Meister Eckhart's Book of Secrets: Meditations on Letting Go and Finding True Freedom

Meister Eckhart's Book of Secrets: Meditations on Letting Go and Finding True Freedom

by Jon M. Sweeney, Mark S. Burrows


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An elegant rendering of the great mystic's thoughts on the mysteries of the authentic life

This is a little book about soul freedom. It is a book about discovering the secret to all the things we most desire: contentment, meaning, peace of mind, and true freedom. This skillfully edited translation of selections from the writings of Meister Eckhart provides a roadmap to the spiritual life for contemporary seekers. Eckhart takes us on a journey of discovery; a journey in which we learn to let go, relinquish our need to know everything, and lose those things that we think are important for a life of worth. And in the end he shows us that the true secret is this: to find yourself, you must lose yourself.

Here is timeless wisdom from a medieval mystic who has influenced a wide range of spiritual teachers and mystics both inside and outside the Christian tradition. Erich Fromm, Arthur Schopenhauer, Dag Hammarskjöld, Eckhart Tolle, Richard Rohr, D. T. Suzuki, Rudolf Steiner, and Matthew Fox have all credited Eckhart as being an important influence on their thought. In addition, his work has influenced the development of 20th-century American Buddhism and the Theosophical tradition.

Divided into five sections—Seeking the Light, Facing Darkness, Risking Love, Knowing Nothing, and Embracing Everything—the book leads readers on the path to an authentic spiritual life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781571748478
Publisher: Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc.
Publication date: 10/01/2019
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 309,967
Product dimensions: 4.90(w) x 6.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Mark S. Burrows is a poet, translator, and professor of religion and literature at the Protestant University of Applied Sciences in Bochum, Germany. His poetry has appeared in Poetry, the Cortland Review, the Southern Quarterly, Weavings, and a number of other periodicals.

Jon M. Sweeney is an independent scholar, critic, and writer. Several of his books have become History Book Club, BOMC, One Spirit Book Club, and QPB selections. After cofounding SkyLight Paths Publishing in Vermont, he served as editorial director at Franciscan Media, and is now the editor-in-chief at Paraclete Press. He lives in Milwaukee, WI.

Read an Excerpt



Even in the Shadows

Even in the shadows of my life where I often tremble with shame,
You are present there as the light that ever shines without ceasing,
and when I turn my heart to that darkness I find that You were there, shining, all along.

God Is Green

Your pure soul is untouched by its flesh,
unbound by its time,
exclusively for God who is green and flowering with all joy and power.

If You Could See

If you could see just for a moment,
a split-second in time,
the eternally green,
birthing power of God,
you would not be able to recall your past and present suffering and pain.

God's Now

We cannot see everything.
Yet everything is there in a single light.
Unchanging eternity is its name.
If you could see it,
or simply be in its glow,
nothing would ever pass away.

The Inner Eye

Are you looking for God using the same eyes you employ to perceive temporal things?
That won't work.
God is not like colors in the sky.
What you see with those old eyes of yours is something else.
It is not God.

Just for a Moment

If you could see who you really are for only a moment —
you would see your life,
and all life, pure being,
nobility and givenness, perfection.

You would never, then,
turn away again.

God's Gaze

There are of course millions of people and more but know that when God looks on one of them, alone,
that one receives everything necessary from that singular gaze.

A Great Light

"There was a very great light,"
the scripture says, for when Wisdom comes into the mind,
when a soul finally comes to rest from its passions and concerns,
there also comes a quiet silence as that soul rests from its spinning,
with new understanding.


It is wicked to expect some specific thing from God.

If you asked,
you received —
and received in full,
more than you can imagine or know.

Follow Me

People seem to respond in three ways when Christ says,
"Follow me":
those who run ahead are wicked;
those who remain close by are missing an opportunity;
but those who truly follow,
they are perfect.

To Be Satisfied with Hell

If you are so present in God that your will and God's are the same,
you wouldn't so much mind sickness over health,
or pain over happiness.
You would even be satisfied with Hell,
if that was where you and God were going together.

