The greatest knowledge is to finally come to identify God as the ultimate Good, the Source of all Goodness, the end of all ends. Once this has been identified within the soul, then any good to be found in creatures pales. This sort of perception is essential in order to develop the quality of detachment.

To see that nothing save God can fulfill any desire for good. Be it inherent good, perceived good, all of these goods are simple reflections of Goodness Itself. And there is only one path toward this Good, which is a narrow path wrought with mortification and suffering. A path which can only be taken if one is willing to abandon all created things and affix oneself to the Almighty Godhead.

Any time in which I find myself attached to a created object like food, entertainment, or even emotional indulgences, I have to stop and reflect on whether I love the thing for its own worth or for the good that I see reflected within it? This identification is the beginning of the path to virtue. To be able to discern inside oneself where one’s attachments lie and to identify the good perceived within them, the good which is pursued in any number of trivial acts, is that divine Light of the Godhead manifest within that creature.

In my bed by night I sought him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, and found him not. I will rise, and will go about the city: in the streets and the broad ways I will seek him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, and I found him not. The watchmen who keep the city, found me: Have you seen him, whom my soul loveth? When I had a little passed by them, I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him: and I will not let him go, till I bring him into my mother’s house, and into the chamber of her that bore me.

Canticle of Canticles 3:1-4

As we find within the Book of Love, or Canticle of Canticles, this pursuit after a love through different directions and things is only completed once we pass these things by. To attain that good which we seek in creatures we must become blind. Not physically blind, mind you, but blind to the world and its pleasures. To unsee all that we aught as naught. Blinding oneself to all things that are not God in Himself.

Oftentimes the vision of St Paul on the road to Damascus is interpreted literally, as the Apostle to the Gentiles was physically struck blind by the Light of Christ. And it did indeed occur in this fashion. But there is also a symbolic angle to this event, which speaks of the blindness one must attain in order to finally see God. A blindness which can only be reached through the ‘ground of the soul,’ i.e. the essence of the soul in which God resides.

And Saul arose from the ground; and when his eyes were opened, he saw nothing.

Acts of the Apostles 9:8

Meister Eckhart noted this symbolic inference, quoting St Paul, ‘Whoso only seeth being blind, he seeth God.’ Eckhart further elucidates on this premise, ‘When the soul is blind and can see naught beside, then she sees God, it is inevitable…For God to be seen by the soul she has to be blind.’ And so too must the faithful become blind, not in body, but in spirit so that she may be able to see naught all else but God.

Ananias restoring the Sight of St Paul by Pietro da Cortona, c.1631

This is the path of God, of mortification, to seek to root out all attachments of this world, to become blind to all things which glitter with a created light; to seek out the mastery of ascetic transformation. Only then can we truly embrace the Beloved of which our soul constantly seeks. To quote St Augustine in his Confessions, ‘Our hearts are restless until they rest in You.’

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