Meister Eckhart talks about letting go of our intellect and entering into a “transformed knowledge” that includes an “unknowing.”  Does this mirror Otto Rank’s invitation to move beyond the “rational” alone and to allow the more-than-rational into our lives? 


Sting
protests the “disappeared” in Chile (1988); today Mariupol residents are being abducted to Russia and 2500 dead buried in mass graves.

Eckhart also reminds us of how “the soul grows by subtraction and not addition.”  A time of war and a time of evil is a time of subtraction and not addition.

This learning to let go is part and parcel of indigenous training to move from being a soldier to a warrior, as a student of mine once taught me who was a first-nation person from Canada. On returning from the war  in Viet Nam, his elders said to him, “you have been a soldier and now we will make you a warrior.”  The training from being a soldier to a warrior was a four-year process.  And key to it was letting go.

For example, they taught him first to play the (wooden) flute and after he has mastered it they invited the entire community together for an evening “recital,” where he played his flute beautifully.  But at the end of the evening each elder came up to him with a knife in his hand and cut a chunk out of the flute.  At the end of the night, he had no flute. 

A Russian mother taking part in a Moscow protest stopped to plead for an end to war with ABC News‘ James Longman.

He said that was key to all his training to move from being a soldier to being a warrior: Lessons of subtraction.

Yet all this letting go and all the work of the Via Negativa Eckhart places in the context of Goodness and the Via Positiva.  After all, that is where we derive our trust, which is so important as we “sink eternally from letting go to letting go” into the One or God. Thus Eckhart insists: “If we had divine love, God and all the works that God ever performed would delight us.”  The problem is in us.  “You yourself are the very thing which hinders you.  For you are related to things in a perverted way.”  For “all good things flow from the overflow of God’s goodness.” 

The way we approach “all our relations” is key.  Are we free enough to see God’s goodness and take delight in tasting it?  Clearly Putin is not.  He is related to Ukraine in a perverted way. 


Adapted from Matthew Fox, Passion For Creation: The Earth-Honoring Spirituality of Meister Eckhart, pp. 170, 183f.

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

Banner Image: A Ukrainian child bids farewell to loved ones as she is sent to safety in Poland. Photo by Mirek Pruchnicki on Flickr.

Queries for Contemplation

Why do you think the soul grows more from subtraction than from addition?  What follows from that in our work and relationships and lifestyles and citizenship?  Are you open to seeing God’s goodness in all our relations?


Recommended Reading

Passion for Creation: The Earth-Honoring Spirituality of Meister Eckhart

Matthew Fox’s comprehensive translation of Meister Eckhart’s sermons is a meeting of true prophets across centuries, resulting in a spirituality for the new millennium. The holiness of creation, the divine life in each person and the divine power of our creativity, our call to do justice and practice compassion–these are among Eckhart’s themes, brilliantly interpreted and explained for today’s reader.
“The most important book on mysticism in 500 years.”  — Madonna Kolbenschlag, author of Kissing Sleeping Beauty Goodbye.  


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9 thoughts on “Letting Go, continued”

  1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    Matthew, Today our “Queries for Contemplation” are:
    1. “Why do you think the soul grows more from subtraction than from addition?” You give the example of at least one way the soul grows from subtraction: “A time of war and a time of evil is a time of subtraction and not addition. This learning to let go is part and parcel of indigenous training to move from being a soldier to a warrior”–and you tell the story of the warrior-in-training whose flute got whittled down to nothing. So maybe when we are being tried, and feel like nothing, maybe its then that our souls grow.
    2. “What follows from that in our work and relationships and lifestyles and citizenship?” We must let go of all attachments to our work and relationships and lifestyles and citizenship and be open to others different than ourselves.
    3. “Are you open to seeing God’s goodness in all our relations?” To be completely honest, I’m not there yet. Right now I don’t see God’s goodness in all our relations–I’m thinking specifically of Putin.
    And let me say one more thing about your video. You were reading from PASSION FOR CREATION and you are recommending it for reading. Back in the 80s, Shambala sold a pocket size version of this book, which had a number of selections from the big book–Eckhart’s sermons and Matthew’s commentary on them. I carried that book with me everywhere I went for years. And I still have it…

  2. Avatar
    Jeanette Metler

    The video clips in todays DM, were so powerfully moving. I found myself sinking… into an ocean of tears… as if in some way I was letting go of the pain and suffering of many souls. When even just one soul is in pain and suffering, we are all in some mysterious way connected to this… no matter the distance between us, no matter our differences or the illusions that tempt us to believe that we are separate. I can’t answer your questions of inquirey today.

  3. Avatar

    I continue to grieve with the Russian mother mourning her son conscripted into a mindless war by a soulless tyrant. She reminds me of the mother of three sons in the powerful anti war movie SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. The mother buckles to the floor when she gets the news of the loss of two of her sons. And then we meet the soldiers commissioned to find her one remaining son still fighting the war and bring him home. This group of soldiers search for her last son, trekking hither and thither through the destruction, slaughter and mayhem [like Ukraine]. They develop a hate for war, calling it FUBAR arena: “Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition”. Feminists should create a space in our patriarchy-weary souls to recognize all of our sons so mercilessly sacrificed on fields of battle. Am rereading Jim Garrison’s 1982 book, The Darkness of God: Theology after Hiroshima.
    Like Jeanette, I can’t answer your suggested questions right now.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Gwen, You say your reading Jim Garrison’s 1982 book, The Darkness of God: Theology after Hiroshima. A book that I read many years ago which was in the save vain was: Richard Rubenstein’s AFTER AUSCHWITZ. It is a terrible shame that either of these books ever had to be written !!!

      1. Avatar

        Yes “a terrible shame”, with the fullest meaning of the word “terrible.”
        I would only add that it is an epic tragedy that after several decades following 1945 when so many sturdy wise courageous informed local and global anti nuclear peace and détente initiatives were initiated, but were ultimately brushed aside in the blind compulsion to arm ourselves to death….going from wargasm to wargasm… I heard one child say “You can’t trust grownups with guns and bombs…” and another child say…”If everyone says they are for Peace and there are still nuclear bombs being made somebody must be lying….”

  4. Avatar
    Jeanette Metler

    Sinking….
    Into an ocean of tears
    Descending into the
    Depths of darkness

    Sinking….
    Where no sound
    Is heard
    And no light
    Is seen

    Sinking….
    Sensing only the beating
    Of one heart
    Joined to the many

    Sinking….
    With no attempt
    Made of trying to
    Rise to the surface

    Sinking….
    Surrendering
    Falling into the void
    Of not knowing

    Sinking….
    Letting go
    Asking no questions
    Seeking no answers

    Sinking….
    Beyond to what
    Lies beneath the
    Pain and the
    Suffering

    Sinking….
    Into being held
    In the moment
    Just as I am

  5. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    Jeanette, What a beautiful poem and so fitting. Ending on the words, “Just as I am” reminds me of the old gospel song, “Just As I Am” that has been used at altar calls over and over again for many, many years. It is however, a non-original blessing song!

  6. Avatar

    We make the opportunity to be alone with our Spark. It is so comforting to practice emptying at this time. Our preoccupation with possessions are definitely a burden and living with them, maintaining them, protecting them and planning to give them away simply can wear us out. When our inner self empties from all we possess we are free and calm descends on us. As we age it is prudent to give away these distractions so we can be totally free.

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