A Small Sample from Evil Wisdom
on The Thinking Man's CD-ROM

Some Teachings from Meister Eckhart & Diogenes

Meister Eckhart

- God cannot know himself without me.

- When the man in the soul, the intellect, is dead, unchecked evil prevails.

- I would sooner have the man who sins a thousand mortal sins and knows it, than him who sins but once in ignorance: that man is lost.

- In none of Christ's sufferings did his Godhead come to the help of his manhood.

- I say that next to God there is no nobler thing than suffering. Right suffering is the mother of all virtues, for right suffering so subdues the heart, it cannot rise to pride but perforce is lowly.

- Harkee, all rational souls! The swiftest steed to bear you to your goal is suffering; none shall ever taste eternal bliss but those who stand with Christ in depths of bitterness. Nothing is more gall-bitter than suffering, nothing so honey-sweet as to have suffered. The most sure foundation for this perfection is humility, for he whose nature here creeps in deepest depths shall soar in spirit to highest height of Deity.

- For you must know I have found more of God in the least despisery than ever I did in the sweetness of creatures.

- Someone complained to Meister Eckhart that no one could understand his sermons. He said. To understand my sermons a man requires three things. He must have conquered strife and be in contemplation of his highest good and be satisfied to do God's bidding and be a beginner with beginners and naught himself and be so master of himself as to be incapable of anger.

- Were I full of God I should care nothing whatever for the world. To respect the world shows want of self-respect. Self-respect betokens despisery of things.

- Whoso has three things is beloved of God. The first is riddance of goods; the second, of friends, and the third is riddance of self.

- Know that no man in this life ever gave up so much that he could not find something else to let go. Few people, knowing what this means, can stand it long, and yet it is an honest requital, a just exchange. To the extent that as you eliminate self from your activities, God comes into them - but not more and no less. Begin with that, and let it cost you your uttermost. In this way, and no other, is true peace to be found.

- He who would be serene and pure needs but one thing, detachment. Detachment abideth in itself.

- What is the freedom of a godly man? Being absolutely nothing to and wanting absolutely nothing for himself but only the glory of God in all his works.

- The kingdom of God is for none but the thoroughly dead.

- Man's best chance of finding God is where he left him.

- How does God enter the soul? . . . First in his grace whereby a man being gratified is filled with the desire of perfecting virtue as a whole, mingled with alarm lest any creature ever filch it from him.

- All things are simply God to thee who seest only God in all things. Like one who looks long at the sun, he encounters the sun in whatever he afterwards looks at. If this is lacking, this looking for and seeing God in all and sundry, then thou lackest this birth.

- What a man loves, he is. If he loves a stone he is that stone, if he loves a person he is that person, if he loves God - nay, I durst not say more; were I to say, he is God, he might stone me. I do but teach you the scriptures.

- Form is a revelation of essence.

- As the drop becomes the ocean, so the soul is deified, losing her name and work, but not her essence.

- You must break the outside to let out the inside: to get at the kernel means breaking the shell. Even so to find nature herself all her likenesses have to be shattered.

- We must learn to act without attachment. But it is rare for anyone untrained to reach the stage at which he is proof against disturbance by any act or anybody. This needs prodigiously hard work: and for God to be as present and to show as plainly to him at all times and in all company, that is for the expert and demands especially two things. One is that the man be closeted within himself where his mind is safe from images of outside things which remain external to him and, alien as they are, cannot traffic or forgather with him or find any room in him at all. Secondly, inventions of the mind itself, ideas, spontaneous notions or images of things outside or whatever comes into his head, he must give no quarter to on pain of scattering himself and being sold into multiplicity. His powers must all be trained to turn and face his inner self. Thou dost object. "But one must turn outwards to do outward works : no work is wrought except in its own mode." - True. But to the expert soul outward modes are not merely outward things: to the interior soul all things are modes of the Deity within.

- Virgin is . . . a person void of alien images, free as he was when he existed not.

- We can counterfeit silver with iron and with copper gold; the more like the more false, without riddance. It is the same with the soul. Virtues are easy to talk of, easy to feign, but to have them really is extremely rare.

- All superfluity, anything unnecessary in word or deed, is unchastity.

- The eye by which I see God is the same as the eye by which God sees me. My eye and God's eye are one and the same.

- When thou art rid of self, then art thou self-controlled, and self- controlled art self-possessed, and self-possessed possessed of God and all that he has ever made.

- According to the scriptures, "No man knoweth the Father but the Son," and hence, if ye desire to know God, ye have to be not merely like the Son, ye have to be the very Son himself.

- The holy man is known by five signs. First, he never complains. Next, he never makes excuses: when accused, he leaves the facts to vindicate him. Thirdly, there is nothing he wants in earth or heaven but what God wills himself. Fourthly, he is not moved in time. Fifthly, he is never rejoiced: he is joy itself.


"Why is it, Diogenes, that pupils leave you to go to other teachers, but rarely do they leave them to come to you?"
   "Because," replied Diogenes, "one can make eunuchs out of men, but no one can make a man out of eunuchs".

In winter Diogenes walked barefoot in the snow. In summer he rolled in the hot sand. He did this to harden himself against discomfort. "But aren't you overdoing it a little?" a disciple asked. "Of course," replied Diogenes, "I am like a teacher of choruses who has to sing louder than the rest in order they may get the right note."

A student of philosophy, eager to display his powers of argument, approached Diogenes, introduced himself and said, "If it pleases you, sir, let me prove to you that there is no such thing as motion." Whereupon Diogenes immediately got up and left.

A disciple asked Diogenes, "What is the main reason for wearing a cynics robe and the begging bowl?" "So as not to deceive oneself."

When someone once asked Diogenes why he often laughed by himself, he said, "For that very reason."

Plato considered Diogenes' stray-dog behaviour unbecoming to one calling himself a philosopher. "You really do live up to your name" he said to him disapprovingly one day. "By the Gods, you are right for once Plato," replied Diogenes, and then baring his teeth, he added, "But at least I've sunk my teeth into philosophy."

Plato was discoursing on his theory of ideas and, pointing to the cups on the table before him, said while there are many cups in the world, there is only one `idea' of a cup, and this cupness precedes the existence of all particular cups.
  "I can see the cup on the table," interupted Diogenes, "but I can't see the `cupness'".
  "That's because you have the eyes to see the cup," said Plato, "but", tapping his head with his forefinger, "you don't have the intellect with which to comprehend `cupness'."
  Diogenes walked up to the table, examined a cup and, looking inside, asked, "Is it empty?"
  Plato nodded.
  "Where is the `emptiness' which procedes this empty cup?" asked Diogenes.
  Plato allowed himself a few moments to collect his thoughts, but Diogenes reached over and, tapping Plato's head with his finger, said "I think you will find here is the `emptiness'."

Diogenes was knee deep in a stream washing vegetables. Coming up to him, Plato said, "My good Diogenes, if you knew how to pay court to kings, you wouldn't have to wash vegetables."
  "And," replied Diogenes, "If you knew how to wash vegetables, you wouldn't have to pay court to kings."

Diogenes was once asked what he thought of Socrates. "A madman," he replied. Later, Plato was asked what he thought of Diogenes. "A Socrates gone mad," he replied.
  Diogenes ridiculed Plato for being long-winded.

<- The Dragon's Lair
<< Back to The Thinking Man's Minefield main page