18 Masterful Quotes of Meister Eckhart

Portrait of Meister Eckhart
Portrait of Saint Dominic (Meister Eckhart), 1515.

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Meister Eckhart was a 14th-century theologian whose artistic and imaginative use of the German language propelled him to become an influential preacher, mystic, and philosopher. This collection of Meister Eckhart quotes highlights his views on God, love, and general wisdom for life.

Eckhart joined the Dominican order of monks as a teenager and studied at the universities of Paris, Strasburg, and Cologne. He served as vicar of Thuringia and later Bohemia. Strongly influenced by Albertus Magnus (Albert the Great), St. Augustine, and Thomas Aquinas, Eckhart’s mystical writings include the Book of Divine Consolation, Talks of Instruction, The Nobleman, and On Detachment. His emphasis on the power of God that permeates everything in the universe and is the true essence of reality led to charges of pantheism. In 1326 he was accused of heresy by Pope John XXII. More recently, Pope John Paul II commended him.

Meister Eckhart on Loving God

“Some people want to see God with their eyes as they see a cow, and to love Him as they love their cow. They love their cow for the milk and cheese and profit it makes them.”

“This is how it is with people who love God for the sake of outward wealth or inward comfort. They do not rightly love God when they love Him for their own advantage. Indeed, I tell you the truth. Any object you have in your mind, however good, will be a barrier between you and the inmost truth.”

“We should be able to recognize true and perfect love by whether or not someone has great hope and confidence in God, for there is nothing that testifies more clearly to perfect love than trust.”

On Seeking God

“To seek God by rituals is to get the ritual and lose God in the process.”

“Spirituality is not to be learned by flight from the world, or by running away from things, or by turning solitary and going apart from the world. Rather, we must learn an inner solitude wherever or with whomsoever we may be. We must learn to penetrate things and find God there.”

“Some people prefer solitude. They say their peace of mind depends on this. Others say they would be better off in church. If you do well, you do well wherever you are. If you fail, you fail wherever you are. Your surroundings don't matter. God is with you everywhere—in the marketplace as well as in seclusion or in the church.”

“If you look for nothing but God, nothing or no one can disturb you. God is not distracted by a multitude of things. Nor can we be.”

“But of God you can never have a sufficiency. The more you have of God, the more you desire. If you could ever have enough of God, so that you were content with him, then God would not be God.”

“Many people think that they are achieving great things in external works such as fasting, going barefoot and other such practices which are called penances. But true penance, and the best kind of penance, is that whereby we can improve ourselves greatly and in the highest measure, and this consists in turning entirely away from all that is not God, or of God in ourselves and in all creatures, and in turning fully and completely towards our beloved God in an unshakeable love so that our devotions and desire for him become great.”

On Prayer

“If the only prayer you ever say in your whole life is 'thank you,’ it will be enough.”

“The most powerful prayer, one well-nigh omnipotent, and the worthiest work of all is the outcome of a quiet mind. The quieter it is the more powerful, the worthier, the deeper, the more telling and more perfect the prayer is. To the quiet mind, all things are possible. What is a quiet mind? A quiet mind is one which nothing weighs on, nothing worries, which, free from ties and from all self-seeking, is wholly merged into the will of God and dead to its own.”

Wisdom for Life

“Today I am younger than I was yesterday, and tomorrow I will be younger than I am now. The reason is that every day I am born anew in Christ and every rebirth is a new beginning, another springtime.”

“Be willing to be a beginner every single morning.”

“Wisdom consists in doing the next thing you have to do, doing it with your whole heart, and finding delight in doing it.”

“God never gives, nor did He ever give a gift, merely that man might have it and be content with it. No, all gifts which He ever gave in heaven or on earth, He gave with one sole purpose - to make one single gift: Himself. With all His gifts He desires only to prepare us for the one gift, which is Himself.”

“You should give your all to God, and then worry no more about what he may do with what is his.”

“The price of inaction is far greater than the cost of making a mistake.”

“One must not always think so much about what one should do, but rather what one should be. Our works do not ennoble us, but we must ennoble our works.”