In a time of the Webb Telescope beaming light and pictures of the first galaxies into our living rooms, we might ask what would the mystics say and do?  Eckhart would be thrilled.

JWST has taken its largest image to date, for NASA’s Cosmic Evolution Early Release Science Survey. Credit: NASA/STSCI/CEERS/TACC/S. Finkelstein/M. Bagley/R. Larson/Z. Levay

He writes that the human spirit 

…storms the firmament, and scales the heavens until it reaches the spirit that drives the heavens. As a result of heaven’s revolution, everything in the world flourishes and bursts into leaf. The spirit, however, is never satisfied; it presses on ever further into the vortex (or whirlpool) and primary source in which the spirit has its origin.

By speaking of the flourishing into leaf of everything in the world, Eckhart is praising what we now call photosynthesis, which is indeed a marriage of the sun and plants. 

But he is saying more in this amazing passage, so filled with energy and verve. He declares, along with geologist Thomas Berry, that ecology is functional cosmology.

Trees linking Sky and Earth. Photo by jplenio on Pixabay.

To speak of the heavens is to speak of the life systems on earth. Earth is our hood in the universe, our local neighborhood. Ecological and cosmological awarenesses are in tandem. And the opposite is also true: to ignore the cosmos is to ignore ecology and Earth survival. 

Eckhart agrees with Aquinas’ observation that humans are capable of the universe:

If God had made a thousand heavens and a thousand earths the human soul could well grasp them by its power.

Eckhart thinks cosmologically. He frequently addresses the “all” of creation.

A new life starting before sunrise at Kuta Beach, Bali. Photo by Norbert Braun on Unsplash

With his love God gives all creatures their being and life, and maintains them with his love…

Should anyone ask what God is, this is what I would say now: that God is love, and in fact so loveable that all creatures seek to love His loveableness, whether they know it or not, and whether they wish to or not. So much is God with love, and so loveable, that everything that can love must love Him, whether they will to do so or not.

To be continued.


Adapted from Matthew Fox, Meister Eckhart: A Mystic-Warrior for Our Times, p. 17.  

See also, Matthew Fox, Meditations with Meister Eckhart.

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

Banner Image: The Milky Way Galaxy, seen from the Brule River in Judge C.R. Magney State Park, Grand Marais, Minnesota. Photo by Vincent Ledvina on Unsplash

Queries for Contemplation

Does listening to Meister Eckhart assist you to find meaning and excitement in this time of the Webb Telescope?  Does it also ground you in the struggle to resist climate change and the diminution of the Earth and her marvels?


Recommended Reading

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

A New Reformation: Creation Spirituality & The Transformation of Christianity

A modern-day theologian’s call for the radical transformation of Christianity that will allow us to move once again from the hollow trappings of organized religion to genuine spirituality. A New Reformation echoes the Reformation initiated by Martin Luther in 1517 and offers a new vision of Christianity that values the Earth, honors the feminine, and respects science and deep ecumenism.
“This is a deep and forceful book….With prophetic insight, Matthew Fox reveals what has corrupted religion in the West and the therapy for its healing.” ~Bruce Chilton, author of Rabbi Jesus: An Intimate Biography

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.  


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8 thoughts on “Cosmos & Psyche a la Meister Eckhart”

  1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    Matthew, Today you begin by asking the question of how a mystic of ancient times would react to the images we are seeing from the Webb Telescope? And then you quote Eckhart saying that the human spirit “…storms the firmament, and scales the heavens until it reaches the spirit that drives the heavens. As a result of heaven’s revolution, everything in the world flourishes and bursts into leaf. The spirit, however, is never satisfied; it presses on ever further into the vortex (or whirlpool) and primary source in which the spirit has its origin.” And “Yes,” this gives meaning and excitement over what we are seeing in outer space, and and this grounds us for the struggle for environmental justice, because “To speak of the heavens is to speak of the life systems on earth.”

  2. Avatar

    As for meaning and excitement, Eckhart leaves major clues to the new story still unfolding, yet officially untold. Its full telling will be the result of discovering how the two main cosmologies (scientific and religious), outer and inner worlds are seamless, one and indivisible, and by what universal energy and icon(s). Ecological in scope, the new story will unite classical and quantum physics with all fields of knowledge (bar none). Future-looking, it will form a connecting bridge between ancient creation stories (mythologies), and modern science. The Story of stories, it will be the long-awaited holy grail of understanding. In its elegant simplicity, its basics will be teachable to middle school children. The major clues to the new story are in today’s insightful DM hiding in plain sight, found in Eckhart’s words and the Webb’s images. Can you see them? “The kingdom of heaven is spread upon the face of the earth, and men do not see it” (Thomas, saying 113).

  3. Avatar

    The words in today’s query… the Earth and Her marvels… deeply resonates with me. During my three week journey driving across Canada I was totally emersed in the marvelous beauty of our Mother Earth. During my travels… seeing through the eyes of my heart… by contemplatively engaging in photography as a spiritual practice… not only invoked within me, a sense of absolute awe and wonder… it also filled me with an immense feeling of joy and gratitude. I honestly experienced the sensations of what I can only describe as FALLING IN LOVE… a state of BEING LOVED TO LOVE. I suddenly realized, in these ecstatic moments, a new reality… that the garden of paradise is right here, right now… and that in truth my soul has never left Eden… nor the intimacey of relationship with our living Father/Mother… for the as above and the so below our mirror reflections of one another.

  4. Avatar

    I have been loving your Daily Meditations on Nothingness (and Nothingburgers!), Meister Eckhart, Aquinas, Sheldrake, and the Webb telescope — they are a powerful sustaining gift. Having long been curious to dive deeper into Meister Eckhart, I finally bought your newest book on him, which is such rich wine!! As a Sufi for several decades, I am amazed how perfectly his ideas sync up with Sufism. Also being a great lover of John O’Donohue, who references Eckhart regularly, I am thrilled to have been brought to this powerful and beautiful Source through your skillful and devotional offerings. Blessings and gratitude!

  5. Avatar

    Matthew, I love your paraphrased quotes of Berry, Eckhart, and Aquinas. They really resonate with me:
    – “Ecology is functional cosmology… To speak of the heavens is to speak of the life systems on earth… Ecological and cosmological awareness are in tandem… “
    -“If God had made a thousand heavens and a thousand earths the human soul could well grasp them by its power.”
    – “Should anyone ask what God is, this is what I would say now: that God is Love, and in fact so Loveable that all creatures seek to love Her Loveableness… “
    Blessings!
    ?❤️??

  6. Avatar

    “The silence of the spheres is the music of a wedding feast… no despair of ours can alter the reality of things, or stain the joy of the Cosmic dance, which is always there. Indeed, we are in the midst of it, and it is in the midst of us, for it beats in our very blood, whether we want it to or not.
    Yet the fact remains, that we are invited to forget ourselves on purpose… cast our awful solemnity to the winds and join in the general dance. ”

    By Thomas Merton… Be holding Paradise.

  7. Avatar

    One of the most important statements about mysticism in the Western hemisphere is the book called The Cloud of Unknowing. The name of the author is not known; it is good that we don’t know who wrote it. It indicates one thing: that before he/she wrote it he/she had disappeared into a cloud of unknowing. It is the one of the books in the Western world which comes close to the Upanishads, The Tao Te Ching, The Dhammapada. There is a rare insight in it
    Take care
    Love Billy ❤️

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