Otto Rank and Meister Eckhart on Our Creative Work

Eckhart addresses both our inner and outer work when he teaches that

Painting the body electric. Photo by Feliphe Schiarolli on Unsplash

…God does not desire that people reserve a place for God to work in.  Rather, true poverty of spirit consists in keeping oneself so free of God and all one’s works that if God wants to act in the soul, God’s self becomes the place where God wants to act…God’s very self is the place of the divine operation.

Eckhart is describing how the Holy Spirit works through us and our work.  He is also suggesting that we let go of God and our God concepts, as he puts it, “I pray God to let go of God.”

We carry the lessons learned in the Via Negativa of letting go and emptying and trusting, into our work in the world.  

Leap of faith. Photo by David Hofmann on Unsplash

People must be so empty of all things and all works, whether inward or outward, that they can become a proper home for God, wherein God may operate. 

God operates in both our inner and outer work. 

And what is the ultimate of God’s work? “The fullest work that God ever worked in any creature is compassion.” Compassion is working us even as we are working for others. 

Furthermore, says Eckhart, “Our work draws all its being from nowhere else but from and in the heart of God.” Our work derives from the Source of our work—the heart of the Divine. 

We truly become co-workers with the Spirit, for “God and the soul are very fruitful as they eternally do one work together.”  Such a work bears fruit.  And the fruit remains.  It is one work—ours and God’s.

Playing the blues. Photo by Austin Neill on Unsplash

In discussing work Otto Rank links creativity to struggle and conflict.  The artist “produces collective values, which, though akin to the traditional in form and content—because in principle they spring from the same conflict—are yet individual, and new creations of these collective values” because the creative person is a “representative of one’s age.”  

If we are living with our hearts and minds open, we indeed take in the struggle of our times. We wrestle with those conflicts so as to produce some kind of resolution or gift.

According to Rank, the work of the creative person “reveals his/her struggles in love and life, which” in a healthy person “spring from the impulse to create….This conflict arises from an intensification in him/her of the general human dualism,” which is the struggle between living and working.

Freddie Mercury of Queen and David Bowie sing “Under Pressure” with its cry for love that “dares us to care for the people on the edge of the night.”

In a time of pandemic like ours we are all experiencing an intensified struggle around the human condition. But the conflict need not be a negative thing; indeed, it is part of our deeper journey. “Only through (our) inner conflict” do we “gain the courage, the vigor, and the foresight” to bring about a new future.

In times of pandemic are we all called to pay more attention to our inner conflict?  To let the Via Negativa speak its truth to us and through us?

Adapted from Matthew Fox, The Reinvention of Work, pp. 53, 64-67, 118f.

Banner Image: Translating the struggle. Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash

Queries for Contemplation

Be with Eckhart’s teachings that God works compassion through us and with us in both our inner and outer work.  How real is that for you?

Be with Rank when he teaches that conflict lights the fire of our creativity within us.  Is that your experience also?

Recommended Reading

Natural Grace: Dialogues on Creation, Darkness, and the Soul in Spirituality and Science 
by Matthew Fox and Rupert Sheldrake

Natural Grace, a 208 page inspired dialogue between theologian Matthew Fox and scientist Rupert Sheldrake, unites wisdom and knowledge from unconventional angles. Considering themselves heretics in their own fields, Matthew and Rupert engage the conversation from postmodern and post-postmodern perspectives, deconstructing both religion and science—while setting the foundation for a new emerging worldview. Having outgrown the paradigms in which they were raised, both Fox and Sheldrake see it as part of their life missions to share the natural synthesis of spirituality and science rooted in a paradigm of evolutionary cosmology.

Responses are welcomed. To add your comment, please click HERE or scroll to the bottom of the page.

Share this meditation


Daily Meditations with Matthew Fox is made possible through the generosity of donors. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation

Search Meditations





Receive our daily meditations

3 thoughts on “Otto Rank and Meister Eckhart on Our Creative Work”

  1. Avatar
    Margaret Rose Hess

    Freddie Mercury and David Bowie’s performance reminded me of the Maori dance / song that was in the lesson of a few days ago, how sometimes beautiful, life-giving and life sustaining sentiments are expressed “Under Pressure”, such as when “love dares you to care for people on the edge of the night and love dares you to change our way of caring about ourself”. Thank you, Matthew Fox, so much for caring and sharing today’s meditation with us.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      And if you are seeing the “sometimes beautiful, life-giving and life sustaining sentiments that are expressed ‘Under Pressure,'” that is probably a good indication that you are either walking upon the Via Positiva or the Via Creativa–so enjoy the ride!

Leave a Comment

To help moderate the volume of responses, the Comment field is limited to 1500 characters (roughly 300 words), with one comment per person per day.

Please keep your comments focused on the topic of the day's Meditation.

As always, we look forward to your comments!!
The Daily Meditation Team

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join us in meditation that supports your compassionate action

Receive Matthew Fox's Daily Meditation by subscribing below: