willbulow's picture

"That a man shall not take ensample at the bodily ascension of Christ, for to strain his imagination upwards bodily in the time of prayer: and that time, place, and body, these three should be forgotten in all ghostly working."

This is the third chapter whose "title" warns us not to think in terms of physical direction in the performance of this work. As in the previous chapters, so here, we can find other things that could as well be taken as the topic. One I find in this case is, he mentions that there is more like a change than a local movement in this work. There seems to be a certain change of consciousness that's almost automatic, almost by definition the result of forgetting time, place, and body. Maybe here again, though, we should guard against thinking that this is the purpose. There should be no other purpose than drawing closer to God as we work in this exercise.

pandacca's picture

The irrelevance of time, place and body

What is reality? When we think of what all of creation is made: NOTHING, what does one make of it? We are here only by the grace of God, given a infinitesimally small part of Himself, a part that is absolutely negligible compared to the Godhead. That tiny particle granted us by God is the only thing that we can claim to be "reality." It is what Meister Eckhart, in his sermons call the "tiny spark" within the soul wherein God resides in us. But whether it is proper to direct our spirits to this spark within us makes no sense at all when one thinks of the universe of the immanence of God - there is no place nor time nor dimension that God is not. It might do some good to think of making an inward direction in seeking unity, to find the God within us where we can touch it. But that act of entering, or even the very act of desiring, in itself could be considered supreme arrogance for we cannot even begin to comprehend or appreciate the vastness of God's greatness, even a small part of His essence. What makes greater sense is what the Christian mystics have been proposing: a complete humbling, a total annihilation of the self as a preparation for God's Own action within us. As Thomas Merton so boldly suggested - to empty ourselves of everything even of all thoughts of God so that God can have the absolute freedom to act within us. As it was in the Old Testament when the Chosen People had to purify the tabernacle before God would descend into it, so must we purify ourselves completely for God to touch us.