Identity without Diversification according to the Mystical Concept of Meister Eckhart

  • Anna Kazimierczak-Kucharska Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw
Keywords: Meister Eckhart; identity; spark of the soul


Meister Eckhart, a figure often very controversial, enjoys the interests of theologians, philosophers and mainly mystics. The main reason for this interest is his concept of a mystical union based mainly on the issue of the spark of the soul and the lower part of the soul which becomes almost the same as God. According to Eckhart, on the one hand, we are born and on the other, we are not, as we are supposed to expect to be born in the lower part of the soul. “The birth of God in the soul”—this is how Meister Eckhart describes the mystical union which, according to him, should be placed in the category of theosis (divinisation). The source of the theosis is nothing else but a strong resemblance between God and the human—specifically his soul. It is not hard to find numerous similarities between the concept of Eckhart and pagan Neoplatonist concepts of Plotinus or Proclus. There are many premises which state that Meister Eckhart is trying to combine the idealist Neoplatonist philosophy and the entirely rational philosophy of Thomas Aquinas, however, the aspects of Aquino are almost unnoticeable in the Meister Eckhart’s ideas. It seems that numerous difficulties connected to the interpretation of his views are a result of an evident lack of metaphysics in his work. It is a little bit odd taking into account that the Meister Eckhart knew vews of Thomas Aquinas who developed the unambiguous concept of “being”.

The process of unification is shown by Eckhart in the context of knowing. It is the intellect that is the power of the human being that enables him to remain in a ceaseless union with God and by that—to rise. That is why the road to the union with God will always be the road to the Supreme Intellect achieved by perfecting one’s own intellect. However, it is a process that demands to transcendent beyond oneself. This transcendence is to aim for simplicity, that is to reject all variety and otherness. In this way a poverty is reached, which is understood in a completely paradoxical way, because as a result of the union with God it seems to be the greatest wealth.

Nevertheless, it is worth remembering that the mystical contact with God is not only external for the human. This mystical union is not based on the rising of the soul to God, but on the appearance of God in the lower part of the soul, as the higher part of the soul, that is the spark of the soul, is the same as God. The birth of God is the participation of the lower part of the soul in the joy of the spark of the soul. Eckhart explicitly indicates that means the birth of the Son in the soul, but not distancing his soul from the Father. It is still the same kind of union. The individuality of a human is abolished, his identity is blurred. This ontological union with God himself is at the same time a union with goodness itself, that is why all moral dilemmas fade away as they are solved thanks to a complete union in which there is no diversification between the identity of a human being and God.


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