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Advice from Zandtaomed
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Faith Process and Eckhart's Awakening Inner Light



This is an investigation into Eckhart’s free talks on Awakening the Inner light which I have put together here (links part1, part 2, part 3, part 4). I want to use my understanding and faith concerning Eckhart’s teachings on the light of consciousness in Viveka-Zandtao in the final part “following the path”, so I have spent some time writing this advice in order to evaluate the teachings. In doing this I have developed a faith process in section 3 of this advice to help work with mystery teachings.

In these teachings on Awakening the Inner Light, Eckhart is presenting the mystery of consciousness, the light of consciousness. To begin with I will present a summary of the teachings, I hope in the way Eckhart has taught them. I will then compare those teachings with Buddhadasa’s teachings on Void Mind. Then I will finally evaluate using what I will call the faith process to determine what is known to me and what is unknown but that I can have faith in. In reading this advice you can read Eckhart’s teachings, see my comparison with Buddhadasa’s teaching on Void Mind, and see how I have evaluated both using the faith process. You can then evaluate using this faith process, determine for yourself what you know and determine your unknown that you need to have faith in. Simply believing in Eckhart’s teachings is ditthupadana, you need to apply mindfulness and wisdom so that you can use the teachings effectively.

Section 1 - Eckhart’s teachings on the mystery of the light of consciousness

In this section I am mostly describing what Eckhart says; sometimes I directly quote him, at other times I am not quoting but I am still attempting to describe what Eckhart says.

Part 1 - Being the Light

Eckhart began by noting that Jesus said “you are the light of the world” and then elsewhere Jesus said “I am the light of the world” [00.45 – 02.00]. He noted that in saying “you are the light of the world” Jesus was talking to “ordinary people” – everyone, saying this light was Essence [02.00 - 02.54] ( even Buddha-nature). Eckhart went on to speak of this light as consciousness:-

"The essence is your light, your consciousness .... without consciousness there is no world [04.10]". “The universe is conscious and we cannot know what consciousness is [06.40]”

Mystery is a constant theme in his talk. He spoke of the macrocosmic mystery of the expanding universe, the microcosmic mystery of the atom, but the greatest mystery to him is consciousness. “Scientists rarely talk about consciousness because they don’t know what to say about it” [06.30].

“The one thing you cannot doubt is that you are conscious right now” [07.20]. You are listening to this talk (or reading this advice), “where does it take place? In consciousness” [08.40]. “The way I see it you are a manifestation of this one consciousness and I am speaking in this one consciousness. Who am I? I am the light of the world, the one consciousness - as are you” [09.20 – 09.50].

You cannot doubt consciousness, it is an experiential observation [09.35 – 11.30]. Descartes I think therefore I am. He stopped but what if he had gone on beyond thought - transcended thinking, then there is consciousness and awareness [11.30 – 12.30]. Beyond “there is the light of consciousness (before it becomes a thing) the light shines through before it becomes form, the light is not separate” [12.35 – 12.50]. The realisation that you are conscious is beyond doubt. This consciousness is the light of the world, the essence of who you are – for the world to appear it needs the light of consciousness [13.00 – 13.30]. Science cannot observe consciousness because “consciousness cannot be observed because consciousness is the eternal observer” [14.50]. “Consciousness is the eternal mystery, it is the eternal mystery of who you are” [15.50]. You cannot make yourself an object of knowledge. You can know yourself as an ego, as conditioning but you can never know your Essence – can never make your essence the object [15.55]. This essence is part of consciousness that is the “eternal subject”. “It is inseparable from the transcendent, an emanation of God, in the way that a ray of sunlight is not the sun but is connected to the sun” [16.30]. When is a ray of sunlight not sun? Inseparable, transcendent. Consciousness is the emanation.

Note for Christian comparisons. Kingdom of Heaven is the dimension of spaciousness - pure consciousness – an inner dimension of consciousness. Eckhart said that Jesus said the kingdom of heaven that is within you, and his disciples asked when does the kingdom of heaven come? And Jesus answered “the kingdom of heaven does not come with signs to be perceived, you cannot say look it’s over here or look it’s over there, truly I tell you it is within you” [18.00 – 18.45]. “It is the eternal subject. You cannot make consciousness, an emanation of God, into an object of perception or an object of knowledge” [19.15].

Part 2 – Calling in the light of consciousness [19.50]

What is it that you cannot doubt? Consciousness, you don't know what it is but you are conscious. Can you be conscious of the fact that you are conscious? Meditators say yes to this but Eckhart gives a simple method. You are thinking. Stop. What is it between the two thoughts? There is something but it cannot be described – it’s given a word “consciousness”. In the conditioned world people are not encouraged to question these things. There is an unconscious assumption amongst conditioning that we are our thoughts. For this assumption/delusion there is no understanding of consciousness because thoughts block off consciousness, but if you see the space between thoughts …. What is there? There can be no doubt. Maybe no understanding beyond the word “consciousness” but there is understanding. By going into the depth of this space – Eckhart calls it spaciousness – we develop our understanding – our being – we follow our paths.

