More with Meister Eckhart

Das Meister-Eckart-Portal an der Predigerkirch...
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I am studying some of the medieval mystics in the West, and one which keeps coming to me is Meister Eckhart. There is a society devoted to studying him. You can read some of this sermons, an analysis of this doctrines, and even a modern Roman view.

  • Whoever possesses God in their being, has him in a divine manner, and he shines out to them in all things; for them all things taste of God and in all things it is God’s image that they see.
  • People should not worry as much about what they do but rather about what they are. If they and their ways are good, then their deeds are radiant. If you are righteous, then what you do will also be righteous. We should not think that holiness is based on what we do but rather on what we are, for it is not our works which sanctify us but we who sanctify our works.
  • It is a fair trade and an equal exchange: to the extent that you depart from things, thus far, no more and no less, 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. Talks of Instruction
  • In 1985 the Pope, John Paul II, said: “Did not Eckhart teach his disciples: ‘All that God asks you most pressingly is to go out of yourself – and let God be God in you’? One could think that, in separating himself from creatures, the mystic leaves his brothers, humanity, behind. The same Eckhart affirms that, on the contrary, the mystic is marvelously present to them on the only level where he can truly reach them, that is in God.
  • Here in time we are celebrating the eternal birth which God the Father bore and unceasingly bears in eternity, because this same birth is now born in time, in human nature.
  • The soul in which this birth is to take place must keep absolutely pure and must live in noble fashion, quite collected, and turned entirely inward: not running out through the five senses into the multiplicity of creatures, but all inturned and collected and in the purest part: there is His place; He disdains anything else.
  • Here God enters the soul with His all, not merely with a part: God enters here the ground of the soul.
  • Though it may be called a nescience, and unknowing, yet there is in it more than all knowing and understanding without it; for this unknowing lures and attracts you from all understood things, and from yourself as well.
  • The soul is scattered abroad among her powers, and dissipated in the action of each. Thus her ability to work inwardly is enfeebled, for a scattered power is imperfect.
  • Do not imagine that your reason can grow to the knowledge of God. 
  • No. Be sure of this: absolute stillness for as long as possible is best of all for you.
  • You should know that God must act and pour Himself into the moment He finds you ready.
  • To be receptive to the highest truth, and to live therein, a man must needs be without before and after, untrammelled by all his acts or by any images he ever perceived, empty and free, receiving the divine gift in the eternal Now, and bearing it back unhindered in the light of the same with praise and thanksgiving in our Lord Jesus Christ. .
  • Since it is God’s nature not to be like anyone, we have to come to the state of being nothing in order to enter into the same nature that He is. .
  • So, when I am able to establish myself in nothing, and nothing in myself, uprooting and casting out what is in me, then I can pass into the naked being of God, which is the naked being of the Spirit.
  • There is a power in the soul which touches neither time nor flesh, flowing from the spirit, remaining in the spirit, altogether spiritual. .
  • One means, without which I cannot get to God, is work or activity in time, which does not interfere with eternal salvation.   ‘Works’ are performed from without, but ‘activity’ is when one practises with care and understanding from  within.
  • It is a certain and necessary truth that he who resigns his will wholly to God will catch God and bind God, so that God can do nothing but what that man wills  
  • If you seek God and seek Him for your own profit and bliss, then in truth you are not seeking God.
  • We find people who like the taste of God in one way and not in another, and they want to have God only in one way of contemplation, not in another.I raise no objection, but they are quite wrong.  
  • I declare truly that as long as anything is reflected in your mind which is not the eternal Word, or which looks away from the eternal Word, then, good as it may be, it is not the right thing.  
  • For he alone is a good man who, having set at nought all created things, stands facing straight, with no side-glances, towards the eternal Word, and is imaged and reflected there in righteousness.  
  • The human spirit must transcend number and break through multiplicity, and God will break through him; and just as He breaks through into me, so I break through into Him.  
  • Above thought is the intellect, which still seeks:   it goes about looking, spies out here and there, picks up and drops. But above the intellect that seeks is another intellect which does not seek but stays in its pure, simple being, which is embraced in that light. .  

