“For God is really not lovable, since he is above all love and lovableness. How then should one love God? You should love God mindlessly, this is, so that your soul is without mind and free from all mental activities, for as long as your soul is operating like a mind, so long does it have images and representations. But as long as it has images, it has intermediaries, and as long as it has intermediaries, it has neither oneness nor simplicity. And therefore your soul should be bare of all mind and should stay there without mind. For if you love God as he is God or mind or person or picture, all that must be dropped. How then shall you love him? You should love him as he is, a not-God, not-mind, not-person, not-image – even more, as he is a pure, clear One, separate from all twoness. And we should sink eternally from something to nothing into this One. May God help us to do this. Amen.”

from Breakthrough, pg 180, [emphasis mine]

This is one of my favorite spiritual quotes, and the end to an amazing sermon by Meister Eckhart. It clearly shows his profound understanding of how to deconstruct and experience and the benefits of doing it. He is saying how most people’s experience of God is actually just an experience of a thought in their head, i.e. “images and representations.”

He shows the problem with that, which is that, by focusing on the images in your head, you have separated yourself from the actual experience of God.

Eckhart also gives the solution to the problem, which is that you let go of the sensory experience called God. Instead you sink into the emptiness (to use a Buddhist term) at the heart of the God experience. Notice that Eckhart even uses the word “nothingness”—not in its nihilistic sense, but in the sense of “empty of sensory content.”

In the triumphant end to the sermon, Eckhart sounds exactly like a Zen master: You should love him as he is, a not-God, not-mind, not-person, not-image – even more, as he is a pure, clear One, separate from all twoness.

That’s nonduality, folks. The “gone” of the Source, the emptiness at the center of a sensory experience of God, the deepest connection possible. Of course, it’s not necessary to call such an experience “God” since that already is a concept. So we can use words like Source, Emptiness, Nirvana, Godhead, Allah—all kinds of terms. At this level the religious details fall away.

Comments

  1. Brilliant! Meister Eckart’s quote is one the best explanation on mindfulness I have read so far. Mindfulness as being a universal, human capacity, not owned by any religion, yet shared at the inner heart of all mystical traditions.

  2. A Zen master would never speak of loving God.

    “At this level the religious details fall away.”

    No. Don’t be ridiculous. The religious details are extremely important. Meister Eckhart was an orthodox Catholic operating in an established tradition of apophatic mysticism. It makes a world of difference if what the self is unified with is the Holy Trinity or nothingness.

    1. Author

      Thank you for your comments. You seem to be laboring under the weight of an orthodox view of Zen which is getting in the way of actually understanding Eckhart. First, I myself have heard Zen masters speak of a loving God. Rigidly adhering to orthodoxy is not their strong point. Second, Eckhart wasn’t an orthodox Catholic, and was formally accused of heresy by the Catholic church. Had he not died in the midst of the investigation, he may have been in quite a bit of trouble. Please endeavor to learn the facts before you use words like “ridiculous” — they tend to rebound in an uncomfortable manner.

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