Mystical Word | A Weekly Reflection

Mystical Word is a weekly reflection based on the Sunday Gospel reading, written by L.J. Milone, Director of Faith Formation at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle.

Oneness with God

There is nothing we have to do to get God because God is always and forever one with us, this very second!

In the Gospel, Jesus says to his disciples, “I am in the Father and the Father is in me.”  Jesus is consciously one with God and wants the same for his followers.  According to Meister Eckhart, we are one with God right here and right now.  He uses a rich and explosive metaphor to communicate our incomprehensible oneness with God: the ground.  The problem for Eckhart is we don’t know we are always already one with God.  We are disconnected from the ground, and, hence, from our true identity.  The whole point of Meister Eckhart's mystical path is to return to the ground.  The ground answers the question "Who am I?"  In the ground, we discover our identity in nothing but God.

The ground lies deep within us.  Eckhart says, “A person who is not at home with inward things does not know what God is.  It is just like a man who has wine in his cellar and, having neither drunk nor even tried it, does not know that it is good.  This is exactly the situation of people who live in ignorance: They do not know what God is and they think and fancy they are really living.”  Thus, Eckhart likens people who do not know the God within to a person who has a basement full of choice wines but has never tried any.  He doesn’t know how good his wine is!  Living ignorant of God is not living at all.  Such people don't know how good they have it.  They don’t realize they are already one with God, and ultimate bliss is closer than they would believe.

We don’t know how good our lives already are.  Instead, we find some reason to be unhappy.  We compare ourselves to others we find more successful, happy, or beautiful.  The things we desire escape us and, so, we think we can’t be happy.  Eckhart would say such people are living in ignorance because they do not know the Holy Mystery infinitely accessible within.  All they have to do is go within themselves, let go of their ideas of happiness, and let God be God.  Since our problem is ignorance, we live as if God were absent.  Eckhart says this just isn’t true.

Meister Eckhart preaches, “God’s ground is my ground and my ground is God’s ground.”  The ground is the identity of God and the soul.  It symbolizes mystical identity with the original transcendent oneness and nothingness at the root of all reality.  The ground is simultaneously the God beyond God and the deepest and most foundational reality of every single person, animal, and piece of earth.  Far beyond our inner psychological world of thoughts and feelings, in the ground we realize our true I AM.

The ground is the source of all existence and so points to the Mystery of God as the reality with which we are always engaged every moment of our lives.  The ground is that out of which we exist.  The ground, then, is pure mystery.  As such, Eckhart often speaks of the ground as nothing, or as transcending the God who is Trinity.  It is the “the simple ground…the quiet desert, into which distinction never gazed, not the Father, nor the Son, nor the Holy Spirit.”

The ground proclaims identity with God is available now, right here!  Spiritual growth may take time, but we can also enjoy this divine identity right now.  We can enter the ground anywhere and anytime because the ground is within us.   Everyone and anyone has immediate access to identity with the Ultimate Mystery.  This is incredible news.  In fact, Eckhart is revealing his deep connection to the Gospel through the image of the ground.  There is nothing we have to do to get God because God is always and forever one with us, this very second!

There are no hoops to jump through to get God to love us.  There are no requirements for oneness with God.  Sinner and saint have equal access to the ground.  There is nothing in the way of oneness with God.  There is no form to fill out, no certificate to get, and no red tape.  Oneness with God, for Meister Eckhart, is and will always be free and lacking any paperwork.  Our only problem is we don’t know it because we are so addicted to the ego.

If we go within ourselves, we will experience the blessedness of the ground.  When we stay on the surface of life and play the ego game, happiness eludes us.  We remain ignorant of who we really are as long as we are caught in the grip of self-centeredness.  Eckhart is luring us away from ego to enter the one ground.  He is proclaiming a wonderful truth: You don’t need to do anything to achieve oneness with God.  You are already one with God.  If we know this we enjoy the life of Resurrection.