Meister Eckhart exclaims that “there is nothing in all creation so like God as silence.” Might he be right? The Scriptures say: “Be still and learn that I am God.”
We find silence in all of the Four Paths of our mystical/prophetic journey. Each touches us so deeply that we are moved to silence. In the Via Positiva the beauty of life and creation moves us to an awe that carries silence with it. Job testifies to this per the video that accompanies this meditation.
We have been considering one dimension of the Via Negativa—that of grief and loss. Now we move on to the second dimension of the VN, that of Silence and Contemplation.
There is silence in the Via Creativa insofar as creativity is often born of solitude, deep silence and the emptying of the Via Negativa into our birthing process. Of course the VC creates its own awe, wonder, gratitude and therefore silence both for the artist at work and for the recipients of that work—who are also artists. One has to be silent in some deep ways to read a book or respond to a painting, a piece of music, etc. The French philosopher Gabriel Marcel reminds us that it is not just the writer of the book but those who receive it who are artists. They too are engaging in silence therefore.
Furthermore, since we are all artists we are all silence-makers meant to relate to each other at the deep level of silence.
The Via Transformativa offers its version of silence—justice makers and prophets are often silenced by the guardians of the status quo for example. The word prophet means “to speak out” (pro-pheto in Greek). It has everything to do with the fifth chakra. Powers that be often want to gag truth and stifle voices of justice. Yet we all carry the prophetic impulse within us. Thus, silence.
There is also in the Via Transformativa a deep silence that is part of listening to others’ stories of oppression and liberation. In the base community movement for example it was hearing the stories of the peasants and small farmers and indigenous peoples oppressed by the powers that be that constituted the circle of wisdom and solidarity that grew from the deep listening to injustice and struggle. Injustice first kicks you in the gut; then it moves you to silence; then to action.
Thus we carry silence—or is Silence carrying us?—throughout our journey.
Adapted from Matthew Fox, “The Apophatic Divinity: Meister Eckhart Meets Buddhism via Thich Nhat Hanh,” in Meister Eckhart: A Mystic-Warrior For Our Times, pp. 35-56.
Banner Image: “Mountaintop Vista” Photo by Alfred Aloushy on Unsplash
For Deeper Contemplation
Put yourself into the silence of one of these experiences suggested in this meditation: The Scripture quote? The Via Positiva? The Via Negativa? The Via Creativa? The Via Transformativa? What do you perceive? Journal, draw, drum or dance your experience.
While Matthew Fox recognizes that Eckhart has influenced everyone from Julian of Norwich to Eckhart Tolle, Karl Marx to Carl Jung, and Annie Dillard to Anne Morrow Lindbergh, he also wants to introduce Eckhart to today’s activists addressing contemporary crises. Toward that end, Fox creates dialogues between Eckhart and Carl Jung, Thich Nhat Hanh, Rabbi Heschel, Black Elk, Karl Marx, Rumi, Adrienne Rich, Dorothee Soelle, David Korten, Anita Roddick, Lily Yeh, M.C. Richards, and many others.
Fox’s spirituality weds the healing and liberation found in North American Creation Spirituality and in South American Liberation Theology. Creation Spirituality challenges readers of every religious and political persuasion to unite in a new vision through which we learn to honor the earth and the people who inhabit it as the gift of a good and just Creator.