Jean-Pierre De Caussade

Mystics and Non-Dual Thinkers: Week 4

Jean-Pierre De Caussade
Sunday, August 2, 2015

As we continue looking at the mystics and non-dual thinkers in my own lineage, I encourage you to do what James Finley, Thich Nhat Hanh, and others say: Find your practice and practice it. Find your teacher and follow him/her. Find your community and be faithful to it. Otherwise, you will tend to float around with no accountability system for what you too easily “believe” in your head. Your own ego will end up being the decider and chooser moment by moment.

Jean-Pierre De Caussade (1675-1751), a French Jesuit, was surely the Eckhart Tolle (author of The Power of Now) of the 18th century. Caussade coined the term “the sacrament of the present moment.” His book Abandonment to Divine Providence was the most recommended book by spiritual directors for many decades. It is a small but powerful book with a profoundly simple message: “Embrace the present moment as an ever-flowing source of holiness.”

In his introduction to Caussade’s book, John Beevers writes, “Caussade was a very simple man. He was obsessed by one thought: the necessity of loving God and surrendering ourselves to him completely.” [1] This is nothing new. Jesus said, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment” (Mark 12:30). St. Albert the Great (1193-1290) said, “Commit every particle of your being in all things, down to the smallest details of your life, eagerly and with perfect trust to the unfailing and most sure providence of God.” [2]

Caussade’s key theme is: “If we have abandoned ourselves to God, there is only one rule for us: the duty of the present moment.” Beevers explains that Caussade is insisting “over and over again, that we must live from minute to minute. The past is past, the future is yet to be. There is nothing we can do about either, but we can deal with what is happening moment by moment.” [3] To live in the present is finally what we mean by presence itself!

Beevers writes, “Caussade combines intense practicality with profound mysticism—as did St. Teresa of Ávila. This is nothing extraordinary. True mystics are always much more practical than the ordinary run of people. They seek reality; we too often are satisfied with the ephemeral. They want God as he is; we want God as we imagine him to be.” [4]

Abandonment to Divine Providence is packed with non-dual, mystical wisdom. Here are just a few examples:

“The truly faithful soul accepts all things as a manifestation of God’s grace, ignores itself and thinks only of what God is doing.”

“Let us love, for love will give us everything.”

“Our only satisfaction must be to live in the present moment as if there were nothing to expect beyond it.”

“Perfection is neither more nor less than the soul’s faithful co-operation with God.”

“All will be well if we abandon ourselves to God.”

Gateway to Silence:
“My way is all confidence and love.” —St. Thérèse of Lisieux

References:
[1] John Beevers, trans., Abandonment to Divine Providence: Classic Wisdom from the Past on Living Fully in the Present by Jean-Pierre de Caussade (Doubleday: 1975), 21.
[2] Ibid., 17.
[3] Ibid., 20.
[4] Ibid., 21.

Image credit: St. Thérèse of Lisieux, age 15 (detail), April 1888.

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