If you're new here, this is a weekly column consisting of letters written to my (eventual) grandchildren (who exist) and my great-grandchildren (who don't, yet) -- the Stickies -- to haunt them after they become grups and/or I'm dead.
Irregularly Appearing Imaginary Guest Star: Dana -- A gentlereader
Dear (eventual) Grandstickies & Great-Grandstickies (& gentlereaders),
I looked up the column in question and discovered that it was written almost a year ago... Methinks it might be time for volume two.
"Do exactly what you would do if you felt most secure." -Meister Eckhart
Eckhart von Hochheim, Meister (Master) Eckhart, was a Christian mystic, theologian, and philosopher in the late 13th and early 14th century, Dana. His friend...
[Hoo-boy, sorry I asked.]
His friendly neighborhood inquisition convicted him of heresy but he appealed to the pope, John XXII, and...
[Now you're talkin'! Did they roast him like a steak?]
Roast him like a steak? What are... oh, no, he died while PJ22 was thinking it over.
[Well that's no fun. And you're writing about him because?]
I'm writing about the quote. Although he was a popular preacher and an important theologian this was a long time ago and much of his work has been lost.
He's popular with both certain modern theologians and mystics... and certain New Agey types, which has led to out of context quotes, like the one that's the title of this missive, being turned into memes. The quote intrigued me so I went a-googlin' in search of the context because it can obviously be spun in all sorts of directions, rendering the authors meaning, meaningless.
All I came up with was a longer version of the quote but since it (in my semi-humble opinion) confirms what I suspected, I'm a happy camper.
"To be sure, our mental processes often go wrong, so that we imagine God to have gone away. What should be done then? Do exactly what you would do if you felt most secure. Learn to behave thus even in deepest distress and keep yourself that way in any and every estate of life. I can give you no better advice than to find God where you lost him."
[Hmmm... which means exactly what?]
I think that Meister Eckhart was saying that if you misplace your faith you should carry on in the world as if you hadn't, that doing so is the best way to find it again. To act, as Jordan Peterson has said, as if God exists.
[OMG, don't tell me you've had a come to Jesus...]
While I don't share the contempt and dismissal implied in your statement -- preferring true-woke to faux-woke -- no, I haven't, not in the usual sense. But I prefer to keep my metaphysics to myself.
While I hesitate to speak for Dr. Peterson and I'm hardly an expert on his teachings?/conclusions?/philosophy? I shall venture out on to the relevant limb and state that we both think that:
--And even the "lived experience" of the allegedly marginalized --
Clearly indicates that...
Well, I'm no public intellectual (obviously) and I find that I'm wrong with disturbing regularity. However, it seems to me that since the formerly marginalized have achieved, and continue to receive, saturation levels of attention within the infosphere that...
No wait, sorry, that's another letter.
Where was I? Oh yeah, -- clearly indicates we'll feel good about ourselves and be motivated to keep getting out of bed in the morning as long as we're striving to reach an ever higher goal.
For the religiously and/or the mystically inclined, a personal, ever-developing relationship with God does the trick and answers a lot of important questions. Eckhart was advising that if you hit a rough patch maintain your moral and ethical ideals and the peace that surpasses understanding will return.
Peterson's version (and mine), acting as if God exists -- to never stop seeking the truth, to never stop striving to live as morally and ethically as possible, to acknowledge that when you're being brutally honest that 98.711% of the time you know what the right thing to do is, so do it -- amounts to the same thing.
[Huh. So you're saying that it doesn't mean that even if we're brimming with confidence and self-esteem courtesy of politically/culturally/etceterally correct parents and teachers and therapists and the like -- that waking and baking is unquestionably a legitimate way to start every day?]
What I'm saying is that we should give a bit of thought to what we really want, how we're going to get there, and what we'll be thinking about when we're on our deathbed and evaluating our lives.
What I'm saying is we should give a bit of thought to how we should conduct ourselves on the playground. Are you cool/do you keep your cool? Do you share your toys? Are you worthy of being a best friend? Are you a bully?
What I'm saying is that we should set the highest goals we can think of and if/when we reach them we're still not satisfied, or if we change our minds before we get there is:
Keep. Reaching. Your inner GPS will offer up the appropriate suggested routes.
Do these things and you will be supplied with the meaning that so many claim doesn't exist even though most of them can't stop looking for it.
It's okay to occasionally take detours just because they look interesting. In fact, I can't recommend it enough. Just be careful you don't get lost.
Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day
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