One thing I love about the mystics is that they take us to the edge of consciousness. They talk about the “All” and how “isness is God” (Eckhart) and they talk about Nothingness.
Everything is both/and with the mystics—not either/or. There is no dualism there but there is a great invitation for us all to stretch as we become truer to our deepest selves, our mystical selves. And to touch both Isness and the All as well Nothing.
In my major work on Meister Eckhart where I translate 37 of his sermons (including a few treatises) and offer a commentary on each, Passion For Creation: The Earth-Honoring Spirituality of Meister Eckhart, the Index has 82 references to Nothingness! And then it says: See also Darkness.
That is a lot of talk about nothing. And nothingness.
Nothingness experiences are not to be ignored. They are part of the Via Negativa, part of the deep and dark and often hidden dimension to our souls. “The ground of our soul is dark,” says Eckhart. Hidden. Mysterious. Without a name. Even “ineffable like God is.” The apophatic God who “has no name and will never be given a name.”
There is good reason to acknowledge nothingness and our experiences of nothingness for they often reveal deep truths to us—not only personal truths and mystical truths but social-political truths, metaphysical and psychological truths. Any one of them can reveal experiences of nothingness.
There is nothingness everywhere. Lately we have been meditating on the marvels of the something we call the universe and something we call our solar system and our home, the Earth. These are brilliant somethings.
But there is lots of emptiness between them, lots of space. Lots of nothing. Not to mention black holes. Nothing and something dance together both in our souls and in the very bowels of the universe.
Eckhart encourages us not to be afraid of nothingness, but to enter in so fully that we learn the meaning of God as nothingness and what it means to “negate negation.” Indeed, “there is nothing in God that is to be feared. Everything that is in God is only to be loved.”
“Nothingness” can mean no-thing. Something more mysterious and more relational than a thing. God is a no-thing; Eckhart calls God, among other things, a “nameless nothingness.” To be continued
Adapted from Matthew Fox, Passion For Creation: The Earth-Honoring Spirituality of Meister Eckhart, p. 194.
Also from Matthew Fox, Essential Writings on Creation Spirituality, p. 112.
To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
NOTE: Because Matthew’s video teaching was recorded on an IPhone in his car, the orientation of the recording is vertical rather than horizontal.
Banner Image: Close-up illustration of a black hole drifting through our Milky Way galaxy. The black hole is the crushed remnant of a massive star that exploded as a supernova and is now several times the mass of our Sun, trapping light due to its intense gravitational field. An estimated 100 million such black holes may wander our galaxy; the Hubble Space Telescope identifies them by their distortion of surrounding space and warping of the images of background stars lined up almost directly behind them. This gravitational “lensing” effect offers the only telltale evidence for their existence. Illustration Credit: FECYT, IAC
Queries for Contemplation
Do you feel stretched by being invited to entertain both the God who is the “All” and “Isness”—but also the God who is Nothing. What lessons do you learn from experiences of Nothingness?
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.
Matthew Fox: Essential Writings on Creation Spirituality
Selected with an Introduction by Charles Burack
To encapsulate the life and work of Matthew Fox would be a daunting task for any save his colleague Dr. Charles Burack, who had the full cooperation of his subject. Fox has devoted 50 years to developing and teaching the tradition of Creation Spirituality and in doing so has reinvented forms of education and worship. His more than 40 books, translated into 78 languages, are inclusive of today’s science and world spiritual traditions and have awakened millions to the much neglected earth-based mystical tradition of the West. Essential Writings begins by exploring the influences on Fox’s life and spirituality, then presents selections from all Fox’s major works in 10 sections.
“The critical insights, the creative connections, the centrality of Matthew Fox’s writings and teaching are second to none for the radical renewal of Christianity.” ~~ Richard Rohr, OFM.