The Mystical Thought of Meister Eckhart: The Man from Whom by Bernard McGinn

By Bernard McGinn

From the world's most well known authority on Christian mysticism, the definitive tale of Christianity's maximum mystic, Meister Eckhart, his insights into God, his relation to the culture, and the way he discovered from the ladies non secular of his day.

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As Pr. 17, one of the more detailed treatments of the soul's ground, puts it: "Whoever writes of things in motion does not deal with the nature or ground of the soul. 94 Identity without distinction is a paradoxical notion, and Eckhart delights in creating seeming contradictions, oxymora, and other forms of wordplay in speaking of the ground. 95 The "groundless ground" (gruntl6s grunt), "groundless Godhead" (gruntl6sen gotheit) , as well as the various uses of abgrunt, all provide the Dominican with the opportunity for word games that are meant to be both playful and serious insofar as they "play" a role in the practice of deconstructing the self and freeing it from all that pertains to the created world.

3:3 )-"a desert of yourself and of all things" ( habe du dich dir seiher und aller dinge wileste). Finally, in the sixth question ( Pr. 426-585) , Eckhart once again returns to the nagging issue of what role pious practices play in prepar­ ing for the eternal birth. Given how often he has to explain this, we can imagine that it reflects real problems that his charges had in under­ standing his teaching. 76 "All outer works" (alliu uzwendigiu werk) were created to curb the outer man's inclination to distraction and sin and leave him ready for divine action.

Eckhart knew Bernard well, but he dearly had a new conception of union. For the Dominican, as well as some of the anonymous sermons and treatises written under his influence, the goal of the Christian life was union of identity or of indistinction ( unitas indistinctionis) in which there was no difference at all between God and human: "God's ground and the soul's ground is one ground:' Eckhart was not the first mystic of the thirteenth century to say that the human person is capable of attaining indistinction with God.

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