Spark of the Soul as Cosmic Christ in Merton & Eckhart

Merton talks about Eckhart’s “Christian doctrine of creation” in which he recognizes that the distinction between Creator and creature does not have the last word.  “A basic unity within ourselves at the summit of our being where we are ‘one with God’” prevails. 

“Cosmic Consciousness: The more you know about consciousness, the more you know about Buddha or God.” Image by Hartwig HKD on Flickr.

That is the image of God in us, the “spark of the soul” in Eckhart’s language, that can also be called the Cosmic Christ.  Merton writes that

something like the ‘New Man’ of Christianity, as understood by the Christian mystics (including the Apostles)” is at work.  “’I live,’ said Paul, ‘now not I but Christ lives in me.’

Merton pivots to the Buddhist understand of the Buddha Nature in all things.  “In Zen enlightenment, the discovery of the ‘original face before you were born’ is the discovery not that one sees Buddha but that one is Buddha…”   

Merton recognizes the Cosmic Christ—the Christ in all beings—as parallel to the Buddha Nature experience in Buddhism and in doing so is echoing Meister Eckhart.  Consider this poem entitled “O Sweet Irrational Worship.”

The consciousness of Nature: “Tree of Life.” Image by Daniel Arrhakis on Flickr.

Wind and a bobwhite
And the afternoon sun.
By ceasing to question the sun
I have become light,
Bird and wind.
My leaves sing.
I am earth, earth
All these lighted things
Grow from my heart. 

One commentator on this poem says: “The earth song conveys Merton’s consciousness of the ground of being.”  Indeed it does—and it is Eckhart’s consciousness also.  It is a profound Cosmic Christ consciousness telling of the light in all things, ourselves included.  We are all Cosmic Christs. 

And all beings are: “Life is this simple: We live in a world that is absolutely transparent.  The divine is shining through it all the time.  This is not just a nice story or a fable—it is true.” 

Eckhart does not limit his theology to our being other Christs but to our acting like other Christs and imitating him and his compassion in our actions.  He says that we are to be 

Peaceful warriorhood: Asya Serpinska, 77-year-old Hostomel Animal Shelter owner, went toward the front lines to rescue pets and zoo animals caught in the fighting. Washington Post

doing his works [and] behaving exactly like Jesus….Christ says here, ‘Follow me’…‘follow’ is a command to act….Mold yourself in all your works on his pattern.    

In his New Seeds of Contemplation Merton writes: If we believe in the Incarnation of the Son of God, there is no one on earth in whom we are not prepared to see, in mystery, the presence of Christ.  

And again, We do not see the Blinding One in black emptiness.  He speaks to us gently in ten thousand things….He shines not on them but from within them.

Adapted from Matthew Fox, A Way To God: Thomas Merton’s Creation Spirituality Journey, pp. 229-233.  

And Matthew Fox, Passion for Creation: The Earth-Honoring Spirituality of Meister Eckhart, p. 347.

To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner Image: “Cosmic Consciousness: Growing awareness and a consciousness expanding into the cosmic frame liberate the ego from its annoying inner conflict. ” Image by Hartwig HKD on Flickr

Queries for Contemplation

Do you find the Christ, the Buddha Nature, the Image of God not so much shining on things as shining from within things?  Have you also become light and earth and bird?

Recommended Reading

A Way to God: Thomas Merton’s Creation Spirituality Journey

In A Way to God, Fox explores Merton’s pioneering work in interfaith, his essential teachings on mixing contemplation and action, and how the vision of Meister Eckhart profoundly influenced Merton in what Fox calls his Creation Spirituality journey.
“This wise and marvelous book will profoundly inspire all those who love Merton and want to know him more deeply.” — Andrew Harvey, author of The Hope: A Guide to Sacred Activism

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17 thoughts on “Spark of the Soul as Cosmic Christ in Merton & Eckhart”

  1. Avatar

    And CG JUng says:
    Nothing crosses my path which is not God

    And Teilhard de Chardin says:
    By virtue of Creation…….
    nothing here on earth is profane.

    It is resoundingly the word of God we hear when it crops up all over what we currently read/hear!