Once we accept there is consciousness without doubt, what arises? “You have gone deeper into yourself, touched a deeper dimension out of which all those things that can transform your life into something benevolent and fruitful (even joyful) emerge” [25.35 – 26.25].

“Creativity. Creative insights, they come from the deeper layers of unconditioned consciousness. To be creative you have to have some access to the dimension that is beyond thinking” [26.33 – 26.44] Whoever, “if they access a moment when the mind stops but they remain acutely alert and resonant, then the mind starts again and the ability to bring some creative solution has somehow increased dramatically [27.45 – 28.20]

Wisdom. “Wisdom emanates from that deeper place of presence” [29.07]. Wisdom on CNN, Fox News ….? “You can have a developed mind but no wisdom, the more developed the mind becomes it can see separate problems but it cannot see the problem in its totality. Wisdom sees the totality. In order to see the totality you need to come to a moment of cessation of thinking so that you have awareness that looks at the problem. …. Wisdom emanates from that place of the realisation that your self is that space of awareness of presence as thought subsides” [30.00 - 32.18].

Empathy emanates from the light of consciousness, that place beyond thought. “Empathy with humans, empathy with other life forms, compassion, because you are not trapped in your personal sense of identity. A person engaged in protecting or enhancing this personal sense of identity cannot have empathy” [32.50 – 33.34].

Love. “Love as the realisation of being when you realise yourself as the light of consciousness”. You can sense that light in another being even beyond their personality.” Even beyond the conditioned personality in others, “you can sense the same beingness you can sense in yourself. There is a light of consciousness in every human. [34.40 – 38.00].

“These are aspects (creativity, wisdom, empathy, love) of your realisation of being” [34.00]. The evolution of your consciousness through creativity etc. (these aspects) is the evolution of planetary consciousness is the evolution of universal consciousness [26.50 - 27.02].

“Through the realisation of being, through the realisation of consciousness, the way you meet problems changes. Your reality changes. Your reality is your state of consciousness with which you face what happens around you” [38.20 – 39.14].

Part 3 - Challenges as a Pathway to Conscious Evolution [39.18]

Eckhart talks about challenges “as if they were designed to make life difficult” [39.46]. To me he was stressing that life is not meant to be comfortable. With our western consumerism and western lifestyle there is a conformity that we can go from day to day making ourselves comfortable. But challenges get in the way of that comfort so that at one stage we might reach some comfort only for a challenge to come along causing discomfort. To me he was saying comfort was not possible in conditioned world. There might be interludes of comfort to delude us that complete comfort was possible; but it is not and there will always be some form of challenge whether personal or societal.

Despite these interludes which delude us, our purpose in life is not this comfort; it’s almost as if life’s challenges are intended to come along and “make us uncomfortable” so that we cannot be deluded that such comfort is possible. These comfortable interludes can arise in relationship, professional life, material possessions but new challenges will arise bringing about suffering. “If you don’t know the deeper dimension of who you are, if you react to the problems of life, you suffer and become unhappy. This is because you don’t understand why you are here …. You are not here to feel comfortable” [41.00 -42.00].

Eckhart discussed differing levels of social upheaval not drawing any global implications. But he did say that in the West there was “increasing turbulence, and this was nothing to be afraid of” [44.38]. He described cycles of challenges in which it might be possible for all the buses to come at the same time. But if there are no challenges in life, in an ordered life – a steady job, stable income, year in year out – “this is a most undesirable thing because there would be no evolution of awareness and consciousness remaining stuck in your relative comfort zone. Without any awakening of consciousness you would not evolve as a human being, you remain stagnant. By being challenged you evolve” [46.58]. He spoke of the collective challenges – societal – that in 2020 could not be predicted, how can there be comfort with that?

“What is the relationship between your realisation of the light of consciousness and the challenges that are coming towards you?” [49.02]. “The same external circumstances are experienced very differently by one person, still very unconscious, to another who is much more conscious, more in touch with what is beyond the conditioned personality. This (conscious) person experiences these challenges very differently from a person trapped in ego” [49.20 – 49.46]. “In egoic identity any challenge becomes threatening, not only that but any possibility of challenge that might happen is already an enormous source of suffering” [50.07]. Egoic thinking - “how much worse is it going to get, playing out scenarios and then experiencing emotions that are the same or worse than if they actually happened” [50.40]. “If there is not enough light of consciousness in you then all you have is the unobserved mind creating an enormous amount of suffering for you playing out scenarios that are not here and reacting to challenges that are here in a very limited way with the old conditioning of their minds” [51.27].

