seeing god as a cow?

Posted: July 24, 2007 in reflections

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 on your mind, however good, will be a barrier between you and the inmost truth.


Meister Eckhart, the 14th century mystic

  1. Luke says:

    I just wonder what the “inmost truth” Eckhart refers to is? God? Who\What is God? How do we know, if we should glimpse the “inmost truth”, that it isn’t just another object- however
    good- on our mind. What if that’s all there is?

    For me this passage of Meister Eckhart’s raises the important question of what benefit we
    hope to get from our faith – in whatever way we define that faith – and what is the benefit
    that we ought to hope to attain from our faith. Also, in our experience of life, what do we
    get out of our faith? (should we have one, that is) How is\should what people of Christian
    faith hope and strive for, be different from what people of no faith, or of another faith hope
    and strive for?

    Does our faith meet the expectations it creates in its promises of love, salvation, hope, happiness -“inward comfort” etc. and if it doesn’t, is that because we’re not living up to the expectations of our faith, or because the things our faith promises are unattainable.

    I have trouble with this word mysticism and mystics too. I think it turns people away from the
    practice of prayer\contemplation\meditation when they think they have to understand mystical literature to in order to begin to pray or have a meaningful inner, devotional or prayer life. The word mysticism for me also gives the impression that Christianity is a system not a relationship
    with God- Father- Son – Holy Spirit- which is what it ought to be. Not that mystics, inc. Meister Eckhart, didn’t understand that, I think they did. But I dont think we should label people like Meister Eckhart as mystics. They were Christians, as union with God – basically what mysticism is all about – is the goal of Christian life, and the practice of prayer is and has always been viewed an important, essential practice of Christian life.

  2. Meags says:

    I think this thought. It helps me to remember to pay attention to what I am praying for and about. Its easy sometimes to get caught up in what we want or need and forgetting that there is actually more to communicating with God than asking for things.

    Im also not completely comfortable with the term ‘inmost truth”, maybe because its not language I would ever use, but because of that I can take the term to mean whatever fits best for me. From memory I think that my reading of this has been different in the past to what it is now.

    Having said that, feel free to pray for more snow for New Zealand. 🙂


  3. Luke says:

    I agree with everything you wrote Meags, except that the ‘inmost truth’ should not be taken to mean as you write “whatever fits best for me”. This is because in Christian theology, though God is spoken of as Trinity, God is also spoken of as One, as Triune. If Christians are to have
    unity as a community they need to share faith in One Ultimate reality that says ‘I am THE way THE truth and THE life’ while at the same time being able to have different interests \ hobbies and importantly views on other aspects of theology, spirituality, politics, philosophy and so on.
    I think the danger of a “whatever fits best for me” approach to Christian theology on this matter
    is individualism and the erosion that would cause to the doctrine of Church and Discipleship. I realise though that the “whatever fits best for me” approach is a statement of individual free-
    dom to decide what is true and good in response to the “we’ll decide what’s best for you” that
    churches past and present have insisted on. This is actually why I agree with your statement
    that there’s more to prayer than asking for things and your arguement that we should pay att-
    ention to what we pray for and about, because ideally we should be thinking and praying for
    what Christ wants for us and for others, although I must qualify that because we shouldn’t deny human desires that are natural and not in conflict with true love of God\ourselves\our neighbour, kingdom values etc. But in a way “whatever fits bests for me” is true in that we do
    do that in our approach to to reality because we’ve all have different experiences, educations, relationships that influence our outlook. I like the image I read in a book on history theory that describes diffferent people, all blindfolded, touching an elephant and trying to describe to each
    other what it is they are all touching. The Elephant, the “inmost truth” is there but our impaired vision and our limited experience of it prevent each one of us alone from grasping it fully. I dont
    know if that’s heretical or not though, I think being a protestant makes you think sometimes that
    you have to figure it out alone because your salvation is dependent on personal conviction that
    you know the truth, feel born again and free, rather than believing simply because the church
    or your community or society believes it, though I know that this isn’t really the Catholic or the Orthodox Christian perspective as some say it is.

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