Meister Eckhart according to Bede



Bede Griffiths with Cardinal Basil Hume and Roland Ropers

Meister Eckhart
The great master of mystical theology, who is a model for the church today
(Bede Griffiths O.S.B., Kreuth 1st April 1992)

Meister Eckhart is coming to be recognized to-day as the most
important spiritual master of the Middle Ages. In his lifetime he
was involved in controversy, which led to the condemnation of
some of his writings, but to-day, as we see him in the wider
context of the medieval world as a whole and the spirituality
which is emerging through contact with Eastern spirituality, we
can see that he is not only fundamentally orthodox as a catholic
theologian, but is also a pioneer in opening the church to a deeper
understanding of the Christian Mystery.

Eckhart was a Dominican Prior, a disciple of St. Thomas Aquinas,
and a leading figure in his order. His genius lay in his profound
insight into the deeper levels of human consciousness. He
expressed these insights not only in his Latin sermons, but in his
German sermons, preached before simple people, which were
actually an important stage in the development of the German
language. But he expressed himself with great freedom and often
in paradoxical language, which could easily lead to confusion. But
behind his paradoxes lay an extraordinary insight into the
working of the human mind.

One of these insights was his distinction between GOD and the
GODHEAD. He saw that most people in their prayer project an
image of God, which, though it may be a useful aid to prayer, falls
immeasurably short of the divine reality. This divine reality
beyond name and form, beyond word and thought, he called
GODHEAD. The Godhead is known not by the rational mind with
its concepts and judgments, but by the scintilla animae, the spark
of the soul, where the human being encounters the divine reality
in its eternal ground. Eckhart was thus able to lead the church
beyond the conceptual understanding of a personal God to a
mystical experience in which the Godhead itself is encountered in
its infinite, transcendent reality.

He thus remains the great master of mystical theology,
who is a model for the church to-day in its encounter with
the mystical traditions of Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam
and other religions of the world.”

(Used with permission from Roland Ropers)