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Outward and Inward Mortality – Meister Eckhart Sermon
|Meister Eckhart Sermons: Eckhart was one of the most influential 14th-century Christian Neoplatonists, although technically a faithful Thomist (as a prominent member of the Dominican Order). Eckhart wrote on metaphysics and spiritual psychology, drawing extensively on mythic imagery, and was notable for his sermons communicating the metaphorical content of the gospels to laymen and clergy alike. His work has influenced major German philosophers.|
Novel concepts Eckhart introduced into Christian metaphysics clearly deviate from the common scholastic canon: in Eckhart’s vision, God is primarily fecund. Out of overabundance of love the fertile God gives birth to the Son, the Word in all of us. Clearly (aside from a rather striking metaphor of “fertility”), this is rooted in the Neoplatonic notion of “ebullience; boiling over” of the One that cannot hold back its abundance of Being. Eckhart had imagined the creation not as a “compulsory” overflowing (a metaphor based on a common hydrodynamic picture), but as the free act of will of the triune nature of Deity (refer Trinitarianism). Another bold assertion is Eckhart’s distinction between God and Godhead (Gottheit in German). These notions had been present in Pseudo-Dionysius’s writings and John the Scot’s De divisione naturae, but Eckhart, with characteristic vigor and audacity, reshaped the germinal metaphors into profound images of polarity between the Unmanifest and Manifest Absolute. One of his most intriguing sermons on the “highest virtue of disinterest”, unique in Christian theology both then and now, conforms to the Buddhist concept of detachment and to Kant’s “disinterestedness”. Meister Eckhart’s Abgeschiedenheit was also admired by Alexei Losev in that contemplative ascent (reunion with meaning) is bound with resignation/detachment from the world. The difference is that truth/meaning in the phenomenological sense was not the only result, as expressed in Eckhart’s practical guide “for those who have ears to hear”, but creation itself. He both understood and sought to communicate the practicalities of spiritual perfection and the consequences in real terms.
Eckhart expressed himself both in learned Latin for the clergy in his tractates, and more famously in a contemporary Middle High German vernacular in his sermons. As he said in his trial defence, his sermons were meant to inspire in listeners the desire above all to do some good. In this, he frequently used unusual language or seemed to stray from the path of orthodoxy, which made him suspect to the Church during the tension-filled years of the Avignon Papacy, and he was tried for heresy in the final years of his life. We do know that he disappeared from the public arena before the papal verdict, and is suspected by some of continuing his ministry in anonymity, but there is no single medieval source that supports this suspicion.
He is also considered by some to have been the inspirational “layman” referred to in Johannes Tauler’s and Rulman Merswin’s later writings in Strasbourg where he is known to have spent time (although it is doubtful that he authored the simplistic “Book of the Nine Rocks” published by Merswin and attributed to the layman knight from the north). On the other hand most scholars consider the “layman” to be a pure fiction invented by Rulman Merswin to hide his authorship because of the intimidating tactics of the Inquisition at the time.
It has also been suspected that his practical communication of the mystical path is behind the influential 14th c. “anonymous” Theologia Germanica which was disseminated after his disappearance. According to the medieval introduction of the document, its author was an unnamed member of the Teutonic Order of Knights living in Frankfurt. We have recorded seven of his lectures below and a sample can be reviewed above.
Neville Goddard, Summa Theologica, Manly P Hall, A Course In Miracles
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