  2. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    Matthew, Today our Queries for Contemplation are: (1) “Do you find the Christ, the Buddha Nature, the Image of God not so much shining on things as shining from within things?” That is the image of God in us–the “spark of the soul” in Eckhart’s language–that can also be called the Cosmic Christ. Merton says, “In Zen enlightenment, the discovery of the ‘original face before you were born’ is the discovery not that one sees Buddha but that one is Buddha…” And so we have here touched on the “image of God,” the “spark of the soul,” the Buddha Nature and the Cosmic Christ.
    (2) “Have you also become light and earth and bird?” The words to this question come from Merton’s poem: “O Sweet Irrational Worship” which has these lines:
    Wind and a bobwhite
    And the afternoon sun.
    By ceasing to question the sun
    I have become light,
    Bird and wind.
    My leaves sing.
    I am earth, earth
    All these lighted things
    Grow from my heart.
    I am not one to analyze a poem like it was a mathematical equation, but I think that I can say that I also become light, bird and earth. I say this because I don’t hide “my light” under a bushel, but put my “lighted candle” upon lampstand it lights the whole house! (Matt. 5:14-16). And I’m a bird in the sense that I embody the Holy Spirit who is symbolized as a bird, i.e. dove (Matt. 3:16-17). I am also earth, for in the story of the Fall Adam is told that “dust you are, and unto dust you shall return” (Gen. 3:19), while enlarging on the Genesis 3:19, Ecclesiastes says concerning death: “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was, and the spirit shall return to God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7).

  3. Avatar
    Jeanette Metler

    In my shamanic teachings, we learnt of what is called, Earth Astrology. This spiritual path taught… that throughout the evolution of the souls journey… from the very beginning of the creation of the earth… each one’s incarnated consciousness lived as a rock, stone, gem, or crystal… as well as a manifestation expressed in the plant world… as a type of grass, grain, fruit, flower, or standing tree… then as one within the animal world… as a creepy crawler, a swimmer, a four legged, or a winged one… and then as a human… red, black, white and yellow… male and female. The conscious memory, the experience of this… is apart of our evolutionary soul’s journey… passed on and made known to us as our birth totems and talismans. This Earth Astrology mirrors the teachings within today’s DM that the mystics awakened to… which the shamans and medicine men and women of Indigenious cultures and the spirituality within this, have kept preserved, hidden and protected since the beginning, down through the ages… pictorially, orally and ceremonially… passing on the conscious awareness of this spark of the Divine Mystery of the light of the living soul of the Creator present in its essence within the all and the everything… which we have shared in the experience of… since the beginning… as many streams eminating from the One.

  4. Avatar

    Revealed by Scripture, and confirmed by unitive(or mystical) consciousness, and quantum physics, it is mainly from the innermost of living things that the great mysteries of growth, transformation, healing and evolution generate and unfold. As with Merton in his Louisville experience, one must first have a breakthrough in awareness to realize same, and be born into this luminous, liminal kingdom, experiencing a foretaste of divinity “on earth as it is in heaven.” And to do so not only once, but multiple times. This mysterious generative force is coinherent in matter, programmed to create, recreate, and grow things from within and from without, as they take in light, nutrition and water. The entire universe is aglow (inwardly) with Christ-light, revealing the patterns that connect, and the mysterious invisible energy that connects them at the heart of matter. Christ revealed that his Father works, he works, and we must work from and for this light that is built into, ignites and includes all things. By light, the flowers bloom, meadows green, unity is realized, ignorance is dispelled, transformation occurs, divinity is known — and a timely paradigm shift is evolving that reconciles science and religion, and all apparent polarities and contraries universally. While Jesus, Eckhart, Merton and the mystics revealed the “what” (light) that’s in everything and everyone, it has been given to me to reveal and explain the “how” of this evolving synthesis. My task is a daunting one, which nonetheless must be carried out. It is made more difficult because my name isn’t Meister Ekhart, Thomas Merton, Richard Rohr, Matthew Fox or Ilia Delio. Though I can integrate them all. My hope? Divinity is always found where least expected.

    1. Avatar

      Listen — Wait
      Listen to silence – hear it’s music
      Listen with your heart – feel joy
      Be present- Be open
      Let Presence live within you
      Cradle pain – carry one another
      Let worry drift away
      Stop talking – Stop your hurry
      Just listen – Wait
      Silence will speak
      LML (07-02-2019)

  5. Avatar

    Being & becoming… integrating our Divine & human nature in our daily human lives with the grace of God’s Loving Wisdom & Living Presence within and among us compassionately guiding us in our daily lives of Loving Oneness with others, nature, co-Creatively interconnected in our spiritually multidimensional and multiverse Universe… Beloved Cosmic Christ Consciousness….
    Recently, I started reading spiritual channeler Pamela Kribbe’s (Ph.D.; third book, “The Christ Within” (2014). This is a quote from the back cover:

