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Words of Wisdom, Life-Changing Insights & Inspiring Teachings for A Fuller Life

Life-changing insights, words of wisdom and inspiring teachings for a fuller life


17 July 2011

Meister Eckhart on the Importance of Good Will as the Home of All Virtues


From The Talks of Instruction, by Meister Eckhart

Nothing should terrify us as long as we will the good, nor should we be depressed if we cannot fulfil our will in what we do. And in that case we should not regard ourselves as being far from the virtues, for virtue and all that is good reside in a good will. You can lack nothing, neither love nor humility nor any other virtue, if only your will is good and true. But rather, what you desire with the whole of your will, that is your possession, and neither God nor any creature can take it from you, as long as your will is undivided and is a truly godly will which is fixed in the present moment. Do not say then: 'I should like to do it later', which would refer to the future, but rather 'I wish it to be so now.' Note this: when I want something even if it is a thousand miles away, then it is more truly mine than something in my lap which I do not want to have.

Good is no less powerful a force for good than evil is for evil. Take note: even if I were never actually to perform an evil act, but still willed what is evil, then sin would be as much in me as if I had carried out the deed. With a will concentrated upon evil I could commit as great a sin as if I killed everyone in the world, without ever killing anybody. Why should this not be true also of a good will - incomparably more so, in fact?

Truly, with the will I can do all things. I can share the sorrows of all men and women, feed all the poor, perform everyone's actions, and whatever else you can think of. If you do not lack the will to do something, but only the capacity to carry it out, then truly in God's eyes you have done it, and no one can take it away from you or obstruct you even for a moment; for wanting to do something as soon as you can and actually doing it are the same thing in God's eye. Moreover, if I wanted to possess as much will as the whole world has, and if I desired this perfectly and wholeheartedly, then I would indeed possess it; for what I desire is already mine. Similarly, if I truly wanted as much love as everyone in the world has ever possessed, and if I wanted to praise God as much as everyone has ever praised him, or if I wanted whatever else you can think of, then you would truly possess it, as long as your will is perfect.

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