Meister Eckhart, Deep Ecumenist par Excellence

An uncanny experience of Deep Ecumenism can be found in the work of Meister Eckhart.  Writing in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth century (1260-1329), he astounds us today since his teachings resonate with so many religions other than Christianity.

A page of Meister Eckhart’s manuscript “Responsio ad articulos sibi impositos de scriptis et dictis suis.” Manuscript Soest, Stadtarchiv und Wissenschaftliche Stadtbibliothek, Codex No. 33, folium 57 verso, a–b. Wikimedia Commons.

For this reason my most recent book on him celebrates his Deep Ecumenism by putting him in a room (i.e., chapter) with spiritual teachers of various traditions.  Sufis have told me he is a Sufi; Buddhists, that he is Buddhist; Hindus, that reading him is like reading the Upanishads. At times he parallels Black Elk and at times Rabbi Heschel. 

Consider just the Table of Contents for my book, Meister Eckhart: A Mystic-Warrior for Our Times:

* The God of Awe, Wonder, Radical Amazement, and Justice: Meister Eckhart Meets Rabbi Heschel

* The Apophatic Divinity: Meister Eckhart Meets Buddhism Via Thich Naht Hanh

* Wisdom of Hinduism: Meister Eckhart Meets Ananda Coomaraswamy and Father Bede Griffiths

* Eckhart as Sufi: Meister Eckhart Meets Rumi, Hafiz, Ibn El-Arabi, and Avicenna

Image of a Beguine from a manuscript of the beguinage Sint Aubertus (Poortacker) in Ghent. Made ca. 1840. Wikimedia Commons.

* Indigenous Wisdom and Shamanism: Meister Eckhart Meets Eddie Kneebone, Black Elk, and Bill Everson

Eckhart’s teachings also resonate with cultural teachers of the New Cosmology, Divine Feminine, Psychology, and Jesus seminar scholars.

* The Christ of the Cosmos: Meister Eckhart Meets Teilhard de Chardin and Thomas Berry

* The Divine Feminine: Meister Eckhart Meets Adrienne Rich

* Liberated and Liberating Sisters: Meister Eckhart Meets Dorothee Soelle, the Beguines Mechtild of Magdeburg and Marguerite Porete, and Julian of Norwich

* The Historical Jesus: Meister Eckhart Meets Marcus Borg, Bruce Chilton, and John Dominic Crossan

* Depth Psychology: Meister Eckhart Meets Carl Jung

* Psychotherapy and the “Unio Mystica”: Meister Eckhart Meets Otto Rank

We will explore some of his deep ecumenism in subsequent DMs.


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

Banner Image: Meister Eckhart/Unio Mystica: A monk at whose center is a symbol uniting ratio and eros, heaven and earth, the male and the female energies in himself – thinking and feeling. Image by Hartwig HKD on Flickr.

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

Queries for Contemplation

How do you see Deep Ecumenism contributing to the global movement against climate change?  How do you see spiritualities and religions of various stripes inspiring agents for ecological and economic justice?


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

A New Reformation: Creation Spirituality & The Transformation of Christianity

A modern-day theologian’s call for the radical transformation of Christianity that will allow us to move once again from the hollow trappings of organized religion to genuine spirituality. A New Reformation echoes the Reformation initiated by Martin Luther in 1517 and offers a new vision of Christianity that values the Earth, honors the feminine, and respects science and deep ecumenism.
“This is a deep and forceful book….With prophetic insight, Matthew Fox reveals what has corrupted religion in the West and the therapy for its healing.” ~Bruce Chilton, author of Rabbi Jesus: An Intimate Biography


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7 thoughts on “Meister Eckhart, Deep Ecumenist par Excellence”

  1. Avatar

    The words spoken today, “the spark of the soul moves outward”, are speaking to me. If you’ve tended to a fire outdoors as I have many times, you may have noticed how the sparks from the fire rise upward and then let themselves be moved by the winds, fully surrendered to where it leads. You may also have noticed, how one tiny spark can set a dry and lifeless landscape ablaze.

    These reflections are metaphors relating to the words within today’s DM that reveal the potential of that little spark within our own souls, and what can happen when we too surrender to the movements of the Holy Spirit… a movement of being lifted above the things and ways of this world… a movement of willingly trusting where and in what ways the Spirit leads, prompts and guides us… a movement that may land us in what appears as a dry and lifeless landscape, in which the little spark of our soul ignites dramatic changes… a movement that has the potential to set ablaze the tiny spark of the soul within another.

    Never underestimate the little spark of the soul within, for just like the mustard seed that Jesus speaks of, it holds great potential yet to be ignited and set ablaze. As you surrender willingly in trust, to the movements of the Holy Spirit, as Julian of Norwhich revealed through the meaning of her vision of the seed held in the palm of God’s hand, we too will discover the promise that all shall be well, all manner of things shall be well.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Jeanette, You say, “the words within today’s DM that reveal the potential of that little spark within our own souls, and what can happen when we too surrender to the movements of the Holy Spirit…” That spark is the spark that a friend of mine, who is a scientist, speaks of when he says that life on earth began with a spark, and that spark is within all of us. Now, that is a deeply ecumenical statement–not only Christians or even humans have the spark–ALL life has the spark! Besides this, I am reminded of a song we sang when I was in the youth group of my church years ago, and the words went: “It only takes a spark to get a fire going, and soon all those around can warm up to its glowing. That’s how it is with God’s love, once you’ve experienced it, you want to sing, its fresh like spring, you want to pass it on…”

  2. Avatar

    “Sufis have told me he is a Sufi; Buddhists, that he is Buddhist; Hindus, that reading him is like reading the Upanishads. At times he parallels Black Elk and at times Rabbi Heschel.” —Matthew Fox speaking of Christian mystic Meister Eckhart

    Universal Cosmic Christ indeed. }:- a.m.

  3. Avatar

    Thank you so much Matthew Fox for these meditations. I have been receiving them for a while. I look forward to them every day, I love the perspective you bring. It is wonderful to have these thoughts from those such as Meister Eckhart, Julian of Norwich and so many others from former times discussed. Their wisdom is very comforting and needed in these times. These meditations are thought provoking and bring me hope .

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Colleen, you mention Meister Eckhart and Julian of Norwich–Matthew adds Hildegard of Bingen, Francis of Assisi, Thomas Aquinas, and Mechtild of Magdaburg–and even Rumi and Hafiz. But guess what? If you google “How many Catholic saint are there?” you’ll find the number is over 10,000! So there are plenty more mystics out there to discover!

  4. Avatar

    This is really a comment for Nov. 2nd’s meditation and the idea that ‘ancestors’ are both the dead and the unborn:
    In the Cree language the word for great-grandparent is exactly the same as the word for great-grandchild – Nicapan – and the terms are used reciprocally.
    So if you make a chart of kinship terms (as anthropologists love to do) then three generations up from ‘ego’ is ‘nicapan’ and three generations down is nicapan again. So right there are seven generations with ego in the middle and the ends sort identical, tied together making a kind of circle.

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