Did You Ever Wonder

Did you ever wonder what the greatest gift is that God has ever done?
It is this: mercy.
If you wonder what this means,
practice mercy and your questions will fade. Live into mercy,
and you will become what you love,
for love unites us in our loving,
not in our being.
So give yourself to love, and love yourself in giving.
The rest will follow of its own.

Rotten Eggs and Brown Apples

To love God is to consider that what God wants as good and godly is important in your life, too.
So, don't imagine yourself too clever,
so fresh and so original that you end up throwing what God wants out the back door like rotten eggs and brown apples.

An Honest Prayer

I love you,
you see,
I do.
And I want what you want,
but honestly,
more than that,
I wonder,
could I convince you to change your mind?

Intentions Matter

Don't be like the falcon that hovers over the woman with a bundle of sausages walking home from the market.
That falcon follows,
but not as Christ says to follow to those who would love him.
Intentions matter.

Yes, Darkness


Everything glorifies God in its own way.
Yes, darkness, too,
the one out there and the one that hides within me in my difficulties and tribulations.


And what, after all,
would God be without it —
for it is where God wants to be,
so that light can have its way with me and my darkness.

Ours Is the Darkness


Ours is the darkness that seeks the light,
and God's is the light that longs for the dark.
It's a simple equation,
even when it isn't so simple.


So welcome what comes of the dark.
Greet it as another possibility where the light might shine again.

The Sheep's Eye and Mine

My eye has more in common with a sheep grazing on the far side of the sea, which I have never seen,
than it does with my own ears.

How can that be, you ask? Well,
the sheep's eye shares with mine the capacity to see, which my ear knows nothing about,

and hearing is unmoved by light.
But the uncreated light alone is what wakes the soul from the darkness of its slumber.

Seek God in Nothing

If someone tells you that God is here or there,
pay them no heed. And if they tell you that God is this or that, ignore them. For you will only find God when you remove every something and seek him in nothing, and you will only see him when you become blind and remove every something from him. If you do this, you will finally have only God, and God will have only you.
This is what matters; the rest will take care of itself.

Pay Attention to the Nothing

"Paul rose from the ground, and with eyes open saw nothing."

Acts 9:8


Pay attention to the nothing the apostle saw with open eyes.
And consider what a wonderful word this nothing is. What does this mean? I say that it could mean any of four things:
first, he saw the nothing that was God;
second, when he got up, he saw nothing but God;
third, in all things he saw nothing but God;
and fourth, when he saw God, he saw all things as nothing.


Which one of these is true for you depends on how you look,
not what you see.
So pay attention to this nothing in the way you look,
and in everything find God with open eyes!

Find the Inner Eye

We see in two ways, because the soul has two eyes.
One is an outer eye, beholding all that is creaturely around us, all that we can see in the outer world,
all that we can imagine among things that change.

We need this eye to manage from day to day, and moment to moment. But the eye that really matters is the inner eye that beholds what is beyond change.
When you retreat from what is outside of you,

you'll taste what true freedom means; not that you will have no more troubles, but all this will no longer bother you. What to do? Find the inner eye and learn to see your life entirely with it. The rest will follow.

If You Want to Reach the Highest Wisdom

If you want to reach the highest wisdom,
refuse everything you know, abandon all

you aspire to be, and seek the darkness of the lowest place of all. Become nothing,

and there God will pour out the whole of himself, who is All, with all his strength,

and you will see in the light you long for.

Becoming Peace


What is the heart of lasting peace in our lives and for our world? Simply this: the realization that what God accomplishes in the only-begotten God does in each one of us as well, so that we might become this beloved one.


To what end? So that we might learn to love ourselves, and as we do this, as we learn to love ourselves for who we truly are, we cannot but love everyone else in the same manner.
This is the source of the wisdom whose end is the peace we were meant to become, which is beyond our understanding but not beyond what we long to know in our experience.

Think Again

If you thought evil erases the good, think again:
what prevents you from seeing it there might just have to do with the way you are looking.
Look again, for it shines even there,
at least for those with eyes to see.

A Wide Wilderness

You will not find me in the usual places.
Come to the desert if you'd like to see.
Look where you might become lost for a while.
There is a wide wilderness in me.