    “In each of us, Christ consciousness is waiting to be awakened. Christ consciousness is the awareness that behind outer appearance and form, all life is one and connected. As we enter this level of awareness, we gradually let go our fear, our resistance, our need to control. We discover the reality of our divine essence, our soul. Life becomes less about struggling to survive, driven by the demands of the ego, and more about joy and creating from the heart.
    Opening up to the voice of our soul involves taking a leap into the abyss: you are invited to rely on your inner guidance rather than the outer directions you are used to steering by. How do you let go of the worldly pressures and judgements that have become almost second nature? How do you know if you have truly connected with your soul? How do you deal with fear and trauma, which keeps you from surrendering?
    The spiritual messages in this book, received by way of channeling, are meant to answer these questions and to assist you on your path of inner transformation in a loving and compassionate
    way. As you surrender to your soul, the Christ Within will awaken and illuminate your life as well as the lives of others.”

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Damian, I too have read much channeled materials from Seth to Immanuel to Abraham to A Course in Miracles. What I have found is that there is some truth in channeled material–as there is in every religion. However, I personally would never feel comfortable in using this material to formulate my core beliefs, or in discussing with others the material as if it had any authority. As far as I am concerned, channeled material is the welling up a person’s fallible soul, and so to me, no more authoritative than one’s personal opinions.

  6. Avatar

    A spark of a reflection- this series challenges me to be the joy, let go of the layers of fear, frustration, “reasoning” that get in the way of clarity of vision and action. So much gratitude for your spark, Matthew??

  7. Avatar

    At some point if we expect to go deeper into our true life, we must move beyond the milk of Jesus and seek the Universal Christ of Divine LOVE. It is a surrender to LOVE in trust, faith and hope. }:- a.m.

  8. Avatar
    Jeanette Metler

    I too, like Damian, have been reading these channeled books, he has referenced. As a result of this I have a question for Mathew, which I would like him to consider responding to, at some point in time.

    What had been communicated is that the reason we are experiencing and have throughout the history of humanity… such violence… is due to the frightened ego… whom has so infiltrated the consciousness of humanity with fear… that it is this which has resulted in the imbalance of both the masculine and feminine aspects within both men and women. Why are we not paying more particular attention to addressing this root cause, the fears of the ego… as opposed to focusing on the imbalances of the masculine and feminine that result from this. Would it not be wiser and more beneficial to get at the heart of the root cause… which would then perhaps naturally rebalance the other outward symptoms?

    And aught not this frightened ego with all of its fears… be accepted and embraced with the heart of compassionate understanding, unconditional love and mercy… alleviating the pain and fear of being misunderstood… as perhaps as having some meaning and purpose regarding the evolution of our souls growth, development and maturation… unfolding and emerging… which we have not yet become consciously aware of?

  9. Avatar
    Jeanette Metler

    One further comment and question if I may. “Fear is the ultimate source of the battle between the sexes and of the unbalanced male energy, that has gotten the upper hand in many areas of life. Fear is the fundamental driving force, behind the disconnection and closed hearts of many people. Fear is very much alive in both men and women. In men, this expresses itself in fighting and conflict, while in women, this anxiety manifests itself in lack of strength, feelings of powerlessness and poor self-esteem. But in both cases it sustains a low vibration, with little room for real connection with self, others and for inspiration from the soul.”

    Perhaps it’s time now, to stop putting the blame of violence and aggression on men and seeing women as victims… but rather a time to befriend the often misunderstood, frightened ego, with all of it’s fears… that we have been taught, needed to be killed off and put to death within ourselves? Perhaps we have misunderstood and rejected this aspect of our humanness… which may actually be a necessary contributor to our souls evolution, that we have yet to comphrend?

  10. Avatar

    More on Jeanette’s thoughts. I’m thinking of the ego as a frightened little child. I’ve learned to speak to my fears, my unkind projections, and my ego the way I would to a small child. “Come here, Honey. I can see that you are afraid. Can you tell me what you’re afraid of?” I’ve learned (though I forget this from time to time, as in recently) to embrace those nasty parts of myself and be there to help. Feeling alone, abandoned, and afraid, the ego acts out; it thrashes about. And so you get a retreat into the closet (“I won’t play anymore”) or a violent outburst (“I’ll show you!”)–the first often by females, the second often by males. Our ego needs tenderness from the arms of our more adult self so that it can develop into a healthy person.

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