This week I have been working with an amazing poem. It was written by Meister Eckhart, a thirteenth century mystic. He was a remarkable, scholar, preacher, poet and radical. Needless to say he was threatened with excommunication for his teaching and committed the cardinal sin of preaching a language his audience could understand (German) as opposed to mystifying them all with Latin which was the common practice so no-one understood except other priests. This poem impacted me because of its topicality to the crisis the planet faces today both in terms of the environment and the economy. As you read these words remind yourself they were written 700 years ago not last week. Great wisdom seems to be perennially ignored! This translation is courtesy of Daniel Ladinsky in his wonderful book “Love Poems from God”
An Insidious Idol
Commerce is supported by keeping the individual at odds
with himself and others, by making us want more than we need, and
offering credit to buy what refined senses do not want.
The masses become shackled; I see how their eyes weep
and are desperate – of course they feel desperate – for something
that a poor soul then feels needs to be bought.
I find nothing more offensive than a god
who could condemn human instincts in us that time in all its wonder
have made perfect.
I find nothing more destructive to the well-being of life
than to support a god that makes you feel unworthy and in debt to it.
I imagine erecting churches to such a strange god will assure
endless wars that commerce loves.
A god that could frighten is not a god – but an insidious idol
and weapon in the hands of the insane.
A god who talks of sin is worshipped by the infirm.
I was spiritually ill once – we all pass through that – but one day the
intelligence in my soul cured me.