The Teachings of Meister Eckhart: An Invitation to Experience God in Every Moment
I listened to this book via audible (amazon) authored by James Finley. Now I have to go to the source – 13th-century mystic Meister Eckhart. James’s handling of the mystic’s sermons served a ten-thousand-foot view of contemplative thought that polished some of my jagged edges in my spiritual practices. His writings and thoughts were not free of controversy, making him even more attractive to some seeking controversy rather than spiritual harmony with God.
You need not go to the 13th century to find controversy – I advise against it as most will pay you no mind quoting a 13th-century mystic, which although quite relevant today, is still not considered a doctor of the church. Pope John Paul II did quote this mystic though, and he has many Catholic/Christian believers that are inspired by his writings.
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.”
His works are free on the web, and he has a society following him today. As with all mystics I imagine, there is an issue of transcendence without having ever done the work of knowing any form or grounding of our spiritual direction. There is always a danger of misinterpretation and spiritual unmooring when reading a complicated mystic, from a different century, who has lived a life immersed in prayer, that many of us may never come close to in our practices. I could teach the basic mechanics of chess in about a day and perhaps, if you have natural talent, even provide some complex strategy and tactics that may give you enough confidence to play solo in amateur events. It is doubtful though that you would be able to elevate your game beyond the literal and into intuitive knowledge and mastery at the level of the great masters of the game. Try flying a plane after having flown a kite.
Today, there is a tendency to want to leap right into the deep end of the mystical thought without any firmament to support the great weights one may encounter – or even the ability to be open to spiritual revelation. Worse yet some run off with a misinterpretation and act in truly evil ways under the premise of knowing the true word of God, but in essence, are suffering from ego-driven narcissism of the spiritual variety. James Finley discusses a lectio-divino process of reading his sermons: pray, read one sermon, pray again, read the same sermon again and highlight, pray some more, read commentary, pray more. He did not say exactly this – but it is clear it is not light reading or light prayer that one comes to know Eckhart.
We do not have eternity here in our mortal shells to come to know and act in concert with divine direction. We will, in all likelihood, pass away like those before us in a state of spiritual imperfection. We strive to be one with our creator nonetheless and count on God’s grace and mercy.