Something struck me as I was reading this quote by ]],

Meister Eckhart says that the man who finds no taste of God wearies of looking for him. One of the criticisms of Christianity, and one of the reasons why many young Christians turn to the East, to Buddhism or to Hinduism, is that in Christianity there is no apparent help with method. How do we find God? How do we even start? Eckhart is one of the Christians who faces this and accepts it as a problem. Good intentions are not always enough. We need instruction in how to make ourselves fit to receive the revelation of God, to receive the eternal birth. (Fleming, 1995)

What struck me was the similarity in thought to John Wesley,

“It may be needful to specify whom I mean by this ambiguous term; since it would be lost labor to speak to Methodists, so called, without first describing those to whom I speak.

“By Methodists I mean, a people who profess to pursue (in whatsoever measure they have attained) holiness of heart and life, inward and outward conformity in all things to the revealed will of God; who place religion in an uniform resemblance of the great object of it; in a steady imitation of Him they worship, in all his illimitable perfections; more particularly, in justice, mercy, and truth, or universal love filling the heart, and governing the life.” — John Wesley, Advice to the People Called Methodists (ht)

Both seemed to be searching for the holiness of the heart found only in God.

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12 Replies to “More with Meister Eckhart”


    What good is it that Jesus was born of a virgin if God is not born in me?

    Only the hand that erases can write the true thing.

    If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.

    Some people want to see God with their eyes as they see a cow and to love him as they love their cow—they love their cow for the milk and cheese and profit it makes them.

    This is how it is with people who love God for the sake of outward wealth or inward com­fort. They do not rightly love God when they love him for their own advantage. Indeed, I tell you the truth, any object you have on your mind, however good, will be a barrier between you and the inmost truth.

    The knower and the known are one. Simple people imagine that they should see God as if he stood there and they here. This is not so. God and I, we are one in knowledge.

    Meister Eckhart

    Another fav, kind of goes along with the Eckhart quotations:

    To see a world in a grain of sand,

    And a heaven in a wild flower,

    Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,

    And eternity in an hour.

    William Blake – Auguries of Innocence

    Lastly, visit’s book page for “Meditations With Meister Eckhart” and click on the “Look Inside” feature and then keep hitting, “Surprise Me.” Neat little quotations by Eckhart keep popping up.

          1. “Hiccuping about silence” was what I spake of, not “hiccuping in silence.” I meant my pun to be equivalent to “dancing about architecture.”

            Second, “hiccuping in silence” may mean at least two things:

            1) a hiccup that is not heard, in which case the silence rules, and the hiccup doth not truly exist except as a felt muscular contraction in the back of one’s throat.


            2) A hiccup is heard and shatters the silence, in which case the silence ceases and a hiccup rules the air.

            But i shall wait till Thomas Aquinas also weighs in on this important question, which shall be tomorrow, for he is currently busy proving that hell lieth beneath the earth.

  2. About my last suggestion, the quotations at don’t pop up with as great a diversity as I seem to recall them having done in the past.

  3. That’s a lot of ha-ha-ing for a serious theologian such as yourself. But maybe you’re into studying the intersection between humor and theology as I have been?

    The works of Conrad Hyers are wonderful reading in that regard.

    As are the works of Robert Farrar Capon, notably, Hunting the Divine Fox, at least for starters.

    I believe that Hyers also mentions Eckhart.

    1. I recently discovered Eckhart myself, and wish that I could validate all the quotes attributed to him, such as this one –

      My Lord told me a joke. And seeing Him laugh has done more for me than any scripture I will ever read.

      1. Nice! On the validation of quotations, i figure if some practical or even mystical saying rings true based on the accumulated experiences and wisdom of one’s own lifetime, then it doesn’t matter who said it. After all, a lot of great quotations are attributed to “Anon,” a guy who didn’t even take the time to write down his full name.

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