“As we enter this period of external turmoil and turbulence it is important to realise that the way we experience this is largely determined by state of consciousness” [51.54]. “If it is purely reactive then it is going to be extremely difficult. Not only that but reactive consciousness is largely dominated by fear, and any action you take that arises out of a fearful and limited state of consciousness is ultimately not going to be helpful and in most cases will make things worse. Fear interferes with your ability to be aware, to be conscious, and even to think rationally; your thinking is no longer your thinking, it is fear thinking, it is all part of the egoic consciousness” [53.16].

“Our greatest challenge does not come from the outside, it comes from the inside – our conditioned minds. In any situation, in the present moment, be aware of your state of consciousness, and make that (awareness) your primary reality” [54.00] “If fear arises ask why am I fearful and in most cases you will realise that fear is produced from thinking – not from the situation” [54.25]. Situations can be dealt with by facing them in the present moment, but in a fearful state of consciousness you are incapable of taking action or if you take action it is completely contaminated by fear – with a complete lack of wisdom [55.04].

“Our greatest challenge is how do we face the external situation? The action we take is secondary, prior to taking action we need to be aware of the state of consciousness out of which the action arises” [55.35]. “When you meet an unconscious person, such as an angry person, they want to draw you into their anger. Is your state of consciousness reactive? You will amplify that person’s unconsciousness as you will be drawn into unconsciousness. If you are in an aware state of consciousness you can stay present, instead of becoming reactive you become alert. As a result this unconscious person helps you become more present. In any situation you can go into reactivity. Reactivity is a force within you that can grow within you, if you try to solve a situation in this state of reactivity you will amplify the situation – make it worse. How things evolve externally is connected to your state of consciousness so it is vitally important to be present” [58.45].

“Make it your primary concern to be responsible for your state of consciousness first” [59.12].

Part 4 – Becoming a Conscious Participant in the Creative Process of the Universe [59.12]

In this part Eckhart discusses two deep mysteries and weaves in and out of both. As with mystery in general it is necessary to come to terms with what is known and the faith that takes us into the unknown; my own understanding of this will be discussed in section 3 and in Viveka-Zandtao. For me there was a greater clarity in this part when I understood that the weaving in and out was based on the two different mysteries so here I intend to examine the talk in terms of the two mysteries – but not in talk order; to understand why I have done this perhaps it would be better for you to listen to the whole of part 4 first. How you interact with these two deep mysteries depends on understanding and faith, I will leave that aside for the moment.

The two mysteries come from the title, the first is the Creative Process of the Universe and the second is Becoming a Conscious Participant in that process; it is understandable why there is weaving in and out. He begins the talk with how the state of consciousness affects situations, a foundation for understanding being a conscious participant. I am examining the talk from the perspective of the two mysteries so will include his initial discussion within the second mystery.

Mystery 1 - Creative Process of the Universe

“Challenges are here in order to bring more consciousness. The light of consciousness that comes into this world needs to grow, and that is the evolutionary process of the planet and the universe as a whole” [65.41- 66.04]. This is how Eckhart connects the initial discussion of the personal state of consciousness to Mystery 1. “This process is the light of consciousness coming more fully into this dimension. It is the emanation (of consciousness) from source, so the universe is engaged in a process of awakening, of becoming more conscious. Every life form is gradually becoming more conscious” [66.04 – 66.31]. He then went into what I can only describe as a cosmological history with life forms becoming more conscious and extinction events within planetary and human development.

“There is a vast intelligence operating unseen underneath the world of phenomena. This vast intelligence is universal consciousness and that is the ultimate reality. The universe is in the process of manifesting more and more consciousness, the universe is still being created – it’s not finished. God is still creating this world, and you are an essential part of this creative process. You are not a separate part of this awakening, you are an expression of this awakening universe. God is emanating more consciousness into this dimension. In our case it is through you – other life forms too, but the human here is very important. There has been evolution of consciousness for millions and millions of years but now there is not just evolution of consciousness but conscious evolution of consciousness through the human. Our talking here, being here together is an expression of that conscious evolution of the universe. Suddenly it is not just the evolution of consciousness which has been going on for millions of years, we have reached a stage where the evolution of consciousness becomes conscious evolution of consciousness. Through you, through me, the universe is realising its own journey, its own purpose, its own essence ultimately” [68.08 – 70.35]. He then goes on to describe a transitional stage [70.39] that we are at, and that I will include as part of mystery 2.

So Eckhart connects mystery 1 – the creative process of the universe – to mystery 2, being a conscious participant in that process. Now we will look at mystery 2.

