All creatures are a mere naught. I say not they are small, are aught: they are absolutely naught. A thing without being is not (or is naught). Creatures have no real being, for their being consists in the presence of God. If God turned away for an instant they would all perish. I have sometimes said, and it is true, that he who has gotten the whole world plus God has gotten no more than God by himself. Having all creatures without God is no more than having one fly without God; just the same, no more nor less. (Eckhart)
Ch'ing, the chief carpenter, was carving wood into a stand for hanging musical instruments. When finished, the work appeared to those who saw it as though of supernatural execution. And the prince of Lu asked him, saying, "What mystery is there in your art?"
"No mystery, your Highness", replied Ch'ing; "and yet there is something.
"When I am about to make such a stand, I guard against any diminution of my vital power. I first reduce my mind to absolute quiescence. Three days in this condition, and I become oblivious of any reward to be gained. Five days, and I become oblivious of any fame to be acquired. Seven days, and I become unconscious of my four limbs and my physical frame. Then, with no thought of the Court present to my mind, my skill becomes concentrated, and all disturbing elements from without are gone. I enter some mountain forest. I search for a suitable tree. It contains the form required, which is afterwards elaborated. I see the stand in my mind's eye, and then set to work. Otherwise, there is nothing. I bring my own natural capacity into relation with that of the wood. What was suspected to be of supernatural execution in my work was due solely to this." (Chuang-tse)
We must learn to act without attachment. But it is rare for anyone untrained to reach the stage at which he is proof against disturbance by any act or anybody. This needs prodigiously hard work: and for God to be as present and to show as plainly to him at all times and in all company, that is for the expert and demands especially two things. One is that the man be closeted within himself where his mind is safe from images of outside things which remain external to him and, alien as they are, cannot traffic or forgather with him or find any room in him at all. Secondly, inventions of the mind itself, ideas, spontaneous notions or images of things outside or whatever comes into his head, he must give no quarter to on pain of scattering himself and being sold into multiplicity. His powers must all be trained to turn and face his inner self.
Thou dost object. "But one must turn outwards to do outward works: no work is wrought except in its own mode."—True. But to the expert soul outward modes are not merely outward things: to the interior soul all things are modes of the Deity within. (Eckhart)