Eckhart, Hafiz, Jung, & Rank: The Universality of Motherhood

In response to a recent DM, a one of our wise readers, a woman, made the point that we are all, whether male or female, mothers (or meant to be) and that the indigenous people recognize a “spirit womb’ in men. 

“Birthing Mural, Balmy Alley, Mission district, San Francisco” Image by Nicole Cho on Flickr.

That is so true and the same teaching is echoed in mystics like Meister Eckhart and Hafiz as well as in psychologists like Carl Jung (“creativity comes from the realm of the mothers”) and Otto Rank who honor the artist in everybody. 

Says Eckhart:

What good is it to me if Mary gave birth to Christ 1400 years ago and I do not give birth to him in my time and person and culture?  God is always needing to be born.

This is the fullness of time—when the Son of God is begotten in you.

What is the test that you have indeed undergone this holy birth?  Listen carefully.  If this birth has truly taken place within you, then no creature can any longer hinder you.  Rather, every single creature points you toward God and toward this birth.

A fictional painting of Hafez by Abolhassan Sadighi. Wikimedia Commons.

“I once had a dream that I, even though a man, was pregnant—pregnant with nothingness.  And out of this nothingness God was born.”

Hafiz, the Sufi mystic and contemporary of Eckhart, tells us about his motherhood and pregnancy as well. 

My master once entered a phase
that whenever I would see him
he would say, ‘’Hafiz, How did you ever become a pregnant woman?’
And I would reply,
‘Dear Attar, you must be speaking the truth,
But all of what you say is a mystery to me.’…
And Attar replied,…
‘Though if you want to know the Truth
I can so clearly see that God has made love with you
and the whole universe is germinating inside your belly
and wonderful words,
such enlightening words
will take birth from you
and be cradled against thousands of hearts.’   

“We Need a Bigger Definition of Creativity.” Video by John Spencer

A narrow or literal understanding of motherhood can be a very negative thing—indeed patriarchy and fascism offer up the literal version of the mother—and repress art and creativity.  And educational systems that abandon art and creativity classes do the same.  Art heals.  Art regenerates.  Art is the only language (other than silence) we have for responding to what happens most deeply in ourselves, the “ground” that Eckhart talks about and identifies with Divinity.  

He poses this question: “What good is it to me if this eternal birth of the divine Son takes place unceasingly but does not take place within myself?”  

To be continued

Adapted from Matthew Fox, One River, Many Wells: Wisdom Springing from Global Faith Traditions, p. 231.  

And Matthew Fox, Meditations with Meister Eckhart, pp. 81, 84, 83, 71.

Also see Matthew Fox, Creativity: Where the Divine and Human Meet.

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

Banner Image: “Creative Leap” Photo by Jr Korpa on Unsplash

Queries for Contemplation

Do you recognize the eternal birth of the divine Son/Daughter taking place unceasingly and also in yourself?  Is it surprise to hear both Meister Eckhart and Hafiz talk about their being pregnant? 

Recommended Reading

One River, Many Wells: Wisdom Springing from Global Faiths

Matthew Fox calls on all the world traditions for their wisdom and their inspiration in a work that is far more than a list of theological position papers but a new way to pray—to meditate in a global spiritual context on the wisdom all our traditions share. Fox chooses 18 themes that are foundational to any spirituality and demonstrates how all the world spiritual traditions offer wisdom about each.“Reading One River, Many Wells is like entering the rich silence of a masterfully directed retreat. As you read this text, you reflect, you pray, you embrace Divinity. Truly no words can fully express my respect and awe for this magnificent contribution to contemporary spirituality.” –Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit

Meditations with Meister Eckhart: A Centering Book

A centering book by Matthew Fox. This book of simple but rich meditations exemplifies the deep yet playful creation-centered spirituality of Meister Eckhart, Meister Eckhart was a 13th-century Dominican preacher who was a mystic, prophet, feminist, activist, defender of the poor, and advocate of creation-centered spirituality, who was condemned shortly after he died.
“These quiet presentations of spirituality are remarkable for their immediacy and clarity.” –Publishers Weekly.  

