The contact of two liberties


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I find it difficult to truly formulate just what this question is about. Perhaps just a quest for clarity of thought!

I was taken by some words in Eckhart's "Talks of Instruction" where he states........"When we.............strip ourselves of what is ours, then God must enter into us...............when someone wills nothing for themselves, then God must will on their behalf..........." For some reason I find these words slightly disturbing in some vague sense, that no "choice" is involved, that "God" is compelled to some sort of automaton! The "must"......

I remembered back to some correspondance that Thomas Merton had with Aldous Huxley concerning mystical experience, where Huxley was advocating the use of drugs, and Merton spoke of a "fully mystical experience" as involving, as its very essence, the "contact of two liberties". I find these words suggestive in some way and pointing towards something truly valueable that Eckhart is perhaps missing.

Perhaps this just revolves around whether we understand ultimate reality as being "impersonal" or in some sense "personal". (Perhaps ultimate reality - beyond knowing, thought or concept - will always express itself in/as persons?)

Or again, is this all getting back to the "non-dual" versus "duality" a very wide sense, the difference between the theistic and non-theistic faiths, "east" and "west".

Or determinism versus free will?

Sorry if this all seems a bit vague.........not sure just what the question is.

Any contribution will be gratefully received!
Wonderful questions, Tariki, which in a sense get to the very heart of most spiritual/religious pondering. I think Eckhart was one of the most profound mystical thinkers ever, Christian or otherwise. Many of his quotes contrasted terms such as "creaturehood," "God," and "Godhead" & I think what he was getting as by such was that as long as a shred of our "creaturehood," our sense of a separate "self presence" with clearly defined definitional lines remains, there will be an Other-a "God presence" of defined qualities, but when we go beyond that-no "self," no "God,' just Presence/ "I Am"-or the term he used, "Godhead-" 'tis a different story.
"In the breakthrough, where I stand free of my own will and the will of God and of all His works, and of God himself, there I am above all creatures and am neither God nor creature...I discover that God and I are one...I am an immovable cause that moves all things...there I had no God and was cause of myself...there I stood free of God and of all things. But when I took leave of this state and received my created being, then I had a God." While there's a "self," there are choices to be made, even if it's "let go & let God." When there's no self/Other, no "chooser/actor/choice," then merely what Is Is.
Well at least that's my interpretation as I haven't been where Eckhart has. Take care, Earl
I really have to get hold of Eckhart's works. They resonate so well with my own experience and beliefs.

I would agree about the self/God distinction. There is experiencing God as the Other, which depends on one still being somewhat attached to the self, because you must have a sense of self to have the me/Other distinction. Then there is pouring out the self, detaching from the self, and being transformed so that one is no longer separate from God at all. One becomes in God, part of the All. In that state, one experiences God not as the Other, or as the self, but simply as Being. It's tough to explain, but it's kind of like the difference between experiencing God as a Other Person and experiencing God as a Process in which one is a part. At least, that's my ineloquent attempted expression of it.

It's not so much, therefore, a determinism/free will issue, but rather that one becomes detached from the self, one is transformed and no longer experiences the separation of self and God. It is not that God is compelled to act, but rather that the distinction between self and God ceases to exist upon the realization that it never truly existed in the first place. One is wholly embraced by the Divine, and thus fully transcends the boundaries we place between ourselves and God.

I have a feeling all that was "clear as mud." This stuff is really difficult to express.
path of one,
You express with crystal clear clarity. Yes.
God's clarity moves through the silence of our being.
Thanks for the responses. Path-of-one, you seemed to fear that your own post was "as clear as mud" (as you say, these things are difficult to express) fear at least matched your own after posting my thread. I was trying - and have tried for quite a while - to understand the source of my disquiet at Eckhart's words. On the face of it, the thought that God "must" of needs enter in when we empty ourselves of self, that God "must" will our our behalf when our own will becomes void, matches my own leanings towards eastern thought, rather than the creator/created dichotomy of the theistic faiths. Certainly some of the gospel verses that remain etched on my heart - such as "blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy" - I find impossible to relate to when understood as some sort of contract between myself and a transcendant God. I.e if you are merciful then God will be merciful to you! "Mercy" for me is a "given".........unearned, undeserved, the basis of Reality-as-is. It is "given" first, not as a reward for our own expression of it.............the gospel verse , for me, is only expressing the way it appears to work in time and space. Eckhart's words seem to follow on from my own understanding...........

Perhaps the disquiet involves another aspect..............that of the relationship between "persons", rather than of a person with God. To reduce it to emotive risk of stand in an airport departure lounge, or in Arrivals...........and to witness the comings and goings, the tears, the embraces........for me this is to witness some of the deepest joys and fears that a human being can experience or express, as human beings meet again, or take leave of each other. It is in relationship, in the mutuality of experience......that it is in giving that we is here that a true spirituality resides. "Between" and not "in". And sometimes, at least to me, "non-duality" seems to challenge this. Or at least, as "non-duality" is often some sort of opposite to "duality" rather than as embracing it. (I think of some of the arguments concerning the gospel verse "the Kingdom of heaven is within you" Some argue that the correct reading, translation, is "The Kingdom of heaven is among you". "Among" or "within"?

Once again, I need clarity of thought. Perhaps for me the "must" of Eckhart's God erodes the "contact of two liberties" between persons.....unnecessarily!

I do feel the need to reach the heart of this. It seems involved with my own search for faith and trust.

Thanks again.