Reflections on Meister Johann Eckhart

 

 

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Reflections on Meister Johann Eckhart

Alex Tang

Meister Eckhart has profoundly influenced my spiritual development and growth.

Firstly, Eckhart was trained by the Dominican, a religious Order devoted to the teaching and preaching of the Word. The Dominicans were not afraid to study theology and philosophy. Eckhart used his training to develop his thinking. I find that this great encouragement for me, I believe ‘all knowledge is God’s knowledge’. This gives me the liberty to learn from philosophy, psychology, sociology, the sciences and other religious traditions for my own spiritual growth.

 Secondly, Eckhart taught me that contemplation must not be limited to the monastery but must be acted out in the active life. To reach the divine in others can only be done if we are out there with them. Aside from his study and teaching, he was also involved in providing leadership and administration. We must remove the artificial divide between the ‘full time’ and the ‘secular’ vocations.

Thirdly, against convention Eckhart preached and taught in the vernacular rather than Latin as was the custom at that time. The establishment was unhappy. Eckhart felt that the message is so important that he taught in simple German, avoiding rhetorics so that the message can be understood. He also varied his message to suit his audiences. This is an important lesson to me in my teaching and preaching.

Fourthly, his teachings are about God, His Divine essence, the relationship of man to God, the operations of the soul and the return of all created things to Him. Often misunderstood, his teachings created a resonance within my soul. Often I have felt we put God in a box and have recreated Him in our image. Eckhart taught me about God as ‘negation of negation’ and the way of spiritual growth is in the ‘ground of the mind’: detachment, identity and dehiscence. I also find a resonance with the other Eastern religious traditions and Asian cultures in what he taught.

Finally, Eckhart showed me the model of how a man lived in tension in a contemplative and active life. To me, Eckhart is a giant of faith.

                                                                                                                                                          Soli Deo Gloria

 

 

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