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?
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.
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?
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.