To find God is to go nowhere.
Angels suddenly appear in your path;
never mind them.
To find God is to go where we are alone with the One,

Four Kinds of Ecstasy

A first ecstasy comes with intention,
when we reject the world's pleasures for God.
This is love.
A second ecstasy comes with imaginative vision,
when we see, apart from our senses, God around us.
This is spirit.
A third ecstasy happens beyond sense and imagination,
when we see God in the mind, by infused and holy grace.
This is like the "deep sleep" of Adam in the Garden.
Then, there is a fourth ecstasy,
when the mind's eye can truly see God.
Of this I will say no more.

What You Know with God

What you know with God is what God is.
There is nothing better.

You will see infinity,

There is, for you,
nothing else.



To Someone with God

To someone with God,
there is happy discomfort,
there is glad darkness,
there is joyful grieving,
there is a lack of nothing;
and that lack, that nothing,
is otherwise hard to find.

Where We Are

When you are really free you will no longer pine away for freedom;
you will be present in this moment;
you will be happy to follow God alone in the light that shows us where we are.

Blessed Are the Martyrs

Blessed are the martyrs who suffered for the name of God.
Some say,
Life is short.
Live it and don't be afraid.
You should be dead already to what the world finds important.
Both are true.
Both life and death are your salvation.

Between Two Darknesses

If darkness is at the beginning, then it is also at the last end. Don't be surprised by this,
for God rests there in the hidden darkness of his eternal divinity, where he is unknown and remains unknown as he is in himself.
Do you think it is any different than this in your darkness, between these two?

No Matter How Deep the Darkness

No matter how deep the darkness within you, there remains a spark there, and this light wants only this:

the naked God as God truly is, and not ideas about God, however true this might be. This spark wants

the deep ground that is God —
the quiet desert, the simple silence.
And there, in this innermost place

beyond knowing and being, there the spark desires what it needs,
and finds what it desires.

Picture the Knight

He leaves home,
risking everything he has,
traveling to faraway places,
danger on every side,
seeking a bit of passing glory.
We are not knights,
because the glory we seek will never pass;
so why do we complain?
Why do we see this journey and regard the risks so dearly?
They are as nothing.

Whatever It Is

Whatever it is that lives and breathes,
or loves and seeks meaning or love in return,
is loving after God, without whom there is no existence at all.

Try Emptying Yourself

Empty a cup completely and keep it empty so that not even air can enter inside.
If you can, that cup may cease to be a cup at all.
So, you might try emptying yourself of cares and things, of all that now fills you, and you, too,
might become something new.

If You Want to Find the Truth

If you want to find the truth that matters,
remember this: it's hidden and not what you think. So stop thinking. And don't imagine you can find it through what you can put into words. It's like light that bursts forth from the darkness,
like waters rising from unseen depths,
or the wind that blows where it will.

If We Could Ever See

If we could ever see, if only for a moment,
the delight and joy that are in God, we

would gladly embrace the darkness that comes to us, considering it of little

worth, even as nothing, so great would be the measure of our joy and pleasure.

Your Notebook Jottings

Imagine a soldier, with the finest arms available hanging in a closet, never worn.

Just as useless as those weapons are your notebook jottings about being virtuous.

You have to put virtue on for it to come to mean anything at all.

A Mirror

Stay close now,
do not go far from here,
for God is only as close as a mirror,
and if it falls, so falls the image that once appeared there.

In Dark Times

In dark times, even in death, we do well to remember that

for God nothing is ever lost or gone,
not even in death,

since God holds everything that is,
even death itself,

in the eternal Now of abundant love and endless blessing.

We Cannot Know What God Is

We cannot know what God is,
but we can imagine it like this:

it is a greening and blooming,
a burning and glowing, a pouring

forth of love without measure,
a meeting of dark suffering with

the light of pleasure, a mingling of earth with heaven, a delight

that exceeds what we can ever know while remaining within

the bounds of what we can imagine and surely hope for.

Some Imagine There Is No Light

Some imagine there is no light in their life but only a long darkness.

I say that the light is never absent,
always seeking to flow forth within the ground of the soul, but we block it in our confusion and fail to see how it ever shines and burns in us.

So if you want to know the light,
you must first face the darkness that is in you. Only then will this light overflow your soul and dance with radiance in your life.

Anger or Peace?

