Meister Eckhart, Part I — Center for Action and Contemplation

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Meister Eckhart, Part I

Mystics and Non-Dual Thinkers: Week 1

Meister Eckhart, Part I
Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Meister Eckhart (1260-1327), a German friar, priest, mystic, and renowned preacher, was also an administrator—prior, vicar, and provincial—for several Dominican houses. My fellow Living School faculty member, James Finley, suggests this engagement in the “ways of the world” makes his teachings more accessible to us all: “They do not require that we lives as a hermit or go into the silence of the cloister in order to open ourselves to the experience of God’s oneness with us.” [1] Busy people can be mystics.

As a professor and theologian, Meister Eckhart had a deep understanding of scripture and his own Christian tradition. He was a true meister or spiritual master. I’ll introduce a few of Eckhart’s principal themes today and tomorrow, and I hope you’ll take the time to explore more of his rich and still accessible work. In many ways Eckhart is the mystic’s mystic. He speaks with such full non-dual consciousness, that many do not know what he is talking about! He often summarizes an abstruse passage with a brilliant one-liner like “What a [person] takes in by contemplation, that he [or she] pours out in love.”

One Franciscan Archbishop accused Eckhart of teaching pantheism, but as Eckhart said, they simply didn’t understand his words, which requires a non-dual approach. Eckhart said, “If humankind could have known God without the world, God would never have created the world.” Building on a basic awareness of God’s participation and revelation in nature, Eckhart believed humans have a special role in celebrating this gift of creation and adding to its beauty and diversity.

Eckhart taught the simple power of letting go and letting be. To let go is no easy task. But in any loving relationship, as we see in the Trinity, it is the source of true joy. Matthew Fox writes that “laughter may well be the ultimate act of letting go and letting be: the music of the divine cosmos. For in the core of the Trinity laughing and birthing go on all day long.” [2] Eckhart puts it this way: “The Father laughs with the Son; the Son laughs with the Father. The Father likes the Son; the Son likes the Father. The Father delights in the Son; the Son delights in the Father. The Father loves the Son; the Son loves the Father. This laughter, liking, delighting, loving is the Holy Spirit!” Who could say it better?

For Eckhart, heaven is now. We are invited to already participate in the eternal flow of Trinity here, in this lifetime. The only thing keeping us from God and heaven is our false notion that we are separate from God.

Gateway to Silence:
“I am a hole in a flute that the Christ’s breath moves through.” —Hafiz


[1] James Finley, (Caroline Myss Education Institute: June 2006).

[2] Matthew Fox, Passion for Creation: The Earth-Honoring Spirituality of Meister Eckhart (Inner Traditions: 1980, 2000), 48

Dervishes (photo detail) performing at Ruhaniyat Purana, Qila, 2011, by Ajaiberwarl. Wikimedia Commons.
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