Meister Eckhart

Meister Eckhart

Born: 1260. Died: 1327.

Ideas

- Beyond 'God' lies the Godhead; that is, 'God' as Father, Son and Spirit is merely representation of the true God, or Godhead.

- The ground of God and the ground of the human soul are the same; thus God, or union with God, is to be sought within oneself: Here occurs 'the birth of God's Son in the soul.'

- God cannot be 'known' rationally, but only through immediate experience, normally as the result of disinterest and detachment and usually, but not necessarily, arrived at through ascetic practices.

- The spiritual and interior are superior to the material and exterior.

Biography

Meister Eckhart is one of the great Christian mystics. He was born near Erfurt in Thuringia and in his distinguished career became a Parisian Professor of Theology and took a leading pastoral and organisational role in the Dominican Order.

In the language of the Christian tradition Eckhart expounds the eternal mysteries in a style that is fresh and original in the best sense. Through the vividness of his use of imagery (alluding to the mysteries of the spark of the soul, the Abyss, the desert, the birth of the Word in the heart, etc.) Eckhart paradoxically directs us to that which lies beyond image.

The depth and universality of Eckhart's teaching has drawn seekers of truth Christian and non-Christian alike. His radical and penetrating insight makes him a natural point of reference for a genuinely ecumenical understanding.

Major Works of Meister Eckhart

- The Book of Divine Consolations and On the Nobleman, 1315
- Discourses of Discernment, before 1298
- On Detachment, 1315
- Sermons and Treatises

Quotes from Meister Eckhart

- "God is love, so loving that, whatever he can love he must love, whether he will or not." (from "Fragments")

- "When I pray for something, I do not pray; when I pray for nothing, I really pray. ... To pray for anything except God might be called idolatry." (from "Fragments")

- "Action and becoming are one." (from "Sermons")

- "Whether you like it or not, whether you know it or not, secretly all nature seeks God and works toward him. ... Covertly, nature seeks, hunts, tries to ferret out the track on which God may be found." (from "Sermons")

- "The more grievous a man's sins seem to him, the readier God is to forgive them. ... They are annihilated as if they had never happened, if only the repentance be whole." (from "The Talks of Instruction")

- "The soul is not like God: she is identical with Him." (from "Meister Eckhart" by Franz Pfeiffer)

- "God expects but one thing of you, and that is that you ... let God be God in you." (from "The Perennial Philosophy" by Aldous Huxley)

- "God can no more do without us than we can do without him"

- "He who withholds but a pennyworth of worldly goods from his neighbor, knowing him to be in need of it, is a robber in the sight of God"

- "If God were able to backslide from the truth, I would cling to the truth and let God go"

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