Mystery 2 – Becoming a Conscious Participant in Mystery 1

To develop an understanding of how we can be a conscious participant we need to go back and find out how Eckhart sees the way state of consciousness affects any situation. “In a mysterious way how a situation develops is connected to the state of consciousness with which you meet the situation” [59.35]. Are you non-reactive but present? “Make it your primary concern to be responsible for your state of consciousness” [59.10].

Experience it this way. “Facing a situation are you facing it in presence – non-reactive? This means you can sense this deeper presence that is within you as you look at the situation. You are there not just as a person but more importantly as the light of consciousness. And the light of consciousness is the awareness that looks at the situation” [60.23]. “Right action will happen but it will arise out of this presence. You might use your mind – saying something?, but this saying will not be egoic it will arise from the deeper level. And you will say the right thing that is helpful, you will not say something that will inflame the situation – create suffering for yourself and others” [60.57]. “So how your reality evolves, even what happens in a difficult situation, is connected to the state of consciousness with which you meet that situation” [61.32]. A very unconscious state will create more suffering, and be completely devoid of wisdom. In an unconscious state “collective thought forms” take possession of your mind, you identify with it, it becomes part of your ego; the situation gets awful. “You don’t know that your enemy lives between your two ears not out there, but you don’t know that because there is not enough awareness, not enough light of consciousness to be aware” [63.18].

This awareness is the “greatest challenge” for humans. It is not the external challenge, although that external challenge is helpful. “The external challenge is there as an awakener” [63.41]. You are not here to be comfortable. “There is a comfort zone but it is not external. Deep within when you are aware and present, you have accessed the transcendent dimension of your consciousness, which is also the transcendent dimension of universal consciousness. In that transcendent state you can say you are in a comfort zone but that is beyond the polarities of good and bad” [64.47]. This is not what we normally associate comfort with.

“You can be at peace even when the external situation is turbulent and very challenging” [64.58], “it is an incredible awakening that you can be internally at peace in even in the face of challenges. Not only this but the challenges forced you to go deeper because somehow you know that if you don’t go deeper you’re going to suffer more and more” [65.32]; “nothing external will ever free you from that”. This is where he connects to mystery 1, “challenges are here in order to bring more consciousness. The light of consciousness that comes into this world needs to grow, and that is the evolutionary process of the planet and the universe as a whole” [65.41- 66.04].

I have already examined mystery 1 – universal consciousness. So far with regards to mystery 2 I have explained Eckhart’s teachings concerning the mysterious way in which a situation is connected to your state of consciousness. How does this work if we are to become conscious participants in mystery 1, the Creative Process of the Universe?

In this final part of presenting Eckhart’s teachings on the light of consciousness I am going to present the teachings and note whether it requires any assumptions to accept the teaching; I am not disagreeing with the teachings just recognising the assumptions.

In presenting mystery 1 I had reached the stage where Eckhart was describing a transition. The transition is that we are reaching the stage where there is a conscious process of the evolution of consciousness. “Transition is from one mode of being to a new mode of being. This new mode of being is conscious participation in the creative process of the universe through the human form” [70.57]. This assumes a transition in which there was no conscious participation in the past into a new mode where there is conscious participation [assumption 1].

“There is conscious participation when you face an external situation and bring conscious presence to it rather than reactivity” [71.13]. “The external situation has the purpose of driving you to a deeper place of presence” [71.28] “because if you don’t go there you suffer a lot and things get worse”.

“You meet the situation consciously, and it’s no longer the same situation.” “The external world and your consciousness are a single phenomenon” [Assumption 2]. “How a situation evolves depends on the state of consciousness with which you meet that situation and deal with it; then you will find it changes” [72.27]. “This is a very mysterious thing. It is important to realise you are not at the mercy of externals. It is of vital importance so that you become a conscious participant in the creative process of the universe. You begin to change reality primarily by being present so your action (wise action and empowered action) arises out of being present” [73.16].

“I deal with the realm of cause, the world is the realm of effect. The realm of effect changes, consciousness changes, as cause changes.” “What we need is more people awakening to who they are, the light of the world, and then we will find that reality changes as a reflection of the collective consciousness” [Assumption 4] [74.19].

“We are moving into a time period of turbulence, that’s a good thing, it’s here to awaken us; although it could also make us more unconscious. It is quite possible it will awaken a certain segment of the population, and it will make another segment of the population unconscious. This other segment of the population just needs more time” [75.00].

“It will be much easier for those who awaken. I can see certainly we are moving into turbulence, certainly some people are becoming more conscious and some are becoming more unconscious.” “My job – and your job – is to help humans become more conscious so that they can take right action – if action is necessary or possible” [Assumption 5].

“Your primary responsibility is to yourself first, and you will affect others around you directly and indirectly” [76.37]. “And by (affecting) others I don’t mean technology or messages.” “All humans are connected underneath the surface of things, there is one human consciousness, so any change in your consciousness is a change in human consciousness” [Assumption 6] [77.03].

