Meister Eckhart: Counsels on Discernment 4

Peace, one and all…

In his fourth counsel, Meister Eckharts turns to examine the notion of self-abandonment.

Counsel 4: Of the profits of self-abandonment, which one should practice inwardly and outwardly

You should know that there was never any man in this life who forsook himself so much that he could not still find more in himself to forsake.  There are few people who see this to be true and stick by it.  This is indeed a fair exchange and an honest deal: By as much as you go out in forsaking all things, by so much, neither less nor more, does God go in, with all that is His, as you entirely forsake everything that is yours.  Undertake this, and let it cost you everything you can afford.  There you will find true peace, and nowhere else.

People ought never to think too much about what they could do, but they ought to think about what they could be.  If people and their way of life were only good, what they did might be a shining example.  If you are just, then your works too are just.  We ought not to think of building holiness upon action; we ought to build it upon a way of being, for it is not what we do that makes us holy, but we ought to make holy what we do.  However holy the works may be, they do not, as works, make us at all holy; but, as we are holy and have being, to that extent we make all our works holy, be it eating, sleeping, keeping vigil or whatever it may be.  It does not matter what men may do whose being is mean; nothing good will come of it.  Take good heed: We ought to do everything we can to be good; it does not matter so much what we may do, or what kinds of works ours may be.  What matters is the ground on which the works are built.


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