In yesterday’s DM we meditated with Meister Eckhart on what I call the “panentheistic pleasure” of repose.  

Black Madonna at Eglise Saint-François de Sales at Old town, Annecy. Photo by Guilhem Vellut on Flickr.

And in the video I turned to Buddhist teaching about the Divine Mother who is honored for her silence and connection to the “vast expanse of space,” in other words, the cosmos.  She is a cosmic mother as is the Black Madonna in Christianity.

We find that this archetype of repose and silence and meditation that brings us to repose and silence is universal.  We find it in Christianity and in Judaism (especially the wisdom books but also the prophets, both of whom Eckhart invokes in his powerful sermon on Repose).  But repose is a deeply ecumenical experience and concept.  We have seen it in Buddhism and Judaism and Christianity, let us consider it among indigenous spirituality as well.

Black Elk teaches this:  

The heart is a sanctuary at the center of which there is a little space, wherein the Great Spirit dwells, and this is the Eye.  This is the Eye of the Great Spirit by which he sees all things, and through which we see him.

Black Elk” by giveawayboy is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

It is from this center that true peace derives.  It is the peace the comes when cosmos and heart/psyche are reunited.  It is the first peace and the real peace..

The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness, with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize that at the center of the universe dwells Wakan-Tanka, and that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us.  This is the real peace, and the others are but reflections of this.

Black Elk is instructing us that peace comes from within the human heart—provided our hearts are connected to the universe.  At the center of our hearts—as well as the heart of the universe—dwells Wakan Tanka, the Holy One.  One can see here what Eckhart saw in the wisdom teachings he was expounding on, cosmos and psyche go together.  If we don’t have a cosmos in our hearts, we only have an ego there.  We need to expand our hearts and connect to the universe.  

Wisdom includes the universe and wisdom passes through the heart and brings peace with it. 


Adapted from Matthew Fox, One River, Many Wells: Wisdom Springing from Global Faith Traditions, p. 155.

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

Banner Image: Hinhan Kaga (a.k.a. Black Elk Peak) in the Pahá Sápa (Black Hills) of South Dakota, where Black Elk had his first vision. Photo by Ron Clausen on Wikimedia Commons.

Queries for Contemplation

Does this teaching from Black Elk about the “first peace” being our relationship with the universe elevate the meaning of cosmos and cosmology for you? 


Recommended Reading

One River, Many Wells: Wisdom Springing from Global Faiths

Matthew Fox calls on all the world traditions for their wisdom and their inspiration in a work that is far more than a list of theological position papers but a new way to pray—to meditate in a global spiritual context on the wisdom all our traditions share. Fox chooses 18 themes that are foundational to any spirituality and demonstrates how all the world spiritual traditions offer wisdom about each.“Reading One River, Many Wells is like entering the rich silence of a masterfully directed retreat. As you read this text, you reflect, you pray, you embrace Divinity. Truly no words can fully express my respect and awe for this magnificent contribution to contemporary spirituality.” –Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit


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8 thoughts on “Black Elk on Peace and Repose”

  1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    Continuing on with our reflections on repose, Matthew writes: “We find that this archetype of repose and silence and meditation that brings us to repose and silence is universal. We find it in Christianity and in Judaism…. But repose is a deeply ecumenical experience and concept. We have seen it in Buddhism and Judaism and Christianity, let us consider it among indigenous spirituality as well.” Black Elk teaches this: “The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness, with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize that at the center of the universe dwells Wakan-Tanka, and that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us. This is the real peace, and the others are but reflections of this.” But your question for us is: “Does this teaching from Black Elk about the ‘first peace’ being our relationship with the universe elevate the meaning of cosmos and cosmology for you?” Yes, of course, and this you have taught me over the years through your books, lectures, classes, retreats, etc. They once called our friend, Jeremy Taylor the “Johnny Apple Seed of Dream Work”–you are the Johnny Apple Seed of Creation Spirituality with its four paths… one of which is the via negativa–the place of repose.

  2. Avatar

    “ ‘A Presence Within’ of Something Beautiful, Wonderful and Enchanting”

    Where do we find rest? Do we find it in our sleep or in our repose? I had a very busy day yesterday that started at 4 am versus my usual 5 am. Got up to read, contemplate and write. Work started with an 8 am meeting and lots of projects to move forward. Without going into details, I would say it was one of my tougher workdays to get through.

    I needed rest but not sleep. I somewhat disdain excess sleep and only try to get about 5 hours in every night. I am always the last to go to bed and first to get up. My daily rejuvenation outside of a few long walks with Willow comes from performing a daily Shambhavi Maharudra or kriya. The breathing, chanting, locking, and stillness of the kriya derives a special energy that is very transformative. After the kriya and for the rest of the evening, I was in a restful repose but moreso in and within ‘a presence’ of something beautiful, wonderful and enchanting, and I never use those words lightly. The Holy Spirit was definitely engaged not in any teaching or great revelation, but ‘in presence’ alone. At that point there were no demands to be anything to anyone, only ‘just to be’. Such ‘sweet arms’ to be held in. Such ‘sweet dreams of nothingness’ to have while fully awake and conscious of this Love. — BB.

  3. Avatar

    I am a pipe carrier. The outer pipe represents our inner pipe, that being our direct connection of relationship with the egg and the seed, the inhale and the exhale, the as above and the so below. The bowl and the stem of the pipe joined together in the sacred union of oneness, represents the Great Mystery of this inner and outer connection that unfolds, evolves and emerges within the heart… the heart of right relationship with. The tobacco represents our intential prayers of being and living in relationship with the Great Spirit within the all and the everything. The smoke releases this prayerful intent with gratitude to the four directions, the as above and the so below. One then enters and rests in the repose of this sacred space of heart-to-heart connection with, waiting and listening. This is the Beauty Way.

  4. Avatar

    Yes Matthew, thank you for including Indigenous Spirituality, as represented by Black Elk, in our universal spiritual wisdom traditions of our intimacy/Oneness with our Cosmic Creator, as also confirmed by modern quantum science. As we evolve as human beings, we’re realizing that besides our human ego consciousness, we are also Divine in our greater Cosmic Consciousness and co-Creators of Loving Diverse Oneness….
    ????

  5. Avatar

    The riddle of repose was partially resolved for me today with the quote from Black Elk.
    As Westerners, we may not understand the dynamic of what might be called active/repose.
    Science is now telling us that everything is connected while in flux. Black Elk says:
    “The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people
    when they realize their relationship, their oneness, with the universe…” The word relationship
    makes the difference to me. We are not alone in repose. We are in everything that moves and
    rests at the same time. This image feels just right to me.

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