BEA9376B-6D00-4358-9518-FEE9DEC082D5
‘Trinity’ – Andrei Rublev, 1410-1420 – WikiArt

The eye wherein I see God 
is the same eye wherein God sees me; 
my eye and God’s eye are one eye, 
one vision, one knowing, one love
.”
~ Meister Eckhart

 

In the Middle Ages, in the heart of Europe and of the Christian faith, rose a voice of such richness and profusion, of such dumbfounding wisdom and precision of thought, that it is a duty for all serious seekers to be reminded of it. The name shines with a polish of spiritual mastery and authority: Meister Eckhart. Eckhart von Hochheim OP was born in 1260 near Gotha in central Germany. OP stands in Latin for Order of Preachers, which is a mendicant order of the Catholic Church — better known as the Dominican Order — of which Meister Eckhart was a monk and a leader. His teaching and sermons left a deep impression but he was so ahead of his time and of the general understanding of his pairs, that his work went into oblivion only to reappear in the 19th century. His voice and light could not possibly be left unnoticed. He is now accepted as one of the most profound and eminent theologians, philosophers, and mystics of all times.

Little is known about his family and early life. From 1295 onwards, he held many posts of responsibility in various states of central Germany, and as far as Cologne or Strasbourg. Among others, he was a Prior of the Dominicans, and was later made Provincial of Saxony, managing tens of convents. He also travelled around Europe and more specifically to Paris where he studied Aristotle and the Platonists. With the degree of Master of Arts, he later on became a professor of theology at the school of Dominicans in the French capital and was invited as a magister — equal to the doctorate — for two consecutive years. At this time in Europe, during the Avignon Papacy, Christianity was prey to many tensions and confusion, the Inquisition was blowing a wind of suspicion and terror, as a result of which many new groups and movements were forming in search of new avenues of practice and understanding. It goes without saying that Meister Eckhart was a coveted source of wise counsel in these times of darkness. 

Let’s say it plainly: Meister Eckhart was a scholar, but it is as a preacher that he is most remembered. His sermons in the vernacular German were highly unusual for the time and took many a liberties with the conventional church rituals and dogmas. He stated: “When I preach, I usually speak of detachment and say that a man should be empty of self and all things.” Seeing through and beyond the Christian jargon, he had access to a first hand understanding of these eternal truths. He was abundantly quoting ancient philosophers like St Augustine, Dionysius the Areopagite, Gregory the Theologian, or St Paul. His sermons were truly teachings aiming at the transformation of man. 

The disruptive originality and depth of his work attracted the wrath of some of his pairs. He was accused of heresy by the inquisitorial power towards the end of his life and was tried as a heretic by Pope John XXII, a sentence that came only after his death. Yet these very same qualities have also brought him fame during his time, and recognition in contemporary spiritual circles for having been a genuine mystic and a foremost exponent of the most profound spirituality. Many a great philosophers and psychologists have praised him, among them Erich Fromm, Carl G. Jung, Heidegger, and Arthur Schopenhauer. 

Before we embark on the subtleties of Meister Eckhart’s teachings, Iet’s make a few precisions here about his language. In general we can understand his use of the word ‘creature’ as being the ‘person’ or ‘self’ that believes in being a separate entity. The word ‘soul’ is also a constant occurrence here and is a ‘she’. It can be said to be ‘mind’ in its deepest and subtlest form, not just thoughts and feelings which are objective occurrences. I have chosen here the translation by Clare de B. Evans in a book called ‘Meister Eckhart’ by Franz Pfeiffer, 1924. Only a brief reading of his words show that we are here dealing with a man and an understanding of the highest order. 

