Category Archives: Master Eckhart

What they used to call faith

At last a sunny day. Boundless blue sky. The sun no longer ripening anything seems to shine for the sake of it. Quiet happiness again, like an advent.

Some days there seem to be hints of a hidden God everywhere. When I do the dishes, when I walk to the shops, even when I talk to S. A God of intimations, a last God which may or may not come, when all the other gods have passed away… It’s hard to write about.

We can talk about being with some boldness, even stake some claim in it, but how to dare talk about God? Beyond the word God, even beyond being, God withdraws – into God.

Eckhart: ‘Whatever one says that God is, he is not; he is what one does not say of him, rather than what one says he is.’ And: ‘God is a being beyond being and a nothingness beyond being. God is nothing. No thing. God is nothingness. And yet God is something.’

We stand before the opacity of the world and the nothingness of God and see that we’re not at home. We can say nothing worthy of God – if we deign to believe – but we can try however clumsily with the words that are given to us and some truth may be given to us in our approach.

I remember those summer afternoons in the dim musty chapel. The impersonal light through the stained-glass window. I felt an overfacing power and I felt it withdraw. What they used to call faith, blooming out of nothing.

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God is without name, for no one can say or understand anything of him… Hence if I say: ‘God is good’, this is not true. I am good, but God is not good… If I say further: ‘God is wise’, this is not true, I am wiser than he. If I say also: ‘God is a being’, this is not true; he is a being above being and a superessential negation. A master says: If I had a God whom I could know, I would not think him to be God…

– Master Eckhart

VII

Become as a child,
become deaf, become blind!
Your very something
must become nothing,
drive all something, all nothing away!
Leave place, leave time,
and images as well!
Go without way
on the narrow path,
thus you will come to the desert trace.

VIII

O my soul,
get out, god in!
all my something sink
into god’s nothing,
sink into the bottomless swell!
If I flee from you,
you come to me.
If I lose myself,
I find you,
O goodness beyond being!

– Master Eckhart, from Granum sinapis de divinitate pulcherrima (tr. W. Franke)

The higher circle

The higher circle, to which K. would like to gain access, where indeed he would like to take up residence, since he has ‘come here to stay’, is certainly not the home of the good, as benevolent interpreters say, nor is it the home of evil, as malevolent interpreters say; rather, it is the site where good and evil arrange themselves into shapes that can’t be recognised or distinguished by those who have encountered them only in other circles. The ancient Chinese would not be surprised by this; they would say that they are the two elements united in the Holy Place. But who nowadays is able to reason like the ancient Chinese?

— Roberto Calasso, K. (tr. G. Brock)

God is without name, for no one can say or understand anything of him… Hence if I say: ‘God is good’, this is not true. I am good, but God is not good… If I say further: ‘God is wise’, this is not true, I am wiser than he. If I say also: ‘God is a being’, this is not true; he is a being above being and a superessential negation. A master says: If I had a God whom I could know, I would not think him to be God.

– Master Eckhart

The desert trace

Your very something
must become nothing,
drive all something, all nothing away!
Leave place, leave time,
and images as well!
Go without way
On the narrow path,
Thus you will come to the desert trace.

— Master Eckhart (tr. W. Franke)

Fire

It is the same as when the fire wants to draw the wood into itself and, again, itself into the wood; then it finds first that the wood is unlike itself. Hence it needs time. First it makes the wood warm and hot, and then the latter smokes and cracks because it is unlike the fire. Now the hotter the wood grows the quieter and calmer it becomes, and the more like the fire it is, the more peaceful it is, until it is itself wholly fire.

— Master Eckhart

The God without a name

The God who is without a name is inexpressible, and the soul in its ground is equally inexpressible, as he is inexpressible.

— Master Eckhart

The hidden God

– God is without name, for no one can say or understand anything of him… Hence if I say: ‘God is good’, this is not true. I am good, but God is not good… If I say further: ‘God is wise’, this is not true, I am wiser than he. If I say also: ‘God is a being’, this is not true; he is a being above being and a superessential negation. A master says: If I had a God whom I could know, I would not think him to be God…

– God becomes God when the creatures say: ‘God’.

— Master Eckhart

The thirst

It is as if a man had a violent thirst. He could yet do something else but drink and could also think of other things; yet, whatever he did or with whomsoever he were together, whatever his intention or thought or work, the image of the drink will not leave him as long as his thirst lasts; and the greater his thirst, the more intense, the more interior, present and constant the image of the drink.

— Master Eckhart (trans. Hilda Graef)

Rain, rocks and gold

A pessimist is someone who is waiting for it to rain. But I’m already soaked to the skin.

— Leonard Cohen

If I knew for certain that all my rocks would be changed into gold, the more and the larger rocks I had, the more pleased I would be.

— Master Eckhart