“That’s our purpose ( conscious participation). We do not need to fear what’s happening but just to realise that it is as it should be if seen from a higher perspective of human evolution” [Assumption 7] [77.18]. “The present moment is as it is and it could not be otherwise, it is what humans need for their further evolution” [77.43]. They don’t need their comfort zone unless it is their transcendent comfort zone.

“Welcome whatever life brings to you in the moment even if it is difficult. Don’t complain because the moment you complain you are in an antagonistic relationship with life, and if you’re in an antagonistic relationship with life you will experience life as antagonistic.” “Life ultimately reflects back to you your state of consciousness” [Assumption 8] [78.54]. “Eventually everyone will realise that”.

“I wish you well in your journey towards further awakening of consciousness, and that who you are in your essence is the light of the world” [End]

Section 2 – Comparing Eckhart’s teachings with Buddhadasa’s Void Mind

When I started to read this (Buddhadasa's Void Mind), it felt like reading the same stuff as Eckhart’s talk just packaged differently (up until Mystery 2). Buddhadasa’s package is traditional Theravada Buddhism in which he has gone beyond the dogma in a similar way that Eckhart has also gone beyond words; as the path does not follow a particular dogma, doctrine, church or religion this is not surprising. Eckhart started his talk by quoting Jesus “You are the light of the world”, Buddhadasa whilst considered revolutionary saw himself as a slave to the Buddha. Different dogmas, same path, I like this contextual sameness.

Casual reading might not see the sameness so I want to give advice that can help you see the equivalence the way I do - then you can decide. Let me follow the progression through Eckhart’s development. Eckhart talks of the light of consciousness – it is confusing if you thinks of Eckhart’s consciousness as vinnana (see later). Light of consciousness is the luminous void mind of Buddhadasa. Eckhart used the term “universal consciousness” whilst Buddhadasa used sunnata or universal void mind. Eckhart describes an individual consciousness that is an emanation of universal consciousness, and this has its Buddhadasa equivalent as an emanation of void mind from the universal void mind. Some confusion occurs over sunnata translated sometimes as emptiness, when I see that translation I think of the Tao which talks of the emptiness that is full.

Buddhadasa makes a distinction by describing sunnata as void mind but void mind is not empty but void of self – identity. Above Eckhart describes consciousness as the eternal subject that observes the identity (self) as not consciousness; in this situation both Eckhart and Buddhadasa are describing consciousness/void mind as not-self - the characteristic of anatta in Buddhism. In talking of anatta Buddhadasa describes the removing of me and mine from the 5 khandhas (aggregates). And here is a confusion because one of the khandhas is vinnana which is usually translated as consciousness – mostly (explained below) this is not the focus of consciousness that Eckhart is talking of. To clarify this confusion I need to describe how vinnana is used with khandhas. The 4 other khandhas are rupa – body, vedana – feelings/emotions, sanna – memory/perception and sankhara – mental processes. For an eye to see it needs vinnana to enable seeing, for a memory to be recalled it needs vinnana to remember, for a mental process to reason it needs vinnana to actuate. Without vinnana the other 4 khandhas are not part of the human aggregate. Buddhadasa draws a verbal distinction by using Void mind and vinnana. Eckhart described individual consciousness as an emanation of the universal consciousness like a ray from the sun. Individual void mind is an emanation of universal sunnata like a ray from sunnata. Vinnana is a temporary consciousness emanating from Void mind to actuate the khandha, and once the event of the khandha has completed this temporary consciousness returns to the void mind. Or rather if there is anatta this temporary consciousness returns to void mind, if there is present rather than reactive consciousness. But if there is attachment forming self through one of the khandhas (a reactive state of consciousness), then that temporary consciousness of vinnana remains as an attached ego, hopefully to be returned later to void mind through the letting go of attachment to make the reactive state of consciousness pure – to return void mind to the luminous natural state.

Compare like this:-

Eckhart Buddhadasa
Universal Consciousness Universal Sunnata or Void Mind
Individual Emanation from Consciousness (No self) Individual Emanation from Void-mind (No self)
Egoic Identity Vinnana-khandha
Attachment to Khandha
Reactive State of Consciousness Paticcasamuppada – khandha- conditioning
No egoic identity/not reactive Building vihara/removing kilesa


The way these link up comes from how we see Eckhart’s pure consciousness – emanation from universal consciousness. This pure consciousness is the state of consciousness of presence, however if the state of consciousness is reactive it becomes egoic identity. Buddhadasa’s void mind (emanation in the individual) is a present state of consciousness free from self (anatta), and if vinnana attaches to the four khandhas (reactive) it becomes ego – me and mine. Eckhart’s natural luminous pure consciousness of presence becomes egoic identity if there is a reactive state of consciousness. Buddhadasa’s natural luminous void mind becomes ego if vinnana attaches to the 4 khandhas – a reactive state of consciousness.

