As curator of Indian art at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts for many years, Ananda K. Coomaraswamy was described as a “unique fusion of art historian, philosopher, orientalist, linguist, and expositor” whose knowledge of Asian art was “unexcelled” and whose monographs on art “revolutionized entire fields of art.” He was convinced that primitive, medieval European, Indian, and classical experiences of truth and art “were only slightly different dialects in a common universal language.”
In his chapter on Meister Eckhart in The Transformation of Nature in Art, Coomaraswamy writes:
There was a time when Europe and Asia could and did actually understand each other very well. Asia has remained herself; but subsequent to the extroversion of the European consciousness and its preoccupation with surfaces, it has become more and more difficult for European minds to think in terms of unity, and therefore more difficult to understand the Asiatic point of view.
Of course, Eckhart did not directly read Hinduism’s rich scriptures. Writes Coomaraswamy:
It is not of course suggested that any Indian elements whatever are actually present in Eckhart’s writing, though there are some Oriental factors in the European tradition, derived from neo-Platonic and Arabic sources. But what is proved by the analogies is not the influence of one system of thought upon another, but the coherence of the metaphysical tradition in the world and at all times.
This is exactly what Jung proposed, that there are universal archetypes held in common.
Isn’t it time that we bring up those truths and universal understandings, that shared wisdom that is the essence of all religion as Nicolas Cusa speaks of, as we face our common extinction as a species and the extinction of our planet as we know it? That is why Deep Ecumenism is so important today.
Adapted from Matthew Fox, Meister Eckhart: A Mystic-Warrior for Our Times, pp. 157-159.
Banner Image: The Golden Rule Bear and Universal Ethic Bear in Vienna, part of the 140-piece international collaborative exhibit of Universal Buddy Bears dedicated to peace and international understanding. Photographer unknown; Wikimedia Commons; to learn more of the Buddy Bears HERE.
To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Queries for Contemplation
Do you agree that we need to bring forth all the wisdom our species can muster as we stand up to climate change and extinction today? Do Coomaraswamy and Eckhart help you sense that common wisdom?
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