Coomaraswamy recognizes in Eckhart a trait which he says is common to all true artists: “What is remarkable in him is …a great energy or will that allows him to resume and concentrate in one consistent demonstration the spiritual being of Europe at its highest tension.” He cites Eckhart how “what a painter gives out is in me…as the gift of God.”
Coomaraswamy feels that Buddhists and Hindus can understand Eckhart more readily than can Protestants or Western philosophers. “The real analogy between Eckhart’s modes of thought and those which have long been current in India should make it easy for the Vedantist or Mahayana Buddhist to understand him, which would require a much greater effort on the part of a Protestant Christian or modern philosopher.” Why is this? Because modern Western consciousness has left behind the sense of the whole, the mystical experience, and intuition.
Coomaraswamy recognizes that Eckhart considers our lives to be works of art, and Eckhart uses aesthetic ideas and terms to convey theology and the Divine. (This is also true among indigenous peoples, who very often have no word for “art” but only for “beauty.”)
Coomaraswamyconcludes his essay this way: Eckhart’s whole conception of human life in operation and attainment is aesthetic: it runs through all his thought that man is an artist in the analog of the ‘exalted workman,’ and his idea of ‘sovran good’ and ‘immutable delight’ is that of a perfected art. Art is religion, religion art, not related, but the same. No one can study theology without perceiving this….Eckhart is writing… sermons on the art of knowing God.
Adapted from Matthew Fox, Meister Eckhart: A Mystic-Warrior for Our Times, pp. 159-161.
Banner Image: Artwork by M. C. Richards entitled, “Mother and Child”. Used with permission.
To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Queries for Contemplation
Are you eager to know: “the art of knowing God”? Isn’t that what true spirituality is about? And authentic religion ought to be about? What does it mean to you to hear that Easterners can grasp Eckhart more fully than Westerners?
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