05 Feb 2014
February 5, 2014

Featured Teacher: Meister Eckhart

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“God does not look at what you do but only at your love and at the devotion and will behind your deeds…. He is concerned only that we shall love Him in all things.”

The deeply influential German Catholic mystic theologian and spiritual psychologist Meister Eckhart (1260-1328) was the most illustrious spiritual instructor of his day. He was also unjustly condemned as a heretic by the papacy after an impressive career of writing, teaching, preaching, directing souls and serving as a high-level administrator of the Dominican Order. Eckhart, virtually forgotten by the Church for centuries, is seen by growing numbers of people in the modern era to be one of the world’s pinnacle “nondual” mystics. His influence is greater now than at any time since the 14th century.

Eckhart’s theology is that of radical panentheism (“all in God, God in all”), which goes far beyond mere theism (which can only posit a transcendent “God up there” who sometimes personally intervenes “down here”), and certainly goes far beyond lowly pantheism (“all is God”—God is not more than the sum of creation). For Eckhart, God’s supremely glorious nature can only mean that God is fully transcendent and fully immanent, entirely beyond all and yet completely within all as the One Who alone IS, pure Spirit, the groundless Ground or Essence of all. For Eckhart, therefore, God is both the transpersonal Godhead (Gotheit) or “God beyond god,” and the personal Lord, i.e., the triune God—the Persons Father, Son and Holy Spirit in one nondual, indistinct Divine Nature.

Meister Eckhart was clearly a man of great piety himself, and urged this in others. Yet he was also ahead of his time, psychologically quite free, it seems, of that morbid penitential religiosity that weighed so heavily upon the West during the Middle Ages. In this, he was actually like Jesus 2,000 years ago, who taught the simple Our Father prayer, not a complex regimen of penance-practices. Listen, for instance, to Eckhart’s words on “sin” from one of his earliest writings: “Love knows nothing of sin—not that man has not sinned—but sins are blotted out at once by love and they vanish as if they had not been. This is because whatever God does he does completely, like the cup running over. Whom he forgives, he forgives utterly and at once.” (Talks of Instruction 15) Astute spiritual counselor that he was, like his beloved Lord Jesus, Eckhart did not want people maintaining an ego-sense through guilt any more than he wanted them to inflate the ego through pride. The essential aim that Meister Eckhart always points his listeners toward is selflessness and emptiness so that God can be one’s only One.

Furthermore, Eckhart courageously braved charges of heresy by affirming that in every soul is the Divine Spirit Itself as its true Identity. Eckhart specifically declared that there is a non-creaturely “uncreated aspect of the soul,” which is always already perfectly one with God. A startling, shocking truth that elated the many mystics of his time who flocked to hear his electric sermons, and, predictably, angered the non-mystics whose stunted intuition could not resonate with what the Meister so beautifully spoke. (Source: Enlightened-Spirituality.org)

Eckhart Tolle on the Teachings of Meister Eckhart

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  • Doug

    Wow, That is so direct and expansive, just makes one feel so good to hear this.

  • Tinky Bell

    Thank you for the book recommendation! Love the Meister!!