Once in a while I get a book from the library that I have to buy. It actually saves me from buying books and wishing they had been library books. I spend a lot on books. One book I will buy is one I am barely into, a selection of writings by Meister Eckhart.
This morning I read this sweet morsel: “…there was never any man in this life who forsook himself so much that he could not still find more in his life to forsake.” I don’t know about you, but I no longer think I have conquered some bad habit or character defect than I am hit in my reality face by more of the same. Perfection is never, never to be achieved…never. We may win little battles but the war goes on. It is better to accept this than to beat yourself up for failures.
This message is part of Eckhart’s “Counsel 4: Of the profits of self-abandonment, which one should practice inwardly and outwardly.” Counsel are his suggestions for living, I guess.
He suggests that “people ought never to think too much about what they could do, but they ought to think about what they could be…We ought not to think of building holiness upon action; we ought to build it upon a way of being.”
As I have thought about the work of the peacemaker, I have come to the conclusion that only a person who is at peace inside can do peace work that is meaningful. I think that the reason we have witnessed, seemingly, just leaders rise up out of movements and then watched them turn around once we they are given authority is that they were not just people. That is, they may have worked for justice and peace, but had not developed justice and peace as their inner character. This is the message of Peace Pilgrim …peace inside yourself first.
To have peace within, one must recognize and struggle with anger, prejudice, resentment, divisiveness, selfishness, pride…all those character flaws that stand in the way of being a peaceful person. But there is consolation in Eckhart’s first point in this counsel #4 – while we work on becoming a peaceful person, but we need to realize that the work will never be done.
Eckhart ends his counsel with this: “It does not matter so much what we may do, or what kinds of works ours may be; what matters is the ground on which the works are built.” …reminiscent of the words of scripture – “House built on a weak foundation will not stand.”