Through the throat, revelation happens–“the purpose of a word is to reveal,” said Meister Eckhart. Through our throats we sing and praise, we give thanks and we forgive. We share and speak our truth when we chant, croon, carol, yodel, tune, warble, chirp, cry, moan, lament, keen, hoot, whine, murmur, groan, scream, roar, bellow, screech, shout, shriek, wail, whoop, yell, publicize, and announce.
No wonder Meister Eckhart urges us to “pay attention to what is in you. Announce it, pronounce it, produce it, and give birth to it.” He is urging us to create with our voice and respect the throat for the birth canal that it is. The truths we give birth to become beings in the world. But they do so only if the birth canal is open and free, and something bigger than gluttony (which comes from the Latin word for throat).
It often happens that instead of giving birth with our throats we become gagged by consumerism. If we have succumbed to an ideology of consumerism—which powerful forces of advertising and the rest are eager feeding us 24/7–we are no longer using our throat as a birth canal but exclusively as a conduit for consumer goods. We take in; we do not give back. And very often we may grow obese and unhappy in the process for it is unnatural to take in and not give back.
Avarice happens. Is a philosophy of consumerism killing our souls and bodies? How many beings are stillborn in us because the throat canal is set on “taking in” due to consumerism and is not prepared to “give back”? How many beings are killed even before they reach the light of day because we are not giving birth but busy stuffing ourselves instead? Our elders should be teaching us to give back, to give away, to give out, to give birth—but, sad to say, the majority with the power to do so are busy making money and buying the things that money can buy.
When we consume endlessly, we devour, squander, and spend. And spend. And spend. Like squirrels in a cage, as economist Juliet Shor puts it, we work to spend and spend and spend some more because the addiction of consumerism always needs a new hit and another fix. Clearly gluttony has many offsprings—and consuming is at the heart of them all.
A warning from the Cree nation goes like this:
Only after the last tree has been cut down,
Only after the last river has been poisoned,
Only after the last fish has been caught
Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten.
Adapted from Matthew Fox: Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul & Society, pp. 318f., 313f.
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Queries for Contemplation
The Via Creativa certainly includes our speech, our throat, our fifth chakra. What does it mean that we can be gagged if we are not alert? What does it mean to the prophetic vocation we all are called to? How can we resist the addictions that gag us?
Fox makes the point that religion has so often oversold the concept of “sin” that it has left us without language or power to combat evil. Through comparing the Eastern tradition of the 7 chakras to the Western tradition of the 7 capital sins, Fox allows us to think creatively about our capacity for personal and institutional evil and what we can do about them.
Matthew Fox’s comprehensive translation of Meister Eckhart’s sermons is a meeting of true prophets across centuries, resulting in a spirituality for the new millennium. The holiness of creation, the divine life in each person and the divine power of our creativity, our call to do justice and practice compassion–these are among Eckhart’s themes, brilliantly interpreted and explained for today’s reader.
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.