Giving Birth to Word, and Voice Versa (1.21.11)
It's as if physicists arbitrarily begin with the Constitution, when it is necessary to go back to the Declaration of Independence in order to understand the "ground" of the Constitution, i.e., our sacred rights and duties that can only have a supernatural origin. Otherwise, the Constitution rests in thin air and has no metaphysical foundation, otherwise known as the lefthound path to godlessness and judicial tyranny. "People often think their love of truth or of freedom is natural to them, but in reality the natural person does not love either truth or freedom" (Bolton).
Now consider this: God is in everything, but God is nowhere as much as he is in the soul. There, where time never enters, where no image shines in, in the innermost and deepest aspect of the soul, God creates the whole cosmos. --Meister Eckhart
Eckhart is speaking of the creation of the cosmos, not the universe. Here again, whatever physicists may say about the universe, it is critical to bear in mind that they are not talking about anything ultimately "real" in the philosophical sense, but simply an abstraction they use to frame and understand their data.
But the cosmos is very different from this. No one actually lives in the cold and dead universe of physics, which is technically uninhabitable. Rather, we live in a cosmos that we co-create within the ground of the soul. The cosmos is a preconception through which we are able to connect the objective and subjective worlds. Thus, as Bolton points out, the soul is "a sphere of consciousness which contains the physical universe in its own mode, and many more subtle realities besides" (emphasis mine).
Put another way, the soul is "the container of our world-representation." The ego is merely an adaptation to the world (both the external world and the wider world of consciousness), whereas the soul is actually a cosmos -- an ordered totality -- that both mirrors and creates the experienced cosmos. Otherwise, there would be no cosmos, only a linear succession of disconnected perceptions and sensations.
Still not getting it? No, Petey, we're not. Could you dumb this existentialada down a couple of nachos?
Okay, let's go back to the first principles office: "as above, so below"; and "man is made in the image and likeness of the creator." And while we're at it, let's toss in another, "the unexamined life is worth laughing at." If we take the time to examine ourSelves, we see that perception is obviously some sort of "mirror" of reality. But naive scientism reduces this to a "horizontal" mirror, so that their motto might be something along the lines of "as outside, so inside." In other words, there is nothing in the mind (let alone, soul) that didn't come in through the senses, one way or the other.
Such a worldview results in the abolition of man, since it subverts the proper relation of inner to outer, or soul to universe, making us an unnecessary consequence of the material world, instead of the material world being a necessary consequence of consciousness as such. Understood in the proper way, reason is not a "higher" aspect of nature, but the most accessible form of the supernatural.
Likewise, we are not simply an anonymous "part" of the cosmos, unless it is understood that the part is in the whole, and that man alone is like a miniature golf course where it is possible for an ordinary person to be a whole-in-One. Furthermore, all acts of real knowledge are like a "conversation with God," so that the belief that we create our own knowledge "is only a little less absurd than believing that one is one's own creator" (Keys of Gnosis).
To say that we are in the image and likeness of the creator does not necessarily imply that we should begin our inquiry with our received ideas about the creator -- which carries the danger of being a circular and self-confirming undertaking; rather, we begin at the other end, with ourselves, in order to gain insight into the nature of the Divine Mind through analogy, i.e., "as below, so above." God is just like us. And then some!
Remember the example of the tree reflected in the lake. Standing on the opposite shore, we will see an exact image of the tree, except that it will be upside-down, with the top of the tree closest to our feet.
That's called a hint. You might say that God is closer to us than we are to ourselves, despite -- or, more precisely, because of -- being so (vertically) distant. In other worlds, he is way over yonder, across the lake and up that tree; and yet, right down here, with his treytop at our toetips. At risk of tossing pearls at your piggies, you can actually learn a lot about God from the feats of clay. This is the key to understanding many of Eckhart's most orthoparadoxical statements, which may sound unserious to the casuist listener, but were nevertheless disclosed with the utmost levitas. For example,
If I spent enough time with the tiniest creature -- even a caterpillar -- I would never have time to prepare a sermon. So full of God is every creature.
Speaking of hints and analogies, who knows how Man alone is able to take refuge in his christalis and caterpult his buddhafly up to the heavens? I love butterflies. They're my very favorite animalogy. For,
The seed of God is in us. Now the seed of a pear tree grows into a pear tree; and a hazel seed grows into a hazel tree; a seed of God grows into God.
Of course. But what sort of coconsciousness grows in a cocoon? I know the answer, but why don't you tell me? For it is written, as of this moment: Only a mediocre man is always at his best, but a Coon is always falling short.
Whereas all beings are "sown" in the world as creatures of Fate, the purpose of life is to develop from this to free will and individuation. This can be helped by a deeper understanding of one's origins. --Bolton, Keys of Gnosis
(All Eckhart quotes taken from Meditations With Meister Eckhart)