Posted by: Mark Nielsen | July 13, 2011

See Yourself Being Seen, Being

Yellow warbler

Image via Wikipedia

Today I steal from Richard Rohr again. (Sorry, bud. No such thing as bad publicity, right? Nor sole ownership of grace, truth and beauty…)

Regarding Richard, anyone who points to T.S. Eliot and then 700 YEARS further back to Meister Eckhart— a pointer which then helps me to more clearly see a gorgeous cloud and a passing yellow warbler in light of the God-mirror of my heart — deserves to be quoted in full, and recognized as one of the great spiritual teachers of our time.

  • [Mystical Musical Note, a.k.a Mark’s “added-value” contemplative or academic offering:      While working on this post, I am listening to angel-voiced, semi-obscure 1960s-era British folksinger Nick Drake. And in his 1969 “Cello Song”, I caught the phrase “armies of emotion”, which so closely echoes the Eliot “squads of emotion” line below that I’m sort of freaking out over here… It is WELL with my soul today. Thanks for the 42-years-in-the-making “poke” or joke, God! ………….. p.s. I looked up the specific Eliot reference, too. It’s from East Coker, second of the Four Quartets.  So… I’ll include the Eliot excerpt as a bonus below, because I just re-read the Quartets last month and I recall being especially moved by that little section, particularly the “20 years” line, which is the exact length of my currently ending marriage –a marriage stretched quite often by my struggle to find “the right words” for understanding or describing my spiritual/mystical journey, and the landscape of my heart.]


First, Father Richard:

“If we are to see as God sees, we must first become mirrors of “what is,” what is right in front of us. We must become a “no-thing” so that we can receive some-thing else as it is. Transformation of consciousness is this: We must be liberated from ourselves as the reference point for reality, stating our preferences moment by moment and making mental commentaries on every event—up or down. It really does not matter whether we like it or not—it just is. A spiritually transformed person stops looking at reality as an object, or even God as an object for my consumption. God becomes the co-seer with us, not the seen. Can you imagine that?

We really need to be saved from the tyranny of our own judgments, opinions and feeling about everything, the “undisciplined squads of emotions” that T. S. Eliot criticizes in his poetry. Our ego chooses to objectify everybody and everything else in the world—including God. God is never an object but always the one who sees with us. As Meister Eckhart put it, “The eyes with which we look back at God are the very same eyes with which God first looked at us.” That rearranges everything rather nicely. “

Adapted from __Radical Grace: Daily Meditations__

Starter Prayer:
Jesus came to show me how to be more human.


Now the Eliot, from East Coker, Part IV:

So here I am, in the middle way, having had twenty years—
Twenty years largely wasted, the years of l’entre deux guerres
Trying to use words, and every attempt
Is a wholly new start, and a different kind of failure
Because one has only learnt to get the better of words
For the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which
One is no longer disposed to say it. And so each venture
Is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate
With shabby equipment always deteriorating
In the general mess of imprecision of feeling,
Undisciplined squads of emotion. And what there is to conquer
By strength and submission, has already been discovered
Once or twice, or several times, by men whom one cannot hope
To emulate—but there is no competition—
There is only the fight to recover what has been lost
And found and lost again and again: and now, under conditions
That seem unpropitious. But perhaps neither gain nor loss.
For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.


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