Vihara – “The Buddha’s mind dwelt in the "sunnata abiding" (sunnata-vihara), that is, he dwelt with his mind touching sunnata, free from any disturbance, knowing all things as they really were – as void of "self"” [p29 here].There are also the brahma-viharas of karuna, metta, mudita and upekkha, sometimes translated as divine abodes of compassion, loving-kindness, empathy and equanimity. I like the description mind touching sunnata, the mind is abiding in such a way that it can touch sunnata. Ways the mind can abide in this way are compassion, loving-kindness, empathy or equanimity.

The mind has developed a state of consciousness that enables it to touch consciousness/sunnata. In presence this can happen but if the state of consciousness is reactive it cannot.

In this talk on void mind Buddhadasa describes 3 ways of accessing void mind similar to Eckhart’s spaciousness between two thoughts. There is the natural luminous state of the void mind when there is no attachment naturally. There is vipassana, MwB, that through clarity connects to the Dhamma, and there is the samadhi of the jhanas. Jhanas can arise during meditation; in Viveka-Zandtao I have also described the jhanas of the bells and banjos during firstgrace, and the jhanas of creativity especially at the writing of Kirramura. All of these create “moment(s) when the mind stops but they remain acutely alert and resonant” (Eckhart above) – jhana, where the light of consciousness comes through and brings “awareness that looks at the problem”.

I think of the natural luminous state of void mind as light of consciousness but Buddhadasa talks of the two meditational approaches of samadhi and vipassana as well. Eckhart’s light of consciousness comes from being present, feeling the spaciousness between two thoughts as light of consciousness. From the tradition Buddhadasa talks of the processes of samadhi and vipassana (included in MwB) that can access the light of consciousness, connect to Dhamma, touch void mind – vihara/abiding. Because of my ignorance of Eckhart’s teachings I don’t know what to compare.

But in my view there needs to be a comparable state of consciousness – presence and vihara. With MwB there is a detailed structure of meditational development that can help build vihara. These are the 4 tetrads (body, feelings, mind and Dhamma) similar to Teal’s integration of the completion process. Through this process there is a tacit understanding of Idappaccayata-Paticcasamuppada that lead to detachment from and non-attachment to kilesa and upadana leading to recognition of the 3 characteristics of anicca, quenching dukkha and anatta. There is clear direction concerning the hard work needed doing to develop the vihara that can access the light of consciousness. How does Eckhart build up this vihara? Traditions have methodologies that can build these viharas, non-traditional paths also need to build these viharas but it is not always clear how that is done. So the final row of the comparison table has Buddhadasa using MwB to build vihara; because of my ignorance I don’t know what Eckhart would choose to insert – I have inserted “no egoic identity”.

Section 3 - Faith process

In part 2 of his talk Eckhart said there can be no doubt there is consciousness.For pathtivism, the path is light of consciousness so you cannot doubt path. You can doubt view and systems but you cannot doubt your consciousness – and therefore you cannot doubt your path. There is no doubt because consciousness experiences the world. Have conviction in consciousness, have conviction in the light of consciousness and where consciousness is unknown have faith. Until now I hadn’t realised the importance of faith in following the path. To some extent we know our path, this knowledge is individualised – the extent is individual understanding, what remains has to be faith. We don’t have to know all the path to follow it, we can have faith. And as we follow the path through faith we gain knowledge and understanding of the path so the need for faith lessens. But it always needs to be there, we always have to quest into the unknown, and faith can take us there so that the path can give us greater knowledge. So doubt about consciousness is important, if we have no doubt in consciousness then we follow our paths – what is meant to be.

Why is there doubt in consciousness? Because most people don’t ask about consciousness, because we are not encouraged to quest, or more accurately quest is conditioned out of us as quest is natural. Quest into the unknown is following the path, is quest into the light of consciousness. But once we quest into the unknown then there can be no doubt there is consciousness. I sense, feel, think so I am conscious. But what can be observed? Most of the I, consciousness cannot be observed as it is the eternal subject. So we learn who we truly are by observing I and letting it go as not being who I truly am – anatta.

Towards the end of my work on this advice I have felt an increasing sense of irritability that I usually associate with poor meditation. Yesterday I did what I have come to call bhavana – although technically this is not correct usage. A bhavana is my home retreat where I do multiple meditations in the same day – meditation, rest, meditation, rest etc. Yesterday during bhavana I recognised that there was kilesa causing this irritability, and overnight I realised that kilesa was delusion.

