A man ought not work for any why … for anything at all that is outside him, but only for that which is his being, his very life within him.

Meister Eckhart

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Why would this Christian mystic whose live spanned the 13th and 14th century offer this?  Because to be whole is to be, to live as you are called to be, to play out your unique being.  To live the life within you is to live as God intended – to live with God in this mortal, human life.  This is to live.  Something less is less than life, but a part – not the whole, and surely not fully with the Divine.

Easier to say than to do, perhaps.  But maybe not.

What might we say to probe Eckhart’s thought?

The 20th century monastic Thomas Merton writes in his New Seeds of Contemplation:

Every one of us is shadowed by an illusory person: a false self.  We are not very good at recognizing illusions, least of all the ones we cherish about ourselves.

What Merton is saying is this: we must detach from what is external and go inside to know who we are.  Live in the outside, without the journey to the inside and you live in illusion, indeed a deception, participate in a self deception from which discord flows and grows.  Like Eckhart he urges us to seek the true self – derived from a process of growth and interior journey.

This process of self discovery will lead you to who you are and who God, your creator, is.  Yet we meet not to stay inside and in private but to re-emerge into the world to be, to share who we are called to be and, in doing that, to bring the God in us to others, and to the God in others.

In the present world narcissism is a particularly difficult problem.  The narcissist is trapped in the quest for immediate self-consciousness, all around them must confirm them.

In a secularized culture that places so much stress on the individual, it is no surprise that the person seeks to confirm themselves frequently as if to establish in self alone that they exist and have value.  But self alone is not being self.  It is often only living the exterior representation of self – this, the illusory false self: the person without the interior journey, more shaped by cultural forms (illusions) and divided from God, the source of their being and true self.

Work and life is best being who you are.  It is not culture that gives you this, but God.

Our abundant and great failure is our life, especially in exclusionary culture, in the false self, the false self of culture or a fractured family of origin.

Journey inward, meet the God in you – live your true self and live with God as God made you. Be as you are called to be.

Shalom.

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