Creativity: Where the Divine and Human Meet

Because creativity is the key to both our genius and beauty as a species but also to our capacity for evil, we need to teach creativity and to teach ways of steering this God-like power in directions that promote love of life (biophilia) and not love of death (necrophilia). Pushing well beyond the bounds of conventional Christian doctrine, Fox’s focus on creativity attempts nothing less than to shape a new ethic.
“Matt Fox is a pilgrim who seeks a path into the church of tomorrow.  Countless numbers will be happy to follow his lead.” –Bishop John Shelby Spong, author, Rescuing the Bible from FundamentalismLiving in Sin

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9 thoughts on “Eckhart, Hafiz, Jung, & Rank: The Universality of Motherhood”

  1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    Matthew, Today you have asked us in our Queries for Contemplation: “Do you recognize the eternal birth of the divine Son/Daughter taking place unceasingly and also in yourself?” Yes I do, and here is something to think about. Not only are the metaphors of “mother” and “birthing” used for men and women, but so is “wife” (someone not to forget on Mother’s Day), for Eckhart also writes that a wife is better than a virgin–(and we have to remember what that meant to them–virgins were nuns or consecrated virgins, and Mary herself was the Supreme Blessed Virgin of them all). But Eckhart writes: “Becoming fruitful as a result of a gift is the only gratitude for the gift. I call such a person a wife and in this sense the term wife is the noblest term we can give the soul, it is far nobler than virgin. Every day such a person bears fruit a hundred times or a thousand times or countless times, giving birth and becoming fruitful out of the most noble foundation of all.”
    “Is it surprise to hear both Meister Eckhart and Hafiz talk about their being pregnant?” No, not after reading all I have read of Eckhart and Hafiz!

  2. Avatar
    Jeanette Metler

    I love the little conversation between Attar and Hafiz, in today’s DM… for they so inspire me. Thank you for sharing these words. On a sadder note, Mathew’s story about the word and what I would also call an original blessing, gifted to all… that of imagination… being oppressed and suppressed… is not the only thing. Another word and original blessing being treated in the same manner by some… is creativity.

    A similar story to Mathew’s, is one which my husband recently encountered… in which he was told by the college academic higher ups, whom he was assisting in writing the new syllabus outline for… for the new multimedia program they were seeking government funding for… was told that he could not use the word creativity at all in the proposal. In fact the entire new program is to be designed around technology and purely on-line… without any personal application or experiential group participation, all crammed into one year. You simply cannot teach photography, which is but one of the many creative elements to this new program without creativity, imagination, practical application and experiential interaction… which actually ignites the sparks of imagination into a flaming light of infinite beauty. The direction the college is moving towards, is all head… without any heart, soul or spirit. These decisions are being made solely on what’s most profitable, with the least amount of effort, time or cost incurred. What’s education, without creativity and imagination… without heart, soul and spirit? Needless to say, my husband has chosen to resign, after having completed a 10 year journey of being the coordinator and teacher of what was once a national award winning and profitable digital arts photography program.

    He will go on, as all true artists must… not only birthing more of his creative, imaginative works of photographic arts… but he will also continue to mentor others outside of the college educational system… kindling… keeping that spark of creativity and imagination alive, not only within himself, but there inside others as well… with a passion in his heart, soul, and spirit that can never be extinguished… amidst others whom seek to oppress and suppress this… in favor of a quick financial turn around.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Jeanette, Well, God bless your husband and his commitment to creativity, and may you not suffer from loss of income…

    2. Avatar

      How very tragic, not only for your husband and you, but also for all the students who will not benefit from his gift in an academic system. Bless you both in his new way of creativity. The goal only of money clearly has destroyed the soul of the college.

    3. Avatar

      Jeanette I am so sad to hear this. How in the world can anyone teach Photography without creativity? And why, even only online, can that not be done? I belong to an international Healing organization. When Covid hit, we all were so stunned that, because most of what we did was in person, we couldn’t do that anymore. Would we lose everything we had worked so hard for over the last 50 years? Instead, we went to Zoom. Online webinars, online classes, and even online Healing sessions. Even those of us who have done this for many years have been blown away by how effective it is! We just finished our 50th Anniversary Congress. There were 75 people in person and 75 people on Zoom. We had people (in both) from at least 9-10 countries. It was amazing! We are very lucky to have creative people who think outside the box. We are growing faster than before Covid. So, I wish your husband the very best. I hope he can be his best creative self and continue to be a mentor to those who can appreciate his Gift! Namaste.

  3. Avatar

    Yes, Matthew, the mystical tradition and Indigenous spirituality (Shamanism) remind us of the Presence and Sacredness of the Divine within and among us (Being & Being born) in All ongoing Creation, especially in our eternal evolving souls as co-Creators with-in our Loving Mother~Father Creator…. This growing awareness, healing, purification, transformative process is big responsibility in our daily lives with one another and our human consciousness on our universal spiritual journeys towards graceful transformation of Being~Becoming Diverse Loving Oneness — Cosmic Christ Consciousness….

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