Today I awoke with that delusion and began questioning my faith in Eckhart’s teaching. The delusion was that I was believing the teachings – ditthupadana. This delusion of belief is not an assessment of the teachings but a recognition that I was believing the teachings and belief in teachings is delusion – kilesa. I needed to evaluate the teachings so it was clear in what way I was accepting Eckhart’s mystery teachings. This led me to restructuring this advice making a clear distinction between Eckhart’s teaching and this final section where I evaluate those teachings for me. How much faith do I want to give Eckhart’s teachings?

And finally I get to blame the real problem – me. The delusion was a known delusion, I was trying to answer the Buddha’s unanswered questions – using Eckhart’s term define “mystery”. I have referred to these questions before and recognised they cannot be answered – before starting on this advice I went round and round in “Following the Path” with these unanswered questions, and have reached a similar position with Eckhart – but in a way blamed him – “can I have faith in his teachings?”

In section 1 I feel I have given fair description of Eckhart’s mystery teachings on consciousness – in fact it was only until the final 10 minutes when doubt came in. This doubt is not a question concerning the veracity of Eckhart’s teachings because truth does not apply as I cannot know whether any of his teachings on the light of consciousness are true - because they are mystery teachings. The only way I can use these teachings is through faith, do I have faith in Eckhart and these mystery teachings? And the answer for the moment is “I don’t know”. By the end of this advice I hope to be clear.

Buddhadasa also has a mystery teaching although he doesn’t use the word “mystery”. There is a mystery teaching of sunnata, universal void mind with emanation in individual sunnata/void mind. This is the same as what I have called mystery 1 of Eckhart’s teachings on light of consciousness. I have faith in this teaching, it is integral to the teaching of dhammajati and idappaccayata-paticcasamuppada, teachings I have already accepted on faith.

Mystery 2, however, is new to me, and as such I need to evaluate the teaching, what Eckhart says about the teaching, and decide whether I have faith in it. Just accepting and believing this teaching has led to the irritability that I eventually realised was the kilesa of delusion. Before I finish this advice I have to determine what I will have faith in.

The real advice concerns the light of consciousness and how through the faith process I can go deep into this light using Eckhart’s teachings. In section 1 I have presented Eckhart’s mystery teachings on the light of consciousness. I have compared these teachings with Buddhadasa’s teachings using this talk on Void Mind . And finally I am evaluating the teachings in terms of my faith. The faith process is concerned with examining the teachings, recognising what is known and recognising what is mystery, and then deciding what to have faith in. I did this for myself, you must do it for yourself – your faith is different to mine. The faith process requires of you the use of mindfulness and wisdom to see what is known to you, see what is unknown and mystery, and decide how much faith you will give to the teaching. If you simply believe it then it is ditthupadana and is a form of delusion – kilesa. Carry out your own faith process so that you are clear what is known and can have faith in the unknown mystery of the new teaching.

After studying Eckhart's "Awakening the Inner Light", I am clearer about the faith process. It began with quest into the unknown, and whilst going into the unknown faith was needed to have clear answers. But in the unknown are the mysteries – the Buddha’s unanswered questions – so there is the question concerning these mysteries, when is it appropriate to use faith and how should it be used?

Let me try to be practical about this. My irritation grew when considering the last 10 minutes of the second mystery (last 10 minutes of part 4 of his talk). Mystery 1 is universal consciousness, accepted as void mind as already stated, but what about conscious participation in creation? I don’t know about this, and I don’t know whether it is important to know. Eckhart says that in a mysterious way our state of consciousness affects the situation, he then follows that up by saying that state of consciousness is being in the present moment. I have faith in this. I don’t know why or how being completely in the present moment affects the situation but I know it is true from practice – my experience. Let me describe what this means to me – being 100% dedicated to the path in the sunnata-vihara – path touching the Dhamma, touching sunnata, going deep into consciousness. Being completely in the present moment means to me being mindful, wise, focussed and wise-in-action – the 4 Dhamma comrades of sati, panna, samadhi and sampajanna. The state of consciousness that arises from MwB affects the situations I meet in life.

Conscious participation in creation – as a pathtivist I mostly have no problem with this. In the manual I examined how following the path would have helped activism and in the end concluded with pathtivism, activism means following the path first. Follow the path first and the rest follows – appropriate action etc.

This pathtivism is developing consciousness, and in unity there is no separation from universal Void Mind so through conscious development there is development of creation – of universal consciousness. I therefore have no problem in recognising conscious participation in this process. But humanity is now conscious of this, since when? I don’t know how consciousness cannot be conscious that it is developing consciousness. So when does not matter to me, what matters is what to do – following the path with all that implies in terms of going deep into consciousness etc.; I avoid any implication of human egoism in the development of this consciousness.

Eckhart talked of a number of mysteries that I have called assumptions. I am not disagreeing with them, I simply don’t know. Is there one human consciousness (assumption 6)? Might be. There is universal consciousness, isn’t developing consciousness within that enough? There is one phenomenon of consciousness and situation (assumption 2) – maybe, again I don’t know. I know developing my state of consciousness improves the situation, do I need more than that? I see no need to make the assumptions.