 

Blessed, supremely blessed, are they who are installed in the eternal now, 
transcending time and place and form and matter, 
unmoved by weal or woe or wealth or want, 
for in so far as things are motionless they are like eternity
.”
~ Sermon 16 

 

Meister Eckhart had truly the ability to present his sermons and words in a manner that was accessible to simple listeners. He would make clear that behind the church’s paraphernalia was hidden a simple search for simple ends. In short, we all look for something, a relief, which is in truth God’s presence. And the direction for this search is a simple one: “It is not outside, it is inside: wholly within.” (Sermon 1) Or he states in more poetical terms, in Sermon 24: “God is a simple presence, a stay-at-home in himself.”…

 

It is just because it is hidden that one is and must be always after it. It appears and disappears: we are meant to yearn and sigh for it.” (Sermon 1)

If anyone should ask me what God is, I should answer: God is love, and so altogether lovely that creatures all with one accord essay to love his loveliness, whether they do so knowingly or unbeknownst, in joy or sorrow.” (Sermon 5)

There is nothing in the world so dear as life or so desirable. (…) What is life? God’s existence is my life. If my life is God’s existence then God’s being is my being and God’s is-ness is my is-ness, neither more nor less.” (Sermon 65)

 

Meister Eckhart refers to awakening as ’birth’, and makes clear where such awakening exactly takes place. He states that it is not for ‘the natural undisciplined man’ who in his view points to the person that is lost in objects. In Sermon 4: “If thou wilt find this noble birth, verily thou must quit the multitude and return to the starting-point, into the ground out of which thou art come.”…

 

God is in all things as being, as activity, as power. But he is procreative in the soul alone for though every creature is a vestige of God, the soul is the natural image of God. This image is perfected and adorned in this birth. No creature but the soul is susceptible to this birth, this act.” (Sermon 2)

We intend therefore to speak of this birth as taking place in us: as being consummated in the virtuous soul; for it is in the perfect soul that God speaks his Word. What I shall say is true only of the perfected man, of him who has walked and is still walking in the way of God; not of the natural undisciplined man who is entirely remote from and unconscious of this birth.” (Sermon 1)

Here alone is rest and a habitation for this birth, this act, wherein God the Father speaks his Word, for it is intrinsically receptive of naught save the divine essence, without means. Here God enters the soul with his all, not merely with a part. God enters the ground of the soul. None can touch the ground of the soul but God only.” (Sermon 1)

 

997AB7AB-E734-4097-BCF7-C01089A3A7CD
‘Apostle Paul’ – Andrei Rublev, 1410 – WikiArt

All God wants of man is a peaceful heart.” 
~ Sermon 45

 

The disinterest in the changing objective appearances in the mind is really an ascetism that Meister Eckhart gave strong emphasis to. We have to look beyond all things that are fleeting, that come and go, to find Consciousness present at rest behind all transience. He states in ‘Men Who Have Walked with God’ by Sheldon Cheney: “Unmovable disinterest brings man into likeness of God. (…) To be full of things is to be empty of God; to be empty of things is to be full of God.”…

 

God enters into you with all that is his, as far as you have stripped yourself of yourself in all things. It is here that you should begin, whatever the cost, for it is here that you will find true peace, and nowhere else.” (‘Selected Writings’, Tr. by Oliver Davies)

Thy unknowing is not a defect but thy chief perfection, and suffering thy highest activity. Kill thy activities and still thy faculties if thou wouldst realise this birth in thee. To find the newborn King in thee all else thou mightest find must be passed by and left behind thee.” (Sermon 2)

I say that it is in his likes that God gives this birth. Had she no expectation of this the soul would not want to attain it. She wants to be preserved in him, he is her life. God has a preserve, a safe place in himself, which man can know nothing about until he pares off and is rid of all that belongs to the soul — her life, her powers, her nature, all must go. And that means standing in that perfect light where she and God are one form, where she finds herself God. It is characteristic of God to have nothing alien in him, nor on him nor added to him. And likewise it behoves the soul to have no outside impressions, nothing put on, nothing annexed.” (Sermon 20)

The more, that is to say, thou forgettest the creature, the nearer thou art to this and the more susceptible thou art to it.” (Sermon 1)

While there abideth in thee any image or like thou art never the same as God. To be the same as God there must be nothing in thee, latent or defined, nothing covered in thee that is not discovered and cast out.” (Sermon 7)

 

Meister Eckhart stated: “Truly, it is in darkness that one finds the light, so when we are in sorrow, then this light is nearest to all of us.” This points to the fact that God’s presence is hidden from us, but this concealing power of the mind can also become a revealing force…

 

There is no night without the light: only, it is veiled. The sun is shining in the night albeit screened from view.” (Sermon 19)

