Metanoia

One of the essays by Meister Eckhart starts as follows:

I was once asked: ‘Some people like to withdraw from company and prefer always to be alone. That is where they find peace when they enter a church. Is this the best thing?’ My answer was ‘No!.’

Selected Writings by Meister Eckhart

This opening paragraph has been one of the reminders whenever we tend to seek peace and God externally. We tend to think that something external could and should be the answer and solution for all the problems we face in life, even on earth and heaven.

Why is that so? Because we have divided ourselves into two, seer and seen. In the path of salvation and enlightenment, we think we are always the seekers who are seeking the answer and solution outside.

Are we a seeker? Yes, we are as long as our self-consciousness is concerned. But then, the twist is that we can never find anything as long as we remain as a seeker. We can never find anything as long as we seek the answer and solution outside.

So, Meister Eckhart is saying, “No!” in the two aspects. We can never find peace as long as we seek something external, some specific places and attributes that could give us what we seek peace. And the other is that we can never find peace as long as we seek it as a seeker.

There is nothing wrong with being a seeker. As long as our self-contained conscious driven curiosity is concerned, we can never stop seeking, which is one of the best virtues to make our lives meaningful and fruitful to contribute to our societies and civilizations.

But then, this self-conscious driven seer/seen division would be the cause making us a desperate seeker who obsessively seeks outside. We are so desperate saying:

  • Where can we find peace?
  • When can we find peace?
  • What can lead us to peace?
  • Who can teach us about peace?
  • How can we find peace?

The word “peace” can be hardcoded. We can put any synonym in this place, such as beauty, goodness, truth, God, or the Kingdom of Heaven.

The questions above sound so external and obsessive. We believe that someday, somewhere, somewhat, someone, somehow, we can find the ultimate answer as long as we keep seeking it.

But then, Meister Eckhart tells us as follows:

Take note of how you are inwardly turned to God when in church or your cell, and maintain this same attitude of mind, preserving it when you go among the crowd, into restlessness and diversity. And, as I have often said, when we speak of sameness, we do not mean that we should regard all works as being the same, or all places and people.

Selected Writings by Meister Eckhart

We should stop seeking externally. That means that first, we should stop seeking, and secondly, stop facing externally. We must turn inwardly. Only then can we realize that what we are supposed to seek had been there ever since. It has been within. As long as our mind and soul are right, we can see what we are supposed to seek has been everywhere in all places, all times, all peoples, and in all forms.

Surrender self-consciousness. In doing so, we could restore the state before the seer/seen undivided in the Garden of Eden, where we saw God face to face unconsciously.

Jesus started his mission proclaiming:

From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Matthew 4:17

Repentance means metanoia (μετάνοια) in Greek. Meta means after, behind, beyond, or stepping back. We know the difference between metaphysics and physics. Noia means mind, mental attitude, or consciousness. So, metanoia means transcending our consciousness.

In the state of metanoia, we can turn inwardly and stop the attitude of seeking externally. Because, as Jesus said, the Kingdom of God is at hand. It is not far from us outside. It is at hand indeed. Moreover, it is within ourselves. Jesus even states it explicitly:

And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

Luke 17:20-21

Image by dima_goroziya

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