Entering into the Ground of Being

We have been celebrating creation around us and within us, all 13.8 billion years of it, because, as poet Derrick Walcott tells us, “we must fall in love with the world in spite of history.” 

Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song,” performed by musicians around the world through the global nonprofit Playing For Change.

Especially when history becomes ugly and mean, we have to dig deep into the “ground of our being” and rejuvenate our passion for living, our passion for beauty, in order to stay grounded, be strong and commit to birthing a new future.

We arrive at the ground of being by meditating on beings and also by baring our minds of all thoughts and images.  This great emptying is conducted decidedly not to make us bliss bunnies or performers of strange feats such as levitations, bilocations, or other oddities.  No, the purpose of such deep unity is to render our work and our service effective so that it derives from our deep being and not compulsions to act. 

Rooted wisdom of tree-ness. Photo by Daniel Watson from Pexels

Eckhart declares:

Here God’s ground is my ground and my ground is God’s ground.  Here I live from my own as God lives from his own…Out of this inmost ground all your works should be wrought without Why.  I say truly, as long as you do works for the sake of heaven or God or eternal bliss from without…that is not the best.

In this way, Eckhart cautions against turning practice, even the practice of letting go, into an idol.   

Thich Naht Hanh says: “The ultimate dimension of reality has nothing to do with concepts.”  You cannot just describe and talk about apple juice—you must drink it. 

“Apples.” Photo by Marek Studzinski on Unsplash

Things cannot be described by concepts and words.  They can only be encountered by direct experience.

It is that experiential side of life and of tasting—whether of apple juice or of God—that gets overlooked in an overly rational, left-brain experience of life.  This is where dogmas and concepts interfere with spirituality which is about the God-experience and not concepts. 

We are talking about the death of every concept we may have of God in order to experience God as a living reality directly.

Doctrines can assist us to find the divine or to process our experiences when we do find it—but they are a means and not a goal.  The experience is the goal.

Eckhart says: “I pray God to rid me of God”–how like Thich Naht Hanh is that!

Thich Naht Hanh discusses why Buddha was reluctant to engage in a lot of God talk. 

Light and Darkness. Photo by Justin Dickey on Unsplash

The Buddha was not against God.  He was only against notions of God that are mere mental constructions that do not correspond to reality, notions that prevent us from developing our selves and touching ultimate reality.

In fact, “We know the Holy Spirit as energy and not as notions and words.”  More important “than notions and perceptions…is our direct experience of suffering and of happiness.”  In other words, undergoing the via positiva and the via negativa precedes language and concepts and doctrines.

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Meister Eckhart: A Mystic-Warrior for Our Times, pp. 43, 47, 48.

Banner Image: Embracing the Light. Photo by First name Last name on Unsplash

Queries for Contemplation

Isn’t it wonderful that we can all enter into the Ground of Being whether by way of creation meditation or by way of emptying meditation?  Or both?  Do you know the Holy Spirit as “energy” more than as notions or mere words?  

Recommended Reading

Meister Eckhart: A Mystic-Warrior For Our Time

While Matthew Fox recognizes that Meister Eckhart has influenced thinkers throughout history, he also wants to introduce Eckhart to today’s activists addressing contemporary crises. Toward that end, Fox creates dialogues between Eckhart and Carl Jung, Thich Nhat Hanh, Rabbi Heschel, Black Elk, Karl Marx, Rumi, Adrienne Rich, Dorothee Soelle, David Korten, Anita Roddick, Lily Yeh, M.C. Richards, and many others.
“Matthew Fox is perhaps the greatest writer on Meister Eckhart that has ever existed. (He) has successfully bridged a gap between Eckhart as a shamanistic personality and Eckhart as a post-modern mentor to the Inter-faith movement, to reveal just how cosmic Eckhart really is, and how remarkably relevant to today’s religious crisis! ” — Steven Herrmann, Author of Spiritual Democracy: The Wisdom of Early American Visionaries for the Journey Forward

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11 thoughts on “Entering into the Ground of Being”

  1. Avatar

    Yes, language and words are approximations and are not reality (Zen Koan: WORDS ARE TRAPS). Words are “helpers” that lead Us to the “ground of being” that is beyond the reasoning of language. This “ground of being” is the same in each of Us. If you are resistant to change and have rigid (fixed) ideas (Chinese proverb: A rigid tree breaks in the wind) about how the everyday “mix” of interacting affairs (energy) works (this concept or notion is true reality and that concept or idea or opinion is true reality) you will remain fixed in you positions and never get fully to the ground of Our “shared being. Our “shared being” is beyond language. Our minds have to be “open minded” and not “closed minded.” I’m right and you’re wrong or things should be this way (my way) does not take in the “whole.” Thinking that cogitates in “absolutes” stems from the state of being “separate.” It is my hope that the “helper words” that were written here help.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Gary, there is truth that is beyond words. You site a Zen koan, and meditation on koans, which do not make any intellectual sense are there to help us break through our ordinary thinking and reach what Eckhart called “Breakthrough.” There is a ground of being which the German theologian, Paul Tillich spoke of, and he meant that God is the ground of our being. Eckhart however, used the word “isness” instead and said, “Isness is God.”

  2. Avatar
    Susan D Starkey

    Yes! It is so wonderful to meditate from the ground of being, getting out of my “head” and noticing the energy flowing from the soles of my feet past the tip of my head. Experiences in nature, even just recalling them, bring me closer to the Mystery these days than any reading of concepts, doctrine, etc. Truly allowing the via negativa experiences, trusting them, also opens me. I love that you bring in our sense of taste- “taste and seek the goodness….” as it’s ALL about the experience of the moment. Thank you, Matthew and Team.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      You’re welcome Susan. We are so glad that we can be an inspiration for you and our other readers. And “Taste and see if the Lord is good!”

  3. Avatar
    Jeanette Metler

    Really enjoyed the insightfullness shared in today’s DM. It was for me so very rich, which opens me to ponder the juicyness of simply just taking it all in. I am truly grateful for these DMs and the sharing that unfolds within this sacred space, as well as the opportunity to participate. Thank You to all whom make these DMs available, for the messages are truly food that feeds the soul.

  4. Avatar

    I appreciate your meditations along with the art and activism you include. I loved that you included Bob Marley’s Redemption song which brought back life changing memories of experiencing the guide of our visceral tour of the slavery museum in Curaçao singing this song to us. I telephoned my travelling companion who was also profoundly moved by that experience. We entered into a cramped dark galley of a ship where African people were forced to row to America. We saw the whipping post stained in blood and heard several horror stories of torture but then our guide reminded us that notions of supremacy and racism are not just in the past but still prevalent today and he sang the redemption song.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Theresa, I am a musician and I love the music of Bob Marley–especially the Redemption song. When you speak of the slavery museum, and your experience in the galley of the ship which slaves were forced to row on, the whipping post and torture–racism is not over yet. So I too that he played the Redemption song today as well. God bless you Theresa !!!

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