Jerry Katz
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Highlights #901

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11/27/01 Tuesday


Re: Eckhart, Ron, Pieter: Retrogression

>"When...the soul is aware that it is looking at God, loving him, and
>knowing him, that is already a retrogression."
>Meister Eckhart
>What does retrogression mean in this context?
> Ron

We can probably be a little more specific in an answer to Ron.

Retrogress means to 'go backwards'.

One of the entries in the Tao Te Ching paraphrased:

The sage observed:

"When the Great Way is lost, filial piety is born"

As indefinable as 'The Great Way' or 'Nonduality' may be,
the principle which pertains is the one which is also outlined
in Hawkin's book "Power VS Force":

* Higher can see lower, but lower cannot see higher *

Retrogression in this context is evidenced by _identification with_ a projected
or imagined deity; the one doing the projecting is in a state of
dissociation or
as Pieter stated, "duality".

One in this state of dissociation is helpless, but surrender
of identity restores integrity of consciousness.

Another way of looking at this is that everything which
emanates from the source begins what is an endless
descent into matter; that is, all that is manifest is essentially
degenerate. Identification with/as body imposes a POV
in which the source is regressing from the witness POV.

The perennial behaviour of seeking is itself proposed as a
remedy for this apparent disconnect or removal of seer
from seen.

The missing element in this drama of seeking and finding,
is that the appearance of matter, of time and space and
objects, is in no way separate from source; all of what is
is equally valued, as the body of God. Faith is the generous
allowance which is the personal counterpart of Grace.

I have stated this in the context which I imagine that
Meister Eckhart was using, which led to the question
by Ron.

==Gene Poole==

Read "Briefing For A Descent Into Hell"
by Doris Lessing, for a beautiful allegory
of this context of 'retrogression'.


I'll force the coin. Looking in the dictionary, I see that retrogression in a less
common usage means a return to a less complex or earlier condition. Yes, the
implication is that it's a worse condition, but not necessarily. It is possible
that retrogression could mean a step toward unity (toward God) and then nonduality
(toward Godhead, using Eckhart's terms), if those states can be considered earlier
or 'prior'. I can't find and am not about to look for the original quote, though
I'm curious enough to ask Ron to type out the sermon it came from.

Eckhart is very quotable. I can find where he says, "When I preach, I try to speak
of letting go and that human beings should become unwed from themselves and from
all things. Second I try to say that they should be conceived again in that simple
good which is God. Third, I stress that people should reflect on that great
nobility which God has put in their souls so that they might come to God in a
wonderful manner. Fourth, I talk of the purity of the divine nature -- that
brightness of the divine nature which is ineffable. God is a word, but an
unexpressed Word."

In this quote I can hear 'retrogression' being used in the sense that isn't
negative. Are most of Eckhart's writings sermons? If so, I see them being positive
and joyous. Apparently he used humor, Eckhart, and was joyous by nature: "In the
same enjoyment in which God enjoys himself, he enjoys all things."

I can't see him giving a sermon and saying that loving and knowing God is negative,
a step toward a worse condition. Having said all that, I'd be surprised if I'm
right! Just forcing the coin to land on the side it never lands on.

Hey, Ron, type out more from where that quote came from. Thanks!



"When...the soul is aware that it is looking at God, loving him,
and knowing him, that is already a retrogression."

The following quote I found by Eckhart supports the use of retrogression as a
negative. But the last sentence could mean that retrogression is a return to
emptiness, the desert, to wisdom, to the Godhead, since he talks about soul
being aware. It's not possible to know whether the quote above is a movement
toward or away from the desert, which I guess is why it found its way into a
Zen calendar.

In any case, Eckhart is fun to read and some of his stuff is very nondual.
The first time I ran across him was that famous quote (from memory): "The eye
through which man sees God is the eye through which God sees man." If a
person reads that at the right time in their life, it can be powerful.


" Thus, I say, a royal person derives and creates his or her whole being,
life, and happiness only from God, through God, and in God -- not from
realizing God, seeing God, loving God, or similar actions. Therefore, our
Lord says in noteworthy words that eternal life is knowing God alone as the
one, true God. He does not say that it is realizing that we know God. How can
people who do not know themselves know themselves as knowing God? For surely
people have no knowledge at all of themselves or of other things -- not to
speak of God alone -- if they are happy in the root and depth of happiness.
However, if the soul knows that it knows God, it gains at the same time a
knowledge of God and of itself."


No, if you are looking at God you have retrogressed into division, of 'me
and God'.

God can't see himself.


I still see two points of view. If one is fully identified with
mind/body not seeing God. If then one starts to see God they are
regression to original source.

Dictionary Definitions:
1. return to a former and less complex level of development or

2. to tend to approach or revert to a mean

I agree with both ideas. Who knows what was originally meant.


It was translated from German. How about this from Nisargadatta. What does he
mean by recede?

"When you are in consciousness, you understand the nature of consciousness
and you recede. Your progress continues. This consciousness is slowly
extinguishing itself; knowingly it is disappearing. But nothing affects You,
because that is the Absolute. Just like when the flame is gone, the smoke is
gone, the sky remains."

'Recede' was translated from Nisargadatta's language.