I say, God cannot make me the Son of God without I have the nature of God’s Son, any more than God can make me wise without my having wisdom, though we are God’s sons, we do not realize it yet: ‘it doth not yet appear’ to us, but this much we do know, he says, ‘we shall be like him.’ Sundry things in our souls overlay this knowledge and conceal it from us.” (Sermon 7)

He who seeks God under settled forms lays hold of the form while missing the God concealed in it. But he who seeks God in no special guise lays hold of him as he is in himself, and such an one ‘lives with the Son’ and is the life itself.“ (Sermon 13)

 

It is to be noticed that Meister Eckhart never wrote or said anything concerning his own person. It was a common practice, in these times, to show discretion. Unless he only wanted to be consistent with his own teaching, not giving emphasis to anything other than just ‘being’, for being is God’s nature, being is truly where God abides…

 

The most excellent work of God in creature is being. (…) That is why everything that exists takes such a shrewd delight in being.“ (Sermon 23)

Being is the first name. Defect means lack of being. Our whole life ought to be being. So far as our life is being, so far it is in God. (…) I have no doubt of this, that if the soul had the remotest notion of what being means she would never waver from it for an instant.” (Sermon 82)

All that God is is being. God knows nothing but being, he is conscious of nothing but being; being is his ring.” (Sermon 82)

 

God Himself remains unknown; 
the light of the everlasting Father shineth in darkness, 
and the darkness comprehended it not
.” 
~ ’The Angel’s Greeting’ (Tr. Claud Field)

 

Another important emphasis in Eckhart’s teachings is the fact that we can only know god through Himself. In other words, only awareness knows awareness, or in the master’s words: “When God is seen it is in the light that is God himself.”…

It must be understood that this is all the same thing: knowing God and being known by God, and seeing God and being seen by God. We know God and see him because he makes us know and see. Even as the luminous air is not distinguishable from its luminant, for it is luminous with what illumines it, so do we know by being known, by his making us conscious.” (Sermon 7)

God the Father has perfect insight into himself, profound and thorough knowledge of himself by means of himself, not by means of any image.” (Sermon 1)

The Father embraces his own nature in the quiet darkness of his eternal essence which is known to none except himself. The glance returned by his own nature is his eternal Son. So the Son embraces the Father in his nature for he is the same as his Father in his nature. Thus from the Father’s embrace of his own nature there comes this eternal playing of the Son. (…) ‘God is a fountain flowing into itself,’ as St Dionysius says. The Father has eternally been loving himself in his Son just as the Son has been loving himself in the Father eternally. Their mutual love is the Holy Ghost: the third Person, who proceeds from the other two as love.” (Sermon 58)

 

Meister Eckhart shows here what enlightenment actually does to the mind, the power that it has over the soul, and he does it in this strikingly beautiful analogy of lightning… 

 

If this birth really happens no creature can hinder thee, all point thee to God and this birth. We find in lightning an analogy for this. Whatever it strikes, whether tree, beast or man, it turns towards itself with the shock. A man with his back to it instantly flings round to face it ; all the thousand leaves of the tree turn over to front the stroke. So with all whom this birth befalls, they are promptly turned towards this birth with everything present, be it never so earthly. Nay, even what was formerly a hindrance is now nothing but a help. Thy face is turned so full towards this birth, no matter what thou dost see and hear, thou receivest nothing save this birth in anything. All things are simply God to thee who seest only God in all things. Like one who looks long at the sun, he encounters the sun in whatever he afterwards looks at. If this is lacking, this looking for and seeing God in all and sundry, then thou lackest this birth.” (Sermon 4)

It is characteristic of this birth that it always comes with fresh light. It always brings great enlightenment to the soul because it is the nature of good to diffuse itself. In this birth God pours into the soul in such abundance of light, the ground and essence of the soul are so flooded with it, that it runs over into her powers and into the outward man as well.” (Sermon 2)

 

All traditions have fostered this simple truth that the discovery of our true nature, the knowing of our own being, or the awakening to our deepest reality, bring peace and happiness in our lives. Meister Eckhart is no exception…

 

