A Story from Meister Eckhart

“There was a learned man who, eight years long, desired that God would show him a man who would teach him the truth. And once when he felt a very great longing, a voice from God came to him and said, ‘Go to the church, and there shalt thou find a man who shalt show thee the way to blessedness.’ And he went thence and found a poor man whose feet were torn and covered with dust and dirt: and all his clothes were hardly worth three farthings. And he greeted him, saying:—

“‘God give you good day!’

“He answered: ‘I have never had a bad day.’

“‘God give you good luck.’

“‘I have never had ill luck.’

“‘May you be happy! but why do you answer me thus?’

“‘I have never been unhappy.’

“‘Pray explain this to me, for I cannot understand it.’

“The poor man answered, ‘Willingly. You wished me good day. I never had a bad day; for if I am hungry I praise God; if it freezes, hails, snows, rains, if the weather is fair or foul, still I praise God; am I wretched and despised, I praise God, and so I have never had an evil day. You wished that God would send me luck. But I never had ill luck, for I know how to live with God, and I know that what He does is best; and what God gives me or ordains for me, be it good or ill, I take it cheerfully from God as the best that can be, and so I have never had ill luck. You wished that God would make me happy. I was never unhappy; for my only desire is to live in God’s will, and I have so entirely yielded my will to God’s, that what God wills, I will.’

“‘But if God should will to cast you into hell,’ said the learned man, ‘what would you do then?’

“‘Cast me into hell? His goodness forbids! But if He did cast me into hell, I should have two arms to embrace Him. One arm is true humility, that I should lay beneath Him, and be thereby united to His holy humanity. And with the right arm of love, which is united with His holy divinity, I should so embrace Him that He would have to go to hell with me. And I would rather be in hell and have God, then in heaven and not have God.’

“Then the Master understood that true abandonment with utter humility is the nearest way to God.

“The Master asked further: ‘Whence are you come?’

“‘From God.’

“‘Where did you find God?’

“‘When I forsook all creatures.’

“‘Where have you left God?’

“‘In pure hearts, and in men of good will.’

“The Master asked: ‘What sort of man are you?’

“‘I am a king.’

“‘Where is your kingdom?’

“‘My soul is my kingdom, for I can so rule my senses inward and outward, that all the desires and power of my soul are in subjection, and this kingdom is greater than a kingdom on earth.’

“‘What brought you to this perfection?’

“‘My silence, my high thoughts, and my union with God. For I could not rest in anything that was less than God. Now I have found God; and in God have eternal rest and peace.’”

— Meister Eckhart, as quoted in Mysticism by Evelyn Underhill

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