If you want to seek light,
pay attention to the darkness within you, which is your anger.
And when it rises up in you,
let it go, for if you choose anger, you'll find that God stays far away from you,
for as much as you lack peace, you will lack God.

Learn to Become God's Joy

Some truths are as remarkable as they are simple,
and this is one such truth: God's nature is to give

and give and give, without measure, and God does this at all times — but especially when we are down

and out, lost and lonely; God asks only that we take what comes in this gift, which is nothing less than

God's very self, and when we refuse to do this we deny who we are and, finally, kill God.

So open yourself to this gift and ready yourself for this truth and so learn to become God's joy.

This Truth Is All that Matters

This truth is all that matters, but it's hid deep in darkness, a mystery so great and sublime that no words can hold it.
So empty yourself of what you thought you knew about it, and trust the silence at the beginning and end of thinking.
This is where God waits to find you,
the pearl of such great price that you must forget what you know and sell all you have to acquire it. Once you do,
it is all you need. Nothing else matters.

One Love

If you seek God with prior expectations, you might get what you expect, but you'll know nothing of God —

because God always hides in the dark of our knowing.
But if you seek God without any idea about who or what

God is, you'll find yourself one with the One, and in this light find yourself joined to the One who

is always Love, without beginning or end.

Among the Miracles


Among the miracles ever happening among us,
the greatest is this: that God is ever glowing

and burning with all his riches, in all that is —
in every darkness we face and in all that we

must suffer and endure. And God does this constantly and without ceasing, opening to us

in just this way a measure of his sweetness and the abundance of his good pleasure.


This, too, is a miracle, for we can never exhaust these riches or speak of them adequately,

and in this knowing we find the power to face the burdens of each day and every

new hour, this gain more than we deserve but not more than we need, and in this

knowing we embrace whatever is to come in our lives of suffering and of pain.

If You Were So Holy

If you were so holy you would not need God at all and your work would leave you calm and confident.
If you were so holy you would be imperturbable when others try turning you away from God's presence.

Who Can Understand This

Who can understand this: that God is creating the world not out there,
but in the innermost part of the soul,
where there is no time nor the light of any image?

If you imagine this,
you will know — if only in a small way —
that even in the darkness you are no more separate from the world than God is.

And if you glimpse this,
even if for a moment, you will know that God is becoming human again and again, even now, even in you.

Some Say God Is Gentle

Some say God is gentle and kind,
but I say we only truly know this in the abyss of the godhead where we taste the abundance of God in the darkness before the first day and in the image of his whyless love.

So take leave of God for God's sake,
and dare to dwell in that single oneness beyond every hope of gain,
where nothing separates you from God.

If It Is True

If it is true, as the Scriptures say,
that God made the heavens and the earth, then it is also true that God is still making all that is —
the many from the one, light out of the darkness, and order from chaos. So take heart and dare to break through, if only for a moment in your thinking,
and set aside what troubles you.

Imagine this Amazing Truth

Imagine this amazing truth:
God is always creating within you, in the heart's darkness,
amid the shards of your life and even in the chaos. Even there, God is and you are, in the perpetual Now that is Love in and through you.

You Ask, What Is Evil?

It is the good turned round,
deprived of what matters,
of all that really endures,
of all roots,
of what remains after a fire.
It stands outside,
pointing away, dividing,
fallen, falling, broken.
There is always evil lurking in the good.


Look for it.
The Baptist cried in that wilderness,
"Prepare the way!"
You must know you must know that the only sure way of removing every obstacle to God comes through poverty.
You have to be, have to be, naked.

Your pride, Eckhart

is the root of all your sin.
You leave undone what needs doing,
having better things to do.
And then there is what you do —
need I remind you?
But remember, man,
the humus, that ground out of which you were formed.


Excerpted from "Meister Eckhart's Book of Secrets"
by .
Copyright © 2019 Mark S. Burrows and Jon M. Sweeney.
Excerpted by permission of Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Prologue: There Is a Secret Hidden in the Heart,
1. Seeking Light,
2. Facing Darkness,
3. Risking Love,
4. Knowing Nothing,
5. Embracing Everything,
Epilogue: Come Home to Yourself,
Notes and Sources for the Poems,
Index of Poems,

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