Do but foster this birth in thee and thou shalt experience all good and all comfort, all happiness, all being and all truth. What comes to thee therein brings thee true being and stability and whatsoever thou mayst seek or grasp, without it, perishes, take it how thou wilt. This alone gives life; all else corrupts.” (Sermon 2)

God must act and the soul must suffer; for him to know and love himself in her, for her to know with his knowledge, love with his love; and since she is far happier in his than hers it follows that her happiness depends upon his work more than on her own.” (Sermon 2)

In this power God is fiery, aglow with all his riches, with all his sweetness and with all his bliss. Aye, in this power is such poignant joy, such vehement, immoderate delight as none can tell nor yet in truth reveal. I say, moreover, if once a man in intellectual vision did really glimpse the bliss and joy therein, then all his sufferings, all God intends that he should suffer, would be a trille, a mere nothing to him; nay, I say more, it would be pure joy and pleasure.” (Sermon 8)

 

2B84B210-147A-4014-B0E3-5692DA667844
‘The Virgin of Vladimir’ – Andrei Rublev, 1400 – WikiArt

We are all meant to be mothers of God, 
for God is always needing to be born
.” 
~ In ‘Christianity’ by Joe Jenkins

 

Here is another reality that Meister Eckhart hammered in his teachings, that God is unknowable as an object. In Sermon 51: “The whole world is powerless to conceive it. What God is in himself no man can tell except he be ravished into the light that God is himself.”…

 

To know [God] really is to know him as unknowable. As the master puts it: If I must speak of God, then I will say, God is something which is in no sense to be reached or grasped; and I know nothing else about him. According to St Augustine, what we say about God is not true; what we say that God is he is not. (…) Nothing we can say of God is true. God’s worth and God’s perfection cannot be put into words.” (Sermon 15)

I declare God beggars human thought; he transcends all human conception. No man knows what God is. Aught that a man could or would think of God, God is not at all.” (Sermon 15)

What a man knows he knows in its cause or in its mode or in its effect. But in these respects God remains unknown, for he is the first. Further, he is modeless, i.e. undetermined. And he is without effect, that is, in his mysterious stillness. Here he abides  apart from the names that are given him. Moses asked his name. God answered. He-who-is hath sent thee.” (Sermon 15)

 

God’s activity is to find a resting place in each one of our minds, and this has been described as his love for us. Meister Eckhart did not fail to notice this particularity of God, namely that “He longs for thee a thousandfold more urgently than thou for him.”…

 

God loves my soul so much that his very life and being depend upon his loving me, whether he would or no. To stop God loving me would be to rob him of his Godhood; for God is love no less than he is truth; as he is good, so is he love as well. It is the absolute truth, as God lives.“ (Sermon 5)

Thou needst not seek him here or there, he is no further off than at the door of thy heart; there he stands lingering, awaiting whoever is ready to open and let him in. Thou needst not call to him afar, he waits much more impatiently than thou for thee to open to him. He longs for thee a thousandfold more urgently than thou for him: one point the opening and the entering.” (Sermon 4)

If she rests partly in God he rests partly in her. If she rests wholly in him he rests altogether in her. In those limpid souls where God can see the reflection of himself, God is reposing in the soul and the soul is reposing in God. To deprive God of this, though but in thought, is to deprive him, to deny to him, his Godhood who is seeking rest in all things, for God’s nature is rest.” (Sermon 43)

 

The exploration of the nature of ‘I’, of the ‘I AM’, leads to the unveiling of the presence of god in ourself. This has been stated in many a spiritual traditions the world over. According to Meister Eckhart, “I AM can be spoken by no creature, but by God alone. I must become God and God must become me, so completely that we share the same ‘I’ eternally. Our truest ‘I’ is God.” In Sermon 49, Eckhart explores the nature of ’I’ in four points…

 

The ‘I’ is silent because he and the soul are every whit the same; he has no property apart from soul nor does any other nature come within his ken. In the [gospel], the text says ‘I’ to indicate God’s is-ness: that God simply is. All things are in God; out of him, without him, is naught.”

