be they for ego boosting or for spiritual advancement. Such activities preoccupy the person with the requirements of the activity and distract him from the more spontaneous life of freedom which leads to Self-realization.

"Your soul will bear no fruit until it has done this work to which you are possessively attached, and you too will have no trust in God or in yourself before you have done the work you embraced with attachment, for otherwise you will have no peace. . . . Action of the attached man springs from attachment to the task and not from freedom."

The psyche which is attached is imprisoned because it is preoccupied with accomplishing that to which it is attached. Attached to things, people and circumstances, the eigenschaft person will be emotionally self-centered, a victim of the anger and passions with which his or her over-involvement with others and with things leave him. For him the lower emotional manifestations of desire and anger become actual demons with which he must contend. ". . . if any things anger him, he is not yet perfected."

--Source Unknown


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