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''It is in the purest thing that the soul is capable of'': A new understanding of Meister Eckhart

by Caraig Pearson, PhD    Translate This Article
15 December 2012

The Excellence in Action page of Global Good News is featuring this article with photos.

Please click on the following link to read more about ''It is in the purest thing that the soul is capable of''.

Craig Pearson, PhD, contributes another in a series of insightful essays on great historical figures in world culture whose life and works have expressed a deep familiarity with the transcendental field of life.

Meister Eckhart
1260 – c. 1327, Germany

In this new essay Dr Pearson writes about Meister Eckhart, who ''was considered the most knowledgeable scholar of his time and was one of the most popular and beloved preachers—people flocked to hear his bold, fresh sermons. . . .

''Eckhart was born in the mountain village of Tambach, near the center point of Germany . . . . When he was 15, he entered a Dominican priory in nearby Erfurt for a nine-year course of study leading to the priesthood. Later he studied in Paris, earning the title Meister (Master) of Theology. . . . His reputation and teachings have echoed down the centuries, with resurgent interest today. Meister Eckhart has been called 'one of the greatest masters of Western spirituality.'[1] ''

(The complete essay by Dr Pearson comments on a number of beautiful passages from Meister Eckhart's writings, only a few of which are quoted here.)

''In his sermons and writings,'' Dr Pearson writes, ''Eckhart frequently describes a field deep within the mind that can be experienced when the mind settles inward, beyond thought and perception.

'' 'There is something that transcends the created being of the soul, not in contact with created things, which are nothing. . . . It is akin to the nature of deity, it is one in itself, and has naught in common with anything. It is a stumbling-block to many a learned cleric. It is a strange and desert place, and is rather nameless than possessed of a name, and is more unknown than it is known. If you could naught yourself for an instant, indeed I say less than an instant, you would possess all that this is in itself. But as long as you mind yourself or any thing at all, you know no more of God than my mouth knows of color or my eye of taste: so little do you know or discern what God is.' [2] — Sermon 144

''. . . . We recognize that Eckhart is describing the inner field of pure consciousness, pure awareness—consciousness in its settled, silent state—as well as the experience of transcending, the process of the mind settling inward, beyond thought and perception, leading to the experience of pure consciousness.

'' 'Therefore I say, if a man turns away from self and from all created things, then—to the extent that you do this—you will attain to oneness and blessedness in your soul's spark, which time and place never touched. . . . [I]t wants to get into its simple ground, into the silent desert into which no distinction ever peeped, of Father, Son or Holy Ghost. In the inmost part, where none is at home, there that light finds satisfaction, and there it is more than it is in itself: for this ground is an impartible stillness, motionless in itself, and all those receive life that live of themselves, being endowed with reason.' [3] — Sermon 60

''Turn the attention within, Eckhart says, and you can pass beyond time and space to the ground of the soul—silent, unified, motionless, the source of all life.

He describes this again in another sermon with these words:

'' '[I]t is in the purest thing that the soul is capable of, in the noblest part, the ground—indeed, in the very essence of the soul which is the soul's most secret part. There is the silent ''middle,'' for no creature ever entered there and no image, nor has the soul there either activity or understanding, therefore she is not aware there of any image, whether of herself or of any other creature. . . . [I]n the soul's essence there is no activity, for the powers she works with emanate from the ground of being. Yet in that ground is the silent ''middle'': here is nothing but rest and celebration. . . .' [4] — Sermon 1

Dr Pearson discusses further attributes of this inner, transcendental field described by Meister Eckhart. He goes on to explain how in our era, through Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's Transcendental Meditation technique this simple, natural experience has become both widely available and the subject of serious scientific study—as researchers have established transcendence as a fourth major state of consciousness, and identified a wide range of practical benefits resulting from its regular daily experience.

''Across time and across the world,'' Dr Pearson concludes, ''countless figures such as Meister Eckhart have described and celebrated the experience of transcendence, the experience of pure consciousness—so simple, so natural, so profound—and now, thanks to Maharishi, so readily available to everyone.''

Enjoy the full article on the Excellence in Action page.

[1] Edmund Colledge and Bernard McGinn, Meister Eckhart (Mahwah, New Jersey: Paulist Press, 1981), xviii.

[2] Meister Eckhart: Sermons & Treatises, trans. and ed. M. O'C. Walshe (Longmead, Shaftsbury, Dorset, Great Britain: Element Books, 1979), 1:144. Sermons & Treatises, 2:105.
[4] Sermons & Treatises, 2:105.

© Copyright 2012 Maharishi Foundation USA

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