Meister Eckhart



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Fast Facts
meister-eckhart.jpg
Other Names and Nicknames: 
Eckhart von Hochheim
Function: 
Mystic
Traditions: 
Christianity
Main Countries of Activity: 
Germany
Date of Birth: 
circa 1260
Place of Birth: 
Tambach, Thuringia State, Germany
In His/Her Body ("alive"): 
No
Date Left His/Her Body: 
circa 1328

Biography

Meister Eckhart was a German theologian, philosopher and one of the great Christian mystics, born near Erfurt, in Thuringia.

Meister is German for "Master", referring to the academic title Magister in theologia he obtained in Paris. He became a Parisian Professor of Theology and took a leading pastoral and organizational role in the Dominican Order.

Coming into prominence during the decadent Avignon Papacy and a time of increased tensions between the Franciscans and Eckhart's Dominican Order of Preacher Friars, he was brought up on charges later in life before the local Franciscan-led Inquisition. Tried as a heretic by Pope John XXII, his "Defence" is famous for his reasoned arguments to all challenged articles of his writing and his refutation of heretical intent.

He purportedly died before his verdict was received, although no record of his death or burial site has ever been discovered.

Meister Eckhart has gained a large following in recent years. 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 spiritual understanding.

Since 1980 steps have been taken by the Dominican Order, supported by lay people and friends, to seek an official declaration from the Pope in order to acknowledge "the exemplary character of Eckhart's activity and preaching and to recommend his writings (particularly the spiritual works, treatises and sermons) as an expression of authentic Christian mysticism and as trustworthy guides to the Christian life according to the spirit of the gospel".

Meister Eckhart has influenced profoundly the contemporary spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle who changed his first name as a reference to this great mystic.

Sources: 
Eckhart Society, Wikipedia

Teachings

Eckhart's teachings bear a remarkable similarity to India's Advaita.

The mysticism of Eckhart tries to define the relationship of God as a creator and a sustainer. The God of Eckhart in its purity and all by itself remains free from creation. Nevertheless, it is omnipotent and omnipresent in itself that it is, as it were, full to the brim and spills something over. It emanates its power, its intelligence and its beauty into creation, because it cannot do otherwise. God must create itself but at itself it stays apart from creation. It is forever One and changeless.

Eckhart repeats this again and again: God is to be found deep in the heart of man not outside or above in the sky. The metaphor he uses is one of light and of fire, a familiar image within the history of mysticism: he calls the part of the human soul where the god is prominent and alive and where god can be known the Divine Spark (Funk). The task of man therefore is not to go outside if he searches for happiness but to dive inside where this Spark lives. In a way, Eckhart asks seekers to leave their senses behind and go towards the Divine Stillness, the source of all goodness and happiness which is within.

But for Eckhart's Christianity, God and the soul are not all together identical as they are in Vedanta, for example. In the abyss of the soul God and the Divine Spark rest within each other, they fuse into each other, but they are never completely identical. Here Eckhart speaks as the true Christian he was: it would in his days have been blasphemy (and very dangerous indeed!) to call man God. But we can also see his point: there is no complete identification between the Gotheit and the soul, simply because the Gotheit is wholly transcendent and stays apart from creation. It is only as a deduction that God is known in the soul, but never in its own Gotlichkeit.

Sources: 
Mysticism.nl, wikipedia

Books & Media

Recommended Books: 
Cover image

Meister Eckhart, from Whom God Hid Nothing: Sermons, Writings, and Sayings

by Meister Eckhart

(Paperback)

This introduction to the writing and preaching of the greatest medieval European mystic contains selections from his sermons, treatises, and sayings, as well as Table Talk, the records of his informal advice to his spiritual children.

Pro Opinions

eckhart

Mr jack's picture

Long live all friends of god.

Con Opinions

Indistinct Union in the Ground

Leon's picture

Contrary to what the poster posted: