Meister Eckhart says this about our work: “God and the soul are very fruitful as they eternally do one work together.” He explains how this comes about:
The ‘he’ of God and the ‘I’ of me share one ‘is’ and in this ‘isness’ do one work eternally.
To speak of God working in us and through us and our work is to speak of what Eckhart calls the “one work” of the universe. All work in the universe is connected, all 13.8 billion years and all 2 trillion galaxies of it.
A cosmology teaches us that there is only one work going on in the universe, the “Great Work” of creation itself—the work of creation unfolding, the work of evolution or creativity in the universe. If we consider the big picture, we can see that there is only one work in the universe. The universe itself is a single ongoing drama, and we and our work are part of it.
All energy is one; indeed, energia is the Greek word for work. Physicist Erich Jantsch puts it this way:
Meaning emerges from a sense of connectedness. If we ask somebody for the meaning of his ambitions, his hectic life and his grabbing, we usually hear that it is not for himself, but for his children, that he suffers all this. This is already an act of self-transcendence…. The need for meaning proves to be a powerful, autocratically factor in the evolution of human consciousness—and thus indeed of the evolution of [humankind] and the universe.
The poet Rilke speaks of “the great work” and of the gap we feel in our work lives, cut off as we are from the Great Work:
For somewhere there is an ancient enmity
between our daily life and the great work.
Help me, in saying it, to understand it.
Just being able to name the reality of a Great Work in the universe has the power to restore our dignity and to restore dignity to our work. The last line of this passage from Rilke also contains a kind of prayer, the hint of a persona, presence in the universe that attends to our honest yearning to understand. The Great Work is the Great Mystery. We need prayerful help in understanding so great a mystery.
The ancient Scriptures of India celebrated this same sense of the one Great Work of the universe. In the Bhagavad Gita we read:
If ever my work had an end, these worlds would end in destruction, confusion would reign within all: this would be the death of all beings…. All actions take place in time by the interweaving of the forces of Nature; but the person lost in selfish delusion thinks that he himself is the actor.
Our work links us to one another; but also to the universe; and to time. And to the Divine, the Holy Spirit.
Adapted from Matthew Fox, The Reinvention of Work, pp. 61, 63-64.
Banner image: “Flammarion.” Wood engraving representing the scientific or mystical quests for knowledge. First published by Camille Flammarion, 1888; Color : Hugo Heikenwaelder, 1998; Changes: Jürgen Kummer, 2010. On Wikimedia Commons.
Queries for Contemplation
Do you derive meaning from your connectedness in doing work that benefits others? Is this how you manifest your love of others?
When (and if) the coronavirus runs its course will you bring that wisdom to your work in new ways?
Natural Grace: Dialogues on Creation, Darkness, and the Soul in Spirituality and Science
by Matthew Fox and Rupert Sheldrake
Natural Grace, a 208 page inspired dialogue between theologian Matthew Fox and scientist Rupert Sheldrake, unites wisdom and knowledge from unconventional angles. Considering themselves heretics in their own fields, Matthew and Rupert engage the conversation from postmodern and post-postmodern perspectives, deconstructing both religion and science—while setting the foundation for a new emerging worldview. Having outgrown the paradigms in which they were raised, both Fox and Sheldrake see it as part of their life missions to share the natural synthesis of spirituality and science rooted in a paradigm of evolutionary cosmology.