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Caputo (MEHT:15-18) – prontidão

domingo 20 de março de 2022


The union of the soul   with God   is the activity of God, for “. . . God can join Himself to me more closely and can better unite with me than I can unite myself with God” (DW, V, 539/C1., 160). But while it is God who acts, it is the soul which must be prepared for such action and made ready for it. Sometimes the soul prepares itself, Eckhart   suggests, but sometimes as in the conversion of St. Paul — God Himself must prepare a readiness in the soul. The readiness makes all the difference. Another simile: the same heat in the same oven will make breads of different textures if the doughs are different: it is not the heat which differs but the materials. In the same way God’s action differs according as he finds or does not find readiness and receptivity. But the presence of “this or that,” i.e., of attachment to created things, to this being or that, prevents God’s action, impairs it, and blocks it out. Hence the detached soul must have nothing in its heart, no “object” at all. In being “nothing” at all, in having “nothing” in view, the soul attains the greatest possible level of receptivity and readiness for God’s action.

Meister Eckhart also makes this same point in a different way by attaching a mystical significance to Aristotle  ’s theory of the soul as a tabula rasa  , which is one of the more interesting illustrations of how this thinker was able to fuse mysticism   and scholasticism. If I wished to write upon a tablet, he says, then nothing, no matter how noble the sentiment, can be already written upon it. The presence of anything upon the tablet will prevent my own writing. Thus, if I am to write upon the tablet, I must remove everything that is currently written upon it. In the same way:

. . . if God would write the highest things in my heart, everything which is called a this or that must come out of the heart; and that is exactly how it stands with the detached heart. (DW, V, 545/C1., 168)

Thus, if God is to work His divine action upon the soul, the soul must prepare a readiness for Him, a completely clear and open place, in which He can act. But in order that the soul be clear of all things, it must have as an object “nothing” at all.

The second question which Eckhart asks is equally revealing: what is the prayer of the detached heart? He answers:

The detached and pure heart cannot pray, because he who prays desires of God that something be given to him, or he desires that God take something away from him. (DW, V, 545/C1., 168)

Meister Eckhart is not suggesting that the detached man give up the life of prayer. He means that the detached soul has ascended to a level of interiority where his prayer is no longer a prayer of “petition,” which is a prayer which asks for things. His prayer becomes instead like Mary, the Virgin Mother’s fiat  : “let it be done to me according to your will.” The only will of the detached man is that God’s will be done. He has no will of his own. He prays for and wills nothing. Thus the answer to the second question is the same as the answer to the first question: the prayer (wish) of the detached heart, as also the object of the detached heart, is “nothing” at all, nothing, neither this nor that.

If the detached heart’s prayer is no longer one of petition, it becomes one of union. For desiring nothing, it is united with the Nothing   itself, that is, with that which surpasses and transcends everything. By its selflessness it comes to be “uniform,” i.e., of one form and substance, with God Himself. This is the “mystical union” of the soul with God which forms the center of focus of every mystical teaching and does so no less in Meister Eckhart. The uniformity of the detached soul with God consists in the fact that both God and the soul are equally removed from creatures, equally separated from every mutable this and that. By becoming thus “of one form’’ with the divine, the soul opens itself up as fully as possible to the divine influence:

No man is able to make himself receptive of the divine influence except through uniformity with God. (DW, V. 546/C1., 169)

By this uniformity, the soul subjects itself to God alone and not to creatures. Now the pure, detached heart is devoid of all creatures. Therefore the detached heart is the most receptive of God’s influence, the most fully taken over by God’s life. The detached heart does not pray for things, but gives up its will for things entirely, and in so doing allows room for God, Who is separated from all things, to unite Himself with the soul.

In bringing our discussion of Meister Eckhart’s On Detachment to a close, I wish to point out that for Meister Eckhart, detachment is to be equated with “true poverty.” For according to St. Augustine  , the poor in spirit   are those who have so “abandoned” (überlassen) everything to God that He now has these things back again just as He did before anything existed viz., as pure ideas in the divine mind  . The poor in spirit, therefore, are those who have nothing, because they have given everything back to God, and there can be no greater poverty than that. They have given up all things for the pure Nothing itself.

Eckhart concludes this treatise with a summary of the merits of detachment:

For this reason, detachment is the best of all. for it purifies the soul and cleanses the conscience and enkindles the heart and awakens the spirit and quickens the desires and lets God be known. It cuts off creatures and unites with God (DW, V, 546/C1., 170).

Ver online : John Caputo