Eckhart on Compassion and Justice – Cont.

Eckhart continues his rich meditations on compassion and justice. 

“Compassion for animals is intimately associated with goodness of character, and it may be confidently asserted that he who is cruel to animals cannot be a good man.” A. Schopenhauer Photo by Antón Jáuregui on Unsplash.

Where justice is at work, you are at work, because you could not but do the works of justice. Yes, even if hell were to interfere with the course of justice, you still would do the works of justice, and hell would not constitute any suffering; hell would be joy because you yourself would be justice, and that is why you could not but do the works of justice.

Indeed, it is our just works that make us live. For the just person as such to act justly is to live; indeed, justice is his life, his being alive, his being, insofar as he is just.

Like life itself, justice is its own reward. The just person lives and works without reason of gain. As much as life has the reason for living in itself, in that same way the just person knows no other reason for being just. Justice is the reason for justice. Just work is the reason for work.

To work without a why is to work from one’s inner self. Therefore, Eckhart advises the person interested in good work to enter into your own ground and work there, and these works which you work there will all be living.  Living works come from where life is: from our inner core where no why or wherefore enters, where all is one.

His Holiness, The Dalai Lama, sharing remarks on Compassion and Conflict Resolution. Remarks shared at Stanford University and posted on the Stanford YouTube Channel.

God’s ground is my ground and my ground is God’s ground. Here I live on my own as God lives on his own… You should work all your works out of his innermost ground without a why. Indeed, I say, so long as you work for the kingdom of heaven, or for God, or for your internal happiness and thus for something outward, all is not well with you.

Outside motivation is not worthy of the deep work we do. It separates us from our work and alienates us from our inner self. That way lies spiritual and personal death. When we work in that fashion our work is dead work.  For a person’s deeds to be alive, they have to come from within, not from something alien and outside himself.

Short news clip showcasing poet, peace activist, and priest, Fr. Daniel Berrigan SJ who committed his life to ongoing prophetic action for a more justice world. Video posted to the Religion and Ethics NewsWeekly, YouTube Channel.

Eckhart offers some deep wisdom by which to be and to work when he declares: People should not think so much about what they ought to do, but they should remember what they are. Now if people and their ways are good, their works might shine forth brightly. If you are just, then your works are also just.

One does not think of basing holiness on one action, one should base holiness on being. For works do not sanctify us, but we should sanctify the works… One should apply oneself with all diligence to being good, not so much to what one should do, of what nature the works are, but of what nature the ground of the works is.

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Passion For Creation: The Earth-Honoring Spirituality of Meister Eckhart, pp. 467f. 

Banner Image: Two brothers watching the sunset together. Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash.

Queries for Contemplation

We are urged to think less about what we do; and more about who we are.  Does that teaching resonate with you?  What follows from that?

Do you care about justice such that justice is your life?  Your being alive?  Your being?  What follows from that?

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