Hampton Roads Publishing, 2023

ISBN: ‎978-1642970456

 Reviewed by Chris Holmes

I was first introduced to Meister Eckhart (c1260- c1328) back in the 1990’s, through a talk on audiocassette by Matthew Fox. It was Matthew Fox who inspired the Creation Spirituality movement with its love for creation – this was the beginnings of GreenSpirit and Matthew Fox often drew from Meister Eckhart’s work.  While I had been familiar with Meister Eckhart’s name, this was the first time he became significant for me and I decided I should make a serious attempt to study his works.  After twenty five years of prevarication I have discovered an excellent entry point!

‘Meister Eckhart’s Book of Darkness and Light – Meditations on the Path of the Wayless Way’ consists of an introduction followed by almost 200 short meditations in poetic form, taken from a variety of the Meister’s books and sermons. These meditations are not precise translations of Eckhart (though one of the authors, Mark Burrows is a translator of German poetry) but rather a re-voicing, as the authors put it, of Eckhart’s thought that draws upon key images, phrases and ideas found in his writings.

The authors write in their introduction ‘if you have wondered whether one could still “think God” in such days as these, without relinquishing one’s brain, stay with us here. If you can imagine what it might be like to set out on a “wayless way”, not one mapped by tired orthodoxies or mindless strategies, then Eckhart might be the Meister – or “master” – you have been looking for’.

A little later in the introduction we are told that ‘what Eckhart was intent on reminding you of, is that the only way forward is on the way of paradox. Which is a wayless way, the one that leads you, finally, into the wholeness of your life, beyond any way that avoids challenges or leads towards fixed destinations.’ As the authors make clear, this approach is not for everyone!

The meditations are divided into four parts, the first two covering darkness as a theme, the third light and the fourth radiance. The ‘tone’ is set in the first verse of the first meditation, ‘Setting Forth Together’:

Let’s be clear about one thing, you are

Your own best teacher. I can only tell

You what I know, but you’ll need to

discover it for yourself, so don’t expect

me to tell you what to think or how to live’.

This is a book where one will want to linger over each meditation. While it is geared to those of a Christian orientation, those on other paths will find it engaging and stimulating.