Meister Eckhart’s deep resonances with the Hindu tradition may partly be explained by the Celtic presence among the Middle Age Rhineland mystical movement, so evident in Hildegard of Bingen, who was raised in a Celtic monastery on the Rhine river. The likenesses between Eckhart and Hinduism can assist in this time of facing a common foe of Climate Change and our and other species extinction. We can call on a common wisdom of East and West, a Deep Ecumenism that assists with interspiritual vision and practice.
Ananda K. Coomaraswamy (1877–1947) was born in Sri Lanka of an English mother and Sri Lankan father and studied as a young man in England. He was fluent in 36 languages! He first introduced me to Meister Eckhart on my reading his classic book, The Transformation of Nature in Art, in 1976. That book, published in 1934, dedicates a chapter to Meister Eckhart and his view of art, which I found deeply striking.
It is telling that Indian and Eastern thinkers were taking Eckhart seriously before very many Westerners did. Remember that it was Japanese Buddhist philosopher D. T. Suzuki who, in 1959, first introduced Eckhart to the Catholic monk Thomas Merton and in the process Merton was converted from a dualistic monk to a prophetic Christian and pioneer in the Deep Ecumenism movement. (Merton also wrote his Master’s thesis on Eckhart and Coomaraswamy’s book, The Transformation of Nature in Art, while at Columbia University.)
So keenly does Coomaraswamy see the similarities between Eckhart and Indian thought that he says: Eckhart’s Sermons might well be termed an Upanishad of Europe. . . . Eckhart presents an astonishingly close parallel to Indian modes of thought; some whole passages and many single sentences read like a direct translation from Sanskrit.
Adapted from Matthew Fox, Meister Eckhart: A Mystic-Warrior for Our Times, pp. 157-159.
To read a transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Queries for Contemplation
How does it strike you to hear a Western mystic’s writings “an Upanishad of Europe” and reading him to be like “a direct translation from Sanskrit”?
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