Meister Eckhart, Buddhism, Thich Nhat Hanh

In an amazing passage that is so Buddhist that it brings shouts from my Buddhist students, Eckhart gives the following advice:

Thich Nhat Hanh in Paris, 2006. Photo by Duc (Pixiduc)Wikimedia Commons

How then should one love God? You should love God mindlessly, that is, so that your soul is without mind and free from all mental activities, for as long as your soul is operating like a mind, so long does it have images and representations. But as long as it has images, it has inter- mediaries, and as long as it has intermediaries, it has neither oneness nor simplicity. And therefore your soul should be bare of all mind and should stay there without mind. For if you love God as he is God or mind or person or picture, all that must be dropped. 

How then shall you love him? You should love him as he is, a not-God, not-mind, not-person, not-image — even more, as he is a pure, clear One, separate from all twoness. And we should sink eternally from something to nothing into this One. May God help us to do this. Amen.

For Eckhart, emptying the mind is a most powerful prayer, one almost omnipotent to gain all things, and the noblest work of all is that which proceeds from a bare mind. The more bare it is, the more powerful, worthy, useful, praiseworthy and perfect is the prayer and the work. A bare mind can do all things. What is a bare mind? A bare mind is one which is worried by nothing and is tied to nothing, which has not bound its best part to any mode, does not seek its own in anything, that is fully immersed in God’s dearest will and goes out of its own. 

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Meister Eckhart: A Mystic-Warrior for Our Times, pp.41-43. 

To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner Image: “Love – Occupy Wall Street Meditation: Meditation at the OWS May Day 2012 Rally at Union Square, New York.” Photo by Paul Stein on Flickr.

Queries for Contemplation

Have you learned to bare your mind at times?  Do you wish everybody did?  Do you recognize a Buddhist dimension in talking about “baring one’s mind?”

Recommended Reading

Meister Eckhart: A Mystic-Warrior For Our Time

While Matthew Fox recognizes that Meister Eckhart has influenced thinkers throughout history, 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.
“Matthew Fox is perhaps the greatest writer on Meister Eckhart that has ever existed. (He) has successfully bridged a gap between Eckhart as a shamanistic personality and Eckhart as a post-modern mentor to the Inter-faith movement, to reveal just how cosmic Eckhart really is, and how remarkably relevant to today’s religious crisis! ” — Steven Herrmann, Author of Spiritual Democracy: The Wisdom of Early American Visionaries for the Journey Forward

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10 thoughts on “Meister Eckhart, Buddhism, Thich Nhat Hanh”

  1. Avatar

    My questions are: can/does a “not-God” have a “dearest will ” or is “s/he” somehow a person like us with a mind and will? Does ‘God’ desire/love to be in us, with us, experiencing all that is? Does the ‘Divine’ fully emptied [kenosis] actually need the ‘Human’ to experience anything at all, including evil? Is the biblical injunction not to do to others anything we would not want done to ourselves Wisdom’s bottom line of how to create a viable commons, locally and globally?

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Gwen, the not-God is almost like a “koan” in Zen Buddhism–a paradoxical question which is meant to break through our everyday thinking and bring on “satori” or in Eckhart’s terms, “breakthrough.” And, what is the essence of this God or not-God?–Love. 1 John 4:8 says that: “God is love” and that is where we find God’s “dearest will,” and “desire/love” for us and in us. The apophatic God is a not-God, whereas the cataphatic God is an is-God for–isness or beingness is God. And yes, Wisdom’s bottom line is the “Golden Rule…”

  2. Avatar

    I’ve entered into bare mind, once… which really came about through niativity. A Buddhist friend shared a chant with me, and I decided to create a ceremony for myself, using this chant, chanting it continously for 6 hours. Suddenly during this experience, it was as if everything had left my mind. I had no thoughts and I couldn’t even recall to my mind, the chant I had been saying for the past 6 hours. This bare mind state lasted only a short time. I thought I had messed up some how, rather surprised by it all. Several days later my Buddhist friend asked me how my ceremony went with the chanting. When I told him of my experience he was rather astonished that I reached this bare mind state, reiterating that I hadn’t messed up, but this was a state of mind one desires to attain apparently, through the chanting. Perhaps because I didn’t know any of this at the time, it just happened naturally, even if only for a brief moment of time. I must admit that it felt a bit disorienting.

  3. Avatar

    I am most grateful for the Centering Prayer, which helps grow the ability to let go, and the Welcoming Prayer, which makes room for the love and presence of God and God’s action within. And, as always, I am grateful for Matthew’s teaching and wisdom.

  4. Avatar

    “The pure Mind, the source of everything, shines forever and on all with the brilliance of its own perfection. But people of the world do not awake to it. Blinded by their own sight, hearing, feeling, and knowing, they do not perceive the spiritual brilliance of the source-substance. If they would only eliminate all conceptual thought in a flash, that source-substance would manifest itself like the sun ascending through the void and illuminating the whole universe without hindrance.” Huang-po
    (Huang-po Hsi-yun (d. 850): Ch’an/Zen master. His teachings are in Chu’an-hsin-fa-yao)

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