Eckhart was a distinguished son of the Church; E but in reading his works we feel at once that we have passed into quite a different sphere of thought from that of the churchly mystics; we seem to leave the cloister behind and to breathe a freer atmosphere.
But in Eckhart the attitude of the churchman and traditionalist is entirely abandoned.
The freedom with which Eckhart treats historical Christianity allies him much more to the German idealists of the 19th century than to his scholastic predecessors.
Among them chiefly the followers of Eckhart were to be found.
He was decisively influenced by Eckhart, though there is noticeable occasionally a shrinking back from some of Eckhart's phraseology.
He is chiefly occupied with the means whereby the unio mystica is to be attained, whereas Eckhart dwells on the union as an ever-present fact, and dilates on its metaphysical implications.
The " Cherubic Wanderer," and other poems, of Johann Scheffier (1624-1677), known as Angelus Silesius, are more closely related in style and thought to Eckhart than to Boehme.
The works of Eckhart and his precursors are contained in F.
ECKHART,' JOHANNES [" Meister Eckhart"] (?
Eckhart appears, however, to have made a conditional recantation - that is, he professed to disavow whatever in his writings could be shown to be erroneous.
But before its publication Eckhart was dead.
Eckhart has been called the first of the speculative mystics.
Eckhart is in truth the first who attempted with perfect freedom and logical consistency to give a speculative basis to religious doctrines.
(See MvsTicisas.) For the German writings of Eckhart see F.
Jostes, Meister Eckhart and seine Jiinger (Freiburg, 1895); for the Latin works, H.
Lasson, Meister Eckhart der Mystiker (1868); H.
Martensen, Meister Eckhart (1842); J.
Bach, Meister Eckhart der Vater der deutschen Speculation (1864); C. Ullmann, Reformatoren vor der Reformation (1842); W.
Kramm, Meister Eckhart im Lichte der Denifleschen Funde (Bonn, 1889); R.
Schopff, Meister Eckhart (Leipzig, 1889); A.
In Eckhart, towards end of 13th century); it is an age which also produced the rationalism of Maimonides.
Mysticism is represented by Suso, Meister Eckhart, above all Johann Tauler of Strassburg (d.
Thus, to take only one prominent example, the profound speculations of Meister Eckhart (q.v.) are always treated under the head of Mysticism, but they might with equal right appear under the rubric Theosophy.
Still more typical examples of theosophy are furnished by the mystical system of Meister Eckhart and the doctrine of Jacob Boehme, who is known as "the theosophist" par excellence.
The soul of man, which as a microcosmos resumes the nature of things, strives by selfabnegation or self-annihilation to attain this unspeakable reunion (which Eckhart calls being buried in God).
Regarding evil simply as privation, Eckhart does not make it the pivot of his thought, as was afterwards done by Boehme; but his notion of the Godhead as a dark and formless essence is a favourite thesis of theosophy.
JOHANN TAULER (c. 1300-1361), German mystic, was born about the year 1300 in Strassburg, and was educated at the Dominican convent in that city, where Meister Eckhart, who greatly influenced him, was professor of theology (1312-1320) in the monastery school.
Tauler's sermons were printed first at Leipzig in 1498, and reprinted with additions from Eckhart and others at Basel (1522) and at Cologne (1543).