Secondly, it means that God is inseparate from things; that he is more innate in them than they are in themselves. And man should be inseparate from things: not as cleaving to self but as wholly detached from himself; thus he is inseparate from all things, and he is all things. So far as thou art nothing to thyself so far thou art all things and inseparate from all things; and so far as thou art not divorced from all things so far thou art God and all things, for God’s deity consists in his being present in all things. Wherefore the man who is inseparate from all things enjoys divinity as God himself enjoys it.”

Thirdly, the word ’I’ is in a sense the end of name for it is no proper name: it signifies the perfection of name and means immutability, dispassion: that God is immoveable, intangible, eternal stability.”

Fourthly, it points to the absolute purity of the divine being which is entirely without admixture. Goodness, wisdom and anything else that we can attribute to God are impurities with God’s abstract essence; coexistence is foreign to essence, but the word ‘I’ denotes God’s pure essence, his being in itself without anything alien and strange.” 

 

Perfect rest is absolute freedom from motion.” 
~ Sermon 12

 

In the book ‘Meister Eckhart: A Modern Translation’ by Raymond Bernard Blakney, we find this statement by the master: “Truth is something so noble that if God could turn aside from it, I could keep the truth and let God go.” This points to his absolute commitment to truth, to the importance, so many times stated, of being fervent, of desiring God beyond all other consideration…

 

Aim high, be high. To see God needs high aspiration. Know, ardent desire and abject humility work wonders. I vow God is omnipotent, but he is impotent to thwart the humble soul with towering aspiration. And where I cannot master God and bend him to my will it is because I fail either in will or meekness.” (Sermon 51)

Whatever it be that lights devotion in man’s heart and knits him closest unto God, that is the best thing for him here in time.” (Sayings)

Mark how the soul must be for God to rest in her. She must be pure. What makes the soul pure? Keeping to spiritual things. She is exalted too by these. The more she is exalted the purer she becomes in her intention and the more efficient in her work.” (Sermon 43)

 

It was clear for Meister Eckhart that to live in, with, and as God — or consciousness — is to live in eternity, in the eternal now. God is never found in time. He stated in Sermon 50: “In God there is no yesterday nor morrow, it is to-day and now all the time in God.”…

 

The now wherein God made the first man and the now wherein the last man disappears and the now I speak in, all are the same in God where there is but the now. Behold this man in the same light as God having in him no past nor yet to come, only one level of eternity. This man in truth has motion taken from him and all things stand intrinsic in him. Nothing new comes to him from future things nor yet by accident for he dwells in the now, ever new and unceasingly renewed.“ (Sermon 8)

An ancient philosopher says the soul is made in between one and two. The one is eternity, ever alone and without variation. The two is time, changing and given to multiplication. He means to convey that the soul in her higher powers touches eternity, God to wit, while her lower powers being in contact with time make her subject to change and biased towards bodily things, which degrade her.” (Sermon 52)

Nothing hinders the soul from knowing God so much as time and place. Time and place are fractions, God is an integer. So if the soul knows God at all she must know him above time and space, for God is neither this nor that as these manifold things are: God is one.” (Sermon 69)

 

80275935-1CA8-4A14-8FF6-291FD65BDD3E
‘Christ as Saviour’ – Andrei Rublev, 1410 – WikiArt

All things are simply God to thee 
who seest only God in all things
.”
~ Sermon 4

 

This is another important aspect in the spiritual search: you will never find God if you have motives, for God is found only where exists the truest poverty. Meister Eckhart said in Sermon 11: “Art thou looking for God, seeking God with a view to thy personal good, thy personal profit? Then in truth thou art not seeking God.”…

 

Anyone who looks to find anything in God, knowledge, understanding or devotion or whatever it may be, even if he find it will not be finding God but knowledge, understanding or devotion: all things I heartily commend; but to him not lasting. Seek nothing at all, not understanding nor gnosis nor piety nor inwardness nor peace but only God’s will. (…) Never pray for any mortal thing; if thou must pray for anything at all, pray for God’s will and nothing else for therein thou hast all.” (Sermon 55)

I warrant you by God’s eternal truth, that into any man who is brought low God pours out his whole self in all his might.“ (Sermon 60)

A man with no ulterior motive, who sets his mind on God and God alone, to that man God unbosoms himself wholly and gives him all the things concealed within his heart and for his very own as they are God’s own, no more nor less, provided he is after God and not things in between.” (Sermon 90)

