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Conversations With Meister Eckhart
     

Conversations With Meister Eckhart

by Meister Eckhart
 

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In many ways, Meister Eckhart has had to wait seven centuries to be heard. Born in 13th century Germany, much of his life was spent in a monastery; though not all. The ‘Meister’ in his name means ‘Master’, and is an academic title from the University of Paris. An admired member of the Dominican Order, he was often sent to reform ailing

Overview

In many ways, Meister Eckhart has had to wait seven centuries to be heard. Born in 13th century Germany, much of his life was spent in a monastery; though not all. The ‘Meister’ in his name means ‘Master’, and is an academic title from the University of Paris. An admired member of the Dominican Order, he was often sent to reform ailing priories. He was known also as a spiritual counsellor; a safe haven for many who sought God in their life, but found themselves troubled by the dire state of the institutional church. And in a century of flowering female spirituality, he was a supportive figure for many Dominican nuns and women in the burgeoning lay communities which arose.

He was best known, however, as a preacher – an original preacher who used his native German language to startling effect. Eckhart preached a spiritual vision which distrusted the artifice of both ritual and church dogma. Instead, he aimed at nothing less than the spiritual and psychological transformation of those given to his care. To this end, Eckhart made the disposition of the human heart the key to all things.

‘Conversations with Meister Eckhart’ is an imagined conversation with this 13th century mystic, around such themes as detachment, which he famously placed above love; spirituality, God, the soul and suffering. But while the conversation is imagined, Eckhart’s words are not; they are authentically his own.
One of his controversial claims was that God cannot be described. Indeed, in one sermon, he went so far as to say ‘We must take leave of God.’ ‘The church became very hostile towards him,’ says Simon Parke, ‘accusing him of heresy; and he spent his last days on trial before the pope. They also tried to ensure he’d be forgotten when he died, and nearly succeeded. But he’s more popular now than ever.’

Eckhart’s teaching is an adventure, not a system; a call, not a creed. The depth and universality of his work means it can be contained by no established religion, but draws to itself seekers of truth from all backgrounds. ‘Here we have a teaching open to all, but possessed by none,’ says Parke. ‘And therefore free like a butterfly, in the garden of the soul. Its perhaps my most challenging and rewarding conversation.’

Product Details

BN ID:
2940013566279
Publisher:
White Crow Productions Ltd
Publication date:
03/01/2011
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
120
Sales rank:
965,810
File size:
159 KB

Meet the Author

Meister Eckhart – theologian, psychologist, philosopher, mystic - has become more and more appreciated the longer he has been dead. In recent times, thinkers as varied as Eric Fromm, Dag Hammerskold, Matthew Fox and Eckhart Tolle have all acknowledged his inspiration in their teaching.

Born in Thuringia in 1260, Eckhart joined the Dominican Order at the age of fifteen, and continued to serve this order in various ways until he died in 1328 - in church custody and facing charges of heresy. He taught theology at the University of Paris, acquiring here his title ‘Meister’, which means ‘Master’. But most of his life was spent away from academia, leading monastic communities in Erfurt, Strasburg and Cologne. In a century of flowering female spirituality, he was a supportive figure to many Dominican nuns and women in the burgeoning lay communities, so hated by the authorities.

Meanwhile, the church leadership was in crisis. The Papacy, exiled in Avignon, was involved in unedifying power struggles; while the Franciscan-led Inquisition was turning against its rival Dominican Order. In a time of insecurity, Eckhart’s daring talk of inner spiritual experience was considered dangerous.

It was his sermons that gave full scope to his adventurous thought. He pictured God as an abundant spring overflowing into the world; while he named detachment above love as the greatest virtue. In this, he echoed Buddhist teaching, as he also did in his emphasis on nothingness and the emptying of self. He believed God too precious to name, and even said in one sermon that ‘we must take leave of God.’

The church condemned him after he died, attacking his memory with either slander or a veil of silence. But through followers like Henry Suso and John Tauler his thought lived on; while nuns of the South Rhineland committed his sermons to memory and wrote them down. The Pope declared Eckhart ‘evil-sounding, rash and suspect of heresy,’ but many have begged to differ.

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