Why not make more assumptions? Ditthupadana. If you don’t know then assumption becomes belief in ideas, and this clinging (upadana) reduces consciousness. So having unnecessary beliefs is not a conscious process, it reduces consciousness. It is better to avoid assumptions and consequent belief. Now faith can get you through this because faith is power. But again why use faith when it is not necessary? I accept universal consciousness as a mystery, I have some knowledge of this mystery but mostly I interact with this mystery through faith. I prefer to dedicate my faith to this mystery of universal consciousness than trying to have faith in other mysteries.

What about faith in Eckhart himself? I think there are many good people who have faith in Eckhart, I don’t advise this but don’t see any great harm in this because of the quality of the man and his teachings. I have discussed having faith in Buddhadasa and he doesn’t want it – kalama sutta. I don’t think Eckhart encourages faith in him but I don’t know whether he requires people to know for themselves – his “kalama sutta”?

However at the beginning of this talk he spoke of being fascinated by mysteries [4.50 - 7.10]. I discourage anyone from using minds to understand mysteries when minds do not have that capability. In the last 10 minutes he speculated about the future and the way consciousness would develop. Is his mind capable of that? Mine definitely is not so I will not speculate; nor will I have faith in such speculation, how meaningful is it?

And this brings me to wider mysteries such as siddhis, clairvoyance and other faculties. It would be necessary to call so many good people liars to dismiss these faculties as non-existent, but do I believe in them for me? No. Are they a requirement of the path? No. Can someone on the path have such faculties? Yes. Is it a prerequisite? No. It is their path and up to them; it is your path and up to you.

Questing into the unknown is an important part of the journey. If we stick to what is known there is no expansion of consciousness. When we go into the unknown we need faith – the power to cope with the unknown, but within the unknown there are mysteries that we don’t have minds to cope with. We need to have faith to cope with the unknown but it is egoic to use minds to go beyond their capabilities by trying to understand mysteries they are not capable of. Different minds have different capabilities so they have different understandings of these mysteries – it is their path. We do not follow other peoples’ paths, we follow our own. In this faith process we need to use our faith wisely, we follow our own paths with our own faith avoiding any mysteries our minds are not capable of understanding. I have been given a sign when mysteries are too much for my mind, I become irritated. This is my kilesa when my mind becomes deluded with mysteries it is not capable of understanding; lookout for your sign when you get involved in this necessary faith process when you quest into the unknown. Know your mind’s limitations.



Postscript to Eckhart's Teachings



Eckhart was one of the first Buddhist-inclined teachers I read. When I picked up The Power of Now – in the 90s on contract break, I resonated completely with his awakening described in the intro. I gravitate towards his teachings but I don’t know them well enough.

As part of Viveka-Zandtao I chose to look at this talk on Awakening the Inner Light, and discovered that it required a faith in the evolution of consciousness that I was not prepared to make. In this wiki-how I read of this evolution again – it appears quite central to his teachings. According to that evolutionary consciousness teaching humanity developed thinking, and because thinking was developed ego was a by-product. I cannot have faith in that, either. I cannot know this evolutionary possibility but I can observe that ego arises from thought. When does “some sort of thought” start? At birth. Eckhart recognises ego as being protective, and in maturity wants us to let go of that shell and live in the present moment. For pathtivism that protection arises naturally. Nature gives us instincts for survival, and through conditioning ego is formed to protect; in the same way in maturity we let go of the ego to follow the path. As far as I know Eckhart does not talk of ego arising from nature, instinct and survival; as a pathtivist that arising requires no faith it is observable. Most significant what we do is let go of ego by living in the present moment – following the path. Whether ego will disappear with evolution is beyond my remit.

In that same wiki-how (part 8 is meditation) Eckhart’s method of meditation is described. His method describes meditation as focussing on the breath to live in the present moment. He does not ask for any formal meditation, but Zandtaomed begins with that formal meditation. Even though Zandtaomed is concerned with breathing – MwB, it is central to the method to have a formal daily practice within reason. What Eckhart describes as meditation would develop as a consequence of this formal practice but for Zandtaomed it is not the only practice – the formal practice comes first. How do you break down the years of conditioning? Much hard work is done in the formal sittings to break down those conditioned egos. The 4 Dhamma Comrades develop during meditation, mindfulness, wisdom and concentration, and wise action, sampajanna, is the fourth; “meditation as focussing on the breath to live in the present moment” would be an important part of this sampajanna. For pathtivism meditation means both the formal and sampajanna.

Does Eckhart’s method work? Not for me to say, I can only say why I choose Zandtaomed.

Zandtao Meditation page Advice from Zandtaomed


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