Yesterday we considered the understanding of God as our “ground” and how we can, in Julian’s words, access divinity and our true selves by “digging and ditching.”
Buddhist teacher D. T. Suzuki calls this the “formless, original mind.” When I hear the term “original mind” I think of “original blessing.”
When Suzuki talks about our “formless, original mind,” I think of how, years ago when I was undergoing an operation on my back, Eckhart came to me and we went walking together on the beach. No words were spoken. He was wearing a Dominican habit with the capuce covering his head but he had no face as such—it was formless.
It was the most transcendent dream of my life. Shortly after that, I started work on my first book on Eckhart, then called Breakthrough: Meister Eckhart’s Creation Spirituality in New Translation and now called Passion for Creation: The Earth-Honoring Spirituality of Meister Eckhart.
Was I meeting a formless, original mind of Meister Eckhart? Was it formless because it could have been anyone or everyone? Was it original because we were walking at the ocean which is the origin of life and new life?
Was it original because all creativity is an expression of our originality and Eckhart was a champion of creativity as a pathway to truth? He said,
The truth does not come from outside in but from inside out and passes through an inner form.
Merton put it this way:
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.
This is Cosmic Christ language.
He compares the Zen teaching of a direct grasp of one’s “original face” to Paul’s Christ-based mysticism: Such is the attainment of the ‘Buddha mind,’ or ‘Buddhahood.’ (Compare the Christian expressions ‘having the mind of Christ’ (1 Cor. 2:16), being ‘of one Spirit with Christ,’ ‘He who is united to the Lord as one spirit.’ (1 Cor. 6. 17).
Eckhart talks of the original mind when he says:
I am unborn, and following the way of my unborn being I can never die. Following the way of my unborn being I have always been, I am now, and shall remain eternally…In this breakthrough I discover that I and God are one.
Adapted from Matthew Fox, A Way To God: Thomas Merton’s Creation Spirituality Journey, pp. 230f.
And Fox, Passion for Creation: The Earth-Honoring Spirituality of Meister Eckhart, p. 407.
To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE
Banner Image: “The Monk by the Sea.” Painting by Caspar David Friedrich, ca. 1809. Wikimedia Commons via Google Art Project.
Queries for Contemplation
How do you understand the “formless, original mind?” How do you interpret the story of walking on the beach with Meister Eckhart?
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
Passion for Creation: The Earth-Honoring Spirituality of Meister Eckhart
Matthew Fox’s comprehensive translation of Meister Eckhart’s sermons is a meeting of true prophets across centuries, resulting in a spirituality for the new millennium. The holiness of creation, the divine life in each person and the divine power of our creativity, our call to do justice and practice compassion–these are among Eckhart’s themes, brilliantly interpreted and explained for today’s reader.
“The most important book on mysticism in 500 years.” — Madonna Kolbenschlag, author of Kissing Sleeping Beauty Goodbye.