Eternal Now—Meister Eckhart

Sitting Around Campfire Discussing Meister Eckhart
Meister Eckhart Conversation Continues
July, ‘82

Meister Eckhart sermonized during the “age of knighthood,” or the
time when armor-clad roustabouts respected chivalry and honor more
than they did the heads they lopped off during a joust. When I asked
Bill, “How could that be, how could a catholic theologian, a foot
soldier in the Pope’s army, reject God and get away with it?” He said,
“he didn’t; Eckhart was put on trial for heresy in 1326, and he died
during the proceedings.” The rest of the conversation went something
like this:

“That figures,” I said, “Anyone who dared turn the Christian view of
creation into an argument for continuous creativity had to be a threat
to the church. What I don’t understand, though, is how he reconciled
his belief in the Trinity with continuous creation, and where did the
double negatives fit in?”

“Yes, that was a problem,” Bill responded, “but only if the Father,
Son, and Holy Spirit are conceived as separate from God. Of course,
the Persons of the Trinity are both separate from, and one with God.
That is the Christian paradox isn’t it! It was Eckhart’s `eternal now’
concept that solved the problem. In the `eternal now,’ the Persons of the
Trinity became one with the creative process as they affirmed God.
They became a necessary and integral part of transcendent God as they
permitted God’s immanence in the `here and now.’ For the Meister, the
Son and the Holy Spirit made possible both creation and creativity.”

“They substituted for the double negative aspect of God then?” I said.

“If I understand you correctly,” replied Bill, “yes. From a functional
perspective, your double negative and Eckhart’s Trinity are
interchangeable concepts. Were it not for the Trinity there wouldn’t
be a God and, according to Eckhart, we wouldn’t be having this
conversation! The Godhead, which is the affirmative ground of God, is
indescribable, but creation—past, present, and future—is the
manifestation of the Persons of the Trinity. In the language of the
`eternal now,’ we are speaking of God as simultaneously immanent in
creatures, as He is also transcendent to them.”

“Without the Persons of the Trinity,” I said, “there wouldn’t be a
`now,’ eternal or otherwise?”

“You bet,” said Bill, “for Eckhart, the Trinity and God are the same
thing. And because of that, he sometimes referred to God as pure
intellect or understanding.”

“God is limited by reason then?”

“I wouldn’t put it like that,” Bill replied. “The divine addresses
what is; it does not limit possibility.”

“But what about miracles?” I said. “What about Jesus? He was, at
least according to scripture, immaculately conceived.”

“The Bible tells us that God’s Son was made flesh,” Bill replied.
“What the church understands as flesh and blood might, given some of
Eckhart’s statements, be better understood as a symbolic
representation for all Sons and Daughters of God—the human race.


About bwinwnbwi

About me: Marvin Gaye’s song, "What’s Going On" was playing on the jukebox when I went up to the counter and bought another cup of coffee. When I got back, the painting on the wall next to where I was sitting jumped out at me, the same way it had done many times before. On it was written a diatribe on creativity. It was the quote at the bottom, though, that brought me back to this seat time after time. The quote had to do with infinity; it went something like this: Think of yourself as being in that place where infinity comes together in a point; where the infinite past and the infinite future meet, where you are at right now. The quote was attributed to Hermann Hesse, but I didn’t remember reading it in any of the books that I had read by him, so I went out and bought Hesse’s last novel, Magister Ludi. I haven’t found the quote yet, but I haven't tired of looking for it either.
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3 Responses to Eternal Now—Meister Eckhart

  1. boozilla says:

    Matthew Fox’s Meditations with Meister Eckhart is a wonderful book, speaking of M.E.

    • bwinwnbwi says:

      I have not read that book, but I have read some Quaker pamphlets on Matthew Fox. In fact, it was a Quaker Friend who loaned me the book on Eckhart’s sermons (containing translations of both the German and Latin sermons) that I used to study the Meister’s religious views. As a visiting attender, I sat in at meeting with the Pine River Quakers for twelve years. Thanks for the heads up! Take care.

  2. bwinwnbwi says:

    The Jesus dialogue or how C.S. Lewis became a believer…taken from the following web pages:
    The Father and I are one. ( John 10:25-30)

    C. S. Lewis imagines the stunned reactions of all those who heard Jesus:

    ‘Then comes the real shock,’ wrote Lewis: ‘Among these Jews there suddenly turns up a man who goes about talking as if He was God. He claims to forgive sins. He says He always existed. He says He is coming to judge the world at the end of time. Now let us get this clear. Among Pantheists, like the Indians, anyone might say that he was a part of god, or one with God…But this man, since He was a Jew, could not mean that kind of God. God, in their language meant the Being outside the world who had made it and was infinitely different from anything else. And when you have grasped that, you will see that what this man said was, quite simply, the most shocking thing that has ever been uttered by human lips.’ [13]

    Jesus answered,

    “The proof is what I do in the name of my Father.” He compared his followers with sheep saying, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish.” He then revealed to them that “the Father is greater than all,” and that his deeds were “at the Father’s direction.”

    Jesus’ humility must have been disarming. But then Jesus dropped a bombshell, telling them (John 10:25-30) “The Father and I are one.”

    If Jesus had meant that he was merely in agreement with God, there would have been no strong reaction. But, the Jews again picked up stones to kill him. Jesus then asked them, “At my Father’s direction I have done many things to help the people. For which one of these good deeds are you killing me?”

    They replied, “Not for any good work; but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, have made yourself God” (John 10:33).

    They were confused. Philip then speaks up, asking Jesus to “show us the Father.” Jesus’ answers Philip with these shocking words:

    “Philip, don’t you even yet know who I am, even after all the time I have been with you? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father!”

    In effect Jesus was saying, “Philip if you want to see the Father, look at me!” In John 17 Jesus reveals that this oneness with his Father had existed in eternity past, “before the world began.” According to Jesus, there has never been a time when he did not share God’s very glory and essence.

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