 

Meister Eckhart argues here about the nature of who we truly are. Our true identity is to be found in God’s “essence and nature”…

 

[God] made thee like unto himself, the very image of himself. But ‘like him’ argues something foreign and aloof. Now there is nothing foreign nor aloof betwixt God and the soul, therefore the soul is not like God: she is identical with him, the very same as he is.” (Sermon 49)

The Father is begetting his Son unceasingly, and furthermore, I say, he begets me his Son, as his very own Son. Moreover I declare, not only does he beget me his Son, he begets me himself and himself me: me his essence and his nature. In his nethermost deep I come welling up in his holy Breath, where there is one life, one being and one act.” (Sermon 65)

 

Meister Eckhart said in Sermon 24: “God stands by us, is standing by us, steady and unmoved.” It points to the absolute independence of God, and also to his absolute intimacy, his nearness…

 

God touches all things and remains untouched. God is above all things standing in himself and his instance sustains all creatures. Creatures have an uppermost and undermost, God has not. God is over everything and is not touched by anything. All creatures seek outside themselves, in one another, what they lack. God does not. God does not look outside himself: everything that creatures have, God has entire in him; he is the floor, the roof of creatures.” (Sermon 24)

I have one power in my soul fully sensible of God. I am as certain as I live that nothing is so close to me as God. God is nearer to me than I am to my own self; my life depends upon God’s being near me, present in me.” (Sermon 69)

 

Grace is to God as the shine to the sun.” 
~ Sermon 64

 

All things shine with, in, and as God’s presence. This was clear for Meister Eckhart who stated eloquently in Sermon 42: “If God were not in all things, nature would stop dead, not working and not wanting.”…

 

Our natural philosophers teach that the body is much rather in the soul than the soul is in the body. Even as the cask contains the wine and not the wine the cask, so does the soul keep the body in her rather than the body the soul. What the soul loves in this world she is pure from by nature. According to one philosopher, it is the soul’s nature and her natural end to achieve within herself a feat of understanding, God informing her with the general idea. He that can say he has attained his nature finds all things within himself, fashioned in light as they are in God; not as they are in nature but as they are in God.” (Sermon 22)

In this light we see God with nothing between. So far as this light sinks into her chief power so far is God immediately perceived. In this light the soul divines the noble nature of all things in God, for all that ever issued forth or is issuing forth or ever shall, has in God eternal life and being; not defective as it is in creatures but as his very being for it is his nature. God has his own being not from naught, he has it of his proper nature which in itself is truly aught though naught to the intelligence of creature. This nature is causeless, therefore it is unfathomable except to causeless understanding.” (Sermon 34)

 

Meister Eckhart was aware that surrendering our personal self to God, or consciousness, is essential to whoever wants to truly abide in God’s being…

 

Three things prevent our hearing the eternal Word. The first is body, the second number, and the third is time. If we were rid of these three things we should be living in eternity and in the spirit, solitaries in the desert listening to the eternal Word. But our Lord says, ‘No man heareth my word or my teaching till he be free from self’. To hear God’s Word demands absolute self-surrender. Hearer and heard are one in the eternal Word. The subject the eternal Father teaches is his essence, his nature, his whole godhood, which he divulges to us altogether in his Son, teaching us to be the Son himself.” (Sermon 96)

Man being thus in the love of God is dead to self and all created things, and no more mindful of himself than one a thousand miles away. This man abides in likeness, in unity, and there is no unlikeness in him. This man has left the world and himself as well.” (Sermon 96)

 

Meister Eckhart speaks here of the reality and nature of free will…

Doctors declare this will is free in the sense that none can bind it excepting God alone. God does not bind the will, he sets it free, free to choose naught but God himself, and this is real freedom. For the spirit to be incapable of willing aught other than God’s will is not its bondage but its true liberation.” (Sermon 74)

No one loves virtue without being virtue. He who abandons himself and everything, who seeks not his own in any wise but does all he does for love and without why, that man being dead to all the world is alive in God and God in him.” (Sermon 74)

