Why Bare the Mind? Eckhart and Mindfulness, continued

The purpose of undergoing “baring the mind” of which Eckhart speaks is to undergo deep unity and to render our work and our service more effective so that it derives from our being and not from compulsions to act.  As Eckhart puts it:

Woman meditation in Williamsburg, United States. Photo by JD Mason on Unsplash.

Here God’s ground is my ground and my ground is God’s ground. Here I live from my own as God lives from His own….Out of this inmost ground, all your works should be wrought without Why. I say truly, as long as you do works for the sake of heaven or God or eternal bliss from without, you are at fault. It may pass muster, but it is not the best.

Eckhart cautions against turning even the practice of letting go into an idol.

Indeed, if a person thinks she will obtain more of God by meditation, by devotion, by ecstasies or by special infusion of grace than by being at the fireside or in the stable — that is nothing but taking God, wrapping a cloak round His head and shoving Him under a bench. For whoever seeks God in a special way gets the way and misses God, who lies hidden in it.

We let go of letting go–it is not an end in itself.

As a way to help visualize his point, Eckhart asks us to consider a tablet you write on:

The tablet is never so suitable for me to write on as when there is nothing on it. Similarly, if God is to write the highest on my heart, then everything called ‘this and that’ must be expunged from my heart, and then my heart stands in detachment.


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

To view a transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner Image:  Students meditate in class. Photographer unknown; from Meditation and Yoga Joining Arithmetic and Reading in U.S. Classrooms on PublicPrep.org

Queries for Contemplation

“Being at the fireside” and “working in a stable” is a way of talking about intimacy at home and of hard work and distracting and demanding work (in a smelly stable no less).  Eckhart is saying we should bring our contemplation to work and to our lives of intimacy.  Is this your experience also?  Contemplation is something very practical.

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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7 thoughts on “Why Bare the Mind? Eckhart and Mindfulness, continued”

  1. Avatar

    Oh naked now,
    No receiving,
    No giving,
    Simply being.

    Oh naked now,
    In silence,
    At rest,
    Simply waiting.

    Oh naked now,
    Being held,
    Surrendered to,
    Simply present with.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Jeanette, thank you for sharing such beautiful words with us. I think that only poetry and possibly art can convey anything in the silent realm of nakedness or as the Buddhists say, “sunyata” or emptiness…

  2. Avatar

    “Letting go and letting be….”, the Via Negativa/Spiritual Transformation of Silence, is a spiritual process of healing/purification/transformation that’s an important grace and faith of our Contemplative prayer/journey in this life towards deepening experiencing/becoming Loving Oneness with-in God, self, others, creatures, Mother Earth, and Creation/Cosmos in the Sacred Process of the Eternal Present Moment….

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Damian, Thanks for your comment! The Via Negativa, within the Creation Spirituality tradition, is the path of letting go and letting be, as you say. It is also the path of darkness, silence and emptiness or “sunyata” as it is called in the Buddhist tradition. There is another way however that the Via Negativa has meaning as well, and that is in the way the idea was held in Medieval Scholastic theology/philosophy, meaning the way of knowing God by way of negation, or what we know about God by what God is not–in other words God is not finite, or in essence hate… the “not God” of Eckhart and the apophatic God of which Matthew has spoken earlier..

  3. Avatar
    Patricia M Devine

    I am having a hard time with this concept of “letting go of letting go.” I am one of those people who has felt that by meditating and praying I will be closer to God. Yet, am I becoming too attached to the process and missing God as a result? It has become rather confusing to me.

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