Dear Ron
I think this means that the ideas of knowing loving and looking at
God are preceded by a brief realization of Oneness. The idea
immediately supplants the oneness.
The idea is not that which it describes just as the word "cup" is not
a real cup.



ok, don't ask me how i did it, but i was breezing through a 600 page book on Eckhart's sermons put together
by Matthew Fox, and I found another translation of your passage. The passage you delivered was:

"When...the soul is aware that it is looking at God, loving him, and knowing him, that is already a

The translation I found is: "If the soul knows and realizes that it is seeing, knowing, and loving God, this
means according to the natural order an interruption from this situation and a reversion to the first stage."

Maybe that clarifies it. The portion leading up to the quote is: "The soul knows nothing about knowledge or
love or anything else. It wishes to be completely at rest and exclusively in God's being. There it knows
nothing but being and God." then your quote.

Absolutely Clear

Don't surrender your loneliness
So quickly.
Let it cut more

Let it ferment and season you
As few human
Or even divine ingredients can.

Something missing in my heart tonight
Has made my eyes so soft,
My voice so

My need of God

("The Subject Tonight is Love" -- versions of Hafiz by Daniel Ladinsky;
original presentation by David Williamson)


Hi Friends,

Thank you for letting me be a part of your elist conversations. I'm
about to log off the list because I'm leaving my apartment Friday and
I'll let the email address lapse, as it was really part of the job I
lost last August. (sheesh, I can't believe they let me keep using it so

I'm not sure where I'm bound, but I hope to converse with you again
someday. (Aw, heck, there's only one of it, so how could you get rid of

Until then, be well,

Pieter Schoonheim Samara

The individual self (the non-self), which is based on the conception of an identity between a subject "I" and
the body and impressions appearing in the mind of objects of the senses, is not real. What is Real is simply
the beginningless pulsation of the "I as I," which lights the body and mind with the pervasive awareness of

When the mind becomes pure, its substratum, the awareness of the single pervasive "I" emerges as
Consciousness Itself, dissolving the idea of an identity with the body and impressions of the mind.

For a while there seems to be an effort to purify the mind, as a means to realize the Truth. Suddenly an
inner awakening to the Truth pervades the consciousness and the idea of an identity to the body and
impressions of the mind fades.

When this identity begins to fade and the "I" is withdrawn to abide in It's own nature, the ideas such as
attachment also fade.

What is discovered is that the satvic mind, which reflects the inherent
Intelligence within the "I," naturally attaches itself to the rajasic (actions) and tamasic mind (objects), but that
these are never separate, but seem separate, from the perspective of the focusing lens of the mind, which is
to say attention. Attention is the power within the mind that binds thought impressions as a basis to formulate
the idea of an identity between the subject (satvic mind) and object (tamasic mind), the continuous
modification of these 2 being the activity of the rajasic mind.

The substratum of these three, satvic (pure reflective consciousness),
rajasic (active modifications) and tamasic (apparently solid objects), is
the simple all pervasive awareness of "I as I."

When through this special practice of Kundalini Yoga, the field of the body becomes charged and begins to
resonate and balance, the vibration of the field begins to be of a higher frequency than thought impressions,
such that the sense of identity begins to rest in that consciousness, where intuitive knowledge gives way to

Gradually, the entire field begins to resonate at this frequency for longer and longer periods of time, until the
mind is so pure and
electromagnetically balanced, that with the slightest exposure to the Truth (such as the reading of a spiritual
text), the mind relinquishes its outgoing tendency, inverts and reflects the Self, pulsing "I as I" purely.

This Self is recognized to be Truth. One no longer says "I am this and that" but instead, if anything at all, "I
am the Truth."

This Truth is all-pervasive, without cause, without any conditions, without any link to time nor space, yet It is
eternal and spacelike.
Incomprehensible to the mind It abides as the single Truth of our Being.

When we seem to think that the senses have focused in on an object (internal or external), what actually is
happening is that the object is recognized within the field of the pervasive "I" consciousness and some
knowledge is released as an intuition that gives way to thought images within the mind. If we concentrate on
the object with a still (concentrated) mind, the object becomes brighter within the pervasive field, which also
reveals greater intuitive knowledge of the object within the mind. A sense of realness is denoted to the
object, which has no Reality of its own.

The ignorant mind, which has no light of its own has the impression that there is a basis for an identity in this
process of a subject in relation to an object, when actually the process is simply the satvic, rajasic and
tamasic qualities attaching themselves to eachother variously. We are told to give up attachments, and in the
process, the ignorant mind has devised a whole category of higher and lower attachments to build a more
comprehensive idea of an individual identity versus the real request of relinquishing attachment altogether.

But, when the mind begins to become pure, and the Truth is heard inwardly, the whole range of identity to
the process of attachments dissolves altogether, as the True Identity emerges and abides in Itself as
all-pervasive single being.

As long as we see and identify with the images appearing in the reflected consciousness of the mind, the
consciousness appears to be limited and we seem to identify who we think we are with those reflections, but
when the sun of the heart (Hrdayam) rises and pulls the sense of "I" into the Singularity of the "I" pulsing as
soundless sound as "I," the moon of the mind, though continuing to appear in the all pervasive sky, is no
longer needed for seeing, as notions of near and far - before and after have lost all meaning to the pervasive
simplicity of the Being Consciousness in which one now abides.

With continued practice of Kundalini Yoga, this Truth and inward Knowledge emerges in the consciousness
of the True Man and True Woman as simple pure Awareness of pervasive "I as I."

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