The question is, who has this heavenly wisdom? Meister Eckhart says, He who in deep and real humility so yields himself to God that his will is wholly God’s will and God’s will is his, as saith Isaiah the prophet, God teaches true wisdom to none but the humble’.“ (Sayings)

 

His exit is his entrance. 
His passage out of the Father 
is his passage into the soul
.” 
~ Sermon 50

 

This is an important point stressed here by Meister Eckhart. Not only in the privacy of your room should we be firmly established in God’s presence, but also in the market place, which means in all circumstances, including the most unfavourable ones…

 

If we are more conscious of God by being in a quiet place, that comes of our own imperfection and is not due to God, for God is the same in all things and all places and just as ready to vouchsafe himself so far as in him lies; and that man knows God aright who ever finds him the same.” (Sermon 64)

 

Meister Eckhart brings here the interesting and so many times argued upon question of the efficacy of the path of knowledge versus the path of love…

 

It is a question with the theologians, which ranks higher, understanding or love? One school says understanding, the other school, love. It is a lively subject of debate. Understanding says: How canst thou love a thing thou dost not know? Love says: What avails thee thy knowledge without love? Loveless, thou shalt never find eternal happiness. Understanding says: I am born in the clear light of self-knowledge. Love says: Great knowledge without love is vain.” (Sermon 27)

 

Meister Eckhart spoke about the purpose of an active life in the world. In other words, the source of right action…

 

St Thomas says the active life is better than the life of contemplation, so far as we actually spend in charity the income we derive from contemplation. It is all the same thing; we have but to root ourselves in this same ground of contemplation to make it fruitful in works, and the object of contemplation is achieved. True, there is motion, but no more than one; it comes from one end, God, and goes back to the same. (…) The one is centred in the other and perfects the other. God’s purpose in the union of contemplation is fruitfulness in works; for in contemplation thou servest thyself alone, but the many in good works.” (Sermon 3)

 

Meister Eckhart died in 1328. Until the end of his life, he  has fought for the truth, be it in his activities and responsibilities, in his sermons and teaching, or to defend himself when he was accused of heresy. His life was certainly not an easy one, his difficulties and challenges must have been numerous considering the times he lived in, the long and incessant travelling, and the constant suspicion coming from his pairs and authorities. It is all the more remarkable that such a man has been able to stand alone in such a constricted and dogmatic environment, and produce again and again such pearls of understanding. The following one makes no exception. Be he blessed for ever. Amen.

 

Let no one deem it difficult to arrive at this however hard may seem, and be, indeed, to start with, the parting from and dying to all things. Having once got into it no life is more easy, more delightful or more lovely. God is so very careful to be always with a man to guide him to himself in case of his taking the wrong way. No man ever wanted anything so much as God wants to make the soul aware of him. God is ever ready, but we are so unready. God is near to us, but we are far from him. God is in, we are out; God is at home, we are strangers. The prophet says, ‘God leads the just by a narrow path to the high road out into the open’, that is, to the true freedom of the spirit become one spirit with God. Ours to follow his lead and let him bring us to himself.” (Sermon 69)

 

If the only prayer you ever say in your whole life is ‘thank you,’ it will be enough.” 
~ Meister Eckhart

 

FAFA73BC-1A43-4BD8-92E4-793BE0C17825
‘Archangel Michael’ – Andrei Rublev, 1414 – WikiArt

 

~~~

Quotes and excerpts by Meister Eckhart (1260-1328)

Paintings by Andrei Rublev (1360-1430)

Accompanying text by Alain Joly

~~~

 

Read on the blog Meister Eckhart’s quote on prayer ‘The Quiet Mind’, his complete Sermon on poverty ‘The Poor Man’, and this prayer ‘A Prayerful Mind’…

Bibliography:
– ‘The Complete Mystical Works of Meister Eckhart’ – Translated by Maurice O’C. Walshe – (Crossroad Publishing Co ,U.S.)
– ‘Meister Eckhart, Selected Writings’ – Translated by Oliver Davies – (Penguin Classics)
– ‘Conversations with Meister Eckhart’ – by Meister Eckhart & Simon Parke – (White Crow Books Ltd)

Websites:
Meister Eckhart (Wikipedia)
Andrei Rublev (Wikipedia)

 

Back to Pages

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s