I cannot tell you with certainty what Meister Eckhart meant with this rather intriguing and mysterious saying. What I can tell you, is what it means to me.
The classical Rosicrucians used a spiritual formula to describe the path of liberation. This ever-actual formula has three aspects or phases: out of God we are born – in Jesus we die – through the Holy Spirit we are reborn. It is a formula with enormous depth, but in the ears of a modern person it sounds quite old-fashioned, maybe even dogmatic. That is why I am going to reformulate this spiritual formula in a way that suits this article, but in essence there is no difference. The three phases could also be described as:
- God knows us all by name;
- God sees us;
- We see God.
Let's start at the beginning. Every spirit-spark, every microcosm, is a creation of God, is a child of God. As creations of the Spirit, we are all enlisted in the Book of Life and hence we can say that the Father knows us all by name. The basis is good but we, as physical people, are not in harmony with this spiritual basis anymore. Why not? Well, it is a long story, but deep inside we know this. When we look honestly at ourselves, when we see the state that our planet is in, then we sense it; it should not be like this.
It is as if God has averted his head and closed his eyes to us. Did he then abandon his own children? No, of course not, it only seems that way. We are paying the price for the freedom of choice. We must learn to be responsible for the whole of creation, not only for ourselves. When we leave our parental home as young adults, we close the door. Yes, freedom, now I can do what I want! We forget our inheritance, we forget that we are part of a bigger whole, because it weighs on us.
Then the question becomes: how can we change our situation so that God starts seeing us again? We are now entering into the second phase of the spiritual formula. Why does the Father not see us anymore? Well, because we have closed the door on him. Where is this door which leads to God? It is the gate of our heart.
The spirit-spark, our real name, our inherited name, lies as a cornerstone in the center of our microcosm. But our real name, the I AM, cannot enter in our physical personality because the door is closed. It means that our heart, our desire, is directed to the world outside of us and not to our real name. Seen from a spiritual perspective, our heart is closed, polluted, ruled by the forces of matter. Now we understand why sacred texts always stress the importance of ‘purity of heart’. When we purify our heart, clean it, turn its desire to our own center, then we open the door again. God opens his eyes to us and the water of Life flows through the open gate in our personality. Now God sees us again, that means he can touch, feed and protect us.
Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life. 1
The fact that the Father sees us again, already is great blessing. Through his grace our relationship with the divine can mature. Still, the connection is one-sided; God sees us, but we do not see God. We have the same situation in parenthood. First the parents conceive the child, then they see the child and later, when the eyes of the newborn are developed, the child sees the father and mother. It is due to the love and care of the parents that the newborn opens his eyes.
We know that our natural eyes are sufficient to see our parents, but for seeing God they fall hopelessly short. They are a product of the world of time and space and hence the boundlessness of eternity escapes their gaze. They are part of the horizontal plane of life and are oriented on the things outside us. Symbolically we can represent them as:
When we think about the legend of Narcissus, we know that he saw his own reflection in the water. The elements showed him his reflection as an outer image. He did not see himself with the inner vision of self-knowledge, not as an I AM, but merely as an outer reflection. And he fell in love with this mirror image. In this way he lost his ‘First love’ and replaced her by a material image.
We, as nature born people, do not differ much from Narcissus. Also, we project ourselves in the elements and our physical body is our reflection. And with that body, or with the one from somebody else, we fall in love. Hence, we sell ourselves to the elements, to the ever-fading ripples in the water. Our outer eyes try to hold on to that which perishes and thus our eyes break our heart. But suffering and pain have a purifying effect, and after an endless journey through the elements, we come to an inner revolution, we turn ourselves around, we convert.
Then we stop with the adoration of the outer image. We leave the horizontal plane behind and reach inner depth through real self-knowledge. Our inner eye unfolds itself. Then we have added a third eye to the already existing ones. Symbolically we can represent this new situation as:
This inner third eye looks for its ‘First love’. It finds this loved One in the center, in the heart of its being. Because of this, that which had already manifested itself in the heart is now going to flourish in the head. That is why the third eye is also called the ‘heavenly heart’. Head and heart are going to become a perfect mirror image of each other.
The heavenly heart, the third eye, is the eye that sees God. God is Love, God is Light, God is Life. To me, the words of Meister Eckhart mean the following: the eye that sees God, that is the third eye, the heavenly heart is, in essence, the same eye through which God sees me, that is the open gate of the pure heart. And Meister Eckhart added:
My eye and God's eye is one eye, and one sight, and one knowledge, and one love. 2
Then we have the situation in which the ‘morning star’ or ‘the shining one’ has risen in the human constellation. The head has subjected itself to the heart (to Christ) and is restored to its former glory: the Light bearer. It is a state of wonderful harmony in which the tension of the experimental mind has been neutralized. It is ensoulment of the heart, enlightenment of the head. But still there is more; a third victory is needed!
On our journey through the elements, we have descended very deep into matter; we have reached the nadir of materiality. But the deeper the fall, the more glorious the resurrection! We were cast out of paradise in garments of skin, now we have the possibility to return in white clothes! During the first phase we discovered in our heart, in our center, the god of Love (Christ) and, secondly, we transformed our head into ‘the shining one’. Now we need to complete the third step: to transfigure the life which manifests itself in matter. It is about the life which is immanent and inherent in the atoms. When we complete our symbolic representation, we get the following:
The third phase has to do with the life that is immanent in the smallest particles, in the building stones of the universe. It is about atoms, molecules and cells. Now the atom must open its eye!
The heartbeat of God resonates in every atom; every atom has its own source of life. The whole universe is one immense manifestation of vibrating Life. Transfiguration of matter basically means increasing the heartbeat of the atoms, the vibration of the elements. We could also say that it is about raising the level of consciousness of the atoms, to integrate them, to attune them to the life of the soul. When the atoms of the body open their eyes, when their fiery spiritual core is activated, they become an expression of the eternal life which flows from the heart of God, the center of all things.
Jesus the Christ himself confirmed this universal threefold path of resurrection when he said,
Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. 3
We know that He kept his promise. But for the bewildered material eyes, only an empty grave remained. How different is reality to the eye that sees God! Now, in the Age of Aquarius, the living Christ invites us to do the same: to open the three eyes, to manifest the three circles of eternal Life.
Spirit – Soul – Body.