Meister Eckhart: Counsels on Discernment 7

Peace, one and all…


In his seventh counsel, Meister Eckhart turns to explore the notion of work, and how we might pursue our work in a spiritually appropriate manner.

Counsel 7: How a man should perform his work in the most reasonable way

One often finds people who are not impeded by the things that are around them – and this is easy to attain if one wishes – nor do they have any constant thought about them.  For if the heart is full of God, created things can have and find no place in it.  But, what is more, this alone should not satisfy us.  We ought to turn everything into great profit, whatever it may be, wherever we may be, whatever we see or hear, however strange or unlikely it may be.  Then for the first time all is well with us and not until then, and one will never come to an end in this.  One can always go on increasing in this, gaining more and more from it in true growth.

And in all his activities and under all circumstances a man should take care to use his reason, and in everything he should have a reasonable consciousness of himself and of his inwardness, and find God in all things, in the highest degree that is possible.  For a man ought to be as our Lord said: ‘You should be like men who are always watching and waiting for their master’ (Luke 12:36).  Truly, people who wait stay awake and look around them for whence he for whom they are waiting may be coming; and they are on the lookout for him in whatever may come, however unknown it may be to them, for perhaps he might somehow be in it.  So we should have in all things a knowing perception of our master.  We must show zeal in this, and it must cost us everything we are capable of in mind and body, and so it will be well with us, and we shall find God in everything alike, and find God always alike in all things.

Certainly, one work differs from another; but whoever undertakes all his works in the same frame of mind, then, truly, all that man’s works are the same.  Indeed, for the man for whom God shines forth as directly in worldly things as he does in divine things and to whom God would be so present, for such a man things would be well.  Not indeed that the man himself would be doing worldly things, unlike to God; rather, whatever external matters he chanced to see and hear, he would refer it all back to God.  Only he to whom God is present in everything and who employs his reason in the highest degree and has enjoyment in it knows anything of true peace and has a real kingdom of heaven.

For if things are to go well with a man, one of two things must always happen to him.  Either he must find and learn to possess God in works, or he must abandon all works.  But since a man cannot in this life be without works, which are proper to humans and are of so many kinds, therefore he must learn to possess his God in all things and to remain unimpeded, whatever he may be doing, wherever he may be.  And therefore if a man who is beginning must do something with other people, he ought first to make a powerful petition to God for his help, and put him immovably in his heart and unite all his intentions, thoughts, will and power to God, so that nothing else than God can take shape in that man.


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